Bird News Archive XI
January 1 2009 - May 31, 2009
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 - Odonata (dragonfly or damselfly)
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Some spring migration highlights for Uvalde County.
I hope you got to see, hear, and feel some of the
spring migration as it's all but over by the end of May.
Oh a few stragglers might occur, some flycatchers,
but the biggest waves of migrants have passed the
northern tier states by the end of May, for those that
don't stop somewhere between here and there.
Here, April and May are the prime two months, but it
really gets going by mid-March, just not rarities then.
The best bird of the whole spring migration,
which is subjective of course, but the one I would
have most liked to have seen, was a new
Uvalde County record, found by visiting birders
from out of state. I love when that happens!
It was at Cook's Slough in Uvalde on May 21,
a singing male CERULEAN WARBLER! Jim Adair and
Joan McConnel of Ohio found it and thankfully reported
it to me when they got home. Jim is a very good
birder who sees Cerulean Warblers every spring.
What a find! Fantastic ! Spectacular!
Then runner-ups were the PALM WARBLER I found
and LEAST TERN Mike Overton found, both also at
Cook's Slough, during Nature Quest. Then the
LEAST BITTERN found just prior to NQ by the visiting
New Mexico birders, Marge and Dwayne Longenbaugh
was outstanding too. What a difference a few
highly skilled of fieldcraft observers make!
There are all kinds of great things out there,
just waiting to be discovered! But you have
to do your homework and study study study the books,
so when the birding gods throw you a feathered set of
bones, you recognize it! :) When opportunity knocks,
be sure someone is home, by being prepared, which
in the world of good birders, means knowing the birds'
field marks (plural), the tools of good field craft.
I'd say in Uvalde County, those were the best four
birds found this spring migration. Amazingly,
they were all found at Cook's Slough! Wait until
Ken Cave finds out! :)
The SCARLET TANAGER Kathy and I saw here was a personal
favorite since it was our first locally, and finally
in our 6th spring here, got that stunning knock-out male.
I saw about 19 species of warblers this spring,
of course 5 of which are returning breeders, two are
also common winterers (Myrtle and Orange-crowned) and
half of the rest of the diversity was represented
by often 1 individual of each type. I'd call it a
bit on the slow side, but I usually missed the
best mornings due to that pesky work thing. Surely
a few more species would have been dug up if one
could just hit the best few spots daily or nearly so.
The VARIED BUNTING showing has been nice, as has been the
bit of shorebirds at the fish hatchery in Uvalde.
So that's a bit of the avian highlights for spring 2009.
Back to the daily grind, now, watching the breeding season.
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May 31 ~ A Uvalde supply run so checked Ft. Inge where it
was quiet, probably due to nesting secrecy. It's that time
of year when it can be like that. Quiet birds.
The mulberries are over, migrants gone. At the hatchery
there were another 10 White-rumped Sandpiper, a Pectoral,
2 Black-necked Stilt, a Mocker that did a Solitary Sandpiper
that briefly fooled me, nesting Black Phoebe and Killdeer,
latter of which young were seen, nesting Common Grackle again,
4 Snowy Egret and 3 adult Little Blue Heron, 3 Common
Moorhen, 3 Blue-winged Teal, and one strange worn teal.
Regulars in the adjacent habitat like Bell's Vireo and
Verdin were heard, and in the sunflower field, Dickcissels.
Bank Swallows were seen at Ft. Inge and at the hatchery,
likely from not to far away nesting areas. Hyacinth
Glider dragonflies were out at Ft. Inge. A Band-winged
Dragonlet was at the hatchery and the usual bazillion bluets.
Great Kiskadee was fishing at the city park on Hwy. 90.
Also late in the p.m. I heard my FOS Barking Frog, barking.
May 30 ~
Here's the daily breeding fare around the SR yard as of
late May: Red-shouldered, Red-tailed and Zone-tailed Hawk
(all 3 Buteos not daily - but probably if I worked for them),
White-winged, Mourning, Inca, Common Ground-(weekly), and Eurasian
Collared- Doves, Eastern Screech-Owl, Common Nighthawk,
Chuck-wills-widow, (C.Poorwill present but undetectable now),
Black-chinned Hummingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe,
Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Scrub-Jay (texana),
Raven sps., Purple Martin ,Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee,
Black-crested Titmouse, Bushtit (weekly), Carolina Wren,
Bewick's Wren, Summer Tanager, Rufous-crowned Sparrow,
Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, N.Cardinal,
Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Hooded Oriole, Scott's Oriole,
Bronzed and Brown-headed Cowbirds, House Finch, Lesser
(Black-backed) Goldfinch. Turkey and Black Vultures
daily, nest a half mile away. So, about 34 species
daily in or over the yard eating for youngsters. Plus,
the 3 hawks, 2 vultures, and weeklies (like Chimney Swift,
or Roadrunner which I didn't mention) seen every few days makes
ca. 40 sps. possible most days from the SR porch if it was all I did.
Unfortunatley my wife won't let that happen! :):)
May 29 ~ About 3 a.m. a line of showers rolled over and
we got about 3/4" of rain up here on SR. But I couldn't
get out to see what they knocked down. Amazing was
late in the p.m. at 5:45 a single BROAD-WINGED HAWK
passed over stopping to use a thermal with a Turkey Vulture
and a Black Vulture right overhead here on SR.
By far my latest spring date locally for one.
Just fledged White-winged Dove at seed.
May 28 ~ The amazing bird report of the day was again
by Tony Gallucci up in Hunt, where he saw a pair of
RED CROSSBILL !!! I haven't heard of any around
in the 5+ years I've been here. GREAT birds! WOW!
Must be that cool front. Actually the last week
has been cool and wet, very pleasant really, especially
considering what is usually in store the next 3-4 months,
and those record breaking temps in early May.
Best I could muster in the yard was a Band-winged Dragonlet
dragonfly, the first one I've seen this year.
May 27 ~ See yesterday. Another big line of
storms went over, pre-dawn, and just missed us to the
east.  The line went from the coast to Hondo,
but missed us. Anyway we've been lucky so far,
in May getting a couple/few inches of rain, and the
same in each April and March prior, so though we are
a foot behind still, a few inches a month through
spring saved it. The good flower bloom will
likely continue, and many birds will renest as long
as we keep getting rains. A cell blew up at
6: p.m. here on SR we got 1/2" and I'm sure it was
more down valley south of town. Every drop helps.
Summer Tanager and Field Sparrow flycatching termites
after the rain. Had a Zone-tailed Hawk over the
hovel at 1 p.m. or so, and another in town at 3: p.m..
An un-ID'd passerine migrant got away at the 354 pecans.
It looked good.
May 26 ~ A shower went over about midnight last
night, and another this mid-morning giving us a
'nother quarter inch. The cell last night was big,
with 5-7" of rain up in nothern Real Co., but it
split and we ended up in a dry wedge in the middle.
I think Garner got it good. After the rains I saw
Cardinal and Scott's Oriole flycatching termites.
There are two just fledged Hooded Orioles coming in
with the adults.
May 25 ~ At least 3 male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
continue, and more females. Some juvenile
Black-chinned Hummingbirds are starting to show up
for a few days now. Question Mark in yard.
Red Satyr too, and a Desert Firetail damselfly.
We went to Lost Maples in the heat of the day,
when on the end of the weekend the place is usally
quiet and nearly empty. They've all gone back
to their cities. During the nesting season you
can often still get some bird activity due to young
needing feeding, etc., and the heat is when to see
insects if you like them, which I do, alot. :)
There were a few singing Golden-cheeked Warblers still
in the heat of the day, but plan on spending some time
to see one now. There were two Great Blue Herons
at the ponds (showing how few people were around),
which have been present, one white headed in alternate,
and I can't help but wonder if they are breeding near
and commuting here? We watched a Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher hanging around its oddly empty nest
mewing incessantly, probably just a victim to nest
predation. A Red-eyed Vireo came over to see
what the problem was and got its arse kicked.
This was going on at 3 and 5:30 p.m., and probably
since the predation event. A distress mewing,
not the standard notes, all around an empty nest.
We watched a Louisiana Waterthrush feed a fledgling
which make the same rapid-fire metallic begging note
that Black-and-white and Golden-cheeked Warblers do.
Must be universal. We also had Scott's Oriole
at HQ, and I heard a Black-capped Vireo up on a hillside
near the pond. No buteos and it appears the
Red-tailed Hawk nest is NOT being used this year,
after many years of usage. I can only presume that
one of the pair perished, as they usually mate for life.
I saw what I presumed to be one of them in April, but
not since and there is no activity at the nest.
There were hundreds of Reakirt's Blue butterflies on the
Mexican Hat blooming all along the trail.  Three to a
flower sometimes. I found an Eyed Elatarid, the
giant 2 inch click beetle with false eyespots on its
thorax....and got some digiscopes I'll get up here.
There were some odes at the pond, but the numbers are
soooo depressed I can't believe it. One Widow Skimmer,
a couple each Prince and Dot or Stripe- winged Baskettails,
a few Common Whitetail, couple Black Saddlebags, one
Orange Bluet at the top pond, no Threadtails, one
male Pondhawk. Dismal.
May 24 ~ Here at SR there was a juvenile Mourning Dove.
At UP there was a singing male first-summer Rose-breasted
Grosbeak and an adult male Green Kingfisher with THREE
juveniles. Must be a much better fisher than I.
At UR there was a Yellow Warbler, Willow Flycatcher,
and Swainson's Thrush, 3 migrants. Another passing
thuderstorm in the p.m., with another quarter inch on
SR and it looked like an inch in town.  Town has
gotten at least a couple inches in the last two days
while SR 2 mi. west got maybe a half inch.
May 23 ~ As often it clears up at night, so migrants
typically depart, and we could find no migrants at
UP for instance. There was however a just fledged
Yellow-throated Warbler being fed by an adult that
was neat to watch. Also a Green Kingfisher juvenile
was with an adult. Another round of thunderstorms in
the afternoon got us another quarter inch here on SR,
but it looked like a lot more down in town. Late in
the p.m. here there was a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak
on our sunflower tube, and an Olive-sided Flycatcher.
Very interesting was a nearly completely black Erynnis
Duskywing butterfly on some Zexmenia. It looked like
no other I've seen well, with a rufous-ish hind wing,
it seemed to most closely match Meridian Duskywing to me.
It wasn't any of the 3 Common species here I've been seeing
for 5+ years: Funereal, Horace's, and Juvenal's.
May 22 ~ A male VARIED BUNTING passed by the SR yard
about 9:40 a.m.. Hopefully it will stick around!
I only saw it briefly on the wire and then as it flew,
but heard both its calls, which are distinctive if
you are very familiar with the Lazuli/Indigo notes
(which are the same), and Painted notes. The buzzy
zzzzzzzz of Varied has a more distinct forceful
downslur not present in the others' versions.
Like the Field Sparrow amongst Spizellas, its downslurred.
