Bird Reports from Lost Maples SNA
Lost Maples Birding News

Most Recent Lost Maples Report

SPECIAL NOTE
I can guide you or your group on a bird and or nature walk at Lost Maples (or locally). If you would like to have a naturalist and birder with expansive and intimate knowledge of all birds and beasts here, that knows all the calls, at a level past the field guides, to help you find, see, and enjoy things, just send me an E-mail (mitch @ utopianature.com) , or check out my Bird Guide page.

Lots of folks that visit Lost Maples use e-bird, and so that is a good place to find current most recent sightings. Often there will not be exact locations of where something is unless observer thought it was rare though. Ignore the Chihuahuan Raven reports there, they are mis-identifications. Common Raven is common there, Chihuahuan accidental and should not be trusted without irrefutable evidence. These are small compact Common Ravens. Listen to them.

When you go to e-bird, just type in Lost Maples SNA, in the search box once you are in Texas. It is in Bandera Co., if you search that way. It is a Hot Spot methinks. Once at the main list, click change date and select whole year, and put in just this year as the start and finish years to just see current reports.

If you are at Lost Maples SNA and see something good or of interest, please feel free to let us know. E-mail link is at bottom of many pages... mitch AT utopianature DOT com

Below are notes I made from visits to Lost Maples SNA. Mostly in the season that most birders come, spring and early summer, which hopefully give you an an idea of what to expect, or what you might look out for.

Pond up Can Creek

This is looking down Can Creek from above the main big pond.
The Golden-cheeks are on lower slopes and canyon floor while
the Black-capped Vireo are on the higher slopes and blufftops.
Note the lush deciduous corridor at canyon bottom, drier and
more juniper dominated on the higher slopes.



The most asked question is 'when' for 'the' Golden-cheeked Warbler and 'the' vireo. Golden-cheeked Warbler arrival is mid-March so the last half of that month is easiest for the warbler, as the trees aren't all leafed out yet and they are singing their keisters off. April they are still easy most days, May and June they can be tougher, until the begging young are out of the nest whence they are easy again and this is usually in May and June, but many pairs will be quiet as you pass by then. They are present through July, though in much smaller numbers the last half of that month. I have seen them in very early August but that is exceptional. I saw one near Utopia in late August once.

The Black-capped Vireo arrives later, few late March, most in April, present through August some to early September, rare by late Sept. Though at Lost Maples the vireo usually requires a steep incline hike up to the high ridges as it is not found down in the lush canyons with the Golden-cheeked Warbler usually. The Black-capped Vireo are present in numbers at Lost Maples and easier to see than at Kerr WMA, IF IF IF you can make a 300' (per topo maps) elevation gain (that feels like 600') to the bluffs above the pond. The steep elevation gain is over a half mile of rocky rough trail, nowadays surprisngly heavily used. Just stop and rest a lot on the way up the steep part. I need about 6 breaks, but have had the vireo and the warbler in the same tree at eye-level on the trail!

Sometimes you get them right at the start of uphill trail, at pond by compost restroom, and they can be anywhere uphill as you cross slope, but they are usually easy to see very well up on top where the habitat changes to their preferred short solid understory. Easy is relative term, Black-capped Vireo is the most difficult to observe North American passerine. It loves the thickest centers of the thickest bushes. But if you hang around their territories a while you will obtain views. You have to work for them.

pond to blufftops trail up Can Creek

This is the trail that goes up the slope to the bluff tops from
the main pond. It starts by the great compost toilet. You can
get a Black-capped Vireo anywhere along it, and often good looks
at Golden-cheeks as you move upslope . It is steeper than it looks
probably about 30 degrees.





The Shin Oak, Mountain Laurel and Persimmon thickets are well, only shin high (sorry) here. OK more like knee to waist for most of it, but much shorter and easier to see into here, than at Kerr WMA. It is just gettin' up that dang hill. If you get one sittin at the bench at the trail fork without going up the hill you had some good birding karma in the bank. On top of bluffs in the short micro-habitat, you might see the birds sit up on top of the shrubs and sing. Since a flood a few years ago the trail has lots of loose rocks on it, so coupled with being steep, a hiking pole is virtually a neccessity. Especially for coming back downhill.

Black-capped Vireo habitat

This is the habitat on top of the bluffs, mostly head height or less, save some scattered Buckley (Spanish) Oaks. It is much easier to work than Kerr WMA, except the getting up the hill to it. There is lots of 3' high Shin Oak, and slightly taller Evergreen Sumac, Mountain Laurel, and Texas Persimmon, which combined are the key primary components that equal Black-capped Vireos.



Below the reports start with most recent and working back. There is a bit of a rant first about non-native fish introductions which have taken place recently at the park, and which I think upset the balance of nature at the state natural area, so not a good idea for the web of life.

I try not to be political whatsoever here, however sometimes I find it neccessary to voice a point of view, usually when I see what I consider a crime against nature. I wrote this several years ago, but I heard recently they still want to or are stocking more non-natives, so it remains pertinent.

Rant warning!
Following 8-9 paragraphs about Lost Maples State NATURAL AREA. I have really tried hard 8 years to keep anything remotely political off the website, with only the rare outburst about usually an injustice against nature, or some of the citiots that come visit. Sometimes we must say something.

Lost Maples is a State Natural Area (SNA), which would seem to infer it's intrinsic natural history values are the priority, since it is not a PARK, but a NATURAL AREA. Per their website, non-native channel catfish have been introduced into the pond up Can Creek. I can't take a leaf out of the park, but the state can introduce non-native species that eat the native aquatic fauna?

Could this happen if it were a predatory mammal, bird or reptile? But a non-native fish is OK? What's the difference? Non-natives have no place in a natural area. If I can't take a leaf out because the nutrients in it are considered vital to the ecosystem, why is it OK to remove literally tens of thousands of aquatic invertebrates from the ecosystem by introducing non-native fish to the natural area?

All the animals matter and are part of the ecosystem. It takes all of them to make it work for some reason. Not just the ones we eat. Wasn't there a good book that implored us to take care of all creatures no matter how small?; Because they are all there for a reason? They all play a role in making it work and whether we dummies know or understand how and why which puzzle piece does what, is not what matters. Intelligent tinkering requires saving all the parts. It's our job to at the least save all the puzzle pieces. Introducing non-natives into the NATURAL AREA is not saving all the parts, it is destroying some of them, willfully and intentionally for some (mis-) perceived gain.

There were non-native trout introduced there for a year or two, a couple years prior to this. This is ridiculous to have as pristine a natural waterhole as we have left that is publicly available, that is IN an official State NATURAL Area, and be constantly introducing non-native (some high-end predator) species in it. Aren't there a million waterholes in Texas full of introduced fish already? Can't we have one without more non-native introduced species? Wasn't Lost Maples saved to be preserved in its natural state? Why does the aquatic invertebrate fauna not matter, but a fallen leaf does? Seems more than a little bit hypocritical to me.

This is simply more human folly that causes destruction of the environment and ecosystems, a little piece at a time, the damage is insidious and no one notices, save perhaps a nature nerd studying it, whom then are labelled as radical environmentalists. If this is a natural area to be preserved as such, why is it up to someone's whim and fancy whether or not non-native predators are introduced that will absolutely positively have detrimental effects on the ecosystem and animals that are native in the SNA?

I have little doubt why native dragonfly populations have crashed at the ponds since non-native fish introductions began at the State Natural Area. Odonata are the only group I've looked at hard enough to see the *catostrophic* drop in their numbers at the ponds up Can Creek. The pond has stayed at the same level, but odonata populations haven't. Mayfly populations at the ponds have crashed as well, quite obviously when compared to stream areas in the natural area.

Surely all the aquatic invertebrates have taken the beating as well. That pond ecosystem is a unique habitat, and is being destroyed from the inside out, with public money, because TPWD is soooo flush with bucks they buy non-native fish for the natural area, or do they just want entrance fees more than anything? We just can't see the damage for the most part so it's OK? The negative impacts of non-native fish introduction are just as sure as a goat's or cat's is.

For some entrance fee money TPWD takes the natural history OUT of the State NATURAL Area? They don't seem to know or care about what natually lives in the ponds. I thought mistakenly apparently, the site was one where being conservative, saving what we have, the conservation of our natural history resources, was the prime directive.

Aquatic ecosystems get no respect despite them being the huge part of what makes the terrestrial ones work. Lost Maples is only a natural area in name apparently. Write or call TPWD and tell them to stop introducing non-native species that upset the balance of nature, in the State Natural Area.

You'd have thought after TPWD in the not too distant past recently nearly caused the extinction of our endemic Guadalupe Bass by introducing Largemouth Bass into every wet hoofprint in the state, that they'd have learned something. Can't we have just one REALLY natural as possible waterhole hidden in the hill country, in the SNA without introduced non-native predators and study what is there, and what goes on, naturally? Seems too much to ask? They couldn't begin to tell me what lives there, and are systematically removing it with non-native fish introductions.

Natural means WITHOUT Channel Catfish or Rainbow Trout in the case of the ponds up Can Creek. That is not natural. Those are not native species in the headwaters streams here. I have seen Golden-cheeked Warblers take teneral (just emerged) damselflies sometimes there. Well they used to, when they were there, that food source at the pond has been mostly eliminated, by man's folly. You'd think it was someone's private play pond, not a State Natural Area. To me it goes against the the very reason it was given to the state, to save and protect it, in its natural state, and to NOT treat it like any game ranch endlessly introducing non-natives, upsetting the balance of nature.

One of the reasons we moved here was to study the natural area, so it is extremely painful to watch the natural be removed. It is a shame man can't watch and appreciate nature, without having to play God and have a hand at being mother nature, which seems invariably to result in an epic fail.

End of Rant.  I feel much better now. If you agree, please do call or write TPWD and tell them you don't agree with them introducing non-native fish at the pond in the natural area. And that you don't agree with them introducing exotic animals that are food competitors with endangered warblers.
2017 Reports

There are notes from walks on the current *bird news* page for a few dates over the spring, early April to late May. These will become Old Bird News #27 eventually (when it is no longer current bird news). Look for reports on April 3, 23, 30, May, 6, 13, 20, 21, 29, June 18 and July 2. Of course there might be occasional other mentions anytime of things I have heard of that others saw there as well.

A few highlights of the spring were raptors. A pair of Short-tailed Hawks seemed to be looking for a nest site but kept getting moved by other pairs of hawks, a Gray Hawk, a pair of Broad-winged Hawk (likely the recent nesting pair), and the usual nesting Zone-tailed Hawk. A few Olive Sparrow and White-tipped Dove seem to be nesting. A couple Audubon's Oriole and Green Kingfisher have been seen. One male Varied Bunting showed in later May. A few e-bird migrant warbler reports of interest were a Worm-eating, a Prothonotary, and a Blackburnian.

2016 Reports
There are notes from some walks at Lost Maples during 2016 in the bird news archives pages. Which are called Old Bird News, and #25 (spring) and #26 (fall-winter) have a few day trip reports. Maybe this will work:

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

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



2015 Reports
There are notes from a few walks this year at Lost Maples on the bird news page. See entries for April 12 and 13, May 10, August 1, and September 27. The spring entries are now in Old Bird News 23, linked at bottom of bird news page.

