Bird News Archive XVII
January 1, 2012 - late March so far, eventually June 30, 2012
Some commonly used abbreviations used are:
"in town" - means in Utopia
LM - Lost Maples SNA; GSP - Garner St. Pk.
SRV - Sabinal River Valley
FOS - "First of Season" (usually used for
1st spring or fall migrant to show up locally)
SR - Seco Ridge a couple miles west of Utopia
in Uvalde County.
Ode - Odonata (dragonfly or damselfly)
Lep - butterfly
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January 1, 2012 - June 30, 2012
....in reverse chronological order, unless you
scroll to end and read from the bottom up.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
June butterfly diversity was 44 species (Texas Powdered-Skipper on
June 27) so the high for the year so far, barely, with 42 in April
and 41 in May. Individuals are way down, skippers amazingly
few and far between, other things very common, like Buckeye,
Question Mark, Tawny Emperor and Empress Leilia. At least four
Dark (Tropical) Buckeye is a good early season showing. Then
three species that were the first I've seen locally in a few years
bodes well for a good summer to fall flight season. Those were a
Zebra Heliconian, a few Mestra, and a Black Witch (6" moth)
all of which have been MIA since before the drought. A few
Viceroy, but still no Adelpha (Arizona Sister). The highlight
I didn't see was Ken Cave's photo'd Banded Peacock in his Sabinal
yard, and I heard another was reported north of us in Bandera Co.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
June 30 ~ Holy cow, half the year is past. A great break
from the heat in the late afternoon when a stray cell or two
from the low moved over. It was only a tenth of an inch
of rain out of both put together, but we needed a leaf washer,
though insignificant for water table, very important for the
plants, birds, and bugs. Not to mention us getting to
smell rain, and feel a 70dF breeze. Painted Bunting and
Cardinal were singing in the rain as were White-winged Dove,
whilst I was just humming and whistling.
An interesting bird early a.m. was my FOS post-breeding
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (southbound migrant) calling out back.
Just as a shower hit four Common Nighthawk flew over in a
tight formation that was male, female, and two juveniles.
At dusk at least 5 Chuck-wills-widow calling at once. They'd
been getting quieter, a little rain and cool sets 'em off.
Was low 90's and humid until the rain hit at 5 p.m. or so.
Right after it a dozen Spot-winged Gliders crossed the yard
in 6 minutes, going WSW. A Pale-faced Clubskimmer was
briefly patrolling out front after the rain as well.
June 29 ~ A half-dozen or more Spot-winged Glider (dragonfly)
went over going WSW early this morn. At 7a.m. a Black-
and-white Warbler was in the yard. A brief stop at Utopia
Park (UP) was fruitful with a second Golden-cheeked Warbler
this fall (for them) there! Looked an ad. female, but
clearly not the bird that was here about 10 days ago or so.
Also there were at least 3 or 4 maybe more Black-n-white Warbler,
a Canyon Wren in the giant Cypress trees at far north end of
park, a heard Myiarchus I didn't get a definitive call out of,
was probably a Brown-crested, White-eyed Vireo, and the singing
Yellow-throated Warbler means they are still nesting. The
Barred Owl was hunting frogs or fish up along the backwater at
the island. A few flowers on the Buttonbush, and some
Texan Crescents in the woods.
For odes a pair of Double-striped Bluet mating, (in wheel) let
me get pix, but odes are way way down. It is a bunch of
Checkered Setwings, a few Swift, the stray Black, and that is
about it. There are some Orange-striped Threadtail
flying, and the regular damsels like Violet, Blue-ringed,
and Kiowa Dancer, the stray Rambur's Forktail, but very little
compared to past years. A small fraction of species
diversity and individual numbers before the drought and trout.
Hutton's Vireo calling in yard later in p.m.
June 28 ~ A real surprise was what was either an adult in
heavy molt or a juvie Yellow-throated Vireo in a juniper
right off the porch. It came into the tree with the
peanut feeder, chickadees and titmice, probably to see what
the so important deal was, so likely a juvenile. Presumed
our local breeder, a nice male Summer Tanager was in the
live-oak 15' away at the same time. It hits the bath
in the late afternoon regularly.
Still some good song to be had: Summer Tanager, Scott's Oriole,
Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, but the oriole is singing a
lot less with the two young out a while now. Depends on
if it nests again, it will get going again, which is the usual
program for July. The female now has a small black patch
on lower throat and upper breast.
June 27 ~ A surprise at the butterfly garden was a juvenile
Yellow-breasted Chat, and a Texas Powdered-Skipper was my
first of the year for the species, a subtle beauty, probably
far under-appreciated. At UP there was Black-n-white
Warbler and a Viceroy (lep), and in the yard another Mestra.
High was at least 105dF.
June 26 ~ Kevin at the general store said they had 110 on
the thermometer there when he left this evening! It
was 108 in Uvalde, probably that here on SR. There
was a Mestra here, and better was a surprising juvenile
Chipping Sparrow, nice and streaky fresh. So the
adult I saw the other day probably was nesting very close,
but out of earshot of the yard, and like Painted Buntings
it's mostly insects, until the young fledge.
June 25 ~ BLACK WITCH! The 6" or so across brown mottled
moth that strays occasionally to our area, I hadn't seen one
in a few years (pre-drought). I got a bad docu shot of
it under the propane tank, it was flying around mid-day in
100+dF heat, must've been flushed from wherever it was, and
was a ratty beat up individual.
June 24 ~ An Audubon's Oriole was calling around, I may have
forgot to mention we heard one a couple weeks ago. Wish
it would bring another juvie here. A Golden-cheeked
Warbler was about at 7a.m., and a couple new (3rd batch, first
two were only singles fledged) Scrub-Jay fledged and are
loudly, incessantly begging about now. It gets old quick.
The begging Chuck-wills-widow after dark however is music
to my ears.
June 23 ~ DOR (dead on road - a very scientific term) in town
just off Cypress St. was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (ph.) (hit
by one of town's speedsters no doubt) probably had a nest.
UP had a couple Black-and-white Wobblers, but that was it.
June 22 ~ Sure enough no Canyon Towhee, it was another one-day
wonder. Painted bunting and Scott's Orioles juveniles
both still loudly begging, the orioles less than they were.
Heard a Golden-cheek early but didn't see it. Carolina Wren
have a couple new fledglings just out of another nesting.
Chuck-wills-widow are still calling, Nighthawks still booming.
Odd was a Chipping Sparrow (ad.) out back for a bit, as I am
not hearing or seeing any this summer around SR.
June 21 ~ A female Black-chinned Hummer here now has a few white
tail feathers, like the male last week, which was only here a
couple days, this bird also something new that just showed up,
and likely just passing through. An immature male Black-chin
is getting it's first dark feathers in throat, and it could be
less than 60 days old. The Lemon Beebalm is mostly fading
save the dozen stalks we water, some Two-leaved Senna is opening,
and the Cynanchum (little tiny obscure milkweed) is blooming now.
A quick stop at the butterfly garden produced the first Eufala Skipper
I've seen this year, and a Metalmark which was likely a Fatal, plus
a very few of the regulars: 3 Queen, 1 Empress Leilia, 1 Tawny Emperor,
2 Sleepy Orange, 2 Dainty Sulphur, 1 Little Yellow, 3 Lyside Sulphur,
2 Pipevine and 1 Giant Swallowtail, 2 Gulf and 1 Variegated Fritillary,
and a Gray Hairstreak. A whopping 14 species. Snore.
Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled with the Eufala (the dullest most
devoid of color and pattern skipper) but when a Eufala is exciting it
is a wee bit slow. The best window is just ahead, July to cold.
I think the rains and flowers will lead to a good invasion from the
south this later summer and fall, which is typically where our rarity
excitement and best diversity comes from.
The real highlight of the day was about 5 p.m. looking out the
office window to see a Canyon Towhee 10' away! Probably been
a year since the last one, which was a one-day bird. I don't
know a stakeout place to see one, maybe the corral at the Pecan
grove at Concan is one of the better spots. There are a couple
places on private property that I know of with pairs, which very
interestingly are in flat areas, not canyons, 'nother great name.
June 20 ~ HAPPY SOLSTICE!! The longest day is a great hump, at least
we know the days will be getting shorter and the sun is moving south.
It's pretty slow at first but in a month you'll notice the difference.
A flock of a dozen or so Cliff Swallow went over SR heading west
towards Bear Creek Pond. The male Painted Bunting is busy feeding
two young. A couple Wandering Glider (odes) heading southwest.
Another Dark (Tropical) Buckeye was about the yard today, perhaps
the fifth one so far this month! Spray a little water on the
ground and in 10 minutes you'll have a dozen Buckeye. A Funereal
Duskywing has been about a bit. An adult Chipping Sparrow was odd,
haven't had one in over a month.
June 19 ~ Another juvenile Golden-cheek early a.m. in the live-oak
out back. Interesting was a group of four juvenile Eastern Bluebird
together, probably siblings, moving over SR, stopping on the wire out
front for a minute. Wandering Glider (dragon) heading SW. The
begging juvenile Scott's Orioles are still mighty noisy out there.
The male Cardinal and Painted Bunting are getting much duller, a whole
shade paler (dusty) red than they were at peak color in April and May.
Juvenile Cooper's Hawk is buzzing around.
June 18 ~ Three Golden-cheeked Warbler early, two interacting while
in flight, all looked hatch year (juveniles) birds. Then much
better was finding an adult female Golden-cheeked Warbler at UP!
I'd glimpsed and heard one there before, but never watched one
feeding for 15 minutes at point blank. It was up in the woods
at the north end, often making those big semi-circle sallies they
are so good at as it was going after flying insects. They are
exceedingly rare on the valley floor, as getting 30 species of warblers
on the park list without a Golden-cheek proved. I've seen more
of each Bay-breasted, Hooded, Kentucky, Blackburnian, etc., at UP
with probably over a thousand hours of coverage over 9 years! Golden-
cheeks move through the hills, generally avoiding the flatlands of
the valley floor. I've seen about 20 of them in the last 18 days
in our yard out on the back of SR just a bit up off the valley floor.
Also at the park were 4 Black-and-white Warbler, a high count for
simultaneously there, and a couple Yellow-throated were about too.
A female Goatweed Leafwing was there (ph.) and a few Orange-striped
Threadtail, plus two of those that looked like they were in tandem,
as dead remains in a fishing spider's web. Another Viceroy, a
Horace's Duskywing, Texan and Phaon Crescents were the leps at park.
Still no Arizona Sister (Adelpha), MIA, common before the drought.
A flock of 20 Purple Martin were over SR heading towards Bear Creek
Pond late in the p.m., a rather typical post-breeding aggregation,
most looked to be immatures, so they probably had a good season.
Still amazed at the dearth of Chimney Swift around town this year.
They came in, saw there wasn't enough of the right kind of food,
and left. Juvenile White-eyed Vireo at UP and here in yard.
June 17 ~ Real neat was watching a mated pair of Six-lined Racerunner
(lizards - Cnemidophorus) hunt around together all over out back.
One went right around Kathy's foot. The male in breeding color
is a spectacular beauty, with besides the normal lime-green stripes
on back with pinkish tail, a bright pink throat, blue sides, with a
darker metallic blue-black belly. WOW! A Roadrunner took a dust
bath at the edge of the road, I was glad I wasn't downwind of the
cloud it put up! I am virtually certain OSHA would require at
least a dust mask if not a full respirator for this operation.
Finally the real event of the day was late in the p.m. when a single
stray thunderstorm cell off the tail end of a line blew up right over us
and gave about a quarter inch of rain, Texas style, in 10 minutes.
Just north of Seco Ridge it was barely a yellow pixel on the radar.
It appeared since it was going south when it hit SR the uplift that
created, caused the cell to blow up into orange and red all over us.
A great cool down!
June 16 ~ 'Nother Golden-cheek out back in the a.m., youngin',
starting to think they had a good productive season this year.
Heard a Bushtit out there, and the Painted Buntings have a
couple young fledged and begging. Another (or the same?) Mestra
(butterfly) was about the yard (one on 6-12 see below).
Butterflies at UP were Horace's Duskywing, Empress Leilia, Phaon Crescent,
and a couple skippers got away that were likely Clouded. For
odes there were 25 Checkered, 2 Black, and 4 Swift Setwing, a few
Blue Dasher, and that was it. Dismal variety of dragons.
Trout or drought? Or both?! At the library garden there
were a few butteflies, not for the numbers of beautiful flowers,
but a dozen maybe, including the first Bordered Patch I've seen
this year, a Vesta Crescent, 4 Queens, 2 Reakirt's Blue, the regular
Three just fledged Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were near the meat
plant, from the nest in the pecan out front of the park. Way
fewer Chimney Swifts though, a couple pairs maybe, the bugs are
still way way down from the drought, yeah there's katydids, all
night, but the normal levels of flying plankton aren't there.
I am surprised to see a Frostweed flower open at this date (UP).
The Snow-on-the-mountain isn't even open yet. Perhaps
like the Thoroughwort Eupatorium after a drought a few stems
bloom in spring, way early ahead of normal schedule, just
in case, to put a few seeds out. The Mountain Pink is
June 15 ~ Nice close hatch year Golden-cheek in live oak off
back porch first thing this a.m., man I love that. It
will never get old. The big news today was Ken Cave down
in Sabinal photographed a Banded Peacock (Anartia fatima) in his yard.
This about the fourth record of this species from Uvalde Co., one at
Park Chalk Bluff earlier this year, and two have been taken here
further back (Charles Bordelon pers. comm.) Another was found
(on the Love Creek butterfly count?) June 8 or so in Bandera Co. to
our north, which must have flown by here! GREAT find Ken!
There is an adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird here that is new.
I can tell that because it has 3 snow-white tail feathers together
on one side, and two seperate snow white ones on the other side.
So it is obviously well-marked individual, which has not been here.
They too are on the move already.
June 14 ~ The white-winged Field Sparrow has a new begging young
and a bad foot now. The male Red-eyed Cowbird has a bad foot
too. Hummers swarming, a flood of new juvies draining the
feeders way too fast. Juvenile Cooper's Hawk about too.
June 13 ~ Early two Golden-cheeked Warbler immatures were interacting
outside, an hour later a single was about, probably 3 different.
Lots of youngin's, juvenile White-eyed Vireo and Scott's Oriole,
and 2 ASY male Scott's at once, a Hutton's Vireo, and the real fancy
highlight of the day was my first Zebra Heliconian (butterfly) in
three years locally, flew right by me on the back porch. Haven't
had one at the park or butterfly garden yet, though last weekend or
so the Love Creek butterfly count recorded an amazing EIGHT of them.
Amazing since they have been 100% absent for me since the drought
started over a couple years ago.
At UP there was a Viceroy, another one I've barely seen in the last
3 years, the Monarch mimic that is an Admiral really. There were
at least two maybe 3 Black-and-white Warblers in the woods, these
post-breeding dispersants heading south slowly working their way
south and off of the breeding grounds.
The real amazing sighting today was at the park there has been a pair
of Eastern Bluebirds nesting at the north end of the woods in an
old woodpecker hole on the underside of a downward facing branch,
as so often the case. When I got there the pair of bluebirds
were going nuts like I've never heard or seen, and then appeared
a Fox Squirrel, with a baby bluebird in its mouth. The adults
were giving it all heck, to no avail, they chased it 100' off
hitting it relentlessly. But of the course the tree rat will
be back for the other young. Man eliminated squirrel predators,
now squirrel predation on birds nests is unnaturally high. Sad
we take no responsiblity for how we affect the environment in so
many ways. Less birds means more bugs.
June 12 ~ A new just-fledged Hooded Oriole showed up today. Two
Golden-cheeked Warbler out front. The SY male Painted Bunting is
still about. A new batch of baby Black-chinned Hummers is out and
we are being swarmed again. Sure was nice and quiet the last couple
weeks and the next wave of fledglings hits. A great butterfly was
a Common Mestra, the first in 3 years for me here. A white form
female Little Yellow was about too, and a flock of 3 Spot-winged Glider
(odes) in tight formation going WSW was the first flock this year.
June 11 ~ A Hutton's Vireo was noisy about the yard today. Noisier
were two juvenile Scott's Orioles, constantly begging. Another
Golden-cheeked Warbler in the a.m.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Following was the June 10 update header (above)
just for the record.....
First a quick recent few highlights....
Migration is over, hope ya got some!
The daily notes will get shorter now,
and easier for me.
The spring flower bloom has been and is spectacular
due to the about 24" of rain received in the
last 8 months, which translates to bugs and birds
in the web of life. Golden-cheeked Warblers
had young out of the nest near Utopia May 6, and are
on the move, I'm getting them in my yard every couple
or few days now as usual in June.
Recently a few rarer birds have been seen about the area.
So just to give you an idea of how wide open you should
keep your eyes and mind when birding the area.... :)
A WHITE-TIPPED DOVE was in our yard April 1, no foolin',
and what appeared another flew over on May 30.
At Utopia Park on April 14 was a SHORT-TAILED HAWK!
A RED-BILLED PIGEON was north of Leakey at Big Spring,
multiple TROPICAL PARULA are being reported at Concan.
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER, Ringed Kingfisher, and multiple
White-tipped Doves now at Park Chalk Bluff NW of Uvalde.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD was at FM 481 and Nueces River crossing
SW of Uvalde. South continues its march North.
End of update header, some of these birds may still
be around, hence it's inclusion....
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
June 10 ~ About 7 a.m. I heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler flight
note high overhead, and then a second one right after which
I was able to pick up, an adult male with full black throat
and chin, much on sides, 100' up darn near, way higher than
typical local commuting height. We hid in the A/C most of
this 100+dF day, but what was singing at peak heat 5-5:30 p.m.?,
dueling Summer Tanagers countersinging. It was likely about
104, as it was 108 in Uvalde today!
June 9 ~ A real treat first thing at 7 a.m. was as I was
hanging a hummer feeder in the juniper over the birdbath out
front, a Golden-cheeked Warbler called 6' over my head, an imm.
male, then a second flew into the tree and interacted with it,
also an imm. male, would have been too close to focus anyway.
They were and about the yard 20+ minutes and at 7:25 or so an
imm. female showed up, while I could still hear the other two,
so three at once. Either joined up youngins or siblings.
Amazing was at 8:50 p.m., after sundown, surely the latest in
the day I have ever recorded one, at dusk, another was in the
yard, so I had four here today, they are on the move bigtime.
A just fledged Rufous-crowned Sparrow was under the truck, the
adults teach them about vehicles quickly.
At UP there was another post-breeding dispersant warbler, a
Black-n-white, in heavy molt, and probably an adult female,
but so, two species of southbound (fall migrant) warblers today.
There was a just-fledged juvenile White-eyed Vireo at UP too,
(and another of those in the back yard here at SR). Saw a
bird in flight only, up in the woods I called "Thrush!" when
I saw it, and never saw it again. The good ones get away.
We get migrant Swainson's this late in socal all the time, so
that would be my guess, but I need to see or hear something
to call it.
One Dickcissel was singing in the corn field on county line
road, presumedly nesting, the acres of Purple Horsemint aka
Lemon Beebalm are still going great on south side of that road.
A Red-eyed Vireo singing in town is odd, they don't nest in
town. Either a failed nester on the way out of dodge or
an unmated bird still trolling.
For odes, at UP there were at least a half-dozen Orange-striped
Threadtail, including two pairs in tandem looking to oviposit.
The great find there was a seen only Sulphur-tipped Clubtail,
probably my first at the park, they are regular in the brush
country flatlands, say at Uvalde, but quite scarce up here in
the hills. The first cycle of Dot-winged and Prince
Baskettails seems over, I saw neither species. Lots of
Blue Dashers by the island in the backwater slough there.
One Banded Pennant male, one Black Setwing, one Swift Setwing,
and 50 Checkered Setwing, a couple Common (Eastern) Pondhawk.
Hundreds of bluets way out over the water on the pond, nearshore
were Violet and Blue-ringed Dancer.
A Vesta Crescent (lep) in the yard in the p.m. was the only newbie.
The Mountain Pink is turning the mountains, uh, pink, and wow!
Amazing how out of the hard-scrabble limestone grows this delicate
beauty. Snow-on-the-mountain is coming up well and should be
a good showing in a month. Coreopsis starting to fade away,
finally, been going for two months plus, Mexican Hat going strong,
Antelope Horns seed pods opening up, Frogfruit doing well in spots.
The Kidneywood is also going well now.
Every time I think I'm done, I go back outside and see something
else. First it was another Golden-cheek at 8:50 p.m., and then
about 9:15 though I hear several all night every night, I don't
chase after seeing them or finding their nests, so I don't often
see Chuck-wills-widow, but one flew so close over the yard, at
treetop (juniper) level, about 10' away for a great view. The
cat saw it coming, and was so taken, tracked it 50 yards downrange.
Screech-Owl calling on approach to the bird bath for some water.
Was probably 95dF today, hotter the next 3 days is the forecast.
June 8 ~ Golden-cheek out back in the morning early, if y'arn't
out there early, you just don't see them, I rarely get one
in the p.m. At least 30 Barn Swallow juveniles on the
power line at park. The real weird thing today was a Zone-tailed
Hawk in wing molt. This is a first for me in June in 9 years
of paying strict attention. Both primaries and secondaries
were missing. This was compounded by the fact that it still had
a first year (immature) tail, so it was a first-spring bird. Which
did not have an adult tail as of nearly a year old. But judging
by wing molt, will likely in the near future. So I'll have
to amend my ideas to allow that a first spring might be in wing molt
before July, and not absolutely brush off all molting wings as all
not hawks, but being Turkey and Black Vultures, which are in heavy molt
all spring into summer. So most of the time a usable feature at
a half-mile, in spring, but not always. Flight feather molt =
vulture not hawk, 99.99% of the time March through June, here.
A couple Angel's Trumpet flowers were open today out back.
You get one good day with them, a second sometimes, maybe.
June 7 ~ At the birdbath in the late p.m. all at once was:
males of No. Cardinal, Summer Tanager, and Painted Bunting.
I had to go rest the red receptors in my eyes after that.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Here is the annual (or nearly) early June yard breeding bird
report. Singers (breeders) I hear from porch now are Summer
Tanager, Painted Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Scott's Oriole, Ash-throated
Flycatcher, Bewick's and Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee,
Black-crested Titmouse, White-winged, Inca, and Ground-, Doves,
Rufous-crowned, Field and Lark Sparrow, no Chippys this year,
Roadrunner, Common Nighthawk, Chuck-wills-widow, Poor-will,
Eastern Screech-Owl (mccallii), Great Horned Owl is silent now,
House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, and Eastern Phoebe.
