Bird News Archive X
July 1 - December 31, '08
Commonly used abbreviations used are:
"in town" - means in Utopia
UP - Utopia Park on 1050 just west of 187
LM - Lost Maples SNA; GSP - Garner St. Pk.
SRV - Sabinal River Valley
FOS - "First of Season" (usually used for the first
spring or fall migrant to show up locally)
SR - Seco Ridge a couple miles west of Utopia
in Uvalde County. Ode - dragonfly or damselfly
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ End of 2008 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It's always interesting to check in on lists and see how they
are doing at the end of a year. It was great to hit the
200 bird species mark at Utopia Park (UP). I was actually surprised
that we got 200 on the Seco Ridge (SR) yard list more quickly, proving
it is more a function of time spent, than habitat. The yard list
is about 210, from a single spot, on SR. Utopia on the River (UR)
is at about 135 bird species now, but it doesn't get hardly any
hours of coverage. It is great habitat and deserves more coverage.
My Sabinal River Valley (SRV) list which is the biogeographic area
of the canyon and valley from Lost Maples to Clayton Grade is now
at 294 or so. That is really the most amazing one as it turns out.
It means that almost half the birds that have ever been found in all
of TX (630 species) have been right here, around Utopia. Outstanding
diversity considering the dearth of waterbird habitats. If I didn't
have to work it would be well over 300 and climbing. Or if I had access
(roadside birding has its limits) to more habitats, river, and tanks.
It was a lackluster year for butterflies and dragonflies due to
the drought, numbers of both were down most of the year for many.
Smoky Rubyspot (Hetaerina titia) damselflies never even came out.
The late summer and fall rains did produce flowers, and some of the
immigrant butterflies from Mexico that can make it exciting here
did show up, but besides 3 Ruddy Daggerwings, nothing new and different.
It was the best Orange-barred Sulphur invasion in 5 years (4 at once).
The Utopia area butterfly list stands now at about 130 species.
I have seen 90 sps. at the Library butterfly garden, and amazingly,
105 in the yard which is mostly wild natural, but for 3 potted plants,
up on usually bone dry SR.
Note these numbers are not to brag, but to give you an idea of
what you should be able to record, or what the level of local diversity
is, and what is going through *your yard or local patch* here,
and what could be seen in a few years of knowledgeable searching.
I'm afraid to work on the moths here! There have to be a thousand!!
But holler at me (local # 2349) if you have a Luna!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dec. 31 ~ bdbdbdbdats all folks! Hope you had a great year!!
White-tipped Dove was in the SR yard briefly. I heard a Common Grackle
in town. 8 Audubon's Orioles in yard. Wow it's over! :)
Well GREEN JAYS and SNOW in Utopia in December was a good way
to finish the year off with something new and different.
Dec. 30 ~ The Sage Thrasher came in for a drink at the bath,
presumedly the same bird as was here Dec. 3, and therefore a wintering
individual somewhere in the neighborhood. We get as many as
6 Mockingbird and 8 Hermit Thrush coming to our bath on a good day,
from all over the 'hood. At least 9 (nine) Audubon's Orioles today.
Dec. 29 ~ The Black-and-white Warbler continues at UP, which means
it is wintering since it was seen in Nov. and is probably the one seen
in Oct. too. There are only two Edwards Plateau winter records
in Lockwood's Hill Country Birds book, both one-day reports. Also the
adult White-eyed Vireo continues there.
Dec. 27 ~ some Bushtits in yard was the only thing different.
Dec. 26 ~ The Long-billed Thrasher continues at UP across the dam. Also
Blue Jay, Black Phoebe, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker.
Dec. 24 ~ There are 2-3 Starlings still hanging out around town,
that appear to not be leaving this winter.
Dec. 22 ~ Hutton's Vireo and 8 Audubon's Orioles in yard.
Dec. 21 ~ At SR had a quick look in flight only of a bird crossing
a path that I could only guess was a Curve-billed Thrasher.
I never got another look so have to let it go. Probably
missed a good yard bird.
Dec. 20 ~ We finally got a couple hours to go look around and
wanted a peek before the front came in and made birding rough.
The big big BIG news is GREEN JAYS around Utopia. The first
report I know of in the Sabinal valley is of about 4 birds
coming to Sid and Jackie Chaney's feeders a mile south
of town. Sid says they've been there a couple weeks plus.
Kathy and I went over and bugged Sid and saw at least 3 of them.
And got some poor digiscope pictures of this tropical beauty.
Devout readers (both) will remember mention of them a couple years
ago, a report Kathy and I chased, however I became convinced
those were Scott's or Audubon's Orioles, both of which are
largely yellow and green with black on the head, superficially
resembling a (green) jay to non-birders. Now we have the real deal
for sure and pictures to prove it!
Thank you LeAnn Sharp for passing the word along about the birds.
Folks please don't hesitate to holler (local phone: 2349), e-mail,
or smoke signal if you have something unusual. Get pictures
and tell others is the basic 101 drill for an unusual sighting.
Photos will allow for a positive irrefutable identification
long after you are gone, and corroborating observers can be
just as good, if detailed notes are taken at the time of observation.
Get others to see the birds immediately or sooner is your best bet.
Often a bird can be very hard to photograph, bad light, etc..
So having a well-known respected expert birder see a bird can be
as good as a picture. They are highly skilled at recording
the details of plumage, knowing just what to pay attention to.
They are able to write descriptions on little pocket notebooks
with blazing speed like an old fashioned reporter, covering all
key feather tracts of the bird, with terms like worn, fresh basic,
heavilly abraded juvenile, shaft streaks, etc., and shorthand terms for
feathers like terts, rems, rex, medcovs, etc., with dexterous agility.
Elsewhere about town Dec. 20 we saw a SAGE THRASHER at the very
south edge of the golf course property, the 3rd one this fall.
At Utopia on the River we saw finally a late FOS Brown Creeper.
A flock of 60 Waxwings there may have been the same 60 that
flew over us at SR earlier in the morning. A Belted Kingfisher
was there too. At UP there was an immature SWAMP SPARROW.
I heard Hutton's Vireo, and we saw an adult White-eyed Vireo
there. I heard a Blue Jay, so had a three Jay day.
(Lots of Western Scrub-Jay at the house). Also at the SR
hovel we had the White-tipped Dove and some Audubon's Orioles,
which coupled with Green Jay make for an amazing assortment
up here in the hill country on the Edward's Plateau. I thought
I heard a Pine Warbler but never saw it. A Say's Phoebe
was at the golf course too. A male Northern Harrier flew
over SR before dusk, on the way to a roost, again.
There was a Mexican Yellow (butterfly) at UP.
This morning out the window as I was at the computer a flash
of movement became upon my eyes catching up and focusing,
the immature Sharp-shinned Hawk capturing an adult male Cardinal.
Big arctic cold front to hit before midnight with another blow.
Topped out at nearly 80 deg. F this afternoon!
Dec. 19 ~ Hutton's Vireo, White-tipped Dove, Audubon's Orioles.
Dec. 18 ~ White-tipped Dove still at SR.
Dec. 17 ~ got a grab docu shot just to show the Selasphorus
(Rufous/Allen's) Hummingbird here at SR. 20 Lark Sparrows down
SR by the llama pasture.
Dec. 16 ~ Was 30-35 from yesterday a.m. until past noon today!
At least 8 Audubon's Orioles, White-tipped Dove, 135 Chipping
Sparrow, at SR. At least 12 male Cardinal at once. Cooper's
and Sharp-shinned Hawks make daily attempts on the seed eating
flock here. Coops mostly after doves, but Cards too, and the
Sharpys mostly Chippys and Cards, but a Siskin will do.
Dec. 15 ~ Another front hit pre-dawn with temps dropping from
65 at 3 a.m. to 35 by 9 a.m.! Utopia!! Chill about 25 or less.
Dec. 14 ~ Two Hutton's Vireo were in the yard, as was the Golden-
fronted Woodpecker again, which was seen eating sunflower seeds
on the ground out back. 3.75 mi. N. of Sabinal there was an
immature Harlan's Hawk. A black beauty. Then 5 mi. E. of Knippa
there was a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK! My first in Uvalde Co. in 5 years.
In Uvalde at Ft. Inge there was Ringed Kingfisher, Kiskadee,
Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Verdin, e.g., the regulars.
In the fields and hedgerows around Knippa there were a few
American Pipits, lots of Kestrel, Shrike, Meadowlarks, and
Vesper Sparrow, some White-crowned, Cardinals, one Pyrrhuloxia,
a Say's Phoebe, e.g. the regulars.
Dec. 13 ~ Finally a low in the 40's, but it comes with
30 MPH southerlies! There were at least 125 Chipping Sparrow
in the flock outside now.
Dec. 12 ~ Low in the upper 20's again. There were TEN (10)
Audubon's Orioles at once in the yard today. I got a picture
with 3 in one frame. Also at SR were 4 Waxwing, 50 Siskin,
and the White-tipped Dove. At UP the Winter Wren continues
at the north end of the park. At the butterfly garden there
were 5 butterflies total, of 4 species, and it appears the
season is all but over.
Dec. 11 ~ Our system of the 9th brought snow to New Orleans today !!
We had low's in the mid-upper 20's. 14 Cedar Waxwing flew over SR.
The White-tipped Dove was out there and a gaggle of Audubon's Orioles
was around too. In the afternoon two flocks of Sandhill Cranes
passed over SR getting a half-free ride on the frontal passage.
One flock of 30 and another of 52.
Dec. 10 ~ winds still howling from frontal passage gusts over
30MPH, freezing, wind chill in the low 20's. And they call
it Utopia? The snow moved east and hit Houston today!
Dec. 9 ~ At Utopia Park there were 3 Northern Shoveler. At the
Library butterfly garden there were very few butterflies left,
but a Tropical Leafwing landed briefly near my feet. Then on
1050 just E. of 357 there was a White Angled-Sulphur flying
down the road! A major front hit in the afternoon with gusts
to over 40 MPH !!
The event of the day however was at about 11 p.m. when it
SNOWED !! Big wet flakes up on Seco Ridge. I got some pix.
It got so cold, some was still visible at dawn, and was 1/2"
thick at peak. WOW !! I'll get some pix up somewhere here...
Dec. 8 ~ Eight Audubon's Orioles and the White-tipped Dove again.
Dec. 7 ~ A Winter Wren continues at UP. Interesting butterflies
were a Mexican Yellow here in the yard and two more at the library.
Also here was a fresh dark Common Buckeye, a false hatch due to heat.
A Queen passed through and another was down SR a mile plus.
At the library garden there were one each Clouded and Eufala Skipper,
and dwindling numbers of the same old stuff.
Dec. 6 ~ At the SR yard, a record 8 Audubon's Orioles !!
The upper 20's low, and peanut butter, peanuts, sugar water,
sunflowers, and water brings them in. Several bathed.
Rufous Hummer, Hutton's Vireo, and 13 sps. butterflies.
Kathy saw the White-tipped Dove sneaking around.
Dec. 5 ~ The 5 Audubon's Orioles spent the better part of the
day around the yard, at times fighting over hummer, sunflower
or peanut feeders. The White-tipped Dove showed up again.
A dozen Cedar Waxwings passed over. Probably about 120
Chipping Sparrow now. Over a dozen Cardinal.
Dec. 4 ~ FIVE Audubon's Orioles were around the yard on the
near-freeze post-frontal morning, and one male Robin posed for pix.
The Long-billed Thrasher showed up to drink at the bath again.
Looks like a freeze tonight.... Butterflies in the yard were
a Checkered White, a Red Admiral, Dainty Sulphur, a few each of
Sleepy Orange and Variegated Fritillary and Snout.
Dec. 3 ~ Wow what a day. Three+ Audubon's Orioles were about
quite a bit, including bathing. Then the White-TIPPED Dove
showed, and even bathed, showing rufous wing-linings when it
did its axillaries. At least two, probably three Hutton's Vireo
were calling at once out front. Then a SAGE THRASHER was
running about! And finally the presumed Rufous Hummingbird
was back, late in the p.m.. A Sharp-shinned Hawk passed over late.
That Golden-fronted Woodpecker flew by the SR yard again today.
