Bird News Archive XIV
June 30 - Dec. 31 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
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
July 1 - December 31, 2010.
in reverse chronological order, unless you
read from the bottom up.
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~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2010 note ~ I counted up my Uvalde County year list for
the fun of it. Unlike many, I do not chase after a
known birds (stakeouts) for my list. I only see
what I find myself while bumbling about trying to avoid
trees, cactus and chiggers. I did good on the trees
and cactus but found way too many chiggers. I found
259 species of birds in Uvalde County in 2010.
Probably a county year list record, but no effort to
that end was made, just an incidental bycatch total
of what was recorded. Butterflies and Dragonflies
in the Utopia area remain weak beyond imagination since
the exceptional 07-09 drought. We need rain badly
still. My Uvalde County bird list (7 years plus)
is now about 333 species.
Well that's all folks! Say good riddance to 2010!
Hope you had as much fun as you could stand, or is legally
allowable in your county. Thanks if you are a regular
reader, I hope you enjoy peeking in to some of the nature
goings-on hereabouts. We wish you the best in 2011!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A whopping 14 species of butterflies for December locally.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dec. 31 ~ Here in the afternoon about 1:30 a flock of
45 Sandhill Crane was flying south calling, so I would
notice. Amazing some are still southbound this
late in the season, and a great count week bird.
The Dainty Sulphur stopped at the Paralena flower again.
The beat worn Red Admiral and Variegated Fritiallary are
still flying on warm afternoons.
Dec. 29 ~ Here around SR the Golden-fronted Woodpecker
continues, must be living on live-oak acorns for the
winter. A couple each Audubon's Oriole and Common
Raven were around, a small group of Bushtit moved through,
and after dark a Great Horned Owl called. Since
I'll do our annual winter bird count Saturday Jan. 1,
today's stuff counts for count week, if we miss it on
count day, and the Owl and Bushtit are easy to miss.
There is one lonely paralena flower out front at the
bottom of the steps, until a Dainty Sulphur came along
and spent time with it, the only flower, and only
nectaring butterfly around, meet, of course.
Dec. 28 ~ Of the two Audubon's Orioles that are now
hitting the feeders daily since it got cold, one is
an adult female, one is a subadult. We had some
fog and drizzle and light showers today, a decent one
after dark so maybe a half inch of precipitation so we
got a badly needed inch this week (and month) after all.
Dec. 27 ~ A quick look at UP found still present Downy
Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, and Black-and-white Warbler.
Dec. 26 ~ Bone chilling cold this a.m. with lows of
20 in Junction and 21 in Kerrville, we were probably
22 down in town and 24-5 deg.F up here on Seco Ridge.
The Audubon's Orioles came by for sugar water and
peanuts. Fourteen Pine Siskin and a couple Lesser
Goldfinch were on the sunflower tube. The high
barely reached 52 maybe. Hutton's Vireo was
around too. Happy Boxing Day.
Dec. 25 ~ Merry Christmas! The post-frontal wind
blew all night and day today at 10-15 mph with
gusts to 30 until dark when it stopped. The low was
just above freezing, and mid-day at peak heat when it
got about 50 deg.F a Red Admiral butterfly was about.
Dec. 24 ~ As a trough went by we got lucky and got
about a half inch of rain, the first and only significant
precipitation all month.
Dec. 23 ~ I heard the Golden-fronted Woodpecker up on
the knoll again, so it is still around. The
White-winged Dove flock is about 45 birds, and another
Golden-crowned Kinglet passed through the yard.
Field Sparrow at bath.
Dec. 22 ~ Foggy all day, drippin' out there, which is
critically needed moisture for the vegetation. There
were a couple Audubon's Orioles around for the first time
in a few weeks.
Dec. 21 ~ HAPPY SOLSTICE !! A GREAT total eclipse
early this a.m. was very nice with clear skies for viewing.
It was said the first conjunction of solstice and a total
lunar eclipse in 400 some years !?!?! And we were
there! Then sometime after 3 a.m. when we looked,
it fogged up by dawn to peasoup most the a.m.. Then
warmed to 80 in the p.m.! Shortest daylight day
of the year, and winter sets in. Been mostly nice
so far with lots of mild lows in low 30's and highs in
60's. Perfect, beautiful, not too hot, not too cold.
But way too dry, we need rain in a big way. It is
amazing to see all these storms go across the U.S. and
us get nothing but wind or cold out of them, system after
system, it is astounding to me.
Dec. 20 ~ A quickie Uvalde run for supplies, and only
an hour each at the hatchery and the slough. At
the hatchery was a Merlin, 6 Ring-necked Duck, 3 species
of Teal (1 Cinnamon), 10 Least and 1 Spotted Sandpiper,
a Greater Yellowlegs, Wilson's Snipe, some Killdeer,
100 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (of which there were
325 at Driskill Feed near Sabinal). It seems much
less bird friendly at the hatchery since the installation
of the propane cannons, and fewer birds are present.
It ain't the same place anymore, completely changed
the ambiance to us, and the birds apparently.
Over at Cook's Slough we had good looks and listens
to Green Jay, Green Kingfisher and Great Kiskadee,
and saw a few Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, a female
Bufflehead, 15 Double-crested Cormorant, some Vermilion
Flycatchers, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Swamp Sparrow, the regulars.
More regulars along Old Sabinal Road, a total of 3 Harris's
Hawks for the run, and 20 Red-tailed, 200 meadowlark that
are probably all Western, 15 Loggerhead Shrike, the usual
Vesper, Lark, Savannah, White-crowned Sparrows, about a
hundred Cardinal, 10 Caracara, some Cactus Wren, a dozen
Golden-fronted Woodpecker, a few Roadrunner, Say's Phoebe.
Dec. 19 ~ Two Brown Creeper continue at UP, seemingly
hanging out and moving together. The bird of the day
was a PRAIRIE Falcon at the golf course that stooped from
a half mile away very high up, and blazed past me doin'
100 or so, only 50' away. A Wilson's Snipe was at
the cattail pond there, my first winter record up here.
Down in the brush country fine, but its a good bird up
here in the winter. I had to slow down and go into
the oncoming lanes to avoid an Armadillo crossing the
road south of town. Below 3-mile bridge there were
3 Loggerhead Shrike. A Checkered White butterfly
was near town.
Dec. 18 ~ The adult female Black-and-white Warbler continues
at UP, and an adult male Audubon's-ish Warbler there is not
a pure bird, with a Myrtle undertail tip pattern. The
Barred Owls were duetting, so all the locally breeding owls
are singing now. Owls are perhaps the first birds to
start the new breeding season, before the year is over.
Dec. 17 ~ A flock of 8-10 Bushtit passed through the yard.
A couple Field Sparrow are in the Chipping Sparrow flock.
Cardinals number over a dozen, at least, a Spotted Towhee
continues skulking the brush piles. A Ruby-crowned
Kinglet was motoring about the bird bath this a.m.. They
usually have a hard time with it, must be a repeat offender.
Dec. 16 ~ Kathy spotted a yearling Armadillo in the yard.
Neat in winter when cooler that they come out in the day.
Dec. 15 ~ In a dense fog at 7:30 a.m. a Great Blue Heron
flew over 40' above ground level, probably the one I've
seen at the park a few times lately.
Dec. 14 ~ Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the
yard, Hutton's Vireo singing, still Geminids after dark.
Dec. 13 ~ Here at SR a couple Cedar Waxwing were about,
5 Mockingbird and 15 Hermit Thrush came in to drink over
the morning. Still some Geminids showing.
Dec. 12 ~ At UP a Black Phoebe took a Red Admiral and ate
it whole, wings and all. Here at SR Great Horned Owl,
and Screech-Owls were calling, signaling the start of a new
breeding season for them.  A Golden-crowned Kinglet was
about the yard. There were a bunch of Geminid meteors
if you were wondering about all the shooting stars.
Dec. 11 ~ Three American Goldfinch was the first time
this winter to have more than one. There were
also 4-5 Lesser Goldfinch, including 3 males. There
was a Hutton's Vireo at UP. Saw a few Geminid meteors.
Dec. 9 ~ A great sighting was an immature GOLDEN EAGLE
which I spotted from the porch as it flew down valley
southward, nearly right over us, we got great looks.
It is only about the 3rd or 4th I've seen in the
Sabinal River Valley in twice as many years, and haven't
seen any others elsewhere in the county. It seems
quite scarce here to me, about every other year I see
one fly over. At UP there was Black-and-white Warbler,
Winter Wren, Brown Creeper and Golden-crowned Kinglet,
wow, just like winter. A Common Checkered-Skipper
was butterfly species # 14 for the month.
Dec. 8 ~ At 6:15 p.m. (dark out) Kathy heard a flock of
Sandhill Crane heading south, and after 8 p.m. I heard
another flock, which listening to their progression via
their vocalizations was directly toward the constellation
Grus, The Crane. Do I get an extra point for that?
The Tex-Mex (Eastern) mccallii Screech-Owl was calling
just after dark.
Dec. 7 ~ The Chipping Sparrow flock about the yard is now
about 75 birds, perhaps more. I think the number
of Hermit Thrush hitting the drip bath daily is a dozen+.
A Mockingbird comes in nearly daily for water too. There
were 6 to 8 Slate-colored Junco out there today, finally
Dec. 6 ~ A flock of 10 Waxwings flew over in the a.m.,
the first waxwings I've seen so far this winter, wish I
could have seen them besdies going away. The Pine
Siskin flock is now about 18 and they can eat a whole
tube of sunflower seed in a day if you were wondering.
OK, there's help with 4 Titmice, 8 House Finches, maybe
2 Lesser and 1 American Goldfinch, and 2 Chickadees, but
all them together eat less than 18 Pine Siskin.
Dec. 5 ~ Dainty Sulphur in yard in the a.m., and in town
in the p.m. a Checkered White, both new locally for the
monthly butterfly diversity list, #'s 12 & 13.
At UP there were 10 Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies.
Dec. 4 - A Uvalde run, which was beyond expectations
with some good birds. Best was north of Sabinal
about 6 miles, a RED-BILLED PIGEON flew low right over
on Hwy 187. I saw the maroon foreparts and all
slate otherwise humongous ginormous pigeon. I've
seen them before, recognition was instant.
I'm fairly certain there is no Uvalde County Record, so it
will be a first if accepted. There is a remarkable
October '02 record in S.W. Kerr County by Tony Gallucci,
which is likely the only record actually up on the Edwards
Plateau, and the furthest north one ever. It is known
to Eagle Pass, Laredo, often near Zapata was the best spot,
but there is little access and less coverage between the
known areas and here.
Elsewhere, there were 400 Sandhill Crane, 40 Mountain
Plover, 25 Scaled Quail, and an immature Harlan's Hawk
nearish Knippa, and 500 more Crane west of Uvalde.
Around Uvalde there was female Rusty Blackbird, Hooded
Merganser, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, an orestera Orange-
crowned Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, a couple Swamp
Sparrow, and Zone-tailed Hawk were the better birds.
Then regulars like Golden-crowned Kinglet, Green Jay,
Kiskadee, Long-billed Thrasher, Green Kingfisher, but didn't
hear or see a Couch's Kingbird or a Turkey Vulture for second
or third trip now this winter. Along roads a couple
Harris's Hawk, lots of Caracara, Pyrrhuloxia, some Verdin,
Vesper and Lark Sparrow, Say's Phoebe, Black Phoebe (hatchery),
and at some of the stops a few each White-eyed Vireo, Common
Yellowthroat and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, one Barred Owl.
And she says I did real good on the shopping list.
Dec. 3 ~ At Utopia Park I saw an adult female
Black-and-white Warbler! This is SURELY the
same bird returning for its THIRD winter! No
sooner than my last update when I declared that the
October 13 sighting must have been a late migrant
(which I still think it was) and the bird shows up.
Since it has been over 6 weeks since the last sighting
and I've covered the place fairly well in the interim,
I have little doubt it is a recent arrival, and, our
returnee. It is amazing that the first known over-
wintering Black-and-white Warbler on the Edwards Plateau
has returned for its 3rd winter to the same place, UP!
There were also two FOS for me Brown Creeper there,
finally. One each Orange-crowned, Myrtle, and
Audubon's Warbler. A couple Golden-crowned Kinglet,
Green Kingfisher, and a Black Phoebe.
One Pipevine Swallowtail was butterfly species number
11 for the monthly diversity, one Autumn Meadowhawk
was the only ode, and I forgot to mention the winter
Mayflies (Ephemeroptera) are starting to fly, since
at least last Sunday November 28th, a few earlier.
This is what sustains the passerine flocks that winter
along the rivers here.
Here at SR there was a Fiery Skipper (sps. #10 for Dec.),
and for birds a Hutton's Vireo, couple Field Sparrow,
a dozen Pine Siskin, an American Goldfinch were around.
Dec. 2 ~ Kathy watered the caliche and a bunch of
butterflies came in to it. Two Buckeye, one each
Gulf and Variegated Fritillary, Little Yellow, Red
Admiral, and Kathy saw the Mestra that's been around.
One female Orange Sulphur.
A quick look at UP found 3 Pied-billed Grebe and an
December 1 ~ From the front porch in the a.m. early
a beautiful pale Merlin sailed right by and landed
in the snag a hundred meters south of me for good views.
There were TWO Juncos today for the first time this year.
Last year there were a dozen and a half here for over
a month by now.
We start a new monthly butterfly species list today,
with a Red Admiral, Question Mark, a Thorybes cloudywing
(Northern until proven otherwise), Variegated Fritillary,
and Kathy saw the Mestra.
The lows this a.m. were 20 in JCT, 22 in KVL, and about
25 here on SR. Brrrrr that's crisp. Late in the
evening about 11 p.m. I saw a green grazer, that is a
meteorite that skips on the atmosphere, bouncing or
grazing along, called earth-grazers. This one skipped
four times, leaving a green vapor trail each skip, and
covered 90 degrees of sky. Outstanding!
November ended up with 45 species of butterflies.
Better than '09 (42 sps.), but nowhere near 08 (60 sps.)
and much less '07 (69 sps.).
Nov. 29 ~ At the park was a Downy Woodpecker, only the 2nd
ever I've seen there, a hatch-year White-eyed Vireo,
Green Kingfisher, Black Phoebe, Blue Jay, etc..
There were two Hutton's Vireo calling out front here
in the a.m., and the 14 Pine Siskin continue on the
sunflower tubes. A single American Goldfinch
seems to go over every morning for the last week.
A handful of Robins, perhaps a dozen Hermit Thrush,
and a Mockingbird are coming in for water at the bath.
The water is barely trickling over the dam at the park
again, if you haven't noticed we need some rain badly.
There were 2 Buckeye out front on the road here at
SR, 5 Sleepy Orange, Variegated and Gulf Fritillary,
a Red Admiral, and the park had a Red Admiral, a
couple Sleepy Orange, and a Mestra. Hit about
80 deg.F ahead of another burst of cold air.
Nov. 28 ~ A much warmer morning, about 36 or so, and
a couple Golden-crowned Kinglet about the yard. Now
we're at 5 days without seeing the immature male Selasphorus
(Rufous probably) Hummingbird present the last 7 weeks+.
Heard a Sapsucker mew down the draw.
At UP was Winter Wren, few Golden-crowned Kinglet, Blue Jay,
which I had in my binocs when a Green Kingfisher flew into
the view and perched, while another Green King called.
Two Pipevine Swallowtail were there, and a Variegated
Fritillary. Odes were a dozen Autumn Meadowhawk,
4 Variegated Meadowhawk, 2 Green Darner, and below the
spillway there was still one of each: American Rubyspot,
Dusky Dancer, Violet Dancer, Double-striped and Familiar Bluet.
At the library Garden there was one Fatal Metalmark,
2 Checkered-Skipper, 2 Sleepy Orange, and a Gulf Frit.
Out 1050 4 miles west of town at the pond there was an
American Pipit and 7 Green-winged Teal, and just to
the west along the drainage a flock of birds with
a dozen Eastern Bluebird, some Lesser Goldfinch, two
dozen House Finch, two dozen Lark Sparrow, some Vesper
and Chipping Sparrow, some Cardinal, and a scarce here
FOX Sparrow sang from down in the gulley. Found Empi.
Nov. 27 ~ A whopping 20 Robins flew over this chilly morning.
There were two other birds with them that looked like Cedar
Waxwing but I only saw them going away. Then there
were 14 Pine Siskin around, so it looks like the cold front
may have brought some winter birds with it. Lows at
some local stations were 18 in Junction (JCT), 22 in Kerrville
(KVL), and 25 in HDO (Hondo). We were probably about
27 here on Seco Ridge (SR), maybe 24 down in town. It
warmed to the 60's though, so about a 40 deg.F diurnal range.
Nov. 26 ~ Four Robins were out front, one drank at the
bath, and an American Goldfinch was about, two of the
birds that really say winter around here, are just barely
present still/yet. I might have heard a hummingbird,
but I did not yesterday or the day before. The same
medium gray male Slate-colored Junco has been here since
Nov. 1, alone, and a Field Sparrow or two have been
around a few days at least. There are probably 10
Hermit Thrushes in the draw and eating juniper berries
around the yard, besides using the bath daily. I heard
the Golden-fronted Woodpecker call nearby. A couple
Common Raven went by, and one that looked like Chihuahuan
was much smaller with faster rowing wingbeats. Heard
Audubon's Orioles, and the pair of Ground-Dove. It is
supposed to feel like winter tomorrow a.m. with the FOS
hard freeze, into the lower 20's at sunup tomorrow!