The September entry has notes from a trip in which I discovered a Rufous-capped Warbler. Which continues to be seen at least to October 19 so far, and will likely remain some time. The fall leaf lookie-loo season will soon be underway at the park and it can be hard to hear birds for the footsteps of the herds of folks from late October to late November, depending how the Maple leaf color change goes.

The Rufous-capped Warbler is in the area of the first stream crossing heading up the trail from the trailhead parking lot. It has been seen in the bath at the feeder station next to the lot! Mostly it has been seen about 200' or 75 yards past the stream, on either side of trail. Please let us know if you see it. Thanks!

2014 Reports below


Here is a late April update with some Lost Maples birding news and notes. The annual spring coverage of mostly visiting birders always turns up lots of birds with all the eyes out looking.

First reported in mid-April, then confirmed with photos in late April (on 26th) a Painted Redstart has been up Can Creek, roughly in the area called second crossing (the first is just leaving the parking area trailhead) and then to the right toward ponds a short distance, at least in late April. A pair spent part of the summer at Kerrville last year, for an unprecented hill country summering record, with possibly a breeding attempt.

April 25 there was an Acorn Woodpecker seen at Lost Maples, in about the same area as the Painted Redstart, which could also be called "near the ranger's residence," but the one up Can Creek, not the ones down on the paved road just past campground.

There have been a pair of White-tipped Dove reported there most of April, as last year, the species seems to be vying for next brush-country bird to move north into the hill country.

By late April (actually can be mid-April) the Golden-cheeked Warblers are on nests and can get a little more stealthy and quiet until they have fledged and begging young. Start early, and plan to spend a couple hours moving slowly up Can Creek to and past the ponds. You'll hear lots at first, you might get lucky and get them early on the trail, but past the ponds where canyon gets narrower, you eventually get right into them. The area along both the ponds, and especially the first quarter to half-mile past the ponds are great for them, having a good number pairs in this lush micro-clime.

There is a Black-capped Vireo at the East~West trail split at the first big main pond up Can Creek, at the compost toilet. Right on the slope where you head uphill to get on top of the bluffs where the vireo is easy to see. Please don't play tapes, it is illegal in State Parks, and for Federally listed species. To see the vireo for sure, hike up the slope to the top of the bluffs. Once you get up on top of the bluff proceed a two-three hundred yards on the flats until you get to some scattered short (Buckley Oak) trees (it is a mostly treeless shrub-layer only habitat otherwise), this area has a couple pairs. This Mountain Laurel, Persimmon, Evergreen Sumac, Agarita and Shin-Oak is textbook Black-capped Vireo habitat. There are fewer pairs here this year than last, but they are present and fairly easy to see, for this center-of-the-bush loving species.

April 27 and May 3 I made trips to the ponds and top of bluffs had great looks at Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo as usual, and most of the regulars. Was guiding which is great fun of another sort, besides showing this great place and these awesome birds, mostly for the people you get to meet, but which usually means a time constraint with a hitlist, instead of my own personal slower-paced bumbling, braking for butterflies and beetles.

The most amazing thing to me is what a desert the place appears now due to drought. More of the creek than I have ever seen has less or no water, there are more fallen trees, more dying and drought-stressed trees, it is scary dry folks. It looks like a desert compared to normal. It is the fewest wildflowers I have ever seen there in late April or early May, of which I have at least 14 different years of experience (the last 11 consecutive) noting them. It is the fewest butterflies and dragonflies, there is so little flying in the air I can't believe it. There are fewer birds nesting, by factors, seemingly every species is way way wayyyyyy down below what used to be normal numbers, repeat, by factors. I have never seen or heard so few birds there. Having made the walk up to the ponds and beyond a hundred times, I have never seen it like this.

If you have never been there, it is beautiful as ever. Besides a near lack of flowers it looks nice, if not great. And you will see the normal selection of bird species, but not normal numbers. If you had been having conversations with certain trees the last decade and knew them intimately as I do, you'd be frightened for what is occurring. There are 150 year old trees going down, that I met in the late 1980's. I'm watching old friends die there. Some things (birds, insects, flowers, etc.) seemed down a little last spring, lots of things seem down a lot this spring.

There are also 2014 trip notes at the Bird News page for May 15, and June 27 trips.



~ ~ ~ ~ 2013 Reports ~ ~ ~ ~

For reports from three walks in April, 2013 - April 17th, 23rd, and 26th ...
Old Bird News - 2013


~ ~ ~ ~ 2012 Reports ~ ~ ~ ~

Sorry been too busy to keep this up, the Old Bird News pages have reports, mostly during April, odd numbered Old Bird News pages are the first half of year, scroll down to April usually.

Old Bird News Directory

Below are many daily trip notes reports - from 2011 and prior
~ ~ ~ ~ 2011 Reports ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Golden-cheeked Warbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler, bathing, July 10, 2011
(taken through binocs)



Here's a fall report.  :)

Sept. 24 ~ We did a quick walk at Lost Maples SNA,
it was pretty birdy for fall. The morning was in
the 50's (!) and wow was that amazing to feel that!
The best action now, is in the main lower canyon,
especially at first crossing, the migrants are feasting
on a mayfly emergence that was thousands of mayflies,
(you had to get a long stretch of river backlit to see)
and dozens of birds eating them. The higher back
canyon country does not have a mayfly hatch and many
fewer birds, as one typically finds in fall. So
remember a different strategy is called for at different
times of the year. If we hadn't have checked the
1st (& 2nd) crossings well, early, as we did, we'd have
missed most of the passerine migrants.

Due to the water there is a good bloom going in places,
again, especially below the first crossing, but few
butterflies, though lots of flies on the flowers, so
birds, in the frostweed especially. Perhaps the
most amazing thing is that some Maples are at peak color.
There are orange spots all over the slopes, as in late
October!  Some are already browning up, some dropping
leaves, and many are turning dull orange, so it is not
likely there will be a blazing show there this fall.
A spot or two here and there will be it, if lucky.
You heard it here first.

Best bird was an immature female Magnolia Warbler
(my first fall record for the Sabinal Valley drainage)
up behind the second pond in blooming frostweed in the
creek bottom. Runner-ups were two adult Eastern
Wood-Pewee, which I doubt are migrants, as one Louisiana
Waterthrush too, all may well be the last vestiges of
breeders still present.

Two FOS Orange-crowned Warbler looked like Gray-headed
(orestera) to me, and the FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet is
always nice to see. Four House Wrens shows they've
gotten here, and the one that got away was a heard warbler,
a Black-throated GRAY Warbler, a loud flat chup I know
so well, nothing like it, but I couldn't get a visual on it,
at the second crossing area. Since I had one at Thunder
Creek (already in Bandera Co.), I gave up quickly to move on
to the mega-rarities I was dreaming of seeing.

Other things of interest were a bright Bell's Vireo, a male
Baltimore Oriole on a fruiting tree way in the back
country, Orchard Oriole, 2+ Summer Tanager, some White-
eyed Vireo, but no Lincoln's Sparrow, Green Kingfisher
or Zone-tailed Hawk. The overall warbler movement was
very good for here, mostly on the mayflies along the lower
canyon: 9 Nashville, 13 Wilson's, 1 Yellow, heard Mourning
(glimpsed it), a couple Common Yellowthroat, one Chat, and
twice I heard what sounded like Black-throated Green Warbler,
but couldn't see them on slopes. Nine species seen
plus 2 heard is very good here in fall. A bunch got away.

A few Least and a Willow Flycatcher were all I saw ID'ably
for Empis. A single flock of over a dozen Clay-colored
Sparrow, plus others scattered about, some Indigo Bunting,
and one greenie Painted Bunting. Only heard one
Canyon Wren, maybe one Hutton's Vireo, it seems mighty
quiet compared to spring and summer. Saw one Rufous-
crowned Sparrow, a few Scrub-Jay, no Bushtit, some Eastern
but no Black Phoebe.

There were at least a couple dozen Monarchs, mostly
nectaring on Frostweed.  One Giant Swallowtail,
a couple Pipevine Swallowtail, two Juniper Hairstreak,
3 Orange sulphur, a Dainty Sulphur, 2 Sleepy Orange,
a few Red Admiral, 3 Queen, a Painted Lady, one Checkered-
Skipper, a Variegated Fritillary.  Slow for leps.

Better though was finally figuring out the WITCH HAZEL there.
I'm botanically challenged, so, very cool, seemingly about
as lost a population as the maples are? I've been
walking by them for years, wondering what the heck those were.
They are not rare, but like everything, you just have to know
what they look like, or what to look for, and knowing where
to look can really help too.

There were two great odes seen, first I finally got
a Bandera Co. photo of Twelve-spotted Skimmer and
saw perhaps 4 males in the park (not the first time there),
and a couple females, and now after seeing a couple dozen,
finally a Bandera Co. photo, which to my knowledge will
be a NCR - new county record.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Here's the evidence.


The other good ode was a Jade-striped Sylph at the
main site for them there, the big pouroff waterfall
below the big main pond on Can Creek.  Just below
the newish scout bridge, where the water pours off
the cliff is the area they are most likely to be
found, and I saw one there well, but didn't get pix.

Otherwise odes were sparse even in the warmth on the
way back down, but Kiowa and Violet Dancer were seen,
numbers of Green Darner, some Black Saddlebags, a few
Wandering and 2 Spot-winged Glider, Checkered Setwing
and a few others I'm forgetting at the moment.
Later at UP there was Blue Dasher and Eastern Pondhawk.


So, it can be good in fall, if you hit it right,
and know where to go, the main lower canyon around the
first HQ crossing and the second crossing between the
day-use area and the trailhead parking lot.  Then
get lucky and hit the mayfly hatch.  These are a
bigger and paler mayfly than the winter ones, and I know
little of the emergence pattern, but IF they are going off,
they are where the birds will be.  Must be there early
if it is going to be warm out as they quiet down in heat.


Here's a summer (July 10) report.

First a couple second hand reports (which I don't
do unless I think they good) from some young ladies
that were part of a tour group there. The group
photo'd male LUCIFER and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds
at the HQ feeders this a.m.. The gals also had
just heard an Audubon's Oriole before I walked up.

I heard an odd warbler song just below the main big
pond on Can Creek that was surely a Hooded Warbler.
If I hadn't have been turned on to a lead of a report
from there I'd surely have missed it, it only sang
twice and that was it, I never saw it.

I saw at least 5 Golden-cheeked Warbler very well in
a couple/few hours walking up Can Creek (East Trail)
to and past ponds. Most found as they bathed at
the various creek crossings along the trail. Two
were stellar males, one an adult female, two were
juveniles (at crossing between ponds 8:30 a.m.), and
I heard one single measure of song at 9:37 from an
unseen bird on the hillside, and heard a couple chips
that were additional individuals along the way as well.

So they are still entirely seeable, heck I've had
harder times finding them in May and June.  Being
at the water crossings early may be key. One
adult male was with a mixed sps. flock at a scolding
event (11:30), the other bathed at the far back spring
(below service road switchback) just 15' from me,
followed by the full monty preen show (9:30). The
female bathed at the second crossing 20' away (7:30).
I heard a couple others up on the hillsides. So
roughly one per hour or crossing on that one trail.

