Current Bird (and nature) News
Rufous-capped Warbler

Rufous-capped Warbler - Basileuterus rufifrons jouyi
at Neal's Lodge, Concan TX, March '06


MOST RECENT UPDATE: August 7, 2020
(prior updates: July 31, 24, 17, 10, 3, June 26, 19, 12, 5, May 29, 22, 15, 8, 1)


   ** SPECIAL NOTICE **

*** Lost Maples and Garner St. Pk. are open for day use and
    limited camping; advance reservations required.
    See the park, or TPWD, websites for details.


* Utopia Park is open. *

~ ~ ~

FOS - first of season - for the first one back.

August. The last month of climatalogical summer is often a month of dog days. Peak heat, and actually a big month for bird migration movement that is properly considered fall migration. The morning of Aug. 2 before sunup I heard my FOS Upland Sandpiper going over. Late afternoon Aug. 2 we saw the LEAST GREBE at the golf course pond again, after missing it for a month of visits. Saw FOS Least Flycatcher and Rufous Hummingbird Aug. 7.

July. I wouldn't expect a lot here the next month. A continuing male Comet Darner (first was one on 27th of June, two on 28th) at the Waresville golf course pond was seen July 5, 11, and 19. After the dry June lots of breeding birds seem to be winding it down now, and not going another round as in wet June years. Be prepared to melt if out and about after about 11 a.m. or so! There was record breaking heat here July 12, 13, & 14. Most days are mid-90's with higher heat index. A rare here Ornythion Swallowtail was seen July 3. A Great Plains Skink was in the yard July 15 and 17. A very nice comet in mid-July was a totally chaseable stake-out that showed very well. Late July four juvenile Audubon's Oriole together is interesting. The biggest rain in two months was the evening of July 31 (today!), at least 1.5" here. I saw in ebird in late July over toward Uvalde reports of a Gray Flycatcher which is most excellent, and a more expected but scarce Broad-tailed Hummingbird.

splish splash I was takin' a bath!

male Golden-cheeked Warbler



This page has the current bird and nature news from the area around Utopia, the Sabinal River Valley (SRV), and occasionally elsewhere in the area, such as Uvalde, Concan, Lost Maples, etc. Often unusual sightings will be in CAPS. There will also be occasional mention of butterfly (lep) or dragonfly (ode) sightings when they are out and about. Or anything natural history of interest, bats to beetles.

For 2020 Lost Maples reports, there is one for July 29 and the other is on the April 26 entry in the birdnews below. We have not been visiting it as usual this spring and summer. For some detailed 2019 Lost Maples reports see the dated entries for Jan. 5, March 17, 30, 31, April 21 & 28, May 12, June 2 and 29, July 28, September 15, Oct. 13, and Dec. 8. These are at Old Bird News pages #31 and #32 now. For 2018 check the Old Bird News pages (#29 and #30 now) for Lost Maples reports from April 1, 9, 10, 15, 29, May 13, June 3 and 24, July 29, Aug. 26, Sept. 30 and Dec. 2. (Old Bird News pages link below)

Pro Tip: Ignore the ebird Chihuahuan Raven reports at Lost Maples, they are mis-ID'd Common Ravens which are common residents. You would think with so many reports, ONE could be proven. Guess again.

A quick note about Utopia Park. There have been some changes in management and rules. It is now $10 per person to enter No charge for Utopia or Vanderpool residents. Been gently suggesting we need a one hour or two hour birders rate.

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll or read UP day-to-day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way. For repeat offenders there is a link just below to jump straight to newest update. There is a broken line of tildes (~) to denote prior update breaks, usually with a photo to make it easy to spot. Sometimes the 'quick take' highlights header above is archived within body of news as well since it changes. Seperated by tildes as well, as are monthly summaries.

For visiting cell phone users, often only AT&T works here, or Concan, and many local areas Sabinal to Leakey, etc. Often around Hwys. 10 or 90 (Hondo, Uvalde) you can get other signals. Then wi-fi is available at the Utopia Library, the store in Vanderpool had a sign saying they have it there too. State Park headquarters may have it? Don't tell them I told you.   ;)

Please holler if you see something good locally! THANKS!  :)  (local 830 Utopia landline WON~2349)
E-dress clickably linked at bottom of most pages: mitchATutopianatureDOTcom

Note on navbar at top of this page and the home page, and somewhere around the chat picture below is a link to a new LINKS page that is a quick handy way outta here. Who loves ya baby? It is a collection of some of the links I will publicly admit to using, though a couple with no small amount of trepidation. Space, weather, bugs, birds, blogs, bird cams, and other stuff...   Enjoy!



I have been fairly good for a few years now about posting the weekly update Friday evenings. Since night life is so exciting here. Usually this is just minor local (often yard) notes from nearly every day. Some daily or near-daily notes of what is going on with birds, or butterflies, dragonflies, fish, flowers, reptiles, triops, cerambycids, buprestids, bombyliads, and so on. Anything might get mentioned. Usually just yard notes. Unless you got to be stationed at the park all day, one site of observation locally is about as good as another. The big picture only becomes amazingly fascinating by filling all the little details in, one tiny bit at a time. I have a strong interest in bird behavior and often will discuss some aspect of that which I observed.

If you're in the area and see something, please don't hesitate to let us know. For instance, we would be happy to post Lost Maples SNA, or any bird news, if it were reported to us. I love hearing from locals when they see something of interest. Perhaps other visitors might better know where to look for something of interest. E-mail link in next (pale yellow) box, and at bottom of most pages. Local (eight-three-zero) landline WON~2349. I can be at the park in 10 minutes, 8 if I was dressed with shoes on, 5 if it is a Sabine's Gull, but I might not be neatly dressed.

Some rudimentary maps of the area are at the bottom of the "site guide" page, if you need help locating any of the places mentioned.

There are now 16+ (!) years and growing worth of nature notes here, mostly in the bird news archives (Old Bird News) pages linked at the bottom of this page in 6 month segments. You can fairly easily check, 10 fall or spring periods, etc., and get a good idea of what goes on when, where, or how weak migration is here.   :) If you're coming in April, you can check several years out and see when different species arrive.  For instance for Painted Buntings not till later April, earliest numbers about the 18-20th, later is better, some years not till the 21-22 are the first back locally.  Often a few days earlier down in lower altitude brush country (earlier still down on the coast) etc. Adult males mostly depart territories and the area the first week of August.

Be sure to check out the Bird List page, which is updated (2020) with seasonal status and abundance for each species. It lists all 350 plus species (!) known from the upper Sabinal River drainage.

And here's something else.......
Sometimes I may be available as eyes and ears for hire. Send an E-mail if you desire professional expert level birding guide services while in the area. Take out the spaces around the at if you copy this instead of clicking it: mitch @ utopianature.com
Or check out the Bird Guide page.

The BIRDING SITES, HUMMINGBIRDS, BIRD LIST, and LM REPORTS, BRUSH COUNTRY, and RARITIES pages have all been recently updated!

With apologies, I am not interested in photos from other areas for identification. Please please please do not send unsolicited out of area photos. Contact your local Audubon Society if you have pictures of a bird that you would like identified, every area has one. From Houston to Travis to Ft. Worth, Big Sky, Llano Estacado, no matter where you are there are other local folks interested in your local birds, and since you are (to have a pic that you want ID'd) you should want to know them.  :)  Thank you in advance.



Back to Top
Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

Here are links to some new pages added in the last couple years:

Here is a master index page of 'Old Bird News' links:
Bird News Archives Index
It has links to all the 'Bird News' pages, in 6 month increments. It is the 16 year plus archive file.

~ ~ ~ ~
***  This is the page for visitors with ideas, links, phones, contacts, etc., about where to stay locally.
Where to Stay
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a page which compiles over 16 years of observations at Utopia Park. It is a long discussion about the how and why of birds at Utopia Park, and is the home of the park bird list.
The Birds of Utopia Park
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Here are assorted links of all manner, and a handy way outta here.
Mitch's Links
~ ~ ~
Bird Photos


The photos used for the weekly breaks are compiled in one place for each year (just for the last few years).
2015 pix
2016 pix
2017 pix
2018 pix
2019 pix
2020 pix

~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2020


Notes without location cited are in or from yard which is a couple miles south of town at edge of the river habitat corridor. If it doesn't say where it was, it was in or from the yard. Usually a few daily yard notes is all the drivel you get. But you never know what that can lead to. Ready, steady, go!

Commonly used ABBREVIATIONS are:

To repeat since commonly used:
sps.=species; FOS=First of season (can be any season); FOY=First of Year; FOF=First of fall; LTA=Less than Annual; UP=Utopia Park; SLC=So. Little Creek Rd.; dF=degrees Farenheit; (ph.)=photo obtained; ad.=adult; imm.=immature.; ma.=male; fem.=female; juv.=juvenile; odes=Odonata = dragonflies and damselflies; leps=Lepidoptera (butterflies), town=Utopia; the park= Utopia Park at SW corner of town. WU = Weather Underground (sometimes local station readings referenced) BanCo = Bandera Co.; UvCo = Uvalde Co.



Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples


Just to have this handy again for reference, recent prior updates:
July 31, 24, 17, 10, 3, June 26, 19, 12, 5, May 29, 22, 15, 8, 1
Each week's update break is marked with a bad (usually bird) photo.

You may want to scroll down to last prior update and scroll
up to read in chrono order day to day.
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ and now for the news ~ ~ ~

** Lost Maples and Garner are open for day use and limited camping, reservations required.

** Utopia Park is open now.

Aug. 7 ~ Another week has flown by. Low was 74F. Some gulf low stratus. Heard some Upland Sandpipers in the a.m. early, low, maybe four, will have to go scan the airstrip. Heard Long-billed Thrasher over in the corral and Audubon's Oriole up the hill behind us. Town run fer shtuff. On on the front fence as I left a Least Flycatcher was working it. Though thought I heard one in late July, will count this seen bird as my FOS. Went over to the airstrip and punched gate code in, cruised the mile or so of it and saw no grasspipers, or in the nice pasture adjacent. Did see a nice ad. fem. Blue Grosbeak, and an ad. Scissor-tail with no tail, it is that time. Then cruised around the golf course, alas no grasspipers there either. But was a fair bit of traffic on it already. Did not see the Least Grebe, there was one female or juvenile Purple Martin on the wire over their house. Nice local late date for a bird that surely nested or was hatched here.

At the park there was one imm. fem. Green Kingfisher, heard a Ringed King upriver, a couple juv. Painted Bunting up in the woods. Couple new begging juvie Blue Jay were a late clutch. Saw Orange-striped Threadtail and Orange Bluet in damselflies. On the way home just south of town I hit a big yeller thing I am fairly certain was an Imperial Moth. Bummer. Some Cenizo is in bloom in response to the rain. The Purple Sage of fame, but not of true sages, it is a mugwort. New Riders of the Purple Mugwort didn't have a ring to it anyway. Kathy saw a Chat at the bath and male Blue Grosbeak on the patio. After 7 p.m. and watering I was watching the front porch hummer feeder. One ad. male Black-chinned Hummer was joined by an immature or female Selasphorus, either a Rufous or Allen's Hummingbird and a FOY. A long distance fall migrant. Rufous is the default here.

Aug. 6 ~ Low of 75F and the low stratus from the Gulf is back. Sure was a nice five day break while it lasted. Saw a different Gulf Coast Toad this a.m. before sunup on front steps. One male Indigo and two male Painted Bunting on seed early. Likely the same two Painted as last night, and the draw breeder Indigo. Only 84F or so at noon, still bearable, as long as you are not digging holes. Great was at last sun twice the male Indigo Bunting went into full flight song, and it was awesome. I was on driveway with sun at my back, each flight was 50 yards or so of singing. He must be leaving soon. Interestingly I have never seen a Painted do flight song. Do they? One Gnatcat late in day. After dark a big Ox Beetle came into a light in the cottage. Huge bug! Awesome beast. Almost forgot, saw a Macromia sps., River Cruiser dragonfly fly around the yard briefly in heat of afternoon.

Aug. 5 ~ A 70F low still feels great. Was in town earlyish and stopped at the park. One Ringed King calling from upriver, a Green Heron. A couple Black Vultures in the woods still with down makes me wonder if they hatched there. Heard some Purple Martin overhead, but no migrants there (or in yard). Did find a couple egg, cheese and chorizo breakfast tacos to go at Rosies. The one ad. ma. Indigo Bunting still here (the draw nester) is only giving the first few notes of song, not the full monty. Lots of juvie Lark Sparrow and House Finch. Did not see a Hooded Oriole on the feeder the last two days. It was too busy stuck at the desk Wednesdays for me. Late at last sun two ad. male Painted Bunting showed up, first ones all day, and saw none yesterday or the day before. They could be transients, or ads. that disappear to lose the begging and just show late to top the tank up. A couple Orchard Oriole and Gnatcats went through nearing last sun as well. At 11 p.m. an Upland Sandpiper called southbound overhead.

Aug. 4 ~ WeeWow a low of 66F! It's like heaven. For an hour or two. Saw a Gulf Coast Toad by cottage before sunup when tossing seed. No male Painted Bunting at the seed in the morning. One male Indigo. Two just-fledged juvie Painted being fed by ad. female. It is as if the males left before the last two were out of the nest. It has seemed that way to me many times over the years. Sometimes also it seems like they leave for a few days to shake the begging and then show up a day or two to top tank one last time before departing. Male Roseate Skimmer dragonfly around the wet patio in morning, ignoring my tub pond.

Mid-morn a flock of aerial insectivores were around a bit. A few dozen Barn Swallow, a couple each Cave and Cliff Swallow, maybe a dozen Chimney Swift and at least 4 Purple Martin included one ad. male. Nice showlet. On the Frog-fruit was a Mournful Duskywing, Buckeye, and an Orange Skipperling, a bit later a Julia's Skipper, Texas Powdered-Skipper and a Desert Checkered-Skipper were on it. One ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird continues, still guarding the back (office) feeder. A few Orchard Oriole went through, and a couple Gnatcatcher. Field Sparrow is still singing.

Aug. 3 ~ A low of 68F felt fantastic. I saw KRVL had a 66 for a moment. Forecast has us in a cooker for the next ten days plus. I can tell the yard is greener already from the rain a few days ago. I see a couple new baby Gambusia have been dropped in the tub pondlet from one of the females. No Sabine's Gull yet, but the birds are sure using it for drinks. Lots of baby House Finch and Lark Sparrow on the patio.

I do not hear the Red-eyed Vireo that has been singing around the last two months. The Great Crested Flycatcher has been gone a week or two. Do do not hear the Blue Grosbeak singing now either. It seems like some of the male Indigo Bunting left, I only saw one late in day. Maybe all the ad. ma. Painted Bunting have departed, I saw none today. First week of August is when they leave. You can still get some ad. males, but they are often not the birds that were the local territorial ones. There are near a dozen female and juvenile Painted around. A White-striped Longtail (skipper - butterfly) was the first since one in the spring and always great to see here. Took until the 3rd to see a butterfly sps. missed the month prior.

What they said were outlier forecasts a week ago that called for rain today, turned out to be the correct ones. A weak shortwave was the trigger. From 5 p.m. and shortly after it went from over 95F to 70F by 5:30 in over a half-inch of rain. Holy H2O! Which besides much happiness throughout the valley, initiated a termite hatch as often the case. After it stopped I measured .6". So about 2.35" Friday night to Monday late afternoon. A life-saver. Some Chimney Swift buzzing around at last sun.

Aug. 2 ~ Before 7 a.m. when I was tossing seed I heard an Upland Sandpiper call several times from not very high up, coming down for the day. Should go check some pastures. A few Orchard Oriole and a Gnatcat or two went by yard. Saw the male Blue Grosbeak on the patio here. It was pretty toasty out there, but between 5 & 6 there were a few sprinkles that took ten off the top and dropped it to upper 80's for a bit. We were over at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. Saw some FOY Snow-on-the-Mountain flowers open. No Comet Darner but we saw that rascal the LEAST GREBE! It is still there! After missing it 5 times (at least) in the last month! In a dinky pond. It hides in the cattails. There was also a juv. Western Kingbird feeding around the pond, and a juv. Vermilion Flycatcher. Red-wings still nesting, some juvies out and about.

August 1 ~ August!?!?!? OMG! It started on a great note, at 68F! Maybe the first reading in the 60's for a month. I see we ended up with 1.75" of rain from the event yesterday evening. Astounding! More rain than the last two months put together, most of it in barely over an hour. It was getting dire. We were in D1 drought, on the cusp of D2. Normal June and July is 6+" of precip, we had less than 1.5" this year. It is a lifesaver for some late summer bloom. There was a trough axis moving across the Great Plains which brought a front through, on July 31. Late last night after the rain I saw a yearling Red-spotted Toad on the patio. Also one of the small (round) native snails was out cruising around.

Several Orchard Oriole went through over the morning, over a half-dozen. A couple Gnatcats in the afternoon. In Leps saw a Texan Crescent, a Nysa Roadside-Skipper, among about 10 sps. for the new monthly list. Late p.m. a couple more Orchard Orios went through. At last sun, the ad. fem. Cooper's Hawk took a small passerine, I think a juvie Lesser Goldfinch. Late p.m. about 11 I thought sure I heard an Upland Sandpiper call a few times from high overhead.
audubonsoriole
This might be the same bird as last week, or another in same group.
What lovely plumage.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

It was dry until the last few hours of the month when we got 1.75" of rain finally. Flowers were shot and all but non-existent for most of the month. Frog-fruit was the one thing going well. A comet, NEOWISE, gave a great show mid-to-late-month. Twice this month I saw a Great Plains Skink at the house.

Butterflies were 53 species, so up a few from June and the high monthly total for the year so far. Ornythion Swallowtail was the best rarity seen, in the yard July 3. The only other LTA - less than annual species, was a Laviana White-skipper. Did see a Nysa Roadside-Skipper. Lots of little stuff was on the Frog-fruit, a clear invasion, mostly blues, hairstreaks, skippers, and some crescents. At least a couple Ctenucha moths were seen which have been missed the last several years. Mestra numbers are good with 5 at once on one little Frog-fruit patch.

Odes were 25 species, up a couple from June. But numbers are way down overall, they are hard to find and scarce in general. Best was the continuing male Comet Darner from late June at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. A couple Red-tailed Pennant were around which are barely annual, just a few per year. Only saw a couple Widow Skimmer.

Birds were 82 species that I saw, all locally breeding species. Little Creek Larry had a Spotted Sandpiper late in month which is likely a migrant from elsewhere. A duck sps. that flew over July 3 was something good that isn't supposed to be here. It was not a Wood Duck or Whistling-Duck. Saw Poor-will twice this month which is great. Four juvenile Audubon's Oriole together late in month was great, and more current breeding evidence.

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 31 ~ Low was 75F, with some low gulf stratus for most of morning. But hot in the afternoon. A front is supposed to be inbound later afternoon or early evening. Just after 3 p.m. I saw KRVL in rain at 82F, those lucky bastards, we are bone dry in upper 90's. Water is barely going over the spillway at the park. Not sure how safe it is to swim when the water is stacking up and barely going over, but it doesn't seem to concern the visitors.

Another small group of Orchard Orio through yard early, which will be a near-daily phenom the next month plus. Like the odd Gnatcatcher or two. Daily. When I was in town on the errand run Kathy had a male Orchard at the bath, plus a Yellow-throated Warbler, and a Red-eyed Vireo was in the tree over it. I have never seen a Red-eye at a bath. They never go to it. Bunch of buntings around, at least 10 or 12, Indigo and Painted.

At the park on the island up in the woods there was a Blue Jay and an Audubon's Oriole. Great combo of birds in the same place and time. One juv. Painted Bunting up in woods. Two Green Heron were around the park pond. One Common Grackle in willows at south end of island looked like a juvenile just starting to molt into first basic (winter) plumage. No odes, whaddup with that?

The front got here, outflow boundry was about 7:15 and 30-35 mph. A bunch of Chimney Swift were on it, trapped for who knows how long. The band of storm cells is over 100 miles wide east to west and has been marching for a about a hundred miles. They were just steering. I presume it is an aerial plankton smorgasbord for them. By 7:30 the rain hit and in an hour we had 1.5" of sweet holy rain! OMG! That is more rain as we have seen in 2 months. The temps went from 92 to 72 in an hour. OMG! And the people danced and sang... But the lightning was bad so we have to unplug everything, hence the tardy update upload. It was a two hour event, still raining as I do this. The Barking Frogs are the only thing thrilled as me about it.

July 30 ~ A low of 71F felt great. The gulf stratus got here shortly after sunup and kept it bearable for the morning. A small group of Orchard Orio went through yard early, and one Gnatcatcher. Another coon climbed the fence and ransacked the tub-pond. I guess you have to wear a mask when you are always sneakin' around screwing other people's stuff up. A thickish mid-level layer of stratus parked over us for the afternoon and kept it cooler than planned, 87F much of afternoon on front porch. Supposed to be getting a weak front washing out in the area tomorrow and Saturday, some rain is predicted. Pray, dance, sing, drum, whatever it is you do for rain, now is the time to do it. Saw two ad. male Black-chinned Hummer still here.

July 29 ~ Low was 70.5F, and felt great. A Flock of at least 4 Orchard Oriole went over early, high and fast, passage migrants on the move. We played hooky at the office here until 2 p.m., going to Lost Maples SNA this morning, finally, for a get out and hike. I am about a dozen trips short for a normal spring and early summer this year. We had been unable to get weekend entry as they are only allowing half normal traffic, and so are booked weeks in advance, before we can tell if we can sneak away for half a day. So we did it during the week. There were very few people and it was great, like the old days. We saw no one once we were past the ponds.

Due to the lack of rain it is very dry, there are hardly any flowers, and very few bugs, including butterflies and odes. Most of the breeding season seems over for the birds. Lots of stuff is gone already. In 5 hours going up to the high-water spring on Can Creek a mile past the ponds (about 4 miles total), we did not see or hear any Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, Ash-throated and Acadian Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Indigo Bunting or Blue Grosbeak, Chat, White-tipped Dove, Green Kingfisher, or Audubon's Oriole. Lots of stuff is gone already. Feeding stations are closed down and un-serviced.

Only heard two E. Wood-Pewee and two Summer Tanager so those have mostly bugged out. Heard two Hutton's Vireo. Somewhere high up over the parking lot at the trailhead was a begging Zone-tailed Hawk. We saw two Olive Sparrow, and an ad. and juv. Rufous-crowned Sparrow. There were still numbers of Red-eyed (8+) and White-eyed (10+) Vireo, as well as Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Heard a few Canyon Wren but did not lay eyes on one, as fairly usual. Heard a few Ladder-backed Woodpecker, saw a few Common Raven, a Red-shouldered Hawk, lots of Titmouse (Black-crested), a few Carolina Chickadee, lots of Carolina Wren, a few Bewick's, good numbers of N. Cardinal, a very few E. Phoebe, some Barn Swallow, Turkey and Black Vulture.

In butterflies there was little. A few Sleepy Orange, a Gulf Fritillary, a Dun Skipper, four E. Tiger Swallowtail (3 dark-form female, and 1 yellow), three Spicebush Swallowtail, a few Snout, it was between dreary and dismal. No Sister or Red-spotted Purple, or Two-tailed Swallowtail, no Amblyscrites (Roadside-skippers), I did not even see a single Pipevine or Queen. The Buttonbush was the main blooming attractor. It had bumblebees on it wherever it was in bloom. Odes were not much better. Best were 4 or more Comanche Skimmer, but no Neon, Flame, or Widow Skimmer. Some E. Pondhawk and Blue Dasher, a Red-tailed Pennant, a Wandering Glider which bolted and left the main big pond heading into orbit, a few Swift Setwing, a Green Darner, and one Leaftail that was likely Five-striped. Seemed really weak for the date. Damsels were a few Kiowa Dancer. Pitiful.

In herps: saw 3 lizards, single Six-lined Racerunner, Four-lined Skink, and Texas Spiny Lizard. No snakes. A few turtles slid away in the ponds, which amazingly were Pond Sliders. Amphibs were one yearling Red-spotted Toad, some Blanchard's Cricket-frog and a Leopard Frog. Fish were Mexican Tetras and the Notropis shiner at high-water spot. I love those MexiTets, some were 3" long and fat! Below ponds a Bluegill is the first I have ever seen there, with dark in the soft dorsal. In a pondlet I check the sunfish at all the time. The usual Bantam and Red-breasted Sunfish, the latter in spectacular breeding colors presently.

Plants are stunted from lack of rain, the Frostweed save some in the creekbed is half the height it should be, same for lots of stuff, like the Senna. The flowers I saw a few of were Lindheimer's Senna, Cedar Sage, Mountain Pink, Snapdragon Vine, but Buttonbush was the only thing really going well. If you are up at dark-thirty, Venus is the 'morning star' in the east before dawn, whilst red Mars is near zenith almost straight up. Should have gone up on the hill behind us with scope and nabbed Mercury, which is in Gemini right now, low in East before dawn.

What is weird is how there are more Indigo and Painted Bunting in our yard than at Lost Maples now, and the same for Audubon's Oriole. Afternoon was warm back here at the casita, got up to mid-90's or better. Kathy spotted orioles at the bath, I got the bathroom window open, and heard them as I took some pix, it was the troop of juvenile Audubon's Orios! Only 2 can fit in the bath at once if you were wondering. Three could fit, IF they would stop fighting. Got a few shots but missed some great fighting action that was too fast. Three Hooded were at the hummer feeders here. A group of rain cells went by later in afternoon, all we got was the outflow, but which was great, for cooling us down to 84F or so before 6 p.m. when it was 94.

July 28 ~ A 72F low was great. Common Nighthawk went by about 6:40 a.m. or so. Just a bit of gulf stratus, warmed up fast, and got to the upper 90's F. Hear one Blue Grosbeak and one Indigo Bunting still singing, half-heartedly. Chat is calling but not really singing, Summer Tanagers around but just calling, they seem done. Vermilions seem to be working on another clutch the way the male chased a Phoebe out of an area in the corral. Did hear four vireo sps., the three regulars still singing, plus a Bell's, but no Hutton's. Heard a Scissor-tail which seem to be done for the most part too. Only passage bird was a Gnatcatcher late in the day. Still only Black-chins for hummers and almost all are immatures, only two adult male left at most.

