Bird News Archive XIII
January 1 2010 - June 30 2010
Some commonly used abbreviations used are:
"in town" - means in Utopia
LM - Lost Maples SNA; GSP - Garner St. Pk.
SRV - Sabinal River Valley
FOS - "First of Season" (usually used for
1st 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)
Lep - butterfly
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Here, we have January 1 to June 30, 2010.
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We finished June with 50 species of butterflies
locally with the AZ sister on June 29.
June 30 ~ Clouds from outer bands of Hurricane Alex kept us cooler
again today, sure nice after last years summer with 100 days at 100
degrees out here on Seco Ridge. Weird northeast winds, and
very very moisture laden. Late in the afternoon we finally
got a bit of rain, hope we get a bunch more. There was a
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher out back (migrant) and the male Cooper's Hawk
buzzed the place. Another Coop in town was a female.
Zone-tail over SR too. At UP there were a half-dozen of the
Orange-striped Threadtail (Protoneura cara) damselfly, including a pair
ovipositing in that odd posture with the long abdomen first going up,
then doubling back down, and being held between the wings.
I heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler chip at UP. The Chickadees
here in the yard have 2 more fledglings just out of the nest.
June 29 ~ a bit of spritzing, just a trace, but sure beat the heat
again today. Heard a Golden-cheek outside. Looked like
south of town might have gotten some good rain though. The
Hooded Oriole went to singing quite a while it felt so good apparently.
The biggest thing today was finally another Arizona Sister butterfly,
only the third I've seen this year, came in to watered caliche.
June 28 ~ An outflow boundry beat the heat of the day, but we didn't
get any rain. Begging Chuck-wills-widows down in the draw.
The dark Tropical Buckeye was still around, day 2 for #3.
June 27 ~ Watering the caliche we had 20 Common Buckeye again
and one dark Tropical Buckeye, #3, all have been different this
past month. After last weekend's (6/19) two new butterflies for
the local monthly list (Viceroy and Streaky Skipper) we're at 49 sps.
of butterflies for the month. That doesn't count anything down
in Uvalde, just the local Lost Maples to Utopia and Seco Ridge area.
Heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler outside this a.m..
June 26 ~ I've mentioned the Loggerhead Shrike pair we've been
seeing down by Sabinal, and today we saw a brown JUVENILE near
an adult, so we have successful nesting!! We saw all the
regulars along Old Sabinal Rd. heading over to Uvalde, but a
run over Diamondback Rattlesnake was a bummer of a way to see
the first one I've seen in years.
At Cook's Slough there was a Groove-billed Ani, I think the first
one reported this year around Uvalde where a few show every summer.
A juvenile Olive Sparrow with an adult was neat, and I heard the
female Wood Duck we saw had 6 young. Over at the hatchery
there were good numbers of dragonflies (as at the slough) and we
saw a dozen Halloween Pennant, and a few male MARL Pennant.
Lots of Swallows at both places including many Purple Martin,
Bank, and numbers of Cave.
A quick look at the city park on Hwy 90 produced TWO scarce locally
GREAT PONDHAWK dragonflies. First time I've seen 2 at once here!
The best bird of the day was over Main St. in downtown Uvalde,
a PEREGRINE Falcon, probably the first mid-summer record here.
Looked like a SY (second year) bird, or first summer, about a
year old now, fairly dark below with heavy streaking still.
After we got back to SR, at 8 p.m., I had THREE Golden-cheeked Warbler
in the yard. One an adult male with a hatch-year bird trying to
beg unsuccesfully. They fluttered straight up 10' above the
juniper beak to beak the HY begging from the adult. Very cool.
As if all that wasn't enough for a day, just before the last trace of
light in the sky, I saw movement coming up the driveway. Thought it
was a dillo, so low and squat with a silly swagger. Turned out to
be our first yard PORCUPINE !! It drank for 3 or 4 minutes straight.
I had some flash problems with the camera, but got ID shots anyway.
I could smell it when I got about 5' away.
June 25 ~ Hutton's still singing, one Golden-cheeked Warbler.
June 24 ~ Hutton's Vireo singing out front.
June 23 ~ I finally saw Orange-striped Threadtail (3) damselflies at UP.
Far better to me was a CYRANO Darner, which I've only glimpsed a couple
times here so far, but got great extended close range binoc looks
this time. Good enough for me to put it on my local list of
things seen. There were also just fledged Yellow-throated Warbler
and White-eyed Vireo, and I heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler chipping.
At SR there were 20 Common Buckeye that came into watered caliche,
and another dark Tropical Buckeye, #2.
June 22 ~ The second year (SY) female Scott's Oriole bathed as did
the male Summer Tanager. A Zone-tailed Hawk flew over heading
for the ridge with prey in its talons, that is carrying food, so
surely to a nest. A couple dozen Spot-winged Glider dragonfly
passed southbound over SR late in the early evening.
June 21 ~ HAPPY SOLSTICE !!! TWO Golden-cheeked Warbler were outside
in the yard (SR) in the a.m.. Both Painted Buntings bathed in the
afternoon heat. A Red-eyed Vireo was singing a bit down the draw (taped).
Rather odd, they don't nest here. A dozen Spot-winged Glider dragonfly
passed southward over SR.
June 20 ~ heard another Golden-cheeked Warbler, didn't chase it
down to age it. Hutton's Vireo singing again, and Kathy
saw the male Blue Grosbeak eating seed.
June 19 ~ Well it's fall migration for sure now, as a landbird
migrant was seen moving southward. An adult female
Black-and-white Warbler in the gallery corridor forest along
the river at UP was moving south slowly. Likely a finished
local breeder on its way out, done for the season.
I saw the big fields mowed at the north end of town and the
Dickcissels weren't out. Kinda looks like they lost their
nests? Odd there was an adult male Hooded Oriole coming
out of the Mesquite patch just north of the bend/curve in 187
at the north end of Utopia. At UP there was a beautiful
fresh FOS Viceroy with the thinnest of dorsal hind wing bands.
A beauty it was, as was the American Germander (Wood Sage)
blooming there now. Some Drummond's Petunia is up at the
county line (356) crossing as well as more Am. Germander.
I couldn't believe it this a.m. when I heard rolling thunder,
and saw must have been a hundred Harleys of every size, shape,
pan, and knucklehead, going around the back loop of 357, dump
road, on SR. You know the one with the nice new oil and
loose rocks? Someone took a wrong turn, and the whole
pack followed is my only guess, as they found the way out
after disturbing two miles worth of people having a quiet
Saturday morning at home. Of course if you live within
hearing distance of any of the major roads out here you get
such disturbance regularly, which is why most of us out here,
are out here. How nice of them to bring the sounds of the
city to us out here trying to avoid it. Sometimes it seems
ya can't get away from the citiots. Did I mention down at
the park, yes UP, some of the weekend warrior citiots again are
using the trail at the north end of the park as their toilet,
I guess to complete their outdoor nature experience, the restrooms
are out of the question. I suppose that is what they do in the city?
They also catch the Lepomis sunfish and throw them on the ground to
die! We saw four left like that. Use it or leave it, is the law.
At the butterfly garden was a Streaky Skipper and a pale morph female
Large Orange Sulphur. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail went by
somewhere. Here at the hovel on SR early in the a.m.
there were two Golden-cheeked Warblers outside, with an adult
male landing on the powerline for 15 seconds. Late in the
p.m. the male Painted Bunting was eating millet seed out back
in the sun, and singing. They lost their first nest to a
dozer (WMD), sure hope the second set gets to fledge this year.
June 18 ~ My FOS Stick Insect (walking stick) was out back, over
5" long, with legs and anntenae extended forward about 8" total!
Saw my second late in the p.m., when a Roadrunner jump/flew 6'
up on a juniper and ripped one off, and ate it. Amazing
was one of those big Meloid blister beetles flying right by me
(Lytta fulvipennis) here at SR. Another FOS was a Desert
Checkered-Skipper, to go with the building high pressure and heat.
June 17 ~ More low clouds and spritz for the a.m., but just
enough to wash leaves. The pair of Summer Tanager came
into the bird bath again. I keep forgetting to mention the
Purple Martins are really flocked up now over each area where they
breed (boxes) with all the juveniles fledged. The Mountain Pink
is really getting going with patches of pink all over, in some places
making the mountain, pink. Whooda thunk!?!
June 16 ~ 'nother golden-cheeked Warbler calling out back.
Didn't chase it down to age it. WOW have you noticed
how the morning chorus is already quieting down markedly?
Major difference already! OK, here's what is nesting
around the hovel here out on SR.... Black and Turkey Vulture
nest on the cliffs of the divide, so a mile away but are
here daily in large numbers. Cooper's, Red-shouldered,
and Red-tailed Hawks also nest nearby somewhere. Mourning,
Inca, Ground-, and Collared-Dove are all nesting here too.
Then there is Roadrunner, Eastern Screech-Owl (mccallii),
Common Nighthawk, Common Poorwill, Chuck-wills-widow, Chimney
Swift nearby somewhere, same for Purple Martin, Black-chinned
Hummingbird too common, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe,
Ash-throated Flycatcher, Hutton's Vireo, Western Scrub-Jay,
Common Raven, Barn Swallow near, Carolina chickadee, Black-crested
Titmouse, Bushtit, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Mockingbird
(singing out on the road, don't know if it is mated), Summer Tanager,
the pair which bathes regularly, male always lets female go first,
Rufous-crowned and Lark Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Painted Bunting,
Brown-headed & Bronzed Cowbird, Hooded and Scott's Oriole, House Finch,
and Lesser Goldfinch. Eastern bluebird families have been regular
moving around the last few weeks. If I had time to do nothing
but watch, I would surely record Zone-tailed Hawk weekly or less too.
Total of 40+ species nesting nearby in, around, or flying over the hovel
daily at the back of SR. As I call it, the daily grind. :)
June 15 ~ 'nother Golden-cheek calling out there this a.m..
They're coots. A less than 30 day fledged Cardinal juvenile
took a big green katydid by itself no problem today. Good,
maybe a little quieter at night. They are so abundant now,
the roar is deafening. A fancy Underwing moth, (Catocala sps.)
of my favorite flavor, the pink hind wing types, landed outside
long enough for me to get a picture (and hopefully an ID then).
Probably of the variety known as Sweetheart Underwing (C. amatrix).
That was the a.m.. There was some afternoon shower activity,
we got maybe a tenth of an inch of rain, and beat the peak heat.
Spray a little puddle on some caliche every hot day, and check it.
A dark Tropical Buckeye was outside puddling from 2 to 7 p.m., with
up to 10 Common Buckeye at once. Yes I got a field guide plate
picture of them side by side. The other good butterfly was
a Common Mestra, the first I've seen locally since fall 2008,
that flew through the woods out back.
June 14 ~ I led a very nice couple up Can Creek at Lost Maples SNA this a.m..
I saw almost a dozen, and heard almost a dozen Golden-cheeked Warbler,
for a 20+ morning total. Many (most) were hatch year juveniles
that had just fledged, some still being fed. Several adult
males were seen, a couple adult females. We also saw Black-and-
white Warbler feeding young, but best was a pair of Yellow-throated
Warbler feeding 2 young, possibly a first park nesting record?
It is to my knowledge. Lots of the other regulars like Louisiana
Waterthrush, Acadian Flycatcher, Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated
Vireos, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Black and Eastern Phoebe, Bushtit, a Hutton's
Vireo or two, numbers of Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting, heard a
Scott's Oriole, no Green Kingfisher. Lots of Spicebush Swallowtail
and Red-spotted Purple, one Two-tailed Swallowtail. We had a great walk.
June 13 ~ Mostly cloudy in the a.m. so in 70's and nice. Scoped
a first summer (AHY or SY) male Blue Grosbeak singing 150 yards
away, with very very little blue on it still. Crazy Ladder-
backed Woodpecker perching on powerline like songbird again.
It's like he's up there saying OK Mr. size shape and structure,
what kind of songbird am I perched like this on a power line?
Then it contorts itself into postures imitating other bird shapes
(that it no doubt saw in the Texas Peterson roadside silhouettes pages).
Did I mention Friday I got pix of one on a metal fence pole, one of the
barbed wire heavy steel T stakes? A whole forest of trees,
and a plethora of wooden fence poles, and just what was it thinking
it was going to do to a T post? Do you remember me mentioning
the one that flew a full 360 loop in the opening in the back yard?
Crazy Woodpecker would have been an absolutely correct name I would
have no problem with. That stacatto cackle sounds like a crazy nut
laughing too. It actually makes much more sense than say
Orange-crowned Warbler or Long-tailed Duck.
June 12 ~ Still the overcast but the low is finally ejecting
NE clearing by late afternoon. A Two-tailed Swallowtail
was something different as of late. They are huge!
A Red-spotted Purple was the other butterfly yard highlight.
Ten Bushtits went by late, no Black-eared, so they are now
banding back up. Is it all juveniles and the adults are
still nesting (again), or is it a couple family groups?
To update, here are the flowers still blooming around the yard:
Two-leafed Senna, Yellow Wood-Sorrel, Rock Flax, Narrow-leaf Thyrallis
(great stand), Queen's Delight, Mountain Pink (really gettin going),
Cynanchum, Silky Evolvulus, Purple Bindweed, Blue Gilia, Texas Vervain,
Gray Vervain, Dakota Vervain, Frog-fruit, Prairie Brazoria,
Purple Horsemint (Lemon Beebalm), Mock Pennyroyal, Yellow Ground-
Cherry, Baby's Breath (Bluets), Prairie Fleabane, Blackfoot Daisy,
Mexican Hat, Zexmenia, Golden-wave (Coreopsis), Navajo Tea,
Straggler Daisy, Sneezeweed, Slender-stem Bitterweed, Parralena,
Sida, Illinois Bundleflower, plus Dandelion and Sow Thistle which
are introduced non-native vermin, so I don't count them.
So 31 species without the last two listed, and there are a couple
others blooming I can't name. At least a dozen other species
are done and over, finished blooming in May. Still hoping
the Angel's Trumpets sends up some blooms, though the big patch
down the road a bit did. Might be some Drummond's Skullcap
still in bloom out there. The Texas Mulberry has fruit for
the first time in 5 years, which I hope ripen enough for me to
try one before the dang deer eat them.
Plateau Agalinis has burst out thickly, because of the 6" rain
event, but of course won't bloom until late summer to fall when
the hills will turn pink if the buckeye caterpillars don't eat it
all first. The same 6" rain it takes to get it to sprout
gets the Buckeyes to hatch. Brickel-bush is another common
yard bush not blooming till fall, but I never see a thing on it.
June 11 ~ There was a big pre-dawn cell that came off the
Sierra Madre in Mexico yesterday afternoon, marched across
the Rio Grande around dark, and made it up here, as if often
the case. We got about an inch of rain from it.
Now I wasn't going to say anything about this sighting.
I was going to just keep it to myself and forget about it.
But since our two dogs died a few years ago, and we only have
3 readers left now, I'll risk mentioning it here. Please
don't tell anyone. It'll be our secret.
Shortly after I saw the adult female Cooper's Hawk that
nests nearby fly over, I saw a most unusual small buteo,
very well, since I had my binocs on when I spotted it.
It was going south low over SR. Without photos I don't
recommend reporting super rarities that would be considered
unprecedented by the birding establishment, which generally only
believes that which is well established. Unless the bird
is tied down and staked out. Sometimes discretion is the
better part of valor.
With aerial species, or one on the move, say like the Short-tailed
Hawks I've seen go by, there isn't anywhere to go looking for it.
It's like seawatching, you have to be there, but there are
always plenty of people that don't do it, that can tell you
what you did or did not see. Sometimes birds just fly by.