Dec. 2 ~ At the pond on 1050 just east of the pass 5 miles west of town,
there were 2 American Wigeon and 16 Green-winged Teal. At the pond
west of the pass there was an Osprey. Up here on SR a visiting
friend was walking around and heard a "scratcher", which here
is probably a Spotted Towhee.
Dec. 1 ~ We played local hooky and went to Ft. Clark Springs
(Brackettville) with a visiting friend from out of state,
for something completely different. We saw a bunch of neat
stuff including several Olive Sparrows, Long-billed Thrashers,
Kiskadee, Green Kingfishers, a Couch's Kingbird, and a number of
nice winter passerine flocks were neat. An odd Piranga (Tanager)
had the body, bill, and call of a Western, but a reddish tail and
no wing-bars. Lots of Harris's Hawks (8), Pyrrhuloxia, Black-throated
Sparrow, pair of Chihuahuan Raven, etc.. A birding HOT SPOT it is!
Nov. 30 ~ A quick look at UP netted the expected regulars only.
Then a windy walk up at Lost Maples found little but beauty
due to the winds. A Golden-crowned Kinglet in with Ruby-crowns
in one passerine flock, but even the resident species were
hard to find. An armadillo at our feet made up for it though.
Nov. 29 ~ A mild front entered the area yesterday, reinforced
by a stronger one today. Buckley Oaks are peaking in color.
Nov. 28 ~ A flock of 9 American Goldfinch passed over SR early.
At UP maybe the same Winter Wren continues and two Green Kingfisher
were present. Unusual was a Long-billed Thrasher there, which
gets the honor of being species number 200 on my Utopia Park list.
In the dragonfly department there were Autumnal and Variegated
Meadowhawks, Green Darner and Blue-ringed Dancer at UP.
Another hit on the road Armadillo on SR (dump road - 357) was
the FOURTH just this year !?!?!?!? Does no one know they
eat fire ants??? A thousand ant mounds on SR will NOT be
eaten this year because of the four run-over dillos in the last
6 months. Come on people, slow down, and get a clue! I guess
we need a basic 101 Armadillo biology program in Utopia.
They can't see squat, but will bury their head in your fire ant
mounds and love it, eating the eggs and queen which kills the mound.
Nov. 27 ~ Presumedly the same Golden-fronted Woodpecker was
seen again on SR. A couple Audubon's Orioles spent much of the
day around the yard. Besides a Mockingbird, a Long-billed Thrasher
came into the bird bath and drank! A Sharp-shinned Hawk took
a Siskin from below while in an upsidedown position. At UP there
was a continuing Song Sparrow.
Nov. 26 ~ The cold brought all the White-winged Doves in the
valley here this morning, and when a Cooper's Hawk flushed
them I got a good count, 125!! There are 4 Inca Dove too.
5 Slate-colored Junco, and 8 Bushtit plus the regular stuff.
Nov. 25 ~ At SR 2 Audubon's Oriole, Hutton's Vireo, 2 Myrtle
Warbler, 2 Orange-crowned Warbler, 18 Bushtit moved through.
About 12 species of butterflies were in the yard. Near-freeze.
Nov. 24 ~ At SR saw 50 White-winged Dove, 40 Pine Siskin,
and the presumed Rufous Hummer continues. Another frontal
passage in the morning with gusts to 25+ MPH.
Nov. 23 ~ A couple of the Audubon's Orioles were back in
the yard at SR this a.m., and the Rufous Hummer was about.
About 40 Pine Siskin were in the flock there too.
At UP Kathy spotted the latest ever for us locally
Black-and-white Warbler, a female. Also there was a
Golden-crowned Kinglet. I thought I glimpsed a Pine Warbler
but it flew off too quickly. Below the dam was an FOS Song
Sparrow right about on time. Some American Goldfinch were
around town. At Utopia on the River and around the 360
crossing, a few Myrtle, an Orange-crowned, Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
one Long-billed Thrasher and 4 dozen American Robin.
A male Northern Harrier flew over SR late in the afternoon.
Some nice Buckley (Spanish) Oak color on the hillsides now.
Probably a week or so until peak for them.
Nov. 22 ~ A chilly post frontal morning with humidity to
make sure it goes to the bone. The bright side is there
were at least FIVE (5) Audubon's Orioles in the yard,
a couple of which were around 6 hours. Several bathed.
They also ate peanut butter with glee. They had a brief
whistlefest that made for 5 ethereal minutes. They also
made besides the regular hard aarnk call, a much softer
almost nuthatch or house finch like nasal call, eng eng.
The WHITE-TIPPED Dove also spent much of the day in the
yard! Now we're up to 3 weeks since first detected.
There were 3 Cedar Waxwings in a juniper out front.
A pair (male and female) of Robins came in and drank.
There were 4 Juncos and about 70 Chipping Sparrows now.
White-winged Doves number 40 at least, still. A couple
dozen Pine Siskins were around early. The immature
male Rufous (presumed) Hummingbird continues.
Thought sure I heard a Pine Warbler twice which was followed
by a bird flying by that looked like a Pine Warbler, but
it didn't stop or stick for me to absolutely confirm.
A Northern Harrier flew by right before dark with a
rodent in its talons, apparently carrying tomorrow's
breakfast to the roost with it! A late pair of Lesser
Goldfinch were around the sunflower tubes today too.
Nov. 21 ~ Did a Uvalde supply run which means oh boy a
couple birding stops on the way. Unfortunately it was
still windy from the front passing, and a near-freeze
up in the hills made it a bit chilly. We cruised some
roads and ag fields, and worked some hedgerows and habitat
along the roads around Knippa for a couple hours.
Best was a GREEN JAY just southwest of Knippa, and at
the stock tank a couple miles south of Knippa a LEAST GREBE.
Other things seen were Long-billed and Curve-billed Thrashers,
Cactus Wren, Verdin, several Caracaras, a FOS Say's Phoebe,
a single Lark Bunting, lots of Vesper, White-crowned, Savannah,
and Lark Sparrows. Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed
Woodpeckers, Pyrrhuloxia, lots of Cardinals, and several
Red-tailed Hawks. One buteo seen was an apparent large
female HARLAN'S HAWK. This bird we saw a couple years
ago down here in the same area. Whitish tail with dark
mottling and a diffuse but distinct sub-terminal band.
No Cranes, Longspurs, Mountain Plovers or Geese were found.
But, on the way back from Uvalde west of Knippa at dusk,
there were several nice V's of White-fronted Geese,
totalling about 750 birds flying south across Hwy. 90.
A Great Horned Owl was on 187 right near the D'Hanis cutoff.
Nov. 20 ~ At SR there were 2 Orange-crowned Warbler
bathing at once, and 2 Hutton's Vireo, one of
which actually held for nearly a full second in the
water (most Vireos only splash bathe, not stopping).
4 Bushtit were about, a Hermit Thrush ate more
Evergreen Sumac berries. The immature male Selasphorus
Hummingbird (probably a Rufous) continues.
Wish he'd go already! Another front hit about 5 p.m.
so we're in for another near-freeze tonight after
the 30 MPH winds slow down a bit. Lovely.
Nov. 19 ~ After thinking I heard one yesterday,
I got a for sure FOS Cedar Waxwing at SR today.
Also a few American Goldfinch, 25 Pine Siskin,
50 Chipping Sparrow, 25+ White-winged Dove, the
pair of Inca Doves continues, a couple Field Sparrows,
and amazingly after 2 weeks absence, the WHITE-TIPPED
DOVE showed up again !! About 13 species of butterflies
were in the yard of which an Elada Checkerspot was new
for the month.
Nov. 18 ~ Amazing was a new fresh Arizona Sister,
the second for the month. There was also a Leafwing
(Anaea sps.) butterfly here at SR too. About 28 species
of butterflies were at the Library garden. Amazing for
the third morning of right about freezing in town.
There was the FOS Robin in town, and at UP my FOS
Winter Wren. I heard (finally) my FOS Geese up on SR
(White-fronted) at 11 p.m.. Hutton's Vireo still in yard,
but different was an immature White-crowned Sparrow .
Nov. 17 ~ Audubon's Orioles were around in the 35 deg.F
morning chill. Also at SR was a dying Arizona Sister
(butterfly), a Texas Wasp Moth, and an Autumnal Meadowhawk
Nov. 16 ~ Low was upper 20's in town, maybe 30 on SR.
Was 24 in Junction and 27 in Hondo! At the butterfly
garden in the afternoon heat (mid-60's) there were about
26 species of butterflies, and a couple hundred individuals,
despite the freeze. Lot's of the remaining flowers were
freeze burnt though. A Red-naped Sapsucker was at UP.
Down 354 there were good numbers of White-crowned, Vesper,
and Savannah Sparrows, and some Lark. A pair of Long-
billed Thrasher were where we've seen them before,
fairly good evidence of a resident pair, further north
than any I know of locally.
Nov. 15 ~ Wind blew 10-20 MPH, gusts to 30 all day until dusk!
My FOS American Goldfinch blew by at one point, at SR.
A male Slate-colored Junco joined the 2 females here.
I heard Cranes blowing downwind too. A male Northern Harrier
blew past late, and Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks both
dove on the doves and sparrows at the seed scattered about.
Nov. 14 ~ A Golden-fronted Woodpecker flew by the SR yard,
fairly unusual up here on the ridge. A Water (American) Pipit
flew over SR calling. A check of the butterfly garden on this
last 80 deg. F afternoon before the impending freeze Sat.eve/Sun.a.m.,
yielded a busy garden, with about 29 species in an hour,
likely the last time that will happen this year. There were
over 100 Sleepy Orange. A big Coyote Cloudywing was the only
thing new and different. Three Orange-barred Sulphurs continue.
Three each Monarchs and Queens were nectaring. Sat. will barely
hit 70 deg. F, and then a hard freeze Sun. a.m., should usher
in the begining of the end of the year's butterfly flight season.
It was pretty weak due to the drought until August when we got
the first rains, and then was pretty good Aug. to mid-November,
though nearly lacked in any rarities showing up locally, besides
the 3 Ruddy Daggerwings: at Lost Maples, the library garden,
and the shredded one at Concan during fall Nature Quest.
Nov. 13 ~ The imm. male selasphorus hummingbird continues.
Late in the day on some watered caliche some butterflies
were stopping in and another (the second ever) TROPICAL
BUCKEYE stopped for a few minutes before continuing
on to the NE. My first ever locally was just this past Oct..
Nov. 12 ~ At SR the regulars like Caracara, Chihuahuan Raven,
Hutton's Vireo, Eastern Bluebird and Phoebe, Ruby-crowned
Kinglet, 50 Chipping Sparrow, 30 White-winged Dove, and
2 or 3 Slate-colored Junco, a Field Sparrow or two,
Hermit Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler on the peanut feeder.
Nov. 11 ~ The immature male Selasphorus Hummingbird
continues. Looks and sounds Rufous to me.
Adult female Cooper's Hawk dove on the seed eaters flock.
Nov. 10 ~ There were 2 Junco outside here at SR (Slate-col)
and a Bushtit, of which I could only find one for sure.
It was in a flocklet with the Hutton's Vireo, a Ruby-crowned
Kinglet and Orange-crowned Warbler. An immature male
Selasphorus (probably Rufous) Hummingbird showed up!
A Reakirt's Blue was the first for the month.
A lone male Common Grackle was at the N. end of town.
Nov. 9 ~ We snuck up to Lost Maples early to beat the
crowds, which we did. There was some excellent color,
and if you stay off the maples trail you can see some
birds. We had a few flocks with Chickadees and Titmouse,
Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Orange-crowned Warblers
in each, and in one a Hutton's Vireo, another the
latest local Blue-gray Gnatcatcher I've ever seen.
Regulars like one Black Phoebe, one Green Kingfisher,
two leeches, one Common Raven, heard several Canyon
Wren. The Hilbigs reported a flock of Geese flying
over Lost Maples this day too. As they also noted, the
line waiting to get in, mid-morning to mid day at least
was nothing short of amazing. Especially considering that
we spent an hour without seeing anyone by not going
on the tourist trail, and going more than a mile back.
There was a FOS GOLDEN-crowned Kinglet, and a Belted
Kingfisher there too.
A winter form Question Mark was nice, but the most
amazing thing was watching a Red Admiral that jumped
from its roost site on a maple to avoid being eaten
by a titmouse, and fell 20' to the ground keeping
its wings closed to fall faster and stay camoflauged,
when it hit the leaf litter. Incredible behavior.