November 25 ~ Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you had
a great holiday! We reached 80 dF before 3 p.m.,
and by 3:15 the front was arriving with northerly winds
and cooler temps, it was about 65 by 4p.m., and dropping
fast. We went from 80 dF to 55 by 5:30, in about
2.5 hours (a 25 deg.F drop), and down to near 40 deg.F, a
40 degree drop, within 6 hours or less. Amazing!
I've probably said this before, but it bears repeating,
while your enjoying that tasty bird, remember that
John James Audubon didn't just paint all the birds of
America in a manner no one had seen, he kept detailed
notes of how they all tasted! He wrote that the
only two birds unfit for consumption were Crow and Grackle!
Certainly "eating Crow" is not considered a good thing
to this day. I'm sure he'd have been thankful for Turkey.
A couple Golden-crowned Kinglet were in the yard in the a.m..
Man those are sure some small drumsticks.......
Nov. 24 ~ Up to 80 deg.F again today, the heat before
the freeze. A surprise was a small fresh male
Monarch, probably a recent (false) emergence due to the
heat. No food plant, nothing to mate with, a
genetic dead end. Other butterflies around were
Gulf and Variegated Fritillary, Northern (Common) Mestra
Checkered-Skipper, Sleepy Orange, Buckeye, Red Admiral,
and a Queen. The Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies
(a pair or two) continue as well.
Nov. 23 ~ After missing it the last three days, the
immature male Selasphorus (Rufous probably) hummingbird
showed up. Hutton's Vireo about the yard too.
Amazing was a HUNDRED House Sparrow in a single flock
down in town, the most I've ever seen at once here.
The flock was in 2 pieces circling high over Main St.,
when it dives at seemingly full speed into a Plumbago
bush and disappears. Remarkable. A single
Robin was about SR.
Nov. 21 ~ We did not see or hear a hummingbird the last
two days, e.g. no Selasphorus since the 19th, and the
Anna's was here the 7th-17th, a 10 day bird. It
would be great if they left so we don't have to babysit
them the whole winter. We keep a couple feeders out
for the Audubon's Orioles over the winter anyway, but I
don't have to worry about them in the cold so much. The
pair of Common Ground-Dove are still around. I'd say
the Chipping Sparrow flock is 4 dozen plus now.
Nov. 20 ~ A Vesper Sparrow on the wire over the (dirt) road
was a scarce sighting here in the yard on SR. Down
at UP there was a FOS Song Sparrow right on time, then a
Zone-tailed Hawk, the first one I've seen in a couple months
at least, and a couple Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Red-shouldered
Hawk, a Black Phoebe, Blue Jays, and the regular Chickadees,
Titmice, Carolina Wrens, a few Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler.
I heard what sounded like the smack of a Brown Thrasher, but
couldn't find it.
I should mention since I haven't, not having seen a
Black-and-white Warbler at UP since the October 13 sighting,
it doesn't look like that was the hoped for returning winterer
and instead a late migrant.
Odes at UP were: one Neotropical (ph.), a couple Familiar Bluet,
three American Rubyspot below the dam, a nice male Dusky
Dancer there too, one Green Darner and 6 Autumn Meadowhawks
including a pair in wheel (ph.), and a couple tandem pairs
of Variegated Meadowhawk. Odes are fading fast folks.
At the library garden where the plants look like it did
not freeze, there were: likely the same continuing one each
Mexican Yellow, Large Orange, and Cloudless Sulphur, a Dainty
Sulphur, 2 Sachem, one Pipevine Swallowtail, a few Sleepy Orange,
so that is fading fast too. A Phaon Crescent was at UP.
Nov. 19 ~ The Selasphorus Hummingbird is still about,
but no sign of the Anna's for the second day, so I think
it's gone. Hutton's Vireo was about the yard,
a Spotted Towhee, the White-winged Dove count was 55
and Chipping Sparrows number about 4 dozen plus.
The low this morning was 26 dF at JCT and 28 dF in KVL,
and it was likely about 33 in town, 34 or 35 up here
Nov. 18 ~ Early in the morning a FOS Pine Siskin flew
over calling, as did a single Robin. At 5 p.m. I
was still waiting to hear a hummingbird today.
It was in the mid-upper 30's here on SR in the a.m., maybe
the coolest morning since last spring. They predict
a freeze tonight, which they say it will down in the
valley (town), but we'll not see 32 up here on the ridge.
Nov. 17 ~ Audubon's Orioles again calling, and both the
hummingbirds are still present.
Nov. 16 ~ Both hummers continue, and a Vesta Crescent.
Been some House (English) Sparrows around a bit off and on.
Interesting how these country sparrows flush at the sight
of man, even when I don't have the gun. And how they
circle calling while gaining altitude before taking off
for other places, just like the weaver finches they are.
They do not behave in any way shape or form like big city
House Sparrows. Calls are different too.
Nov. 15 ~ The Anna's Hummingbird was singing this morning.
At least 6 Hermit Thrush are hitting the bath each morn.
A couple Audubon's Orioles were singing in the draw, and
a Golden-crowned Kinglet passed through the yard. Odd
was an Audubon's Warbler flying north in the morning.
Best was a Golden-fronted Woodpecker in the little live-oak
out back! I saw one shoot over 3 days earlier on the 12th.
Nov. 14 ~ The real excitement today was hearing the Anna's
Hummingbird sing a little bit. Being a hatch-year
bird its song is not of very good quality, but like
hearing an old friend's voice to this west coast kid.
The Selasphorus (Rufous/Allen's) is still around as well
as the pair of Common Ground-Dove.
At UP there were a very few odes, a couple Green Darner,
a few Variegated Meadowhawk and 3 Familiar Bluet. At
the Library garden there was a White-eyed Vireo calling,
and mostly very small numbers of less than 20 species
of butterflies. Interesting was my single place/time
high count for the year of Julia's Skipper (4). I
also saw what was likely a Violet-clouded Skipper (Lerodea
arabus) but it got away without photos, so we have to relagate
it to hypothetical status. It is a species I've glimpsed
a few times here, but have yet to get a picture of one.
A late Buckeye was on SR road.
Nov. 13 ~ To Uvalde and back, and not a single
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher along the whole way, so
they're probably about done and gone till next March.
There were lots of Loggerhead Shrike (>30), and
Red-tailed Hawk (>20), plus Western Meadowlark (>75).
The Eastern Red-tailed with the belly band were most
numerous, more so than resident Fuertes' type. One
big adult female dark morph (nearly black) individual
is a Western race. It was SSE of Knippa on Old 90~
Old Sabinal Road. Red-tailed Hawks from 3 different
breeding populations all wintering in the same place.
At Ft. Inge there were 4 Green Jays at the south end,
a couple Green Kingfisher, & we heard Great Kiskadee
and Olive Sparrow, saw Long-billed Thrasher (four+).
I got a Brown Creeper call on audio tape there, besides
barely Green Jay, but finally an excellent series of
Green Kingfisher calls.
At the Nat. Fish Hatchery there was: a Greater Yellowlegs,
a Solitary, 15 Least and a Spotted Sandpiper, 3 Coot,
2 Shoveler, 1 American Wigeon, 4 Wilson's Snipe, an
Osprey, an American Pipit, Vesper and Savannah Sparrow,
imm. Red-shouldered Hawk, and an always stunning and
gorgeous Great Purple Hairstreak. The improvements
to the NE pond will probably be good when it all heals,
but the sedges where Sedge Wren used to winter are gone.
For odes, Red, and Black, Saddlebags (one ea.) were present,
besides the abundant Variegated Meadowhawk (>hundred), far
less numerous was Green Darner, there were thousands of Bluets,
the ones I looked at all looked like Familiar Bluet.
Along the various roads we saw Pyrrhuloxia, Verdin,
Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, lots of Caracara,
a couple Harris's Hawk, Merlin, Roadrunner, in other
words, the regular cast for the season. There
were lots of sparrows along the roads, mostly Lark,
Savannah, and Vesper, some White-crowned, but we
didn't stop to work them. On the 90-to-127 Sabinal
cut-off there were 30 some Lark Bunting.
The most interesting bird of the day was a Bewick's Wren.
Why you say? Because it was rufous of back and
upperparts, not cold gray brown like our resident subspecies.
It was from somewhere else (north or east?), and a migrant
into the area from parts unknown. I don't see many of
these here (less than annual). It was at the hatchery.
Most though would say the 78 MOUNTAIN PLOVER we found
SSE of Knippa in an ag field being watered was the best
find. It was the same field with the 175 Killdeer
3 weeks ago, which were still there, and a Long-billed
Curlew topped it off. This was on Old Sabinal Road
south of Hwy. 90 between UvCo 305 and 308 on the south
side of the road where a pivot sprinkler was watering green
sprouts of some sort. Some were quite close to the road.
Nov. 12 ~ Anna's and Rufous (presumed) Hummingbirds
continue today at the feeders. A Queen passed by.
The first Anna's we had here in 2005 was here Nov. 11-14.
Note the similarity in dates to this years', Nov. 7-17.
By recording when we see things, we can learn when
to look for them. I'd say that the second week of
November is a prime time window for their occurrence.
Even something irregular in occurrence, can have aspects
of that which are very predictible, unless we don't
take notes. Then everything is a surprise every time.
Nov. 11 ~ I finally got some pictures of the Anna's
Hummingbird today, its 5th day here, good thing it
stuck around a bit. It is not the finest looking
specimen I've seen, but perhaps he got rolled on the
Nov. 10 ~ Surprise, surprise, at noon the ANNA'S Hummer
showed up, its 4th day here. The Selasphorus is still
here as well. The rest is the regular cast.
A few butterflies were at the Library Garden, best was
a White-striped Longtail and a Southern Skipperling,
two Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, and 2 Julia's Skipper, all
four new for the month. An odd thing I saw needs
some ID research. Well, I've gone through 4 books
and it seems to me that the mystery butterfly must have
been an Oslar's Roadside-Skipper. Or at least that
is what it most closely resembled. It is known from
Uvalde County prior, but I've never seen one hereabouts.
The butterflies really have to run the gauntlet for nectar.
While I watched a blooming Thoroughwort Eupatorium a skipper
landed and a big green anole goes for it and misses. It
lands again and soon flies seemingly nervous about something.
Scrutiny detects a big Wheel Bug right nearby. Google
that and see what a strange looking beast that is.
At UP there were a couple Golden-crowned Kinglet and a
Pine Warbler, but the typical afternoon slows. There
were 8 Green Darner dragonflies, and a few Familiar Bluet,
one Violet Dancer, and a few butterflies on the Maxmillian
Sunflower which is fading fast.
The amazing thing is between last Friday and today the
Yellow Jacket nest at UP has been decimated. I think I
have it figured out. It's the dillo. What it must do
is go tear it open on the freezing nights, causing the yellow
jackets to retreat into the ground, so the honeycombs full
of larvae are then un-defended and easy pickin's.
Pieces of the honeycomb are scattered all over the place,
and the whole 3' wide clump of grass it was in the base of,
is nearly gone now. Remarkable. I estimated the
numbers of cells with some quick counting and there must have
been a thousand larvae in the nest, and I can imagine that
could really fatten a dillo up for the winter.
Nov. 9 ~ Did not see the Anna's Hummingbird today.
Nov. 8 ~ The ANNA'S Hummingbird was seen at noon and heard
about 3:30 p.m., but doesn't seem to want to come in if
I am out there ready to take its picture, though it came to
the office window and hovered facing me just 2' away!
Perhaps a half dozen Hermit Thrush hitting the bath,
and a Northern Flicker was down the draw in the a.m..
A Great Horned Owl called about 11 p.m.. A Spotted
Towhee continues about the brush piles. This species
was not a regular winterer about the edges of the yard
until I made a series of a half-dozen brush piles that they
could dive into around the perimeter and voila! wintering
yard Spotted Towhee. A single southbound Monarch passed
late in the p.m., they're still dribbling by.
Nov. 7 ~ Around the yard was Hutton's Vireo, Ruby-crowned
and Golden-crowned Kinglet, Orange-crowned Warbler, the
Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus Hummingbird, and a Sharp-shinned
Hawk that kept everything flushed much of the day. Late
in the afternoon I was surprised to see an ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD
at a feeder. It came in an hour later and I saw it's
battleship gray underparts, and partial gorget indicating
a hatch-year male. We had TWO here in fall of 2005 (late
too, in Nov. and Dec.) and have not seen one since that
year, which was a big statewide invasion year for them.
Didn't see a Sister (butterfly) today, so yesterday's beast
was a transient, which further points to it not being Arizona.
Nov. 6 ~ Another near-freeze this a.m. and more Chipping
Sparrows showing up, seems like 3 dozen at least now.
A few Robins went over Seco Ridge early in the morning.
A quick peek in town in the afternoon yielded a FOS
Pine Warbler in the pine tree just outside the back corner
of the garden at the library. A second one was over
at UP. Also at UP was my FOS Winter Wren, an immature
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a couple Golden-crowned Kinglet,
and the Ringed Kingfisher continues. I didn't see
a single Green Darner (dragonfly) amazingly, and only a
few odes were about. 3 Autumn Meadowhawk, 1 Swift
Setwing, a Blue-ringed Dancer, and 4 Familiar Bluet was
Butterflies weren't much better than odes though there
were about 8 Fatal and 1 Rounded Metalmark at the library
garden. At least 24 Common Checkered-Skipper, a
few each Gray Hairstreaks and Pipevine Swallowtail, one
Cloudless Sulphur, two Mexican Yellow, 8 Sleepy Orange, a
couple Queen, a Dusky-blue Groundstreak, a Whirlabout, a
bunch of Fiery, 12 Sachem, 4 Eufala, and 3 Clouded Skipper,
Red Admiral and American Lady, Mestra at SR, but it's fadin'
The best thing was a Sister at 5 p.m. that flew right past
me on the porch. Any sister here is default Arizona
until proven otherwise, but November is when I photo'd a
Spot-celled Sister here once, and I've seen Band-celled
Sister in November too, so we can't take the ID for granted.
It was strikingly small to me, and worn, both of which
point to it being something besides Arizona, but it flew by
at eye-level so I was unable to see it well enough to make
even a guess at what type it was. Almost forgot, there
was an orange (hindwing) type underwing moth (Catocola) at
UP similar to an Ilia type but I don't think that. We
saw this same type at Ft. Inge in Uvalde a few weeks ago.
Nov. 2-5 ~ Well the good thing about working too
much and not playing enough is this goes quickly.
The wind blew for three days after the frontal passage,
so activity was hunkered down for the most part.
The Slate-colored Junco continued, as does the
immature male Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird. An
adult White-crowned Sparrow showed up Nov. 3-5.
By the 5th the Chipping Sparrow flock is about 24 birds.
Meaning it doubled during the week from last Sunday's dozen.
It probably almost froze in town this morning the 5th,
as in nearby cold low spots it was 30 in JCT and KVL, and
34 in HDO, and it was about 37 or so up here on Seco Ridge.
Cold air sinks and town, in the valley is often 3-5 degrees
colder of lows in winter than surrounding hills and ridges.
Nov. 1 ~ First thing a Golden-crowned Kinglet was calling
out the kitchen window. An adult male Slate-colored
Junco was a new arrival, and there were 12 Chipping Sparrows,
the first count past the 6 that have been here since Sept.
(local breeders), so we know some migrants have arrived.
The Selasphorus Hummingbird (Ruf./All.) was around a bit.
Screech-Owls calling just after dark, and a couple Barn
Owls called southbound. Frontal passage overnight.
October butterfly quick summary
The big day Friday the 29th pushed the monthly butterfly
species diversity total to 69 species! This is the
biggest monthly total since October 2008, in two years.
Past that we have to go back to fall of 2007 for better
months, so only once in the last 3 years have we had
69 species in a month. Nothing real rare, but nice
to have some better diversity back. Note most of it
is invaders from elsewhere, not our local populations
which continue to be depressed at the wholesale level
since the drought.
Oct. 31 ~ At UP there was my FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet
finally, I've been hearing of them all over the state
for a week or more now. At SR there was a lone
single Sandhill Crane calling and flying north. It
must have dropped out of a flock at some point and was
seemingly looking for them, in the wrong direction.
The big influx of butterflies Friday continued to wane
being slower than yesterday which was much reduced
from Friday. A Dusky-blue Groundstreak at the
Library garden was the only thing different today.
Oct. 30 ~ Well yesterday's butterfly bonanza did not
continue today. Numbers were way down, and none of
the rarities were seen again. Though there were 3
Mexician Yellow together at once at the library, perhaps
the first time I've seen that, usually we're lucky to
get a single. A Celia's Roadside-Skipper was the
only thing I didn't see yesterday.
At UP there was a Pied-billed Grebe calling that territorial
call which means there were probably two. There were a
couple hundred Bluets (Enallagma sps.) that are probably
Familiar (E. civile). Only 6 Green Darner, 3 Swift Setwing,
5 Autumn Meadowhawk, Violet Dancer, and at the hovel on
SR, a late-ish Wandering Glider.
The immature male Rufous/Allens (Selasphorus sps.) hummer
was about. This individual has been here off and on
for weeks now, but is using other feeders elsewhere as it's
not around more days than it is.
Oct. 29 ~ Low of 32 in K'vl and Jct., we were close down
in the valley/town, but near 40 up on Seco Ridge. There
were 3 Hermit Thrush at first crack of light taking turns
in the bird bath. I saw or heard no hummingbirds
today outside. There was Spotted Towhee and Hutton's
Vireo. White-winged Dove flock numbers about 45 so I
think all the accipiter pressure encouraged some to fly
Well it turned out to be the best single butterfly day of
the year. Whooda thunk? I saw 45 species in less
than 90 minutes around town, most at the Library Garden,
but the Maxmillian Sunflowers along the river had more
butterflies in numbers, if not diversity. Of the
45 species I saw 7 were new for the month, and 4 of those
were new for the YEAR!