Bird record committee types usually do not like that kind of bird,
and disparage sightings of birds just seen flying by. I mean
what kind of bird would just fly by? And what kind of fool
would report it?
Anyway, this bird was a very small buteo with all brown upperparts,
especially the wing, uniform without pale crescent at primary base,
but rather all remiges unmarked above. Tail was not black,
with no white bands, and astonishingly long for a small buteo.
It had nearly finger-width (very thick) bands of rufous going
horizontally across underparts from the breast to lower belly,
that were rough, or uneven, of edges, on a cream background. The
wing-linings did not contrast with ventral remiges, all generally
creamy, lightly or sparsely marked. I see Red-shouldered,
Cooper's and Red-tailed near-daily, all nest nearby. It was
none of those. Longer tailed juv. Red-shouldereds hang over
the hovel high up, begging, regularly, this was far from that,
a very small, small buteo.
I have known those species for 50 years. Stucturally alone,
this was no North American hawk. Plumage too defied matching
any N.A. species and supports that. There were no black and white
remiges or rectrices, but thick rufous bars on underparts, very small buteo
size, shape and structure, with long tail of obvious, low contrast bars.
After the sighting and typing some notepad on the bird, I went to re-reading
the books. So I would mention how it struck me in remembering
what I just saw, that though I wasn't specifically looking for it,
I saw it had an obvious pale eye. I didn't think anything at the
time besides "note pale eye" to myself when I saw that on the
bird. Obviously I am inexperienced with what I saw, which I can
only conclude was a Roadside Hawk.
I have half-expected a Gray Hawk up here, and fully expected it around
Uvalde. No love there yet. I have seen a few Short-tailed,
including light and dark morph birds, a couple Common Black-Hawk (1 ph.),
a couple Aplomado Falcon, and another raptor I'm afraid to mention,
so about one good one per year, with a couple or few hours of being
outside sky watching daily. Especially before and after Mexican origin
MCS events with hundred mile long outflow boundries that march a couple
hundred miles from the foothills of the Sierra Madre in Coahuila doing 40-50 MPH
all the way to Utopia as happens dozens of times per year every spring
to summer/fall (4 days in a row this week by time the low ejected NE
out of NE Mexico).
A HY (hatch-year) Vermilion Flycatcher was out front late in the p.m..
A Hackberry Emperor was in the garden, a species I missed
yesterday, not among the 26 noted then, as was the N. Cloudywing.
June 10 ~ More fog mist and coolish a.m. temps with hot humid
afternoons. The SY male Hooded Oriole (just black throat)
bathed today, first time I've seen it at the bath, and it looked
like the first time it had seen the bath, as scared of the water
as it was. It took 10 minutes to take a one minute bath.
Stared at its reflection so long I'm going to have to name it
Narcissus. Changing eyes, staring, not sure, like it didn't
know whether to attack it, or fall in love with itself, but eventually
seems to grasp that reflection, is it. It is interesting because
this has long been this major major contention in science of intelligence,
self-awareness. Do you recongnize yourself in a mirror? We do,
chimps do, and I think dolphins and elephants do. So I couldn't
help but wonder what was occurring during this painfully long
and what seemed to me extraordinary staring event. About ten times
I was thinkin' GET IN THE BATH ALREADY! as goldfinches and other
things were piling up waiting. It was like he'd never seen
himself like that up to that point, which seems hard to believe
at a year old.
Butterflies in the yard today were: Giant, Pipevine (20), and Black(8)
Swallowtail, Checkered White, Lyside and Dainty Sulphur, Little Yellow,
Sleepy Orange, So. Dogface, Gray and Olive Juniper Hairstreak,
Bordered Patch, Queen, Red Admiral, Question Mark, Goatweed Leafwing,
Buckeye (10), Tawny Emperor, Gulf and Variegated Fritillary (20 ea.),
Funereal and Horace's Duskywing, Common Checkered-Skipper,
Fiery Skipper, Nysa Roadside-Skipper, Orange Skipperling.
Surely I missed some (like Am. Lady), but that was 26 species.
June 9 ~ more fog mist most of the a.m., but in the clearing in the
p.m. a Great Purple Hairstreak flew across the yard, and a Northern
Cloudywing was about. There are about 39 species of birds now
breeding around the hovel here out on the back end of Seco Ridge (SR).
That is, species seen daily in or over the yard, or heard singing or
displaying. I come up with another 30 species nesting in the
riparian corridor forest along the river. About 10 more species
nest around town or in more open areas like fields, edges of ranches, etc..
And I think as many as 10 more species either nest periodically, or
sparingly, or occasionally, or possibly sparsely in the southern parts
of the Sabinal Valley.
We can safely say that there are at least 85 species, and maybe
90 species, that nest in the Sabinal Valley (Utopia area and vicinity)
from Lost Maples to Clayton Grade. An often used term for birding
in summer is "the summer doldrums" which could not be more of a
misnomer for bird activity or birding here in summer, when we are at
absolute maximum peak action and diversity, except a few somewhat
unpredictable peak days in spring migration, before all of our nesters
are even back.
Remember most of these birds eat almost only bugs during the 3-4 month
nesting period, that would take many countless thousands of hours and
dollars to kill, if you could, and you couldn't. And, half or so
(42) are migratory species that winter in Mexico or Central America, only
visiting here to nest, sing beautiful songs, and eat bugs for us.
June 8 ~ a low pressure system over NE Mexico is keeping us under clouds,
so highs ca. 90 deg. F., but the humidity is so high heat indices are
about 100. Male and female Painted Bunting seem to have re-setup
shop across the road and I hear him singing and see her at the seed
again daily. A probably Meridian Duskywing butterfly puddling.
June 7 ~ Another Golden-cheeked Warbler heard calling outside this
a.m., is number 4 so far this week and post-breeding dispersal season.
I bet they had a good year. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is another
post-breeding dispersant that passed through the yard today.
Also a Bushtit was about, and has been for a week nearly now.
But still singles, not flocks so part of a mated pair nesting
nearby, OR, a young that is on its own, which is rare? Boy
the White-winged Dove colony gets to chorusing great, a mild roar.
June 6 ~ This a.m. there were TWO Golden-cheeked Warbler out in
the back yard! They were interacting, or one of them wanted
to, it seemed like begging of a sort, and were moving together.
At one point they both landed on the power line! In general they
seem to have disdain for landing on man-made objects, but I have
seen them on the power-line before. It looked like an adult
and a juvenile. They were 2' apart one gave a chip, the other
flight notes and that got faster and faster, until they then fluttered
up and at each other and got beak to beak as they rose a couple feet
over the powerline, before they dropped back down to it.
One changed direction at the last moment and flew across the dirt road
instead of re-landing on the powerline. It looked like a hatch year
(juvenile), and the one that did come back down to the line had a full
solid black chin, throat and sides so looked to be an adult male to me.
It quickly flew across the road following the young bird. They had
to be and adult/chick pair.
June 5 ~ Another roll down off the plateau into the brush
country to Uvalde. Before we left there was probably the
last northbound spring migrant of the year singing down in the
draw, a male Yellow Warbler. The roadside flowers were still
great, most still uncut so getting to go to seed, though some areas
were seemingly cut prematurely. Mostly the same birds
now since it is breeding season, Mockingbird the most common
bird, with Red-winged blackbird and then Dickcissel next.
The pair of Loggerhead Shrikes continue north of Sabinal
a mile and are surely nesting, a rare event locally.
Down old Highway 90 (Old Sabinal Rd.) there were the same
expected suspects: many dozens of Dickcissel, N. Mockingbird,
Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning and White-winged Dove,
good numbers of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and small numbers
of Painted bunting (6 singing males), Vermilion and Brown-
crested Flycatcher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, N. Cardinal,
Pyrrhuloxia, heard both Cassin's and Olive Sparrow, several
Caracara, few Curve-billed Thrasher, one Long-billed Thrasher,
couple Cactus Wren, lots of Bewick's singing, few Ground-Dove,
few Western Kingbird, missed Verdin though. Just go
real slow with windows down and you can hear all the birds
singing, stop when you want, there is hardly ever traffic,
and it really cuts through some nice Tamaulipan thorn-scrub.
We decided since migration was over, and we didn't feel like
sweatin' it out with the odes, we'd just do the errands and
get out of town by the heat of day. So we did a quick look
at the hatchery to make sure it was quiet and it was dead. Lots
of Dickcissel, Red-winged Blackbird, Bank Swallows sometimes
came down low over ponds, many swallows higher up.
NOTE THE HATCHERY HAS A NEW HOURS SIGN POSTED AND IS NOW
CLOSED ON SUNDAYS, AND AFTER 3:30 ON WEEKDAYS!! Access has
taken a great beating there, I suppose as a result of the
other sign there: your recovery dollars at work.
June 4 ~ A beat worn Arizona Sister butterfly was only the
second one I've seen this year! Texan Crescent, Bordered
Patch, 5 Buckeye amongst other things outside. I went to
the park the last hour of light to pretend to be smart enough
to catch a Rio Grande Perch, and a calling Cedar Waxwing flew
up and landed in a big dead Cypress snag and proceed to flycatch
for a while. Probably the last one of those around for
the season, and a good early June record. The real show
though was at dark when all the fireflies lit up. OMG it
was for about 5-10 minutes when it first really starts rippin',
amazing, astounding, electric neon greenish yellow tracers
and trails everywhere, a hundred at once, going in every
direction long blinks, short series of fast blinks, hovering
still in place blinks, zipping around chasing each other,
close, far, all over the place, it never ceases to amaze me.
I guess because I grew up in CA where they don't have them.
The lawn under the big live-oaks between the river and the
main road into the park was the best area.
June 3 ~ The first juvenile GOLDEN-CHEEKED WARBLER of the year
passed through the yard this a.m.. Post-breeding dispersal
is underway. Chips, flight notes, fly-catching, at one
point it flew by me less than 5' away across the yard opening.
June 2 ~ Well I got a better look today as I flushed the male
VARIED BUNTING as I walked out on the back porch. They are
always so ginchy. A couple Cloudless Sulphur passed by.
June 1 ~ JUNE !?!?!? I stepped out on the back porch and a
bird flushed I thought sure was a male Varied Bunting. Now is
the time for them. An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was down SR,
and an all black Tenebrionid (Iron Clad Beetle) was out front.
At dusk a huge TARANTULA was outside, a most wanted beast for the
yard list! It was almost as big as my hand! Yes I got
some pix. Made our day! Just one good beast is all it takes.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
May summary ~ It was a very weak spring (going back to April)
for migrant landbirds overall, probably due to extensive
greenery due to a badly needed wet winter. Bad for us
to see them is probably good for them to find food and cover
on their journey. The flower show on the other hand
has many saying it is the best they ever saw, as it is for
me here in this area. Dragonflies have been slow to
get going and I think like butterflies are in recovery mode
from the two years of drought preceeding this spring season.
I saw 48 species of butterflies locally in May, up from 40
in April, only a Mexican Yellow being a significant find.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
May 31 ~ The bird of the day was at 11 p.m. when I heard a
BARN OWL, so surely that represents a locally nesting bird.
I still count 25 species of wildflowers in bloom around the yard.
May 29 ~ At the north end of town there are a few Dickcissels
on territory right at the UvCo 356 x 187 junction. At UR
(Utopia on the River) there was a Little Wood Satyr, the first
I've seen this year, and at UP there was a female Mourning Warbler,
the second of that species this spring, no MacGillivray's this year.
The mccallii Screech-Owl song I timed at 3 seconds. Just
a straight barely trilled on same pitch "toad call."
May 28 ~ A cool wasp has been around that looks fairly close to
Gnamptopelta obsidianator, an ichneumon, all black with orange
anntenae. Lots lots fewer hummingbirds around as the
first batch of young produced have dispersed. Major
difference in a few days, doesn't bother me a bit not having
to fight keeping feeders with fluid. A male Widow Skimmer
was patrolling the yard here at SR for a while.
May 27 ~ Flushed a Chuck-wills-widow at Utopia Park, my first for
the park, since I don't hang out there at night enough obviously.
also there was a male Green Kingfisher, and a Macromia (River Cruiser)
dragonfly, plus a Roseate Skimmer and still Springtime Darner.
At SR there were the usual Poor-will, Chucks, and 6 Common Nighthawk.
May 25 ~ One Blue-gray Gnatcatcher adult male was a post-breeding
wanderer, probably did a couple clutches or broods (or attempts)
and is done for the season already. The Hutton's Vireo
continues singing out front here at SR. The first summer
male Scott's Oriole (AHY or SY) now has no tail, just a series
of black spots where the new rectrices are just peeking out.
The black of the face and chest is now solid without olive,
but crown and back still have olive. Underparts have
worn yellower but still far from ASY bright yellow. Then
a Hooded Oriole in female plumage was hanging on a window and
singing at its reflection. This is an AHY bird with very worn
dull brown rectrices and remiges, no black in throat, and I got
a couple poor pix through the dirty double window.
A few butterflies were about, best was maybe my first May record
yet of a MEXICAN YELLOW! Also Nysa Roadside-Skipper, Red
Satyr, Reakirt's Blue, Fiery Skipper, numbers of Buckeye, and
after dark the Couch's Spadefoot Toad was serenading me again,
probably due to another 1/2" of rain today, just before dark.
May 24 ~ About an inch of rain in the p.m. was a needed treat.
May 23 ~ We checked a couple tree patches around town for
migrants despite the wind. Nothing at UR or the
354 pecans (besides breeders), but across the field from
the park on Cypress St. by the Mulberries besides 30 Waxwings
there was a singing (male) AHY (after hatch year) American
Redstart, the first I've seen this spring. Nice yellow
tail squares, but salmon on breast, and salt and pepper
charcol on throat, some little black on head and back.
Then further down the hackberry row I found a FOS Willow
Flycatcher. Over in Utopia Park (UP) at the north end
there was a Mourning Warbler, finally an Oporornis this year!
There was also a Least Flycatcher there, for an outstanding
and impressive grand total of 4 passerine migrants at UP
and on the street out front of it, 3 of them, the only ones of
season so far. Another first and only locally I've seen
this spring migrant was a Cattle Egret standing on the dam.
We've had lots in Uvalde, but none up here in the hills.
Also had numbers of Blue Dasher and a couple Springtime Darner
dragonflies at UP.
May 22 ~ Lost Maples for a half day walk up Can Creek.
At least 4, more likely 5 Yellow-billed Cuckoo migrants
were seen or heard, knocked down by the fog/mist. Even
better was a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER seen, which besides
the FOS for me this year, may be a first for the park. It
is not on the list. Of course little late May migrant
hunting takes place there, most are myopically looking for a
certain warbler or vireo. Check out the Lost Maples
Reports page for a more full report, but Golden-cheeked and
Black-and-white Warbler are feeding young along the trail,
and a just about ready to fledge Mexican (Eastern) Screech-Owl
trying to dry out was great.
Tex-Mex Screech-Owl (Otis asio mccallii)
Flowers are phenomenal both at the park and along 187 between
town and there. Some huge areas of Skeleton-Flower.
In the afternoon here at SR in broad daylight I was struck
how long it took me to figure out it was a Chuck-wills-widow
zig-zagging over the junipers, with a Cooper's Hawk behind
it looking like it was going to run out of steam long before
the Chuck, which despite the rakish ungainly look was making
deceptively fast progress, with seemingly little effort.
May 21 ~ There was a Catbird at UP, and single Yellow Warblers
at UP, UR, and 354. A pair of Yellow-billed Cuckoo seem
to be back at UR. Migrants are passing through of this
latest of migrants too with one calling for an hour here in
the junipers on SR. About 27 Cedar Waxwing at SR.
May 20 ~ It was a heavy fog/mist day almost all day, and I
bet there were some migrants knocked down, but I couldn't
get out to look. Dang work.