At the library butterfly garden, a White-eyed Vireo
continued, and there were 2 Checkered White
(haven't seen any in a month plus), lots of Dainty Sulphur
and Sleepy Orange. Still some numbers, but diversity
is crashing, and if we don't get something rare within
a week or so, it's over for the year.
At SR there was a worn Theona Checkerspot in the yard.
Nov. 8 ~ A chilly morning at SR brought in a couple
Audubon's Orioles for a few hours. They hit the peanut
and sunflower feeders, the hummer feeder and the bath.
An adult and a HY (hatch year - this years young) bird.
A female Selasphorus Hummingbird came in for one feeding only.
The FOS Junco was here, a female Slate-colored of course.
A small worn brown Arizona Sister flew by me at SR.
In town I watched a White Angled-Sulphur fly out of the
butterfly garden and across the road. It was a female
without yellow squares on the wings. The Hilbigs report
a Sprague's Pipit from their place on W. Sabinal Rd..
Nov. 7 ~ An immature White-crowned Sparrow showed up at the
seed here at SR. Dainty Sulphur are increasing. A few
Common Grackle were at the Waresville turnoff on 187.
Nov. 6 ~ A Broad-tailed Hummingbird came into a feeder
once, and never reappeared, probably because I startled
it inadvertently coming around the corner. It was a
female or immature. Texas Wasp Moth on the white Eup.
Mestra too. The Chipping Sparrow flock here is now 45-50.
Nov. 5 ~ NO White-tipped Dove (and it hadn't been seen again
as of Nov. 11). A three day bird apparently. Sure was nice.
Besides the regular Hutton's Vireo again, there were 35
Pine Siskin now in the flock. A Black Swallowtail was
the first in nearly a month I think... probably a false
hatch due to the heat.
Nov. 4 ~ The White-tipped Dove was about again, seemingly
getting a little more at ease, but still not letting me out
there with scope and camera.
Nov. 3 ~ At SR the White-tipped Dove was seen only briefly,
but present still at least. Very nervous. Won't come in
if I am out there with scope/camera, even if I am behind
camo burlap! While I was out there thinking I was hidden,
a Sapsucker flew into the live-oak right there in the
center of the opening in back, an immature RED-NAPED.
Nov. 2 ~ Maybe the best bird of the fall here at SR was
a WHITE-TIPPED DOVE eating seed here in the back yard.
Recall there was one here 2+ years ago. It was a juvenile,
and this was a bird-of-the-year as well, so not the same one.
It was quite nervous but I got some digiscopes through the
window screen that show it at least. At the butterfly garden
and UP we saw 24 species of butterflies.
Nov. 1 ~ November !?! At SR a trio of Bronzed Cowbirds
flew over calling, a male and two females. Haven't seen
one in way over a month. There were 17 Pine Siskin at SR
in the late afternoon. Lots of Meadowlarks and Shrikes
where grassy areas along 187 south to Sabinal.
Oct. 31 ~ Hermit Thrush was eating the not yet too hard
berries of the Evergreen Sumac. Had 3 Gray Fox at dusk.
Finished October with 82 species of Butterflies locally.
Probably about my third best month here in 60 now.
Oct. 30 ~ At SR Hermit Thrush bathed at sunup. 4 Pine Siskin,
15 House Finch, Hutton's Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Orange-
crowned Warbler. A distant woodpecker in flight was surely
a Sapsucker. A couple Monarchs stopped to nectar. Still
seeing a few to a dozen every day.
Oct. 29 ~ At sunup was the bird of the day on SR, the first
yard SAGE THRASHER! It was sunning at the top of the juniper
over the bath, where it probably had been. Ate some berries.
Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow still here. About 17 species
of butterflies were seen in the yard, mostly on a white
Eupatorium. 3 Chihuahuan Ravens at sunup too.
Oct. 28 ~ Low just above freezing up on SR, I heard 32 and 33
reports down in the valley (town). A bit early isn't it?
Hopefully it won't wipe out the flowers at the butterfly garden
as Novemeber is perhaps the best month for super rare vagrants.
The SR Chipping Sparrow flock now at least 30 birds,
from 13 on Oct. 24, just four days ago. Finally a visual
on a FOS White-crowned Sparrow, a juvenile leucophrys, after
thinking I've heard them a few times in the last couple days.
At the butterfly garden was a False Duskywing (Gesta gesta),
and about 35 species but numbers way down, crashing fast.
Sickle-winged and White-patched Skippers continued.
A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher male was about 1/2 way up
SR between the dump and the end of the first loop where
a couple were last week, probably the same still here.
They'll be gone soon, till late March or early April.
Green and Belted Kingfishers at UP and 3 Zebra Longwing
(Heliconius charithonia) butterflies still.
Couple each Audubon's and Myrtle Warbler there too.
Oct. 27 ~ Front hit at 2 a.m. with 20 MPH winds gusting
higher. Only thing of interest was a Pine Siskin at SR.
I saw local Mestra number five of the year in the yard
this afternoon. Butterfly activity has really dropped up on SR.
The Eups aren't drawing nearly what they were a week ago.
Still a Whirlabout here, an Ocola there, Gulf and Variegated Frits,
Eufala and Julia's Skippers, but numbers are falling fast.
Oct. 26 ~ Now 20 Chipping Sparrows at SR. At the butterfly
garden there was the female Mexican Yellow of 2 days ago still
present, and a Pine Siskin flew over calling. Besides
the ridiculous Aug. 16 Lost Maples and Sept. 1 our yard
Siskin (probably the same one) this was the first normal
arrival date for Siskin this year. At the north end of
town there was a group of FOS Vesper Sparrows, with a
couple FOS local Savannah mixed in, and a FOS House Wren.
I have a saying "the bird of the day always gets away" which
proved true when something flew by me I think was a male
Western Tanager, but the light was bad and look too quick.
It wasn't anything that was supposed to be here!
The neatest thing was at the butterfly garden we were
sitting on a bench and the sun came out and it warmed
up to good butterfly temps for the first time of the day
about 1:30 p.m., and the sprinkler went off that had been
keeping a certain group off of their favorite certain bush
for a couple hours. All of a sudden the Sulphurs came out
onto a big red flowering bush (Pentas?), and there were perhaps
four dozen, instantly, out of nowhere, they appeared until
the bush was solid yellow and orange wings flickering
and flashing in the sun on the wet flowers. They were
mostly Large Orange Sulphurs (Phoebis agarithe), but some
Cloudless (Phoebis sennae) and 3 Orange-barred (P. philea)
constituted several square feet of simultaneously beating
bright orange and yellow butterfly wings. It was really
an amazing sight. And in about 10 minutes, 3/4 had fed
and left, just a dozen or so remained. That's eye candy.
Oct. 25 ~ At SR there was a Flicker, and a couple Audubon's
Orioles. Kathy heard a Barn Owl going over after dark.
At UP there were a Hutton's and 2 White-eyed Vireo,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Green and Belted Kingfisher,
Black Phoebe, Blue Jay, another Flicker, Orange-crowned
Warbler and a Lincoln's Sparrow. Probably last week's
Viceroy was seen too. At the Butterfly Garden there were
FOUR Orange-barred Sulphurs, and one each of Rounded and
Fatal Metalmarks, and another White-eyed Vireo. A winter
form Question Mark was at SR. A Chihuahuan Raven flew by UP.
Oct. 24 ~ 3 Meadowlarks flew over SR early in the a.m. that
sounded like Eastern by flight call. There are now 13 Chipping
Sparrows so winter arrivals are trickling in. The barely
spotted Spotted Towhee continued today at the seed pile.
A visiting group of Houston birders at Susan Lynch's place
in Rio Frio reported a Catbird today, rare in fall hereabouts.
Green and Belted Kingfishers were at UP. At the butterfly
garden there were about 36 species of butterflies, plus at
least 4 more elsewhere, for 40 for the day. Best was a
Mexican Yellow (ph.) at the garden, and SIX Zebras at UP.
Also there was a summer form Question Mark at UP. There
were about 15 Monarch nectaring at UP, 5 at the garden and
at least 10 passed SR. One of those stopped on a white
Eupatorium out back and spent *6 hours* nectaring on it!
Oct. 23 ~ Very low 40's F this a.m. up here on SR with
upper 30's at Junction. WOW !! There was a small group
of Yellow-rumped Warblers outside in the a.m. that
consisted of 2 Audubon's and 3 Myrtle. Interesting was
a Spotted Towhee at the seed that was very limited in
spotting. The bird of the day I only heard as it flew
over high up, and was past me going south when I first
heard it. A Ringed Kingfisher. Gave the full machine gun
rattle too, not just the slow chak, cocking of it. Far fewer
butterflies around today, but it only barely got to 70.
Supposed to be upper 30's here tonight - morning of the 24th,
for the first time since late April, six months.
A Monarch spent 4+ hours nectaring on a Eupatorium at SR.
A torn wing ID'd it as the same individual all afternoon.
Oct. 22 ~ A warm low of 60 heated to about 85 in the
afternoon, when about 4 p.m. the front hit with 20-35 MPH
winds, and temps fell 20 degrees in the next few hours.
Before the front in the morning there was a Greater Yellowlegs
calling as it flew south over SR. On the strong northerlies
with the frontal passage was the FOS flock of southbound
Sandhill Cranes. Hearing them is one of those sounds that
means winter is on the way.
Oct. 21 ~ Three Orange-barred Sulphur at once at the
butterfly garden is a local record for me. At UP equally
amazing was FIVE Zebras AT ONCE chasing each other in
a fluctuating zebra chain that I must say was pretty
mesmerizing. Soaring up 15 or 20' near the lower edge
of the canopy and diving down to ground level, all five
in single file.... a pre-roost display of some sort
perhaps, they roost in groups. Barred Owl, a couple
Green Kingfisher and Blue Jay, Audubon's and Myrtle
Warblers, Black and Eastern Phoebe, and Flicker.
A couple Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were on SR.
Oct. 20 ~ I saw a STATIRA Sulphur outside here at SR.
Big and beautiful, but always seem to bolt at the sight
of me. There were 75 White-winged Dove in the flock
when the Cooper's Hawk flushed them all so I could get
a good count. At UP there was Pearl Crescent, Buckeye,
Zebra and a big female Stenapsis Cerambycid. At the
butterfly garden was the first recent White-striped Longtail,
still Orange-barred Sulphur, and Sickle-wing Skipper.
At least 50 Monarchs nectaring on Maxmillian Sunflower
Oct. 19 ~ There were a couple Audubon's Orioles around
in the cool a.m. at SR. We went out for another afternoon
butterfly walk at the park and garden. Went for 4 hours
and saw about 53 species of butterflies between those
two sites. Nothing super fancy or rare, just lots of them
and good diversity now. Best were the first White Peacock
since the invasion two years ago. A White-patched Skipper,
and the first Long-tailed Skipper of the season. A late
Viceroy at UP was neat as were a couple male Orange-barred
Sulphur at the garden.
Oct. 18 ~ WOW probably upper 40's last night! We checked
the park and butterfly garden for a couple hours in the
afternoon. At UP we had a Dorantes Longtail, Crimson Patch,
and the FOS Coyote Cloudywing. Also Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
Green Kingfisher, Orange-crowned Warbler, and the local
FOS Lincoln's Sparrow for me. Then back here at SR at
dusk the FOS Hermit Thrush came in and took a long bath.
BUT there were NO Ruby-throated Hummingbirds all day, so
that last one must have departed this morning early.
WOW so that's it. After feeders up since early March when the
Black-chinneds come back, they're finally all gone south
for the winter! A good solid 4 plus months without sugar water
duty ahead! Almost. We keep one up for the Audubon's Orioles
that use them on cold mornings all winter.
Oct. 17 ~ Low 50's last night, wow that feels good! :)
Only saw one Ruby-throat at sundown, I think one left today
as there were 2 in the a.m.. At SR there were migrant
Red Admiral and Buckeye butterflies. And the Hutton's Vireo.
The butterflies were good at the garden with the first this
year Mexican Fritillary and Dorantes Longail. Photos of
them and a very red wet season Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak.
At UP there were FIVE Zebra Longwing (Heliconian)!