I heard 3 Black-capped Vireo though did not persue,
and as many Hutton's Vireo went zzuweeee. I did
not see a Black-and-white Warbler, man they are in
and out of there quicker than Golden-cheeks. I did
run into someone that said they had one B&W yesterday or day
before. They also had seen a Yellow-throated Warbler,
perhaps some of them summered again this year, last year
was the first proven fledged young successfull breeding
for them in the park.

Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk over the trailhead parking lot,
no Green Kingfisher again, heard singing Scott's Oriole
at parking lot, and saw a first-summer female behind
the ponds. The rest was pretty textbook, though
overall numbers seem way down like everyhwere here,
save Indigo Bunting.

Still some Acadian Flycatchers, Eastern Wood-Pewee,
6 Louisiana Waterthrush - some have acquired the buffy
flanks now which they lack in spring, Summer Tanager,
Blue Grosbeak, one male Painted Bunting, Chipping, Field
and Rufous-crowned Sparrow all with young, Canyon Wren,
Black Phoebe, Scrub-Jay, Blue-gray Gnatcats - some still
in family groups, Yellow-throated (+ a few just fledged
young), Red-eyed, and of course lots of Wide-eyed Vireo,
Ash-throated Flycat., Common Raven, Ladder-backed
Woodpecker, Bushtit, begging Chuck-wills-widow, one
juvenile Mockingbird, etc.

About 4 Spicebush Swallowtail were seen, one probably
Horace's Duskywing, butterflies were exceptionally weak.
Buttonbush is in bloom, as was some Cedar Sage, a little
Mountain Pink was showing but it is not a nectar source.
The Escarpment Cherries have no fruit. There was
one Black Rock Squirrel and two Anole. Red-breasted
Sunfish look fine in breeding color, couple Guadalupe Bass,
lots of Notropis (Sand - lidibundus?) Shiner, a Mexican Tetra
(Astyanax mexicanus) and some Gambusia that don't look like
affinis, and a few Long-nosed Dace (Rhinichthys).

A few Odes were out on the walk down after it had warmed.
One each Four-striped and Five-striped Leaftail, 1 Comanche
Skimmer, 1 Flame Skimmer, 5 Neon Skimmer, 1 Green Darner,
1 Black Saddlebags, 1 Pale-faced Clubskimmer. Zygops
were a single teneral American Rubyspot, a Blue-ringed Dancer,
and 4-5 Kiowa Dancer. Weak beyond belief for the site
compared to 4 or more pre-drought years ago. But still
great compared to next-to-nothing as is the case at so
many local sites nowadays.

Some parts of the creek are not running, though most of
the regular wet holes are still. It was pretty birdy
early early but really quiets down quickly, dawn chorus a
shell of its former self already. Very nice out early
but for birds you should be on the trail at 7 a.m. as it
gets morguelike by 10-11. They're still there, but are
retiring to the shadows decreasing activity as it heats up.


May 1 ~ Did a walk up the Can Creek trail to beyond the
ponds. Heard lots of Golden-cheeks but only saw one
distantly, they are playing hard to get in the heat of
nesting as usual. Young will be out soon and they'll
be easy again shortly. Also it seems as human trail
activity increases in the hiker season, they move away
from it.

A real highlight was non-avian, a big Tarantula, which I
do not see every year here. Bird wise the highlight
was a SY male Magnolia Warbler at the HQ building before
they opened, as it is not on the 2002 park list. A
singing Northern Parula was my first there in lots of
visits, though they nest across the divide at Big Spring,
in Real Co. There were also Wilson, Yellow, Common
Yellowthroat, Nashville and Myrtle, Warblers, plus the
breeders: Golden-cheeked, Black-and-white, Louisiana
Waterthrush, Yellow-breasted Chat, and three territorial
Yellow-throated Warbler. It might have been the
first time I saw 11 species of warblers there in a morn.

I couldn't find the Screech-Owl at his stump which is
odd. Hope it wasn't disturbed away. A Zone-
tailed Hawk flew over with prey in its talons, carrying
food that is (nesting). I heard Scott's Oriole,
didn't see Green Kingfisher again, only a few Acadian
Flycatcher were in, several Eastern Wood-Pewee in, lots
of Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireo, a few Yellow-throated
Vireo, heard a Black-capped Vireo sing next to the
restroom at the pond. One Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Lots of Painted and Indigo Bunting, and Blue Grosbeak,
no Varied Bunting, a dozen each Chipping, Clay-colored,
and Rufous-crowned, a half dozen Lincoln's Sparrow.
All the regulars like Canyon Wren, Black Phoebe, Ladder-
backed Woodpecker, texana Scrub-Jay, Carolina Chickadee
and Wren, Black-crested Titmouse.

A migrant Least Flycatcher or two. No Bushtit
or Hutton's Vireo (quiet during nesting). Some Scarlet
Clematis was blooming, a little Cedar Sage, but it is
not normal as far as flowers go, and so go the butterflies.
A few Spicebush and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, one
Two-tailed Swallowtail, lots of Pipevine, some Sleepy
Orange, Horace's Duskywing, but was overcast and windy
on top of it so tough going for leps. Odes aren't
doing much better, a Prince Baskettail, Common Whitetail,
some Epitheca Baskettail (cf. Dot-winged), but ode numbers
are severely depressed still.

Derek Muschalek posted a note on the net that on April 27
he saw a Worm-eating Warbler at Lost Maples. The park
bird hosts reported TWO together seen by a number of people
on a walk in late April. There was one prior sight
record from the park (and Bandera County), I think a couple
decades ago, and that was it. I don't know if Derek's
was one of theirs, or was it (probably) 3 different birds
after one in 30 years!?!?! Amazing!

Coincidently I saw TWO, weeks apart, in Utopia this spring
(my first ever in 8 springs here), so at minimum FOUR, and
probably 5 Worm-eating Warbler were at Lost Maples and Utopia
this spring. Remarkable! It well shows the
magnitude of the inland warbler event this spring.

April 23 ~ Showed some folks from the windy city around.
The highlight was a pair of Audubon's Orioles first between
the ponds, then on the road-trail along the second pond.
Simultaneously the bird hosts there were leading a walk a
half mile+ from the site and were hearing them, so there
are at least two pairs there. Bob Behrstock was leading
a group there last week and had one at the end (turnaround)
of the Maples Trail, the next canyon over from Can Creek, so
there could be even more there. Last spring was my first
sighting there and I've said here before the depart
my feeders in spring and probably go the high back country
divides to nest. There were my FOS Acadian Flycatcher
and Eastern Wood-Pewee finally back on territory.  Four
male Indigo Bunting in a binocular view at once was a lot
of blue. Some Blue Grosbeak are back too.

There were Very few passerine migrants in general though.
A few Nashville and Orange-crowned Warblers, at least three
Yellow-throated Warbler singing on territory, a Hermit Thrush
and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet are getting tardy, probably passage
migrants, a few Waxwing passed over.

Great Blue Heron is likely nesting in there somewhere.
A Red-winged Blackbird is singing in the new cattail
patch at the big pond. Cattails got there last year,
Red-wing Blackbird the next. We need a gully
washer to clean the silt (and cattails) out up there.
White-M and Southern (favonius) Hairstreak were good
butterflies to see and there were some flowers due to
the water in the canyon/creek, but it is much depressed
as everything hereabouts.

The Golden-cheeked Warbler showed well, though you may
have to put more time in now, until the babies get out
of the nest. Black-and-white Warbler much less
conspicuous as well, and Louisiana Waterthrush present
but not many. The mccallii Screech-Owl showed well.

Of course the regulars are all about like Rufous-crowned Sparrow,
texana Scrub-Jay, Common Raven, Canyon Wren, Black Phoebe,
Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Bushtit, Ash-throated Flycatcher,
lots of Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireo, some Yellow-throated,
the Hutton's are silent now. Early early there were some
Cave Swallow and Chimney Swift over HQ up high, and two
Common Grackle flew out of the park seemingly having roosted
there and going out for the day, they're not often seen at
Lost Maples SNA. Heard a Scott's Oriole.

The bird hosts reported many birders on a walk seeing (2!)
Worm-eating Warbler about April 19, there is one prior
park sighting-Bandera Co. report in 25 + years.

April 16 ~ Led a couple nice guys from Canada that were
serious photographers up the Can Creek trail and we
had a great time. I think they got great shots of
most of it, Golden-cheeked Warbler being key, and of which
we saw a half dozen well. They have really quieted
down now that nesting is full bore underway. Instead
of singing half the day, they are fairly quiet by 9 a.m.
with only shorter bits of singing after that from a few.
I'm sure dawn chorus is still good, but they are much
quieter, much earlier now than a couple weeks ago.

There were a couple male Indigo Buntings and a couple male
Blue Grosbeaks at the trailhead parking lot feeders,
lots of Chipping, a few Clay-colored and Rufous-crowned
Sparrow.  A few Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireo
were in, more White-eyed of course this early still.
Saw a few Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and only heard a few
Black-and-whtie Warbler, amazing after the din of song
a few weeks ago. Again, nesting underway and they
are much quieter much earlier in the day.

Some migrant warblers in the way of Nashville (12+)
and Orange-crowned (4+), and a Wilson's. One
Yellow-throated Warbler was singing near the big ranger
house along the trail at the only cypress there as usual.
One Lousiana Waterthrush was seen, and no Green Kingfisher,
Zone-tailed Hawk or Scott's Oriole though they have been
getting reported off and on. Acadian Flycatcher not in yet.

We glimpsed a Bushtit or two, heard Canyon Wren, and got
great looks at +pix of my secret mccallii Screech-Owl.
Saw regulars like Black Phoebe, texana Scrub-Jay, Common Raven,
a fuertes' Red-tailed Hawk is nesting on the cliff again,
after missing last year when seemingly one of the pair died.

Yesterday the 15th a male CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD was seen
by many and photographed at the HQ feeders. We spent
a half-hour plus and didn't see it today, though there was
a male Ruby-throated with a single snow white outer rectrice
(tail feather) on each side of tail for consolation.

LMSNA Park bird news:
There was a report from the park bird hosts in March
of a 3-day photographed male Broad-billed Hummingbird,
which would be the second park record, the first just
two springs ago April 10, 2009. Maybe we just
missed it last year?    :)


March 20
Kathy and I took a walk up Can Creek at Lost Maples SNA
this first day of spring. We counted Golden-cheeked Warbler
detections only on the way up, totalling 24 birds, two by
chip only, the rest singing or seen. All seen were males.
Total was from trailhead parking lot to a half mile past
second pond at service road switchback, about a mile and a
half. Roughly one every 300' or so.