These first 5 mentioned were at the Library garden. The best
one for eye candy value was the ZEBRA HELICONIAN (ph.), first one
I've seen in a couple years here. A Sickle-winged Skipper
(ph.) was also the first here in two years. Two Southern
Skipperling (ph.) and a Rounded Metalmark were the first of the
month, and a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak (ph.) was the first one
of the year (!).
At the super red lantana (was Johnny's) in town there was a
Dorantes Longtail (ph.), the first one I've seen this year,
and at the park on the Maxmillian Sunflowers was a Brazillian
Skipper (ph.), the first I've seen here in a couple years.
The sunflowers were covered in butterflies, with two hundred
Fiery Skipper in a couple hundred yards, and 500+ butterflies
in the same space. It was like the good ol' days before
~ ~ ~ Note ~ ~ ~
There are a couple new pictures on the bottom of the ODDITIES
page (on bird photos page), a White-winged Scrub-Jay, and a
poor sketch of the hybrid Hermit x Townsends Warbler we saw last
year at Garner. Also the DAMSELFLY Photos page has a few
new ones, and better, some old poor ones removed, finally.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Oct. 28 ~ I heard a hummer out there first thing early
after not seeing one all day yesterday, so it must have
come in late yesterday before dark, or is one that is
hanging around the area and only visits periodically to
feed. It sounded like a Selasphorus (R/A) but I never
saw it, and didn't hear it again after first thing early.
It's nice to be down to three hummer feeders and no
hummers for a change, but we'll keep them up for the
Audubon's Orioles which like them when its freezing out.
In general, you should take your feeders down now, (and
CLEAN them - :)) unless you know you are going to be here
EVERY day all winter to maintain it. If it is left out,
and something decides to spend the winter, YOU have to take
care of it. Easier to get the feeders down now. :)
Front passed through after midnight last night and pre-dawn
the wind picked up, blew about 20 with gusts 25-30 much of
the day today, stopping at dusk, so you know what that means,
the cold air advection and radiational cooling will give
us our first night in the 30's since about early April.
Ooohhhh baby! Upper 30's but still, 30's they say.
We'll probably only get to 40 up here on Seco Ridge, but
I bet the town in the valley gets into the 30's. And
there go the odes - always the first 30's temps really have a
way of putting the end of the flight season in full gear.
At dusk we watched a Great Horned Owl through the scope
from the porch as it looked around from its snag perch.
Oct. 27 ~ Another day in the 90's, third in a row but
I see lows in the 40's and then 30's by the weekend.
Well this morning was the first morning since March
there was not a single hummingbird outside. The one
out there at 5:30 p.m. yesterday was not seen again,
and apparently the Broad-tailed, the Rufous/Allen's,
and the 3 Ruby-throated all here yesterday morning
have departed. From 3 sps. to none overnight,
and probably in a few hours after morning yesterday.
There were a couple Audubon's Orioles calling out there
this a.m. to help me get over the hummer blowout, but the
Scott's and Hooded are long gone (a few weeks) now, until
Butterflies were great in the yard with about 23 species,
half of which were on the purple mist Eupatorium in a pot.
A bunch of the others coming into watered caliche.
Best was a skipper which looked like Green or better (ph.).
A Theona Checkerspot was around for hours, the Orange
Skipperling was still around, some Monarchs and Queens,
a Red Satyr, Mestra, the Mexican Yellow made several
passes through the yard, Desert Checkered-Skipper,
Tawny Emperor, numbers of Dogface, Cloudless and Large
Orange Sulphurs were passing by.
Oct. 26 ~ Still hot, but not record hot, and supposed to
cool down soon. I saw the NOAA prediction for the
winter and it says La Nina will build (cool water in the
eastern Pacific) and so the normal dry, and a 50+% chance
of it being warmer than average. After last winter's
8 deg.F record low reading, that is fine with me.
Before sunup there was a Broad-tailed Hummingbird chipping
at the feeders, which I had a glimpse of on Sunday but
didn't mention. The Rufous/Allen's and 2-3 Ruby-
throated Hummingbirds continue. A Julia's Skipper
was at the Thoroughwort Eupatorium in the a.m., and in
the p.m. a Mexican Yellow came in to it! Only the
second I've seen this year, the last the odd May record.
Then near 6 p.m. an Orange Skipperling was on the purple
mist Eup out front. Species number 60 seen locally
this month! I haven't seen 60 sps. in a month in
two years locally, since Nov. 08. There were 22 sps.
(at least) in the yard today, without being out there looking
much, including Black Swallowtail, Mestra, Desert Checkered-
Skipper and several Large Orange Sulphurs passed through.
Oct. 25 ~ Record heat in the low 90's in the afternoon,
the first hot day of October really, as it has been very
nice with a low 60's to mid-80's range for most of the
month, with a couple quick extremely pleasant bursts
into the 50's-70's range. 'Twas 94 in Hondo, 96 in
Uvalde and 99 in Del Rio today! Still 3 Ruby-throated
Hummingbird and the Selasphorus (Rufous/Allen's) here.
Heard a FOS American (Water) Pipit flyover this morning.
Oct. 24 ~ A quick look in the afternoon at the park found
the first RINGED Kingfisher we've seen locally in probably
two years or more, a nice male. I heard a Black-
throated Green Warbler but didn't see it, the FOS.
Did see a Blue-headed Vireo, and heard Hutton's and White-
eyed Vireo. Over the pond there were roughly 2000 Bluets
(Enallagma sps. damselflies). Here at SR there are
still 3 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and one Rufous/Allen's
type Selasphorus hummer here. A Checkered White was
on the purple Eupatorium out front, and then at UP there
was a Tropical Leafwing. These local butterfly sps.
number 57 and 58 for the month, and making it the highest
monthly species diversity total of the year, and beating
last year's best month of 56 (last October).
Oct. 23 ~ Utopia to Uvalde we saw about 40 Scissor-tailed
Flycatcher along the roads most concentrated in a couple
flocks. At Ft. Inge we got good looks at and great
listens to, a pair of Green Jays, which even did their
(Red-shouldered ?) hawk imitation, weak compared to Blue Jay's,
but perhaps it is supposed to be a Roadside Hawk or such?
Otherwise just the expected stuff, but it seems to be
coming back after dove hunting season, but no Kiskadee
were heard still. One Nashville, 1 Orange-crowned
and a couple Myrtle Warbler, 1 Common Yellowthroat, a
couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Best bird was a quick
look at a flying away Downy Woodpecker that flushed before I
saw it (out of some willows) but I got it in my bins and
saw the big white stripe up the middle of the back.
One Great Southern White (lep) was seen, and for odes
there was an odd darner I got one lousy picture of before
a Monarch flushed it that had blue eyes and a green thorax.
I saw 5 Ivory-striped Sylphs there, and there were hundreds
of Green Darner.
The Uvalde Nat. Fish Hatchery had a few ducks but shorebirds
are through, only some Killdeer, 5 Least Sandpiper and a
Solitary Sandpiper for them. There were 4 FOS Ring-
necked Duck, 3 Cinnamon, 13 Green-winged and 40 Blue-winged
Teal, 2 Gadwall, 3 Wigeon, and a male Ruddy Duck.
A few Coot and Pied-billed Grebe, near a thousand Red-winged
Blackbird, 8 Vesper and 5 Savannah Sparrow.
Along the road we saw a Harris's Hawk, a dozen Caracara,
a couple Couch's Kingbird and best of all a 4' long
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, which I got pictures of
all coiled up, what a beauty! Best mouse trap ever.
Thanks Ken Cave for the ID help with my picture.
In the odd department was scanning some brown ag fields
for brown birds, which is always great fun of course.
I'm hoping for Mountain Plover, so it was easy to get
excited seeing what I was sure were plovers out in a field.
Stopped, turned around, got a look and sure enough, KILLDEER,
which are plovers, 175 of them! So though not the
rare bird I'd hoped, seeing 175 Killdeer together in a field,
just like Mountain Plovers was neat. I've seen over
200 Mountain Plover out here in a field, but never near this
many Killdeer together at once, and with nary a Mountain
Plover to be found. Very interesting.
Oct. 22 ~ Four Ruby-throated Hummingbird at once this a.m.,
and an imm. female Selasphorus of the Rufous/Allen's flavor.
Still only 6 Chipping Sparrow, so no migrants arriving yet.
The event of the day was just after dark hearing the
mccallii Tex-Mex Screech-Owls calling when one burst into
a full WHINNY call. This is not quite the regular
Eastern Screech-Owl whinny, but it is clearly a horse whinny,
which I have not heard in 7 years in the area.
It seems a falsetto version of the toad trill regular call,
about 7 notes, factors louder than the regular call, choppy,
and descending instead of staying mostly on one pitch.
I ran inside and got recorder set and it quit doing it by time
I was back out and taping. It never ceases to amaze me
how with bird vocalizations you can hear something new and
different after years of listening to the same birds.
I've heard these birds over a hundred nights a year for
five years, and never heard a whinny call. And there's
nothing like a tape recorder they can't see to get them
to shut up. It works with many bird species. I
did get some good crickets and katydids though, 5 species
to my ear.
Oct. 21 ~ I had three Ruby-throated Hummingbird at once
today, and thought I heard a Selasphorus for sure too.
Mestra about the yard. The native white and non-native
purple Eupatorium are both in full bloom, and a nice Aster
the hairstreaks loved at the butterfly garden that Kathy
sprouted from a seed, with hardly a butterfly on them all
day. Astounding. A Goatweed Leafwing was about,
but of course that not nectar related. Still a few
Buckeyes (not at the flowers) around, some passing southward
too as well, like the one or two Monarchs, Queens, and Gulf
Fritillary per day.
Oct. 20 ~ FOS Hermit Thrush at the bath this morning before
sunup. Probably just got in last night. Junco
still here, Hutton's Vireo, and a Caracara flew over early.
A fresh Olive Juniper Hairstreak was on the native white
Thorougwort Eupatorium out back. Two Ruby-throated
So has anyone else noticed an increase in Yellow Jackets?
Not our neighbors the Sabinal Yellow Jackets, the real
deal hymenoptera black and yellow waspish thing. We've
never had them at the hummingbird feeders until this fall,
and they seem everywhere now, whereas they were nowhere this
apparent the last 6 years prior.
There is that huge nest of hundreds at Utopia Park, and at
the library garden I saw a dozen drinking at the bird bath.
They are sometimes quite agressive chasing hummingbirds away
at the feeders. I've netted and euthanized (stomped on)
3-4 dozen, selecting against those that choose to be welfare
Yellow Jackets at the hummer feeders.
Oct. 19 ~ The Junco is still about, as are 6 Chipping Sparrows,
which have been here since September and are local breeders,
not the winter flock that will start arriving shortly. At
UP there were a couple Myrtle Warbler and at the butterfly
garden there was a Julia's Skipper, species number 56 for the
month, tying last months total, and last October's as well.
In the yard there was a late Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and
a Queen is on the blooming purple (potted) Eupatorium.
Oct. 18 ~ My earliest FOS Junco in the last 7 years was out
back this morning, a hatch-year female Slate-colored. The
Hutton's Vireo came down to the bird bath again. At least
two, maybe 3 Ruby-throated Hummingbird are around the 5
feeders we still have up.
Oct. 17 ~ Still two Ruby-throats here. A White-eyed
Vireo passed through the yard, but they are pretty well
past us now. We looked at some local spots but it
seemed the warblers and woodpeckers of yesterday were
mostly gone. Heard a flicker at the park, and there
was a nice male Yellow-shafted at the golf course, but
no sapsuckers. Heard a Green Kingfisher at the park,
saw a few Blue Jay, the only thing new was a very large
Yellow Jacket nest I'd never seen before, hundreds of them
it appeared. Even the half dozen plus Autumn Meadowhawk
dragonflies I saw were gone.
At the golf course there was a Common Yellowthroat at the
cattail pond, a couple Red-wing Blackbirds, but the highlight
being a bug I photo'd which I can't even guess a family yet.
Metallic tourquoise green with tomato red shoulders, then
droopy of abdomen, a half inch long, broad, and I'll have to
contact a couple bug buddies when I get the pix into the computer.
We couldn't find any migrants at UR except one, a new bird
for the grounds list, Pied-billed Grebe. Some Monarch
in the Frostweed, and roosting, about 150, few Tawny Emperor.
We had a few Barn Swallows scattered about and one Scissor-
tailed Flycatcher. Fatal Metalmark butterfly at the
butterfly garden, and a dozen Queen, but remarkably slow.
I would be remiss not to mention the Toxorhynchites we saw on
Frostweed at the park (photos). This is a spectacular
nectar feeding mosquito whose larvae feed on other mosquito
larvae. There is some Gay Feather really starting to get
going well on SR road, the Agalinis is about over, the native
Eupatoriums serotinum (White Boneset) and havanense (Thoroughwort)
are both blooming now, the latter the best butterfly flower
around if you can find some. The Black Dalea is peaking
with its beautiful purple display.
Oct. 16 ~ Two Ruby-throated Hummingbird still here, both
immature males, but no others. The Hutton's Vireo
really went to singing it's reapeated "see-you" song
this a.m.. Did a check of a few of the local spots to
see what changed with the front. The last couple days
right after it would have been better for knocked down migrants
as the good weather last night surely saw many leave, I heard
them after dark. But there were a few things around still,
and my how things change fast in fall as winter approaches.
First at UP the first bird I saw was a FOS Yellow-bellied
Sapsucker. Then a FOS Northern Flicker which was a
dirty bird, that is a hybrid Yellow x Red shafted Flicker.
Then I saw a pure male Yellow-shafted Flicker, and a FOS
hatch year Red-naped Sapsucker. Joe Fischer from
the Houston area reported a Red-nape at Garner St. Pk., I
think last weekend (plus a Downy!). Back to UP, there
was a lone American Robin, the first since the August bird,
and a couple or few Nashville Warbler there, a couple Green
Kingfisher, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and out on the rodeo
ring ground were 12 Myrtle and 1 Audubon's Warbler. A
couple more Myrtle were in the woods. Out in the field
adjacent was a FOS Meadowlark that looked Western. Leps
were a Clouded Skipper, Giant Swallowtail, and Mestra.
At the golf course pond there was a FOS White-crowned
Sparrow (imm.) and FOS (2) Savannah Sparrow, plus a few
Red-winged Blackbird, but that was it. Then over
at UR there were 10 Nashville feeding in the frostweed, and
a Green Kingfisher, but little else save a few residents.
A few dozen Monarchs were there, the Orange-barred Sulphur
continues on the blooming Turks-Cap, a Dusky-blue
Groundstreak was the second in a few days, and of the year.
A Texan Crescent was nice, and Tawny Emperors still in
numbers. An American Lady was on some Frostweed too.
Odes were few and far between save a few Green Darner, E.
Pondhawk, Blue Dasher, Swift and Checkered Setwing still
about. The new thing flying is seemingly good numbers
of Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum) of which I saw
over a half dozen of at UP. There were a couple more at
the golf course pond, and one at UR, so 10 locally today. I
haven't seen an Orange-striped Threadtail in a couple weeks
or close to it, still a few Blue-ringed and Violet Dancers,
and some un-ID'd bluets, presumed Familiar.
Oct. 15 ~ No Calliope or Rufous Hummingbird this a.m., and
only 1 or 2 at most Ruby-throated still here, everything
rode the wind out of town. The Cooper's and a Sharp-
shinned Hawk dove on the doves again this a.m., and I got
a good absolute dove count as the flock gathered up overhead,
The highlight of the day was a new "yard bird"
(which I haven't had in longer than I can remember as
once you've been at a yard a few years it takes something
rare and unusual). RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH was the
beast of the day, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah it nasally called
from the draw while I was on the front porch. Two
Black-crested Titmouse, a Chickadee and a Bewick's Wren all
went over to see it in a Bailey (Spanish) Oak, I presume
the odd foreign call of sufficient interest to inspect.
It is only the 3rd year of 7 I've detected it here, but
there haven't been any real good invasion years lately.
It is another one of those species like Purple Finch that
don't come south so far anymore like they used to regularly,
global warming deniers. It is real, and it is us.
Also here was another Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hutton's Vireo,
but I didn't see an oriole today. Withdrawals setting in.
Since mid-March there have been Scott's and Hooded Orioles at
the hummer feeders every day. Not soon enough (a month?)
the Audubon's will start hitting them for the winter.
The other good bird today was a FOS male Spotted Towhee,
which I thought I saw yesterday, and now am sure it was.
Wonder if it is a returnee of one that wintered last year,
or a bird passing through? Time will tell. One
other thing of interest was a Vesta Crescent butterfly here,
as the white native Eupatorium starts to bloom, sure enough.
Oct. 14 ~ This would have been the day to go birding for
migrants as the front really passed through. But I
had to keep my head at the desk, so can only tell you a
couple things from the yard. A Calliope Hummingbird
showed up, and I've lost count but about the fifth of the
year. An immature male Rufous was here too, which
could be the one that was here a while ago, but it has
been a while, I'll have to check the date gap and see if
it is seen again. Then about 4-5 immature male
Ruby-throated Hummingbird continue, but in the afternoon
the winds picked up to 20 MPH northeasterly and a few left.
Still Barn Swallows going by daily southbound.