July 27 ~ The gulf stratus got here and kept it balmy, 74F was the low. Dawn chorus is no longer. Just a few things singing, and not very much. It is remarkably quiet before sunrise already. A dry June means a very weak July breeding session. Most has given up. A troop of Audubon's Oriole went through early, a Martin or two overhead, one Gnatcatcher went by southbound. The cool shady front porch was 90F around 3 p.m., pretty toasty in the sun. Neat at last light was a migrant Great Blue Heron up at 1000' (obviously not local movement) dropping down looking for a place to roost.

Two great departures I have been forgetting to mention recently... first, the cowbirds are gone. Last week they bugged out. The daily flock of white millet eating ad. male and female Brown-headed and Bronzed Cowbirds, have not been around for most of a week now. Good riddance. The odd hatch-year juvie still around, but the ad. flock of nest parasites is gone. Surely they can tell stuff is not re-nesting. The other departure was that bastard Ash-throated Flycatcher that spent a week terrorizing everything in the yard, I presume after the female left, is finally gone. All the birds in the yard were glad to see it go.

July 26 ~ A spritz of rain from a band of Hanna went over right around sunup. We might have gotten about .15 of an inch. That was it, but which was great, at least something. The rain-cooled low was 71F which was also great. Deep far south Texas got lots of rain, some areas a foot! And it is flat down there. Will probably fill Falcon Lake. We got a couple day break from the oppressive heat and a couple dust-free days. High was about 90F again. A couple Orchard Oriole went through yard mid-morn but that was it for migration motion.

We went to the park noonish, everyone must have left due to the rain forecast, which then didn't happen. Great to see it soooo empty on a Sunday in summer. Had one Green Heron below the dam. Heard a Purple Martin overhead. Up in the woods there was one Black-and-white Warbler, a transient. One Common Grackle was in the willows at the island. Collected some Maxmillian Sunflower for the tub pondlet, and a few Gambusia (Mosquitofish), still need to get some Ludwigia and other things.

July 25 ~ 'Nother balmy 75F low. Now Hurricane Hanna is set to go much further south than original forecasts a couple days ago. Deep south Texas will get some much-needed rain, we will be lucky to get any. Winds were off and on E to ENE from the circulation, and lots of clouds, so we barely hit 90F, which is 10dF off the recent highs and a treat in itself. Be nice if one of the bands would throw a rain cell our way. Great being in 70's for the evening instead of the 80's. The little things...

The Audubon's Oriole juveniles went through yard and I counted 4 all-green and yellow hatch-year birds as they moved from the big Hackberry over the shed to the Mulberry over the cottage. The single note begging call is not unlike the chuck note of an Orchard Oriole. Deeper, not as sharp, longer of duration, and with perhaps a wee bit of a bleating aspect to it. Always great to see they had nesting success locally. Maybe it could be two sets of two young that joined up and not one clutch of four? I do not see any adults.

I have been looking at the male Indigo Buntings for molt the last few days. What could have easily seemed one bird at a glance is at least three different males based on different molts. One missing a patch on left side of head, another with sheathed feathers all over the head, another with a big gray area on one side. Then after all that hard work over a few days, about 8 p.m. there were FOUR males at once on the patio! I have only been seeing one at a time. Sure makes it easier when they all show at once.

Had a Zone-tailed Hawk fly by and over in afternoon. You can barely see the comet now, with the moon near first quarter the sky is washed out with too much light. It still looks good in binocs, but is fading fast, and nothing like it was a week ago when no moon. This cosmic show is all but over. Just catch it next time if you missed it. It's only 6800 years until it returns.

audubonsoriole
This appears to be... an excellent photo quiz picture.
Tail is spread, left wing spread, head shows well. It is
always great to get any shots of this little-seen plumage,
and acquire more breeding evidence as well. If only I
could see the brows, squirming, and page flippin'.  ;)
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 24 ~ 75F is as low as she goes presently apparently. No morning clouds and occasional easterly winds. Afternoon upper 90's F with low 00's heat index. We are hoping for some rain tomorrow or Sunday from the system (Hanna) in the Gulf and wish they would quit bending the forecast track south. Meanwhile here the drone of the cicadas do not make it feel any less like the dog days of summer when it is in the upper 90's. Some local WU stations showed over a hun here today.

There was a Hutton's Vireo which sat on edge of birdbath early this morning. Two or three Hooded Oriole visiting feeders but no ad. male. Great was the family group of Audubon's Oriole that was in yard a bit. Looked like at least two, probably 3 juveniles, and 2 adults. They were in most of the yard trees over 15 minutes or so. Lots of calling. A great show. Mighta got a shot of a juv.

Town run, Rosie was gone so no tacos today, Friday just isn't the same. Little Creek Larry said he had a Spotted Sandpiper on the dam at the park this morning. This is undoubtedly a fall migrant, right now is the time the first ones return from nesting. Fall migration for shorebirds is in full swing in July. Should have Upland Sandpipers going over any night, I have been listening just after dark but not heard one yet. There was one Hutton's Vireo up on the island at the park, but that was it. Otherwise slow, the park is packed with hominids.

July 23 ~ Low of 75F or so, you take what you can get. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was in yard early in the morning. A herdlet of Orchard Oriole went through yard early, a half-dozen or so, first morning with more than a single or two. A few Hooded Oriole were around as well, a pair consisting of first summer male and female were on a feeder together multiple times, indicating they are still nesting. A lone juvenile was also around. A, or the, Yellow-throated Vireo came close to going to bath, which they virtually never do. Once a juvenile came in to it a couple years ago. An adult White-eyed Vireo came in and besides splash-bathing several times, it actually sat on rim of the bath a few times. It was in very heavy molt, of head, body, and wings, and is the most disheveled WEVI I ever saw.

Later morning an Audubon's Oriole or two went through, so 3 sps. orioles this morn. I heard a FOS Least Flycatcher out on the fenceline but it was gone when I got out there with binocs. Hear the Bell's Vireo singing a bit over in the corral, so 4 vireos by noon since the Red-eyed is still singing. Heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. Nearing noon when looking for the Least Flyc. I saw a FOY Laviana White-Skipper at the Frog-fruit. In the afternoon I saw 8 Chimney Swift heading south down the river habitat corridor. Hope they weren't leaving already. Still heard a few Martins overhead, they will be gone soon. Couple Nighthawks at dusk, heard one boom. Eastern Screech-Owl calling. Heard some weird call about 11 p.m. that maybe was a cuckoo. Comet still showing well, but dimming fast. Still a great binocular view object.

July 22 ~ A 76.5F low, headed for mid-90's and again a slight chance of a shower, so good and humid. Saw a Questionmark butterfly early in morning. Bath was busy early too, everything comes in to fill up on water first thing. An oriole seen briefly looked an Orchard. Chat came in, a juv. Summer Tanager took a bath, the stream of Cardinals seems endless. Kathy saw the Yellow-throated Warbler on the portable shade gazebo we have on the patio. A juvenile Yellow-breasted Chat came into the birdbath in the morning. Only saw one ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird today, guarding the office feeder. Should be a Rufous around any day now. Bird of the day was nearing dusk, when a Poor-will flew by, whilst still light out! Nighthawks do so regularly, but this was tiny, round-winged with no white band. Either a juvenile or a parent with young to feed. Have only had a very few from yard in 7 years, though they a present within a mile on the rocky knolls.

July 21 ~ Low of only 76F is not very. Have a slight chance at showers they say, will believe that when I smell rain. In the morning had Gnatcat and Orchard Oriole go by. Dang coon climbed a garden fence and got in the new tub pond. On one side the fence is lowish (4'), so will have to raise that. Maybe run a hot wire to it, wait and watch with the switch in hand? Heard Audubon's Oriole out there in the morning. Some Chimney Swift went over in afternoon. There were some small scattered showers semi-nearish in afternoon. Not close enough to smell, was hot and sticky. More Gnatcats in afternoon. Comet still showing well, but still dimming fast, seems another magnitude less tonight. Still bare-eyeable if you know what to look for and where to look. No Chucks calling, they have fallen silent. If it would rain they would call, and so would I. Great to be losing a minute a day now, a month after the solstice.

July 20 ~ A 72F low was good. No low stratus from the gulf, so sun out of the gate and gonna be a hot one. First thing a Titmouse was over at the pond and went to the branch I stuck in it so anything can crawl out. Always the first bird to check anything new out, the titmouse. The Chickadee watched and went to fence noting it. Early morning had Gnatcatcher and an Orchard Oriole go through yard, and another gnatcat or two over the day. For both, their southbound passage should pick up steam the next few weeks. Saw a real rusty female Indigo Bunting on the patio, there has only been a male showing up, they probably have a nestful of young over in the draw near where he sings. The first few immature male Black-chinned Hummingbirds are showing dark feathers in the throat now. There were some off and on easterly winds over the day, due to a low in the NW Gulf of Mexico. Saw the comet from the driveway at dark. Looks great, and is seeable with the bare eye, barely. Interesting is that it obviously is not as bright as it was last night. Amazing to be able to see that difference in dimming in one day. No chucks called. The Texas Powdered-Skipper was on the Frog-fruit in the afternoon.

July 19 ~ Low of 72F again is wonderful. But boy is it parched out there. We are over six weeks with just an inch of rain since the deluge the last two weeks of May. It's all or nuthin' here now for precip. Heard a couple Gnatcats go through yard, the Indigo Bunting was in a singing mood this morning, Painted are all but silent. Only a very few ad. male Black-chinned Hummers left here now.

Went over the the Waresville pondlet on the golf course. One male Comet Darner continues but again no Least Grebe. Seeming like a miracle I saw it at all. Red-winged Blackbirds still nesting. The Barn Swallows got out of the nest since last week. One female or imm. Purple Martin was on the wire over the pond. Then we checked the 1450 knoll, no Black-capped Vireo. It is so parched and toasted it is hard to believe how lush it was five weeks ago. Heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, heard one and saw another Roadrunner, heard a Field Sparrow and White-eyed Vireo, but it was quiet, though getting warmer at noon. No flowers, no butterflies, no bugs. We need rain.

We went to the crossing after dinner at last sun whence I aqua-mogged through the mud and collected a couple cattails and a water lily. We'll see if they make the transplant. But the tub-pond has a couple plants in it now. Saw a couple American Rubyspot damselfly. After dark we went over to the 1500 knoll to our north and had great views of the comet NEOWISE. It was fairly impressive, and much better than last week, higher up in darker skies. We could see it bare-eyed without binocs. That is a long tail it has! Kathy heard an Eastern Screech-Owl. No Chucks called at dusk.

July 18 ~ A low of 72F felt good. The low stratus from the gulf got here around sunup and kept the sun at bay a few hours. There is a disturbance over south Texas where a few scattered showers, some afternoon clouds kept the heat dialed back to 90F. Heard the Hutton's and the Bell's Vireo to go with the White-eyed, Red-eyed, and Yellow-throated, for five species of vireo from the porch today. It's vireotopia. If I could just get a stray Black-capped... at the bath with photos.

Some begging baby Lesser Goldfinch are nice to see since the first set since the hail storm in late May. They showed up yesterday actually. LEGO were wiped out by the hail. There were a few pairs around the house in late May, only one male for two weeks after the storm. Then a female so by mid-June they must have been underway with a nesting attempt, now we have a couple young. Normally there are too many and at least a couple sets fledged by now, instead of their first clutch.

Got the filter going and am filling the tub, soon to be a 50 gal. pondlet. Sure to soon have Marsh Wren, Sora, breeding Least Bittern, and maybe a Sabine's Gull. Have to put a hole in it for overflow prevention, grated so I don't lose Gambusia when it pours. The Wooly Ironweed is sure popular now. A couple nice male Large Orange Sulphur were on it quite a while, as was a Texas Powdered-Skipper, the first one of the month. There are Dun Skipper on it all day. Then a FOY Southern Skipperling was on the Frog-fruit. Saw the Turkeys over in the corral. Late p.m. there were a couple begging baby Yellow-throated Warbler getting fed in the pecans in front yard. These are another set.

One interesting botanical note I have been meaning to mention. Some Pecans have re-sprouted leaf clusters where they were lost in the hail event. There are many bright green fresh leaflets on a number of trees. Not all of them has done this but several have. No Chuck calling at dusk.

paintedbunting
It is that time of year again... July, when some
adult male Painted Bunting initiate some sort of
supplemental molt we do not seem to understand.
Some ad.ma. are perfectly fully red below now, others
mottled with light areas, sometimes yellowish. Here
is another variation you won't find well-described
in the literature. I noted this male getting pale a
week plus prior to this pic.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 17 ~ A 76F low does not bode well for the afternoon temps. In the morning I had another look, and a decent if brief one, of the Great Plains Skink I saw a couple days ago. This was a most wanted reptile here for me, so great to see, and better to have it around the house. Sure would love a pic, but they are not the type to sit out in the open and sun. It took 15 years to see a Tree Lizard here, and 16.5 for this skink (had one awful look once). If I was retired of course instead of working often 6 days a week, that time would have been reduced considerably no doubt. Still looking for a Copperhead to photo.

There was an Eastern Wood-Pewee in yard early, getting chased by the Ash-throated Flycatcher. The Pewee is way faster and more agile. It appears to think the Ash-throat is a big dumb lunk of a bully. Indigo Bunting still singing, as is Blue Grosbeak, but the Painted Bunting have nearly shut up. Heard a Hutton's Vireo in the yard again, if I would have heard it yesterday it would have been 5 species of vireo in the yard. Most of the ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird have bugged out of the last week to two. Very low numbers of them remain. It is overwhelmingly immatures now, but some ad. fem. still present. Roadrunner was in the Bluemist no doubt hunting the Green Anole lizards that hang around front porch (no doubt after my precious butterflies that come in to the flowers).

Did the town errand run and park check. Summer Tanager still singing, ours in yard has gone quiet. Saw the Red-eyed Vireo in the woods, a couple juv. White-eyed Vireo besides some adults. But quiet overall. Heard the RingKing way upriver. No odes. It has been busy and packed with people so is fairly highly disturbed Memorial to Labor Day. We're half way there. Not much mask wearing overall in town. But Rosie has tacos, and it is back to the hovelita and livin' la vida quarantina. Saw an Elada Checkerspot on the Frog-fruit in the driveway. Chuck still going off at dusk.

July 16 ~ A 73F low was as chilly as it got. Some low stratus kept it below 80 until after 11. Indigo Bunting singing briefly early, and then at seed out back later. Painted Bunting include a few males, a few females, and a few juveniles. They will build the next few weeks before the males depart at the end of the first week in August. Heard a Bell's Vireo sing over in Mesquite across from gate, to go with the Yellow-throated, Red-eyed, and White-eyed all still singing. Later it was in the corral along fenceline. Heard the Great Crested Flycatcher, Ash-throat still harassing everything in yard. Besides the ad. fem. Hooded Oriole at the feeders, an Audubon's Oriole went by yard, but none have caught on to the feeders here.

Did my final 50 gal. pond tub cleaning before I place it and start filtering and filling with water. Once you start filling you can't move it. It has to be fenced or deer, coons, and who knows what would ransack it endlessly. Birdbath is mud every morning due to the dang coons. Even with just 40 gallons of water in it, that weighs over 300 lbs., 50 is 400! Have to scrape a bit to make a level spot. The well water has iron in it, which grows algae, so I remove it (carbon). Generally enough macro plants will keep micros from taking hold but no sense in having any algae-grow from the git-go.

The Frog-fruit was active. Saw Tropical and Desert Checkered-Skipper, besides some Common, for the Pyrgus trifecta. A Dusky-blue Groundstreak was new. A Ctenucha (diurnal moth) finally didn't care and let me get pics, finally. Lots of all the regular stuff I have been mentioning. It could take 10-15 minutes to get away from the patches before you ID everything on it. Late afternoon there were 5 Mestra on it at once. The Olive-Juniper Hairstreak show up most at peak heat, 6 at once, at least. Heard one Chuck-will's-widow gave a fair session of calling at dusk. They will be done real soon. I am surprised he is still going.

July 15 ~ Low was about 72.5, a couple hours of low stratus before it gave way to the sun. Kathy heard a Nighthawk before 7 a.m. Ran to town early so a quick look in the woods at the park, nuthin' happening. Getting quiet out there folks. Back here I saw the Long-billed Thrasher sneakin' around where seed tossed. An adult female Hooded Oriole came in and took a bath. So mom and a juvie here now, sure wish the male would show. Still a few Martin overhead, Indigo Bunting barely still singing. A few male Painted around, one took a bath early. Late in day at least 2 juvenile Painted Bunting were on seed out back, besides a couple ad. fem. types. Heard a Hutton's Vireo.

After spraying water around a male Roseate Skimmer was out there a bit. Kathy saw a Smoky Rubyspot in the yard, but I couldn't find it. I have only seen one in the yard before. Usually the Rubyspots are fairly tied to waters edge here, a beast of the streamside vegetation. Spraying water around is magic though, for odes and for butterflies, it can get nearly instant results. During these hot dry spells it clearly is something they are looking for and needing. Late near last sun a male Common Whitetail was patrolling the Frog-fruit for a last meal. For being common, they are pretty spiffy with that bright snow white abdomen.

Besides the daily butterflies, there was a Nysa Roadside-Skipper on the Bluemist Eup late in day. The Celia's on the Wooly Ironweed is a fairly regular visitor. There was one Horace's Duskywing puddling on some wet mud. One Giant Swallowtail went by. Saw what surely was a Tropical Checkered-Skipper on the Frog-fruit. Common and Desert are regular. Saw my FOY baby Six-line Racerunner (lizard), just a few inches long, and wow are they neat looking. Had a quick look at what surely was a Great Plains Skink (Plestiodon (was Eumeces) obsoletus) out back. It is the first one I have seen in 16+ years here in Utopia. It has been high on my 'wanted' list as it is should be present here. They are diurnal but very secretive as I understand it. Also saw a FOY baby Anole (lizard) that was not 3" long yet, counting the tail.

July 14 ~ Low was 73F and felt great, a respite, if only brief. Several local area stations were at 102F in the afternoon. Uvalde hit 104 and Del Rio 109. I guess we are lucky it is not 128F like Death Valley was a few days ago. Which is actually a wonderful place I spent a fair bit of time exploring. Though generally avoided it early June until later September.

There was a Ribbonsnake in the house which ducked into a place where we couldn't chase. Hope it finds its way back out the way it came in! They are harmless, more or less our version of a Gartersnake here. Though we do have a Black-headed Garter found locally, scarcely.

Ringed Kingfisher flew right over house in a.m.. A few Black-bellied Whistling-Duck followed shortly after. Heard an Audubon's Oriole over in corral and uphill behind us in the big live-oaks. There was a female or imm. Hooded Oriole at the hummer feeders in the a.m., have not been seeing one around so nice. Saw it again later out office window, it is a juvenile Hooded. Heard the Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed Vireos all singing, the Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak still singing. Heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow out back, and later afternoon heard the Long-billed Thrasher smacking in the Mulberry.

A female Common Whitetail dragonfly was in yard a bit. Trying to decide where to put a 50 gal. tub for a dragon pond. Since easy access to some lillies and cattails, Myriophyllum, Gambusia, etc., what the heck with that presently unused heavy duty tub. Shoulda done it a long time ago. Maybe I could get a yard Sora? How many cattails would it take? Worked this a.m. trying to shade some tomatoes that are still trying to make it in this brutal heat. One Chuck was calling a bit at dusk.

At twilight we went over to the 1500' knoll just north of us for some altitude hoping to see the Comet NEOWISE. On the dirt road on way over a Poor-will flushed from the side of the road. Then Kathy saw something bigger, so either a Chuck or a Nighthawk, briefly as it flew off, habitat is Nighthawk. We did see the comet, which was neat, but no Hale-Bopp (the last 'great' comet, in '97). Great comets are those you can see with the bare eye. This you need binocs to spot. As it gets higher in darker sky over the next week viewing should improve. We could see it with 7 and 8x binocs, better in the 20x scope, but I forgot the 25-45x zoom eyepiece which I will dig out for next time.

July 13 ~ Low of 72F felt great, lowest temp in a week, which is a cryin' shame. It was record hot at SAT and Del Rio, presumedly here too. It hit 90 before noon, 97 by 1:30, several local stations were reporting 102-103F at 3 p.m., before peak heat. Humidity was down to 20 percent or so early afternoon. At 5 p.m. KRVL hit 105F and 11% humidity (!), DelRio hit a 112F (!), it was 101 in the shade on the front porch. So had to be 105 in the sun, a couple local stations had 107-8F, likely in sunny spots. We are about 10F over average highs. Junction, Castroville, Hondo, and Uvalde all hit 108F! Gadzooks! Holy thermality heat man! Who left the oven door open? At midnight it was still 85F.

Birds were at the bath all day trying to cool off. What I presume is the male Ash-throated Flycatcher is terrorizing everything for a week plus now. What seems to have happened is that the female left after their third failed attempt and abandon. He is left and pissed off, taking it out on everything in the yard smaller than himself. Constantly harrassing everything, being a mean tyrant of all things, this tyrant flycatcher. Mean as a California Bird Record Committee member.

Kathy spotted a Black-n-white Warbler out front mid-day, female or immature. Early evening after 7:30 Kathy spotted the Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the bath! They never come in, save very rarely when it is over a hundred. It is the first time I have seen it at the bath here. Only twice in 16 years have I seen one come into water, both times it was 104 or 105F. Luckily the bathroom window was open so through my magic screen I got a shot. I have a feeling you are going to see another cuckoo pic.

In butterflies saw a nice yellow morph Lyside Sulphur. Saw the Tawny Emperor cross the yard again, the Mournful and False Duskywing were both around again as well, besides the usual Funereal. Lots of the little stuff still on the Frog-fruit. Hairstreaks, skippers, and mostly Reakirt's Blues. Some Mestra, a few Queen and Sleepy Orange. The Dun Skippers love the Wooly Ironweed, which is in good bloom now, a great dark purple fuzzy flower.

July 12 ~ Low was 75F, not much for morning stratus from the gulf. Probably hit 102F or so as a few of the local WU stations reported. Was 97 in the shade on the front porch. Brutal. After about 95F the humidity is cooked out though, so no heat index on it when that hot. We were 25 percent or so this afternoon at peak heat. Saw (and heard) a Ringed Kingfisher flying north upriver in the morning. Later the Long-billed Thrasher was around out back a few times today. Neat since we normally don't have a thrasher out the window. An adult Zone-tailed Hawk soared low over trees and house late morning.

The rest was the usual gang. We went for a swim at peak heat later in afternoon. Water is getting warm in spots, and down a few inches too. Send rain. Wasn't much singing it was too hot. Damselflies way down after last weeks breeding frenzy, just a very few of the same types left. Swift and Checkered Setwings were it for dragons. A few Dolomedes fishing spiders, one bigger rustyish fuzzy one that looked different from the usual D. scriptus, with small pale-ringed dark eye-spots on abdomen. Late near last sun a yellow Swallowtail came into water which was likely an Eastern Tiger. Saw one False Duskywing here in yard which might be a FOY. Did not hear a Chuck at dark. Only a very few Firefly left flying now. It was a great second wave, now we wait to see if we get a good fall flight.

July 11 ~ Low was 75F, not much for morning clouds. Was a roaster, a hun in the sun in the afternoon. A female Black-n-white Warbler bathed in the morning. Too many cowbirds, at least they will depart soon. I have seen 4 juveniles around in the last month or so, none being attended by our yard birds. They all found the place, but were not raised by any of our regular users. About 10:30 a.m. I heard a Long-billed Thrasher over in the corral, about 11 it was outback thrashing all over the place. Got a few docushots. Was very dull on upperparts, perhaps a juvenile.

Quick spin to town, park was crowded so I skipped it. Noonish I checked the Waresville pond at the edge of the golf course. Did not see a Least Grebe, one male Comet Darner continues. Can't believe how much the baby Barn Swallows have grown in a week. One male Eastern Pondhawk was different. A couple male Purple Martin circled over pond and nest boxes. Lots of all the same butterflies on the driveway Frog-fruit here. Numbers continue to build well. One Goatweed Leafwing came in to water sprayed about, a nice male. Two Chucks called at dusk., one over in corral where it seemed to have nested.

yellowbilledcuckoo
How can you tell it is 104F here? That is what it takes
to get a cukcoo at the birdbath. Otherwise juicy worms
(caterpillars) and such provide enough moisture. Only the
third time in 16+ years to see one drink at the bath, all
three times it was 104 or more. Was at 3 diff. yards too.
Ya gotta love those zygodactyl feet! Two toes forward, 2 back.
Note yellow on upper mandible, not just the lower.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 10 ~ A 75F low was a frog hair better than the last couple days. The low stratus kept it bearable all morning, but the afternoon was a burner. Near a hun. The yard was the same stuff as expected now. Late p.m. there were 7 Turkey over in the corral. It was town run fun day. I should say taco run as that is the best part, that last 10 min. stop at Rosie's. No one wearing masks here in town, save a tourist I saw. Numbers of Large Orange Sulphur going by, fewer Cloudless. Still hearing a few Purple Martin.

Did a quick park check, lots of people for noonish. Summer crowds. Water still going over spillway but level is dropping fast. By the island was the ad. fem. and the imm. Green Kingfisher. Still singing in woods were Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee, all but the Red-eye likely nesting. The Red-eye I think is an unmated troller, been here 5 weeks or more, and have not seen a second bird. No leps or odes. Little Creek Larry said on his creek there, there are near 70 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, most are young of the year. So several pairs must have nested over there. I saw at least 3 pair at the S. Little Crk. bigger (N.) buffalo wallow where they sometimes nest, when it still had lots of water in early June.

Just in case you haven't heard, there is a comet visible to the NNE at about 5 a.m. right now, and from I think Monday it will be visible after sunset instead of before sunrise. Then it will be between WNW and NW I think. Check spaceweathercom or skyandtelescope.com, or space.com, any will have links with sky maps etc. The first site mentioned has a photo gallery with great pics of it.

July 9 ~ Looked like another 77F low here this morn. Morning stratus, so no immediate sun is a bit of a break in itself. We are progged for another heat wave this weekend into early next week. Birds were all the same. Male Indigo Bunting was on the patio. A male Painted has some major pale areas on underparts now, clearly body molt is going on. Ringed King calling from river last hour of sun. The fem. Ladder-backed Woodpecker is roosting in her hole regularly now. Comes in before last sun and enters. Barred Owl calling after dark.

Butterflies were about the same too, but lots of that fun little stuff on the Frog-fruit. At least a couple dozen butterflies at once, of well over a dozen species makes you momentarily forget the heat. Four Olive-Juniper Hairstreak at once, maybe 6 total, a few Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak at once, 3 Mestra together, a few Vesta Crescent, Bordered Patch, a bunch of Reakirt's Blue (near a dozen), and then Eufala, Julia's, Fiery, Dun, Whirlabout, and Desert Checkered-, for skippers. Lysides, Little Yellow, Dainty Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, and a few others, all on Frog-fruit. A Tawny Emperor flew by back porch in morning.