May 19 ~ Well I have to face facts, the bulldozing we've
been hearing across the road for a week or so took out the
Painted Bunting nest site. They're gone.
They were back, singing all day every day, eating millet
every morning and afternoon, drinking if not bathing daily,
and I haven't heard hide nor hair, or seen them in days,
after about the second day of WMD (dozer). After the last
five years of having them as daily fare late April to August,
yes, there is a great big hole in my heart, since they surely
had a nest, likely with eggs at this point. Fortunately
so far, apparently it hasn't affected our Blue Grosbeak pair,
or the Summer Tanager pair that are in the yard daily.
But we lost our Painted Buntings to one of modern man's
greatest weapons of mass destruction, the bulldozer.
Which reminds me, have you seen Clayton Grade lately?
Probably TX DOT contractors have surely "fixed" the
drainage on the east side of the road now. You'll
recall a year ago they dozed the biggest public access
Eupatorium/Mejorana patch in the valley, covered it with gravel,
for "drainage control" on the west side of the grade.
I guess someone saw some flowers survived on the east side
of the road so the contractor has scraped it to the bone.
It had Eups too, and was equally great in fall especially.
There were days you could spend HOURS working the butterflies
in the bushes right at the incline, going south out of the
valley, and in just two short years, at taxpayer expense
this wonderful unique habitat has been reduced to rubble.
It was a natural native butterfly garden, and as such had
larger numbers of some species than our artificial man-made
gardens do. It's gone. But we now alledgedly have
better drainage. By removing the plants that held the ground
and replacing them with rocks.
May 18 ~ A Swainson's Thrush was singing down in the draw
out front here at SR. Couldn't get out and check the
trees in town though. Did have a few Buckeye, and a
Julia's Skipper, besides lots of the expected butterflies.
Hutton's Vireo still singing outside. That big male
Eastern Fence Lizard is coloring up out back, but the highlight
today was what I'm fairly certain was a RIBBON SNAKE that
after getting it in binocs out the window, then getting the
camera and running outside, it shot across the hill at the
sight of me so I didn't get a picture. VERY neat yard beast!
May 17 ~ Spotted Sandpiper at UP on the dam was about it for
migrants. A hundred Cedar Waxwing in town, and 30 at SR.
Few Queen (butterfly) starting to show up, and a couple
Stream Bluet (damselfly) were at UP. Field Sparrow
bathed late in the p.m., and a pair of Chimney Swifts were
circling and calling at dusk over SR. The real highlight
of the day was finding my first Purple Dalea (Dalea lasiathera)
locally, one in spectacular full bloom along 355, just outside town.
May 16 ~ a big severe cell was bearing down on us most of the
morning but we only got a bit of spitting out of it for the
most part, besides keeping us from going out for birds.
Got a little tape of the boring Hutton's Vireo song, but it was
raining just hard enough to make that not work very well.
Lots of Navajo Tea blooming now, acres of it on the back section
of 360. The chiggers have been remarkably few in number
so far this spring, considering how wet it has been. Some
locals say a two-year drought puts a hurt on them. I thought
I'd mention it, as I was reminded by one that is driving me nuts
May 15 ~ Another predawn MCS came over another inch or so of rain,
and cool air. We ran for supplies in Uvalde since it
looked like a break for the day. The flowers south along 187
from Utopia to Sabinal are still overwhelmingly specatacular.
At the least, astounding. We stopped a few times and it
was clear some things had gone off and were over and done, in the
three weeks since our last drive down the road, so missed photos
of some things.  The Basket-Flower stands were very extensive
in places, a big showy flower of incredible delicate beauty.
Some places had a mile of Firewheel (Indian Blanket) along the road,
and hundreds of acres of Coreopsis, the horses must be happy.
Lots of 3'+ Purple Horsemint is open and the 3' Standing Winecup is
still going strong. You could spend hours checking the road
from here to Sabinal for birds, flowers, and the bugs or butterflies
on them. Besides Mockingbird, one of the most common birds
singing along this strip (except in the juniper hills around
Clayton Grade) was Dickcissel. Dozens in the Sabinal Valley part,
and dozens down in the flatlands, like Red-winged Blackbirds.
A good migrant was an Eastern Kingbird on a fence down in the
flatlands once you hit the ag section a few miles N. of Sabinal.
A pair of Shrikes was near the 127/187 junction where I have
suspected possible breeding before. Then at the pond on
the 127/90 cutoff was 5 Blue-winged Teal, a Spotted Sandpiper,
and a female Wilson's Phalarope in high alternate plumage.
On the way home, near dusk, on the 187/127 cutoff, I couldn't
believe hearing a Couch's Spadefoot Toad right next to the road.
We jogged across 90 to Old Sabinal Rd. to take an enjoyable
ride to Uvalde, if you like driving 45 with the windows down
so you can hear birds. Once we got past the section that
was mowed (too soon) it was quite nicely flower lined still.
There are some pure red Firewheel along it, without the yellow
tips it usually has, and quite nice looking (photos). The road
was fairly lined with singing Dickcissel, several dozens more.
Along the way heard Olive Sparrow, saw Curve-billed Thrasher,
Cactus Wren, Long-billed Thrasher, Verdin, Golden-fronted
Woodpecker, heard several singing Cassin's Sparrow, saw one
singing Pyrrhuloxia, few Vermilion and one Brown-crested Flycatcher,
Bullock's Oriole, all of these species are nesting along this
little traveled gem of a backroad. Mockingbirds are at least
very abundant, the whole way from Utopia to Uvalde.
We took a quick look at the fish hatchery, but just after we
started for the main pond, a crop duster came in and strafed
the sunflower field adjacent to the west, which puts him doing
the pull up and hard bank right over the main best shorebird pond,
so we got to watch almost all the few shorebirds depart 2 minutes
after we got there. Thanks flyboy. I get a peek once
in three weeks and mostly saw one flyby and then north ends of a
bunch of southbound shorebirds. Of course I couldn't wonder
what they spray, and how much drift there is onto the habitat
at the hatchery, and what effects it has? And didn't want to
go stand in it to bird, since I didn't need de-bugging.
We saw two each Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, a couple Baird's
and 6 Least Sandpiper, 1 Semipalmated and 1 White-rumped
Sandpiper, 2 Pectoral Sandpiper, and about 5-6 Spotted Sandpiper.
4 Shoveler and 25 Blue-winged Teal were the only ducks besides
Whistling-Ducks, and one of the drake Blue-wings was a hybrid
with some Cinnamon Teal cinnamon color in the breast and in
the buffy eye crescent. There were many Dickcissel singing
here, a pair of Orchard Oriole, 4 Coot, a Great Blue Heron,
and lots of Chimney Swift, Barn Swallow, Purple Martin, a Yellow
Warbler, and one Black Setwing dragonfly amongst many Odes.
A Savannah Sparrow was getting perhaps nearly tardy.
A quick look around Cook's Slough found very little but a small
group of warblers including a few Yellow, a 1st year male Wilson's,
at least one male Common Yellowthroat which also sang a bit.
The bird of the day was a female BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK eating
mulberries in a tree there, my first one at the slough, and
the only one I've seen this spring so far. Dickcissel,
Painted Bunting, Bell's Vireo, Brown-crested and Vermilion
Flycatcher, Olive Sparrow, Verdin amongst the regulars there.
Lots of Odes but I didn't work them besides taking pix of a
red morph Rambur's Forktail.
Over the course of the drive down, plus the stops in between, we
must have heard about a hundred singing territorial male Dickcissel.
Saw twice that many Mockingbird along the roads, maybe fifty or so
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a few Bullock's Oriole, a dozen or two of
Western Kingbird, but only heard one Couch's, and no Kiskadee, which
can get quiet in the day when they are nesting.
At home, about 10:30 p.m. I finally got some audio tape of the male
Couch's Spadefoot Toad calling at our kiddie pool puddle we keep.
Chuck-wills-widow and Poor-will were calling too, as well as
Rio Grande Leopard Frog, Barking Frog, Blanchard's Cricket Frog,
Gulf Coast Toad, but it seems the Chorus Frogs (our "spring peeper")
are done now. Common Nighthawk was booming a bit.
Probably nearly 2" of rain over the two events, not bad, and
should help keep this world class flower show going strong.
May 14 ~ With some pea to penny sized hail, about 2/3" of rain
came through with a front, pre-dawn. Couldn't get out
until the afternoon, when it is pointless looking for migrant
landbirds, they get their few hours of sleep in then when grounded.
The only thing new and different was a tardy FOS Green Heron at UP.
It was either eating Mulberries, or things coming in to the berries.
Less than 10 mi. SE of us in NW Medina Co. the cell stalled right
after going over us and dumped up to 8" of rain locally, between
here and Medina Lake. Hutton's Vireo singing at SR.
May 12 ~ News today was butterflies, as I saw two new for the
year species. First in the a.m., a MOURNING CLOAK landed
out back on the caliche briefly, circled around the clearing
a couple times and moved on. Whilst I've seen the species
now the last 3 springs, I did not record one the first 4 springs
I was here looking, and would not have overlooked the species,
having grown up with it being abundant. Then in the p.m. when I
squirted water about a bit a bunch of stuff came in including
my first Theona Checkerspot of the year, and another Buckeye.
I keep forgetting to mention the numbers of juvenile hummingbirds
seems fairly high, we have them thick for a couple weeks now,
since the last week of April. All Black-chinned of course,
and you can tell they are fresh juveniles by their mostly gray
heads right now when they just fledge. We're using a couple
pounds of sugar daily (= 1 gal. of fluid) in the feeders, so
have perhaps 500-1000 birds in the area coming in. Haven't
seen a Ruby-throat in a week and change. They just passed
through quickly this year.
The juvenile Scrub-Jay (again only 1 fledged from first set)
was learning to bathe, and at one point threw so much water
up, when it came back down and landed on its back, it scared itself
out of the bath. It took a couple minutes for it to work
the courage up to go back in after that. Sometimes when you
actually watch birds, it's hard not to chuckle, if you do it right.
May 11 ~ Couple Yellow Warblers and Yellow-billed Cuckoo
down around UR and 360. Bird of the day got away, a
warbler with a strong rich emphatic flight note "seent",
which sounded like an American Redstart to me but I only saw it
against gray skies shooting from tree to tree quickly.
There were over 450 Cedar Waxwings on the Mulberry Trees
on Cypress St.! It doesn't appear they care about
leaving ANY for me, the street (and now my tennis shoes)
stained purple from all those they've carelessly dropped,
wastefully, most with one peck out of them, as if they were
not good enough!?! Yes I checked to see what the problem
with those huge fat purple-black berries was, of course. :)
Very interesting at SR is now two new different Hooded
Orioles that have shown up at the feeders, both looking
like AHY (after hatch year, also correctly SY - 2nd yr.) birds,
about a year old, in their second year. One is an
orange morph male (they come in green/yellow like females also)
and the other a female, which looks superficially quite like
female Bullock's as they have dirty white underparts except
for undertail coverts and throat and upper breast. The
color is a greener yellow than Bullock's but underparts areas
with and without color nearly identical to fem. Bullock's pattern.
This plumage is not well-illustrated in the standard guides.
May 10 ~ I couldn't get out, but at 11 p.m. besides hearing
Chuck-wills-widows, Poor-will, Common Nighthawk, then
Eastern (Mexican) Screech-Owl, I heard what at first I took
for a distant kid goat, but it sounded closer and I wondered
if it was a whirlpool in my tanks outside as water goes down
the overflow drainpipes, but it was getting louder, and
finally a good long burst of song confirmed it, next to the
4' x 1' kiddie pool we keep for a pond, COUCH'S SPADEFOOT TOAD !!
Calling in the yard!! That is about as good a yard
beast as one can get, if you ask me. Made my day!
My observations over the last 7 springs here now indicate
they require a 6" rain event to emerge from estivation.
That is how you can tell if we got over 6". Do you
hear something coming from say a pond or wet area, that
sounds like a gnome with a kazoo imitating a baby goat or sheep?
They are real beauties IF you can see one! But good luck!
Spadefoot Toads have vertical pupils unlike other North American
frogs and toads, and males are olive and black, so quite impressive
May 9 ~ Heavy drizzle most of the a.m., and we didn't get out
until too late as bird activity was quieting down already it
seemed. At UP was the continuing Northern Waterthrush,
and a male Common Yellowthroat. At the 354 pecans there
were 6 Yellow Warblers, one each Wilson's (finally saw one this
spring) and Nashville Warbler. Lots of Dickcissel singing
out in the Thistle (non-native Musk). Kathy spotted the
best bird of the day there, a FOS Eastern Kingbird, finally.
Was thinking we missed the window this spring. At UR
there was a Yellow and a Nashville Warbler, a calling cuckoo,
the singing Acadian Flycatcher. Down by the river, on
360, there were 4 more Yellow and another Nashville. So
about a dozen Yellow over a few stops, and 5 sps. of migrant
warblers total. The flowers are still spectacular as if
you haven't noticed. Still new things popping out I haven't
seen before, like the Brown-Flowered Psoralea I found today,
and some Winecup right past the east edge of town on Lee St..
A couple Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were at the SLC pond.
Another Barn Owl was heard late, about 11 p.m..
I saw yesterday's big fancy beetles again on the Mexican Poppy
near UR, and checked the other patch of that at the end of Lee St.
which also had some, probably 16 between the two patches, all
devouring the flowers and leaves. Mike Quinn, former TPWD
Entomologist (that's Mr. Bug to you and me) has ID'd them as
Blister Beetles (Meloidae), so I am really glad after consideration
I decided to not grab one. Lytta fulvipennis is the species, and
THANK YOU Mike Quinn beetle man extraordinaire for the identification!
These beasts were gorging themselves, at times hanging upside-down
waiting to expell some frass so they could eat some more is how it
appeared. They excrete a chemical when disturbed that can cause
very painful serious burns, hence the name.
Orange-winged Blister Beetle - Lytta fulvipennis at
Utopia, TX, May 8, 2010, was ca. 1.5" long!
May 8 ~ Moderate east winds overnight with a weak dry frontal
passage usually means migrants at this time of year so I checked
a few spots. On the trail at the north end of UP which I
walked yesterday a.m., I photo'd a pile of Catbird feathers.
So one was there in the last 24 hours. There was a Northern
Watherthrush at the northmost end of the park, #2 this spring here.
Eastern Screech-Owl calling lots lately after dark at SR.
The Mulberry trees on Cypress still have loads of Waxwings, and
finally FOS Orchard and Baltimore Orioles. At Utopia on the River
the Acadian Flycatcher has returned (not here yesterday), and a
couple Nashville and Yellow Warblers was about it. There were
some (8) spectacular beetles (ph.) on some Mexican Poppy at UR. Down
on the other side of the river along 360 I found several Larkspurs
in bloom (Delphinium), some Cardinal-Feather, Scarlet Pimpernel,
and both Celia's and Nysa Roadside-Skippers. Up on SR near
the end of the pavement there are some Barbara's Button's in bloom.
At SR there is Rock Flax that is knee-high and Mexican Hat up to my waist.
Lots of the yellow you see along the roads locally is Coreopsis,
acres of it, some areas have Nerve-Ray, the lavender purple mostly
finishing up now is largely Dakota Verbina.
May 7 ~ FOS local Olive-sided Flycatcher at UP was discovered
due to a burst of song, "Quick! three beers". Music
to my ears. A single Nashville there was my only migrant
warbler at 3 stops. UR had a Great Crested Flycatcher, but
no Acadian has returned yet. Flyover Dickcissels were there,
at UP, 354, and SR. The numbers of Hackberry and Tawny Emperor
butterflies is Asteronomical. A hundred of each in a few spots,
easy. Red Admiral and Question Mark nearly as abundant too.