A Cooper's Hawk migrant passed over and another dove on
the doves here, which number over 100 (White-winged) daily
at the seed pile. White-winged pigs they are. A
Sharpy dove on them too, and one dove flew right at me,
I think knowing I was safe and that the hawk might not
know that. Well the hawk didn't care and the dove
went over my head by less than a foot at full acceleration
with a Sharp-shinned Hawk less than 2' behind it, also at
full acceleration, leaving me at full exhilaration. I
couldn't see what happened as I was too close to the house
and they shot over it out of view. I couldn't believe
the Sharpy was that close and not losing ground, but the
dove was less than 30' from liftoff so still gaining speed.
IF the Sharpy got it, it could only ride it to the ground.
There was also an Orange-crowned Warbler and another Ruby-
crowned Kinglet, and another Audubon's Warbler flyover.
I think the lows were in the 40's last night, nice a.m.!
Oct. 13 ~ Winds out of the NE as front passing....with a
few Monarchs, a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's), an
Orange-crowned and a Nashville in the yard, plus a Ruby-
crowned Kinglet. Also Cooper's and Sharp-shinned
Hawk were about, the adult female Hooded Oriole, which
seems to be the last oriole here now. Some Gay Feather
is blooming now along SR road. Late in the p.m. there
were a couple southbound Barn Owl southbound over SR.
Had to run to town so stopped at the park where there was
another Nashville, and a Wilson's Warbler, another Kinglet,
Hutton's Vireo, and an adult female Black-and-white Warbler.
That could be the same one that has spent the last two winters
at the park, we'll have to see. It would be remarkable
to have a known case of a warbler that is a vagrant in winter
here, wintering at the site 3 years in a row. Green and
Belted Kingfisher were also there (2 ea.), plus Blue Jay,
Black Phoebe, and the regulars. There were hundreds of
Bluets (damselflies) out over the water too far to ID.
At the butterfly garden there was a female Whirlabout, numbers
of Dogface were everywhere and a Variegated Frit was in the yard.
Oct. 12 ~ A Belted Kingfisher was calling as it flew over
SR before sunup. I don't get many on "dry ridge".
A small liftoff of Turkey Vultures of about 25 that went
down on the ridge I suspect, had a couple Swainson's Hawks
in it as they left about 10 a.m.. In the afternoon
a small male extremely pale (tundrius) Pergrine flew over.
A few dozen Monarchs passed southwestish up high, and
still numbers of Black Saddlebags dragonflies, with a
few Reds mixed in, and lots of Green Darners still too.
Hutton's Vireo was around again, 'nother Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Best was at 10 p.m. calling that inimitable call of the wild,
as they headed south under the less than first quarter moon,
a flock of Sandhill Crane. That is enough to make you think
winter is on the way. The weak front passed over in
the afternoon and we got a nice shower of about a half inch
of rain over an hour and change. Beat the afternoon
heat with some needed precip, and low 50's tonight they say.
There are still at least a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
but the orioles are really getting scarce. I saw a female
Hooded yesterday, but no male in several days now. I didn't
see the male Scott's today either but sometimes they get irregular
before they go, though within a week or so, they will be gone
until next March if not already gone. I already feel the
empty nest syndrome comapred the the dozen plus visiting a half-
dozen times each, every day, most of March through September.
Between 10:45 and 11:15 p.m. FIVE Barn Owl flew over southbound,
each calling a couple times on the way, so clearly different
individuals, and a big flight night for them.
Oct. 11 ~ A slow day in the yard, two Ruby-crowned Kinglet
and a Yellow-rumped Warbler went by, plus a dozen Barn Swallow.
Two Hutton's Vireo were about the yard calling back and forth,
and a Lincoln's Sparrow was about the seed pile in the p.m..
The excitement was about 6:15 p.m. when a large flock of migrant
Turkey Vulture came from the north, over 200 birds, 100 of which
set down on top of the hill inside the back (2nd) loop on SR
(Seco Ridge). They immediately went to preening and sunning
upon landing to roost for the night. There were 5 and 10 to
a tree I could see quite well with the scope from the porch.
In with them as they passed over was my FOS Northern Harrier,
and 5 Swainson's Hawks. After that calmed down, about
6:30 p.m., a flock of Swainson's Hawks appeared, about 500 birds
total! They came off the main high ridge (the divide) to the
west and hesitated for 15 minutes circling over the back part of
SR deciding whether or not to go down on the cliff to roost or
head down into the valley and the river corridor, which is what
they eventually did, the whole 500 streaming over quickly towards
the valley after milling about for some time.nbsp; Almost all were
adults, only 5 juveniles (hatch year birds) were seen. It
was a spectacular half hour migrant show from the porch.
Two Barn Owls flew over southbound after dark.
Oct. 10 ~ Two Hutton's Vireos vocalizing about the yard again.
At UP there were a couple dozen Monarchs, but down at Utopia on
the River in a few acres of Frostweed there were a couple hundred.
Most nectaring, some roosting. Lots of Tawny Emperors were
on the Frostweed too, and Kathy found a male Great Purple Hairstreak.
Which is blue. Whoever named it was color blind. It
seems like that should be against the rules.
Nashville Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet were at UR, but slow for
migrants out there today. There was Marsh Wren at the cattail
lined pond at the golf course, and a dozen Red-winged Blackbirds.
A few dozen Barn Swallows were southbound over SR in the p.m.
again, and about 30 Turkey Vultures looked like a migrant flock.
A little brown skulker got away from us at the butterfly garden.
I saw at least 3 Sharp-shinned Hawks over the day.
Oct. 9 ~ A few dozen Barn Swallow passed southbound. A few
Monarchs as well. A Common Wood-Nymph landed on the steps
while I was on the porch! A good butterfly to come to you.
I think the male Hooded Oriole might have left, didn't see it
again today. Field Sparrow was out there with some Chipping.
Seven hummingbird feeders all being guarded, with more trying to
get a drink in edgewise. I have to play musical feeders to
leave one guarding a hanger, and all of a sudden a new unguarded
one is available, for a short while, repeat. Last night and
tonight there were some decent Draconid meteors, I only saw one
good orange fireball, but mark your calendars, next years show is
supposed to be an outstanding one.
Oct. 8 ~ Here at SR in the yard passing through there was a Yellow
Warbler, an Audubon's Warbler and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. at UP
there were 2 Wilson's and a Nashville Warbler, Lincoln's Sparrow,
House Wren, and while I was pishing up a storm an immature male
Indigo Bunting burst into a full bar of song, once only. Also
of interest there was a lep, the first Dusky-blue Groundstreak I've
seen all year locally, and an ode, a male SLOUGH AMBERWING dragonfly.
This is a very rare animal up here in the hill country, and the
only record I have was a few years ago one male at the park from
mid September to mid-October, last seen with a female ovipositing.
Belted Kingfisher and Great Blue Heron were there at UP as well.
At the butterfly garden there was a Fatal Metalmark, and a female
Whirlabout was at the Sabinal Canyon Museum lantanas. At UP
there were about a dozen migrant Monarchs, roosting and nectaring
on Frostweed. A couple or few per day have been passing over
at SR as well. Couple dozen + Barn Swallows passing southbound.
Oct. 7 ~ Has to be 8-10 immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
still, as 6 feeders are all being guarded, and they are being
approached by more. The one fingered adult male continues.
A Selasphorus was about that looked like one that has been
here but I can't be sure. I didn't see the male Hooded
Oriole today, but the male Scott's still sang a bit. I'll
be missing that soon. At 7:30 a.m. just before sunup there
was a Tex-Mex mccallii Screech-Owl calling in the yard.
Oct. 6 ~ Still the same hummers and orioles here, a few Barn
Swallows passing southbound, and a couple Monarch. In the
p.m. a Red Satyr and Reakirt's Blue butterflies were around.
For Odes, at least of Black Saddlebags passed over SR southbound,
a few Red Saddlebags and Green Darner with them, couple Wandering
Oct. 5 ~ Same hummer and oriole show as yesterday. A dozen
Barn Swallows went by in the a.m., a dozen in the p.m., and at
dusk a flock of 28 went over, so they are beating tracks south.
One Monarch in the a.m. and 4 in the p.m. all on the move SW.
Oct. 4 ~ The adult male Ruby-throat with one primary on left wing
still here, and probably 8-10 imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
The Calliope Hummingbird continues as well, an immature female methinks.
A half-dozen Barn Swallow passed over, the male Hooded Oriole was
about with the female and immatures, as were the Scott's Orioles,
a Sharp-shinned and 2 Cooper's Hawks were around, and the doves
look nervous. A couple Monarchs passed SW bound. A flock
of Turkey Vultures over SR looked like migrants, about 60 of them.
Oct. 3 ~ A bit of a reinforcing dry cool air filtering in keeping
afternoon temps below 90, and lows near 50, sure feels great!
Did some local checking today, and at the various stops saw over
40 species of butterflies in a few hours. Best were a Zilpa
Longtail at the Sr. Ctr. lantana, the first this year locally,
an Orange-barred Sulphur at UR, my first this fall, and a Great
Purple Hairstreak (on Evergreen Sumac again) on Seco Ridge.
A few Monarchs were seen some nectaring, some moving southwestish.
A FOS Sharp-shinned Hawk was here at SR diving on the birds first
thing back. Doesn't take long. The half-dozen imm. male
Ruby-throats continue, and a Calliope was here, which I haven't seen
in days, so don't know for sure if its new or not. At UP there
were 4 Nashville Warbler and an imm. male Indigo Bunting, 1 Belted
Kingfisher. At UR there was a scolding flock that probably
had a screech-owl in a hole that I couldn't see but everything came
into the mob scene. Including 2 FOS Blue-headed Vireo, 4 more
Nashville, 4 Orange-crowned Warbler in one field of view at the mob
scene, and Hutton's and White-eyed Vireo. The golf course
pond had a Wilson's Snipe (same?) and 2 FOS local Common Yellowthroat.
Oct. 2 ~ A solo Uvalde run. At the hatchery there was a
Pergrine terrorizing shorebirds, some Avocets, a Savannah Sparrow,
a Lincoln's Sparrow, one each Pintail, Shoveller, and the same
weary and worn Gadwall, a couple Coot, a couple Pied-billed Grebe.
At Cook's Slough a Common Yellowthroat, heard a waterthrush, but
not much, and Ft. Inge is still shell shocked from dove season
so a bit slow yet, but I dug out a Wilson's Warbler, a Yellow
Warbler, a Nashville Warbler or two, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
3 Green Kingfisher, but slow going overall. Best there was
a Comet Darner. Along the roads lots of Scissor-tailed
Flycatcher (50+), some new (winterers) Eastern Red-tailed Hawks,
a Merlin diving through a thousand Brewer's Blackbirds made them
split apart like an amoeba a dozen times as it stooped through
them, Swainson's and Harris's Hawks, and twice I was sure I
heard White-crowned Sparrows but never saw one. There were
a dozen Lincoln's Sparrow at Ft. Inge.
October 1 ~ The Plateau Agalinis (Agalinis edwardsiana) is just
at or passing peak now, some places a hundred yard opening
between trees is solid pink. Now the stems will all turn
maroon, so we still get a show of sorts as it fades away.
This was the best bloom by factors for 3 years at least.
The Kidneywood is just starting to pass peak now too.
A Nashville Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet passed through.
September totalled 56 species of butterflies locally, the best
month so far this year, a far cry from the 93 species in Sept. 07.
But better than Sept. 09 when only 46 species were detected.
It is the first month of 56 species diversity since Oct. 09 (a year).
The drought really hit butterflies hard, and it will be at least
another year before we see anything we could call recovery, if lucky.
The drought was worse for odes, especially with the river drying
up for the most part in 09. The numbers of odes locally are
a small fraction of the prior 6 years. It will likely take
another cycle of several wet years to build up what we had here.
September is often a great flurry of activity as things finish their
flying year, and it was slow beyond belief.
September 30 ~ An immature Calliope Hummingbird was new today,
and the 6 plus imm. Ruby-throats continue as does the messed
up adult male. A Dickcissel was about the yard in the a.m.,
and a Desert Checkered-Skipper was the only mentionable butterfly.
Sept. 29 ~ Here at SR a House Wren, Nashville and Yellow Warbler,
a Dickcissel, and a FOS Clay-colored Sparrow. At UR there
was a Wilson's Warbler, and at the park a Nashville, Belted
Kingfisher and the Barred Owl pair at the north end. Down
the road on SR there was a FOS local American Kestrel finally.
At the hovel in the p.m. there was a Common Wood-Nymph butterfly,
and a Dainty Sulphur, the latter normally not mentionable, but
post drought has been quite scarce. About a half-dozen imm. male
Ruby- throated Hummingbird remain, and one adult male that is
wounded or some such, it has only ONE primary (main flight feather)
on its left wing. So it sounds like a B-17 bomber trying
to stay airborne, flying more like a bumblebee.
Sept. 28 ~ A House Wren was it for the day, but after dark I heard
what will likely be my last Upland Sandpiper of the year pass over.
Sept. 27 ~ About a half-dozen Ruby-throats continue, seemingly all
immature males. Besides a Nashville Warbler, an Orange-crowned
passed through the yard, as did a FOS Audubon's Warbler. They
beat Myrtle again, 6 falls of 7. A Theona Checkerspot passed
through the yard, and after dark Kathy heard a migrant shorebird
pass over southbound. I heard a FOS Barn Owl go over.
Sept. 26 ~ Always go looking when a front passes. Usually
one group of birds passes ahead of it, another is grounded while
the inclement weather is present, and invariably a wave follows
it down. Yesterday it was clear most of the birds that had
been grounded most of the week had departed. After the evening
rain last night, the winds turned to the NE overnight with frontal
passage and a whole new set of birds was about in the morning.
First in the yard here at SR all together there was a Nashville
Warbler, an immature White-eyed Vireo, and a very bright eastern
BELL'S Vireo, a very scarce migrant here in fall. It reminded
me to put my shoes on and go check a few spots. The park
didn't have much for landbird migrants but the rain last night
brought the FOS Pied-billed Grebe, and a flock of ducks which
had 3 (FOS) Shoveller and 12 Blue-winged Teal. Because I
checked yesterday, we know these birds came in with the front.
New at the Golf course cattail pond was a Wilson's Snipe,
quite a rare migrant in the valley here. The hot spot
though was the Utopia on the River area. I found a group
of warblers there that was one of the best I've seen here in
September. There were about 25 Nashville Warblers, a male
Wilson's, a Yellow, an ad. fem. Black & White, and an imm. female
American Redstart, and at least one FOS Orange-crowned Warbler.
A spectacular flock for here in fall. They were in Cedar Elms
(just as at Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, of course!) where the
bugs are in fall, not the live-oaks or pecans. Also there was
a FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-eyed and Hutton's Vireo in the flock.
Around town there was a Zone-tailed Hawk, about finished with
primary molt now, and about 10 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were
at the north end of town, a few at the south end, a few Blue-gray
Gnatcatchers around, and a few Monarchs seemed to be on the move.
In the late p.m. there seemed to be maybe a dozen immature male
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds left, and one adult male. My
FOS Peregrine flew over about 5:30 p.m.. It was a male
that circled up and then dove and took a dragonfly, probably a
Green Darner out of the air. That reminds me, there was a
Neon Skimmer and again a Pale-faced Clubskimmer at UR. Real
late p.m. a House Wren popped up out of the fallow overgrown garden,
the first I've seen since the one a few weeks ago that was way early,
e.g., a normal arrival date.
Sept. 25 ~ A Least Flycatcher was in the back yard in the a.m.,
but the park and Utopia on the River had just about no migrants.
One FOS Belted Kingfisher at the park, a Yellow Warbler, but real
excitement was had by finding a SCRUB-JAY on the island! This
is the first one I've seen at the park in 7 years, and a hatch-year
bird no doubt wandering around looking for a territory like the ones
that just got chased out of our yard by the parents. With some
Red-wings, there was a male Yellow-headed Blackbird at the Golf Course
cattail pond. We can figure this time of year that the front
bearing down on us will bring a new set and wave of fall migrants.
There were a few Monarchs around, including 3 at UR nectaring
on frostweed. At the Sabinal Canyon Museum lantanas there
were skippers: Fiery, Eufala, Dun, Southern Broken-Dash, Sachem,
Whirlabout, Celia's Roadside-Skipper, and a Horace's Duskywing.
The Library garden is still about dead for butterflies, save
a Queen and a couple Pipevine Swallowtail. With the rain
it should have a good fall bloom in a week or two, often peak
butterfly season here. I had a good butterfly fly by in
the yard today, but it didn't stop, so I only got a flight look.
It looked like a Gold-spotted Aguna (Aguna asander) which I have
only seen once here before. We'll never know for sure.
A couple Tawny Emperors were at the Senior Center lantana.
Got some hopefully good pix of the fancy cerambycid (long-horned
beetle) Stenspsis verticallis insignis mating today There
is a picture of this spectacularly beatiful beetle on the insects
page. They meet on the Evergreen Sumac every year between
Sept. 20 and Oct. 20 while it blooms, to mate. And for
some reason certain individual specimens of the plant are by far
preferred over others. Often not the largest showiest
specimen either. The holy bush that is the favorite one
of theirs is nearly like Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree compared
to a giant lovely specimen just feet away. Yet the beetles choose
this bush to meet for 5 years now, over a much finer specimen adjacent.
Most huge show grade Rhus virens specimens have no Cerambycids
and the occasional scrawny one is covered with them. Go figure.
