Bird (and nature) News Archive # 22
July 1 to December 31, 2014
Old Bird News XXII

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)
FOY - First of year - 1st one seen this year
SR - Seco Ridge a couple miles west of Utopia
in Uvalde County - yard - until late March, we moved.
Ode - Odonata (dragonfly or damselfly)
Lep - butterfly
BanCo - Bandera County
UvCo - Uvalde County
ad.=adult; imm.=immature; ma.=male; fem.=female



....in reverse chronological order, unless you scroll to end and read from the bottom up.



2014 - July 1 - Dec. 31



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ below is 2014 ~ ~ ~ (in reverse chrono order)

~ ~ ~ 2014 in Review ~ ~ ~

The drought remains a major factor here, though we did have several big rain events from May to November and nearing 2' of rain in the year. There was a fair seed crop but the rest of the key wildlife food sources were a wash. Very weak crops of juniper berries, hackberries, pecans, persimmons, and acorns were non-existant. So the fruit, mast, and nut crops were poor at best, forage levels are very low.

Most of the year the Sabinal River was not going over spillway at the park, probably averaging at least 3' below normal bankfull, if not more. There are many sections where any flow is underground. The island above park pond was an island for a couple months in summer (good- it keeps people out and off it), but is not again.

Odes (dragonflies and damselflies) were as weak as any year in the last eleven I have been watching them here. I did finally see a Smoky Rubyspot after a couple years without one. There was a SWAMP DARNER at the park for a few weeks in late spring, my second one there (the first was the first Uvalde Co. record), and one of only a very few sightings ever in Uvalde Co. Twelve-spotted Skimmer and Red-tailed Pennant both showed in late summer, only a couple each but they don't occur every year as a sure thing. A Band-winged Dragonlet was a good find to, less than annual here when in drought. Three times I had quick looks at an Ivory-striped Sylph at a site where I have seen them before. Saw a low 44 species locally in 2014.

Butterflies were way down with only 80 species seen all year. There have been 80 and 90+ species months in past good years. The only mega-rarity was a Spot-celled Sister, which is about my 3rd here, the first was the first UvCo record and probably the furthest north known occurrence. That was Nov. 11 (05), this one was Nov. 9 showing well when to be on alert for this stray from south of the border. Surely the lack of flowers due to drought is part of the problem. Formerly common residents like Arizona Sister, Dusky-blue Groundstreak, Crimson Patch, Carolina Satyr and others remain absent as they have been for a few to several years now since the drought started. There was one OK day with a decent Monarch flight in late October (700 in a lift-off event on the 24th) and a few minor flight days with 50-100.

Birds were good considering it all. Without any special effort whatsoever I saw 203 species of bird in the local area this year. Three were the non-native introduced vermin, so it was 200NIB - no introduced birds. That was from a few trips to Lost Maples and otherwise just around town. There are only a few species that were Lost Maples only, most of which I could have seen far more locally if I dug around a little. No time.

My total miles driven this year was under 500, probably under 400. Third year in a row of 500 or less miles driven total for everything, all driving. Most of which is weekly 6 mile (roundtrip) town runs for grocery store and post office, usually with a swing by the park. I saw on-line some folks drove more than my 3 year total in a single weekend chasing a Common Crane up in the panhandle from east Texas. If I took the driving out of my local 2014 list it was probably 175+ or so on foot, the majority of which was in or from yard or on the dirt road out front. The sedentary birder. Homo birdicus sendentarius.

As for the birds, they too appear drought stressed in many ways. Spring and fall both the migrants and even arriving winterers often seemed to just pass through quickly since there was so little to eat in the way of insects and other foods. Only a handful of Chimney Swift nested this year, maybe 3 pairs, and even fewer Western Kingbird pairs in the valley, and so it went when it came to insectivores. The aerial plankton is way down, as are macros like bees, wasps, butterflies, dragonflies, etc. Lots of the Cliff Swallows again came in, censused aerial plankton, and departed to nest elsewhere.

As often the case though in droughts, there are birds wandering around looking for water or green spots that might have insects or other food. So still there were a fair number of interesting rare birds, and surely many more went through unseen than seen. Here are some avian highlights of 2014.

Winter 2013-2014
The yankee Blue Jay invasion of fall 2013 lasted into spring of 2014, but there were only a few after February into April. There does not seem to be a 'mirror' flight this year. After one in Dec. 2013, another Townsend's Solitaire Jan. 8 was great. A Rusty Blackbird that wintered around our place and the adjacent corral winter 2013-14 was pretty good, even better was it returning for another winter in Nov.-Dec. 2014.

Spring
The best bird was an ad. Northern Goshawk March 19 moving north. At least a pair of White-tipped Doves spent spring and summer at Lost Maples, probably nesting, and more were around town. Very rare here, a Cassin's Kingbird pair April 26 calling and flycatching from our biggest pecan was outstanding. So was a Hepatic Tanager at our bath on May 5.

It was generally a weak spring migration, especially for warblers besides the typical interior over-land migrants like Nashville, Yellow, Wilson's, Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped. I saw 21 species in spring, prior 10 year average was 22 per spring. One each of Magnolia and Chestnut-sided and a couple Ovenbird were the only LTA (less than annual) spice. There was one other wintering warbler (Pine), and one other fall vagrant (Palm), so I think 24 species of warblers for the year.

Summer
I didn't see the best birds, 2 Roseate Spoonbill (Sylvia Hilbig ph.) July 10-11 just NW of town in Bandera Co., a great record, and one was seen near Bandera too, in August, a very rare bird in the hills. My consolation was an imm. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Aug 1 at the park, and then at the same place a heard-only flying away Laughing Gull (!) on Aug. 22 that must have flushed when it saw me pulling into the park. Outstanding was an audio taped calling Common Paraque Aug 24-26 in and around our yard. I had one prior (July) heard-only record here.

Fall
Only one Calliope Hummingbird Sept 4-5 and no Broad-tailed was light on those two this year. One of the better birds of the fall was seeing Acadian Flycatcher off of the breeding grounds as migrants locally, two on Aug. 31 and one Sept. 7. My first ever fall migrant Acadians here (n~11 falls). A Dusky Flycatcher on Sep. 21 was my fourth in fall locally (+ another at Ft. Inge one year), they are probably annual or nearly so.

Also scarce here so interesting was two encounters each of both Tree and Bank Swallow in early September. Most years I miss them both locally. My first ever fall Palm Warbler here was on Oct. 7 at the country club. My third fall migrant Bald Eagle went over Oct 30, a white-bellied immature, all three in latest Oct. or earliest November. Then my latest ever Scott's Oriole was on Nov. 24, is as likely a bird from somewhere else as one of local origins, 6 weeks if not 8 after the locals have departed.

Winter 2014-15 is too early to call, see the Dec. summary below, but a winter Louisiana Waterthrush is just a notch and click down from about as rare a bird as any I have seen here in over 11 years. The Tundra Swan isn't far behind, so 2014 went out with a big bang after a somewhat slow-for-rarities fall and year.

Summary
I have been too busy to bird lately, the business demands me at the computer and phone all day, seemingly almost every day. So the results don't come close to what say a retired birder could dig up if they could bird around every day. That list of good finds would be 3-4 times as long. This is just a sliver of a tiny tip of the tip of the iceberg from what almost amounts to an on-going point-count (a single location).

It is IMHO still a mountain of good data that otherwise would be un-recorded, where no one else is doing such, so at least gives some sort of idea of a few aspects of the dynamics and biology of the amazing Utopia nature.

There is always something interesting to see, always new data to gather, much you wouldn't have guessed at, and always new things to learn. All you have to do is watch nature. Recording and documenting it helps it make more sense. Every year parts of the picture become more clear whilst new questions are presented. Our job is to see, record, and document what is going on, even if and when we don't know what it means. Others may figure it out later, and our data may help explain some things or show things we weren't aware of and considering at the time.

Go, look, see, take notes and pictures, boldly nature nerd where no one has before. Few things rival the thrill of discovery. Besides having fun and learning, you will probably see some things people won't believe without photos.  ;)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ end 2014 summary ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ December summary ~ ~ ~ ~

It was mild until Christmas day when we had the first freeze of the month. It was a bad month for butterflies with only 13 species seen, second worst in 12 Decembers here. Two years ago it was 42 species in December and last year and three years ago it was 24. Far fewer than normal flowers were in bloom this year. Often in December we get fair numbers a couple dragonflies, Autumn and Variegated Meadowhawk, I saw very few of each early in the month.

Birds were better with a couple very rare vagrants for some excitement after a lackluster showing in fall. A LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH at Utopia Park is spectacular, and will be more so if I can get a photo of the skittish beast. I heard it through December and finally saw it very well on the 27th on about my fourth attempt to find the maker of that chip note. On Dec. 3 a TUNDRA (formerly Whistling) SWAN flew over in the dark and fog, low, calling the whole way. Miracle I was outside to hear it go over. I have seen thousands of them, and heard this call thousands of times, there is nothing like it.

Otherwise it was mostly the regulars, with 80 species detected. Next best was the returning Rusty Blackbird to our yard and adjacent corral nearly daily over December, back for a second winter. There are still some Green and Ringed Kingfisher around, a Zone-tailed Hawk, heard Audubon's Oriole once or twice this month.

In the big picture I would say the story is the lack of natural food crops. No acorns, no pecans, no persimmons, almost no juniper berries or hackberries, and almost no insects. There is very little natural wildlife food and forage out there. The long-term drought is taking a serious to severe toll on 'normal' here. There does seem to be a fair seed crop at the forb level, but that is about it. Many birds seemed to show up, and then depart.

~ ~ ~ end December summary ~ ~ ~ ~

Dec. 31 ~ HAPPY NEW YEAR!! It appears as though we've made it through another one! Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, prosperous New Year! If you are a repeat offender I mean regular reader, thank you very much! I hope you enjoy peeking in on a slice of Utopia's nature. I work every day, so it is just a small small part, barely a tip of the tip of the iceberg, of what is going on. I am going to try to update this more regularly next year. There I said it. Every week at most, instead of every week or two, so it will be more current at any given time. What my m.o. has been is to try to make a few notes daily, and once a week or two, embellish, edit, edit, edit, and then upload the update. Try that for 11 years! Will try to make updates weekly at most, and less if and when possible or warranted.

To finish the year we had a freezing day, or hovering just above it, all day, as the precip is liquid, drizzle and mist so far, but cold. The flock of 400 or so Brewer's Blackbirds were right over the fence at this end of the corral so got to scope them. The Rusty was not with them, as expected, they are often loners when only one around. There were a dozen Red-winged Blackbird and two dozen Brown-headed Cowbird amongst them though. In the p.m. they came back and it was 500 birds. For a bit they were in the yard pecans and down on the grass. Cool in the yard.

Heard either a female Cardinal or a Pyrrhuloxia sing that bouncing ball song they both do that is nearly identical. Sounded Pyrr-ish but I've nearly been fooled before so no longer call them by this song until I figure these songs out. Need to do some more taping/study of more individuals.

After the blackbirds were gone, about quarter to 6 I saw three STARLING headed west towards the blackbird roost, wherever it is, up in the warmer hills off valley floor. When do you ever get to use caps on Starling? That's what I thought. These are the first Starling I have seen in or from the yard, we made it 21 months without detecting this introduced species (properly Eurasian Starling). So I got a yard bird at last light this year, but one I don't count in the main total, introduced species are an addendum after the native species list.

So bd bd bd bd bd That's all folks! Hope you had a great 2014, and have a better 2015 ahead! Thanks again for reading, and if you ever have any comments feel free to drop a line, my e-dress is linked at the bottom of many pages on the website.

Dec. 30 ~ Fog and drizzle, a bit of sprinkles, warmed to about 50dF. Front supposed to be moving through in morning but at 5 p.m. still no wind or cold air to speak of. They were talking about maybe some ice for Wed. and Thurs. but now seem to be backing off though both days are going to be in 30's dF all day. A couple cold ones for the end of one year and start of another.

Cold and wet is when I am glad to be stuck inside on the computer. The birds are going through the seed though. They must know. Both male and female Golden-fronted Woodpecker of the 'yard' pair were hours hitting the sunflower tube feeder for treats. Mostly it was the regulars. Only saw 4 Inca Dove, did see a Slate-colored Junco, some American Goldfinch were on the sunflower tube, as were a dozen House Finch, which are also showing redder, like the Cardinals are now. There were some Western Meadowlark on the airstrip (scoped from porch).

The Canyon Towhee was singing under-the-breath song I have never heard, nor ever heard anything like it from California Towhee (the two were long considered one species - Brown Towhee). An amazing series of bubbly musical notes, you might have thought it a Lark Sparrow or Lesser Goldfinch going off. I did grab some audio tape of despite the raindrops hitting the steel roof just to have some documentation. Hopefully I will get a chance to tape it without rain in the near future.

The big surprise of the day was looking out and seeing TWO of the aberrant BLONDE squirrels on the patio! They are reasonably similar at a glance and surely siblings. To repeat, they look 40% like Fox Squirrel, the rest blonde creamy white. They crawl up rock walls and run into holes in the ground like a Rock Squirrel, unlike any Fox Squirrel. They do climb trees too, but the rock wall climbing is not the behavior of Fox Squirrel. I suspect the pigment mutation is related to a hybrid event that created them.

Dec. 29 ~ Lots of frost on the grass, bird bath frozen, low was about 27-8 dF! KVL was 26dF. A post to Texbirds reported yesterday an imm. White-tailed Hawk I presume on Hwy. 90, between Sabinal and Knippa. I know of only one Uvalde Co. record, the bat researcher's video-taped one taking bats at the Frio bat cave in March many years ago. They have been seen rarely very near, just s.w. of Uvalde County, a few a couple years ago I think. I have had Harlan's and a nearly black Red-tailed Hawk winter in the Sabinal to Knippa area multiple years, multiple birds, so be careful with your dark buteo ID's, they are tricky.

A Savannah Sparrow was out front, don't get many in the yard, though they can be common nearby. The Golden-fronted Woodpecker female spent hours hitting the tube seed-feeder taking sunflower seeds up to the hackberry to wedge, open, and eat. No pecan crop out there as normal so they hit the sunflower seeds they usually don't. The male came in a couple times, the female put in a half-day at it. It was back to work for me so not much time to look around. There was a lone single male Brewer's Blackbird over in the corral. Kathy heard Killdeer.

Dec. 28 ~ Just above freezing this morning, were a few sprinkles overnight, just a trace or two, a little breeze on it had the chill in highest 20's dF first thing. Around 9:30 a big flock of Robin were around, at least 70 birds, biggest flock I have seen this winter so far. The Rusty Blackbird was around, a few Cedar Waxwing and American Goldfinch, wow, just like winter.

Went to town and got the last load out of the storage space, finally. Twelve trips in 29 days, but got it all out and cleaned. Been getting stuff almost every town run the last 8 months. Fini. Got a mess here to clean up now, but everything is here. Hope I can get my 1960's Univox amp working. With that thing I could clear the yard of deer and squirrels in a few notes. There will be fewer reports now of "near the storage spaces" was a such and such.

Went to the park armed with scope for digiscope photo and mic for audio recording to document the Louisiana Waterthrush I saw and heard yesterday and did not detect it. Figures. This is how birding works. Yesterday I didn't even have camera as I was strictly working on the storage space (and getting celery and mushrooms), well, except for that stop at the park on the way by it, which was only made because I thought to myself that not being armed with anything to document anything with would surely bring something good out. This is what made me turn the wheel into the park entrance. The park where I had been 10 times in last 30 days, with a camera, and had in fact chased after the 'mystery caller' twice to the other side of island. Now I am armed to the teeth for documentation, and there is not hide, hair, nor feather of the danged suspect in sight. Isn't this a fun thing we do?

A few Western Meadowlarks around north end of town, one was an Eastern though, the Starlings were still up there too, and a good flock of Eastern Bluebird were out front of the park, perhaps 20 birds total. One Golden-crowned Kinglet in the park, and heard a Pine Warbler, saw Blue Jay, Red-shouldered Hawk, and the female Yellow-shafted Flicker.

Around the 360 crossing there was a flock of sparrows which had a half-dozen Vesper and about 20 Savannah (one big and pale). Down along riverside grasses a couple Lincoln's and a Song skulked about. Later in p.m. I scoped a half-dozen Vesper in the corral from the front porch. Male Slate-colored Junco was here, the pair of Canyon Towhee, and Field, Chipping and Lark Sparrows. Missed the Zonitrichs (White -crowned and -throated) today though. Before 5 p.m. heard the Ringed Kingfisher over at river.

Dec. 27 ~ Hope y'all made it through Christmas well! High for the day was about dawn, a front hit shortly after with northerlies and dropping temps. The Merlin shot by the office window early in a.m. I did another town run to storage space and stop at the park. There was an Osprey there, calling just upriver of park, but better, I had a great seasonal vagrant warbler, and it doesn't get much better than that for me.

I heard this bird two or three times in the last 3 weeks, went after it a couple times and couldn't find it. Today due to northerlies it was hiding at the bottom (south) end of the former island. It saw me, flushed, went to chipping, out on an open low willow branch. LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH!!! Whilst they breed at a few sites locally like Lost Maples and Big Springs there are absent like many of our migratory breeding species from October through February or March (if not gone sooner and returning later). I know vaguely of one report from winter on the Edwards Plateau, a sighting of 2 from Lost Maples.

~ ~ ~ ~ late Dec. update header ~ ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATES: December 31, 2014
(last updates: Dec. 31, 26-8, 20, 5, Nov. 21, 6)


Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Solstice! Winter is here! Besides junipers and live-oaks, there isn't much green left out there. Other than evergreens, most of the trees are leafless. Only a few mesquites offer the last vestiges of yellow now.

We had an early hard freeze and long cold-spell in mid-November, but the month since that it was very mild without a freeze until Christmas. You have to be prepared for warmish, cold, wet, or wind, at any given time, or all at once. ;)

Some wintering bird species are around, like Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Myrtle and Audubon's Warblers, Vesper, Lincoln's, White-crowned, Song and Savannah Sparrows, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Spotted Towhee, American Goldfinch, lots of Ruby-crowned and a few Golden-crowned Kinglet, as well as others. Both insects, and the fruit (hackberries, juniper berries), mast (acorns), and nut (pecans) crops are way way down and some birds seem to be moving through, not sticking.

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll or read UP day-to-day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way.

Recent local Dec. sightings include: a LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH Dec. 27 (which has been heard for a few weeks); Merlin and Zone-tailed Hawk on Dec. 26; a Pine Warbler around yard since early-mid-December+, another one at park late Dec.; a likely returning wintering RUSTY Blackbird in yard Dec. 3-25 (heard in late Nov.); a TUNDRA SWAN on December 3 flew over low calling after dark! A few Green and Ringed Kingfisher are around. Nearby an imm. White-tailed Hawk was posted to Texbirds on Dec. 28 between Knippa and Sabinal probably on Hwy. 90.

