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: October 12, 2018
(prior updates: Oct. 5, Sept. 28, 21, 14, 7, August 31, 24, 17, 10, 3)

There is a RIVER! We had a major rain event Sept. 2-10, and another the weekend of the 15th-16th. It rained most of September, and no one complained. It has rained much of October so far as well, and more is forecast next week. Many local reports are of in the area of TWO FEET of rain in September. So we have a fall flower bloom. So much for that D3 we were at the USGS drought monitor, Couch's Spadefoot Toads were calling. If you can hear them, there is no drought. The last week had the passage of two minor fall fronts, and two 60dF low temps mornings of the 27th and 28th. Next week supposed to have several days with highs in the 50's dF! Oct. 1-2 there was another 3.25" for us here, but it was 5" and more upvalley, all the low water crossings were flooded, locals were calling water levels epic. Still some chiggers and skeeters, that would love to see you.

The first half of fall migration is over, when the bulk of the common migrants that winter far to our south pass through. The neotropical migrants that are largely insectivores that need bugs are mostly past us now. The second half when more species that actually winter around this latitude arrive, is just barely getting underway. All of it though is prime-time for stray vagrants. A few of the better things in Sept. were: September 1 FOUR Mourning Warbler at Utopia Park. On Sept. 7 there was a LEAST SANDPIPER at the golf course, and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was in our yard, plus a seemingly different Yell-bell Flyc. on the 9th. Also on Sept. 9 there was an AMERICAN BITTERN on S. Little Creek Rd. at the southerly smaller floodpond, but in Bandera County. Sept. 14 there was a Black-crowned Night-Heron at Utopia Park up on the island, and, an adult male MacGillivray's Warbler went through our yard the 14th as well. An ad. male Broad-tailed Hummingbird was at our feeders a bit Sept. 15-17. A White-faced Ibis was in Bandera Co. Sept. 23 at the W. Sabinal Rd. floodpond. A couple Long-billed Curlew flew over southbound Sept. 29. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet showed up on Sept. 24, American Wigeon and Orange-crowned Warbler on Oct. 12.

We were in a drought, flowers picking up now, hoping for butterflies. Dragonflies have been so-so, though no overwhelming numbers, some variety, but seemingly fading fast since the 3 weeks plus rain event. What appears to be only a second Uvalde County record, a Slaty Skimmer was at Utopia Park July 13-14 (ph. below). What looked like a Blue-faced Darner (C. adnexa) was at Lost Maples July 29. Haven't gotten to working with the poor pix yet. An apparent Lassaux's Sphinx Moth was at the porch light for photos Aug. 30. A Twelve-spotted Skimmer was in Bandera Co. at the S. Little Crk. Rd. pond Oct. 5 (ph.).

Golden-cheeked Warbler

The light was bad, but the bird was good.



For some detailed Lost Maples reports see the dated entries below (or at Old Bird News #29 now) for April 1, 9, 10, 15, 29, May 13, June 3 and 24, July 29, Aug. 26, and Sept. 30. Ignore the ebird Chihuahuan Raven reports there, they are mis-ID'd Common Ravens which are common resident breeders.

In news section between May and June entries, there is a chronological list of my local arrival dates for the entire spring from the first arrivals in January. For those that like to see when what arrives roughly.

There is a new page up with a long discussion, called "The Birds of Utopia Park," which includes the park bird list. If you can't sleep it may be just the ticket. It will be getting some fixes and changes still, but the basic is up. I have been making corrections here and there, and will likely add to it as time goes on, but for now it gets some info out there.
The Birds of Utopia Park

A quick note about Utopia Park. There have been some changes in management and rules. It is now $5 per person to enter, during the off-season. Peak, from spring break until Labor Day it will be $10 per person to enter. No charge for Utopia or Vanderpool residents.

Note we also have a fairly new 'where to stay' page, with contact info, links and names of many of the local lodging options. It is linked at top above in the NavBar under the Sites and Misc. section, and below in the link section just above the current bird news.

Of expected but scarcer or local things around, there are the usual: Zone-tailed Hawk, Canyon Towhee and Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Ringed and Green Kingfisher. Some few Audubon's Oriole are around, like Bushtit, you could see one anywhere anytime, or nowhere at no time. It's birding!%^*@%! Again some White-tipped Dove and Olive Sparrow have been at Lost Maples, and around Utopia, the new normal. Both nested at Lost Maples last year (begging juvenile seen and heard).

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, if you are lucky with a photo. Sometimes this header 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 Hwy 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!

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 very 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.

If you are a frequent flier scroll down past the Rufous-backed Robin sketch and a few 'recent' highlight photos below that, and you'll quickly be at the most recent news. Or hit the " jump to bird news " link just above. Entries are in reverse chronological order, with most recent day, date, and weekly post at top.

I have been fairly good for a few years now about posting a weekly update Friday evenings. Since weekend night life is so exciting here. Usually it is 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.

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 bird news, if it were reported to us. 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 fully dressed.

Thanks and enjoy! 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.

Anyone birding the area should get a copy of June Osborne's neat local birding guide, "Birding the Concan Area." It is an invaluable reference for birding the local area. It covers Uvalde to Concan, Sabinal, and the Utopia area. If you're not familiar with the area, it will show you lots of the productive local roads and spots to check. Neal's Lodges has it, as well as lots of birding stuff at their store. We do have some informational stuff on the local birding sites page.

There are now 14+ (!) years and growing worth of nature notes here, mostly in the bird news archives 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 or 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 (2016) with seasonal status and abundance for each species. It lists all 340 plus species (!) known from the upper Sabinal River drainage.

The 10th (!) winter bird count totals are up on the Bird Count Page

A newer page is the butterfly rarity photos: Rare Butterflies

NOTE: The FOS (First of Season) dates given are for the Utopia area. That may be the first of spring, first of fall, or first of winter, etc. In spring for example, for many species (birds, butterflies, flowers, etc.) Concan may run a week or more earlier, and Uvalde 1 to 2 weeks or so, earlier than the Utopia area does for some spring arrivals sometimes. In any given year some species will be "early" and others will be "late," compared to averages.

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, 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.

Commonly used ABBREVIATIONS are:

"in or around town" - refers to Utopia
UP - Utopia Park off 1050 just west of 187
UR - Utopia on the River grounds (2 mi. S. of town)
LM - Lost Maples SNA
SRV - Sabinal River Valley (Clayton Grade to Lost Maples)
  the upper Sabinal River drainage biogeographic area.
FOS - "First of Season" (usually used for the first
   spring or fall migrant of that species locally)
FOY - First of Year, usually used in winter and spring.
Odes - Odonata - a dragonfly or damselfly
Leps - Lepidoptera - usually butterflies
UvCo - Uvalde County
BanCo - Bandera County


First a 2011 highlight ...

Rufous-backed Robin

This is a sketch of the Rufous-backed Robin that Kathy and I saw at Ft. Inge Uvalde on Feb. 19, 2011.




Broad-winged Hawk   Broad-winged Hawk

This is a begging juvenile Broadwinged Hawk at Lost Maples SNA
the first nesting in Bandera Co. and likely the furthest southwest
nesting ever for the species. Taken August 1, 2015 through binocs.



Some things from 2012 ...

albino House Finch

This albino House Finch complete with red eyes was in our yard in July and August, 2012.



Cerambycid

This Cerambycid (Long-horned Beetle) on Sept. 9, 2012 was
a beauty, and the first of this type I've seen,
Tragidion coquus, thanks to Mike Quinn for the ID!
It seems this is kind of a mega rary here in Texas.
The blind acorn occasionally finds the squirrel.



Finally..... a good (and favorite) bird.....
American Woodcock

American Woodcock (Timberdoodle) at Utopia Dec. 15, 2012



Something from 2013 ...
Texas Coral Snake

Texas Coral Snake ~ Do not handle! Thanks to Nancy Walling for her photo.
Red next to black is a friend of Jack,
Red next to yellow will kill a poor fellow.
This was at Lost Maples, April 26, 2013.



Ringed Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher is surely breeding locally now, this a male at Utopia Park on January 23, 2015.





Two-tailed Swallowtail

Two-tailed Swallowtail at Lost Maples April 27, 2014.



Texas Blind Snake

Texas Blind Snake was the longtime common name for Leptotyphlops dulcis,
aka Worm Snake, but now is called Plains Threadsnake. They only have
vestigal (mostly non-functioning) eyes, you can see it is wormish, but
is scaled. They eat ant and termite larvae in particular and come to
the surface mostly in spring, often after rains. May 12, 2014.


Zebra Heliconian

Zebra Longwing (or Heliconian) on Texas Thistle, in yard June 2014



Louisiana Waterthrush

Apparently the first ever documented over-wintering Louisiana Waterthrush on the Edwards Plateau, present at Utopia Park from early December (at least) to March 11 at least, this pic taken Jan. 25, 2015. The bird returned for a second winter Nov. 2015 remaining present at least to Feb. 27, 2016. It has returned again for a third winter so far, this in Sept. of 2016 and was seen to latest December.



Rusty Blackbird

A Rusty Blackbird, adult female, which is a returnee wintering for its second year around UvCo 360 south of town. This photo taken in our yard December 24, 2014, the bird continued to early March. This bird returned Nov. 2015 for its THIRD winter (we know of) so far, and was still present March 9, 2016. It returned again Oct. 2016 and was present through Feb. 2017, for her fourth winter here.



Cedar Waxwing

See der waxwing? OK, Cedar Waxwing. See anything? Let us know! :)
(e-dress above the photos)



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.

There is a page of photos from 2016: 2016 pix

And now for something completely different... I will probably make some changes yet, I was looking for some more pix, but anyway meanwhile at least the basics are up... Here is a new page with some photos and discussion of hybrid Cliff x Cave Swallows: Clave Swallows
~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a new page for visitors with ideas, links, phones, contacts, etc., about where to stay locally.
Where to Stay
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a major new page I have been working on for half of last year, and which compiles over a decade of my study at the site. It is a long discussion about the how and why of birds at Utopia Park, and 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


There is now a page of photos from 2017: 2017 pix
The pix used for weekly breaks for whole year.

There is also a page of the birdnews photos from 2018: 2018 pix
The pix used for weekly breaks for whole year.

~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2018


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!

To repeat since commonly used:
sps.=species; FOS=First of season; FOY=First of Year; FOF=First of fall; LTA=Less than Annual; UP=Utopia Park; UR=Utopia on the River; SLC=So. Little Creek Rd. (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)



Black-capped Vireo
Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples


Just to have this handy again for reference, recent prior updates:
Sept. 28, 21, 14, 7, August 31, 24, 17, 10, 3, July 27, 20, 13, 6,
Usually each week's update break is marked with a 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 ~ ~ ~

***  Note - above are two new links to pages with just the photos used for this bird news page's weekly breaks. 2017 photos, and 2018 photos. Closer to soporific than terrific.

Oct. 12 ~ Low 60's for a low, rain in forecast daily for the next week. A real cold front progged for Mon.-Thurs. keeping temps in the 50's dF! Town run fer stuff. The only thing at the park was a (Texas) Coral Snake, which is as pretty a beast as there is, my first in the park. I got a shot or two, but its head was already hidden. There was nothing at the W. Sabinal Rd. pond but cows. At the S. Little Crk. Rd. pond there was a Green Heron (definitely a migrant there), my FOS American Wigeon (1 male), and a Great Egret. Little Creek Larry mentioned a week ago he had seen a Great Egret around. Lots of pastures had swallows over them. In total I estimate 400-500 at least, and all I saw were Barn. There was a male and female Vermilion Flycatcher on E. 360 over nearish the former Utopia on the River. On W. Sabinal Rd. there were 4 male Scissor-tails together near the pond. About 3 p.m. or so I had my FOS Orange-crowned Warbler in the yard, finally. Heard an Indigo Bunting out back, where seed tossed. Monarch and a couple dozen Queen on the Blue Mist Eup., one Clouded Skipper. The great Firefly show continues, still about 50 going off in or adjacent to yard last half hour of light.

Oct. 11 ~ Low about 60dF, KRVL hit 56! Cloudy in morning, sunny in afternoon, about 76dF or so for a high. Feels like fall. River quieter, but still pretty noisy this morning, after the last couple days of roaring. Maybe by tomorrow the 360 crossing will be usable. At least we have a 'back way' out of here for that. One Hutton's Vireo in the big live-oaks upslope out back, and one Gnatcatcher went through in morning, another in the afternoon. A handful of hummers is all that remain, all imm. male Rubies, in other words, fighters. Some few Turkey Vulture going over southbound. One Monarch, 24 Queen, single Fiery and Clouded Skippers, 2 Mestra. The Firefly show continues at dusk.

Oct. 10 ~ A fantastic low of 57dF with clear dry skies is great. Feels like fall. Ran up to town early, had to go out the back way, the 360 crossing is not doable now. Nothing at the park. The 1050 bridge was obviously covered yesterday, flood debris on edges still. In the pasture with all the cows on Jones Cmty. Rd. south of W. Sabinal Rd. there were 6 Cattle Egret. Nothing on the W.S.R. pond but it looks great again for a couple more weeks. There was a FOS group of 6 Meadowlark, at the north end of town, which looked Western to me. As I pulled back in here shortly after 9 a.m. there were three Nashville Warbler in yard, and about 10 I heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. So there is some migrant motion, it set my migrant motion detector off. But alas it is Wednesday, whence I am hitched to the box o'bolts all day.

Got up to about 78dF in the afternoon, warmish. Saw one Monarch, a couple dozen Queen, a couple Celia's Roadside-Skipper, one Julia's, a Fiery and a Dun Skipper, one male Black and a couple Giant Swallowtail, the Snouts have finally relented. Saw one of the sphinx moths with burnt-orange hind-wings, smaller than a White-lined, not sure of type, and it would not stay anywhere long. It briefly hit the Blue Mist Eups, but was more interested in the Wood-Sorrel. There were maybe a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird here today, all imm. males. Most of the time there were not any at the feeders. Seems dead out there now. Checked a number of times for some hawk flight behind the front as can happen, I saw nothing. A few Turkey Vulture was it.

Oct. 9 ~ A few little showers overnight off and on, but some real rain arrived in the morning. We got 2.5" in just over an hour. We had .75 since yesterday, so now 3.25" for about 24 hours. There had about 5" or more upvalley around the Sabinal River headwaters and Lost Maples area according to the radar totals. The river was already roaring, but about 11 or noon the water got here and it was major. Out of banks, the 360 crossing down, the river was 100 yards across in spots it is normally 10. Amazing. The front passed by earliest afternoon, skies cleared, dry air filtering in, and wonderful.

The only avian action though was the hummingbird departure. There were three to four dozen here in the morning, and not a dozen in later afternoon, maybe a half-dozen at sundown. They blew out. The northerly winds did not much turn around with frontal passage until much later, after dark. It just cleared, and the southerly flow stopped. They left anyway. I knew they were just tankin' up waiting for the moment to make the move. And they did.

Oct. 8 ~ Some light rain in morning, about two-thirds of an inch. Camp Wood 30 miles west had 5" overnight. Around Lost Maples they got 2-3 inches this morning. One Gnatcatcher in yard. In the afternoon fairly quickly the river got very loud, a rush of water from the rain upvalley this morning was moving downriver. It got way high, a neighbor called and said the crossing was out of the question. We had less than an inch, but the couple or few they got upriver is still mostly all runoff at this point, and many low-water crossings upvalley were not passable obviously. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river in the late afternoon, probably complaining about the water levels and speed making fishing hard. Great Firefly show at dusk. One Monarch and 25 Queen on the Blue Mist. Snouts finally relenting, only a hundred today. Ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummer still here with a couple dozen immatures, mostly males.

Oct. 7 ~ Threatened to rain all day but didn't, 70-85dF temp spread. Finally 5:30 or so a near-enough cell gave us a good outflow cooldown, and a couple spits. In the a.m. no migrant motion through the yard. A FOS Swainson's Hawk moved south down the ridge to our west. We walked to the crossing and up the other side of river a bit checking flowers since there weren't any birds, save one male Vermilion Flycatcher and a couple Scissor-tails at south end of corral and at airstrip. No butterflies either. Saw one Eryngo bloom, and a Palafoxia. Lots of Zexmenia, Mealy Sage, Huisache Daisy, Frostweed, and almost nothing on any of it. Heard a Field Sparrow later afternoon. The great Firefly show at dusk continues, at least 50 in yard going off for 20-30 minutes.

Oct. 6 ~ About a 70-85dF spread again, and no migrant motion here in yard, or at the park in town. The Rufous Hummer is not here this a.m., so it did depart yesterday afternoon some time. Canyon Towhee still around out back. A Gnatcatcher went through yard mid-morn. Great was a Two-tailed Swallowtail here on our Lantana in the morning, a Northern Cloudywing too. By the Med. Ctr. at the north end of town was a free roaming male Blackbuck! I was trying to sneak up on it for a photo, but it would have none of that. It ran at times jumping with all four legs in the air at the same time, boing, boing, boing, bouncing along making amazing progress, appearing as if it belonged in a Dr. Suess cartoon. I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was awake and not seeing things. Then I remembered, I was in Utopia, where you see crazy shat all the time.

Not a dang thing in the park but heard a warbler chip I couldn't find that was interesting. Sometimes that is all you get. Something to make you say "boy I would really like to see that" in a real serious fightin' words kind of tone. In other words frustration. But no one does it for that...  Not hearing any Yellow-throated Warblers along the river for a week or nearing two now. W. Sabinal Rd. pond had nothing, but the flock of Lesser Goldfinch was still where it was yesterday, 60 at least at once that I saw today. There were also 75 Barn Swallow feeding low over the corn that is now trying to grow in a field by the W. Spring Branch Rd. turn.

So butterfly flowers it is. The library garden had a Rounded Metalmark and a Theona Checkerspot, plus a Monarch, besides a few regulars. Lots of False Underwing moths (Noctuids) everywhere. The deco-garden at the golf course entrance had Fiery and Eufala Skippers, a Sachem, and a Vareigated Meadowhawk dragonfly. Saw one of the Yellow-margined Flower-Buprestid beetles at the garden at the junction of 1050 and 187. I got a count of 31 Queen at once on our Blue Mist Eup. The patches at the library garden, and the 1050x187 garden are both shot, eaten up like ours was the last two years. Still thousands of Snout out there, but certainly less than there were the last week.
Painted Bunting
Be careful throwing seed out, you might catch one of these.
This is one of three plumages you may see on a first spring
male Painted Bunting. Most, look like females, all green, and
paler below, some of which have molted back into brighter green
as this bird. Then there is a type with some blue in head which
increases over summer, and which are brighter yellow below.
These salmon below types stay this way all summer and never get
blue on head while here. Note the back, scapulars, and maybe
some wing coverts are not the dull original juvenile feathers
like head, wing, and tail, they have been replaced, are fresh, and
bright lime green. Some of this type are more evenly salmon below.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct 5 ~ Still balmy 71dF for a low, clouds in a.m., sunny and warm (85dF) in p.m. No migrant movement around yard. Town run, the park remains remarkably dead. Out Jones Cmty. Rd. past the cemetery and 2nd cattle guard I had a single flock of 75 Lesser Goldfinch going down in some weeds that looked sorta like beggars ticks but weren't. There were also a dozen Chipping Sparrow which seemed like migrants to me, new arrivals. Nothing at the W. Sabinal Rd. pond. The S. Little Creek Rd. pond though had one Greater Yellowlegs, a very good fall bird here on the ground, plus 4 Killdeer. Also there and great was a male Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly, my FOY, and scarce in BanCo. I saw several hundreds of Black Saddlebags while driving around, there must be thousands going by. Finally saw a Hackberry Emperor (lep) on the patio early that was so beat and worn, it obviously wasn't from around here. Queen count on the Blue Mist peaked at 25 at once. There was one new Monarch here, and two at the library garden, where there was also my FOY Texas Wasp Moth. The imm.ma. Rufous and the ad.ma. Ruby-throated Hummer continue here at the hovel, besides a few dozen imm. Rubies, seemingly males. Only thing flying south at dusk was a half-dozen Barn Swallow. Firefly show continues to be great, 50-60 just in the front yard is awesome.

Oct. 4 ~ Maybe 70dF for a low, some low clouds, humid. Great to hear some Scissor-tails calling lots early. But which means they will be gone in a couple weeks. No migrants through yard. Been seeing high-flying southbound Turkey Vultures for a week now, some of which I suspect are migrants. Lots of Black Saddlebags dragonflies still, like hundreds must be going by. A few Red mixed in and the occasional Green Darner. A Green Lynx Spider was on the big pecan trunk (ph.). In the morning I counted 23 Queens on the Blue Mist Eupatorium about 10 a.m. All hail the mighty Blue Mist. Our patch is maybe 14 square feet, on either sides of the steps up the front porch. It has over a hundred stalks with flower heads now, finally, for the first great bloom in four years (but so far in a bad fall for butterfly diversity and numbers). Those dang caterpillars destroyed it the last two years, so we are enjoying this. The Red Turks Cap and Tropical Sage are still going, but past peaks. Lots of Straggler Daisy blooming, and over in corral Huisache Daisy is going well.

One interesting event was a communal butterfly roost. There is a spot with some dead branchlets on a pecan where often Pipevine Swallowtails hang up and roost. I have had 5-10 fairly close together doing this regularly. Nearing last sun, I watched a Monarch fly over to that tree and hang up. Thought it was near where the Pipevines do that so walked over and sure enough in a couple cubic feet was 3 Pipevine Swallowtail, 1 Queen, and the Monarch. So three species hanging up to roost, together. I did not keep an eye on it to see if more Queens went there but saw another spot on a Hackberry where a number of Queen were hanging up.

Oct. 3 ~ Low scattered clouds, humid, 71dF at daybreak. Heard Hutton's and White-eyed Vireo, one Gnatcatcher. Great was a Black Rock Squirrel out back (ph.), what a beautiful animal. Interestingly the locals in general are mostly fairly down on them since they burrow and undermine things like sheds and such. I wish the Fox (tree) Squirrels had the decades of population pressure put on them that the Rock (ground) squirrels have. The tree (Fox) squirrels are the ones living on bird eggs and young all summer, and whose populations are unchecked and out of control.

The Snout flight continues to wane, but still hundreds going by eastward. I counted 19 Queen at once on the Blue Mist Eup, nary a Monarch or Soldier to be seen. Did see a Speckled (marcellina) Cloudless Sulphur, a Red Admiral was new, and the female So. Broken-dash continues, Gulf Frits, the odd Lyside and Dogface, a dozen plus Large Orange Sulphur, a few Giant Swallowtail, a Julia's Skipper (ph.) late in day. Overall though, butterfly diversity is still WAY WAY down for fall, hopefully an invasion of something besides Snouts will happen. We have the bloom goin' now, but few butterflies.

An adult male Ruby-throated Hummer was the first in a couple weeks, a new arrival. The imm. ma. Rufous type is still here beating stuff up. Had one Gnatcatcher, one warbler seet was likely a Nashville, a buzzy one was not a Yellow but got away. Again a couple Chimney Swift went over at dusk. The Firefly show is great, at least 50 were going off in or adjacent to the yard at dusk.