If I had a few lives this might be interesting to work on, but
for now, I'll just report on what I see, especially if it makes
me scratch my head.
There was a Pale-faced Clubskimmer (dragonfly) at UR today, plus
Kiowa Dancer, American Rubyspot, Dusky Dancer. At UP a few
Blue Dasher, E. Pondhawk, Green Darner, Black, and Red, Saddlebags,
Wandering Glider, but slim pickins overall. Nothing like
A very heavy bit of rain passed in front of the front at dark,
probably nearly a half inch in less than an hour.
Sept. 24 ~ More Blue-grays, a Summer Tanager imm., Hutton's
Vireo, just Scott's and Hooded for orioles, but a dozen or
so between them.  About 15-20 immature Ruby-throated
Hummingbird, still 3 adult males. a female or immature
Broad-tailed Hummingbird was around for a bit, and a fully
tailed Selasphorus (Rufous/Allen's) showed up too. I saw
10 Large Orange Sulphur at once on the Agalinis around the
place, so perhaps we have an invasion of them going. Often
it seems lots of them means other good butterflies show up.
A couple Upland Sandpipers called just at dark as they headed
south overhead. It had largely cleared today, though
very humid, but a cell hit with another 1/4"+ of rain at dark!
But the clear returned quickly, and I'm sure all the grounded
migrants will blow out overnight.
Sept. 23 ~ Still multiple Blue-grays Gnatcats southbound daily,
a Hutton's Vireo was about for a bit, and a partly (half) tailed
Selasphorus (Rufous probably) hummingbird continues. There are
still 3 adult male Ruby-throats, 15+ immature mostly male Ruby-
throat. At Utopia Park (UP) there was calling Barred Owl,
Blue Jays, Black Phoebe, Summer Tanager, a male Wilson's Warbler
and probably the same Yellow-breasted Chat again in the Ragweed
Nat'l Forest at the south end of the park. We got another 1/4"
and change of rain today, we are near 2" for the last 3 days!
A couple dozen Large Orange Sulphur butterflies were around
nectaring on the Plateau Agalinis, I had 8 in view at once.
Two-tailed and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are daily still.
A Scrub-Jay took a sunflower seed, crammed it into a junction
of a branch with a trunk of a juniper, and peeled 4 strips of
juniper bark off, 3 of which were wedged in the fork to cover
up the sunflower seed very neatly and well-done I might say.
Note: brief note added to Sept. 15 entry (if you'd already been
there before) about interesting Scrub-Jay behavior.
Sept. 22 ~ A few Blue-gray Gnatgrabbers daily still passing
southboud through the yard (they are diurnal migrants). The
immature Blue Grosbeak continues, and an immature female
Nashville Warbler was around a while that had the dullest
throat I've ever seen on one. Orioles did another pint+
of sugar water today. A large satin white butterfly
passed by that seemed a White Angled-Sulphur to me. The
Tex-Mex mccallii Screech-Owl were calling, as are the Barking
Frogs. We got near another half-inch of rain today!
It's from a tropical low that was part of and flung up here by
Karl, that took a life of its own. In between clouds we
got a look at Uranus, the planet, which is a degree from Jupiter
now, and is not always easy to find for a dummy like me.
Sept. 21 ~ I presume yesterday's male Baltimore Oriole was back,
and used the hummer feeder right outside the office window.
4-6 each of Hooded and Scott's daily, or more, it is hard to
keep track, especially of the hatch year birds. They drank
over a pint of fluid today, I can tell you that, so however many
orioles that is. At least 3 Blue-gray Gnats passed through
the SR yard. There are at least 20 imm. or female Ruby-
throated Hummingbirds still and at least 3 adult males continue.
We had over an INCH of rain today after a few days of lots of
mist and drizzle and showerlets. At 11 p.m. (dark) a large bird
flew very low over me outside, which by wingbeat sound I would
say was a Turkey Vulture. It must have been flushed.
Sept. 20 ~ Well as I speculated (see next date post) it was the
last of a group I missed when I saw the single Mississippi Kite
fly over low late in the p.m. yesterday. They must have
roosted right around here, and luckily I was outside early as
at 8 a.m. there were 22 Mississippi Kites soaring low over SR.
12 at once landed in the snag a hundred yards south of us and
I got them in scope for views and one digiscope photo. Then
they moved and landed up on the east knoll (inside 2nd loop)
on SR, and after a while lifted off again and left. They
were all immatures, not an adult amongst them. Spectacular
birds, so graceful in flight they appear to be helium filled
and lighter than air.
Another big change today was 2 Audubon's Orioles coming in,
the first I've seen since April! Calling and everything.
An immature or female Orchard Oriole, and a Baltimore Oriole
were around the yard, so with the daily Scott's and Hooded,
there were FIVE species of orioles in the yard today! WOW!
We've had it before, but I still can't believe it when it happens.
Other things were the regulars like a few Blue-gray Gnatcats
passing through, the immature Blue Grosbeak continues, a Caracara
flew over, an Ash-throated Flycatcher called (a passage migrant),
a Nashville Warbler was in the yard, 2 Barn and a Cliff Swallow
passed over, a barely tailed Selasphorus (Rufous probably)
Hummingbird is about. I heard a chi-dit two note dry
call that sounded like a Ruby-crowned Kinglet but couldn't
At UP there was a FOS Yellow-breasted Chat, a couple Indigo
Buntings (non-ad.male), and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Over
at the golf course there was cohesive flock of 60 Eastern Bluebird
that was impressive. when they flushed I heard what I'd
have sworn was a Cedar Waxwing, but couldn't spot it. I did
pick an Olive-sided Flycatcher out though. The Waxwing
would have been such an early date, I prefer to see it as well
before I make it my earliest by far ever record.
Sept. 19 ~ We had showers off and on all day, so I gave the
fire ants, mosquitoes, poison oak and bee hive a day off at
the park. Did have a flyover Dickcissel in the a.m..
I presume it's the oldest male of the Hooded Oriole young of
the year is now getting its first blackish in the throat.
Interesting was 2 Cliff Swallows flying east early this a.m..
Heard the imm. Blue Grosbeak outside this afternoon. After
a late p.m. rain shower about 5:40 a single MISSISSIPPI KITE
flew over very low, either the last of a group I missed, or a loner.
One Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was about the yard in the p.m. too.
The biggest thing today was the hummingbird blowout of yesterday.
This morning there are about 25-30 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
left here, at least a few are adult males, most are imm. males.
The 18th there were about 75 left, the 17th about 125-150 were here,
and probably over 150+ on the 16th. That is how quickly
it happens. We've been swarmed with them for a few
great weeks, and poof they're gone, almost. If we're
lucky we'll get another wave with the next front, but it may
just dwindle down to zero over the next few weeks.
Sept. 18 ~ Karl threw or dragged up a huge wave of tropical
moisture into south Texas, from which we got spritzing but
that was about it today. Before sun hit us about 7 a.m.
I heard 4-5 Dickcissel pass over calling and one Yellow Warbler.
So I took a quick run down to the park.
First thing I had to get a pic of the Indian Mallow, and doing
that got a leg and shoe full of fire ants. Only about 10
bites, only 6 seriously bad ones. Then I went to the north
end woods and got about 10 mosquito bites to go with them.
I thought about rubbing some poison ivy on my bare calfs while
I was there, I mean, they were numb already. The bees were
all at the entrance to their hive, but didn't seem interested.
Have I told y'all lately to get out and enjoy some nature!?!
A look at Utopia Park and Utopia on the river for migrants
found one Yellow Warbler and a Yellow-throated Vireo.
No swallows or flycatchers around town, looks like stuff
is clearing out. Thought I heard a Common Yellowthroat.
I'd swear the Green Darner dragonflies are eating all the others.
I've never seen a mid-September with so few odes, heck there were
more last year when the river was dry!
The best thing was a Scallopwing butterfly at UP, very fresh,
a female, and probably Mazans Scallopwing (Staphylus mazans).
I got a poor docu shot, it is probably the first of any sort
of picture of one I have locally, and methinks the first I've seen
at UP. It is almost regular at Cooks' Slough down in Uvalde.
Multiple Two-tailed and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were seen
again today, they're both having a good late flight season.
Red Satyr flopped through the yard, several Bordered Patch
were around town, and at the Sabinal Canyon Museum lantana patch,
skippers there were Dun, Fiery, Eufala, Whirlabout, and S. Broken-Dash.
I've euthanized 6 yellow crab spiders on my yellow lantana.
I have one butterfly bush blooming, and I do not intend to
have a crab spider farm. If you put a jar under the flower
head and tap the flower sharply, you can usually easily get the
spider to fall off the flower. It will show right back up
if you don't kill it. You may want to check your flowers
carefully for them now, as there is little blooming so the few
flowers all seem to have spiders on them. Green Lynx
Spiders are everywhere on the flowers too, and the big Argiope
Orb Weavers are are showing up now as well. As if butterflies
aren't scarce enough trying to recover from the drought.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds seem to be blowing out of Dodge.
I might have had 75 today, but in the late afternoon it really
seemed to get thin. No other species are present here now.
The Kidneywood is really blooming now and you can smell the sweet
pea scent just driving by a patch, Evergreen Sumac is starting
to bloom in a few places, and the Frostweed is getting going.
The Plateau Agalinis is going bonkers, and it looks like a
thousand little pieces of pink tissue paper outside here.
Sept 17 ~ There were about 125 Ruby-throated, and for the second
day, that is the only species present. A FOS Osprey flew
over on an outlfow boundry, as did an immature Cooper's Hawk
that was likely a migrant, as opposed to the low flying local
sneaking up the draw looking for doves. We got a trace of
spritzin' (not one of Santa's deer) from an outer band from
Hurricane Karl which is hitting Vera Cruz in Mexico. A few
Barking Frog calling here still.
Sept. 15 ~ The same two imm. male Black-chinned Hummingbirds
continue, as do 150 or so Ruby-throated, but neither the Rufous
nor Broad-tailed were seen today. The immature Blue Grosbeak
continues on the seed, and 2 Baltimore Oriole passed through
the Scott's and Hooded Orioles in the yard.
The Scrub-Jays are chasing the young out of the yard, early
this fall. They let all the young of the year stay in
the yard until the same day, often up to 6 young from 3 nestings.
Though this year only 4 made it, but the 2-3 day tirade is in
progress that gets them to go. The parents can not start
caching food for the winter until the young are chased out of
the territory, otherwise the young think they are just playing
hide and seek with food. This year the young were chased
out early. What does that mean for winter?
Sept. 14 ~ The Broad-tailed tailed must have tanked and split
early as it wasn't out there all day, was here at dark last night.
The imm. male Rufous was here till the afternoon at least.
Still 125-150 Ruby-throats and 2 imm. male Black-chinned.
The male Scott's Oriole gave a long series of songs, but
quietly. An Ash-throated Flycatcher was the first in weeks.
There were two different Southern Broken-Dash (butterflies) in
the yard today.
Sept. 13 ~ NO hybrid hummingbird today, but the imm. male
Broad-tailed and Rufous continue, with way over a hundred
Ruby-throated, and still 2 Black-chinned immatures. At
UP there was a Mourning and a Yellow Warbler. The Sabinal
Canyon Museum lantana held a Southern Broken-Dash skipper,
and Utopia Joe's flowers had a Two-tailed Swallowtail
that was hungry enough to let me photograph it closely.
Sept. 12 ~ The Broad-tailed is still here, but the hummers
seem to be blowing out, tanking up and leaving to fly
a couple few hours before it gets hot. The older adult
female Scott's Oriole is showing much fresh basic plumage.
Crown and nape fresh olive, cheek gray, much new black in
throat and upper breast, nice black spots in back and on
upper scapulars. Blue Grosbeak was on the seed.
Add-on - at 7 p.m. a Common Wood-Nymph (butterfly) flopped
across the yard, the first one I've seen all year.
I heard some weird calling out there after dark that sounded
remarkably like a Long-eared Owl. I didn't go chase
it down, so we'll never know.
Sept. 11 ~ A third of the month gone by already.... wow
how time sure flies when it rains. At UP there were
no migrant birds, only residents save a White-eyed Vireo.
A few butterflies included Texan and Phaon Crescent, and
Viceroy. One Green Kingfisher flew by as I was leaving.
At the north end of town a half-dozen Scissor-tailed Flycatcher,
a couple dozen Barn and a half-dozen Cave Swalow.
At the golf course pond across from the cemetary there were a
whopping 17 Red-winged Blackbirds, up from 1 a week ago, and
a couple were just fledged juveniles without full tails, all
buffy of face. There were a dozen Fiery Skipper on the
Frogfruit there, with 2-3 Whirlabout, the first of them I have
seen this year, and a couple Eufala. The aster that is
growing there I believe is Hierba del Marrano (Aster subulatus).
The little patch of Frogfruit there has more action than the
butterfly garden where I saw ONE Northern Cloudywing today.
Then a quick look at Utopia on the River and I heard the
calling DOWNY WOODPECKER !! Other things there were a
Mourning Warbler - a hatch year bird, 2-3 Yellow Warbler,
3 Indigo Bunting, and a cuckoo I only saw in flight that did
not show any rufous whatsoever in wing. I couldn't refind it
after it flew, but surely it was Black-billed. The bird of
the day often gets away.
A good butterfly there was a Tropical Leafwing, the first I've seen
this year. A Texas Powdered Skipper was on some Frostweed.
The rain last week saved the bloom for much of it as it was parched,
without buds, and now it looks like a great bloom will take place,
even though the plants will only be 2-4' tall instead of 5-6'.
Makes it easier to see everything on the flowers when we look
down on them anyway.
In the SR yard the Hutton's Vireo was singing, and a White-eyed Vireo
did too as it passed through. The Calliope Hummingbird tanked
and split in the morning.  The Broad-tailed was still here in
the p.m.. Finally I saw the imm. male Rufous, and the Plum or
Mauve throated hybrid is still present. Boatload of Ruby-throats,
and several imm. Black-chinned continue. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
passed through and a Summer Tanager was around that may still be the
same hatch year bird hanging out. Zone-tail now molting outer
Here and around town there were Two-tailed and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
flying, as well as Pipevine, Giant, and Black Swallowtail. A few
Gulf and one Variegated Fritillary, some Buckeye, a Mestra in town and
one at the hovel, a dozen Large Orange and a couple Cloudless Sulphur,
several Lysides, one yellow morph, several Dogface, so it sorta is
starting to feel like butterflies might pick up yet. There are a
few things blooming now, Snow-on-the-Mountain is going well, though
most seems unused, Frostweed is starting to go off, Eryngo and Kidneywood
is blooming now too. Not a nectar source but pretty was an acre
plus with a thousand Rain Lily all opened up. A couple Angel's
Trumpet flowers are opening at the patch down 357 here on SR. A little
rain can do some wonders for a fall bloom. Now we just need some leps.
A few sprigs of Fireweed, or Cardinal Flower (Lobelia Cardinalis) are
blooming creekside now.
Odes way down at the park, I think it is the darn Green darners.
Less than 10 each of Blue Dasher, E. Pondhawk, Checkered Setwing, and
Swift Setwing.  An ovipositing pair of Orange-striped Threadtail
(Protoneura cara) were being harassed by a single male.
Sept. 10 ~ We had some fog/mist off and on all a.m., and the hummingbird
show continued with Calliope, Broad-tailed, a hybrid Archilochus, and
a hundred plus Ruby-throated. Monarch flew southbound across the SR yard.
Blue-gray Gnatgrabber, Hutton's Vireo, greenie Painted Bunting.
Barking Frog calling again after dark.
Sept. 9 ~ In the yard was Yellow and Wilson's Warbler, a male Baltimore
Oriole, a Blue Grosbeak, an Indigo Bunting, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
all migrants. Post-system movement and fallout continues. The
hummer show is all the same, with one each of imm. male Rufous, Calliope,
and Broad-tailed, probably 125 plus Ruby-throated non-ad.male and a dozen
adult male Ruby-throated, plus a few (6?) immature Black-chinned and the
Mauve-throated adult male hybrid continues. Barking Frog calling lots.
Sept. 8 ~ A little quick rain band went over pre dawn, so we are
maybe up to 1.25" of precip from Hermine. It went 50-60 miles
EAST of the forecast track leaving us on the west (DRY) side.
But a lot of central Texas got walloped with 5"-10", some spots got
about 15" of rain as predicted. We still have a greenie
(imm. Painted Bunting), and Dickcissel here at the seed. The
Scott's Oriole sang a little, the adult Hooded getting new broadly
edged in buff basic feathers in on its nape.
The hybrid hummer 0907 is still about, as are imm.ma. Rufous 0827 (arrival
date) and Broad-tailed 0901, a couple Black-chinned, 100-150 Ruby-throated,
CALLIOPE 0908 showed up while I was standing there, so I got some
shots of it including one of the fully spread tail. It seems
like when I stand on the porch it makes some nervous, so the shy ones
come in often at that point. Usually it resembles a bag of cats
Did have a Two-tailed and an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail outside
today, and a Red Satyr tried to dry out for a bit too.
Sept. 7 ~ By 5 p.m. Tropical Storm Hermine gave us about a meager
inch of rain counting overnight, mostly in the early a.m. around dawn.
It ran east of the predicted path so the center went over San Antonio
instead of us, and we got the dry side so far. At the north end
of town there were at least 200 Cave Swallows on the wires, 50 Barn,
one Bank, and a very tardy Purple Martin. At UP there were a
couple Wilson's Warblers, a Least Flycatcher, and 4 Indigo Bunting.