Also counted one-way on the walk were 18 Black-and-white
Warbler, one female seen, the rest singing males. There
were seven White-eyed Vireo, five Hutton's Vireo, I heard
one good burst of Scott's Oriole song (FOS), 3 Ash-throated
Flycatcher, 6 Canyon Wren, a couple seperate single Bushtit,
a few Rufous-crowned Sparrow, singles of Zone-tailed Hawk (FOS),
Clay-colored Sparrow (FOS), & mccallii Screech-Owl, 4 Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher, 8 Black-chinned Hummingbird. Non-breeding
warblers were 1 Nashville (FOS), 4 Orange-crowned, 1 Audubon's,
3 Myrtle. Winterers (or spring migrant breathen) were
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1 Spotted Towhee, 3 Lincoln's,
1 Song Sparrow and 60 Chipping Sparrow. A Mockingbird
at the pond is clearly a migrant. Some Common Raven,
Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, two Red-tailed and a Red-
shouldered Hawk, 4 Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 5 Scrub-Jay.

Not seen/heard and believed not yet present were Louisiana
Waterthrush, N. Rough-winged Swallow, Black Phoebe,
Yellow-throated Vireo. We didn't see Green Kingfisher
but staff said one was at 2nd pond last week.

Lots of Spicebush (FOS), couple Two-tailed, several Eastern
Tiger, few Pipevine were a good Swallowtail show. Added a
Giant at home. Twenty plus Horace's Duskywings mostly
on the laurel. I'd guess due to the rainfall defecit,
the Mountain Laurel bloom is nothing like last spring's after
the wet winter, but parts of the trail were pretty darn sweet.

Few nectar sources besides the Mountail Laurel and Redbud.
Agarita is about done blooming, Maples and Buckley (Spanish)
Oak are blooming and with leaf buds, but otherwise barely a
detectable sign of budding on Chinkipin and Lacey Oaks, and
not a sign of spring yet on the Sycamore, Pecan, Walnut,
and Cherry. Mostly still looks pretty winter, but for
the Buckley Oaks which are really bustin' out in leaf buds,
just right for when the Golden-cheeks arrive.

Single Springtime Darner and Pale-faced Clubskimmer were
the only two dragonflies I saw but for a damselfly that
got away.

A lizard (ph.) was believed a Rosebelly.


March 6 2011 ~ Kathy and I were in the park a couple hours on March 6 and did not see or hear a Golden-cheeked Warbler though it was middle of the day, after noon. Staff said someone reported one I think Saturday the 5th, which was the date they returned last year. The first very few arrive the end of the first week of March. The Buckley Oaks are still mostly in winter phase with only a few starting to break out. Some nice Redbud in bloom. But most it is leafless, and the live-oaks are yellowing up ready to drop. In a week there will be numbers of Golden-cheeked Warblers singing, but it will be two weeks before it starts to really fill in.

Interestingly There were none of the other early returnees either, like Black-and-white Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher both of which should be back within the next week. In fact most of the regular usual wintering passerines seemed to be gone, with none of the breeding ones having arrived yet. So very typical for the period. The best excitement was a Mourning Cloak butterfly, quite scarce in the area, this at least the second I've seen in the park, both in early spring. The only ode I saw was a Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata). There was a neat area of beautiful purple flowers I don't know or recognize at a seep that I'll have to send pix away to get ID'd. The few other leps were Horace's Duskywing, Southern Dogface, Sleepy Orange.

The neat thing about these late winter visits is that you can feel it is about to explode in green and birdsong while it remains brown and quiet. It is right on the cusp, with just a few signs of spring the trained eye might notice, but most of the park walkers and darn it now noisy mountain bikers, seem not to. The first mile of either path from the trailhead, or the picnic lot, will never be the same.


Back to top of current reports


Some SPRING 2010 NEWS

Below are 4 reports most recent first, from
June (brief), May, April, and March, 2010.


June 14, 2010
Just a couple things from a short walk to the ponds. First, a pair of Yellow-throated Warblers were feeding young in the campground. This is the first known successful park nesting to my knowledge. Significant especially for it being a NON-cypress tree habitat nest site. Apparently using the ball moss in the large old live-oaks.

The other thing of interest was a number of Yellow-billed Cuckoo, which means they are staying to nest this year. It has been several years since I've seen them stay to nest due to the drought I'd guess. They do not nest here annually as the park checklist might lead you to believe.

We saw or heard a couple dozen Golden-cheeked Warblers, of which half were hatch-year juveniles, so it appears as though they had a good breeding season here this year.


May 22, 2010
Kathy and I went up Can Creek, past the ponds ca. a half mile to above spring, about 3.5 miles round trip. Fog mist drizzle on and off until 2 p.m. or so, so coolish, low 70's to low 80's at end, but 99% humidity. Often too windy with 15-20+ gusts fairly consistent, occasional brief quiet spells, and a couple doglegs of canyon with sort of wind sheltered areas.

In case I haven't mentioned it before my pet name for the area of canyon where the big main pond is, is HURRICANE GULCH. It can be quiet just above and below the pond area, and be howling at the pond. In fact, this is a normal state there, I presume due to the dogleg in the canyon right there.

Dawn chorus long over by time we got there but still some song since overcast, but nothing like April, since much breeding so far underway things quiet much of the time now.

Begging young are often the first clue to a bird. We found adults feeding young of 3 sps. that way today, Indigo Bunting, Black-and-white Warbler, and Golden-cheeked Warbler. All three were also heard singing throughout the canyon.

About 10 Golden-cheeked Warblers were heard, 4 seen. About 3-4 Black-capped Vireo were heard, 1 glimpsed, we did not go "up on top" where they are more numerous.

Other singing breeders were the regulars: Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, White-eyed, and Hutton's Vireos, Rufous-crowned and Chipping Sparrow, Canyon, Carolina, and Bewick's Wren, Black and Eastern Phoebe, Louisiana Waterthrush, Carolina Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, Blue Grosbeak, plus (texana) Scrub-Jay, Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Common Raven.

Two Zone-tailed Hawks (adults) were seen at once, so had to be a pair, this above the spring at the top of the normally usually running section of Can Creek.

No Green Kingfisher or Scott's Oriole. There was a minor fallout though of Yellow-billed Cuckoo with at least 4, probably 5 heard or seen. Dry years they do not stay here past early June and these are passage migrants. The Yellow- throated Warblers seem to have departed as always, after a few weeks of singing.

The rare bird of the day was the other migrant we saw, albiet briefly, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. It is my first there, and I don't see it on the park list, but no one birds there for migrants in fallout weather in late May when they pass through in very low numbers locally.

The best bird is usually to me something I got to see well, or close, or watch do something neat, not a matter of rarity. Today's thrill was finding a nearly fledged juvenile Screech-Owl trying to dry out from the mist and drizzle.

These are McCall's Eastern Screech-Owl, and-or "Mexican" Eastern Screech-Owl, a very different bird from the standard Eastern Screech-Owl. We got to scope it, and a lucky boy scout troop happened by so they got to see it well too. One asked if "they will come after you". We have a long ways to go with youth outdoor nature edumacation. At least they were out there, and got to see something different, very well.

Mexican Screech-Owl

Tex-Mex Screech-Owl (Otis asio mccallii)



Due to the mist and drizzle there were very few insects out, I'm sure in the late afternoon there is much more activity. We saw a few Prince Baskettail and Banded Pennant dragonflies. An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Kathy spotted a Celia's Roadside-Skipper, and the usual numerous Sleepy Orange and Pipevine Swallowtail, a few Red Admiral, Variegated and Gulf Fritillary, but not lots of leps out, too wet.

On the way back I found a couple scarabs that were spectacular. I got a few pix, hopefully will show the beauty. It was a pair in copula, or at least one of them wanted to be, and the brighter (male?) was 3/4"+ long, metallic green of head and thorax, with metallic blue elytra (the hard front wings that cover the rear part (abdomen) of a beetle. Mind-boggling stunning in color. True jewels of nature.

The flowers were amazing as has been the case all spring. Large showy displays of Western Venus' Looking Glass were outstanding. I found a group of Larkspurs (Delphenium) next to the bench below the parking area at the trailhead, a couple over 2' tall, one over 3' flower stalk. Twist-leaf Yucca, Coreopsis, Firewheel, all had impressive shows. Some Green Milkweed Vine in bloom was neat. The Canyon Mock-Orange is done already, good bits of Scarlet Clematis scattered about.

Saw some Notropis, probably Sand Shiner, and some Red-breasted Sunfish are finally getting good color now.

The place is hummin' with activity now, and within a month things like the Golden-cheeked Warbler will be mostly done, and on the way out, some leaving breeding grounds already by late June!!! Until mid-June you can usually find a late nesting family or two in the canyon somewhere. Some of the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Black-and-white Warblers will finish nesting and depart within a month too, but some of those will stay for a second nesting.


April 10, 2010
Went to Lost Maples mid-morning to mid-afternoon for
a walk up the Can Creek trail past the ponds. There were a
couple Scissor-tailed Flycatcher just north of town, but darn few
are up here yet, still. At the HQ building at Lost Maples
there was a Tarantula that appeared to have been kicked, HARD,
as to have damaged a couple legs and who knows what internally.
It was still, not moving, and didn't look good. Thanks ya
citiots! You go to a State Natual Area to kill the animals?
It was the first one I've seen there, apparently dying from
human interaction, and completely needlessly, without reason.
It could have easily been moved without hurting, damaging,
or possibly killing it. Do nature a favor and stay in the city.

As if that wasn't bad enough, we saw a sign at the pond that
said "NO Bikes past this point," which I presume
means they have changed the rules and are going to allow mountain
bikes on the trail to the pond. Which last time I checked bikes
were vehicles, and the loose rocky trail is not whatsoever a vehicle
path, but a pedestrian hiking trail. Bicycle tires on it will
be so loud as to nearly ensure you won't be able to hear birds.
What a great idea from the state to run vehicles through endangered
species nesting grounds. In California where this has all
played out a long time ago, I can can tell you hikers and bikers
do not mix. There will be accidents, injuries, and lawsuits.

Pedestrians will be hit. Bikers like going downhill fast, have
no braking control on this type of loose rock substrate the trail is,
and expect everyone to just get the hell out of their way.
The natural experience of listening to the birds, some endangered
species, will no longer exist. The person that though this up
is an mental midget that does not care about the experience of the majority
of park users, but of that of a special interest group they probably
belong to, whose presence will diminish the experience of all other
types of users there due to the noise pollution alone, no different
than boomboxes. Locally there are hundreds of miles of roads
for bikers. There are only a few miles of pedestrian hiking trails
open to the public. Now they will have vehicular traffic.
TPWD sees Lost Maples as its cash cow, and exploits, er, manages it,
for maximum cash extraction, not what is was saved for and given to
the state for, PROTECTION. It is not natural to have a bunch
of bikers going up and down the trail. That's a bike park.

Now let me get down off my soapbox and recount a little of what
nature we saw there. Since our last visit a month ago, it
turned green, with most trees leafing out, or starting to.
The flowers were the big show, very spectacular, a great display
from the fall and winter rains. There were very very few
odes (dragonflies) about, a female Common Whitetail, and a gomphid
that looked like a Clubtail that just after emerging flew to the
wrong place and was taken by a jumping spider one tenth its size.
Photographed some type of bumblebee sphinx moth as well.