Oct. 2 ~ Still about 70dF for a low, 83 for a high. Dryish in afternoon after some mist and sprinkles in the morning. Nothing moving for birds early. A Gnatcatcher at noon. Canyon Towhee still around, Kathy saw it at the mirror of the big truck out back. Perhaps Narcissus would be a good name? Most of the action was bugs. I saw a group of 50 baby grasshoppers all together on one of our corn leaves, but they exploded off of it as I approached with camera. They were edge to edge like sardines, and half the leaf was missing. When they all jumped all that was left was frass. Hmmmmm.... A Field Guide to Frass. Got a nice ring to it.

Lots of Black Saddlebags dragonflies, like hundreds still. Mostly it was butterflies at the flowers around the porch. Sure great to sit in a chair and watch a show on my breaks outside. Had Monarchs #6 and 10 both continuing, and #11 and 12 went by heading southwest, as all, and any migrant. The Soldier was still around, 13 Queens was peak count, two female Southern Broken-Dash, a Celia's Roadside-Skipper, 2 Dun Skipper, couple Giant, one Black, and a dozen or two Pipevine Swallowtail. Still hundreds of Snout but the flight is easing. Thousands went by over the day surely, but not like it was. A dozen Large Orange Sulphur, a couple stopped on the Lantana, couple So. Dogface, and the usual stuff like Gulf Frit, Sleepy Orange, etc. Three dozen plus Firefly at dusk is a nice show. Eastern Screech-Owl calling after dark.

October 1 ~ Gadzooks it is October!?!?!? The 69dF low felt nice. One migrant early in yard, an Orchad Oriole. We are on the second, or back, half of fall migration. The main bulk movement of neotropical migrants that pass through this area has passed. Things are still good on the coasts, but way inland here August and September are really the biggest months for that sort of movement here. October sees the tail-end of that, but more is the arrival of species that winter this far north or nearly so. The mostly insectivores going way way south, are mostly south of us now. It is a great month for strays though so keep yer eyes peeled and fingers crossed.

Heard White-eyed and Hutton's Vireo. In the late afternoon an imm. male Rufous or Allen's Hummingbird arrived and promptly proceeded to kick 6 Rubies arses off a feeder, apparently it is one of those that likes to drink alone. Two-thirds of a Monarch continues here now on day 5. Then the 10th one of the fall showed up later in afternoon. Saw the female Southern Broken-Dash and the female Whirlabout again today as well, a male Black and a couple Giant Swallowtail, and probably the same Soldier came in again too. Another Danaus trifecta day. Nearing last sun at least two Chimney Swift went over calling.

~ ~ ~ September summary ~ ~ ~

In a word, wet. On average about two feet of rain fell locally in September. Some places were 22", we were closer to 26" at our place. It was a gully washer and drought buster. River is roaring again, there is a fall flower bloom. It is greener than it has been in months. Temps were often in the low 80's dF, about 10dF under average for much of the month. And not one person complained. All the rain beat the summer heat outta here early.

Butterflies were very weak though, partly due to rain, and not being able to get out, me or them. But many common things are missing. No Hackberry Emperor, no Common Checkered-Skipper, no Bordered Patch. Stuff that is usually abundant, is just plain missing. I saw 36 species locally for the month, 2nd worst Sept. ever, only at peak of drought in worst year ever here (2011) was worse.

Same for dragonflies, too much rain for them. I only saw 18 species over the month, way down in diversity. Nothing but the most common expected types too. Variegated Meadowhawk was the one new thing I saw that hasn't been flying here all summer, at the W. Sabinal Rd. floodpond. Fair numbers of the migrants, Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, Red Saddlebags, and most numerous was Black Saddlebags. Some Green Darners too. Orange-striped Threadtail were still flying at the park mid-month.

In birds there were 106 species for me locally. Again, outings were severely hampered by rain events most weekends of the month. But the rain knocked down some very good birds too. An AMERICAN BITTERN was likely the bird of the month, since seemingly a new BanCo record. Second place goes to the LEAST SANDPIPER on a flooded fairway at the golf course. Great birds locally. A Black-crowned Night-Heron at the park was my first ever there. An Ibis, presumed White-faced, at Haby's W. Sabinal Rd. floodpond was great, though actually others have seen Ibis at that pond in fall before. A couple Long-billed Curlew, a Solitary Sandpiper, and a Coot were also all LTA - less than annual - things not sure to see here in fall here so good birds locally. Was my earliest fall Coot date locally by a week.

Warblers have been weak at best so far, still a few Black-n-white, one Northern Waterthrush, some Yellow, Wilson's, and Nashvilles. No vireos but the local types. One sub-ad. Harris's Hawk was nice. A good showing of Mourning Warbler, maybe 7-8, was nice but not out of the normal range of numbers. A male MacGillivray's is only my third fall MacGill here. Probably two Yellow-bellied Flycatcher were in the yard, which is another LTA treat for me here.

~ ~ ~ end September summary ~ ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ Wow, seems like we just started the month and its over. We went to Lost Maples since we were rained out all month. Checked the W. Sabinal Rd. pond on the way, nothing there, a couple Kestrel and 3 Scissor-tails in that area. Lost Maples was very slow for birds. The migratory breeders are essentially all gone, and the wintering species have yet to arrive, so it is an inbetween time for two of the big groups of birds that use the park, breeders, and winterers. Though it is a great time for a vagrant, we did not see any. Just a few of the residents. Flowers are great though.

We mostly birded the lower parts of the main canyon and did not go to ponds and beyond as usual. We did the Maples Trail and beyond that a ways (where good flowers), the first third mile of the ponds trail, the HQ and Day Use areas, the campground, etc. In fall often birds collect more in lower parts of canyons, upper parts can be emptyish. I did not see any Mayfly hatch going on, which is usually where the best fall action is. The heavy rains probably washed everything away. The feeding station is decomissioned I presume for the season so deader than a doornail there. It was too cool most of the time for leps or odes, mostly it was just a bunch more Snouts. I am sure if you went there from 1-5 p.m. you would see bugs.

Best bird was a fungus. The youngest freshest ones were a shiny bright red looking drippy wet, lacquered, and which was sticky. A look at my Field Guide to Fungus (shroom guide) suggests it was one of the genus Hygrocybe. See a pic below. Saw a nice Green Sunfish at the first crossing past HQ. Maples are still nice and green, usually Nov. for them, but many Sycamores are yellow to brown and dropping leaves. Saw one really good Clammy-weed in bloom. One Northern Cloudywing and one Variegated Fritillary (butterflies).

For birds it was slow. Heard a FOS Common Yellowthroat, had a couple maybe three Nashville Warbler, that was it for warblers. Maybe 2-3 each Summer Tanager and White-eyed Vireo, plus one Hutton's, which was it for vireos. Heard 2-3 Scrub-Jays, a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, saw a Canyon Wren, some Cardinals, Titmouse (Black-crested), Carolina Wren and Chickadee, Bewick's Wren, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, heard Inca Dove, Red-shouldered Hawk, Turkey and Black Vulture, Common Ravens, Chipping Sparrows (some singing), Lesser Goldfinch, House Finch, but nothing unexpected. Great to finally be able to get out and walk around without being rained on. A couple miles was much needed. Did not detect Olive Sparrow or White-tipped Dove. They can get quiet after breeding season.

Saw one Monarch on the way home at a Frostweed patch. Back here at the hovelita, the two-thirds of a Monarch is still here. There was another female Whirlabout, and two Southern Broken-Dash. The female was wing-flicking at the male, he was slowly circling her, and then, then, he went to a flower! What a dingbat. If they had ears and could hear I would have yelled at him " can't you see her flicking her wings?!"

Sept. 29 ~ What a surprise, some showers. Before sunup, while still dark out I was on front porch and a skunk (Striped) walks by about 5' away. Part of you thinks you should run away, but I thought jumping up might startle it, you know what could happen. So I froze, it stopped and turned, looked at me, and kept going. But I guess due to the light rain, it STUNK to high heaven. I have had them walk by and barely detected anything. Maybe it had applied a squirt or two recently. Before you know it the smell is inside the house... and doesn't seem to be going away. When the air is saturated with moisture the stink really has some serious hang time, and seems to really stick. If you want to perform a highly technical test to illustrate that complex scientific priciple, go fart in the shower.

Didn't amount to much, maybe .15-.2" or so. Best was at 9 a.m. hearing Long-billed Curlews! It was (at least) two birds calling in light showers heading toward airstrip and pasture adjacent. The valley is mostly pastures so just a matter of them choosing which. I ran out and as they moved south I could tell calls were coming from two not-identical directions. Great bird from the yard here, had one a couple times Oct. 2013 that was hanging out in the area a couple weeks.

Put a half-dozen Blacktail Shiners and a couple Red-breasted Sunfish back in the river. I got to watch a pair of the Shiners I caught last year, spawn repeatedly all summer until they expired, from it, I suppose. I can attest professionally, they were happy fish. I had caught these others going after some Mexican Tetra I missed. Need to keep room open in case those get dumber or I get smarter and catch some. The Sunfish you can only keep one to a tank if males. They are mean as Texas Cichlids (Rio Grande Perch) to each other. Like Bettas, but worse. So I saved the meanest bastard of the bunch and put the others back. But he's real pretty. I was going after Bantam Sunfish when I caught the Red-breasts, and Mexican Tetras when I got the Blacktail Shiners. If a guy was this bad at catching the right thing in a fish warehouse he'd be fired. P.S. I used to work, catching fish in a fish warehouse.  ;)

Took a spin around since I was out freeing Willies at the crossing. Nothing on golf course, nothing at the park, nothing over town, or at north end, at the library garden - nada, and the wet spot on W. Sabinal Rd. - had zilch, zip. Struck out swinging. Best bird was the Curlews from the desk in the morning. Though not one to come home empty handed, I noticed Big Ern's B-B-Q shack was open, because my rictal bristles twitched as I drove by earlier, and sure enough they still had pork ribs. Guess what we are having for dinner. When you got these, you don't need no stinkin' birds. Still lots of Snouts today, especially when sun was out, north of town in BanCo. Many many thousands again. The Monarch #6 which is only two-thirds at best of a Monarch is still here at porch flowers on day 3, and #7 showed up. Saw the Southern Broken-Dash again, and the Celia's too.

Hygrocybe species
Methinks this mushroom is one of the Hygrocybe genus (maybe cf. punicea).


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 28 ~ Another 60dF low is fantastic, oh to feel cool air. Surprised still no real migrant movement after the front. At the park there was one Yellow and one Mourning Warbler. That was it. Nothing at the W.Sabinal Rd. or S. Little Creek ponds, save 2 Killdeer and a Gnatcatcher at the latter. No Vermilions along 10 miles of roads and fences. They are outta here. Best bird was at dusk, now at 7 p.m.(!), three Chimney Swift flew over, luckily one called. Probably migrants from way north somewhere. Heard an Indigo Bunting and a Least Flycatcher out front last light.

Among 13 Queens today was the same worn, torn and frayed Monarch missing half both of its left wings, but no Soldier today. Also had a Southern Broken-Dash, Clouded Skipper, and a Celia's Roadside-Skipper in porch flowers. The Snout flight has calmed down a bit, yesterday hopefully was peak, it and the day before were off the charts. Millions of them had to have gone by. I have no clue how wide or long the movement was, but when it takes three days to pass point x, it was a snotload of Snouts, especially on the windshields and radiators.

Sept. 27 ~ WeeWow we just got on the low side of 60dF, maybe 59.5 or so for a low this morning! Probably the coolest it has been since April, in five months. OMG. KRVL had a 56dF low! If you heard some whoopin' and hollerin' it may have been me. Nice dryer north breeze on it too. Wow. A couple Kestrel flew over northbound, low and slow, they probably just got here. Heard the Hutton's again. No ad.ma. Ruby-throats, about 20 or so immatures that seem mostly or all male. No migrant bird movement. Thought there might be with the northerlies, but before midnight clouded up at altitude so likely shut it down north of us. Maybe tomorrow? Hoped the eternal optimist birder.

We are now at a kagillion Snouts. Blew right past a zillion, and a bazillion, to a kagillion. There are a couple or few thousand in the yard. I watched one dragging tongue across and probing at the pecan leaf, clearly attempting to imbibe the sap (ph.) the leaves secrete. It was forging around walking leaf to leaf repeatedly probing with proboscis. In the afternoon among a dozen Queens on the Blue Mist Eup., I finally saw my first Soldier of the year (ph.). A female Black Swallowtail was on the Lantana. In the afternoon two Monarch showed up, #5 and 6 in five days now since the first. One was in good condition, one horribly worn (ph.) missing almost half of left fore, and hind wings, and some of the rights. So had a Danaus trifecta with all 3 milkweed butterflies here today: Monarch, Queen, and Soldier. Got some more yard work done late.

Sept. 26 ~ A balmy 73dF for a low, supposed to rain later. Got up to 85dF or so in afternoon. Today is an anniversary of sorts, it was 15 years ago today I rolled into town, 3 days after leaving L.A. Three because I birded a few hours each morning on the way, despite having told my wife I was coming straight here. It was really weird how when I got up each morning I was at some awesome amazing birding place, in late September. What was I to do?  ;)   Leased the N. Thunder Creek 'hay house' today, 15 years ago. It was another month before we got here with the big truck, but this was the day we knew where we were going to park it. Time sure flies out here. In the big city it goes slower because you are watching the clock so much, waiting for the bell to ring. So you can go get in line some more again.

Couple Nashville Warbler went through in morning, heard a Hutton's Vireo toward the draw. A couple warbler seet notes went through I missed. Probably more Nashville. No male Vermilion, it is gone. Sure was nice since March. Still Scissors flying back and forth daily calling often, but these are not local breeders, they are a fall staging population that comes in from elsewhere. Three ad.ma. Ruby-throats in the morning, saw none in p.m. Though with the afternoon frontal arrival seemed to be a wave of new immatures and maybe 18 or so are out there again.

Still a bazillion Snouts going by. Vector is a little south of the due east of yesterday. The front got here about 2 p.m. with a nice outflow boundry, a couple spits of rain, and breezy NE winds. Monarch #4 (in four days) was here an hour in the afternoon, nectaring on the Blue Mist Eup and the Lantana, but passed on the Frostweed. Two Giant Swallowtail were out there, and a male Black. The porch flowers are working. Ten Queens. More yard work before last light. A couple dozen firefly made for a nice show at dusk. Since the spring flight was weak and burned out early, very nice.

Sept. 25 ~ Gulf flow and moisture returned for a balmy morning again. Today is the hot day ahead of another front. The only movement in yard in a.m. was Snout butterflies, lots of them. Hundreds as soon as it started to warm, and it seems yesterday's flight will continue. They are rain chasers. They are moving around lots on the pecan leaves, I presume they are getting some of the sap on the leaves. Which are quite sticky and even drip during nut grow-out.

The other thing out there is a couple begging just-fledged Cooper's Hawks, often following an adult. So they got a second brood out this year. Though the first was just one. I heard one yesterday, but this is likely why there are fewer birds around the yard the last few days. Had some kind of flycatcher fly by when I was out there about 11 a.m., maybe an Olive-sided. Also had a quick look at what surely was a Merlin as it shot by, but not enough to give it the FOS date. Surely it was one.

Turned out a major Snout flight day. Many tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands. One time Kathy watered the patio (not to grow it) and hundreds were on it nearly immediately. Hundreds on the pecans appearing to be trying to imbibe some of that sticky nectar off the leaves. Clouds of Snouts. Monarch #3 for the fall (in last 3 days) was on the Blue Mist Eupatorium among 8 or so Queens. It hit a Lantana as well, as did a nice male Black, and a Giant Swallowtail. Celia's Roadside-Skipper still around.

At least a dozen Firefly last night and tonight, which is nice considering how weak the spring flight was, and how quickly it burned out. I turned the porch light on for an hour and half at dark. Got two small uninteresting moths and a Mirid. Give me a break. OK, there were some gnatish things, a Snout butterfly and two little tiny scarabs. It is amazing you can turn on lights outside at night and not get covered in bugs. I wish someone had a good explanation for me. It has been like this most of the summer. Nothing compared to usual. Most of the avian insectivores left early too. For bugs, turns out the good old days were just a few years ago.

Sept. 24 ~ A nice dry low at 67dF felt outstanding, northerly flow. A wee bit of movement in the a.m., a couple or few Yellow Warbler went through, a couple seet notes got away, a Gnatcatcher, an imm. Indigo Bunting and about 10 a.m. the nervous excitement of fall arrived, in the form of a FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet! A way down south, you know it is fall ... when you hear an RcK chididitting for the first time in months. Not hearing or seeing my male Vermilion today though, it might have departed. That is why it was singing a lot the last few days. They increase it after a fairly quiet period, the last few days before they leave the breeding territory for the season. Lots of birds do this.

Probably a dozen or so Ruby-throated Hummingbird left, at least one is an adult male. Cooper's Hawk diving on stuff, probably why it is a bit slow at the seed lately. Just a few Lark Sparrows around, and a few House Finches, and a fair number of Cardinal (a dozen plus), and the doves have been mighty skittish.

In leps a female Whirlabout was on a Lantana here today, first of the month, there have been very few skippers around. Celia's Roadside-Skipper was on the Blue Mist Eupatorium, as was a Texas Powdered-Skipper. In the afternoon a thousand plus Snout went by, west to east. Giant Swallowtail was around, a few each Orange, and Large Orange Sulphur, a Lyside, couple Vesta Crescent, Gulf Fritillary, a Mestra, a few things anyway besides the Queens on the Blue Mist. Fair bit of sun, dry, pretty darn nice out. Late afternoon a very beat and worn Monarch was around briefly, second one of the fall after the first yesterday.

Sept. 23 ~ Overcast and northerly flow, but it did not get down into the 60's as advertised. River still roaring. A couple Yellow Warblers early. About 11 a.m. I went out to check a few spots. Right out the gate in front of the corral there were a couple FOS Clay-colored Sparrow right on time. A couple Indigo Bunting in the grasses there too, and several Orchard Oriole. Heard Least Flycatcher, the male Vermilion sang a few, and a Scissor-tail also called.

At the park there were no migrants. Little Creek Larry said he had Belted Kingfisher yesterday at his creek. At the pond near Haby's on W. Sabinal Rd. there was an Ibis, which are default White-faced here until proven otherwise. Good bird here. There was nothing at the S. Little Creek Ponds but a small group of Chipping Sparrows there may have been migrants, instead of the locals. At some stop there was a FOS House Wren calling jee-jee-jee, and at the bend on 355 at the deer farm a pair of Canyon Towhee again. Nothing on the golf course. At the Frostweed patch at the old Preston Place there were 3 Nashville Warbler, and a Yellow-throated Warbler was in the big Cypresses. Plus my FOS Monarch butterfly, finally. No early ones this year.

Since it is roughly the equinox, I went out Seco Ridge to the magic Evergreen Sumac bush and sure enough one of the metallic green and orange-red Cerambycid beetles was on it (Stenapsis verticalis insignis). Checked a number of them, they seem past peak bloom already, nothing on 'em but bees. Which were also all over the Bee-brush (aka Kidneywood) which is going full bore since the rains. While I was gone Kathy had a couple Nashville, a Yellow, a Wilson's, and a Black-and-white Warbler go through the yard.

Sept 22 ~ Happy Equinox! I had everything in perfect balance for at least a minute or two. There was a half-inch of rain here overnight, and the river is roaring again, so up-valley must have gotten a good cell. I heard later Sabinal 20 mi. south had 4" from it. The actual front got here this morning. It was 72dF all night until 6 a.m., and by 7 it was below 70, at 9 it was 65dF with 10-15mph northerlies on it. It feels like fall!

But no migrants. They must have been grounded north of us. All I had was a Yellow Warbler and a Least Flycacher that are likely ones that have been here. That means tomorrow there should be a push behind it said the eternal optimist birder that is usually wrong predicting migration events here. Got some yard work done though.

Outstanding was a photographed Piratic Flycatcher at South Llano River St. Pk. near Junction. This is a mega-rarity vagrant from Mexico or further south. I thought I had one once out on Seco Ridge, and a buddy and I saw one at Falcon Lake St. Pk. in early August about '96. It is a species I actually mention on the Utopia Park bird list page, as an idea for something super mega-rare that maybe could possibly occur.



Stenapsis verticalis insignis
One of my favorite Cerambycids (Longhorn Beetles)
Stenapsis verticalis insignis on Evergreen Sumac
on which they meet to eat flowers and mate in September.
But only certain special "magic" chosen plants that
they use year after year, generation after generation.
Body and antennae each are nearly 2" long.
Sorry about having to shoot against white sky.
You take these any way you can get them.




~ ~ ~ archive copy of update header - partial ~ ~ ~

Things change fast all fall. By the end of August the Black-chinned Hummers have blown out, and have been replaced by Ruby-throated which were thick a couple weeks but have mostly departed already. Blue Grosbeak and Yellow-breasted Chat also mostly depart in later August. Some long-distance migrants arriving or passing recently are: Yellow Warbler and Upland Sandpiper (Aug 11th), and Least (Aug 12th) and Willow (Aug 15th) Flycatcher. Birds are on the move. These can only be termed 'fall migrants'. They breed far to our north and winter far to our south. A Broad-winged Hawk was here on August 30. Blue-winged Teal was reported Aug. 29th. On September 1 there were FOUR Mourning Warbler at Utopia Park. Sept. 3 I saw three first of fall sps.: L. Shrike, Spotted Sandpiper, and two Wilson's Warbler. My first Nashville Warbler showed up Sept. 6. On Sept. 7 there was a LEAST SANDPIPER at the golf course, Blue-winged Teal at the S. Little Creek ponds, and a Harris's Hawk on 187 at the golf course entrance. A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was in our yard Sept. 7, and seemingly a different one on the 9th. Sept. 9 there was an AMERICAN BITTERN on S. Little Creek Rd at the southerly smaller floodpond, in Bandera County. Sept. 14 there was a Black-crowned Night-Heron at Utopia Park up on the island, and, an adult male MacGillivray's Warbler went through our yard. An ad. male Broad-tailed Hummingbird was at our feeders a bit Sept. 15-17. Solitary Sandpiper and Northern Waterthrush and a Coot showed up on Sept. 21. Clay-colored Sparrow, White-faced Ibis, House Wren showed on the 23rd. A big (for its size) sign of fall was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet Sept. 24.

~ ~ ~ back to the regularly scheduled drivel ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 21 ~ Still on the balmy side, come on cold front. Not much for migration motion in yard, seems like a blowout last night and nothing new. Maybe 50 Ruby-throats out there, but less than half that at once. Town run fer shtuff. Did not see the swallows at the north end of town, they could have been out feeding. At Utopia Park there was an imm. Green Kingfisher, a Green Heron, and my FOS Northern Waterthrush. At Haby's W. Sabinal Rd. wetspot there was my FOS Solitary Sandpiper, and at the bigger pond on S. Little Creek, there was one single Coot, my FOS, and an early date for them.

South of town along road was a group of 20 Turkey, a couple hens and the rest poults, young of the year, now well-grown. Heard a Least Flycatcher out front later in afternoon. A group of 5 Scissor-tails flew over northbound about 4 p.m., methinks the fall birds that stage here for a month, and which are from elsewhere. Lots of pecan trees are turning yellow and many have dropped lots of their leaves already. Looking more and more like fall out there, and just in time, it starts tomorrow. Still waiting for the advertised rain. A minor front, but a front, is supposed to arrive tomorrow morning now. Might be good for birds out there when it hits.