It also has more clear reverb, or echo, or modulation, within
the zzzzzzz, and it's more hollow and woody, with timbre,
compared to Painted, or Indigo/Lazuli buzzzzzz type notes.
Likewise its metallic bunting bik note is also different.
Stronger with more timbre again, a category towards a
Blue Grosbeak from the Laz/Indi version. If you
hear Indigo and Painted all the time as we do here, when
you hear either of these two notes you will immediately
recognize them as not being the notes you hear all the time.
You will know they are different, if you have an ear
for that sort of thing. In this case I must confess
that if I hadn't just seen and heard the male at Lost Maples
10 days ago, and refreshed my dusty old Varied Bunting
audio neurons hearing both of these call types, I would not
have instantly gone to Code 5 red alert. You have to
keep experiencing things to keep them learned in the case
of some bird calls. Sure Trumpeter Swan and Whooping
Crane might be easy, but more subtle things are different.
A half-hour after the initial encounter I glimpsed it again
on the tops of some junipers out front, calling the metallic
bik call. It just looks black in any but good light,
but it is still a male VARIED BUNTING in the yard!! :):)
I had a female at the bath here in June maybe 4-5 years ago,
and a male at UP about 5 years ago in May. So this is my
fourth locally, but two were in the last two weeks, and two
about five years ago. Keep your eyes out for them now!
An afternoon shower was a treat, with probably a quarter inch
of rain. Also had a Yellow Warbler at SR.
May 21 ~ Orchard Oriole female at SR again.
More amazing was a singing Warbling Vireo out front.
Also Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Zone-tailed Hawk here.
I got a new Lantana, a real red one last Sunday,
with its blooms still closed, knowing in a few days,
the pretty ones would be flower-less, and I'd be sittin'
pretty. Started opening yesterday the first orange
petals, which are scarlet red today, and now just saw
my first butterfly on it, my very tardy FOS GREEN Skipper
worked it for 20 minutes so I guess it's a good one.
May 20 ~ Lost Maples for a few hours in the a.m.
trying to help show some visiting birders our stuff.
We barely saw Golden-cheeked Warblers, though we
heard a number. They are getting quiet quickly,
and you will still see them, but it takes more
time already, and will get real tough real quick.
While they wander around randomly through June,
you can not easily predict seeing them, in a couple weeks.
We struck out on the Varied Bunting, it has not
been reported since Kathy and I saw it May 10.
There was a singing Yellow-throated Warbler by the
overflow parking turnoff but none at the pond.
Scott's Oriole was seen. The Canyon Mock-Orange
is done blooming, but the Larkspur is going off
great and is a lovely purple one. It's the only
one I've seen around, growing out of a humongous
holey limestone rock behind the ponds, the same
rock with the big Mock-Orange (!), and it's the first
time I've seen the Larkspur bloom. Pardon my
botanical excitement. :) Conversely there
were no odes (dragonflies and damselflies) at the pond.
I stopped at UP for a quick look at noon on the way home
and saw my FOS local MOURNING WARBLER, a male, at the north
end of the park in the undergrowth. Got to watch it
for 5 minutes at 10-15' as it foraged in the Virginia Creeper
on the ground. A very neat bird!
May 19 ~ At 354 Pecans there was a Wilson's Warbler
and a FOS YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER. I don't see
them every year, though they do probably pass, if you
could bird instead of work every day in May.
There were a couple Swainson's Thrush at UR, and here
at SR a Yellow Warbler and another female Orchard Oriole.
One just fledged Scrub-Jay was about the yard a bit.
May 18 ~ Oddly a pair of House Sparrows were out back
here on SR. First I've seen in a while hereabouts.
A Great Crested Flycatcher called from across the road.
May 17 ~ A Uvalde supply run, always good for some
birding stops. At Ft. Inge it was the regulars,
and they were quiet by time we got there for the
most part. A couple Common Yellowthroat were the
only migrants. The threadtail damselflies reported
there below the dam just weren't active yet, before noon.
At Cook's Slough there was a male Wilson's Warbler but not
much else. The fish hatchery was the happening place,
with shorebirds. Sandpipers! When there is mudflat
available the UNFH is the best place for them in the county.
The main viewing pond across from the main building
and parking lot at the end of the paved road has
mudflat edge this spring and has been very good.
Mudflat is ideal shorebird habitat, so migrants
passing over are stopping. These are mostly birds
that winter in Mexico, Central or South America, and
nest in Canada in the high Arctic. And as they
pass in a narrow window of a few weeks each spring,
especially if we have rain or northerly winds,
they need a place to stop with proper SHOREbird
habitat: mudflat edge.
We saw 11 species again: 14 Stilt Sandpiper,
3 Baird's Sandpiper, 2 Pectoral Sandpiper,
1 Solitary Sandpiper, 2 Spotted Sandpiper,
5 Least Sandpiper, 2 Semipalmated Sandpiper,
7 Lesser Yellowlegs, 5 Wilson's Phalarope,
3 Killdeer and 10 White-rumped Sandpiper,
some of my favorites with their little teek teek
call. They migrate from South America to Canada to
nest, then east to the Atlantic coast where they turn
south and fly to South America for the winter.
And we get a few weeks we can see them here each
spring. There were still 8 Blue-winged Teal there,
a couple Cattle Egrets, and 2 White-faced Ibis.
Even after all that we walked all the way to the
SW corner ponds and were rewarded with besides the
2 Pectoral Sandpipers, a single ahy (after hatch year
- aka first summer plumage in other terminology)
FORSTER'S TERN! A couple late Savannah Sparrows
were out there too.
May 16 ~ Remarkable overnight was about 3/4" of rain!
And a frontal passage behind it cooling things off.
At UP we saw our FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher, and a
couple Common Yellowthroat, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo,
of which a wave hit today with 2 at UR and 2 other
singles seen crossing the road locally. Five in
a couple hours by accident means there must be many
in today's wave. At SR there was another Yellow
Warbler and a migrant flyover Dickcissel.
May 14 ~ A male Indigo Bunting and a Yellow Warbler
were migrants passing through the SR yard. There was
my first freshly fledged Ladder-backed Woodpecker too.
May 13 ~ Saw my first freshly fledged House Finch today.
Perhaps only 5 male Ruby-throated Hummingbird left, and
probably more females than that, however there are a
large number of Black-chinned, perhaps a thousand with
a gallon of fluid consumed daily and lots of natural
food sources available.
May 11 ~ Surely would have been a good day for migrants
but pesky work kept us from it. Saw a couple Orchard
Orioles and a Yellow Warbler in the yard on SR, which means
there was migrant movement and fallout.
May 10 ~ We went to Lost Maples for a walk up Can Creek.
On the way, just past Cypress Hollow a green SUV rolled
from a private drive right into Hwy 187 without stopping.
I was going more than 5 MPH below the speed limit.
I had to hit the brakes and swerve into the southbound
lane to avoid my car and wife being slammed. Thankfully
there was no one oncoming southbound, at 8 a.m. on
Mothers Day morning. Pay more attention people!
Only MY reaction was why there was no accident!!
Be careful, it's dangerous driving around locally folks.
We hung out almost an hour at the overflow parking lot
(trailhead) feeding station. Around 9 a.m., for about
10 seconds, the male VARIED BUNTING put in a quick appearance.
It was too skittish to stay with us being present, so keep
your distance if wanting to see this beautiful bird.
The first note of it there was on April 28 so this is day 13.
While waiting we saw our FOS Willow Flycatcher, and a
female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. A male Rose-breast was
seen at the HQ feeders there May 7 (last Thursday). We saw
two male Scott's Orioles at the HQ feeders today.
Golden-cheeked Warbler male feeding fledgling
(taken through telescope from safe distance)
Up the trail we saw about 10 Golden-cheeked Warblers,
including a just fledged still tailless young being fed
by an adult male. Lots of Indigo Buntings about,
Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Wren, a quick look at a
Zone-tailed Hawk, Louisiana Waterthrush, Acadian Flycatcher,
including one building a just started nest, Eastern Wood-Pewee,
lots of singing Black-and-white Warblers, and a few migrant
warblers including an amazing 4 Common Yellowthroat, 2+
Wilson's, a Nashville, and a Blue-headed Vireo. The
2 male Yellow-throated Warblers that had been singing at
the pond seem to have departed, as usual about now.
Heard 3 different Hutton's Vireo, and as many seperate Bushtit.
Ash-throated (breeds) and Great Crested (prob. migrants)
Flycatchers, Black Phoebe, and Inca Dove were also seen.
I have to find their suggestion box and suggest tractor
mowing on Sunday mornings be done during the week like
at most parks. I imagine lots of campers pay $18
a night to not hear their neighbor's tractor mower first thing
Sunday morning for a couple hours. Seemed more like
the big city than what most go to wake up at a natural area
Sunday morning for. Everywhere else, and here usually,
at least it seemed it used to be, up to now, this is done
during the week, for lots of good reasons.
Some of those poor campers thought they were going to wake up
to a peaceful quiet nature filled Mother's Day morning
with birdsong. Instead they got a tractor mower and dust.
Good thing I had rolled the windows up when I went in the
HQ to register or my wife would have been covered in dirt.
Welcome to Mothers Day at the State Natural Area.
That's a heck of a wake up call !?!?!
Just as campers should not make lots of noise at night, the
park maintenence requiring large engines should not be done
during the 48 hours of peak usage, Friday noon to Sunday noon,
when patrons are going to a natural area for a natural experience.
At least respect Saturday to Sun. morning. You wake up knowing
you have to go back to the city, and hear the roar soon enough.
May 9 ~ Only 98 felt nicer I hate to say it. There
were a couple Yellow Warbler about town, and at UR there was
an ahy (afterhatchyear) male American Redstart, 2nd of the spring.
At the 360 crossing there was a Wilson's Warbler singing
an odd song. A pair of Acadian Flycatcher were back
at UR finally also. Yellow-billed Cuckoo called and a
couple prospecting Brown-crested Flycatchers were there too.
Had a singing Blue-headed Vireo out front here at SR.
The neat thing was a White-eyed Vireo giving a song that was
composed of other species notes. The first four notes were
a Summer Tanager, then an Ash-throated brrrrrrr, followed by
what was probably a Carolina or Bewick's Wren note, and then
one of its own squeaky tiks for the end. Repeated a hundred
times in a row. Must drive the other birds nuts. :)
So, only a handful of migrants were detected and it is winding
down fast folks. The rarest best stuff often comes through
later, after the main waves, so it is not the time to quit
looking. But there will mostly be breeding species save the
stray this and that straggler here and there. Mourning Warbler
is one that should just be showing up now. There are a few
late migrants like it and Willow Flycatcher that you miss if you
quit early after the bulk passes, but before they get here.
Supposed to have a cold front knock us down to 65 tonight,
and 90 tomorrow.
May 8 ~ It won't stop; today was 104 on Seco Ridge (SR)!
Brutal, and I heard it was 107 in Uvalde and Laredo.