Then in November, a White-throated Sparrow on Nov. 27 (to late Dec.); two Slate-colored Junco Nov. 25 to late Dec.; Scott's Oriole Nov. 24; a Ringtail (Cacomistle) eating hackberries Nov. 12-19+; a polar vortex 4-day mega cold event with first freezes locally Nov. 11-14; a SPOT-CELLED SISTER (mega-rare butterfly) on Nov. 9; and over 3" of rain Nov. 5. The river though still not running in many sections, where water is, it is 3-4' below normal bank.

Then in October, an immature Bald Eagle Oct. 30, hundreds of Monarch butterfly Oct. 24, a (Western) Palm Warbler and Cattle Egret (7) on October 12, and a Peregrine Falcon Oct. 1. An Empidonax flycatcher was posted to Texbirds from Garner S.P. late Oct. which is of interest, it is as likely a Hammond's as anything, and possibly a winterer (near and north of site 524).

The highlight earlier in fall was a Dusky Flycatcher Sept. 21. Late summer highlights were a seen and audio taped Common Paraque on Aug. 24-26, then at Utopia Park (UP) was a Laughing Gull Aug. 22 and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron on Aug. 1. Sylvia Hilbig photographed two juv. Roseate Spoonbill NW of town in Bandera Co. July 11, they were present the day before, and one was seen in August near Bandera.

Zone-tailed Hawk, Audubon's Oriole, Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Ringed and Green Kingfisher are present locally in very low numbers. Have not heard a White-tipped Dove since late October.

~ ~ ~ ~ end late Dec. update header ~ ~ ~ ~

back to our regularly scheduled drivel


Dec. 26 ~ Happy Boxing Day! Whatever the samheck that is. Much warmer than yesterday morning, low in mid-upper 40's dF, about 20dF warmer! Got to about 70dF too, wow! Heard a Ringed Kingfisher and an Audubon's Warbler this morning. The Rusty was out there as were 10 Brewer's Blackbird plus 4 Brown-headed Cowbird (1 ma.), and heard a Turkey gobbling, so at least one made it through holidays. Another town run with a look at the park, whence flushed an ad.fem. Zone-tailed Hawk out of live-oaks at the north end and had stellar looks at tree-top level. So at least one seems to be wintering.

After I got home I was out on patio when a rocket zoomed into the top of the big pecan right off porch. I knew what the bullet was before it landed even though I never got really focussed on the blur. Nothing is that small and that fast but a MERLIN! Haven't seen one in 6+ weeks. We looked at each other a couple minutes and it took off toward airstrip. When it came in it went from 60mph to zero in a couple or few seconds. The birds down at the feeder missed it, it was so fast, they continued eating in a manner that made clear they didn't know it was there. Not one alarm note sounded. But when it left they all went off. Upon departure it again went from zero to 60 mph in seconds, simply amazing accerlation. Nice ad. fem. Prairie (richardsoni) type.

Saw a whole flock of Pigeons in town, maybe 10 or so of them. Did someone get and is now keeping Pigeons? I saw one yesterday and a flock today. Most seemed of the natural color variety, which isn't bad looking at all. Not crazy about the mutts though. I don't usually see Pigeons around town, it was actually quite the surprise. I was going to submit a rare bird report for them. I'm sure the Merlin (formerly called PIGEON Hawk) and the Zone-tailed don't mind them, not to mention local Cooper's and other Hawks.

At the park there was a Common Mestra, the first of that butterfly I have seen this month, and it was pretty beat and worn. A Little Yellow and a Gulf Frit were also there. Mestra makes butterfly species #13 for Dec., which is very weak. In 2011 and 2013 I saw 24 sps. in Dec., and in 2012 I saw 42 (!) species in December. So just getting past 12 sps. today for this December is poor. 2009 was the worst in 11 years here with only 11 species in December, so we are above worst ever anyway.

Dec. 25 ~ MERRY CHRISTMAS all! A chilly low in mid-20's dF with a light frost on the grass was appropriate. The bird bath had a half-inch of ice that had to be thawed twice before it stayed above freezing. This is the first freeze in over a month, since the early mid-November freezeout. Was nice the first few hours, but by 10 a.m. a cold southerly wind hit at 15-20 gusting 25 to 30mph.

Early morning the Rusty Blackbird was at a horse trough, and a dozen plus Brewer's were in the corral. Saw 11 Cedar Waxwing in the pecans for a bit, going to the juniper with a few berries left, as was the single Robin. Saw a, or the, first-winter White-throated Sparrow and a male Slate-colored Junco. The rest was the regulars.

Made another run to storage space which we are vacating, which nets a stop at the park on the fun side. Saw the Barred Owl but otherwise just a few of the residents: Car. Chickadee, Blk.-crstd Titmouse, Cardinal and Carolina Wren. One male Myrtle Warbler was there. One was around yard most of the day too, which came down to patio to get some crushed pecans that we put out on the cold morning days.

This is part of why I was fighting the squirrels for them. Normally the birds would have this food source still now, had the over-populated squirrels not pillaged the crop. This way they still get some when they need it most.

Dec. 24 ~ Merry Christmas Eve! Breezy until later afternoon, and with wind on the low in upper 30's dF it felt pretty chilly. The Rusty and a couple male Brewer's Blackbird hung around over an hour mid-morning. I got a digiscope of the Rusty up top of the big Pecan right off the front porch. That was the Christmas Eve treat of the day. With the holiday tomorrow (our normal hump day) today was too busy to look around. Did see a male Slate-colored Junco. Counted 6 Inca Dove, there were 8 a month ago, I think the accipters are getting some. Two Ringed Kingfisher calling at river.

Dec. 23 ~ A weak cold front is coming through this a.m., we have a low of 49dF or so with a high under 55 today, and northerlies on it at about 10-15 gusting to 20-25. There was a band of rain that moved over but as often we were in a rain-free alley, a break in the band, that is invariably exceptional at finding Utopia. I saw a few drops. Chills in KVL early were in upper 30's dF. Only the wind will keep us from freezing tonight, but so it will feel like upper 20's dF by tomorrow morning.

During breakfast we watched the Rusty Blackbird over in the corral, just a hundred feet away, nice to need binocs during breakfast. Afterwards I went out to see it without window or screen. It flew into the Mulberry 25' away. The Canyon Towhees were calling, one up top a brushpile, reminding me that Rusty Blackbird and Canyon Towhee simultaneously is probably not a very common combo of yardbirds. The Rusty is especially nice since it is surely the one that wintered here last year and a returnee, which makes it pretty darn cool in my book. Our ad. ma. Sapsucker in the yard all last winter did not return this winter.

I can't help but wonder if the lone Robin that continues to hang out (despite a small group around) is a returnee, and possibly the one that stayed singing a month longer than all the other's departure last spring. We didn't get to 50dF and with wind was a bit blustery all day.

Dec. 22 ~ Did you feel all that extra daylight today? A whole second. I didn't know what to do with all of it, after cleaning the truck, shed and carport I worked on my winter tan to use the rest of it up. Ringed Kingfisher calling from the river, Rusty Blackbird in the corral. What a great yard combo. Heard the Pine Warbler again in pecans out front. Scrub-Jay, Robin, Waxwing, Canyon Towhees, 400+ Brewer's Blackbird shot over at first light going west toward pastures. They flew back west to the higher warmer ridges where they roost about 5 p.m. so they are working a 10 hour day debugging and fertilizing the pastures.

Today was a major warmup, as always ahead of a front, into the mid 70's dF! Later p.m. about 5, I heard at least two Ringed Kingfisher over at the river. Great Horned Owl and Eastern Screech-Owl calling after dark.

Dec. 21 ~ HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE!! The shortest daylight period of the year, tomorrow will be a whopping 1 second longer! Don't spend it all in one place! Same gang around yard, the Cardinals are sure getting bright though. In late summer they wear and fade to dull red, then molt, but the fresh new plumage is duller at the tips. Only when those wear off does it achieve its brightest red coloration. We are just starting to enter the best 5 months now. Blondie the aberrant squirrel is hanging out regularly now.

In town there was nothing at the park, again, but a few of the staunchest residents. The north end of town had the large Starling flock continuing, I counted 21 birds. I wish it would get cold so they would leave. There are not that many that live here, and those breeders seemed to have already departed prior to the arrival of this flock that showed up no doubt from northward.

Dec. 20 ~ First bird I heard at quarter to first light (6:45) was a Killdeer, otherwise it was dead silent. With the solstice tomorrow we will have the first big increase in bird song very soon. Nice to see some sun, it got up to about 65dF, lovely. The Lark Sparrow have been chorusing some wonderful carols.

Heard a Pine Warbler out front in the pecans early and then over in the corral later but didn't go after it. After hearing what seems a single bird for weeks now I don't care. Some birds are eager to be on your list, to be your FOF (first of fall), etc., they will call as they fly over just for you to detect and get the data point. But this thing has been hereabouts 3+ weeks methinks without showing itself so forget it, I'm not even going to look now when it is calling repeatedly. It doesn't get to be seen, that will teach it a lesson about being coy with birders.

Of course except that age and sex would be good to know. But since early and still in sweats and furry slippers, the grass is wet, so I passed. I wonder if "The Lazy Birder" is taken? Dibs on that trademark. If it was a Black-throated Gray Warbler chipping that I need for the yard list of course the wet grass and fuzzy slippers, or the yard full of deer feces wouldn't matter. This is how bird listing warps your values.    ;)

A Gulf Fritillary was the first I've seen this month. It hit the 3 dozen or so open Tropical Sage flowers, the only thing open now besides a few Straggler Daisy. The American Lady stopped briefly in the flower bed. A few Anole were hunting in them though and it didn't linger. A Field Sparrow went through yard. All the regulars (30 or so species of birds) were about.

Dec. 19 ~ We didn't get but a spritzin for all the advertised rain. When I get a reindeer that is going to be his name, Spritzin. I might have written that before..... apologies if you remember. Heard the Rusty Blackbird out front. Scrub-Jay took a bath, the pair of Canyon Towhee are around, as is a Cooper's Hawk daily. Saw the Roadrunner (which 'beak-rattled' - odd this time of year). I think the mildness of the last month has kept them on the valley floor longer than usual. When we have a bunch of hard freezes they vacate the valley floor for the warmer hills. Thought I heard a White-throated Sparrow but didn't see it.

Dec. 18 ~ A bit of mist, lots of overcast, but some sun in the afternoon when it got up into lowest 70's dF. Didn't see anything outside the standard cast of characters today. Besides a couple spike bucks sparring, there is an older, perhaps two year old with 3 points on each side, then there is a bigger buck with at least 4 points on each side, maybe 5, all of them around because of the 25 does that hit the horse corral after the oats are spread. The deer come running when they hear the caballero honk the truck horn for the horses. An old-timer here told me the ranchers best friend was the truck horn.

A Large Orange Sulphur was a new butterfly for the month, also saw a couple Snout, a Little Yellow, plus the always-a-few Sleepy Orange were out in the warmth, and an ID'able look at a Lady finally, it is an American in the yard. Two Anole got some basking time in as well.

Blondie the weird possible hybrid Rock x Fox squirrel was around too. Since these hybrids do exist (at Garner S.P. and surely elsewhere) and I am not aware of a name for them I will take this opportunity to propose the proper name for these hybrids as Rox Squirrel as Fock squirrel would have to much potential for confusion, mis-understanding and perhaps even intentional abuse.

Dec. 17 ~ Chilly and damp, a few sprinkles over the day, maybe .05+, five hundredths to a tenth of an inch of precip at most. The Rusty Blackbird was around first thing. Late in day I was on phone with client when out the window two ducks flew by! All I got was a bare-eyed 3 seconds at 150' in poor light. Too tough to call. They were small so either Teal, Ring-necked Duck, or Wood Duck. Usually you see only one type of duck here in pairs, Wood Duck. Teal or Ring-necked are in flocks. Surely statistically they were Wood Duck. I have seen a lone pair of small ducks here dozens of times, they were Wood Ducks every time. I have never seen just two teal or two Ring-necked Duck here. But I wouldn't claim an ID of even a common bird on statistics any more than I think a record committee reviewer should reject a record on statistics, yet some do routinely.

Some more interesting behavior from Blondie the aberrant colored squirrel. It ran under the steel shed, where there is a few inch gap off the concrete pad, like a crevice in some rocks I suppose. Like the vertical rock wall climb it did the other day, this is something I have never seen a Fox Squirrel do here and is typical Rock Squirrel behavior. The behavior of this animal is not that of a normal Fox Squirrel.

Dec. 16 ~ At least a dozen Cedar Waxwing were in the yard for a bit, the biggest flock I have seen so far this fall. The 30+ Robin were around briefly as well, both hit the few juniper berries left on the one tree with them here. The black male Slate-colored Junco was around again, what a beauty they are. Scrub-Jay about too.

The Cypress along the river are moving into the stage when they are a shade called ugly brown. A depressing dark somber brown, about their 5th shade of brown in 5 weeks, cypress are far under-appreciated for their mastery of brown. I have long wanted to set up a camera and record daily the change over the fall. From green to orangey rust to 5 kinds of brown. But this last shade of brown could bum you out. Perhaps it is because I know what it means: the leaves are leaving.

Dec. 15 ~ Very foggy early, sunny by mid-morning, and in afternoon was over 75dF and quite nice. A weak mild front is passing. Very neat was the Rusty Blackbird coming into yard, I heard it earlier way out by wellhouse, but noonish it landed in the Mulberry right across the patio, 15' from the tube seed feeder with the birds. I was out there again at 2:45 and saw it finally leave, so it was around close by a couple hours plus. Also saw a Northern Harrier go by, probably an immature.

Dec. 14 ~ mild and humid, maybe 55-65dF for a temp spread today. Drizzled a couple times, after being foggy early, finally some blue sky and sun just before the end of the day. Was the same gang around the yard. Too wet to go walking. Did a errand in town late p.m. so stopped by park for a quick look. Saw two while hearing a third Green Kingfisher, and 2 Belted Kingfisher. Thought I heard and glimpsed a Black Phoebe on the other side of the former island. About a half-dozen Myrtle Warbler, mostly on other side of river. Heard Blue Jay, saw Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Cardinal, Carolina Wren and Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, the regular residents. Looks great for a Woodcock now but I couldn't find one. There were a few of the winter Mayfly in the air, a very few, but some, near top end of former island.

Dec. 13 ~ Too busy to look around, was the same gang o' 30 or so in the yard. Did have the Mexican Yellow (lep) on the Salvia (Tropical Sage) again, besides a few Sleepy Orange. Cooper's Hawk has been daily making attempts, maybe keeping activity down. Kathy saw the Texas Scrub-Jay at the bath with a Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Still in a mild overcast regime running upper 50's dF for lows and upper 60's to lowest 70's dF for highs. Mild and humid. There were lots of patchy low clouds all evening until finally socked in and I only saw one Geminid (meteor) earlier in evening, but a later check did net a flock of southbound White-fronted Goose, the first of them I have detected this fall was nice to hear.

Dec. 12 ~ The regulars, heard a Belted Kingfisher over at the river. Heard the Junco, saw the pair of Canyon Towhee, a bunch of Chipping and some Lark Sparrow, haven't been seeing the White-crowned this week. A quick look at the park in town found it birdless as usual of late, seemingly bugless too. There were a number of Straggler Daisy flowers open, the mild last month has got some to pop. At least there is something for a butterfly to get a microdrop of nectar. I saw a couple Tropical Sage flowers but only a couple in the woods.

The Buckley (aka Spanish aka Red) Oaks are past prime, and seemed to go to brown fairly quickly this year. Last weekend was peak methinks, they were pretty colorful briefly but it was not a great year for them. The mesquite are nice and yellow now, if they still have leaves, while the cypress have moved from a nice orangey burnt sienna a week to two weeks ago, to now a less exciting dull umber brown.

Dec. 11 ~ Same gang as usual, saw the female Slate-colored Junco, the pair of Canyon Towhee, Cooper's Hawk made a pass or two at the seed eaters, heard the Scrub-Jay. For a few days I have been seeing a few Straggler Daisy flowers open, due to the nearly a month of fairly mild temps since the big and early mid-November blasts of polar and then arctic air. A few lizards out there still, mostly Anoles and a Sceloperus. A passing drizzle went by.

Dec. 10 ~ Overcast and threatening to rain, but as of 9 p.m. all we had was a bit of drizzle briefly. Maybe .02. Heard Ringed Kingfisher over at the river this a.m., Kathy spotted a female Slate-colored Junco. At the park early in a.m. I heard a Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-shouldered Hawk, saw a Great Blue Heron, but pretty dead. A few bluebirds were in the hackberries out front of park on Cypress St., but that usually great patch seems like most, fairly devoid of fruit this year.

There was a flock of 20 Starling at the north end of town, I presume birds from further north moving south. Saw my FOS Meadowlarks just west of the 360 crossing, they looked Western. A few Pine Siksin and American Goldfinch were in yard briefly. Thought I heard an Audubon's Oriole up the slope behind us.

In afternoon a Dogface and a Mexican Yellow nectared at the Tropical Sage blooms around porch. Sure glad we planted that! Mexican Yellows love it, it is a magnet if any are around.

Dec. 9 ~ A low about 40 was brisk. Heard Turkey gobbling at dawn again. A half-dozen Pine Siskin came into the tube feeder for a bit, the first time this fall I've detected more than one. Blondie the leucistic squirrel was about, got some pix. At one point it ran right up the rock wall of the old stone wellhouse, and sat on the peaked roof (Rock Squirrel behavior), something I have never seen a Fox Squirrel do. Boy I'd like to see this squirrels DNA. There might be more reason for the pigment mutation than meets the eye. I mentioned to Kathy it looked a little thick and bulky, maybe longer, beyond and besides the larger size illusion being paler gives. Now I see it climbs vertical rock walls unlike any Fox Squirrel here, like a Rock squirrel. It could be a hybrid.

I have seen hybrids at Garner St. Park 15 miles west of us. Some are mixed foxy brown Black Rock Squirrels, some are blackish Fox Squirrels. One is a ground squirrel, the other an arboreal (tree) squirrel, so it would seem hybrids would be selected against, being behaviorly intermediate (such as a couple hybrids I watched at Garner). But the crossing of genes (different genera!) could cause a color mutation.

One of the local Caracara ejected an interloper from the territory in no uncertain terms. Heard Hutton's Vireo again. Saw the Roadrunner again. Hasn't been really very cold yet since and besides the mid-Nov. 10-day event. It made itself look dis-interested and then dove into a Persimmon with birds in it, not to make friends but a meal. It missed but showed me there were a lot more Chipping Sparrow in there than I thought.

Dec. 8 ~ Saw the first flock of Robin I have seen this fall, about 30 went by the office window. Out front in the a.m. the Rusty Blackbird was out by corral, and a Ringed Kingfisher called from the river. A pair of Canyon Towhee continues. Turkey was gobbling at dawn. Got up to 70dF in afternoon. Thought I heard a Pine Warbler again.