Sept. 20 ~ Another 71dF warmish low, can't wait for the 60's to return, they say next week a weak cold front should bring them. Slow in the yard, yesterday was the movement day. One Yellow Warbler, the same Wilson's on day 9, a Gnatcatcher, and a Scissor-tail were around. The male Vermilion still here, and it sung a few measures at dawn. Canyon Towhee still out there. Maybe 50 Ruby-throats left, though I only saw a couple dozen at once, tops. There were a half-dozen Turkey in the corral, saw a Chimney Swift (called) at last sun. Flushed an Obscure Underwing moth. Saw the Pearl Crescent I saw yesterday again today in yard, they are a beauty. Better was a Dusky-blue Groundstreak of which I haven't seen one in a couple months.

The Blue Mist Eupatorium is starting to get going, several Queens out there already all the time. We planted patches on either side of the steps at the front porch. The bloom the last two years was shot due to a caterpillar of some sort devastating it. I hand-picked 150+ of the little bastards off it those two years and barely saved the two patches. So the last good bloom was 4 years ago, and it is finally looking good-to-go again. It is magic butterfly honey. A couple dozen Large Orange Sulphur went by over the day. Been seeing a couple Orange Sulphur here and there. Hopefully we will get a good fall southern invasion from Mexico this year, last year there was none.

Sept. 19 ~ A balmy 71dF for a low, low stratus and humid. Last sunny warm day before another rain event is set to start for the weekend. Which will continue the streak of every weekend this month. And lots of between. There was migrant movement last night, wish I could go birding. Wed. and Thurs. are pretty well out of the question for me, I have to be at the desk and computer.

Heard the male Vermilion sing a few measures, and a Scissor-tail gave one measure of song. Early there were Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, a couple Gnatcatcher, and all at once in the kitchen window pecan, 2 Nashville, 2 Wilson's, and a Yellow Warbler. One of the Willys was the same half-capped bird, still here, day 8. Mid-morn a Dickcissel. Heard the Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireos. Saw a Pearl Crescent butterfly.

In morning no hummers but Rubies, after not hearing either the Rufous or Broad-tailed in the afternoon yesterday (only heard the Rufous in the morning). The Broad-tail must have left the afternoon before. There was a huge major departure today. After a fair number left yesterday and the day before. It is not 400-500 anymore of this past weekend, was maybe only 300 yesterday. This morning it was about 250, and at the end of they day it wasn't 50. A couple hundred departed today. It is as if someone turned on a Ruby-throat vacuum.

Sept. 18 ~ Still in drying out mode here. Nice to get a break, supposed to get a few more days of rain this coming weekend. Better than 95dF anyway, was about 85dF today, not bad, but humid. Same migrants: Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, the first fall Wilson's Warbler on day 7 here, a Gnatcatcher, Least Flycatcher, and best was hearing a Blue Grosbeak. Our local breeders have been gone a few weeks now, so a transient. A couple Field Sparrows I have been seeing or hearing nearly daily the last couple weeks may be local breeders. Saw one of the big black Caterpillar Hunter Carib beetles. Saw a male Black and a Giant Swallowtail, Orange and Lyside Sulphur, a Celia's Roadside-Skipper and a Texas Powdered-Skipper. The Rufous Hummer was here early, but not the Broad-tailed, neither were here in the afternoon. They are gone. And so are many Ruby-throats. Depatures are underway.

Sept. 17 ~ No rain today, finally. River still roaring, and over some crossings, like ours. A great showing of Wood-Sorrel has popped from the precip, and some Crow-poison is going too. The whole yard came up in Straggler Daisy which is a great leafy little ground cover. Tropical Sage is blooming well now, and the Frostweed is going. Birds were about the usual same. Amazing is that half-capped (probably a first fall male) Wilson's Warbler is still here, now on day 6! Heard the Yellow-throated Vireo. Male Vermilion still here. A couple Baltimore Oriole, a couple Yellow Warbler, a couple Gnatcatcher, couple Least Flycatcher, seems like the Orchard Orioles have mostly passed, the Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummers continued. Some Rubies are leaving, numbers going down. Some Upland Sandpipers at dusk taking off for their night flight, I wish I could find the pastures they go down in for the day.

Saw two and got fuzzy photos of the neat black, red, and white, Opilionids, which are Harvestman, aka Daddy Longlegs. Which are not spiders though most think they are. Note they have one body segment, head to abdomen is all one piece. True spiders have a cephalothorax (thorax with head as one piece) and an abdomen, two body segments. Insects have three body segments, head, thorax, and abdomen (and six legs instead of the eight of arachnids).

Sept. 16 ~ Another half-inch of rain overnight. More to come today they say. We are just over 4" for this event so far, from late Friday evening to early Sunday morning. And we are now at TWO FEET of rain for September, so far. We can hear the river roaring, so will have to go out back way to get out. A few birds were around the yard mid-morn. Single male Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, a couple Yellow Warbler and Least Flycatcher, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, an imm. or fem. Indigo Bunting, heard the Yellow-throated Vireo so it is still around, just being quiet in all the rain. The ad.fem. Rufous Hummer is out there. Finally about 3:30 p.m. I heard the male Broad-tailed Hummer out there. Guessing over 450 Ruby-throats out there.

Noonish I was out front and had in a half hour at least 6 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a different fem. Indigo Bunting, an ad.fem. Baltimore Oriole, one of those beautiful brightly colored imm. Bell's Vireo, and a Nashville Warbler. After lunch we took a spin around to check the flood ponds. The main 360 crossing was not doable, went around the back way. Park pond is fullest I have seen in a long time. Only the highest spots on the island are above water. The northerly bigger of the two S. Little Creek ponds is over 10 acres now, pushin' 20, but had nothing but two Cattle Egret on a dead tree on far side. The golf course had bluebirds, a couple Baltimore Oriole, and a Yellow Warbler.

About 4: to 6:p.m. we had another torrential downpour as another band of INVEST 95L moved over. At one point we got an inch in a half-hour. By 6 it was 1.75" more! Gadzooks! So 26" and counting for the event now, and 6" for this weekend, from a different system that caused the 20" in the 10 days prior. At dusk to rub salt in a wound, after looking at hundreds of acres of pastures as we drove around today and seeing no grasspipers, at least 3 single Upland Sandpipers called from low and clearly were just getting up to fly for the night. They were out there, I just couldn't find them.

Sept. 15 ~ A little bit of light showers overnight, some real showers mid-morning were over an inch, then more in the afternoon. Yard had a couple Least Flycatcher, and a Yellow Warbler but that seemed it. Ran over to golf course noonish while rain was light, nothing there. On way back though on 360 out front of the former Utopia on the River there was my FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher on a powerline. By 4 p.m. here we were at 2" of rain for the day, minus the quarter-inch that was there from yesterday. What a surprise, another wet one. Now at 22" for the month here at our hovel.

At 4 p.m. I repeatedly heard a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird around the feeders and Turks-Cap. Feeders are hung in the worst way for observational lighting so I only saw it fly off a couple times, but with that great cricket trill of flight, there is no doubt what it is. The cloud of hummers (Rubies) when the rain lets up is amazing. Hundreds, it sounds like a B-25 bomber is on the porch. Probably nearly 500. The Rufous or Allen's is still here, I saw the throat patch well, it is an adult female. Here, default is Rufous until proven otherwise.

Another band of rain came in around 7 p.m. and by time it was past 1.75" MORE had fallen. So 3.5" for the day, and 3.75-80 counting the evening prior's quarter-inch plus. This weekend's rain is a tropical wave that tried to gain circulation before and after it made landfall. A week ago it was off Yucatan, crossed the Gulf over the week and had it been going 5-10 instead of over 15mph it would have been a named system, instead of INVEST 95L. Spiraling bands of heavy winds and rain at times looked just like the hurricane logo-icon. A lot of the central coast got 4-8" from it.

Oak Hairstreak
(Southern) Oak Hairstreak

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 14 ~ Scattered showers around, as of 4 p.m. we had only a brief passing one. Yard had a couple Yellow Warbler, Kathy saw the same male Wilson's Warbler here its third day now. I saw it later, and heard it again, it does not have the usual dry dchit note for a call but something nearer a Myrtle Warbler. No Yellow-throated Vireo or Warbler, they may have departed. Heard a Least Flycatcher and a Hutton's Vireo. Did the town run errands thing. There were 6 Common Grackle that flew over town, and which may be migrants from elsewhere. The 80+ swallows at the north end of town appeared to be gathering grit, just NW of the gas station. Half each Barn and Cave.

Checked the wet spot on W. Sabinal Rd., one Cattle Egret was there (ph.), nothing was at the S. Little Creek ponds. Little Creek Larry said one day last week after the rains he had 75 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck there. At Utopia Park there was an ad. BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (ph.) which is a new park bird for me, and the list. I had a few once in spring at Utopia on the River a decade ago. Yellow-crowned is the default Night-Heron here. Saw my FOS Kestrel on W. Sab. Rd.

Shortly before 2 p.m. I was outside and heard a warbler a few times, went in for binocs, moved back out toward where I heard it. A warbler pops up off the ground into the lowest leaves of a Hackberry about 4' above the ground. A beautiful male MacGillivray's Warbler! Big bold thick white eye crescents above and below eye, well broken fore and aft of eye, nice black patch across breast. Wow! Only the third fall record I have here, they are more regular (nearly annual) in spring. Great yard bird! Gnatcatcher and Least Flycatcher out there as well. Here is a rain cell is about 7 p.m.... add another quarter inch and change.

Sept. 13 ~ About 68dF for a low this morning. Clear at first, then clouds showed up shortly after sunrise. At least a couple Yellow Warbler in the morning. Two Wilson's Warbler also, one was the male from yesterday, the other a female. Heard a bunting that sounded Painted but didn't see it to confirm. A few Baltimore Oriole, one nice ad.fem. right out office window eating Hackberries. One Rufous or Allen's Hummingbird showed up in the afternoon, and quickly is slugging it out with a few hundred Ruby-throats. Either an ad.fem, or imm. male. After it is done feeding, it picks a fight or two on the way out. Methinks an immature male?

Two Least Flycatcher were disputing hunting rights in the pecans out front. At noon, and again later we had a couple showers totalling about a centimeter, or three-eighths of an inch of precip, just to keep the humidity up. Seemed like it was about to drop below 90%, the rain got here just in time. It has been so wet, seeds have sprouted on a backporch carpet remnant mat I wipe my feet on it to not bring seeds into the house after I have been out tossing it, especially when the ground is wet. This is how wet it has been, algae and sprouts on a carpet remnant outside.

Sept. 12 ~ Low about 69dF, was clear all night until right at sunup when gulf low stratus got here. At 6:43 a.m. the first bird to call was one measure of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher song. Haven't heard it in weeks here, the local birds have been gone. Quick early check of the park had nothing. There were 80 swallows sunning on the powerlines across from post office, just north of gas station. Half each Cave and Barn. Three Scissor-tails along the roads are likely newly arrived migrants from elsewhere. Four Blue-winged Teal were on the W. Sabinal Rd. wet spot pond.

Here at the casita it was slow, a couple Yellows, a couple Orchard Oriole, heard a couple Baltimore, but no major movement. In the afternoon a Hutton's Vireo was out there, later Kathy found a Wilson's Warbler in the pecan out the kitchen window. NO greenies today, first day without a Painted Bunting here since April. WOW. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river. A small short-winged Chaetura swift buzzed upriver just before last sun. Chimney until proven otherwise here, but it sure didn't look like one to me. Date is all wrong for a vagrant Vaux's, but I never thought Chimney at any moment watching it. After dark I heard a Green Heron over at the river, a tough to get bird from the yard.

Sept. 11 ~ Well we made it through a night with just a trace of precip, and no waking to booms. NOAA for KRVL showed a 66dF and WU at Seco Creek a 67dF low, we were more like 68, maybe it was cooler earlier. But some dryness. Saw a couple Baltimore Oriole early, and a couple Yellow Warbler in the morning. Afternoon added a few Orchard Oriole. Slow compared to the rain days. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk go by. The mesquites are being denuded by leaf-cutter ants. Under many of them is a pile of freshly cut leaves. Nothing else is being hit like the 'squites right now. Drive down the road and there are a dozen of them fairly denuded with a shadow of fresh-cut leaves on the ground under the canopy. One greenie imm. Painted Bunting left here. Was one at the park too. Still several Couch's Spadefoot Toad calling. There is a new just-fledged begging and being attended Lesser Goldfinch.

Sept. 10 ~ A 67dF low, and you won't believe what happened overnight. It rained. Again. By time it let up around noon we were at 7 cm, or 2.75", putting us well over 19", probably 20", in 8 days and still raining. Forecast shows it lightening up in afternoon, and lesser chances through the week, but still chances, and more next weekend. Talk about snapping out of summer. We have not reached 90dF since the afternoon of Sept. 2nd. Been raining ever since.

Slow around yard except for Ruby-throated Hummers which are off the charts. Hundreds. Used almost a gallon of fluid today, so likely 350-400 or so. Saw one adult male Black-chinned, which is the first adult in over a week, so a migrant on the move. For passerine migrants in a.m. saw a Yellow Warbler, an Orchard Oriole, and a Gnatcatcher. The skeeters are making a showing now, on day 8 since the rains started for those keeping score at home. On the flipside, it mostly killed the flies which were getting thick.

In the afternoon as the skies broke and cleared a bit there was some activity. A half-dozen Orchard Oriole included 2 males, a couple imm. or fem. Baltimore Oriole, probably 5 Yellow Warbler, 1 Nashville Warbler, couple Field Sparrow, a Least Flycatcher. Saw the ad.ma. Vermilion Flycatcher, the Canyon Towhee and the Yellow-throated Warbler all still here, and the Yellow-throated Vireo finally sung for the first time in 3 days. I got a call about a flock of a few dozen smaller raptors over toward Little Creek. Great time for Mississippi Kite now. I went out several times as it cleared and scanned skies, nothing my way. Heard a Great Blue Heron repeatedly calling, or croaking, which apparently landed up the slope in a live-oak as it was stationary.

Sept. 9 ~ 69dF low. A bit of rain overnight, .75" or so, so with the quarter over the day yesterday, adds an inch to the event total since yesterday morning, which is now 16"!!! Since late late last Sunday evening when it started. A week. Amazing. Kathy saw two Canyon Towhee this morning, so a second bird has showed up. Light showers continued through morning, no migration motion. River still roaring. Another quarter inch by 2 p.m., just light constant, enough to make ya wet.

In the morning about 11 besides a Yellow Warbler, I saw some movement across road from the gate, I was on the porch. With bins, as it is that time of year. Male and female Orchard Oriole were great, male still in great breeding plumage. Then an ad. fem. Mourning Warbler was in a Texas Persimmon, moved to a Juniper that went to the ground. I got great looks of it on open branches, if a bit distant. Awesome, from the porch.

About 3 it finally let up for the most part and we took a spin around to see whaddup. The 360 crossing (our usual) was flooding a foot over the bridge at least, and roaring. So we went out the back way. One male Baltimore Oriole on 359. The 1050 bridge was fine, but at some point water was over it. We went to the golf course to check for grasspipers, it had none. Some Vermilion Flycatchers and Eastern Bluebirds, a Yellow Warbler, and another Baltimore Oriole was it, and lots of Black-tailed Jacks.

I decided to try the South Little Creek ponds first, and then to the W. Sabinal Rd. wet spot. Yellow Warbler along 355 on way out of town. We hit the jackpot at the smaller wet spot on S. Little Creek Rd., the one right against the road just north of the Thunder Creek Rd. turnoff about a half mile, and in Bandera County. An AMERICAN BITTERN! Out in the open, only bird there, and yes, photos. Incredible. That is why you go check the wet spots when it rains. After getting home and checking ebird, it shows no report ever of one in BanCo, so it may well be a first county record. Awesome. My first upper Sabinal River drainage record. In other words a new bird for the local area list. A local mega. It is very rare in winter at Uvalde where marshy ponds as at fish hatchery and Cook's Slough. This date is very early too, my couple Uvalde sightings are in Nov. and December.

The bigger north pond another half mile up the road looks fantastic but there was nothing at it. There will be. Wish is wasn't so far from our house, ca. 6 miles one way maybe, less than 5 in the air. When we lived on N. Thunder Creek I checked it all the time, when it was wet. It will hold water and pull birds down for weeks as it is now. We tried to get to W. Sabinal Rd. but the river was a foot deep and moving at Fisher Crossing (the first crossing north of Utopia on 187). So we went back to town to see the county line bridge and Jones Cemetery Rd., it was worse of course. Then to the park. It has been washed out and will be nice and clean when it dries. No migrants in the woods but 2 imm. Pied-billed Grebe were my FOS and appeared to be wondering what the heck was going on. Had Gnatcatcher and Hutton's Vireo on the west end of 360 coming home in the back way.

Late afternoon here were a couple Yellow Warbler, a couple Orchard Oriole, Yellow-throated Warbler, and a Gnatcatcher. Later more Yellow Warbler and Orchard Oriole, and best, another YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER! I say another as it does not look like the one here Friday (2 days ago), and I worked the yard a lot on Saturday and did not have it. It is virtually certainly a second bird. Couch's Spadefoot Toad calling from within the fenced garden right outside the office window! Awesome soundtrack!

Sept. 8 ~ There is a front bearing down on us, NOAA could not say when it would pass, overnight or today. It was clear at midnight last night. We were awakened by some very close lightning, like blown out of bed close at 4 a.m., which took out electricity. It had been pouring, and continued to do so, it was the last big bolt of the cell. Called Bandera Electric and went back to bed. Then got up late since we could see no clocks, at 8. Was 68dF. A check of rainfall showed 3 more INCHES overnight! And over the next couple hours, over an inch more, so at least 4" so far today! Which makes 15 INCHES this week, the last 7 days! Another quarter-inch fell over the day. Since the ground is saturated though, it mostly just ran off, and the river is roaring again.

It seemed everything bolted on the clear skies last night as there wasn't much for migrants in the yard today. A Yellow Warbler was it, and likely a new bird. The male Vermilion is still here but I haven't heard the Chat in a couple days now. Is it the rain, or is it gone? Canyon Towhee was out there, just 2 greenies (imm. Painted Bunny), Yellow-throated Warbler. Would like to go check for grasspipers but I think maybe wait and take a chance and do it tomorrow. Give another day for things to move and maybe collect. The 360 crossing was over the bridge and not safe for a while. When we can hear the river roaring, it is not doable, we have to go out the back way and hope 1050 bridge is ok. I saw a few trucks turn around to do just that. Take the long way around. Likely well over 100 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the feeders now. They are packed with more waiting.

OMG, a big bonus break this week with TWO whole pictures!
Both of these birds were certainly brought down by the rain event
last week. They were at high magnification, so a bit fuzzy, sorry.
When documenting something rare or unusual, it doesn't matter.
Can you ID it?, is what is important when rarity documentation.


Least Sandpiper
This is a juvenile Least Sandpiper, only the 2nd Least I have seen
here (the 1st juv.), on a flooded fairway at the golf course Sept. 7, 2018.
Likely the first photo of one in the upper Sabinal drainage.


American Bittern
Maybe the first American Bittern ever documented in Bandera Co.,
on Sept. 9, 2018 at the flood ponds on S. Little Creek Rd.
Normally in a patch of reeds where nearly invisible, it usually
takes a pro to spot one. But not this one, which was a drive-by.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 7 ~ Just a trace of precip overnight. We need to dry out a bit. About 72-82dF for a temp spread today, and the 82 was probably the humidity too, it was dripping. Birds moved though. It cleared last night, by 11 p.m. it was all stars so I am sure there was migrant movement. Early there was an Upland Sandpiper flying around low calling and looking for a place to go down. Looked like maybe over at the golf course, or pastures to south of it. It was right over yard at one point. Will be checking on my roll to town. In the a.m. here in yard there were 4-5 FOS Baltimore Oriole, finally. Ruby-throats and Baltimores, it's fall! There were a couple Yellow Warbler that were flighty as in just came down from flying. A Yellow-throated Warbler was an imm. male with buffy flanks. An interesting Empidonax got away. Inca Dove in the driveway.

Town run, so looked over the golf course on the way. At the entrance a totally far out sub-adult Harris's Hawk flew up off a pole and circled over 187. It had both adult and immature feathers in the wings, body was adult. Great plumage! Could not find an Upland Sandpiper, but on a flooded fairway there was one juvenile LEAST SANDPIPER, which is wayyyy rarer, a mega here. It is only my second record here in 15 years, the first juvenile. An early July adult is my only other, at Utopia Park. To give an idea of rarity here, locally in the last 15 years I have seen more each of Short-tailed Hawk, Green Violetear, Tropical Parula, Rufous-capped Warbler, and Clay-colored Robin-Thrush, than Least Sandpiper here, to put it in perspective for you. I had a mess up with the camera and the pix of the hawk and piper are not right. The dial rotated off of A or P either of which would have been fine, and I was on some setting I don't know or use. Give me my dang Exacta or Miranda back. A Gnatcatcher was the only passerine migrant I saw at the good tree patch with Cedar Elms there.

Then just north of the 354 turn, a half-mile south of town there was a FOS for me Eastern Kingbird on the fenceline. Three good birds before I got to town! I went out to W. Sabinal Rd. and checked the wet spot, nothing there but has water, and looks good. Then over to the S. Little Creek ponds. They looked fantastic, very well flooded. Saw one Killdeer and my FOS (22) Blue-winged Teal. Little Creek Larry had some over a week ago at his creek. The (muddy) water was going over the spillway at the park, the pond is at bankfull and we have an island again. Only bird in the woods was an ad.fem. Mourning Warbler. Aw shucks. Like our yard, you have to be there over hours to see what is really going through. A spot check is a very hit or miss proposition at best in migration. But you can get lucky anytime. Rosie's Taco trailer had an Inca Dove and 3 Chicken Fajitas.

Back here at the house after lunch there was a Least and a YELLOW-BELLIED Flycatcher in the yard. Yell-bell is a good bird here, LTA - less than annual, far from a sure thing to see every year. The Bell's Vireo was still singing here this a.m., as is another across the river near the crossing in a mesquite patch it has been at for a month or two, maybe nesting, or another troller. Three greenies still here.

About 4 p.m. Kathy spotted two Nashville Warbler and an Orchard Oriole in the pecan out kitchen window. Then we saw a few Yellows out there too, and the Least Flycatcher. I think it is the sap on the pecan leaves, it both attracts, and traps, insects. They are gleaning the leaves. Must be a hundred Ruby-throated Hummers here now. That didn't take long, they got thick fast. Maybe a couple dozen a week ago.

Sept. 6 ~ We had more rain last night, just a slow soaker. The total from the .2 yesterday and this .7 overnight puts us at over 9" from the event since Saturday night! Probably near 9.25", and maybe a wee bit over that. And better than 50% chances for the next 4 days through Sunday! The 10 day does not have any 90dF temps for us on it. OMG. Maybe summer is over? Which is essentially a hundred days at a hundred here. Except for any rain events. Which had been scarce as frog hairs lately. The days it doesn't hit 100dF, it still feels like it.