There was a Baltimore Oriole and 4 Yellow Warbler around town.
May 7 ~ Another scorcher at 100 here on SR. Another
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher northbound. Hutton's Vireo
out front which I haven't had in a while. Probably
nesting nearby, and coming for water. Just a stones
throw down the drive was a Least Flycatcher this a.m..
May 6 ~ It was a broiling 105 here on SR, 2 mi. W. of town
today. No wonder I saw a Desert Checkered-Skipper, which
seemed appropriate. 15 deg. above normal for the date,
the 107 was a record in Del Rio !! I had to drop at the
P.O., and saw a Canyon Towhee right at the entrance to UP!
# 201 on my UP list. I am missing some easy nocturnal
species like Chuck-wills-widow and Eastern Screech-Owl
because I haven't gone down there at night.
There were 5 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck there too.
May 5 ~ At SR was an AHY (after hatch year) Cooper's Hawk.
Red Satyr and Question Mark butterflies about. No migrants.
The two Chipping Sparrows left now will probably nest.
It will shut down and be over for migration very very quickly.
The last trickle of late warblers will be the next week or two.
Flycatchers could come through all month, like Least,
Olive-sided, Willow, but most of it has passed us by now.
It is about time to enjoy the migratory breeders being back,
and nesting, most are already going full bore.
May 4 ~ A minor front came in and turned winds to the
northeast. Why does the good bird weather happen work days?
I snuck out for a quick peek and saw a bunch of Nashvilles
and Yellows (4-6 each) at UR, a male Black-throated Green
Warbler there, and my FOS Least Flycatcher. At UP there
was Northern Waterthrush and Blue-headed Vireo and three
Spotted Sandpipers on the spillway. A funky
weird female Myrtlish Warbler was at 354 pecans.
Swainson's Hawk at SR. For Leps there was a nearly opaque white
worn scaleless Monarch (nectaring on Water Willow), next to a
brand spanking new fresh mint one.
May 3 ~ The best bird locally was one I saw posted to Texbirds,
the Texas birders listserv. A Varied Bunting at Lost Maples by
Marcin Kojtka, where also Lazuli, Indigo and Painted continue.
There seems to be a good influx of Varied Buntings this year
with reports from Rio Medina, W. of Hunt, this at Lost Maples,
and the historic Junction birds (known for 25 years now) have
been seen also. The males look black until you get the right
light on them when they appear a weird mix of purple, red, and blue.
Note above on May 10: we found the Varied was actually first seen on
April 28, by the camp bird hosts on their last walk of the season,
this posted sighting was on May 2, and it continued on May 10.
Here at SR I still have northbound Blue-gray Gnatcatchers
passing which must be Canada or high altitude nesters, as our
locals are well underway with nesting now. The surprise of a
bird here was late in the p.m. when a nearly all black MERLIN
flew by northbound with the remains of a meal in talons,
tomorrows breakfast. A Merlin's version of a meal to go is a
half-eaten bird. The Merlin was solid dark slate black above,
and the underparts were nearly solid black too, only the posterior
portions where the streaking splayed did it seperate enough
to see pale areas between lines.
May 2 ~ In the early fog mist drizzle at SR there was maybe the
largest flock of Pine Siskins I've seen here all year, 50 birds.
The yellow morph bird continues and was in with them, a standout.
Also a dozen American Goldfinch including 2 males near full alternate.
I made a quick run to Uvalde, with a couple bird stops along
the way. At Ft. Inge there were 2 Green Jay, a continuing
pair of Ringed Kingfisher, several Green Kings, some Yellow Warblers,
and 3 Northern Waterthrush. At Cook's Slough there was another
Sora and a female Audubon's Warbler. At the hatchery there were
migrant shorebirds including Solitary, Spotted, Least, and Baird's
Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, 45 Wilson's Phalarope,
Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, 4 Long-billed Dowitcher and
TWO Semipalmated Plover. 11 species of pipers is very nice.
Also there were an adult, and a pied immature Little Blue Heron,
an imm. White-faced Ibis, 3 Snowy Egret, my FOS Common Moorhen,
an amazing 5 (FIVE!!) Sora, Cinnamon and Blue-winged Teal, plus
a hybrid of the two I got poor digiscope pix of. A Harris's
Hawk was near Sabinal, and lots of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
and Western Kingbird along the roads, a few Couch's around water.
Back at SR it seemed a bunch of the Chippies finally left as there
are not a dozen here now, maybe 8.
May 1 ~ MAY !?!?!? Fortunately had to hit the P.O. so made
a stop or two around town. Behind the P.O. was skylarking
Cassin's Sparrow, a Dickcissel, and two Grasshopper Sparrows.
Then at UP there was male Common Yellowthroat, female
Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Nashville
Warbler, and the breeding Yellow-throated Warblers.
Yellow-throated, White-eyed, and Blue-headed Vireo, and
2 or 3 Catbirds, the resident Blue Jays, a Spotted Sandpiper.
At the 354 pecans was a male Bullock's Oriole, a Yellow Warbler,
a Nashville Warbler, and a FOS Tennessee Warbler that sang
quite a bit. The breeding Chat across the field was heard.
Then at Utopia on the River for a quick run through, there
were a couple Yellow, a few Nashville, Common Yellowthroat,
and a FOS male MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER. Also 5 Indigo Bunting,
Yellow-billed Cuckoo, but still no Acadian Fly or E. Pewee back.
And my hour or so checking these spots was peak heat, so there
were probably a good number of migrants around early when best.
These were the few not sleeping so visible. At SR the imm.
male Indigo Bunting continues for the 3rd day, and my FOS
female Indigo Bunting showed up in the yard. Maybe
only a dozen Chipping Sparrows about yard.....some left.
And oh yeah, a FOS male Great-tailed Grackle near the Pico.
The bird of the day May 1 was up near Hunt where Tony Gallucci
found a Great Kiskadee along the Guadalupe River.
Another one was found the first week of May in Austin.
The first week of May Tony Gallucci also saw a Brown Pelican
(photos) in Kerrville on the Guadalupe River! WEEWOW !!
A brief note on an out of area bird but so spectacular it
merits mention. The first ever Edwards Plateau record of
Red-faced Warbler occurred April 23 near Austin. Which means
it went by us on the way, and is a reminder to keep your eyes,
ears, and mind, open when out there.
A quick count finds I saw about 51 speces of butterflies
locally in the month of April. About normal diversity, but
still drought depressed individual numbers are below normal.
Good thing we got that 3-4 inches of rain in March and I'm not
sure what it was in April, an inch or two, when it should have
been 4 more. At least we got enough for a good spring bloom.
Go enjoy the wildflowers as they are fantastic now.
That 6" of rain the last two months saved the spring bloom!
I went around the natural native unplanted but comparitively
heavilly watered "yard" (area around the hovel on SR) and in
a few days, because I'm not a botanist, I've come up with
50 species of flowering plants - wildflowers - in a few
hundred square feet. OK, I had to bend over, and
even get down on my knees, AND get my reading glasses out,
for about 20 species many would call weeds from say 5 or 6
feet altitude. But if you look closely, many have
spectacular, albeit small, flowers. Drummond's Skullcap
or Prarie Brazoria are amazing, IF you could only see them!
Another reason for those super close-focus binocs, they'll save you
from having to bend over and get readers out to see small flowers!
April 30 ~ A quick zip through a couple spots found some
migrants after the nocturnal showers last night. First at
UP there were FOS Green Heron and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck,
and FOS Yellow Warbler. Also a couple Catbird, a female
Black-and-white Warbler, 3 C. Yellowthroat, a Yellow-breasted Chat,
and a couple Nashville Warbler. At 354 there were a couple
Nashville and 3 Yellow Warbler. At UR there was a Wilson's
Warbler and a Nashville or two. Around town there were at
least 10 Western Kingbirds. At the mulberry on Cypress St.
there were a hundred Cedar Waxwings and a pair of Orchard Oriole
At SR there were two dozen Pine Siskin, 4 male Painted Bunting,
a pair of Orchard Oriole, at least one FOS Baltimore Oriole
(another was on Cypress St.), and the imm. male Indigo Bunting
Interesting there were no Eastern Wood-Pewee or Acadian Flycatcher
back at UR yet. A Yellow-billed cuckoo was there though, and
an unID'd cuckoo sps. flew over Cypress St.. Barn Owl called
late. Eastern Screech-Owls calling nightly lately. Poor-will
silent for a month now, while Chuck-wills-widow and now Common
Nighthawk loud nightly.
April 29 ~ The yellow morph Pine Siskin was back
around again at the sunflower seeds here at SR.
Fog mist drizzle in a.m.. A flock of 300 Brewer's
Blackbirds flew over SR with 2 dozen Common Grackle in it.
A mostly brown first year male Indigo Bunting is also present.
Still 25 Chipping Sparrow here.
April 28 ~ At UP there was another Yellow-breasted Chat,
4 Nashville, a male Common Yellowthroat, Blue-headed Vireo,
a COOT, 3 Blue-winged Teal. Breeding Chat returned to
UvCo 354. In town there was Couch's and Western Kingbird.
A male Robin was at the Cypress St. Mulberry tree.
Here at SR in the a.m. there was a beautiful textbook female
Lazuli Bunting once only 8' from me. 3 male Painted Buntings
at once was neat, especially the one with the big red patch
of feathers seperating the lime green back and blue nape/crown.
I hope it shows in the digiscopes I got. Late in the day
here at 6 p.m. my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew across the
road. Then a neighbor a half mile away started shooting and
flushed two dozen Mississippi Kites that had settled on the
knoll to roost. Finally at dusk my FOS Common Nighthawk.
Thought I heard a Yellow Warbler zeet at UvCo 354. White-
crowned Sparrow still here and Field Sparrow is singing.
I heard a bird at UP I thought sure was a Scarlet Tanager, and
another I thought was a Least Flycatcher, but could find neither.
There was a flock of over a hundred and fifty Brewer's Blackbirds
on SR. The White-crowned Sparrow continued at SR.
A Spotted Sandpiper was at UP also.
April 27 ~ We got about 3/4" of rain today.
Saw a Mississippi Kite at SR. An adult leucophrys (nominate)
White-crowned Sparrow was about the seed here. Nice
Zone-tailed Hawk flew right over late in the p.m..
April 26 ~ One problem we have with migrants here is that
it often clears up in the early evening so the stuff leaves
right after dark as usual. Therefore we don't get the stack-up
factor. Then the clouds get thick at 2 a.m. or so, and we
get some more Nashvilles knocked down. Then no matter
where they come down, there is habitat. So there is little
to no concentration factor. The river edge habitat corridor
is the best bet. Blooming live-oaks in early to last quarter
of April when Mulberries take over, and Pecans late April into
May. Follow the bloom, like the birds do.
We checked Utopia Park about mid-day and saw a few migrants.