July 8 ~ Low was 77F, clouds stuck until noonish so still barely 82 then. At least a little break. A very warm afternoon, 94F in shade on front porch. So it was near a hun in the sun. Oh, but it is a dry hun. A hun stinks anyway you measure it. Thought I saw a juvenile Painted Bunting, very gray, barely green. The rest was the same gang.

Frog-fruit had a couple Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Funereal and a Mournful Duskywing, a few Vesta, lots of Reakirt's Blue, Fiery and Whirlabout Skipper, a couple each Mestra and Lyside. Low-end entertainment, but entertainment. Like hearing the Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting, Chat, Yellow-throated Warbler, and other stuff singing outside. At least it is something to look at or listen to. Field, Lark, and Chipping Sparrow all still singing.

July 7 ~ Low was 75F or so. Overcast and muggy. A few drops of rain fell at one point, perhaps when the humidity slipped below dripping for a second. But clouds generally kept the heat at bay for most of the day. Low 90's was it, which constitutes a break at this point. Blue Grosbeak is still going strong with song early. Many things are fading fast. The Indigo Bunting is losing steam for instance. Was a Gnatcatcher around in morning. They are so fast and agile it never ceases to amaze me. Saw a Desert Checkered-Skipper on the Frog-fruit among lots of Reakirt's Blue and Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, one Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, some Whirlabout and Dun Skipper, a few Fiery, a couple Vesta and a Phaon Crescent. At least it is something to look at without going anywhere.

Late in day saw a Cuckoo get a Katydid. The Katy dropped like a rock out of the tree when it realized it was spotted and in trouble. The cuckoo dropped right after it, both into tall grass under a smaller pecan. The cuckoo looked around for 10 seconds, spotted it. The end of Katy. Then during my dinner I saw out the side window at least a half-dozen Turkey over in the shade in the corral. A couple Chucks still barely going at dusk.

July 6 ~ The low was not very at 77F. The KRVL stats showed a whopping 6 hrs at or below 79F overnight, hitting 76 for a half-hour. These are some high lows. I looked to see what the scolding scene was about. The Roadrunner was drinking from some holes in the patio that hold water briefly, whilst all the birds around give scold calls and vacate said patio. I am sure they take lots of inexperienced just-fledged baby birds. A mid-morn sprayabout brought in a male Roseate Skimmer dragonfly to the wet shiny patio, and two Funereal Duskywings to a wet carpet remnant outside the cottage. A juv. female Black-and-white Warbler came into the bath mid-morn. About 2 p.m. a narrow band of rain went over, took 10dF off the top for an hour and change. Only a few hundredths here. The cloud debris though kept it from getting as hot as forecast, lowest 90's instead of upper. A couple Chucks half-heartedly singing at dusk. Was shooting some small butterfly pics on the Frog-fruit and later saw I got my FOY Ceraunus Blue.

July 5 ~ Low was 72F, a few local WU stations were showing a toasty 100 in the late afternoon. That was when we were in the river swimming. The water is warming up though. We need more rain. Was 96F on shady porch in the later afternoon, so surely we had a hun in the sun. Brutal heat.

The morning yard stuff was all the same. We putted around to a couple stops 11-1 or so. The pond by the Waresville Cmty. had maintenence work being done, so if the grebe was still there it was hiding. We did see one male Comet Darner still there though. Kathy saw a Widow Skimmer. A second set of baby Barn Swallow being fed are more than a week from fledging still. The Martins seem gone (early) from the house in disrepair.

At the 360 x-ing there were Rubyspot dragonflies, only American but at least 10, finally. Also a FOY Five-striped Leaftail. Neat was a Tawny Emperor which hit the river surface 3 times to get water no doubt. Had a glance at what was surely a Viceroy. Saw Longeared Sunfish and Texas Cichlid. Birds there were Indigo and Painted Bunting, Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Chat, and some more common stuff.

We checked the 1450 knoll. Thought I might have heard a dribble or two of Black-capped Vireo calls. Kathy saw a juv. vireo she wasn't sure of but there was an adult White-eyed in the near vicinity. A good number of Ash-throated Flycatcher, seemed over a half-dozen. Must be young out of nests now. But it was hot already hitting 90F so not prime time for birds. Just a few Zexmenia left blooming, one Mournful Duskywing on them. What was amazing was how the carpet of flowers two weeks ago is brown, dried, and cooked, in the last week plus of high 90's F on that hot SW facing slope. Baked. All of them. It went from a lush cornucopia of color to dry brown toast in two weeks. The June bloom has left the room. It was a good one, surely leaving a great seed crop behind.

From just after 4 to just after 5 we were in the water cooling off. I mostly do the banks for bugs, and listen for birds since can't carry binocs. Lots singing in the heat, which means still nesting. Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue Grosbeak, Chat, Yellow-throated Warbler, Painted Bunting, Black-crested Titmouse, Summer Tanager, were all very vocal as in territorial singing. Saw my FOY small fish, that is, native fish, which means one of the 'minnows' in our case. Black-tailed Shiners, several dozen, finally. Kathy spotted a nice male Red-breasted Sunfish in breeding colors. A few small Largemouth Bass. In dragonflies just a few Swift Setwings for anything big, the rest was damsels, and they were numerous. Saw my FOY Stream Bluet, dozens of Double-striped Bluet continue. Several each of Blue-ringed, Dusky, and Violet Dancer. A bunch I couldn't see close enough. Thought I saw a Powdered Dancer but it got away.

Saw A couple Dolomedes fishing spiders. One unseen one jumped on my arm as I reached for a baby sword fern on a cypress root, it quickly jumped off onto the tree. It was so fast I didn't know what it was until it stopped on the tree a few inches from my hand. I just knew something jumped on me but my eyes could not begin to catch up to it until it stopped, it was so fast. Nice that it wasn't attacking. It reminded me of how mis-informed our ideas are about so many things, like spiders, are. Most folks are amazingly scared of spiders, with snakes and sharks running close behind, just ahead of anything that buzzes in flight. Everything is not out to get you. Childhood cartoons did more to scare people of buzzy insects than anything else.

July 4 ~ Low was about 73F, and no clouds, high pressure has taken over. Was 95 in the shade on front porch in afternoon, a few local WU stations were showing 99F at peak heat. We do lose the humidity though when it gets that hot. It goes dry. It is the biggest day of the year in town, so we stay hidden and avoid it all. The first-summer Black-n-white Warbler came into the bath early in the morning. Providing good looks and finally a couple weak pix enough to study his state of molt. Otherwise was the about same gang of birds and butterflies. Kathy saw a male Widow Skimmer go over the house, after I saw the FOY just yesterday at the park.

blackbelliedwhistlingduck
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, formerly known as (B-b) 'Tree-Duck'
for their habit of perching in trees. They whistle well too.
A few nest locally, the immatures are duller and have dark bills.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 3 ~ The 73F low was better than 75 the last few days. KRVL had a 72. Perplexing was a duck that flew over the house in the morning. It was not a Whistling-Duck or a Wood Duck, the only two types normally possible in summer. Looked like one of the Aythya group of diving ducks. It was 'one that got away'. Wish I had my bins on when I spotted it. The Red-eyed Vireo was in the Mulberry over the cottage early in morn. The Black-and-white Warbler was singing right out the office window, adding those warbly trills for flourish at the end sometimes. Oh those first-summer singers.

Best thing in the morning was a swallowtail butterfly that was at least an Ornythion Swallowtail, though maybe it could have been something rarer. It was clearly not a Giant which we see daily. Flight pattern was obviously not a Giant, with shallow twittering flaps. It appeared to be almost without hind wings. The dark bar at posterior or trailing edge of forewing absolutely did not cross any other bars and was isolated inwardly by yellow its entire length. It was an Ornythion or better. Broad-banded being the long-shot outside chance and only other possbility, no record in UvCo. Late afternoon saw a Mournful Duskywing on the Frog-fruit.

Town run day. Nice to see masks being used. Still out of three-quarter PVC. Pretty busy, food store out of some items too. I hear the annual firework show at the park is ON, which is the biggest crowd of the year here, and can be seemingly near a couple thousand people. You won't find us amongst them. Up in the woods at the park there was the juv. Green Kingfisher, a juv. White-eyed Vireo, and a juv. Eastern Wood-Pewee. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo still singing (nesting). Finally saw a FOY Widow Skimmer (dragonfly) but the pond was pretty quiet for odes. A few Fragile Forktail were in the woods as was one Clouded Skipper.

July 2 ~ There was a trace of rain overnight, maybe a tenth, from a system that was said to be dissolving way north of us. Radar shows Lost Maples might have gotten a quarter inch. Low was 75F anyway, and plenty humid. Heard the Ring King flying high over river going north early in morning. In the afternoon an Inca Dove was on the patio. Haven't seen one here in yard in a bit. Male Blue Grosbeak was on the patio. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo over in corral. Saw the female Ladder-back go into the nest hole she dug to roost. This the hole the Ash-throats took over, built a nest in, and abandoned. Just a wee bit of Chuck calling at dark, they are already running out of steam.

A couple new butterflies showed up on the Frog-fruit which I missed last month. At least they waited until the 2nd to show up. A Marine Blue is my FOY, missed getting a pic though. Two Orange Skipperling were out there as well, I saw no skipperlings in June. Those flowers continue to be a hotbed of activity all day though, watch yer Frog-fruit. Lots of Reakirt's Blue, a few each Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, and Mallow Scrub-Hairtreak, several Whirlabout, plus more Dun and Fiery Skipper, a Julia's or two, Funereal Duskywing and Lyside Sulpur, some Snout. Great fun in the heat of the day, and it got hot, probably 95 or 96F. The second wave of Firefly is on the wane, it has peaked here in the yard, far fewer than a week ago. Saw an Eyed Elaterid.

July 1 ~ Hope the first half of the year was not an indicator of the second half. Low was 76F, with low stratus thick enough to mist a bit at one point. Yellow-throated and Black-n-white Warbler singing out front early. A Rufous-crowned Sparrow came in and used the bird bath in the morning. The rest was the same gang, and it is Wed., a busy desk day for me here. Saw 92F on the shady front porch, and it was very humid so felt worse. Always glad to get through the first day of the month without seeing any butterfly species I missed the prior month. A Ringed Kingfisher was calling quite a bit over at the river. Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos singing later afternoon, heard Cuckoo a few times.

~ ~ ~ June summary ~ ~ ~

It was a dry one, I don't think we had an inch of rain total at our place. Just some tenths here and there, a quarter and a third. But it was a slightly cooler one, we had many lows in the 60's F, and highs not in the 90's. So we kinda skated on the heat compared to recent drought regimen temps. The flower bloom was good due to the foot of rain in the last half of May, which kept things going well and made for a good June bloom.

Butterflies picked up after a poor May (worst ever in 16 prior Mays at 33 species). June found species 50 on the 30th. A couple got away, one I thought was a Metalmark, and another surely was a False Duskywing. The last few days of the month there was a significant influx of species that are irruptive here. Mostly little stuff, like skippers, blues, and hairstreaks, but which could indicate an invasion year is in the works. It has been a couple years since the last one, we are overdue, and have had rains. Finally saw an Arizona Sister for the year this month, but still missing a Crimson Patch. Lots of Elada Checkerspot on the 1450 knoll SW of the 360 x-ing. The end-of-the-month surge saw FOY for several species: Theona Checkerspot, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Desert Checkered-Skipper, Eufala Skipper, and Phaon Crescent. The highlight of the month was a Brazillian Skipper on June 23 on the Blue Mist Eup. at our front porch. First in the yard, and my first locally in several years. In moths saw a Virginia Ctenucha and two Texas Wasp Moth but generally night lighting is frighteningly dull and devoid of bugs. Saw a half-dozen Eyed Elaterid.

cometdarner
One of two Comet Darner (Anax longipes), at
pondlet by Waresville Cmty., Utopia, June 28, 2020.
Odes were about 23 species, a big uptick from the woeful May total of 13. Missed Lost Maples so, uh, lost, a few sps. there. A couple COMET Darner (Anax longipes) were highlights, June 27-28, at the golf course pondlet by the Waresville Cemetery. There are only a handful of UvCo records. Over a dozen Thornbush Dasher there, methinks they are breeding there now. I did not see a Rubyspot of any flavor this month, which is odd. Usually our crossing has lots of American with a few Smoky, there were none of either.

Birds were mostly the normal expected stuff, the breeding species are the story in June. The month with the fewest transient species. As in none besides local post-breeding wanderers usually. But this year there was one. A new bird for the local list at that. Likely the first ever reported in the upper Sabinal River drainage, a LEAST GREBE. This at the pondlet on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. on June 27. The other report of interest was Little Creek Larry seeing what he thought were 4 Spotted Sandpiper tightly together interacting in early June at the spillway in park. Which is far too late for migrants here, these birds likely nested locally, and it was likely two young with adults. A Cassin's Sparrow singing south of town a few miles June 4, is a far less than annual occurrence up here in the hills. Saw Eastern Wood-Pewee feeding a young again at Utopia Park.

Otherwise the big story was the loss of birds from the late May hail storm carpet bombing. There was obviously a huge lack of birds around our place, and a dearth at other spots locally we frequent. Many species were clobbered. Vultures and Lesser Goldfinch in particular. More than the usual number of single trolling unmated birds around. I tally 85 species I saw locally in June, just within 4 miles of Utopia. So maybe 95 are around, missed a few with no Lost Maples this month. All but the grebe are breeders here. This is very high breeding diversity for such a small area.

~ ~ ~ end June summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

June!?! It is time to dig up interesting breeding records. The Downy Woodpecker in May will be hard to top. A tantalizing report was of multiple Spotted Sandpiper at Utopia Park June 3, at least 3, probably 4 birds, which would seem to indicate local breeding, which is unknown. A TROPICAL Parula was reported in ebird at Lost Maples in early June. On June 23 a BRAZILLIAN Skipper butterfly here is a far less than annual rarity. A LEAST GREBE at the dinky golf course pondlet adjacent to the Waresville Cmty. on June 27 is likely the first known in the upper Sabinal River drainage. Two COMET Darner dragonflies at the same place are very rare odes in UvCo.

~ ~ ~ end archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~


June 30 ~ Well that was a quick first half of a year. Glad that is over! Not like I planned it at all. Hardly had any of that was on my 2020 bingo card. Ash-throats and Summer Tanager are back singing in yard. Heard the Black-n-white singing in the big live-oaks upslope behind us. Still seeing two Gnatcatcher around, maybe the one snagged a mate?

First thing before 7 a.m. as I went to cottage for bird seed an Underwing moth flew off one of the porch covering supports, which are brown painted mesquite trunks. It was C. obscura, the common dull brown one. Great was finally a FOY Clouded Skipper briefly on the Blue Mist. Since I keep monthly species diversity lists, anything new on the last day of the month rocks. Especially when sitting in chair with coffee. Makes ya wanna walk out on the driveway and check that Frog-fruit again. OK, I checked it a dozen times all day, nothing new that wasn't mentioned the last few days, but great to see all that little stuff after it was MIA last year. A couple of those Olive-Juniper Hairstreak are so fresh and green they make you want a julep.

June 29 ~ Low of 75F due to the gulf low stratus holding the heat in. Welcome to summer here. At least there are a few hours in the a.m. when it is in the 70's. So you hurry and do all you can before the clouds break and you are left with only heat and humidity. Even 75 is relief. I got another hour of yard work in before too drippy. Amazing was how the clouds held and at 4 p.m. it was still only 85F. Yeah humid, but, it could be 95.

Lots of juvenile Black-chinned Hummers at the feeders lately, what seems the second wave is still here, thickly. It is prime-time for a good hummer. Late in the afternoon a male Bullock's Oriole was calling and singing in the Mesquites and the Hackberry by the gate. Late June they start moving around a bit after breeding, which they do very sparsely up here in hills, on the valley floor where areas of many thick Hackberries in particular.

The Frog-fruit in the driveway (it likes ruderal disturbed areas) is hoppin' with butterflies now. A mint fresh Variegated Frit, a Theona Checkerspot was my FOY so very nice, another Bordered Patch, another Buckeye, lots of Whirlabout, some Fiery, Eufala, Julia's, Dun, and Common Checkered-, for skippers. Gray, Olive-Juniper, and Mallow Scrub-, for Hairstreaks, still just Reakirt's in Blues but should be a Ceraunus around any moment, a Vesta Crescent, a Texan Crescent by patio. Thought I saw a Metalmark fly off some Zexmenia. Great to have some action right in the driveway!

The behavior and call of the day was the bill clacking sound of the male Vermilion Flycatcher. This is a fast series of beak snaps making a clicking noise like the proverbial 'winding of a cheap Timex watch'. I think originally used to describe the clicking rattle call of Smith's Longspur. This is very, remarkably, similar to that. The male gives this sound to the female to say 'come on, there has to be a branch good enough in this tree'. This tree is great. This branch is perfect. Please pick a branch in this tree, so we can stop shopping. We have been on every branch on every tree in five acres, twice. Sometimes it waves its wings like it does in flight display, whilst standing on a branch at a particular spot.

June 28 ~ Low of 75F is not very. Some light mist, drizzle and showerlets went over in morning, maybe a tenth of an inch or so. Hold the dust down a bit. Worked on stuff here since wettish out. The Frog-fruit continues to be good, besides all the small stuff there yesterday still present there were first of the month Phaon Crescent, Desert Checkered-Skipper, and Bordered Patch. About 4 p.m. we went over to the Waresville pond where grebelet and comet. Bad time for the grebe, we didn't see it. Heat of day and had gotten hot, 88F or so, it was probably hidden back in the cattails. Any June day you don't hit 90F you beat the odds.

We did confirm TWO male COMET Darner squabbling over the pond, sometimes at arm's length! At times I wondered if there might be three. I got a better docu-shot than I had from yesterday, still pixylated, but ID'able. What a beautiful fancy dragon! There are over a dozen, probably way over, Thornbush Dasher there. One Wandering Glider was something not seen yesterday. There were lots of Familiar Bluet damselflies. Another Phaon Crescent was there too.

About 7-8 p.m. the Black-n-white Warbler was singing in the big Mesquites across from the gate. Not exactly what ya think of for a B-n-w singing tree! It is a first-summer male, been around about a couple weeks now. Heard a Nighthawk go by before dusk. Chucks are still calling, but only a couple weeks left in them by now. Usually in the second week of July they go quiet for the most part, except if it rains.

June 27 ~ Low of 72F, very strong southerly breezes all day, and oddly hazy due to the Saharan dust cloud. Definitely weird out, maxed out about 85 on front porch. The Frog-fruit along the driveway is really picking up some small butterflies now. There were 5-6 Whirlabout, 1 Fiery Skipper, a FOY Eufala, a Julia's Skipper, 3 Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, a FOY Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, and a Buckeye. I saw a Texas Wasp Moth on the Bluemist but again it bolted when I went for camera. Late late afternoon I saw a Zone-tailed Hawk go by the yard. Late after 11 p.m. there was a showerlet with a half a tenth of an inch.

After lunch I went to town for PVC parts, we are out of 3/4" here, hope you did not need any. Last week it was bird seed, now the most common diam. PVC. It' like Green Acres. That theme song should play as you drive down Main St., Kathy and I use it regularly here. So I went looking for flowers and butterflies since the park is packed with the rodeo people. Library butterfly garden is not in great shape, and didn't see anything of interest. Lots of Flame Acanthus blooming at the park entrance garden, but saw no Crimson Patch, or their cats. One singing Bell's Vireo, several Black-chinned Hummer, would be a good place for a vagrant hummingbird. Some Turks Cap going there now too, so Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphurs there.

Still not willing to give up without a fight, I made one last stop, at the pondlet at edge of golf course by the Waresville Cemetery. Figured there might be dragons since it is late June. First thing I see as I walk over is a big ol' stonking male COMET Darner! It is a mega rary in Uvalde Co., I found the first county record 13 years ago or so, at Cook's Slough, and then at the fish hatchery. There have been a few since, and I had them up here maybe 3 times, but not in several years, at least 5-6 I think, probably more. The Canon Powershot is the absolute worst camera in the world to try to take flying dragon pics with. After several tries and about 20 frames, I got one OOF - out-of-focus, but ID'able image. What a beauty of a beast! Bright red long abdomen with big green thorax, head, and eyes. Awesome animal.

Also there was a FOY Red-tailed Pennant, a Blue Dasher, at least 6 FOY Thornbush Dasher, and a Red Saddlebags. During one of my four attempts to get a pic of the Comet (and they are like one, they never stop moving, always patrolling, they don't hang up, or hover in one place) I was scanning the area where cattails meet open water with my binocs and all of a sudden I was looking at a big yellow eye, on a little gray fuzzy lump. LEAST GREBE! New bird for the upper Sabinal River drainage list! I have mentioned it as a most-wanted species at the park, as I thought we should get one. But lots of disturbance there spring to fall. This pondlet is perfect. I got some long-distance high-mag fuzzy pixels, but at least some docu-shots. They are semi-regular at the waterholes around Uvalde, but anything north of the flatlands and up in the hills of the plateau is rare. There have been a few sightings over at those manmade subdivision lakes (Hiawatha?) north of Bandera. I know of no report ever from the upper Sabinal drainage. I imagine some have been at some of the nicer private ranch ponds that no one knowing ever sees. So the dinky pondlet at the golf course held the big jackpots for the day. A fancy rare dragon, and a rare bird. Be indifatigable. Always make one more, that last, stop, and take that one last quick pish. A Myiarchus flycatcher there was likely a Brown-crested but moved through quickly.

leastgrebe
This is the Least Grebe at the pondlet adjacent to the
Waresville Cmty., June 27. Tiny, mostly gray with yellow eyes.
Whaddabird! Likely the first Utopia area record. This one
shows the dark throat of breeding plumage.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 26 ~ Low of 71F, low stratus, the gulf flow is back. Saw some begging Yellow-throated Warblers chasing an adult around Pecans, so they got something out of nest for a second brood. Here is a snapshot of what is nesting locally in, near, or adjacent to yard. Singing early besides the Yellow-throated Warbler, and the Chuck-will's widow (which stops early), are Cardinal, Chat, Blue Grosbeak, Painted and Indigo Bunting, Lark, Chipping and Field Sparrow, White-eyed Vireo, Vermilion Flycatcher, Lesser Goldfinch, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Black-crested Titmouse, House Finch, Eastern Phoebe, White-winged Dove, a Black-n-white Warbler (likely our local troller), Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Eastern Bluebird. More distantly heard Summer Tanager and Mockingbird sing and a Scissor-tail call. The Red-eyed Vireo is still singing in corral adjacent, and heard Yellow-throated Vireo in afternoon. Other things around daily are Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Common Ground-Dove, Mourning Dove, Black Vulture (pair roosting in big pecan lately), Bronzed and Brown-headed Cowbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and a single Carolina Chickadee (our pair seems to have lost a mate), and lots of Black-chinned Hummingbird. Only heard a distant Ash-throated Flycatcher, this week they seem to have abandoned their (third) yard nesting attempt this year. Those are the three dozen daily yard birds now. Overhead passing by or through also seen daily are Barn Swallow and Purple Martin, Turkey Vulture, and often Chimney Swift. Every few days I see Caracara which nest very nearby, if I was outside more they would be daily. There are about 40 species daily in, around, adjacent, or over yard, and nesting nearby. Some days I hear the Roadrunner uphill behind us, or the Pewee singing at the river. Most years Common Nighthawk would be on the daily list. The Red-tailed Hawk fledged their young and disappeared, to make the begging stop. Seemingly every day a representative from the Cooper's Hawk family stops, or stoops, by as well.

Was drizzley and showery as I went to town, looked like town had some standing water in all the streets, they must have gotten some precip earlier that we missed. I hit a good shower on the way home, told Kathy I washed the car. Rosie was gone, so no tacos today. Hope I live. At the park saw a juvenile White-eyed Vireo, and a begging juv. Eastern Wood-Pewee, so they got a young out again this year. I thought I saw the pewee last week, got a long distance shot, but then could not get pix off camera to confirm. Did not hear the Common Grackles, I presume the begging young I heard last week fledged and they are gone. At the park a Rodeo is this weekend, tonight I think, and B-B-Q and dance or somesuch tomorrow. Park will be packed. Lots of fledged Barn Swallows around at several sites. Tried to get reservations for Lost Maples this weekend but already booked due to reduced entry. Sure not going next weekend. It was still in the 70's F at 3 p.m., which is amazing. Beat the heat another day. Might have briefly hit lowest 80's in a spot of sun later. Another shower later afternoon, we were likely near .2 of precip for the day, and so .5 for the week. Twice I thought I heard a White-tipped Dove in the afternoon.

June 25 ~ A 65F low, the last morning of this wonderful dry NE flow. Topped out about 92F. We have really lucked out with the temps this June. May wasn't bad either. The worst of summer is just ahead, the next 10 to 12 weeks, pending how soon the first fall fronts arrive. Birds were the same gang, and mostly will be until later in July when stuff from elsewhere starts showing up. Hopefully we will get another cycle and set of young out of everything in the next month. Flycatchers around yard are Vermilion, Great Crested, Ash-throated, and Eastern Phoebe, plus Scissor-tailed are heard daily but not sure to see every day. Late saw a Goatweed Leafwing out in the pecans. Thought I saw a juvenile Painted Bunting later afternoon, have not seen one yet. They are always slow to get the first young out, then they stack up fast the last month they are here.

June 24 ~ An amazing low of 64F with dry northeast flow. Incredible for the date. Only upper 80'sF for a high, and dry, is nice. Heard the Orchard Oriole singing out front again. Heard a Roadrunner beak-clapping just uphill behind the house. Saw the Great Crested Flycatcher, which the pair of Ash-throats really don't seem to care for. But they seem to have left the hole they took from the Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Three times they have seemed to set up shop so far this spring, and moved, twice prior from boxes they were taking nest material into. A Gnatcatcher was around yard quite a bit, maybe on of the pair that was here in May.

In butterflies, a pair of Julia's Skipper were chasing around in the grass late afternoon. There were 20 or so Snout, first double-digit numbers of them this year. One Large Orange Sulphur, a Giant Swallowtail, and good was a Dusky-blue Groundstreak, maybe the first this year here. A Celia's Roadside-Skipper was ovipositing on some wide-bladed native grass which is within the Bluemist Eup. patch. I think these are the caterpillars that devour it. Will have to start watching close now. This second-wave of Firefly show is outstanding, a hundred plus in the yard at dusk sure make it all nice and sparkly.