Not much for bird passage early. The rain has been scattered well to our north, best is if it is clear north of you so that stuff is moving, and it hits weather right on you. A Hutton's Vireo was out there, a couple Yellow Warbler. Nearing 10 a.m. I saw my FOS Nashville Warbler out the office window. Nice. A couple Orchard Oriole went by. Bell's Vireo and Canyon Towhee are out there. Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo still singing. Three greenie imm. Painted Bunnies, 11 male Cards out an office window at once.

About 3 p.m. we had another brief but heavy rain shower, and another 15mm, or three-fifths of an inch, and about 9.8" for a running total now. Gadzooks! It is not even a front or a system causing this. Just the Gulf and Pacific sub-tropical or tropical moisture plumes converging because of big strong highs to the west and east. Add daytime heating. A few little tickles from the low level jet stream has been the only forcing mechanism. To look at it, you would think this should not have produced 10" of rain. But that little tiny bit warmer atmosphere holds LOTS more water.

Well it wasn't over. Another cell hit just before dark and it poured, 46mm, about 1.7" more, so about 2.3 or 2.4 for the afternoon to early evening! So we now sit at over 11", likely near 11.5" for the event since late Sunday evening. Holy water rainman! It is all or nuthin' now. Heard an Upland Sandpiper go over as it was clearing up late evening.

Sept. 5 ~ Maybe a tenth of an inch of rain overnight, just a bit. At least another tenth in the early evening. More after dark, will figure it out tomorrow morning. A flock of 22 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks flew over calling before 7 a.m. as I was getting seed and feeders done. It was clear late last night, and seems stuff blew out at the sight of the stars. A few Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler went through, one Gnatcatcher, I am sure they were all new different individuals. There are over 50 Ruby-throated Hummers here at the feeders, and at least two imm. Black-chinned are still here. Had 4 greenies (imm. Painted Bunting) today. Now 10 Brown-headed Cowbird here, surely migrants from elsewhere as our local breeders have been gone over 6 weeks.

The Bell's Vireo was still singing today though after a day of silence yesterday, Canyon Towhee was around too. Both were MIA yesterday. Yellow-throated Vireo, and Warbler both still here, the Chat chattered a bit, it will leave very soon. A nice Eastern Tiger Swallowtail floated by and landed on a hackberry for photos, or maybe to dry out. Too bad the sun wasn't out, but then it wouldn't likely have landed, it was soaking wet. Near last sun a group of 5 Summer Tanager together was 3 male and 2 female, 1 male going nuts singing I think was the yard breeder. A few more Orchard Oriole were loosely associated with them.

Sept. 4 ~ We woke up a few times due to hard rain overnight. Got up to find about 4" since 10 p.m. last night when this round started and the first inch fell. We we are now at 7.5+" for the event since Saturday evening when it started. It was 69dF for a low, and there is RIVER!!! We can hear it! For the first time in months! I could barely hear it at 6:30, at 7 it was more detectable, by 8 there was no doubt, the river was running. Between 9 and 10a.m. it went to a mild roar as the water from very heavy rains upvalley got here. We rolled down to the 360 crossing to have a look (.75 of a mile). The water was 5-6" over the bridge and not safe to cross for a small pickup truck without 500 lbs. in the back. There was a bigger truck on the other side waiting. Too dicey. He had a long wait, it was still coming up.

A touch of irony in that the town was amazingly quiet this holiday weekend, due to the lack of water, and no river or swimming, which translates to no tourists on Labor Day weekend. It was great to be able to go bird the park and not have it be overun this weekend as most years on Labor Day. Now today we are throwing water away, have more of it than we can use at the moment. Until leaf lookie-loo season starting in mid-to-late October this is a great time to visit, the crowds are gone with the higher temps.

And there were migrants around the yard, and on the road to the crossing. Yard in morning had 4-5 Yellow Warbler (4 at once), 4-5 Orchard Oriole, a greenie imm. Painted Bunny, at least one Least Flycatcher, one Empidonax sps., and more of the first three were along the road along corral. Later morning heard a Red-eyed Vireo singing out there, an off-the-breeding grounds migrant, but still has some song left in 'em. But I have to work of course, after the holiday break lots of catching up to do. The Yellow-throateds (Warbler and Vireo) were both out there. Did not hear the Bell's Vireo today.

It rained lightly for a few hours late morning to mid-day adding another 16mm, or five-eighths of an inch to the total, now over 8"!!! In the afternoon there were 3 greenie immature Painted Bunting within a square foot on the patio, I had just thrown white millet down, and was not back in the cottage yet (!), so about 10' away at most. They were just waiting for me to do it and go. Another half-dozen Orchard Oriole went by. Was briefly sunny a couple hours in mid-afternoon, then another spritizing later afternoon.

After 7 p.m. I was on back porch and had 6 greenie imm. Painted Bunting on the patio eating white millet at once. I have only been seeing one, so I think some migrants from elsewhere have shown up. Whereas the dozen-and-a-half Cardinals are surely all the yard birds and their young of the year that are still around. Yesterday the Canyon Towhee was around, fighting itself in a mirror, but today did not see or hear it. Late at last check outside there were FOUR Couch's Spadefoot Toads calling at once! Amazing, I love 'em. Often drowned out by a few Rio Grande Leopard Frogs which are roaring now too. Somewhere in the yard I managed to find a couple chiggers today.

Sept. 3 ~ Happy Labor Day to all who labored. Another line of cells went over from before dawn to early morning, tapering off mid-morn. Another 36mm or so since the 55mm last night. So another 1.35" on top of last night's 2.2", and we are over 3.5+" so far for the event. OMG. And we are progged for rain all week. Yard had Gnatcatcher, Orchard Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Least Flycatcher, a greenie or two (imm. Painted Bunny). A Chimney Swift here was best, and surely a migrant since the ones in town have been gone some time now.

Took a spin around to see if any migrants knocked down. The rain started right at dark and extended north a bit so I didn't expect much. On 360 just west of the river was my FOS Loggerhead Shrike. At the golf course there were some flooded fairways but no grasspipers. One Yellow Warbler, one Least Flycatcher. At Utopia Park there was a FOS Spotted Sandpiper, and 2 FOS Wilson's Warbler, a male and a female. Also two Yellow Warbler, another greenie, heard a Louisiana Waterthrush. Water came up a little bit. Best was seeing a juvenile Green Heron, so they got at least one young out of the nest this year. No water at the W.Sabinal Rd. wetspot, and the S.Little Creek wet spots were dry as well. Little Creek got some water too, but nothing there. Did see a couple Scissor-tails in 10 miles of rolling around, and quite a few Barn and some Cave Swallow.

Saw one of the pinkish brick Summer Tanagers, a molting adult male whence as the red body feathers fall out it goes from bright solid saturated red to a light pinkish brick red due to all the pale feather bases being exposed by all the missing feathers. You can see this in Painted Bunting, Northern Cardinal, Vermilion Flycatcher, and probably any bird with red underparts if you catch them at the right stage of body molt. They don't put the funky ones in the books. Hmmm.... Field Guide to the Funky Birds of North America. That sounds right up my alley, amirite?

Shortly before dusk two Common Nighthawk were beating tracks south down the river habitat corridor. Migrants. Forgot to mention lots of Mockingbirds moving today. They were everywhere. About 10 p.m. another rain cell found us and dropped another inch in an hour. So by time I gave up we were at 4.5" so far for the event, just before midnight. Outstanding was at last look outside, hearing a Couch's Spadefoot Toad calling! Awesome! A several second long braying bleat somewhere between a kid goat and a toy dull metallic buzzer. A call of the wild.

Sept. 2 ~ About 73-93dF for a temp spread, and very humid. Mostly hid from the heat working on stuff here, and waiting for rain. In yard besides residents, saw a couple Yellow Warbler (ph. of male below), a Least Flycatcher, a few Orchard Oriole, one Gnatcatcher, and one juv. Hooded Oriole (a transient). Bell's and Yellow-throated Vireo still singing territorially. Barely heard the Chats. Lark Sparrows are many fewer than they were, either they are departing the area, or moving to a newly available food source elsewhere, as can happen in late summer and fall as seeds ripen. Did have Chat at dusk. At dusk also counted 17 Cardinals at once out back on the seed.

Some rain to the west at Garner, Leakey, etc. about 6 p.m., as it approached I heard an Upland Sandpiper go over about 7 p.m., some outflow hit about 7:20-30 and dropped us from 90dF to 82. That was great. Waiting for rain... it is barely moving, but our way. Oh, there is is. From 8 to 9 p.m we got 1.75"! By 11 it was 55mm about 2.2"! OMG! R-A-I-N is how you spell relief here nowadays. No dust for a week at least now.

September 1 ~ OMG, it is September! Climatalogical summer is over! Sacred bovine, there is hope for it to end! Low was 71.5dF but it got hot in the afternoon. A few Orchard Oriole went through yard early, one Yellow Warbler, two Gnatcatcher. An Audubon's Oriole worked the slope uphill in the big live-oaks just behind the house. Haven't had one in a while here. Noon we did an hour park check. Great without people there on a Labor Day weekend. There is often a rodeo here this weekend as well, this year there is not. Town was uncharacteristically quiet for a Labor Day weekend Saturday. Park pond is stagnant, not enough water to be safe to swim, and lots of the river is dry, so more no swimming at many of the local rental sites, so very few tourists. My holiday started early!

Outstanding was FOUR Mourning Warbler up in the understory of the woods. Two adult female nearly together, and two juveniles at opposite ends of the woods. Amazing, what a haul! Have had at least 3 there at once before. Walked by three of them without detecting them, before I found the first. Then ended up with four! They see you coming long before you see them, duck for cover, and can be more than quite furtive. One flew at arm's length right past Kathy's head. A couple Black-n-whites were there too, plus singles of Yellow Warbler, Orchard Oriole, and Eastern Wood-Pewee. A couple locals were a Field Sparrow, Blue Jay, and heard an Inca Dove, which is tough to get in the park. At least a half-dozen Orange-striped Threadtail damselflies, some were ovipositing (ph.).

~ ~ ~ August summary ~ ~ ~

It was mostly hot and humid, but bone dry for precip save a 2.5-3" event Aug. 11-12. We are in drought stage D3 now, and were D1 in July. The river is not flowing in many places, bugs are few, plants are stressed, things are rough all over out there. Temps were mostly about 5dF above average, upper 90's for highs instead of average of lower 90's.

Butterflies were weak like the flowers, with a measly 40 species seen over the month. Lowest August species diversity in the 15 years I have been keeping track here. Had I gotten to Lost Maples early in the month I may have added a couple that flamed out by late in month. In general there were no true raries, but a Rawson's Metalmark or two at Lost Maples the 26th were great. Many formerly common species were MIA. Finally got a Clouded Skipper for the year on the 31st.

The best lep (lepidoptera: butterflies and moths) of the month was a moth, a Sphinx moth on the 30th, a group which I am fairly fond of. It appears it was a Lassaux's Sphinx (Erinnyis lassauxii), will correct if the photos don't prove it, but my initial round of online research indicates that is the beast in question.

The ode show of July faded away to about nothing fast. About 25 species was it. Several Red-tailed Pennants are around, but likely due to drought, many things are not. Good numbers of migrant Red, and Black, Saddlebags, Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, and some Green Darner are all from somewhere else. Some Orange-striped Threadtail still at Utopia Park, and a Comanche Skimmer there is a rare bug in the park.

Birds were fair, nothing special, all but two were the expected most likely 82 species. Likely the weakest month of the year here. Lots of the local breeders are done and gone by the end of the month. The two best birds were merely brush-country denizens that move north into the adjacent hills as part of their post-breeding wandering: a Lesser Nighthawk on the 11th, and a Verdin on the 24th. The typical August arriving migrants like Rufous and Ruby-throated Hummers, Least and a Willow Flycatcher, Upland Sandpiper and Dickcissel all showed up as expected. Last ad.ma. Painted Bunting was the 14th, a bit late, most were already gone a week earlier.

~ ~ ~ end of August summary ~ ~ ~

Yellow Warbler
Here is a fall male Yellow Warbler. The streaks on the
underparts are flaming scarlet red spring to summer.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 31 ~ Only 73dF for a low. No morning low clouds means a fast start to the heat. Lots of Red Saddlebags still, several dozen just in yard, and they are everywhere you look. Snout (butterfly) are also numerous, I saw a hundred in the yard yesterday, today going to town and back several hundred. A few more hummers today, after a week of very very few. Ruby-throats are showing up. I saw 5 ad.ma. at once, haven't seen an ad.ma. Black-chin in a week now. Still a few imm. Black-chins around, but Rubies are the more numerous hummer here now. They should build for a couple weeks from now until the first good front of fall in mid-September.

First couple hours had a Yellow Warbler, Gnatcatcher, and a couple Dickcissel go through southbound. Summer Tanager did some quiet singing. Roadrunner was around the house. There is a break in the sear progged for next week, with low-end rain chances and easterly winds for 5 days or so starting Saturday with easterlies, and Monday with maybe rain chances. Then some are looking bullish on real rain the next weekend. All this could mean some fall migrant birds might get knocked down, said the eternal optimist birder.

Town run had about nothing of interest in birds. Inca Dove and best, 3 Chicken Fajita Tacos, both at Rosie's Taco trailer. Don't know what kind of chickens they were. But they were good ones. The park had 3 Yellow Warbler and one greenie imm. Painted Bunting, Green Heron still there, a Common Grackle might be one of the family that nested. Best were a couple butterflies, a Southern Broken-Dash and finally my FOY Clouded skipper. In dragons, a couple Red-tailed Pennant, Wandering Glider, both common Saddlebags, Green Darner, Blue Dashers, Black, Swift, and Checkered Setwing, and one Orange-striped Threadtail.

The pond is drying up fast. Good thing they dredged it last time it was dry. Several feet of mud on the shores visible now, water lillies laying on it. The park was devoid of the usual Labor Day crowd of campers due to the lack of water and it being stagnant now. Quiet for a holiday weekend, quite nice to me. A couple other butterflies were a Common Checkered-Skipper at the Sabinal Cyn. Museum as well as a Mournful Duskywing. Four new-for-the-month species on last day of month is awesomeness. No Hackberry Emperors all year though, what the heck is going on?

Little Creek Larry said he had Blue-winged Teal on Little Creek on Wed. the 29th. He also said he has some small white egrets (not Great) there, which means either Snowy or white (imm.) Little Blue Heron. They are very similar in general appearance.

Aug. 30 ~ Very roughly, about 71.5396821 dF for a low this a.m., just a few low stratus for a few hours. Hit 80 by 10 a.m., 90 around noon. In morn, an Orchard Oriole went by, that was it. About 9 a.m. saw a FOS Broad-winged Hawk just clearing trees that probably roosted in the draw pecans. It was coming up out of them, circled low right over the mesquites across from the gate, gaining a bit of altitude and drifted north low. Later a couple Red-shouldered were screaming southward a half-mile. Saw the imm. fem. Coooper's out there too, I wish it would depart the fledging territory already. One greenie imm. Painted Bunny. They are about gone now too.

A Texas Powdered-Skipper was a new butterfly for the month. A Gulf Fritillary was on the Red Turk's Cap, the patch has about 40 flowers now. Half-dozen Queens on the Blue Mist Eupatorium (gregii). Least Flycatcher and Yellow Warbler around yard in afternoon. At dusk I ran to crossing for a few minutes, saw a couple Yellow Warbler ont the way. At twilight, when barely any stars visible yet, I heard four Upland Sandpiper go over southbound in short order. Those spent the day in pastures just upvalley a bit as they were still quite low. They will be in Mexico well before sunrise. Had a Sphinx moth come into a light which I got a grabdocushot of that hopefully we can make an ID out of. Medium sized 4" spread wingspan, all dark camo brown, a type I have never seen before. A quick look at resources and photo on Friday suggests it was Lassaux's Sphinx Moth (Erinnyis lassauxii), which might be a UvCo first record and a new 'furthest west' location for Texas.

Aug. 29 ~ About 73-96dF spread again, barely any of the low stratus, lots of Red Saddlebags Dragonflies. Had an Empidonax briefly that I would have liked to study, since it was not a Least. One Gnatcatcher went by, not much for migrant motion. The imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk is terrorizing the place. Saw the Zone-tailed Hawk go over early. Had a Least Flycatcher after noon, it was not the Empi I saw and heard earlier.

The Bell's Vireo is still singing, I just love that twangy rubberband with a mouth full of marbles song. Especially in the yard. In the western part of their range, from here to California, Mesquite Vireo would have been a good name for them. That is where and what they are.

Aug. 28 ~ A 73-96dF spread, low clouds (gulf stratus) got here and kept sun at bay a few hours. Was just a few of the same things. A Gnatcatcher, a Yellow Warbler, an imm. Indigo Bunny, and the half blue ad. male which is now a third blue maybe. Heard a Least Flycatcher, Bell's and Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. Saw a couple male Black and a Giant Swallowtail, a Lyside Sulphur, Celia's roadside-skipper, Vesta Crescent, and some Snouts.

For the last week there have been lots of dragonflies, mostly Red Saddlebags. Some Black Saddlebags with them, and lower numbers of Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, a few Green Darner. About 10 p.m. I saw a great big close green meteor out front. Having missed the Perseids due to the rain event, it was nice to see a good one. I guaranty you could not find anyone in the area that would have rather gotten up in the middle of the night to see a meteor shower than slept and gotten 3" of rain that weekend.

Aug. 27 ~ Only 74dF for a low, a bit balmy. Gnatcatcher and Orchard Oriole went through yard southbound early, the Bell's and Yellow-throated Vireo are still singing. Vermilion calling only, same for Chat, no song. An imm. Indigo Bunting was at the millet tube, Canyon Towhee was around. One Least Flycatcher out by gate. The ripe Persimmons and the angle of the sun tells me Baltimore Oriole should be showing up soon. One Yellow Warbler around most of the day. Heard a Dickcissel in the Mulberry. White-eyed Vireo and the Yellow-throated Warbler still out there. So a sprinkling of the usual expected suspects. A nice selection of birds to be stuck with.

Aug. 26 ~ Got up earlyish and went to Lost Maples to get an August trip in. Been too busy lately. Here getting ready, there is no dawn chorus left, even the Vermilion Flyc. has quit, the Chat called a couple times, mostly just Carolina Wrens, so more a racket than a chorus. In town on the way there was an Imperial Moth at the gas station. The 4" yellow and pinkish rust beast, one of our silk moths. Over 30 Cave Swallow were sunning on the powerline just north of the gas station at first sun. Nearing Vanderpool there was a DOR (dead on road) Gray Fox.

At Lost Maples, I can't believe how fast it changes how much. It has cleared out of lots in the way of the neotropical migratory breeders. The feeding station at the trailhead parking lot is not being stocked anymore this season apparently, so it has no birds. On the way in I heard an Olive Sparrow along the road but did not see or hear any on the trail. No White-tipped Dove either. Heard a couple Scrub-Jay, a few Canyon Wren, several Hutton's Vireo, only one Red-eyed, and two Yellow-throated Vireo. A few Gnatcatcher still there, couple Louisiana Waterthrush heard, a few Summer Tanager, a hatch-year (imm.) Green Kingfisher. Heard about four Black-capped Vireo, glimpsed two of them. Late in season, and in drought, they move into canyon bottoms more, especially higher up the canyons. One is working around the main big pond and not hard to see now.

Not seen or heard were Acadian Flycatcher or Eastern Wood-Pewee, and as expected at this late date no Golden-cheeked Warbler or Black-and-white Warbler, no Indigo or Painted Bunting, or Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-throated Warblers are gone too. Heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, did not see one, heard Red-shouldered Hawk, saw the Fuertes Red-tail and 2 Common Raven. One Yellow Warbler was it for migrants. There were no vagrants or raries, megas or minors. But it was as always a great walk. About four miles and four and a half hours. Back to car about 1 p.m. and it was just under 90dF still up there.

What is considered the main canyon, the Sabinal River, which is where the 'Maples Trail' is, is dry now from above the day use area, per the main man there. No water up that canyon now. Whereas, as always, Can Creek to the ponds and beyond has water. Most of it anyway, there are a few short dry runs from parking lot up to the high point spring a mile behind the ponds. Still more big old trees falling, it has not stopped since the drought started 10 years ago. It is much thinner of woodland and canopy that it was a decade ago. There is nowhere you can stand and not look around and see some to many recently dead trees. The habitat is changing.

There are some flowers since the rain a couple weeks ago, and the Frostweed looks like it will start blooming soon, doubt it would have bloomed without that rain. Buttonbush is mostly done, still a few blooms, lots of Snapdragon Vine flowers, like spring for them again, the Lindheimer Senna though short, is blooming well too. Lots of nice Cedar Sage patches, lots of Broomweed, a few Texas Milkweed far up trail. There are some very small grapes but not a lot, no cherry crop, a few Persimmons, and one shrub with small fruit I didn't know (ph.). The White Heliotrope was thick along the paths higher up canyon, saw one good Clammy-weed open, and a nice patch of Purple Milkwort was outstanding (ph.). A little bit of the Boneset Eupatorium was open.

In odes, dragons were weak compared to a month ago, as the situation is around town as well. The July wave is over, waiting for a new one. One female Flame Skimmer was maybe the best, otherwise it just a few of the very most common types. In damsels there were only a few, I saw single Kiowa and Dusky Dancer, a couple Springwater Dancer. Neat was one of the Red-spotted Ant-mimic spiders, which mimic a velvet ant, running around fast and high off the ground just like one, red abdomen, black in front. They are just about too fast to photo. Also saw one of the presumed Dolomedes sps. fishing spiders at the high water spring, and one big Pepsis Wasp.

Butterflies were kinda slow too. On the way up the trail it was overcast and there were about none, same as odes, until 11:00 or so when the sun came out. Most common butterfly was Two-tailed Swallowtail, we saw probably 8 of them. More than Sleepy Orange. No Spicebush flying now though, they are over. One Arizona Sister, a couple Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, Celia's and Bronzed Roadside-Skipper, and a couple Metalmarks, one of which (if not both) appear to be Rawson's (ph.).

I heard a small snake slither away in the leaf litter, but could not locate it. Saw one hatch-year Anole, and a nice Texas Spiny Lizard. A big (over 12") Softshell Turtle was in the upper pond. There are two, foot-long Snappers in there too but we didn't see them. I have kept and handled fair numbers of both and would rather handle the Snapper, and let you do the the crazy mean pissed-off Softshell. A 4-incher will gladly put a big hurt on you.

Here at the hovel late in day I was over in the cottage feeding fish and the Yellow-throated Warbler was right out the window I was next to. The Lost Maples birds are gone but our breeder is still here. Shortly before last sun the big imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk must have been hiding up inside the crown of the big male Mulberry. A White-winged Dove flew in and as it was descending and slowed down, the Coop shot out and plucked it out of the sky, looked like it was snowing, dove feathers all over the patio.

Aug. 25 ~ About 72dF for a low, a little bit of low clouds for a few hours before the daily broil begins. Over the first couple hours of morning there were Yellow Warbler, Orchard Oriole, Gnatcatcher, Least Flycatcher, and Dickcissel. Same as it ever was these weeks lately. One juv. Eastern Wood-Pewee was new. One greenie imm. Painted Bunny. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, and heard the Bell's Vireo still singing over in corral. No ad.ma. Black-chinned Hummer, a couple ad.ma. Ruby-throated, a few to several imms. of both.