My FOS local Northern Waterthrush, 2 male Common Yellowthroat,
Great Crested Flycatcher, 6-12 Nashville Warbler, a House Wren
scolding a Marsh Wren (or perhaps he was asking it what the
heck it was doing in a Cypress), and on the dam a Spotted
Sandpiper and a FOS local Snowy Egret. A couple other stops
produced about zip. But oh yeah, a couple Nashvilles.
Finally on April 26 I saw my FOS Firefly here at SR.
Spring 2009 Nature Quest news follows.....with some notes
from April 22-25, in reverse chronological order of course.
First to summarize a little bit..........
Over the 4+ days of Nature Quest there was lots of
either wind, or drizzle, which made for rough going for
the butterfly folks, though it was good for knocking some
migrant birds down. I think Bob Behrstock had a total
of about 45 species of Odes (dragon and damselflies)
over the course of his trips. The feeder watchers at
Concan had the continuing Brown Thrasher that I found Apr. 14,
and a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, for mentionables.
There is a pair of Northern Parula at Garner St.Pk. that
will not likely stick if their regular behavior holds true.
Also at Garner St. Pk. at the Shady Meadows shelter building
there are Cave Swallows with nests under the eaves.
I did a quick count and see I saw, or heard, over 130 species
of birds on the 4 morning walks I led. While I don't know
of everything every group saw, it seems we collectively
saw at least 160 species, probably about 170, maybe 175!!
Which for an INLAND location, with no big lake, is outstanding
methinks. Bad weather makes for good birds, in migration.
One group saw a Porcupine, another, a Bobcat in a tree!
Finally a word of thanks to Ken Cave of The Hill Country
River Region Chamber of Commerce, for an outstanding job.
And to his able assistant Angela too, thanks. The smiles on
the participants faces tell it all. The people have a blast.
It was great to see the returning faces too! Lots of access
to lots of private ranches with lots of good birds.
And lots of top experts to lead you through moths at a blacklight,
damselflies, or whatever. It was my first Lanner Falcon at
Garner St. Pk. and I suspect a new county record. :) Just kiddin',
it was one of John Karges' Last Chance Forever birds.
People (like me) were blown away seeing it fly at point blank.
OK, now for what we turned up.....
April 25 ~ Today Tony Gallucci and I led a group through
Big Springs Ranch, north of Leakey, at the Frio river
headwaters. Tony spotted a Ringed Kingfisher that stopped
for the scope, and he discovered a singing WOOD THRUSH we
could only hear and not get to, but we got to hear it!
Another group had a Chestnut-sided Warbler we missed.
A plumed Little Blue Heron along the river was nice, and rare
there. We had great looks at Golden-cheeked Warblers,
despite the rain, and there must have been at least
5 singing Parula Warblers. I only saw one well and it
was a good Northern to me.
I'm not sure it was this date but either this or yesterday,
Derek Muschalek on his trip found a couple of Green Jays at
the Estrella Ranch which is up in the hill country part of
northern Uvalde County, not the southern flatlands brush country.
Back at Utopia there was my 1st Mourning Cloak at the park, and
a Red Satyr at the hovel on SR. Kathy had 3 Mississippi
Kites low over the house earlier.
April 24 ~ Today I led a group through the Spanish Dagger
Ranch just east of Uvalde, south of Hwy. 90. We saw
or heard most of the expected regular south Texas brush
country specialties in the good condition Tamaulipan
thorn scrub. Curve-billed Thrasher, Black-throated Sparrow,
Pyrrhuloxia, Vermilion Flycatcher. I heard Bell's Vireo,
Olive Sparrows, and I saw Cassin's Sparrow skylarking.
25 Cattle Egrets flew over low as did a single adult
FRANKLIN'S GULL. One Canyon Towhee was glimpsed, and
lots of Verdin called. Caracara and Harris's Hawks
were seen. Best are the overflow drips at the windmills.
One had a good group of migrants around it that we watched
bathe including 2 Black-throated Green Warblers, a male
Black-and-white Warbler, a pair of Orchard Orioles,
a dozen Nashville and an Orange-crowned Warbler,
White-eyed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher, Blue Grosbeak and Painted Buntings, all at
one muddy drip. We must have had 50 Clay-colored Sparrows,
and one Savannah, and one Vesper, many Lark Sparrow, some
Chipping and White-crowneds too, and Common Ground-Dove.
Dickcissel were flying over farting, I mean calling,
all morning, and I heard from the other trips they all
had bunches too. Must have been some wave with many birds.
A small javelina ran across the road followed shortly
by a Coyote, and then another Coyote. It was like a
year-old (ahy) pig, the wiley coyotes had seperated and
were dogging. I can imagine that getting real interesting.
The other best bird of the whole Nature Quest was found
today, by Mike Overton at Cook's Slough, a LEAST TERN.
Ron Sprouse of Concan got great photos of it for this
rare county record. Mike also saw the Palm Warbler at
the slough this morning. And he found a couple of
Stilt Sandpipers at the fish hatchery, which are not a
for sure thing each year in the county. Good birds Mike!
I ran my group over after lunch and we got to see the
Least Tern, though not closely like they had it earlier.
April 23 ~ Today my field trip was to Lost Maples SNA,
home turf. We all saw Golden-cheeked Warblers well, closely.
Also we saw Lazuli and Indigo Buntings at the feeding station
at the overflow - trailhead parking lot. A Scott's Oriole
sang from that area as well. We had great looks at
Louisiana Waterthrush, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, lots of
Clay-colored Sparrows, and the 3 common nesting Vireos:
Yellow-throated, Red-eyed, and White-eyed. And we saw
the FOS Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee. As we
rounded a corner a small buteo flushed that looked like a
Short-tailed Hawk to me, but it got away. I bet one is
there now though. There was a FOS locally I think
Yellow-headed Blackbird at LeAnn and Anthony Sharp's,
10 mi. west of Utopia, and Bob Behrstock had a flock of
them at the fish hatchery in Uvalde. Also at the Sharp's
there was a Vesper Sparrow. Our local wintering flocks
depart by late March or earlier, and then later we get a
wave of passage migrants, much like White-crowned Sparrows.
Judy Schaefer saw a FOS Dickcissel this date (?) in Utopia.
At SR I saw a YELLOW MORPH (green when fresh) Pine Siskin.
Again. Butterpat yellow undersides of all flight feathers.
That is wings and tail, or properly, remiges and rectrices.
Is it a returnee (the previous bird) is the $64K question?
Either the 22nd or 23rd Bob Behrstock led a group to Kerr WMA
and everyone got to see Black-capped Vireo of course.
April 22 ~ I led a Nature Quest field trip to Cook's Slough
in Uvalde. But getting ready before 6 a.m. in the dark outside
I heard a nocturnal flight note VEER that sounded just like a
VEERY to me. I haven't seen one here yet. Anyway down at
Cook's Slough we saw a late Swamp Sparrow, a Sora, a Zone-tailed
Hawk, a couple Harris's Hawks plus a Swainson's, Greater Yellowlegs,
Marsh Wren, an FOS for me female Painted Bunting, heard Kiskadee
and Long-billed Thrasher, saw an Anhinga, best of all I found
a singing PALM WARBLER. This species was unknown here as of
Lytle Blankenship's 2000 Uvalde Co. checklist. It stayed 3 days,
being seen by two other field trips, on the 23rd (Behrstock et.al.),
and the 24th (Overton et.al.). A great local record.
Derek Muschalek's trip to Park Chalk Bluff said it was birdy, with
Peregrine Falcon, Black-throated Green Warbler and Blue-headed
Vireo, among some 75 species there. Late in the day back at
Utopia Park (UP) I saw my FOS Mississippi Kite, and a Catbird
(probably continuing) was in the Mulberries on the island.
Field trip participants Marjorie and Dwayne Longenbaugh
(very nice good New Mexico birders) told of photographing a
LEAST BITTERN at Cook's Slough a few days earlier, perhaps
the 19th. I'll try to get details and a picture.
April 21 ~ A quick stop at UP between errands produced my
FOS Blue Dasher (dragonfly) and Cloudless Sulphur (butterfly),
of the marcellina flavor, and year mosquito number 6 or 7.
There were at least 50 Cedar Waxwings at the Mulberry on
Cypress St. out front of the park. At SR there was my FOS
female Blue Grosbeak.
April 20 ~ A female BROAD-TAILED Hummingbird was at the
feeders this morning. Saw and heard it from 15'. Pretty
rare in spring here. Couple of male Painted Buntings about
the yard but still haven't seen a female.
April 19 ~ Supply run to Uvalde so did Ft. Inge and the
Uvalde National Fish Hatchery. We met some visiting
birders, and helped show them around the place. Ft. Inge was
active early as usual. 6+ male Bullock's Orioles, was
eclipsed by a pair of Scott's Orioles that stopped long
enough for me to scope, a very rare sighting off the plateau.
A couple Green Jays, Kiskadees, Long-billed Thrasher, heard
Olive Sparrow, a few Green Kingfishers, a couple male Orchard
Orioles sang, heard Chat and Common Yellowthoat, saw a
male Northern Parula and Northern Waterthrush, lots of
singing Bell's Vireo, Common Ground-Dove pair.
It is a gem of a place.
Then at the hatchery we saw Common Grackle (probably will
nest again this year), Black Phoebe with nesting material,
and ducks remaining included 4 late Am. Wigeon, the more
expected Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, one male Cinnamon Teal,
a dirty (oiled?) male Bufflehead. Then the 9 species
of shorebirds were 1 Pectoral, 4 Baird's, 5 Least, 7 Wilson's
Phalarope, 6-8 Black-necked Stilt, a Solitary and a Spotted
Sandpiper, plus Killdeer and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs. I heard
Bob Behrstock had 11 species of shorebirds here one day
last week, an American Golden Plover one of the good ones.
We also saw one LEAST GREBE and a White-faced Ibis, plus
some American (Water) Pipits in buff-bellied alternate
(breeding) plumage. Some Savannah Sparrows continue too.
Amazingly through all of Nature Quest visits Apr. 22-25,
the Least Grebe was not seen again !?! A passage migrant.
Eastern Screech-Owl and Chuck-wills-widows calling at SR after dark.
April 18 ~ Got enough done to go out at noon for a few hours.
First bird was the best bird. At the 360 crossing just
north of the crossing along the river we saw a stunning male
SCARLET TANAGER. Black wings and tail on deep scarlet body,
WOW !! It is our first in now 6 springs here, though a few
have been seen in Concan in that period where there is daily spring
coverage. There were a few migrants along the river there
including a couple each Nashville, Myrtle, Orange-crowned
Warblers, and one singing Black-throated Green Warbler.
At Utopia on the River was a Great Crested Flycatcher, and
a male Blue-winged Teal, probably new to the gounds list there.
At UP there was another Black-throated Green Warbler, 5 Myrtle
an Audubon's, a couple Orange-crowned and a Yellow-breasted Chat.
Plus Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Belted Kingfisher,
the Catbird continued in the mulberries, a Painted Bunting was
eating them too, another Great Crested Flycatcher and a very
gray Hermit Thrush (interior Rocky Mtn. type). Finally, in
the pond was a small flock of ducks that was a dozen Shoveller
and 5 Blue-winged Teal.