June 23 ~ Low was 75F, the gulf flow low stratus muggy standard. An hour and change after dawn a band of thunderstorms went over and dropped it to 68 nearly instantly, which was still holding at 11:30 a.m.! We got about .3 of precip, and it was great. After yesterday afternoon's burner this is a most welcome break. It is an upper level shortwave (you can see the circulation well on satellite this a.m.) that is pushing NW flow (dryer cooler air) into our saturated atmosphere. I saw the line at San Angelo last night, they were not sure it would make it here. At one point the band with the worst of it perfectly followed the Balcones Escarpment from Austin, around the corner at SAT, then west across the southern edge past us. A signature return you can regularly see here.

Birds were singing well, they seemed to like the cooldown and water. It was all the same resident cast of course. I hear begging baby Bewick's Wren from a box on the pecan north of house, so they switched boxes from their first set. This is a box I had moved as it wasn't being used. Location, location, location. Saw another Eyed Elaterid flying around yard in late afternoon. High was maybe 87F in the sun, about 83 on shady front porch. Which was more like how it was here 30+ years ago in the late 80's in June, instead of the low 90's of current climate.

The big hit of the day though was at 4 p.m., when a Brazillian Skipper (Calpodes ethlius) stopped briefly on the Bluemist Eupatorium. I slowly got up for camera and it shot away. It is new for the yard list, and I have not seen one locally in several years. They are irruptive here, most years none show, it never gets common but some rare years there are multiple individuals around. A fancy yard skipper makes a great day. They are huge compared to our dinky skippers, at a glance about 5 times bigger. It is skipper species number 30 in the yard. Imagine the excitement!

Much of the afternoon there was an Orchard Oriole singing in the front yard pecans, or adjacent ones in the corral. Never saw it but presume it is the one I have been hearing call for a week or so. Also think it a first summer male as the song is not well-refined and of the highest quality. The poor bird, found a dang critics yard to troll in. I love hearing it in the yard, don't get me wrong. It is a great treat. I'll be sad when he is gone. I wish they would nest here. If you saw the way the pecans are in the yard, you would think, 'that looks like an orchard'. But they don't think that apparently.

June 22 ~ Low 74, overcast, muggy, and it feels refreshing after the 90's of yesterday afternoon. It was 80F at midnight last night, and we crossed it about noon today. So you get a dozen hours below that these days, half of which I sleep through. Had to run to town early as out of my backup emergency birdseed (the feedstore is out!) and needed more. At least Rosie was there so brought back a couple egg, chorizo, and cheese breakfast tacos. They are great. Have Monday morn biz at desk so couldn't brake to break for birds.

Heard a Black-n-white Warbler singing this morning, we might have a troller around. Also heard a Great Crested Flycatcher over towards the river, first in a few weeks here. The male Red-winged Blackbird was on the patio again, now showing red shoulders. Hear the Red-eyed Vireo and Indigo Bunting singing. Saw a N. Rough-winged Swallow over yard, which have not been around as when a pair uses the old Green Kingfisher holes in the bank at closest part of river. Saw a Southern Broken-Dash (skipper - butterfly) on the Frog-fruit in the afternoon, as well as the usual Whirlabout or two.

It was 92F on the cool shady front porch, so upper 90's in the sun. We played hooky an hour and went for a swim in the river in peak heat. Hardly any fish, seems weird. Lots of birds singing in the heat, Chats, Painted and Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Warbler, Lesser Goldfinch, Eastern Wood-Pewee. Way more damselflies out, finally. Lots of Double-striped Bluet and Blue-ringed Dancer. One Violet Dancer, and a Forktail got away. In dragons Blue Dasher, Swift and Checkered Setwing. Saw a FOY Dolomedes fishing spider, one of the big ones, likely scriptus, in a Cypress root. Also saw a couple other types of fishing spider, but was in water without camera. One was hunting on lily pads, the other was one of the smaller long skinny ones with a damselfly in the web over the water.

June 21 ~ About 73-93F for a temp spread, muggy, the standard summer regimen. Morning low clouds and fine in the shade with a breeze, but hot in the sun. We went over to the knoll and the pair of Black-capped Vireo were not around. Maybe they fledged young, or maybe the nest got predated, or maybe a lot of things, but I only thought I might have heard a couple dribbles. We did not hear the trolling unmated male either. Saw a Common Nighthawk which is great. Heard Olive Sparrow and Long-billed Thrasher, Painted Bunting, Chat, White-eyed Vireo, Lark Sparrow and Mocker, Titmouse and Bewick's Wren. One Turkey Vulture.

The flowers are spectacular, acres and acres of a carpet of a dozen species or more, and thick, from that foot of rain the last half of May. A surprise was the Antelope Horns went off again and are just opening new flower heads. Saw those things I think might be Angel's Trumpets, or else are something that looks similar to them. Lots of Heliotrope (babys breath), Beggar's Tick, Slender-leaf Hymenoxys, Slender-stem Bitterweed, Blackfoot Daisy, Mountain Pink showing well in places, Zexmenia is doing great, Navajo Tea, Coreopsis, Indian Blanket, Prairie Fleabane, Prarie Brazoria, lots of Texas Vervain, one FOY Black Dalea, and FOY Old Man's Beard flowers open.

Butterflies were not numerous, their numbers low still. Saw a DOI, duskywing of interest, that got away, a Horace's was the only ID'd type. A half-dozen Elada Checkerspot makes this place the capital of those locally. It is a somewhat unique habitat compared to other places locally. Dense understory on a hot dry southwest facing slope. Nearly impenetrable with lots of Laurel, Persimmon, Agarita, some Acacias, Ashe Juniper, Buckley Oak, and live-oaks, and a solid wildflower forb layer. One Checkered Setwing was it for dragons.

Adjacent to yard Red-eyed Vireo and Indigo Bunting still singing. The pair of bluebirds bathed in the heat of late afternoon, mighta gotta shot or two. There was a first summer male Painted Bunting of the salmon underparts variety at the bath too. Dang camera has a port malfunction. You give me a camera and I will find the weak link. I guarantee it. The transfer cable port is made of a too soft shat of an excuse for an alloy, and does not make proper contact now. Two good cables. So have a card reader on order and will have to pull the card every time I want to get pix off now. Thanks Canon. Tell your engineers that for not a dime worth of steel (on something sold for $500 new) it could have lasted forever.

June 20 ~ Happy Solstice, I think. Some of my calendars say today is the first day of summer, others, tomorrow. Seems like that should have been settled before calendar printing time last year? I think today is it. Today is the furthest north the sun gets, and longest daylight day of the year. About the same duration tomorrow though, a full 2 seconds shorter Monday. Had to fix a couple birdboxes that got blown down or bent, in that big hail event. There was a 50 mph outflow boundry in front of it. They weren't where I could see them so went undetected a bit. Both serviced and back up now. Ran about 73-93F for a temp spread, mostly cloudy, very muggy. Got some yard work done, but was stuck attending biz at computer/desk all day.

Heard the Ringed Kingfisher over at the river. Heard a Black-n-white Warbler singing upslope behind us in the big live-oaks this morning. Late afternoon there were two Yellow-throated Vireo singing in the front yard, but at opposite sides, and went their own ways. Seemingly a couple unmated males. Probably both lost mates in the hail event. I thought I saw a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird today. At 5' I could see nothing about it that made me think it was a Black-chinned, and everything about it was Ruby. I see the Wooly Ironweed by the front porch is just opening its first flowers, beautiful dark purple fuzzy things. I think it is about 5 years old now, has about 16 stalks this year. It was sheltered from the hail for the most part.

yellowbilledcuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo can spot a green caterpillar on a green leaf
from two-hundred feet. They are one of few things that tear into
the tents to eat tent caterpillars, and they eat other hairy cats
that nothing else touches. Tails are very long, it is cutoff here.


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June 19 ~ Ran about 72-92F for a temp spread, mostly cloudy in the morning, partly sunny in the afternoon. Heard an Orchard Oriole in the yard in the morning. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river morning and afternoon. Town run for errands. Little Creek Larry said his pair of Hooded Orioles have a couple young out of the nest with them now. And he is still seeing the Long-billed Thrashers on 355. At the park I saw a begging baby Coooper's Hawk up in the woods. Heard some begging baby Common Grackle, so they have young again this year, out on the island as usual. Also heard more baby Yellow-throated Warbler begging, singing Yellow-throated Vireo. In odes, saw what appeared a Springtime Darner dragonfly, and a couple Orange-striped Threadtail damselflies, up in the swampy woods area. One Texan Crescent butterfly up in the woods. Sure not seeing any Zone-tailed Hawk as usual over town, maybe just bad timing on my part. One pair of Scissor-tails by rodeo ring at the park. Some Purple Martin, Cave Swallow, and Chimney Swift over town. Saw an Eyed Elaterid in yard later afternoon.

June 18 ~ It was 71F for a low and did not get to 90 for a high, cloudy and breezy all day. Fine for the date. Buried at the desk. A pair of Black Vulture has been hanging around, saw them try to copulate up in the big pecan. Great was one of the diurnal moths, a Ctenucha (virginica), which I have not seen in years. They were regular in low numbers the first 5 (wet years) I was here. Once about 10 years ago there were loads of them, then only one or two since. I got 6' away with my camera and it bolted, got no shots. Orange head with a metallic blue-black body and black wings. Neat beast. It was on the Bluemist Eupatorium, hope it comes back. Heard singing Chipping and Field Sparrow, Yellow-throated, Red-eyed, and White-eyed Vireo, only one Blue Grosbeak singing around now. The Eastern Phoebe got another set of young out of the nest, but we didn't get a count this time. Sure weird to not be hearing Common Nighthawks every night. I presume the one I heard a couple times after the hail storm was a surviving male, but have not heard it in 10 days or so now. There are pairs that nest on each knoll, both are gone. I presume the females got creamed sitting on the eggs they wouldn't leave, which are out in the open. The Chucks are still going though, they would have been under dense cover. The Firefly show is great, at least a hundred going off at dusk in the yard. Awesome.

June 17 ~ Ran about 71-89F today, and muggy. More streamer showers briefly in the morning, clouds held past noon. We had to run to Sabinal to get the trucklet inspected. Saw a Harris's Hawk on Harris's Hill (the first big hill north of Sabinal a few miles on 187). Amazing was only one Western Kingbird and one pair of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Maybe too much crop-dusting down there? Saw a handful of butterflies, but nary a speck on the windshield in 40+ miles roundtrip. Where's the bugs? Where's the birds? Didn't have time to run down to the 309 crossing in heat of day, since a busy desk day here at the office, had to get back. Did a supply stop and shop there instead since they have things cheaper than, and not available here.

June 16 ~ Low was 72F, so not very, some streamer showers as they call them here, coming in with the gulf moisture this the morning. Holds some dust down and increases humidity. Was about a tenth of an inch here in the morning. At 6:30 a.m. the Yellow-throated Warbler is doing its singing in the big pecan, it may well have a nest up there. Noonish, heard two Red-eyed Vireo singing, a quarter mile apart or so. Heard an Orchard Oriole again. The Phoebes fledged a second batch of young today, though didn't get a count and hadn't done so earlier, trying not to bother them. Saw a Cloudless Sulphur fly through yard, first one in a while. I expected the rains to bring more butterflies by now.

June 15 ~ Low of 64F was great. This is quite an unusual stretch of cooler lows we are experiencing. The SE gulf flow (and moisture) has returned after a week of absence. Besides the two hot days of subsidence, Cristobal was great for us here. So some morning low stratus which held to after noon. It was only 81F at 1 p.m. I saw the first summer Cooper's Hawk go after a Bronzed Cowbird which it missed despite my rooting for the hawk. Noonish Kathy saw a Black-n-white Warbler which I only saw fly off, she said it looked like a juvenile. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo in the corral still. Best was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, my FOY, finally. Saw the Celia's Roadside-Skipper again on the Blue Mistflower and the Am. Germander. Also saw a Gray Hairstreak on Tube-tongue.

June 14 ~ The low of 60F was nice, I see 73 is the average low for SAT this day. we are beating the odds this week after that couple days of baking from Cristobal. Did not even hit 90F! Heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river about 9 a.m., again around 1 p.m. when we got back, and again about 5 p.m., it found an undisturbed piece of river for the day. Not always easy in the summer on weekends. Later afternoon I heard the Red-eyed Vireo over in the corral, and a Yellow-throated went through the yard twice. Of course White-eyed is nearly always hearable here, unless his mouth is full. With the Hutton's and Black-capped over on the knoll, it was 5 species of vireos, should have snagged a Bell's nearby for the day. The Firefly show was great, near a hundred going off in the yard at dusk now. Awesome. Sure glad we got a good second wave this year.

Most of the morning was spent over in the nearby Black-capped Vireo territory on the 1445 knoll. Had some looks at the pair, but no luck with a pic. Also there were heard Long-billed Thrasher and Roadrunner, heard one and saw another Hutton's Vireo, heard Olive Sparrow singing, saw a family of Black-crested Titmouse, heard a couple male Painted Bunting singing, saw a Gnatcatcher, thought I heard a Golden-cheek chipping, saw an adult and a very recently fledged (begging) juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk, a couple Common Raven, one Turkey, a Vermilion Flycatcher, a couple Lesser Goldfinch, Kathy saw a Caracara, heard Bewick's Wren. Mostly we were sitting and watching a drip I set up to see if the vireos would come in. He came in and looked, and later brought the female by to show her. But did not go to it. They live in lots of habitats without water, so not surprising. At one point I got up and left my chair looking around their territory a bit. When I got back Kathy said they went through the juniper over my chair. Said she had the best look ever at a male on an open branch in the sun. Stop laughing, it is not funny.  ;) In insects, we heard our FOY Cicada, there were a couple each Checkered Setwing and Red Saddlebags (dragons), and one Elada Checkerspot (butterfly). When we pulled up to park in the driveway a FOY Arizona Sister flew by! Finally! What a beauty!

June 13 ~ A 57F low felt great. This is a real treat here this time of year. Still with the northeast flow too, so much dryer than normal as well. Nary a complaint was heard. If you want to see me move fast, watch when Kathy says 'look at the bath' with emphatic urgence. This time it was another male Golden-cheeked Warbler, which came in and took a bath. I got a couple weakish shots but auto-focus foiled a dozen again, great work Canon, thanks. The first couple were close enough, then it decided to focus somewhere else for the rest. As it moved up in the pecan afterwards Kathy heard it give a measure of song. It did seem to enjoy the bath. But they are quick about taking care of that business. In and out.

Since cool did a bunch of yard work early first thing after the warbler. More in the garden later. Heard an Orchard Oriole or two in the afternoon. There is a big surge of juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbird hitting the feeders now. The second batch of the year. Nearing last sun a FOY Cicada Killer was flying around, grabbed the camera, it saw me and bolted. What do they have to be afraid of? Wonder what will happen when they meet Murder Hornets? Maybe a pay-per-view: Murder Hornets vs. Cicada Killers. I really wish we would advance beyond having to sensationalize names for things. Killer Whale is another pet peeve, Orca are giant dolphins!

Here are a couple fuzzy photos...
blackcappedvireo
This is a plumage otherwise not shown here yet,
so it gets a pass on the otherwise poor quality,
a female Black-capped Vireo, with slate gray head.
blackcappedvireo
The head of a fully adult male is jet coal black.

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June 12 ~ An astounding 53F for a low is surely a record for the date here. Incredible, and dry. Certainly nothing like this occurred in the now 17 Junes we have been here. We will pay for it, I know. Town run fer shtuff. Could count all the Black and Turkey Vultures together, on one hand. What are we going to do with our roadkill? Since Todd's Roadkill Cafe in Leakey went out of business...  guess the tourists did not see the humor the locals did in the name. Whooda thunk?

The park had one juvenile female Black-n-white Warbler, first one I have seen this year, they are out and on the move already. A FOY there was an Orange-striped Threadtail damselfly, a bit late this year. Back here about 2 p.m. after Rosie's tacos I was out on front porch watching the male Yellow-throated Warbler sing 20' away in the big pecan and a Canyon Towhee plopped down on the stepping stones to the driveway. It was making an odd sound repeatedly. Very like the texana Scrub-Jay noise that sounds like slowly crunching a bag of chips. Duller and flatter than that, fewer notes, a slower stacatto, but I had to look overhead and make sure a texana Jay was not in the tree. It has been about 3 months since the last towhee in the yard. The enigma continues. Later p.m. Kathy saw it on the patio.

Then about 5 a Black Vulture was out front running around in the yard. I could not see what it was going after. It flew to a near vertical pecan trunk and using its wings flapping it walked straight up the trunk holding on step by step pulling itself up with feet as it flapped. Then it went to ground, seemed to be looking for something in the grass, walked 90' across yard and did it again into another pecan, but which was maybe only a 70 degree incline, not as straight up as the first one. But grabbing a big foot diameter trunk, flapping, and walking right up it. Man they are weird birds. The second wave of Firefly are bursting, there were at least 60 in front yard tonight, probably lots more. Awesome show.

June 11 ~ An unbelievable low of 55F is surely at or near a record for the date. Two days ago the low was a drippy 74. The avg. low for today at SAT is 72, we are usually a couple dF cooler at least. Their record low was 59 this day. Now we have dry north or NE flow which is quite unusual in mid-June. Took advantage and did some yard work early whilst still cool. Found the abdomen of an Eyed Elaterid (the big click beetle), something ate just the head and thorax. Probably a Screech-Owl is my guess. There were no ants on it yet. Saw a Giant Swallowtail, which should not be remarkable but is for some reason so far this year here. Early evening there was a male Indigo Bunting out back on the white millet. They do not live on it like the Painted Buntings do. They seem to be more bug eaters when available and only come in to fill in.

June 10 ~ I only saw mid-60' F for a low this morning but maybe missed peak drop. Dry too, wonderful after that 74F low yesterday. I saw two Hooded Oriole, it appeared a female with the first-summer male. Hope they make the yard a habit. Wished I had a palm tree. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo to the south in the corral. It is an unmated troller, likely the same one as last summer. At last light I saw a Chuck fly over the treeline along the north fence. Saw two FOY butterflies today, a Common Mestra, and a Celia's Roadside-Skipper.

The Gnatcatcher and Yellow-throated Vireo have both been absent a couple days, after a few days of singing in big pecan again. What seems to have happened is they lost their mates in the hail. They returned and sang for several days, the mate never returned, and they have left now. Kinda late in season to find an unmated female. The Ash-throats must have ejected the Ladder-backed Woodpecker female from her new hole and are now nesting in it, in the big pecan. Saw a bunch of Scarlet Pea blooming along driveway. Those fast little Eastern Treehole (methinks) skeeters are out in good numbers now, a couple weeks after the major rains. Firefly seem to be having a second wave with lots more tonight than there have been, a few dozen at least.

June 9 ~ Low of 74F is not exactly pleasant. Was a bit dryer than usual from the subsidence. A backdoor 'cold' front is supposed to arrive today, being forced down by Cristobal's rotation as it moves north. We are alleged to have cool lows for several days starting tomorrow morning. Saw a few sprinkles about 9 a.m., just enough to bump humidity up. Odd was a male Red-winged Blackbird that came in to the feeders and on patio eating a few sunflowers and a bunch of white millet. It appeared an adult, bare-eyed as I was, with no red on the wings, those (covert) feathers are apparently molted out right now. Saw a Cerambycid over in the Turks Cap patch that got away before I got back with camera. Looked like the brown one I had on the porch a few weeks ago. My Turks Cap patch took a royal beating in the hail, but did see the first flower open on it. Screech-Owl (E.) calling right outside after dark.

June 8 ~ A 69F low was nice, though it did not last. Got hot in the afternoon, mid-90's F locally, saw 100F reports at Uvalde and Junction, due to subsidence from Tropical Storm Cristobal. Just as well I was too busy at the desk to not get outside to see much today. Saw a Southern Broken-Dash (skipper-butterfly) at the Blue Mist Eupatorium, and a few Queens. One of the two ad. male Painted Buntings here is very pale below, obviously at max wear a month or so before those old feathers start getting replaced. It is just a reddish-pinkish below, will try to get a shot. There is a Cardinal out there even duller now. I'd feel sorry for any for which these were lifers in this state of maximum wear and dullness. Lots of local areas were within a dF or two of record highs today.

June 7 ~ The low of 66F was awesome, it is the little things in life. We went over to the vireo knoll for a couple hours and a mile and a half of motion lotion. In Black-caps was two singing males, one with a female again. Mostly fleeting glimpses as usual. Methinks a drip setup might be worth a try. Other things there were a singing Long-billed Thrasher, couple singing Olive Sparrow, one male Painted Bunting, heard a Hutton's and a couple White-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, Chat, a few Lesser Goldfinch, Purple Martin and Chimney Swift overhead, 4 Turkey Vulture (now notable), Field Sparrow but didn't hear a Rufous-crowned, heard an Orchard Oriole or two, and of course saw several Black-crested Titmouse. Kathy saw a Questionmark (and another at the house later in day), and I saw a nice Mournful Duskywing. Saw my FOY Texas Dandelion blooms and FOY Lemon Beebalm (aka Purple Horsemint).

Later afternoon we went for a swim to cool off, which was great. So few odes it seems weird. One bigger dragon got away that was a DOI - dragon of interest. A Swift Setwing was my first of the year, as was a Dusky Dancer. No Stream Bluet yet which are usually common, guess they aren't out yet. At the crossing earlier on the way back from the knoll there were no American Rubyspot. There was an Eastern Ringtail on the crossing bridge, another FOY sighting. Saw the Barred Owl we hear every night down in the Cypresses. Nearing 6 p.m. Kathy spotted an oriole at the bath, it was a first-summer male Hooded. Surely what I have been hearing and glimpsing sneaking in and out hitting the feeders when no one is looking.

June 6 ~ A low of 68F felt great, amazing what 4dF can do. Big difference. Got up to about 92F. Worked on things here, as is the program lately. Got the path to the river for swimming cut so we can get over and back without harvesting chiggers. Seems the Carolina Wren got their 4 young out of the nest right outside office window, they disappeared in the afternoon. Heard a cuckoo, and the Gnatcatcher back in the big Pecan. The behavior of the day was provided by a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. It was alarm calling and I saw that first summer Cooper's Hawk pop out on the road from the draw, down low, the Scissor was right over it. The hawk was not 8' off the ground and proceeded to dive back into the thicket across the road from us, the Scissor right over treetops tracking it right on the button, alarming all the way. It stayed right over it alarming for almost two hundred yards total as the Coop dodged and dove trying to lose it under the canopy. That Scissor wanted everything to know to watch out for this threat. Finally the Coop broke out of the thicket and crossed a large open area and kept going, the Scissor landed on the powerline out front and proceeded to give the all-clear call. Very cool. The way it stayed right over it cutting left and right to do so was amazing. You could almost see the hawk thinking that dang bird was really screwing his program up.

caveswallow
Cave Swallow gathering mud for the nest. Note the buffy throat
and chestnut forehead are the opposite of a Cliff Swallow.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 5 ~ Another muggy 72F low, welcome to summer in Utopia. A hundred days of this ahead now. Two male Painted Bunting singing around now, there were five before the hailstorm. Still amazing the lesser numbers of birds out there. Heard warbirds about 10 and ran out front to see a Mustang, something else, and that beautiful Mosquito leaving the area, got a distant flight shot anyway of the skeeter. What a plane. Town run day. At the park there was a Barred Owl with a Red-eyed Vireo scolding it on the island. A good dragonfly of some sort was in the swampy area, might have been a Swamp Darner. My 'bridge' camera is all but worthless for dragon flight photoraphy and it wouldn't stop moving on patrol. I did not have time to wait and watch for it to hang up. Little Creek Larry said he had at least 3, probably 4 Spotted Sandpiper on Wednesday at the park. This almost has to be young with adults this time of year here. I thought it was weird how I kept seeing them on the spillway after their usual passage window has closed. Too many people when I was there today. The area below the dam is very streamy and would certainly be acceptable nesting habitat. He also saw Long-billed Thrasher feeding young just NE of town a short distance. In bad news, there are now two COVID-19 cases here in Utopia. A person took their kids to see grandma in AZ and the kids came back with it. Hopefully we won't see a blowup.

June 4 ~ Another sticky 72F low, welcome to summer. Kathy heard the White-eyed Vireo giving a Chuck-wills-widow call with perfect timing, rhythm, and cadence. Heard a warbird fly over and went out to see a deHaviland Mosquito flying over! A super rare bird. Ran down the road to try to catch some photos but it landed quickly so I missed shots. But whilst there just below 4 mile bridge, there was a singing Cassin's Sparrow. A rain chasher. We have had singing birds here a couple years out of the last 16 that I know of, but never confirmed nesting here in the upper Sabinal drainage. With that foot of rain we just got, they might nest, if there are more around. The 5 Bison were nice too, since not ear-tagged (at least on the side I could see), and looking fairly 'wild' on the prairie.

The interesting behavior of the day was about 6 p.m. Kathy sprayed some water around. A Katydid apparently dropped out of the big pecan for some. Big mistake. The pied year-old male Summer Tanager and a male Cardinal were there like a duck on a June Bug on the stone steps leading from the front porch to driveway. They were franticly looking for it. The Cardinal intimidated the Tanager away, then stomped around in the grass until he found the Katydid, grabbed it and flew to nesting thicket across the road. There was a big movement of Large Orange Sulphur butterflies today, a couple dozen at minimum were seen.

June 3 ~ The low was not very, at 72F this morning. These daily notes is going to get real redundant real fast now. It is just the breeders for a couple months. Great time to find good breeding records if you have the time and fortitude in the heat. Found lots of little tiny green pecans just started growing pecans under the big native tree out front. Not even a half-inch yet. So that crop took a big hit from the hail. The male Gnatcatcher is back singing in the big pecan. That is good because it means they were not predated, and fledged young. Had they been predated they would not return to the same tree is my guess. But I only see one, and never saw the young when they disappeared. See the one Yellow-throated Vireo too, waiting for a sighting of a second bird. Sure are few vultures soaring around, I have never seen the sky so empty of them here. Hooded Oriole came in for sugar water late p.m., still couldn't age or sex it. Chimney Swifts still circling at dusk wishing for a chimney.