A Spotted Sandpiper was on the dam at UP.
May 5 ~ Hutton's Vireo singing a lot outside. Two male and
two female Hooded Orioles using feeder, besides the pair of Scott's.
Two pairs of Painted Bunting and one pair of Blue Grosbeak seem to
have settled in again, and one pair (2) Chipping Sparrow is all that
remains of them, the other half dozen leaving the last few days.
First just fledged Lesser Goldfinch about the yard today.
May 4 ~ Errands in town so a quick check yielded very little, a few
Nashville (6 at 3 stops), a Yellow, and good was two Black-throated
Green Warbler, a female at the 354 pecans, and a male that sang at
Utopia on the River. Lots of Hackberry and Tawny Emperor
butterflies about, as well as Questionmarks, Red Satyr daily at SR.
At least 275 Cedar Waxwing hitting the ripe Mulberries around town.
Two less female Brown-headed Cowbirds about the yard.
Interesting was when the just fledged (yesterday) juvenile Scrub-Jay flew
up to the wire near the adult. The adult lifted its leg to scratch
an itch on the side of its face/head, and quickly after the juvenile
lifted its leg and scratched the same place on its face. Now it
could not have had the same itch. Mimicry, same way people learn!
May 3 ~ Here we go high pressure and 90 deg.F, get ready for summer.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds cleared out after the frontal passage
in late April and very few remain, I saw but one female today.
Saw some good Common Nighthawk booms (dive display) and several
Chuck-wills-widows were calling as was an Eastern Screech-Owl.
Female Blue Grosbeak is about the seed, besides the male.
May 2 ~ The winds calmed and skies were clear last night and it
appeared as the migrants high-tailed it out of here, as I saw a
single Nashville (UR) and that was about it for migrants. Oh I
you could call the 3 Western Kingbirds migrants too. At the
end of Lee St. before the first dogleg there is a nice patch of
Mexican Poppy in the corrals, which is fairly scarce here.
Kathy had a Spotted Towhee today we heard yesterday and the day
before (Fri. and Sat.). But since I didn't hear or see one
Tues. through Thursday, I think it was a new migrant that stopped.
Out at the S.Little Creek pond there was a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck,
my FOS local one this spring. A Great Blue Heron was there and
one flew up the river at UP.
There are acres and acres of Coreopsis around town, out along 357,
or just south of town on 187, the abundant yellow groundcover is
this species. Along 360 there are fair amounts of Nerve-Ray,
and all the roads are lined with Engleman's Daisy among other things.
There are also acres of purple Dakota Verbina in between the yellow
things, and all together, holy cow what a color show! Around
Utopia on the River's grounds there are Baby Blue-eyes and Tube-Tongue
for some of the ground-cover. Some Bluebonnets are still going.
One fresh mint Monarch was seen, clearly a new fresh emergence.
May 1 ~ I checked spots around town for migrant birds since a
weak frontal passage turned winds around overnight. I hit
UP, UR, 354 and 360 over a few hours. There were numbers of
Nashville Warbler (15+, at 4 stops), Yellow Warbler (6, at 4 stops),
and Orange-crowned Warbler (3, at 4 stops), so while the most warblers
since Myrtles went through, it was not exactly jumping.
A male Lazuli Bunting was a UR, where there was also a FOS Great
Crested Flycatcher finally.
A pair of Brown-crested were checking holes out at UP, but they
won't stay to nest. The Northern Waterthrush was gone from
UP, but the Least Flycatcher was still there. A Spotted
Sandpiper and a pair of Green Kingfisher were also present.
In the "best bird of the day always gets away" category, I
saw a mostly gray and white warbler with some bold black and white
on throat and face, white tailspots, and what looked like yellow on
the wing as it flew right by me, on 360 along the river. It looked
like Golden-winged Warbler to me, but it landed and then bolted away
so got to watch it fly a hundred yards, then I couldn't relocate it.
Other interesting things were a butterfly that I'd have sworn was a
Spring or Summer Azure (Celastrina ladon/sps.) type of beast, a blue
I've been looking for, wondering if they occur here, which disappeared
after a couple looks of it flying and perched but I was unable to
photograph it. It would be a new species for my local list though
if I had been able to confirm or document it is some way....
There are hundreds of Question Mark butterflies about, thickest
I've ever seen them. A few good flowers are out too, if
you haven't noticed the bloom is spectacular everywhere you look.
I found a Prarie Larkspur (Delphinium - blue here) down along 360 which
is the only one I've seen besides the plant (for the first time now 2)
I know of at Lost Maples SNA up Can Creek, in some honeycomb limestone
(with Canyon Mock-Orange on same piece!).
April 30 ~ Wow so that's it for April already? I spent an
hour checking some trees around town for some more FOS birds.
Dickcissel was singing on 354 as was Yellow-breasted Chat,
both returning breeders. At UP the Northern Waterthrush
was still there, and gave a few short snippets of song! A
FOS there was a Least Flycatcher. Then at Utopia on the River
there were 2 FOS's, a singing Swainson's Thrush, which is the
voices of angels, and finally 2 overdue Blue-headed Vireo. There
were about 7 Nashville Warbler there, and 1 female Tennessee.
The nesting Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Acadian Flycatcher
there have not returned yet. A female Great-tailed Grackle
flew over SR. Several Common Grackle were at the north end
of town, and some were at Feller's place at the Waresville turn.
Saw one migrant Monarch.
Four Carolina Wren fledged from their nest over the back door at 3 p.m.,
so maybe I'll be able to stand on my porch without being scolded again.
This a.m. here at the hovel there was a Spotted Towhee that called,
which I'm sure is a new passage bird as none have been here since
Monday. And a Hermit Thrush drew its bow across the strings
as that calls so sounds. Hutton's Vireo sang for a long time
in the juniper over the bath. Talk about monotonous!
A Black-tailed Jackrabbit was out front this a.m., with fully
brown and gray sides, quite unlike the white-sided one I photo'd
a couple years ago.
April 29 ~ A quick run to town got me out of the car at a couple
of the migrant patches. At the 354 Pecan patch there was
a FOS local Yellow Warbler, and a FOS local Dickcissel. At UP
there was a very nice yellow-washed FOS Northern Waterthrush.
A couple Nashville Warbler were at each stop, but little else.
No Great Crested Flycatcher yet, one Indigo Bunting singing at
Utopia on the River. Here at the hovel on SR I saw my first
female Painted Bunting of the year, a week after the first male.
At about 7 p.m. a Tawny Emperor butterfly landed on a juniper out
front, which I got in the scope for study views, first of the year.
Butterfly species number 42 for the month locally. There are
still 9 Chipping Sparrow at seed here at SR.
The other big butterfly news today was finally seeing a yellow
Swallowtail at the Library, an Eastern Tiger, species #100 on my
library garden list! Finally! I only added about 3 last year,
and none all fall, usually our best season. This was a dumb-miss
category beast. Since they don't nectar a lot it is hard to
get for the garden, and it's just a matter of spending lots of time
standing around when not much goes on there (spring) and getting one
flying through. I saw my FOS Firefly this evening!
April 28 ~ Must have been migrants about because I had a couple in
the yard, but didn't get to go around and check the trees about town.
Besides a Nashville, interesting was a very small Hermit Thrush.
It reminded me of guttatus from the west, and did not appear like
the usual bigger April migrant Hermit Thrushes we get. There
was a green bunting outside, the FOS NON-adult male Painted Bunting,
this appearing to be a first year male, not a female, so still
waiting on them. Two adult males were about the seed this morning.
Heard Blue Grosbeak out there too. Scott's and Hooded Orioles
probably have nesting underway by now and hit the feeders several
times per day. Nice to have a dawn chorus again, and especially
the Painted Buntings! Red Satyr still flopping around the hovel.
Barn Owl, Chucks, and Poor-wills calling at 10:30 p.m. at SR.
April 27 ~ Another Eight-spotted Forester moth outside today.
Nice to have male Painted Bunting singing outside much of
the day again. Stiff northerly winds probably knocked
down migrants but I had to work to catch up from all the
goofin' off birding during Nature Quest. The last week
of April and first week of May is peak chances for eastern
warblers here, IF, we get weather to knock 'em down. At the
seed there are 9 Chipping Sparrow left, but NO Spotted Towhee
today (one was here Monday) for the first time since fall.
One Pine Siskin continues at the sunflower seed tube.
After dark I was listening to a Common Nighthawk call,
thinking it was a female by the pitch, timbre, and tone,
and so wondered when I would hear my first boom (male display
dive) this year of course, and of course just then, vrooooom
there it was. A short quick one but a boom! There
is something special, and reassuring, about hearing the sounds
of nature, the calls of the wild, each spring, like the songs
of Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, or Painted Bunting,
the frogs calling at night, or seeing the Scissor-tailed and
Vermilion Flycatchers displaying along the roadsides again.
Maybe it is as Rachel Carson once suggested, that they are the
signals of rejuvenation of life.
April 26 ~ Had to run to Uvalde for supplies today, and if
you can, take a drive down 187 for the wildflower show.
It is spectacular, and a little bit of Winecup at Clayton
Grade moves that to my local list from the Uvalde only
section. Down off the drop in the flatlands there was
an area with a couple hundred yards solid of 3' Standing Winecup,
stunningly beautiful. Down along Old Sabinal Road
the entire ground cover for miles was Coreopsis in bloom.
Some of the Firewheel (Indian Blanket) seems to be all red.
A spectacular drive from Sabinal to Uvalde on this quiet, birdy,
little travelled road. One section has some singing
Cassin's Sparrows and another had 8 singing Dickcissel, plus
another Loggerhead Shrike was down there. One Yellow
Warbler flew across the road, and a migrant Monarch as well.
At the Uvalde Nat. Fish Hatchery there were 4 Spotted Sandpiper,
9 Least Sandpiper, 1 Solitary Sandpiper, and 3 male Yellow-
headed Blackbird, but much seemed to have cleared out since
Saturday, which was much changed from two days before that
on Thursday. If someone that knew what they were doing
checked this place daily I bet the list would be fantastic.
But the type of migrants that stop, often don't even stay a
day or two. Constant migrant turnover at a site like this.
Somewhat odd was a single female Brewer's Blackbird at Wally world.
April 25 ~ Today we'll try to do some recovering from all the
early a.m.'s the last 3 days..... I added up how many species I saw
during the Nature Quest field trips the last three days and
come up with 140 species for me personally. So, I'd bet
over 150, maybe 160 something, species of birds were seen by
all the groups put together. If one got real lucky with migrant
fallout, I'd bet over 170 could be done by all groups over the
few days, in the right year with the right weather. The only
different thing I heard of from others so far, was a Black-headed
Grosbeak at Garner St. Pk., which is scarce here. Tony Gallucci
at Big Spring had Northern Parula, which is returning breeders at an
isolated colony or population. One was singing a Yellow-throated
From the porch this morning I heard my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
An earlier Uvalde County report on Texbirds in early April at
Concan of a drive-by on a fly-by bird is erroneous. They simply
aren't here yet in early April. If you keep notes in any sort
of sensible manner, you learn which birds are here or not, when.
Also the TPWD *habitat-based* checklists that are a dollar or so
have bar graphs telling you what is or isn't here when, with amongst 7-8
of them, one for the Hill Country, and one for the Brush Country, so even
without notes, but for two dollars of reference material, and learning to
look before you leap, you can keep your foot out of your mouth easily.
Some folks prefer touting "finds" to knowing what they saw.
A Tennessee Warbler passed through the yard quickly in the a.m..
At Utopia on the River there was my FOS local Brown-crested
Flycatcher, but no Great Crested yet. A couple Nashville
Warbler were there and at Utopia Park (UP). Also at UP was
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Myrtle and Audubon's Warbler. The pond
on South Little Creek had a Killdeer, Great Egret, a pair
of Gadwall, and 5-6 Blue-winged Teal. The little pond
a half-mile to the south had 8 Band-winged Dragonlet, and lots
About a hundred Waxwings eating the unripe mulberries in town.
A Hutton's Vireo singing at SR. If my life depended on it
I'd say the gray and lime-olive bird that I flushed out back in
the p.m. was a Green-tailed Towhee. I saw it in flight
and then sitting in the base of a juniper where the size,
shape, and silhouette were spot-on for one. I couldn't
refind it after I came in and got binocs and chased into the
junipers for it. Did kick up a House Wren though.
Later at 10 p.m. there were Barn Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl,
Poor-will and Chuck-wills'widow calling, plus finally a
Couch's Spadefoot Toad could be heard distantly at the pond
down the draw over a quarter mile away.
Two migrant Monarchs and a Red Satyr were about.
April 24 ~ Today my Nature Quest trip was a Tour de Uvalde.
Ft. Inge first thing early, then Cook's Slough and National
Fish Hatchery. We only heard Green Jay unfortunately,
and only saw one Kiskadee fly by, things are being quiet
probably due to nesting, and no Green Kingfisher either.
One Neotropic Cormorant was there, several singing Olive
Sparrow, Swainson's Hawk including one in the scope.
Great scope views were had of singing Pyrrhuloxia and Cactus
Wren thanks to Dwanye and Marj Longenbaugh and their Zeiss
scope. THANKS !! Anthony Sharp had looks at a
Waterthrush which would likely be Northern there at this date.
A pair of Wood Ducks flew by, lots of Bell's Vireo singing.
A Loggerhead Shrike is still there, heard Verdin, the male
Bullock's Oriole seems to be back on territory at the historical
markers up front, and I heard a flyover calling FOS Dickcissel.
At Cook's Slough there were good scope views of a FOS
Olive-sided Flycatcher and a calling Brown-crested Flycatcher,
a downy natal Black Vulture again. But the post-frontal
wind picked up to 20+ MPH sustained which really makes nature nerding
tough. At the hatchery we saw 4 female Wilson's Phalarope,
three species of Teal, and a Sora, Shoveler, Gadwall, Wigeon.
2-3 migrant Monarch seen over the day, and back at SR in the
p.m. there were 2 Barn Owl, 2 Poor-will, Scott's Oriole, Ruby-
throated Hummingbird, and a local breeder adult Cooper's Hawk.
April 23 ~ Today was a Nature Quest trip to Lost Maples and Kerr WMA.
In town from the cafe at early-thirty I saw my FOS Lesser Nighthawk,
and we heard a Couch's Kingbird calling. At Lost Maples we
had good looks at Golden-cheeked Warblers, my FOS Acadian Flycatcher,
and the best bird was a migrant Swamp Sparrow seen well by almost all.
I had a two second look at a Zone-tailed Hawk, and Dwayne and Marj
Longenbaugh saw a male Lazuli Bunting at the feeding station,
but we didn't see Green Kingfisher. The butterflies and flowers
were great though. We saw about 7 Red-spotted Purple and my
FOS local Arizona Sister finally, plus lots of Two-tailed and Spicebush
West of Hunt on the way to Kerr WMA in the afternoon I must say the
consistent dependable presence of European Starling at the Stonehenge
stop really makes for good ambiance.
At Kerr WMA almost all of us got good if not brief looks at a male
Black-capped Vireo as it moved around singing. We heard several.
The real story there was Bluebonnets as far as you could see, acres and
acres, the entire understory was Lupine. Uncharacteristically,
there were so many you could smell them, the air perfumed sweetly
beyond belief. Of the 10 springs I've birded in the hill country I've
never seen it like this with wildflowers. Absolutely mind-blowing.
Was the wet winter the main difference? We needed a good seeding
event after two years of drought! Saved by El Nino, the warming
of water in the Eastern Pacific. We are all connected.
Weird was a fem. Northern Harrier southbound low over SR just before dusk.
Another FOS was had at home late at dusk over SR, a Common Nighthawk.