Heard about 8-10 Golden-cheeked Warbler and one Black-capped Vireo.
There were a few Louisiana Waterthrush singing, and over a dozen
Black-and-white Warbler, one Yellow-throated Warbler, which will
sing a while and depart. For migrant warblers there were
a several each Nashville and Orange-crowned, and 1-2 Myrtle, so
7 species of warblers all together. A pair of Red-shouldered
Hawks seem to be nesting again, and they probably run off any
rare small buteo that shows up. Only a few Summer Tanager
were back, no females yet, but about 6 Hutton's Vireos were heard.
Other things not back yet are Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Wood-Pewee,
Acadian Flycatcher (of course), and while White-eyed Vireo was
in fair numbers, only a half-dozen Yellow-throated were about.
Heard a couple Bushtit, numbers of Ash-throated Flycatcher.

In the bird notebook there were reports of Scott's and Hooded
Orioles, and a Lazuli Bunting. Go enjoy the trails while
you can without constantly listening to vehicle wheels on it,
while you can still hear the birds, and not have to constantly be
watching to jump out of some idiots way.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

March 13, 2010
We went to Lost Maples to see what the state of spring was there.
We went 2 miles up the Can Creek trail to the last permanent water.
It's still winter. Well barely spring. Most deciduous trees
are just starting to bud, if that. Many show virtually no
signs yet, like Lacey Oak and Sycamore, a few Maples were barely
beginning to flower, the Buckley Oaks are just budding leafs.
The Redbud is just starting to flower, whereas back in Utopia
at 1350' instead of 1800-2000' it is really going. I heard
two Golden-cheeked Warblers, we saw one male Black-and-white
Tree-Creeper (Warbler) singing closely, what a cool bird they are.
Two Hutton's Vireo were singing, as were Canyon Wren and Rufous-
crowned Sparrow, 1 White-eyed Vireo, a pair of Common Raven,
1 Scrub Jay, a couple Lincoln's Sparrow, and a pair of Black
Phoebe at the pond. We did not see Green Kingfisher,
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Zone-tailed
Hawk, Louisiana Waterthrush, though the Kingfisher had been
seen yesterday. There were about 3 Spotted Towhee,
one doing some quiet singing (sub-song), a few Pine Siskin.

There were an amazing number of Anemone flowers, I believe
Wind-flower is the one. But little was going in that
regard, some Dakota Verbena just opening, a few of the Agarita
(Texas Holly) were going good but nothing like around Utopia
500+' lower. Butterflies were good though with about
3 Two-tailed Swallowtail, a few Black and one Pipevine
Swallowtail, one Falcate Orange-tip, a dozen fresh bright
Olive Juniper Hairstreak, a couple Questionmark, a dozen
Orange Sulphur, a few Sleepy Orange and Dogface, one Common
Checkered-Skipper, 10 Erynnis Duskywing likely Juvenal's
but some could be Horace's, one Gulf Fritillary, 5 Red Admiral.
We saw 10 species of butterflies in a few hours, as many as I
recorded in all of February, but these mostly fresh, not last
years beat worn leftovers.

Kathy spotted an Anole at the spring 2/3 mi. past the ponds.
It was 8 deg.F this winter in Utopia, I don't know how they
make it through the winter. That permanent waterhole there
had Mexican Tetra (Astyanax), Long-nosed Dace (Rhinichthys), and
Notropis Shiners I think may be Sand. For Odes we saw one
Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata) and a Zygop that
got away un-ID'd (damselfly). Overall still winter.
OK, not quite, more like very very early spring, as all the
the hominids (people) there indicate, actually a very high number
of them seemed to be out. Cabin fever I guess.



Back to top of current reports

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SPRING 2009 UPDATE

I have been too busy to keep this current so always check the bird news page. We made a couple trips there and I made a couple guiding people and groups since the last entry March 22. So here I will summarize highlights of the last 6 weeks of trips and news.

Starting with the oldest first, on March 29 Kathy and I had a calling pair of WESTERN Wood-Pewee behind the ponds. Perhaps a new park bird. Brreeerrr they called back and forth. Also a dozen Nashville and two dozen Orange-crowned Warblers was serious movement. LOTS of singing Golden-cheeked Warblers. A Mourning Cloak butterfly was my first ever there. It was also my dullest, surely an overwintering individual. No Indigo Bunting or Summer Tanager back yet.

April 10 - Dan Sherick of Katy photographed a male BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD at the HQ hummer feeders, this day.  Surely a new park record!

April 13
I saw two male Lazuli Bunting at the overflow parking feeding area. A beautiful mint Red-spotted Purple was puddling for pictures. Some female Golden-cheeked Warblers were nest material gathering. Red-eyed Vireo was back.

April 23
I led a Nature Quest group and we got to see male Lazuli, Painted, and Indigo buntings at the feeding station. Also first returning nester Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee. I had a glimpse of what was surely a Short-tailed Hawk. Bird of the day got away. Several good looks at Golden-cheeks for everyone.

April 28
I found it written in the bird report book at HQ that the temporary park bird hosts this day, on their last walk before they left saw a VARIED BUNTING at the overflow parking lot feeding station.

May 3
The Varied Bunting was posted to Texbirds,
and there was also a sighting date of May 2
(according to notes at park).

May 7 - Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was at the HQ feeders.

May 10
Kathy and I did the Can Creek trail. We had a 10 second look at the male VARIED BUNTING at the feed station at 9 a.m.. Also there was about 5 Indigo, a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and a FOS Willow Flycatcher. Up the trail to the ponds and beyond, we saw about 10 Golden-cheeked Warbler, one feeding a fledged young. My FOS Swainson's Thrush between ponds was a highlight. Lots of Yellow-throated, Red-eyed, and White-eyed Vireo, one migrant Blue-headed. Several each Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee, a couple Great Crested Flycatcher (migrants?), a couple Scott's Orioles at the HQ hummer feeders, 3 Hutton's Vireo (so regular I'm starting to forget to mention them), 3 seperate Bushtit, a quick look at a Zone-tailed Hawk, Canyon Wrens, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, all the regulars.

May 20
A male Golden-cheeked Warbler was right around HQ early in the a.m. as was Scott's Oriole again. A few golden-cheeks were singing, but they were hard to see. No Varied Bunting. One Yellow-throated Warbler singing below overflow parking lot. I'm surprised how quiet some things are already, which is an indication of being secretive due to breeding. Vireos are noisy though as are Summer Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Pewee.

May 25
Eyed Elatarid, baby Louisiana Waterthrush being fed, 400 Reakirt's Blues on Mexican Hat, see the regular bird news page for more notes.


So there you have a brief readers digest version overview of the last 6 weeks' highlights. And now we will go back to noraml - reverse chrono order.


FOS = first of season (spring here)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And now back to reverse order where we were.....

March 22, 2009 11a.m.-4p.m. Lost Maples SNA
Can Creek trail to ponds and past a little.
Kathy and I, very windy mostly cloudy 70-80 deg.F
Almost drizzly at start, warm, clearer by end.

I do hope I don't get in trouble with the state. I removed an animal from the park. Unknowingly of course. I got home and found a tick. It made me wonder if I could get in trouble when I get chiggers? Like fined for each chigger? One day I took 500 out of Aransas NWR.   :P

Mountain Laurel was in heavy bloom so the whole trail smelled from wonderful to amazing. Many metallic dark turquoise hymenops, bees methinks, on it, more than twice the size of halichtids, about like honeybees.

Also at least a dozen Monarchs were seen, the first multiple numbers of the returning migrants from the Mexican overwintering population I've seen locally this spring. Other butterflies included two Sachem (was Field Skipper), a bunch of Erynnis Duskywings (most Horace's - Juvenal's, and Funereal or unID-d), some Pipevine Swallowtail, a Question Mark, some Sleepy Orange, and a Gulf Fritillary, was about it for butterflies.

Very few other nectar sources besides laurel were available. A little Texas Buckeye still blooming, and some of the Redbud trees were still blooming well. The Bigtooth Maples were in full bloom as were some of the live-oaks which are often leafless now. Lacey and Buckley Oaks are just budding out. Overall a nice "spring green" tone to the hills.

A Eumeces sps. skink was spotted by Kathy, that I may have gotten a docu shot of for ID later. Blanchard's Cricket Frogs were occasionally calling.

Streams flowing well, but must have been low until last week's 3-4" or so of rain there. Red-breasted Sunfish starting to get some color now. Very few Odes (dragon or damselflies) out in the 20-30 MPH winds. You can usually find a dogleg in the canyon every half mile or so that is not a hurricane gulch where near-normal bird or insect activity is taking place.

Birds were good as always in spring, and it will only get better the next 2 plus months. There were by my count at least 2 dozen (24+) singing male Golden-cheeked Warblers, in the small section of the place we did. I did not see a female. I got the feeling they aren't here yet. The males are of course fighting with each other alot now, and the lack of leaves on many trees makes for excellent to outstanding viewing. We saw many very well. We did not cover but less than 5% of the trails-habitat. There are very very many present undoubtedly.

There were 2 Louisiana Waterthrush, one sang briefly. I was very surprised to hear the song of a Red-eyed Vireo, which made more sense when I found it being made by a White-eyed Vireo. There were two Hutton's Vireo. At least a dozen Black-and-white Warblers were also singing on territory. Migrant Myrtle, Orange-crowned, and a Yellow-throated that will stay a while at the pond, and then depart, made for 5 species of warblers there.

The best bird I thought, since it was the first time I have detected it there, was a couple heard only Audubon's Orioles. They were up on the west hillside just before the first big pond, but way up. I heard a series of the quiet contact calls, single notes, sorta like few, .... few, well spaced from each other, back and forth. Had to be at least two birds. Hear 'em in my yard daily. New for my personal LM list, but there is at least the previous 1986 park record. Any others?

Expected suspects were present: Common Raven, Canyon Wren, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, N.Rough-winged Swallow, White-eyed Vireo, Bushtit, and texana Scrub-Jay, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (nesters), Carolina Chickadee & Wren, Black-crested Titmouse, Bushtits, and a couple Green Kingfishers.

What I didn't see in yet was Yellow-throated Vireo (though one was at Utopia Park day before 3/21), or Red-eyed Vireo, Scott's Oriole, Eastern Wood-Pewee (about 3 weeks away still), and Acadian Flycatcher (about 4 weeks or more). Summer Tanager is still 7-10 days away too, Indigo Bunting about the same. No Zone-tailed Hawk yet either. So much is not here yet.

The flip side is that the dominant song you hear is Golden-cheeked Warbler right now in all flavors and variation. In two to four weeks they will fall into the background of the din of the songbird chorus there.

Staff said someone had Black-capped Vireo "up on top" which means above the pond probably up the steep trail to the highlands, not the canyon floor trails.

So the spring birding season is open and the returning neotropical migrants are arriving daily. There are still Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, and other signs of winter about, but not for too long I think. Lots of Black-chinned Hummingbirds around too, a sure sign of spring arriving here.

In the bummer department was the negative human effects we always seem to see signs of. This time it was finding TWO freshly stepped on dying millipedes. The hoardes of spring breakers that walked down the trail from the ponds Sunday a.m. before we got up to them (which were devoid of tents and people before noon and staff said it was packed) apparently had some of those "stop the millipedes" people amongst them. Wonder why I call 'em citiots? Is this what happens because an animal crosses the path? Yes, TWICE on one short piece of path on one morning. What are we doing out there? Have we become oblivious? Are we that out of touch?