Shoveller and Blue-winged Teal at Utopia Park
April 17 ~ We missed the big rains from the system going by,
but got a little. This a.m. at the SR yard I had my FOS
Painted Bunting, probably a returning breeder. There were
12 Pine Siskins still, starting their neat song too. During
an afternoon break I ran to the park to see what migrants had
been knocked down, or were stuck. There were a few migrants
like FOS Common Yellowthroat, FOS Great Crested Flycatcher,
and a 2 weeks earlier than ever FOS Catbird. It and the
Great Crested called back and forth 10 times. It was getting
funny. Also there were a couple Myrtle and Orange-crowned
Warblers, one Wilson's Warbler, a Blue-headed Vireo and a
Ruby-crowned Kinglet. A Western Kingbird was in the big
pecan in the field to the east of the ball diamond.
April 16 ~ front moving over, fog/mist and drizzle, and work.
April 15 ~ didn't get to look too much but the Pied-billed Grebes
that wintered at UP seem to be gone. I guess they got airborne!
At SR there was an Indigo Bunting and a FOS Pale-faced Clubskimmer.
April 14 ~ I again took out Patrick Thevenard and Diane Harwood
and helped them find some of the avian delights around
Neal's Lodges in Concan. The best bird was a BROWN Thrasher,
a very rare bird hereabouts. It even had a bug scuffle with
a Long-billed Thrasher of which we saw several doing their
great song. We had my FOS Bell's Vireo, and the regulars
like Verdin, Olive Sparrow, Vermilion Flycatcher, numbers of
Brown-crested Flycatcher, Cave Swallow, Spotted Sandpiper,
loads of Clay-colored Sparrows, a Wilson's Warbler, Hooded
Oriole, etc.. Over 50 species in a morning with few migrants
is excellent diversity for inland landbirding. Great spot!
April 13 ~ I guided some fine folks from the east coast at
Lost Maples SNA early till about 2. Weather was great and
birds were too. I saw my FOS Red-eyed Vireo and Lazuli Bunting,
the latter of which was two males at the feeding station.
Also my FOS Indigo Buntings, several males. Regulars like
Zone-tailed Hawk, Green Kingfisher, Black Phoebe, were seen.
Eastern Wood-Pewee and Acadian Flycatcher were not back yet
as expected. There were lots of great intimate views of
Golden-cheeked Warblers of course. Also the first female
Summer Tanager I've seen this year, a FOS Broad-winged Hawk,
and a mint Red-spotted Purple (butterfly) that was puddling.
Also saw Little Wood Satyr and Silvery Checkerspot.
I saw a FOS Western Kingbird on SR just down the road a bit
from the hovel.
Lazuli Bunting at Lost Maples SNA
April 12 ~ At UP there was still a decent flock in the live-oaks,
but not as big as yesterday. There were over a dozen Myrtle
Warbler, 3 Audubon's, and one hybrid. 8 Nashville and 10 Orange-
crowned Warblers. A Yellow-breasted Chat was down by the dam.
8 Blue-winged Teal were sleeping in the lillies. The 2 wintering
Pied-billed Grebes were practicing flying getting ready for their
spring departure. Must be rough getting those wings back in shape
after 6 months. A good bird was our FOS Cattle Egret at UP, and
maybe even better was a Marsh Wren there that allowed digiscoped
pictures while in cypress branches. In the yard were two FOS
butterflies: Southern Skipperling and Silvery Checkerspot.
April 11 ~ The Utopia Park live-oaks while in bloom collect
a great flock of migrants this time of year when the weather
knocks them down. There were 50 Chipping and 25 Clay-colored
Sparrows buzzing through the treetops. Along with them were
many Nashville and Orange-crowned Warblers, Myrtle Warblers,
3 Audubon's Warblers, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and one
female Black-throated Green Warbler. Lots of Lincoln's Sparrows
too. Also my FOS Spotted Sandpiper was along the river.
Then on 356 in Bandera Co. was my FOS Bullock's Oriole and
Wilson's Warbler. Little was at Utopia on the River as it
has few live-oaks, mostly pecans which aren't going off yet.
One House Wren there was a good migrant though.
April 10 ~ just a morning update for a FOS in the SR yard,
2 male Blue Grosbeaks were a welcome sight. An FOS butterfly
was a Nysa Roadside-Skipper in the yard in the p.m.. Saw the
first Common Ground-Dove in the yard since winter, along with
the regular Doves: Inca, Mourning, White-winged, and the newest
feathered rat on the block, Eurasian Collared-Dove.
The real bird news today was not mine, but a guy from Katy,
Dan Sherick, was at Lost Maples and got good and identifiable
photos of a male BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD at the HQ feeders!
Surely a new park record, and a great bird locally. Thanks
for the info Dan, and congratulations on a great find!!
I'm pretty sure there is prior Bandera Co. record, though
there is not one for Uvalde Co. yet.
April 9 ~ A run to town produced a few FOS sightings....
A half-dozen Chimney Swifts in their aerial chase flight
screaming away was great to see again. That's a real sign
of spring. Then at Utopia Park there was a Blue-headed Vireo,
my FOS, and a very early FOS Yellow-breasted Chat. Also
an FOS Carolina Satyr butterfly was there. A small group
of passerines had 3 Myrtle, 1 Audubon's, 6 Nashville and
8 Orange-crowned Warblers, plus White-eyed and Yellow-throated
Vireo, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The two Pied-billed Grebes,
and the Great Blue Heron continue. At the north end of town
I saw a Grasshopper Sparrow. At SR there was my FOS
Theona Checkerspot butterfly, though we saw a pair last
weekend down in the brush country at Spanish Dagger ranch.
The park had 4 singing Summer Tanagers; Monday there were none.
An American Robin was singing out on Cypress St. by the mulberry,
where there were about 30 Cedar Waxwings. It was a toasty
95 deg.F here today !! I could wait a month or two for that.
A Zone-tailed Hawk flew over SR right in between two Turkey
Vultures, for all appearances using them for cover. It was
amazing the obvious size difference when right next to each other.
It was also amazing how much they appeared alike, the Zone-tail
rocking just like the TV's, it sure seems mimicry to me.
April 8 ~ My FOS male Summer Tanager here at SR this morning
at bath.  I had a report of an earlier one in late March.
Seems like maybe a couple dozen Chipping Sparrows left at
the seed, and, that a number of the Black-chinned Hummers
moved on. Two Chuck-wills-widows calling at dark.
April 6 ~ Still windy all day. A Zone-tailed Hawk flew
over SR late. Probably well over a dozen male Ruby-throated
Hummingbirds now, and a couple or few females here now too.
Have to be a couple hundred Black-chinned Hummingbirds now.
April 5 ~ A front blew in at dawn with 20-30 MPH winds and
stronger gusts so we worked instead of birded somewhere.
Scott's Oriole males that are one year old, two years old,
and three or more years old are all present singing outside.
Amazing sounds from 3 very close by all singing at once!
The one-year old (AHY - after hatch year, or first alternate)
looks a lot like a female but with some black-centered feathers
on nape and back more extensive than even old females. Song is
of poor quality.
The two year old (ASY - after second year, or second alternate)
is like a dull full adult male, but instead of the clean neon yellow
its is duller, dirty and slightly greenish of tone, and the black is
not perfect yet either, with grayish dull areas. Song is better, at
times rivaling full adult but more varied and less focussed.
Full adult is three years old (definitive alternate) or more
with perfect immaculate shiny black and clean neon yellow plumage.
April 4 ~ We toured Spanish Dagger Ranch just east of Uvalde,
in prep for a Nature Quest walk there. It is a great piece
of Tamaulipan thorn scrub, or, south Texas brush country.
There is a newly developed RV park there, and some windmills
for the cattle (it is a working ranch) have drips that of
course the birds find very attractive. We saw all the regular
expected species for the habitat: Bell's Vireo, Verdin,
Curve-billed and Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow,
Harris's Hawk, Caracara at nest, Pyrrhuloxia, Cassin's and
Black-throated Sparrow, Cactus Wren, Brown-crested Flycatcher,
Vermilion Flycatcher, Roadrunner, heard Green Jay, and I'm sure
Painted Buntings will be there mid- April on. It's a great place!
I think you have to make prior arrangements for entry.
The highlight at Utopia was just after dark a FOS Chuck-wills-widow
calling here at SR. A few days earlier than my earliest, as seems
to be so common with so many species these days. There were
lots of Cliff Swallows back under the 7 mile bridge south of town.
Numbers of Kestrels on the wires going down the valley.
A Swainson's Hawk was near Sabinal. Cliff Swallows were under all
the bridges down in the flatlands they normally occupy.
April 3 ~ There was a Scott's Oriole train overhead a few times
this morning, 3 adult males chasing one female! Sure sounds nice
out there now! Still in the yard was the Northern Cloudywing and
Vesta Crescent, plus an AZ Sister came in to watered caliche.
At UP there was one Pied-billed Grebe, now in alternate plumage.
A Great Blue Heron was there too, also in breeding plumage.
Barred Owl is calling a bit there at the park now too.
And there at UP were 10 Clay-colored Sparrows at least, amongs
as many Chipping Sparrows. A group of warblers had 6 Nashville,
4 Orange-crowned, 4 Myrtle, 1 Audubon's, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
A female Falcate Orangetip was about again there, and the FOS
there Roseate Skimmer and Common Whitetail were nice to see.
At the BFG was a Henric's Elfin, a long overdue first there.
April 2 ~ Scratchy the Savannah Sparrow is still scratching out back.
And it is still a Savannah Sparrow. In freshly-fallen live-oak
leaf litter, it is doing a towhee imitation perfectly. Looks so
weird. Dusk flight of Red-winged Blackbirds over SR towards BCP
was 60 birds plus one male Common Grackle. A migrant Kestrel
passed over northbound in the afternoon. A couple high-up swallows
passing N. over SR were my right on time FOS Cliffs.
April 1 ~ APRIL !?!?!? No Foolin' !! 3 species of Orioles around
and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Ruby-crowned Kinglet still passing by.
The amazing thing of the day was a GIANT-SKIPPER that flew by me
fairly close out front. There are a couple types found around here,
and I'd guess this was a Yucca, but no positive ID could be made.
The other neat thing of the day was 7 species of sparrows in the yard.
Chipping, Clay-colored, Field, Lark, and Rufous-crowned were expected.
The Grasshopper Sparrow that sang in the early morning was not,
though not the first in the yard. Also most unusual was a Savannah
Sparrow that spent 5 mintues scratching like a towhee or junco.
Jump forward, grab leaves, pull back, reveal seeds on ground.
I don't recall seeing Savannah doing this before, and much as I
tried, I could not make the bird into anything else. Every piece
of it passed the Savannah test. I MUST have had a Lincoln's but
didn't note it, so probably had 8 species of sparrows in the yard.