June 2 ~ Low of 66F and overcast. Cardinal is singing at 6 a.m. now. Seems like there is a bit of re-shuffling of territories and mates I presume after the hail event a week ago. A Painted Bunting that was singing way up the hill behind us moved a bit closer each day for the last 5 and now is here in the yard. Because the territory was vacated. I hear a cuckoo around, but only one. Finally saw a female Summer Tanager again, likely not the one missing the last week. A Yellow-throated Vireo is still singing around but only seeing one here, not the pair. The male Yellow-throated Warbler is singing from the big pecan so he is ready for another round. Not seeing the two young he just fledged though. Finally saw a female Lesser Goldfinch too, first in a week. Cardinal numbers are half what they were, if that. There were five Chimney Swift in the dusk show as they zoom around yard through trees. Once one was so close I could hear the wing whistle, much like a Black-chinned Hummingbird wing whistle. The single soft quiet call notes are neat too, and actually very like Vaux's Swift notes with no consanant sound, though likely only given in this nest prospecting situation, I've never heard that from birds out feeding.

June 1 ~ Gadzooks another month gone by! June!?! Just a month to the half-way point of the year, and still too early to tell if we'll make it. Welcome to climatalogical summer, June through August is that. Hopefully today is an indication of this years' summer season, it was wet and cool. We had a little rain and temps in the 70's F (!) after a low of 65. About three-eighths of an inch for precip. Hard to believe how nice it was out. The river is high and muddy.

Saw (and heard) a Hooded Oriole coming into the feeders but was unable to age or sex it in the bad light. Probably a first summer male. I heard the Black-n-white Warbler singing over in the draw, a trolling unmated first-spring male. We have had those summer here before, which I do not mind a bit. Still quiet out there compared to the pre-hail event birdsong sound levels. I ran over to the S. Little Creek ponds hoping for a miracle, to no avail. A dozen Black-bellied Whistling-Duck was it. Though Gulf Toads were calling. At the smaller south pond there were a few Couch's Spadefoot Toads calling. A pair of hooked up Wandering Glider dragonfly were nice, but no Band-winged Dragonlet or Plateau Spreadwing. That could change by tomorrow. Again the 4 Chimney Swifts checking out the chimneys for an unsealed one at dusk.

~ ~ ~ May summary ~ ~ ~

Well it was a wet one! All in the last half of the month, a foot (!) of rain for us at our place a couple miles south of town, others around got more and less. Put some water in that bank finally, many locals considered us about 2' behind prior to the last two weeks of rain. I would think we are out of local drought now. First time in a long time. Made for a cool May too, a bit below average temps, and nary a complaint.

Butterflies were on the weak side, in part no doubt due to all the rain. We did not get up to Lost Maples so missed a few things there, but there were not lots on flowers even on good days. The last day of the month saw my FOY Pearl Crescent which was great. Did have Elada Checkerspot, one Nysa Roadside-Skipper, but mostly it was the most common things, in low numbers. Best butterfly was a Luna Moth I saw in the sun (daylight) late in day May 18. Was only about 33 species for the month, a fair dip from April, which is statistically very rare.

Odes were weak as well, likely the weather too. Nothing unusual was seen and it was scraping mostly for a very few of the common things. Hopefully June will see their heat-induced usual explosion in numbers. Missing a visit to Lost Maples costs several species usually. It was about 13 species in total, poor at best, and also a dip from April.

Birds were good, though migration was overall weak this passage. There are as always a few neat things to see. Best songbird of the spring was a nice rufous VEERY on May 9. They are a once every 5-10 years here bird. Single Yellow-bellied (May 11) and Alder (May 16) Flycatcher were great, both are LTA - less than annual, e.g., not a sure thing any given spring here. A Gray-cheeked Thrush (May 11) was good, but great for being in our bath. They have been missed most springs the last 5 years, formerly more regular.

The best discovery though was nesting Downy Woodpecker, which is a first anywhere on the Sabinal River. The Medina River is as far west as they are locally. I could not see the nest (was on private property), but we heard the begging babies a few days and I got pic of the female with her nest-stained face (from drilling the hole) before they disappeared. I presume the young fledged, though they could have been predated, they disappeared and were not seen around after. Often parents get young away from nest area immediately after fledging though.

For a lot of things it was scraping though. Only saw one each of: Eastern Kingbird, Swainson's Thrush, Black-throated Green & Tennessee Warbler, American Redstart, and Blue-headed Vireo. Did not see any: MacGillivray's Warbler, Rose-breasted or Black-headed Grosbeak, Warbling or Philly Vireo, Mississippi Kite, and none of the scarce eastern warbler migrants like Blackburnian, Magnolia, or Chestnut-sided, and no Lazuli Bunting for me either. Most of the good weather for knocking down migrants (rain) happened after they passed by. There were no ponds for shorebirds during their passage period this year. Total was about 117 species locally for the month, without a Lost Maples visit which often adds a few. Up a bit from April's 110, May is probably the peak species diversity month here. I would guess if one birded every day all month in May over 125 or 130 is doable locally. With probably at least a half dozen more when there are ponds to catch passing shorebirds.

~ ~ ~ end May summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ archive copy May update header ~ ~

May!?! Some FOS on May 2 were finally an Eastern Wood-Pewee (2), a Northern Waterthrush, and a Cattle Egret. May 3 had my FOS Least Flycatcher. May 8 saw my FOS Swainson's Thrush. May 9 I saw what might turn out to be the songbird of the spring, a VEERY, which are exceedingly rare here. May 10 was my FOS Blue-headed Vireo. May 11 FOS were American Redstart, YELLOW-BELLIED Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, and a GRAY-CHEEKED Thrush (in our birdbath!). A couple 'finally' FOS's were a Wilson's Warbler on May 13, and on May 15 a Black-throated Green Warbler. Right before dusk a FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher sang, also May 15. May 16 I saw my FOS Alder, and Willow Flycatchers, and FOS Mourning Warbler. A LUNA Moth before sundown on May 18 was spectacular. A major hail event the evening of 27th was likely not good for the local birds. Nesting Downy Woodpecker was a first in the upper Sabinal River drainage.

~ ~ end archive copy May update header ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

May 31 ~ Low was 65F, the chill was nice while it lasted. We beat the odds this May and had a coolish (few 90's F temps) and wet month. Most importantly we made inroads into our water deficit. In the yard just before we left I saw my FOY Pearl Crescent butterfly. About 11 to 1 we checked the river crossing and then walked around the SW corner of the 1445 knoll. Amazing lack of odes at the crossing, one Kiowa Dancer, and one dragon got away that looked like a Pale-faced Clubskimmer.

The knoll was nice though lots of green and browning leaves on the ground, live-oaks in particular were more than half denuded. Junipers fairly unfazed. Heard 2 singing Olive Sparrow, a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and Long-billed Thrasher singing. Saw Gnatcatcher, Titmouse, Bewick's and Carolina Wren, Caracara, heard Hutton's Vireo, Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Summer Tanager, but not the Painted Bunting there. Saw one Horace's Duskywing, a Goatweed Leafwing, a few Gulf Frits, one Elada Checkerspot, and a couple Reakirt's Blue.

Best was the pair of Black-capped Vireo whence an unmated trolling male and Mr. Alpha got into a half-hour of counter-singing vocal duel. It was awesome, we were often between them, both 20' or so away (less sometimes) in the thick of course. We got some fair glimpses. I got a few more poor pics of parts of one to add to my extensive collection of those. Did not see the head on the troller to age it. Mr. Alpha male is a definitive adult with fully black nape. I still can't believe how hard these things are to see. Middle-of-the-thickest-vegetation Vireo. Probably would not have had the looks I did were it not for the trolling male. The female traveled with the alpha male during most of the encounter. The males and maybe the female were giving a scold note, a very wrenlike stacatto series of notes.

On the way off the top I saw a bird with white tail spots flit away that looked like a Golden-cheeked Warbler, but couldn't pish it back. That kinda pished me off. In the afternoon I heard a Black-n-white Warbler singing over in the corral. Some thundercells passed nearby, we had a spritz, and 75F temps at 5 p.m. in the afternoon. It likely hit 80F at peak heat (ca. 1 p.m. when we were with the vireos), but what a cool afternoon on the last day of May. Avg. high in SAT for today is 91F. We will pay for this soon is my guess. But first, more rain. Between about 9 p.m. and 9:30 we got 1.5" of rain! That takes us to an even FOOT here for May! OMG!

May 30 ~ The low of 58.5F is amazing, as is the continued northerly flow. Only got to low 80's! Incredible. It remains eerily quiet outside, with many fewer birds and lots of shredded vegetation. Still no cuckoos around, we likely lost them. Perhaps one of the bigger things I don't see is vultures. The skies are wayyyy clearer than they should be. A very few Turkey and Black were seen Thursday the day after, Friday going to town just a few, and today only a handful. They often roost out in the open in dead snags at tops of trees. They probably took a beating in the hail. Heard Turkey gobbling at dusk.

Another thing that seems reduced in numbers since the hail is Firefly. It appears we have a premature ending of their spring flight season. They got hit too. There are still some but it is way dialed back compared to what it was. Turned the porch light on again at night, and again, almost nothing came in. Just a very few bugs. Before that though a sphinx moth of some sort came in to my pipe tobacco, again. It almost landed on the pipe whilst I was engaged with it. Too close to focus these old eyes. It then never came into the light.

downywoodpecker
This is the female Downy Woodpecker that was attending
begging young just south of town in early May. This is
the first Sabinal River drainage nesting record. I could
not see the nest on private property, but was listening to
at least two begging young while I took this photo. The
staining on the face which normally just pure black and
white is the result of digging the nest hole in the tree.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 29 ~ A low of 62F is outstanding for the date. Northerly flow borders on unusual to very odd in late May. Only got up to about 82F at peak heat! A little more bird noise out there this morning, but not normal, not like was, way quieter than it was. There was bird loss. I see an area where runoff has a pile of green hackberries. That will hurt the winter birds. With all the rain the last two weeks I am sure everything will renest as it does when not in drought. They know there will be flowers and bugs. Only one of at least four male Painted Bunting are still here. Hummers are wayyyy down, still no sign of the ad. male or female Summer Tanager, and on and on. Have not heard the Cuckoos in two days now. A pair was nesting in the draw and in the yard daily. Wonder how many Luna cats were lost in all the pecan leaves on the ground.

Town run. Saw a few trees down, several big branches too, some fenceline damage, ground is covered in green leaves, the canopies are nearly half denuded, open areas are matted (beat) down. The ground in the woods at the park is solid green leaves, of Cypress, some Pecan and lots of live-oak. The main park area live-oaks lost lots of leaves. A lot looks pretty beat up. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo singing in the woods but no Pewee. It was nearly bird-free. River is muddy, looks like the Rio Grande. Some others had 2.5" of rain, the hail missed the Little Creek area east of town. Larry still has all his hummers, and nesting Chat.

May 28 ~ The 60F low was nice, but the 1" hail carnage is not. Many thousands of leaves down from the trees in the yard. The ground is green where it was bare. My wonderful Frostweed was doing so well this year, a dozen stalks now, it is shredded. We lost a lot of shade, and probably much of any pecan and hackberry crops. Fair bit of garden damage I'd call severe. There were reports at SAT of 1.5-2, and 2.5" hail! I see storm reports of large trees down, a closed road, and roof and other damage here around Utopia. There were 50-60 mph gusts, SAT had one at 80 mph! It was by far the most severe event we have seen here. It sounded like we were inside the engine of a locomotive at peak roar of the hail carpet bombing. I heard rain reports around Utopia of .75 to 2.5" of rain, depending where you were. We were in the 2.5" band here. Which brings us to 10" in the last two weeks! There was major hail all over central Texas. Georgetown north of Austin had 2.75" hail!

Paying attention to it developing on the radar as I am wont to do, the Frio cave bats split as it hit last night. Most heading SE and riding the outflow boundry. Which is surely a food rich smorgasbord for them. A fair number though bolted back for the cave and were going back in as the first big cell was arriving. Hopefully they all made it back in before the hail hit. Was interesting to be watching on the radar as it unfolded. Then we had to unplug everything, just as it was really getting exciting.

The biggest thing is the silence. Not total, but hauntingly, eerily, quiet. There was bird mortality. At about 3 hours of light now, I have heard one distant Painted Bunting, there are usually 3-4 close ones counter-singing. Certainly the alpha male's Hackberry has been silent all morning, and he has not showed up to sing in the big pecan either. These are his two primary singing stations. Nor have any males been to the white millet feeder as of 10 a.m. They take turns first thing and all day. I see a couple females at the feeder. They would have been down in the dense thick cover on the nest. By noon I have seen one male Painted Bunting. Certainly the main yard singer and beta bird 2 are both absent from their singing posts. Incredible.

The hummer feeders are strangely devoid of birds. There are a few, but it is nothing like yesterday whence hundreds. And so it goes. I am straining to hear everything I can. The Yellow-throated Vireo sang, hopefully the mate on nest made it. I don't know how anything does out in the branches. I would think the cavity (hole) nesters fare fairly well. I hear most of them, but not as much Titmouse. For many species, especially the residents, all the first batches of young were out of the nest and many were working on round two. That first set of juvies that fledged in the last month probably took a beating. It will take some days of observation to get any good idea of what went down. It does not seem good at a first glance.

Around 6 p.m. there was a tardy Least Flycatcher working from a fenceline. So the last two spring migrants I had this year were Leasties, the other prior the 23rd. Just after 4 p.m. we had another round of severe thunderstorms, no hail, and not too much lightning, another half-inch of precious precip. Late nearing last sun a male Indigo Bunting was on the patio, great to see, and never saw more than one male Painted all day, were 4 or 5 here yesterday.

Some areas around KRVL had 5" from the cells this afternoon, there were tornado watches, and some others did get hail. We added a half inch or so. We cannot get over the dearth of some birds here today. Where are all the Cardinals? The Lesser Goldfinches? Hummingbirds? The male Painted Buntings? The begging baby Chickadees following the parents? Between the two of us all day we only saw the pied first year male Summer Tanager, no female, no ad. male. Did not hear the usual distant ones I hear either, or the Great Crested Flycatcher and Field Sparrows, all were singing yesterday. The hail event last night was a major mortality event for the birds here.

May 27 ~ Likely a record for the date, the low was 58F! I saw KRVL had 57! Amazing. A great treat to get through May on the cool wet side. The bummer of the morn is there is no Gnatcatcher sound in the big pecan. All day, every day, for a month the pair has been right out the door. Maybe they fledged young yesterday? I did not see anything. Seems like they would be around? In my experience when a nest is predated overnight the male is still around calling in plaintive and distressed fashion in the morning. So I guess a good sign I don't see that. Hopefully they fledged their young late yesterday and I missed it. Now the Yellow-throated Vireo is the boss of the tree. It is chasing everything out. A pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over low and slow eyeing the big pecan right at dusk. They are looking for a hole to use.

Some flaming citiot put a half-gallon low-fat milk with a couple inches still in it, in the open bed of the truck. Tucked in a corner where hard to see. The only time and place I parked and left it was at the park last Friday and Saturday when I walked into the woods. I found it, seemingly right before she blew captain, thankfully. The milk was somewhere between sour cream and cottage cheese, the milk bottle was expanded so tight it would have bounced like a ball, and was just about to pop. Can you imagine the ignorance required to think this would be funny? No one here is this stupid and prickish. You come out here to get away from the shat you live in, and do this to the locals? Surely it was the citiots blaring the stereo at the screen enclosure those two days nearest where I parked. I was beyond careful about parking far away and not walking near their camp. The arrogant ignorance of the citiot never ceases to amaze me.

A severe line of thundercells came across the plateau this evening, more NW to SE than the usual W to E this time of year. We had three big cells go over, the first was the worst. It hit about 10 p.m. like a freight train. We were carpet bombed by half-inch to ONE inch hail. Sounded like you were in Buddy Rich's snare drum and he was showing how fast and loud he could be. With lightning strikes for cymbals. It broke my rain guage, and an outdoor flood light. We wondered how the birds make it, it was so bad. Hear the river roaring for the first time in 6 months, they must have gotten dumped on good up valley.

May 26 ~ The weak cold front passed that helped instigate the rain cells yesterday evening, the low was 62F this a.m.! At SAT the record lows for yesterday and today are 61 and 63F, so we are very near as cold as it gets in late May here. No doubt those too were rain-cooled lows. Ya gotta get up early for dawn chorus now, some are starting before 6 a.m. The Yellow-throated Vireo is daily making that rolling trill that sounds wrenish, or titmousey, or even sorta like the Tex-Mex (mccallii) Screech-Owl trill. A quick short deep guttaral thick almost bubbling, oscillating, lulululu, fairly un-vireolike, a call I don't have on tape. My recorder has gone to tape heaven unfortunately. There are numbers of just-fledged House Finch, Lark Sparrow, and Lesser Goldfinch out of the nest now.

May 25 ~ Another 63F rain-cooled low, and nary a complaint. At noon it was only 67F! Great for the date. No migrants, that train has left the station, watch the tail lights fade. I have a very very few migrant warbler dates this late in May. With all the migratory breeder songbirds here now there is no shortage of cool stuff to see. The Cuckoos I think are over in the draw this year. I presume the male Indigo Bunting on the patio is one singing down the road a bit, but which means it is flying a couple hundred yards to top the tank with white millet. Hearing the begging baby Yellow-throated Warblers still moving around yard and adjacent vicinity. I have not seen a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird all (long) weekend. Methinks they have bugged out, my best guess is headed north to catch spring again. Another group of thundercells went by in the evening, but we only got spritzed here, the heavy was to the south and east of us.

Finally took a break for the holiday weekend. About 5-6 p.m. we rolled over to the (south) 1445 knoll and took a mile walk. Heard three Black-capped Vireo, 2 Olive Sparrow, and Kathy spotted one ad. fem. Golden-cheeked Warbler. I suspect the warbler is a finished and done breeder wandering around now, as it moved quite a bit, perhaps more than if it were staying within a territory feeding young now. Will keep an eye on the area and see if they are breeding there. The rest was the usual regulars. At least a couple pair of Gnatcatcher seem to be nesting there, some Summer Tanager, Painted Bunting, Lesser Goldfinch (lots of juvies, on Zexmenia), Black-crested Titmouse, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and Ladder-backed Woodpecker. In flowers that were FOY, saw Rock Flax, Prarie Brazoria, Navajo Tea, Green (Pearl) Milkweed Vine, and a white Eupatorium I think is Thoroughwort (havanensae). The Zexmenia is going great, so is the Slender-leaf Hymenoxys, the Blackfoot Daisy still showing well. One Black Swallowtail and one Funereal Duskywing was it for bugs. Nice to get out for a mile. Later found I also harvested, or collected without a permit, a couple chiggers.

May 24 ~ A rain-cooled low of 63F felt great. Got warm though, was upper 80's in the afternoon. The humidity was XXL from the rain event last night. Power came back on apparently just before 2 a.m., went out at 9 p.m. or so last night. No migrants, worked on stuff here including garden. The Yellow-throated Vireo pair must have set up shop in the big pecan the way they are chasing everything in it. Including the Gnatcatcher and Ladder-back that have active nests in it! Looks like 3 species nesting in the tree at once. Awesomeness.

Heard warbirds go over and ran down 187 a couple miles, grabbed a couple shots, F-8 Bearcats. Later from the yard I saw the Spitfire which I only got a very distant shot or two of. That is a very rare bird. Whilst down 187, again heard the Orchard Oriole singing, must be nesting there. Cliff and Cave Swallow were gathering mud at a wet spot, surely ones nesting under 4 mile bridge just to the north. Several Scissor-tails in that area.

Another MCS marched from the Rio Grande to SAT and beyond. Hit us about 6:30. I saw reports of 1.25" (half-dollar) sized hail at Garner St. Pk., and 61 mph wind gusts near both Hondo and Vanderpool, we had some XXL gusts here too. Lots of lightning, we pulled the plugs as usual. It was just under 2" in a couple hours, again! We have 3.5" from this event and last nights, in 24 hours. We need the water. I just added it up and we are at 7.5" in the last 10 days. It's the first good thing that happened all year.  ;)

May 23 ~ Low was about 73F, and muggy of course. No migrants through yard. Before noon I checked the woods at park in town, no migrants again. Checked 354 Pecans, one Least Flycatcher was the big little migrant of the day. Hope you enjoyed the spring passage, it is over. The Cave Swallows are nesting on the north side of the bank, maybe 10 pairs or so. Two of the nests are right next to the bird deterrent scarer-offer thingies. No migrants around the yard all day, but a pair of Yellow-throated Vireo are in yard so much I wonder if they are nesting IN the yard this time. The Ladder-backs now have a hole in a broken off branch on the big pecan, so something else besides the Gnatcatcher nesting in the tree now.

Just at dark another MCS hit us. It ran east from west Texas and northern Mexico right down Hwy. 90. Looked like Amistad got some water as it was building. It was roaring about 40+ mph when it hit here, constant lightning, took the power out shortly after 9 p.m. This morning looks like it was a bit over 1.5" of precious holy water for us. The river is full and we are getting some going into the water bank. Finally.

goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler. Probably an adult female in a very
little-seen plumage, post-breeding pre-basic molt. Note the
admixed upperparts feathers, new green (crown and back) feathers
coming in replacing old dull worn grayish ones (as scapulars).
Late season females can get quite gray above from wear before they molt.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 22 ~ The low of 72F was not very. Some stratus, the gulf clouds, but spotty sun started early, so a hot sticky one. Was 85F on the cool shady front porch, so 90 in the sun. No migrants in yard in the morning. Did the town run stuff. The park also had no migrants, and neither did the 354 pecan patch. Turn out the lights, the party is over. We may get a tardy stray or two yet, but most of it is long past us. Sure was fun while it lasted. Always over too soon, especially when it is a bit of a weak showing as we had this spring. Regardless we always get to see a few strays that we will not otherwise see all year. This spring passage, best-in-show were the April calling nocturnal migrant Black-bellied Plover, and the May Veery. It is back to the breeders for the next couple, or few if rainy, months. At least we have a great set of them to watch and study. If I could just get those Black-capped Vireo pics I want...

May 21 ~ A rain-cooled 64F low is fantastic. Around .85 was the total for us here last night, but east of the valley floor, maybe Seco Creek area, there were spots of 2-3". It poured and we need the water badly. Except for what it does to the grass in the yard I have to cut. Did not hear any migrants in the yard in the morn. Dawn chorus is going at 6:15 now, some start earlier. Too dark to see but it sure sounds good. The morning symphony. Carolina Wrens must think no one can hear them.

I ran down to just past 4 mile bridge and 361 for a half-hour around noon. Was chasing a warbird pic, but missed that, saw a B-25 and a F-7F, which flew right over our house a few minutes earlier. Did see some Scissor-tails doing display flips though. Also one male Orchard Oriole, singing Summer Tanager, couple Bewick's Wren, some Cave Swallows, and then along 361 the usual Dickcissel, Bell's Vireo and Painted Bunting singing. The sometimes wet spot wasn't ... and back to the salt mine. Chimney Swift show went on again this evening. Fireflies are down from peak numbers which now seem as though they were early in May.

May 20 ~ A low of 67F and the gulf low stratus got here just before sunup to give us a cloudy morning. Keeps the heat at bay a few hours, which is nice. It was a hot muggy one in low 90's F. There was a dull gray-brown Cerambycid (Longhorn Beetle) at the door first thing, about 1.5". Got a docushot and moved it to safe spot. Any 'bycid' is a good one to me. One of these days I will get a local bycids page up. Heard one Yellow Warbler go through early first thing. The Chimney Swifts were flying around still this morning, screaming by, literally at point blank, sooo awesome. Once a hummer chased after one! What was he thinking? Could not begin to catch it, and thinks he really gave it whatfer! Gotta admire hummingbirds can-do attitude. In So. Carolina I saw one chase a Pileated Woodpecker.

No migrants over the day, it might be over. A few stragglers show late, usually first-spring (or first-summer if you prefer) birds, if you have the stamina to still be out there looking. I heard a singing male Black-and-white Warbler out front which is likely a trolling first-summer bird. We have had a few of those summer in the area before. There were at least two juvie Yellow-throated Warblers with the adults in the yard pecans. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo singing over in the corral again. The back garden nest box had loudly begging Bewick's Wren babies the last few days, all is silent now, so they must have fledged today. Another great Chimney Swift show at dusk.

One really weird thing that happened the last few days was the imm. male, first-spring (or summer) male Summer Tanager stole the female from the adult male. The female is now with the pied not even fully red male. Wow. The original alpha male must be very old and just could not hold his own against the young buck. What seemed the usual pair were going as usual for nearing a month it seemed, and as with the Vermilion Flycatcher a second male is always trying to horn in. The male song wars got really bad several days ago, and then this. The old male is around, but staying fairly low-key, and being chased away from the female by the young male now, who is accompanying her everywhere, as to bath daily. We all get old. I feel for him. Certaily a Tanager can live over a decade, which must be near a hundred in tanager years.

Just after 9 p.m. a MCS (mesoscale convective system - when thunder cells join) that formed out by Del Rio marched east over us. Lots of lightning, and about seven-eighths of an inch of rain. Outstanding. Some places had 2.5-3" of rain, many in the east half of Uvalde County! What was interesting was the radar. The Concan (Frio Cave) bats had just emerged an hour before it got here. Often when a cell or system moves in, they dive back into the cave. But that takes time. You can watch that sometimes on the radar. An exploding donut followed by a collapsing one. This particular system was moving east at 45 mph. It appeared to me the bats got caught out and could not get back in time. The outflow boundry in front of it suddenly got super thick and heavy, right as it passed the cave area, increasing by a factor of 10. Like it was a huge nasty squall line, but was dry as it went by us a few moments later. I am sure it was the bats that got caught out, and they were riding it. What happens to them next then is anybodies guess. In the day I have seen a big MCS a couple hundred miles long, march 400 miles, and have many hundreds of vultures on it as it passed over, virtually sweeping the skies clean on its way. How do bats deal with such an event?

May 19 ~ About 63F for a low, clear and another hot one. About 3-5 p.m. it was 90F on the cool shady front porch, surely mid-90's in the sun. Junction was 100F at one check. Here comes the summer. Today is to be peak heat of this blast. No migrants in the morning, the party is about over. It is back to breeders. A cutoff low is supposed to form as we enter the upcoming weekend, which will give us one last chance (if rain) to knock down the last spring migrants. Some models have it getting stuck over Texas for a week due to highs on either side of the continent (an omega high). That could be interesting, not to mention wet. Sometimes such a setup has resulted in big rain events here, particularly in May and June. Hope the forecast and my wishful thinking pan out.