Also the FOS Myrtle Warbler, plus an Audubon's too,
an Orange-crowned Warbler, and a Flicker was heard. In just
3 hours tops, an amazing 48 species of butterflies were seen,
all but the Zebra at the library butterfly garden. It's butterfly
prime time now. It was so poor all spring and summer, it's
a good thing it got good after the fall rains. :)
Oct. 16 ~ A few Monarchs lifted off early, but no major
movement today. There was a Mestra in the yard, rare this year.
It was a post frontal blow at 15-20 MPH all day. There was also
an amazing Plinthocoelium (suaveolens?) flying around the yard
today, a big metallic green Long-horned Beetle (photo of
one on insects page). A migrant Buckeye butterfly flew
over at dusk. Still 2 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds here.
Oct. 15 ~ An amazing inch or so of rain early early in the a.m..
I was watching a Crimson Patch on the bluemist Eupatorium
out front when a Zebra Heliconian flies up and by. WOW !!
At the butterfly garden there was Brazillian Skiper, another
Crimson Patch, a Sickle-winged Skipper and another Zebra.
Plus a Zebra was in town, and 2 more were at UP, for a total
of 5 today, my local single day record here. A tardy Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher was at UP. The front behind the rain hit at
about 3 p.m.. With it was the real event of the day.
Monarchs and more Monarchs! Passing south on the winds
at 20+ MPH there were thousands going over SR. I counted
200-600 PER MINUTE in my binocs as I scanned panning across
the sky. From 4 to 7 p.m. when they were still going over
but much reduced there had to be at least 20,000, and probably
many many more by factor or more. I was only watching a little
piece of ground and could see them a half mile in each direction.
That free ride on the front was too good for them to pass up.
It is an amazing spectacle of nature to see. They are headed to
the fir forests in the highlands of south central Mexico.
This is the third fall of 5 that there has been a significant
flight pass over locally.
Oct 14 ~ Still 2 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds here fighting over
Oct. 13 ~ Heard a Flicker in town today which I'll call my
first official FOS this year. Great Blue Heron and Belted
Kingfisher at UP, plus a Zebra (butterfly, not equine).
At the butterfly garden was another Zebra. At UP there
was a small roost of Monarchs at the north end of the park,
with a hundred hanging closely together on a couple live-oak
branches, and more than another hundred were in the air
in the immediate area. Still 3 Ruby-throats here and the
Hutton's Vireo was about SR. Showered and drizzled lots and
we probably got a third-inch of rain today. WOW!!
Oct. 12 ~ Drizzled on and off all day. Here at SR there are
still 3 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds fighting over 6 feeders.
There are now 10 Chipping Sparrows outside, so migrants
have arrived. The Hutton's Vireo whinnied. At UP there were
the regulars: Blue Jay, Black Phoebe, a male Green Kingfisher
(an eastern bird, a western bird, and a southern (mostly Mexican)
bird, and a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher out front.
A Chihuahuan Raven flew over too.
Oct. 11 ~ Here at SR there were at least 45 White-winged Dove
still, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and 3 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
continue, still fighting over 6 well-spread out feeders.
A supply run to Uvalde noted a dozen or so each of Meadowlarks
and Shrikes along the way on the wires. Also Brewer's Blackbirds
around the feedlot at Sabinal, with a Merlin determined to pick
one out of the flock. A couple dozen Scissor-tails were there
too, and another dozen plus at other sites along 187 and 90.
The fish hatchery is all ponds that are too full, or bone dry so no
shorebird habitat is present. Worst fall in 5 years there
for shorebirds since no pond is kept in a half-full
(1/2 mudflat and 1/2 water) state as always before.
We did see 9 Avocets, but they left with nowhere to feed.
One Clay-colored Sparrow (FOS) was there, some Savannah Sparrow,
and a dozen FOS American Pipit.
Ft. Inge birds suffer tremendously during dove season from all the
shotgun blasts along its borders. As last October, after dove
season, it was virtually birdless. There were tons of
Hyacinth Glider dragonflies though. They can't hear.
Oct. 10 ~ A few migrants around SR this a.m. in the yard
including White-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, an
Audubon's (Yellow-rumped) Warbler, and a Greater Yellowlegs
flew over calling. Heard and glimpsed a probable White-crowned
Sparrow. Kathy spotted a Zebra Heliconian butterfly on the
white Eupatorium in the back yard.
We went to the butterfly garden for a quick check, and in
90 minutes found 45 species of butterflies there. Highlights
were a new male Orange-barred Sulphur (ph.), the FOS Tailed Orange,
another Zebra, 2 Texas Powdered Skipper. In the bird department
we flushed the FOS spotted Towhee (male) there.
Oct. 9 ~ Another 50 deg. F. morning, I could get used to that.
A minor Monarch liftoff with about 250 from 10-11 a.m., and then a
slightly more steady stream than yesterday, maybe 5-10-20 per hour.
Not major, but increasing, so keep your eyes on the skies.
Some were stopping to water here.
We could have a major flight in the next few days. Oct 10 was
the big one in 2004 and a year or two after that a decent minor
flight was on Oct 15 or so. We are entering the peak passage window.
Check out the Journey North webpage (google it) and look at the
Monarch migration maps. Very cool stuff.
Oct. 8 ~ Coolest morning in months with about low 50's !!
From 10 to 11 a.m. or so there was a minor Monarch liftoff
with about a hundred seen in an hour. A few per hour passed
all day, but no major wave. An Audubon's Warbler went over
early as well. A couple warbler sps. got away. There was
a migrant Common Buckeye (butterfly) going south, all but
absent this year, I think I saw 2 all year. Unbelieveable.
Then in the afternoon while checking the watered grass and
caliche I couldn't believe it after 5 years of looking here,
finally my first ever local TROPICAL (DARK) BUCKEYE, which
allowed some poor but ID proof pictures. Junonia evarete.
Outstanding !! It is butterfly species #132 for my local
Utopia area (within 4 miles) list. There were 2-3 Ruby-throats
around today, fighting even though there are 6 feeders still up.
Oct. 7 ~ We have frontal passage, with winds 20 gusts to 28
out of the N, the first big blow of the fall. We didn't get
the rain promised with it though, just a little drizzle on
Sun. and Mon.. Of the dozen or so Ruby-throats here in the
a.m., most seemed to ride the winds south by noon, and I saw
none at the evening rush hour, but a couple are still about.
Late in the evening right at dusk as the winds died to nothing
a couple dozen migrant Monarchs were seen settling down.
Scanning with binocs for them I spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk,
and my FOS Peregrine Falcon.
The highlight today was the butterfly garden behind the library.
There were about 30 species present from 3:30 to 5 p.m..
The Orange-barred Sulphur male was still present (3 days now)
but would not allow approach for a picture. The FOS Sickle-
winged Skipper was there (ph.), and a Great Purple Hairstreak
was present briefly. Also the (or another) Brazillian Skipper
was about and allowed for pix. About 3-4 Theona Checkerspot,
a pair of Vesta Crescent, 5 Bordered Patch, a migrant Monarch,
3 dozen plus Queens, Tropical and Common/White Checkered-Skippers,
Julia and Clouded Skipper, and a dozen Texas Wasp Moths.
Oct. 6 ~ First day since March no Oriole came to the feeder,
so I presume the alpha male Scott's has finally departed.
Yesterday was the last day. The Selasphorus (or a) was here
this a.m., with only 1 rectrix (tail feather) kinda not much
to work on for an ID. There were a couple dozen plus imm. male
Ruby-throated Hummingbird here in the a.m., but less than a
dozen for the evening tank-up. Butterflies in the yard
included Clouded Skipper, Southern Skipperling and a pair
of Reakirt's Blues.
Oct. 5 ~ Saw the male Scott's Oriole come in early in the a.m..
Counted 17 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher around the north
end of town early in the a.m.. Green Kingfisher at UP.
Went to Lost Maples but the wind at 25-30 MPH made
hunting for anything hard. Some legs of the back canyons would
be fairly wind-free at times, but it even spritzed a bit,
so was too cool or wet or windy for most butterflies and
dragonflies until nearly 1 p.m.. We did see and photo a
RED ROCK SKIMMER (dragonfly) which is only about the 3rd time
they've been seen there. Plus saw a couple Sylphs that
were probably Ivory-striped.
Even the resident birds were hard to find, wind shuts stuff up.
We did have a few migrants mixed in with the Black-crested
Titmice and Carolina Chickadees. One each of Orange-crowned,
Black-and-white, Wilson's and Nashville Warblers, and a
Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Among residents were a couple Common Raven
and a dozen plus Bushtits. One Green Kingfisher flew by,
a Black Phoebe was still at the pond. I saw 3 Hutton's Vireo.
Photo'd a dragon in hand at Cypress Hollow, one of several of
this type there, which Tony Gallucci verified as my initial
presumed ID of Ivory-striped Sylph. Lots of Carolina Satyrs
still flying. I wonder why the big giant Sycamore there died?
Two years ago it was covered in seed pods and Goldfinches, now its dead.
In town we stopped at the library butterfly garden briefly on the
way home and hit the jackpot with a male Orange-barred Sulphur
which flew off quickly unfortunately, but a RUDDY DAGGERWING
in excellent mint condition let me take pix from point blank.
Only the 2nd ever Uvalde Co. record, the first from just
2 weeks ago during fall Nature Quest. Recall we had the
first ever Bandera Co. record in August at Lost Maples.
Oct. 4 ~ In the SR yard this a.m. was a Selasphorus Hummingbird,
probably a Rufous, but maybe an Allen's. Also here was our
FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet. At UP there were 2 more Ruby-
crowned Kinglet, a couple Nashville Warbler, one male Common
Yellowthroat, and a Zebra Heliconian butterfly and the FOS
Sharp-shinned Hawk. Also a Green Kingfisher as usual, and
Kathy saw a Belted Kingfisher that I missed. At the
library butterfly garden there were over 30 species of
butterflies, probably for the first time this year, finally.
Best were two species new to my library list: a female
Great Southern White I netted to photo in hand for my first
local documentation of the species, and an Elada Checkerspot.
Those two put the library list at 90 species of butterflies.
Also there were at least 3 Theona Checkerspot, Ceranaus Blue,
a Texas Powdered Skipper, lots of Cloudless Sulphurs, now
outnumbering Large Orange, a Soldier but no Monarchs among
3 dozen Queen, a few Bordered Patch, and the first Tropical
Checkered-Skipper I've seen this year, and Phaon and Pearl Crescent.
October 3 ~ Hutton's Vireo in yard again. A Vesta Crescent
on the white Eupatorium out back was nice. At the Library
butterfly garden was a Pearl Crescent, a large fresh mint
Crimson Patch, a Bordered Patch, another migrant Monarch,
a couple Eresimus (Soldier), 35 Queens, a couple Sachem,
Whirlabout and Fiery Skipper, a couple live Texas Wasp Moth,
and one in the clutches of a Green Lynx Spider. One
Ceranaus Blue, a Tawny Emperor, Black Swallowtail female,
Large Orange Sulphurs, Pipevine Swallowtails, Snouts,
finally a fair bit of action considering how dead its been.
October 2 ~ A Dickcissel was out back on the seed early in
the a.m.. A couple Texas Wasp Moths were on the Eupatoriums
(one blue, one white). A Laviana White-Skipper flew across
the yard, fair number still of Snout, Large Orange Sulphur,
Variegated Fritillary, Sleepy Orange, Gulf Frits and Queens.
A Black Swallowtail passed through too but the highlight of the.
day was a Great Southern White that came in to the water for a
short while circling a number of times allowing me to ID it,
but departing before I could get camera or net. I've seen a
few up here but don't have documentation yet.
October 1 ~ OCTOBER !?!?! At SR was a Zone-tailed Hawk again
(been regular lately), 3 Chihuahuan Ravens, a pair of which
did some display flight including one turning upside down
while they tapped fisted feet in a tandem dive. An adult
Cooper's Hawk is hunting the doves here. At least 4 Scott's
Orioles, but I didn't see a Hooded today. A migrant Kestrel went
over high. There are 3 local wintering Kestrels back that roost
on SR near the end of the pavement. We still have a couple dozen
immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds left, but no adult
males were seen today.
Sept. 30 ! ~ The Scott's Orioles were still singing, one for an
extended period, making me think they are just about to leave.