Eastern Screech-Owl and Barn Owl after dark.
In March I saw 40 species of butterflies locally from Utopia
to Lost Maples. Not bad, in fact OK to pretty good, considering
the lack of rain prior. And the 4"+ of rain we got was nothing
less than a life-saver for the spring bloom we're sure to get now.
Great Horned and Barn Owl called after dark in the evening.
March 31 ~ Scott's, Hooded and Audubon's Orioles all using the
feeders now. The most exciting thing was a fresh perfect mint
just emerged female Orange-barred Sulphur. It is my first spring
record, normally they don't arrive until July or later. Last year
was the best year by far for them, and I am sure some layed eggs,
and this was a local emergence. Reddish-orange rear quarter on
bright yellow foreparts of a big floppy Phoebis sulphur. Beautiful!
The Audubon's Orioles are all paired up now, coming in twos, when
they make the rare visits now.
March 30 ~ The FOS FEMALE Hooded Oriole showed up today, a full
16 days behind the male. Interesting was an AHY Harris's
Hawk that drifted southward over SR in the afternoon. Kinglets
and Gnatcatchers still passing through the yard. Still big pale
worn Monarchs too. A Red Satyr flopped about a bit.
March 29 ~ Snuck up to Lost Maples for a mid-day walk for a
few hours of excercise and enjoyment. Lots of Golden-cheeked
Warblers of course, despite the winds. There were about
10 Nashville and 20 Orange-crowned Warblers, migrants, and
about 5 Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Still no Indigo Bunting or
Summer Tanager in yet, as expected. The avian highlight
was a PAIR of WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE that were calling together
as they moved down the canyon. This was above the
ponds in the sycamore section of Can Creek. Also in this area
was the first Mourning Cloak butterfly I have seen at the park.
I got photos of it. The Mountain Laurels are just about done
dripping purple for the year. Sure was nice while it lasted!
There was a Zone-tailed Hawk at 470 x 187 intersection vicinity.
March 28 ~ The post frontal blow made for poor observational
conditions so we worked and kept an eye out here at SR.
Kathy found the best beast of the day, an Eight-spotted Forester,
a stunning black, white and orange diurnal moth. I've see a
couple per year maybe.... it was on the Texas Persimmon flowers.
There were 3 Clay-colored sparrows amongst the 40 or so Chippys
left. At UP there were still the 2 Pied-billed Grebes that wintered,
and a small flock with 4 Orange-crowned and 2 Myrtle Warblers,
plus a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but it was late afternoon heat
of the day. At the Library BFG (butterfly garden) there were
2 FOS butterflies: Northern Cloudywing and Orange Skipperling.
March 27 ~ Another front hitting at noon, this one just
with lots of wind, a 30 hour blow they say. That will
make birding or anything outside hard tomorrow. The male
Common Grackle flew over again early while it was still
March 26 ~ This morning a Red-winged Blackbird or two stopped
instead of just passing overhead and actually sang a few times.
Another Nashville Warbler was singing down the draw. Fantastic
was a nice thunder cell that dumped in a couple hours another
inch at least of rain! We're up to 4"+ in two weeks now!
You can sure see the green from the big 3" event back on March 11.
We're still over a foot behind, but at least we got some minimum
requirements for a decent spring bloom now. The overall tone
of the ground in the yard has gone from brown to green in two
In the afternoon I investigated the all-of-a-sudden extreme
singing from the male Scott's Oriole, to see a FEMALE has
returned! 11 days behind the male, fairly average for
songbirds, where males return a week to two weeks ahead of
females to claim and fight over their territories first.
A couple butterflies (BF) were in the yard, first a Queen, and
a Red Satyr both floated by, the Satyr nearly landing on me.
Best though was a FOS Juvenal's Duskywing that was nectaring on
the now blooming Texas Persimmon. This is the first time this
particular 5-6' tall single stalk (5+ years old?) has bloomed.
Sure smells good at close range. The Duskywing let me take
lots of great photos. Surely they've been out, but getting
that ID look isn't always easy with Erynnis duskywings.
March 25 ~ Finally saw my FOS Zone-tailed Hawk today, at SR.
Been about 4 months or 5? Also there was my FOS
Nashville Warbler singing, and another singing Black-and-White
Warbler. A Lark Sparrow singing was the first of those
in the yard in months too, probably returning breeders.
Late in the afternoon there was an FOS Vesta Crescent (BF)
on a daisy out front. Down in town at UP there was a pair
of Blue-winged Teal and lots of migrant Lincoln's Sparrows.
A flock of passerines about the island that besides titmouse
and chickadee contained some migrants: 6 Myrtle and 1 Audubon's
Warbler, 3 Orange-crowned Warbler, 1 Black-throated Green Warbler,
and a Kinglet or two. Also the nesting Yellow-throated Warbler
was present singing. Other park regulars were noted such as
Blue Jay, Black Phoebe and Green Kingfisher. A female
Falcate Orangetip (BF) was photo'd along the river.
March 24 ~ The Red-winged Blackbirds that roost somewhere near
Bear Creek Pond, and fly into town daily are going overhead
at SR regularly. Some Bushtits were about too. A Clay-colored
Sparrow was with the dwindling Chippy flock (50? left) at the seed.
In town there was the FOS SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHERS, a returning
nesting pair at the north end of town. Welcome back friends!
A FOS butterfly, a Two-tailed Swallowtail flew across Main St..
March 23 ~ A record early FOS male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
showed up this morning, means it was probably here yesterday.
Also another early FOS in the SR yard was an adult male
Black-throated Green Warbler! Keep your eyes on the
most-blooming live-oaks while they are doing such.
A few Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were in it over the course of
the day as well. Wintering Orange-crowned Warbler still
eating peanuts, fattening up for the flight, I guess.
Heard Clay-colored Sparrow again today at SR.
March 22 ~ We stole away to Lost Maples for a couple mile
walk up Can Creek past the ponds to see how spring was
arriving there. See the Lost Maples Reports page for the
full report. We heard a couple DOZEN singing male
GOLDEN-CHEEKED WARBLERS. Staff said the first one was
back on March 6. We saw very many very well, since the
leaves are just budding and the trees are nearly leafless.
We did not see a female. A couple stepped on dying
millipedes from the weekend warriors on the path were a bummer.
There were 2 Louisiana Waterthrush back, and lots of
Black-and-white Warblers singing on territory too.
Best was a couple Audubon's Orioles I heard giving their
on-the-move contact call, a quiet subdued whistled "few".
The Mountain Laurel was in full bloom so the trail was
dripping purple and was so sweet smelling it was amazing.
Black Phoebe, Green Kingfisher, Hutton's Vireo, Canyon Wren,
and the other regulars were noted. See the LM reports page.
an adult Swainson's Hawk drifted over SR, my FOS here.
A few days earlier than my earliest here.
March 21 ~ I saw two adult male plumaged Hooded Orioles
today. Still no female of it or the Scott's back yet.
I heard a FOS Clay-colored Sparrow sing today out back at SR.
Clearly a migrant was a White-crowned Sparrow at the seed pile.
Down at Utopia Park (UP) I floated around in the raft a while.
Along the river the cypress are starting to sprout leaves
as are the willows and lots of the understory growth too.
A Common Grackle was calling from the island where they
sometimes nest. I thought sure I heard a Louisiana Waterthrush
on the island too but couldn't find it. I haven't seen one
at the park yet in 5 springs of looking. But there were a
few interesting things there. A Marsh Wren sang which is
quite rare here, and obviously a spring migrant. There were
3 FOS singing male Yellow-throated Warblers in the Cypresses.
An FOS singing Yellow-throated Vireo was also present.
There were Green Kingfishers (pair), lots of migrant
Lincoln's Sparrows, some Myrtle and Orange-crowned Warbler,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet. A Canyon Wren was again at the
big cypress by the island. Female Kestrel at SR.
A Great Horned Owl was calling late at SR again.
Wintering Orange-crowned Warbler still at peanut feeder.
Seems like the Chipping Sparrows are fewer, maybe 50-60 now.
March 19 ~ A couple dozen Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch
still hitting the sunflower tubes. The amazing sight of the
day was while I was standing on the porch watching the hummer
feeder. Two male Black-chinned Hummingbirds were fighting.
And I mean fighting, each with a beakfull of the other's
chest feathers slowly descending together when all of a
sudden the immature Sharp-shinned Hawk that has been here all
winter showed up at lightspeed and grabbed both of them at
once and turned around and casually flew off. They were so
involved fighting they forgot to watch for predators.
Another case of death by testosterone. Usually male humans
are the most suceptible.
March 18 ~ The first of the year at the seed (local breeder)
was a male Brown-headed Cowbird. Females aren't back yet.
The Goatweed Leafwing continues on the wettened caliche.
One Junco continues. Saw the first lizard of the year today,
an Eastern Fence Lizard in the backyard at SR. They sure are
huge compared to Western Fence Lizard. Same for Eastern and
Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Eastern much larger.
March 17 ~ The FOS of the day was an Ash-throated Flycatcher.
A Barn Swallow at SR may have been a local breeder by the way
it was calling. There were 9 Turkey vulture at a smoke plume,
my high count so far this spring for locals. At the butterfly
garden there was a Funereal Duskywing and a Fiery Skipper.
Later at night a Barn Owl called from overhead. three species
of orioles daily in the yard now: Audubon's, Scott's and Hooded.
P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day !!
March 16 ~ This morning I heard the Scott's Oriole sing and
looked at one of the Buckley Oaks it uses, and there it was.
And next to it was the male Hooded Oriole! And when the Scott's
flew the Hooded flew with it. The Scott's stopped short, and
the Hooded stopped. This won't last long, as soon as others
of their own return, and they troop up by species during breeding.
In migration and winter orioles often form mixed-species flocks.
A male Vermilion Flycatcher flew by over SR early in the a.m..
A Goatweed Leafwing butterfly was again on the wet caliche out front.
Bat flying around the yard at dusk was the FOS in yard.
March 15 ~ We had a bit more rain, perhaps a half inch or so
all told. So we must be a 3" and up for the 5 day system storm total.
Just what mother nature needs when its time for everything to sprout!
TWO Oriole FOS's on the same day is amazing for the yard it seems.
Both Scott's and Hooded Oriole adult males showed up today! WOW!
Some Audubon's were around too, so I heard 3 oriole species sing today.
There was also another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passing through.
The Chipping Sparrow flock still numbers about 90. 15 Cedar Waxwing
passed over going west. There was a Great Horned Owl calling
after dark and a Barn Owl called as it passed over northbound.
March 14 ~ Out 1050 a few miles west of town, Cave Swallows have
returned to a culvert they nest at. At the 1050 pass there were
no Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, or Ash-throated
Flycatcher present yet. There was Hutton's Vireo singing though.
March 13 ~ Still (!) 40 deg.F for the third day, gray, windy,
misty, humid, and chilly. Still one female Slate-colored Junco,
and still 20 Cardinal at dusk, 10 males, but they are getting
pretty testy with each other.