I heard begging fledgling Yellow-throated Warblers in the Mesquites across from the gate. So our local pair got a first set of young out. Still have male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. In butterflies, saw 8 Queen at once on the Blue Mist, a couple Monarch were around off and on. A Texan Crescent was nice, a Dun Skipper, Funereal Duskywing, Reakirt's Blues, numbers of Lysides, a Gray Hairstreak, Gulf Fritallary, lots of Pipevine Swallowtail, some Red Admiral.

The highlight of the day was at dusk. Four Chimney Swift spent 20 minutes circling the yard and two chimneys, which are unfortunately sealed. Now trying to figure out how to put a 'swift extender box' on top of them. They were screaming by me at head height often, going under the big pecan at the front porch. Once two split going on either side of my head not two feet from me on each side screaming at full volume. It was full frontal audio assault and it was awesome. It was the best Chimney Swift show I ever had. Amazing. Ignored (but noted) a couple Black-bellied Whistling-Duck that went over low at the same time.

May 18 ~ The low of 60F was great, and dry air too. Got up to about 90F in the sun, 85 in the shade. Heard one Yellow Warbler early. The, or a, Great Crested Flycatcher was going off in top of the big pecan first thing. The pair of Ash-throated Flycs are using a distant box at far NE corner of yard away from house. Glad they didn't take a closer box actually, they are such, uh, tyrants shall we say, around the nest. You do not want to be around if they get predated. They viciously go after every bird smaller than themselves for about 3 days.

No migs all day. Around noon a medium gray bird exploded out of the Am. Germander patch around one corner of house, surely it was that darn Catbird again. Only other item of interest was about 8 p.m. when coming from the draw and road, up about 20' I spotted a LUNA MOTH flying towards me! It flew to the Pecan outside kitchen, then right over me in the driveway, into the big Pecan right off porch where I lost it. OMG! Another LUNA! Wonder if that is what the green caterpillars the Yellow-billed Cuckoo is pulling out of the Pecan are?

May 17 ~ Low of 58F is fantastic for the date. No migrants around early. Was good conditions for moving last night, hopefully some new stuff will drop in this morning. At 9 a male Ringed Kingfisher flew over the house calling, southbound. Kathy saw a Black-and-white Warbler quickly come into bath mid-morn. At 11 we went to check a couple spots. Saw my FOY fledged juvenile Vermilion Flycatcher on 360. At the 354 Pecans there was a female Mourning Warbler under the magic Mulberry, and in all the tangled vines growing over it. She gave some decent views. Also heard a C. Yellowthroat out in the blooming Mexican Hat. A Willow Flycatcher was there too, after my FOS late yesterday. No Yellow Warbler, no other migrants, no sign of the Downies. Several singing Bell's Vireo there are nice. Kathy saw a Giant Swallowtail. The 4-6 Dickcissel continue singing, surely some are nesting.

At the park, for migrants it was one female Common Yellowthroat and that was it. Just the breeders. Back here about 3:15 Kathy spotted the Catbird at the bath again! It was warm (86F) so the window was closed and could not get it open without it flushing. Durnit, they are sharp-eyed and ginchy. Just after 5 p.m. a Lincoln's Sparrow was at the bath. First one I have seen here in a couple weeks, and a great late date. All but the tardy ones (maybe highest altitude or furthest north nesters?) are gone by late April and earliest May. There was a Pewee singing at last light over toward the river. Whence dark, heard E. Screech-, Barred, and Great Horned Owl, Common Nighthawk and Chuck-wills-widow. Firefly numbers seem on the wane already. Maybe I am missing peak flashing.

May 16 ~ Was quite the rain event last night, from about 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. a couple inches fell, and another .75 from 11 to whenever it stopped, for a 2.75" total. Incredible. No dust for a day or two. The rain-cooled low this morning was 57F! Sunny and wonderful. Got up to 82F or so in the afternoon. Couple Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks went over early. A Yellow Warbler or two was all I saw for migrants in the yard in the morning. About 11-2 I looked around town a bit, mostly at the park. About 1 p.m. Kathy had a Catbird bathe in the bath here! Missed another much-wanted photo-op. To make up for the one prior I just made up for. Barely got a day without that monkey on my back.

The 354 pecan patch had only the breeders, no migrants. No sign of the Downy Woodpecker or young. Utopia Park had some migs though. About 4 Yellow Warbler, one singing a weird abnormal song, one Wilson's Warbler, 3 Common Yellowthroat (2 male, 1 fem.), and a male Mourning Warbler, for a FOS finally on them. Thought I have heard a couple so far but hadn't seen one. Nine individual migrant warblers means there was movement. I presume after the system passed over birds flew. Best was an Alder Flycatcher up in the swampy area by the island of course. It is the single location locally where I have seen most of them. I do not get a postive ID on one every year here so always a treat. There was a Catbird singing out on the island around the Mulberries but I could not see it. Saw the ad. ma. Green Kingfisher carrying food (small fish) calling for the juv., so it is still attending the young. When the juv. called back it shot off for it.

I had 8 Queen at once on the Blue Mist Eup. at the porch, and at least a couple Monarch were around. After dinner about 7:20 and after, there was a Least Flycatcher in the Mesquites right across from the gate, and at the draw there was my FOS Willow Flycatcher. Good day for Empis, three species in a day here is great. I had a Least a half-mile down the road when I left this morning. Saw two male Ruby-throated Hummingbird here today, presume some females still here.

greatcrestedflycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher showing the diagnostic
pinkish-orange mouth-lining. Nice rictal bristles.
The better to funnel those bugs right into that maw.
This bird was letting an uppity 1st spring male Summer
Tanager that landed too close in a threatening way as if
an attempt to displace it, that it needed to back off
and work on social distancing better. It opened beak
real wide aiming it right at it, and the tanager left.
Winning through intimidation.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 15 ~ Overcast, gulf flow, low of 72F is not very, summer is almost here. The highs have yet to catch up though, about which no one is complaining. This morning there were three Yellow Warbler and a White-eyed Vireo at the bath all at once. But with the bath being in a dark shady spot, when it is overcast I have to jack ISO up to 1600 and so any shots are pretty grainy. I didn't care when Kathy said 'there is a Yellowthroat at the bath'. Now have grainy male Common Yellowthroat pics at the bath. Our yard Yellowthroat was two years ago when Kathy had a male bathe when I was in town on a Friday and missed it by 10 minutes! This didn't bother me a bit, I was totally over that warm muggy sunny Friday afternoon when I got home about 1 p.m. and heard what happened. I had nearly completely forgotten about May 2, 2018 when I missed that yard male Yellowthroat bathing in the sun in the bath.

Mid-morn, the Yellows came back and a Wilson's Warbler was with them. Then an hour later there were four Yellow Warbler at once at the bath, two males and two females, plus the Yellowthroat came back. I think maybe a better pic the second go-round. A minute after they left a FOS female Black-throated Green Warbler came in and bathed! Followed by a first spring male Golden-cheeked Warbler! Gadzooks! Five species of migrant warbler, plus the Yellow-throated, at the bath this morning. In a living nightmare, now I have a problem though getting the pix off the camera. Something has gone sideways. Have ordered a new cable. Camera takes pix fine. A Chimney Swift shot by the porch at eye level 6' from me, no doubt checking the chimney, how I wish it was not sealed. There is a chimney shortage here. We need some benevolent folks to sponsor a few Chimney Swift towers around the area.

Town run fer stuff. I saw Annette Long at the store and she said a couple weeks ago she had a big giant dark hummingbird. No doubt a Green (now Mexican) Violetear. Hasn't seen it again though. They are about 4 mi. NW of town in Bandera Co. Great bird! Except the part about it going by our feeders. One Spotted Sandpiper continues at the spillway at park. A couple Yellow Warbler and one male Common Yellowthroat were at the park, the Yellowthroat was 25' up in a willow. Those were the only migrants. There was one Yellow at the 354 Pecans, and no trace of the Downy Woodpecker female or begging young. At least I got a shot of the nesting stain discoloration on the anterior part of her face on Monday. Right before dusk a FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher sang. I love that song! Quick three beers! Any song with beer in it is good.

May 14 ~ We had a surprise rain cell move over about 3 a.m., we got a half-inch of beloved rain! Some areas around got an inch! So badly needed! We are parched. Not enough for the aquifer, but just what all the trees, shrubs, and flowers need. Plus we had an amazing rain-cooled low of 59F! Saw a male Yellow Warbler early working the Mexican Hat flower patches which are starting to bloom now. What a pic that would make. Hooded and Orchard Oriole were in the yard in the morning. After 10 a.m. there was a pair of Common Nighthawk out in the broad daylight, they must have been so thrilled about the rain and temps. The male boomed right on the female right over the slope behind the house. It was awesome, he was too small and fast in the dive for me to find in the miniature viewfinder of my POS toy camera.

At the Blue Mist patch there were a couple Dun Skipper, a couple Southern Broken-Dash (male and female), a FOY Nysa Roadside-skipper that was very worn. Best was a Texas Wasp Moth, which I usually see in fall, and only very rarely get them in spring. A couple Monarch and some Queen were on it all day. An Elada Checkerspot came into wet spots from water we spray about in the heat. Some local stations hit 90F today. Later afternoon a Least Flycatcher was on the north fenceline. Still a great Firefly show going on just before dusk but maybe reduced a bit from a week or two ago.

May 13 ~ Mist and about 67F for a low. Went to get a pic of the Downy Woodpecker begging babies before anything happens. I was too late. No begging babies, no sign of mom, nothing. So maybe she was away and they were being silent? Or in the last two days did they either fledge or were they predated? If they fledged seems like I would have heard them. So we have a nesting attempt with begging young, but no photo yet, and no idea if it was successful yet. It is the first Sabinal River drainage breeding record, which might end up another case of defeat snatched out of the jaws of victory.

Checked the park, and neither it nor 354 had any migrants at all, as if to make sure I would not get cheered up after not finding the baby woodpeckers I heard to photo. For migs it could have been too early, these spots are often better later in morning after stuff has found it or stacked up a bit. Probably the same Eastern Kingbird as Monday was flycatching from the same big Pecan tree on 187 just north of 354. Gate was still closed so walked the whole park, nothing there but the residents. One Spotted Sandpiper on the dam was the only transient, likely one of the two there Monday, a couple days ago. Briefly talked to Eric Whelchel and he said they have a couple Bobwhite coming into their yard. Great yard birds! I think near SE corner of town. They are scarce locally, mostly just small numbers in pastures down-valley south of town, but have seen them out N. Thunder Crk. Rd. long time ago. On 360 there were a dozen Cattle Egret in with the cattle. Heard a half-dozen Red-eyed Vireo from the car while driving around, and about 4 Eastern Wood-Pewee.

A couple Orchard Oriole were in the yard in the morn. Just after noon besides a male Yellow Warbler there was finally a FOS Wilson's Warbler out front in the pecans. It was a first spring male or a female, not an ad. male. Who cares at this point, nearing missing it for the spring. So far, five times this spring I thought I heard a Wilson's, but never could lay eyes on one. The pulling teeth for warbler species continues. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher pair continues all day every day in the big Pecan right off the front porch, but I can't spot the nest.

May 12 ~ A disturbance moving over last night gave a brief showerlet, overcast, low of 65F, but looks like we missed the real precip. Some got it good to the east of us over the day. Got up into the low to mid 80's F. A female Yellow Warbler hit the bath but otherwise no migrant motion. The male Ladder-backed Woodpecker came into the bath in the afternoon, first time we have seen that. He was too ginchy for me with the camera. Saw the Southern Broken-Dash (butterfly) again. A couple Monarch and at least 5 Queen on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. The male Whirlabout was around again today, as was a Funereal Duskywing.

As of this date, the fledgling baby birds I have seen out of the nest so far this spring are: Eastern Phoebe, Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, N. Cardinal, Chipping Sparrow, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Green Kingfisher, Black-crested Titmouse, Yellow-throated Warbler, Mourning Dove and Eastern Bluebird. And a branching juvie Red-tailed Hawk. These are the earliest nesters here. The early birds. Everything else seems underway as expected.

May 11 ~ Low of about 62F was great, overcast with gulf flow, was still clear and calm at midnight last night. One Yellow Warbler in yard in a.m., a singing male. Had a P.O. run about 11 so braked for birds. At the 354 pecans there was a FOS male American Redstart, redstarting all over the place in all its awesomeness. Too far for pix though. The rest was the breeders. One is a potential breeder of significance. The weird begging noise was happening again at the same spot. The female Downy Woodpecker flew from the immediate area. I think we have nesting Downies. It is begging baby woodpeckers I am hearing, it just took a day and a couple visits to figure it out. There are no records ever of Downy nesting on the Sabinal River. I think the hole is on the other side of a branch so we can't see it. Got a pic of the female as she moved away from the source area of the begging baby woodpeckers sound. The anterior portion of her face is very discolored, as in the usual nest staining one sees after they have drilled a new nest.

On 187 just north of 354 there was a FOS Eastern Kingbird flycatching from the big pecan just north of the intersection. At Utopia Park there was a FOS YELLOW-BELLIED Flycatcher! First one I have seen (and heard!) in seven springs. They were formerly more regular. It is always a great bird here. Three FOS birds in an hour. There was migrant motion last night. Last few days had an easterly element to the flow aloft. Also heard the Northern Waterthrush at the park (day 3 if same bird). There were two Spotted Sandpiper on the spillway. My first this spring, but Larry had them a month ago on Little Creek. No other passerine migs at park besides the Empi, and to think I used to hate 'em. Now one makes my day.

Later, back at the hovelita at 2:45 p.m. there was a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH at the birdbath! It is a yard bird, and the first one I have seen in the last 5 springs here. They have been very rare lately, formerly they were more regular. It was soaked and I only got a minute bare-eyed on it but close right out the bathroom window 20'. At first it was preening the wet out in the adjacent brush pile and I could see it was a thrush. Then it came back to the bath for a second soaking (chasing the male Yellow-throated Warbler away), and after another round then flew over fence towards draw. It was so wet it took me half the time to figure out what the heck it was. As it was splashing it turned and faced me showing the bold black spots all over the breast, OMG. I was on my way for camera when it shot away, it did not come back that I saw. Great yard bird here.

Now we are up to four good 'eastern' migrants today. Bet it was good out there if you could pound the bushes, pecans, and Mulberries all day. It was a miracle I caught the thrush when it came in. Hadn't checked the bath in an hour. BAM! Only takes one good bird to make your day, and I got two today with that Yell-bell. Feelin' lucky. There are still multiple male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and I saw a female again today. They are nesting. Migrants do not hang around for 6 weeks doing nothing. In leps, in the afternoon I saw a FOY Whirlabout, a nice fresh male.

May 10 ~ A great for the date low of 53F or so was fantastic. And dry. Wow. Looks like the last of temps in the low 50's for at least 4 months. Heard a Yellow Warbler go through yard early. we checked a few spots around town from 11a.m. to 2p.m. Alas no Veery at the 354 Pecans, and not even a single Yellow Warbler there, but otherwise, lots of breeder types there. A Downy Woodpecker is very irregular here, and so always good. The only passage migrant was a FOS Blue-headed Vireo, finally. Other vireos (all singing on territory there) were Bell's, White-eyed, Yellow-throated, and Red-eyed. It was a five vireos almost at once stop. Other breeders there were Yellow-throated Warbler, Chat, Dickcissel, Indigo Bunting, but I don't hear the usual pair of Orchard Oriole. Heard Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Great Crested Flycatcher as well. An Olive Sparrow sang from the mesquite patch on north side of road past the main pecan patch. Heard some weird begging noise I could not find or figure out.

Then a look at the park woods. Heard the Northern Waterthrush, likely of yesterday. Saw one female Common Yellowthroat and a warbler chip or two got away. Heard Eastern Wood-Pewee. The rest was the breeders. One juvenile Green Kingfisher is a new fledge of the year. Kathy saw it snap an insect from its perch, likely a mosquito. We heard juv. Yellow-throated Warblers in the Cypresses, Blue Jay, saw a few Summer Tanager, some Cardinal included just fledged young. Yellow-billed Cuckoo called from across the river.

We checked the north end of town and a few Bell's Vireo singing as usual. One Cave Swallow at the Sr. Ctr. We saw a female oriole eating Agarita berries that have to still be bitter. I think it was an Orchard. Kathy spotted a tiny baby Blackbuck with mama. The baby was Jackrabbit sized, a day or two old maybe. Then we checked a private place a half-mile south of town, and the Red-tailed Hawk nest. One of the young is out on a branch now, two still in the nest. Nice bit of birds bathing in a shallow stretch of the river there, included a male Painted Bunting and Kathy saw an oriole she thought was Hooded. Heard another E. Wood-Pewee. More begging baby Yellow-throated Warbler out of the nest. As we left a Catbird flew right in front of us, and eventually flew again and landed for a bin view. In odes, saw a Kiowa Dancer damselfly there, and one Pale-faced Clubskimmer.

Finally we checked the golf course pond at Waresville. More Bell's Vireo on road in (363). Only a couple Martin at the delapidated Martin House, and unfortunately now, a couple House (English) Sparrow which are new. There are at least a dozen, maybe two dozen, nesting female Red-winged Blackbird with a few males present. One male Common Grackle hanging out with them is a bit odd. In the entryway of the unused empty building there, besides a Barn, there is a single Cliff Swallow nest, full jug with long nozzle, and we saw one adult with it. Weird for the colonial nester to be nesting alone. Will have to work on confirming mate. A few pair of Scissor-tailed and Vermilion Flycatcher in the area, heard singing Summer Tanager.

We had a great flyover of a first spring (yearling) Zone-tailed Hawk. It was in remige molt. An adult type inner primary (the outer wing feathers) on each side was coming in (two had already done so), and it was missing one of the central rectrices. No doubt about to get replaced with its first adult white banded tail feather. Neat plumage to see well at this stage. Got shots. On the way out on golf course entrance road there was a Scissor-tail as often on that fake Utopia sign by the ancient tractor just east of the clubhouse and driving range. It let us roll right up to it and was hawking stuff right around us. Once I was looking down on it right out the window as it hovered right over the ground, tail splayed six feet away, OMG! Whaddabird! Later afternoon at the house there was one of those neat Black Rock Squirrel. Haven't seen one here since last summer maybe. It was eating birdseed out back.

May 9 ~ A nice cool 54F for a low was outstanding. I saw KRVL had a 51! A couple Yellow Warbler went through yard early, and another warbler that got away. That was it for migrants though. The pair of Gnatcatchers are in the pecan all the time now, I think they may have chosen it. I saw a female Brown-headed Cowbird going down branch after branch looking between each ball moss clump, for a nest. Ima get dat bitch. Which seems likely a rap song title.

About 2pm went to town for an hour, few more errands and running into people ends up two hours real fast. On the way I stopped at the 354 pecan patch and a VEERY was coming into the decrepit grown-over, barely stayin&apos alive, top blown off by lightning, Mulberry. It was an eastern type, purely rufous above, stem to stern. Once when it flew in it gave a great wheeeerrrr call note. I thought I was gonna die, I haven't heard that in sooo long. It was going out into the pecan patch after each few berries. Way out. You could not see it most of the time when it was in the tree, and then it would bolt way out into the woods across the road. Once it stopped on a nearby branch and gave good views, while finishing a berry, but flew as I got my camera on it. Made my day anyway.

At Utopia Park saw a second-one-of-the-spring Northern Waterthrush on the island. What was probably a Common Yellowthroat got away, and might have heard a Mourning Warbler. The pair of Common Grackle seem into nesting at south end of island as usual. I heard (and glimpsed) baby Yellow-throated Warblers up in the tops of the Cypresses on the island, out of the nest now. Still slow going on the odes there. Saw a Checkered Setwing (FOY) though. Some type of Forktail (Ischnura) has been common on the low stuff in the woods lately.

Later afternoon Kathy spotted a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bath. Which we haven't seen around the yard in months. I heard one sing upslope behind us whilst watching the one at the bath. So there were two, surely a pair. Also a Field Sparrow was singing just over the fence. Later a mostly blue headed first-spring male Blue Grosbeak was around the bath eating some seed heads of some grass I let go to seed. Have to cut most of the yardish area for appearances, but leave some patches for this sort of thing, and the bugs.

We are being innundated with just-fledged juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Here comes the wave, flood is more like it. It started yesterday, we could tell the consumption went way up. Today it is worse, and sure enough there are a bunch of those gray-headed little buggers out there.

commonyellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat, male, at our birdbath.
Sorry about the grainy, was early in morn,
bath is in shade, and was heavy overcast.
It wouldn't stop flicking wings and tail.
I have seen more this spring than any in the
last 17, by at least a factor over prior best year.
The only warbler that showed well this spring here.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 8 ~ The front blew in just after 9 a.m. here and blew 20-30 mph all day. Low barely hit 69F right before it, but the cool air kept it in the 70's all day. Great for the date. Thought I heard a Black-billed Cuckoo this a.m. The Yellow-billed pair that nests here is around and making all sorts of different noises as breeding commences, but this to me sounded like a Black-bill. Could not find it, another point for B-b. The tonal quality is quite different. Think I will let it go though.

Town run day. Looks like they are over masks here for the most part. The only thing different at the park was a poor look at a FOS Swainson's Thrush in a Mulberry on the island. No warblers. Great looks at a male Summer Tanager and Yellow-throated Vireo though. Also saw Chimney Swift and Blue Jay. No Kingbirds on the fencelines south of town, it is peak week for Eastern here. Dickcissels still singing along 354. If we don't get rain soon the Dicks won't stick.

Saw Judy Schaeffer at the park. She said she has had two different Catbirds over the spring visit her water feature. She also mentioned she too still has male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at her feeders. After the P.O., gas station, feed store, groceries, and the park, I saw Rosie for chicken fajita tacos and my work in town was done. About 4 p.m. here at the hovelita an Eyed Elaterid (the giant click beetle with the false eyes on thorax) was on the porch. A couple fresh mint Monarch on the Blue Mist Eup. are likely local emergences, at least a half-dozen (at once) Queens were there too.

The Firefly show is just incredible. A couple dozen going off at once, and several dozens over a few seconds. At least a hundred in the yard in front of house. More on sides. A Chuck-wills-widow landed on a snag in the draw I can see from steps to driveway and went off for 5 minutes. A couple times it went to double speed like I have never heard before. It was calling fast already, and all of a sudden was double-time. Maybe it was seeing a female flying around? Had it been a male in its territory it would have gone after it, and not just gone for being more impressive of voice. I have lots of Chuck tape, but no recording of this type of calling.

May 7 ~ Low of 65F, much warmer than the 58 predicted and hoped for. Some mist, strong southerly gulf flow ahead of another front set to arrive tomorrow. The longer we last into May like this, the better. It was only 70F at 1 p.m., and then about 80 at 4! Great for the date. Had an Orchard Oriole and a Red-eyed Vireo in the yard in the morning. The rest was the breeders. Still Rubies here fighting at a feeder, presumedly over at least one female.

In the afternoon there were two fresh Monarch and 3 Queen on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. Then a fresh FOY Southern Broken-Dash showed up briefly, nice to see. A Vesta Crescent made a pass as well. Later afternoon the pair of Chats hit the bath together. Then after that a bit the pair of Yellow-throated Warbler did the same! Late at dusk there was a Least Flycatcher out in the yard. Some Chimney Swift flying around too. Heard Common Nighthawk and Chuck-wills-widow. Great firefly show as it gets dark, probably a hundred of them out there now.

May 6 ~ Overcast with northerlies, 65F for a low. Heard a Least Flycatcher out at the road, and an Orchard Oriole in the pecans out front. More yard work while coolish. Some Mexican Hat is opening up now, actually saw the first one a couple days ago. Also saw my first American Germander (aka Wood Sage, but it is not a sage) flower yesterday. The pair of Gnatcatcher are still around. Still a couple male Ruby-throated Hummers here, so must be females around. I have not had time to watch the feeders. Pretty soon we will have the first wave of juvenile Black-chins out of the nest. A Yellow Warbler was around a bit in the afternoon, which sang a little. Fiery Skipper and Funereal Duskywing out in yard (leps). Three or four Chuck-wills-widow in earshot at dark. Heard Nighthawk booming, Barred Owl and Tex-Mex (mccallii) Screech-Owl.

May 5 ~ Feliz Cinco de Mayo! A weak front is on the way inbound today. Southerly moist gulf flow overnight in front of it had us at a muggy 72F for a low, like summer. Some puffs of northerlies in the morning. Heard a Baltimore Oriole and a zeet that was likely a Yellow Warbler. Yellow-throated Warbler was in the bath again. Got up to about 80F in the afternoon with gusty northerlies, but drying out. Heard presumedly the same Gnatcatcher out there, maybe it is nesting in the draw, a nice patch of smaller but leafy pecans are in it. Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo singing around yard, presume they too are nesting nearby. More yard and garden work.

May 4 ~ Low of 69F is not very, overcast, the standard gulf moisture flow. Got very warm in the afternoon, 87F on cool shady front porch, prolly 92 in the sun, some local stations had 93-95F. Here it comes. Heard one Yellow Warbler about 9. Otherwise just the breeders, but at least a great set of them. Kathy made the morning minutes before noon, spotting a male Golden-cheeked Warbler coming into the birdbath. I got the window open so could shoot unobstructed through my magic screen and got some pics over the 5 minutes it was around. It came in and got soaked, went up into tree to preen it in, then came back down to repeat and finish the treatment with a second rinse. Whaddabird! Kinda doesn't matter what else happens today. Only takes one good bird to make your day. Got more yard work done despite the heat. Kathy saw a male Painted Bunting at the bath. Saw my FOY Six-lined Racerunner, racerun across the yard. Great firefly show as dusk arrives. Screech-Owl is calling nightly from yard lately.

May 3 ~ A low of 67F makes ya think summer is on the way. Misted a bit early. Not much migrant motion, a female Yellow Warbler, and later morn a male Yellow Warbler. We checked a few spots locally a few hours mid-day. On the way down the road a quarter-mile from the house heard the FOS Least Flycatcher che-bek several times. Saw the first Skeleton-flower open of the year too. There is a great patch of Cedar Sage blooming at the 360 crossing.

No migrants at the 354 Pecan patch, but potential breeders singing are Dickcissel, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated and Bell' Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat. No migrants at the park either, not even in the Mulberries. Weird. Heard the Eastern Wood-Pewee again, but no Waterthrush. In town saw a Yellow-billed Cuckoo leave a big Mulberry on Cypress St. Looks like Chimney Swift are using the chimney on the back of the Lost Maples Cafe building, if you need a look.