The Ladder-backed Woodpeckers clown about much of the day with their
2 young from somewhere very near, and there are too many Black-chinned
Hummers as usual. Oh, yeah, Brown-headed and Bronzed Cowbird too.
These are all in the yard daily as they use their territory, or the water
or food here.
The Turkey and Black Vultures that nest on the knoll (inside back
loop on 357) that we look at out the front are common to abundant,
you just don't hear them except flapping, but they make sure to
check the mulch pile every day though. Love those low level
high speed passes. For them, I say you can't count it on your
yard list until you get it on the ground. LOL! :) Use bait.
Common Raven is about daily too, nesting nearby somewhere. Of
course the texana Scrub-Jays are in charge of it all down at ground
level. Hooded Orioles feed here multiple times daily, but they
are commuters, nesting somewhere out of earshot down-ridge methinks.
Like the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, nesting nearby, I hear it almost
every day, surely would if I weren't hiding in the A/C so much.
So about 35 species of breeders daily from porch. And not a
bad list at that. I left Collared-Dove off so as not to
diminish, sully, or taint, the wonderful native species list with
non-native introduced vermin.
Near-daily overhead are also Cooper's Hawk (diving on passerines here),
Red-shouldered, and Red-tailed Hawks, Caracara about weekly.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
June 6 ~ Golden-cheeked Warbler out front in early a.m. was nice.
A Checkered Setwing (dragonfly) out front in p.m., only rarely do
I get them here. Fiery Skipper around still. Boy these
notes sure go quicker now that migration is over and it's just
June 5 ~ A Celia's Roadside-Skipper at UP was neat, and the No.
Parula is still gone. Was sure neat for a month though. The
Dark Buckeye continues, and a Wandering Glider was out front.
June 4 ~ The cuckoo (Yellow-billed) is about and must be nesting
just south of us a bit. A Poor-will called at 10 p.m., they
can smell rain coming. Turned out it missed us though, it
was nearby. A female Fiery Skipper was ovipositing out front,
a new different Dark (Tropical) Buckeye showed up, with a bird beak
shape missing in both hindwings. A Spot-winged Glider (ode)
was about late p.m. The real highlight of the day though was
the first spring male Hooded Oriole (from yest.) which probably is
my FOS. This bird is quite interesting in that it has a new adult
type (second cycle) back feather (black), and one new tertial (other
worn to smitherenes), so already incoming 2nd cycle feathers on a
first-spring bird in early June, on the summer grounds. Vedy
inderestink. Yes I got pix that will go on oriole page shortly.
June 3 ~ You can tell it's June by the blooming Old Man's Beard
and Buttonbush among others. Actually both opened their
first flowers in late late May, but now they are really starting
to show. Limestone Guara is showing well too. Can ya
tell there are no migrant birds left? :) The field a
few Dickcissels were in got mowed so they abandoned and are gone.
Did not hear the No. Parula at the park at 9 a.m. for an hour.
I think it gave up and left finally. No Western Kingbirds
in immediate town area, for at least second year. Barn Swallow
numbers are down as nesters on Main St., and Chimney Swifts seem
very few this year in town. Perhaps after a bad drought season
or two, they shift elsewhere for a while? I wonder if this is
the case with a number of species, the bad memories of last year
and the year before? Out 354 were breeders: Chats, Mockers,
Bell's Vireo, Scissor-tails (2 pr.), Black-cr. Titmice, Painted Bunting,
Lark Sparrow, but I didn't hear the Orchard Orioles that were there.
No Indigo Bunting at the Co. line crossing this year, and the
Orchard Orioles that were just east of the river in the hackberry
row I couldn't find either. A couple-few acres of Lemon Beebalm
(aka Purple Horsemint) there sure is amazing though. In the p.m.
here at SR the Dark (Tropical) Buckeye was still about the yard, and
better, was the first in two years Theona Checkerspot, nectaring on
Slender-stem Bitterweed. A first spring male Hooded Oriole is
a new arrival this p.m., nice olive crown and nape, gray back, with
distinct orange tones to underparts.
June 2 ~ Golden-cheeked Warbler landed momentarily on the power
line, they don't like that usually. It jumped off right
away without settling. At UP I heard a Mourning Warbler chip
out on the island, so didn't see it. Also had a Black-n-white
Warbler moving south along river, 'nother done breeder, while
a Downy Woodpecker continues in the area. Yellow-throated Warbler
is singing like its nesting again, but I didn't hear the
Northern Parula. A cuckoo (Yellow-billed) and an Eastern
Wood-Pewee may have been late migrants, or wanderers looking
for mate and territory.
A few odes were out and about, the best was some Orange-
striped Threadtail (Protoneura cara), a pair in tandem and
a couple singles including the first I've ever seen sitting
on a leaf just over water at river's edge. Other damsels
were Kiowa, Dusky, Blue-ringed, and Violet Dancer, Double-striped
and Stream Bluet, Rambur's Forktail and probably a Fragile too.
For dragons a Swift Setwing was FOS, as was a Filigree Skimmer,
which is an early record for me for them here. What is funny
is that I'd posted to Texodes the yahoo group that the bulldozning
at the park took out much great ode habitat, but the new rocky shore
will be better for Filigree Skimmer. And here it is. A couple
Eastern Pondhawk, a dozen each Blue Dasher and Checkered Setwing,
a Banded Pennant, but no Baskettails, Darners, or Gomphids though,
so kinda weak. Haven't seen a Black-shouldered Spinyleg all
spring, they used to be common. But there were a 500+ probably
1000 bluets (damsels - Enallagma species) way out mostly the other
side of the pond. There was one old Springtime Darner it seemed,
still up at island, probably been there a couple weeks now.
Butterfly garden had 3 Queens and a continuing Empress Leilia.
Back home on SR at the front porch in the p.m. was another
Dark (Tropical) Buckeye which looked different from the one
here a couple days ago, much more worn at forewing tips.
Some campers at UP had pulled out besdies a couple catfish,
a Softshell, and a Red-eared Slider (turtles), both dead of course,
the Softshell a female that was full of eggs. Bycatch.
In the forbs below the dam in the flood zone, a nice find was
Brown-flowered Psoralea, an easy-to-overlook very neat flower.
June 1 ~ I know summer doesn't start for 3 weeks, but it is
pretty much summer biologically speaking here now. Some
local nesting migratory warblers are done and on their way out,
such as Golden-cheeked and Black-and-white. The cool front
that came in late yesterday dropped lows this a.m. to upper 60's!
Couldn't get out to the park, bet it knocked the last migrants down.
Probably missed my Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.
~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~
May totalled 41 species of butterflies. Mexican White and
Tropical Buckeye probably the best two, both very rare in spring.
Skippers remain amazingly absent. I saw 22 species of
warblers around Utopia in May, and 3 more were seen in the area,
so 25 species recorded for the spring locally, plus a couple that got
away. Not bad diversity, but individual numbers were low, though
not as bad as flycatchers which were nearly wholly absent. Philadelphia
Vireo (6) and Gray-cheeked Thrush (3) both had good showings, and the
four Chestnut-sided Warblers was a high total for me for one spring here.
~ ~ ~ ~
May 31 ~ A Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew right by me on the porch with
a Katydid in it's beak, as if it were carrying food. A Golden-
cheeked Warbler was about in the a.m., a Wandering Glider dragonfly
in the p.m., as well as a Vesta Crescent, and a just-fledged White-
winged Dove was about as well. The Mountain Pink is getting goin'.
It is amazing how much the dawn chorus has quieted down already too.
May 30 ~ The Bewick's Wrens fledged at least a couple young from
the garden nestbox today. The Scrub-Jays were going after them
like they did the Carolina Wrens. They seem to be the first and
biggest primary danger immediately upon fledging for many local
nestlings. Another just-fledged Scrub-Jay is out today too.
A large dove flew over the porch early, about 7:00 a.m. that looked
like a White-tipped to me. It certainly was not White-winged,
Mourning or Collared-.
May 29 ~ Heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler out back, didn't chase it
down. Surprising the Thoroughwort Eupatorium is blooming, it
rarely does so in spring. Means we had a lot of rain. The
best find today was a Dark (Tropical) Buckeye among over a dozen
Common Buckeye puddling on our wet spot outside. They are very
rare in spring, less than annual anyway, most years they do show, it
is in late summer or fall.
May 28 ~ Golden-cheeked Warbler in yard, my first post-breeding
wanderer of the year, right on schedule. A juvenile Hutton's Vireo
came in and bathed at the bath, at times sitting on the edge,
obviously not having read that part of the book yet, they're not
supposed to do that. The bath is at ground level with a hose
slowly dripping into it. Later female Painted Bunting and female
Summer Tanager were bathing in it at the same time.
Just for the record, one of the report intros for this spring:
MOST RECENT UPDATE: May 27, 2012
First a quick recent few highlights....
Migration is all but over, hope ya got some!
The daily notes will get shorter now, as I try
to catch up the two months I fell behind this
last month of trying to quantify migration here.
The spring flower bloom has been and is spectacular
due to the about 24" of rain received in the
last 8 months, which translates to bugs and birds
in the web of life. Golden-cheeked Warblers
had young out of the nest near Utopia May 6, probably
sooner elsewhere.....post-breeding wanderers are
roaming widely now (some in our yard).
Recently a few rarer birds have been seen about the area.
A WHITE-TIPPED DOVE was in our yard April 1, no foolin'.
At Utopia Park on April 14 was a SHORT-TAILED HAWK!
A RED-BILLED PIGEON was north of Leakey at Big Spring,
multiple TROPICAL PARULA are being reported at Concan.
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER, Ringed Kingfisher, and multiple
White-tipped Doves now at Park Chalk Bluff NW of Uvalde.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD now at FM 481 and Nueces River crossing
SW of Uvalde. South continues its march North.
Probably a Uvalde County first was a VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW
April 22 at Utopia Park. A GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER
was in Bandera Co. a few miles NW of Utopia (Steve Hilbig)
on May 6.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
May 27 ~ Well the Northern Paurla was still at UP so it is still
present, I missed it the last couple visits. Interesting was
an adult female Black-and-white Warbler here at the SR hovel in
the a.m., as it passed over the ridge moving due south. Surely
this is a finished and done local breeder on its way outta here.
Then at UP was another Black-n-white, that an immature, but also
moving south along the river. These are essentially fall
migrants! There was one northbound spring migrant at UP,
my latest date ever for a Lincoln's Sparrow! A Two-tailed
Swallowtail there was my first this year locally and a nice 4'
Indigo Snake was neat. Down on county line road, on the south
side there is a field with acres of Purple Horsemint blooming, wow!
Along the road there was a pair of Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel,
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, and Lesser Goldfinch,
all likely breeding as were Great Crested Flycatcher, Summer Tanager,
and Yellow-throated Warbler all singing at the crossing. A few
damselflies were there too: Dusky, Blue-ringed, Kiowa, and Lavender
Dancers, no dragons. Butterfly garden was empty. But a
nice low stratus deck kept it in the 80's until after 2 p.m., and
it barely broke 90dF. There is a time when 90 beats 100.
Almost forgot, some Purple Bindweed opened up today, didn't have
any last year, and the Annual Pennyroyal is rippin' in full bloom.
May 26 ~ A Yellow Warbler was in the SR yard in the early a.m.,
at UP was a Northern Waterthrush (white), a nice late date,
while at the butterfly garden was a noticeably large-billed
female Common Yellowthroat. 3 sps. of migrant warblers.
The Northern Parula at UP was not heard for the second day in
a row, and perhaps a month with no female was his limit?
Interesting he thought that habitat at the north end of park
and island was swampy and foresty enough to nest in. There
was an Underwing moth (Catocala) at UP (ph.) that was the
red-orange type, like an Ilia, which is what I think it was.
FOS female Widow Skimmer. Lots of tourists, campers, etc.
May 25 ~ A quick look at the park found no migrants whatsoever.
A family of Yellow-throated Warblers is up at the north end,
the juveniles without yellow, a couple black spots on side of
breast is first, then a couple yellow spots next to those.
They're mostly just gray and white, actually very cool looking.
May 24 ~ The Ash-throats are nearing fledged their young from the
former TV antenna nest box. Bewick's Wrens are getting
very close to do so in the garden box. Titmice just got
a set out, as did Chickadee about a week ago or so. The
Mountain Pink is really getting going, and a beauty it is.
As we wind down the spring passage it is always interesting to
see what you didn't see (what you missed), as informative often
in less exciting ways than what you did see, but as important.
The biggest difference to me was a near lack of flycatchers,
with just the one Least May 22, no Willow as of that date,
only one Olive-sided, and way fewer kingbirds too. Also the
numbers of individuals of warblers seemed way down. Perhaps
the peak days were days I was stuck here on the computer, so it
is hard to be sure, but even things like Yellow-rumped Warbler
never got as numerous as they usually do. I missed Cattle
Egret (though some were seen locally) and Mississippi Kite, plus
Baltimore Oriole, all three I see most springs and missed this year.
May 23 ~ Didn't get the nose away from grindstone much today,
but as I was working in the shed I found a stunning beautiful
Underwing moth, probably a Sweetheart, it had bright red/pink
hindwings. I got some shots of it sitting, when it looks
like a piece of bark, but when it flies, oh my! Actually
I netted it to get an in-hand shot of the spectacular hindwing.
I got a shot of the underside of the beast, and as I was
changing hand position to rotate into position for a shot of
that incredible dorsal hindwing, it got away. I can't
believe how strong a moth can be! I thought I really had
it, and a few times it almost got away, but then just one
bit of trying to be ginger holding it, and the great escape
took place right out of my very hand. There I was camera in
one hand, other now covered in dusty moth scales, as I watch a
lovely underwing fly away across the yard. I'll get that
hindwing yet. It was probably a Sweetheart Underwing.
May 22 ~ I took a half hour at UP to look at the sacred spot
of our sighting yesterday but there were no migrants about
except a FOS Least Flycatcher, finally, but no warblers.
Everything had cleared out. The male Northern Parula
continues his watch singing in case a female happens by.
April 25 was the arrival date for him so he's been here a
month now (28 days). There was a just-fledged juvenile
Summer Tanager, perhaps my early date for that.
Seemingly some hummers have cleared out since the last big rain.
Fair numbers of juvenile Black-chinned are out of the nest now,
but I didn't see a male Ruby-throated today or yesterday.
Will look hard to see if any female Ruby's remain still, as often.
So, it's about back to Black-chins for the next couple months, unless
you can snag something good. A Green Violetear was in Austin
May 12 so their window of occurrence has opened, be on the lookout
for a big dark hummer, and please holler if you see one locally.
On a botanical note about the trees since the drought....
Of course many trees dropped leaves during the critical drought
period, but surprising to me is how many were lost and how
much damage there was to the survivors. For instance with the
Cypresses along the river, many did not fully leaf out this year.
Only a partial leafing occurred so they are much thinner of
foliage than normal. Some younger ones, even right at river's
edge, died, and did not resprout this spring. Up on the
back knoll on SR (out 357) there are twice as many Buckley Oak
snags as before, some whole dead trees, many others lost half of
their former selves. And live-oaks everywhere did not
fully re-leaf as typical either. So many trees of all sorts
are in drought recovery mode, not their full, normal, fully-foliaged,
healthy selves. It would seem hard to recover without full foilage,
and we presume they put out all the leafage they were capable of,
so many trees were quite very near not making it. The problem
of the dying Sycamores seems unrelated as it clearly was ongoing
before the drought, though I see more dropping now, likely as that
extra pressure was the last straw. Something is killing some of
the Sycamores along the river.
May 21 ~ We had to run to the store so a quick look at the
park was in order. Four female Yellow Warbler, one female
Wilson's, and a first spring female Magnolia Warbler. Males
go through first, they need to set up shop establishing
territories, and female's bell curve of arrivals is often a
week or more behind male's. They don't sing so go through
un-noticed more too. You HAVE to spot them.
In my least favorite category, "the bird of the day always
gets away" especially when it is out on the island where
you can't get to it.... Kathy and I had a brief glimpse of
a bird I can't imagine was anything but a Swainson's Warbler.
But we only had a half hour to wait it back out, and it didn't
show again. Size, shape, color, pattern, behavior, were
all right-on for Swainson's Warbler. I just needed a
second with the full head in the open. It could also
explain the odd chip notes I heard that I couldn't place.
Two Swainson's Thrush were there, the Northern Parula, and
several Yellow-throated Warbler showing well. I thought
I heard a Yellowthroat. One Spotted Sandpiper was about.
A Black Setwing (ode) was the first of them I've seen this year.
Many flowers are still going great, Coreopsis still by the acre
along the roadsides, and Englemann's Daisy, some few patches
of Purple Horse Mint (aka Lemon Beebalm) showing well, including
about 18 stalks in our front yard are quite nice. Still some
Angel's Trumpets at the patch on 357, saw some Scarlet Pea, the
dewy Queen's Delight seems quite to the Buckeye's delight, Rock Flax
is going well, the first Illinois Bundleflower are opening, Rabbit
Tobacco (they chew, not smoke) is drying now.
May 20 ~ More SE flow, not as strong, but decent, 15+MPH maybe,
and some new migrants. Not big numbers but good diversity
for the date. My nemesis warbler at Utopia Park WAS Chestnut-
sided, over 30 species of warblers at the park, and about 8 Chest-
nut-sided locally in 9 years, but never one at the park, until today.
When I had TWO there! A first-spring male and a textbook
neon-lemon-crowned full adult that was stunning. Then there was
a singing Blackburnian which I audio taped, awesome. About 6
Yellow Warbler were there, I heard a Common Yellowthroat, a Black-n-
white was about. No. Parula and Yellow-throated continue on
territory as well. After an hour plus at 10:30 a.m., I came back
at 1:30 and found a female Mourning missed earlier. Six migrant
species of warblers, plus the two territorial types makes 8 species.
Very good here for the late date.
A Philadelphia Vireo was at UP, my sixth this spring, and a singing
Bell's on the island (taped) which I've never had there before, a pair
of Red-eyed Vireo were on the island too, but no larger greener and
yellower vireo. White-eyed and Yellow-throated could be heard
while the above was in view or audio range. A few Orchard Oriole
were about (got some chuck and the mew flight note on tape).
For thrushes, the Swainson's might be the same for the third day,
or are there numbers going through? Then on my second pass
through at 1:45 p.m. I found a Gray-cheeked Thrush I'd missed
earlier (or it just got there in the interim). Also new
in p.m. was a Traill's Flycatcher, which looked Alder to me, as
have the other two Traill's I've seen this spring.
So three species (Alder Fly., Mourning W. and Gray-cheek Th.) picked up
after 1 p.m., on second pass through after scouring it for an hour earlier.
It's a regular thing here, I think it shows it collects birds in the day,
especially those that are looking for habitat to hide in, since
much of the river-side is bare without understory, they move along
it until they come to an acceptable spot for the day, with understory.
The mature adult Chestnut-side and Blackburnian were not seen in p.m.,
but the first-spring Chestnut-sided was still there, and seemingly
all the Yellows. Probably some of the same and something new
again later in the p.m. if you could check it multiple times daily.
Migration = turnover. Some stuff needs food, some a place to
hide and sleep, others are on the move and are gone quickly.
At 354 one Yellow Warbler was the only migrant, besides the regular
heard singing breeders like Chat, Bell's Vireo, Painted Bunting, etc.
At UR there were a couple Yellow Warbler and I heard a Black-throated
Green Warbler singing, but that was it for migrants. That was
warbler species number 10 for the day, 3 territorial, 7 transients.
At the 360 crossing there were a few damselflies: Blue-ringed, Kiowa,
and Dusky Dancers, and a Pale-faced Clubskimmer. A Violet Dancer
was at UP. A couple Kingbirds were flushed off the fenceline on
360 by a car, though I didn't get on them quick enough before they were
gone, one looked Western, one looked Eastern.
Lots of Giant Swallowtail, Question Mark, Red Admiral, one Fiery
Skipper at UR, still no Sister (Adelpha), the big butterfly waves
of last month have subsided, but lots of Buckeyes about.
A few Mountain Pink have opened flowers.
May 19 ~ A strong SE flow overnight brought a bit of the
low coastal stratus layer in, and a few migrant warblers.
AT UP was the most exciting female Tennessee Warbler I ever
saw, as it was a FOS, and had been amidst the first spring
in 9 that I hadn't seen one. Warbler species seen #22 for
the spring for me locally, at UP and UR.
At least 3 Yellow Warbler were also at UP, as well as a Wilson's,
a female Black-n-white, probably a male Black-n-white (only
audio taped, not seen - will have to review song/tape), and heard
a chip a couple times I'd swear was a Kentucky but it was coming
from the island and I couldn't lay eyes on it in the thick.
Don't know what else it could have been so loud/flat, "chwap!"
That aside, four species of migrant warblers, plus the territorial
N. Parula continues, and some of Yellow-throated Warblers have
young out of the nest. Recorded a bit of singing Swainson's
Thrush again today. Pair of Blue-winged Teal at park. Also
there was an oriole, probably Orchard, I recorded but did not see.
More tape to go through.
A big vireo got away from me at UP. It actually struck me as
a Yellow-green, and it disappeared. I look at Red-eyes all the
time, and this did not seem to be one. It was bigger and much
heavier of build, stockier, without requisite dark edge to gray crown,
so blander of face/head pattern, while much brighter and more extensive
of yellow below on breast sides, flanks, and undertail coverts. I
spent an hour and never saw it again, came back later and refound the
female Tennessee, reheard what I think was a Kentucky, but did not
refind the vireo. It was the only silent vireo I have encountered
this spring, it never made a peep.
Breeder Chat and a migrant female Wilson's were at 354, and a
dark morph Swainson's Hawk soared over northbound there. At
Utopia on the River (UR) were a couple Yellow Warbler for migrants,
besides the nesting Yellow-throated Warbler. Otherwise breeders:
Yellow-throated, Red-eyed, and White-eyed Vireos, Acadian Flycatcher,
Eastern Wood-Pewee, Indigo Bunting, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great
Crested Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Field Sparrow across the river.
Same at the SR hovel, besides a Yellow Warbler in the a.m., breeders
it is now. Dawn chorus is pretty good and nothing to complain
about. Interesting how the Chuck-wills-widow always calls
after first light in the a.m., and the Poor-will never does.
Others singing the first hour of light, heard from the porch are:
Scott's Oriole, Painted Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Cardinal, Field,
Lark, and Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Summer Tanager, Ash-throated
Flycatcher, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee and Wren,
Bewick's Wren, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, White-winged Dove,
and Scrub-Jay and Black-chinned Hummer make their noises.
Inca, Mourning, and Ground- Doves all present too, and yes some
of those gawd-awful Eurasian Collared-Dove my wife says I need to
shoot are now within earshot. YECH! Frankly you could
never get anyone interested in bird sounds if you gave their calls
as an example of the beauty of bird calls.