I saw the squirrel Kathy spotted yesterday, we'll call it Blondie. It is creamy white along sides, the dorsum is nearly normal Fox Squirrel up to shoulders, while the tail appears fairly normal Fox Squirrel color. Underparts are mixed normal Fox colored ventrally very restricted, mostly cream around that, and feet fox colored but legs cream. Sides of face normal fox color but crown and nape is creamy white.

I did get one grab shot of the front half of it anyway. Methinks leucistic is the correct term for it. Abnormally pigmented (a lack thereof) creating a paler than normal coloration. True albinos are snow white (completely lacking pigment) and have red eyes. It is a genetic mutant, but might be interesting to see if it is a breeder. It is fairly tricolored overall, and I always liked a weirdo. Will be a test to see if that is possible with a squirrel, but I once came to be quite fond of a cat. Anything can happen. Never say never.

Dec. 7 ~ A little sun early then cloudy all day with a whopping 10dF temp spread in the 50's. Walked to the crossing and caught a flock of Savannah Sparrows visiting river to bathe from a nearby pasture, there were a couple dozen along the river. Also a couple Lincoln's, a couple Song, a White-throated, 20 Chipping Sparrow, and a dozen House Finch. The corral had Lark, a couple Vesper, about 7 Field were along edge of it, and more Chipping but we didn't see any White-crowned. Must have been 30 Cardinal in the corral. Of course I wonder if the White-throated could be the one from the yard a week ago?

Kathy saw the Pyrrhuloxia I saw out back yesterday at the bird bath! I saw an ad. fem. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the big pecan, the pair of Canyon Towhee were around, lots of Chippies and a black ad. ma. Slate-colored Junco was nice. A few Myrtle Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, some Eastern Bluebird. Heard Killdeer and Kestrel, saw Caracara and a Roadrunner.

At the stables across the river there were 450+ Brewer's Blackbird, with some Red-winged and Brown-headed Cowbird mixed in. Saw one Anole (lizard), and in butterflies, a Lady shot by too fast to tell if American or Painted, American is default here now, and a Snout and a few Sleepy Orange.

The Buckley Oaks seem to be at peak color now, lots of good red and orange, not as bright as some years, but some nice fall color. The first week of December is a dependable peak for them. From what I could gather the maples at Lost Maples were OK, so-so, but it wasn't a spectacular year for them. The planted Bigtooth Maples around town and along 187 looked pretty nice for a short while with some good color, but not much of the reds, seemed more orange and yellow this year. They seem to peak a week later than Lost Maples does, I presume the lower altitude, and for many some watering, makes a difference.

Dec. 6 ~ Low about 50 dF, high got into lowest 70's dF. Nice! There was a Pyrrhuloxia I saw from the patio, over by the one close Prickly Pear behind the cottage. It seemed to move up the hill out back. An overdue yard bird, I have thought I heard one a couple times, and we saw one in the corral 7 or so years ago when we used to bird along the road we now live on. So it was on the local UvCo360 area list, but not our yard list, until now. Also had a group of Water Pipit fly over, a few called and I saw a half-dozen of probably twice as many heading toward airstrip. Heard a Sapsucker in corral, and a brownish (fem.) Slate-colored Junco moved through yard.

Kathy again saw the squirrel with dilute coloration that she mentioned a few days ago, so after removing over 75 in 17 months we know new ones are still showing up. No one would have agreed you could stand around a porch and see 75 different squirrels. That is the reality of how over-populated they are (and how little we know) which is essentially undetectable to the average person because they "all look the same" (except Blondie). Only assigning a number to each one as it is sent to heaven reveals the reality of the squirrel over-population problem. It is not your imagination, the trees are infested. I think there needs to be a squirrel shoot-and-stew, or two.   ;)

~ ~ ~ ~ prior update below ~ ~ ~ ~

Dec. 5 ~ Low was in 60's dF, and got up to mid-70's dF! Lots of overcast until late in day. Same gang here at the yard, and at the park in town. There, there was a Yellow-shafted Flicker, an Audubon's Warbler, and a Song Sparrow, but otherwise the SOS.

In butterflies there was a Little Yellow, a Dogface, and a Phaon Crescent besides a few Sleepy Orange. Flower gardens are cooked. A few Tropical Sage flowers open but that seems about it. Today there were two Robin here, maybe three, but saw two together in the pecan over bath.

When I came back from town as I got in front of yard out on road I saw a snake and had to hit brakes and skid on the caliche to keep from hitting it. It didn't move until I got out and walked up to it, a 30" Western Ribbon Snake. Their motion sometimes (as this) is a very exaggerated S, looking quite ribbon-like if I may say. Surely my first December record.

Dec. 4 ~ Thursdays are crunch-day for us in the office, you would note a distinct weakness in Thursday reports if you analyzed all the notes. There was a flock of over a hundred Brewer's Blackbird that landed mostly in the big pecan for 15 minutes early just after daybreak. It was drizzly and foggy so I did not work them. In the p.m. a flock of 300+ of them flew over heading northwest towards a roost site. Heard a Golden-crowned Kinglet.

Dec. 3 ~ Low was mid-40's dF but humidity 100% so chilly. Appropriate weather for finally seeing the Rusty Blackbird I have been hearing on and off the last couple weeks. Surely it is a returnee, the bird that wintered hereabouts last year. It was out by the wellhouse and horse trough in the corral at first, less than 50' from where I took a photo of it last year on Dec. 9. Remarkable. Wonder where it breeds? Most of their nesting range is across Canada. When you see a single lone blackbird always check it out closely. It started to fly off and circled back landing on the wire by the power pole for a minute or two before leaving.

The bird of the day was at 10 p.m., and of course not seen. I heard it fly over quite low, calling 5 times as it went downriver, a TUNDRA (Whistling) SWAN!! I could barely hear wingbeats, enough to tell it was a huge bird as I stumbled through long un-used mental files searching my hard drive for a match for that call. Then I remembered after the last call, it was a swan. I came in and dialed up xeno-canto, and the second sample I tried was the exact call I heard and know, the recordist called it 'hoarse call'. I spent enough time around them to know that call well enough to be comfortable making a positive identification. There isn't anything like it. It is new for our area list.

Actually it is my first in the county, though a few years back some fish hatchery personel at Uvalde reported a flock of 5 swans when most of the U.S. was frozen out by a major polar blast. They were not positively ID'd though as far as I know.

Dec. 2 ~ Low in upper 30's dF and overcast. Despite three major weather outlets (NOAA, Intellicast, Weather Underground) not having rain in the forecast there was sprinkles and drizzle mid-day. I had a wood project outside due to the joint consensus no rain forecast and my faith in the millions of dollars in computers and well-paid alleged professionals. So much for that and them. Worthless as they are pitiful. Oh to be able to so incompetent and inefficient and still get paid. No wonder they love their jobs. It is the only career where you can be wrong regularly, totally blow it repeatedly, and it is OK. Try that in business.

The big mystery of the day was seeing a pair of Canyon Towhee. I saw and heard one of the former pair here being taken by a Sharp-shinned Hawk last week. I had not detected the remaining bird since that event. Now we have two again. I suspect the surviving bird moved away a little (out of earshot even), then another bird found it, and was 'shown' the seed, water, and brushpiles here by the survivor of the former pair. Speculation of course, but one of the former pair here was definitely taken and the other not here for at least the last prior 5 days since that. Heard Hutton's Vireo today.

December 1 ~ It came in like a lamb, until mid-morning when the front begin to arrive. Daybreak was foggy with a low at 60dF or so, northerlies arrived before 10 a.m. with cooler air and falling temps. The Chipping Sparrow flock is at least 45 birds now. May have heard the White-throated Sparrow but didn't see it. Did hear Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Belted Kingfisher, and a single blackbird that sounded like a Rusty. No other blackbirds were around, it was over by the river. Could be last years' winterer that has returned. This is about the third time in the last two weeks I thought I heard a Rusty Blackbird but haven't seen it yet. Northerlies blew all day. Fortunately I am stuck inside working save my hourly peek-abouts outside.

~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ November summary ~ ~ ~ ~

The main event of the month was an early polar vortex system pushed down by a super Typhoon (Nuri) that went up into Alaska. That front resulted in our first freezes as well as a 3-4 day period without seeing it get above 50dF and lows to the mid-20's dF locally. It was followed by some warmer Arctic air in the next front so we had over a week, close to 10 days of very cold weather, ahead of normal timing for such an extended cold spell. The latter part of the month it got back to near normal with moderate lows and highs. Nov. 5 we had a big rain event with over 3" at many local sites.

Butterflies were already way down before the cold hit, and only the few regular cold-hardy species afterwards. I saw 33 species in the month, the worst November for diversity in the last 12 years. Last year in Nov. I saw 56 sps. and it was the top month of the year for diversity. A mere 33 sps. is pitiful. There was however one super mega rarity. Kathy and I saw a Spot-celled Sister (Adelpha basiloides) along 360 in the river habitat corridor. Perhaps the third I've seen locally, which is all the county records and likely the furthest north records as well. It was Nov. 9, interestingly the first record (photos) was Nov. 11 (2005), this is the time to get a northward stray.

For birds November is when the later fall migrants, the cold-hardy, which are really winter arrivals, get here. Things like Song Sparrow, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Junco (Slate-colored) arrive in November. Good was a White-throated Sparrow that showed late in the month.

The bird of the month was a mammal, the Ringtail (Cacomistle) eating hackberries from a tree just off corner of office and over shed. I got great point blank views, it came back nightly for a week and likely still visiting. I had been seeing scat I couldn't ID which now I know is the Ringtail.

Everyone I have spoken with says squirrels got all their pecans. I see few to none left on the trees, normally woodpeckers and others make it through winter on them. There is a very weak to poor Hackberry and Juniper berry crop this year too, so turning to them is not an option that will support much. I'm not seeing acorns on the live-oaks either. I see the squirrels raiding and stripping the junipers now too. Much will pass through, as was the case all fall due to lack of food. Texas Persimmon had a poor crop as well. Seed crops look fair to good at the wildflower and forb layer.

~ ~ ~ end November summary ~ ~ ~


Nov. 30 ~ Almost foggy, heavy overcast all morning, but a nice spread of about 55dF to 74dF or so, ahead of a front inbound tomorrow morning. The White-throated Sparrow and Slate-colored Junco continue. A Pipevine Swallowtail was the first one in two weeks since the polar and arctic fronts passed. Did see an Anole (lizard) in one of the flower beds today.

Nov. 29 ~ Not too cold and not too hot, pretty darn nice, it can't last.  :)   Was the regular gang, the White-throated Sparrow and Slate-colored Junco continue, a few American Goldfinch around, saw Caracara and Scrub-Jay, too busy with stuff to do. Did have a small bat at dusk, sorta looked like Freetail, but not sure. I thought all those left for the winter.

The breeze took off lots of leaves today, especially from the Hackberry and Mulberry. The deer are nuts about the Mulberry leaves. They love them apparently. I counted 25 deer over in the corral stealing the horse's oats as they could. They seem to take some few hackberry leaves begrudingly, the Mulberry leaves they suck down like a Hoover.

I tried a hackberry fruit again, with the same result as before: how can this be such an important food? Yet it is critical wildlife food for many animals to make it through the winter. The waxy skin is hard and inside that there is about a nano gram of pulp around a pit. If I imagined hard I could almost taste something. I needed reading glasses to see the micro bits of what would be the pulp (orangish).

Nov. 28 ~ Milder lows in 40's dF the last couple days are nice, warming to mid-60's. A bit breezy on it, the hackberries and mulberries are dropping lots of leaves. Every gust it looks like big yellow rain drops falling. The cypresses are good and rusty, and the Buckley (Spanish) Oaks are showing some orangeish now, they should get good and red over the next two weeks.

Nice to see the White-throated Sparrow again, so it stuck the night for the seed, and was still here on patio at dark. Sure would be great to have one stick the winter. Not enough understory here methinks. Counted a minimum of 18 Cardinal in the yard flock today, might be 20. No Canyon Towhee.

Nothing at the park in town save one Starling out front on the wires, heard a Red-shouldered Hawk, and heard a Ringed Kingfisher upriver of the park, which could be the same one I heard from house this a.m., or another.

Nov. 27 ~ Happy Thanksgiving! The highlight today was an imm. (first winter - or hatch year) WHITE-THROATED SPARROW in the yard. First one I have seen locally in a couple years, they are never common, essentially scarce singles for the most part, to see more than one is rare (save perhaps at a feeding station? - never at ours). I have gone more than one winter here without seeing one. The ten years I did a mock CBC winter bird count here I only found it a third of the years with all day searches scouring lots of river corridor habitat, hedgerows, yards, and decent acceptable habitat. The winter feel was added to by a Slate-colored Junco, a Hermit Thrush and American Goldfinches.

Bummer is I haven't seen or heard a trace of Canyon Towhee, which makes me think the Sharpy not only took one, but scared the mate away? The first one showed August 23, then amazingly a second appeared Sept. 20, and they had clearly paired up. Always together moving from one stick/brush pile to another around the yard daily for the last couple months, they were inseperable. The death call it gave will haunt me.

Had a flock of 20 or so Brewer's Blackbirds go by early. In yard saw another American Lady (1st of month was yesterday in town), a Snout, a Dogface, Gulf and Variegated Fritillary, Dainty Sulphur. Saw Anole and the un-ID'd ground lizard here.

Nov. 26 ~ We froze here, bird bath was thinly covered in ice, and KVL had 31dF. High was mid 70's dF! Note at the Weather Underground often lately it shows Perdido Hill for Utopia, which is at 1650' and for instance showed a low of 37dF this morning, at least 5 degrees warmer than we had here at 1340' on valley floor south of town. It also shows cooler high temps than we have here, at least in winter. Locally there are micro-climes that vary considerably is the main takeaway, check the station to see where readings are from. Intellicast often pipes in this station to their site now too. You might get Seco Ridge, Perdido Hill, or one of the stations in town itself, all with different readings.

Finally a small flock of American Goldfinch, seven of them. Thought I heard a Pine Warbler across the road, about time for them to show up. A few Myrtle went through the yard early and late. Late p.m. an ad. ma. Sharp-shinned Hawk took a medium bird out back slightly up the hill under junipers I could see it mantling and brown was the only color I could detect on the prey. The dying call notes I heard were those of Canyon Towhee. One of our pair of Canyon Towhee. Major Bummer.

Saw the female Downy Woodpecker at the park, and little else. But a winter form Questionmark (butterfly) was nice, as was a couple Red Admiral, a Desert Checkered-Skipper, and at the Ranch Outpost an American Lady, and a probable Lyside went by. A few Autumn Meadowhawk (dragonfly) were at the park. Three new butterflies for the month is good at this flowerless stage of the game. Saw a white butterfly go by that surely was a Checkered White, this is the third time this month I have seen a white go by quickly, but haven't added it to month list. Saw the Clouded Skipper Kathy saw yesterday.

Nov. 25 ~ A near-freeze was colder than predicted, we were at 33dF or so, some locally surely did freeze, KVL was 29dF. The high- mid-60's in the afternoon is just right though. A small flock of Myrtle Warbler were in big pecan at first sun hits it. Like with the oriole yesterday morning, the tallest tree that gets the first rays of sun gets the first action. No oriole today though.

The highlight of the day was FOS Junco (2 Slate-colored) out back nearish the seed, probably attracted by the Chippy flock. Still one Robin and one American Goldfinch, Kathy saw the Scrub-Jay at the bath, as well as two immature White-crowned Sparrow. A few of the same butterflies, like Snout, Gulf Fritillary, Dainty Sulphur and Sleepy Orange, Kathy saw a Clouded Skipper. Eastern Screech-Owl and Great Horned Owl after dark again.

A flock of Blackbirds went by, some looking and sounding like Brewer's, a couple Red-winged, and one sounded distinctly like a Rusty to me. I couldn't pick it out in the little time I had.

Nov. 24 ~ First thing just after 7 a.m. when I throw seed out I heard a SCOTT'S ORIOLE calling and then it sang twice from the top of the big pecan. I couldn't see it to age or sex it due to bad light. Song was poor quality and so not an adult male, but females can sing (like Cardinal - not the same great full male song, but song not call), so it was either a female or probably more likely a sub-adult or immature male. It is my first November record of one locally, mid-October or so is my prior latest one (a feeder-addicted bird that stuck late), most are gone by early October, it is absent before late October. Of course one off of our normal local birds' schedules might be from somewhere else and not of local origins.

A bit later while on sofa with coffee Kathy spotted a flock of a dozen big bearded Toms (Turkey) strolling down the road past the gate. It is officially Turkey week I believe. Otherwise the regular gang of birds. A few butterflies came out in the low-to-mid-60's dF warmth, several Sleepy Orange, a few Red Admiral, Gulf Fritillary, a Variegated Frit, and a Snout.

Most of the juniper trees around us are males, achoo! A very few of the females seem to have a fair berry crop, but not for long. The one good tree along the north fenceline today had three sqirrels in it at once just ravaging the berries. There won't be anything left for Robins, Waxwings, or everything else that lives on them all winter in no time, a week or two I give it.

Just like the pecans that they eat all of, now it is the juniper berries. I don't think people have a clue as to all the ways the far over-populated sqirrel is affecting everything else. Not just factors more of them hunting bird nests in summer, but there are already no pecans left on the trees, and the juniper berries are going fast. Two key items for dozens of species winter survival depleted before winter starts, mostly by over-populated squirrels (but also equally over-populated pigs, deer, and racoons). Do your duty and shoot more squirrels, deer, and pigs. They are all out-of-control populations (mostly predator-free) and doing untold damage to the natural balance of nature.

Nov. 23 ~ Low was low 40's dF, almost 10dF lower than forecast, and we warmed into upper 70's in the afternoon! Mornings are great before the winds pick up. The big FOS was a Pine Siskin calling as it flew over - to make sure I would detect it. Also had the American Goldfinch and the Robin out there, three of the wintering species with only single individuals around so far as I have seen.

Took an early walk to the crossing, a bit slow for birds. Kathy spotted a Northern Harrier coursing the pasture on the other side of the airstrip. The river is beautiful with the rusty cypresses lining it. Some really get orangeish. I think there is a real dearth of bugs and other foods so birds are moving on. Seed crop seems OK in the forb layer. But no pecans out there now, and I would call it a light to poor crop of hackberries. One big tree in yard had thousands last year, lasting hundreds of waxwings and Robin into March and April has none on it this year, as are many trees around, empty of berries. The squirrels raid them all year too.

Saw three odes, single male Autumn and Variegated Meadowhawk dragons, and a male American Rubyspot damselfly.

The birds are mostly the expected suspects, the standard daily fare for now, late November. Black Vulture-30, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 imm., Red-tailed Hawk (2 fuertes - the resident pair), Am. Kestrel, Caracara, heard Killdeer across river in a.m., White-winged, Mourning, Inca, and Ground- Doves, (Eurasian Collared-Dove if you are unlucky - save when seen down barrel), Great Horned Owl (daily multiples calling), Belted Kingfisher, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, texana Scrub-Jay, Common Raven, Carolina Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Mockingbird, Myrtle Warbler, Savannah, Chipping, Field, Lark, Song, Lincoln's, and White-crowned Sparrows, Canyon Towhee (pair in yard), N. Cardinal, Brewer's Blackbird, and House Finch, (plus the four prior mentioned species). Did add E. (mccallii) Screech-Owl after dark. Somehow missed the bird bath Hermit Thrushes today.