Somehow every entrant to the park needs to be absolutely informed that the millipede has more right to be there, than them. And that in the web of life, everything is connected. Just because you can't see the millipedes importance, does not mean it does not posses more than you, there.


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Spring 2008 birding notes ....

May 18, 2008

Lost Maples SNA - Kathy and I walked the Can Creek trail,
past ponds to Mystic Canyon and 1/2 mi. up that before
turning around. About 5 miles total roundtrip, 8:30
to 2:30 p.m.. Still cool early, very nice out.
A long walk, with lots of cool critters seen.

No migrant bird species were seen, but two were heard.
Regular migratory breeders were generally common to abundant
such as Indigo and Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager, Eastern
Wood-Pewee and Acadian Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher,
Yellow-throated, Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos, and
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Also common were resident species
like Carolina Wren and Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse,
Bewick's and Canyon Wrens, and Rufous-crowned Sparrow.

Most obvious was the near constant begging of juvenile
warblers along the trail. Most were Golden-cheeked, but
Black & White and Louisiana Waterthrush were numerous too.
If watched for a while, good views of adults were had.
At least a half-dozen of each species were seen as begging
juveniles getting fed or foraging on their own already.

Some of the Golden-cheeks were golden cheekless, just
gray, white and charcol. No green back yet, no yellow on face,
just out of the nest. White wingbars and outer tail feathers
are still conspicuous, and a dark eyeline. Many adults
are starting to molt now.

A pair of Red-shouldered hawks were in the area of the
creekside spring ca. 1/2 mi. above the ponds. One flew over
with a Ringneck Snake in its beak! A Black Rock Squirrel
was seen in this area too. They are so very cool looking,
and have a very different sounding (soft quiet) alarm note.

The highlight of the 5 miles for me though was seeing a new
to me beast of a lizard, way back in Mystic Canyon. It was
a Crevice Spiny Lizard Sceloporus poinsetti.

And I do mean spiny. This is a lizard you should use a glove
to grab, if so inclined with ignorance to think you could catch it!
(AND OF COURSE DO NOT CONSIDER IN STATE PARKS!!)
It wouldn't let me get but about 7' away. They're noosers.

It was a colored up male about 11-12" long and looked at least
a half pound (I've kept smaller fish to eat). It had some
blue scales on the sides of the black collar, a blue throat
and ventral sides, but it was changing that quickly, and some
pale cerulean sky blue running dorsally down the back behind
the white bordered black collar! Holy lagarto !

I got a couple so-so photos I'll have to try to work some magic
on. He was breathtaking unbelieveable spectacular! It was on
a limestone outcrop with a big crevice it dashed into as we
passed by too closely. It made up for seeing a Ring-necked
Snake in the beak of a hawk.

Misses were buteos, neither of the two Short-tailed Hawks I've
seen there in the last month were seen (both morphs), or
was Zone-tailed Hawk, but both are the easiest to miss birds.
Both species were present and easy my last visit 10 days ago.
No Hutton's Vireo either, which was singing last trip.

Migrants heard were one Least Flycatcher, and one Thrush.
At first I thought the thrush was a Swainson's but then the
song fell like a waterfall, so couldn't have been. I presume
Gray-cheeked, since Veery wouldn't have ascended anywhere
and mislead me for two or three nano-moments. I couldn't get
to where it was across a pond on an impenetrable slope where
you aren't supposed to go off the trails anyway (so I don't).
and I only heard it twice and it shut up.

One Yellow-throated Warbler was still singing near the
ranger's residence at the intersection of East and West trails.

Bird behaviorally the most interesting thing perhaps was
a Golden-cheeked Warbler responding to begging. I can not yet
tell the begging notes made by a fledgling Black-and-white
Warbler from Golden-cheeked Warbler fledglings. The fast
repeated bkbkbkbkbkbk metallic "I see a warbler bill with food"
begging notes. The Golden-cheeked moved toward the begging notes.
I thought for a moment "its going to feed the B & W !. At about
6' to 8' distance though, it made the ID, of a fledgling Black-and
-white Warbler, and quickly moved away when another fledgling saw
it and went off begging, it a Golden-cheeked, which got fed.
Then a male Black-and-white moved in and fed its young.
The fledgling Golden-cheeks are golden cheekless and without
green on back yet either, so are very similar in appearance
to fledgling Black-and-white Warbler, but not to them. :)

The second "best-of-day" was an easy great close view of a male
Black-capped Vireo right on the trail. At one point it went
to a mostly obscured female and fed it. The fed bird
had a smooth even pale gray sharply defined cap. That male
though is one of the sharpest looking birds in North America.
It sure made that last third mile back a whole lot easier!

There were a few insects out, but they were really just
starting to get going as we were on our way out, and 5 miles
tired. A large dark dung-beetle was circling around the
big pond. A number of Pompilids and a Staphylinid were seen
some neat Syrphids and Bombyliids, and a hornet or two.

We did see of butterflies Red-spotted Purple, Spicebush
Swallowtail, Cloudless Sulphur, Lyside Sulphur, dozens of
Duskywings, probably mostly Horace's, a Southern Broken-Dash,
and numbers of Little Wood Satyr (1 Viola's) and Sleepy Orange
as always.

Amongst Odes were a few Flame Skimmer way up in the back
country canyons where they always are, and on ponds some Prince
and Dot-winged Baskettails, Black, and Red Saddlebags, Blue Dasher,
Common (Eastern) Pondhawk, Common Whitetail and Widow Skimmer,
and lots of Pale-faced Clubskimmers.

Some of the damsels were Aztec, Violet, Dusky and Kiowa Dancers,
and Rubyspot (Am.) but I didn't work them really. In the back country
canyons were numerous Great Spreadwings where there was surface water.
Where is the Real Co. line back there, I didn't see a sign?

Other things seen included a 15" Softshell Turtle, Red-eared Slider
and another type I'm not sure of (cf. Map or Cooter type), then
Blanchard's Cricket Frog (100+ heard, few seen) and Rio Grande
Leopard Frog (heard, and saw tadpoles). A Water Snake was photo'd.
Largemouth and Guadalupe Bass were seen, as were Long-nosed Dace,
Texas Shiner, Sand Shiner, and one other unknown minnow (!&%*^^&%!).
Several species of Lepomis sunfish were seen: Bantam, Longear,
and Red-breasted at least.

A few beasts got away as always. We'll just have to
go back and look again. :):)


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Between April 20 and May 8, I made four trips birding
Lost Maples, sometimes guiding folks or groups there. I'll
summarize some of what we saw here. NOAA's "Fog-mist,"
of course is common in the early mornings, but generally
clearing late morning or noonish this time of year.

The best birds were the two SHORT-TAILED HAWKS I found,
first a light morph on April 24, and a dark morph was seen
(some in the group got photos) on May 7. In prior years
when one light bird has been present, most people miss
it most of the time. They are often quick views when
they are seen. These two both soared in the open low
overhead with other birds (vultures) right over the groups.
If they are of opposite sexes, we might really have something.

The May 7 trip every 30 mintues there was one or two
Zone-tailed Hawks in view, never have I seen them so
often or easily before. Usually lucky to get one, and
often missed is the norm. The April 24 trip we had a migrant
Peregrine Falcon soar over for everyone to see.

I have not been seeing Green Kingfisher though, which was
also seemingly absent last year, after the ice storm. It
seems to have become very scarce locally as typical after
severe cold events historically.

Eastern Pewee and Acadian Flycatchers are back and singing,
and we found 3 JUVENILE just-fledged Black Phoebe that
Ron Sprouse of Concan got photos of. It is the first
fledglings I have seen there in 5 years. Yes a Black Phoebe
at the pond, but I had never seen actual fledglings before.

On April 20 there was a COUCH'S KINGBIRD calling
from up on a hillside, probably new for the park.

The abundant nesting Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-
throated Vireos, remain so. There are some HUTTON'S VIREO
singing, mostly in the back country past the ponds.
We had a pair of Chihuahuan Ravens fly over the ridges high,
in heavy molt, but did not see the Commons (two nests unattended
when checked). There is a Great Horned Owl nest on a cliff
there, besides the Red-tail Hawk nest.

A migrant Ruby-crowned Kinglet was still there May 7.
Bushtits have been easy too, with some dark-eared birds.
Migrant warblers are very limited, save Nashville.
A few Wilson's, maybe a Yellow, some Orange-crowned,
a couple Yellow-rumps and that's about it. As last year
multiple Yellow-throated Warblers are singing, but they
will probably not stay again. They just have to stop
and sing in every Sycamore they pass. If we could
get a female there, nesting could be possible.

Breeding warblers make up what is lacking in migrants
of course with Golden-cheeked Warbler being abundant.
April 20 I saw copulation. April 24 I saw a bird taking
food to a nest, and May 7 fledged young being fed.
Before June 15 they will be getting hard to find here.
This is a beautiful, wonderful, special, warbler.
Nowhere is it easier to get more intimate views
without disturbing the birds. By mid-May,
they are already becoming harder to find.
Please do not play tapes for it or the
Black-capped Vireo (which we heard only).

Good numbers of Black-and-white Warbler and Louisiana
Waterthrush are nesting as usual, and both also had
fledged young out of the nest they were feeding May 7.

To me the best sparrow was a CASSIN'S on May 7, clearly
a grounded migrant. It was my first ever there. Lots
of migrant Clay-colored Sparrows of course, and the resident
Rufous-crowned have been easy at the nice new feeding station
at the overflow parking area, or Can Creek Trailhead.
Also at that seed pile were a couple male and a female
LAZULI Bunting, amongst many Painted and Indigo Buntings,
and a male Black-headed Grosbeak was there.

I haven't heard Scott's Oriole though yet this year,
but on April 20 there was a migrant sub-adult male
Bullock's Oriole there.

Pine Siskins continued with 3 at least still on May 7.

So now you have a bit of an idea of how its been
birding Lost Maples this spring, which is great as always.
I haven't mentioned many of the common species like
Canyon Wren, whose songs are constantly dripping off
the cliffs, or Indigo Bunting or Summer Tanager,
whose singing also never seems to stop.

The butterflies and dragonflies are just getting going,
and with the fog-mist, they really don't start till
much later in the day, after noon. I haven't
been there in the heat of the day to see much.
Elsewhere locally it has been weak so far, but it
is early in the season. May 7 I did see Large Orange
and Cloudless Sulphurs, Red-spotted Purple,
Southern Broken Dash, Dun Skipper,
Spicebush and black Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2007 -

August 5, 2007

We went for a walk through the afternoon heat, which felt
like a sauna, up to the ponds, along Can Creek. It is always
interesting to see what is gone as much as what is there.
Done nesting and not apparently present were Black-and-White
Warbler, Golden-cheeked Warbler (of course by this date),
and Yellow-throated Vireo. All 3 are March arrrival breeders.

Still present singing and apparently territorial, which means
on probably 3rd nests by now, were Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern
Wood-Pewee, lots of Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireos and Indigo
Bunting. A couple Lousiana Waterthrushes were heard and still
present. No Black-capped Vireos were heard. Blue-gray
Gnatcatchers were abundant. I don't know if those are young
from nestings there, or migrants (presumably somewhat local),
as I've been getting in the yard for over a month now.