As I headed south from town I could tell the LDSO (large dark
soaring object) from a half-mile away was a Zone-tailed Hawk
and not a Turkey Vulture by the way the Martins were dive-bombing it.
They leave the Vultures alone. It was right over Highway 187
at the Waresville turn, and Syd's Martins were givin' it hell.
Widow Skimmer, Blue Dashers, Prince Baskettail, Checkered Setwing,
Banded Pennant, for dragons at UP.
May 18 ~ A singing Swainson's Thrush was the only migrant I
saw at UP in a brief check, audio recorded a good set of
calls and song, very cool, ethereal voices of the angels
that song is. Saw one of the Barred Owl & Northern Parula
continues singing, which makes it seem pretty south-eastern.
A few Yellow-billed Cuckoo around including one out back
here at the hovel on SR. A pair of Blue-winged Teal
were at the mud hole on 357 at end of first loop.
They mowed lots of wildflowers down along 357, I wish they
would let it go to seed instead of just go by what date
the calendar says it is. Last year it was brown and
needing mowing mid-May, not so in a wet year though. If
people and governments could only think outside the box.
Four or five Chuck-wills-widow duking it out vocally every
night in the draw and on slope of knoll out front. What
I like about them is that Whip-poor-will (not found here) and
Poor-will (resident but sleeps through winter) usually only
have a very narrow calling window each night. Chucks
call all night, and after first light. Much easier for us.
At least a couple pair of Common Nighthawk booming nightly,
nesting on the knoll as usual. Haven't been to the valley
floor at dark so missed Lesser Nighthawk so far this year.
Probably around the ball diamond on nights the lights are lit.
May 17 ~ Too much to do to get out, but a Cuckoo came by
in the afternoon and called a bit, to let me know I was missing
birds. May 17 was the male Black-throated Blue last year.
The kind of day you get one warbler, and it is a great one.
Lark Sparrow has young out of the nest now, I'm seeing a few
Black-chinned Hummingbird young of the year now too. The
Ladder-backed Woodpecker are continuing to fledge their young
here on the peanut and sunflower feeders. The Ash-throats
up on the TV antenna box, and the Bewick's Wrens in the garden
box are both feeding young fast and furious.
May 16 ~ Nice cool 55 dF low, and low 80's for a high.
No migrants at UP or 354. Turn out the lights, the party
is over. At 354 I only heard singing breeders: Bell's
Vireo, Painted Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-billed
Cuckoo, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Orchard Oriole. At
UP the singing No. Parula and Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo.
The park had a pair of Blue-winged Teal.
Two male Ruby-throated Hummer still guarding 2 of the feeders,
and a few females around still too, they must nest here in
spring, especially wet years. Barn Owl called at 11:30 p.m.,
heard from bed. A worn Monarch was about, probably a local
beast, the Antelope Horn that didn't get mowed is going to seed.
May 15 ~ Yesterday evening a few cells came through, hitting
town mostly, and finally pre-dawn we got a soaker up on SR.
I'd say 1.25 inches up here but town got 1.5-2" per reports.
Puts us at 5-6" in the last week! WEEWOW! But as
the first wave hit before dark, I think migrants were knocked
down before they could get to us. There was very little
to show for it. An Orchard Oriole was singing in the back
yard this a.m., which was a new transient. Down at the park
a couple Yellow Warbler, thought I heard a Mourning, and best
was finally seeing an American Redstart this spring! I heard
it first, singing, and thought, that must be a first-spring male
Redstart, based on song quality, sure enough when I ran it down
it was a 1st-yr., got some audio tape of it singing as well.
Haven't heard that in too many years.
A Yellow or two at UR, nothing at 354, the party is nearly over.
Just a last few cherries to pick in the next week? At the
tail end there will often only be one or two migrants to be found,
but chances of something very good are high. The Am. Redstart
is warbler species 21 for me this spring, and 3 others have been
reported, so 24 passed through. Not bad. Except missing
Tennessee, save one I thought I heard singing the fallout day.
The white-winged Field Sparrow has a fledged young it is feeding.
May 14 ~ Kathy had a male Yellow Warbler in the yard in the p.m.,
that was it today, nose to saltmine grinding-wheel. System
moving in at dark bringing some more rain. The titmice have
some young fledged, and for a nearly a week now three young
Chickadee are hanging on the peanut feeder together.
May 13 ~ Clear again most of the night, so migrants continue on
their way. Only a couple new things were about, best
was my FOS Mourning Warbler at UP, a nice close male, finally.
It was on my second try at the north-end woods, 1:15 p.m.,
on on my way out, so by the skin of my teeth, and for minutes
it gave stellar views. My warbler sps. 20 for the spring
Also there was one or two Yellow, a Yellowthroat, a Waterthrush,
a Wilson's, plus the breeding Yellow-throated and territorial
No. Parula. At UR there were 3-4 Yellow, a Black-throated
Green, and one Wilson's, and that was it for warblers.
Well, except the one that almost got away. Saw a bird in my bins
less than 20 feet away, that when I saw it, PROTHONOTARY! was the ID.
It promptly shot across and up-river, disappeared, and was unchaseable.
It was a flash of a look, three seconds, maybe four, but it was
a good close look in the open sun, in bins, an adjacent male Yellow
for comparison. It was big, and orange, big black eye, orange
headed, with a blue-gray wing, no wingbars, green back, and white
undertail coverts and as it shot off, white tail spots, all in stark
contrast to the Yellow Warbler it was very near. But it was like
it got beamed up. It dematerialized. I hate when that happens.
Just because you get a crummy look doesn't mean you can't count it.
You don't always get the feature film views of everything all the time.
The key is, did you get a good enough look to make a positive ID?
That means a for-sure, certain, absolutely correct, no way possible
in error, ID. The bird could not have been any other species whatsoever.
Otherwise it's not an ID, but a hypothesis and speculation, a guess.
An idea of what something maybe might have been. That's OK we get
lots of those that get away un-ID'd. Knowing when to let it go
and say I don't know, I didn't get a good enough look, is a definitive
mark of a good birder. Only you can make the call for yourself.
Best to be conservative and let them go if you are not sure. Easier
for us long-fangs as we have seen hundreds of most things and have this
massive frame of reference to work from. It is that experience
that allows one to make the correct call in a second.
Quite a few Yellow-billed Cuckoo moving through now everywhere.
A Swainson's Thrush was at UP, an Olive-sided Flycatcher on
SR, and a Wilson's Warbler sung in the yard in the a.m. too.
The 354 pecans were dead, a pair of Blue-winged Teal were at
the South Little Creek ponds. Numbers of Red Saddlebags were
over that pond as well. Giant Swallowtail are increasing
in numbers, Buckeye numbers still way up, and still no Sister.
The weird dragonfly I can't ID was still at UP today. It's
a big darner I think, may have to go out in canoe with net.
Finally a FOS Fiery Skipper was long overdue. At UR there was
another of the darner that has been at UP, and I see now they are
old faded Springtime Darner, and it is as if they get pruinescent.
A Turkey Vulture found a dead Sunfish of some sort, a casualty
of the flood, and as it flew from river with it into live-oaks
a Black Vulture was right on its tail trying to make it drop
the fish with attack, clearly attempted piracy.
May 12 ~ Clear again overnight so migrants likely left, the
north component to winds too light to make a difference.
Sure enough, very very few migrants to be found. Nary a
Philadelphia Vireo whence there were four yesterday. The
best was Utopia on the River (UR), singing Chestnut-sided and
Magnolia Warblers, a bit of audio recorded from both. A couple
Yellow there, that was it for migrant warblers. UP wasn't any
better with a Yellow, a couple that got away, and one Northern
Waterthrush for migrant warblers. Not 10 total individ's at both
stops. One Gray Catbird at UP in the mulberries up on the
island finally, which would have been the FOS but I saw one out
the office window earlier this morning at SR! A male Common
Grackle was eating seed out back on the ground. So nearing back
to normal: residents, save a couple goodies some scratching can dig up.
Those were the second each of Chestnut-sided and Magnolia, which is
about the limit here for one spring. Still haven't seen a
measley American Redstart or laid eyes on a Tennessee! Though
thought I heard both the fallout day, Wed. the 11th. Not to
mention still missing a Least Flycatcher! A strong easterly
component to the winds, might send something our way tonight?
I heard a couple begging fledgling Yellow-throated Warbler today
at UP, right on time for that for them here.
About 40 Cedar Waxwing were hitting the Mulberry tree on Cypress,
a Great-tailed Grackle is nesting somewhere at north end of town.
Maybe the find of the day though was a baby Porcupine at UR, which
I got point blank photos of. It was hidden up against a downed
log, I didn't see mom around, but have seen one there several times.
It would turn its rear quarters and tail toward me, facing away,
and shortly turn back around to see if that scared me away yet,
repeat a dozen times. I gotta say, it was one cute little bugger.
May 11 ~ Was clear dusk to after midnight over (last) night so
birds had perfect chance to leave.... 'fraid they did.
Will run and check a spot or two. OK, back, un-impressive,
they left. Most things look new.... but little overall, so
suggesting the clear first half of dark caused departures.
Just had a couple hours to check UP, UR, 354 pecan patch, now
roads open, but were closed till this a.m. when they could
get crews to remove big logs from the 1050 bridge and all the
other low water crossings. Keep this in mind if you see
a major rain event unfolding. I hear the wall of water, the
flash flood, that ran down the Sabinal was 2-3 FEET tall, so
instantly closing all the crossings as it passed each.
The flood debris line was pretty far from the main river channel
in many places. Looked like at peak it was 6' or more above
bank at park edge, just below the screen shelters for instance.
Was enough to silt in some of the sterile gravel and rocks across
the dam so something might grow in it. Lots of the fancy
shoreline sculpting the dozers did has been remodeled, again.
What will happen when it's 6-10" of rain instead of 4"?
You can now see the part of the dam they buried, it got unburied.
I hope they leave it alone and let nature take its course. Guess
they never heard that "Don't fool with mother nature" saying.
News flash: she'll put the river bank where she wants it, and,
it is best left there. It IS a flood control channel.
The FOS of the day was on 357 out SR, an Eastern Kingbird west
of Morris's a couple hundred yards on the north side of loop.
I was nearing worried about missing one this spring. The
show of the day was Philadelphia Vireo of which I saw THREE,
two TOGETHER at UR (second time I've had two together here).
The other at UP. While I was watching the two Phillys
there was singing Warbling, White-eyed, Red-eyed, Yellow-
throated, and Blue-headed Vireo, 6 vireo sps. at once.
I strained to hear nearby Bell's but couldn't do it due to
the roar of the river. Wow, update 4:30 p.m., there was
a singing Philadelphia Vireo out front, number FOUR for the day,
and a yard bird to boot! What a wave of them! They
sure are worn dull in spring though. This time of year many
look like the duller bird shown in Sibley, note always brightest
yellow in center, throat to center of breast, not on sides.
There was a well-Spotted Sandpiper at UP.
There were at all 3 stops and between, totals of 6-7 Yellow,
4-5 Wilson's, 3 Nashville, 1 Black-throated Green singing at UR,
a male Black-and-white at UR, fem. Common Yellowthroat at UP,
the breeding Yellow-throated, Chat, and territorial N. Parula.
The ground and its terrestrial fauna within 25 to 50 feet and
more from the main river channel has been scraped clean of all
fauna and most flora. There were no ground warblers either.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo were at UP and at UvCo 354 (2) gave great close views.
Great Crested Flycatcher was at UP, Brown-crested Flyc. at 354 and UR.
Ash-throats nesting in the box on our former TV antenna, which is
actually a disguise, really it's a bird nest box support structure.
Little Creek Larry said he had an Osprey over that creek this a.m.
I got lost on that interweb thingie and saw a Hooded Warbler has
been reported at Lost Maples, and a Cattle Egret at Utopia Park,
both in late April, the warbler also earlier; recall Hooded Warbler
sang there for a while last summer, so perhaps a returnee. So with
the Hooded and Steve Hilbigs Golden-winged, that makes for 20 species
of warblers locally this spring, as I have 18 at the park and UR.
I think last spring's off-the-charts showing was 31 species.
Plenty of time to add a couple-few more..... all the other springs
had Louisiana Waterthrush, which I haven't gone seen this year,
we know it's there. But Mourning, Tennessee and Redstart
should all still show, and a rary or two is always possible.
May 10 ~ Another rainy one, much of the day off and on showers,
with an inch 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and another inch after 4 p.m.,
though up valley in Bandera Co. some areas got 3-4 inches!
Astounding was the roar of the river from Seco Ridge (SR) from our
porch (2 miles from river) at 10-11 p.m., we've never heard it that
loud, it was so much rain, so fast, most of the local roads
were closed due the low water crossings being flooded. Now
about 24" of rain since mid-Sept. when rains began again.
This was just what the headwaters areas needed, though a bit
slower of a soaker would have been fine.
Thursdays are very busy work days for me so I couldn't get out
between showers, will check tomorrow and hope it holds overnight,
despite it clearing and having starry skies early. Maybe
the light northerlies and being wet will keep 'em here a day.
But I doubt it, you just have to go out between showers when these
events occur, that is when the most birds are knocked down.
A Yellow Warbler was around mid-day trying to tell me there were
migrants to be found out there. A special torture it is.
At 11 p.m. a Yellow-billed Cuckoo called from the knoll. The
frogs are roaring like the river, I hear Couch's Spadefoot and
Gulf Coast Toad, Leopard, Barking, Cricket and Chorus Frogs.
If only salamanders called.
May 9 ~ Warbler fallout! The rains yesterday were a bit much
to go searching in, so got out this morning to check the local
patches and it seemed the stuff stuck despite it clearing out
dusk till after midnight. It wasn't overwhelming, not the
best I've seen here, but 14 species of warblers in less than 3
hours with 11 migrant species is a good haul. I heard a
couple types I didn't see, and a dozen or so got away un-ID'd.
Five were species I hadn't seen this year! I didn't run
up to the pass for the 2 nesters up there, which would have made
for 16 species, that with the couple that I heard would have made
18 sps. and surely a couple more were out there, so it is nearly
certain there were 20 species of warblers to be had locally if
one could have birded all day. The No. Parula continues at the
park, a couple Chat were territorial. There were at least
50 migrant warblers locally that I saw (counting un-ID'd ones).
The four scarcer (all FOS) warblers I saw were Chestnut-sided,
Canada, Blackburnian, and Magnolia, the first time I have seen those
four on the same day here. The Canada I audio taped singing at
UP, the Chestnut-sided and Blackburnian were males at UR, at one
point on the same branch. Such a dilema, what to look at! There
were about 20 Yellow Warbler, 8+ Wilson's, 5+ Nashville, 2 Common
Yellowthroat, a white Northern Waterthrush, a male MacGillivray's
(UR - FOS). Not counted but probably were a heard and glimpsed
Mourning at UP, thought sure I heard a Tennessee sing, and a Redstart
chipped a couple times but I never saw it. One of the better
couple hours of fallout for warblers that I've seen here locally.
You need bad weather at the right time.
There were many other things knocked down besides warblers, such
as a singing Philadelphia Vireo at UP, singing Blue-headed Vireo
at UR, and a FOS Warbling Vireo at UP, all 3 were my FOS's here.
Interesting was the vireo total too, Yellow-throated, Red-eyed,
White-eyed, and Bell's were all singing (breeders), so 7 species
of vireo were seen, I didn't hear the Hutton's near our place,
so missed getting 8, and if I knew of a Black-capped Vireo nearer
than Lost Maples or Concan I could have had 9 species of vireo
in a single day here! Imagine if you picked up a stray Gray,
Cassin's or Plumbeous!?! :) That is closer than
I'd have thought possible to 10 vireo species in a day. Nine
were certainly in the area today.
Other goodies found were FOS Green, and Little Blue Herons, and a
singing Swainson's Thrush at UP (FOS), an Alder Flycatcher at UR
though still no Least Flycatcher or Catbird yet. On SR here
at the hovel in the p.m. was a dull first spring (female?) Yellow-
headed Blackbird, quite a scarcity on the seed out back. Then
a Broad-winged Hawk circled low over the ridge later in p.m.
There were birds everywhere, and they were on the move.
Almost forgot, Spotted Sandpiper at UP too.
The bird of the day that got away was a sparrow up at the north
end of town on Mountain View in the wildflower fields with the
short mesquites. It flushed off the road and I got a fair
look in a mesquite, if pressed to guess right or die, I'd say
it was a Baird's Sparrow. I saw the white in outer tail
when it flew so default expected Vesper, but it was obviously
not that even in flight by shape: short, fat, big headed and
short-tailed. I wanted to hunt warblers with my little bit
of time and didn't feel like getting wet to the knees chasing it
around the dense wet Basket-flower couple acres so left it.
May 8 ~ Rained much of the day off and on, couldn't get out,
would have been soaked, was about 2" by time it was all
done. Puts us at about 22" since it broke in mid-Sept.
Plateau Agalinis is blooming, earliest I've ever seen that.
May 7 ~ The cold front hit in the p.m., after a 95 dF high,
it dropped to 70dF in an hour an change. Winds were 35 MPH
on it. At least 2-3 female Ruby-throats continue, and
twice as many males. Black-chins number in the hundreds.
A Yellow Warbler in the yard gave a clear seet flight note
without any of the zzzz buzz in it whatsoever. It did
eventually zzzeet as usual, but clearly gave a clearer non-
buzzy seet note a few times.
May 6 ~ The bird of the day locally I didn't see, but luckily
got to find out about it. Steve Hilbig saw a GOLDEN-
WINGED WARBLER at their place out W.Sabinal Rd. in Bandera Co.
today! THANKS for the report Steve and Sylvia! There
is an old Lost Maples record, so not the first in Bandera Co.,
but probably only the second ever, whilst Uvalde Co. has NO record.
But which it surely crossed on the way to the Hilbig's! ;)
It is a very rare find west of San Antonio, that the furthest west
(at our latitude) they are annual (or nearly) as spring migrants.
GREAT find of a fancy bird!. It will probably be enough to
earn the "best warbler of the spring " award here locally.
Otherwise, still just a trickle of migrants even with some bit of
scraping about a few local stops. Thought sure I heard a
Wilson's Warbler sing, but didn't see it, so only four migrant
warbler species were seen, while 5 breeding/territorial species
were seen, for a whopping woeful 9 sps. total. Most
common migrant was Yellow Warbler which numbered 5 or 6 at
4 stops, while perhaps 3 Nashville, and 2 yellow No. Waterthrush (UP)
were the other migrant warblers in multiples, a single Common
Yellowthroat. Besides the regular nesting Yellow-throated
Warblers, the Northern Parula continues singing at UP (2 weeks now),
breeding Chat are along 354, UR, and up at the 1050 pass, where there
were a few singing Golden-cheeked and Black-n-white Warbler, the
regular breeders there. This ca. 5 miles west of town on 1050
that huge mountain pass you climb up and over, the 1050 pass.
Got some begging bk bk bk audio tape from a couple recently fledged
Golden-cheeked Warbler, the family group was right over my head
on the road just east of the top/pass. Just be careful on
the road there, but it is a good drive-by spot for them. I
check all 4 pullouts on the way upslope from town (westbound), the
Golden-cheeks are at the higher pullouts, where the Buckley (Spanish)
Oak zone is. So the last pullout while southbound before the
west turn to/of final incline, and walking back down from the top
(good spot to park) eastward are best for them. Be careful,
the road is very narrow, but it is a good quick stop if you need one.
Please don't play tapes, it is illegal, un-necessary, and means you
are either a Gomer or a Homer.
This year Blk-n-White are more numerous just west of the pass where
hill on the south side comes up to the road a quarter mile W. past pass.
Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager, and Field Sparrow singing at Post Gap
just east of the top. The canyon draining east from the top (and
slope above road) had singing (territorial - regular nesting) Ash-throated
Flycatcher, Yellow-throated, Red-eyed, Hutton's and White-eyed Vireo,
Summer Tanager, Cardinal, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Golden-cheeked and
Black-n-white Warbler, and local residents Bewick's and Carolina Wren,
Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Scrub-Jay, Common Raven,
plus Chat, and Scott's Oriole. Made for some nice general variety
audio tape bits, between cars. No Bushtit but sometimes getable
here though. I was not there first thing early, when there is
much less traffic and much more bird song, mid-morn it was still good.
A Thrush flew across the road right by me which I thought was a
Swainson's, but couldn't say for sure and it kept going.
A good showing of Mealy Sage, Mexican Hat, and at a cut or two
just west of pass/top some stands of Barbara's Buttons were great.
There was a little bit of Angel's Trumpet here and there up pass.
There was a serious march of some red and black katydids (I
think they were (photos)) of a flavor I've never seen before.
There were hundreds smashed on the road, and one laurel bush
had a dozen on it, though they didn't seem to be eating it.
The Bear Creek Pond had two pair of Blue-winged Teal on it,
and a male Vermilion Flycatcher on the snags towards road
from it, they nest usually in the trees at upper (west) end
of pond. I didn't see any Cave Swallows at the culvert
just west of the pond, but was late, it was clear out, and I
presume they were out and gone feeding. A Kingbird shot
through the pass eastbound, which I mostly saw the west end of,
I missed a positive ID, but thought it was an Eastern, back dark.
It was headed east..... :)
At least 5 FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo were heard, 2 at UR where
there were none yesterday. Two more were in 1050 pass canyon.
Two other FOS's were the first Empidonax I have seen all spring.
One, returning breeder Acadian Flycatcher at UR, this on time
for them there, and the other, a FOS Traill's type I thought was
Alder Flycatcher, though it didn't call, also at UR. Two whole
Empidonax in one day, wow!
I knew I was going to pay for last year being so off-the-charts
fantastic for spring migration, but this has been absolutely
brutal this year. Last year the pond at the park stood out
a thousand times more as a green wet spot than this year since
there was rain, and there is a river again, so it lacks that key "oasis
effect" which equals migrant magnetism factor, that it had during
peak drought when everything else around it is brown, dry, and less
avian appealing. Now it all looks good. It's green and
wet everywhere now, so there is less concentration.
Also wind conditions have been much weaker of SE flow than last year.
But come on, cut us a little slack and toss us a wavelet, or maybe
a bone or two at least! :P Junction last week had
Ovenbird and a Redstart, and Lubbock has had Blackpoll, Hooded,
and Prothonotary, whilst Marathon had a Swainson's Warbler! There
must be some sort of warbler kryptonite going on here now.
A couple Mourning Cloak were at UP, another at UR, but nothing
special for butterflies, though lots of Question Mark. For odes
three FOS teneral Banded Pennant were seen, and the first (a few)
Blue Dasher at UP so far (had them a week ago at golf course pond)
this year, otherwise mostly Dot-winged and Prince Baskettails still.