March 12 ~ Still cold, humid, misty, windy, drizzly....
There was an FOS Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in the yard, and I heard
another Black-and-white Warbler sing. There is a Chipping Sparrow
with a few white inner primaries, for a week now. Two Pied-billed
Grebes continue at UP, but new and my FOS were 6 Northern
Rough-winged Swallow feeding over the creek (river) below the dam.
The only place out of the wind with insect activity.
March 11 ~ Well a cold front hit in the morning bringing some
much needed rain! About an inch in the morning, another inch
in the p.m. and another half-inch or so overnight. Some places
west and north of town got 3"!! Perfect timing for spring!!
I'd have to look to see, but it has been at least 6 months
since we had a gully washer like that. Long overdue and much
appreciated. It chilled to 40 deg. F by mid-day, with wind on
that and stayed that way all day and for several to follow.
A half-dozen Pine Siskin and 8 American Goldfinch were at the
March 10 ~ A FOS Barn Swallow was in town, I haven't been there
in a bit so don't know how long they've been around, but most
aren't back yet. They are running a little behind. Of course
they can better predict if there will be insects to eat with
their pea brains from a thousand miles away, than all the
computers at NOAA can predict the weather accurately.
Diane Causey well-described a Sage Thrasher she saw at their water
a few days earlier. I haven't seen ours lately, its about time
they leave, but it was the best year in 6 for these skulky shy
Juniper-berry eaters in winter, with at least 3 around the area.
March 9 ~ Saw the FOS (and year) Arizona Sister today here at SR.
Also a Reakirt's Blue was on some of the white daisies blooming.
A dozen to two dozen Black-chinned Hummingbirds are back at our
A quick botanical note... the Redbud has had a pretty good bloom
going for a few weeks and is starting to decrease. Also the
Agarita or Texas Holly is fading after a couple good weeks of
blooming. Both seemed about a normal showing. Some Verbena
(or Vervain if you prefer) is also starting to bloom. Not much
for the few butterflies about. Water your yard mid-day and
get some caliche or dirt muddy for them. Often they will come
in very quickly in response when it has been dry. The live-oaks
are losing their leaves on schedule now too.
March 8 ~ As of mid-day in the SR yard, the neatest thing was an FOS
singing male Black-and-white Warbler moving north. I'm sure some
Golden-cheeked Warblers are back, but havent' had a chance to check.
There are scattered reports from all over their range now.
Another FOS was the big XXL all yellow Bumble Bee, except for the
distal two adbomen segments. And a beautiful diurnal moth, a
Disparate Forester was seen. I've seen a few here before.
Hutton's Vireo singing a bit. Low in 60's and upper 80's today!
March 7 ~ A Giant Swallowtail was the first in the yard this year,
though I had one a bit ago at the library. About 6 Audubon's Orioles,
and probably nearing 10 Black-chinned Hummers now. 2 Bushtits again.
The immature Sharp-shinned Hawk still making daily dives on the yard flock.
Lots of Poor-wills calling now.
March 6 ~ Finally got some Sandhill Cranes (30) going over SR,
northbound on the strong southerlies. Another FOS was after dark,
a Barn Owl, which I haven't heard in some time, probably a migrant.
Black and Pipevine Swallowtails getting more numerous.
March 5 ~ Roadrunner cooing for exgtended periods now. Spring is
in the air. The 2 male Slate-colored Junco's continue, and there
are 5-6 Black-chinned Hummingbirds now. Best though was a butterfly
that came in to watered caliche, and then the kiddie pool to drink,
a female GREAT PURPLE HAIRSTREAK! It was circling at my feet so
I saw the neon metallic blue uppersurface flashing dozens of times.
March 4 ~ A couple male Lesser (Black-backed) Goldfinch were new
arrivals. 4 Robin flew over at dusk. Still 6-8 Audubon's Orioles
daily hitting the peanuts and sugar water.
March 3 ~ FOS FEMALE Black-chinned Hummingbird that I've seen.
Also saw my FOS Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in the yard.
March 2 ~ At least 3 male Black-chinned Hummers were present at SR.
At least 2 male Slate-colored Junco continue here, and a couple
Bushtits moved through the yard.
March 1 ~ MARCH !?!? The male Black-chinned Hummingbird displayed
so there must be a second bird but I didn't see it.
Feb. 28 ~ Front blew in at 3 a.m. or so with 20-30 MPH winds
gusting to 40, and blew all day. Steve and Sylvia Hilbig reported
the FOS Vermilion Flycatcher today.
Feb. 27 ~ About 75-100 chipping sparrows continue here at the
SR seed pile. Another 90 deg. F day. Kathy had a Red Admiral,
the FOS fresh emergence. I killed the FOS mosquito at 10 p.m..
Feb. 26 ~ Black-chinned Hummer still around, but only one still.
A fresh Lyside Sulphur flew by, an FOS butterfly. Field Sparrow
has been singing bits and pieces for a week or so now.
Feb. 25 ~ 90 deg.F today ! Brown-headed Cowbird was an FOS
at SR. Hutton's Vireo and a couple Bushtits were in the SR yard.
A Lesser Goldfinch today was the FOS migrant arrival I've had.
Feb. 24 ~ An amazing 84 deg.F or so, enough to make you think
spring is really coming. In town there were a bunch of chorusing
Red-winged Blackbirds, the first I've heard this year, but I'm
not there every day so they could have been around....
Feb. 23 ~ The male Black-chinned Hummingbird continues, and
it's nice to see TV's (Turkey Vulture) soaring around again.
Olive Juniper Hairstreak about again. These fresh ones
are beautiful iridescent green below.
Feb. 22 ~ Remarkable was an adult male BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD,
obviously a FOS, and 6 days earlier than my earliest here.
Get your feeders out and clean them up! Luckily I maintain a
couple for the Audubon's Orioles all winter, so it had something
to go to on this chilly morning in the upper 20's here!!
Down at UP I put the raft in and went up river. There was a male
RINGED KINGFISHER above the island, which eventually flew right
by me at eye-level and went down to the park. Later it flew back
upriver. Listen for it. It's been a couple years since I've seen
one here. Belted was there too, as was Green. I heard a Sapsucker
but couldn't see it from the raft, so don't know if it was the
Red-naped or the Yellow-bellied.
Feb. 21 ~ went to Uvalde. Saw the adult Harlan's Hawk on 1023
SE of Knippa again. Got more pix too. What a beautful hawk!
There were about 500 Sanhill Cranes down there too.
At Ft. Inge was Kiskadee, Green Jay, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher, 4 Orange-crowned Warbler, 6 Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
a few Myrtle and 1 Audubon's Warbler, Long-billed Thrasher.
There were a couple FOS Cave Swallows right off the escarpment,
out of the immediate area, 9 miles or so S. of Utopia.
Feb. 20 A flock of ducks flew over SR which had 15 or so Gadwall,
20 Green-winged Teal, and maybe a Pintail or two. Myrtle Warbler,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Eastern bluebird passed through SR too.
Best for the day was finally the FOS local TURKEY VULTURE, a bit
tardy this year. A Horace's/Juvenal's Duskywing was about.
Feb. 19 ~ Singing Eastern Bluebird again, and a pair of
Chihuahuan Ravens at SR. A Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta) dragonfly
was a real surprise, even in the warmth of the afternoon. Early I think.
Another male Black Swallowtail was around.
Feb. 18 ~ Roadrunner cooing. FOS fresh Checkered White and Gray Hairstreak
were good butterflies. At least 5 Southern Dogface were out, and a
Funereal Duskywing. Old worn Snout and Variegated Fritillaries continue.
Feb. 17 ~ 10 Audubon's Orioles at once in the yard again.
Feb. 15 ~ Carolina Chickadees duetting their see you see me, which
is voices of the angels if you get between the pair and listen in
stereo. They usually do it 20' apart or so, so it's not hard to get
in the middle of it, and well worth it. Heard Purple Martins at the
park as well as Blanchard's Cricket Frogs. 75 White-winged Dove at SR.
Another Pipevine Swallowtail out.
Feb. 13 ~ Heard Purple Martin FOS for sure! Then just after dusk,
for the first time in 3 months and change, FOS POOR-WILL called.
They've woken back up! Poor-will hibernates in the cold, which is
what I believe our local birds do for most of 90-100 days. I've never
had one from mid-Nov. to Feb. yet. But they surely wouldn't leave for
that short a period, No bird is only absent the breeding grounds 90 days.
The nature of the limestone terrain is ideal perfect textbook Poor-will
hibernating habitat. Lot's of crevices to get into. I was once shown
the crevice the first hibernating Poor-will was found in (in CA) by the
discoverer, Dr. Edmund Jaeger, which at the time was the first known proven
case of a bird hibernating.
Feb. 12 ~ Eastern Screech-Owl calling just after dark. Rufous-crowned
Sparrow now singing, and I thought I heard a distant Martin just twice.
The FOS Baskettail (Epitheca sps.) dragonfly of the year was patrolling
out front here at SR. There was a FOS BLACK Swallowtail today at SR.
Another fresh Olive-Juniper Hairstreak.
Feb. 11 ~ About 50 American Goldfinches at the sunflower tubes.
White-winged Doves getting paired. Carolina Wren duetting now.
A Great Horned Owl was calling about 10 p.m., first I've heard lately.
Feb. 10 ~ 9 Audubon's Orioles at least, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks,
Bewick's Wrens are paired now and singing lots. Eastern Bluebird flying
Feb. 9 ~ A male Green Darner dragonfly flew down the dirt road out front
at SR, the first I've seen this year. It was nice and fresh.
There was also a fresh PIPEVINE Swallowtail the first I've seen this year.
Feb. 7 ~ At least a dozen male House Finch at once at the sunflower tubes.
Feb. 6 ~ there were still 10 male Cardinals at once at the seed.
The party will break up in a few weeks.
Feb. 4 ~ Very cool was TWO new FOS butterfly species today,
the first of their kind since last year. A Henric's Elfin,
and an Olive Juniper Hairstreak. The Elfin is right about on
time and the Hairstreak a couple days early. Those and the little
yellow flowers blooming are sure signs of spring coming, regardless
of what some easterners think about what a groundhog sees.
There were several White-winged Doves singing at once, creating
the first little bit of chorus I've heard from them this year.
The Titmice and Bewick's Wren, and Cardinal have all begun
to sing a bit more, but still short intervals not at full volume.
Feb. 3 ~ A brown Duskywing at SR was either Horace's or Juvenal's.
Feb. 2 ~ Groundhog Day. There were no groundhogs reported
locally again, for the hundredth year. Seems like Texas ought
to have something with a Longhorn Steer and a shadow??? :)
OK, I got it, maybe a Prairie Dog?
February 1 ~ February ?!?!?!?! But it just turned to 2009!?!?
There were many (a dozen) damselflies (Zygoptera) flying at
UP, for the first time this year, and early for so many I think.