Very cool was seeing two Chats over by the Red Harvester ant trail that one was dining at the other day. One went down and grabbed a bunch of 'em again! One at a time, of course. Antbirds! An hour later I saw it or another back at it popping more like candy. I can not recall ever seeing anything eat these here, and have wondered why not. Except I have been bit and they pack a Texas-sized punch. It was bare-eyed so could not age or sex the chats to see which individuals they were and if the second one was the same as the first one, or two are doing it now. Very neat behavior to see. It sits on a stick a few feet long a few inches off the ground next to the ant trail. Selects its next snack, tenderizes it a wee bit, down the hatch, and back to watching for the right one to go by again. I am unable at this point to report on what criteria is used for ant selection.

Yellow Warbler
This is a female Yellow Warbler at our bird bath.
Much nicer not shooting through an old rusty window screen.
The bright lines on breast and throat are reflection from
the ripples it just made bobbing down into the water.

~ ~ ~ prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 24 ~ The 71dF felt nice at dawn. the ad.fem. Yellow Warbler is still here (day 5), it landed 2' from me at one point. Another went through yard southbound. Canyon Towhee and Roadrunner out there too. Might have gotten a shot of a female Yellow Warbler at the bath with a male Summer Tanager at the same time. Couple Orchard Orio went through too in a.m., same imm. ma. Dickcissel on day 4 on the patio millet spread. Bell's Vireo still singing out there.

The weekly town run to make sure post office and general store are still there. Right as I hit town a Zone-tailed Hawk soared low over Main St. No swifts or swallows, and the butterfly garden at the library got its annual over-butchering. No butterflies there now. The park had Great Blue and Green Heron, and a few Yellow Warbler. A Comanche Skimmer was nice, a very scarcely seen dragon there.

The bird of the day was at the mesquite patch at the north end of town at the curve, a Verdin. Probably my earliest fall record locally. As with Pyrrhuloxia I can only guess but they move into the area after nesting, from somewhere else, either from the west, or south of us. Both are also cases where the maps show them as resident within their range (as Canyon Towhee), but there are lots of local movements. Verdin and Pyrrhuloxia do not nest here, and are not present spring to sometime in fall after breeding.

On the way back right at the 360 crossing a Green Kingfisher flew over the bridge less than 10' in front of the truck, at bumper height, again. In case you are ever are behind me thinking I am going slow there. It is so dangerous, there should be a greenking crossing warning sign there. I have just the pic for it.

Aug. 23 ~ A nice 70dF low was great. Gnatcat in the morn, the ad.fem. Yellow Warbler is now on day 4 here, the Dickcissel on day 3. One greenie imm. Painted Bunting. No ad.ma. Black-chin Hummer, only ad.ma. was Ruby-throated. Very few hummers, the Black-chin blowout has occurred. Heard and glimpsed an Empi around that looked and sounded more like a Dusky than a Least, but never got good enough looks at it. The Canyon Towhee was back out there today after missing the last couple days after it first showed up. Must have been about 4 Gnatcatchers through the yard over the day, and at least as many Orchard Oriole. Zone-tailed Hawk went over high about high noon. Then at last light, the last 45 min. or so, another Gnatcat, 2 more Orchard Orio, and 3 Dickcissel together at once on a juniper just over the north fence. Two flew up the draw.

Aug. 22 ~ About 71dF for a low, briefly, upper 90's in the sun in afternoon to early evening. Outstanding in the morning was a brief look at (and a listen to) a Black-capped Vireo right over the shed low in a hackberry. I heard the 'ruby-crowned kinglet-ish' dry fast did-it-it call at first. A slope ends at the back yard and the understory below the big live-oaks is covered in Mountain Laurel, Agarita, and Persimmon. Three key Black-cap bushes. They nest less than a mile from here, but virtually never occur in the yard. I had one crummy look once before.

Also had Bell's, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated vireos in yard today. A Ringed Kingfisher flew over calling early, followed by an Upland Sandpiper doing the same, except going south instead of north. A couple Orchard Orio went by. The female Yellow Warbler is on day 3, the imm. ma. Dickcissel is still here too, day 2, and the half-brown ad.ma Indigo Bunting is about day 8 or 10 here. Inca Dove was out there at last sun. Saw an Empi about 6 p.m. but it got away, it was not a Least.

Aug. 21. ~ A 73dF was a little better this morning. A few Orchard Orio went through early, more later. The Chat was on the ground, hunting and eating Red Harvester Ants! So that is it! They are antbirds! The bird gurus just changed the taxonomy on them, made up a new family just for it. Which seems to have been the result of a contest for stupidest most confusing possible name for a new family. It was working a trail of these big Texas-sized Red Harvesters leaving the patio with white millet. It repeatedly grabbed one, took it to a low stick on the stick pile, tenderized it a bit, and ate them, maybe 5 or 6 over 3 minutes. I got a distant docu shot or two.

Yellow Warbler and Bell's Vireo are likely the same ones as yesterday. Mid-day the Chat took a long bath. Was 96dF at peak heat in cool shade, over a hun in the sun. Kathy saw the Roadrunner, I saw one greenie imm. Painted Bunny. About 6 p.m. there was the Inca Dove and an imm. male Dickcissel eating seed on the patio. Way way less hummers around, did see an ad.ma. Black-chinned still here. At least a couple ad.ma. Ruby-throated, a few imms. and a couple dozen maybe barely tops imm. Black-chinned here. Amazing was hearing a Barn Owl about 11: p.m., the first in a couple months. Maybe a fall migrant?

Aug. 20 ~ Only went up 20dF over the day. Problem was it started at a low of 76dF. Early morn a Gnatcatcher, a few Orchard Orios, and a calling Great Crested Flycacher. The half basic (winter) plumaged ad.ma. Indigo Bunting has acquired a mostly brown crown and back over a week. Wonder if the half-dozen Bluebirds going over the last few morns are the local yard breeder pair with some of the young of the year? Few more Orchard Orio mid-day, and in afternoon a male Yellow Warbler in the pecans. Kathy heard a Bell's Vireo. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing in big pecan and around yard. Way less hummers, has been a major blowout of Black-chins.

Seeing the little sunfish I caught yesterday a bit calmed down, I'd say at least 2 and maybe all 4 are Red-breasted, Lepomis auritus, which become quite the beauty when they grow up. They are only 2.5-3" now, but 2 show a little color. They move to chase the shiners and it is like a tank trying to catch a sports car. One seems mean as heck already. If you live around Rio Grande Perch (Texas Cichlid) I suppose you have to be.

Aug. 19 ~ About 71dF for a low. Nothing singing at 6:35 a.m., hummers aren't even showing up until almost 7. Over the next half hour heard Cardinal and Carolina Wren, but no Vermilion Flycatcher or Chat. Yellow-throated Warbler here has not sung in two weeks now, seems finished for the season. Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo both sang a bit after 7. Summer Tanager called but no song. Heard a couple Orchard Oriole. Great was a Canyon Towhee, the first here since the yard wintering male left in spring, and on the heels of having one last week over near the golf course, a half-mile across river from here. Will see if it sticks, or is a transient. Could be the one that wintered (and lost mate to accipiter late in winter) returning. Saw the Inca Dove again on patio. Juv. Indigo. Did a quick park check before noon and people. There was a greenie Painted Bunting in the woods, and a Great Crested Flycatcher on other side of river working willows. In odes saw Red-tailed Pennants and Orange-striped Threadtails. I caught four small 2.5-3" sunfish which are tanked here now. Can't ID yet. Wanted Bantams, these are not those. Man those little suckers are fast and smart. I know it is not that I am an old slow dummy.

Aug. 18 ~ A 70dF low felt great, Seco Creek station at WU showed 68, Kerrville 72 (a heat island from all the pavement). In the a.m. there were a few Orchard Orios and a Gnatcatcher that went through southbound. Heard a Bell's Vireo. It got hot though, about 95dF in the shade, hotter in sun. I did an hour of yard stuff around noon and surely lost a quart. Saw one female Black Swallowtail on the Tubetongue blooming from the rain last week. Another was probably also a Black but a bit off so will have to study the pix. As bird books, butterfly books often show one average individual, when often there is much tremendous individual variation. The internet is great for being able to check series of photos of species far beyond anything almost anyone (normal) would have. Flushed the Roadrunner just off the front porch, only thing there is the hummer feeders, fortunately all up real high. Bad for viewing lighting on the birds, but good for their safety. Still one ad.ma. Black-chinned here. Kathy saw the Inca Dove again. Way less hummers today. Must have been a big blowout yesterday.

House Finch
Here is another little illustrated plumage you may see now.
This is a young of the year male House Finch maybe about
90 days old or so and just beginning to acquire its first
red feathers which will soon connect across the breast.
So they look like a female with some pale red at first.
By fall and into winter it is red like an adult male,
but a much paler shade of red than adults.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 17 ~ A 71dF low felt great. Was sunny at sunup, and an hour later the low clouds got here from the Gulf to keep sol at bay a bit. This is a common phenom here, the question is whether or not the clouds make it this far inland (they usually do), and if they get here before dawn, or after. Singing a bit in morning were Chat, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, Cardinal and Carolina Wren. That was it. And Collared-Dove, but one can hardly call that a song, as much as moaning in pain. That's what it makes me do.

In the early a.m. had a few Orchard Orio go through yard, and a Gnatcatcher. Still at least one ad.ma. Black-chinned Hummer here, ad.ma. Ruby-throat here too. Town run fer stuff. A Zone-tailed Hawk was at Waresville Rd. 363 and Hwy 187 on the way to town. No Chimney Swift or Scissor-tails, Martins long gone now. The library garden was full of vireos though. Just standing there a few moments I had singing Bell's and White-eyed, plus transient Red-eyed and Yellow-throated in the big pecan. Flowers are low now, and few butterflies. At the park there was a Ceranus Blue puddling at river's edge. There was a Louisiana Waterthrush up by the former island in the mud around it, a couple Green Heron, heard a Yellow Warbler and a Great Crested Flycatcher called from across the river. They usually whistle back pretty well if you can do a good loud forceful wheeeet. This one sure did. They don't respond to sissy whistles though.

Still plotting on those Mexican Tetras there. A cast net might be the way without a second person on the other end of the seine. The one kind of hand net I don't have. They were plankton feeding. Having over 50 years experience of keeping and feeding fish literally and no exaggeration, of every 'ivorous' flavor they make, this was plankton feeding. From a big tetra. It was awesome. Which means a very high micro-organism count in the water. I should throw some on a slide under the microscope. Probably scare ya. Which since no flow and very warm makes sense. Frankly a bit dicey for swimming, I suspect lots of 75dF and some 80dF in sunny open area surface waters. Dicey for the locals... though its fine for the tourists.  :P   Pro tip: most locals stop swimming in it when water quits going over the spillway.

Little Creek Larry said the water was 2 FEET below the spillway overflow before the rain, and it got up to 20" below or so now. Nothing is running above ground below the spillway. There were still a pair of Orange-striped Threadtail damselflies flying in tandem at the park. Lots of Saddlebags dragonflies today, like hundreds, mostly Red and many Black too, also some Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, Green Darner. One Red-tailed Pennant at park. Add-on: forgot to mention, lots of Mockers moving today, everywhere.

Aug. 16 ~ Low 70's dF and low clouds, the standard mix in the morning here. Heard Orchard Orioles and a Least Flycatcher. The yardish territorial Yellow-throated Vireo is still singing (= nesting), it had a good bout of countersinging with another going down the river habitat corridor for 5 minutes. Saw a third different adult male Indigo Bunting today, about half way into basic plumage with mostly brown underparts. So there is one ad. in breeding, one in winter, and this one is almost halfway between. Saw a couple greenie imm. Painted, but no adult male, again, as yesterday, 14th was last so far. Heard an Upland Sandpiper at dusk, which must have spent the day on a nearby pasture. A Celia's Roadside-Skipper was on the Lantana by the front porch. A Giant Swallowtail bounded by.

Aug. 15 ~ 72dF and low clouds in the morning, keeps the heat at bay for a bit. Male Orchard Oriole in Mesquites by gate. I did a park check early, to little avail. Heard Green and saw Ringed Kingfisher. Heard Louisiana Waterthrush and Common Grackle. Squirrels were alarming as when the Barred Owl on the prowl, but I didn't see it. Water is still over a foot and a half below the spillway. Sometimes a few days after a big rain, it finally percolates down and then the water comes up magically, seemingly out of nowhere. The Cenizo is starting to bloom again in response to the weekend rain. They are about as fast to respond as Rain Lily, which are popping in the yard. Snow-on-the-Mountain is getting going here and there, some nice ones, but not an abundant year for them around here.

Saw ad.ma. alternate and ad. ma. basic (summer and winter plumage) Indigo Bunting, plus a juvenile (ph.). Also saw ad. ma., ad. fem., and juv. Blue Grosbeak. Later afternoon an Inca Dove was on the patio, first I have seen here in months. We had a flock that got up to 8 but was taken one at a time over a winter (before last) by Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks. Saw an ad.ma. Black-chinned Hummer still here today. Only one though. Did not hear a Rufous.

Nothing through the yard in the way of tansients during my hourly checks until about 4 p.m. I was sitting on a chair on porch and saw something flycatch from the low bare dead branches of the furthest yard pecan, about 125' away. Eastern Phoebe and all ages and sexes of Vermillion Flycatcher use the same perches some of every day. But it didn't look right for either. I was thinking about going inside, getting binocs and walking out there to check it when it flew directly at the porch and landed less than 15' away in the closest lowest bare branches of the big pecan, about 8' off the ground. Bam! FOS Willow Flycatcher. Had great close views and saved me the walk out there.

Aug. 14 ~ Low of 72dF, some clouds, humid, but no more rain. Only got up to about 90dF, so very bearable for mid-August. But here comes the sub-tropical high back. Kathy saw the male Blue Grosbeak out there again, still, but it is not singing any more. I heard a Yellow Warbler zzeet and an Orchard Oriole. Saw the male Indigo Bunting on the patio again, presumedly the one that has been around. Whatabird. Late in day there was a winter male Indigo, and an ad. male Painted. Besides the male, saw a female Blue Grosbeak, and an imm. Indigo. Only a few greenies (juv. Painted) left. Kathy saw the Roadrunner out there. Still ad.ma. Black-chinned Hummer here. One Rufous Hummer here in morning only. Saw a big Eyed Elaterid (click beetle) buzzing around out front.

Aug. 13 ~ Still overcast, but no more rain it seems, low of 72dF. Looks like 3.15" or so for a two day event total. It will make for a fall bloom, and the growing pecans needed it as badly. Lost Maples got about 2.5" per my call to HQ. Heard Yellow Warbler and Orchard Oriole go through yard southbound early in morning. Saw a juv. Blue Grosbeak on the patio, Kathy thought she saw a male fly off. The juv. fem. Cooper's Hawk was out there eyeing doves methinks. Heard the Ringed Kingfisher at dusk flying down the river.

Aug. 12 ~ About 72dF for a low, and only a tenth or .15 of precip overnight, some light showers in a.m., nearly a half-inch from overnight and morning around noonish. Topped out about 82dF for the second day in a row, what a break! There was a termite hatch with lots of stuff flycatching on the road and fence right out front. My FOS seen and heard Least Flycatcher was out there calling. After lunch I went over to the golf course again to look for grasspipers to no avail. Just one Canyon Towhee was it for an item of interest. On the way though, right out the gate along the corral on 360 there were at least 8 greenie imm. Painted Buntings in the weedy seedy. One male Yellow Warbler, 4-5 Orchard Oriole, and two more Least Flycatcher. Another Least was at the golf course, for a total of four today. When it rains, it pours, birds.

After a early evening smaller cell a good cell hit about 10 p.m. with almost .75" which put us up to 35mm for the day total, about 1 and three-eighths inches for the day. And so about 3 and an eighth inches for the event since Saturday. But which also mostly wiped out our chances of seeing the Persius meteor shower this weekend. I saw a NOAA report of 10-11 inches of rain in NW Uvalde Co., 30 miles or so west of us, between Chalk Bluff and Camp Wood, there were flood warnings on the Nueces. Cleaned it out real good I'm sure.

Aug. 11 ~ Rained a bit overnight, woke up to about 69dF and 1.25" of precip showing. Another half-inch fell by noon so 1.75" so far. Supposed to get more still this afternoon to evening and overnight. That sucking sound is the ground getting water. It appears as though was little to no runoff, a good slow soaker, just what we needed, badly. Rain, and a break from heat, is quite a treat. We only barely broke 80dF for a high today!

Yellow-throated Vireo singing in pecans for an hour early. A Gnatcatcher went through soutbound early. I saw my first ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the fall, at least one ad.ma. Black-chinned is still here. Saw a different from the earlier one imm. ma. Ruby-throat, and the Rufous I am seeing is the imm. ma. of the last couple days. Saw an ad.ma. Painted Bunting on the patio noonish. Kathy saw what may have been an Empidonax out the kitchen window, it is about that time. A group of 5 Orchard Oriole went by.

Noonish I heard a suspicious chip, looked over at the wet muddy spots in the corral and there was a Louisiana Waterthrush working them. Got an ID shot or two. Not the first one we have had right there doing the same thing. Just a little rain is all it takes, during the right window of opportunity. For me, one fun yard bird. Better look than we had a couple weeks ago (when heard only) for 4 miles of hiking at Lost Maples. Watched it 5 minutes working the water in the corral for a couple hundred feet, just over the other side of the fence.

Went over to the golf course after lunch figuring no one did a round on the wet, was hoping for grasspipers. No luck. Lots of dragons out over the grass though, mostly Wandering and Spot-winged Gliders, Red, and Black, Saddlebags, and a few Green Darner. At a pond saw (ph.) one Black Setwing, one was at the park yesterday too. A Bell's Vireo was still singing along Waresville Rd. On 360 here by the crossing within a quarter mile of it, I had three FOS Yellow Warblers, all males, and a Red-eyed Vireo. Went to the park for a quick check, nothing there. Did see one Scissor-tail along 187.

Had a quick look at what looked to be a Least Flycatcher out front but lost it. Saw the juv. fem. Cooper's Hawk make a dive on one of the Eastern Cottontails in the yard. That would have been interesting. Just before 6 p.m. saw my fourth Yellow Warbler of the day in the yard, when it rains it pours, migrant birds. About 7 p.m. I had another group, this of 4, Orchard Oriole move by southbound, one was a male. At least ten went through that I saw today. Then a FOS Upland Sandpiper flew by calling, so low it had to be a local flush.

Then since I hadn't had enough action for the day, I was out in driveway at dusk as I like to do. At 8 p.m. 5 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew up the river corridor. Ten minutes later 3 Common Nighthawk flew down it. Another 10 minutes and a LESSER NIGHTHAWK flew by northbound, just over the treetops almost stalling a couple times as it grabbed things right past the gate. It is a great bird here anytime, though regular down in the brush country, it is rare here in the hills. Maybe westward they are more in the hills, but not here. We get them as a few spring overshoots, often in April, and before Commons arrive, and then late summer like this. Barking Frogs are noisy this evening.

Fuertes' Red-tailed Hawk
This is a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk of the fuertesi subspecies,
which is the type that breeds locally. They are very pale
below compared to many other types of Red-tails. Note how
it shows the dark patagium (inner leading edge of wing) of almost
all Red-tails. Also note the strong belly band like Eastern
types, which it loses as it matures becoming creamy white and
fairly unmarked below, save the odd streak here and there.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 10 ~ Low of 73, some outflow washed out just north of us at dark last night. Cleared late, now clouds from the south in the a.m. and supposed to get a rain event over the weekend. Saw one ad.ma. Black-chinned Hummer in the morning. About 5 Orchard Oriole went through the yard early, that's more like it. Saw the imm. fem. Rufous in the morning. Kathy saw an ad. ma. Painted Bunting. Only saw one pair of Barn Swallow in town. No Chimney Swift. Amazingly there are still at least two Common Grackle at the park, the ad. fem. and one juv. molting into first basic. They have always departed immediately upon fledging in the past. In June. With the drought, the (former) island area remains the best Common Grackle habitat around.

There are some Mexican Tetras there I might have to go in after... and below the spillway some Bantam Sunfish, a few of which are in good breeding color and pretty nice looking. Pale with a half dozen blackish vertical bars and red fins. So if you see a middle-aged, slightly overweight, balding dude down there with a bucket, seine and other nets... I keep forgetting to mention many of the cypresses below the spillway where no aboveground river have already turned color and are rusty. I noticed them starting to turn July 27 (!) actually, and am seeing more now where no surface water along river, spots of rust are showing. Some Boneset Eupatorium is just starting open in the understory of the woods.

No Scissor-tails around. Saw what looked like two Eastern Kingbird flying out of the park across the ball diamond. A dry outflow boundry passed from rain to the north. At 6 p.m. it was 94dF, 6:30 was 90, and by 7 p.m. it was 82dF, at 8 it was 78, raining at Lost Maples, and I felt a couple spits here. What a break, over 10dF below recent avg. at 7pm is a treat. It's the little things... Right after I posted the update was out on front porch at last light and a Chuck-wills-widow flew across the yard low. Saw the Red Bat, and the Barking Frogs were really going off after the spritzing we got, maybe a tenth or two.

Aug. 9 ~ About 70.5dF for a low, on the edge of coolish. Another front is sagging over north Texas, which may bring us some precip over the weekend, maybe some migrant birds too. Yellow-throated Warbler was a foot from the millet tube, almost went for it, scared by a House Finch. Roadrunner still hunting juvenile birds. Everything goes off in alarm mode when it shows now. Hope it didn't get any of the juv. Painted Buntings. Only a couple left here now. Did not see an adult again today. Nor a Blue Grosbeak. Kathy spotted a juv. Cooper's Hawk (female) at the bath late at last light, I got a few grabshots though my screen porthole. Only saw the imm. male Rufous Hummer today.

Aug. 8 ~ A balmy 73dF low. The Rufous Hummer I saw first thing was an imm. female without any dark feathers in throat, there are absolutely two different birds here. Yesterdays bird was an adult female. Then this afternoon I saw ANOTHER different Rufous Hummer, this appeared an imm. male with scattered dark gorget feathers in throat. That is three different Rufous for sure in the last 24 hours. Saw an imm. male Ruby-throated again. Did not see an ad.ma. Painted Bunting today. Kathy saw a male Blue Grosbeak though. The migratory breeders are fading fast. Have not seen an adult cowbird of either species in a week, only a few unattended juv. Brown-headed.

Aug. 7 ~ We had 69dF for a low, at WU Seco Creek showed 67, and at KRVL the heat island effect kept them up at 72dF. No migrant motion in morning still. The red-backed male Painted Bunting was on the millet tube, the only male I saw today. It has been here since before July 3 when photographed, so over a month! I did not see it in May or June, it was not one of the yardish breeders that was hitting the seed through nesting season. The pattern of green framing the red back with an intrusion of green at bottom center toward middle of back identifies it as the same individual. The two different with some yellow on underparts seem gone but were here a couple weeks. A couple greenies were around. Today I hear quite a bit and see a few times a Rufous Hummer which looks like an adult female with a well defined pyramid of gorget feathers. I am sure the one yesterday had no dark in throat, so there must be two here. A couple ad.ma. Black-chins still.