So at least 40 species this a.m. in yard or along road out front. Of course if one spent the day in the area driving around and visiting all the various micro-habitats locally, twice as many species might be findable. This in just one little 2/3 mile section of fairly altered (original understory mostly gone) river corridor habitat.

A few butterflies were out in the warmth, Red Admiral, Sleepy Orange, Gulf Fritillary, Snout, Orange Sulphur, Dogface, Vesta Crescent, a Mestra, there are virtually no flowers blooming save a very few Tropical Sage with a stray flower here and there.

Dillo at dusk. In insects, I saw the male of that big Scoliid wasp I mentioned we saw the big female of the last two weeks. It is much smaller than the female, half the body bulk, or less, but still nicely metallic blue-black with pale yellow squares at rear edges of abdomen. It was in the spent Blue Mist Eupatorium flowers, a little late for nectar or pollen.

Nov. 22 ~ A breezy cloudy day with a bit of off and on traces of sprinkle and drizzle all day. One of those better off working inside days. Temp spread was 62-72dF. We got maybe .10-.20 - a tenth or two - over the whole thing. A few spots up-valley got a quarter-inch and a couple spots got a half. The main event was east of us where SAT to AUS got 2-4" and even 5 inches in some spots! The winds took a lot of leaves down. Was just the regulars for birds.

~ ~ ~ prior update Nov. 21 ~ ~ ~


Nov. 21 ~ Morning low was about 62dF, holy cow, warmer than a bunch of highs the last two weeks. It means a front is inbound. Strong southerly flow with associated gulf moisture and warmth is a tipoff. Was even foggy this morning. Might have a rain event tomorrow. There were a couple Golden-crowned Kinglet in yard in a.m., besides the usual couple Ruby-crowned, a Myrtle and an Audubon's Warbler seem daily and appear to be sticking. Heard Kestrel, Killdeer and American Goldfinch. A couple Snout and an Orange Sulphur (butterflies) went by in a.m.

Did a town run in the afternoon. Most interesting was a DOR, that is, a "dead on road" animal, a Javelina (aka Collared Peccary)! It was on 187 just north of 360 (north of the DOR feral pig). We saw a big boar Javelina up on Seco Ridge once, feeding under our bird feeder (!), this DOR was a yearling female probably.

Just a few of the resident birds at the park, nothing happening, one autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly was it for odes. The deco gardens are devoid of blooms already (last two years they bloomed into December!) probably due to the extreme cold and drought. So no butterflies about. Dismal.

The Hackberries along 187 are mostly stripped of leaves, a week or more advanced beyond the ones in our yard which are somewhat wind-sheltered. The river is a ribbon of rust running down the valley with the cypresses realling showing color well. Mesquites are turning and losing leaves now as well.

Nov. 20 ~ Cloud cover and humidity back and the warmer temps with it are welcome, a low in the low 50's dF was nice even if damp. Same gang of regulars.... Robin at the bath, 25 or so Chipping Sparrow now, one Field went through yard. Hackberry leaves are really turning yellow now in our slightly wind-sheltered spot. Some pecans still have green leaves, others have no leaves left on them. The cypresses are getting very nicely rusty, and the Buckley (Spanish) Oaks are starting to color up. They will peak late November to early December and the best most dependable fall color show out here.

Nov. 19 ~ A light freeze, was 29 in KVL, we were probably 30-1dF, bird bath was iced over lightly. One single Robin continues here early first thing. Wonder if it is one of last years'? Finally warmed up a bit, made it to low 60's dF I think, and saw two butterflies, a Dogface and a Gulf Fritillary. Heard the Ringtail in the Hackberry again after dark.

There was some animal frenzy of some sort after 9 p.m., I don't know what it was but many many animals all screaming and howling at once from over across the river. Sounded like a heard of Coyote and a herd of pigs all going off at once (plus all the dogs within a mile), I have no idea what it was but so loud the whole valley was roaring. I called Kathy and she got outside in time to hear the end of it just before it faded away. It had gone on for almost a minute that I heard. Sounded like horror movie special effects, but was real. Sometimes being near your door and a gun can be comforting.

Nov. 18 ~ Another hard freeze, had to thaw the bird bath at dawn, was mid-upper 20's dF for a low. Heard Robin and Scrub-Jay, saw Audubon's and Myrtle Warbler, but no Orange-crowned Warbler seemed to stick this year. That early cold spell probably convinced some things to move on, as well as the general lack of bugs, fruit, nut, and berry crops, due to drought. One of the adult White-crowned Sparrow, I presume from the corral flocklet, was here in a.m. Maybe barely broke 50dF for a high.

Nov. 17 ~ Well we really froze last night, the bird bath was solid ice, except where the deer tried to break through and it was ice cubes. Probably how I got that deer hoof shaped leak in our last (plastic) bird bath. Low was about 27dF, for our yard the first good hard freeze of the year. Winds blew all day on it, chills were in the teens early. Warmed to about 54dF but with 10-20mph winds didn't feel like it. Was fine if in a wind-sheltered spot in the sun though.

I saw an Anole out, it was solid charcol black trying to absorb some heat. Didn't see a butterfly today though. Tomorrow morning supposed to freeze again, and that is said to be the last of that for a week plus. We need the break. White-crowned (imm. Gambell's), Lincoln's, Lark, and Chipping for yard sparrows, plus the pair of Canyon Towhee. Heard Audubon's and Myrtle Warblers. Otherwise mostly the same regular repeat offenders. Kathy had a Robin at the bath.

After dark I heard a constant dropping of hackberries out of the tree onto the steel awning from right where the Ringtail was the other day. So I went out with flashlight and sure enough, the Ringtail ran out of the tips of the branches. The pits were dropping so fast it was popping them like candy. I presume sucking the skin and tiny bit of pulp off the pit and dropping the pits. This explains some of the hackberry laden scats I've seen recently at the base of this tree, Ringtail. Looks like I have some scat to photograph... I thought they were wrong for coon. Though I know a lot of sheet, I am decidedly weak on Ringtail scat.

Nov. 16 ~ A low in the 40's dF feels great, but nothing compared to the pre-frontal afternoon warmup when it got into the 70's dF! The first puffs of northerlies started around 2 p.m. but were intermittent, just getting constant at 4 p.m. when still 70dF. What a great break in the big chill, got to open and air the casita. Kathy said she couldn't believe we had it open finally after being sealed up all week.

Took a walk to the crossing noonish, birds were a bit slow, there were at least 4 White-crowned Sparrow in the corral, the two adults I saw were pink-billed eastern leucophrys, the imm. an orange-billed western gambelli type, I presume the one we've been getting in yard. A couple Lincoln's Sparrow, a Belted Kingfisher, a dozen Eastern Bluebird, no Pine Warbler yet. At the corral across crossing we saw a couple plus hundred Brewer's Blackbird, a few male and female Red-winged Blackbird in with them.

A few odes were out, Variegated and Autumn Meadowhawk, one Green Darner patrolling in a pasture, 3+ American Rubyspot, 1 Dusky Dancer, 1 probable Neotropical Bluet, and single female Argia (dancer) and Enallagma (bluet) I did not ID, though the dancer was probably Dusky.

The few butterflies left seemed as excited to be up and out as we were. We saw a couple Variegated Fritillary, a couple Snout, a female Dogface or two, a few Sleepy Orange, Dainty Sulphur, a Red Admiral or two, best were a Common Buckeye and a Eufala Skipper (both new for the month), a couple Common Checkered-Skipper, one Lycaenid (blue or hairstreak) got away darn it, a Cloudless and a Large Orange Sulphur, two Mestra, a few Vesta and Phaon Crescent, and one pale form female Orange Sulphur. No Queen or Pipevine Swallowtail was almost a surprise. So 16 species, on the 16th.

We saw the big Scoliid wasp we saw last week (on 9th - which I forgot to mention) in the same exact area. This is a large 1.5" metallic blue-black beauty with pale yellow squares on rear edges of abdomen, regular in fall here on flowers, particularly Frostweed and Thoroughwort Eupatorium.

Saw the big green Anole in flower bed, as well as the un-ID'd ground lizard of some sort (Sceloporus?). Couple Dung Scarabs still out working, doing their, uh, doodie duty.

Nov. 15 ~ Cleared up late last night, started to get cold, into lower 30's dF around 2-3 a.m., then a cloud layer moved in and it then rose a few degrees to near upper 30's by dawn, and a toasty 40dF before 10 a.m. It was a four day event without getting to 50dF for a high, which seems intense for this early in the year. Interestingly it was a super Typhoon, Nuri, that went up into Alaska setting warm temp records that forced the cold air out of the Arctic to us. Aren't we lucky? Everything is connected.

Pt. Barrow at the top of Alaska was warmer than Dallas the other day. In November. Amazing. Sea surface temps in the tropical Pacific are up, as are air temps, which made a super Typhoon out of a regular one, which was so powerful it made it to Alaska intact, wreaking total havoc, with our comfort levels here in south-central Texas. Always try to connect the dots. The hard part is actually knowing if you have them all.

Was the regular cast of repeat offenders today. Thought I heard an Audubon's Oriole a ways off again. Pair of Canyon Towhee still. Sure glad I made those couple extra brushpiles for that surrogate dense understory for escape that Towhees require to feel comfortable. Still not enough for Spotted though, need a real plant understory for them.

Nov. 14 ~ Amazingly after predictions lows would be mid-20's dF, we did not freeze. A thin cloud layer did not erode which kept the 'warmth' in and we were again 33dF or so. But now it won't get as warm as we thought today either. Here on valley floor topped out in mid-40's dF and stayed cloudy all day. The immature Sharp-shinned Hawk that has been around made a couple attempts on the seed-eaters outside.

Made a quick run to town and stop at the park. There was my FOS Song Sparrow on the island. Might have heard a Winter Wren but didn't see it. A small group of Myrtle Warbler was nice since there hasn't been much for that sort of thing at the park. One Belted Kingfisher, too cold for odes (if any left besides Autumn and Variegated Meadowhawk - the two freeze hardy sps. here that last into December, rarely early Jan.) and leps.

Nov. 13 ~ The bird bath wasn't frozen so I think the winds kept it from freezing here, by about one degree. Chills are in 20's dF. Austin broke its record low this a.m., at 25 dF. Our high today was around 40 dF or a dF or two warmer, which is a whopping 25dF below average. I'm typing this just to warm my fingers. The regular gang of birds around, at least far as I can tell from in here by a heater. Heard a couple measures of White-crowned Sparrow song among a slight chorus of Lark Sparrows. Did have 8 Inca and 2 Ground-Dove, plus the regular Mourning and White-winged.

Nov. 12 ~ Well some had a freeze locally here, we didn't, the bird bath was all water. We were near it at about 33 or 34dF with 10+mph winds on it chill factors were below freezing. The Robin and a heard Golden-crowned Kinglet seemed fitting as did Killdeer and Kestrel. We are supposed to get colder the next two mornings, real freezes. We warmed to the mid-40's dF at peak heat, if you call it that.

The Harvester Ants spent a few days pulling white millet birdseed out of their hole and spreading it around, quite evenly I might say. It seemed they were drying it, presumedly after the rain when it got too wet. Hundreds of white millet seeds, the bird food I throw out. This morning it was far too cold for the ants to be out and the sparrow flock found their drying seed spread. Serves those 6-legged seed theives right. Were Lark (10), Chipping(20+), and one imm. Gambell's White-crowned which I presume is the same one seen around intermittently for over a week now.

The highlight of the day was at 7p.m. when I went out back to plug another heater in for the fish system. I heard branches move in an un-natural manner (for it to be wind), something moved, so I looked up and turned on the flashlight to have a RINGTAIL (formerly called Cacomistle) looking at me from perhaps 8' away! A stellar point blank view, probably the closest I have ever been to one, made my day. It had been way out at the tip of the branch so was surely eating the berries. I often think when I hear birds flush and give alarm notes in the night that there are Ringtails around. This is my first sighting here in the yard. I had seen their tracks in the draw a hundred yards away but they are generally quite shy of humans - with good reason - and are scarcely seen.

We had one in our yard on N. Thunder Creek Rd. a decade ago using a treehole in a big live-oak. For a den of choice they like treeholes, and caves and crevices. Later I heard some odd sounds out there that I did not recognize nor could ID. It sounded like a cross between a squirrel bark and a racoon, somewhat 'small doggish' I am certain it was the Ringtail. Was so cold and windy I didn't try to get some audio tape, but should have as I went back out and heard it again a second time. What a neat beast to have around! Murie (Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks) wrote he never heard one.

Nov. 11 ~ The front hit about 7:30 a.m.and it really dropped quickly the next hour and half, went from 54dF at dawn to 45 by 8a.m. with winds putting the chill factor into mid-30's dF. Hello winter. Warmed back up to mid-50's dF in afternoon and nice if out of wind. The last of even 50dF temps for a few days it appears.

An adult White-crowned Sparrow was around hitting the seed and the bath, a pink-billed nominate race, the more normal expected type here. Gambell's types are regular but much scarcer. Thought I heard an Audubon's Oriole a couple times distantly.

Nov. 10 ~ Today is the warm day before the front, strong southerly or SW in this case flow will have us in mid-70'sdF, and the high tomorrow will be at sunup right before the front gets here, so about 30dF cooler in afternoon than today. Baton down the hatches. I have to put more heaters in my fish tubs and wrap them up.

Had another Orange Sulphur go by, going north, like one yesterday morning here at the house. Also a Pipevine Swallowtail, smartly going south. Red Admiral, a few Dainty Sulphur. After this cold and front event, by time it warms back up it will be a completely different story out there for leps.

A Belted Kingfisher rattled its way downriver at dawn. A great chorus of Lark Sparrow from the big hackberry was nice. Saw the (or a ?) Roadrunner.

Nov. 9 ~ We were low 40's dF this morning, KVL hit upper 30's. We took a walk down the road to the crossing. Best bird was a butterfly, a SPOT-CELLED SISTER (Adelpha basiloides) moving north, upriver, through the hackberries and pecans. I got it in my binocs for a few seconds besides seeing it at 10' right overhead. Kathy commented on how brown it was. It was slightly smaller than the average Arizona as well. Bare eyed and in binocs I checked specifically and clearly saw the white median (or post-median?) band did NOT extend to leading edge of forewing but stopped quite a bit short of it.

There is a photo of one on the Rare Butterflies page, taken at Seco Ridge in 2005, the first Uvalde Co. record and one of the (the?) furthest north ever. I saw one other one time. Interestingly the photo record was on (are you ready?) Nov. 11. How's that for timing? The formerly common Arizona Sister I have not seen locally in five years since the drought got going. Even when Arizona were here, any sister here in Nov. is most likely NOT Arizona, but Band- or Spot- celled, the two strays from Southward that just about annually make it to the lower Rio Grande valley. A spectacular find, even if just a sight record. Since I have one photo'd from here prior, it is OK to claim a sight record, having already proven that a) they do indeed occur here, and b) that one can ID them.

Also saw a few Snout, a Queen, several each Dainty Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, Vesta Crescent, and Mestra, single Orange Sulphur (also had one go over the yard earlier in day), Phaon Crescent, Little Yellow, Goatweed Leafwing, a couple Variegated and a Gulf Fritillary, and a few Common-White Checkered-Skipper. Leps are fadin' fast folks.

In Odes, dragons were a male Roseate Skimmer along the road, and at the crossing a Wandering Glider, a few Autumn Meadowhawk, a pair of Variegated Meadowhawk in tandem flew off. For damselflies one American Rubyspot continued, a couple Dusky Dancer, and at least a dozen Bluets, that I think were maybe Stream Bluet.

Birds were slow, a couple Lincoln's and at least a half-dozen Field Sparrow, some Lark, a Chipping, one imm. Gambell's White-crowned may well be the one from yard a week ago. The rest was residents: Cards, Chickadees, Titmice, Mocker, Ground-Doves, Golden-fronted Woodpecker etc. About 1 p.m. I heard my second Golden-crowned Kinglet of the fall in the front yard. After dark a good number (dozens) of cranes were flying over southbound calling.

Hardly any flowers left in bloom, just a very few here and there. The last ones of a few types, a Fireweed, a Goldenrod, a Skeleton Plant, a Huisache Daisy, one patch of Frogfruit, a Tropical Sage, it is almost over for the year. The cypress trees are really starting to rust up, the Mulberries are mostly yellow and dropping, Hackberries more yellow than green and dropping leaves too. Some pecans are bare already. I see no wild nut crop (pecans) left whatsoever, they are all gone. Last year the migrant Blue Jays that invaded lived on them for a couple months, there are none out there this year. Woodpeckers might have a tough winter. The next wind event will really change the looks of the area.

Nov. 8 ~ A cool 45dF low felt nice, and a FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet in the big pecan seemed appropriate. Nothing at the park mid-day. At north end of town a female Great-tailed Grackle was unusual, haven't seen a Great-tail locally in a few months, and there are normally none here Nov.-April. A report a week ago from Garner S.P. reported 30 some of them over there. I presume the people trash and the sewage lagoon are major factors for their presence there.

For dragonflies there were a couple Variegated Meadowhawk and an Autumn Meadowhawk, plus a few bluets and that was it at the park. Here at the house there was a female Argia dancer of some sort. For butterflies the only thing new and different was a Tropical Checkered-Skipper, methinks the first one I have positively ID'sd this year, at the library garden. At the park there was a late Soldier.

Very few flowers are still blooming, mostly the white Thoroughwort Eupatorium is it. Other leps at the library garden included a few Common-White Checkered-Skipper, a few Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a Southern Skipperling, a couple Fatal Metalmark, Cloudless and Large Orange Sulphur, Clouded Skipper, Phaon Crescent, Red Admiral, Gulf Fritilllary, a Pipevine Swallowtail, and pretty weak overall, just about all the flowers are done. A Clouded Skipper was at the house here today too. Once when I checked our last bloomer in flower bed, the white Eupatorium for leps and there was a big neon green Anole (lizard) on it, no doubt snapping up anything that came in to it.

At the park there was a small Halichtid, mostly black with pale bands on abdomen. Dung scarab still in yard. Front passed, dry, and wind turned to north, but not too strong. Sometime this past week, maybe Tuesday or Wed. night, something stripped all the rest of the pecans off our one tree that had them. The last few hundred. Overnight. Coons? They strip and then go to ground to eat, hoping to get some the pigs or deer miss. It's all but emptied of nuts now. The feeding frenzy is over, we can stand down in the defense of the one tree we had with nuts. The animals won. Certainly the deer, coons, and squirrels got more than we did. At least the pigs quit coming in the yard now.