So with the Lesser this morning in town, and the calling Poor-will
and Chuck-wills-widow this eve, a FOUR species of goatsucker slam
at Utopia today, three from the porch. I guess it should be
noted most years my FOS Lesser is on Main St. near the cafe before
sunup, while meeting birders.
April 22 ~ Nature Quest began and today I led a trip that visited
Chalk Bluff in the NW corner of Uvalde Co., in very heavy drizzle for
the morning, then Cook's Slough and the fish hatchery in the p.m..
At Chalk Bluff there is great habitat, but it is $8 per person
to go in under normal circumstances. And on weekends it is
often a zoo from spring to fall, all week in summer. It is good for
some south Texas brush country species in thorn-scrub, adjacent to
riparian corridor species, so diversity is great. We all saw
Grasshopper Sparrows in the scope singing (thanks again to Dwayne
Longenbaugh), and Couch's Kingbird was there, but conditions were tough
and few migrants besides Nashville Warblers were there. There were
probably returned breeders like my FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee, Orchard Oriole,
Yellow throated Warbler and Vireo, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Pyrrhuloxia
Black-throated Sparrow, and heard Cassin's Sparrow.
It quit drizzling by time we dropped altitude and did the hatchery
where the best birds were Merlin, Long-billed Curlew, Semipalmated Plover,
6+ Baird's Sandpiper, 15 Ring-billed Gull, a White-faced Ibis, and a
beautiful breeding plumaged Eared Grebe, likely all knocked down by the
weather. There were very few birds out by the heat of the afternoon
at the slough, 4 Ruddy Ducks are getting late (3 were at the hatchery too).
The butterflies and flowers were good to great, the diversity of leps
low, but numbers were impressive. A few Western Pygmy-Blue and
several Common Sootywing were seen. A few odes (dragonflies) were out,
one probably Sulphur-tipped Clubtail, I got pix of. Heard House Wren.
Amazingly when totalled up everything I saw and heard was 105 species
of birds for the trip in three stops, 8 hours roughly, almost nothing new
the last 2 hrs.. I think had I gone to say Concan, I could have seen
maybe 10 or more species if lucky? So 125 or more is possible in
a day in the county, if you had a great migrant fallout day.
Kathy had our FOS local (Utopia) Painted Bunting in the yard today
which hanging on a feeder makes it seem the returning yard Alpha male.
April 21 ~ Finally a FOS Blue Grosbeak here at SR. A Scissor-tailed
Flycatcher stopped and called for a bit from a live-oak perch out back.
I heard a bunting call but didn't see it. There are still 20
Chipping Sparrow and 2 Spotted Towhee here at the seed. Some
hawks went over northbound including one group of 28 Swainson's that
had one dark morph (chocolate) bird amongst them. Also there was
one Sharp-shinned, 2 Cooper's, and 1 (migrant) Red-tailed Hawk.
April 20 ~ Counted 60 Blue-eyed Grass (the Iris) flowers in yard,
and I see some Straggler Daisy starting, but new were a couple
Cut-leaf Gilia I've never seen here before. 4-5 Chuck-wills-widow
were calling in the evening, as was E. Screech-Owl, and a Barn Owl.
Question Mark butterfly was nectaring on Slender-stem Bitterweed,
and a Common Buckeye was on the Texas Onion.
April 19 ~ Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Kestrel passed SR northbound.
At UP there was Green Kingfisher, 2 Blue Jay, Black Phoebe,
1 Spotted Sandpiper, 2 Myrtle and 1 Orange-crowned Warbler, plus
an 8-spotted Forester moth, even prettier than yesterday's Disparate.
April 18 ~ A neat fancy moth was a Disparate Forester, a FOS at SR.
What looked like a Buckeye (lep) shot across the yard, they need a
good year after two bad ones. Best birds were a flock of 9
Franklin's Gull over SR, one very low and close. Yellow
Ground-Cherry now blooming, and Eastern Screech-Owl calling.
April 17 ~ we had a bit of sprinkles in the a.m., but no real
showers after early a.m. so I checked a few spots around town
again to see what was about. Last night at about 11 p.m.
there were decent numbers of passerine migrants giving flight
notes below the cloud deck, but still passing northbound.
They could not have been using stars, but were clearly all
northbound. I heard a dozen in 10 mintues, of 4 species.
Whether they were coming down, ending a flight, or leaving and
were going to climb up through the clouds, I don't know.
At the park there were a few warblers including my record early
FOS Tennessee Warbler, a couple Nashville, several Myrtle (an
ad. male in gorgeous breeding plumage), an Orange-crowned Warbler,
and non-migrants, the nesting Yellow-throated Warblers.
Finally saw FOS Indigo Bunting (2), still a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
and between the park and town must have seen 5-6 Blue Jay.
There were some Cliff Swallows around the 1050 bridge, but
surely their nests were lost. At the north end of town
there was a FOS Western Kingbird, and at the county-line road
flood pond there was an FOS Spotted Sandpiper and 4 Blue-winged
Teal, the Green-wings gone. A Yellow-headed Blackbird was
on the Senior Center. At Jones Cemetary there was Vesper,
Lark, several Savannah, and a Grasshopper Sparrow, another Western
Kingbird, and a FOS Common Yellowthroat. Out at the buffalo
wallows on S. Little Creek Rd. there were a couple male Shoveller
that weren't there yesterday, but only 1 Am. Wigeon, 1 Coot, but
4 Blue-winged Teal and 4 Gadwall, so things changed overnight.
Also a Solitary Sandpiper was there.
The real neat thing there and at the little wallow a half-mile
south was over a half-dozen Band-winged Dragonlets just emerged,
after a couple years with nothing here due to drought, that is
great to see again. A FOS Northern Rough-winged Swallow
was along Little Creek, probably wondering where the bank was
that had its nest. A complete re-arranging over there
from the major rain of Thursday the 15th. Forgot to mention
a Belted Kingfisher was at the UP. You won't recognize
the area below the dam on the other (west) side of the river,
at the park, scraped clean of 8 years of understory regrowth,
it is a new habitat. A couple other odds and ends were a
FOS Bronzed Cowbird in town, and a Bullock's Oriole at Jones Cemetary.
One male and 5 female Great-tailed Grackle at the Senior Center.
Migrant Turkey and Black Vultures as well as some hawks passed
over northbound again today. A couple Broad-winged, maybe
50 Swainson's Hawks, several migrant Red-tailed and Red-shouldered
Hawks, a Sharp-shinned, couple Cooper's, and still more Kestrel. A
post to Texbirds said yesterday 2000 Broad-winged Hawks went over Concan.
I also saw 2 more migrant Monarchs today about town. At SR
there were 3 Pine Siskin and 2 Spotted Towhee continue. Saw a FOS
summer form Question Mark today, and Giant and Two-tailed Swallowtail.
At UP was my FOS Blue-ringed Dancer (damselfly) finally, and at the
S. Little Creek wallows were a few FOS Red Saddlebags up here, besides
a hundred Variegated Meadowhawk and some Green Darner.
April 16 ~ Only a little bit of spittin' left today for rain, and
just as well since soil is saturated and it's all runoff now.
If you'll recall I have said it before and at the risk of being
redundant, bad weather equals good birds. Migrants are
knocked down that would otherwise procede un-impeded. Birders
hope for bad weather as it is good for them, but not neccessarily
Around town today first up on county line road just east of the
bridge there was a well-flooded field. It had a pair each
of Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, one Killdeer, and best was
11 FOS male Yellow-headed Blackbird, amongst too many Cowbirds.
A FOS Cassin's Sparrow was skylarking from mesquites there too.
Bell's Vireo was singing over in the mesquite by the storage spaces.
County line bridge still had 8" of water running over it at noon.
Then out at the Little Creek buffalo wallows there were 3 Gadwall,
5 American Wigeon, 6 Blue-winged Teal, and 3 American Coot.
The Little Creek Crossing of N.Thunder Creek Rd. looked like
water was 6' or more over the bridge at peak. A couple
Broad-winged Hawks were in the area there, in Bandera County.
A pair of Great tailed Grackle were around the stables at the
end of Lee St.. Several Common Grackle, 4 Blue Jay in town.
For Seco Ridge (SR) here there was a decent movement of raptors and such
today from noon-thirty on, with some groups still passing northbound
after 7 p.m.. I could only go peek and check every so
often but small numbers seemed to be trickling north all day.
There were at least a couple or few hundred Turkey Vultures
(not a raptor), about 30 Swainson's Hawks, an amazing 12 Kestrel, Red-tail,
Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawk, and a mind-blowing 50 plus FOS
Broad-winged Hawk. I've only seen a dozen or so in 6.5 years here.
Hundreds of hummingbirds have been swarming the feeders due to
the rain and lack of other food opportunities, most of them
Black-chinned of course, but a fair number of male and some
female Ruby-throated are present. One Pine Siskin, 22 Waxwing.
One Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through yard.
Storm total from Tuesday to Friday is about NINE INCHES of rain!
The down side was the Black Phoebes that were nesting under both
the 1050 and Co. Line (356) bridges lost their nests, as did the
20 pairs of Cliff Swallows that were under 1050. If the water
didn't come up till after dark, we may have lost the swallows too.
I didn't see any around as should have been. I suspect the
Cave Swallows in the culvert 5 miles west out 1050 by the
Bear Creek pond (which also had an Eastern Phoebe nest) were wiped
out as well. It was just too much water too fast, especially
that last deluge after dark about 9 p.m.. One of the cells that
went over us in the day yesterday dropped 4" in 3 hours at Pearsall.
April 15 ~ Well whooda thunk on this day we get flooded? Any
significance to that? :) It rained pretty steady and hard
at times, all day. Total was about SEVEN INCHES !!! The ground
outside is not the same. At some point water was going
way over (a couple/few feet) the 1050 bridge just west of town and
below the park, and the county-line bridge was over-run too.
April 14 ~ about 1.5" of rain, a Field Sparrow among the 25-30
Chipping still here, 2 Spottd Towhee still, and another Kestrel
passed over northbound. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed by
the yard as well as a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
April 13 ~ Another drizzle day like yesterday and tomorrow and the
day after that. A Zone-tailed Hawk soared over SR in the a.m..
Just after 2 p.m. a group of 3 FOS FRANKLIN'S Gulls flew over in the
drizzle! One Pine Siskin & about 30 Chipping Sparrow still.
Common Ground-Dove is still about, as are the regular Doves: Inca
Mourning, White-winged, and Eurasian Collared-Dove.
April 12 ~ The first positive female Ruby-throated Hummingbird of
the spring I saw today at the feeders, actually a couple of them.
Also an Audubon's Warbler was about for over an hour.
April 11 ~ Still two Spotted Towhees here at the seed. Drizzly
all day, best bird Kathy had at a hummer feeder, a male Bullock's Oriole.
This is weeks earlier than we've ever had one up here. We took a
quick look at the park, but not much moving there. One Myrtle Warbler
a Ruby-crowned Kinglet was singing, a couple White-eyed Vireo, several
Lincoln's Sparrow, a Summer Tanager was singing. No Pied-billed Grebe.
April 10 ~ Went to Lost Maples mid-morning to mid-afternoon for a
walk up the Can Creek trail past the ponds. There were a
couple Scissor-tailed Flycatcher just north of town, but darn few
are up here yet, still. At the HQ building at Lost Maples
there was a Tarantula that appeared to have been kicked, HARD,
as to have damaged a couple legs and who knows what internally.
It was still, not moving, and didn't look good. Thanks ya
citiots! You go to a State Natual Area to kill the animals?
It was the first one I've seen there, apparently dying from
human interaction, and completely needlessly, without reason.
It could have easily been moved without hurting, damaging,
or possibly killing it. Do nature a favor and stay in the city.
As if that wasn't bad enough, we saw a sign at the pond that
said "NO Bikes past this point". Which I presume
means they have changed the rules and are going to allow mountain
bikes on the trail to the pond. Which last time I checked bikes
were vehicles, and the loose rocky trail is not whatsoever a vehicle
path, but a pedestrian hiking trail. Bicycle tires on it will
be so loud as to nearly ensure you won't be able to hear birds.
What a great idea from the state to run vehicles through endangered
species nesting grounds. In California where this has all
played out a long time ago, I can can tell you hikers and bikers
do not mix. There will be accidents, injuries, and lawsuits.
Pedestrians will be hit. Bikers like going downhill fast, have
no braking control on this type of loose rock substrate the trail is,
and expect everyone to just get the hell out of their way.
The natural experience of listening to the birds, some endangered
species, will no longer exist. The person that thought this up is
a mental midget that does not care about the experience of the majority
of park users, but of that of a special interest group they probably
belong to, whose presence will diminish the experience of all other
types of users there due to the noise pollution alone, no different
than boomboxes. Locally there are hundreds of miles of roads
for bikers. There are only a few miles of pedestrian hiking trails
open to the public. Now they will have vehicular traffic.
TPWD sees Lost Maples as its cash cow, and exploits, er, manages it,
for maximum cash extraction, not what is was saved for and given to
the state for, PROTECTION. It is not natural to have a bunch
of vehicles going up and down the trail.
Now let me get down off my soapbox and recount a little of what
nature we saw there. Since our last visit a month ago, it
turned green, with most trees leafing out, or starting to.
The flowers were the big show, very spectacular, a great display
from the fall and winter rains. There were very very few
odes (dragonflies) about, a female Common Whitetail, and a gomphid
that looked like a Clubtail that just after emerging flew to the
wrong place and was taken by a jumping spider a 10th its size.
Photographed some type of bumblebee sphinx moth as well. One of
the neatest things we saw was a Snapping Turtle in the pond.
I've seen one across the divide at Big Springs, but this is my
Heard about 8-10 Golden-cheeked Warbler and one Black-capped Vireo.
There were a few Louisiana Waterthrush singing, and over a dozen
Black-and-white Warbler, one Yellow-throated Warbler, which will
sing a while and depart. For migrant warblers there were
a several each Nashville and Orange-crowned, and 1-2 Myrtle, so
7 species of warblers all together. A pair of Red-shouldered
Hawks seem to be nesting again, and they probably run off any
small buteo that shows up. Only a few Summer Tanager
were back, no females yet, but about 6 Hutton's Vireos were heard.
Other things not back yet are Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Wood-Pewee,
Acadian Flycatcher (of course), and while White-eyed Vireo was
in fair numbers, only a half-dozen Yellow-throated were about.
Heard a couple Bushtit, numbers of Ash-throated Flycatcher.
In the bird notebook there were reports of Scott's and Hooded
Orioles, Lazuli Bunting and a Blue Grosbeak. Go enjoy the trails
while you can without constantly listening to vehicle wheels on it,
while you can still hear the birds, and not have to constantly be
watching to jump out of some idiots way.
A Solitary Sandpiper was an FOS up here, in the river at Vanderpool.
After dark I heard the FOS Barking Frog out back, here on SR.
April 9 ~ Today's stonker was out the office window in the a.m.,
a stunning male LAZULI Bunting! Another nice cool a.m. in
the upper 30's was nice. Northern Cloudywing and Dun Skipper
still about. Perhaps 35 Chipping Sparrow left. Heard an
Eastern Screech-Owl after dark.
April 8 ~ A cool 39 deg.F or so in the a.m. felt nice.
Saw two FOS skippers (butterflies) Dun and Sachem, the latter
likely the one I thought I saw yesterday. Also had a
quick pass of what looked like a Buckeye. And saw a
Gray Hairstreak, several Olive Juniper Hairstreak, Horace's
and Funereal Duskywings, a few Two-tailed Swallowtail, Red
Satyr, and the more common stuff. A few male Ruby-throated
Hummingbirds are at the feeders now, and surely a hundred plus
Black-chinned are present. Twenty species of blooming
wildflowers in the yard now. One Pine Siskin, 25 Waxwing.