An adult female and the juvenile (HY-hatch year) male was in, which
now has the first few black feathers at the base of the hood on the
breast, the rest of the head being very gray now, unlike the olive
first plumage. It is about 90 days old now, give or take a week or 2.
The Soldier was back on the blue Eup out front. At the butterfly
garden in town there were at least 3 or 4 Soldier (Eresimus),
30 Queen, and at least 3 Monarchs nectaring, chasing Queens and
each other, and doing low altitude thermal circles, surely migrants.
There was a Carolina Saytr at UP, which was my last new butterfly
species for the month, #67. I saw about 47 sps. in the SR yard
in Sept.. Last September I saw my record 93 species for the month.
Sept. 29 ~ Butterflies were the highlights in the yard at SR,
with a Red-spotted Purple a treat in the yard coming into watered
caliche. The blooming blue Eupatorium had a Soldier (Eresimus)
and a Whirlabout for an hour. 6 Chipping Sparrows are the locals
still, as are about 50 continuing White-winged Dove. A Kestrel
sorta dove on one, all but landing on its back while the Dove
was perched on the wire! It looked more like it was going to
ride it somewhere than take it as prey. It was the old OK ya
got me now what are you going to do with me look, as the surprised
dove took off, and the Kestrel quit trying to land on its back.
I could hardly characterize the impact as a death blow,
unless the Kestrel expected the dove to have a heart attack
from surprise of being landed on by a Kestrel. Sometimes these
cool mornings depress prey species activity, and the Kestrels
don't have anything to do.... so....let's go ride White-wings.
Compared to their normal grasshopper or mouse prey it must
be pretty close to bull-riding.
Sept 28 ~ A Broad-winged Hawk passed over SR southbound on the first
thermals about 10:30. At UP was a group of 3 teal, 2 were eclipse
male Green-winged and 1 was a Blue-winged. The Barred Owl was
either frogging or fishing, I couldn't tell which. Regulars like
Black Phoebe, Green Kingfisher, Blue Jay, all heard or seen. A
Belted Kingfisher was there too. Then down at the frostweed patch
at Utopia on the River we kicked up an imm. Mourning Warbler,
a Yellow-breasted Chat, and a Wilson's Warbler. A Laviana White-Skipper
was the first of the year locally, as was a ZEBRA Longwing (Heliconian).
Found a left forewing of a female White-M Hairstreak in a piece of spider
web. One Monarch was nectaring there and another was seen migrating in
the afternoon at SR. Also at U on the R were 2 Blue Grosbeaks, and
at least two Indigo Buntings. Gnatcatcher in yard again.
Orange-striped Threadtails are still active at UP.
Sept. 27 ~ In the yard early was an FOS Orange-crowned Warbler,
along with the regular multiple Scott's and Hooded Orioles still.
The Hutton's Vireo sang a bit and a Zone-tailed Hawk passed over.
At the Butterfly Garden there were 3 dozen Queen, a couple
Texas Wasp Moth, and a Eufala Skipper. A Tropical Leafwing was
at the Medical Center Lantana, and another was up Jones Cmty Rd.
in Bandera Co.. Also there was the first and only MESTRA we
have seen so far this year. A Question Mark winter form was fresh.
Hundreds of Large Orange Sulphurs and thousands of Snouts on
Frostweed and Whitebrush both peaking now. A Nashville Warbler
was at the 356 Co.line Bridge, and a Wilson's Warbler was further
up J.C.Rd.. High pressure usually means few landbird migrants.
The FOS Pied-billed Grebes were a pair at UP, an adult friendly with
an immature, makes you wonder if they were together in the air.
An Inca Dove calling at UP was my first there, #199 on my park list.
Sept. 26 ~ A surprise was a FOS Audubon's (Yellow-rumped) Warbler
at SR, I think earlier than I've had one here in 5 years.
A pair of fancy Cerambycids (Stenaspis verticalis insignis)
was found in Utopia. A picture of them is on the critters and bugs
- insects page, from when I found them a few years ago. Metallic
green abdomen with red thorax and red and black legs and antennae.
Am immature male Black-chinned Hummingbird was sluggin' it out
with a few Ruby-throats at the butterfly garden. A Spotted Sandpiper
was on the spillway at the dam at the park.
Sept. 25 ~ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher still passing through yard.
A Baltimore Oriole was at a feeder briefly. At 5 p.m. a
Monarch was thermalling WSW, another migrant.
Sept 24 ~ At least 4 Scott's Orioles (2 ad. males), a couple
Hooded Orioles, White-eyed Vireo, Chihuahuan Raven at SR yard.
Thought sure I heard a Ringed Kingfisher chuk upriver of UP.
One imm. male Black-chinned Hummingbird still here, with about
a couple dozen Ruby-throated left, mostly imm. males.
Sept 22 ~ a large pale worn Monarch thermalling southwest at
Sept 21 ~ We did a Nature Quest walk at Big Springs in Real Co.,
north of Leakey at the Frio River headwaters. Best birds
were 2 Ringed Kingfishers. Heard a Hutton's Vireo there too.
An Olive-sided Flycatcher was seen, Common Raven, heard a
still singing Louisiana Waterthrush, saw a Silvery Checkerspot
butterfly, and 5 nectaring Monarchs and 1 thermalling Monarch,
all large, pale and worn.
Sept 20 ~ At SR there were at least 5 Scott's Orioles,
3 Hooded Orioles, Hutton's Vireo and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
Pairs of Carolina Wren, Inca Dove, and Ground-Dove continue.
Sept 19 ~ The highlight I heard of from this first day of
fall Nature Quest was a Ruddy Daggerwing butterfly found at
Concan by Derek Muschalek for a first Uvalde County record.
**In other Uvalde County New County Record Butterfly news, we
scored a major one with an Isabella's Longwing (Heliconian)
at Concan by Charles Bordelon, in mid-Septmember. He also
had Statira Sulphur and Malachite there. WOW !! You can
sure tell when an expert is around!
Kathy and I did a supply run to Uvalde on the 19th. At the hatchery
we saw 5 Least Sandpiper, 9 White-faced Ibis, but there seems to
be no good mudflat pond really, dry or too full are choices,
not any in between half full pond which is what the birds want.
At Cook's Slough Kathy spotted an odd distant wader which when
scoped proved to be a Reddish Egret! Lots of Swallows were
feeding around the slough, and numbers of Scissor-tailed
Flycatchers. Numbers of Shrikes along the wires.
Sept 18 ~ A Black-headed Grosbeak was a good bird out back
early. Hutton's Vireo and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher again.
At UP was an eclipse Cinnamon Teal, only my 2nd hereabouts.
Also there was a juvenile Green Kingfisher, Black Phoebe,
a Blue Jay, still an adult male Yellow-throated Warbler,
2 juv. White-eyed Vireo and I thought I heard a Flicker. Also
a Clouded Skipper was there, and Orange-striped Threadtails.
At 10: p.m. against the rising moon I saw what looked like a Flicker,
a duck, and a passerine of some sort. There was a beat worn
Monarch at SR going SW at 12:45 p.m., and another thermalling
at 5:05 p.m..
Sept 17 ~ Yard stuff included Hutton's Vireo again, an Orange
Sulphur butterfly, and better another thermalling Monarch at
5:45 p.m. at 100' altitude. High of 80 and low in mid-50's
Sept. 16 ~ Besides the Scott's (ad.male, ad. female, and immatures
of each), and Hooded (ad.male, hatch year male), there were
3 Baltimore and a Bullock's Oriole this a.m. at SR. I'm sure
there is an Orchard around, they've been here the last 3 days.
Hummingbird numbers very low....maybe a couple dozen Ruby-throats.
Missed a non-Yellow Warbler zeet out front darn it.
Hutton's Vireo outside again. Some Cave Swallows going over
early in the a.m.. A migrant Mockingbird went over too.
Morning was low low 60's, absolutely fantastic after the
long hot dry summer. Supposed to get into the 50's yet!
Sept. 15 ~ Woke up to an amazing low 60's, about 64 up on SR!
WEEWOW !! Coolest since May !! Fall is on the way !!
Of course it is a abnormal situation that an event (Hurricane Ike)
coincided to bring a cold front down so early, but I don't hear
anyone complaining !! The high was in the 70's, the lowest
high temperature since April !! The Snout butterfly that spent
the night in the house bolted out the front door about 9 a.m..
Red Admiral migrant #2 and a Nysa Roadside-Skipper in yard.
The adult male Hooded Oriole brought the juvenile to the feeder,
which now has a charcol sooty throat, so is a male. The adult
sang as it went to the feeder in front of the juvenile.
More Mississippi Kites went over, just a few though,
and my FOS Accipiter, which was probably a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Sept. 14 ~ A little bit of early morning drizzlish, but
the rain was just south of us. This stops the birds that are
riding the front down. The northerlies continue, and did
all night, making it almost 48 hours now of unseasonal wind.
It was clear there was movement when early a.m. at SR there
were a couple Yellow Warblers, and couple warbler flight notes,
Upland Sandpiper, Dickcissel, and a pair of Baltimore Orioles
including an adult male that belted out a bar of song for me,
and Orchard Oriole, all in/over the yard first thing.
So Kathy and I went out and checked a few places along the
river for butterflies and migrant birds.
As typical you scratch and scrape to find a migrant most of
the time at most of the places, but an obviously larger than
normal number were found. A fallout, sorta, by our standards
locally. At least a half-dozen Yellow Warblers were around,
FOS were a male Wilson's Warbler, and two Nashville Warbler.
Also FOS were 2 Warbling Vireo, a Blue-headed Vireo, and a
third Vireo that got away, probably a Philadelphia. FOS Least
Flycatcher was at Cypress Hollow. 8 White-faced Ibis were
circling the tank just West of the storage spaces. There
were also numbers of migrant Orchard Oriole and Dickcissel
at multiple stops. There were Mississippi Kites on and off
all afternoon including some at Utopia on the River. Surely
if one worked the whole valley all day top to bottom they
would have a significant list of migrants. It was one of the
larger fall bird fallouts I've seen. Hawk movement was obvious
over SR in the late afternoon, with 6 Kestrels, a couple
dozen MS Kites, a Merlin, a few Swainson's Hawks, and a migrant
Red-tailed Hawk. In town there were 75-100 Cave Swallows on
powerlines with a Northern Rough-winged or two and some Barn.
A few migrant Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were about and a
FOS Northern Harrier was at UP. Also some other migrants
seen or heard were single Indigo and Painted Bunting, and
several Summer Tanagers, a migrant Mockingbird, and a few warbler
seets were heard.
On the butterfly front the only rarity seen was a Soldier,
or Eresimus (Danaus eresimus) I photographed on Frostweed at
Utopia on the River. Over three hours we saw 5 Monarchs
nectaring, photographing three of them. Two were very very
damaged, which we essentially never see on local Monarchs.
They may well have been storm blown victims. Then in the
late afternoon from 4:45 to 6:10 I saw FIVE more Monarchs,
these thermalling southward (gliding in circles gaining altitude)
up at 100' altitude (seen through 8 x 40 B & L Elite binoculars)
that were clearly MIGRATING Monarchs. This is far ahead of
standard normal Monarch migration schedule. But this is the
third straight day of strong northerlies, and arrival of
this first cold front of the fall. I suspect these are the
eager beavers that got caught up in the strong northerly flow.
With virtually all migrating animals in the world there is a
bell curve of arrival dates, regardless of species, or type of
migration. Whales, fish, butterflies, birds, gnus, doesn't matter.
That is, there are always a few shall we say, early birds, then a
sharp increase to a peak when most of the animals pass or get to a
point X, then a sharp decline until a few late stragglers finally
get there. Trace the outline of a bell in your mind plotting the dates.
A bell curve. Like the results of a test or a race. A few at
each end, most in the middle. And so works migration.
A Chihuahuan Raven at dusk was belting out the deepest of croaks,
that any Common Raven would have been proud of, and then later
followed with a diagnostic series of the frog or toad croaks.
Sept. 13 ~ Hurricane Ike makes landfall early this a.m. at Galveston,
major storm surge there and Bolivar, and then it T-boned Houston.
The hot ring around it was e.g. at Yorktown with 104 deg. F ! We got
to 97 deg. F. here. The northerlies continued for the second day,
and we saw no preciptation.