At the 360 crossing I saw the first American Rubyspot I have
seen since 2010 (none last year) locally, and a good one got
away, a gomphid of some sort that you'd really like to know
what it was. Numbers of Kiowa and Lavender Dancer were
Skylarking Cassin's Sparrow out front of park in with Longhorns,
seemed pretty 'Texas' to me. Three small flocks of
ca. dozen ea. Clay-colored Sparrow were seen. A group at the
golf course held one Lark Bunting (probably my latest date and prob.
a first-year female) and a Vesper Sparrow. Dickcissels were
lightly scattered throughout, including yard, and up at the pass,
and another Cassin's Sparrow was heard singing from Bear Creek Pond.
At north end of town a couple acres of Basket-flower is most impressive.
As good as the late Lark Bunting was at 7:50 p.m. for 15+ minutes
a late Hermit Thrush bathed and fed around the bath. It was
a big one to me but my default is a small one, and it seemed
fairly olive of tone on upperparts. The flanks were very gray,
as was some of the side of the breast. No buff or brown wash
anywhere on underparts. It had the typical Hermit rufous
in wing, and tail, which was typical contrasty Hermit Thrush type,
both flicked persistently. Spots on breast were more brown
than black though. There was no gray cheek, buff spectacle,
or anything suggestive of any other species, I presume it one of the
interior (Rocky) mountain birds which I don't know well. A good
late date for one here. These must winter way far south, and
breed way far north and or at high altitude where spring comes late,
for it to be this far south at this late date.
After dark there were multiple Common Nighthawk, Common Poor-will,
and Chuck-wills-widow calling, plus a Barn Owl went over.
The day's real highlight was that 'nother pound and half of
Mulberries I picked and brought home. Can't lie about it
with these purple fingers, best picked after you are sure to
be done using binocs, quittin' time. Only ever use
the same one hand, so you have a clean one to open a door and
get water bottle to wash before grabbing steering wheel, etc.
May 5 ~ Finally a FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher, at UR, whilst
I still haven't seen any Empidonax this spring yet. A
Yellow Warbler (at UR), a Northern Waterthrush at UP (yellow)
was it for migrant warblers. Missed the wave methinks.
This next week is the last chance for a good one to hit.
Did get some audio tape of the Northern Paurla at UP, and
a Great Crested Flycatcher giving much of it's repertoire
got recorded as well. Another sample of Yellow-
throated Warbler was taped at UR. Hot and humid again,
and still, mid 90's dF continue, allegedly for a couple
more days, and then it's a week in the 80's, probably for
the last time until late September or October.
There are thousands of Rain Lily open along 357 from the
downpour on May 1. I think I forgot to mention the
Low-wild Petunia at the park is blooming, lots of Coreopsis
along the roads still going strong, as is Englemann's Daisy,
and the patch of Angel's Trumpets on 357 threw up another
set of flowers since the rain too. The Navajo Tea is
thick as I've ever seen it. One Springtime Darner at UP.
Large Orange Sulphur on 354, couple Cloudless Sulphurs.
May 4 ~ Still stuck here with plumber and unable to check
migrant spots until 5 p.m. I got a quick run through UP.
One each male Black-throated Green, Wilson's, Common
Yellowthroat, a Nashville, and the singing Parula.
Bet it was great this morning, was probably the big day
of the spring. Was a hot humid one too, 95 dF or so.
Screech-Owl hitting the bath every night no doubt, it is
heard moving into yard, and then to tree over bath.
May 3 ~ Stuck here with plumber so can't check park, but know
it must be good since there is a Yellow Warbler out back.
Lots of Plateau Agalinis has come up, which if it doesn't
rain more won't last till it blooms, and usually it seems
to know if it will get enough to risk the seed and go for it.
We had a few cooler mornings and lower afternoon highs with the
rain cooled airmass, was quite nice, but finally got hot today.
May 2 ~ Early a.m. a few Dickcissel were going over northbound.
At UP one Northern Waterthrush (Y), one (still) Northern Parula.
Saw my FOS female Painted Bunting in the yard finally, and my
FOS juvenile Ladder-backed Wodpecker. Another great roar
of the rana, the day after a good rain they really whoop it up.
Didn't hear the Spadefoot Toads, but everything else was going.
May 1 ~ Between 1 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. it sounded like a war zone
out here on SR, as an intense MCS cell slowly moved over, dumping
2" of rain here, only about an inch in town, and less to the east,
but some areas to our west 20 or 30 miles got 3 and 4 inches.
First thing in the a.m. there was a singing Orchard Oriole in
the yard, and the first male Indigo Bunting I've seen in the
yard this year. At UP there were 14 Shoveler knocked down
by the storm, and the singing Northern Parula continues.
Mourning Cloak still outside the hovel here on SR.
I rode along to Kerrville with a friend and on the way back, at the
Vanderpool turn east on 337 toward Medina, right at the east
end of the bridge over the Sabinal River, I saw a Horned Lizard!
This the first one I've seen locally since the old days in the late 1980's!
The usual good numbers of Painted Bunting and at culverts Cave Swallow
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
April totalled 42 species of butterflies, good considering we're
in drought recovery mode. Virtually no skippers save a few
Common Checkered-Skipper, I saw one orange (Fiery or Field) skipper
all month (and Duskywings). Volume-wise, much is immigrants,
not local emergences.
The hundreds and thousands of Red Admirals seemed to have passed,
as have a wave of Lysides, hundreds of American Ladies, thousands
of Checkered White, it remains abundant, and very good numbers of
Buckeye are moving in. Mourning Cloak has had the best showing
in my 9 springs here, half seem to be beatin' tracks north or northeast
bound, others staying in one place several days or more.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
April totalled 42 species of butterflies, good considering we're
in drought recovery mode. Virtually no skippers save a few
Common Checkered-Skipper, I saw one orange (Fiery or Field) skipper
all month (and Duskywings). Volume-wise, much is immigrants,
not local emergences.
The hundreds and thousands of Red Admirals seemed to have passed,
as have a wave of Lysides, hundreds of American Ladies, thousands
of Checkered White, it remains abundant, and very good numbers of
Buckeye are moving in. Mourning Cloak has had the best showing
in my 9 springs here, half seem to be beatin' tracks north or northeast
bound, others staying in one place several days or more.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
April 30 ~ Some drizzle/fog/mist but only a single male Black-n-white
Warbler for migrants at UP, a couple Nashville at 354 pecans.
One Downy Woodpecker was at UP, perhaps the same female still?
The Mourning Cloak was about the yard in the afternoon, only about a
half-dozen Chipping Sparrow left. Late, almost 8 p.m. a flock
of two dozen Clay-colored Sparrow passed by northbound, getting
ready to go at dark I suppose. Unlike with Chuck-wills-widow
which number at least 4 close by, and the Common Nighthawks booming,
you can tell it is going to rain because the Poor-wills are calling,
first time in a month.
April 29 ~ For butterflies, still haven't seen a Sister (Adelpha)
this year (or last). Did have a Cloudless Sulphur, a couple
Vesta Crescent, hundreds of Checkered White continue. Tawny
Emperors have become common nearly overnight, OK, over a few days.
Did get shots of a small sphinx moth with its wings not fully
unfurled yet, probably a Clavipes, I'll send the pix to the
moth people to verify. The Queen's Delight is blooming,
I keep forgetting to mention.
Very weak for migrant birds, perhaps 8 Nashville where there
were 11 yesterday, and no single new warbler to be found. The
singing male Northern Parula continues (day 5) at UP and probably
continuing was one Spotted Sandpiper. Lots of Dickcissel
singing in the big field off the NW corner of town, (west of the
storage spaces) a dozen or so, and over a dozen Clay-colored
Sparrow were there too. A couple pair of Common Grackle
came out of the retention pond behind the fence down the "Hacienda"
dirt road. At the horse ranch on UvCo 360 there were 3 male
Yellow-headed Blackbird (FOS), and a Pale-faced Clubskimmer (ode)
was at the river crossing. The best thing was a couple of
those big tawny Meloid (blister) beetles eating Prickly Poppy flowers.
As with the Stenaspis Cerambycids on Evergreen Sumac blooms in fall,
I've never seen this animal anywhere but on its favorite flower.
About 7 p.m a Zone-tailed Hawk flew over SR. A Mocker has shown
up that is doing a decent Bell's Vireo imitation. We have using
our nest boxes Bewick's Wren, Black-crested Titmouse, and Ash-throated
Flycatcher, the Carolina Wrens haven't been around too much since
they got their young out from over the porch. They'll be back.
April 28 ~ A couple more FOS's today, both at UP, finally a
Great Crested Flycatcher, and a Northern Waterthrush. The
singing male Northern Parula continues, day four now, first one
I've had stay that long here. A second Great Crested was
at UR, where there was singing Indigo Bunting too. A few
Nashville Warbler were at each stop totalling 10-11. The
354 pecans had some and a pair of Brown-crested Flycatcher still.
Clouds moving in, and some drizzle and strong SE winds are the
forecast for overnight, often perfect for getting good eastern
migrants here, so maybe we'll get lucky. A thrush got away
at UP, of unknown flavor. A couple FOS butterflies were
Texan Crescent and Vesta Crescent. Two nearly white pale
worn Monarchs were seen. Upper 80's maybe 90dF even, feels
great compared to the prior 3-4 days.
April 27 ~ Another 95dF scorcher, supposed to cool down more
than 5dF starting tomorrow, for the next 10 days. It was
just an early warning salvo to remind us what lies ahead. Too
much work to get out but to see the regular suspects in the
yard. I keep forgetting to mention the Eastern (mccallii)
Tex-Mex Screech-Owl have been calling nightly for a couple
weeks, surely visiting the bird bath too. The Great Horned
Owl is calling a little, Barn are nearing regular out there
now at late-thirty, probably migrants passing over.
The next week is often the best week for eastern warblers here.
You just need some strong SE winds to carry the birds far
inland from the coast, and some wetness to knock 'em down
when they get here. Otherwise there will be lower numbers,
but some good stuff still. The best three migrant traps,
patches of trees here are UP, UR, and the 354 pecans. Also
town itself especially when pecans in bloom can be good. But
there is no concentration factor so the birds roam widely, look
and listen for a flock.
Today's highlight was seeing and getting my first picture of
a Chorus Frog here today, first in 9 years. It isn't a
pretty picture, but it is Strecker's Chorus Frog. Now if I could
just get a Barking Frog. Fat chance. This beast was
the color of caliche above, beige, with upperparts unmarked (much
like Blanchard's Cricket Frog (though far more robust an animal))
with a bold black bar on face down and with dark sides.
April 26 ~ During peeks up from the grindstone, here at the SR yard
6 Waxwings, male Painted Bunting, the Scott's and Hooded Orioles,
Blue Grosbeak, Field Sparrow, Summer Tanager, the regular coots,
Barn Owl at 11 p.m., not seeing the Siskins now for second day.
The Narrow-leafed Thyrallis is blooming out back of the hovel
a real beauty of a little flower.
April 25 ~ Strong SE winds with low clouds means check your migrant
traps. So I did. And boy am I glad I did. Several
FOS's were about. At UP a singing male Northern Parula was
nice, but the GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH was better, it also did some
quiet-song, besides call notes, allowed for killer views for a few
minutes, if only the autofocus had worked through the binoculars
I'd have good pictures of it instead of some bad ones.
Then down at the 354 pecan patch there was FOS Dickcissel (+ two on
the fence just south of town), a FOS Bullock's Oriole, and a FOS
Yellow Warbler. A pair of Brown-crested Flycatcher were there
too, I still haven't seen or heard a Great Crested yet. The best
thing there though was 2 male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher doing full
360 loops repeatedly going completely upsidedown as they flip over
at the top of their loop, one of the most spectacular avian displays.
They scream their heads off as they do it to add to the show.
There were 20 some Cedar Waxwing at the big Mulberry on Cypress St.
Was about 95dF here today, hottest day of the year so far....
Here we go again. Summer is coming. Common Nighthawk
booming at dusk here on SR is nice at twilight. The male
Painted Bunting and Blue Grosbeak continue to hit the white millet,
still haven't seen females of either yet. The Summer Tanager
male comes into the bath every dusk for a splash these hot days.
April 24 ~ The white-winged Field Sparrow continues, and seems
a mated male methinks. About 6 or 8 Chipping Sparrow left.
Low of 52, high over 92dF. Two siskin at least still here.
April 23 ~ The Vesper Sparrow continued in the yard today,
which despite being natural and not a yard per se, the bird seems
a bit out of place in a clearing on a juniper covered ridge.
Nashville Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcher, and Hutton's Vireo
through yard, 3 Chuck-wills-widow calling at chuck-thirty.
In the afternoon a Mourning Cloak (lep) was about the yard briefly,
I saw one here maybe 2 or 3 springs ago when we had an outburst
of them, it's only my second in the yard. A Large Orange
Sulphur cruised through the yard, my FOS up here this year so far.
If you get out early, the first hour of light, dawn chorus is really
great now as the migratory nesters return. Scott's Oriole, Summer
Tanager, Painted Bunting and other breeders add flavor to the din of
April 22 ~ A big day for FOS's around locally with a pile of
things showing up. First from the porch in the morning
I heard FOS Painted Bunting singing, and saw a FOS male Orchard
Oriole, in the juniper out front, and a Wilson's Warbler went
through. A few Nashville Warblers were at each stop, UP, UR,
the 354 pecans, totalling a dozen of them. Otherwise one
Myrtle was it for warblers, besides territorial breeders Yellow-
breasted Chat and Yellow-throated Warbler, though I thought I
heard a Common Yellowthroat. A dozen Blue-winged Teal
were flushed off the park pond by a paddleboat mid-morning.
Got a little tape of (more distant than yesterday) Grasshopper
Sparrow this a.m. at the north end of town, and the Cassin's,
which was singing from a powerline repeatedly without skylarking.
Thought I heard a Dickcissel sing up there but didn't see it.
Near Haby's on West Sabinal Rd. I saw my FOS Western Kingbird, but
no pipers at the wet spot. Then at Utopia on the River (UR)
there were several FOS's: Indigo Bunting, Eastern Wood-Pewee,
Red-eyed Vireo, and Brown-crested Flycatcher.
A real mind-blower was seeing at least 6 Mourning Cloak today!
Multiples at UP and UR, got pix of them at both spots, another
at 354, they are everywhere, never seen this many here in 8 years.
Fly-bys while driving down the road! Another good lep was
puddling at the 360 crossing, a Great Purple Hairstreak female,
first I've seen this year. On the Anetelope Horns (milkweed)
on 357 there are lots of Gray Hairstreak, and among them were
two FOS Oak Hairstreak (ph.). Puddling everywhere are the
Red Admiral (200 in a 20' section of shore at the park), I saw 500
in a few hours, plus 300 Checkered White, over 100 each Lyside Sulphur,
Variegated Fritillary, and Dainty Sulphur, the butterflies are popping.
Three Tawny Emperor today, two Giant Swallowtail, Queen, FOS Phaon
Crescent (3), 100+ Pipevine Swallowtail out too (the big black ones),
a few Question Mark and a couple Goatweed Leafwing, but no skippers.
By accident totalled 30 species of butterflies today, over 1200
individuals and no skippers!?!
The bird of the day got away, but I saw it good enough to be sure and
confident of the ID. About 10:30 am. as I was driving over the
1050 bridge I saw a bird first thought to be an albino swallow, as it
was all white from below, with white on rear upperparts and head, but
as it got close and it went right past me at 25', it was clearly a
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW! I had to get across bridge due to traffic
behind me, did a U-turn, got out and never saw it again, went to park
thinking maybe it's over the pond, but nothing there. It had a
white face, the dark eye surrounded by white, a dark crown, and the
white went up onto the rump from the underparts. No wonder I thought
'partial albino swallow' at first as we have no swallow with
such extensive white. It is my first local or UvCo record of the
species, which was not on the great Blankenship, Weidenfeld, & Osborne
Uvalde County Checklist (2000), so likely the first county report.
I am unaware of any report since I got here. Of course nice is
that it counts for the UP park list too! For park list purposes,
I count the whole property, which includes the east bank of the river
below the dam to the 1050 bridge. There were no other swallows about
the bridge as usual.
The other best beast of the day I did get a photo of and good thing.
A gomphid dragonfly was in drier upland habitat near the 360 crossing,
now my first photo in UvCo, a Pronghorn Clubtail, which is scarce here,
I've only seen about 3 in 8+ years. Maybe I don't work the dry brush
enough, and they are more numerous that it seems, I tend to work water
for odes. Otherwise there was my FOS local Green Darner finally,
numerous Dot-winged and Prince Baskettails, another teneral Checkered
Setwing. For damsels small numbers of Double-striped and Stream Bluet,
a Fragile Forktail, and Kiowa, Violet, and Blue-ringed Dancers.
Ode numbers seemingly way down overall, presumedly due to the drought,
but also the scraping of the pond (which being a 'last wet spot is
a genetic bank for them) surely got rid of lots of nymphs that would
normally have been emerging now to repopulate. How long will it
take for the populations and diversity to return to what it was say
four years ago before the drought? The trout don't help either, as
discussed above, at Lost Maples where the water didn't go down at the
ponds, when the trout went in, the odes lost. Their nymphs are
primary food source for this non-native high-end predator. Less
dragonflies means more mosquitoes. Everything is connected in
the web of life. Tug a strand, and you'll see. ;)
Late p.m. a Vesper Sparrow was on the seed in the yard, which doesn't
happen often. Also present were Chipping, Lark, Clay-colored,
and Rufous-crowned, add the Grasshopper and Cassin's in town, making
for 7 species of sparrow without trying, with tape of the Cassin's,
Grasshopper and Clay-colored all singing at once icing on the cake.
April 21 ~ We went through the park late morning and saw
no migrants. Thought I heard a Least Flycatcher on
the island, but didn't see it. After seeing a dead one
yesterday, I couldn't believe the luck as we were driving
on Main St. right at the butterfly garden at MOURNING CLOAK
flew across the road in front of us, heading into the garden.
With Orange-tip earlier this year (102), a great local beast
for the garden list, #103. I do not get Cloaks every year.
A FOS Giant Swallowtail was at UP, and Tawny Emperor was another
FOS at the park, a few Hackberry Emperor were on 354. Tons of
Red Admiral moving, also lots of Checkered White and Lysides
(hundreds of each about) too. One teneral Checkered Setwing
was a FOS, otherwise just the Prince and Dot-winged Baskettail
for dragons, a half-dozen of each at least. Stream and
Double-striped Bluet, an Inchnura fortail of some sort, probably
Rambur's, a few assorted teneral damsels, Argia and Enallagma.
Up at the north end of town in the wildflower fields were
two singing Grasshopper Sparrow, my FOS, and the first I've
ever had singing locally. Several Clay-colored and a
Cassin's were singing too for a spectacular sparrow serenade.
Then a Zone-tailed Hawk circled over low and since it saw
I didn't have camera in hand, flew right past us just 30' up.
A couple pairs of Scissor-tails are back on county line road,
nice to see/hear a few Chimney Swift screaming about town again.
Down on 354 in the mesquite was a FOS Bells' Vireo singing.
Had one Nashville Warbler singing in town. The Indian Blanket
(Firewheel is a good name too) is opening up along the roads.
The acres and acres of Coreopsis are most impressive.
April 20 ~ A front blew through mid-morning, the rain missed
us save a few drops, but cool dry air is a good second best.
Nashville and Orange-crowned Warbler were in the yard, and
one of the latter and 3 of the former at the park, plus a FOS
Wilson's Warbler, another of which was in town, with another
each Nash and Org-crnd. So a few, a very few passage
migrant warblers, and besides a Gnatcat in yard no other
migrants really. Seemed like it should have been better,
and likely would have been if it hit early a.m. in the dark.
Usually the day after the impeding north winds ease to the
point that they can move again, there is a wave. We are
just entering the prime 20 days of warbler passage here,
such as it is. Hey sometimes ya take what you can get.
Last 10 days of April, first 10 days of May, peak usually
about April 30, May 1 or 2, pending weather. The Navajo
Tea is really going along 357, as is Coreopsis, and I saw the
big Angel's Trumpet patch is blowing horns. There was a
dead Mourning Cloak in the P.O. parking lot, fallen of a grill,
almost certainly a good local record. It is less than annual
for me here.
April 19 ~ A few more Swainson's Hawk were northbound over SR
mid-morning and cutting through them was a PEREGRINE Falcon,
always a treat to see, and the first I've locally in a bit.
A passage Orange-crowned Warbler bathed at the bath showing
its orange crown as well as you ever see it. The big FOS
of the day was at dusk, two Common Nighthawk calling overhead
one of them booming. The sound of summer coming.
April 18 ~ A half-dozen Swainson's Hawk went over SR northbound
mid-morn during one of my quick checks outside, was FOS for me,
but some were reported to Texbirds earlier, on Apr. 7-8 at LM.
'nother Gnatcatcher or two moved through.
Interesting are all the butterflies migrating up high, which
I spotted scanning the hawks, mostly Red Admiral, but numbers of
a Lady (look American), and a Buckeye or two, these are at
500'-1000' AGL over SR (1500') thermalling, moving north,
must be hundreds over the course of the day, I've never seen such
a major defined movement of Red Admiral especially, and it has
been going on for weeks at ground level where they are mostly
beating tracks north, but the numbers up high are impressive.
April 17 ~ Fairly scarce here in spring an adult Broad-winged Hawk
must have lifted off very near as low as it was, probably roosted
on the knoll (inside back (west) loop on 357). Another Gnatcatcher
moved through, and I still hear the first spring male Golden-cheeked
Warbler singing down in the draw. There are some live-oaks
along it besides the big junipers, and some Buckley (Spanish) Oak,
one Lacey Oak, one Escarpment Cherry, but seemingly fairly
marginal habitat for nesting, not much understory, perhaps my
view tainted by the lushness of Lost Maples.
April 16 ~ Today I saw my (tardy) two first female Ruby-throated
Hummingbird, males present some time, but I don't have time to
scour the hoardes of female Black-chinned at the feeders all day,
these out the office window 4' away so detected. A Nashville
Warbler moved through, and Blue-gray Gnatcats are still passing by.
Although I've been hearing one distant Chuck-wills-widow for a bit
now, but the one that is in our draw I was nearing worried about,
but tonight he is back.
April 15 ~ A front blew through in the a.m., with a just a little
drizzle, a little gusty wind, but pretty lightweight, save the low
tonight forecast for about 50dF which sounds nice. A look
at the park found no passerine migrants, save one Myrtle Warbler.