At the NW corner of town, from the car pretty close, we watched some Barn and a Cave Swallow gathering mud at a roadside puddle. Interesting how the Barn would bring vegetation in their beaks, and then gather mud on top of that. Obviously then when they plaster with it, the pieces of fibrous vegetation act like rebar in concrete adding additional tensile strength to the mud nest. Brilliant engineering. The Barns were mostly at a stage using the wettest mud, the Cave was using soft, but not wet juicy mud.

Behind the storage spaces on that north running NWmost street in town there was one Bell's Vireo singing, and a Western Kingbird on a powerline. We checked the 356 crossing at the county line just NW of town. Not much there but a mean unhappy crossing monitor troll. The cosmic kismet was not lost on me as we watched a screaming Red-shouldered Hawk eject a Red-tailed Hawk, obviously from its nest area. It went ballistic on this Red-tail, which apparently felt discretion was the better part of valor this time. Was real low right overhead just above treetops, a great show. Heard Great Crested Flycatcher and Yellow-throated Warbler there. For odes, no dragons besides that lady, just a couple damsels. Some White-flowered Nutgrass in bloom, if you can call that flower a bloom. A rather primitive one I'd say.

Took a quick look at the Red-tailed hawk nest just south of town, another singing Eastern Wood-Pewee there, and one female Yellow Warbler. Then on 187 just north of 360 there was my FOS Zone-tailed Hawk soaring low. Which are usually back in March. After 7 p.m. I heard a Least Flycatcher calling out by the gate, which could be the one heard just down the road before noon. Before 7 p.m. Kathy found the FOS Plains Threadsnake (was known as Texas Blind Snake) in the kitchen, which I took outside. It was the usual 4" or so. Looks like a skinny scaled earthworm. Neat beast. Had a Tawny Emperor butterfly circle yard, FOY.

May 2 ~ About 65F for a low, misted much of the morning. In yard 1 Yellow Warbler for migrant. Heard a Hooded Oriole sing so one is coming in and it is a male, don't know age yet. Went to park for a look. At the 354 Pecans there were a couple Yellow Warbler, a few Dickcissel in the pasture on north side of road, singing Red-eyed Vireo in the woods on south side, singing Bell's Vireo at east end of that first big pasture on north side of 354. The Mulberry on Cypress St. just north of park entrance had a hundred Waxwings in it.

At the park there were lots of people. But the woods were all clear. One Northern Waterthrush was my FOS, as was finally an Eastern Wood-Pewee. My latest FOS date in 17 springs for the Pewee. Thought I heard a MacGillivray's Warbler on the island but could not pick anything out. Had one Nashville Warbler, heard the Green Heron. Saw fledged baby Cardinal. Saw ripe Dewberries, only tested one, they are still great.

A second Pewee was south of town a half mile along the river. Took a pic of the Red-tailed Hawk nest with a couple well-grown young in it. Saw some Water Willow (Justicia - not the tree) in bloom. Lots of Dodder going too well on it as always.
goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler, male, May 4, 2020.
Utopia is where you can see this in your birdbath.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 1 ~ OMG, May!?!?! Happy May Day! Is it time for a revolution yet? About 57F for a low was nice. Sunny, green and springy. One male Yellow Warbler was the only passage migrant in the yard in the morning, and could well be the one here the last few days in the pecan flowers. Heard Cuckoo out in yard again, the local breeders are likely back. It is a great dawn chorus these days. Heard begging baby Chickadees, so first batch is out.

Town supply run. Utopia Park is now open, though I forgot to ask if for camping as well, but doubt that. Probably just day use for now. A Common Yellowthroat was the only passage migrant I saw. One warbler got away though. A Great Crested Flyc. was in the woods, and Blue Jay is always nice. I did not hear any Bell's Vireo at the NW corner of town where usually. Late afternoon Kathy found on the patio (and gave to me apparently) a dead Mourning Dove. I think our relationship has reached an important milestone. Just kidding, it's not the first dead bird she gave me. I don't know how others decide it's true love...

One item of interest is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird presence. Note we are not in any area mapped as their breeding range in the standard field guides. Though rarely some do seem to nest here in spring before departing. At least a few males and at least one female continue here. I saw a male displaying, which they usually only do if nesting. Three days this week I saw a female Ruby at the feeders that had what I call a 'nest band'. I don't know if that is a real word or term used outside my dystopia, but I use it. For that band of mashed down feathers across the breast where the rim of the nest makes an imprint on an incubating bird. Incubating birds sometimes show this, nest band, hummers in particular as they fit tightly in the nest. Often you can see this band of pressed or mashed down feathers that leave a distinct imprint or mark of wear across the breast of female hummers. Not possible to acquire this without sitting in a nest incubating. So I would say at least one 'pair' of Rubies is nesting here this year.

The Firefly show at dusk is outstanding. Probably about 75 going off now, dozens at a time, it is awesome to watch. Before dark it has peaked and fading. Chat, Chuck-wills-widow, and Vermilion Flycatcher are the 3 species calling as the show goes. Just before dark Eastern Screech-Owl called. Had two Monarch today, one pale worn migrant, one mint fresh but not the one from yesterday. Also two Queen one fresh, one old and worn. Saw a couple open Mexican Hat flowers.

~ ~ and now for a brief interlude ~ ~

~ ~ ~ April summary ~ ~ ~

It was a dry one unfortunately, and a bad month for that. Spring rains are critical for flower blooms and bugs. We got about an inch of rain, between 3 and 4 is average. So far spring bloom has been much reduced. A chilly low of 43F the last morn of the month was great. Temps were moderate. Water level in the river is below average and normal.

Butterflies were average, 40 species over the month. Nothing unusual, but that is as expected in spring. Always great to get those last Falcate Orangetip and Henry's Elfin of the year though. The early spring fliers fade fast. Have to check my pix and the books on some hairstreaks yet, may be another sps. to add. Monarchs had a good spring, double the number I saw last spring. A Green Skipper at Lost Maples is always nice to see. No Amblyscrites, big yellow swallowtails, or Arizona Sister flying yet.

Odes picked up at the end of the month, mostly due to a walk up Can Creek past the ponds at Lost Maples the 26th. Most of the month they were slow. I count 16 species for the month, a big jump from the 4 in March. The 26th along Can Creek was the first day of the year with more than 10 species. A Pin-tailed Pondhawk that day at the upper pond at Lost Maples is a very rare find in Bandera Co., might be a first county record. A couple Flame Skimmer there were nice too. The rest was the expected suspects.

pintailedpondhawk
Here is a poor docushot of the Pin-tailed Pondhawk
at Lost Maples April 26. It was on the other side
of the pond 75' away.


Birds were good, how can you go wrong in April? All your old friends showing back up daily. I count about 110 species locally Utopia to Lost Maples, that I saw, hardly getting out. Most in the yard. Others saw some I missed. When you record seasonal arrival dates, it gets more fun every year. More data = more fun. I had four earliest-evers (n~17 springs) this spring. A Vermilion Flycatcher late in Jan., Yellow-throated Vireo March 13, and in April Yellow-breasted Chat the 4th, and Blue Grosbeak the 8th.

Only one rare bird was seen, er, detected, as it was heard only. As many a nocturnal calling migrant shorebird are. A northbound Black-bellied Plover on the 20th will be one of the best birds of the year here no matter what shows up the rest of the year. Nothing else was unusual, save a Peregrine that dove on the White-winged Doves at top of the pecan in our yard. A Catbird was here a couple days April 22-23. It has been weak though for passerine migration overall. Have not seen a dozen species of warblers all spring so far. Hoping things pick up first half of May before migration is over.

~ ~ ~ end April summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ another version of April, the update header,
this an archive copy, more FOS date particulars... ~ ~ ~

April 1 saw my FOS Hooded Oriole and Grasshopper Sparrow. An Osprey was at Little Creek the 2nd. Five Bell's Vireo were around town the 3rd and since. On the 4th I heard my FOS Yellow-breasted Chat. On the 5th, four Swainson's Hawk were my FOS as was the one Broad-winged Hawk in with them, and a Chuck-wills-widow after dark the 5th. The 8th I heard my FOS Blue Grosbeak out back, saw that beautiful blue boy the 9th, the female arrived the 17th. A Peregrine on the 11th was very nice. My FOS Western Kingbird was the 12th. My FOS Indigo Bunting was on the patio the 13th. Also the 13th was my FOS female Summer Tanager, the male was March 27! The 15th was my FOS Bronzed Cowbird, and late in the day, two male Painted Bunting! My FOS Firefly was the 16th. The 19th brought FOS Red-eyed Vireo and Orchard Oriole. The FOS migrants for the 20th were a singing House Wren at the front porch, then probably my mega-rary of the spring, a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER flew over calling at about 9:25 p.m. (!), finally about 10:40 p.m. my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo called. The 21st was my FOS Great Crested Flycatcher. Kathy got the FOS Catbird at the bath the 22nd, which was back the 23rd. The 24th my FOS Tennessee Warbler (female) was in the yard. FOS Dickcissel was the 26th, as was Cliff Swallow at Vanderpool. At Lost Maples (finally) on the 26th saw FOS Louisiana Waterthrush and Scott's Oriole, though both meaningless dates, they arrive in mid-to-late March. FOS Brown-crested Flycatcher was the 27th. The 29th saw my FOS Green Heron, Common Nighthawk, and female Painted Bunting.

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

April 30 ~ An awesome 43F for a low felt great! We cherish these last cool mornings until fall. The SAT record low for the date is 44, so we were getting near one here. Though it was mostly calm after about 10 p.m. last night, no evidence of migrant motion here this a.m., the male Yellow Warbler could well be a holdover. Saw the female Painted Bunting at the bath again. Surely one of our local bunting mamas. Heard a Cuckoo call in yard in later afternoon.

Did more yard work whilst cool out. The male Vermilion is right on the cut areas as soon as I leave. Our greggi Blue Mist Eupatorium has tons of buds, first few flowers are opening now. Will be the best spring bloom in years for our porch patches. Probably that growfast I gathered from the corral. There were two Monarchs that hit it, one worn pale, obvious migrant from Mexico as almost all we see in spring. But as rarely, one was mint fresh, which means likely a local emergence from an egg laid in earliest March when they first return. Couple Queens were around too, they are all fresh now.

The Firefly show at dusk is spectacular, over 50 were going off in the main yard area out front, more were in other parts. Three Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks flew over at last light. Then heard Common Nighthawk and Chuck-wills-widow as it was getting dark. After dark heard Barn, Barred, Great Horned, and E. Screech-, Owls.

Apr. 29 ~ Drizzle early morning as the front passed, but no real precip here on the dry west end of it. Northerlies behind it 15-20 mph gusting higher. Checked the park early briefly, it is said to be opening shortly. One warbler got away for the only passerine migrant. A FOS Green Heron was nice to see, likely one of the island's breeding pair. In the yard there was one Yellow Warbler and a couple Orchard Oriole later morn. A couple Gnatcatchers, but each alone, not sure if it was the pair that was prospecting around. Later afternoon I saw my FOS female Painted Bunting. The only other greenie I had seen was an imm. male, not a female. Early evening probably the same male Yellow Warbler was around, and a Nashville Warbler hit the bath. A Turkey walked by just out the kitchen window. Little does it know what happens in there. Outstanding was nearing last sun a couple FOS Common Nighthawk calling high up overhead. The male 'boomed', repeatedly at the female, once very low and close, coming straight at me so good and loud. Awesome. Whaddabird! Got more yard work done. Saw one Pale-faced Clubskimmer (ode) skimming around yard.

Apr. 28 ~ About 62F for a low was great. It was about five-eighths of an inch of rain from the MCS last night about 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. or so. At least it was something. I heard a Hooded Oriole and saw it fly off, but did not even get to sex it in the bad light. Have not been seeing one around, would be nice to have them coming in again. Two male Yellow and one Nashville Warbler were all I saw for warblers but Kathy had a glimpse of something else that must have left the yard. The pair of Great Crested Flycatcher were whoopin' and hollerin' it up all around the house early. The Brown-crest was still out there as well as the pair of Ash-throats. One Great Crest did a long pretty fast series of identical musical short quick weep notes, just like one I had at Harbor Park in L.A. once. The Barking Frogs are sure going off, since as they were soon as the rain hit last night. Saw a male Cooper's Hawk chase another male Coop out of the big Pecan at dusk. The chasee looked like last years imm. or sub-ad. now male.

Apr. 27 ~ About 62F for a low, cloudy morning, sunny a few hours afternoon, clouded up again later afternoon. Most of the day had (too) strong southerlies. The FOS Brown-crested Flycatcher was calling around the yard in the morning. Probably attracted by all the whoopin' and hollerin' from the pair of Great Crests and Ash-throats. A three Myiarchus morn in the yard. Besides the Brown-crest, one Yellow and one Nashville Warbler was otherwise it for migrant motion. Nice of them to hit the bath together.

Kathy heard a Cuckoo, and saw the Chat at the bath. The pair of Yellow-throated Warbler were at the bath together late afternoon. Three male Painted Bunting out back on the millet at last call. Saw a Buckeye again (butterfly). One Pale-faced Clubskimmer (dragon) hunting where and when I just finished weed-whacking in the morning. Great Firefly show, must have been 50 at dusk. Twinkle twinkle little beetle. Later p.m., from about 10 it rained as a MCS moved over west to east. We are in dire straights for any precip so that was great. Quite a bit of lightning with it. Looked like one wee bit ran over Lost Maples too.

Apr. 26 ~ We did Lost Maples, finally! The night sky sure looks great at 5:40 a.m., Cygnus and Aquila at zenith, like a summer sky. Always amazed hearing Purple Martins up there in the black of night calling. Should be a constellation Progne, not to mention Bubo and Caprimulgus. The low of 46F felt awesome. We left before 8, slowed to listen at THE field on 354 and yes a couple singing FOS Dickcissel. Hardly any Scissor-tails between here and Lost Maples, only one pair, on a side road, none on 187. Saw some FOS Cliff Swallow at Vanderpool where they nest under the Hwy. 337 bridge just 100 yards or so east of 187.

You have to show a mask to enter the state park, but once on the trails most were not wearing them. Thinking we could ID news sources, political persuasion and science savy or lack thereof by mask presence? Campgrounds are still closed but it seemed some are sneaking into the back-country remote sites overnight since no patrolling that.

Check in is at a kiosk, office seems closed, the feeders that were at HQ are not. There is seed being put out at the trailhead or overflow parking area feeding station now. Seems the pair of Chimney Swift are back in the Murphy House there at that lot. Around the feeding station there were single male Painted and Indigo Bunting, some Scrub-Jay (texana), a White-tipped and several White-winged Dove, an Inca Dove, one each ad., and fem. or imm. male Scott's Oriole, a begging fledgling Chipping Sparrow and the usual Titmouse, Cardinal, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, etc.

First the misses. We did not see or hear any Olive Sparrow, Audubon's Oriole, Zone-tailed Hawk, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, or Blue Grosbeak (!). Both Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee were still not back yet, will soon be tardy for them. Though overall spring seemed behind or latish for the date, far fewer flowers than usual for late April. Perhaps drought related. The water is very low, especially once you get past the first pond, it is down a foot or more. Overall bird numbers seem way down. Again. So do bugs. Saw no herptiles but a Cooter (the turtle, Texas River C.).

We had great looks at a couple Golden-cheeked Warbler, both were first spring birds. They used to be scarce along main prime territories in canyon bottom, now for a few years (at least 3), they seem to predominate. Way more 'B' song singing than you used to hear, from these first summer birds, often with a trill at end. Doesn't seem right. Watched a female bathe and preen at very close range. Heard several others singing, but they are already into nesting so not the roar of song in early spring, that has passed. Heard and glimpsed a few Louisiana Waterthrush, man I love those piercing intro notes of that song. Heard a half-dozen Black-and-white Warbler singing but never saw one, shoulda been a dozen. Several Chat singing. Saw a couple Green Kingfisher along Can Creek (the creek to the ponds), so likely nesting again this year along it somewhere. Migrant songbirds were a few warblers, maybe 3 Nashville, and one singing Orange-crowned, plus one that got away which was likely a Tennessee. Other than 3 House Wren, no other migrants were seen. It was weak for that, and weird for the date.

Glimpsed one of two heard very close Black-capped Vireo. We ate lunch listening to one sing incessantly. Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed were all fewer than usual, and only one Hutton's. Were a few Ash-throated Flycatcher, heard 3-4 Canyon Wren but didn't see one, though a looker, the song is the best part anyway. Plus all the usual things like a couple N. Rough-winged Swallow, Common Raven, Turkey and Black Vulture, some Summer Tanager. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher seemed nesting in decent numbers.

In butterflies, no Arizona Sister. Three fresh Red-spotted Purple were awesome as a couple Little Wood Satyr were dull. A Green Skipper was great, at THE Green Skipper spot. Six or more Spicebush Swallowtail, but no other swallowtails was weird. On some Antelope Horn were a number of Southern (Oak) Hairstreak, a couple others I have to study pix of, some Olive (Juniper) Hairstreak, and lots of little beetles. Did not see any Monarch cats though. Lots of Red Admiral and American Lady, one Questionmark, some Sleepy Orange.

Some odes were flying and that was great since there hasn't been much activity yet locally. First good day of the year. Saw a bunch of Springwater Dancer, one American Rubyspot, a Dusky Dancer, several Violet Dancer, and a bunch of damsels I did not pay attention to. Lots were tenerals so for me not ID'able. Dragons included several Prince Baskettail, numbers of Dot-winged Baskettail, several Blue Dashers, two Flame Skimmer, a Green Darner, what was surely a Springtime Darner at the second (upper) pond, and best, a Pin-tailed Pondhawk, which is a rary in Bandera Co. (ph.). Half-dozen Common Whitetail. A female Eastern Amberwing was ovipositing in the upper pond. No saddlebags or leaftails yet. But, there was action jackson. Odetivity. Finally, and a rary to boot. First day with over 10 species this year.

Saw one Monarch on the ride home, and another in the yard later afternoon. Three Savannah Sparrow were at a grassy lot in town. At last call on the millet out back there were two each male Painted and Indigo Bunting, and 20 Lark Sparrow. Had no migrants in the yard in the afternoon. Often if it was a good day a warbler or two will hang out in the pecans since full of flowers right now. Firefly show was awesome at dusk. Chuck-wills-widow is belting it out real close outside now.

Saw a few Scarlet Clematis in bloom, one Coreopsis flower, a few Indian Blanket on the way home, lots of roadside Engelman's Daisy, a Fleabane presumed Prairie, only one Snapdragon Vine flower, and one False Day-flower. Flowers are not yet going well. Need more rain.

We had a great walk, save all the unmasked people. Did about 4 miles total in about 5 hours. It was amazing to see so many people there, and only one other couple was looking at birds. Most were talking as if trying to be heard in a crowded city park, none showed any interest whatsoever in the nature. It was just a place for their blow steam off march. Used to be the folk that went there had an interest in it. This was quite different. The quarantine fever edition. Late p.m. about 10:30 I heard a Barn Owl call as it flew over northbound.

Apr. 25 ~ Was warm most of the night until just pre-dawn, whence cooled to about 62F. Front passed and the winds picked up early, was 15-20 mph and gusting higher. Since going birding tomorrow worked on things here, gardens, yard, etc. In the morn there were a couple Nashville Warbler, a Yellow or two, both sang, and heard another Oriole that sounded like another Baltimore. Two days in a row now, but have not laid eyes on one yet. Since the wind did not start until after sunup I presume there was migrant motion last night and it is new stuff. Nothing different though. Kathy had a couple Field Sparrow at the bath, so maybe a pair is nesting close-ish by?

Here is a big bonus break for all the depraved and
deprived birders not getting out enough lately.

These are a few shots of the female Golden-cheeked
Warbler we watched bathing at Lost Maples April 26.
goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, testing the water.


goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, bathing.


goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler, female. She left and preened a bit,
returned, keeping an eye on us, and bathed some more.


goldencheekedwarbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, after bathing.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Apr. 24 ~ For a few hours overnight got into the upper 50's F but was 61 or so at dawn. Sunny and quite nice. Heard an oriole uphill behind us early that surely was a Baltimore. Heard a Nashville Warbler or two, the White-crowned Sparrow sang a bit, a Clay-colored still hitting seed on patio. One male Yellow Warbler in the Pecan buds. The dusk Firefly show is great, at least 50 tonight, gonna be a good showing this spring.

Town errand run day. Park still locked up and no time to walk in when doing errand run. Seeing very few Scissor-tails around, and still no Zone-tailed Hawk. Some Chimney Swift over town are always nice. Got warm in the afternoon, I saw 86F in the shade on the front porch, had to be 90 in the sun. Had to use the AC on the way back from town. Five months of smokin' hot fun dead ahead. Just pray or dance for rain.

Later afternoon the pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher were around the yard again. About 5:30 I found a FOS Tennessee Warbler (female) in the pecans out front. An eastern warbler! Maybe there is hope for this spring. It has been a mighty weird one. Normally I would have been to Lost Maples 4 times or more the last month or so, and the park in town here a dozen times. Instead of both no times. The next 2-3 weeks is the peak 2-3 weeks of spring migration here. This is it if you want to see all the cool migratory stuff as it blazes through. Will it be gorey or glory?

Apr. 23 ~ Low was about 52F and felt great! Dry and sunny. Green and wonderful. Dawn chorus is starting by 6:30 a.m. now. Just a few things before that, stuff that often sings at night (like Chat and Vermilion Flyc.) anyway. Barred and Great Horned Owl and Chuck-wills-widow were all going off for last call just before 6:30. That first roar and crescendo of birdsong about 6:30 to 6:50 is outstanding now. Saw one male Yellow Warbler at the birdbath briefly, 2 Nashville, and heard an Orchard Oriole.

Saw two FOS Dun Skipper (butterfly), another Monarch. The Red Satyr flew by again late in the day. Otherwise it was the same gang. Except at 7:45 p.m. I heard Kathy whispering 'look at the bath', whence I got to the window just in time to see a soaked Catbird fly away. Surely the same bird as yesterday evening. I watched the bath all day for it, checked it 25 times, every time I walked down the hall. It didn't come in until it knew I gave up. Dang thang, was out there all day hiding. About 10 p.m. heard my second Cuckoo of the spring, giving 'the rain song', coo calls. That's cuckoo coo calls.

Apr. 22 ~ Fog, mist, drizzle, about 68F for a low. About .1 of an inch of precip, makes .3 for the week. Couple Nashville and a Gnatcatcher were around briefly. Stuff is grounded until this moves out. Clay-colored, Lincoln's, and White-crowned Sparrow all still here, Chipping number only a dozen or less, Lark is the common one now. Heard the Great Crested Flycatcher over in the corral. Later afternoon got some sun finally. Two Nashville singing later. Almost 6 p.m. Kathy spotted a FOS Catbird at the bath! I got to the window with camera just in time to watch it fly away. A male Painted Bunting there got scared from it flushing and left too.

The rest was the regular yard gang but which is much improved over the winter avifauna. Painted and Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Vermilion Flyc., Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Chat... all the migratory songbirds make it great, especially with everything singing off and on all day. Heaven. Or utopia. In butterflies there were 5 or 6 dozen Lyside Sulphur, they are on the move now. One Little Yellow, another Monarch, and best a FOS Red Satyr, which is rare here on valley floor. Then there was a great Firefly show at dusk.

Apr. 21 ~ Fog and mist in the morn, about 62F for a low. Not much for movement early, a Nashville or two was it. Did see male Indigo and Painted Bunting down on the millet. About noon had my FOS Great Crested Flycatcher, which is likely the corral breeder returning. Great to hear that again! First I just heard the rolling trill and thought that was a GC and not the Ash-throats that have been prospecting boxes here, so gave a few GC whistles, it took 3, and BAM!, it whistled back 5 times. Kathy heard the Roadrunner singing up the hill. A Hutton's Vireo sang for a bit.

A few Nashville Warbler went through, the White-crowned and one Lincoln's Sparrow are still around. Late saw two male Painted Bunting at once as well as my first green one of the spring. Which was an imm. male not a female, as often the case with the first green ones you see back. Later afternoon heard an ad. male singing from the big Pecan, first song from them of the spring, was quiet and hesitant, but was PB song. One very worn pale Monarch was around yard in afternoon. Saw a Frog-fruit flower open.

Apr. 20 ~ A cool 50F for a low, and sunny is nice. Early there was singing Bullock's Oriole and Nashville Warbler, plus a calling Orchard Oriole. Bullock's always beats Baltimore back, usually a week or so difference. I get the sense that the Bullock's are likely mostly birds nearly at their breeding grounds, whereas I suspect the Baltimores are mostly birds on their way much further north. Kathy pointed out the fluttering of the baby phoebes in the nest over the bathroom window. They are very near fledging. I grabbed a pic just in case they make the jump.

A male Painted Bunting was on the seed out back. Better for scarcity here but not color, was a FOS singing House Wren in the tangle I am growing by the front porch. Mostly it is a patch of butterfly flowers, which currently is just enough low green leafy to pull an requisite undergrowth indicator species down out of the trees. It is working as planned. It is where that male Mourning Warbler photo was taken last fall. Ovenbird is my target species. Build the habitat and they will come. I would have had a great pic of the wren if not for auto-focus.

A couple Nashville Warbler were around in the afternoon. Later when watering an hour before dark I saw at least a couple just-fledged Phoebes in the Pecan nearest the nest. Another seemed to go whilst I was 20' away, so I backed away. I saw in my pix of the nest this morn there were four young in the nest. At dark I checked it and they were all gone. I could hear them over in the draw. So they got them out and away today. Almost 5 p.m. I had a FOS male Yellow Warbler in the big Pecan, though surely heard one yesterday. Heard a Bullock's Oriole right at last sun, likely a different one from first thing this morning. The Chuck-wills-widow goes off close by right at dusk. Were at least 30 Firefly in front yard, they are popping now, the yard is all sparkly and awesome, most excellent.

Around 9:25 I was outside when a Barn Owl called from way high up, a migrant heading north. A BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER called almost immediately after the Barn Owl called. It was much lower altitude than the owl and slightly south of it, closer to me. In a few moments the owl called again, clearly bearing due north, and the plover called back again, also bearing due north. I could not believe what I was hearing. The owl called a third time, now north of the house, and the plover called back again! I thought I was gonna die. I heard the plover one more time and that was it. It is my first in Uvalde County. They are rare but regular at Mitchell Lake in SAT, but that is the nearest spot for them. The 2000 Blankenship UvCo list showed a few records for spring and fall, presumably at the fish hatchery. Currently in ebird where 345 species listed for UvCo, there are NO records. Which means no one has seen one in recent modern times in the county. It is a mega-rary here now, of course new for my Sabinal River Valley list, and yard list. Whaddabird! Then about 10:45 p.m. my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo called. I often get my FOS cuckoo as a calling bird at night. Whadda four-twenty!