Aug. 6 ~ Only 72dF for a low. Saw a Nighthawk real low again first thing before sunup, but going away, not an ID look. Common until proven otherwise here. Thought sure I heard a Rufous Hummingbird outside early in the morning melee at the feeders. Orchard Oriole and Gnatcatcher went through. Watched hard all day for a male Painted Bunting, nuthin', then Kathy caught one at the bath at last sun. Couple or three greenies still. At one point today I thought sure I heard a Calliope Hummer, again, as I did yesterday once as well but didn't mention. Last hour of light sure enough, a Rufous Hummingbird came in. I did not see any dark feathers in throat, as in an imm. female. Now if I could just see that other delicate soft squeaky call I am hearing that sounds like a Calliope.

Lots of dragonflies out in the yard, a few dozen, and as many heading over southbound. Was the usual Wandering and Spot-winged Gliders, and Black, and Red, Saddlebags for the most part. A Ringed Kingfisher called from river the last half-hour of light. You would think they would run out of breath, clearly they can breathe fine when firing off two-minute long 50 cal. salvos. I don't see how it could be all just on one breath, they have to be inhaling and exhaling while calling. Or they can hold their breath way better than humans, and all that noise takes no effort whatsoever.

Aug. 5 ~ Got down to 69dF for a cool feel briefly first thing. Some clouds from the coast kept it a bit cooler for a while. Got up to about 86 just before 1 p.m. when a little rain cell hit and dropped it to just over 80 by 1:30. Another cell hit about 2: and by 2:30 there was a quarter inch total, and it was 75dF! Nice break from the burn! After the unpredicted rain occurred NOAA put a 20 percent chance in the forecast. That took a college degree? Any rancher on a tractor could have done better than that! Got back up to 87 at 5 p.m. peak heat, but which is a category cooler than what it has been averaging. Yer dang right I'm happy about it.

Early in the morning I had an imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, my first this fall. I was alerted by sound, it grinded out that deep hard guttaral mechanical grackle-like clicked 'djergk' very unlike anything I ever hear from a Black-chinned. I have not heard this noise in the last 70 days. It was as close as I could focus bare-eyed, looking at my red t-shirt, I guess that is what he was croaking about. Saw his red gorget feathers in throat coming in. In the afternoon I got an email from Judy Schaffer that she had a Rufous Hummingbird today! So we are done with 'just Black-chins' and now again have three species of hummers around the area. Later I thought I heard a Rufous here, and thought I heard a Calliope, but saw neither.

Heard a Red-eyed Vireo out front in the morning, and a Gnatcatcher. Yellow-throated Vireo is still singing, Chat barely so, White-winged, Mourning, and Ground-, Doves are all still singing. One ad.ma. Painted Bunting, a couple or few greenies. Roadrunner was at the bath in the morning. At last light I saw a Nighthawk fly over low, presumed Common, the default, but did not get an ID look. It had to climb to get over the big pecan, was just over Mesquite treetop level.

Aug. 4 ~ We had 70dF for a low, those 60's were nice while they lasted. Still no real migration motion, just the expected Gnatcatcher and Orchard Oriole. Did a dump run so stopped by park. Besides Green Heron and Kingfisher, there was a Gnatcatcher, and a Black-n-white Warbler. Lots of yearling Long-eared Sunfish, and people. One of the juv. Common Grackle was there, now molting into first basic, getting its first adult-like black feathers. Another of the same was at the Waresville pond on the golf course. A fresh set of fledling Red-winged Blackbird were there with ad. female, no males. Just a very few of the common dragonflies. A Zone-tailed Hawk was soaring around over town. I tried to get under it for shots but everytime I got lined up it moved another block. After a dozen attempts I gave up.

~ ~ ~ big bonus version of the weekly break ~ ~ ~

I am amazed at the variation in Painted Buntings, even in adult males. As they molt their body feathers there are a few versions it is possible to see besides the type with yellow shown a few weeks ago. We do not even get to see them in the heat of heavy molt for the most as they leave here before they get in the thick of that. We just get the front edge of it as it is starting right before they go, on some of them.

Painted Buntingxxxx
Adult male Painted bunting. When in body molt they can become completely pockmarked with pale spots as this bird is begining to show. When enough red feathers drop, the pale bases are exposed of the ones that remain. Their entire underparts can look like the breast on this bird.

Painted Bunting
When enough red feathers drop evenly, they can appear
fairly pinkish brickish red below, quite unlike the
bright saturated usual red. I didn't get the front of
this bird, but they can be entirely like the paler posterior
abdomen shown here. A paler muted pinkish brick red.

Painted Bunting
Here is another example with much pale pockmarking, this on lower underparts.
Several I have seen in later August or September have been very pale below,
and or very heavilly pockmarked throughout underparts with pale spots.
This is normal appearance due to molt, it is not diet or captivity, it is natural.
They are not discolored. You can see this on Vermilion Flycatcher and Cardinals,
which BTW get much worse as they molt, and since they don't leave, we see it
all the way through with them.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ long one this week with monthly summary and a Lost Maples walk ~ ~ ~

Aug. 3 ~ Another 66dF for a low, KRVL and Seco Creek a dF or two cooler. Makes for a wonderful morning on these hot summer days. Couple Orchard Oriole went through, heard a Gnatcat, saw the red-backed male Painted Bunting and three greenies. Heard a Hutton's Vireo out front mid-morning, which I did not have a few days ago when there were 4 sps. of vireo in the yard. Field Sparrow still around, so is a female Blue Grosbeak that I think is the nester. Heard the Bluebirds this morning, they have been gone since they got their last 3 out of the box.

Saw my FOY Snow-on-the-Mountain with some open flowers. It must be early August. Does not look a good year for it though. In town I saw no Purple Martin, no Chimney Swift, no Cave and only one Barn Swallow. Aerial insectivores are gone. Cicada Killer at the gas station. Little Creek Larry (LCL) said he drove to Sabinal and then the back road to Uvalde and saw no Scissor-tailed Flycatchers the whole way and back. That road is usually lined with them. Gone. No bugs to eat. In case you have not heard the term being used by those that study insects in some places, the new buzz word (for insects, get that?) for an apparent dearth of insects is bugpocalypse. Which will be followed by pocalypses of ecosystems, and then humanity. Maybe Monsanto (now Bayer) and Dow sold enough Glyphosate, chlorpyrfos, and neonicotinids to saturate with aerosol the entire atmosphere?

LCL also said a few days ago he had a Harris's Hawk out UvCo 355 (Lee St.) a mile or so east of town this week. I saw nothing at the park, the island is not one now, the river continues to drop, some muddy bank edge now exposed. Heard a Green Kingfisher. A Rounded Metalmark and a Eufala Skipper were it for butterflies at the library garden.

Aug. 2 ~ An amazing 63dF low here felt great. I saw KRVL had 61, and Seco Creek WU station 62dF. Incredible for earliest August. Surprised again by there not being any migrant motion on the northerly flow behind this first front, weak as it was. One Gnatcatcher. Maybe stuff up north is largely still breeding? Was hot, about 97dF or so in afternoon, in the cool shady. Saw two ad.ma. Painted Bunting today, one the red-backed bird. Found an odd molted wing feather out back, will have to work on it. Not from any of the common stuff we see all the time. Maybe a Chuck-w-w? I love a good puzzle. Whatever your field of nature study, it is the ultimate never-ending puzzle.

August 1 ~ A 66dF low is a great way to start August! I saw KRVL and the Seco Creek WU stations both reported 64dF! With dry northerly flow on it. Weewow. But mid-90's for a high. I did not see any passerine migrant movement in the morning, which was somewhat surprising. Three Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew upriver early, haven't been seeing any around lately. Saw the red-backed male Painted Bunting (and 2 greenies) which looks like the one photographed a few weeks ago. Same green frame on sides of a big red back patch. More molted and paler below though. Was out there without the camera though so no shots. Couple Orchard Oriole went through in the afternoon. At dark I saw my first two 'fall' firefly of the season. Haven't seen any since early in June.

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

It was a hot and dry month for the most part. We had 2.5" of rain the 4th to 9th, and then about .35 of an inch on the 31st. So just under 3" total. We remain in D1 level drought, but it seems worse than that biologically speaking. Very few flowers and butterflies, very few insects. Lots of young birds out though many species seemed to have small broods, especially insectivores, often only one or two young. Those using feeders and seed which were well fed had bigger broods. Many things seem to have quit early, likely due to the lack of rain = bugs.

Butterflies were weak. About 49 species, and overall very low numbers, almost nothing unusual whatsoever. No Viceroy still this year. Did see Southern Skipperling, a couple Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, False Duskywing, a Bronze Roadside-skipper (at Lost Maples), and a couple unknown Amblyscrites sps. there too, Celia's Roadside-Skpr here at the hovel. Saw a few Red-spotted Purple. Besides Fatal and Rounded, I had one Metalmark that was not, and surely Rawson's. Very few flowers with nectar. Buttonbush was the best thing going.

About 31 sps. of Odes with a couple good ones made up for the weak butterflies. If worked harder I am sure one would have seen 35+ sps. locally. This is almost by accident while birding and butterflying, not dedicated ode searching. The 4 usual July migrants started showing in small groups: Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, and Black, and Red, Saddlebags. The UvCo highlight was a Slaty Skimmer at Utopia Park (ph.) for my first local (upper Sabinal River drainage) record. It is perhaps the second UvCo record ever. It was there July 13-14. At the lower end, but not always around, a couple Red-tailed Pennant and a Carmine Skimmer were at Utopia Park.

Even rarer, at Lost Maples in BanCo there was an apparent Blue-faced Darner (Coryphaeschna adnexa) at the upper pond of the two main ones. Apparently will be a first for BanCo, if my poor photos show the critical features. A 'bridge' camera is not good for moving dragonflies. Also what appeared a Tawny Pennant was there which would too be new for BanCo. I have not had a chance to work on the pix I got yet, will correct these if ID in error.

It was about 90 sps. of birds for me locally this month, same as last month. The regular standard expected breeding assortment. I know of a few other sps. that were seen by others. And others no one saw. So there are a hundred plus sps. around. Oddly saw my first Dickcissel of the year this month, missed them this spring. Had a couple go through yard. July 3 saw an ad. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, probably the one seen in June. By the end of the month only a few ad.ma. Black-chinned Hummers are still here.

Painted Bunting peaked the third week of July, about the 16th to the 20th, when we had 7-8 ad.ma. daily in the yard. They bugged out early this year. Saw the first fall migrant Louisiana Waterthrush the 28th at Utopia Park, a Chuck-wills-widow was there the same day, a transient on the move, and my first ever seen in the park. A White-tailed Kite a few miles north of town in BanCo on the 31st was a great bird. Seeing Ringed Kingfisher at Lost Maples that same day was nice, my first one there, finally.

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~ ~

July 31 ~ A balmy overnight, just over 75dF before 7 a.m., but shortly light northerly winds arrived from the tail end of a front in the Mississippi valley. We caught the edge of a band of rain that was mostly westward, and got about .35 or so of precip over an hour and the temp dropped to 70dF! Holy cow, a cold front on the last day of July! That is normal right? Then we had nice northerlies. Only about 77dF at noon. Amazing. Only got up to upper 80's for a high. Wonderful for a day. I would not be surprised to see a wave of birds behind this tomorrow. Time for an Upland Sandpiper, Rufous Hummer, Least Flycatcher, and other early-bird first fall migrants.

The birds loved it and were making lots of noise, bathing on wet leaves, etc., they seemed thrilled about it as we were. No dust for a day or two. Heard a Red-eyed Vireo in the yard, another transient. Saw a red-backed male Painted Bunting on the feeder, will have to see from the grab shot I got if it was one of the ones here earlier this month. Two greenie Painted Bunting, male Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak was here. Orchard Orio went through about noonish, another later. Heard the Bell's Vireo over in the corral again, so with the Yellow-throated and White-eyed, four species of vireos here today.

I saw one of the immature female Cardinals with a yellowish beak, need to get a pic. As they change from the juvenile black beak to the adult red beak there can be a week or two when the beak is fairly horn pale, then yellow, then orangish, before finally getting red. These get called (and entered into ebird as) Pyrrhuloxias because on them, the yellow bill is a key feature. This is why you cannot make proper identifications based on one field mark. You have to use a suite of characters, unless you absolutely see a mark known to be definitive. Since a Card can have a yellow bill for one week of its life, the yellow bill of a Pyrr is NOT a definitive mark.

Also Pyrr has a dark bill as a juvenile which turns light. This is why you should always triple check everything anyway, all the time, everytime and make sure multiple marks all match correctly to make a proper ID. Never use one mark. Their bills are shaped completely differently (Pyrrhuloxia is named for its rounded bill). So an ID on shape and structure of bill alone will always be correct regardless of color. Structure don't tell no lies, color can fool you. Such as now when there are juv. fem. Cards out there with yellowish bills, and juv. Pyrrhuloxias with dark bills like juv. Cardinals. I know of no summer Pyrr records locally except in ebird. We get them fall to spring, mostly it is a winter bird here.

July 30 ~ Only about 73dF for a low, and about 91dF at noon. Another hot one, was about 97dF in the shade at peak heat. Saw a male Painted Bunting fly across the yard, but never saw it on the seed or at the feeders. Only one greenie at a time today, maybe two birds at most. Not hearing the Blue Grosbeak sing anymore but the Yellow-throated Vireo still is. A Bell's Vireo sang from over in the corral, so still trolling going on with them. One Gnatcat went through. Saw a Bordered Patch butterfly which have been scarce, it came into sprayed water. Roadrunner walked right by me 8' away on the patio while I was sitting on back porch. Kathy had something fly over in the twilight I suspect was a Chuck-w-w.

July 29 ~ Got up early to get at least one July visit to Lost Maples in. Been too busy to get away lately, sometimes you just have to make some time for a hike. No matter how hot it is. Calling it dawn chorus now is an exaggeration, here at the house anyway. Vermilion Flycatcher was the primary song early at first light, some Chat and Yellow-throated Vireo. Very little else, the thrill is gone. No Painted Bunting song sure makes it quiet out there. For about 90 days there are 3-4 singing at once, all the time, from late April. It is a major part of the soundtrack outside. Fini. Until next late April.

Some Cave Swallows were on the powerline across from the post office sunning first thing early as we headed north through town before 8. A great bird was a White-tailed Kite on the way up-valley, in BanCo, just north of the W. Sabinal Rd. turnoff, heading west. It flew right over the road in front of us. No Scissor-tails the whole way up the valley from here.

Got to Maples shortly after 8 when office opens and while getting out of car at HQ a calling Ringed Kingfisher flew up the canyon over Hwy. 187 and turned around at the big incline just north of park entrance. My first one there in over a hundred visits, though I know others have gotten lucky. Pretty small tight creeks for RingKings up there. We went straight to the trailhead parking lot to try to beat the heat up the canyon. Right when we got out of the car the RingKing flew over calling again, flying up the main (Sab. Riv.) canyon, over the day use area towards the Maples Trail.

Betweeen HQ and the parking lot, slowly cruising the road I heard a group of begging juv. Yellow-throated Warbler, and a couple Olive Sparrow. Some juvenile Rufous-crowned Sparrows were at the feeding station, with ads., and more were up the trail. It was soooooo quiet for birdsong going up the canyon compared to the prior few months it was amazing. A little bit of song here and there, but not much. Still a few Indigo Bunting singing, saw one greenie Painted, no adults, a handful of Red-eyed Vireo and White-eyed Vireo singing, 3 Hutton's, but not one Yellow-throated Vireo was heard. A Blue Grosbeak looked like it was still involved in nesting. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was the most numerous of the migratory passerine nesters there, a dozen or so total, one family group of just fledged young. One Black-and-white Warbler sang a bit, sounded like a first summer bird to me. I heard one begging warbler event far up a hillside that surely was Golden-cheeked, but I couldn't see them. HQ said someone had one or some yesterday (28th) still. Heard a couple Louisiana Waterthrush chips, but did not see one. Heard a Black-capped Vireo way up a hillside. No Acadian Flycatcher (early for that), Ash-throats gone (normal for that), heard a bunch of Canyon Wrens, saw one well on cliff at the main pond, hunting the underside of an overhang, while hanging upside down with the ease of it being rightside up. A few Eastern Wood-Pewee still, heard two White-tipped Dove. Did not see a Zone-tail, heard only a Scrub-Jay. The bird of the day that got away was likely a Least Flycatcher I only saw for a moment. Would have been a first of fall. Have had them in latest July locally.

The water is low, very low, flowers were pitiful, only a few butterflies. Some Buttonbush is still going, but past peak, a few Snapdragon Vine, some Cedar Sage, and a few Texas Milkweed far up the canyon. Three Spicebush and a Pipevine were the only Swallowtails, a few Sleepy Orange, one Dogface, a Snout or three, same for Gulf Fritillary, two Red-spotted Purple were nice, a few Queens. There were a few Roadside-Skippers, one Bronze, and a couple I am not sure about. Finally got some better pix though. One Northern Cloudywing. Did I mention how dry it is? Bone dry. The crossing between the two ponds is the dryest I have ever seen it, there is no water above the road, that last little spot where it ponds up is dry. I wonder what eats the Witch Hazel? Something uses it as a larval foodplant. I couldn't see anything on it where it was ravaged.

As can happen in later summer, dragonfly activity picks up. Drought reduces available water and concentrates them wherever it is. Lots of the rarities here occur in drought periods. The fun thing is that no matter if you watch birds, butterflies, or odes, vagrants happen. The more you know the common stuff, the more likely you are to detect them. Stray waifs are some spice of life in natural history study. Mostly odes were just a few of the regular things, one setwing was so covered in mites its lower half looked red. Damselflies seemed few, but I didn't work hard for them. A Red-tailed Pennant is always good there, as were a dozen plus Wandering Glider, and a few Spot-winged, since in BanCo. In general it is too cool for them on the way up the canyon, and you are too hot to stop for all of them on the way down.

The highlight was at the second pond, I am pretty sure was a Blue-faced Darner (Coryphaeschna adnexa) patrolling and everything there was messin' with it. These were only first found in Texas along the Rio Grande about 2004, and then scarcely from 2009 and after. The first ones found in Uvalde Co., were about Sept. to Nov. 2009 Ft. Inge. Kathy and I saw those that fall. but I have not heard of many north of the LRGV since then. I have thought I had them up here a couple times over 15 years but they always got away. I do not think there is a Bandera Co. record. So a pretty fancy beast of a bug.

I got one fuzzy shot of 50 that shows the blue face but have not had a chance to work and process the pix yet. Until these get overheated when they hide by hanging up in vegetation, the dang things do not land, or even hover in one place as many dragons do. They are constantly on the move, and they are fast. The other good dragon was probably a Tawny Pennant which do sit and let you take all the pics you want, no matter how long it takes you to get freakin' auto-focus to figure out what the subject is. Have I told you how I hate that lately? By time I got it to figure it out the bug moved to the shady side of the reed and I could not shoot the dorsal surface. But I think there are shots to get an ID from.

Heard a couple things slither away in the leaf litter that were likely Four-lined Skinks. They had that silky slithering skink sound to them. No herps seen though besides one Six-lined Racerunner. We got to the spring at high-water spot a mile past the ponds and took a shady sandwich and coffee break. Kathy seems to feed much of hers to the Mexican Tetras, creating a full blown fish boil. Again. There was a big exoskeleton (molted as they grow) from a spider of some sort which I photo'd and will send to my spider expert friend.

The animal interaction of the day was only positive for one of the members. I was watching some big yeller Texas sized Bumblebees on a Buttonbush. As one left a big Robberfly (Acilid) flew out and grabbed it, landing in adjacent tree foliage with it. The bee quit buzzing almost instantly, it was over. The Robberfly was much longer than the Bumble, with a thin abdomen, as in Promachus sps., very unlike the big fat fuzzy black and yellow bee mimic and bee-eating Mallophora sps. types. Got shots.

We were back down at about noonish, when 90dF or so, but hotter in sunny sections on the trail. About four hours and 4 miles. Saw an adult male Painted Bunting in the yard in the afternoon, the first one in four days. Only a couple greenies about the yard. At last light twice I saw a Chuck-w-w fly right over house low. Lots of bats out there still, a Red or two, a dozen Brazillian Freetail.

July 28 ~ Though KRVL and Seco Creek read upper 60's for a low I only saw 71dF here. Couple ea. Gnatcatcher and Orchard Orio went through yard southbound early. Heard the Pewee. Easing the pain of there being no ad. ma. Painted Bunting already, was a transient male Indigo Bunting on the patio eating millet. The local breeder male Blue Grosbeak landed very near it, blew my blue receptors out. Had to run to town briefly. Nothing at the library garden but a couple Queens (the butterfly), Little Yellow and a Fatal Metalmark. A line of 45 Porsches cruised through town. One Euro imported old racing model, maybe like 1960 Carrera was very nice. I forgot to mention a couple weeks ago I saw a group of a dozen Ferraris go down Main St. Either group could have probably bought the town?

The park was great fun though for just a few birds. Green Heron and Kingfisher, the latter of which was a juvenile (hatch-year bird). One juv. Painted Bunting up in the woods is a bird on the move. A first-of-fall migrant Louisiana Waterthrush is likely a fairly local breeder. Best was a Chuck-wills-widow I flushed up in the thick stuff in the woods. It landed in a willow, I lifted camera and it flew over into the dense stuff on the island and I lost it, just missed a shot. Dang I wish I could have spotted it on the ground before it flew. Harder to see than a Woodcock as the shape blends in to the leaf litter better. It is the first one I have flushed off the ground in the day in the park in 15 years. Heard them from the park at dusk and dawn, but never saw one on the ground in it. Red-tailed Pennant (dragonfly) was out over the pond.

BlueGrosbeak-IndigoBunting
Well Doc, this is how I blew my blue receptors out.
Blue Grosbeak in front, Indigo Bunting in rear, both males.
This does not begin to do justice to the instensity of blue.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 27 ~ I had to read the thermometer twice, figuring I must have died and gone to heaven, it was 64dF before 7 a.m.! KRVL also had 64, the WU Seco Creek station (which reads way too hot in the day) had a 62dF low! Might have been nearer 60 at Lost Maples! NOAA called for low to mid- 70's for lows, off by a category! In late July?

Early a Gnatcat went through, then a Pewee was out there, which could have been one hanging around. A Red-eyed Vireo was a passage transient though. No ad.ma. Painted Buntings. They usually are here to Aug. 7-10 or so, they bugged out way early, on the order of 10-14 days. Saw a female or juv. Blue Grosbeak with a white upper wingbar. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. I think a major lack of insects (presumedly due to drought) has shut lots of the usual late summer nesting activity down.

Town run and park check. Green and Great Blue Heron at the park. Heard a Great Crested Flycatcher across the spillway. Water is dropping fast, looks about 8" below the overflow. Still Orange-striped Threadtail flying, and saw a Carmine Skimmer. Orange Skipperling, Fatal Metalmark and Julia's Skipper at library. For the third week in a row I had no Chimney Swifts over town. It is eerily quiet. Another sign of no bugs. No Scissor-tails going there and back as well. While some might say they wouldn't miss bugs, if you took the people off the planet, it would do fine. Remove the bugs and it and you, would not survive as we know it. Pesky as many may seem at times, the numbers of those you don't see that are doing you good are astronomical in comparison to the pesky few you notice.