The event of the day was at 8:45 p.m. when I saw an incredible bolide (fireball meteor). It was one of the top couple in my life. It was W to WNW in direction from us, moving SE to NW in front of the constellation Sagitarius from us here. Initially I was looking east toward a rising just-past-full moon when the ground around me lit up bright white as if a giant heli-arc welder was behind me. I mean blinding bright phosphorus white.

I wheeled around and saw nearly 15 degrees of flaming sparking tail behind the head of the meteor, so looking like a comet, and huge as it seemed very very close. The head was blinding blue-white as was a few degrees of view behind it, then the tail turned to fire orange, and was sparking and looked like flames on fire. Like some kind of fancy firework, but the real deal. It lasted a couple seconds and that was it but I missed the first couple when the ground lit up bright as daylight. I'll never forget it, one of the most amazing meteors I have ever seen.

Nov. 7 ~ Too busy again, Hutton's Vireo, Scrub-Jay, Caracaras, 7 Common Raven in a flock together, single Audubon's and Myrtle Warblers. In butterflies one Southern Skipperling (lep) on the last blooming plant here, the white Thoroughwort Eupatorium, a Vesta Crescent, and a few of the normal fly-byes. One juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker shot through yard.

~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ update header Nov. 6 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATE: November 6, 2014
(last updates: Nov. 6, Oct. 27, 17, 6, Sept. 27, 19)


Fall is here, many leaves are turning colors and dropping! It can be chilly and warm the same day now, or downright cold all day as the current mid-Nov. cold front brought us, four straight days of not seeing 50dF, much of it near freezing.

We have finished the first half of fall migration, the departure of all of the migratory breeding species that winter far to the south from Mexico to South America. Now is the second half of fall migration, the arrival of migratory birds that breed far northward and winter here.

The first of the wintering bird species are arriving, like Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Myrtle and Audubon's Warblers, Vesper, Lincoln's, White-crowned, and Savannah Sparrows, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Spotted Towhee, American Goldfinch, lots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets going through daily, as well as others. In the month from mid-Sept. to mid-Oct. much of the avian landscape changes in a major way, save our local residents.

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll or read UP day-to-day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way.

Recent local sightings include: a SPOT-CELLED SISTER (mega-rare butterfly) on Nov. 9, Over 3" of rain Nov. 5, an immature Bald Eagle Oct. 30, hundreds of Monarch butterfly Oct. 24, a (Western) Palm Warbler and Cattle Egret (7) October 12, and a Peregrine Falcon Oct. 1. An Empidonax flycatcher was posted to Texbirds from Garner S.P. late Oct. which is of interest, it is as likely a Hammond's as anything, and possibly a winterer (near site 524).

Other recent highlights were a Dusky Flycatcher on Sept. 21, a seen and audio taped Common Paraque Aug. 24-26, still hearing White-tipped Dove in late Oct. In August at Utopia Park (UP) was a Laughing Gull Aug. 22 and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron on Aug. 1. Sylvia Hilbig photographed 2 juv. Roseate Spoonbill NW of town in Bandera Co. July 11, they were present the day before.

Zone-tailed Hawk, Audubon's Oriole, Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Ringed and Green Kingfisher are present locally in very low numbers. In the last three weeks I have seen or heard all but the Olive Sparrow, plus I am still hearing a White-tipped Dove. There are some few Olive Sparrows along the river corridor.

~ ~ ~ ~ end Nov. 6 update header ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the regularly scheduled drivel ~ ~ ~

Nov. 6 ~ It may have drizzled a bit overnight, but a trace at best. Still cool and cloudy with a chance of rain but it appears the prior 24 event is about over and 3.5" is the event total for us here. Nice and slow, little to no runoff so most went where we need it. Second day straight that stayed in the 50's dF all day. Hear a Hutton's Vireo out there, and a couple Kinglet (Ruby), texana Scrub-Jay, Caracara and the rest of the regular gang.

Nov. 5 ~ We had a good rain all night and all day, a real slow soaker, just what you want. In the mid-50's dF this morning so nearly 15 dF cooler than yesterday morning, and still raining at noon +. Both the local NOAA radar sites show us for getting a half inch of rain for a storm total so far from last night until this morning, for over twelve hours of light to moderate rain. Never got to 60dF.

My (was dry) bowl shows 2.25 inches in the a.m.! Often with the slow rains and perhaps the hills, the two nearest doppler radar sites do not give remotely accurate rainfall totals for Utopia. When big thunderstorms and it comes down fast and hard they seem to get closer. This morning's readings for here are a farce, a joke. They are showing 20% of the rain we received, again! By 3 p.m. we had 3 inches since it started last evening. I just checked again, both NOAA radar local sites still show a half inch for us here. Pitiful. At least have a disclaimer or shaded area where you can't get a good radar read (in the valleys in the hills) rather than spew mis-information.

Did count 21 Chipping Sparrow at once on the patio in the rain. Saw the pair of Canyon Towhee, but didn't look around much in the wet. By 11 p.m. the rain had all but passed and we were at 3.5 inches!

Nov. 4 ~ Still stuck at monitor, hopefully something good will fly by the window, perhaps knocking on it to get my attention. At our last place the Audubon's Orioles would do that if a hummer feeder went dry, or sometimes just because it seemed. Strong southerlies all day, threatening to rain, a bit of sprinkles, a big rain event is predicted for this evening and overnight.

Nov. 3 ~ Too busy at the computer, strong southerlies and gusty. I get my 5-7 minute per hour breaks outside and see a little bit. Heard Hutton's Vireo, Scrub-Jay, and the pair of Canyon Towhee are here, all giving a western flavor. The Carolina Chickadee, and Car. Wren, Myrtle Warbler and Eastern Bluebirds balance with some eastern flavor, while the Black-crested Titmouse and Golden-fronted Woodpecker have 'Texas specialty' status. Toss in some Cardinal, Inca and Ground- Doves, Caracaras, Bewick's Wrens, Chipping and Lark Sparrow, the regular gang.....

Not sure how many Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted Woodpecker are hitting the one pecan tree with some nuts left. It is amazing how good they are at determining whether the nut is good or not, clearly much faster than I can do so picking it up and feeling it, by tapping it generally while on a flexible perch (that gives). I guess if they can hear beetle larvae in a tree, they can tap a nut and know if it is good or not. The woodpeckers don't get squat compared to what the deer, squirrels, and racoon take. The mammals are all un-naturally overpopulated due to lack of predators.

At least 3 each of Mockingbird and Hermit Thrush hitting the bird bath, as do all the local yard and vicinity residents.

November 2 ~ Cloudy and coolish, wind quiet until 10 a.m. or so when southerly breezes got going 10+ mph. We went for walk early before it got breezy. It was earlier than we thought as we had not changed the clocks back - LOL. My watch is now correct again, didn't have to do a thing. Saw a Green Kingfisher at the crossing.

There were at the crossing what seemed continuing the one Smoky Rubyspot and three American Rubyspot (damselflies). Patrolling downriver of bridge was a Pale-faced Clubskimmer, and something else it chased with got away, one Green Darner above bridge. Great Nov. date for a Clubskimmer here. I saw (for the second week in a row) a small black dragon on a rock at west side of crossing which surely was an Ivory-striped Sylph. As mentioned last week, I have had the species in fall before at this exact site several years ago.

We had a flock of 8+ Myrtle Warbler, 1 Audubon's with them, a few Vesper and a White-crowned Sparrow, and a couple Lincoln's Sparrow in river-side grasses, maybe heard a Song Sparrow, would be early. At least 2 maybe 3 Turkey Vulture were still around. Cardinal numbers seem to have rebounded from some lows a year and two ago, saw a couple dozen at least. One Red-shouldered Hawk went by and the FOS Osprey soared over. A couple Monarch were moving.

In yard in the afternoon I had my FOS American Goldfinch fly over calling, earliest one I have ever had in fall here by two weeks! Normally any given fall we should expect a few species to be the 'earliest ever' for our records, without alarm. If you have 10, then maybe worry.

November 1 ~ This morning the low was about 47dF or so, KVL recorded 40-42dF! Even very locally there can be 5dF difference in temps amazingly close together. Seco Ridge to Utopia Park can be 10dF difference. I heard 3 Hermit Thrush before sunup, which went well with the temps, wintry. Two+ Myrtle and an Audubon's Warbler, couple Kinglet, few Mocker, a White-crowned Sparrow still, the usual Chipping and Lark Sparrow, 10 Cardinal, the pair of Canyon Towhee, Texas Scrub-Jay, some E. Bluebird hit the bath, some Black-backed Goldfinch, heard a Waxwing, saw flock of 8 Killdeer over river.

We walked upriver a bit on west 360, not much moving but a few of the residents like Titmouse, Chickadee and Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Cardinal. Bummer was a big female Mulberry that was recently split by lightening, half of it horizontal, half of that dead. It was a great producer of berries, and birds. For the little bit of rain we get, and we lost half of a major tree when measured by bio-productivity.

In odes we saw a nice male Roseate Skimmer at point blank, a male Autumn Meadowhawk, a Swift Setwing, and a Green Darner. In leps several Mestra, a few Dainty Sulphur, a Monarch going SW, a Queen doing the same, couple Gulf Frit, couple Sleepy Orange, few Pipevine Swallowtail, one Large Orange Sulphur, few Dogface.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

October Highlights ~ ~ ~

There were 55 species of butterflies in October, beating July by one species for top month of the year. Surely if I were able to beat the bushes a few more species would have been found. There were no highlights, it was the 55 most likely species. Mostly invasionary species, the drought continues to depress. A bit of Monarch migration showed with the 24th peak passage day and over 700 seen in a couple hours passing through in part of a couple hundred square yards of airspace.

For birds the Palm Warbler was likely the highlight, but the imm. Bald Eagle was a close second. The sparrow that got away at the 360 crossing hurt, it looked like Sharp-tailed (Nelson's) to me. The flock of 7 Cattle Egret was good, most falls and some years, I do not see any up here in the hills. A homogenous flock of 20+ Audubon's Warbler was the first time I've seen more than a handfull of them together at once here.

In odes the first Smoky Rubyspot I have seen in a few years locally was the highlight, right at the 360 crossing. Autumn Meadowhawk showed up as usual late in the month. There was very good Green Darner migration early to mid-month, and lots of bluets at the park pond. Best dragon was on Oct. 31 on the caliche backside of W. 360 at a draw crossing wet spot, a Red Rock Skimmer, my first locally in years. An apparent Ivory-striped Sylph got away without absolute postive ID but surely was one.

~ ~ ~ ~ end October summary ~ ~ ~


~ ~ ~

Oct. 31 ~ The front came in early a.m. with some pre-dawn rain, maybe .2 or a quarter inch, just a leaf-washer, then mid-a.m. the post-frontal blow got here, but ony 10 mph gusting to 20. Lots of leaves falling, and from the one defended (by us) tree, pecans. I saw a couple pecans on 360 with NO leaves left after the wind in the p.m., it looks like winter. The Cypress are starting to get rusty...

Heard some more Sandhill Cranes going over southbound, there was another imm. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in a pecan outside. The usual Kinglets, an Orange-crowned and a Myrtle Warbler. A quick look at park mid-day had an Audubon's Warbler, a great look at a River Cooter (turtle), a couple hundred bluets (damselfly) over the water, a couple pair of Variegated Meadowhawk (dragonfly) in tandem, one Lincoln's Sparrow, a couple Blue Jay, one Turkey Vulture among 50 Black. The park remains fairly bleak this fall. No bugs.

Butterfly gardens were weak for the most part. The lack of rain has hurt flower and nectar production. Best was a Rounded Metalmark, new for the month, among 10 Fatal Metalmark. At least a dozen Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak was a good number, a couple Cloudless and a few Large Orange Sulphur, 10+ Dogface, a couple Desert Checkered-Skipper, an Orange Skipperling, Fiery Skipper, Sachem and Whirlabout, Julia's Skipper, a Ceraunus Blue, numbers of Gulf Frit, Queen, Snout, Sleepy Orange, Dainty Sulphur, and a dozen plus Ailanthus Webworm Moth.

On my way to town I went out the backway on 'west' 360, and as I crossed a draw (with waterholes since it rained pre-dawn) I saw a Red Rock Skimmer dragonfly! Actually quite rare here, I have only seen a very few, perhaps 4 in 11 years, of which two were the same day (15 miles apart), I think all were in October. Actually a rary here. Dragon of the month with that Smoky Rubyspot last weekend.

Oct. 30 ~ Kathy noticed a bit of Monarch movement shortly after 10 a.m. I got away from computer about 10:30 for 10 minutes counting 70, and 10 more just before 11:20, so outside 20 minutes of that hour and saw 80+ Monarch in lift-off mode, obviously having roosted in the river habitat corridor and getting going for the day of flight. Hundreds had to be in the area. I am just seeing less than a hundred sq. yards with no long range line of sight, mostly closed in by trees. At times there were five at once again, and multiples thermalling together interacting as they rose.

During my first 10 minutes I saw a Merlin heading south at migrant altitude. During the second 10 minute lookabout I heard a Red-tailed Hawk give a scream call. Wondered if I should get mic to attempt to record when it called again. It quickly called a third time making it clear this was not a normal 'hi, I am a Red-tailed Hawk here' call, but an aggresion call. Since I haven't seen a migrant Red-tail this fall yet, I presumed that was what it was trying to discourage, and it was the local Fuertes breeding bird being territorial as they are with the snowbird interlopers from the north each winter. I would want to know if it were an eastern or western Red-tail being scolded so walked around back to see the sky.

Imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw an immature BALD EAGLE! With a Red-tail above it cussing at it to go away. Ran inside for scope, binocs and Kathy, and we got great looks as it soared directly overhead for a couple minutes. Very exciting, always great to see. It was a white bellied bird, so at least in its second year, or likely somewhere between one and two years old. First year birds have dark bellies. Amazingly it is the 3rd fall record I have here and one of the priors is the same date (Oct. 30, in 2007), the other Nov. 5, 2006, so a 7 day window for all three sightings over now 12 falls here during that period. Each was only overhead (seeable) for 5 minutes or so, rather miraculous they were even sighted at all, and surely more go over undetected.

Also saw a (getting late) big XL yellow bumble bee today.

Oct. 29 ~ Early in a.m. there was a Lincoln's Sparrow and a White-crowned Sparrow that went over to seed pile. Later in p.m. I saw the White-crown, had to go for binocs, it was an immature gambelli type with pale lores and a big orange bill. First imm. of the year and first Gambell's type of fall. Also heard some FOS Brewer's Blackbirds twice in a.m., thought I had heard some a couple times in last few days.

A couple Monarch in a.m., a couple noonish to 1 p.m., a couple more in afternoon, all south- to SW-bound. Just before 5 p.m. There were 25 in five minutes all southbound just above tree level, I presume dropping down after flying all day and will be roosting somewhere not too far down-valley. One Giant Swallowtail was nice, getting latish for them here. Saw a Black a couple days ago. Regulars still around, a Clouded Skipper, Vesta Crescent, Gulf and Varig. Frits going by southward, one Red Admiral. A dark skipper got away late p.m. that may well have been a Sickle-winged. A few Dogface and Queen. Only a couple Blue Mist Eup. flowers left now, but the little white Thoroughwort Eup. with 4 nice flower heads is just starting to open today. It will be a big draw the next couple weeks, if nothing else, just me sticking my nose in it.

Oct. 28 ~ The Turkey gobbled briefly at dawn from up in their roosts in the cypresses along river, funny to hear them calling from 40' off the ground. Also before sunup a group of 10 FOS Ring-necked Duck shot down the river corridor right in front of yard. Mid-day I had a Myrtle Warbler, the first seen this fall though have heard them for over a week, fly-bys going over. Heard Ringed Kingfisher calling from river. A couple Monarch moved by, one nectared for a bit. At last light I heard my FOS group of Sandhill Crane moving down-valley, it was too dark to spot them though it sounded like a couple dozen. The sound of winter. Heard Flicker too today.

Oct. 27 ~ No movement again in the morning, the waves of migrant birds have waned. There is, and we are at, an in-between time when the migratory breeders have departed, and the migratory winterers have not yet arrived in numbers beyond the first few early arrivals of each type. The resident species are most of what is out there now. If there were a weather event (rain) we would see more of what is going by. My FOS Spotted Towhee was up the hill in the undergrowth behind us.

A couple more Monarch, one nectared on the few Blue Mist Eupatorium flowers left open. Glimpsed that Mexican Yellow female again. The Harvester or leaf-cutter ants again raided one side of the flower bed right off porch, denuding a half a dozen each Mealy Sage and Tropical Sage. Stems is what we have left. Found a couple more new holes which got awarded boiling water.

In odes a Wandering Glider in yard in afternoon, a few Green Darner, a Swift Setwing. At dusk a group of 7 bearded Toms (Turkey) worked the corral oat-line from where the horses are fed early in day, picking at left-overs. Then they bolted across road with several rocketing up into the cypresses along river landing 30+ feet up on big branches to roost for the night. They sound like a locomotive as they gain altitude getting those 25+ lb. carcasses 35 feet up in a tree. Heard another Barn Owl late late p.m., Screech- and Great Horned daily, Barred sometimes. A Flicker gave a couple nice series of long calls today, which I don't hear alot in winter here.

Oct. 26 ~ A 55-85 dF temp spread for the day, getting warmish in the afternoon. Just the regular suspects for birds today, thought I heard another Myrtle Warbler go over, a few Kinglet (Ruby), some Chippies, a couple Orange-crowned Warbler. Before sunup just after 7 a.m. I heard a Green Kingfisher calling from out in the pecans, near one of the horse troughs. I didn't go out after it, already have it on the yard list, but the first in over a year in yard proper.

Away from planted gardens the wildflowers are really falling off fast for the most part. A walk along 360 to the crossing saw very little blooming. The Goldenrod along the river is fading after a nice show, a few Fireweed (Lobelia - aka Cardinal Flower) are still open, only one patch of Frogfruit (tapped into river-edge) was still blooming, a few Skeleton-plant. If we would have had rain, more would still be going. A bit of Bluets still open, Palafoxia is the only new thing open going well in a few riverbed spots.

Butterflies on the walk were a couple Ceraunus Blue, one False Duskywing, some Phaon and a Vesta Crescent, Pipevine Swallowtail, Sleepy Orange, a pair of Southern Skipperling, a few Queen, a Buckeye, a Bordered Patch, Variegated and Gulf Fritillary, some Checkered- and Fiery Skipper. Probably the most numerous was Common Mestra, with a couple dozen seen. Plus a few Monarch, of which at least 14 Monarchs went by southward over the day. I am not outside half the time, so likely a small part of whole.

In dragonflies there were some Green Darner around, one late-ish (I am unsure of proper spelling, if lateish, latish, etc.) male Roseate Skimmer was nice, Kathy spotted the FOY Autumn Meadowhawk (formerly Autumnal and before that Yellow-legged Meadowhawk), a male right about on time, at the pond at crossing. A few American Rubyspot were still active, outstanding was one SMOKY RUBYSPOT! This is the first one I have seen in a few years! Since the drought all of what were the best places along the Sabinal River for them have not had one. It is new for my '360' list, of everything along that road. Also of interest was a brief look at a flyby dragon at arm's length that looked like a male Ivory-striped Sylph, which I have seen at this site before, in fall (early Nov. methinks) about 7 or 8 years ago. A few Kiowa Dancer were at crossing too.