Apr. 19 ~ Drizzle and mist in the a.m., were some light showers overnight. We got about .2 of an inch of precip. By noon was clear and the post-frontal blow was getting started. Nice and calm for a few hours though. After 1 p.m. winds were NW at 15-20, gusting 25+ mph, blown out. Warmed into upper-80's F with very low humidity.

During second cup of coffee before 8 a.m. whilst on the living room sofa I heard my FOS Red-eyed Vireo singing in the yard. A bit later went out and saw two Orchard Oriole, also FOS. That male is gorgeous. A bit later there was a Nashville Warbler, a female Orchard, an imm. male Bullock's Oriole, and a male Painted Bunting in a pecan out front. First male Painted Bunny since the 15th when the first two were here, and this one was not either of them. There was migrant movement. After breakfast we went out and checked a couple spots along the river for a couple hours and near a couple miles of motion lotion. Just to get out and move around is a treat. Was not jumping with migrants though.

At the 354 pecan patch there was a second Red-eyed Vireo singing, heard 3-4 each Chat and Bell's Vireo singing, one Indigo Bunting, all of which are likely territorially singing. Probably heard a Yellow Warbler. Then along .75 of a mile of river saw one Green Kingfisher and one Common Yellowthroat. There is a Red-tailed Hawk nest on private property (not visible from road) south of town a half-mile or so, looks like maybe 3 fairly well grown young in it. Lots of singing Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler everywhere. Saw a fair bit of Engelmann's Daisy in bloom, a big yellow Primrose that might be Fluttermill or Missouri, maybe Square-bud, some Mulberry trees have red berries now. Saw 50 or so Waxwing. Of course saw the usual coots like Mockers, Cards, TVs and BVs, White-wings, Barn Swallows, and such.

Apr. 18 ~ Ran about 51-65F for a temp spread, cloudy, some mist in the morning. Light northerly flow overnight so likely not much migrant motion. Saw a couple Nashville in yard and that was it for passage birds. Still the White-crowned (ad.), Lincoln's, and Clay-colored Sparrow in yard, the latter singing. Late afternoon we went to the 1445 knoll a mile south for a mile walk. We roll over and do the walk there. No Golden-cheeked Warbler or Black-capped Vireo, at 5 p.m. anyway. Did have singing Black-and-white Warbler and Olive Sparrow. Black-crested Titmouse, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Bewick's Wren, White-eyed Vireo, probably a Long-billed Thrasher singing in distance, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Summer Tanager. Mostly too cool for butterflies. A few ladies, mosty American, one worn Painted, a Red Admiral, a Monarch, a Sleepy Orange, couple Reakirt's Blue, a Variegated Fritillary, and a Comm. Checkered-Skipper. Couple Yellow-throated Vireo singing on the old riverbend ridge where they nest. One good patch of Antelope Horn blooming I want to check when warm out, that stuff is Hairstreak honey. Saw my first open Green (Pearl) Milkweed Vine flowers.

easternphoebe
These are a couple of the Eastern Phoebe fledglings just
before they left the nest later this same day, April 20.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Apr. 17 ~ Drizzle mist at 62F for a low. Got up to about 72F Breezy north winds from a cold front hit in the afternoon. As of dark we saw no precip, but maybe overnight or tomorrow. The Yellow-throated Warbler pair are not in the big Pecan at daybreak, so maybe they are picking somewhere else, likely as usual over in the Cypresses nearer river. Was nice dreamin' for four days they were there at dawn. They were back in it at 7:30 p.m. though, whence it gets last sun in yard being the tallest tree.

Over day a couple Nashville Warbler went through. Heard a Gnatcatcher. One Clay-colored and one Lincoln's Sparrow still, and late in day one nice ad. White-crowned Sparrow. Town run fer stuff. Nice to see Chimney Swift and Cave Swallow since I don't see them around the house. Lots of Barn and a couple N. Rough-winged Swallow. Weird not seeing any Zone-tailed Hawk over town yet though, usually before late March they are around. Maybe just bad timing and am missing them, has been drizzly lots of the days I have been here. Saw lots of masks, very few tourists, at least Rosie is still making great chicken fajita tacos. At the 360 x-ing saw the first Blue Curl flower starting to uncurl.

Sure would love to see Lost Maples without the hominid crowds in spring, not to mention Garner. I can't imagine what that would be like, except the 80's all over again. Bet the birds don't mind the peace and quiet. Of course there is pressure to get the parks back open, watch the TPWD web page, or specifically the pages for those parks to see when stuff opens back up. Though not sure if I would race there when it happens. Late in afternoon I saw my first female Blue Grosbeak back, on the patio. Shortly afterwards the male was singing happily. At last call on the seed out back the male Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting were a foot apart for a couple minutes. Heard Turkey gobbling at dusk. Saw at least 5 Firefly as it got dark.

Add-on: I forgot to mention that Marsha Jo at the park said there was a small group of baby ducks there a few days. Of course there would not be such a thing now. But, Little Creek Larry and I have both had small groups of Bufflehead there in March and April prior springs. I have little doubt that is what she saw. They would be described as baby ducks.

Apr. 16 ~ About 51F for a low, slight southerly breeze, flow has turned around, and some sun. Did get up to 70 or so. Was too busy to look much. Had to trim a Hackberry that was screeching on the roof. Every year I cut it back, and every year I have to go back up on the roof and wrestle with it more to have peace. Since trying to keep as much as we can for the shade. The birds looked the same things from the little lookin' I did. But did not see the Painted Buntings. Kathy saw the female Summer Tanager at the bath. The male was there too of course. More pix of course, because dozens aren't enough of that. You always think you are still going to get that one magic perfect pose, if you just keep shooting. It is like searching for the lost chord. It's the journey friends. Barn Owl called going north about 10 p.m. The butterfly of the day was my FOS summer form Questionmark. Pretty snazzy when fresh. At the porch light after dark a couple Antlion were my first this year. Even better was my FOS Firefly over the yard! Hope we get a good light show from them this year.

Apr. 15 ~ A chilly 39F for a low is about 5dF above the record for the date. Kerrville had a 38. Nice to see the sun. There was a FOS Bronzed Cowbird on the patio in the morning. Heard the Indigo Bunting singing. At least three Nashville Warbler went through yard mid-morn. One or two sang in the afternoon. One each White-crowned (adult), Clay-colored and Lincoln's Sparrow, maybe 20 Chipping left in that flock, and a couple dozen Lark here now. Most of the Field Sparrow seem to have moved away lately, not hearing them sing. The pair of Gnatcats were still through the yard over the day. Saw my FOS Four-lined Skink, looked a pregnant female. In butterflies saw Reakirt's Blue and Comm. Checkered-Skipper.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Kathy spotted the FOS Painted Bunting at the birdbath! She said it flew over house so I watched over by patio where they feed alot and in a few minutes BAM! there it was. Then the male Indigo popped out of the ground cover right next to it. Then a SECOND male Painted Bunting dropped in right behind them! After the long brown winter, I thought I was gonna have a color overdose. Oh my! My early Painted Bunny arrival dates are once on the 12th, once on the 13th, then this is the 4th time on the 15th. The ten other years are later than the 16th.

Apr. 14 ~ Another 41F low, mostly cloudy all morning. Some sun in afternoon whence warmed to about 64F or so. Fourth day, the Yellow-throated Warblers are at the top of the big Pecan at first light again. Singing, chipping, the pair together. Looks like they might have picked our tree this year. The male loves the birdbath. Later I heard a warbler flight note that sounded a Yellow due to some zzzz quality to it. Otherwise I saw no movement through yard. Still light northerlies so migrant progress likely shut down for the most part. Male Summer Tanager hit the bird bath again as yesterday.

Apr. 13 ~ Northerlies continued lightly all night, was 41F for a low with 10+mph winds on it, KRVL was showing a 34F chill factor. A bit chilly for the date, the local record is 33F. Good thing I bundled the 'maters' up that are outside. Warmed to about 65F or so. A Chuck-wills-widow was calling over by the north fence about 6:40 a.m., almost sounded like he was on an unused birdbox. Have seen them use that as a platform before. Late morn my FOS Indigo Bunting was on the patio eating millet! Finally get to see that blue again! Wonder if it is the one that nested in the draw and fed here daily last year?

The other new arrival of the day was in the afternoon, I heard the male Summer Tanager making a call it has not made since returning. Looked to see whaddup and the FOS female was on a branch near it. Probably its mate from last year here. A Monarch or two went through northeast bound, seemingly looking for milkweeds. Another Shining Flea-beetle, and I see the Am. Germander is already getting chewed up. Lots of Black-chinned Hummers, over a hundred. Probably over a dozen Ruby-throated. Yellow-throated Vireo and Blue Grosbeak singing is great to hear.

April 12 ~ It was about 72F before the first crack of light, and foggy. Shortly after sunup the first northerlies arrived clearing it out, and dropped it to about 66F. Then it blew like heck all day, often from the west, 20-30 mph. Nice dry air. Warmed to the low 80'sF! I saw Hondo had winds at 32 gusting to 47mph! You know how I hate land birding in the wind. Can't even take a picture of a flower in it. It blew until the last hour of light. And lightly overnight. About noonish after spraying some water around I saw a Roseate Skimmer dragonfly, my first of the year.

As yesterday morning, at first light the male Yellow-throated Warbler is singing from the very top of the big pecan right off the front porch, with the female chipping around it. Almost looks like they might be picking that tree. They are IN it at first crack of light. It certainly has enough ball moss for them. I would be thrilled needless to say. Just before 4 p.m. I had a FOS Western Kingbird fly over the yard, going north up the river habitat corridor. A bit later there was an adult White-crowned Sparrow in a stick pile, another passage bird. One Lincoln's and 2 Clay-colored Sparrow continue. Two Monarchs went through yard in afternoon, a third roosted. Three B-b Whistling-Duck flew over at last light.

April 11 ~ A drizzly day running from about 62 to 68F. Too wet to be out, but not much precip yet. Maybe overnight it will hit. The system has all the bird movement on hold, though should be good when it breaks. Sunday is the frontal passage with strong northerlies, so it won't be until after that, Monday or Tuesday. Saw the male Blue Grosbeak just off the patio. Also saw the pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers working around the yard still together. I would love if they would take up territory here.

Great was about 2:45 p.m. when I was outside and the White-winged Doves flushed from the top of the big pecan. I looked up to see a Peregrine Falcon shoot, and I mean shoot like a bullet, right over the house 50' up, and right on the doves rears. I could not see if it got one or not. Don't get many from the yard and most are high-up migrants passing over. This one actually made a play for birds IN the yard!

After dark a big thunderstorm cell ran from Del Rio to just south of Utopia, and then lighter to Tarpley. It dumped 5" a few miles either side of the Frio Bat cave by Concan! Here a couple miles south of town we only got a little over a quarter inch, a few miles further south they got an inch in a narrow strip. You could watch the bats emerge on the radar, then an hour later they all raced back into the cave, then after it passed they re-emerged again about 11 p.m. or so.

~ ~ here is an xl pic break, with a few poor pics ~ ~

These are bad pix of a very neat bird... Chimney Swift. They are very fast so very hard to shoot with the POS I use. They eat bugs, like swallows and Martins, and so are your friend. There is a Chimney Swift society (.org) with a webpage and directions how to build a tower they will use. Too many sealed chimneys nowadays.

chimneyswift
This one was calling as it went over a chimney, head is
lifted up in an odd position, wings bowed down. Why it
slowed enough for me to catch it.


chimneyswift
What I like about this pic of the speed demon with the 14" wingspan is that it is the same exact pose you see a several pound albatross with a 7' wingspan in, out at sea. Standing on a wingtip, cutting the wind effortlessly, with incredible speed. That long thin wing works well.


chimneyswift
This one is going away. Note that knife-shaped wing with fairly straight
trailing edge. The tail is often held closed into a point like this.
Learn the shapes of birds.


chimneyswift
See ya!


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 10 ~ A low of 62F was nice, overcast but no precip. No migrants through yard first few hours of light, as expected with the northerly flow from the frontal passage. The male Blue Grosbeak was singing at dawn, been back two days, singing his third. Hummers are thick, seems at least a half-dozen male Ruby-throated, maybe a dozen. Some females. A hundred Black-chinned, at least. Two Clay-colored Sparrow still, but only one Lincoln's left.

One interesting transient though, a lone Scrub-Jay. It was at least a hundred yards upriver of the draw to our north at first. A couple minutes later after some patented calls it was across the road, then another minute of scrub-jay talk and it was in the Mesquites in the corral right over the fence. They seem out of place in a Mesquite. I have not had one from the yard since last fall. They are thinly but widely distributed in the hills where there is a terrestrial gradient, whilst very scarce on the flat valley floor. As is the case for a number of species here, such as Poor-will, Scott's Oriole, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and our beloved Golden-cheeked Warbler.

Town run fer stuff. As I got to 187 I saw a small Stick Insect on my arm, so stopped to put in a bush. It was green and banded dark and light. Finally seeing some masks being worn around town. Gas is $1.89 for the cheap grade, we should be packed with tourists this weekend of course and are not. Which has its upsides. Weird not doing my Friday park check and walk. I don't have the hour plus it takes to walk all the way in. I will be sneaking in there as peak passage hits. Being good friends with the resident manager, having a silver tongue, and being friends with the JP, might keep me from being arrested. They all know I am incorrigible. Worst case scenario I will get community service, at the park. LOL. Waiting for those days with major motion moving up the river habitat corridor.

Saw lots of the Spiderwort (Western?) in bloom around town, nice purples and a few of the magenta ones. Western Horse Nettle (the nightshade) is also going now. Several Bell's Vireo singing, esp.at NW corner of town. At least Rosie is still turning out the world class tacos. The store is low on some items, rationing others, out of some things. The sandwich shop in the north half of building is pickup and delivery only now. It is a brave new world out there. Play it safe! Did a bunch of yard and garden work late in day.

April 9 ~ Low was 65F, what a difference a few dF makes. A little activity at the bath about 10 a.m. was two Orange-crowned Warbler, at least one male Nashville, and a first spring White-crowned Sparrow. All transients so neat. The first Orange-crowned when I first saw it in binocs had so much orange showing I couldn't believe it. Probably an adult male. Ran for camera and the magic screen, whence only the dull one came in that showed no crown color.

The White-crowned Sparrow was tweener of crown stripes so a pretty neat first spring plumage. The eyeline stripe had molted from first winter plumage and was black, and the pale line above it was white. So on the side of the face, the stripes were adult type black and white. But the crown stripes were still immature type, dark brown with a buffy central crown stripe. Pretty neat to see a tweener plumage here.

Saw the male Blue Grosbeak sneaking into seed out back after only hearing it yesterday. They are shy at best, but more so when they first return. Heard a Bell's Vireo singing upslope behind us in the live-oaks. Was 85F in the shade on the front porch in the afternoon, saw local station reports at 88 and 90F! The wind turned northerly about 1:30 but it still warmed until late afternoon. There were some thunderstorms around lots of central Texas today as the front passed but they all missed us. We got zip. Saw my FOS Shining Flea-beetle.

April 8 ~ The low was about 72F, and in the warm muggy afternoon it got into the upper 80's! It is the warm day before the front hits tomorrow. But which will be in afternoon, so we will see the 80's tomorrow again before temps drop. Friday is said to be about 72 or so for a high! A second front is scheduled for Monday whence we are to see lows near 40F! Saw some Bluehearts open.

Saw at least a dozen Lyside Sulphur (butterfly) go by over the day. Saw one Myrtle Warbler go through the yard about mid-day, heard a Nashville or two early. The FOS of the day was a heard only Blue Grosbeak. A couple Ash-throated Flycatcher were prospecting nest sites as were the pair of Vermilion Flycatcher. Male Scissor-tail was in the top of the big pecan to catch last sun, then heads over to the taller Cypresses along river to catch it again. After dark heard a couple Chuck-wills-widow, Great Horned and Barred Owl. Several Barking Frog, lots of Blanchard's Cricket-frog, and the Rio Grande Leopard Frog are roaring.

April 7 ~ One of those weird overnights whence it was about 61F at midnight, and 67F at dawn. And foggy. Some sun by noon and warmed up to about 83F!. Saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk work north up the river habitat corridor, a migrant. Two Yellow-throated Warbler together seemed like the female has arrived. Male bathed again in the later afternoon. The Purple Martins sound excited about being able to get out and fly around after a few days of mostly not. After 11 p.m. I heard my first Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks flying upriver this spring.

April 6 ~ Ran about 59-69F for a temp spread in overcast with occasional mist. So its work inside. The one migrant warbler in the yard briefly was an Audubon's. Heard the Chat again, 3rd day but it still hasn't showed itself yet. It was in the Mulberry so I know it could see me. Yeah, the old man is still here... and so is the birdbath. I love hearing the Clay-colored Sparrows singing in the yard. It is a top-tier candidate for the least songy song. A mechanical unmusical rattle-trill, flatlined at one pitch. I can't believe they turned down my proposal to rename it Songless Sparrow. jk   ;)

April 5 ~ A little bit of drizzle overnight, a couple hundredths. Ran about 54-64F for a temp spread under overcast skies. Misty in the a.m. but lifted a bit in the afternoon. We went over to the 1445 knoll less than a mile away. Did not hear a Black-capped Vireo this week but was late in day so not prime-time. There were a couple each singing Gnatcatcher, White-eyed, and Hutton's Vireo. A couple Orange-crowned Warbler are migrants. Great was at least 4 FOS Swainson's Hawk thermaling over the knoll. One other hawk was in with them was a FOS Broad-winged Hawk! Also a Red-tail was there, and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, some Bewick's and Carolina Wren, Black-crested Titmouse. Heard a few Barking Frog.

In flowers a couple Blue Gilia were open, the first White Rock-lettuce, and the patch of Diamentia was roaring. Saw one Mountain Laurel flower. The Slender-stem Bitterweed is impressive in a few spots. Lots of Paralena and Blackfoot Daisy, a couple Pincushion Daisy. A couple Mejorana flowers were open (Shrubby Blue Sage). Then we checked one other high spot with some trees and BAM! Singing male Golden-cheeked Warbler. We got a brief view of it, and a couple more bad pix distant against the bright gray sky. Even a quick look and a listen is enough to make yer day though. It was about two-thirds of a mile from the hovelita. A roadside puddle had several Clay-colored and Lark Sparrow, one Lincoln's. Some of the other locals heard or seen were Vermilion, Ash-throated, and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler, and Summer Tanager. Nice patches of Cedar, and Mealy, Sage are blooming at the 360 crossing.

Late afternoon out back a Cooper's Hawk took a Mourning Dove out of the air as it rocketed in a failed escape attempt. After 11 p.m. on my last check outside there was a FOS calling Chuck-wills-widow! Along with the Barred Owl over at the river. I am certain I also heard an Upland Sandpiper. Whip-ip-ip. They are very rare here in spring.

April 4 ~ Low was about 46F! More rain pre-dawn and over the morning into early afternoon. It was another 1.1 or so, then 1.85" with yesterday's total, as of 6 p.m. We needed it badly, the aquifer is still wayyyy down. Hummers are swarmed on the feeders. Insectivores no doubt hunkered down in the cold and wet, like us omnivores. Had a couple Nashville and 1 Audubon's Warbler go through yard as it was breaking up a bit briefly in mid-afternoon. Might have hit about 54F for a short while. It was very near (if not) record low maximums for the date in much of central Texas. I heard a FOS Yellow-breasted Chat in the afternoon over across the road where one holds territory. Saw one female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, my FOS for sure ID of the year for a female, though thought I had one a few days ago.

hermitthrush
Hermit Thrush at the bath. Note rusty tail.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 3 ~ Low was about 65F or so, still misty, waiting for rain and a front this afternoon. Got up to about 75 after noon before the cooler air dialed it back. Saw a couple Nashville Warbler in the yard early. Town run, and no park check as it is closed and I didn't have time for a long walk. Little Creek Larry said he had an Osprey yesterday at his place. He has had a male Hooded Oriole at his feeders for almost a week. We still have the female at ours but only 3rd day. He also said he had a Spotted Sandpiper, I think over at Little Creek. Slow driving around town I heard FIVE Bell's Vireo, my FOS. Mostly at north end and northwest corner of town, but the one at the P.O. is back too. Saw one Savannah Sparrow. Some Bladderpod sps. was in bloom, a few Bluebonnets too. Got about .75 of an inch of precip about 2-7 p.m., and the temps dropped into upper 50's F. It is supposed to stay in the 50's tomorrow!

April 2 ~ Maybe 62F for a low, cloudy, occasional mist off and on all day. Didn't see anything new or different. Great was the Gnatcatcher that has been hanging around singing now has a second bird with it, moving around together, as in a pair. I would love if they picked a territory that includes the yard. Lark, Clay-colored, and Lincoln's Sparrows on the seed. Saw another Nashville shoot off. Later afternoon in some mist a dozen Barn Swallow and a half-dozen Chimney Swift were feeding low out front.

April 1 ~ A low of about 51F felt great, and mostly sunny is nice too. Third morning in a row I had a bare-eyed look and listen to what seemed a Nashville working through the trees. A FOS Hooded Oriole showed up on the office feeder, oddly a female (first time for a female first here), which drank for minutes, and came back shortly for another couple minutes. She was thirsty and needing some instant energy to burn. She kept coming back every half hour or so and tanking up for what seemed an inordinate amount of time, each time. Must have just got here, and burned most of what she had to do that.

Exciting was when I was taking some pix at a bird bath frenzy out the magic screen when I caught motion right below me up against the house. There in the ruderal mess below not 5' below me was a FOS Grasshopper Sparrow! I could only get a docushot through the screen it was so close. I couldn't angle the lens out the just barely big enough hole and shoot straight down. Called Kathy in so she got to see it. It is the first one IN the yard (had it just down the road before)! Number 226 NIB. No introduced birds. 230 WIB. In or from two acres, in seven years (and a week) here at this camp.

The Grasshopper was overdue really, I had wondered why we hadn't snagged one yet. For big picture sparrows as a group (including Lark Bunting, Junco, Spotted and Canyon Towhee) the Grasshopper is sparrow sps. #20 in the yard. And was the most overdue one. Cassin's, Brewer's, and barely Swamp are the only three I really can hope for now. LeConte's is but a wild crazy fantasy, unless I do that sedge pond I always wanted.

Clay-colored Sparrow still on patio, counted 4 at once at last sun seed-eating frenzy out back. There were 20 Lark Sparrow though! They have really filled in the last week. Still a few Lincoln's Sparrow in the stick piles, and hitting the bath. Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler both singing through yard. Love that Vermilion display overhead too. There is a second male trying to horn in so lots of amazing flying skills being shown as one tries to keep the other away from the totally nonplussed female. Summer Tanager is singing a little.

~ ~ ~ above is 2020 ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~

January through March 2020 is now at Bird News Archives 33.
Bird News Archive XXXIII
Jan. 1 - June 30, 2020

July through December 2019 is now at Bird News Archives 32.
Bird News Archive XXXII
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2019

January through June 2019 is now at Bird News Archives 31.
Bird News Archive XXXI
January 1 - June 30, 2019


blackcappedvireo
Black-capped Vireo. Note gray nape, not completely black.
This is another third year male, still without fully black head.
Second year male head is mostly gray like females, but have a
few black flecks and small patches of a few black feathers
here and there when return the first time. Definitive
(fully mature) adults have fully black heads with no gray.


The older weekly break bird photos are now at the 2019 photos page. 2019 pix

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To Top of Recent Bird News

Back to Top
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Always read UP from bottom to go in chronological sequence. Weekly or so updates are generally noted with a break.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Links to all 15+ years of archived bird news pages below. Broken into 6 month increments. One day I'll quarter it out by season as well, so all 10 years of each season are together, perhaps making say, searching springs easier.

Odd numbered archives are January through June.
Even numbered archives are July through December.
(except a couple when the split missed, prolly due
to excessive amount of drivel in spring)


Here is a master index page of them:
Bird News Archives Index
Index page with links to all 'Old Bird News' pages.

Bird News Archive XXXIII
January 1 - June 30, 2020

Bird News Archive XXXII
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2019

Bird News Archive XXXI
January 1 - June 30, 2019

Bird News Archive XXX
July 1 - December 31, 2018

Bird News Archive XXIX
January 1, 2018 - June 30, 2018

Bird News Archive XXVIII
July 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017

Bird News Archive XXVII
January 1, 2017 - June 30, 2017

Bird News Archive XXVI
July 1, 2016 - December 31, 2016

Bird News Archive XXV
January 1, 2016 - June 30, 2016

Bird News Archive XXIV
July 1, 2015 - Dec. 31, 2015

Bird News Archive XXIII
January 1, 2015 - June 30, 2015

Bird News Archive XXII
July 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014

Bird News Archive XXI
January 1, 2014 - June 30, 2014

Bird News Archive XX
July 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013

Bird News Archive XIX
January 1, 2013 - June 30, 2013

Bird News Archive XVIII
July 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012

Bird News Archive XVII
January 1, 2012 - June 30, 2012

Bird News Archive XVI
July 1, 2011 - December 31, 2011

Bird News Archive XV
January 1, 2011 - June 30, 2011

Bird News Archive XIV
July 1, 2010 - December 31, 2010

Bird News Archive XIII
January 1, 2010 - June 30, 2010

Bird News Archive XII
June 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009

Bird News Archive XI
January 1, 2009 - May 31, 2009

Bird News Archive X
July 1, 2008 - Dec. 31, 2008

Bird News Archive IX
January 1, 2008 - June 30, 2008

Bird News Archive VIII
July 1, 2007 - Dec. 31, 2007

Bird News Archive VII
January 1, 2007 - June 30, 2007

Bird News Archive VI
July 1, 2006 - Dec. 31, 2006

Bird News Archive V
January 1, 2006 - June 30, 2006

Bird News Archive IV
July 1, 2005 - Dec. 31, 2005

Bird News Archive III
January 1, 2005 - June 30, 2005

Bird News Archive II
June 1, 2004 - Dec. 31, 2004

Bird News Archive I
Winter 2003-04 Summary Notes
and Mar. 31 - May 30, 2004
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