Sept. 12 ~ At SR Scott's and Hooded Orioles still using hummer
feeders. Hummingbird numbers way way down. A couple dozen maybe,
one Black-chinned immature left, rest Ruby-throated. Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher and Dickcissel still passing by, Chihuahuan Raven
calling and a White-striped Longtail flew by. At UP the usual
Black Phoebe, Blue Jay, Green Kingfisher. I caught a 20" 3 lb.
Ictalurus punctatus for scientific research. It was delicious.
At dark was the best FIREFLY show I've seen all year with
hundreds and hundreds around the park entrance area, twinkling
and flashing their neon signals. Amazingly beautiful.
Sept. 11 ~ Two each male and female Orange-barred Sulphurs were
in the SR yard today, the female nectaring at every purple
Morning Glory flower in the yard. 2 ad. male, an ad. female,
and a juvenile Scott's Oriole visited the feeder today.
For the 5th day there have been TENS OF THOUSANDS
of Snout butterflies moving mostly eastward.
A fair number of Large Orange Sulphurs amongst them,
mostly pale morph females, but male numbers increasing.
A few Lyside Sulphur amongst them, and Queens.
Sept. 10 ~ At UP there were 60 Cave Swallow and 20 Starling (migrants)
on the wires over the field just west of the rodeo rink. At SR was a
Bullock's Oirole, still 2 singing male Scott's, migrants like the
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, and Bushtits
passed through again. At the Med. Ctr. Lantana a GIANT WHITE flew right
by me, followed not long after by a GREAT SOUTHERN WHITE !! Both
a couple hundred yards tops from Bandera County where there is no
record for either. A dark Common Buckeye was there too. First in months.
Sept. 9 ~ My FOS Osprey flew over high, with a Swainson's Hawk at SR.
A Laviana White-Skipper flew across the yard. The big news was
town got 2.5" of rain this afternoon, but I think SR only got 3/4".
Sept. 8 ~ A Warbler chipped and gave a flight note from the front yard
but I missed it visually. I'd guess it was Worm-eating or Blue-winged
by calls. What a miss that was!! Eastern Screech-Owl pair with young
calling nightly for a week plus now.
Sept. 7 ~ Virtually daily there are White-eyed Vireo and Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher passing through the yard. Hutton's Vireo was here again
too today. At the Med. Ctr. Lantana there was a Texas Wasp Moth,
and a Zilpa Longtail (rare skipper) was photographed.
1 juvenile Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was out front at UP.
A Monarch nectared at the yellow bloomin' stuff across from the dump.
Sept. 6 ~ A Monarch puddled at the mud below the dam at UP.
Sept. 5 ~ Still 2 male Scott's Oriole, both still singing a little,
as did the male Hooded Oriole still visiting the feeders. An escaped
Cockatiel was about upper SR. A few good butterflies were seen:
a Silver-spotted Skipper and a female Sachem at SR, and a female
Orange-barred Sulphur at UP. A 12-spotted Skimmer dragonfly flew
by me in the yard at SR, as did a Red Admiral, the first in months.
Sept. 4 ~ At UP there was a Hutton's Vireo, a Baltimore Oriole,
and two Yellow-throated Warblers. A Prince Baskettail dragonfly
was at SR. A Monarch flew across the yard, was the first in months.
Sept. 2 ~ About a dozen Black-chinned and maybe 18 Ruby-throated
Hummingbirds left. Upland Sandpipers going over after sundown.
September 1 ~ Amazing was what appeared to be the same PINE SISKIN
we saw at Lost Maples a couple weeks ago, at our sunflower tube
here at SR. I got a few digiscope shots through the window.
The hummingbirds are blowing out, early it seems, leaving in droves.
August 31 ~ A Solitary Sandpiper was at UP. At SR was the green
bunting still, the juvenile Audubon's Oriole, still with no black
feathers except in lore and malar, and Dickcissel at seed.
The Black-crested Titmice pair, and the Scrub-Jays, both ejected
the young they had this year over the last two days, which had
been allowed to stay until now. 6 juv. Scrub-Jays from 3 nestings, just
like last year, 1 from the first, 2 from the second, and 3 from the last.
August 30 ~ At the Fish Hatchery in Uvalde was an immature Little Blue
Heron, a Wilson's Phalarope, and a Yellow Warbler. At Ft. Inge was
a Green Jay, Olive Sparrow, Great Kiskadee and Couch's Kingbird,
singing Pyrrhuloxia, Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Zone-tailed Hawk,
Verdin, Bullock's Oriole, and Bell's Vireo was still singing.
Blue winged Teal were at the Sabinal cut-off pond and the hatchery.
Aug 29 ~ An outlfow boundry in the p.m. blew a couple adult
Swainson's Hawks and the only 2 MISSISSIPPI KITE that I have
seen this year locally, over SR. One green bunting (Painted)
continues still. Hooded, Scott's, Orchard, and Audubon's Orioles
were in the yard at SR, as was Hutton's Vireo again.
August 27 ~ Another few sprinkles with cooling outflow
in the p.m. but just a trace of precipitation.
Another White Angled-Sulphur passed through the yard.
A single engine prop plane flew over creating a nice
low growling drone that got the Rio Grande Leopard Frog
in the kiddie pool growling back, unintimidated by the
size of his oponent, marking and defending his territory.
I heard the tcwhip of a Painted Bunting. Chipping, Lark,
Rufous-crowned and Field Sparrow all continue in the
yard, with juveniles.
August 26 ~ Two each more Orchard Orioles and
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through the SR
yard. The Scott's alpha male is still using the
hummer feeders. Lots of Upland Sandpipers were
going over southbound early the first couple
hours of light. Too high to see, but you can
hear them. Best today was a White Angled-Sulphur that
flew right by me on the porch at about 2' distance.
Any closer and I'd have needed my reading glasses.
August 25 ~ Probably another quarter inch of rain,
greening it up, and probably saving the fall bloom,
all these little cells we've been lucky enough to get.
There were a couple Summer Tanager and a couple
Orchard Oriole at SR. Lots of Upland Sandpipers
were calling southbound shortly after dark.
August 24 ~ We snuck out for a couple hour walk at
Lost Maples and did the Maples trail for something
different. On the way there I saw a FOS Kestrel
and Kathy found another in Lost Maples. There was
a White Angled-Sulphur at LM (ph.) probably a first
at the park, and there are only a few Bandera Co.
records. Another one (!) was along the road on
flowers just south of Vanderpool! Back at Lost Maples,
we also had a couple Ocola Skippers (ph.) for a
Bandera NCR (new county record). We saw three
Greater Earless Lizard. Most of the migratory nesting
species are gone. There were a few Indigo and one
Painted Bunting, a couple Summer Tanager, a few
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, no Acadian Flycatcher or
Black-and-white Warbler. An Eastern Ringtail
is always a nice dragonfly to see. There was a
little pre-dawn rain, but a couple Orchard Orioles
were the only clear migrants we saw.
August 23 ~ Fall migrant warblers can hardly be a more
sure sign of autumn nearing. Two Yellow Warbler were
seen today, 1 in the yard at SR and another at Utopia
on the River. At UP were Great Blue Heron, Green
Kingfisher, Black Phoebe, Blue Jay, Yellow-throated
Warbler still, and a migrant Great Crested Flycatcher.
A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was south of town, and
the other sign of fall was a flock of MEADOWLARKS,
surely Western, the FOS. One green bunting left, and
it a juvenile worn to gray on back now.
August 22 ~ At SR the first Bullock's Oriole of the
year in the yard passed through early a.m.. Scott's
still at feeder. Dainty Sulphur in town, scarce this
year. Nice outflow cooled the afternoon but not
much rain yet from it all. Cooper's Hawk was hunting
around the first (east) knoll on SR. Better was on the
outflow a FOS Swainson's Hawk fall migrant over SR.
A Four-spotted Pennant (dragonfly) was at the north end
of town.... just this side of the Bandera Co. line,
where it would be a new record. Very interesting was
the first calling all year of Barking Frog. Finally !
I figured they were skipping the year due to the drought.
August 21 ~ At SR the alpha male, female, and juvenile
Scott's were at the feeder. Amazing August has been
running cooler than June and July did !! The up side
of the drought has been a lack of mosquitoes, and
especially Chiggers this year. Recent rains have
bumped skeeter numbers and the chiggers will probably
be soon to follow.
August 20 ~ At SR a Chihuahuan Raven plus another at
the dump in the p.m.. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed
through the yard, and the male Hooded Oriole was at
one of the feeders. Another Selasphorus hummingbird
(Rufous or Allen's) was at SR, probably a Rufous, and
was the fourth here at SR and 5th I've seen around town
so far this fall. There are 50 White-winged Doves coming
in to the seed now here at SR.
August 19 ~ At SR a juvenile Orchard Oriole was about,
as was a Chihuahuan Raven, and just 2 green buntings
remain. A few Upland Sandpipers went over after dark.
Perhaps of interest, I counted the yard list up for the
first time in at least 6 months, and it now stands at
212, essentially from a quarter acre observation post
on Seco Ridge, over about 40 months. Acceptable methinks.
My Utopia Park list is 198, (my personal list, I know of at
least 3 species seen there by others). It is safe to say
over 200 species can be seen at probably any given site
in the valley in a few years, if the observer knows the
calls of birds going overhead in the dark.
August 18 ~ About a half inch of rain was welcome.
A new just fledged Chipping Sparrow just showed up.
A Dickcissel was at the seed pile, and at dusk a flock
of 10 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over SR.
August 17 ~ Some more light rain in the a.m.. What
a relief the heat and dry breaking. Still no water
going over the spillway at the park though. A couple
of migrant birds were at the park, Great Crested Flycatcher,
and Black-and-white Warbler, and a Hutton's Vireo was there.
Some swallows are starting to mass on the wires. Only saw one
Purple Martin, they seem to have left a couple weeks ago.
August 16 ~ Finally broke away for a quick walk at
Lost Maples. The deafening roar of the silence of
birdsong was a shocker as always the first time in
late summer when you go and it's quiet, instead of roaring.
Most of the breeding populations of the migratory
species have departed already. The great bird find
was a PINE SISKIN at the thistle feeder at HQ.
Surely the first mid-summer record for the hill country,
and probably most of Texas. The other spectacular find
was a RUDDY DAGGERWING (Marpesia petreus) butterfly
up at the pond on Can Creek. A first Bandera Co.
record, and a new park record. They are usually only
seen in extreme south Texas. A baby Rough Green Snake
was also pretty neat. A previous reference to Green Snake
at Lost Maples in the archives a few years ago should
be considered Rough, not Smooth as purported.
At SR the alpha male Scott's as well as a ad. female and a
year old male all stopped in for sugar water. We got between
1/4 and 1/2 inch of rain in the p.m., and a nice cool evening!
Common Nighthawk was booming still at 6 a.m. while dark.
August 15 ~ About 5 Orchard Orioles were using the
feeders all day. Sure like those males! Interesting
was a just fledged juvenile Field Sparrow in the yard.
Hummingbirds have just about switched abundance levles,
with now Ruby-throateds outnumbering Black-chinneds.
August 14 ~ Unusual up on the ridge was a Great Crested
Flycatcher in a juniper out front. Still Gnatcatchers
and Upland Sandpipers going over early in the a.m.'s.
August 13 ~ About 20 Upland Sandpipers flew over SR
early in the moring, 15 in one flock. Very rare up here
on the ridge was a Golden-fronted Woodpecker in the yard.
Still Orchard Orioles passing through, and a couple
Dickcissels were at UP. A Selasphorus hummingbird was
at the Library butterfly garden (#4 for the fall).
August 12 ~ A supposed cold front is passing by, a bit
odd for the time of year. Dropped us to a chilly low 90's.
There was a bit of rain shower in the morning.
Three green buntings (Painted) continue and a worn adult
Hutton's Vireo was silently feeding in a Live-oak.
August 10 ~ A couple Blue-gray Gnatcatchers flying over
high up just after dawn are migrants. A Little Yellow
(butterfly) was the first in some time here. Amazing
was a Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscrites sps.) on a Lantana
flower at 8:20 p.m., twilight dusk nearly dark out.
Also unseen lately, a Green Darner was in the yard late.
Over 101 deg.F up on Seco Ridge today.
August 9 ~ Still Scott's and Hooded Oriole, plus migrant
Orchard Oriole, all hitting feeders.