April 7 ~ After a frontal passage I stopped in town during errands,
and at UP saw an amazingly record early for here locally CATBIRD.
There was one Pied-billed Grebe left, down from up to 4 over winter.
Also my FOS Summer Tanager was singing, as was Yellow-throated Vireo,
so it is really starting to sound like spring and summer down there.
Regulars like Blue Jay, Black Phoebe and Green Kingfisher were seen.
Probably had a Sachem blast by here at SR, and finally saw my
FOS Giant Swallowtail locally here too. Drummond's Skullcap
and Annual Pennyroyal now really starting to bloom as is Yellow
Wood-Sorrel and lots of the white form of Pink Evening Primrose
(50-100 in yard).
April 6 ~ A very orange female Hooded Oriole has showed up so 2
females of them here now, and later in the morning I watched two
male Hoodeds fight falling to the ground, just a flurry of orange
and black feathers, squawking, squeaking, it was amazing.
So 4 Hooded, 4 Scott's now so far. Hermit Thrush bathed at dusk.
The April migrants have an olive tone to the brown back, look just
gray flanked and of decent size. A Ground-Dove was my FOS locally.
April 5 ~ As the overcast broke a few raptors got up and moved over.
A migrant Red-shouldered was escorted away by the resident pair, male
Northern Harrier, TWO Osprey, a migrant Monarch. A few Cliff Swallow
were at the 1050 bridge. I can't believe the height of the
Blue-eyed Grass this year!! Some must be 15-16" tall!!!
Last year all I saw was 4-6". Lots of Blue Gilia going,
Blackfoot Daisy, Slender-stem Bitterweed also has 16" scapes with
flowers so big they're falling over. What a difference some
rain makes. The Deer Pea Vetch is finishing up, it was great,
and the Texas Garlic is starting to get going. A female
Great-tailed Grackle was seen in town.
April 4 ~ At SR there was Nashville Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
that passed through the yard in the a.m., migrants. Around town
there were finally 3+ FOS Clay-colored Sparrow near the storage spaces,
a Ruby-crowned Kinglet at UP, and an Orange-crowned and a Myrtle
Warbler at the Library. Two migrant Monarchs were seen, one in town
and one here on SR. The bird of the day was a first spring male
(or AHY - after hatch year) Golden-cheeked Warbler that came down to
the bath, twice, but was scared off both times. I never see them
away from the breeding territory in spring, only as post-breeding
wanderers in June and July. For instance I've never seen one
at Utopia Park where I've seen over 200 species. Almost forgot
in town saw a male Great-tailed and 10 Common Grackle (a few female).
April 3 ~ Down at UP near dusk sure enough Chimney Swift came in to
drink, surely what I heard yesterday, but I call it FOS today.
Great views of Mercury lower right of Venus (west) just near dark.
Blue Gilia blooming now. An FOS dragonfly was Wandering Glider.
April 2 ~ Thought sure I heard Chimney Swift while driving down Main St.
in town, but didn't see them. If it wasn't a FOS I would call it.
Did see some other FOS's around town though. Three Scissor-tailed
Flycatchers finally made it up here, a FOS Bell's Vireo sang in the
mesquite behind the storage space place, and 3 Grasshopper Sparrow (FOS)
were down that road too, with a couple more elsewhere, including one
in the yard here on SR. Out west of town on 1050 near the pond
the Cave Swallows (FOS) were back at their culvert, I counted 11.
Butterflies are getting better with several Two-tailed and Eastern
Tiger Swallowtail, Northern Cloudywing, Nysa Roadside-Skipper, Lyside
Sulphur. At one point when I had the 3 Grasshopper Sparrows,
right there right then there were also Savannah, Lark, Vesper, Field
and Lincoln's Sparrows. It was like looking at a field guide plate.
April 1 ~ No foolin', April? Northern Cloudywing butterfly
was about the yard, as was a migrant Monarch, and Eastern Tiger
March totalled 20 species of butterflies, double February's 10, and
a great increase from January's 5, but only half as many as several
prior March totals, reflecting the long cold winter, and two years
of drought before that. Hopefully with the rains and what
is seeming to be the start of a great wildflower season, the ones
that made it will have a good breeding season, they sure need it
as numbers were already much reduced last season.
I seemed to have missed the late March Swainson's Hawks this year.
Tom Collins had some over in Center Point on that big rain system
about the 24th or so.... and Rhandy Helton had them in Junction
the end of March, but I missed an early date on them here this year.
March 31 ~ Topped yesterdays 80deg.F by a couple degrees today, and
without humidity (<20%) it was quite nice. Two-tailed and
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails about. NO Junco or Orange-crowned
Warbler today! Methinks they left last night. A couple
Pine Siskin and a dozen Cedar Waxwing were around. I got a
positive ID on a Horace's Duskywing. Supporting my long held
theory that "the bird of the day always gets away" there was a warbler
about the yard briefly which only gave flight notes unfortunately,
but what I saw of it I can only imagine it was a Northern Parula.
Which would have been a yard bird had I got a positive ID on it.
The planet Mercury is showing very well just below right of Venus.
March 30 ~ The Oriolefest has begun again, with 4 Scott's, 2 Hooded,
and 2 Audubon's Orioles in the yard at once. Audubon's waits
for Scott's to leave feeder, but they'll disappear any day now until
they come back with a juvenile in June. The Lark Sparrow is
still here as was the Orange-crowned Warbler. There were
several Two-tailed Swallowtail, the Nysa Roadside-Skipper and Red
Satyr were both still about too. A FOS was a small metallic green
Halichtid (bee). The highlight of the day was refinding the
Snakefly (Raphidiidae) in the office, and getting a couple pix before
it was released outside. A lovely female, she was quite the beauty.
March 29 ~ Roadrunner bill clacking for the first time this season.
A second female Scott's Oriole (AHY) arrived, 2 males, 2 females back.
One (pale male) Slate-colored Junco remains, and about 65 Chipping Sparrow.
A couple FOS butterflies were a Nysa Roadside-Skipper and a worn migrant
Painted Lady. The two Poor-wills again called after dark.
The Agarita (Texas Holly) is all but over and done blooming,
while Redbud has passed peak, but still looks pretty good.
A Lincoln's Sparrow bathed at SR, a migrant here, and still no
Clay-colored Sparrow yet. At UP there was a migrant Hermit Thrush.
Had a FOS Bombyliad today.
March 28 ~ This a.m. here at SR there were two male and one female
Scott's Oriole, a male Hooded, and by 10 a.m. the FOS female
Hooded appeared. Let the oriole show begin! Audubon's was
around too, so 3 species of orioles in the yard at once.
The Audubon's will quickly disappear, as soon as caterpillars get
going again. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed by, but it
was pretty windy so we worked, saving it for a calmer day.
A Common Checkered-Skipper was about as was an Erynnis Duskywing.
An FOS Red Satyr flopped by the office window about noonish.
Still a evenly pale gray male Slate-colored Junco about, and the
wintering Orange-crowned Warbler continues to fatten up on peanut butter.
Might be in the upper 30's tonight if the wind stops blowing.
The big FOS of the day was at 10:30 p.m. when two POOR-WILL
were calling, finally. The last six years the first detections
were in February, so nothing until late March had me worried.
Did they really hibernate a month plus longer this year?
March 27 ~ A Uvalde run day. The wildflowers down Hwy. 187
from Clayton Grade to past the D'Hanis cutoff are spectacular
along the roadside, probably the seed slurry mostly, but
outstanding and beautiful right now due to the good rains.
Once we bottomed out on the flatlands of the brush country
near Sabinal we saw our FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.  They
still aren't up on the hill yet. None of the way down, in the
valley, or on the way back. We saw a dozen at least from Sabinal
Still a few Western Meadowlarks, and Loggerhead Shrike, seems like
the wintering Red-tailed Hawks are gone, and just residents around.
Several Caracara. Only did one real stop since the gate
at Cooks' Slough was locked at noon. Ft. Inge had an outstanding
wildflower show going though. We watched a pair of Green Jay
there for a bit, and saw Green Kingfisher, Great Kiskadee, Long-
billed Thrasher, Couch's Kingbird, Verdin, Cactus Wren, and a few
Myrtle Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and White-eyed Vireo, one
Orange-crowned Warbler, few Lincoln's Sparrow, 1 pr. Gadwall,
N. Cardinal, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Pyrrhuloxia, Black-crested
Titmouse, some White-crowned Sparrows. Awesome wildflowers.
At Wally's World from the parking lot I saw my FOS Swainson's Hawk.
The best FOS's of the day though were at the hummer feeders this
a.m. before we left around 9 a.m., SCOTT's and HOODED Orioles are back!
At least two male Scott's, what looks like alpha male, and a not-
as-bright dull yellow full adult plumaged male, probably alpha
female Scott's too, and at least one male Hooded, so 4 new orioles
returned at the feeders this a.m.! I sure didn't see them
yesterday afternoon. The Scott's were singing a bit, and
one took a long double bath, which you essentially never see
them do, watching them every day for over 6 months they are here.
March 26 ~ One Slate-colored Junco was still about, black-face,
a lighter gray male with a black face, chin and throat. Two
Audubon's Orioles, and still no Scott's or Hooded back yet.
At least 11 of the white primrose blooming in the front. The
best bird of the day was my first local Raphididae, a Snake-fly,
on the INSIDE of an office window, gone and un-relocated when I
returned with camera!*&(*$! Black,just over an inch long.
Eastern Tiger and Two-tailed Swallowtail flew through the yard,
besides the now numerous Pipevines, and several Black Swallowtail
A Gray Hairsterak passed by as well. Lark Sparrow here was
the first local spring returnee I've seen. Still at least
2 male and 1 female Spotted Towhee here at the seed. There
were at least a half-dozen bats overhead at dusk. Been seeing
a few and it has looked like some were back at the Concan cave from
studying NOAA radar loop images at dusk.
March 25 ~ I heard a bar from a FOS Yellow-throated Vireo at UP.
Otherwise just the Myrtle Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.
Couple each Blue Jay and Black Phoebe, 3 Pied-billed Grebe still and
my first local Green Darner dragonfly of the year, ovipositing (ph).
A Swallowtail, probably two-tailed made several quick landings on
a hummer feeder while I was right there. Also saw a couple
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (FOS) going to and in town. I saw
what seemed to have surely been a Cabbage White, which is accidental
here at best. I got good looks in my binocs as it nectared
in the fields of bladderpod and bluebonnets at the north end of town.
Back here at SR there was a FOS un-ID'd Skipperling on Bitterweed.
The male Vermilion is again on territory by the horse trainers.
March 24 ~ drizzle in the a.m. as a cold front approaches.
A FOS Nashville Warbler sang out front in the draw for an hour,
and at 3:45 p.m. a male Black-throated Green Warbler was in the
now leafless live-oak, then the junipers. A serious
squall line went over late in the p.m., with a half inch of rain.
March 23 ~ Two FOS's flew over SR today, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
and two male Great-tailed Grackle. Also there Audubon's Oriole
was singing, 45 Cedar Waxwing, 2 Slate-colored Junco, 4 Spotted Towhee
at once was the best count all winter, Hutton's Vireo was singing.
A flower bloomed that looked like the white form of Evening
Primrose, which does occur in nearby Real County.
March 22 ~ Barely froze in town, again about 33 dF on SR.
4 Audubon's Orioles came in in the cold morning. Another
Ash-throated Flycatcher calling on the knoll, a Two-tailed
Swallowtail floated past, a couple Baskettail dragonflies about.
A male Vermilion Flycatcher has taken back to its territory a
half mile down SR before 2nd loop at the horse place. At
UP there were about 10 Myrtle Warbler and 2+ Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Roadrunner cooing (singing), first I've heard this year. It's
that sound like a wimpering or moaning dog. Photo'd the first
Green Darner (dragonfly) I've seen locally this year, a pair ovipositing.
March 21 ~ It froze this a.m. in town, but about 33 up here on SR.
First female Brown-headed Cowbird I've seen this year in yard.
8 Pine Siskin, and Deer Pea Vetch starting to bloom well.
March 20 ~ First day of Spring! But it doesn't feel like it!
A front blew in before dawn, maybe a half-inch or so of rain with it.
Too windy to do anything outside, 20 + gusts to 40 (!), and chilly,
with a freeze forecast for tonight and tomorrow night!
March 19 ~ 1 Pink-sided Junco and maybe down to two Slate-colored
on the Juncos. Sure been nice having them around this winter.
5 Sandhill Crane flew over SR late in the p.m.. A Barn Owl flew
over northbound at about 10 p.m..
March 18 ~ FOS Ash-throated Flycatcher, 4 Audubon's Oriole at SR.
A Northern Harrier lifted off with 10 Turkey Vulture and rose to
migrating altitude before heading off northbound.
March 17 ~ Happy Paddy Day! A Two-tailed Swallowtail flew
by here on SR. Juncos remain the same. 6 Pine Siskin,
11 Cedar Waxwing, 2 Audubon's Oriole, 60 Chipping Sparrow, and
at least 2 of the 3 Spotted Towhee that wintered continue.
March 16 ~ from late on the 15th and overnight we had an inch
of rain, a lot of it in just an hour or so. No Oregon Junco
today, but 1 Pink-side and maybe only 3 Slate-colored left.
Live-Oak is raining yellow leaves, perhaps 40% fell in 2 days.
March 15 ~ Heard the first Turkey gobbling this a.m., for a sign
of spring in the air. Gray Vervain and Mountain Laurel opened
flowers. There were a few Slate-colored Junco, 1 Oregon and
1 Pink-sided still here, and a couple Audubon's Orioles too.
March 14 ~ A post on Texbirds mentioned at Garner St. Pk. on this
date 2 Yellow-throated Warblers, as well as 4 Golden-cheeked Warbler
and 5 Hutton's Vireo. Here at SR, the Prairie Fleabane flower has
finally opened, and the yellow Live-Oak leaves are starting to drop.
March 13 ~ Another Ruby-crowned Kinglet passed through yard,
and down in town there were FOS Barn Swallows, perhaps 4 or so.
We went to Lost Maples to see what the state of spring was there.
We went 2 miles up the Can Creek trail to the last permanent water.
It's still winter. Well barely spring. Most deciduous trees
are just starting to bud, if that. Many show virtually no
signs yet, like Lacey Oak and Sycamore, a few Maples were barely
beginning to flower, the Buckley Oaks are just budding leafs.
The Redbud is just starting to flower, whereas back in Utopia
at 1350' instead of 1800-2000' it is really going. I heard
two Golden-cheeked Warblers, we saw one male Black-and-white
Tree-Creeper (Warbler) singing closely, what a cool bird they are.
Two Hutton's Vireo were singing, as were Canyon Wren and Rufous-
crowned Sparrow, 1 White-eyed Vireo, a pair of Common Raven,
1 Scrub Jay, a couple Lincoln's Sparrow, and a pair of Black
Phoebe at the pond. We did not see Green Kingfisher,
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Zone-tailed
Hawk, Louisiana Waterthrush, though the Kingfisher had been
seen yesterday. There were about 3 Spotted Towhee,
one doing some quiet singing (sub-song), a few Pine Siskin.
There were an amazing number of Anemone flowers, I believe
Wind-flower is the one. But little was going in that
regard, some Dakota Verbena just opening, a few of the Agarita
(Texas Holly) were going good but nothing like around Utopia
500+' lower. Butterflies were good though with about
3 Two-tailed Swallowtail, a few Black and one Pipevine
Swallowtail, one Falcate Orange-tip, a dozen fresh bright
Olive Juniper Hairstreak, a couple Questionmark, a dozen
Orange Sulphur, a few Sleepy Orange and Dogface, one Common
Checkered-Skipper, 10 Erynnis Duskywing likely Juvenal's
but some could be Horace's, one Gulf Fritillary, 5 Red Admiral.