On the butterfly front, Swallowtails were showing well
with a sweep of all the regular expected species. There
were lots of Spicebush flying, at least 6 or 8 were seen.
Also at least 2 of the large black form female Eastern Tiger
were seen (ph). We also saw a couple Two-tailed, a Giant,
a Pipevine and a Black Swallowtail.

A Silvery Checkerspot was on some frogfruit. A few Sleepy
Oranges and Little Yellows were puddling. One Clouded Skipper,
a probable Desert Checkered Skipper, and Western Checkered
Skipper of course, but seemed slow in numbers. The flowers
were largely in between blooms, but the frostweed and
snow-on-the-mountain is about to go off.

Odes were worse than butterflies. There was hardly anything.
I wonder if the 40" of rain for the year there has washed away
lots of the larvae that were here. The numbers are nothing.
These 8" rain events in narrow canyons can have scouring effects.
I did see one Banded Pennant, a Green Darner, American Rubyspot,
Violet Dancer, Kiowa Dancer, and a few unID'd Argia, but it
was the most dismal I've ever seen it in summer. There was clearly
lots of aquatic vegetation cleared out of the ponds by the water.
I saw the bottom where I hadn't in years. It was plenty warm for
them at 85-90 degrees from 2 to 5 p.m..

The highlight though was a small baby lizard I found,
which I haven't ID'd yet, but it may be a Collared Lizard.
Young small lizards can be tricky to ID..... At least
I got a small picture, so someone who knows better than me
should be able to figure it out.

It was nice for the lack of people as compared to busier
peaks of camper, hiker, tourist season. It was quiet enough
that you could study things along the path without too
much disturbance most of the time. Except for Labor Day,
from August until when the leaves change, is a great time to
visit, for the reduced hominid populations on the trails,
and what seems like should be high potential for unusual
or rare birds, butterflies, or dragonflies!

I did once have a Black-billed Cuckoo there August of 96, and a
Common Black-Hawk in 86 or 87 I never reported. Late summer
to fall is probably the best time for vagrants.




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~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2006 -

Lost Maples SNA 6-25-06 11 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
to pond on Can Creek. Very warm and humid - drippin'

Odes: Anisops (Dragons)
Darner sps. ~ Anax sps. NOT junius - prob walsinghami
Sulphur-tipped Clubtail - Gomphus militaris
5-striped Leaftail - Phyllogomphoides albrighti
4-striped Leaftail - Phyllogomphoides stigmatus
Prince Baskettail - Epitheca princeps
Libellula luctuosa - Widow Skimmer
Common Whitetail - Libellula lydia
Comanche Skimmer - Libellula comanche - 3 males, 1 fem. ovipos.
Neon Skimmer - Libellula croceipennis
"E. type" Pondhawk - Erythemis simplicicollis
Black Saddlebags - Tramea lacerata
Banded Pennant - Celithemis eponina
Checkered Setwing - Dythemis fugax
Swift Setwing - Dythemis velox
Black Setwing - Dythemis nigrescens
Pale-faced Clubskimmer - Brechmorhoga mendax

16 sps. ~ 12 at once at the pond.

A bunch of Damsels, probably 10 species of them seen.

Aves: just the regulars: one male Painted Bunting,
one Scott's Oriole, heard both Golden-cheeked Warbler and
Black-capped Vireo (singles), Acadian Flycatcher, E.Wood-Pewee,
Red-eyed, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo still common,
did not hear Black & White Warbler, did hear 2+ Louisiana
Waterthrush, 1 Hutton's Vireo out at entrance turn, lots
of Indigo Bunting, Canyon Wren, Rufous-crowned Sparrow,
one Common Raven, lots of Caro Wren, few Caro Chicks,
lots of Titmice (Black-crested) and Cardinals.

Leps: not lots, flowers scarce. Numbers of Pipevine
and few Spicebush Swallowtails still. One Two-tailed
Swallowtail. Several Large Orange Sulphur including one
pale morph female, few Cloudless Sulphurs, lots Sleepy Orange,
one Dogface, many many Lysides, some Snouts, a Sister,
few Queens, one Hackberry Emperor, a Hairstreak that looked
to me like a Red-banded, not a Dusky-blue (Calycopis). But
it got away before I got a shot of it ... one Checkered Skipper.

Besides the dragon diversity the highlight of the walk
was a 2" Eyed Elatarid. A ginormous click beetle with
false eye spots on its thorax. I've seen a few around
each summer, and may have gotten some poor photos of this one.
For insect collectors it is a cadillac in the collection.
P.S. ALL living things are fully protected in Lost Maples SNA.


Eyed Elatarid

Eyed Elatarid - A giant click beetle with false eye spots on the thorax to intimidate potential predators.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lost Maples ~ June 18, '06 ~ Maples Trail 1-3 p.m.

few birds due to heat of day syndrome but the persistent
singers were still at it: Indigo Bunting, Cardinal,
Summer Tanager, Red-eyed, White-eyed and Yellow-throated
Vireos (all recorded at once), Canyon Wren, Black-crested
Titmouse, Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee,
Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
I did hear both a Golden-cheeked Warbler and a Black-capped
Vireo call from up a hillside.

A couple Spicebush Swallowtails were about, lots of
Lyside Sulphurs, numbers of Sleepy Orange, a few Gulf Frits,
a Large Orange Sulphur, a Checkered Skipper, but low #'s
of butterflies and flowers.

Dragonflies were a bit better. There was a Dragonhunter,
a Marcromia sps. River Cruiser (ph.), Neon Skimmers (ph.),
Pale-faced Clubskimmer, Wandering Glider (ph.), and a few
others I can't recall at the moment, but the photos of
Macromia and Pantala (the Glider) will be new for Bandera Co.

The highlight of the walk though was a Texas (Greater)
Earless Lizard. A spectacular 7" or so beautiful male,
one of the prettiest lizards in the U.S.!


Texas Earless Lizard

Texas (Greater) Earless Lizard - Cophosaurus texana



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lost Maples SNA - May 29, '06 ~ 2-6:30 p.m. Can Creek trail

We arrived as most of the holiday visitors were leaving and
the park was surely quieter than the previous few days.
Also because we went in the heat of the day we naturally
were going to see more butterflies and dragonflies than
birds. We went past the ponds and for a couple hours
above them saw NO people! That made up for the second
trip in a row having screaming people jumping off the
rocks into the first pond.

We did hear the Kentucky Warbler chipping again, so it is
now a 10 day "territorial" record. There were just fledged
Louisiana Waterthrushes about, quite unlike anything in the
books. From the side in profile there were NO streaks
visible on the underparts. Only a short necklace of them
on the center breast could be seen when it faced you.

There were some butterflies, but not the numbers I am used
to.... the drought is having its effects. Most numerous
were Spicebush Swallowtails with nearly a dozen seen.

A few interesting dragonflies were seen that are not often
noted at Lost Maples. I photographed a male Flame Skimmer,
a male Blue Dasher, a male Eastern Amberwing, a Dragonhunter,
and a couple Orange-striped Threadtails. A few other things
I'll need to wait to see pictures of to ID.

About .75 mi. past the ponds where the trail drops down
to the creek junction there was a LEECH in a pond. It was
olive green with a row each of small black and red dots.
Quite neat looking since it wasn't attached to you!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

LMSNA May 20:
Mostly a visit to record some bird songs (not play tapes).
Did record a singing Kentucky Warbler at the start of the
2nd pond behind the TPWD bass sign. Few Black-capped Vireos
singing. The best find was probably the Rough Green Snake
(photos). Not a Smooth Green as previously reported.


Smooth Green Snake

Rough Green Snake - which is smooth as silk



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lost Maples - 4/30/06 - 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
As substitute leader for Bluebird Society walk past ponds on Can Creek Trail

Black and Turkey Vulture, 1 Mississippi Kite, 1 Broad-winged Hawk,
Red-tailed Hawk, 1 Eastern Screech-Owl, 50 Black-chinned Hummer,
Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Black and Eastern Phoebe, Ash-throated
& Great Crested Flycatcher, Acadian Flyc. Least Flyc.-1, E.W-Pewee,
White-eyed, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated & Black-capped Vireo (HO),
Co.Raven, N.Rough-winged, Barn and Cave Swallow, Carolina Wren
and Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, Canyon and Bewick's Wren,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-1, Nashville Warbler-1, Golden-cheeked
(heard 12+ saw one ad.male incubating), Louisiana Waterthrush -4,
awesome song; Black-and-white 6 (saw 2), male MacGillivrays -1,
Wilson's Warbler - 1, Chippy 25, Clay-colored2, Field 1,
Lincoln's 2, White-throated 1 (very late); Cardinal 20,
Blue Grosbeak 5, Indigo Bunting 15, Painted Bunting 12,
House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch. HO = Heard Only


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

April 22, '06
We walked the Can Creek trail to a ways past the ponds.
Almost no migrant birds were present, which was surprising
after yesterday's fallout in the valley. I guess the clear
skies and light southerlies were enough for them to be
"good to go," and they left. The only real migrant seen
was a lone adult Broad-winged Hawk (photos). Some new/recent
arrivals were Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee.
Vireos present were Black-capped, White-eyed, Red-eyed,
Hutton's and Yellow-throated. Golden-cheeked Warblers are
thick (males fighting), as are Black-and-white Warblers, and
a couple Louisiana Waterthrush were in the "ponds" area.
A freshly fledged juvenile Green Kingfisher was at the upper pond.
Lots of Spicebush Swallowtails were out and about. One
Silvery Checkerspot was seen. Odes (dragonflies) are just
starting to get going at nearly 2000', but the pond does have
good activity as always. Park personell said there has been a
male Lazuli Bunting around the HQ feeders.


Two March '06 visits
(Notes will be coming soon)

Of course, Golden-cheeked Warblers are back in
high numbers; some Louisiana Waterthrushes and
one pair of Green Kingfishers are up Can Creek,
near the pond; and, Hutton's Vireos are
singing everywhere in the park.




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2005

Sorry but we haven't had any outside reports from Lost Maples (e.g., from visiting birders) and we haven't been hanging out there this year.... We decided to check every county road and creek crossing we could find locally (there are dozens and dozens) for birds, odes, butterflies, etc., instead of doing Lost Maples so much this year ... I'm sure we missed some great stuff, but we found great stuff too by looking in places that otherwise would never get looked at.... always trades.

However, if I might say, there is a fair account below from which you might get an idea of what to expect expect from a spring or summer visit to Lost Maples in the way of birds, butterflies or dragonflies.



2004
Sept 6
Kathy and I walked the main canyon on the paved road since we usually pass it for the trails... Again it was cool and had drizzled so there was little insect activity. We saw besides the common expected birds, about 8 Indigo and 2 Painted Buntings. The highlight was damselflies: about 5 Coppery Dancer (Argia cuprea) at the cement bridge over the river where you turn to go to the overflow parking (Can Creek trailhead). These red eyed beasts have a copper thorax that glows if you get the sun on them at the right angle, otherwise looking black. They are stunning beauties you'll never forget seeing!