August 8 ~ Another Upland Sandpiper going over in a.m.,
and an immature male Orchard Oriole gave a bar of song early
as it passed by. At UP there was a male Green Kingfisher on
the dam, and a Couch's Kingbird across the river. Kathy had
a White Angled-Sulphur (fancy butterfly) here at the SR yard.
Checkered Setwing and Eastern (Common) Pondhawk dragonflies
both checked out the blue kiddie pool, which now has three
large purple water hyacinth flowers blooming. There are
many hundreds of dragonflies going over southbound now.
This morning I saw a couple hundred each at SR, and at UP in
a brief period. They are mostly Wandering Gliders (yellow)
but many Spot-winged Gliders are amongst them, and fewer
Red Saddlebags and Black Saddlebags.
August 7 ~ Right after sunup is a good time to hear migrating
birds going over as they come down from higher altitude flight
as they look for a place to put down for the day. This a.m.
I heard an Upland Sandpiper and a Dickcissel southbound at dawn.
A White-eyed Vireo passed through the yard then too.
The Hooded Orioles are barely showing up, and most of the
Scott's are gone too. The Blue Grosbeak family is still here,
but no male Painted Bunting today.
August 6 ~ Edouard went too far north and all we got was a
spritzing, but the clouds kept it low 90's which in itself
was a break. At the National Fish Hatchery in Uvalde there
were 4 Baird's Sandpipers, and 1 Upland Sandpiper, both
the FOS fall migrants here. The Black-necked Stilt that
summered there continues. After dark another Upland Sandpiper
was heard over SR.
August 5 ~ An adult-chick pair of Caracaras soared overhead
with the youngin' begging. Another adult passed later.
Chihuahuan Raven ad.-chick pair also passed by again.
Male Painted Bunting still here (1), and 5 greenies.
A Zone-tail flew over, and a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatchers
passed southbound. Tropical Storm Edouard making landfall
by High Island and going over Houston had the normal sinking
hot air around a cyclonic system, and we peaked at 103.3
(at the Rogers' weather station) as the wave of hot air
passed over us at SR. It cooled quickly afterwards though.
August 4 ~ A couple Orchard Orioles passed through southbound
early in the a.m.. A few Scott's and Hooded were about and I
heard Audubon's. Four species of orioles in the yard makes for
a good day. White-eyed Vireo again in yard.
August 3 ~ The Selasphorus continues, and there are at least a
couple adult male Ruby-throated, probably half a dozen or more
immature male R-T's. There are a couple dozen ad. male
Black-chinned and 175 or more immature or female B-C.
August 2 ~ migrants in the yard were Blue-gray Gnatchatcher,
White-eyed Vireo and Orchard Oriole, besides the Selasphorus
hummingbird. The Orchard Oriole sang!
August 1 ~ AUGUST !?!?! Two just fledged Rufous-crowned Sparrows
are outside on the seed, and the Chippy flock is now 6, 2 adults,
and 4 juveniles (2 sets of 2). Another Selasphorus hummingbird
showed up today, #3 for the fall so far, might be a good year.
Still one adult male Painted Bunting, perhaps 4 greenies.
Blue Grosbeak family still here too. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
daily passing southbound. Couple Audubon's Orioles.
July 31 ~ Singing Orchard and Audubon's Orioles outside, besides the
Scott's, but the Hoodeds have quit singing. A freshly fledged
juvenile Blue Grosbeak showed up today. And a new freshly fledged
July 30 ~ The Chihuahuan Raven adult-chick pair continues. In town
I cruised all the flower patches looking for big fancy rare butterflies,
and came up empty, even of small common dull ones. But at the park I
spotted a WHITE ANGLED-SULPHUR and got it in binocs as it flew across
the river. I saw the yellow square on the central forewing well.
There are good pictures of them of them on the Whites, Yellows and
Sulphurs butterfly photo page. I caught one here a few years ago that
we kept for a month. They love Red Turk's Cap so keep your eyes on it.
I saw the first fresh Variegated Fritillary here in over a month today.
July 29 ~ I refound the Roadside-Skipper I saw outside yesterday,
and it is a Celia's. The Inca and Ground- Doves continue at SR.
Another freshly fledged Chihuahuan Raven is out chasing an adult
around with their crow-like call notes.
July 28 ~ Another just fledged Hooded Oriole showed up at the feeders!
Caracara passed over SR, nearly dynamic soaring like a seabird.
A probable White Angled-Sulphur (butterfly) flew high over SR.
There is a clear invasion of them across the state this year.
July 27 ~ The first of fall Rufous was joined by a second one in the
late afternoon. Also the first southbound returning adult male
Ruby-throated Hummingbird showed up ( couple imm. males here already)
At the Cornelius crossing there was Green Kingfisher, and all the
regular streamside forest species, plus a Yellow-breasted Chat
singing that may well have been a local nester. Butterfly numbers
remain way down, except the Snouts are picking up with a couple
hundred today while driving around locally, and a hundred Lysides.
Otherwise it remains fairly dismal. The neat dragonfly of the day
was a Dragonhunter, always a treat to see that beast.
July 26 ~ The FOS Rufous Hummingbird showed up at SR, right on time,
this evening. There were at least 2 immature male Ruby-throated,
and about 30 adult male and 170 immature or female Black-chinned.
Three species of hummingbirds present means fall migration!
There was a Zone-tailed Hawk hunting over town as usual.
A False Duskywing (butterfly) was in Bandera Co. along the river.
Bushtits were at SR. Painted Buntings are blowing out, with only
one adult male, and maybe 5-6 greenies left.
July 25 ~ At UP there was Zone-tailed Hawk, Green Kingfisher,
4 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Chimney Swifts drinking at
eye level (if you are out on the dam), Great Egret.
White-eyed Vireo and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Summer Tanager,
Black Phoebe, and I still hear Yellow-throated Warbler singing.
In the p.m. at SR I watched an immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird,
which is surely a fall migrant. In 2006 the first fall migrant
arrival Ruby-throat was July 24, so I'd call it on time.
Cooper's Hawk still diving on the doves daily here at SR.
Two good dragonflies were at UP, both species I do not see
every year, but average every other year recording one or two.
Red-tailed and Four-spotted Pennants (Brachymesia furcata and gravida
respectively) were both off the dam, but I wouldn't have seen
them had I not been out there fishing. Both species are common
to abundant at Uvalde in the flatlands of the brush country.
But like many birds, the habitat change is a significant barrier.
Might as well be a block wall. Dare I say a border fence?
July 24 ~ Besides rain we need beyond badly, the exciting
thing about southerly origin tropical systems is that there
is a good chance that things are being pushed in front of it,
or sucked up in the vacuum behind it, so keep your eyes peeled.
Butterflies, dragonflies, birds, aerial things in particular
are often displaced by these systems which then present an
opportunity for finding storm-blown waifs, some of which
might be true rarities. Field naturalists love the rare
chance to go out hunting for these things after significant
storms. With hurricanes it is best to be on the coast or
a large body of water.
I don't know how much rain we got here today, maybe 1/2 - 3/4" and
an amazing 75 degree day! I'll take it all summer like that!
On another note there is a Green Violet-Ear (big rare hummingbird
in Austin, so keep your eyes on your feeders for a big dark one
(until light hits it), and call or e-mail me if you see one! :)
We are much closer to their range than those Austinites. :)
July 23 ~ Dolly turned into barely Category 2 Hurricane and
made landfall at South Padre, seeming to go right over
Laguna Atascosa NWR, Raymondville, etc., and dumping a foot
of rain in the LRGV. We got some clouds, and were only
low90's and had one quick brief spritz of a shower at dusk.
Maybe tomorrow if it keeps more north than west, we'll
get some before all the fish die in the river. In many
places they are trapped in small ponds left as much of it
is now only underground in many places. While surveying the
dire situation I found a Great Pondhawk below the 1050 bridge.
I got a docu photo so it is the first documented record I
have of the species locally, in 5 years of paying attention.
July 22 A worn adult Hutton's Vireo was foraging quietly outside.
A White-eyed Vireo was about as well. A couple female Indigo
Buntings remain, and perhaps 10 Painteds, but they are departing.
Nothing like the hummingbird blowout of the last few days,
which has been substantial, say 75% or so? Hundreds less here.
Caracara and Chihuahuan Raven passed by. Another Striped
Saddlebags (Tramea calverti) was out front for a minute. It
bolted when it saw my net. Good numbers (hundreds) of dragons are
moving south now and the annual movement is under way.
We hit a hundred for the 3rd day, as we eye Dolly heading for
south Texas, hoping it brings rain up here.
July 21 ~ A second day at 100 deg. F up here on SR, a bit toasty.
Appropriately there was a Desert Firetail (a red damselfly), and
a Desert Checkered Skipper outside in what felt like the desert.
A Zone-tailed Hawk continues daily if I am lucky outside.
A Two-tailed Swallowtail went by again, proably the same one,
on the same exact flight path across the yard, past the Madrone.
Common Nighthawk is still booming, but for the 3 rd night in
a row I have not heard Chuck-wills-widow call, which probably
means its over for the year. July 18 was the last round.
July 20 ~ We probably found Kathy's fly-by heron at SR on Friday,
at the island at UP today was a near-adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.
Smoky Rubyspots are absent from several of their best regular spots
along the river, which is amazingly low. Many sections are strictly
underground now. A pair of immature or sub-adult (AHY - after hatch year)
Hooded Orioles was at UP, both with black bibs, but different overall
plumage colorations: one orange and one green just like the pair of
sub-adults at the hovel on SR, a couple air miles away.
They are commuting that far near daily? There can not be two sets of
sub-adult males in unusual plumage here. Eastern Wood-Pewee and
Yellow-throated Warbler are still singing. Lots of juvenile
Summer Tanagers are out and about begging. There were thousands of
dragonflies moving southward. Most were Wandering and Spot-winged Glider.
Some Red and some Black Saddlebags were amongst them.
July 19 ~ Two new just fledged Chipping Sparrows showed up today.
Hooray! A Green Darner was the first in a long time. They have
been oddly absent, even at the park and along the river, er river bed.
July 18 ~ Today's highlight was a Blue Dasher in the yard at SR,
which may be a new dragon for the yard list. There has been a
good influx (or emergence?) of them this year (lots at the park).
The blue kiddie pool with the aquatic vegetation (and mosquitofish)
seemingly continues to pull dragons in, just doesn't hold 'em long.
But if it gets 'em to hang out and patrol an hour, I have a shot
at seeing and ID'ing them. Kathy saw a long distance heron but
too far for a bare-eyed ID. Smaller than Great Blue.
I resisted all urges to chase after it, and work won. :)
Another fall migrant Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed heading southward.
July 17 ~ The highlight was a huge River Cruiser (Macromia sps.)
dragonfly I almost got a net on in the front yard. Big yellow
rings around a long black abdomen. A fancy dragonfly, probably
an Illinois River Cruiser, up here a mile or two from the river.
An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was the first in a while here.
An immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was studied at 2'.
If I was any closer to the feeder I would have needed my
reading glasses. Chuck-wills-widow, Poor-will, Common Nighthawk,
and E. Screech-Owl called around dusk, and 2 Carolina Wrens.
July 16 ~ 3 Audubon's Orioles, the 7 Hooded, and 8 Scott's
makes for a nice show, and some good song too. There was a
burst of butterflies today with 9 species in the yard which is
great, but pitiful that it is great. There were Lyside Sulphur,
Queen, Snout, Gulf Fritillary, Dun Skipper, Funereal Duskywing,
Horace's Duskywing, Gray and Olive Juniper Hairstreak. Word
is down in the LRGV where they got about 8" of rain from that
great system a week ago, the butterflies have really picked up.
Now we need the southerlies to blow them up here.
July 15 ~ A Cloudless Sulphur blasted by. Butterflies have been
way down, presumedly as a result of the drought. The Bronzed
Cowbirds continue, and a Zone-tail went over repeatedly.
Still hundreds of Black-chins but they seem to be departing,
as sugar water consumption is down. Using plumage to age and sex
the various Hooded Orioles coming to the feeder today I was able
to distinguish 7 different individuals. Most interesting are
the two AHY (after hatch year) males with black bibs, one is
golden orange and very male like, and the other still green
and yellow and very female like in appearance.