Good was a getting late-ish Sharp-shinned Hawk that passed over,
the ones that wintered here on our Chippy flock left with them,
and haven't been here in two weeks if not three. The Yellow-
throateds were singing (vireo and warbler). One Clay-colored
Sparrow was in the field out front, and 4-5 more were in the
butterfly garden behind the library. There were a few just-
fledged Carolina Wren at the park, looked like a day or two out
at most. The FOS's of the day were a Spotted Sandpiper and
about 16-18 Cliff Swallow, a couple Cave with them, seemingly
the 1050 bridge birds, but up over the pond.
The pecans are blooming, seemingly early, but I don't keep good
enough dates on every little aspect of everything, so am a bit
ambiguous on it, though I don't recall seeing done finished falling
flowers from them this early before. I checked them closely
at several sites and found ZERO bugs on them, no wonder there are
no birds in them, even at Utopia on the River (UR) where there're
lots of them in bloom, no passerine migrants. Nice to see
water in the river there again though!
For odes (dragons) there were good numbers of Dot-winged Baskettail,
and several Prince Baskettail but that was it. Damselflies
were a little better with a FOS Violet Dancer, a couple Kiowa Dancer,
Double-striped and Stream Bluet, and a Forktail that got away, was
probably Fragile. Leps are dominated by Red Admiral, of which
I've never seen so many, had 20 at one spot at UP, another 20 at UR,
and 50 more while driving around, a couple dozen at the hovel on SR,
over a hundred for sure. Lysides continue in good numbers too
(though not way above normal) and American Lady is above normal
numbers like the Red Admiral (which is really a lady, not an admiral).
The Coreopsis is really putting on a good show now, huge patches of
yellow along the roads, the Engleman's Daisy is thick as I've seen it,
White Rock-Lettuce is showing well, Sleder-stem Bitterweed also is
abundant, Blackfoot Daisy having a good bloom, and the Mealy Sage
looks great, the long purple spikes smell great if you take a
whiff, real sweet, that's why all the butterflies are on them.
Cedar and Tropical Sage are blooming in the riverside understory
Though the flower color is slightly different, to easily tell them
apart the leaf shape is the way: Cedar circular, Tropical triangular.
I saw one small clump of Cardinal Flower, and in the 'yard' I see a
bit of Navajo Tea opening up, among about 20 species here right now.
The Blue-eyed Grass (an Iris) is showing well still, a favorite.
April 14 ~ A bit of drizzle in the a.m., just a trace, but not a
migrant warbler in the park, somewhat surprisingly. There was
a 5-star find though, a SHORT-TAILED HAWK, which I must have flushed
as I got to the top end of the woods and island. It circled
low just over treetop level, then in a minute or two was back
overhead higher up, a nice light morph. Since it was drizzly
I didn't have the camera with me of course, such an act has been
known to bring rare birds out. Haven't seen one the last
few dry years, they were nearing annual during the wet period prior.
It will be up at Lost Maples shortly where they've occurred numerous
times in spring.
There was a Cassin's Sparrow in the field out front of the park,
and about 31 Cedar Waxwing around the Mulberry tree on Cypress St.
Some Great-tailed Grackle were down at the Waresville turnoff by
Feller's place, lately Common have been nesting there, didn't see
any of them. Five Carolina Wren fledged from the nest over our
back door today, and a Scrub-Jay was on them like a duck on a june bug.
We chased it off a couple times, but I think it got at least one.
The first spring male Golden-cheeked Warbler is still singing down
the draw out front. A good bird singing a poor quality song.
April 13 ~ Friday the 13th brought a FOS Blue Grosbeak to the
yard, likely a returnee breeder. Ruby-crowned Kinglet and
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through, the Summer Tanager was
singing, and likely the same first spring (or second year - SY)
Golden-cheeked Warbler was singing out front in the draw again
as well. Four Pine Siskin (at least) were on the sunflower tube.
April 12 ~ Ruby-crowned Kinglet singing out back in the a.m., a
great excited bubbly song they have. A Summer Tanager was
singing a bit in the draw, perhaps a returnee from last year
that nested nearby. At noon there were no migrants to be
found at UP. A few Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were around.
April 11 ~ A Nashville Warbler was about in the morning, and it was
nine Cedar Waxwing here today. Firefly are nice to see, but
the Snake-fly (Raphididae) photo'd close-up was better. A
White-eyed Vireo was about the yard a bit too. The first Rock
Flax and Zexmenia flowers I've seen this year opened today.
For a couple weeks now the Red Admiral (butterfly) numbers have
off the charts compared to norms, 5 or 6 at a time around the hovel
here plus more passing through all day, usually we have one here.
American Lady too are far more numerous than normal.
April 10 ~ A second year male Golden-cheeked Warbler was singing
out front this a.m., always a welcome treat. A Barn Owl
flew over at late-thirty in the p.m. Still Blue-gray Gnatcats
passing through. There was a post on Texbirds about a
Red-billed Pigeon at Big Springs north of Leakey in Real County.
April 9 ~ A singing Black-n-white Warbler in the yard in the a.m.
is always neat. Saw the male Spotted Towhee, was the last
day though. Six Cedar Waxwing were about. I do see
green berries on the junipers, so at least this year there will
be a crop, as opposed to last year. It is very important
bird food in the winter.
April 8 ~ Snuck out for a couple hours around town. Just
south of town on 187 was my FOS local male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher,
a returnee to it's nest tree, and three weeks after the first we
had down in flatlands at Uvalde. Then out 354 by the pecan patch
but across the road in thickets was another FOS nesting territory
returnee, Yellow-breasted Chat.
At UP there was a good flock of Yellow-rumped Warbler, over a dozen
Myrtle, 3 Audubon's, and a probably continuing Myrtubon's hybrid.
A couple Orange-crowned and at least 3 or 4 Nashville were among
the flock too, though I picked nothing else out. Summer Tanager
and Yellow-throated Vireo were singing, as well as White-eyed Vireo.
The good bird of the day, and the first I've seen locally in a while,
was on the powerline over Main St. downtown, a Couch's Kingbird.
Another great FOS to see back was a half-dozen Chimney Swift.
Flowers are going bonkers, the White Rock Lettuce is really getting
up now, as is Englemann's Daisy and Pincushion Daisy, and I forgot
to mention last week the Madrone trees were in bloom. Bluebonnets
are still going strong, as is Bladderpod, Dakota Verbena, and others.
Had a female Cloudless Sulphur, my first postive one of year.
Prince Baskettail, Dot-winged Baskettail were it for dragons,
damsels were Blue-ringed Dancer, Stream Bluet, Kiowa Dancer, and
one I'm not sure of but got photos. Had a glimpse of what
was likely Orange Bluet, as it is way too early for Threadtail.
April 7 ~ fog mist in the a.m., a nice workable 60-80dF spread.
Some Blue-gray Gnatcats moved through again today.... too
much work, couldn't get out. A FOS FIREFLY was cool, and
on the early side. Nearing 200 Lyside Sulphur passed today.
April 6 ~ At 6 a.m. in the dark I had Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks
fly over calling. At UP there was FOS Summer Tanager,
one each Yellow-rump, Orange-crowned, and Nashville Warbler,
plus the breeder Yellow-throated singing of course. Up in the
woods was a likely Celia's Roadside-Skipper only seen briefly,
and the bee hive in the monster cypress is being recolonized.
Saw the Barred Owl up close. A FOS Red-spotted Purple (lep)
was in the fruiting mulberry trees on the island.
At the north end of town was FOS male Great-tailed Grackle,
returning to where they nested before, in front of water company
building. There was a nice summer form Question Mark on the
back porch here at SR. Between 6-7 p.m., 3 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers
passed through northbound, and a Hutton's Vireo was singing out there
in the draw. At dusk-thirty the FOS Chuck-wills-widow let me
know they were back.
Some Coreopsis is starting to bloom, and the Damianita is really
going strong now, that the super bright yellow roadside one that
is in the shape of a boquet, I see a bunch of new stuff poppin'
all over. In the yard there are a couple dozen Blue-eyed Grass,
the lovely little Iris, open, and over a dozen square feet of
Drummond's Skullcap looks awesome. Mealy Sage is getting going
in a few spots along the road, and I saw a Cedar Sage open at UP.
Ooops, and a FOS Eumeces skink, Four or Five-lined was at UP too.
April 5 ~ Passing through were Kinglet (Ruby-c), Gnatcatcher,
Wide-eyed Vireo, some Siskin, and the FOS Bronzed Cowbird.
April 4 ~ About 90dF was warm, but very dry so not too bad.
Saw the male Spotted Towhee, 8 Pine Siskin, White-eyed Vireo.
Still no return appearance of the White-tipped Dove, good thing
I got shots when it happened!
April 3 ~ That FOS 1st spring Scott's Oriole is singing Northern
Cardinal song! It sounds horrible! He won't be getting a
mate this year. It is doing some Scott's Oriole bits, but half
is boik boik boik boik beek beek beek beek Cardinal song, OMG,
in Scott's tone and timbre. Saw the female Spotted Towhee.
April 2 ~ Did not see the White-tipped Dove in the yard today.
I really expected it to be back the way it was eating seed.
Just a few of the regulars in between work..... 11 Cedar Waxwing
were about, a half-dozen Pine Siskin, no Juncos for second day,
less than 20 Chipping Sparrow remain. Passing through were
single Wide-eyed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
The second (first adult) 6-line Racerunner (lizard) of the year
was out back, a nice 10 incher. The FOS 1st spring male
Scott's Oriole is back, and what a gawdawful song it is singing.
Saw a probably Nysa Roadside-Skipper.
April 1 ~ Stuck here at the hovel with plumbing and a piece of car
work to do. Good thing, as a WHITE-TIPPED DOVE was waltzing
around the seed! Got decent digiscopes, will replace the pix on
that webpage. This is the third one in the yard here on SR, so
nearly every other year, at this random site, a million more just like
it around it, how many are really occuring this far north? We
have winter, summer, and now spring dates in the yard. I'm sure
they are much more common in the flatlands brushcountry of the southern
2/3 to 3/4 of Uvalde County, where I spend much less time and have
seen 3 and heard another one or two over 8 years. It is essentially
annual in the county, by accident. Too bad there is no skilled
thorough coverage in south county.
Saw my FOS Eastern Fence Lizard, a migrant Orange-crowned Warbler
passed through, and a Barn Owl called 11 p.m. Was upper 80's dF.
The FOS bird of the day was a first spring (nearly year old) male
Scott's Oriole, singing apparently anything it could belt out,
obviously in need of some refining. Thought I heard two
Hooded Orioles 'weent' at once, so probably a female of
those has returned as well.
~ ~ ~
During March 30 butterfly species were seen for the month.
~ ~ ~
March 31 ~ The first 90dF day of the year I think? Was pretty warm
in the afternoon, over 10dF over normal. The big FOS was a
female Scott's Oriole, the male singing his head off now, and she was
going too. She must be a first spring as there is no black whatsoever
on her face, throat, breast, head. Usually older adult females
return first, so somewhat unusual as I haven't seen them yet. Still
no female Hooded back. But the odd Junco was about, Mr. rufous-backed
pink-sided, so a good tardy Junco date.
At UP there was a FOS Hackberry Emperor, in the, uh, hackberries,
which as it turned out was the last new butterfly species for March,
number 30. A Disparete Forester was in the woods at the north
end, and a probable Cloudless Sulphur blew by. One Black-bellied
Whistling Duck, one Pied-billed Grebe continues, 3 Egyptian Geese flew
in and blew off steam, one Skipper, likely Fiery or Field got away,
and on my grill I found a fresh Fiery Skipper, which I probably hit
today based on pristine condition of specimen, though can't be sure
I didn't pick it up in Uvalde a couple weeks ago, so can't count it
for the monthly totals.
There were well over a dozen, nearly two dozen Baskettails of the Dot-
winged (cf. petechialis) flavor, one FOS Prince Baskettail, the first
Cruiser I've seen in two years or more here, a big black and yellow
ringed beast, either Stream Cruiser, or a River Cruiser, and it kept
going so I can't say. Damsels were Double-striped Bluet, my FOS
Blue-ringed Dancer, and what looked like probably Neotropical Bluet,
but was onesies of each, numbers quite reduced for date and temps.
March 30 ~ A junco was out there at 7 p.m. but I don't know what type.
I almost thought it was Mr. gray-headed, rufous-backed, pink-sided,
dark-eyed. A Bushtit was some action out back, yes tis the season
to get just one, if you are lucky. A great FOS was a Queen, the
Monarch relative. Less than 20 Chippy, about 20 Brown-headed Cowbird,
10 Pine Siskin, male Spotted Towhee, a probable Cloudless Sulphur.
Temps reached mid 80's dF, 8dF or more over average normal.
March 29 ~ Drizzled overnight, and for second day not sure I had a
Junco, though thought I heard one once. Roadrunner is singing
it's moaning dog song, Eastern Screech-Owl doing its toad-trill.
Male and female Spotted Towhee still here, a snippet of choppy song,
Chipping Sparrow count down to 20 (was 55 a few days ago!), a dozen
Pine Siskin ate a bunch of sunflower seeds, and the daily passage
of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a White-eyed Vireo continue. The
big FOS was Six-lined Racerunner (Cnemidophorus sexlineatus), my first
lizard of the year but was a young small one.
March 28 ~ The fogmistdrizzle continues, not sure I had a Junco today.
I watch their departure carefully each year, recording numbers and dates
carefully. In the well-blooming live-oak out back two Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet moved through, only 30 Chipping
Sparrow, so they continue to depart. Nice to hear Scott's and Hooded
Orioles singing a bit out there. No females yet, and maybe no other
males either, so not going full-bore yet. At one time (dusk) I had
3 Disparete Forester on the Texas Persimmon.
March 27 ~ Fog mist. Rarer in drought regimens, this a more typical
standard condition here during average or wet periods, can be over 100 days
a year, due to orographic lifting of the moist humid southerly or south-
easterly trade (off gulf) flow. Misty mornings, drizzly, nice till noon,
followed by hot afternoons with plenty of humid on top of it. Today's
probably was a few hundredths of an inch, so not a lot of water, but if
you are birding, it is wetter than many a pelagic trip. Temps the last
week, actually nearly two, of March were 4-8dF over normal, low to mid-80's
and should have been mid-70's. Hope we don't get a late freeze now!
Heard 'nother Clay-colored Sparrow, one pearly gray male Slate Junco, and
late p.m. a surprise was an adult leucophrys White-crowned Sparrow, clearly
a migrant, which wasn't present the next a.m.! Great was a Barn Owl
calling overhead just before 10 p.m., the first I've heard here since fall.
March 26 ~ Two Slate Junco, two Spotted Towhee now giving brief chopped
up wisps of pre-migration song, the red-backed pink-sided dark-eyed Junco
continues too. Two big FOS's today, Hooded Oriole, and Ruby-throated
Hummingbird. Disparete Forester moth still about, seems more than one
hitting that unbelieveable smelling Texas Persimmon. I just go stand
next to it and breathe it in, there's yer aroma therapy. It was Mountain
Laurel a week ago. Just remember to watch for bees. There were
likely over a hundred Lyside Sulphur that passed through the yard today,
so the abundant butterfly now. Some nice all yellow ones. The dusk
and after amphibian audio continues in spectacular fashion, again I heard
6 species this evening. Absolutely unbelievable, amazing, an awesome
din of nature.
March 25 ~ More fog-mist, just like the good ol' days. Three Junco
were 2 Slate and the rufous-backed, gray-headed, pink-sided, dark-eyed one.
In the live-oak that overlooks the opening off the back porch which is
blooming well now, there were 2 FOS Nashville Warbler and a White-eyed
Vireo. About 55 Chipping Sparrow still here. At the park (UP -
Utopia Pk.) was FOS Black-n-white Warbler, and FOS Yellow-throated Vireo
(of which 2 more at 360 xing). A Springtime Darner was at the 360
Crossing, a few Dot-winged Baskettails at each water spot. Flowers are
fantastic everywhere you look. Did see one Greenthread in bloom on
357, the False Day-flower is going at the park, and a Sneezeweed (or somesuch)
has blooms now too.
Best thing was doing a U-turn to have a look at the butterfly garden at
the library. It is usually dead in the spring for butterflies, but
sometimes has a bird or two. My FOS Anole (lizard) was there, which
is the main competition in seeing any butterflies there early season when
there are few around. But as I was getting in truck to leave, something
satiny white flew up out of a Salvia in front. I got it in my binocs to
see those beautiful orange forewing tips, male Falcate Orange-tip! My
first one at the garden! Species # 101 for my garden list, a long-overdue
most-wanted one too!
March 24 ~ Not only two Slate-colored Junco still here, but the
red-backed pink-sided came by! Glad I got pix a couple weeks ago
or I'd have had to drop everything. Chipping Sparrow count is
about 50-60, half-dozen Field, couple each Lark and Rufous-crowned,
3 Spotted Towhee still here too. Warmed to low 80's dF in afternoon,
after a fog/mist morning, maybe things are getting back to normal.
Heard another Clay-colored Sparrow, and Ash-throated Flycatcher, at
least a dozen Pine Siskin were on the sunflower tube. A beat worn
migrant Monarch was on the Dakota Verbena, looked glad to find it, seeming
to hit every flower.
The real event of the day was the roar of the rana. Starting around
dusk, it went ballistic for hours, best night in years. SIX species of
frogs and toads were calling at once, yes it was spectacular. Gulf Coast Toad
were probably predominate, more are out than the Rio Grande Leopard Frog so far.
Good Chorus Frog and Cricket Frog chorus, and the FOS Barking Frog was great.
Best though was Couch's Spadefoot Toads calling, the perfect natural ringtone.
I got a little audio tape, but the Spadefoots were far off, barely hearable,
I have great point blank tape of them.
March 23 ~ Still one pearly gray male Slate (-colored) Junco on the seed.
This makes 5 of the last 9 Marches the species was present the 4th week
of the month, (9 of 9 present during second week of March). Mid-morn
a couple Northern Rough-winged Swallow shot over northbound, my FOS.
The mud hole at the end of first loop on 357 had 3 Ring-necked Duck and
a scarce here female Redhead. As I drove over the 1050 bridge a
Green Kingfisher was in a snag on the south side of the bridge, always a
good drive-by bird. Nothing at the park but the full pond with
water going over the dam, and a new log on it from the Monday night rain.
The bluebonnets (Lupine) are really showing well now and the bladderpod
continues to so at the north end of town, in which among all the Pipevine
Swallowtail I saw my FOS Black Swallowtail. I saw at least 15 sps.
of butterflies today, the high sps. diversity so far this year, Checkered
White was also my FOS up here locally this spring. A few migrant
Monarchs were about as well. It is that color in your 64 Crayola
box called spring green out there with leaf buds on nearly everything.
The Cypress, Black Willow, Mulberry, even a few Pecan, have broken leaves.
Some here say when the Pecan breaks leaves, no more freezes. Which
probably holds most of the time.
March 22 ~ Today's FOS was the latest arrival date so far for me in now
9 springs here for Ash-throated Flycatcher. Finally. One Junco
was seen at 6 p.m.. Amazing was a fledgling Carolina Chickadee, just
one, begging and getting fed, my earliest date for one out of the nest.
March 21 ~ I heard a right-on-time FOS Clay-colored Sparrow singing but
didn't see it. One male Slaty (-colored) Junco continues, 3 Spotted
Towhee, about 60 or 65 Chipping Sparrow still here, but clearly departures
are underway. Butterflies numbered 12 species, the highest daily
diversity so far this year so far. Highlight was a female Falcate
Orange-tip, the rest the expected: Red Admiral, American Lady, Variegated
Fritillary, Lyside and Dainty Sulphurs, Sleepy Orange, S. Dogface, Olive
Juniper Hairstreak, Funereal Duskywing, Checkered-Skipper and Pipevine
Swallowtail. There were 15 Pine Siksin draining the sunflower tube,
and Hutton's Vireo was singing in the yard for the first time in a while.
Loving that Scott's Oriole being back, and White-eyed Vireo moved through
as did Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
March 20 ~ Happy equinox this first day of spring! The highlight
was the return of our 'alpha male' methinks, Scott's Oriole (FOS). Oh
to hear that amazing avian flute again. A couple Junco continue,
and I saw another different Turkey Vulture that has begun molt, missing
a few middle primaries.
March 19 ~ A little bit of rain overnight, heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler
out back in the a.m.. Still 3 Spotted Towhee at least, and a couple
Junco continue as well. Kathy had some Turkey while I was at
the neighbors. White-eyed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher moved through, and the fancy Forester moth was back, this
time on the now just starting to open its first flowers, Texas Persimmon.
The big news was the rain, and hail. A cell hit town about 6:30 p.m.
missing us out back of SR, but the one at 9 didn't miss anyone. In the
next couple hours there was 4" of rain over most of the area, from here
to Vanderpool and Bandera. At one point here the ground was coated in
pea-to-marble-sized hail, some was 3/4" in diameter, perfect little ping pong
balls, and I heard bigger ones hit but wasn't going out there to study it.
It was a deluge, probably the biggest rain event in two years. My
unofficial total puts us at 17-18" of rain now since September when they
declared 6 more months of La Nina and reduced precipitation, apparently
causing the drought to break.
March 18 ~ Around town for a quick look found FOS local Cave Swallow
back at north end of town, only one each Savannah and Vesper Sparrow
continue up there, but over a dozen each Purple Martin and Barn Swallow.
The bluebonnets and bladderpod (short yellow stuff) are going gangbusters
up there, absolutely beautiful too.
At the park there was a hybrid male Myrtubon's (Myrtle x Audubon's)
Warbler. Also there were two or three singing territorial FOS
Yellow-throated Warbler, and besides Black-crested Titmouse and Carolina
Chickadee, in the passerine flock there were SINGING Brown Creeper and
Golden-crowned Kinglet. Very cool, we don't get to hear those very
much down here. The Pied-billed Grebe continues above the island,
and now FOUR of the ugly Egyptian Geese are at the pond. These
I hear are great with orange sauce. Someone please let me know.
Here at the yard on SR there was my FOS Black-throated Green Warbler,
and first of spring in yard Lark Sparrow. I noted a Turkey Vulture
has begun molt with some missing inner primaries, which is odd, as
they usually begin in the middle of the primaries.
March 17 ~ A Uvalde run for supplies, but did have 3 Junco here in
the a.m. before we left. About 6 miles south of town we had a
group of 6 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, our FOS locally this spring.
The Escarpment Cherry has begun budding some leaves on SR.
We were short of birding time, but did a quick look at Cook's Slough
where we had good looks at a pair of Green Jay and a couple dozen
American Robin, 1 Neotropic Cormorant, but otherwise it was the regular
suspects. At the fish hatchery there was one Long-billed Dowitcher,
and 2 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (my FOS down in the flatlands) which
arrive down in lowlands a week or more before they risk the altitude up
here in the hills. There were no swallows at either site surprisingly
but a bunch of Barns were back at Wally's supermegamart, and my FOS
Cave Swallow was there too.