August 22 - The Texas Bluebird Soc. sponsored a birdwalk. It was a bit slow, even drizzled a little up by the ponds. We saw Northern and heard and glimpsed Louisiana Waterthrush though. Also Yellow Warbler, Orchard and Scott's Oriole, some Indigo Buntings, an Acadian Flycatcher still there, 3 Red-eyed Vireos, 2 Green Kingfisher at pond, and a first of fall Loggerhead Shrike by the maint. bldgs.. An Upland Sandpiper flew over calling early in the a.m. at HQ. Very few butterflies or dragonflies out due to cool temps, but a nice walk as always.

July 24
A Common Black-Hawk was on the bird list kept at HQ for visitors to log their sightings in, dated July 18. Such a rarity should be posted to listservs, or otherwise made public, etc., so others might know to look for it, or better, attempt to document it. I saw a Zone-tailed Hawk there 7-24 as expected. There was also a male Golden-cheeked Warbler up at the pond. It was a comparitively cool overcast afternoon, so butterfly and dragon/damsel fly activity was slow. There were some of the usuals at the pond....Black Saddlebags, Red Saddlebags, Eastern Pondhawk, Blue Dasher, Common Whitetail and Widow Skimmer. The highlight of the trip was at least two, maybe four, of a species new to the park (and only once seen in Bandera Co.), Orange-striped Threadtail (Protoneura cara). This damsel has an incredibly long thin abdomen deserving of the Threadtail name. Of course the usual array of Dancers (Argia sps.) were about, and American Rubyspots. We also saw one of those amazing looking Black Rock Squirrels about a quarter mile above the second pond. The Threadtails were at the top of the 2nd pond on Can Creek. There were many Eastern Wood Pewees, Red-eyed Vireo, a very young fledgling Yellow-throated Vireo, lots of Indigo Buntings, and the regular stuff (Titmice, Chickadees, Wrens, etc.).

June 20
With visiting friends we again took the "Can Creek" trail up to the ponds. The butterflies were lackluster, coinciding with an apparent a lull in the flower bloom. But birds and dragonflies made up for them.

We had great looks at an adult male Golden-cheeked Warbler between the two ponds. Two Green Kingfishers were at the upper pond. A pair of Black-capped Vireos were above the restroom on the East trail, just above the ponds a short way. The male was singing and after quietly sitting for a short while he came by closely and gave us great (brief) views. The Black Phoebe continues at the first pond. Another Golden-cheek was seen on the way back down.

Then of course were the regular expected things like Red-eyed Vireos, Summer Tanagers, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Yellow-throated Vireo, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, singing Canyon Wrens, Carolina Wrens and Chickadees, Black-crested Titmouse, and fantastic looks at an Acadian Flycatcher feeding several young.

The only butterflies of note were 3 black form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, stunning beauties that they are.

There were about 20 species of Odes (Dragons and Damsels) in the area of the ponds. Nothing unusual, all the regular most likely expected species, but that type of diversity in that small and area is always impressive. Those male Widow Skimmers I never tire of looking at! Surely someone who knows their damsels well would have seen a few more species than I did.

As always too, our friends were thoroughly blown away by the scenic beauty and bio-diversity of Lost Maples.

May '04 news

May 16
There are two reports for this date. First, one given to me by Derek Muschalek who walked up the pond trail, over the top, to the east/Maples trail, to the camp, and back up to the overflow parking lot. He was mostly counting butterflies. But by accident he recorded about 3 dozen Golden-cheeked Warblers including adults feeding young. Also he had 4 singing male Black-capped Vireo, 4 territorial singing Louisiana Waterthrush, a couple Scott's Orioles, 5 Great Blue Herons, and a tardy Lincoln's Sparrow! He saw about 44 species of Butterflies, which will be on the BFLY news page in a few days (when I get some time!)

Kathy and I went up mid-day to the pond, waiting for Odes to become active. We did see a House Wren, and an Olive-sided Flycatcher, two migrants. Also a Green Kingfisher was at the pond. Then it was mostly the regulars, White-eyed Vireo feeding a young out of the nest was nice. A Western kingbird was near the maintenance building. We had a 7-8 species of Dragons at the pond, and about 7 species of Damsels with the highlight being a male Widow Skimmer (ph.). See the full list on the Ode News page.

May 9
The first excitement was seeing my first Bandera Co. Black-headed Grosbeak at the feeder at HQ. Don't forget to look for Inca Doves there too. We deceided to check the Maples/East trails. We walked the Maple trail up, and a quarter mile past its junction with the east trail, and came back down the east trail, which makes a nice mile loop. Mostly it was the expected regulars, like Red-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Carolina Wren, Black & White Warbler, Summer Tanager, Eastern Wood Pewee, White-eyed Vireo, Canyon Wren, and hearing Golden-cheeked Warblers.

We did however have an Osprey go over up high moving north, and a Zone-tailed Hawk. Only migrant Warbler was a single Yellow, and saw what was likely an Alder Flycatcher. On the slope above the picnic area I heard a Black-capped Vireo call. It was too cold for Odes (Dragonflies) for the most part, but the butterflies were good at the Mealy Sage patch above the two aforementioned trails' junction. It had numerous sps., about 20 in all with highlights being Green Skipper, Nysa Roadside-Skipper, Question Mark, 3 Monarchs, California Sisters, Vesta Crescent, and the normal stuff.


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April '04 news


April 26
Our friend Bob Beckler from CA was visiting so of course he wanted to bird LMSNA again, which is always OK with us! We went up Can Creek as usual. We saw a female Audubon's Warbler on the way, and the Short-tailed Hawk flew up canyon in a big hurry offering only a brief ID look. Also saw a Red-shouldered and a Broad-winged Hawk to round out the small buteos. We got good brief looks at a male Black-capped Vireo singing by the restroom above the pond. Saw a few and heard many Golden-cheeked Warbler, a couple pairs of Louisiana Waterthrush, Kathy saw Green Kingfisher at the pond. I heard 3 and saw one Acadian Flycatcher. Lots of the regulars like Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos, Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager and Eastern Wood Pewee. There were 13 species of dragonflies at the pond, plus about 5 species of damselflies! They were outstanding! Then there were 5 species of Swallowtail butterflies, and other ones like Red-spotted Purple, Green Skipper and Silvery Checkerspot! This place is sooo unbelieveably awesome, everytime you go!

April 24
There was a note in the bird/guests notebook at the HQ for 4/24 citing flyovers of a large flock of White Pelican and a smaller flock of Franklin's Gull! Good SRV birds!

April 16 Our friends Dave and Carol Roelen were visiting from CA, and we made a couple hour (quick) walk up Can Creek. Things were amazingly different from 4 days ago with Derek!. It was cool, and misting so there was no butterfly or dragonfly activity, nor raptors soaring. But, many new arrival migrants and or breeders present.

Besides lots of Golden-cheeked Warblers singing (we saw a
few), and other already present regulars like Yellow-
throated Vireo, and Summer Tanager, we saw one and heard
several Red-eyed Vireos and Indigo Buntings. Many Nashville
Warblers were singing, and many Black & White Warblers too.
A male Orchard Oriole was new, as was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
in the day use picnic area. A Lazuli Bunting sang from the
bluff just before the pond. A Blue Grosbeak was just south
of the park entrance.


April 12
Derek Muschalek, my wife (Kathy) and I walked up Can Creek on a brisk, windy, wintery day. The low in the morning was in the upper 30's!! Regardless Lost Maples came through as usual. We did not see the Short-tailed Hawk, though it was seen a half hour before we got there. A late female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was in the overflow parking lot, as were White-crowned, Rufous-crowned, and Clay-colored Sparrows.

Up the trail we saw Yellow-throated Vireo, Summer Tanager, heard lots and saw few Golden-cheeked Warblers, and in the ponds area, Louisiana Waterthrush, Green Kingfisher, and a Black Phoebe. We also saw a first of season Eastern Wood Pewee, and I saw a Zone-tailed Hawk from the car park.

Also of interest were 7 Common Whitetail Dragonflies, Spicebush Swallowtail, Question Mark, and Derek had a Silvery Checkerspot. I photographed a Ring-necked Snake while he was working the Checkerspot. Sometimes you just have to make decisions   :) !

April 3
Kent Nelson saw an adult light morph SHORT-TAILED HAWK above the pond on the Can Creek Trail on April 3! (I'm betting it was the bird that went over my place 3-26). This bird was in the notebook for having been seen there 4-2. The first report of Black-capped Vireo was also April 2. There will be lots of them in a week or two. March 28 '04 Cool, wet, drizzly, temp in 60's
Notes of Mitch & Kathy Heindel

Golden cheeked Warblers were singing everywhere, including the headquarters building hillside. We went up the "West Trail." We saw a couple of them very well very closely right overhead. There were also singing Yellow-throated Vireo and Black & White Warblers as expected. A Two-tailed Swallowtail was seen as was a Red Satyr, but it was too wet and cold for insects. Regulars like Rufous-crowned Sparrow & Canyon Wren were 'easy'. Can't wait to go back when the weather is nice!

Others had reported Louisiana Waterthrush at its regular haunts just above the pond on the Can Creek Trail.

January 4, '04 Warm, mid-'70's peak in early afternoon
Notes of Mitch & Kathy Heindel

This visit was part of our inaugaral or test CBC for the "upper Sabinal River Valley" area. We were there about 3 hours, and tried to find and count everything we could in that brief period. The main lower canyon around the entrance and campground was birded, as well as a half mile of the "Maples Trail," and a quarter mile of the "Ponds Trail." Surely, many more birds are there than we found in the brief period alloted, and a more extensive scrutinous winter search is merited. Hopefully we'll be able to do that in early February.

Bird List:

Ladder-backed Woodpecker 6; Eastern Phoebe 2;
* White-eyed Vireo 1;
Western Scrub-Jay 3;   Common Raven 1;   Carolina Chickadee 6;   Black-crested Titmouse 10;   Rock Wren 1;   Canyon Wren 2;   Carolina Wren 4;   Bewick's Wren 2; House Wren 1;  Golden-crowned Kinglet 2;   Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3;   Hermit Thrush 2;   Northern Mockingbird 2;   Orange-crowned Warbler 2;   Spotted Towhee 2;   Rufous-crowned Sparrow 2;   Chipping Sparrow 95;   Field Sparrow 1;   Song Sparrow 3;   Lincoln's Sparrow 4;  White-throated Sparrow 1;   Northern Cardinal 16;  House Finch 25; American Goldfinch 1   27 species, 201 individuals.

The White-eyed Vireo was in a mixed species winter flock, and is not on the park list for winter. This is probably the first winter record for the park! As it flew across the road-trail, I said to Kathy "it was olive and yellow with wingbars." It responded well to a Screech-Owl imitation and gave me great looks at 20'. I was able to note the bright yellow spectacles and sides, grayish head, olive back, two bold wingbars, and that the eye was dark (1st yr.). Significantly, there are two other White-eyed Vireos wintering in the Sabinal River Valley this winter.

Of interest nearby, a couple miles south of Vanderpool, a flock of 38 Turkey flew across the road (187).
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