July 14 ~ A juvenile and an adult female Bronzed Cowbird were
eating seed. A Couple Audubon's Orioles were about. Hooded Oriole
sang a bit.... wow what a song. A Zone-tailed Hawk was over town.
The butterfly garden had 11 Lyside Sulphur and 2 Queens. Deadsville.
The garden is fine, lots of flowers, but hardly any butterflies.
July 13 ~ A juvenile Orchard Oriole added to the regular 3
made for 4 species of Orioles today. A Hutton's Vireo was singing.
A Chuck called, but they are sure quieting down fast, as did Poor-will,
Eastern Screech-Owl, and Common Nighthawk still booms.
Thought sure I had a juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
July 12 ~ A Uvalde supply run meant a couple birding stops there,
oh boy! First was the Uvalde National Fish Hatchery, one of the
great places for birds there. Amazing was a group of 4 juvenile
Tricolored Heron. The species was not on Lytle Blakenship's
(2000) Birds of Uvalde Co. checklist, so is extremely rare here.
His checklist has 25 years of his local birding records.
The juveniles are an amazing looking heron, one of the fanciest
in North America with rufous bands on a slate blue wing and a mauve
throat striped with white. Stunning. First I've seen
here. There were a couple fall migrant shorebirds: a Solitary
and a Least Sandpiper. The Black-necked Stilt I think over-summered.
A few pairs of Killdeers nest. There was a landbird fall migrant in
the form of a male Orchard Oriole. The mesquite cactus scrub
at the north end of the place had the resident Cactus Wren,
Curve-billed Thrasher, Verdin, and summerer Bell's Vireo.
I heard only a Groove-billed Ani call from some thick brush.
A quick stop at Ft. Inge, my other favorite hot spot there,
unfortunately only open on Saturday and Sunday.
found a pair of Kiskadee, several Couch's and Western Kingbirds,
Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrows, Chat, Bell's Vireo,
Painted Buntings, and best of all GREEN JAY. Just one, but this is
the first Uvalde area record in the summer. The last 4 years they
have departed at the end of the winter. My guess is that they
are breeding there now. Need to find a juvenile. Lots of Smoky
and American Rubyspot damselflies were below the spillway, as well
as Blue-fronted and Blue-ringed Dancers and others.
The water lettuce finally came back, maybe those grass carp died?
It would be best habitat-wise if there were some, but not a solid
mat. A mixture. Diversity. A bit of Water Hyacinth has also
come back and with it Hyacinth Gliders (dragonflies). They were
unknown in Uvalde County until I found them here a couple years ago,
and then they disappeared when the grass carp (& Nutria?) ate all the
lettuce and hyacinth. Bring the habitat back, the wildlife follows.
As long as you have enough left.
Bank Swallows were at both stops in numbers as expected.
A pair of Kiskadee were at the City Park on Hwy 90, as was
a Straw-colored Sylph, a very rare dragonfly endemic to
south central Texas.
Up at SR a couple Chuck-wills-widows called for 5 minutes at dark
plus they were joined by a couple Poor-wills, which I believe have
begun a second nesting phase. Eastern Screech-Owl called too.
No Wood Storks flew by at dusk. :)
July 11 ~ An American Lady butterfly was the first in a while.
Astounding was at 8:20 p.m. while looking from the porch
at SR seeing a WOOD STORK flapping southward. I got a poor
digi bin photo, but Kathy got on it too before it disappeared
over the ridge. There are very very few records for the
plateau west of San Antonio and Austin areas. Of course new for
the Utopia area - Sabinal Valley list, and a great yard bird here!
It is apparently the first ever Uvalde County record!
Funny was a Lesser Goldfinch that gave a perfect Pine Siskin
call imitation as it flew over, and shaped not far from a Siskin.
A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through the yard.
July 10 ~ Counted 10 green buntings and 2 ad. male Painteds,
but didn't see at that moment the 3 sub-adult males, but for sure
have 15 Painted Buntings in the yard. Two Audubon's Orioles
were at the sunflower tubes that were both sub-adult birds,
as opposed to the two adults plus one heard a couple days ago.
We have 5 Audubon's, about 5 Hooded, and 8+ Scott's Orioles here.
The score is Orioles 18, Painted Buntings 15, Black-chinned
Hummingbird 400. Still scattered clouds but back into low 90's
and normal temps. A Chuck-wills-widow gave a dozen half-hearted
calls at dark.
July 8-9 ~ Same ol' birds still. This fantastic low over the
western Gulf, and NE Mexico is finally starting to break down.
We got a lovely week of daily showers all over S. and central TX,
lots of places getting their first significant rain in some time.
What a pleasant break after 7 weeks of above normal temps
and hot dry conditions. These two days it was still partly
cloudy and cooler but very little precipitation as the system
washes out and high pressure starts to build back in. We somehow
got a 10 day break from the heat that was much needed. The river is
still barely going over the spillway at the park though. Not much
recharge water, but enough for biological purposes to cause
regrowing and blooming, and often signaling the start of the
monsoon season and triggering another breeding attempt by many
birds. The monsoons have begun in AZ and NM so we can hope we'll
get our summer rains too. The 9th also saw almost a
hundred Lyside Sulphurs including some all yellow ones.
July 7 ~ Well we finally got a good soaker, with about an inch
of rain over the day! The birds barely ducked for cover, most
bathing in it. I watched a bird soar over in front of the biggest
round of rain that I got in my binocs on for a full minute, that I
am afraid to say what it was. No one would believe you, so why?
You can't always get a picture, and there are things that simply
wouldn't be taken seriously without one. Usually for good reason.
Otherwise, there would be a million Ivory-billed Woodpecker
reports that are really Pileated Woodpeckers. Sometimes if you
can't prove it, it is better to stay quiet until you can. But the
fact remains that there are indeed super-mega-rarity birds flying
around out there that the birding world does not know about, and
in many cases would not believe without irrefutable evidence.
Later in the afternoon a group of 3 FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCKS
flew over SR between bands of rain. My first sighting in the
Sabinal Valley area, or Uvalde Co.. There is no record considered
well documented from the entire Edwards Plateau. Unfortunately
Kathy and I watched these fly by closely but got no photo. It is
not on Lytle Blankenships' 2000 UvCo Bird Checklist which
reflects his 25 years in the UvCo area, plus all the known records
as of then. At SR there were all the regulars around still,
plus a flock of Bushtits passed through, a pair of Field Sparrows
were on the seed, and a male Indigo Bunting (same one or different?)
offers a nice contrast to the male Painteds. Do the Indigos think
the Painteds are a bit garrish? :) Inca And Ground- Dove pairs continue.
July 6 ~ The 3 oriole species continue as do hundreds of
Black-chinned Hummingbirds. I had an immature male Ruby-throated
today. It is now time to really pay attention for fancy
rare hummingbirds as post breeding in the summer is when they
wander most. Another round of p.m. cooling showers beat the heat.
July 5 ~ first of the season for me on SR, local fledgling
Barn Swallows appeared (earlier elsewhere, I know), and the
first fledged Turkey Vultures I've seen this year appeared.
This big tropical disturbance south of us in NE Mexico keeps
sending rain up here, with more showers in the p.m. today.
Ever since the cold front sorta passed we've had a break in
the heat that has been very pleasant.
July 4 ~ HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY !! Of course the big event
of the day is the firework display at the park, and I'm sure
everyone enjoyed the show! There's some folks that really
know how to make a pretty explosion! :) And the display
itself is really world class top drawer work. :) There were
a few light showers in the afternoon again, so the cool continues!
One avian high point was a Golden-cheeked Warbler briefly
foraging at the edge of the yard in the a.m., and another at dusk!
That however was eclipsed by having adult Hutton's Vireo
FEEDING A BEGGING JUVENILE in the yard. The adults are very
worn now, and the juveniles are fresh and bright, crisp of feather
edges, with nice lemon edges to primaries and secondaries.
Begging note wrenlike, slightly ascending hoarse rasping note.
There were at least 3 birds in the group but I did not age the
3rd bird. There are still probably only a dozen or less nestings
known from the Edwards Plateau of Texas. The species was unknown here
until 1990, but has become quite established. The origin of these birds
is unknown but I'd guess them to be the nearest likely source, the
Mexican mountains a couple-few hundred miles SW, making them
subspecies mexicanus. I have song recordings anyway. You never
know which thread of documentation will end up meaning something.
Kathy found a Black-and-white Warbler at UP, and there is a nice
school of Mexican Tetra (Astyanax mexicanus) present there lately.
Low water is concentrating the fish.
Finally, after an outflow boundry and sprinkle in the late p.m.,
a LESSER Nighthawk was feeding right out the office window.
Just above the Junipers which are 6-8', some 10' tall. I just don't
go running around for night birds enough, but these are surely
low density breeders here.
July 3 ~ Another outflow in the p.m. with a few sprinkles,
beat the heat again. All the regulars continue, and as often
is the case, some response to what must seem like a possible
beginning of a monsoon season (a second spring biologically)
Poor-will and Eastern Screech-Owl are calling regularly again.
The Chuck-wills-widow are quieting down, with lots of begging
young to feed, and the season winding down for them. The Common
Nighthawks are still booming well nightly and will for a while.
July 2 ~ At SR a Field Sparrow eating seed, 10 Painted Bunting,
8 Scott's, 4 Hooded, and 2 Audubon's Orioles, some more new
juvenile Cardinals and Lark Sparrows (good!), Bushtits, Hutton's Vireo,
Carolina Wren, 3 Blue Grosbeak, and too many House Finches
eating too much sunflower seed. Only got 85 F. or so, and a late
p.m. outflow brought our first rain (1/4" or so) from this so-called
front. Actually it pushed all the way off the Atlantic seaboard,
and cleared the Gulf of Mexico in LA, MS, and AL, which is really
amazing for this time of year. But it fell apart and washed
out here, though was enough to open the door for a major change
in weather pattern, and dropped us to below normal, from above.
July 1 ~ JULY !?!?!?! Well the front sort of got here and
sorta not, but it did penetrate the high and though we haven't
had any real rain, just sprinkles here, and many areas did get
some, with overnight temperatures are nearly 70! Finally,
maybe the Tomato fruit will be able to take now.
The Cliff Swallow colony that is usually under the 1050 bridge
below the park abandoned this year. The last couple years they
were flooded out and most lost it all. This year they abandoned.
One of two reasons: lack of mud, or lack of bugs. Or maybe
some of both. I saw a lot of them nestbuilding it seemed in May,
but by mid June or so they were gone.
A stop at UP found a few things of interest as always. A pair of
Brown-crested Flycatchers were feeding two juveniles across the river.
These are surely the ones Kathy and I had just upriver of the park a
few weeks ago. Fledged young being fed equals absolute proof of
local nesting, if one were say doing a breeding bird atlas. Moves
it from suspected to proven local breeder. A couple early migrants
were there too: a Black-and-white Warbler and a Yellow-throated
Vireo. These were adults, done breeding, now slowly drifting south
along the river habitat corridor, recovering. The other neat thing
at the park was on the island a 4'+ CORN SNAKE being mobbed by
every bird on the island as it descended a huge Cypress head first,
and then slipped into the backwaters. Yellow-throated Warblers
seem to be on schedule renesting as usual.
At the SR hovel was Hutton's Vireo again, and all 3 local Oriole
species (Hooded, Audubon's, Scott's) in their feeder Juniper at once!
Take a number and get in line! An outflow boundry in the late p.m.
brought thousands of dragonflies passing over SR southbound.
Scanning across the slope and valley it was a sea of dragons.
All Spot-winged and Wandering Gliders, the former more numerous.
Bird News Archive XII|
June 1- Dec. 30, '09
Bird News Archive XI|
Jan. 1- May 30, '09
Bird News Archive IX|
Jan. 1- June 30, '08
Bird News Archive VIII|
July - Dec. 31, '07
Bird News Archive VII|
Jan. 1 - June 30, '07
Bird News Archive VI|
July - Dec. 31, '06
Bird News Archive V|
Jan. - June 30, '06
Bird News Archive IV|
July - Dec. 31, '05
Bird News Archive III|
Jan. - June 30, '05
Bird News Archive II|
June - Dec. 31, '04
Bird News Archive I|
and Mar. 31-May 30,'04
Current Bird News
Reports from Lost Maples
Winter Bird Count
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