Besides a spectacular wildflower bloom on 187 as you drop off the
escarpment down to Sabinal, there was not much along the roads besides
the expected birds, but a nice flock of about 135 Lark Bunting was at least
half nearly solid black males. A half-dozen Shrike continue but
the Red-tailed Hawks were gone, a few Meadowlarks were still about that
seemed Eastern to me. The big flocks of wintering Westerns are gone.
About 4 mi. south of Utopia on the return trip I saw the first Lark Sparrow
I've seen since about December up here in the hills. A post to
Texbirds indicated the Tropical Parula was still at Neal's Lodges in
Concan. We did see at least a half-dozen beat worn (migrant) Monarch
along the way, one so worn and pale as to be nearly colorless, clearly
a long distance migrant from Mexico.
March 16 ~ My FOS Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was neat, great to hear that
deflating psssss call again. I think it was 3 each Junco and
Spotted Towhee on the seed still, a couple American Goldfinch, five
Cedar Waxwing. Two migrant (beat worn) Monarch were on 357,
and here in the yard a female Falcate Orange-tip was my FOS. At
the park there was the ugly pair of Egyptian Geese, a Belted Kingfisher,
and my FOS Zygop (damselfly) up here in the hills, two Double-striped
Bluet (Enallagma basidens) plus one Baskettail (Epitheca) dragonfly.
March 15 ~ A lone male Common Grackle in the juniper out front over
the bird bath was unusual. A few Junco and a Waxwing were about.
Nine species of butterflies in the yard were highlighted by my FOS
Buckeye. Even fancier was a Forester, the diurnal moth, either
8-spotted or Disparete, coming to the blooming Mountain Laurel. The
Blackfoot Daisy is blooming, as is the Pink Evening Primrose, of which
ours is the white variety, only appearing pink when flower not open.
March 14 ~ Still at least 5 Slate (-colored) Junco here, and
3 Cedar Waxwing were about. The amazing news though was
a fledgling Carolina Wren being fed by adult at the peanut feeder.
I only see one young, but it is by far my earliest fledgling date,
they must have started mid-February. Also of interest was
my FOS Raphidid, or Snake-fly in plain english, a very cool insect.
Yellow Ground-Cherry has popped a flower, and a Gulf Fritillary
March 13 ~ Saw my FOS Brown-headed Cowbird, which I heard yesterday
late just before dark.
March 12 ~ Today was the FOS Ode of the year, two Baskettails, I
presume Dot-winged (Epitheca) patrolling the front yard as usual.
At least five Slaty Junco, and heard another Golden-cheeked Warbler
and Turkey were gobbling too. The (Disparete?) Forester moth
continued, and saw migrant Monarch # 2 of the year. Eleven sps.
of butterflies was the high species diversity count of the year so far.
The Deer Pea Vetch and Blue Gilia has opened the first few flowers.
Killed a pair of Brown Recluse spiders in the office here, the FOS.
After none during the drought last year, we'll probably have a bunch
this year. No need to start early. Saw a FOS Tipulid,
or Crane-Fly. Thought sure I heard a Cowbird late in p.m.
March 11 ~ Well I got lucky and got a few digiscopes of the odd
Junco I believe is a hybrid Gray-headed x Pink-sided. Good thing,
as after I got the shots I never saw it again, again! A FOS
White-eyed Vireo was about the yard, but not as exciting as the FOS
Golden-cheeked Warbler singing! That's the way I like it, uh huh.
There were 6 Slaty Junco still about, and I saw a post on Texbirds
about a Tropical Parula over at Neal's Lodges in Concan, which is
a very early date up here in the hills.
A Forester moth (FOS) was about the Mountain Laurel, probably Disparete,
buy maybe 8-spotted. A FOS Horace's Duskywing was about too.
March 10 ~ Folks said 3/4" of rain down in town, and it looked
it. There was one Ring-necked Duck at the park, a few Blue Jay,
and I thought I heard a Black-n-white Warbler flight note a few times
but otherwise it was quiet. The wintering Pied-billed Grebe is
still upriver of the island, but no Kingfishers or Black Phoebe, it
has been pretty noisy there last couple weeks.
At the north end of town there was a male Purple Martin on the wire,
and 3 Barn Swallow. The grassland with scattered short mesquites
is great sparrow habitat and it seemed the Vesper were gone but still
a dozen Savannah. A Red-winged Blackbird was singing near the
meat plant, lots of Cardinal singing everywhere, but 'twas drizzly
so activity reduced as we took a roll around.
Here at the hovel on SR there were a half dozen Common Ground-Dove,
minus one the Sharpy took out of mid-air before my eyes out the
office window. Looked like it exploded in mid-air, 12' away.
Must be like gettin' about five Chipping Sparrows at once to them.
There was a female Black-chinned Hummingbird on a feeder, more males
than the 3 feeders up, but they can just share. I tried explaining
that was why there was 8 holes in the feeder, they don't seem to get it.
Sixteen+ was the Pine Siskin count, few American Goldies still, the
pair of Spotted Towhee and the 2 wintering Orange-crowned Warblers.
The bird of the day was at 5:50 p.m., as I was writing this, Kathy
spotted the red backed hybrid Gray-headed x Pink-sided Junco outside!
I ran out and saw it, then tried to get a pic, a Sharpy flushed all,
and so I missed. There is a pic of it below on Feb. 13 notes.
What is amazing is that I work our Juncos hard, and I mean real hard,
and the bird has not been seen since Feb. 13 when I first found it
and we saw it for not all of two minutes. Now we know it has been
around somewhere not too far to be back a month later. Guess
what I'll be doing in the morning. There were about four other
Junco (Slate) here today, as they thin out. Once the weather
breaks, next week, we'll likely see most of these last ones depart.
Was another chilly day with a 40-50dF low/hi in drizzle all day.
Oh but it is turning green green green out there! The Post Oaks
have busted out with leaves, Agarita is finishing up its bloom, Redbud
is nearing peak, Buckley Oaks are exploding with leaves as the live-oaks
rain their yellow ones from last year. Forecast says this is the last
cold day for next ten, with 70's for a week plus. Spring will take
a giant leap forward next week, but hard to believe we won't freeze again.
The big question is can ya put the 'maters out yet?
March 9 ~ Rained lightly overnight, low in upper 30's with winds
(chill was 29dF in KVL at 11 a.m.) and late morning a good little
thunderstorm dropped a half inch and change of rain. Lots
of sunflower tube usage with some American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin,
House Finch and Lesser Goldfinch, besides the Titmice and Chickadees.
Four or five Junco still about, a pair of Spotted Towhee, and 125+
Chipping Sparrow including the one with about 4 white primaries
that I saw a couple months ago still present, and the white-winged
Field Sparrow amongst a half-dozen of them, those singing even in
the cold wet chill today. Ruby-crowned Kinglet passed through,
the third one this week.
March 8 ~ The warmup before the front brought us about 80dF at 4 p.m.
just before the winds turned. At 4:30 it was 50 in KVL, and
82 in HDO, about 50 miles apart. It dropped 20 dF in an hour
or so, and another 10 in another hour. Here it felt like spring
in the morning, reminded you summer was on the way in the afternoon,
and was winter again, still, by evening. Welcome to Texas!
After yesterday's FOS, today I heard a number of Purple Martin
overhead crackling and popping in between exhaltations of BEER! BEER!
What a great sound. Hope they stocked up on bugs today, it's a
chilly wet forecast the next three days. A male Vermilion Flycatcher
stopped for a few bugs from the powerline, 6 Slate Junco continue,
couple Audubon's Orioles passed through, and my earliest ever FOS
Monarch blew NE on the strong tailwinds. A Gulf Fritillary was about
seeming a female looking to oviposit. Several Dakota Verbena have
opened, a good bit of Crow-Poison is going, the Whitlow-Grass is done.
Paralena and Prairie Fleabane are really getting going well in the front
yard, as is a vetch. The ground overall is brilliant green with
sprouts, and greener than it has been in a long long time.
March 7 ~ FOS Purple Martin, 5:05 p.m.! Finally, they know to
arrive late (seasonaly) up here in the hills though. There were
7 Slate and 1 Pink-sided Junco, the latter a new bird on passage.
One pair of Spotted Towhee continue, and a half dozen or more Pine
Siskin were on the tubes.
On the live-oak out back, out our kitchen window, half of the leaves
have fallen since Sunday, in four days. Some new buds are showing.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly this happens, it yellowed
last week, dropping leaves this week, and will be growing new ones
in earnest next week.
Now is the time for all good birders to look at the dots on the wings
of the male Common Ground-Dove. They will look black most of
the time, but if you can get the right angle of light going they are
an amazing purple. This shows best now when feathers are fresh,
this time of year when looking good is most important (mate selection).
You may have to watch them a while but I've been picking it up off a
male out the window, whereas it was not showing well the last several
months. It seems when the feathers wear they lose some of the
structural integrity required for the iridesence to occur or take place,
and so the purple becomes harder to see later.
March 6 ~ FOS Zone-tailed Hawk at north end of town was nice.
That different yellow bladderpod (Englemann's?) is blooming well
up there, and I saw some Bluebonnets (Lupine) opened up! It
must be spring! A dozen each Lesser and American Goldfinch were
on seed tubes up there too. Didn't see a Purple Martin yet, still.
9 Gadwall on the SR mudhole off 357 at end of first loop. A
single male Common Grackle was about town. The ground sure is
nice and green with sprouts, lookin' mighty spring-like out there!
Some of the live-oaks in town are sprouting lots of buds, having
dropped lots of leaves already.
Wow, a pair of Egyptian Geese at the pond at the park!?! There
goes the neighborhood. My experience with these beasts is that
they are not just ugly, they are mean.
March 5 ~ Heard northbound cranes mid-day. Odd was four
texana Scrub-Jay in a tree together as once nest building commences,
and it has, that is usually not an option. Small numbers
of a half-dozen expected butterflies, nothing new. I think I
had the two Orange-crowned Warblers today, and it was about their
last day, as within a couple or so (maybe?) I didn't see them again.
March 4 ~ Did freeze in KVL, maybe down in town here, but here on
SR it was about 35dF. The Mountain Laurel has opened up
its first couple blooms and that quickly a FOS Funereal Duskywing
is on it. A fresh Dainty Sulphur was about and a Red Admiral.
Counted 7 Junco at least. I got a glimpse of the female
Black-chinned Hummer, a few males about, maybe 3-4 or more.
March 3 ~ Wow a little rain overnight as the cold air from the front
arrived, probably a third inch up here on SR. Right now every
bit is key to what blooms. Mostly wind blew like heck all day.
Saw one Barn Swallow over the temporary gravel pit that was the pond
at the park. But gravel pits are attractive to one species, and
if you build it, they will come. So an interesting migrant record
was acquired as the nocturnal rains knock migrants down and low and
behold that gravel pit denizen shows up, a Killdeer! I know
it won't be a gravel pit long, presuming we get rain, so you have to
get the bird records while the proper habitat exists, especially if it
won't last. For instance without the water lillies, as now, the
Purple Gallinule that stopped last spring would never do such. If
you have habitat, they will come, without, they continue on.
A Black-tailed Jackrabbit was out front, at least 6 Junco continue,
A FOS Common Checkered-Skipper was nice. I figured out the low
white stuff blooming is Whitlow-Grass, and the short yellow is
Low Bladderpod, a fresh new Slender-stem Bitterweed is blooming.
There was a fantastic lengthy duet of a pair of Screech-Owl right out
back in first couple trees at 11 p.m. though my small diam. 8" dish
can only pick up the higher pitched females trill. Kathy had a
glimpse of a female Black-chinned Hummer today, the FOS female.
March 2 ~ Here is some spring climate information if of interest...
Today is near or at record heat, mid 80's dF, 5-10 dF over normal,
90's along Rio Grande (!). In typical spring fashion the warm
air gets sucked up from south in front of the front, it gets hot,
then when front passes tonight, wind changes from south at 20 to
north at more, and blows like the dickens for 12 to 24 hours, in this
case, tomorrow will have highs in mid-60's, chills in 50's. Then
when the winds stop Sat. nite, a near-freeze on Sunday morning. This
is really very normal and happens with each system (weekly) all spring,
sometimes the post frontal near-freezes continue until the last day or
two of April. This is what you should keep in mind to be prepared
for when visiting in spring. Hot and cold raging weather. Lots of
the time in between fronts in spring it is very very nice, almost like, er,
Utopia. ;) We just hope we get rain with the frontal passages
from a local standpoint, (it is THE key precipitator of migrant fallout)
that they're not dry fronts. We need the water badly, it would
be nice to have a river again. But the temperature roller-coaster
is a sure thing, with each frontal passage one gets to experience three
of Texas' most popular seasons: too hot, too windy, and too cold.
First thing brushing my teeth was a FOS stick insect an inch long,
must have just uncurled out of the egg, was going for water in
the sink, put it outside. Down in town was FOS Barn Swallow!
So much noise with the work at the park nothing for birds there.
On SR there is some Crow-Poison and Wind-flower blooming, and the Redbud
is going up at 1500' now, the one down in town at the library (1350')
is really showing well now, saw a Dakota Verbena open, and probably a
Black Swallowtail. The real explosion is Spanish (Buckley)
Oak which on Monday Feb. 27 showed no signs of leaf budding from
any distance, and 5 days later, more than half are obviously breaking
out vigorously. when the Buckley breaks out, the Golden-cheeked
Warblers are a week away from more than onesies and twosies.
In the yard I saw the first Texas Verbena sprig with a couple open flowers,
and at 6 p.m. was the first major northbound migrant flock of Turkey
Vulture over SR, at least 75 birds.
March 1 ~ Just to show me how I was right about how I should
have gone out and got that FOS Vermilion Flycatcher on Leap Day
yesterday, first thing 7:15 a.m. a male flies right by the porch,
I guess to let me know, I could have had it as an FOS 3 Leap Days
in a row, if I'd just gone birding. :) There were 2 Black-
chinned Hummers in the morning, and at least one in the p.m.,
just the first few showing up, and yes, still fighting. The
pair of Common-Ground Dove is about again.
Lots of nest material gathering going on, Carolina Wren, Cardinal,
White-winged Dove, Texas Scrub-Jay, Black-crested Titmouse,
Bewick's Wren, most of the locals are gettin' after housekeeping.
And of course some bird song going on, music to my ears.
I'm gettin' less than 10 Junco daily now, still a few American
Goldfinch and Pine Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch increasing slowly.
Second Dung Scarab of year, first was I think Monday Feb. 27?
Leps were first fresh female Southern Dogface of the year, a
large dark skipper that was probably a Cloudywing (Thorybes),
some old worn Varigated Frit and Sleepy Orange, a Pipevine.
More fog mist in a.m., and then warmed to abv.avg. 80dF late in p.m.!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Well that's it for February, over before you know it, and we got
an extra day. It was a whopping 12 species of butterflies for
the month. No odes (dragonflies) up here yet. Any day.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Feb. 29 ~ Happy Leap Day! Seems like I only get to wish
y'all one of those every, gosh, about four years almost maybe.
Interesting was a Robin caroling a bit early all by itself.
I shoulda gone out and gotten my FOS Vermilion Flycatcher today,
as the last two leap days was the FOS day for them and woulda
been a nice streak. Too much work to goof off like that,
and a town run was not in the cards.
Amazing I did not see yesterday p.m.'s FOS Black-chinned Hummer
today, it musta just stopped and tanked up, and kept riding
those strong southerlies. Kathy saw a small flock of Turkey
Vulture over the knoll late in the p.m., first group or flock
At dark I heard my first Blanchard's Cricket Frog of the year.
I also thought sure I heard a bat flying around over the yard.
The Mountain Laurel out front has purple buds about to open.
Saw an Olive Juniper Hairstreak today, one Pipevine Swallowtail,
the Red Admiral, a few worn Variegated Fritillary and Sleepy
Orange. Tomorrow's predicted 80 dF should make things pop.
Feb. 28 ~ More fog-mist and drizzle. About 35 American Goldfinch,
10 Pine Siskin, 6 Lesser Goldfinch, 8 Slate Junco, and at about
4:30 p.m. the FOS Black-chinned Hummingbird showed up at a feeder.
Four of last nine years the FOS was in Feb., while it used to
always be in March. Spring is arriving sooner on average
than it used to. Poorwill calling up a storm this evening,
quite nice to hear.
Feb. 27 ~ Carolina Wrens building nest over porch again as
last year, and Bewick's building in garden nestbox. Some
fog-drzzle-mist, maybe a .10 inch of precip. Audubon's Oriole
is singing. Maybe just two Spotted Towhee continue, male
and a female?
Feb. 26 ~ A 40-60 low-high split today and still breezy so still
working instead of birding. I thought sure I heard a Purple
Martin in the afternoon a couple times and then silence. There
was a female Pipevine Swallowtail ovipositing in front yard. Two
Orange-crowned Warbler continue, and when Kathy was putting peanut
butter out one came in and begged or acknowledged or something, with
a quiet deep call note she'd never heard from them before. At
11 p.m. I heard what was likely Green-winged Teal going overhead
in the dark, northbound, a few calling.
Feb. 25 ~ A chilly morn, 32 dF in KVL, mid-30's here on SR, but maybe
nearly froze down in town, breezy and warmed only to 55 dF tops.
The Orange-winged Flicker continues on SR, been here all winter.
Heard some Sandhill Crane going north mid-day. A GREAT planet
show out there with the crescent moon: Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and
Mars all showing well or better. A surprise was at 11 p.m. on my
last listen outside for the night there was an explosion of White-winged
Dove singing, at least 6 of them going off with "Who cooks for you?"
Feb. 24 ~ Wind blowin' 25MPH gusting higher from midnight on
as front passed, dry, low 45, chills upper 30's in a.m.
At the mudhole on 357 off north side at end of first loop
there were 7 Gadwall and 3 Green-winged Teal. Then down
in town I was shocked to see they are bulldozing the flood rock
fill out of the pond at the park! Someone got permits from
Austin!?! Must be a couple days into it? WOW! I'm
sure it will be a much nicer swimmin' hole when they get done.
And just as sure it will not be nearly as good for most aquatic
wildlife like native fish, birds, dragonflies, etc., you know,
Utopia nature. Glad I got to study it and record some
baseline data the way it was the last decade, as it will be
ecologically speaking, a whole new ballgame now. I realize
more the way it was prior to the great flood of 2002. And of
course I realize it was not built or managed to be a wildlife
habitat, but something far far more important here, a swimming
Between the dozer and the diesel pump below the dam trying
to keep the pond drained it was pretty noisy so I didn't
get much for birds this visit. There were at least
four maybe 6 Starling at the NE corner of town, two have
been around for the winter, but so even four constitues some
new birds returning, spring migrants, that weren't present
all winter. Didn't hear any Martins yet, been cool though
so better they don't arrive early this year, the aerial bugs
are just starting to get going a little.
Some of the Agarita is really going well now, that first
early one by dump gate is past peak, most the rest not there,
but looking good. Was too cool for leps this afternoon,
only one each of Pipevine Swallowtail and Orange Sulphur,
and no odes yet, still. The Redbud in front of the library
is starting to bloom well but still not fully budded out.
Some Anemone or Wind-flower has popped up along 357 on SR.
Wasn't a single one last year due to the drought.
Interesting was some Siskin and Titmouse interaction. The
timouse is sort of a small bully at the feeders, often displacing
other species in the way. One method is flying directly at a
sunflower tube in a somewhat haphazard reckless manner so as to
scare stuff off it. In this case there are 6 ports, and only
one was in use, so there was no reason to attempt to intimidate on
arrival, save the fun of it, there were 5 open perches/ports. The
much smaller but however will not be intimidated Pine Siskin went
into defensive posture raising both wings up over back in a deep V,
lowered head, and opened bill full wide, so the two little daggers
were drawn, and directly facing inbound titmouse it held this position.
The titmouse decided the 'let's scare em' approach was not the best
and veered away and landed on the opposite side of the tube. The
siskin went back to feeding, titmouse grabbed a seed and ran like
it wasn't being a jerk. OK protective of its food supply perhaps.
The high was about 55dF, 30 dF colder than yesterday!
Supposed to get to upper 30's, so low Sat. a.m. 50 dF
cooler than high Thurs. p.m.! Ahhhh spring.
Feb. 23 ~ Record heat with a high of 85dF! Of course a
front is approaching, so the normal pre-passage warm-up.
At 6:30 a.m. at the first crack of light I heard the FOS
Poorwill calling just up slope off the back porch. Last year
my FOS was the 23rd as well, and now 3 of 9 springs that is
THE date. The Poorwill people have awakened. There
were 10 Slate Junco, the white-winged Field Sparrow among 6+ of
them, about 100 Chipping Sparrow, a dozen Cedar Waxwing, and
a FOS fresh new Red Admiral butterfly. Actual frontal
passage (winds) began about midnight, Fri. a.m. the 24th.
At dusk a pair of Scrub-Jay were in a snag flycatching
for 15 or 20 minutes, too far for me to tell what they
were getting, perhaps a termite hatch, but they were going
after it like warblers on a mayfly emergence, though without
the precision, grace and skill.
Feb. 22 ~ I got a sure certain FOS Pipevine Swallowtail today,
and a nice fresh Olive Juniper Hairstreak on the Dutchman's
Breeches which is still going strong. Another different
junco was out there today, one that has not been in the flock,
a female Oregon to my eye. High was 82dF or so! First
80+ dF day in many months.
Feb. 21 ~ 10 Pine Siskin today among Am. and Lesser Goldfinch.
One male and one female Spotted Towhee is all I'm getting now.
Thirty Sandhill Crane were northbound at 5 p.m. A FOS wasp
of some sort (not Red) was glimpsed, 3 fresh FOS new Sleepy
Orange and a fresh Dainty Sulphur were about, and some Straggler
Daisy now has its first flowers open.
Feb. 20 ~ Field Sparrow singing for the first time this year.
Inca Doves getting going too, and White-wings are really
chorusing at dawn now. Kathy saw a large black swallowtail
butterfly that was likely a FOS Pipevine. A Great Horned Owl
called just at dark.
Feb. 19 ~ Kathy saw a V of geese out over the valley in the a.m.,
and I heard some in the p.m. There were 35 American Goldfinch
and 16 House Finch. Some small white flowers are popping,
maybe a Heliotrope? Just a few Audubon's Oriole are
regular it seems now, maybe one pair and one single bird.
Feb. 18 ~ Rained overnight, they said an inch in town, 2" to the
east of it, and westward on SR here we got 2/3 to 3/4 of an inch.