July 26 ~ Wow, a 68dF low, 10dF lower than yesterday morning! Felt great to cool off. Gnatcat early. Did not see an adult male Painted Bunting in the morning, but some greenies still here. They are blowing out early this year. Too hot and dry for them. Did see a Barking Frog early, they are one of those neat, easy-to-hear-but-hard-to-see beasts. For several days now there have been flowers on the Mesquites from that last rain a couple weeks ago. Forgot to mention last week all the Cenizo around was in bloom from the rain as well, it was beautiful, the famous 'purple sage' that is not a sage. The well-named Old Man's Beard is also blooming well now, that white fuzzy lookin' stuff on the fencelines and hedgerows. Late afternoon I had a male Orchard Oriole go through yard southbound which stopped in the pecan 10 feet away and gave me a good lookin' over, which I joyfully returned.

Watched my pair of wild caught and reared Cyprinella sps. minnows spawn today, a whole new genus and group for my watched-em-spawn in my aquaria list (over 100 species). These are supposed to be Blacktail Shiner (C. venustus) but differ from prior ones I had that were absolutely those. Have to pull the male and photo now that he is in spawning colors.

July 25 ~ A full solid 78dF for a low, warmer than yesterday's warmest-so-far-this-year low. Too high for a low if you ask me. Was a cooler (!?!) 95dF today, so a break from the searing heat of the last few days. A Gnatcatcher or two in the a.m., couple more late afternoon. Maybe the same Eastern Wood-Pewee around. Blue Grosbeak still here and singing (nesting) as seems Chat, but the Painted Bunting are bugging out fast. The main male that sings from the big pecan right off the front porch is gone. I only saw 2 adult males today, and a half-dozen or so immatures. A week ago there were 8 adult males and over a dozen juveniles on the seed. It happens fast. We already passed peak Painted Bunnies. Common Nighthawk at last sun.

July 24 ~ A low of 77dF is our warmest so far of the year, after yesterday's hottest day of the year so far. I saw 101dF on the front porch in late afternoon. Had to be 105+ in the sun. Besides a Gnatcatcher a couple Orchard Oriole went through yard early, you would think it is late July. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was calling up in the big pecan, then later an Ash-throated Flycatcher was there. Saw one of the ad. Yellow-throated Warblers at the bath. Couple more Gnatcats in the second half of the day. The Painted Buntings are buggin' out, obviouisly fewer birds around, especially adult males. No Chucks calling.

July 23 ~ Wow a 70dF low just before 7 a.m. felt great after yesterday. Today is progged to be peak heat of this round, they say. At around 5 p.m. I saw 102.5 dF on the cool shady front porch, so a few hotter in the sun, at least. I saw some local WU stations reporting 104-106dF, a 108 in Medina, etc. A couple stations in hot spots were over 110. It has been running 10-15dF above normal average daily highs (which is e.g., 93dF at KHDO Hondo). Which of course serves to dehydrate and exacerbate the drought issues. Japan broke its all time high temp record with 106dF today. Just a short while back I saw it was an unprecedented 44dF AT THE NORTH POLE! That won't keep an ice cap. Where will Santa go?

Gnatcatcher through yard southbound early morn. Saw one of the juv. Yellow-throated Warblers, now with some yellow on throat, at about 2-3 weeks out of the nest. Birdsong is really quieting down out there and it is not just the heat. For many species the nesting season is over. Brown-headed Cowbirds numbers are down, they are bugging out now. Bronzed Cowbird stays to predate the late summer nesters. For all the juvenile birds around the yard we get amazingly few attended cowbird juvies. They stray here from elsewhere, but are not being attended by the local breeders.

Later evening Kathy caught another Triatoma (Kissing Bug, aka Blood-sucking Conenose - Reduviadae) in the house, the third one so far this year. Brings me the bug in a jar, is she great or what?   :)   Took it out and killed it. Then over in the cottage I found one caught and dead in a little tiny spiders web, so fourth of the year. The one bug that seems up in numbers, is not a desirable one.

July 22 ~ A low of 76dF bodes well for the day - not. That is the warmest low so far this year. Was 90dF at noon, 99 at 3 p.m. That is on the cool shady front porch, it was low huns in sun. A juv. Yellow-breasted Chat was in yard mid-morn, so they got another young out, and seemingly another one-young brood. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was flycatching around yard an hour or so mid-morn as well. Male Blue Grosbeak still here on the seed, bunch of Painted Bunnies, another one with some yellow and pale spots in areas different from the other yellower one. At last light I saw a Chuck-w-w fly across the yard but did not hear one.

Went for a swim in the peak heat hour, sure breaks it up to cool off. Spent a little while and caught 5 young smaller minnows with large dipnets (2 at once method). The big ones with red in fins (Mexican Tetras) were staying too deep for my seine, where the water is cooler. Now back home and in a tank I see they are all Blacktail Shiners (Cyprinella venusta). I am amazed at how starved they are, there must be little to nothing to eat in the river here. In the fish biz we would call their bellies nearly pinched, with no fat whatsoever.

July 21 ~ We briefly hit 71dF at about 6:45 a.m., but it didn't last. Couple Gnatcatchers and an Orchard Oriole went through early. Field Sparrow doing funny trill noises unlike the standard song, bubbly, almost wrenish. In the afternoon there was a Black-and-white Warbler on the big pecan right off the front porch. Heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. I saw several stations in the DFW area reported 109dF today as did Hondo (KHDO). We had 98dF on the cool front porch, so low huns in the sun. I keep forgetting to mention, this years young male immature Black-chinned Hummingbirds, now nearing 80-90 days old are starting to show some dark feathers in the throat. I have been seeing it for about 7-10 days now. Heard Common Nighthawk at dusk, but no Chucks.

Slaty Skimmer
Here is the Slaty Skimmer at Utopia Park on July 14, 2018,
which appears to perhaps be the second Uvalde. Co. record.
Tripp Davenport found the first at Cook's Slough, Uvalde, in 2009.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 20 ~ Low of 73dF, About 98 at 3 p.m. in the cool shady parts, over a hun in the sun. A couple Gnatcatcher went through yard in the morning, better was a Red-eyed Vireo, another post-breeding wanderer. Doing some bubbling trill weird sounds. Did my town run for supplies, where Zone-tailed Hawk. Little Creek Larry said someone told him they saw a black colored Hawk take a Hummingbird! Surely was a Zoney. Musta had a sweet tooth. He also mentioned he saw a couple Western Kingbirds, and a male Ruby-throated Hummer this week. I have twice had mid-July adult male Ruby-throats here. Latest July or early August is typical fall return. Some quit early and get a headstart back. No Chuck-w-w calling at last light.

In the park there was Green Kingfisher and Green Heron, the juv. Eastern Wood-Pewee that fledged there was still there, eating a big brown Katydid on the same branch I photo'd it on two weeks ago. A male Painted Bunting in the woods is a transient, they don't nest there. A couple of the juv. Common Grackles that fledged there were still in the willows. Heard a Downy Woodpecker call from across the river, very rare in summer here, I presume the male that has been around off and on a bit.

The Slaty Skimmer dragonfly was gone, the pewees probably ate it. Orange-striped Threadtails were 8-10' up in the Mulberries. One Texan Crescent (lep) in the woods. A guy had a 5 lb.+ Largemouth Bass on a stringer, and a nice school of Mexican Tetra was there too. We only get those in the pond when the river is very low. Water is not going over the spillway now, which is the great measure of if we need more rain very badly. Means the water table is way low.

The Library butterfly garden had a Vesta Crescent butterfly, again no Brazillian Skipper after the late June sighting. Was still hoping to get a photo of one in focus. Oh well. Singing Bell's Vireo and a juv. White-eyed Vireo there. Lots of flowers and it looks great, finally, hope they don't butcher it again. They often cut too much, and some things at not the right time. As if it is done because of a day on the calendar, its that time again, not based on what needs to be done when. And they just need a big pile of cuttings to show for it.

July 19 ~ Thursday at the desk and monitor. So here is an idea of the days temps. Before 7 a.m. it was 73dF for a low, hit 82 around 10:20, 90 by noon, and at 4 p.m. it was 98 on the cool shady front porch, over a hun in the sun. About 9 p.m. it drops below 90dF so 9 hours or so of real hot. They are calling for Sun.-Mon. to be peak heat with this session, so it will go up a bit yet over the weekend into Monday. Gadzooks! No rain in sight, the sub-tropical high is also preventing the usual morning low clouds from the Gulf getting here. After the first few nice hours, mostly I just go out and toss seed every few hours, and get back inside.

Still two begging Yellow-throated Warbler out there early, and the two each begging Vermilion Flycatcher, and Carolina Wren, but just seeing one Bewick's beggar. We are covered in baby birds. Over a dozen each of just fledged young around of Cardinal, Painted Bunting, House Finch, and Lark Sparrow, and a half-dozen Chipping Sparrow juvies. Well yer tax judge honor, they seemed like dependents... There was 50 of 'em. Heard a Chuck unenthusiastically call 6 times and quit.

The adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird numbers are way down, they are blowing out. Lots of the females and immatures seem to be leaving as well. Still good numbers but not like it was two weeks ago, and much lower numbers of ad. males. We are entering the prime time window for something good, or at least something else. I am probably very close to a hundred pounds of sugar so far this year. By keeping it down to four feeders (32 often full ports), averaging about 5 lbs. per week. Put me down for a couple hundred more dependents.

July 18 ~ The 72dF felt better for a low, but it got hot, was 96dF on the cool shady front porch, surely the hot patio was over a hundred. I saw the KHDO station reported 111! Covered in baby birds of all manner. The Summer Tanager was singing after a couple weeks of just begging young (that seem kicked out of the territory now), so will likely attempt breeding again. Saw a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak on the Frogfruit. Wed. so busy with work at the desk.

Bare-eyed a funky weird vireo I couldn't name right away, so I just grabbed some docushots quickly, which was a good thing, it soon bolted. But now at least I have something to study later. In birding, shoot first and ask questions later is the proper approach and thing to do if and when seeing anything whatsoever out of the norm. You might not need to know what it is right now, as badly as you might need to prove what it was later. Because if it was anything rare, there are guys waiting to say "no it wasn't". Shoot first, ask questions later, then you can study it as long as you want. Now with the magic of mega-pixels, and a better study than I could obtain trying to see it at the time, I see it is an incredibly worn Yellow-throated Vireo with absolutely no wingbars left! All dark wings.

No wonder I could not put it together bare-eyed. This bird could really throw people. Likely the local adult female breeder. The tail is so worn and frayed in California they would call it a cage bird. Generally since the female does most of the incubating it is the one that shows the extreme tail wear this time of year after probably doing at least two if not three rounds of incubating by now.

July 17 ~ 75 to 95dF in the shade for a temp range today. Amazing how long this set of Yellow-throated Warbler young are being allowed to hang and beg. Early broods get booted to the curb in a few days as the parents are anxious to do it again. Later season young get more time with the parents, and probably have higher survival rates. These like the recent Summer Tanager young begged and got attended for two weeks. Both of these first broods were kicked out of the territory in a week. I have seen the same thing with Wrens, Carolina in particular. First set gets a couple days, last set, weeks. In different butterflies (besides the common) I saw an Orange Skipperling, and a fresh Olive Juniper Hairstreak, of the flavor WITHOUT the white basal spots as most are here. These are a different type. Kathy saw a crescent of some sort, probably Vesta.

July 16 ~ Hot and hazy. Low about 75, high over 95dF, and one of the hazier days I have seen here, due to Saharan dust! For those that don't think we are all connected on this blue marble. The begging Yellow-throated Warblers are still squawking incessantly. Field Sparrow still singing, I saw it briefly on the patio. Gnatcatcher went by. Heard a warbler flight note several times that surely was a Golden-cheeked but I could not pick it up as moved through the dense trees. At the last seed-eating frenzy I counted 7 adult male Painted Bunting at once, none were the the red-backed bird, so at least 8 are around, since I saw it earlier today. Heard two Chuck-wills-widow briefly at the last crack of light.

Too hot to hang outside, so you get some random thoughts and ideas. Warning, thoughts and ideas ahead! Besides seeing the red-backed male Painted Bunting again, I saw a couple with many pale areas where red feathers have molted away, as well as one with a fair bit of yellow on the underparts, of which I got photos and will post one. Often when red underparts molt they expose pale bases of remaining feathers which are normally all covered. So the overall effect is a much paler bird. Sometimes the so many pale feather bases are exposed to create entirely pale-spotted underparts, or ones that are fairly evenly dull pinkish red.

Many don't realize the variation in a species, even one seemingly as straightforward and simple as a Painted Bunting. Then add the variation over the year from feather wear. Sure you can still ID it, but it looks totally different if you observe details closely. For most birds the field guides show one type, a perfect one, an average one, and typically a bright male at max color. Not a worn one. Not a dull one, not a molting one that looks rode hard and put up wet, not all the variations.

In Painted Buntings for instance one would be hard pressed to find a field guide in the last century that mentions the males with bright neon sun YELLOW underparts and eyering (replacing the red). Painted Buntings seem to have 2 plumages in the books, green and the fancy adult male. Reality is there are at least 3 types of adult male plumages (4 counting the red-backed ones!), 3 types of first-spring male plumages, female, and juvenile plumage, at least, (I think there are 2 juv. plumages, perhaps sexable) but anyway EIGHT plumages at minimum, maybe 10, whilst field guides show two. So if you want to really learn and know the birds, you have to do that yourself once you get past the basic identification the field guides are for.

Lots of red birds are now getting very pale and speckled with pale areas below as they molt. Besides noticeably dull male Painted Buntings, Cardinals too are nearing their dullest, some are amazingly worn and dull now. Vermilion Flycatcher as well are much duller red now, showing some pale areas where underparts are molting. This is standard on red birds in later summer to early fall when they molt their body feathers. They actually wear into their brightest plumage, timed to be during mate selection, in early spring. After the wear and tear of nesting the feathers need replacing, which can be quite worn and dull. The difference is tremendous, going from knock your eyes out flaming neon red, to dull pinkish red with dirty white areas everywhere.

July 15 ~ A 75dF low was not very. The juv. Yellow-throated Warblers still begging and being attended around yard as. are the two juv. Carolina Wrens. I was standing on the back porch and a fledgling Bewick's Wren flew up to me and landed on my camo cargo shorts. Looked like a bush. Field Sparrow singing just over north fence toward draw, I suspect it is nesting very near now. Not seeing the Scott's Orioles. Generally they bring young to the feeder, and when they disappear without notice, they got predated. Did not hear a Chuck at dusk, methinks they are done.

Went for a swim in the afternoon, had two Green Kingfisher at the river. Had a great time with nearly 100 Mexican Tetras. Forgot my seine, dipnets and fish catching bucket. You have, eh? A sunfish of some sort swam up to me and tried to take a piece away, it was little 3" job, a yearling with an attitude, not a breeder defending nest. Saw a grass carp too, which suck, a non-native that should not be allowed in waterways. I don't trust the sterile claims, and they destroy fish fry and dragonfly and other insect larva hiding places by eating all the vegetation. This upsets the balance of nature. It is not a no consequence act, they do not just remove vegetation. They remove all that lives in and with it.

Why is it that man still thinks they can fix or improve everything? Sometimes by introducing non-native alien species!?! Have none noticed the track record for that? If you think the ecosystem is better off with non-native Nutria or Grass Carp, you should not be allowed to play with the environment. Yes it does affect us all, less baby fish in the shallows, and less dragonflies and damselflies means more mosquitoes. Less mayflies means lower survival rates of wintering birds, which eat your worms and weed seeds. Everything is connected. Tug on a strand in the web of life and you will find everything is connected. Don't fool with mother nature. There is this thing called the balance of nature. Non-native alien introductions invariably upset it. See Australia or Hawai'i, or a pure Guadalupe Bass if you can find one.

July 14 ~ About 74dF for a low, and last several days no morning clouds so straight to solar heating early. I had to run to town so went back to the park despite the zoo of people. Gnatcatcher in the a.m., and heard a Dickcissel. My pix of the Slaty Skimmer yesterday were blown out, burnt with overexposure, the gray bug looked white. The miracles of digital sensors and imagery. Luckily it was still there on the same twig, and I got some shots that show it is gray. Nice beast. I can think of a couple dozen birds I saw that I wish were on the same twig the next day for photos! The library garden is looking pretty lush now for butterflies. Here at the hovel nothing different. Yellow-throated Warblers still attending the two young in the yard. Two new fledgling Vermilion Flycs, so more of them out too. Saw two big Tom Turkey over in the corral. The Carolina Wrens have two new begging just-fledged young in tow now.

Painted Bunting
Here is another variation you might see in Painted Buntings that
is not well-illustrated in the field guides, those that show
yellow on underparts. There is a very rare type where yellow
replaces all the red including eyering. These partially yellow
ones are more regular, but I only see these in late summer when
body molt occurs. I do not see this type in spring or early breeding
season, but there are some like this every late summer to fall.
In California the bird record cops say anything but immaculate red
is discolored - probably due to diet from captivity. These are
obviously wild, normal, natural, and not cagebirds. They are not
discolored, it is not due to diet, or captivity. Variations of this is
a normal plumage I see seasonally year after year in a few birds.

~ ~ ~

P.S. I replaced the photo break below with 2 male Painted Bunting
at the feeder with an image not taken through the screen door.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 13 ~ Happy Friday the 13th! Hope you had a good one! Low of 73dF, the party is over, back to the heat. After this weekend we are at the half-way point of climatological summer, which is June, July and August. The dog days lie ahead. Six weeks down, six to go. Which of course the back side heat runs closer to 8 weeks, to mid Sept., but if we get lucky and start getting fronts early, the heat is broken, and days are way shorter. Saw my first of year juvenile Cooper's Hawk this morning, one big female.

Don't think I mentioned this year the bank apparently washed away the Cave Swallow nests as they were getting going so they are not there this year. A few are around, but that colony is not happening. Bummer. I checked the butterfly garden at the library hoping to refind the Brazillian Skipper since my photos were out of focus two weeks ago, no such luck. Did have Rounded, Fatal, and a likely Rawson's, in Metalmarks, all on Zexmenia. One Large Orange Sulphur, and a Celia's Roadside-Skipper which is scarce there.

The park was overrun with hominids. The adult and 3 juvie Common Grackle are gone. Had both adult Green Heron up on island, both out in day seperately means they have young to feed. Saw one juv. Green Kingfisher, first juvie I have seen this year. Best though was a new dragonfly for my upper Sabinal drainage and Utopia Park lists, a Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta), which is a rary in Uvalde Co. Only a handful of records. So a dragon saved the day. Pays to have varied interests, you never know if the lep, ode, or bird is going to be the highlight that makes your stop and walk. The more interests one has, the better odds of having a highlight. Usually with those three, every stop or walk will be good. Because those are the three most obvious easy to see and learn things.

July 12 ~ Third day in a row, 69 dF for a low, feels great. The Yellow-throated Warblers are still feeding their two pre-Yellow-throated young around the yard. Two male and a female Blue Grosbeak on the seed, they are still breeding, yesterday a male landed on the seed tube which I have never seen before. They are very ginchy about people. Couple more new Chipping Sparrow fledglings, more new Lark Sparrow and Painted Bunting juvies too. Been tossing an extra cup of seed the last hour of sun so they can all pig out one more time. One rather unenthusiastic Chuck calling at last light. Lots of bats though.

July 11 ~ Another 69dF low is fantastic. Makes a big difference starting out just a few degrees cooler in the morning. Great-tailed Grackle in town. The Yellow-throated Warbler babies (2) are still being fed and attended around the yard. A couple Gnatcats went through, and an Orchard Oriole. Heard a distant Great Crest, maybe with the rain they will nest again. Five male Painted Bunting at once on the patio sure makes a nice view. I was stuck out front and couldn't move without flushing them so could not see out back if any or how many were on that seed. I was in shower at Chuck calling prime time, which is down to about a 2 minute window now, so missed them tonight. They are worn out and about done.

July 10 ~ The 69dF low felt great. Back up to 90dF today, the break was nice while it lasted. Here comes the heat. Heard Ringed Kingfisher early over at the river. Also had a few Chimney Swift flying over low early, and a pair at dusk. Birds were the same gang, didn't get much chance to look around but once an hour checks of the yard and there was just the usual suspects. Sure wish the sound of all these hummers would bring something besides the couple or few hundred Black-chinned in. Tis the season for a vagrant hummer. Rufous usually show up in later July, often one of the first long-distance migrants we get back. Time to start paying attention, listen for something different sounding. Two Chucks called at dusk.

July 9 ~ We hit the jackpot this morning with some bands of rain, totalling about 1.1"! This brings us to a total of about 2.5" since the 4th. Totals are very spotty here though, some got an inch more, others an inch less, just up or down valley a bit. Anyway at least we got something in the ground this last week! I will have a couple acres to mow again in a couple weeks is the downside.

A couple new just-fledged juvie White-eyed Vireo were begging around the yard with parent in the morning. At least one Orchard Oriole, but may well have been two. Another Gnatcatcher went through southward in a.m., another late p.m., Yellow-throated Warblers still feeding begging young around the yard as well. A Frogfruit patch in the driveway had 6 Reakirt's Blues and my FOY Southern Skipperling on it in the afternoon (leps). Heard a couple Chucks at dusk, and a Common Nighthawk.

July 8 ~ Only 72dF for a low, mixed clouds and sun, humid, supposed to rain. Gnatcatcher out there early. Before noon we had a quick little shower, a couple more later afternoon, maybe a tenth of an inch. Outflows kept it in the 80's all day, a nice break from the heat. Couple Orchard Orioles went through yard in afternoon. Heard a Hutton's Vireo over in the corral. The rest was the breeders. Saw a Cardinal get a Cicada, geez that must be loud in the head when you have one in your beak and they are buzzing. Celia's Roadside-Skipper on a Wild Petunia. In the afternoon I heard the or another Dickcissel up in the pecans. Had an Eastern Wood-Pewee too. Must be some 'worms' (caterpillars) up there now. We worked on stuff here, last day of the big holiday week. The local recreation sites will be cleared out comparatively after today and much less busy until Labor Day weekend.

July 7 ~ Weewow 68dF for a low! Amazing! And NE flow. In July. Holy cow. Only Chuck and Chat making noise at 6:a.m., Vermilion Flycatcher next but they can sing off and on all night. Blue Grosbeak was the first diurnal singer to go off. Couple Gnatcatchers went through over the day. Still baby Yellow-throated Warblers begging and being fed around yard. Kathy spotted the Indigo Snake at the bath, I got a couple shots methinks. Couple good butterflies were Orange Skipperling and False Duskywing, both of which I did not see in June. A couple rain cells missed us but some nearby areas got some precip, and we stayed below 90dF for the day. Nearing dusk Common Nighthawk boomed a couple times, haven't heard that in a while, maybe they will nest again now after the rains. Rain in later June and early July is what determines additional nesting attempts for many species here. Rain = flowers = bugs. A Chuck-wills-widow flew across yard while light enough still to see it well.

Painted Bunting
Ever see one of the red-backed Painted Bunting males?
They are around, one of 7 males now in yard is one.
I see at couple or few at least every year. I do not know
what the story is with them, just that they are, and neat
looking. I hate to lose that green I love, but still nice.
You should get an extra point for every plumage type you see.
Then you find out who the real sluggers are. Got one of the
bright yellow below adult males? 'Nother point.   ;)

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 6 ~ The 70dF low feels great. A band of rain just SE missed us here in the morning, but the cloud shield kept the sun and heat at bay. Orchard Oriole and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher through yard in a.m., must be July. From 11 to noon we had a nice light shower, with about a half-inch of precipitation! So we are at 1.35-40 or so for the last three days. More termite emergences, Cardinal, Mocker, and Chickadee are all what I would grade as very poor at the flycatching thing, they manage but it requires much effort. None do the bombing runs Carolina Wren makes, seemingly hoping to miraculously collide with something.