A Rufous, and a Selasph. sps. both immature males, the Broad-tailed,
a couple imm. male Black-chins all continue here at SR, but many more
Ruby-throated have arrived. Then there is the weird one that I first
saw mid-late afternoon. Luckily I got a few pictures of it. My best
guess is a hybrid Ruby-throated x Black-chinned. It is an adult male.
Here's a picture. I put a normal Black-chinned purple over it to
refresh your memory, and for better comparison. There is no red or
pink in normal Black-chinned violet, it is blue or ultra violet.
This birds throat is plum colored, sometimes more
reddish, other times more purple. An iridescent
wine or magenta burgandy, or rose pink purple, hard to describe
as it changes somewhat but this is not an artifact of
feeder reflection, and is quite accurate true real color.
The black chin is more narrow than normal Black-chinned,
and thicker than Ruby-throated.
Sept. 6 ~ We took an afternoon hike up Can Creek at Lost Maples.
Just about had the place to ourselves as usual on the last
afternoon of a holiday weekend. A brief stop at UP on
the way had an Olive-sided Flycatcher on the other side of the pond.
I'd taken my net looking for the big odd darner that hung up in the
woods yesterday, but didn't see anything. A Great Crested
Flycatcher called greeep! from across the river. A few Scissor-tailed
Flycatcher and Vermilion Flycatcher were along 187 north of town.
At LM it was quiet for birds since the afternoon though a few
things were moving. Butterflies and odes were slow maybe due
to the intermittent cloud cover. There were a couple family
groups of Eastern Wood-Pewee with adults still feeding begging
young. One Louisiana Waterthrush likely a continuing summering
bird. One Yellow, one Mourning, and heard a Wilson's Warbler.
Two Olive-sided Flycatchers calling "Quick three beers"
was neat. One Least and one Acadian Flycatcher. Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher, Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireo,
Hutton's Vireo, Canyon Wren, Common Raven, some Indigo Bunting,
but no Green Kingfisher, Zone-tailed Hawk, or Scott's Oriole.
One of those big Red-headed Centipede about 7" long was great.
Amongst odes Green Darner, Eastern Pondhawk, and Blue Dasher
were common, as were Kiowa Dancer, but past that it got thin
quickly. There were 6 Comanche Skimmer, a Pale-faced Clubskimmer,
but no Neon, Flame, or Widow Skimmer, no Common Whitetail,
no Baskettails, no Banded Pennants or Dragonhunter. Did the
Green Darners eat everything else? One Orange Bluet.
A few butterflies were about, best being about 3 Two-tailed
Swallowtail, and 2 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. A Little Wood
Satyr was good too. Three Monarchs all appeared to be hunting
nectar, of which there were few sources. The rest was garden
variety stuff, 3 Reakirt's Blue, 2 Gray and 5 Olive Juniper
Hairstreak, 6 Little Yellow, 8 Sleepy Orange, 2 Dogface, 3 Large
Orange, and 1 Cloudless Sulphurs, couple Questionmark, few
Goatweed Leafwing, few Queen, one Mestra, couple Eufala Skipper,
one Fiery, few Common Checkered-Skipper, 1 Funereal and a
Horace's/Juvenal's Duskywing. No Spicebush left flying.
Unusual was a Lesser Nighthawk over SR at dusk. The
nesting Common have been gone almost two weeks now. The
first little bit of rain from Tropical Storm Hermine came in
Sept. 5 ~ Must be 20 fall rain lily blooming in the yard from
the rain. The Agalinis is still just barely starting yet.
Checked some spots around town to see if there were migrants
about, and it was actually one of the better early September
few hours at a couple local stops I have seen with a number of
FOS fall migrants. Kathy wanted to recover from yesterday
and put all the supplies away, you know that organization thing,
so I was on my own to tear it up.
At UP in the ragweed south of the dam there was a FOS Wilson's
Warbler, and a FOS Mourning Warbler, imm. male with a couple
black feathers at the lower edge of the bib, which I've rarely
see so much sooo early, but it had a yellow throat, long undertail
coverts, and that distinct flat ball chip note. It came in
to within 10' for 5 minutes while I was pishing and fussin'. Also
a Least Flycatcher, a few Indigo and one greenie Painted Bunting,
Summer Tanager and White-eyed Vireo, Yellow Warbler.
Then up in the woods at the north end there was Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
more Wide-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, and a very rare here
in fall immature male American Redstart, and another Wilson's and
Yellow each. I flushed a big strange dragonfly in the woods that
hung up, but as I lifted my binocs it bolted and I lost it.
Whatever it was, it was something good, and rare here.
At the display pond at the corner of 187 and Waresville Rd.,
there was a Twelve-spotted Skimmer patrolling! It is the
first one up here this year, and does not occur every year here.
So I went over to the golf course to look at the cattail pond
at the entrance by the Waresville Cemetary. No good odes, but
two migrant blackbirds chucked out, a Red-winged, and a FOS hatch year
Yellow-headed! Out in a tree on one of the fairways there was
my FOS local Olive-sided Flycatcher, finally.
Then at a stop at Utopia on the River I did something I rarely
do, the screech-owl call with fussing (scold) flourish. Called
in the biggest flock of birds I've seen here in early Sept..
Several each of Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren and Carolina
Chickadee went nuts which brought everything in as I was up
against a tree trunk to complete the ruse.
Besides a FOS Nashville Warbler, White-eyed and Red-eyed, plus
Yellow-throated Vireo all scolded, a couple Yellow Warbler,
another Wilson's, TWO Mourning Warbler, one of which went up
into the Mulberry 14' up, 8' over my head, for great views.
Then in came a male SCARLET Tanager amongst 5 Summers, followed
by a DOWNY WOODPECKER, only the second I've seen in the Sabinal
drainage. I got a poor poor photo of it. Another Least
Flycatcher, a few Indigo and one greenie Painted Bunting.
For 15 minutes it was absolutely bonkers, bird after bird
showing up to see what the commotion was.
There were some just-fledged juvenile Eastern Bluebirds there too.
At the SR casita still 2 imm. male R/A Selasphorus, one surely Rufous
by display, the imm. male Broad-tailed, a couple immature Black-chinned
hang on, and a hundred plus Ruby-throated, mostly immatures
and females, but a dozen plus to twenty males.
September 4 ~ To Uvalde. Interesting was no Kestrel are back
yet, but 10 Shrikes were. Maybe 45 Scissor-tail over the day,
a few Western, one Couch's and on 187 N. of Sabinal was an
Eastern Kingbird. The regulars were along 187 and Old Sabinal
Rd., like Curve-billed Thrasher, Cactus Wren, lots of Ground-Dove,
Pyrrhuloxia, loads of Mockingbird and Lark Sparrow, a few
Dickcissel, a covey of Bobwhite again, a Harris's Hawk, 4 Fuerte's
Red-tailed Hawk, couple Caracara, add a Long-billed Thrasher and
2 Bullock's Orioles on the way back. The best thing I missed,
but Kathy got a glimpse of a BADGER as it ran off the mowed road
edge into the brush!
We saw 10 Monarchs on the day, most moving south to southwest,
a couple nectaring. A couple were worn very very pale.
They appeared to be acting as migrants to me.
At the fish hatchery there was a little shorebird habitat in the
newer NW most pond, and so a few shorebirds, finally! There were
single juvenile Stilt, Pectoral, and Western Sandpiper, 2 Least
Sandpiper (looked juvie too), 5 Avocet and 2 Black-necked Stilt.
Elsewhere on other ponds was a Solitary Sandpiper, 3 Spotted
Sandpiper, and 20+ Killdeer. So 9 sps. of shorebirds there,
which is maybe a good sign for fall, if we can keep mudflat habitat
available. Add Upland Sandpipers at the house at dark and it was
10 sps. of shorebirds for the day in UvCo, good in early September.
15 Blue-winged Teal and a single Gadwall were both FOS for me,
as was an early immature Pied-billed Grebe. The Gadwall looked
like it flew through the center of the front. It had a day and
still had a long way to go to get its feathers back in place.
Lots of Barn, Cliff, and Cave Swallows, a few Bank and Northern
Rough-winged. They were flying into and landing in a mesquite
and then scrambling down branches grabbing some worm or caterpillar.
Dozens of them, all in one mesquite next to the HQ parking lot.
Some just hovered and picked them off, but most landed in the
tree, moved down the branches as they do on a wire, and grabbed
the worms/cats. I got some poor digiscopes. 50+ swallows
were sitting gorged digesting on the wire over the food tree.
At Cook's Slough there were 19 Cattle Egret, 1 Great Egret,
no other long-legged waders. Some Yellow Warbler, Indigo
Bunting, Dickcissel, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-eyed and
Bell's Vireo, but best was at least 5 Pin-tailed Pondhawks
patrolling at once on a pond. A couple Olive Sparrow sang.
A Swainson's Hawk was on the ground in the field on the way out,
hopefully hunting the infestation of big yellow grasshoppers.
A Zone-tailed Hawk and two dozen Chimney Swift were over
downtown Uvalde. A Marl Pennant dragonfly cruised around me
in the super mega-mart parking lot as I stood under an oak.
Other odes were 50 Four-spotted Pennant between the hatchery
and slough, 6-10 Red-tailed Pennant, most of both of those
at hatchery where there were a few Marl Pennant and a
Comanche Skimmer. Low numbers of Wandering Glider and Red,
and Black, Saddlebags, lots of Eastern Pondhawk, Blue Dasher.
September 3 ~ Before dawn the real meat of the front passed
over pouring about 3/4" of rain on us! So we got an
inch out of the front all told so far. Outstanding!
The ground and fall bloom needed it badly. Turned winds
to the NE, and birds were moving on and likely knocked down
Here, and down at UP there were a couple low Upland Sandpipers
flying over. At UP some Dickcissel, an Indigo Bunting, Yellow-
throated Vireo (migrant), Least Flycatcher, a few Yellow Warbler,
a Waterthrush I heard only unfortunately, a Spotted Sandpiper,
and so migration is clearly and obviously in high gear!
Wait till you see the spider pictures I got.
Ahhhh September! At county line Rd. (356) there
was a very early HOUSE WREN. Over a field there were
50 Barn and a few Cave Swallow. A couple Yellow Warblers
flushed as I drove around town. At SR there were a couple
greenies still, Dickcissel, Orchard Oriole (and Hooded & Scott's),
and ANOTHER immature male Selasphorus has shown up, so there
are TWO imm. male Rufous/Allen's present now, plus the BROAD-
TAILED which I got a docu shot of at least, a few Black-chins,
and lots of Ruby-throated. There are still Barn Swallows
going in and out under the eaves of the church, but I haven't
been nosy enough to go bother them figuring there are some late
young, or young are roosting in the nests there still.
A yellow morph Lyside Sulphur was out front.
September 2 ~ We have a front bearing down on us, and though
we cooked to low 90's in front of it just at dark the first
boundry hit cooling us off with a quarter inch of rain.
It was mostly the same stuff in the SR yard, Blue-gray Gnatcat,
Summer Tanager, Dickcissel, some Bushtits were different,
the Scott's and Hooded Orioles, a couple greenies (immature
Painted Bunting), and the hummers. One imm. male Rufous,
one imm. male Broad-tailed, maybe 10 tops imm. male Black-chinned
left, and about 40 imm. (most male) and a dozen adult male
The cool thing was as the first big outflow boundry hit.
The boundry had marched from north of I-10 to here over
several hours, was over a hundred miles long sweeping the
skies of all objects, and just ahead of it were all the
Turkey and Black Vultures that were caught in the air in
front of it. At least 300 Turkey and 50 Black went
over on the leading edge of the hard blow part as it arrived.
There was nothing else on it, I was fairly disappointed to see.
Sometimes they can have some migrants on them.
September 1 ~ An immature male Broad-tailed Hummingbird
showed up today, at first landing on a feeder a few feet
from me while calling. That makes it easy. Sure
nice to have them around. There was a Dickcissel on the
seed here. A couple Blue-gray Gnatgrabbers passed through.
August totalled a meager and nearly depressing 43 species of
butterflies. The butterfly garden has received its fall
trimming so lets hope for rain and a good bloom, and some
butterflies from the south.
Aug. 31 ~ Must be getting near September, the first couple
flowers of the Plateau Agalinis (Agalinis edwardsiana) have
opened up. It will be pink everywhere soon!
The Rufous Hummingbird continues, more Blue-gray Gnatgrabber
passing southbound, a Red Satyr (butterfly) and Tex-Mex mccallii
(Eastern) Screech-Owl called at dark.
Aug. 30 ~ The immature male Rufous Hummingbird that did
a dive display continues. As do Hutton's Vireo,
more Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passing through here at SR.
Had to run to Sabinal for a part and so it was interesting to
see some Cliff Swallows still at 7 mile bridge. Then down
in the flatlands of the brush country there were 3 Loggerhead
Shrike, I presume some early returns, and interestingly NO Kestrel
back yet. Sometimes non-data is great data to get.
Only about 7 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher so they are really
departing, a few Western Kingbird, one Zone-tailed Hawk about
3 miles North of Sabinal.
Aug. 29 ~ A couple new begging Hooded Orioles were about SR
with an adult female. Ad. and juvenile Scott's were
around as well. Got a few shots of the continuing
Rufous Hummingbird. The best new bird to show up
today was an adult female LAZULI BUNTING, which are
exceedingly scarce in fall here. Regular in spring,
but usually absent in fall (as in MacGillivray's Warbler).
Hutton's Vireo was about. Still 3+ greenies, female
or immature Painted Bunting.
Aug. 28 ~ A few migrants were about, Yellow-throated Vireo
were singing at every stop, as migrants do in fall, so
places where it has been silent of them for over a month
had multiples in song. A migrant Red-eyed Vireo was
seen as well, and a couple Indigo Buntings, two Least
Flycatcher were at UP, a couple Yellow Warblers zeeted
past, the best fall migrant was a NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH
along the river in Bandera Co. out Jones Cemetary Rd..
Still Yellow-throated Warbler out there as well, and some
Cave Swallows with the Barns at the north end of town.
I couldn't check the park because Hollywood is here.
A couple Common Mestra butterflies were seen, and lots of
Green Darner dragonflies. Best at the hovel was the
first all year Texas Powdered Skipper (Systasea pulverulenta)
which came in to the watered caliche wet spot.
The immature male Selasphorus hummingbird (Rufous or Allen's)
continues and amazingly did a full dive display, complete with
tail wag for flourish. However since it is an immature
there was no sound, just visual. When it climbed back
up to its diving altitude it CHANGED POSITION between dives.
Allen's goes to the same exact spot for each succesive dive.
This is innate behavior which is diagnostic.
This means it is a RUFOUS Hummingbird. I tried for
some photos to no avail for anything useful on the tail.
This is the second time I have had an immature male Selasphorus
do display dives here, one each now was Rufous, and Allen's.
The real astounding thing today was that low, about 62 deg.F
which we haven't felt since early May! Junction was 59.
But we're forecast to be right back at another week of heat.
Aug. 27 ~ A quick check at UP found 2 Least Flycatchers, fall
migrants, and an Indigo Bunting. Wish I could have checked
it during the frontal passage. The adult male Black-chinned
Hummingbird continues, and an immature male Rufous/Allen's or
"Selasphorus species" showed up in the p.m.. At
dusk a flock of 11 Orchard Orioles flew over at SR. The
Tex-Mex Screech-Owls were calling just at dark. A pair of
Neon Skimmer dragonflies were ovipositing at the backwater pond
at the extreme North end of UP. The Hutton's Vireo was calling
down in the draw, some Bushtits moved through, and a couple swallows
flew over that looked like Tree by a quick look, but they got away.
Down SR road there is a field by the water pit/hole with a flock
of about 45 Lesser Goldfinch in it. I guess this is where
they go when they drain the sunflower tube.
Aug. 26 ~ Another morning in the low 70's! We needed
the break! And with enough washout of cloud debris
from the front to keep us at the upper 80's for highs again!
Early a.m. passerbys were Upland Sandpiper, White-eyed
Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a FOS YELLOW Warbler for
sure finally (thought I heard one the other day), and
even brighter, a FOS adult male BALTIMORE Oriole.
The daily Scott's and Hooded made for a 3 oriole day.
The juvenile Summer Tanager is still about, as is the
Blue Grosbeak male. Zone-tailed Hawk now molting
Today's "gee I wonder what is going on with that"
moment was watching two new appearing furiously begging
(wing-flapping and incessant squawking) bright orange-billed
just out of the nest acting Painted Bunting juveniles
being fed by an adult female. Hasn't been a male
around since Aug. 8. The female was feeding just fledged
begging juveniles on her own on August 9. The fledges
typically quit this type of begging within a few days. This
type of begging has not been occurring outside for a couple
weeks. These are new babies, acting as only those just
out of the nest today do. This means the male left
while this was in progress. Figure a couple weeks
for incubation and a couple weeks to get them out of the nest.
The male has been gone 2 1/2 weeks, so this means she did
ALL the feeding for two weeks on her own. Remarkable.
Aug. 25 ~ I can't believe it, 72 deg.F in the morning!
Haven't felt that since early May! There is hope!
The front washed out south of us, and the high today was
upper 80's, coolest since early May, unbelieveably pleasant
after the 3 plus weeks at 100. It was 20 degrees
cooler at 2-3 p.m. today, than yesterday. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
White-eyed Vireo, and Upland Sandpiper passed by or over
again in the a.m.. Best bird of the day was the
FOS CALLIOPE Hummingbird, a female or immature as most
are here. Saw it from 3' and heard it call too as
it came to a feeder while I was on the front porch.