We saw 10 species of butterflies in a few hours, as many as I
recorded in all of February, but these mostly fresh, not last
years beat worn leftovers.
Kathy spotted an Anole at the spring 2/3 mi. past the ponds.
It was 8 deg.F this winter in Utopia, I don't know how they
make it through the winter. That permanent waterhole there
had Mexican Tetra (Astyanax), Long-nosed Dace (Rhinichthys), and
Notropis Shiners I think may be Sand. For Odes we saw one
Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata) and a Zygop that
got away un-ID'd (damselfly). Overall still winter.
OK, not quite, more like very very early spring, as all the
the hominids (people) there indicate, actually a very high number
of them seemed to be out. Cabin fever I guess.
Back at the hovel in the dirt road 60 yards away at the
low-spot mud puddle in the caliche (limestone) a Henric's Elfin
flushed again as we pulled in, and on some feces a neighbor's
(100 yards away) dog deposited was a Goatweed Leafwing. Still
a Pink-sided Junco, one Oregon, a few Slate-colored but
departures are taking place. The Chipping Sparrow flock
is probably 50-60, half of just two or three weeks ago.
The Crow-poison (a lily) is blooming now and I wonder if that
is why we don't have Crows here? :) The first
Prairie Fleabane is almost all the way open, maybe tomorrow.
March 12 ~ A few migrants passed through the yard today,
including the FOS White-eyed Vireo, a couple Myrtle Warbler,
and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Only one Slender-stemmed
Bitterweed flower open, so its very popular with the
Variegated Fritillary, a few Parallena are open.
March 11 ~ Kathy saw a big yellow Swallowtail here at SR,
I presume Two-tailed. At least a half-dozen male Black-
chinned Hummingbirds and a couple or few females about now.
Down in town at the park on the river the Bald Cypress are
flowering now. Still no Barn Swallow, barely a Martin.
March 10 ~ Here at the SR hovel still 2 each Oregon and
Pink-sided Junco, and 5 Slate-colored, 6 Pine Siskin,
and 3 Audubon's Oriole. Roy Heideman e-mailed me and
mentioned he had an Acorn Woodpecker at his place in mid-Feb..
It is believed there is still extant a relict population nearby,
by the most knowlegeable naturalist in the central hill country.
All the land is private and so finding one from the roads is
difficult at best. Of course one here could have been a
vagrant from a more distant source, and without excellent
pictures, tape recordings, etc., we can't speculate as to this
individuals origins. It is my most- (only) wanted central
Texas species; if you see one, please call collect (local# 2349).
March 9 ~ Sure enough 3 male Black-chinned Hummingbird
in the a.m., and 5+ by the p.m., and the FOS FEMALE.
A FOS Dung Scarab here at SR, a black velvet ant, and
another Northern Cloudywing (lep) in the yard. In
the afternoon I had to run to town and stopped at the park
where I saw my first dragonflies of the year, finally!
5 Epitheca Baskettails, and 1 Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna
janata) were a treat. Also there was a teneral Zygop
(damselfly) which you have to be an expert to ID when they
just emerged since they are all the same color at first.
Another FOS there was a skink (lizard), and there were
about 2 doz. Blanchard's Cricket Frog. In the p.m.
back at SR there were FOS Goatweed Leafwing, 3 Henric's Elfin,
and a couple Dogface flew by. The Redbud is starting
to bloom just barely, and some of the Agarita (Texas Holly)
is really going now. Like elsewhere it seems the
wintering passerines are leaving in droves with far fewer
Myrtle Warblers about.
March 8 ~ Today's big FOS was Black-chinned Hummingbird,
one male in the a.m., and 2 by the p.m.. In 7 years
of local data this is the latest arrival date I have for them.
A male Brown-headed Cowbird was in the yard, the first here
for the year, though we had one a couple weeks ago a couple
miles south of town. Hutton's Vireo was singing,
a Slender-stem Bitterweed popped a flower open, and another
I think is Whitlow-Grass bloomed too. Lots of Dutchman's
Breeches are starting to open, and the Agarita (Texas Holly)
is starting to bloom as well. Tony Gallucci had the
first Golden-cheeked Warbler I heard of this spring near Hunt.
March 6 ~ A Uvalde supply run day.... and clearly things
are departing from the lower altitude brush country as there
were far fewer Shrikes, Red-tailed Hawks, Meadowlarks (Western)
along the road. At the ponds a mile west of Sabinal
on the cutoff there were 8 Shoveller, a male Cinnamon Teal,
and on the return trip near the ponds there was a beautiful pale
female richardsoni Prairie Merlin. Here at Utopia on
the way out of town near Waresville we saw the FOS Vermilion
Flycatcher I've seen locally this year.
At Ft. Inge there was a Green Jay, Green Kingfisher, Kiskadee, Olive
Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Couch's Kingbird, but many of
the wintering passerines have departed. A few (so new)
migrant White-eyed Vireo were there. At Cook's Slough
there were 10 American White Pelican, a hundred Double-crested
one Neotropic Cormorant, and far fewer passerines as elsewhere,
but a couple that were clearly migrants: a Blue-headed Vireo,
and a male Black-and-white Warbler. Spring is arriving!
We saw no odes though (dragon and damselflies) at either stop.
Saw several Vermilion Flycatcher and a Couch's Kingbird called.
I heard what was surely the Black-tailed Gnatcatcher that
has been there I think a couple months.
March 4 ~ Less than a hundred Chipping Sparrows so departure
has begun for them, but still about 10 Junco including 3 Oregon
and 2 Pink-sided still. Saw a couple Lyside Sulphur again,
2 Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, Black Swallowtail, and probably a
female Dogface blew by. I see 3 Yellow Wood-Sorrel flowers.
March 3 ~ First Lyside Sulphur (lep) of the year, and the first
Cucumber Beetle (Chrysomelid) too.
March 2 ~ I love this FOS stuff the next couple months getting
arrival dates for returning breeders and passage migrants.
Over the years you'll see things will change as the environment
does. Nothin' stays the same but change. Today's
FOS was ZONE-TAILED HAWK, which straffed a Turkey Vulture!
There were a few "TV's" around, and oddly a Golden-fronted
Woodpecker passed over SR southbound. Kathy heard the
Red-shouldered Hawks calling, so display season is here for them.
March 1 ~ A FOS northbound Osprey struggled against the winds over SR
in the afternoon. I saw Judy Schaeffer at the P.O. and she said
there were some Cranes northbound over the dump last Thursday Feb. 25.
She also mentioned Green Jays were back, down at the Sabinal Bird House
near Sabinal, and that someone reported Audubon's Oriole off B & R Rd..
We had 1/2"-3/4" of rain late last night and early this a.m..
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Feb. 28 ~ The first Purple Martin I've seen this year flew over
the hovel on SR in the a.m.. There were 3 Audubon's Orioles
about the yard, and still the Junco flock, Siskins, Waxwings, Robins,
125 Chipping Sparrow, the wintering Orange-crowned Warbler, and
rain is on the way. This next week Golden-cheeked Warblers
start to return and Black-chinned Hummingbirds should be back too,
as should be Barn Swallow, with more to quickly follow! Get your
hummingbird feeders out, cleaned and ready for the new season.
Since Lesser Goldfinch has begun to overwinter here in small numbers
I can no longer tell when the first spring birds return. The last
6 years it was the last week of February 21-26, but now that is
undetectable. Good thing I got some data before this change occurred.
Feb. 27 ~ A brief look in town found 4 Turkey Vulture roosted at
UP, and a glimpse of a FOS damselfly I couldn't refind to ID.
There was a Mockingbird singing, the first of that I've heard
this year. There were a couple FOS butterflies in the
warmth: a Northern Cloudywing, an Olive Juniper Hairstreak,
and about 5 dark swallowtails over the day of which 3 were
Black (which we've had already this year) and two looked like
Pipevines which we haven't had yet this year. Still some
old leftover beat worn (last years') Variegated Fritillary and Snout.
Feb. 26 ~ Early in the a.m. a couple Turkey Vulture flew over
SR, the first at the house this year, and another was about late
in the p.m.. Down in town there were 5 Starlings today!
There are very few places that would be news, I guess that is
why they call it Utopia!
The highlight of the day was having a Collared Peccary (Javelina)
come and feed under the sunflower tube for a few minutes mid-day,
about 1: p.m.. I got a couple ID shots for this new beast
for our yard list, and the first one I've seen up here. Based
on its size and being alone it must have been a boar.
Feb. 25 ~ A sure sign of spring is the FOS Starling singing
in town. It was on top of the star (!) with lights (not on)
on the confier used for a Christmas tree in the park on Main St..
I heard a Purple Martin down in town too.
Feb. 24 ~ One American Goldfinch on the sunflower tube was the
first I've seen in a month or more. At 11 p.m. there was
a flock of White-fronted Goose flying north over SR.
Feb. 21 ~ At SR I heard another Purple Martin high overhead,
they sure seem ecstatic to get back every year. Hutton's
Vireo singing a little. One fresh male Black Swallowtail,
and worn old leftover Snout (2) and a Variegated Fritllary.
Feb. 19 ~ At least four Oregon Juncos in the Junco flock
now, and 2 Pink-sided, plus about 8 Slate-colored of a
couple flavors. Heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet pass
through the yard northbound, probably a spring migrant.
A dozen House Finch now, 6 males. The 3 Spotted Towhee
continue at the seed here, 2 male and 1 female.
Feb. 18 ~ Couple hundred more geese at 10:15 a.m., and you
could set North on your compass by their heading.
A couple hundred Cedar Waxwing were about as well.
At Utopia Park (UP) in the afternoon during a P.O. run
I saw the adult female Black-and-white Warbler again,
a good "still present" date to get. Also
there was a FOS Turkey Vulture! So one is back!
Locally, only Black Vulture winters up here in the hills.
A few TV's usually winter along Hwy. 90, except when it is
real cold like this winter, when they may even bug out of
that rather constant food supply for warmer climes.
Feb. 17 ~ A great show in the a.m. was a few flocks of
White-fronted Goose, from 8 a.m. to 8:15 I counted well
over a thousand, about 1150, in groups of 300+. Who
knows how many flocks I missed before or after. It
is likely lots of them headed north today. They were
about 1000' up above Seco Ridge, but over the west edge
of the valley, and not calling, so if you didn't see them,
you missed it. There was a single flock of about
400 Cedar Waxwings that came in and landed nearby feeding
on Juniper berries. A few dozen Robins were about too.
Feb. 16 ~ 'Twas about 25 deg.F in the a.m.! A female
N. Harrier passed northbound about mid-day at migrant altitude.
Another spring migrant passed over northbound in the dark
at 8:30 p.m., a Greater Yellowlegs called twice.
Still no Turkey Vulture up here.
Feb. 15 ~ probably upper 20's here in the a.m., chills low 20's.
8 Pine Siskin, 7 Lesser Goldfinch continue, no Americans around.
Half dozen House Finch maybe, and as many Cardinal, less than
half the normal Cardinal numbers.
Feb. 14 ~ The best FOS of the day was heard only as usual,
in the early afternoon a Purple Martin somewhere high up
was apparently very happy to get back to Utopia! Last
year my first was Feb. 13.
We made a couple quick stops around town, best was 3 fresh
(new, just emerged) Black Swallowtail! First new fresh
butterflies of the year, others overwintering are worn beat
last season's leftovers.  We also saw a fresh Gulf Fritillary
a fresh American Lady, and 2 fresh Dainty Sulphur, so 4 species
of newly emerged butterflies was a sign of spring coming if
I've ever seen one. There were a few old Snout,
Sleepy Orange and Variegated Fritillary about too, for a
whopping 7 butterfly species day! We had a quick look
at what was probably a Question Mark too. We looked for Elfin
and Olive Juniper Hairstreak, but didn't see either.  The
Redbud doesn't even have signs of buds yet. It warmed
to a toasty 70+ deg.F in the afternoon ahead of the front!
A fairly good check of the shore edge at the pond at the park
yielded ZERO dragon or damselflies yet. The shallows are
shockingly devoid of sunfish, that is the Lepomis such as
Bluegill, Red-breasted and Longear, Bantam, the 'perch' are missing.
I think when the water got low and everything was forced into
a very reduced area, the big bass ate everything. It also
likely affected ode larvae, with them too being concentrated
in the reduced area with all the predators. It will be
interesting to see how things play out this season. Even
Gambusia numbers are very low, and I don't see any wild native
minnows like e.g. Texas Shiner (Notropis amibilis), that should be
present. I'll have to take the raft out for a critical survey,
but from shore it looks like a moonscape compared to the last
6 years. We've had late Jan. and early Feb. odes before,
and there should be two hundred Lepomis sunfish along the shore.
There were the regular wintering birds, but nothing different.
Bluebirds are singing though, and that is nice. The
Great Blue Heron and 4 Pied-billed Grebes continue.
Down at the horse corrals near the 360 crossing a couple
miles south of town there was a flock of Brewer's Blackbirds.
Amongst them was a very early Brown-headed Cowbird, and a
male Common Grackle, the latter two are FOS sightings.
Feb. 13 ~ Note if you'd read to Feb. 6 before (already), stuff
was added from Dunbar Lane in Uvalde that was missing.
Either the 13th or the 14th a Summer Tanager female was
reported from Concan. This is almost surely the bird
reported there in late November, as it is 5 weeks before
migrants show up, and more likely then a wintering bird,
which is exceedingly scarce hereabouts. One also wintered
in San Antonio this year.
Here you can get idea of how cold, windy, and generally
un-birdable it has been.... hiding inside watching birds
isn't such a bad thing to do on cold days anyway....
One interesting thing is the peck order at the peanut feeder.
The Bewick's Wren and Orange-crowned Warbler are the only
two species that will share presence on it. Black-crested
Titmouse chases both of them, and Carolina Wren away, sometimes
with a 10' dive at the feeder with wings in V over back like a
Kite dropping on prey, or Chimney Swifts in rocking display.
Both Bewick's and Carolina Wren pairs mutually feed, with both
members of the pair, one bird hammering away with reckless
abandon, obviously not trying to grab pieces, but rather to create
peanut shrapnel, so as to knock food down to its mate. They
also keep an eye on when the Orioles or Jays are on the feeder,
since they are so messy there will always be lots of free food
falling when they are on it. Even the Orange-crowned Warbler
pays attention and dives in for scraps, scavenging the bigger birds.
The texana Scrub-Jay clears everything out except Audubon's Oriole
which displaces them at will. The Orioles have a peck order
within themselves, each usually patiently waiting for their turn.
Pine Siskin (PISI is the 4 letter code, ironically) can get real
pisi at the feeders sometimes; I've seen them chase the resident
Carolina Chickadee and Titmouse off the sunflower feeder to the
point them going to the other tube feeder.
Feb. 12 ~ Hutton's Vireo, 65 White-winged Dove, 150 Chipping
Sparrow, 8 Pine Siskin, 7 Lesser Goldfinch, 30 Cedar Waxwing,
11 Robin, 4 Inca Dove, 3 Oregon, 1 Pink-sided and 6 Slate-
colored Junco, 1 Field Sparrow, 4 Audubon's Oriole.
Feb. 9-11 ~ cold, barely 40 deg.F for a high, drizzle, and
5 Audubon's Orioles at the sugar water. On the 11th I
saw flowers of Dutchman's Breeches, the 3rd species of flower
I've seen bloom this year.
Feb. 8 ~ Hutton's Vireo about the yard.
Feb. 6 ~ Uvalde area for a few quick stops, best thing we
saw was one Ken Cave. :) Other things of
interest were the first Turkey Vulture I've seen since
early November, probably a spring migrant, as they arrive
around Valentine's Day up in the Utopia area. Another
FOS was a Northern Rough-winged Swallow at the hatchery.