There were 10 or so Bluets (Enallagma), and a few Dancers (Argia)
of some sort. Even better was a dragonfly (Anisoptera) much
earlier than I've ever had one. It looked like a just emerged
Macromia (River Cruiser) or Basiaeschna (Springtime Darner).
There was an FOS Blanchard's Cricket Frog clicking away at UP too.
In January I recorded 10 species of butterflies around Utopia,
About 20 individuals, mostly over-winterers around the SR yard.
Jan. 31 ~ supply run to Uvalde so made a couiple stops on the way
for birds. The immature Harlan's Hawk continues about 3 miles
north of Sabinal on 187. The adult Harlan's Hawk in at least
its 3rd winter near Knippa continues as well. Excellent birds.
At Ft. Inge we had a pair of Ringed Kingfishers and a Kiskadee
was fishing too. One Blue-headed Vireo there was a good bird
in winter. At Cook's Slough we saw 2 Swamp Sparrows well, a
female Bufflehead, and watched a Green Kingfisher eat a fish.
Jan. 30 ~ MORE SPRING MIGRANTS but the same as Jan. 28 !!
Shortly after dark, 7:18 p.m. or so, another flock of White-fronted
Geese flew over SR calling bearing due North. Already working
their way back north! Second flock!
Jan. 28 ~ SPRING MIGRANTS !!! At 7:17 p.m., yes after dark,
I recorded my first spring migrants of the year, by call, a
small flock of White-fronted Geese over SR, bearing due North.
Last year this occurred Jan. 27. They must take off shortly
after dark, and if you aren't out in a couple minute window
when they are hearable as they pass, they go undetected.
Jan. 26 ~ White-winged Dove gave its first long call, with
3 "and you all's" for flourish, but not full volume yet.
There are about 50 White-winged Dove around still.
Jan. 25 ~ The Rufous-crowned Sparrow did a little quiet
under-the-breath singing for the first time this year, and
in months. Cardinal is now perched up singing at half or less
volume, but out in the open. 2 dozen House Finch, a dozen
Pine Siskin and 20 American Goldfinch at the sunflower tubes.
Jan. 23 ~ The first little bit of Bewick's Wren song, briefly.
A Myrtle Warbler flew by. Haven't had one here in a month.
It was 80 deg.F. today in front of a frontal passage.
Jan. 22 ~ A fresh Funereal Duskywing was at SR, way early, and
another heat induced hatch destined for death without reproduction.
Early premature hatches are genetic deadends, as there is no
nectar source, others of their type to mate with, and usually
no larval food plant to lay eggs on even if there were a mate.
Jan. 20 ~ At SR a surprise today was a fresh male Reakirt's Blue.
There were 10 Audubon's Orioles, 2 dozen House Finch,
10 American Goldfinch, and a dozen Pine Siskin.
Jan. 19 ~ The SAGE THRASHER was back at the bath drinking!
If I connect the dots on this bird in the yard it goes back
to October 29, and is a wintering individual here in this
scattered juniper-live-oak woodland. But I only see it about
once a month. Heard Bushtits.
Jan. 18 ~ Butterflies at SR included a fresh male Dogface,
an old worn American Lady, worn Variegated Fritillary,
Sleepy Orange, Snout, and Dainty Sulphur. 6 species.
At least 50 White-winged Dove continue at SR.
Jan. 17 ~ A texana Scrub-Jay was in full display doing his
bowerbird or banni rooster impression dancing around the female
with wings down and out, tail fanned, while whisper singing
which sounds like an industrial factory with a couple guys
whistling while they crush cars or something.
At SR 9 Audubon's Orioles, 4 Inca Dove, 2 Orange-crowned
Warbler, this winters high count of 7 Slate-colored Junco,
a female Fuertes' Red-tailed Hawk, 4 Robin, 6 American Goldfinch,
5 Pine Siskin, and the regulars.
Jan. 14 ~ A low of about 24 or 25 deg. F was a bit chilly.
A Robin and 14 Cedar Waxwing went over SR.
Jan. 13 ~ Cardinal practice quiet singing more.
Jan. 12 ~ At SR an odd looking skipper was out back, which
sorta was Dun-ish, but had a pale band on the ventral hind wing.
The pair of Lesser Goldfinch continue here at SR.
Jan. 11 ~ At Utopia Park we caught the winter passerine flock
up by the island and saw 4 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 2 Hutton's and
1 White-eyed Vireo, the adult female Black-and-white Warbler,
the Orange-crowned and 3 Myrtle Warblers, a Great Blue Heron
(which we missed CW), Black Phoebe, Blue Jay, heard Green King.
New were two Sapsuckers we also missed on the count and hadn't
seen all winter. Both were adult males that looked to be the
birds that were present last winter.
One is a Yellow-bellied and the other a Red-naped Sapsucker.
Got some digiscopes of the Red-naped. We also saw Ladder-backed
and Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and heard Flicker, for a total of
5 species of Woodpeckers at the park almost simultaneously.
Two each of Sleepy Orange and Checkered White butterflies.
Jan. 10 ~ At SR 8 Audubon's Orioles, Field Sparrow, and the
regulars. White-winged Dove quiet singing, and Carolina
Chickadee whistled for the first time this year too.
Jan. 9 ~ Saw the Hutton's Vireo at the bird bath and miraculously
even got a picture. Still a boatload of Audubon's Orioles in
the yard, but I haven't seen the Selasphorus or the White-tipped Dove
all year. Saw a Dainty Sulphur and a fresh Lyside Sulphur today on SR.
A few worn Variegated Fritillary and Sleepy Orange are about.
Today the Titmouse did its tuduluduluduludu phone ring song for the
first time I've heard this year. Cardinal still quiet-singing.
Jan. 8 ~ Most peculiar was a train of Ravens passing over the
valley floor "divide to divide" very high up, still almost a thousand
feet up over Seco Ridge. There were at least 20 Ravens in 10 minutes.
Only 2 pairs, the rest singles (ad./juv. mix?), all moving East to West.
All the singles were very worn, even brownish, some clearly in active
remige (flight feathers) molt, but most too high to scrutinize.
The brown worn birds I suspect are hatch year (or now AHY since Jan.1 -
after hatch year) now in a very worn state. They were Common Ravens.
I have mentioned before the high altitude divide to divide passage
of Common Raven here, but I'd never seen this long spread out train.
Jan. 6 ~ Another pre-dawn quarter-inch of rain this morning.
Belted Kingfisher at UP was the first species seen after our
count week ended that we missed last "count week."
Kathy heard a Cardinal whisper-singing, quietly under-the-breath
warmups getting ready for the real deal, coming soon. The singing
of songbirds is triggered by hormones which are triggered by the
increase in daylength (photoperiod). The difference between the
Solstice and two weeks later is enough to start the annual process
in action again. Often whisper singing is the first indication of
it having commenced, though the Chickadees, Titmouse and Wrens will
all start singing very soon.
Jan. 5 ~ Before dawn a quarter-inch of rain was badly needed.
I saw a raptor at UP that flew south unchaseably that I'd give
$20 for another look at. Don't know what it was, but good.
Jan. 4 ~ A windy front blew in early at dawn, and blows out our last
chance to add some missed species for count week (3 days before
and after the count day). There are several species surely present,
that we missed and its nice to mop some up. But this year our
count week scouting time was short, and today we'd hoped to look.
I think we had 9 species count week not seen on count day
so the 63 count day plus 9 CW = 72 species for the week. Not bad.
Doesn't sound like much until you go out and try to see 60 species
here in a winter day! I'm sure there're at least 75 species around,
and if you had a small army of crack birders with access, cover it all
hard the first 6 hours of light, you could probably get 85-90 species.
Jan. 3 ~ Uvalde run for supplies so we went to the fish hatchery.
We saw a male PARAQUE there, first reported on Dec. 29 by Bob Rasa.
This is another of the south Texas brush country birds reaching
the northern limits of their ranges here, like Green Jay.
The amount of butterfly activity down there in the 900' alt. flatlands
was amazing compared to up here in the 1350'-1500+' hill country. I saw
Cloudless and Large Orange Sulphurs, Pipevine Swallowtail, many
Checkered White, Little Yellows and Dainty Sulphurs. It's dead
up here folks with hardly any insects moving except the normal
winter hatching mis-named Mayflies (Ephemeroptera). Sure on warm
days bees hit our hummer feeders, but if they didn't know about them,
I doubt they would emerge to look for anything at this time.
The difference just a few degrees makes is night and day. It is why
things like Turkey Vulture don't winter up here, just a couple silly
degrees. And you don't think a warming earth will affect you? :)
Sure it will be neat having Green Jays here, but diseases like
Dengue Fever will also likely move north soon with the heat too.
You can argue over whether global warming exists (only one doing an
Ostrich imitation to all science can deny it), or whether it is
man-made (what is tipping the scale to catastrophe IS), but the results
are here. Green Jays today, Dengue tomorrow, because we won't change
as society from a people that think how much gas and coal we burn doesn't
matter. Today's great-grandkids will need technology that doesn't exist yet,
to fix the problems we created today while we were in denial about being
part of the problem, instead of being part of a solution. :)
To conserve, the act of conservation, is simply not to waste what you
have today so you have some tomorrow. That includes soil, and oil,
water and air, forests and grasslands, and their watersheds or aquifers.
It is not a radical act, but one of being extremely conservative.
Of keeping things the same. No change. The definition of conservative.
End of rant with no apologies. :)
Jan. 2 ~ Below the dam at UP there was a House Wren, and at SR that
HY (hatch year, well until two days ago, so now AHY - after hatch year) male
Northern Harrier flew over going south to its roost again at 3:45 p.m..
It and the House Wren were count week birds. I heard a bird outside
I thought could only have been a Canyon Towhee, but couldn't run
off after it (responsibilities!) so didn't get visual confirmation.
January 1 ~ We did our annual early Jan. one day bird count today.
We saw about 63 species, at the low end of average, and the drought
clearly has hurt things like sparrows, which must be somewhere else.
Many of the wild grasses have little to no seed heads on them.
For the first survey in now 6 years we missed Song and Linclon's
Sparrows. We only had one White-crowned Sparrow and it was a
one day bird in the yard at the seed here at SR. We had a high
number of Lark Sparrows though with 47 chorusing in one flock.
At Lost Maples there was Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hutton's Vireo,
8 Bushtit, but we missed Canyon Wren. They can be quiet in the wind
in winter. It was blowin' like heck up there, while not bad at all
around Utopia. Best perhaps was the Black-and-white Warbler at UP,
and finally getting Audubon's Orioles on count day, 8 of them.
The White-tipped Dove was not seen so only a count week bird.
In the field just east of Roy Heideman's place there were over
a hundred House Finches (!) and 8 Common Ground-Dove.
There must be some tasty seeds there!
WOW a NEW YEAR !! 2009 !!! HAPPY NEW YEAR !!
Bird News Archive X|
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2009
Bird News Archive X|
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2008
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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