In the yard a couple Swift Setwing continued and new was one very worn (wings white in places) female Variegated Meadowhawk. A female Red Saddlebags was in yard too, getting late for them. A Dusky Dancer was here as well.

Returning from crossing as we got back to the furthest part of yard proper along road, nearly a hundred yards from house, there is a semi-sandy area from where water drains and a Cicindellid, that is a Tiger Beetle, was there that caught my eye. Normally we have a sooty black one (1/2") here with a pale couple creamy notches at edge of elytra. Dull and boring. A larger dark one nearing an inch is rarer, impressive for its size, but still just black. This one today was another small half-incher, but metallic forest green. Awesome! What a beauty! It was hunting some smaller flying gnatish-somethings just above sand. They are fierce predators, flighty, quick, fast beetles with huge jaws for their size, they don't call them Tiger Beetles for nothing. There are some very very fancy colored ones.

Oct. 25 ~ Nice mid-50's dF low feels great. After it warmed a bit saw a few Monarchs go by. Heard the Long-billed Thrasher over in the draw, a couple Kinglet (Ruby-cr.), Orange-crowned and Audubon's Warbler, some Chipping Sparrow, the Canyon Towhee pair, a couple Caracara, and in afternoon a silent Hutton's Vireo fed in the pecans. Thought I heard a Myrtle Warbler again.

There was another marcellina (speckled) Cloudless Sulphur here today on the Salvia, which was barely larger than a Sleepy Orange next to it, the smallest Cloudless I have ever seen. A Lyside went by, still a Black and lots of Pipevine Swallowtail, but the Blue Mist Eupatorium is fading so our main yard attractant factor is disappearing fast. Saw a Clouded, Dun, Celia's Roadside-, Skippers on it still. A couple Buckeye migrated over.

About 8 Monarch went through or over the yard today. Half early in the day - lift-offs, and half late in day - arrivals.

Oct. 24 ~ Nice cool low in mid-50's dF. A Monarch lift-off event was very nice. Around 9:10 a few Monarch went by, I had some biz to do on the computer and got back out at 9:30 and it was clear a lift-off was happening. I saw 5, then 10, then 10 more Monarchs, in a minute. And then the same the next minute, and the minutes after that. They were coming up out of the river habitat corridor, gaining altitude, then thermalling and gaining more altitude, all the while heading down river. There were hundreds in the half-hour up to 10 a.m., 20 a minute at least. I could scan a couple hundred yards out, though partly obscured by trees, in a single 15 second 180 degree pan I counted 30, and 40, on two of the quick panning counts.

There were groups of 5 and more thermalling in tight circles, some interacting as they climbed. Had to stop for breakfast and they were much reduced in numbers by 10:30 but some were still going by (5 in 5 minutes), some still just coming up out of the river corridor habitat. A couple came out of our pecans earlier. I saw well over 500, probably 6-700 in a small part of the sky I can see in an hour and change. So there were surely factors more than what I saw in the area. Small numbers trickled through from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a couple stopping to rest in the pecans at 1 p.m.

I wonder how far up and down valley from this site were there Monarchs? The whole valley (15 miles+-), or just a few miles, or were they all right here? Also did the other south draining river corridors have them today, such as Medina R., Hondo or Seco Creek, Frio or Nueces Rivers, etc. Was it broad scale passage, or was this it? We have had in the last 10 years, 10 thousand, and even 100,000 Monarch events, so this was not a major event, but it was something to see!

Mid-day we had an un-planned-for pig butchering event, so didn't get to town until late afternoon. The only migrants at the park were Monarchs, at least 25 of them at 5 p.m. looking for roost sites up in the woods. These are a day beind the wave that took off this morning obviously as they are finishing the day here, whilst the hundreds that left this morning did so yesterday evening.

There were only a couple Green Darner at park for Odes, no bluets. And in all the skywatching during the Monarch lift-off event, I saw zero Green Darner in the air. There were still good numbers moving south yesterday, none today. A few days ago (Monday) I saw a hundred easily in the yard.

It seems the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers have left, I saw none at the north end of town. No Barn Swallows either. Place seemed empty. The flower gardens are fading in general and activity was lower than a week ago, the best thing is the Thoroughwort Eupatorium at the library garden, the white bushy stuff. We have one little one with about 6 flower clusters about to open at home which I found and transplanted successfully. For butterflies it is the best mid-October to mid-November native wildflower here by far, take a whiff and you'll see why.

There were lots of Ailanthus Moths on them which is a real pretty little orange and white checkered job that looks like cloisenne. The butterfly selection was vanila, nothing unusual, a number of Fatal Metalmark, one False Duskywing, a few Southern Skipperling, a Whirlabout pair, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreaks, a number of worn Bordered Patch, and some Buckeye on the move. Best was in the yard, another Elada Checkerspot. A worn Tawny Emperor was in yard as well. A female marcellina type (speckled) Cloudless Sulphur was of the flavor with the diffuse orange terminal band on dorsal hindwing, by far the prettiest of the Cloudless Sulphur forms. Now it is prime-time for something good, as the season fades, it usually gets fired up with spice from the south.

I heard a low flat chup warbler chip note today, probably a Myrtle which I haven't seen one yet this fall, but could have been a Black-throated Gray too, it was real low and flat. Did have a Sapsucker through yard today, a Yellow-bellied. Early at dawn I heard Ringed Kingfisher and Flicker, a bit later heard the White-tipped Dove again too. Saw and heard a Clay-colored Sparrow early a.m.

Oct. 23 ~ A low 60's to low 80's dF spread for temps this partial eclipse day. We just had a little nick out of the sun here, but enough to alter normal lighting, birds seemed to quiet way down (dead silence) around peak. About 9 Monarch went by today, heading SW. I heard an FOS Hermit Thrush when I went over to the draw, which has good brushy understory missing around the yard. I thought I heard one a week ago across road.

I heard both the Long-billed Thrasher and Scrub-Jay today, probably a tough mix to get in most yards. There is perhaps a 10 mile wide corridor along southern edge of Edwards Plateau and Balcones Escarpment where the brush country penetrates hill country along river corridors and gets in close proximity to junipers where you can get these two species together. The Canyon Towhee pair was about, so far so good on them sticking.

There were still Barn Swallows going up-valley in a.m., and down-valley in p.m. today, a dozen at once was peak count, surely dozens still here. At about 11 p.m. I heard my FOS Barn Owl (since spring).

Oct. 22 ~ No hummer again, so it is gone. Another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a few Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a couple each Nashville and Orange-crowned Warbler went through yard. Best was Kathy seeing the Long-billed Thrasher I heard a few days ago at the bird bath, then later in the afternoon I had it in the pecan over the bath, was probably eating broken pecans. Heard a White-tipped Dove calling today too, it and the thrasher make for a couple neat yard birds. Barred Owl called in the afternoon from the cypresses along river. Great Horned and Screech- are nightly again lately.

About 6-7 was the SW-bound Monarch count today. There was an intermediate Buckeye in yard, not a good pure Common or a Tropical, but a tweener. I haven't seen a Tropical all year, half of one almost hurts worse. It is like when I saw that male Hermit x Townsend's Warbler hybrid at Garner S.P. before I had seen either parent species in Uvalde Co., these things can be far more painful than most imagine.

Oct. 21 ~ Did not see the hummer this morning, so it did likely leave yesterday afternoon, so was here tanking up for 48 hours or so, afternoon of 19th to afternoon 21st. Some more Monarch lift-off in a.m., even two interacting together as they climbed up to altitude. While I have had 4-5 in view at once this fall, they were all singles so far. Over a dozen Monarch through the day, maybe 15+.

In the a.m. there was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, some Kinglet (Ruby), and Orange-crowned Warbler. In the afternoon later there was a flock with 2 Orange-crowned and 3 Nashville Warbler, a few Kinglet and another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. A flicker was calling from outside, the one I saw a bit later was red-winged with a fully brown face, so an impure bird, a hybrid or intergrade.

Thought I might have heard a Black-throated Green Warbler but couldn't find it. Couple Caracara keep going over, been seeing Roadrunner daily the last week. Canyon Towhee pair continues. A dozen fresh fire ant bites was a real joy. Heard a single Cedar Waxwing again today. Screech-, Barred, and Great Horned Owls.

Oct. 20 ~ Monarchs trickled by all day, I saw over 30 over the day. High daily number so far this fall. In the a.m. they were rising up thermalling for altitude to migrate. Late p.m. one was looking to roost. A few Orange-crowned and couple Audubon's Warbler went through yard early and a few Kinglets. In the afternoon there was Hutton's Vireo, plus a Nashville at the bath, a real tail wagger with clear sideways motion but looked very green above and very yellow below like an eastern. Even better though was a Black-throated Green Warbler in the pecans out front. I have heard 3 of them so far this fall, this the first I laid eyes on, a male. Auriculars (cheek patch) sure looked dark. Anyway, four species of warblers in yard today is most excellent.

Mid-day my FOS Merlin shot over yard and my 2nd Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the fall went through as well. A male Scissor-tail on 360 gave the full monty view of orange axillaries (wing pits) when it flushed as I drove by. They will soon be gone for five months until last third of March. Likely the White-crowned Sparrow at bath was here on seed in a.m. The Ruby-throated Hummer was around in the morning but I did not see it in the afternoon or at dusk. Saw one of the small metallic green Halichtids (native bee) on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. One other interesting thing was a summer form Questionmark, so they are still flying, while yesterday was my first winter form, ergo, the two forms do overlap. At least a hundred Green Darner today from yard.

Oct. 19 ~ Caught a sprinkle sometime overnight, not in the forecast. Low in mid-upper 60's dF, high in low low 80's df, nice, was getting warm when sun was out but clouded up later in afternoon. A few Monarchs in morning through yard, a few more along river habitat corridor mid-day, a few more in afternoon, maybe 9 total.

There were probably 4 Ruby-crowned Kinglet in yard this morning, an Orange-crowned, an Audubon's and a Nashville Warbler. Maybe another of each along road to crossing noonish and no other migrants save the sparrows, of which a good one got away. The bird of the day always gets away.

Along corral mid-day there were Chipping, Clay-colored, a Vesper, a Field, and mentioned to Kathy that I thought I heard a White-crowned Sparrow. Re-affirmation occurred about 4 p.m. when my FOS White-crowned Sparrow (ad.) was at the bath, but I missed subspecies, it was bare-eyed from too far to get bill color, looked pink (eastern leucophrys as normal). An hour plus later over a hundred yards away were two adult White-crowned Sparrow in the corral with a half-dozen Lark. Heard a Lincoln's. So 7 species of sparrows with the one that got away, which wasn't any of the other 6 recorded. Plus the pair of Canyon Towhee, which are sort of giant sparrows, which would be a good name for them.

At the crossing we flushed a sparrow underfoot in tall grass at river edge. It was not Lincoln's, Swamp or Song, the latter two not arriving here for a month or so yet. It was paler lighter brown, not dark brown with rich chestnut, but with much buffy. Brief glimpses were had 4 times for two seconds each. It appeared to me to be a Nelson's (Sharp-tailed) Sparrow, but we lost it and couldn't get it back out or up. Ouch that hurts. It was good, likely a county bird for me, a new local area record, right through my fingers. There was one time it flew and landed and I had a second to get on it and wasn't quick enough. Guess I'm getting old and slow.

Along the road we saw two new for the month butterfly species, a Pearl Crescent, and the FOS winter form Questionmark, all orange without the black hindwings. It seemed to be a fresh emergence to me. These winter forms somehow overwinter despite the cold, coming out on warm days, often feeding on sap or carrion. In flight they look much more like a Leafwing than summer forms due to being mostly all orange above. I have been trying to get the early and late flight dates of winter and summer forms here, you never what data might divulge. Methinks mid-Oct. is typically when I have my first fresh winter form emergences.

Later in afternoon about 4 p.m. I heard a House Wren call a few times, the FOS I have heard this fall. Heard it again an hour later. The imm. ma. Ruby-throated Hummer flycaught mostly all day around the pecans, with occasional feeder visits. At least one ad. Firefly at dusk, a Monarch was looking to roost in the pecans. An oh yeah, saw one of those half-inch mostly black roadside- Cicindelids (tiger beetles) along the uh, er, roadside, it had a couple creamy notches posteriorly on outer edge of elytra.

Oct. 18 ~ A late Dickcissel flew over calling around 8:30 this morning, and a Long-billed Thrasher called several times from over in the draw. Hear Killdeer across river, a couple Orange-crowned and one Nashville Warbler, plus a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The immature Sharp-shinned Hawk hunted through yard in a.m. The pair of Canyon Towhee guarded their stick pile. In the afternoon a hummingbird showed up after three days without any, an imm. male Ruby-throated. Flycatching very actively from the pecan snags, I didn't even see it at the feeders.

For much of August and all of September our patches of Tropical Sage in the flower bed around porch bloomed fantastically, some days a hundred+ red blooms on each side of the porch. I kept wondering why no Mexican Yellow showed up, it is always what I see them on, a magnet for them. Finally today, with one flower left open on one of 14 plants, a Mexican Yellow came in and nectared 5 minutes. A couple Monarch went by SW-ward in a.m., a couple more in p.m.

sometimes a copy of prior update header inserted for archive's sake, as below.

~ ~ ~ ~ Oct. 17 Update header (in part) ~ ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATE: October 17, 2014
(last updates: Oct. 6, Sept. 27, 19, 11; Aug. 31)


Fall is here, leaves are starting to turn yellow and drop! It can be chilly and warm, the same day now. The last week we had 3 mornings with lows in low 40's dF, and highs those days 90dF for some major diurnal temp spreads.

The migratory breeding birds are done and long gone. Fall migrants like Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, Yellow and Nashville Warbler, Least Flycatcher, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher poured through in large numbers in Aug. and-or Sept. with smaller numbers of Baltimore Oriole, Wilson's Warbler, and Upland Sandpiper. A great wave of Ruby-throated Hummers came through in Sept. and has passed as well. For migratory birds that breed here and winter far to the south, their time in temperate climes is over for the year, until next spring.

The first half of fall is departure of these migratory breeders that winter far to the south, and often called neo-tropical migrants. The second half of fall is the arrival of migratory birds that breed far northward and winter here. Here, mid-October is the crossover point of when wintering arrivals exceed departing breeders on passage. Now wintering birds are arriving, like Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Audubon's Warbler, Vesper, Lincoln's White-crowned, and Savannah Sparrows, Sharp-shinned Hawk and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It is also prime time to get rarer fall migrants so keep your eyes peeled and mind open.

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll or read UP day-to-day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way.

Recent local sightings include:
A (Western) Palm Warbler and Cattle Egret (7) on October 12. Peregrine Falcon Oct. 1 and my first this fall Blue-winged Teal Oct. 2. Dusky Flycatcher on Sept. 21. Common Paraque Aug. 24-26. Still hearing a White-tipped Dove Oct. 6. In August at Utopia Park (UP) was Laughing Gull Aug. 22 and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron on Aug. 1. Sylvia Hilbig photographed 2 juv. Roseate Spoonbill NW of town in Bandera Co. July 11, they were present the day before. Zone-tailed Hawk, Audubon's Oriole, Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Ringed and Green Kingfisher are present locally in very low numbers.

~ ~ ~ ~ end Oct. 17 update header ~ ~ ~ ~

back to the drivel...

Oct. 17 ~ Temp spread was about 55-90dF. Thought I heard two Audubon's Oriole this a.m., one flew up into the big pecan right off the front porch and called a bit. Nice bird. A Zone-tailed Hawk was at the 360 x-ing. A warbler flushed off 360 as I drove by that at 20' looked like a Black-throated Gray to me, no yellow, white outer tail feathers, all gray and white, bold head pattern, but it flew into private property.

There were at least a dozen Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at the north end of town still, and no migrants at UP, again. Little Creek Larry said he had 3 Ringed and a Green Kingfisher at the park this morning. Get there before the people do (11 a.m. or so weekdays). I had Blue Jays, heard a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, saw 2 Great Blue Heron. Also saw one of the Underwing moths with the dark pink hindwing, maybe Sweetheart.

There were again a thousand Enallagma sps. damselflies (Bluets) out over the water at UP. A few Green Darner dragons, but little else. There were 5 Monarch roosting in the woods at the north end of park, and I saw 5 more around town crossing road or in yard, all heading SW.

Butterfly activity was up at the gardens, I checked the park entrance, the north-end curve, and the library. Nothing rare, but some False Duskywings (3), 2 Southern Skipperling, a half dozen Ceraunus Blue, as many Fatal Metalmark, 2 Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a Texan Crescent, a dozen Phaon Crescent, a few Whirlabout, a Desert Checkered-Skipper, lots of Fiery Skippers and Sachem, Eufala, Dun, and Clouded Skippers. Plus fair numbers of the regular suspects, one American Lady.

In about an hour of looking I saw 36 sps. of butterflies today, and now have 51 sps. for the month with the three new ones added. All of September I only saw 45 species so have exceeded that half way into Oct., and a definite uptick in activity. Only 54 sps. in July was a better month for diversity this year, and already beating the 50 sps. in August. If four more new-for-the-month sps. show up (seems likely) Oct. will be the high-liner month this year.

Two or three adult Firefly were in yard at dusk. Late late p.m. on my last look and listen the edge of the driveway had about 8 larval firefly blinking right where the rocks meet grass, looking like a runway from altitude at night. Saw a super-fast meteor southbound from Perseus area. Heard Hutton's Vireo today.

Oct. 16 ~ Another 44dF low, 3 days in a row, and the high was about 88dF, but dry, and nice. Still no hummer, that is two days, they are gone. It is a good time to snag a Rufous or even something rarer so I keep a couple feeders with just a little fresh fluid in them. Also in case of oriole. Still dreaming of having a herd of them like we did up on Seco Ridge. This morning while meditating on the throne an Audubon's Oriole sang from outside. Always a great throne bird.

The pair of Canyon Towhee were on the big stick pile in the front yard. To explain that, pecans shed like dogs, at least in drought times. Dead twigs, sticks, and branches constantly fall. You make a stickpile out of them and burn it. But we keep ours for a place for birds to get away from Accipiter attacks since there is no understory in the yard. It is one of the bird's favorite spots in the yard, we have added a few of them as surrogate understory while we try to get some growing, against the deer's wishes apparently. Carolina Wren nests in the big one (4' tall and around), Bewick's Wren loves them too.

A big green Katydid dropped down out of the big pecan gliding to the grass about 10 feet from the big stick pile, with said pair of Canyon Towhee on it. Fatal mistake for the katydid, we can add them to Canyon Towhee's list of prey items, big fat green Katydids.

I did have one adult Firefly at dusk tonight. Screech- and Great Horned Owls calling.