Had a short look around town, the wind was blowin' pretty good,
and it was cool in low 50's at best as the front bears down.
Water running under the 1050 bridge like the old days was great
I guess the big news of the day was the FOS Turkey Vulture.
Right on schedule, 2011's FOS was the 19th, 2010's the 18th,
2009 on the 20th, so last four years all returns were in the
Feb. 18-20 window. But in 04 and 05 it was the 14th,
and in 06 the 12th, so it can be earlier.
At the park the water continues to rise from the rains.
Ducks seem gone. Belted Kingfisher was there still,
and Black Phoebe as almost always. In a little winter
Titmouse and Chickadee flock there were a couple each Ruby,
and Golden-crowned Kinglet, and a Brown Creeper which likely
is a northbound spring migrant. The female Audubon's
Warbler was in the flock in the live-oaks still.
Out front of park in field along Cypress St. there was a little
flock with 100 Chipping Sparrow, 6 each Eastern Bluebird, American
Goldfinch, and Myrtle Warbler, and the nice male Audubon's Warbler
continues as well. A couple Robin were in town, and up at
county-line road in the only hackberry with fruit were 14 Cedar
Waxwing. Along the road going past storage spaces south
from there were 3 White-crowned Sparrow (1 adult leucophrys,
2 imm. gambellii), and 12 Vesper with 4 Savannah Sparrow.
A dozen American Goldfinch, half-dozen Lesser and a couple
Pine Siskin at feeders around town, 3 Flicker in the pecan grove
NE of park, just at west edge of town.
The Redbud in front of the library is just starting to open a
little bit, and some little white things are at the north end
of town I don't know (but photos). Agarita is now more
than half with some open flowers, but the only one in full roar
is the one that opened the first flowers almost two weeks ago,
most barely are getting underway still, due to cold last week.
Feb. 17 ~ Drizzle fog mist, late in p.m. showers turned to rain.
Nice to hear Carolina Wren, Cardinal, and Black-crested Titmouse,
Bewick's Wren, Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Carolina Chickadee
singing every morning again. That was a long dry spell
with no dawn chorus. The bluebirds are singing... if you
have them you know..... and no Martins back yet, but any day now.
Feb. 16 ~ FOS Cucumber Beetle. 35 American Goldfinch, a few
Lesser, few Pine Siskin, 18 House Finch, and passing through were
a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Myrtle Warbler.
Feb. 15 ~ No "rufous-backed" junco, again, I can't believe
it was a one minute wonder!?! How you can watch a junco flock
multiple times daily all winter and one obviously marked unique
individual can show up for a minute and that is it!?!?!? This
hardly seems fair? :) See pic below.....
Was a brown mottled winged Mayfly on porch.
Feb. 14 ~ Did not see my "rufous" backed junco today durnit, can't
believe it didn't show again, though I had my nose in the salt
mine most the day. There was a FOS Lyside Sulphur (butterfly),
a Gulf Fritillary, and a nice bright Olive Juniper Hairstreak
out in the 70 dF afternoon temps.
Feb. 13 ~ Warmed up overnight to nearly 40df, warmer at dawn than
all day yesterday. One good bird today, an odd junco that I
believe to be a hybrid Gray-headed x Pink-sided. We only saw
it briefly, for a minute or so, but got a few docu grabshots
and haven't seen it again. The back is the same exact color
of a Gray-headed Junco, bright reddish rufous, but the sides were
pink of a Pink-sided, not gray as in a Gray-headed. Pink-sided
has a dull brown back, never bright red-rufous as I understand it.
Here it is:
presumed Gray-headed x Pink-sided Junco,
back more bright red than Chippy crowns.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Feb. 12 ~ Sleet! In the morning when the warm Pacific stuff got
over the polar air at surface, voila! Here on Seco Ridge (SR)
the white ice pellets stacked up nearly an inch thick, the ground
was white as if it had snowed. Need I say it was cold? It
was neat to see the proverbial Cardinal and Junco in the "snow",
and always the Audubon's Oriole seems out of place on white ground too.
There'll be some extra rations today. The pair of Ladder-backed
Woodpecker seemed content to just hang on the juniper trunk between
turns at the peanut feeder. Like snow, the inch though is really
only a tenth of an inch of precipitation.
It took all day to get over freezing, there were still patches of
white at the bases of some trees at 5 p.m. Two or three dozen
American Goldfinch, some Siskin and Lesser Goldfinch besides the
House Finch on the tubes. Bewick's and Carolina Wren hit the
peanut butter, besides the peanut feeder, as does the Audubon's Oriole.
The Orange-crowned Warbler lives on those two as well in cold spells.
The Inca Dove never seem to appreciate the cold. For sparrows,
135-150 Chipping Sparrow, adults getting nice rufous caps now, 8 Field,
2 Rufous-crowned, 20 Slate Junco, 5 Spotted Towhee.
Feb. 11 ~ Uvalde supply run. It had been five weeks, maybe our
longest spell between thrilling 100 mile big city runs. Ft. Inge is
still closed so we didn't get to bird our favorite spot, but had hour
mile walks at Cook's Slough and the Nat. Fish Hatchery. A very
chilly brisk east wind kept high in low 50's dF, chills never did get
out of 40's, surprisingly we didn't see any other fools out birding it.
South on 187 we had a couple hundred Robin at the south end of the
valley a mile north of Clayton Grade, and then a mile south of the
D'Hanis cutoff there were a couple hundred Robin. So that's
where they were today. Frugivores wander widely hunting those
precious hackberries, why watercourses are usually good for them.
There were many fewer birds along the road in general, especially
our favorite, Old Sabinal Rd. (OSR), south of and paralleling Hwy. 90.
Meadowlark, Shrike and Red-tailed Hawk all about half the numbers
the last couple trips, could indicate some departures already.
At the Driskill Feedlot NW of Sabinal a mile on 127 on the return
trip about 5 p.m. there were 1000 Brewer's Blackbird, hundreds of
Brown-headed Cowbird, some Red-winged Blackbird (couple dozen),
and right at roadside on bobwar fence and running about like so
many mice, at point blank, 300 Lark Bunting.
A few cranes were along OSR, and mostly small numbers of the expected
like Vesper and Savannah Sparrow, Cardinal, Caracara, one Say's Phoebe,
but we had to get to the recycling facility and the feed store before
noon, so couldn't go slow enough. One Curve-billed Thrasher, a
Pyrrhuloxia, some Shrike and Kestrel, fair numbers of Mockingbird as
always, 2 Merlin were probably the best things along OSR, one on way
and one on way back were clearly different, a pale Prairie one SW, and
a very dark probably northerly type SE, of Knippa.
At Cook's Slough upper ponds there were a hundred plus American
Wigeon, a couple Redhead, a couple or few dozen each of Ring-necked
Duck, Pintail, Shoveler, and Gadwall. we flushed 10 Wood Duck
down on the slough, Kathy saw one Black-crowned Night-Heron. The
upper ponds also had White Pelican, about 16 or so, a hundred plus
Double-crested Corm, and still no Neotropic this winter. One
each Belted and Green Kingfisher were down around the slough.
Landbirds were hard to come by due to the cold and wind, as in,
no Gnatcatcher, Kinglet, White-eyed Vireo, Green Jay, Audubon's
Oriole or Kiskadee. But, there were abt. 15 plus Myrtle and
one female Audubon's Warbler, a couple Orange-crowned Warbler,
3 Common Yellowthroat, and I heard a Black-and-white Warbler give
it's excited bk-bk-bk-bk-bk call. Had great looks at a
couple Swamp Sparrow, and good looks at a couple Olive Sparrow.
The bird of the day was a quick but close look at a CLAY-COLORED
THRUSH (Robin). I was looking into some very dense undergrowth
at an Olive Sparrow and a Long-billed Thrasher when it popped into a
bolt of sunlight 12' away. Saw it was a big thrush from behind,
that ugly shade of brown (scientifically known as Turdus) no other
North American bird has the guts to wear, when it turned its head
I could see its dull greenish yellow bill and orange eye. It
flushed and we could not refind it in 15 or so minutes we gave it.
The tangle it was in was mostly visually impenetrable (maybe that
pepper vine?) as usual.
The first Uvalde Co. record was one I photo'd (also in Feb., 05 ?)
*less than 100 yards* from this sighting, on the same trail! They
are real skulkers unlike American cousins, Kathy was about 20' behind
me and missed it. I saw it for 10 seconds maybe, at 12 feet.
It is my fourth in the county (in ca. 8 years) with now two at
virtually the same exact spot. Surely a lot more of these are
about, but if you are not slow and quiet as you move, in tune with
nature, you likely won't ever see one.
No swallows or martins were seen at the slough or hatchery yet.
At the Uvalde National Fish Hatchery was the ugly beast of a duckling
of the day, 2 Mute Swan (ph.). Seemed one full adult and one
after-hatch-year bird. These non-native beasts can be problems
like all invasive foreign species. If they decided to nest,
there would be hatchery workers getting chased around the place.
I say shoot 'em, and quickly. Texas doesn't need a Mute Swan
population competing with naturally occurring waterfowl.
Besides the introduced circus behemoths, waterfowl were a good show,
both in numbers and diversity. At least two drake Cinnamon Teal
were with 8 or so Blue-winged, a dozen plus Green-winged Teal, a
couple dozen Pintail, 50+ Gadwall, 75 Shoveler, 20 Am. Wigeon,
7 Ruddy Duck, 9 Bufflehead, 5 Lesser Scaup, 75 Ring-necked Duck,
2 Canvasback (female), 6 Redhead. Most of the ducks I'd call
continuing, seeming mostly the same birds the last month to
two in some cases. A few Myrtle, a Kinglet (Ruby-c), an Orange-
crowned Warbler, a couple Lincoln's Sparrow, dozen plus Vesper and
couple Savannah at parking lot, but had gotten fairly windy so was
tough goin' for the little stuff. Amazingly a Little Yellow,
a Dainty Sulphur, and a couple Sleepy Orange were about down low.
A hundred+ Sandhill Crane were across the road from the hatchery
in the field just west of Fish Slough. A hundred plus Black
Vulture were seen around Uvalde, and no Turkey Vulture yet still
the whole way the whole day. The big Martin colony on OSR had
no birds back yet. There was a nice fresh roadkill deer with a
bunch of Black Vulture and a Caracara on it with 2 adult Harris's
The whole week of Feb. 6-10 was cool with highs only in 50's, so
below normal. Faux early warmups wreak biological havoc, and 'tis
actually much better if we get a slow warm up and not fast-forward to
hot, let stuff bloom, and then the inevitible late freeze kills it
without it getting a chance to fruit or go to seed. The strong
fronts reach far south into Mexico, and undoubtedly tell the birds it
is too soon to come up yet.
Feb. 10 ~ One big event was a pre-dawn shower of a measley .15 of rain,
but every bit counts for a wildflower bloom, remember those? Which
means first an insect crop (songbird nesting sustenence) and then a
seed crop (fall and winter sustenence). On SR I checked as I drove
by and two of 25 Agarita have a fair number of blooms open, the rest are
still with just flower buds, some not even that yet. The other
biggie was the FOS new fresh Erynnis Duskywing (butterfly - lep) of the
year, which was Horace's or Juvenal's, I thought it a male Juvenal's (ph.).
Feb. 9 ~ 25 American Goldfinch, amazing to watch their daily numbers
fluctuate. About 15 slate-colored Junco.
Feb. 8 ~ Only 35 American Goldfinch, less than half of yesterday's
count, that is how fickle these winter finches are moving about.
There back down at the Schaeffer's or some other feeders in town.
Ten Cedar Waxwing were about, and I heard some geese going north
that didn't sound like White-front, it was a two-noted call, not 3.
I ran around scanning sky and never could see them. White-winged
Dove and Rufous-crowned Sparrow sang a little bit today.
Feb. 7 ~ Another record count of American Goldfinch, 75 at the tubes
today! A dozen Pine Siskin, 6 Lesser Goldfinch, 18 House Finch.
I am working 'em hard, but not seeing any rary winter finches with
them, yet. There have been a couple Common Redpoll in Texas
so far this year, so watch your birds, goldfinch flocks especially.
Only getting 9 Inca Dove now, one of the 3 Sharpies musta got one.
The first Prairie Fleabane flower opened up today! A few more buds
are about to, a Syrphid (a nectar fly) was on it like a duck on a june bug.
A few new Paralena have opened up as well, Dutchman's Breeches continue
with a good showing, indicative of a good spring wildflower show.
Feb. 6 ~ 60 American Goldfinch at the sunflower tubes today,
gadzooks! They keep bring friends. Watching the tube go
down is like watching the dial for the money at the gas pump. At
least 6-7 Field Sparrow including one white-winged (some extra white
in rectrices too) one continue. House Finch giving some long
bouts of full song now.
Down in town at the Sr. Ctr. by the Yucca at the SW corner of
building there was a very interesting flock of birds with 1
Pyrrhuloxia among about 14 House Sparrow. Just south of Hwy.
1050 a hundred yards on 187 was a flock of 55+ Meadowlark, which had
both Eastern and Western in it, which I don't usually see. Heard
both types call from birds I had visually ID'd, multiple times. I
had five of each species, and 40 some un-ID'd to species.
Feb. 5 ~ An even higher than yesterday's record 35 count of
American Goldfinch was had out back with over 50!! Mostly
jockying for position on the sunflower tubes, they ate well
over a pound and a quarter, maybe a pound and a half, but
please don't tell Kathy. There were a dozen Pine Siskin,
3 male and 3 female Lesser Goldfinch, and 16 or so House Finch,
of which I heard their first extended singing of the year today.
Despite the wind and chilly temps in 40's, chills in 30's most
of the day. Missed the rain for the most part but one light
shower had some nice ice pellets in it for a few minutes. Maybe
a few hundredths for precip.
Feb. 4 ~ Still no rain, a few drops was it, but over SAT way
east of us they got a few inches and near the Hill Country SNA
vicinity got a couple or more too, the rest further northeast.
The front passed early a.m., a chilly northwest wind, chills
in 40's, gusts to 25MPH.
My high single moment count of American Goldfinch ever so far
locally was had with 35 out back at once. The two pairs
of Lesser were present with a new first spring male with them
now, and a few Siskins as well. The white-winged Field
Sparrow continues (hasn't been picked off by (3) Sharpy yet).
A quick cruise into town doing errands and we had a drive-by
Audubon's Oriole in SW quadrant on Cypress St. It was
hunting ball moss (Tillandsia) patches in a leafless mesquite.
Three+ Starling were around town, a lone blackbird flew over
I didn't ID for sure, but thought it a Rusty.
At the park (UP) there was a veritible flicker fest about
3:30 p.m. or so, with at least 7 or more seen at once, many
going in and out of the big cypress tree in the river channel
west of the island. Three at least were good clean
Yellow-shafted, 1 Orange-winged (hybrid), one good Red-shafted,
one Red-winged I couldn't check, and a couple others I couldn't
get positives on, one was yellow-winged though. They were
zinging all over the place, calling and interacting in the big
(afternoon meeting?) tree that tree was the center of action.
Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted Woodpecker were about as well,
and I heard the Downy (still), but no Sapsucker. No ducks,
though continuing was one Pied-billed Grebe, the female Belted
Kingfisher (we had great looks), a couple Black Phoebe, and the
usual suspects: the two Carolinas, Wren and Chickadee; Black-
crested Titmouse, heard a couple Blue Jays, an Eastern Phoebe.
About 7 Robin were in a tree on the island. Thought I
heard a Pine Warbler chip but only heard it once.
The botanical news of the day was Agarita (Texas Holly) flowers!
Just one plant had some open, down near valley floor, but you
know the roadsides will have a nice yellow glow for 10-14 days
real soon. Has a lovely scent if you can get it, but
watch those sharp spiny leaves! Elfins will be there on
them for the enjoying, for the two weeks they bloom.
Then I checked the Redbud in front of the library and it has
some branches with well developed buds, red ones, very near
opening up, just a few days at most, though most branches are
yet to break out much. With all the non-native purple
Henbit along the parkways in town already open there are also
some non-native Euro Dandelion open as well. So at least
there are a few nectar sources now for any butterflies that
emerge. Many will start to pop on the next warm-up.
Feb. 3 ~ fog, no rain, maybe a trace, front coming in later
tonight, they're still advertising rain. Ruby-crowned
Kinglet first in a while for yard, 'bout time for them to
start north, maybe a migrant.
Feb. 2 ~ fog, mist, drizzle, and scans out the window from the
keyboard. Supposed to get some rain overnight.
February 1 ~ FEBRUARY!?! Is time speeding up or something?
At least we get an extra day this month. Well to start the
month there were two new for the year *fresh emergence* butterfly
species in the yard today, Little Yellow and Dainty Sulphur.
A couple Snout passed by, and a couple new and couple old worn
Variegated Fritillary continue in yard. Had a Sleepy Orange
or two pass by as usual too. All are visiting the only native
wildflower blooming, the little yellow bell-shaped Dutchman's Breeches,
which acquires its breeches when it goes to seed. Being the
first and only thing blooming is a good way to ensure pollination.
Since I'm sure some local eyebrows will go up about Dutchman's
Breeches being the first thing blooming..... Yes I too saw
there is some short purple Henbit blooming around town parkways in
late Jan., but which is a non-native species introduced from Europe,
not one of our Texas hill country native wildflowers. :)
The next natives to open by appearances might be Agarita (Texas Holly)
which should be opening in a couple or few days, followed by Redbud.
~ ~ ~ ~
January totalled 10 species of butterflies, pretty good, decent,
with the Elfin and Olive Juniper Hairstreak being record early
emergences methinks. The rest save 1-2 Variegated Frits end of month
were last years' worn leftovers. No odes were seen in Jan. after
the first week or 10 days of the new year when the last Vareigated,
and Autumn Meadowhawk were seen, as usual.
I saw about 75 species of birds around Utopia in Jan., but had
too much to work do and so got out and birded only a little.
Being a quality over quantity guy, the albeit brief views of
White-winged Crossbill and a small flock of Smith's Longspur,
were as good as any sighting I've had here in over 8+ years now.
The Mallard and Turkey Vulture were great too, one hour wonders.
My 3 wintering Selasphorus left after January 21.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Jan. 31 ~ fog mist in a.m. and p.m., but at some point in the morning
it was clearing out up here and I heard a Rusty Blackbird calling
overhead, ran out from under porch and spotted it and got a bin look.
Coming from Bear Creek Pond, going towards river, the opposite of the
one in Dec. going to the pond, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were
the same one, wintering locally.
Jan. 30 ~ Cool, breezy, and light showers in p.m. totalled .17" at
the Rogers station nearby on Seco Ridge (SR).
Jan. 29 ~ Right about freezing this a.m., but little wind, so got nice
quickly. Between a couple banks of feeders in town and ours
here there were at least 50 American Goldfinch around, and nearly
a dozen Lessers, and Siskin. I only know of two pine trees in town,
checked them both, their cones look old, probably not this year's.
That is all I have to report about them.
UP had 5 Gadwall, 3 Ring-necked Duck, 20 Green-winged Teal, upriver
one each Green and Belted Kingfisher and Pied-billed Grebe. There
were virtually no fruigivores to be found around town (Robin,
Waxwing, bluebirds). There were a couple Song Sparrow below
the dam, the usual Black Phoebe, a few Myrtle Warbler about, and
at the north end of town a dozen Savannah and one Vesper Sparrow.
The local Eastern Bluebirds are getting territorial around boxes.
Saw out of the corner of my eye right before it went behind trees,
a woodpecker which it called a weird a wirr-r-r-r-r as it flew, but
it kept going after it went behind trees and I never got it.
Jan. 28 ~ Cold front passed pre-dawn so windy and chilly, will
continue working here in the office. High upper 50's dF,
with gusts to 20 MPH on it. Some Purple Martin are back in
San Antonio, so shouldn't be too much longer here, another week or
two if early returns maybe. There've been some on the coast
for a couple weeks now. An aerial insectivore is a real sign
you're on the back side of winter, perhaps why they are so eagerly
anticipated, and impatiently awaited. Time to do your nest box
cleaning for all your boxes, the local residents like Titmouse,
Wrens, Chickadee, Bluebirds, will all commence nest-building in Feb.
if conditions allow so spring-clean those nest boxes.
Jan. 27 ~ Spring migrants! As usual the first obvious bird
species to pass northward in spring is White-fronted Goose, and
this morn at 8:10 p.m. luckily I was outside to hear them, so got
a 160-175 count on a nice flock going due north at 1000'+ altitude,
from my 1550' ASL.
Keeping migration dates can get interesting very quickly, as I
see in 2010 a flock first passed over northbound on Jan. 22,
my earliest date for this. Then the two prior years (08-09) they
showed on Jan. 28, and Jan. 27. Since 08, all first detection
dates of northbound migrant flocks are in January. Whereas the
four springs prior (04-07) all first detections were in February,
and mid-Feb. were the earliest at that! It is not enough data
to do much but get in trouble with, but certainly piques the
imagination. Often things like severity of winter as in
temperatures, precipitation, and climatology are factors for normal
small annual fluctuations in migration departures or arrivals.
I'd sure love to have a set of these dates from say 10, 20, 50 and
100 years ago. It seems from this little bit, they are leaving
northward earlier, but it is too soon to tell, and there is no
historical baseline database against which to compare. This is
why I record what I see. At least in 50 years someone will be
able to say look here, they used to go north in mid-Feb., then late Jan.,
and now it's mid-January, or whatever. Usually the import of the
data will not be realized until long after you're gone. It often
all seems the same when it is being collected.
The changes over time are what make it interesting. Sometimes
there are good hard clear breaks, like how Lesser Goldfinch did not
winter here in numbers yet as of 03, 04, 05, but by 08 or 09 had begun,
to over-winter at thistle seed socks and sparingly at sunflower tubes,
first a few, then small numbers and now clearly increasing with
likely a dozen or more around town this winter.
A quick look at the park saw the Pied-billed Grebe and one male
Ring-necked Duck upriver. A couple Common Raven flew over.
Jan. 26 ~ Talk about getting gobsmacked! I get an e-mail
today telling me of a report with poor photos of an apparent
White-winged Crossbill towards Tarpley early November! OMG!
A female or immature type. Reaffirmation is what I call it.
I am sure as the day is long that is what I saw Friday the 13th out
the office window barely at 15' away if that, and have been looking
hard since without seeing it again. Check your pines and
golfinches and siskins at your sunflower feeders.
Jan. 25 ~ The real news today was rain, another .79 here on SR!
I heard up to 1.5 inches out B & R, so this puts us at SR at
2.25"+ for Jan., at least, and maybe 2.5 to 3" in town
and to north and east for month! WEEWOW! If it keeps
this up in Feb. and March, a couple inches each month, we'll have
a spectacular spring bloom, especially since last year most of the
wildflowers took a by-me and passed on so much as sprouting.