There are about 25+ imm. or female (most imm. male) and
10 adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, about 20 immature
or female (most imm. male) and 1 adult male Black-chinned
Hummingbird at the feeders daily now. Calliope is
species number 5 for the last week, month, and fall season.
It is the last of the 5 regular expected species that occur
annually: Black-chinnned, Ruby-throated, Rufous, Broad-tailed,
New House Finch and Lesser Goldfinch young at the feeders.
Aug. 24 ~ A FRONT !!! Winds from the NE, OMG in the jargon
of the day! It hit about 103 or so (103 in K'vl) in the
afternoon right before the wind changed direction and the
first boundry hit dropping temps 20 degrees and sprinkling a
tenth inch of rain about. The birds went nuts bathing on the
wet foliage. I just stood still in it though considered bathing. The
bird of the day was right before it hit, a spotted below juvenile
(HY - hatch year) AMERICAN ROBIN popped up out of the draw
on to the powerline. I ran for scope and camera and it flew
into a juniper in the front. I got it in the frame and while
waiting for autofocus to correct it flew off. I had
checked it carefully through the scope for a few seconds
while the camera was warming up and it was surely a Robin.
Must have been blown down in front of the front.
A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was out in the bird bath juniper out
front for a while, I probably scared it off as it was coming
in. The sound of a slow drip drip drip is magic for
bringing birds in. After dark the Tex-Mex Screech-Owl
called, also apparently thrilled with the rain. We got
maybe another tenth in the overnight, so nearly a quarter inch
all told with the frontal passage.
Aug. 23 ~ Hundreds of odes again in the a.m., about the same mix
as yesterday, heavy on the Red Saddlebags compared to usual.
Of leps (butterflies) a small fresh Funereal Duskywing was new,
as was an Arizona Sister. 3-4 greenies (Painted Bunting),
male Blue Grosbeak, multiple Scott's and Hooded Orioles, Hutton's
Vireo all continue about the yard, bath, or feeders.
As last year, today was record breaking hot, we were 104 here.
Someone close the oven door! Was about 102 yesterday.
Every day of August we saw 100 here on SR, about 5 deg.F above
normal. Did I tell you I'm pretty tired of the heat?
Aug. 22 ~ Lots of dragonflies in the a.m. passing southbound over
SR included about 250 each Red Saddlebags and Spot-winged Glider,
over 100 Wandering Glider and at least 50 Black Saddlebags in a
couple hours. A black form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
was about for a bit. Four green buntings continue (female
and or immature Painted), as do at least a couple Common Nighthawk.
Aug. 21 ~ Every day now in the a.m., Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
and White-eyed Vireo will pass by southbound, and Upland
Sandpipers overhead. At UP there was a FOS Least Flycatcher,
and a couple Yellow-throated Vireo at the Library Butterfly
Garden were migrants. Best was a dragonfly at Utopia Pk.,
a big male COMET DARNER (Anax longipes) which I got great
close looks of in my binocs. This species wasn't known
from within 200 miles when I found a few in Uvalde Co. in
2005, and saw some oviposit. One emergence occurred at
Utopia Park in 2007 which was the last one seen in the county,
until today. Then back at the hovel in the p.m. while
I was on the porch an adult male BROAD-TAILED Hummingbird
flew up called and landed on a feeder 3' from me.  Good
thing, if it was any closer I'd have needed my reading glasses.
The HY (juv.) Cooper's Hawk was hunting the draw.
There was still a Scissor-tail and a Cave Swallow at the north
end of town, Purple Martins are long gone. Several Blue Jays
around town. Dragonfly action seems to be picking up
at the park, I had 10 species of damselflies, and maybe 15
species of dragonflies with a quick look around. Not bad
diversity for one stop within two hundred yards, for up here
in the hills, while still trying to recover from a major drought.
Still no River Cruisers, no Smoky Rubyspots, almost no gomphids.
It only vaguely resembles what it was 5 years ago. The march
of migrant odes continues down SR this morning with a several
hundred; 200 Spot-winged Gliders, 100 Wandering Glider, 50 each
Black, and Red, Saddlebags.
Aug. 20 ~ Wide-eyed Vireo, Upland Grasspiper, two Blue-gray
Gnatgrabbers, the HY (hatch year - or juvenile) Summer Tanager
still bathing daily and feeding around the yard all day, the
two adult Chipping Sparrows brought a streaky just-fledged
begging juvenile with them today, and the Cardinals have
some more (!) just fledged begging young today too. The
begging Hooded Oriole juveniles are still noisy, but getting
less attention (so louder). Good numbers of dragonflies
the last hour or two of light, southbound, same mix as the morning.
In the morning a thousand dragonflies passed southbound, likely
pushed by the MCS that washed out north of us the night before.
There were 500 Spot-winged Glider, 300 Wandering Glider, 100 each
of Red, and Black, Saddlebags, small numbers of Green Darner.
The White-winged Dove flock now numbers a hundred.
Aug. 19 The heat won't stop, seems like 100 every day all August
so far, and no end in sight with the sub-tropical ridge locked
over us. Mostly more of the same: Upland Sandpiper, the
two Chipping Sparrow adults, male Blue Grosbeak is daily, four
greenies (imm. Painted Bunting), Scott's and Hooded Orioles
(hitting the hummer feeders still, and there were new sets of
fledgling Lesser Goldfinch and Lark Sparrow today. The
Rufous Hummers were here till dark last night, so they must
have tanked up first thing and left because I did not see them
all day. The Large Orange Sulphur was still on the Turk's Cap,
and an Olive Juniper Hairstreak was out back. A good bit
of Chuck-wills Widow calling at dark was nice, and late.
You can tell how burnt out they are, it completely lacks the
vim and vigor of April and May calling. It had last called
on the 16th. This was the last calling event as of Aug. 30.
Aug. 18 ~ A couple Upland Sandpipers went over in the a.m., and
after dark a couple more went over, love that call of the wild.
The jv. Summer Tanager is still about, probably from our daily
pair and dumped here when they left. Both Rufous Hummingbirds
still here. Two adult Chipping Sparrow were about, odd as
they have not been around at all this summer. Two good
butterflies were in the yard, a Large Orange Sulphur on the
Turk's Cap which is blooming great due to lots of extra water,
and a Red Satyr bounced around a bit.
Aug. 17 ~ Both Rufous Hummingbirds are still here, the ad. male
still guarding a feeder, the imm. male or ad. female sneaking
in to other feeders. Upland Sandpiper calling overhead
in a.m., another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed southbound.
The ad.male Hooded Oriole is down to two outer tail feathers,
one on each side.
Aug. 16 ~ About 5 green buntings (non-male Painted) remain
at the seed. An immature male Orchard Oriole hit one
of the hummer feeders for a sugar buzz. The adult male
Rufous Hummingbird continues. About 4-5 immature Ruby-throats
have shown up, and a couple adult males are about too.
A few adult male Black-chinned continue, and up to a couple
dozen immatures remain, mostly males guarding feeders.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through the SR yard, and a
Chuck-wills-widow gave a good long burst of calls at dark.
The imm. Summer Tanager is still here too, about a week now.
For butterflies a Common Mestra was good and a Desert
Checkered-Skipper was on the mud puddle besdies loads of
Aug. 15 ~ At UP there was a Celia's Roadside Skipper,
and an imm. Bell's Vireo, besides some White-eyed Vireo.
At the butterfly garden was a likely Rawson's Metalmark.
Nine Cave Swallow were at the north end of town.
The Rufous Hummingbird is still about. When it took
its afternoon siesta the feeder became communal for over
an hour, until the little tyke woke up. A Red-spotted
Purple (lep) went through the yard in the p.m.. A
couple pairs of Orange-striped Threadtail (ode) were at
UP. A Chuck-wills-widow called a little bit at dark.
On a fence near town there were two Bezzlebub Bee-eater
Robber Flies (ginormous Asilids) sitting a foot apart.
Aug. 14 ~ A Uvalde run so we peeked around a little in
the brush country until the heat got bad. Two weeks
now with ca. 100 dF highs, and heat indices up to 110, make
it nearly unbearable, especially where the wildlife action
is, near water, like the hatchery, Cook's Slough, Ft. Inge,
all of which are far more humid than the surrounding areas.
That's why there are bugs, and birds there, if you can take it.
We just do a few hours early, but still you are literally
dripping in no time out there. Carry water folks!
Along Old Sabinal Rd. all the way where the wires have
been covered in singing Painted Buntings, Dickcissel,
Red-winged Blackbird, Mockingbird, there were none.
The breeding season is nearing completion. We did
flush a covey of Bobwhite, and saw a few of the usuals
like Curve-billed Thrasher, one Cassin's Sparrow, a few
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher families still together, but
lots less birds overall. The house with the 4 martin houses
had a dozen Purple Martins present still, three weeks ago
there were over a hundred there. Birds are leaving!
One Loggerhead Shrike was SE of Knippa near Sunny Climes
Another Loggerhead Shrike was out front of Cook's Slough.
Are these dispersing local breeders or arriving fall migrants?
At Ft. Inge there were a few fall migrant species like a
Least Flycatcher, a Louisiana Waterthrush, and a couple
Orchard Orioles. Several Couch's Kingbirds and
Great Kiskadee were about. Best bird was an adult
Audubon's Oriole. Best bug was an Ivory-striped Sylph
(ode) I netted for in-the-hand photos. Out front of
the entrance road in an ag field there was a swarm of swallows
and dragonflies. In the air and probably digesting on
the wires were 500+ Barn Swallow, and the dragonflies
numbered over a thousand, mostly Spot-winged Gliders,
with a few Wandering Glider, and Red, and Black Saddlebags
thrown in. They were all feeding low over some new
8" grain coming up, that must have had some small bugs on it.
Over at the fish hatchery there were lots of juvenile
Dickcissel and Red-winged Blackbird. Besides the
resident Killdeer there were a flock of 14 Wilson's Phalarope
and a single Long-billed Curlew, both of which were seen
departing the site. There is no good shorebird habitat
again (!) this year with the old main pond under construction
(dry) and the new one dried up too. Wish they had
some good wildlife management directive and skills there as
the resources for great shorebird habitat are there, but
there is none.
On the way back, over the 127/187 Y north of Sabinal there
was a Zone-tailed Hawk soaring. At various spots on
the way we saw 3 Harris's Hawk, and about 4 Furetes' Red-tailed
Hawks. We came home to find a male Rufous Hummingbird
guarding one of the feeders, the first of the year here.
Aug. 13 ~ A Fiery Skipper came into our muddy spot today,
which I wouldn't mention in normal times, but they have
been scarce. A Reakirt's Blue came in later in the day.
I saw a few Northern Cloudywing (lep) at the library butterfly
garden, one of which was the west Texas form with snow white
fringe to hind wing, and ventrally the outer third is snow
white with a little pepper on it. I only got a dorsal
photo so can't show the critical mark to claim an official
record. Both Fatal and Rounded Metalmarks were also there,
both new for the month for me here.
The real show of the day you had to be out before sunup
to see. The Perseid Meteor shower peaked this a.m.,
and it was pretty good, the little I saw. From about
5:30 to 6 a.m. I saw about 30 shooting stars, or meteors,
all of which were Perseids based on radiant. One per
minute is pretty good, but none were big all the way across
the sky streakers like the one Kathy saw last night about
Aug. 12 ~ Still a half-dozen greenies, green female or
immature Painted Buntings, about the seed, a couple still
begging young. The hummingbirds were different this
year in that the Black-chins mostly have left, and the
Ruby-throats have not shown up like usual by now.
The result is the few B-chins are guarding the 6 feeders
and so defeating the swarm mentality and we are not
getting the pileup we usually have now. Six feeders with
6 birds guarding them keeping new ones that show up going
elsewhere. About 3 or 5 maybe adult Black-chins left,
the rest, a couple dozen imms., mostly males.
Aug. 11 ~ Finally the first Longtail Skipper (lep) of any
sort of the whole year (!), a White-striped Longtail,
came in to the watered ground to imbibe. To go with
the above average heat was 3 Desert Checkered-Skippers at
once on the mud spot we maintain. Finally saw an
adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird! Another Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher passed by, as did a Cave Swallow overhead
at SR. There is a new just fledged Rufous-crowned
Sparrow about, and the juv. Summer Tanager that's been
here a few days bathed in the bath. A Two-tailed
Swallowtail floated past SR.
Aug. 10 ~ The male Scott's Oriole was singing a lot today
for some reason. It often does this when leading a new
fledge to the feeders. The adult female Painted Bunting
was feeding at least 2 just fledged young, by herself, the
male has left the county. Juvenile Scott's and Hooded
Orioles were at the feeders, besides the adults. At the
north end of town there were 2 dozen Cave Swallows on the
wires. Another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed by SR,
and a couple Common Nighthawk are still booming.
Aug. 9 ~ Saw the imm. male Ruby-throat again. A Blue-
gray Gnatcatcher passed by the SR yard, a fall migrant.
A Chuck-wills-widow gave a few calls as it got dark out.
They've been quiet for a week plus now.
Aug. 8 ~ Male Painted Bunting still here but this was
its last day, not seen 9th-14th, so gone till next April.
About 35 White-winged Doves, at least, here at the seed.
I saw what I am fairly sure was an immature male Ruby
throated Hummingbird, the first of the fall for me here.
They are a bit behind this year.
Aug. 7 ~ Male Painted Bunting still here but refused to
feed wing-flapping begging juveniles. It did give
the first 5 notes of the song, twice, and aburptly cut it
off instead of giving full song. There are 7
green buntings (imm.'s or females) left here. Two
Bell's Vireo were at the butterfly garden behind the
library. A Tawny Emperor butterfly was there too.
A Beezlebub Bee-eater (giant robber fly) was at UP.
Here at SR the Ash-throated Flycatchers were still calling,
and a Tex-Mex Screech-Owl called after dark.
Aug. 6 ~ The male Painted Bunting is still here today.
There has been a major blowout of hummingbirds and
far fewer are present compared to a week ago.
Several dozens maybe, maybe a hundred left. Was a
few hundred less than two weeks ago.
Aug. 5 ~ One Dark Tropical Buckeye was about at SR.
Aug. 4 ~ The green buntings (female or immature Painted)
are piling up, at least 7 are here at the seed pile.
One adult male continues, and will leave in a few days.
Today's highlight was a male VARIED BUNTING here at SR.
Watering the caliche, I had a single moment count of
25 Common Buckeye (butterfly). A worn Red-spotted
Purple was nice too.
August 2 ~ About 26 species of butterflies today, after a
check of UP, the Library Garden, and here at the hovel.
The only rarity was a White Angled-Sulphur that flew over
August 1 ~ AUGUST !?!?!?! The dog days of summer are here.
Someone left the oven door open and the heat is on. We
have mid-90's plus, with 100 deg.F+ heat index forecast to
get us started the first week. But we did cheat a lot
of heat in June and July with the rains, which we deserved
after last year's 100 days at 100.
July 31 ~ Well I'm sort of surprised there hasn't been
anything but Black-chinned Hummingbirds at the feeders
yet this summer. Rufous usually shows by late July,
and often something else. Adult males are really
leaving in droves and immatures now are the bulk of what
July 30 ~ Another FOS fall migrant sandpiper, early this
a.m., I heard an Upland Sandpiper call its windy "whip-it-up"
as it passed over SR southbound. A Yellow-billed
Cuckoo was about the yard calling again. Some leps about
the yard were the first Southern Skipperling I've seen this
year, another Dark Tropical Buckeye (20 Common Buckeye),
a Cloudless Sulphur, and what must have been a Giant White
flew by. We just saw one 6 days ago in Uvalde.
It appears the So. Skipperling was butterfly species number
47 for the month. Still pretty weak for leps out there.
Not a single Dusky-blue Grounstreak or Carolina Satyr
at UP all year where they seem to have been wiped out.
The real highlight of the day was at dusk when I was
in just the right place at the right time to catch
a direct hit from the apex of the sonic blast cone of
a Common Nighthawk boom. It just goes right to the
bone when you take a direct hit. I can't imagine what
it is like for the female he is trying to hit with it.
No wonder she is in evasive maneuvers trying to dodge
him as he dives for her. It must take the mites off
her undertail coverts. It's like the whoosh of a
grand prix race car going by, for me on the ground,
and she takes a hit from a foot or two away? And
when he hits her good with it, the "airshow showboat" flight
that follows, lasts longer, he's so proud of himself.
If everyone were forced to experience this one time,
their view towards birds would never be the same.
Let us stand you in a place until you get hit, with
the full force of a 2 ounce Common Nighthawk display dive.
You have to be in a straight line below the female as
the male booms, right at the sonic apex of the "boom",
to actually know how loud and consumating it is. To
experience how YOU CAN FEEL the vibrations created in the air!
It will move a cynical crusty slightly overweight middle-aged
balding 200 lb. curmudgeon. I get a couple per year and
am good to go. :)
July 29 ~ Besides the Nighthawks not a single goatsucker note
tonight. It was that rain cooled air last night that
got everything all excited, including me. The daily
male Painted Bunting took a bath, and 3 more Lesser Goldfinch
fledglings just out of the nest. The Ash-throated
Flycatcher family of four was still together, about,
and noisy, and three total juv. Scrub-Jay, one from first
brood, two from second. Cardinals seem to have a
good year, I've lost track of the young, like House Finch.
July 28 ~ lots of clouds and we ended up with a half inch
of rain in the afternoon. Wow that sure felt good.