Also there were a couple dozen Ring-necked Ducks and Gadwall,
but most of the waterfowl seems to have departed already.
At Cook's Slough there was a Golden-crowned Kinglet,
which have been scarce this winter. The rest there was
the regular expected suspects, virtually no waterfowl left.
That is a real sign winter is nearing its end. The ducks
follow the melt north, if there is open water, that's all
We checked Dunbar Lane a mile or so west of Uvalde, north off
Hwy. 90 where there are some good ag fields, often productive for
cranes or geese, early is better because heat waves can kill
distance viewing quickly in a scope, and in big barren fields
the birds are often far away. We saw about 1200 Sandhill
Crane, a few hundred White-fronted Geese, and mixed in with one
flock of them was 3 Snow and 4 Ross's Goose. There was
a flock of a couple hundred Mountain Plover far out in a field,
that I could only see because they flushed and got above the
10 a.m. heat waves. I saw a flock of about 20+ Longspurs,
which looked like McCown's Longspurs to me, and probably the
only species likely in those numbers, in that habitat, here.
There were lots of Vesper and Savanah Sparrows, and numbers of
White-crowned, Say's Phoebe, N. Harrier, Western Meadowlark singing.
Feb. 4 ~ a pair of Bushtits went through the yard, the flocks
apparently already having split up for the breeding season.
It could have been 5" of rain by time it was all done.
Feb. 3 ~ Started raining late on the 2nd, and looks to be a
major soaker, perhaps 24 hours or more worth, by morning we
were way over 2", and nearing 4" by the p.m. from this event!
February 2 ~ The Hutton's Vireo was whinnying about the
yard today. About 150 Chipping Sparrows now, and still
15 Juncos including 3 Oregon and 1-2 Pink-sided amongst
the Slate-coloreds, 3+ Audubon's Orioles, and an ad. Sharp-
shinned Hawk that views this as his feeding station.
February ~ February !?!?! January was the 4th wettest ever
on record at Del Rio, and 10th wettest at San Antonio.
We would likely be somewhere in between those two sites.
The El Nino came just in time, because we so badly needed
extra rain after a nearly 4 FOOT deficit over the prior 2 years.
January is normally the driest month of the year here,
and we probably had 4" of rain, at least, which is the
average total in our wettest months. Outstanding!
Dec. 09 had the most snow cover of 43 years of records
for that in the U.S., and Jan. 2010 was the 8th most snow
cover in a month for 43 years they've kept track of that.
Both months colder and wetter than averages in most areas.
I think history shows more of the same for February then.
Jan. 31 ~ I did a chilly quick look through for a few hours
at Garner St. Pk.. The best bird was my first mid-winter
record of Spotted Sandpiper. The ground was carpeted in pecans
in those groves, which support quite a large number of birds.
In places you could walk and crack shells and turn around
and Titmice and Chickadees would be down on the ones you
just stepped on. There were about a couple hundred
Myrtle Warblers feeding on them, and a couple hundred plus
Chipping Sparrows too. Twenty or so White-winged Dove are
also probably pecan dependents as well. I saw one each
of Audubon's, Orange-crowned and Pine Warbler.
I still can't get over how they butchered the most extensive old-
growth closed canopy live-oak grove they had. It is deplorable
habitat management, at taxpayer expense. My understanding
is that this butchery was many many thousands of dollars.
A 500 year old closed canopy now looks like city park tree
trimmers went overboard.
Jan. 30 ~ Green and Belted Kingfisher were at UP, the first
Green I've seen since Dec., or maybe Nov.. They were
quick to bug out when it got cold in Dec.. Blue Jay and
Black Phoebe were about the park too.
Jan. 29 ~ We got another inch of rain today, for about
2" in two days, and maybe over 4" in January, normally
the driest month of the year. Maybe a good sign?
Jan. 28 ~ I found a dead male Fiery Skipper in a bucket,
in fair condition, so it hasn't been there long, a week
at most. It was a worn leftover, not a fresh one,
and is butterfly species number 5 for the month.
We got about an inch of rain today.
Jan. 27 ~ At least 700 American Robin, and 100 Cedar Waxwing
went over SR, the Robins mostly westbound, but a couple
hundred descended on the junipers for berries in the yard.
Jan. 25 ~ Heard a Flicker out back, been a female Yellow-
shaft around. Better was a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
flying into the live-oak out back while I was on the
back porch, 15' away! I had been watching Robins
eat juniper berries from as close as 5' away.
Here's an interesting behavior observation, which to me
is the funnest part of bird watching or study....
I was working at the desk/computer when motion caught
my eye on the shelf below the window. There was
one of the Carolina Wrens, soaking wet to the bone,
must have just been in the bath. It went to a
shallow vegetable tray with dry good soil in it,
and proceeded to spend over a minute taking a dirt
bath. While soaking wet!?!?!? Water and dirt
equal ? Mud? I'm sure there is a good explanation,
like mud smothers bird mites or something, but it was
fascinating and amazing to see it, and wonder what
it is all about. My mom told me to stay out of dirt
when I was wet.
Jan. 23-24 ~ Weekend was a blowout due to winds but another
flower bloomed, a Parralena, and the Sida is still going,
so there are two species of flowers open outside.
Jan. 22 ~ About 50 Robin and 30 Waxwings stopped to eat
Juniper berries, always a treat, they seem to be hitting
the trees here near daily the last couple weeks.
The astounding avaian event of the day was the first
spring migrants of the year passing over northbound,
at 10:15 p.m., White-fronted Geese! Last year I
first detected them January 27, and the 5 previous years
FOS was in February. Down in the lower Rio Grande
Valley and on the coast, a few Purple Martins have
been seen, the first landbird to return always, and
incredibly early too for an insect eater. We don't
get them till later up here.
Jan. 21 ~ Amazing now after a couple days of 70 deg. F,
a veritible burst of butterflies appeared, overwintering
worn, beat as they are. A dozen Snout, and
3 FOS Sleepy Orange, a FOS Red Admiral, blasting us up
to four species for the year with the Variegated Frit
that is about. More unexpected was a flower that
opened on Sida, the FOS flower this year.
Jan. 20 ~ A quick stop at the park and I saw the female
Black-and-white Warbler amongst the regulars there, one
hatch year Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Golden-crowned Kinglet
which I haven't seen lately, and finally a local Winter Wren.
There were four Pied-billed Grebes at the pond in the park.
We should get some more new stuff that gets pushed down by
all the cold and storms. Saw a Snout butterfly or two today!
TWO species of butterflies for the year now.
Jan. 18 ~ 1 beat worn Variegated Fritillary butterfly is I think
the first butterfly I've seen around the yard this year.
Jan. 17 ~ Here at SR early there were 130 Robin, 100+ Cedar
Waxwing, a No. Flicker, and amazingly four Shoveller flew over!
Then while down in Uvalde we stopped at Ft. Inge for a quick
look and heard Green Jays and Olive Sparrow, saw Long-billed
Thrasher, Green Kingfisher, Kiskadee, Verdin, 100 Lincoln's
Sparrows, 1 Grasshopper Sparrow, White-eyed Vireo, and the
regulars. At Cook's Slough there were several Couch's
Kingbird and Vermilion Flycatcher, and more of the regulars.
Over the trip we saw about 20 resident Fuertes' Red-tailed Hawk,
3 standard Eastern type Red-tails, and at the Hwy. 90 bridge
over the Frio at Vulcan in Knippa, a western Rufous morph
Red-tailed Hawk! About 3 mi. N. of Sabinal on the way
back we saw (been looking) what is surely a returning winterer,
a HARLAN'S (Red-tailed) Hawk, which should be re-split, but
for the meanwhile means we saw 4 subspecies of Red-tails today!
Jan. 15 ~ We had a good rain today, probably an inch plus,
and the 14th we had a half inch and change, so chalk some
up for the aquifer.
Jan. 12 ~ Great show at the bird bath ca. 11 a.m. here on SR.
A veritible parade of feathers, the medium sized stuff steals
the show. Both sexes of Cardinal, Scrub-Jay, Spotted Towhee,
Robin, interspersed with several Audubon's Orioles. As at
the peanut and sunflower tube feeders, the Audubon's Orioles
dominate the larger Scrub-Jay. One AO moved down to the
bath where a Jay was at the edge and jumped right in and splashed
the SJ. The Jay made a couple quick lunges toward the AO.
As at the feeders the AO opens its beak so the mandible and
maxilla at 90 degrees spread, like two stilletos or daggers
aimed right at the SJ. The fully open beak reveals a bubble-gum
pink interior mouth lining, which is very impressively eye-
catching next to the blue spots at the base of the lower mandible.
With two big sharp dagger knife blades sticking out of it.
The SJ did not lunge again, so the AO did not lunge at the SJ,
which moved away to the nearest perch and made noises while
squirming like a child trying to hold a potty while the AO
bathed putting up a splash like a motorboat. When it was done
it left. The Jay moved in and acted though it were going
to bathe. Another AO flew down, and SJ retreated immediately,
that AO bathed, and left, and the SJ finally got its chance,
when the orioles are done. It really seems to perterb the SJ's
as all the other birds respect them enough to stand down like
Jan. 11 ~ A bit warmer, I hate to say that at 20 deg. F this
a.m.. But it got much warmer in the day, a smokin' 50 deg..
15 Robin, 30 Waxwing, 9 Pine Siskin, 2 Common Raven, 2 other raven,
and that dang Hutton's Vireo passed through the yard, now that
count week is well over, finally. Some Cardinal quiet singing.
Jan. 10 ~ Not to lighten up it was still only 15 in JCT, 16 in KVL
and 18 in HDO, so we were probably 17 deg. F here this a.m..
Can't wait till this breaks! Birds going through seed,
peanut butter, and bird bread like gangbusters. 5-6 Audubon's
Orioles using lots of sugar water too. Small Waxwing and Robin
flocks, a few Siskins and American and Lesser Goldfinches. The
Chipping Sparrow flock is maybe pushing 125 now, with a couple Field.
Still over a dozen Juncos with a couple few Pink-sided and Oregon
amongst the Slate-colored, and 3 Spotted Towhees still.
Jan. 9 ~ Brrrr it's worse! Was 8 deg.F in JCT and I heard in
town folks said 8 deg. F here too, and up to 14 deg.F on the
ridges this a.m.! I thought about 12 at Seco Ridge.
They say record coldest here in a long time. Certainly
the coldest since we got here (fall '03). Was freezing
or below Thursday evening to Saturday mid-day, 40 hours or so!
And only broke freezing for 4 hours or so and its teens tonight!
The highlight of the day was the frostweed ice flowers!
I'll have to get a good description of what exactly occurs,
but the moisture within the stems of the frostweed exits the
stem and curls down as it does, making a ribbon of ice, that
often loops and it is not uncommon to have all four sides of
the stem do it making a big ice flower shape at the base of
each stem. I did get some pix and will put them up shortly.
They are stunning beautiful as they are delicate. I expect
it takes a certain amount of cold for it to occur, and it is the
first time I've seen it here in now 7 winters, down at the park.
Jan. 8 ~ WOW its cold !! About 20 in JCT, 21 in KVL,
and maybe 22 here on SR. If any birds show up I won't
know because the windows are too fogged to see out.
The high temp. might have broken freezing by a degree, maybe.
Jan. 7 ~ A big arctic front and blow hitting pre-dawn,
winds gusting to 35-40 mph, temps around freezing, chill
factors in the 20's. Lovely. Supposed to be
in teens in the a.m. tomorrow, with wind chills near ten!
To address some hooey I heard, this does not mean global
warming is not occurring. Another proper term is
climate change, which means there will be more extremes,
like hotter summers, and colder winters. Does this
not sound a familiar theme to anyone? :) Some years
colder winters will result from the planet's overall warming.
Jan. 6 ~ I heard Carolina Chickadee singing whistled song
for the first time this year. Kathy says she heard it a
couple days earlier, apparently she is keeping secrets.
A couple each Lesser and American Goldfinch around, and
a Pine Siskin.
Jan. 5 ~ Last day of count week, picked up a single calling
American Pipit flying over SR. That was it, so 8 sps.
for count week, with 59 count day, makes for a total of 67
species detected count week. Missed Turkey, Caracara,
and Hutton's Vireo, for 3 dumb ones off the top of my head.
Here at SR there were also 6 Audubon's Oriole, and the
Junco flock was 8 Slate-colored, 2 Oregon, 2 Pink-sided.
Chorus frogs are still going very well around dusk daily.
White-winged Dove gave a single burst of under-the-breath
quiet-song. Was 25 deg. F. in the a.m..
Jan. 4 ~ I had to run to town for the P.O., so took a
quick look at the park, hoping for a Green Kingfisher.
No love there, but a Great Blue Heron flew off, for a
count week bird. Saw the Black-and-white Warbler
and the Canyon Wren we missed on the count. The wren
treats giant cypress trunks like a cliff face. There was
an Orange-crowned Warbler there we'd missed too. Again
thought I heard a Pine Warbler, and saw at least 50 Myrtles
along the river. Saw two Autumn Meadowhawks (odes).
They won't make it through the arctic blast on its way.
Tomorrow is last day of count week, and could use a few
dumb easy ones: Caracara, a live Great Horned Owl, Turkey.
Jan. 3 ~ Shortly after sunup 26 Robins dropped out of
the sky into the yard. Where were they yesterday?
Any time you do a count something silly avoids your gaze
all day, and the next morning they fall out of the sky
calling (if your lucky that's all) on your head! I
thought I heard Hutton's Vireo down the draw.
Jan. 2 ~ We did our 7th annual first week of the new year
bird count, our sort of mock pretend CBC, with the same
one party (Kathy & me) doing the same roads and spots, now for
the 7th year. As long as coverage is consistent over the
years, results are comparable, and educational. We saw
59 species around Utopia and up the valley, plus 3 subspecies.
This was our lowest diversity total in 7 counts, and counted
1679 birds, darn near one at a time, scratching for them all day.
Best was the male Vermilion Flycatcher at the park, quite
scarce up here in the hills in winter, and the adult
White-eyed Vireo was still hanging around at the library garden.
127 Myrtle Warblers was astounding, as was not seeing a
Pine (thought I heard one in 3 places). 166 Vesper
Sparrow was impressive and 2 each Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
and Yellow-shafted Flicker was nice. But no Robin!!
Or Turkey, or Caracara, there are always some dumb misses.
That is why there is a count week, 3 days before and after.
The 5 deg. below normal cold all Dec. may have run the
Green Kingfishers off, we didn't see one of them either.
Somewhat surprising was not finding anything unusual though.
Kathy found a couple DOR (dead on road) birds, both freshly
hit/killed, an Eastern Phoebe and a Great Horned Owl.
Now the owl was clearly just hit last night, or it would
have been scavenged, ants would have been on it, etc., so
it was absolutely positively alive, here in the circle,
during count week. And that is not good enough to count
it as a tick for the total. :)
The 7th winter count totals are up on the Bird Count page.
January 1 ~ HAPPY NEW YEAR !!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bird News Archive XX|
July 1 2011 - December 31, 2013
Bird News Archive XIX|
January 1 - June 30, 2013
Bird News Archive XVIII|
July 1 - December 31, 2012
Bird News Archive XVII|
January 1 - June 30, 2012
Bird News Archive XVI|
July 1 - December 31, 2011
Bird News Archive XV|
January 1 2011 - June 30, 2011
Bird News Archive XIV|
July 1 - December 31, 2010
Bird News Archive XIII|
January 1 - June 30, 2010
Bird News Archive XII|
June 1 - Dec. 31, 2009
Bird News Archive XI|
January 1 - May 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
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