Jan. 24 ~ Still on super mega rary patrol and still no
super mega raries. That is all.
Jan. 23 ~ Low in mid to upper 30's in a.m., chilly, nice
as long as there is no wind on it. Mid-morning for
over an hour there was a large flock of Robins about SR,
looking for berries in the junipers, to no avail. There
were at least 150, perhaps 200 total, plus a couple dozen
Cedar Waxwing. I heard a weird two-note call I did
not recognize and was looking around when I saw two birds
in a snag from the porch, they were large fat finchy things,
they flew, and gave the odd two-note call I'd heard.
Don't know what they were but good birds. So I went
around a bit working the area and came up with nothing.
Then unrelated to the two big fat finchy things, at about
10:30 a.m. I pick up 7-8 odd passerines heading right over
the porch, get them in binocs, sorta House Finch-ish at a
distance, but flight very different, faster, more level,
and as they approach I see they are all carmel butterscotch
colored below, then a couple of them call. SMITH'S
LONGSPURS! It sounded like two of them calling back
and forth, their unique rattle unlike any other species,
right over head, 50-60 feet up at most. They were
heading west toward the goat farm pastures and Bear Creek
Pond. There has been a southerly invasion of them
this year with a flock at Houston for a few weeks now,
and a single at Port O'Connor on the beachfront last week.
WOW! Most amazingly not even a yard or county bird, but a
darn good one with which I'll take any encounter I get,
and a fly over calling flock suits me just fine. Now
if I could just find them in a field locally.
Jan. 22 ~ More of same, too much work to go anywhere,
so covering the yard. It was fog-mist all morning,
until a dry-line and front passed in p.m. when it warmed
to upper 70's!.
Jan. 21 ~ was a bit windy in a.m. as a minor cold front
came through. A week of scrutiny around here and
on the feeders has produced no further sighting of any
two-barred bird with a crossed bill durnit. Almost seems
the two Rufous Hummers weren't about the last two or few days
either. It is getting near spring migration time for
them, they move early, I think these two are gone, they left.
I did see my first new fresh spring flowers of the year
today under the dried brown grasses of last fall there
are a few Dutchman's Breeches with flowers, almost always
the first new fresh thing to sprout and bloom each year.
Jan. 20 ~ An mint fresh Olive Juniper Haristreak was the day's
prize, probably my record early emergence date for last 9 years.
Wow TWO record early butterfly emergence dates in last 3 days.
Do they know something we don't? Think I'll have a look
for buds on the Redbud and Agarita. A Coop flushed all the
White-winged Dove, 100 count! Never got that in Jan. before.
There were not this many earlier in Jan. or in late Dec., half that.
It means spring migrants are returning already.
I just had a quick look in town between stops, but it really
seems the frugivores are gone from town, trees are berry-stripped
for the most part. Ligustrum is about what is left now.
Waxwings don't mind it. At UP there were the Great Blue
Heron, Belted Kingfisher and Pied-billed Grebe all continuing.
There were 2 drake Green-winged Teal and 5 Ring-necked Duck
above the island. Passerines must have been sleeping,
it was heat of afternoon, some mayflies, no odes, and I still
can't get over that big bee hive in the big cypress really did
get wiped out by a honey predator. Only lasted two years or so.
Jan. 19 ~ If you look through the dried brown knee-high grasses,
there are lots of green sprouts breaking ground down low.
Still a couple Paralena flowers out front, and a new Slender-stem
Bitterweed has opened, to replace the old dead bloom.
Jan. 18 ~ Amazing was a beautiful Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
butterfly out in the front yard in the afternoon heat, surely must
be my record earliest date for one, normally the first ones I see
flying emerge the first week of February when the Redbud and Texas
Holly (Agarita) start blooming. Maybe it knows something we don't?
It is the first NEW butterfly of the year. All of the other
6-7 species flying now are leftover beat, worn, rode hard, old ones
from last year, this is the first newly emerged butterfly of the
new year and butterfly season.
Maybe that is part of why a brown butterfly can be so exciting?
Here it is very ephemeral in nature, a short-season early spring flyer,
coupled with that fancy unique hindwing shape, scalloped, a special
beauty. The scalloping wears, lessening the effect over time,
the fresh ones are most impressive.
About 10 a.m. a flock of 70 Robin and 30 some Cedar Waxwing were
about for a few minutes. Late in the p.m. a male No. Harrier
flew over the knoll and it looked like it went down (to roost) in
a dense cluster of junipers.
Jan. 17 ~ Merlin! A great look at one spotted a half mile out
while scanning a kettle of Black Vulture. Once it got altitude
it broke and bolted, came right over the porch for great views
continuing west toward Bear Cr. Pond and divide. For being small,
they are soooo fast, and deceptively so, they appear to hardly be
doing anything, except going 60 MPH like a bullet. This is
what the Robins are nervous about.
Jan. 16 ~ Still two Rufous Hummer here, imm. male getting more rufous
on back, other seems ad. female. Lots of Goldfinch and Siskin,
House Finch way down, couple pairs of Lesser Goldfinch. Sharpy
grabbed a Chippy so fast I couldn't believe it and I see it all
the time. Faster than the eye. The sparrow is looking out
for this so it doesn't happen, and can't stop it. That is how
fast it is.
Jan. 15 ~ In yard two dozen American Goldfinch was impressive as
was 2 dozen Slate (-colored) Junco, but no fancy raries. Of two
Rufous Hummers the imm. male is getting rufous on back now. Was
clear at dawn and by 8 a.m. clouding up with southerly flow, then got
misty and drizzly by late morning, but as of late p.m. none of the
strong winds they forecasted, dead calm, some light showers. Too
drippy to tape though. Guess I'll just watch the Coop & Sharpy
Jan. 14 ~ Was allegedly in the upper 20's dF for a few hours,
but no ice on water here on SR, just frost on truck. Was
cold in JCT and HDO, both were 23dF, KVL was 30, so was no
doubt a freeze down in town here. Kept an eye out here
all a.m. and no rary was to be seen. The couple dozen
plus each of Robin and Waxwing were about first hour of sun as
usual, then they head toward town and look for hackberries.
The same as yesterday for the yard regulars, except the stray
one that I wanted to see again. Lookin' like it was a
one look wonder. I am certain it was a White-winged
Crossbill, dang it. That got away.
The mega flock of frugivores that was in town in December is gone
and the hackberry trees are about stripped, waxwings are on
ligustrum sometimes now. Interesting they'd rather have that
mostly pit of a hackberry (they don't call it that for nuthin')
than a far more pulpy and juicy (non-native) ligustrum berry,
but will go to those when the hackberries are depleted.
A couple hours mid-day around town turned up nothing unusual.
An imm. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is attending holes in trees
in the yard at the NW corner of the intersection of 187 & 1050
at the south end of town. Robins, waxwings, bluebirds,
Myrtle Warblers about, and while audio taping waxwings from the NW
corner of that yard I picked up a couple Audubon's Orioles in
background, I presume in the Ligustrums or Hackberries nearby
to the north of Broadway, they're runnin' loose in town now.
In the park it was mostly the residents, but at least two
Golden-crowned Kinglet, a nice male was really aggressive
toward the other and constantly displaying its full crown patch,
which when erected, the red is almost like a Ruby-crowned,
and most impressive. It is also the first adult male I've
seen here, they are virtually all immatures or females. Got
some audio tape of them too. Upriver there were the 17 Green-
winged Teal, 7 Gadwall, couple Ring-necked Duck, while the Pied-
billed Grebe and Belted Kingfisher continue. A few Sleepy
Orange butterfly were out, some few mayflies over the river.
At the park the beehive in the big cypress looks to have been
destroyed, something ransacked it when it froze no doubt,
opened it up and had a party it appears. The wax cover
over the opening was all torn up. Lasted 2 years plus.
Coon? Ringtail? Had to be a climber, that knows
once it is sub-freezing they can open that thing up and
immobilize the bees, just like the dillo did to the big
in-ground yellow-jacket nest a year or two ago in winter.
Animals are sure smart.
Jan. 13 ~ Nowhere near the advertised 22 at KVL, twas 32 there,
and probably 34 or so up here on SR. One more cold
one tomorrow, then a week break from the freeze is forecast.
Pretty active as usual on cold mornings, a few Audubon's Oriole,
couple Orange-crowned Warbler, a couple dozen Robin, a couple
dozen Waxwing, dozen each American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin,
nearly two dozen House Finch, 5 Spotted Towhee, 20+ Slate Junco,
150 Chipping Sparrow, 2 (Rufous probably) Selasphorus Hummers,
couple Sharpy, and the regulars like Cardinal, Carolina Wren
and Chickadee, gaggle of Titmice, Bewick's Wren, Field and Rufous-
crowned Sparrow, and one bird I'd give $10, maybe $20 to see again.
The bird of the day so often gets away.
From the desk at the keyboard, out the office window I thought
man that is one big fat Siskin on the Juniper as it had streaking
below and had some greenish-yellowish tones to it. Then I
couldn't help but notice the two big bold wingbars were equalish,
bright white, broad, and fairly uniform appearing twin white bars.
That didn't click all the way to home, but enough to make me look
at the bill, whence I thought it must have a sunflower seed or thingie
hanging from beak. So looked harder still bare-eyed but now
really hard again: kinda like a big and fat siskinish due to being
streaked below, lightly, diffused, with two big white bars on wing,
some yellowish-greenish tint, and a thingie hanging off tip of the bill.
I reached for bins as I realized the thing at the tip of the bill
wasn't a seed, it wasn't falling off, just as I got them to eyes,
the bird flew and I haven't seen it again, yet, so far. Just
makes you want to cry.
Right before it flew as I was lifting binocs (probably my motion
flushed it) I thought geez that looks like a White-winged Crossbill.
But was so out of place, that I didn't think it the 7-8 seconds
I saw it bare-eyed at 15' trying to figure out what the samheck was
goin' on with that big fat siskin with the two white bars on wing
and thing hanging off tip of bill. Haven't seen one in decades,
so totally off the radar. Kept an eye out all afternoon and didn't
see anything. Will do some due diligence at feeders and about
tomorrow. I generally don't turn in 10-second sightings,
(least of all bare-eyed) of rarities, hope I can come up with
something more for this one. Locals keep an eye on the feeders.
Jan. 12 ~ A dozen American Goldfinch, a couple Lesser here
at the sunflower tubes, a few Siskin, ca. a dozen Waxwing and
2 doz. Robin going over, the adult female Rufous/Allen's type
Selasphorus Hummer still here but no cuthroat (imm. male) today.
I made a record high count of 25 Slate-colored Junco in the
afternoon! Didn't see any anywhere else on the count,
as usual too. At least 150 Chipping Sparrow here now.
Sharpy or three diving on them relentlessly.
A quick look at the pond at the park found 17 Green-winged Teal,
2 Gadwall, and 7 Ring-necked Duck! Mud in the eye was the
Great Egret which was present for 2 months up to a week before
the count, and not the last couple weeks, and now seems back
again, our first overwintering Great Egret, successfully dodged
count week. The wind blew all night and day, finally
laying down in afternoon. Get ready for it to get cold,
forecast is low-mid 20's in morn.
UPDATE: I never saw this Great Egret again, so now think it was
a second different bird on passage.
Jan. 11 ~ An amazing pre-frontal high in the mid 70's dF was
great, but you know the cold is coming when it is like that.
I counted 5 Spotted Towhee at the bird bath taking turns
bathing mid-morning, 3 males and 2 females. A Mockingbird
came in to drink quickly.
Jan. 10 ~ A drive-thru look at UP saw 10 Gadwall and 2 drake
Green-winged Teal on the pond, and Little Creek Larry said he has
seen 2 Wigeon (means they were around still count week and missed)
and some Ring-necked Duck. Here at SR I saw both Black
Vulture and Common Raven in pair bond display (love) flight.
Ahhhhh..... spring is in the air.....
Jan. 9 ~ Did you see NOAA last week talking up the La Nina
pattern they touted for the winter (before the last 9"
of rain) finally settling in, mild and dry, through spring?
So of course it rained, we got 1.5" midnight to dawn
and a great slow soaker for the most part! I heard some
NE of town got over 2" in the guage. Now we're
over 10" since mid-September when the dry pattern broke.
All we need is an inch or two in each of the next few months
for a great spring bloom.
The adult female Rufous/Allen's was about, but that was the
only hummer I saw, methinks the Anna's are gone now. There
were 21 Junco in the yard, my record high count locally.
There was one possible Pink-sided, and one possible Oregon,
the rest Slate. Few dozen Robin went over early a.m..
Jan. 8 ~ Now to unpack the mess, didn't get out as weather wasn't
appealing. At least 16 Junco in yard, maybe 150 Chipping
Sparrow, 10+ American Goldfinch, male and female Lesser Goldfinch -
the male I saw Sat. a.m. before we left. The white-winged
Field Sparrow continues. New Inca Dove high count of 10 in yard.
Jan. 7 ~ Supply run to Uvalde for the first time in a month, we're
good at avoiding the holiday season. A mile south of town
just before the Waresville turn at the backyard pond there was a
flock of 25 Ring-necked Duck and a few Gadwall. Just over
Clayton Grade on the escarpment there was a flock of 29 northbound
Double-crested Cormorant. I have about one, single bird,
January sighting locally.
Overall the roads to Uvalde seemed fewer of birds, perhaps
lots of the light seed crops are depleted now, many fewer sparrows
for instance, only a hundred Lark Bunting. One Harris's Hawk,
the little blackish male (western) Red-tailed Hawk is still
along Old Sabinal Rd. just west of UvCo 308. A dozen
Caracara were together in a field on the Sabinal cutoff (UvCo 2730).
A few cranes, but no goodies in the fields. Three hundred
plus Brewer's Blackbird at Driskill Feedlot on 127 NW of Sabinal.
Ft. Inge is closed still, and no one opened up Cook's Slough,
so we walked the upper ponds there, which were loaded with
ducks. At least a hundred each Gadwall and American Wigeon,
a couple hundred Black-bellied Whistling Duck, a dozen or two
of each Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck, some Pintail.
About ten White Pelican, a hundred Double-crested Cormorant is
the most I've ever seen there, heard a Kiskadee. Four
Orange-crowned Warblrer, a Swamp Sparrow (several Song),
and two Black-crowned Night-Heron, adult and a second year.
One Ringed Kingfisher showed briefly, it can be easy to miss
in the willows around the upper ponds.
The Uvalde National Fish Hatchery had a great waterfowl collection
as well, with 13 species, essentially all the regularly possible
species in the county save Geese and Wood Duck. 3 Redhead,
6 Canvasback, 7 Bufflehead, 8 Ruddy Duck, a dozen plus Lesser Scaup
and 2 dozen Ring-necked Duck was a good diving duck selection.
Then for puddle or dabbling ducks there was a drake Cinnamon Teal,
a few Blue-winged and some Green-winged Teal, Shoveler, 45 Pintail,
a few American Wigeon, several dozens of Gadwall.
Another Swamp Sparrow showed well there, more Song, Savannah,
and Vesper Sparrow, a couple Field Sparrow, 2 Lark Bunting which
I hadn't seen there before. Did see one bluet (Enallagma)
damselfly out, looked Familiar.
At Wally's World parking lot besides the usual bunch of
Bronzed Cowbirds in the little planted live-oaks in the lot,
there was a pied Great-tailed Grackle, partially albinistic,
(leucistic is the correct proper term, but I think the pied
birds are well-defined by the term partially albinistic) admixed
of white and pigmented feathers. It was pretty ugly, which might
seem an oxymoron but is not. Context and usage is everything. ;)
Jan. 6 ~ Always of great interest is the first bird in a new year
you didn't see last year, especially when birding in a very small
area, like I do. After seeing 279 species in Uvalde Co. last
year, it took only 6 days to see one I missed, in fact one I that
I haven't seen in a couple or few years locally. Nationally they
may be common but locally they're very scarce so was exciting to
find a drake MALLARD with some ducks on the temp pond just off 357 at
the end of the first loop. What a beautiful duck! Just
last week Scott McFarland told me that a month or so ago he had
some drake Mallards at the wet spot by Haby's on W. Sabinal Rd..
Mallard is a rare bird here. It was one of the most exciting
Mallards I have seen in a long time. There were also 8 Gadwall,
4 Green-winged Teal, 7 Ring-necked Duck, and might have been a
Wigeon too, hard to see all the water through the brush from 357.
This pond is usually a mudhole with nothing on it 99.9% of the time,
and today it was the honey hole jackpot!
A Pipevine Swallowtail on SR was butterfly species #7 for the
year. Park and town seemed dead. Was a Hutton's Vireo
was here in the yard again now that count week is past, it's safe.
Jan. 5 ~ A flock of 44 Robin flew over heading toward town
with one male Common Grackle in with them, no doubt the one I
saw criss-crossing town 10 days ago or so before count week,
which has taken with the Robins for the meanwhile, but so add
another species around but not seen count week. The female
Selasphorus (Rufous/Allen's) Hummingbird was about, yesterday I
saw it and the imm. male I call cutthroat, but not the other imm.
male, but at least three R/A Selas. around, though did not see
Anna's today, seems only one left which was here yesterday the 4th.
Sphinx moth of some sort late last night.
Jan. 4 ~ The day after count week ends I'm afraid to go outside
and see what shows that hid the last week. First thing
the Hutton's Vireo was calling away out there, the little rat.
Then as if that wasn't enough an amazing TURKEY VULTURE was
soaring about! The normal return dates for TV's in spring
are the third week of February, I have only one other Dec. or
Jan. sighting in 9 winters. Whether or not this is a local
breeder returning early or a wander from the I-10 winterers is
anybodies guess, we'll see if it is about the next week which might
tell us something. So there are two more birds that missed
count week by a day, and there were two (Golden Eagle and White-
fronted Goose) the day before count week for a total of 4 very
near-misses for count week. It was 73 sps. count day plus 3
count week, so 76 count week, and 2 additional subspecies (forms)
count week. And four that missed count week by a day.
I bet there are 10 more things out there I wished I knew of too.
Out the office window I saw some very interesting behavior today.
There was a Common Ground-Dove kicking the Inca Doves arses,
which was quite amazing. A very interesting wing-flicking
behavior as a threat display when the Incas got too close, then
when an Inca went to displace the Ground-, that was it, the
little guy went ballistic on the Inca, and then 3 more, beating
the whole gang back single-handedly, all the while doing this
quick slight wing-flick as a threat. Wow, that is neat behavior
to watch. This is birdwatching at its best, interesting
behavior, and we really know very little of it for many species.
For me it is not seeing new species, but seeing new behaviors that
is most fascinating.
Four days into the new year, and a fourth species of butterfly
for the year, a pale morph female Orange Sulphur, which went to
the hose so I dipped my hand in a bucket and sprinkled some water
near it. The butterfly ran several steps to the water,
reeled a bunch of tongue out and began imbibing immediately.
The Dainty Sulphur was still hitting the Paralena flowers.
I couldn't believe it in the afternoon a Buckeye flew by
me out front, then a Snout flew by later, so 3 new species
of butterflies for the year today, and 6 species total now.
A Green Lacewing was my first of year.
Jan. 3 ~ Last day of count week, be nice to pick up a couple
things, but can't get out to go look, will have to be in the
yard. Was probably 33dF here on SR this a.m., did not
freeze per my buckets of water, glad we're not down on the
valley floor in town on cold mornings. Was 22dF in
Junction, 24 in KVL, 29 down in HDO, so we're in a hot spot
up on the ridge. Nice except in summer.
There were 15 American Goldfinch at once on the sunflower
tubes this a.m., one Lesser Goldfinch female, about 18 House
Finch, until two Sharp-shinned Hawks cleared it out. The
Anna's Hummer was out there, and 2 Rufous put in an appearance.
A Gulf Fritillary cruised by about 1 p.m., butterfly sps. #3
for the year behind Variegated Frit and Dainty Sulphur. The
male Variegated Meadowhawk (ode) was still about the yard too.
Had a Mesquite Bug flying about, been seeing one a week last
Jan. 2 ~ The local Roadrunner walked 10' from me today, to
be counted for count week I suppose. Where was he on
count day? Saw a Dainty Sulphur to double the number of
butterflies I've seen this year, yesterday I saw one Variegated
Fritillary. I missed the Anna's today, but had the two
Rufous Hummers. Was supposed to freeze in a.m. but did
not, was about 35dF here, maybe down in town it froze, as in
HDO and KVL they were both 32, Junction was a chilly 24dF!
January 1 ~ HAPPY NEW YEAR! Cheers! Wow we made it
through another one, can ya believe it!?! Gluttons for
punishment, here we go for another! Cold front hitting
in a.m. with a high nearly 20dF lower than yesterday with
dreaded (for birding) gusty winds, so little hope of adding
any count week birds for the list. 10-20 MPH gusting 25,
so will work on the count results. Barely made 60dF,
was about 80dF yesterday.
The bird event of the day was singing Bewick's Wren, the first
song I have heard from them in months. Ahhh, spring is in
the air (besides the pollen from the junipers which has begun).
Yesterday morning the Carolina Wrens duetted for a while, their
first real bout of song for the new season as well. Already
Cardinal, Black-crested Titmouse and Carolina Chickadee had
all started singing earlier, so now it's 5 species that have
begun "spring" singing in the last 10-12 days or so.
A couple Paralena and one Slender-stem Bitterweed flower
are still open, in poor condition as they are.
~~~~~~ 2012 above ~~~~~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bird News Archive XX|
July 1 2011 - December 31, 2013
Bird News Archive XIX|
January 1 - June 30, 2013
Bird News Archive XVIII|
July 1 - December 31, 2012
Bird News Archive XVII|
January 1 - June 30, 2012
Bird News Archive XVI|
July 1 - December 31, 2011
Bird News Archive XV|
January 1 2011 - June 30, 2011
Bird News Archive XIV|
July 1 - December 31, 2010
Bird News Archive XIII|
January 1 - June 30, 2010
Bird News Archive XII|
June 1 - Dec. 31, 2009
Bird News Archive XI|
January 1 - May 31, 2009
Bird News Archive X|
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2008
Bird News Archive IX|
Jan. 1- June 30, '08
Bird News Archive VIII|
July - Dec. 31, '07
Bird News Archive VII|
Jan. 1 - June 30, '07
Bird News Archive VI|
July - Dec. 31, '06
Bird News Archive V|
Jan. - June 30, '06
Bird News Archive IV|
July - Dec. 31, '05
Bird News Archive III|
Jan. - June 30, '05
Bird News Archive II|
June - Dec. 31, '04
Bird News Archive I|
and Mar. 31-May 30,'04
Current Bird News
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