At dark, while the Common Nighthawks were calling and
booming, the Poor-wills were calling, I guess it felt so
good a couple Chuck-wills-widows broke into a good bit
of calling. Right in the middle of it, a COMMON PARAQUE
burst out with a bar of song! One of the all-time
great bird calls, each note getting louder: veer, veer,
veer, veer, VA-WEEEEER! New bird for the area list.
We've seen it in the county at the fish hatchery, but
this is a very significant first record locally up on the
plateau, in what is called hill country, as opposed to down
in the flatlands brush country where they are known,
this at ca. 1550' altitude. Four species of goatsuckers
(aka nightjars) calling all at once! Spectacular!
July 27 ~ An adult male Golden-cheeked Warbler was in the
birdbath juniper out front this a.m., and a beauty it was.
Zone-tail Hawk was about, 'nother Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
A few leps included several Lysides, a Red Satyr, and an
Arizona Sister. A few weak wills-widow calls, and
I'm surprised they are still going at all this late in July.
Though we didn't get any rain, we got an outflow boundry
that cooled off peak heat again.
July 26 ~ Hutton's Vireo was about SR yard today, and the
regular gaggle of Orioles hitting the hummer feeders,
adult male and female plus a couple juvenile Scott's,
some ahy's of both sexes of them as well, then adult male,
female, and juvenile Hooded, plus some ahy of them too.
The hummers have really blown out, easing work cleaning feeders.
A couple new fledgling Lark Sparrows are about. The
coolest thing was a 2" Eyed Elatarid (giant click beetle)
flying right past me.
July 25 ~ The amazing thing today was an observation of
lizard behavior, kiddos. :) A Six-lined Racerunner
(Cnemidophorus sexlineatus) went up to a larval antlion
cone (aka doodlebug - the inverted dirt cones you know)
and very carefully made a few grains of sand fall into it,
multiple times to bait the insect up to the apex at the
bottom of the cone, and then it blasted the cone digging
with lightning speed destroying said cone. It didn't
seem to be successful this attempt, but was clearly quite
skilled at using this fishing technique. This is a 4 month
old lizard folks, fishing, using baiting techniques to
manipulate potential prey. How old were you when
you figured out how to do such a thing? :)
Other things about the SR yard were Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
Tawny Emperor (lep) and Tex/Mex Screech-Owl calling at dark.
July 24 ~ Uvalde run so a quick look at the fish hatchery
to make sure it is still the summer doldrums there.
Orchard Oriole was still singing, and lots of Bank Swallows
about, but the real news was FALL MIGRANTS! One was
a Least Sandpiper, back from Canada probably, on its way
to who knows, southern Mexico maybe. The other fall
migrant a bit of a rarity here, was a beautiful BLACK TERN.
At Ft. Inge we had a singing male Indigo Bunting, the first
I've ever had on territory there, probably in response to
the lush rain driven vegetation. Usually there are only
Painted there. Also I found a Straw-colored Sylph (ode),
probably the first one known from the site. Kathy and
I also saw a GIANT WHITE, a very large, and rare here, lep.
Along old Sabinal Rd. we saw a group of 3 Harris's Hawks
hunting together. There were still singing Dickcissel
and Painted Buntings along the road on the wires, and I
heard Cassin's and Olive Sparrow. We flushed a covey
of 20 Bobwhite at one point. And all the regular cast.
There is a nice planet show westward after sundown, just
before it's black out. Venus the brightest one as
always, with Mars and Saturn above left of it, and Mercury
below right. After 3 nights of silence the Chuck-
wills-widow gave a good series of song.
July 23 ~ nice fog/mist/drizzle much of morning and another
quarter inch of precipitation. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
calling around out back in the junipers. A hatch-year
Vermilion Flycatcher was on the line out front, the Hutton's
Vireo was about, and the 3rd night without a Chuck-wills-widow
serenade at dark, though Poor-will and Common Nighthawk still
July 22 ~ Chatted with Roy Heideman at the recycle center and
he too has a regular Zone-tailed Hawk up at his place out W.
Sabinal Rd.. At UP there was Purple Martin and a Celia's
Roadside-Skipper (lep). An underwing was at SR in the p.m..
An afternoon shower cooled it down at peak heat, a 1/4" of water.
July 21 ~ A few light spritzes over the day were nice for the
moment cooling things down, then the sun comes back out. Part
of the birdbath Evergreen Sumac is dying, from that dang Porcupine
I was so happy to see in the yard. It ate so much bark
off I can't believe it. I wouldn't be surprised if the
whole thing died. FIVE YEARS it took to get it to bloom.
It was probably a few years old when we got here. It gets
the runoff from the birdbath, so surely its bark was the wettest
juciest bark here on muy Seco Ridge. Thanks a lot Mr. Porcupine.
Why can't you eat a juniper? :) What could I have done,
kicked his arse out of there? I think not! Almost forgot,
another Dickcissel passed over low, southbound, calling early this a.m..
July 20 ~ The SR Zone-tailed Hawk has begun molt, with inner
primaries now dropped on both sides. That will be easy
to keep track of as they are replaced. Most of the Turkey
Vultures are nearing completion of primary molt, if not done
already (probably only females not quite done yet).
And Zone-tailed is just beginning to molt. Remember if
there are a hundred Turkey Vultures soaring around the sky,
the one with the swallows and martins mugging it is the Zone-tail.
A cuckoo called down the draw. This is a bird on the move,
likely a done breeder heading south. I heard one "wills-widow"
from a Chuck tonight at prime-time Chuck-thirty. I know each
night now, it might be the last one I hear until next April 7 or so.
July 19 ~ Finally two juvenile Scott's Oriole are about! The
first of the year, and like the Hooded, I think they lost their
first brood. There is another just-fledged Scrub-Jay around.
Three Chuck-wills-widow sang at dusk, one giving a good long
series. That will be over too soon. The Common
Nighthawks have young out and males are still booming. That
will be over for the year way too soon as well. Way fewer
hummers, still departures taking place on good levels. Finally
some relief with the feeder cleaning.
July 18 ~ A hatch-year female Golden-cheeked Warbler was out back
in the live-oaks and juniper, then landed on the TV antenna (which
is really just a bird nest box holder) and jumped from tine to tine
twice before it flew off. A Black-tailed Jackrabbit was out
front mid-day, odd they usually shy the heat big time. There
were 5 juvenile Painted Buntings at once in 10 sq. ft., on the seed
in the p.m..
July 17 ~ Finally juvenile Hooded Orioles outside.... I think the
first set was lost, as there are the first of the year I've seen.
Thankfully the hummingbirds are blowing out - departing. They
were too thick. Adults in heavy molt, immature males all with
5 o'clock shadows of the first gorget feathers coming in. Still
nothing besides Black-chinned, but that will change very quickly.
July 16 ~ A Golden-cheeked Warbler outside in the a.m. may have been
the one around in thep.m. last evening. A group of 3 Dickcissel
took off early, southbound gaining altitude it seemed, from the edge
of the draw, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through the yard.
A dark Tropical Buckeye came in to watered caliche. The Chuck-wills-
widow called briefly.
July 15 ~ I had to go to Uvalde for some errands, but played some hooky
and met Ken Cave for a look around Cook's Slough. I found a good
dragonfly there, a Straw-colored Sylph, that Ken got a good pic of in flight.
Later over at the hatchery we saw a Marl Pennant, and a first of fall
Least Sandpiper. The Orchard Oriole nesting there is still singing.
Common Grackle still there too, also nesting.
The road along 187 to Sabinal had a pair of Harris's Hawks about 6 miles
north of Sabinal, and the immature Shrike was still down at the 187 x 127 jct..
There and along Old Sabinal Rd. there were still lots of Dickcissel singing,
I mean dozens, and most of the same regular expected suspects. See
reports from June 5 or 26 to see what is along this great road.
A Golden-cheeked Warbler was about the yard for 10 minutes near dusk.
July 14 ~ Hutton's Vireo still singing, and a Golden-cheeked Warbler was
about. I got a report from LeAnn Sharp that Sid Chaney mentioned
he has been seeing Green Jays again around his place. This would
be the first summering record on the Edwards Plateau, and if a young
could be found and documented, it would be the first proven breeding on
the plateau, which would be very remarkable.
July 13 ~ Hutton's Vireo singing out front down in the draw. Funny
was a Chimney Swift slowly cruising over the yard at dusk catching insects,
and as I've mentioned the Black-chinned Hummingbirds are chasing everything
that moves in the yard, and so yes, one goes up after the swift.
Would have made a great picture or video, since swifts and hummingbirds
are the two families that make up the order Apodiformes.
July 12 ~ At UP the pair of Barred Owls were duetting at 6 p.m..
There was another migrant adult female Black-and-white Warbler too.
In the yard was a Neon Skimmer, the brightest of red dragonflies here.
Chuck-wills-widow, Common Nighthawk and Common Poorwill all calling,
the latter doing speed calling. This when they increase the
cadence to double or triple the normal speed, and surely means they are
going to or are nesting again.
July 11 ~ Worked around the hovel so the same ol' dull birds:
male Scott's and Hooded Oriole, male Painted Bunting and
Blue Grosbeak singing, etc.. Just kidding about the
dull part. The female Painted Bunting had another
just fledged juvenile, number two for the year. Besides
the ad. male Hooded there was a AHY (after hatch year, a year old)
male with black hour-glass on throat, and the bird that looks
like a year old female but sang. It is more orange than the
year old male which is still fairly green and yellow. But
has no black on throat, and very worn brown (year old) remiges
and rectrices. An adult Chipping Sparrow showed up, the
first I've seen in the yard since mid-May or so. 1 Bushtit,
which might not sound like much but you try to do that.
We went down to town and the park the last hour of light.
There were no Martins around, must be roosting somewhere else.
There were 10 Western Kingbirds at the north end of town, and
a few singing Dickcissel, so some still with nests.
No swallows at the 1050 bridge, they must be done and gone.
There best thing was a dragonfly, great looks at a Cyrano Darner
again up by the island at the north end of the park. There
were also about 4-5 Prince Baskettail along the pond/river edge.
July 10 ~ A couple Golden-cheeked Warbler out front first
thing this a.m. was nice. One adult female in molt,
the other a hatch year bird. Odd was the first local
Chipping Sparrow I've seen in over 7 weeks, a streaky juvenile
that just fledged from somewhere nearby, but it only stopped
briefly and continued northeastward. A Chuck gave a
few calls, but weakly and briefly.
Some dragons were about at UP: Rambur's and Citrine Forktail,
Double-striped Bluet, Blue-ringed and Violet Dancer, Checkered
and Swift Setwing, Widow Skimmer, and lots of Blue Dasher.
A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called there, and besides a couple
Viceroy there was a nice big black morph female Eastern
Tiger Swallowtail nectaring on Buttonbush. A huge beauty!
There is a Black-chinned Hummingbird here with some snow white
inner and outer rectrices (tail feathers) that looks neat.
I haven't seen the one with 3 snow white outers in a week
or so and maybe it departed after about 7-8 weeks here now.
But the new one showing up shows they are on the move already.
I wish a few hundred of these would leave here. :)
Particularly the first set of juveniles from May of which the
males are now getting purple in their throats, and are chasing
if not being just pure hell to everything around. They
chase the Golden-cheeked Warblers out of the yard, which I am
fairly sure is a federal crime. Pity the poor House Finches,
Cardinal, and even the male Painted Bunting is harassed.
A White-winged Dove flies by and there's a train of immature
Black-chins on its keister.
July 9 ~ Probably 3/4" of rain today from TD 2 which is
roughly running along the already very flooded Rio Grande
just south of the border. Circulation and bands of rain
despite not being a named storm, very similar to the Alex rains.
At UP there was an adult female Black-and-white Warbler.
There were a few Widow Skimmer (dragonfly) there, and one
male in the yard up on SR in the p.m..
The bird of the day got away. You can often count
on that. I saw it through the window from the office
in the (old crummy) binocs I keep in here for emergency.
It was a smallish raptor with a long tail and long pointed
wings that was dark charcol above. I just saw it too
quickly to say for sure, and it just kept going so when I
got outside with the good bins it was the north end of a
southbound speck going over the knoll on the ridge here.
If there was a gun at my head and I had to guess it right or die,
I'd say it was an Aplomado Falcon. Considering the recent
weather patterns, two consecutive tropical disturbances making
landfall just to our south, I couldn't say one being displaced
would be out of the question. I just didn't get the kind of
confirmatory look required to claim a positive identification
was made. Ya gotta let a lot of 'em go.
July 8 ~ Tropical Depression 2 making landfall around
Brownsville and Matamoros. Lucky it came ashore
before it could build to a storm because its big and wet.
We got about 3/8-1/2" of rain from it so far. The
hummers went through about a gallon of sugar water, or
a couple pounds of sugar, meaning 500 to 1000 birds.
I suspect the higher number is closer to the truth.
Besides the adults that returned to breed, and the batch
of young produced in May, there is now a second set of
young out, so we are at peak Black-chinned Hummingbird
numbers now. Can't wait till they start thinning out.
That's when the window for the good stuff opens up. :)
July 7 ~ The Arizona Sister was about in the a.m. here at
SR. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed southward through
the yard. An adult male and a hatch year Eastern Bluebird
have been feeding regularly on the powerline out front.
I was quite surprised to see when the Ladder-backed Woodpecker
landed in the top of a small nearby Oak snag, they BOTH
dove straight at the woodpecker, from two points 20' apart
on the wire, and when they got to the trunk, the Ladder-back
bolted for more friendly parts. I guess they see it
as nest site (cavity) competition and therefore "bad"?
Very interesting piece of behavior to see. This to me
is the most fascinating and interesting aspect of birdwatching.
The things they do. How did the adult and young bluebird
communicate to each other that now was the time to do such
and such a thing like launch a co-ordinated assault at a
The goatsuckers are still singing, a Chuck gave a very long
song period, might be nearing its last for the year, the couple
Poor-will were going at it, and Common Nighthawks are still
booming, but much less, and the Tex-Mex (Eastern) mccallii
Screech-Owl is calling.
Between the still pooled up remnant moisture from Alex, and
the approaching Tropical Depression 2 we got about a quarter
inch of precip via lots of drizzle today.
July 6 ~ The second Common Mestra (butterfly) of the year
passed by the office window. A sister was outside too,
I think #4 for the year. A dozen Lyside Sulphur passed.
July 5 ~ still some drizzle left over from all the tropical
moisture deposited by Alex. The dragonfly flight continues
with a thousand Spot-winged and a hundred Wandering Glider.
2 Red Saddlebags, 3 Black Saddlebags, 3 Green Darner.
After dark 2 Poor-will calling loudly.
July 4 ~ Happy Independence Day! I had Golden-cheeked
Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher move through the yard.
A Large Orange Sulphur (pale morph female) went by northeastward.
Another 800 Spot-winged and 50 Wandering Glider dragons passed.
At least 3 Chuck-wills-widow and Eastern Screech-Owl still calling.
Another quarter inch of Alex rain, so we got a total of about
2.5" of rain from it over 4 days. Down in Monterey Mexico
they got about 20" of rain in some places. It was big,
powerful, and wet.
July 3 ~ A little more showers and drizzle but we missed most
of it, maybe a quarter inch here on SR. A male Painted
Bunting was singing in the rain. A couple Poor-will
were calling too. Another major dragonfly movement day
with about a thousand Spot-winged Glider, 200 Wandering Glider,
1 Black and 2 Red Saddlebags, and best, my second ever as a
migrant in these movements, a Four-spotted Pennant.
July 2 ~ We got about an inch of rain from Hurricane Alex over
before noon, and another half in the p.m.. It was going
west in the a.m., and north in the p.m.. One Golden-cheeked
Warbler outside, and a Goatweed Leafwing butterfly. The
big movement was dragonflies. The annual march of the Pantala.
Gliders, perhaps 100 Wandering but at least 500 Spot-winged,
probably a thousand of them.
July 1 ~ JULY !?! Had some pre-dawn showers from Hurricane
Alex, and a bit of showers through the day. Kept it nice and
cool, about 80 deg.F all day, absolutley wonderous. As was
having a couple Golden-cheeked Warbler in the juniper right out
the front door first look out this a.m.. They moved down the
draw and a Black-and-white Warbler appeared. Ahhhh, Utopia.
Now get to work. In the afternoon Kathy spotted a big bearded
Tom Turkey walking out the office window. I've heard them alot
here, but this is the first actually walking IN the yard here on SR
that I've seen. Black-chinned Hummingbirds have been thick
for over a week as the second batch of young of the year fledge.
I saw a just-fledged juvenile Painted Bunting with the ad. male,
so they got at least one young out this year here, finally.
A flock of 16 Bushtit moved up the draw past us.
Overall LOTS of fledged baby birds out there, many wandering on their
own already, as are some of the adults that are not nesting again.
Many have nested twice already. If we have indications of
continued rains, many will nest a third time. But not Golden-
cheeked Warblers, which only rarely nest twice, and usually only
if they lose the first nest very early in the season. Based on
the numbers we've had in the yard this year, where they don't breed,
Golden-cheeks had a GREAT breeding season. Bunches of them in
June. Them, Black-and-white Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers
are all already on the move. Southbound. On the way out of
Dodge. Until next March. Amazing isn't it? For many
it is probably 3 nest attempts in the the three months of April,
May, and June, to loosely generalize. Between the fire ants
and racoons, not to mention squirrels, I don't know how anything
gets young off and out. Add for the day one Ground-Dove and
a male Vermilion Flycatcher in the yard.
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January through June 2010 moved to archives, Old Bird News #13.
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June through December 2009 is now archived at Old Bird News # 12.
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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|
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