Oct. 15 ~ Another 44dF low was fantastic. I could get used to that. A few Audubon's Warbler went through, might have heard a Myrtle, saw an Orange-crowned and a Nashville Warbler at the bath, a couple Kinglet (R-c) around. Early in a.m. I heard my FOS Robin over in the draw. Later in morning Kathy saw it at the bird bath. Besides a couple August records which are likely Texas-origin post-breeding wanderers, for true northward breeders that winter here, it is my earliest FOS Robin in 11 years.

Then in afternoon in the pecans out front was my FOS Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, an immature. I saw two Tawny emperor (butterfly) today, a couple female Black Swallowtail (3 male), a Giant Swallowtail, a few Large Orange Sulphur, and the same 6 sps. of skippers on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. After dark I saw a larval Firefly, but no flying adults at dusk.

Perhaps the biggest thing was no hummingbird today. The last one seems to have departed. We have had them much later into October before, last year for instance there were two still on the 29th. Interesting to have an early "last-one-out departure" for Ruby-throat, and an earliest ever arrival (Robin) at the same time. Another cold winter on way?

Oct. 14 ~ Wow a low in the low 40's dF, it was 42 in KVL, we were likely about 44dF. We haven't seen that since April, 6 months ago. One imm. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird was still here in the morning. A couple Audubon's Warbler moved through, plus an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, it all seems kinda wintry. Heard Turkey gobbling at dawn reminding me Thanksgiving is on the horizon. A lone single calling Brown-headed Cowbird was a migrant.

The FOS of the day was an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk that moved across the yard late in afternoon. One Monarch went through SW bound early afternoon, two more also heading SW later in afternoon. One imm. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird remains at the feeders, and not for long. There was a begging baby Eastern Screech-Owl (mccallii) yapping after dark. Probably a 3rd set this year.

Oct. 13 ~ A stronger cold front arrived at about 8 a.m., with north winds at 20 gusting to 30+ mph. And so a premature pecan falling event is underway. They seemed to be early already this year, many are not properly developed. Deer have eaten a thousand cleaning off all the low hanging branches that were solid nuts, the squirrels and coons probably ate or absconded with as many. At 4 a.m. this morning there were over a dozen deer eating them, coons up in the trees, until sunup, when the squirrels come back, with a half-dozen of them all day in and out. Hogs compete all night except where hog-fenced (our yard). Don't know how things like say woodpeckers that would normally subsist on them get very many. Over-population of squirrels probably has a negative impact on woodpecker winter survival rates among many other things we can't see and so generally don't care about.

The Scissor-tails were calling at dawn before the front got here. A couple or few Audubon's Warbler went through yard mid-morning. Blew hard all day until dusk. Didn't see much for birds moving save a Lincoln's Sparrow that appeared thrilled to use the bath. There was at least one Ruby-throated Hummer here in the morning, Kathy saw it again in the afternoon.

Oct. 12 ~ Nice morning in the 60's dF with cloud cover, even a little drizzle first thing, cleared in afternoon, maybe got 80dF. Some new birds here behind the front today was nice for a change. Yard had a few migrants: a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, an Orange-crowned Warbler, a White-eyed Vireo, a couple other warblers got away, probably Nashville, and late in afternoon Kathy had a couple Nashville at the bath.

The local juvie Fuertes's Red-tailed Hawk landed in the big pecan right off the porch overhead and a Cooper' Hawk was right on its rear. When the Red-tailed took off the Coop went right to giving it hell again. Was an ad. fem. Coop, probably the local breeder. Later in p.m. Kathy and I were down near the crossing and a Coop went down the treeline with a Kestrel on its arse giving it hell, hope it was the same Coop.

We went over to the country club and Waresville Cemetery for a look. There was a big flock of Eastern Bluebird on the golf course, likely over 40 birds. Over a dozen Chipping Sparrow were in with them, surely arriving migrants from northward, and about 20 Audubon's Warbler. I could not find nor heard a Myrtle amongst them and worked them over hard. I did find a (Western) PALM WARBLER though, an accidental bird in the area in fall here. There were also a couple Nashville Warbler, and a getting tardy Dickcissel was nice.

The Audubon's Warbler flock merits a special mention. I would put Myrtle vs. Audubon's numbers here at 90% Myrtle and 10% Audubon's when Audubon's is at peak presence (not every year/season), and we are near 1% detectable hybrids. Audubon's on average arrive a couple weeks earlier than Myrtle in fall here. Never have I seen more than a handful at once, and usually it is a few at most Audubon's Warblers here, most sightings are singles in a flock of Myrtles. Here a flock of 20+ Audubon's without any Myrtles is astounding and unprecedented in the last 11 years.

Generally for widespread common birds no one cares about these sorts of things, but we ought to. Only recording the daily bread for years allows us to notice when such an event occurs for being as significant as it is. It is the first large homogenous flock of Audubon's Warbler I have seen here in 11 years.

At the well-vegetated main drainage pond Kathy found a FOS Marsh Wren, and above it the FOS Loggerhead Shrike. In the tall crab-grass around it we flushed 5-6 sparrows, a few were FOS Savannah, one was a FOS Vesper, a couple got away, one looked like a Grasshopper, another was even more suspicious, but got away. A half-dozen Scissor-tailed and a male Vermilion Flycatcher were near Waresville. We heard Killdeer. There were at least a hundred Barn Swallow over the course. A pair of Blue-winged Teal bolted over.

Lots of Turkey Vulture going over, some seemed southbound migrants, especially since a number were in very heavy molt and our local birds molt in summer while nesting. Seems weird to see them molting now, and amazing a population from northward molts on fall migration while our population does not, molting in breeding season. They all look like Turkey Vultures, but two different populations have two completely different approaches to life.

At UR (Utopia on the River) there was a flock of 8+ Nashville with one Orange-crowned Warbler, and one Audubon's Warbler. Nothing in the Frostweed, which is past peak and fading fast. On 187 between 360 and the country club was a DOR (dead on road) Porcupine. Later in p.m. we walked to crossing and on way had 2-3 FOS Clay-colored Sparrow, finally.

I was waiting to see if any Firefly were going to show at dusk (1 did) when in the twilight I spotted a flock of 7 CATTLE EGRET flying downriver over the Cypresses. A new yard bird, and a very rare fall migrant here. So a load of FOS's today, especially in sparrows, a great fall warbler for here (Palm), and a yard bird just before dark. Also heard Scrub-Jay and Roadrunner here from yard, and a Barred Owl late in day. Had a flock of Icterids at dusk that were Blackbirds but not sure what type. Two imm. ma. Ruby-throated Hummer continue as does the pair of Canyon Towhee, for a very east-meets-west pairing of species.

Had the milkweed butterfly trifecta from the rocker on the porch, simultaneously, Queen, Soldier, and Monarch, the latter a worn pale migrant no doubt. Orange Skipperling, Celia's Roadside-Skipper, still a Southern Broken-Dash, and a Bordered Patch came in to the Blue Mist Eupatorium too.

For dragons besides the Swift and Checkered Setwings it is migrants: Green Darner, both Black and Red Saddlebags, and Wandering and Spot-winged Glider. A few Dusky Dancer and American Rubyspot (damselflies) were at the crossing late. Lots of Green Lacewings still flying around the pecans after dark. I would be remiss not to mention the Yellow-margined Flower-Buprestid on Frostweed. It is their time of year. I missed checking good Evergreen Sumac blooms this year, so missed the metallic green and orange-red Stenaspis cerambycids, dang it. Simply too busy and forgot to find some blooming Evergreen Sumac the last ten days of Sept. and first few days of October when they meet to mate.

Oct. 11 ~ The leading edge of the front probably got here 3-4 a.m., the rain event was about 5-6:30 a.m. or so, and we got about 3/4 of an inch. There was a little bit of thunder. Best was it was about 60dF in the morning and didn't get but a few dF warmer all day. At times there was a 10-15 mph north wind. Heard what sounded a couple Nashville go through, an Orange-crowned Warbler across road, a White-eyed Vireo and some Scissor-tails.

Better was my FOS Cedar Waxwing of the fall, one lone bird landed in the big pecan and called to make sure I noticed to get the date. I just checked my trusty excel file and only one year of last 10 did I have Cedar Waxwing this early here. That was last year, two on Sept. 23, which was as I recall the first posted to Texbirds last fall, so way ahead of the curve and almost anomolous. Those 2 were on a front and no others were seen until into October. Five of 10 prior falls they didn't arrive until November, 3 of 10 not until December, only once in Oct. (22nd), and last years' above mentioned odd September date. This year has a sprinkling of early reports around central Texas.

There was an ad. fem. Vermilion Flycatcher out front late in day. Heard Killdeer across river.

Oct. 10 ~ Way above average temps continue, hot (90-91dF) and sticky (60%) waiting for the front. At 11:30 p.m. it was upper 70's dF and 70% humidity. A couple days of strong southerlies in front of the front, 15 mph, with gusts to 20-25. Kathy had 3 Nashville Warbler at once at the bath in the a.m. I had a town run and butterflies seem to have rode the southerlies in, there were many more than the last month it seemed. Lots of Barn Swallows and some Scissor-tails at north end of town.

Looked at the N.end-curve garden and the park entrance garden, both had a little bit of action. There were dozens of Bordered Patch, a few Theona Checkerspot were great, a dozen S. Dogface, the 6 blues I checked were all Ceraunus, 5+ Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, at least 4 Fatal Metalmark, one Funereal Duskywing, nearing 2 dozen Fiery Skipper, a pair of Whirlabout, several Gulf and Variegated Frits, a Cloudless Sulphur puddling at the park, a few Large Orange Sulphur and Sleepy Orange, lots of Dainty Sulphur, a couple Little Yellow, lots of Pipevine, a couple Black and one Giant Swallowtail (yard), a couple Hackberry Emperor, some Mestra, Snouts, and Queens, a couple American Lady (one at yard). A Monarch on Frostweed then roosting in a pecan at the park is surely a migrant.

Also at park was one Ringed Kingfisher, but no migrants. It has been dead this fall. There were 500 Bluets (damselflies) out over the water and 75-100 Green Darner was a peak count for the year for one spot. A few each Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, and Red, and Black, Saddlebags, some Checkered and Swift Setwing still.

Oct. 9 ~ Another hot and sticky one, front supposed to be coming in a couple days, so meanwhile hot humid southerly flow ahead of it makes things a bit muggy, maybe 90-91 dF for a high with heat index in mid-90's. I have officially had it with the heat this year. It was a record in Uvalde today, by a couple dF. They had a 93dF, average this date is 81dF. It was still 80 at about 10 p.m. here.

Too swamped at the computer, but noted Hutton's Vireo and Canyon Towhee out there. Of more interest was a Chipping Sparrow which may well have been a migrant from elsewhere arriving locally. Later afternoon a couple worn Monarch showed up to nectar at the Eupatorium (ph. one), surely migrants.

Oct. 8 ~ A quick errand early in town garned a stop at the park, which continues to be nearly devoid of birds, particularly those that eat insects, which seem to be way way down from normal. I saw no migrant landbirds. But in a big dead crown of a cypress the snags held FOUR species of woodpecker simultaneously! Astounding. My FOS Yellow-shafted Flicker (fem.), a Golden-fronted, a Ladder-backed which was associating with a female Downy. There has been a lone female Downy around the park a couple years now, perhaps it has hooked up with a Ladder-backed? There are known examples of hybrids of this combo. Just missing a Sapsucker. Lots of Barn Swallows were over town.

Along 360 I flushed a FOS Lincoln's Sparrow, but most of the Vermilion Flycatchers are gone, only a few left. The Summer Tanager are gone too, about a week now since I have heard one. A Mockingbird bathed i n the bath. I heard a Kestrel and Scissor-tails from the yard.

Oct. 7 ~ A couple warblers went by early, appeared a Nashville and an Orange-crowned, one White-eyed Vireo, the Hutton's Vireo was out back in the live-oaks too. 2-3 Ruby-throated Hummer still here.

In Odes there were some Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, Green Darner, Black plus a few Red Saddlebags, Swift Setwing, and a couple Dusky Dancer.

A Tawny Emperor in yard was a butterfly I missed in September.

~ Below begins PRIOR UPDATE Oct. 6 ~


Oct. 6 ~ A couple Orange-crowned and a Nashville Warbler were at the bath in the morning. Heard Ringed Kingfisher and White-tipped Dove, another Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and a couple Killdeer across river. There were two Ruby-throated and one Rufous/Allen's type Selasphorus that appeared an imm. female, probably a Rufous. Only one Ruby-throat came in at dusk though.

The skipper show continues on the Blue Mist Eupatorium (which is lavender). A Fiery stopped in and all of yesterday's 7 species were present, for 8 types of skippers from the rocker. Did several hours of weed-whacking, feels like a six hour wrestling match. A Goatweed Leafwing blasted past while I was out there. Three Caracara were cackling up a storm in the morning, the Scissor-tails were calling early too.

A female Common Pondhawk (dragon) was my first in the yard, those lime green and black bands I never tire of seeing.

Oct. 5 ~ Maybe lowish to mid 60's dF for low, mid-80's high. Not much moving, a couple warblers went through I missed one sounded Nashville, another Orange-crowned. Heard another Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Noonish a big flock of ducks shot downriver, probably folks showing up at the park flushed them. Of course my first thought was "MR DUCKS!" ('em 'er ducks!). It looked like maybe 20 big fat (FOS) Shoveler up front and about 30 Blue-winged Teal (drafting?) right behind them. Since we don't have much for waterfowl here in summer migratory waterfowl are a big sign of fall being here, and dare I say winter coming.

Good lep show on the Blue Mist Eupatorium which must have a hundred flower heads now, is maybe nearing 20 square feet of coverage from 5-6 springs we put in a pot about 6 years ago. There were a dozen Queens at once. The Skippers are great with at least 3 each of Dun Skipper, Southern Broken-dash, and Celia's Roadside-Skipper, and single Clouded, Julia's, and Eufala Skippers, an Orange Skipperling, a couple Checkered-Skipper, a Vesta Crescent and some Bombyliads and Syrphids (bee flies) too. Last month there were several types of wild native bees on the Mealy Sage but they seem to be over and done now.

The four Mealy the ants stripped every leaf and flower off of a couple weeks ago look like they'll make it, but it shut down their blooming for the most part. Ruining my fall bloom is where I draw the line. That ant hole is gone if you were wondering. They came back up nearish and went after the other patch of Mealy Sage. That hole is gone now too. As if it is not bad enough the deer, coons, and squirrels are eating all of the pecans, the (harvester or leaf-cutter) ants are ruining our native plant butterfly garden. Boiling water is good, but you need gallons, and you need to do every opening, some twice.

Numbers of some other butterflies today passing through yard were: about 8 Mestra, 6 Black Swallowtail, the latter is mostly males but a female nectared today, 10 Large Orange Sulphur (some pale morph females too), 7 Dogface, a dozen Sleepy Orange, and a few Vesta Crescent, one Giant Swallowtail, a couple Gulf Fritillary.

Oct. 4 ~ As advertised the low was in the low 50's dF, and absolutely fantastic. Finally. I saw KVL hit 49dF briefly this morning. WOW! Feels like fall! Another dull morning for movement, one Dickcissel was all I had. This frontal passage was a total bust. Just after 7 a.m. 6 Blue-winged Teal bolted over yard. There were not but about 3 hummers this morning, all imm. male Ruby-throated, last year there were 6-12 still here this date. Only a couple hummers in the afternoon.

About 10 a.m. finally an Audubon's Warbler stopped in the big pecan and then fed around yard a half hour. First I've seen this fall, but have had about 5 events in last two weeks of hearing one go over chipping and being unable to see it. Presents a major FOS dilema, which to count for a 'first of season'. First one seen, or first one heard. Generally I consider heard as an equally valid detection and identification, as long as one knows absolutely positively beyond any shadow of doubt what they are hearing. With a rarity though I still generally want to see it, and get pix. :)

An Elada checkerspot was hitting Tube Tongue out in the yard. Skippers on the Blue Mist Eupatorium: Dun, Clouded, Julia's, So. Broken-dash, Celia's Roadside-, Common Checkered-, a nice show from the rocker on the porch. Some other leps flying by are Gulf and Variegated Fritillary, Pipevine and Black Swallowtail, Large Orange, Dainty, and Lyside Sulphurs, good numbers of Little Yellow, lots of Dogface and Sleepy Orange, Snout, a Hackberry Emperor, a Vesta Crescent. In the afternoon another worn Monarch nectared for some time before heading off SW, and an Orange Skipperling was here an hour too.

A few migrants were in the yard mid-afternoon, a couple of Nashville Warbler and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet moved through. Later yet about 5 p.m. another Nashville with my FOS Orange-crowned Warbler. So my FOS seen Audubon's and Orange-crowned Warblers were today. Stay calm now folks. Far more exciting was early in the a.m. there was a 2' Western Ribbon Snake in the garden.

Best though was an Eastern Wood-Pewee (ad.). Might be my late date for one, have to check, but certainly close if not. I worked it over well, at times from 15' away in full sun at perfect angle, and could not begin to make it into a Western. Which considering the late date is a consideration and real possibility that must be eliminated before we can call it Eastern. It was a well-marked textbook adult Eastern.

The Screech (mccallii Tex-Mex) and Great Horned Owls are very noisy of late. Good firefly show at dusk. Heard a weird call of something going over, don't have a clue what it was.

Oct. 3 ~ Well the front got in after midnight, nice and dry here, no rain and no serious blow with it. Seemingly no birds either. Warmed into mid-80's dF, but supposed to be in the low 50's dF tomorrow morning. Hope that shows as advertised.

Surprised to see virtually no migrants this morning though. There was one each Blue Grosbeak (fem. or imm.), Mockingbird, and juvenile Hooded Oriole that went through. At UP there were two Nashville Warbler, that was it. Talk about a dry frontal passage. No birds or water. Maybe the birds will show up in the vacuum behind it as can happen sometimes. Maybe they rode the pressure wave over us in the dark since it hid at midnight when they were up migrating.

There was the fall Scissor-tailed Flycatcher congregation at the north end of town as usual, I saw a dozen without looking around. They are not the flock down here south of town a couple miles. A small dedicated group stages here every fall fattening up before they depart southward. It is far more than breed locally, I can't help but wonder where they are from. Do all the other (Nueces, Frio, etc.) canyons have flocks staging in Sept./Oct. too?

At the park there were a number of Green Darner and Red Saddlebags dragonflies in tandem and ovipositing, a several Black Saddlebags and Checkered Setwing. The major flight was Bluet damselflies (Enallagma sps.) presumed Familiar and numbering a thousand out over the water, and hundreds in copu on the bankside vegetation.

At the Library Garden there were 4-5 Fatal Metalmarks on the Blue Mist Eupatorium, more Queens, a couple Orange Skipperling some Fiery Skipper, one Whirlabout, but not much, and it does not like it is getting watered, or otherwise maintained, the pathways are overgrown with crab grass.