Town run for supplies was late though as I wanted to be able to check the park so waited for rain to pass, I thought. Devil fools with the best laid plans. I got rained on at the library garden and at the park, saw just about nuthin'. Heard a Green Heron and saw a Green Kingfisher, that was it. Lot of water in the driveways in town. E. Pewee in the yard later afternoon, Yellow-throated Warbler still feeding young here too. A few more spritzes in afternoon, one cell may have hit town, another cell was southeast of us, and another looked like it hit Lost Maples. We can hope. Nearing last sun my FOY juvenile Bell's Vireo moved through, northward. One of the nice colorful ones. A Common Nighthawk flew by at dusk.

Turned porch light on to see if any bugs. Nope. It is astoundingly devoid of insects out there. Scary. Couple June Bugs (that lost their calendars), a moth, couple little things, pitiful. Another Triatoma sps. (kissing bug aka Blood-sucking Conenose - Reduviadae) which was dispatched to the great packrat nest in the sky. Did have in the day a Tawny Emperor butterfly.

July 5 ~ Heard a little rain overnight. Woke up to 70dF and five-eighths of an inch of new rain to add to the quarter inch we got late yesterday! So seven-eighths so far and misting and drizzling a bit still. We needed this badly. The birds are happy too, rain initiates ground-termite emergences. Saw a Common Nighthawk fly by in the misty drizzle in a.m. taking termites. Golden-fronted Woodpeckers were actively taking the termites too. Got up to mid-80's late afternoon when the sun came out, so pretty sticky. Did hear a Chuck at last light in the evening. Kathy spotted a big Prionus Cerambycid beetle under the porch roof (ph.).

Amazing was my first Dickcissel of the year, after missing them in spring for the first time in 15 years. It is likely either a fledged juvenile, or post-breeding wandering adult. Two were reported on the Breeding Bird Survey on UvCo 361, 4-5 mi. SSW of town, I think in late May or early June. Those are the only I know of this year locally. They are absent from all the usual sites this year like 360, 354, all along 187, etc. It was around all morning, I heard and saw it 3-4 times up to noonish but never well enough to age, just bare-eyed in bad light up in the pecans. Saw a or the Black-n-white Warbler again. It could be the same bird hanging out. We had a singing first-year male summer here once.

July 4 ~ Happy Independence Day! Funny how we celebrate a revolution while generally wanting everyone to maintain status quo and stay in line with the program. Had a Black-n-white Warbler at the bath early, which is likely the one I had at last sun last night. Maybe this is a post-breeding wanderer hanging out for the water? Not seeing the Cuckoo, I suspect it fledged a young, as they disappear shortly (as in immediately) after.

Amazing was a bit of rain about 5:15 p.m., a low coming from the east, moving west. Was off Louisiana a couple days ago, gave Houston 2.5 to 5" today. It took the heat off right at peak, it went from 97 to 77dF in a half hour. Might kill the dust for a couple days. About a quarter inch the first hour and change and at this point thrilling. Lots of birds went to singing, and bathing, in the rain. Those wingpits hadn't been wet in way too long. After dark it was clear the Barking Frogs approved as well.

July 3 ~ About 75dF for a low and not much for morning clouds, a hot one. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at river early, which I have not been hearing the last month since it fledged two young. Must go somewhere to ditch the young, I missed it in June. Heard Orchard Orio out there again. Mid-day a Black-and-white Warbler moved around the yard. Boatloads of baby seedeaters out there, going through lots of seed. Only counted 6 male Painted Bunting at once today, but they are hard to see in the bushes where we throw seed out back.

At last sun there was begging baby Yellow-throated Warbler being fed by an adult in the Pecan and Hackberry. At dusk I was on the front porch and heard and then saw an adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron flying downriver seemingly coming from the pond behind the Barham's place, where I saw one going into a few weeks ago, surely the same bird. A great 'sittin' on the porch' bird.

July 2 ~ Low of 73dF was a little better, but not much. Not much for morning clouds either. In a.m. heard singing the Indigo Bunting across road in draw, an Eastern Wood-Pewee and an Orchard oriole in the yard, and a Field Sparrow over at the draw, which was on patio later. Didn't see the Oriole to age it, was in the big thick hackberry. Probably that trolling first summer male I have seen off and on lately. Saw a Gray Fox out back.

Some more new Lesser Golfinch juveniles to go with all the other juvies out there. Caught the Roadrunner seemingly stalking the juvie pile on the patio. There are two dozen mixed juveniles of Lark Sparrow, House Finch, Painted Bunting, and Chipping Sparrow out there. So I flushed the Roadrunner away, like just another unwanted bird already on your list. Of course I felt guilty but I also know it would take a juvie Painted Bunting before a juvie House Finch. We had one once taking hummers at the feeders up on Seco Ridge, had to move the feeders. They live on Chippies all winter here.

Around mid-afternoon I had 5 adult male Painted Bunting at once again outside. Shortly after 7 p.m. there were SEVEN adult males at once outside on the seed! Looks like party confetti out there. Plus more than twice as many greenies - females and immatures. I may have to rest the color receptors in my eyes now. Just before last sun I saw a Ringtail (Cacomistle) over in the corral. To be out in the day in this heat, it must have young to feed would be my guess. Heard one distant fairly un-enthusiastic Chuck-wills-widow at dusk. They are about done calling for the year.

July 1 ~ Well that was a quick first half of a year, eh? I am just barely used to writing 18, and it is July!?!?! For a temp spread today We ran about 75dF to 98! A hot one. Didn't see anything unusual or different around today. We went for a swim in the afternoon peak heat to cool off. Over at river had singing Blue Grosbeak, more begging young Summer Tanager, Scissor-tails, couple Pewee, the usual assortment. Kathy found a school of about 75 Mexican Tetra which we hung around a while, a few were 3"+! A nice native! Here at the hovel at varying times I saw 3 and 4 male Painted Bunting at once. The pair of Scott's Orios hitting the hummer feeder lots, must have young in nest. Haven't been seeing the Hooded much lately though.

~ ~ ~ June Summary ~ ~ ~

There were a few spritzes in June but overall it was a drought. The early and late May rain kept flowers going until about mid-month. Butterflies were 47 species, so holding steady the last 3 months. Best was a Brazillian Skipper at the library garden the 29th, my photos were OOF - out of focus. Shouldn't take you long to learn to hate autofocus. Two species of Metalmark (one of each) were great to finally see this year. One Rounded, and the other probably Rawson's, but absolutely not Rounded. Twice I saw Red-spotted Purple in the yard, which is rare, still no Viceroy this year, at least 3 Texas Powdered-Skipper, quite a few Arizona Sister. Fireflies flamed out early, the year was a burn for them. But did see a few gigas Cerambycids, and Eyed Elaterids.

Odes were good at 33 species, 10 damselfies, and 23 dragonflies, a nice bit of diversity to see. At Lost Maples we had Neon and Flame Skimmer, an Ivory-striped Sylph, lots of Comanche Skimmer, Red-tailed Pennant, Springwater Dancer, it seems to have the best action now. The Orange-striped Threadtail damselflies are flying at Utopia Park as usual by the island. The odes should be great for the next 3 months.

Birds were 90 species in June, which are of course all local breeders. A far cry from 130 sps. in May. Surely a hundred nest in the area. Mostly June is about begging babies, the more you see the better. June 1 Kathy had ad. with juv. Golden-cheeked Warbler at our bird bath. At end of month a juv. Orchard Oriole was around yard chasing and begging from an adult. The 29th I photo'd at Utopia Park an Eastern Wood-Pewee feeding a young for my first park nesting. The Common Grackles there got out three young this year. The only real transient (and a semi-vagrant here) that I saw was a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. July starts to see the departures of many breeders that are not going another round, as well as first arrivals of southbound transients from far away.

~ ~ ~ end of June summary ~ ~ ~



Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting male, waiting in line for the feeder.
We had SEVEN males at once on the seed one day this week.



a bonus pic this week
Painted Bunting
I have replaced the shot I had here with one not taken through screen.
Wanted to show how averse these beasts are to feeders. A copy of this
should be put into every California Bird Record Committee Painted Bunting
record in which a reviewer said "its a male at a feeder" in a disparaging
manner as if it is not a normal natural thing. Same goes for the lack of
pure red underparts as on bird on the left, due to molt, not diet or
captivity. Anyone that suggests these as reasons for one not being
wild is bearing false witness to your bird record. It is not OK to give
bad reasons that good bird records are not valid. It is making up false
stuff up about the bird record. Best I could tell (and I was there)
Jon Dunn was the one that started the mythical preposterous unfounded
notion that there is something amiss about a male Painted Bunting at
a feeder, and that those that are not perfectly uniform red below are
discolored. Both are pure rubbish! They are feeder flies!



Neon Skimmer
Neon Skimmer male



dowitcher and phalaropes
Long-billed Dowitcher and 3 Wilson's Phalarope in Bandera Co., May 4, 2018.
Likely the first proof of either species in that county, at the South Little Creek ponds.
Sorry about the fuzzy, pic taken at max magnification and about a hundred yards.



Blue Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak, adult male



Broad-winged Hawk
Adult Broad-winged Hawk at Lost Maples in April. This
looks like one of the pair that nested the last few years.



Black-capped Vireo
Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples, pardon my pixels, I figured
you'd give me a pass considering their lovely arrangement.
This is a third year bird and still not a definitive adult.



Black-throated Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow at Lost Maples on April 1



Golden-cheeked Warbler
Singing "she says I'm so laa-zzeee"



Indigo Snake

Indigo Snake



Vermilion Flycatcher

Pardon the pixels and fuzziness



Common Raven

If you are missing a pecan, call, I may have a lead for you. All the Ravens around here are Common Ravens (and there are no Crows). The ebird reports of Chihuahuan Ravens on the south central Edwards Plateau are best disregarded. I highly doubt anyone can prove any of them. Especially the Lost Maples reports. Common are common nesters and residents locally, which have exploded in numbers in the last decade. Chihuahuan are all but accidental here and should not be considered without diagnostic evidence unless reported by a known Raven expert. These Common Raven here are small and compactly built. Any Raven here is Common until proven otherwise beyond question. Show me the proof. All the hundreds reported and not one has any actual evidence to support it. I have seen photos of Ravens on websites labeled Chihuahuan at Lost Maples which are undoubtedly Common Raven, in which there is nothing whatsoever to support a claim of Chihuahuan .
~ ~ end Raven rant ~ ~

White-crowned Sparrow

Adult White-crowned Sparrow of the usual variety here,
the eastern nominate leucophrys subspecies. Note black
in lores, pink bill, and pale areas in back light gray.



Harris's Hawk

Tight crop of the adult Harris's Hawk in our big pecan.



Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren in default position



Great Kiskadee

Here is a better pic of the Kiskadee at Utopia Park, from Feb. 3.
Last weeks first docu shot was a bit fuzzy and bad light.
Kathy and I went the next day, had great views and got this pic.
Whatabird. It is on a stem of Greenbriar Vine, of which it ate
a berry.



Great Kiskadee

First known Great Kiskadee at Utopia Park, Feb. 2, 2018 was up in
the woods on the island, occasionally calling. The poor light and
angle hide the rufous wings and tail well. It is a big flycatcher
that is a great fisherman, taking smallish minnows and such often.



Goshawk

This is the Northern Goshawk that was over town Dec. 15, 2017
Note the long stovepipe of a tail. This structure is unique.
Apologies for the poor pic, it was the best of 3, at maximum
high (pixelated) magnification after it got high up. Initially
it was quite low, was a nice adult.





Hutton's Vireo

Hutton's Vireo





Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird - male



There is another series of the weekly break photos below.



~ ~ ~ Above is 2018 ~ ~ ~


Sorry, got some year-end mopup to do here...

~ ~ ~ 2017 in review ~ ~ ~

I like to have a quick easy reference for greatest hits each month, or year, as it helps me organize and remember. So I won't be hurt if you scroll past the yearly or monthly summaries, and realize they are probably more for my purposes or sake. Though methinks some learning still to be had as to how the year related to others, or what is going on, especially changes that are taking place.

I did another micro- or mini- year, in that again, for I think now 6 years consecutive, did not drive over 1000 miles all total miles driven, not just birding miles. Everything. Life miles for the year. Think global, bird, and live, local. I guess at a thousand mile limit they should be called a miliyear. So I am at 6000 miles the last 6 years, all driving total, birding, life, work, everything. Which is roughly about 3 long crazy weekend chases by a statewide Texas year lister. Since I don't chase birds my year list is just whatever it ends up being, bycatch of gathering and recording the data.

My upper Sabinal River drainage area list this year was about 207. That is Clayton Grade to Lost Maples, but actually nothing south of UvCo 360. That would take out a couple hundred miles of the 1000 driven for two trips to Uvalde. Just from around the ' house and adjacent vicinity within walking distance, the park, and maybe 10-12 Lost Maples visits. Probably saw a dozen or more different species, maybe 20, down around Uvalde in the brush country and at the ponds there those two trips.

Well it was a great year for seeing unusual birds locally, despite the generally poor migration seasons we had. It only takes a little spice to make it nice. It always seems slow when you are in it, but afterwards in sum and retrospect, there were a lot of great birds. For breeding success it probably was not so great for many birds, it appeared lots of very small clutches fledged to me.

Rain was a fair amount in total but in fits and spurts all at once between longer dry periods, which makes it hard for plants and flowers especially to use. And which then translates to insects for birds to eat. Local rainfall amounts vary tremendously in ridiculously close proximity, but for us here I think it was about 28 inches in total, near average. So a good amount, but we are still in drought with a very low water table and river not running above ground in lots of sections.

Flowers were good early in spring but faded fast with little rain in May and June. Fall bloom was very weak too. The fruit and nut crops were hit hard by strong spring fronts right at the wrong bloom time with 40-50+ MPH winds. Little to no Persimmon, Pecan, and Agarita crops, while Hackberry was on the weak side of fair to barely OK.

First we will roundup the best birds in sorta chrono order. Leslie Calvert reported a White-tailed Hawk Jan. 1 about 5 mi. SSW of town, the only upper Sabinal drainage report I know of ever. A Neotropic Cormorant at UP Jan. 20th was my first for the park list. My 1st local wintering yellowthroat (an imm. male) was present all Jan. along river at the 360 x-ing south of town. Next good birds were in April with a PAIR of Short-tailed Hawks at LM April 2 and after, which seemed to be nest site prospecting but also seemed to be pushed out of one canyon by the nesting Broad-wings and the other by nesting Zone-tails. A Gray Hawk was reported at LM by the pond April 15 or so. I found a Ringed Kingfisher hole just south of town on priv. prop. that I am sure was the one currently being used. Young apparently fledge in April, so they must start very early.

Spring was weak for warblers and the other scarcer 'eastern' species that can make migration fun. Only 13-14 species of warblers, no Tennesse again, and far fewer than usual Nashville and Yellow numbers. The 5 or so Redstart reported locally is high for one spring (I only saw 2) here. I saw at least 6 Mourning Warbler. One Worm-eating was reported from LM. The one great eastern spring vagrant for me was a Black-billed Cuckoo that called from just over the fence at our place on May 22.

A male Varied Bunting trolled singing at LM from May 21 into June. A male Lucifer Hummingbird was at a Century Plant June 23, 2 mi. S. of town. On July 13 Little Creek Larry watched 2 Roseate Spoonbill fly down Little Creek. At UP in July was an imm. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (ph.), and my earliest ever Yellow-headed Blackbird (ph.) was at the golf course July 15. The August highlights were likely Hurricane Harvey displacements: 2 White Pelican at UP the 25th, and from the yard a flyby Least Bittern the 29th, and 2 Fulvous Whistling-Duck on the 31st.

White-tipped Dove and Olive Sparrow both appeared to have bred at LM this summer, present earliest spring through the fall. I saw juv. Olive Sparrow late in summer, and saw a pic of a juv. dove that was posted on the intertubes (e-bird). Which is first breeding for the site, and for Bandera Co. For White-tipped Dove it is first breeding on the Edw. Plateau. For both species it is the furthest north known nesting ever and the known limit of their northward range expansion currently.

Fall was weak as usual here, but also as usual a few good things will always be dug out with enough looking. A Clay-colored Sparrow was my earliest ever on Sept. 1 (ph.) and a MacGillivray's Warbler on Sept. 8 at UP is only my 2nd fall record. A favorite was an all-day in the yard (and LTA) Yellow-bellied Flycatcher on Oct. 1. Good at UP was a Harris's Hawk on Oct. 26. November had a couple megas. The lowlight was a Red-breasted Nuthatch, LTA here, on the 21st. The megas were first a nocturnal flyover calling Whimbrel on the 7th, which seems it might be a first Uvalde County report. Then from the 11th on, a flock of Red Crossbill moved up and down the river habitat corridor, all the way through to late December. Up to 24 birds at once were seen almost a dozen times, but only in flight (when they call incessantly) and never 'on the ground' (in a tree).

Then in December besides the continuing Crossbills through the month, Bill Wright saw two Townsend's Solitaire at LM, which was followed by one hearable calling from Utopia Park late Dec. to early Jan. for a week. It was just north and east of the park property. A Northern Goshawk was outstanding over town on Dec. 15 (ph.), and an adult Harris's Sparrow on our patio Dec. 24 was good, they are LTA here. The adult female Rusty Blackbird showed up for her FIFTH winter around 360 south of town a couple miles. The Louisiana Waterthrush that wintered at Utopia Park the last three winters, did not return (suspected it was taken last winter). Neither did a male Pine Warbler that has used our yard the last three winters. All things must pass.

Butterflies broke records for species diversity each month the first four months of the year. Likely related to not having a freeze after earliest January. Then they fizzled out early and hard. Summer was weak, and fall stunk with no major invasion from the south as most years. Total species seen was about 88, which is an average drought regimen type total. Last year was 103 species, the difference being a good fall invasion.

Of interest were the Amblyscirtes Roadside-Skippers at LM (ph.) again this year (as last) which were not present for 8+ years of the drought. Which are either Bronze or Oslar's. Really need to have a specimen to do a proper ID on something outside norms. A Mimosa Yellow on July 9 was unusual. There was a little pulse of White-striped Longtail, with seven in one day locally Aug. 6 being my personal record. Usually you are lucky to see one.

There were two good rarity vagrants of the LTA (less than annual) sort, both photographed well. First a Mexican Tropical (Florida) White on Sept. 30 at the golf course entrance garden, and then at the UP entrance garden a Yellow Angled-Sulphur Oct. 15. They saved the fall. It was astounding how there were almost no blues, hairstreaks, metalmarks, checkers or crescents, or skippers on the flowers. No small stuff. It was eerie. There was a good Mestra invasion this year, but no major Monarch flight locally this October. No Viceroy all year up here after a great year last year, but a good Arizona Sister recovery seems to be underway. No Carolina Satyr or Common Wood Nymph still since drought, but Dusky-blue Groundstreak seems to be slowly recovering too.

For odes there were a few interesting things. Besides the basic set of breeders, the transients are sure to change every year it seems. Very good was a Straw-colored Sylph at the 360 x-ing in July, and in August there, a Hyacinth Glider, both far less than annual up here in the hills. I have had Swamp Darner and Ivory-striped Sylph there before, it is a great area, but all private and no trespassing. Also both LTA up here, a Great Pondhawk at the golf course, and a couple Bronzed River-Cruiser were good to see again, both in July. Maybe best was two male Slough Amberwing at UP (ph.) in August. There are only a very few UvCo records. Twelve-spotted Skimmers staged a minor invasion this year, I saw up to four in a single day, and twice that many in total. A couple days I saw four species of Pennants at the golf course: Halloween, Red-tailed, Banded, and Four-spotted, which is a Pennant slam up here, only Banded is resident and a sure thing every year locally. For the upper Sabinal River drainage it was about 18 species of Zygops (damselflies) and at least 41 species of Anisops (dragonflies), so at least 59 species of odes locally this year, which is great by me. There were a few others I let go due to quicker looks than I wanted, so surely over 60 species were in the area.

I did make a side trip out Seco Ridge to a special Evergreen Sumac in late Sept. to find Stenaspis verticalis insignis, a Longhorn (Cerambycid) Beetle (ph.). There were a few of the gigas Longhorns around our big pecan tree as usual in summer, and a Neoclytus sps. (Cerambycid) came into the night light one night. A few Eyed Elatarid (the giant false-eyed click beetle) were seen. No big fancy moths this year, and night lighting in general was nearly pitiful there was so little response some nights I tried. Lots of bugs seem way down still, presumedly unrecovered from drought still.

So always some things better than you could ever guess, no matter how much you know. And always some things you think should have happened, that didn't. Again, showing how much we really know. That is the fun of watching, observing, taking notes and maybe pictures, and recording what you see. You get that big ol' pile of raw data to peruse and sift through for ideas, meanings and trends. That is some of the great fun of natural history study.

Scroll through the bird news pages for 2017, especially the last half of the year, to see a bunch of photos of various things we saw. More often than not the weekly update breaks are punctuated with a photo. There is a link to a new page that is an index page for all the archived bird news pages (Old Bird News), up in the top Nav Bar now. Something else new I worked on much of the year just got up in Jan. 2018 is the 2.0 version of "The Birds of Utopia Park", with a major discussion about birds at the park, and with a park bird list in it.

2017 totals for upper Sabinal River drainage only:
Birds.........207
Butterflies....88
Odes...........59
2017 Total....354

In 2016 it was:
212 species of birds - 5 more last year
104+ sps. of butterflies - 16 more last year
52 sps. of Odes (dragons and damselflies) - 7 more this year
368 total in 2016

So odes were better in 2017, but birds down a bit, and butterflies down quite a lot. Most big flying insects seem down overall still, and in most groups, way down.

~ ~ ~ end 2017 year in review ~ ~ ~


Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

.

BlueGrosbeak

Blue Grosbeak - male



UtopiaSnow

The great blizzard of 2016, on Dec. 7, was 15 minutes like this, and 15 lighter.



Zone-tailed Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk



RedBat

Man, they got it all in Utopia, even aquatic bats.
This is the Red Bat I watched plop into the river a few months ago.
Pulled it out and left it on shore...   Bat rescue, how may we help you?


Filigree Skimmer

Filigree Skimmer (dragonfly) - check out those eyes!
I want sunglasses that look like that! You'd be
the coolest one at the dragonfly society meeting.


Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, male. Note the tail is in
the 'scissor' position with the sides crossed
just below the base of the tail.



Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher




Green Kingfisher

Male Green Kingfisher at Utopia Park.




Yellow-throated Vireo

I love this lichen on the branch... and oh yeah, a
Yellow-throated Vireo in fresh plumage on Sept. 28.
Yeah I know bad light, but as often as not, that is
how we see birds. Anyone can ID them in good light.


Easter Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Buttonbush


Purple Martin

Male Purple Martin is a beauty, that calls "beer, beer". What's not to like?


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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 14+ 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 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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© M. and K. Heindel 2004-2018
www.utopianature.com