Late in p.m. a very worn pale Monarch was hanging up in the pecans and a big hackberry. I almost got a digiscope of it, but it kept lifting back off changing roost sites. When it first showed up it was flying high and went over the house when it seemingly got downwind of the mistflower scent and went from heading SW at 25' altitude to diving NE down to the flowers and then nectared like it was starved, followed by choosing a roost site. I missed liftoff the next morning. Had to be a migrant.

I think only a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummers left now. Kathy had a probable Red-shouldered Hawk in the evening. There are over fifteen Firefly still going off for a decent bit of sparkle at dusk in the front yard. Dang Racoon up in the pecan at dark, as if the squirrels aren't enough of a problem all day. It will be a miracle if we get one nut to split. It seems the deer must be eating them overnight too as the low hanging branches had hundreds of nuts on them, and most are gone. You need two full time armed guards working 12 hour shifts to get some pecans from a tree in your yard.

Oct. 2 ~ Balmy overnight, the front is supposed to make it here tonight, so a hot day ahead of it as always, was in 90's dF and dripping humid. Lovely. Just when we thought summer was over. First thing at early-thirty a flock of a dozen Blue-winged Teal blasted down the river corridor just over treetops, my FOS, finally. Little Creek Larry just told me he hadn't seen any yet either. Otherwise no migrants that I saw, but again (!) thought I heard another Audubon's Warbler. Fifth time in a couple weeks, have not been able to lay eyes on one. They often go over high and you just pick up the chip note by ear. Pair of Canyon Towhee still here.

Soldier still here (day 5), fewer Queens though. Almost at once on the Blue Mist Eupatorium were Southern Broken-dash, Clouded Skipper, Julia's Skipper, Sachem (Field Skipper), Celia's Roadside-Skipper, Dun Skipper, and a Common Checkered-Skipper. Exciting huh? An Orange Sulphur went by, and a faded worn Lady of some flavor, looked American but not positive, and a Goatweed Leafwing. Some Black Swallowtail besides all the Pipevines.

Still fair numbers of Black Saddlebags (dragonfly) and Green Darner going by, a very few Wandering and Spot-winged Glider with them, and a few Swift and Checkered Setwings in yard. A couple Dusky Dancer.

October 1 ~ Wow OCTOBER!!! A warm start, with an upper 80's dF high as the warmth before the next front gets sucked up. Lots of yellowing leaves, and a fair bit dropping in the stronger breezes. A migrant Peregrine Falcon was nice mid-morning, early afternoon a Cooper's Hawk that was likely a migrant (thermalling high and headed south) went over too. A couple Nashville Warbler, a White-eyed Vireo or two, but not much movement for migrants out there today. As often the case in the heat before the front.

The Soldier (Eresimus) butterfly was here for the fourth day, spending much of it on the Blue Mist Eupatorium with a handful of Queens. One of the Southern Broken-Dash skippers was back too, and the Celia's Roadside-Skipper as well as a Dun Skipper put in appearances as well. A couple Dogface blew by and a couple Hackberry Emperor were on the biggest, er, uh, Hackberry.

Ruby-throated Hummers number 6-12 maybe, all imm. males, and the pair of Canyon Towhee was still around.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


~ ~ ~ Above is OCTOBER 1 and after ~ ~ ~



~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ September summary ~ ~ ~


September is great for being when the summer heat finally breaks. There is a great fall bloom going from all the rain (about 18" from May through September), but, there are very few butterflies on all the flowers, most are empty. Most of the butterflies here are immigrants from elsewhere. A weak showing of 45 species for the month, and overall individual numbers are way down.

Of interest among them were a few Monarch that were big, worn, pale, and heading SSW to SW appearing for all the world like migrants. A fair showing of Common Mestra, a dozen in a mile walk possible. No Zebra Longwings. One Soldier, the first of the fall. Queens were common, Large Orange Sulphurs were a several a day on good days, less Cloudless. A Great Purple Hairstreak was good to see, as a pair of Southern Broken-Dash, but no Erynnis Duskywings was odd.

In odes a pair of Twelve-spotted Skimmer were good, less than annual here. A Comanche Skimmer, a Red-tailed Pennant, a few Orange-striped Threadtail at the park. Nothing stellar. Overall individual numbers seem way way down locally. The numbers of the annual migrants like Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, Green Darner, Black and Red Saddlebags all peaked in September, and were good, but not high.

The bulk of migrant songbird passage is in September, and we had a ton of the few items we get in good numbers: Least Flycatcher, Yellow and Nashville Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and White-eyed Vireo, Dickcissel and Orchard Oriole all went through in large numbers. In smaller numbers but also regular were Upland Sandpiper, Baltimore Oriole, and Wilson's Warbler.

The big fall migration of hummingbirds is mostly Ruby-throated, and they did not disappoint, we had 250+ at our 4 feeders, peaking at the first real cold front in mid-Septmember, and blowing out over the week following that. A couple folks around mentioned to me they had some Rufous, we had 3 or 4 go through here, and at least one Calliope. I have not had a Broad-tailed yet this fall.

A few interesting birds were seen over the month, two different sightings of each Bank and Tree Swallow were great, about four Mourning Warbler was average, a Cassin's Sparrow at the park was good. The highlight was a DUSKY FLYCATCHER that spent the day in our yard for extended point blank studies, or, 'crippling views' as they say. A couple Ringed and Green Kingfisher are around, a White-tipped Dove is still around, a pair of Canyon Towhee have been in our yard.

A few good birds got away. I heard what I am sure was a Gray Hawk but didn't see it. I glimpsed and heard a number of times what appeared (and sounded) like a White-collared Seedeater on Sept. 7, and watched it fly away. Then I saw a Hirundid (Swallow or Martin) on Sept. 3 right overhead in binocs that looked like a Gray-breasted Martin. It was in what was a rain band from Tropical Storm Dolly that made landfall to our south in Mexico. I thought I heard an Elf Owl on Sept. 30, which are in southern and western Uvalde Co. in low numbers, and probably overdue to show up here.

~ ~ ~ end September summary ~ ~ ~




Sept. 30 ~ The big highlight today was my FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Chid-it. Thought sure I heard another Audubon's Warbler go over. Less than a dozen Ruby-throats left, no adult male seen today. The Soldier (butterfly) is on day 3 here, with 8 Queen. The highlight in that department was a pair of Southern Broken-dash, always good to get a new for the month butterfly the last day.

Sept. 29 ~ Bummer, back to not cooling down at night, staying in low 70's dF, just when I was getting into those 60's. Not much movement, a Nashville Warbler or two was it for small passerines. An imm. Red-shouldered Hawk was likely a migrant. The Hutton's and a couple White-eyed Vireo were around. Ruby-throated Hummingbird number about a dozen, with one adult male around in the morning, but only immatures in evening. The White-tipped Dove was heard calling several times. A Red Admiral (butterfly) blasted past, the Soldier continues (day 2) with 8 Queen on the Blue Mist Eupatorium.

Sept. 28 ~ Low 60's dF felt great in the a.m., and a bit of dry northerly flow. Two Gnatcatcher in the yard early, one at UR noonish, one Yellow and one Nashville were it for migrants by mid-day. A dull worn Monarch at UR making a beeline for the Frostweed patch was also likely a migrant. A Zone-tailed Hawk circled over the 360 crossing right overhead. The male Great Purple Hairstreak I saw out front of UR on Friday on a head of Frostweed flowers was there again today. A big female Praying Mantis hitched a ride on my leg for a bit. The Goldenrod is blooming great along the river now, started a week ago, but now showing well and will get great in another week. A few Fireweed.

In yard in afternoon besides the handful of Queens on the Eupatorium, my first Soldier (Eresimus) of the month came in and nectared for a couple hours, and another big worn pale Monarch went by in purposeful southwestward flight. Second Monarch of the day, both on the move going S to SW, both big worn pale ones, looked females, and on some northerly flow. Hard to believe they are not migrants. Kathy had a Nashville at the bath in p.m.

~ updated Sept. 27


Sept. 27 ~ Overnight and pre-dawn there was another band of rain, a good slow-soaker of about a half inch, this morning my bowl has 1.25" in it, was dry yesterday evening. No migration movement early, was too inclement all night. Seems not a dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird here, even with the rain, and many of them seemed to depart behind the rain when it cleared in p.m.

The normal fall flock of Barn Swallow is around, have been seeing them in early morning going north up valley, and today they were often out over the country club, probably a hundred or more. While scanning through them a female Kestrel came ripping south right over the house, my first this fall. One of the Canyon Towhee was stuck between a couple fences at the garden, had to reach in and set it free. Hutton's Vireo, Caracara, Roadrunner, and the regulars arund.

After it cleared in late p.m. a Nashville Warbler went through, and the Barn Swallows headed south at dusk. Last hour of light there were a few dozen Green Darner dragonfly - migrants, with a few Black Saddlebags and Wandering Glider mixed in. A great Coyote chorus after dark, they must have made a kill.

Sept. 26 ~ Another great Scissor-tailed Flycatcher dawn chorus at 7 a.m. (before sunup) from over in the tall cypresses along river. A male Wilson's and a few Nashville Warbler went through in the a.m., Kathy had a female or imm. Wilson's in the afternoon.

At the park there were 5 Nashville, a Black-n-white, and a Mourning Warbler, a couple Blue Jay. No butterflies on the flowers at the gardens. Lots of flowers blooming, nothing on them. In front of UR as I drove by at 20 mph I spotted a male Great Purple Hairstreak on a head of Frostweed flowers, meriting a U for a better look. Fancy butterfly.

Just ahead of a band of rain coming from the south was a lone small dark swift. It was a Chaetura (Chimney or Vaux's) type and besides the pale rump as it flew away seemed very short winged, small, and fast of incessant wingbeat compared to the Chimney I have been seeing since April. I once had two swifts I thought were Vaux's at Ft. Inge in Uvalde, in earlish October a few years ago.

The band of rain was a good one, it put 3/4 of an inch in a dry bowl. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds number a dozen and change for the last few days now. I ran into Diane Causey in town and she said she had a couple Rufous Hummers at her feeders. Little Creek Larry said he has had a few sandpipers over on the creek and at the buffalo wallow.

Sept. 25 ~ Love these mornings in the 60's dF, happy happy joy joy. Only a dozen and change Ruby-throats left, but it only takes two for a fight. I did see one immature Black-chinned Hummer today. A Wilson's and a few Nashville Warbler went through yard early, a Least Flycatcher, heard a Dickcissel, the Hutton's Vireo and pair of Canyon Towhee still here. Three or four Hooded Oriole including the adult male still hitting the hummer feeders. Still a dozen plus Firefly going off at dusk to dark.

Sept. 24 ~ Another great low in the low 60's dF, KVL hit the upper 50's dF! At 7 a.m., before sunup as it is first getting light the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers that roost in the tops of the tall Cypresses along the river get to chorusing together, for quite the nice ruckus. A White-tipped Dove called early too, once, before sunup. Wish it would find the seed pile here. The pair of Canyon Towhee were preening on a shelf unit under the awning out side the office back window, perhaps 6' away.

Early movement was a Yellow and a Nashville Warbler, one warbler sps., and a Dickcissel. The Hutton's Vireo continues out back. Afternoon were some more Nashvilles, another Yellow or two, Least Flycatcher. In leps a Celia's Roadside-Skipper on the Blue Mist Eupatorium, a passing Dogface, Vareigated Fritillary. There were a number of Pipevine and 5 Black Swallowtail on some unknown flower in a field near UR, I'll have to photo, ID, and gather seeds of....

A few dozen Black Saddlebags around house this a.m., as yesterday, with a few Green Darner, a couple Red Saddlebags, a couple Wandering and a Spot-winged Glider.

Sept. 23 ~ Some migrant movement in the cool morning. Four Nashville Warbler at once at the bird bath, a few others went through, and a couple Yellow Warbler too. One Gnatcatcher, heard a Baltimore Oriole and a couple Least Flycatcher were out there. A few White-eyed Vireo too. A couple Nashville were around all day it seemed, at times a few feet out the office window behind the monitor (where I might see something if it flutters about).

A Hutton's Vireo was in the big live-oaks on the slope out back which Kathy and I have both heard in the last week. The pair of Canyon Towhees seems to be content preening on the brush pile. Build the habitat and they will come. I don't know where to take someone to for sure see one, but a pair is now in the yard. Maybe 18 or so Ruby-throated Hummingbird left. Eastern Screech-Owl, and Great Horned Owl calling at dark. Great Horned have been quite noisy lately, maybe they are going to breed again now.

Bird of the day was a butterfly, a Texas Powdered-Skipper, first of the month, which has been between dreary and dismal for diversity and numbers of individuals. The flowers are blooming and nothing is on them. It seems like many local populations are devasted by the drought, and we are more than ever dependent on immigrants (for something to look at and pollenation), as that is what a high percent of the total individuals present are, not bred and born locally.

Sept. 22 ~ A great cool low about 64-5dF or so, KVL was 62 briefly. And the people were happy. We never did get any of rain from Odile which for the last week beat the dickens out of Cabo in Baja California, and then southeastern Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas. Now here we have a dry frontal passage today, there was very little migrant movement early morning, nothing like yesterday.

A couple Blue-gray Gnatcatchers before sunup might have slept here. A Baltimore Oriole male, a Yellow Warbler, a heard warbler, a Blue-headed Vireo, a Least Flycatcher or two. A couple dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, tops, remain. At many times in the day there were none around. Shocking after the frenzied melee that has gone on the last two weeks. Still a few adult males, I suspect more will depart today. I'll shortly have to seperate feeders when an imm. male tries to take over all four now that there are so many fewer birds.

The Hooded Orioles are still using the feeders, the adult and immature males singing a fair bit as they do, no doubt reminding females this is their territory with the good food supply. At least a dozen Cardinal in the yard, as many Lark Sparrow, and the pair of Canyon Towhee continue, seeming to be getting attached to each other preening on the brush pile after their morning seed pig out session and visit to the bird bath. It is amazing how badly I want these incredibly dull birds to stick.

Sept. 21 ~ Though somewhat slowish in yard, definitely migrants on the move ahead of a weak cold front that is supposed to be through tomorrow, likely dry, but a front. Early a.m. in the yard were a Yellow and a Nashville Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-eyed Vireo and a couple Least Flycatcher. Mid-morning I found an Empidonax flycatcher in yard that a half hour of study determined was a DUSKY FLYCATCHER! Then it called! It sure could have made that a whole lot easier a whole lot sooner. Last year I saw a Dusky here on Aug. 11, I have had a few prior, I think most in September, but it is less than annually detected, this makes 5 of 11 falls I have encountered one if I include the Ft. Inge (Uvalde) record, 4 of 11 falls otherwise locally around Utopia.

I refound it at 4 p.m. and it continued until dark, so I got to work it over a bunch more times. The only time it called (twice) was when it landed less than 3' from me (I was mostly hidden in big pecan leaves in a nut-laden branch that drapes to ground - and happened to be wearing camo boots and cargo shorts, and an olive green t-shirt). Any closer I would have needed my reading glasses. When it realized its error it called twice while looking right at me at arms length before it moved to a safer distance. It was a NBM - near bird moment. We were relating. Turned out to be a better interaction than some I've had with people. LOL

We went over to the country club to check the cattail pond and Waresville Cemetery. The cattails have mostly been cleaned out, there were no birds there, but a pair (male and female) of Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly are a great find, less than annual here. The Hackberry patch below pond was empty save one greenie Painted Bunting and lots of Eastern Bluebirds. The wildish main drainage pond looked great but nothing on it. Lots of Bluets (the flower) in bloom around it. An ad. fem. Baltimore Oriole was along cemetery margin along with a couple Mockers and Cardinals. A large pale worn Monarch flew by us at the Buried Lies Cemetery (I was not busy there).

At UR (Utopia on the River) in the blooming Frostweed patch was where the most migrants were, somewhere near a dozen Nashville Warblers. One Black-and-white over them, and a Yellow with them was all we could pick out different. One more Baltimore Oriole, about 3 more Least Flycatcher, the migratory breeders are all gone. No ground warblers, and few butterflies on the flowers considering how many and how good it looked and smelled. One odd Roadside-skipper (Amblyscrites sps.) was seen.

At the crossing there was a female Desert Firetail damselfly, which is scarce but regular here. Another Gnatcatcher here late in day. Heard a warbler chip that wasn't any of the regulars but when I got binocs it shut up and disappeared. Still a dozen plus Firefly going off at that dusk show. Almost forgot there was before sunup this morning a Turkey gobbling.

The major hummer blowout continues. Was probably 50 plus birds this morning. I think about 25 left this evening. Sunday a week ago I'd say there were about 250 birds. A couple dozen and change have left daily for a week now, each day another click fewer.

Sept. 20 ~ A fair bit of migrant motion in the morning. A couple Yellow Warbler, a couple Nashville Warbler, a male Blue-headed Vireo, a couple each Least Flycatcher and Dickcissel, a couple 'Northern' Oriole (Bullock's or Baltimore), one was an immature Bullock's. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a White-eyed Vireo or two, heard a Belted Kingfisher. A couple warblers snuck through un-ID'd.

We spent today as every for the last week: with the chance of rain at 30-50%, and got spit on a little bit on two days. Some places around got some but we pretty much remained rain kryptonite. Highs in mid-80's dF and humid so a bit warm and sticky.

There were TWO Canyon Towhee together for much of the day around yard. Using one of the brush piles, eating the seed, using bath, would be neat to have a pair around.

Hummer departures ongoing again today, finally less than a hundred it seems, and dropping. Afternoon had the same migrant species in yard as the morning, hard to tell if the morning birds left and these are new, which is what it seemed like, there was a period with nothing out there for a couple hours.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ September 19 update header ~ ~ ~ ~


MOST RECENT UPDATE: September 19, 2014
(last updates: Sept. 11; Aug. 31, 20, 10, July 31, 19)


Summer is fading fast, fall is here, Happy Equinox! Some leaves are starting to turn yellow and drop!

The local breeding birds are finished and on their way out, if not done and long gone. Fall migrants like Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, Yellow Warbler, Least Flycatcher, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher have moved through in large numbers for the last month plus. Upland Sandpiper has been heard going over at first dark on some nights for a month too. For migratory birds, it is fall and they are about a day from being out of the country until next spring.

A major rain event unfolded on the evening of Aug. 18 and the morning of Aug. 19, from about 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. there was 4-6" of rain locally! We will get a good fall bloom out of it, things like Frostweed and Frogfruit will have a good run, and hopefully some butterflies on them. A half-inch Sept. 3 from an outer band of Tropical Storm Dolly will help, as will another 3/4" Sept. 7. It is very green out there now, but that is deceptive.

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll or read UP day-to-day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way.

A few of the annual summer invaders to inland Texas from the coast were seen locally this summer, they are all rare up here. Two ROSEATE SPOONBILL were photographed on private property NW of Utopia July 10-11 in Bandera County, congrats to Syliva Hilbig, and thanks for the great news!! I managed to muster a juvenile YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON at the park Aug. 1, far less than annual here, about once every 3-4 years on average. Then Aug. 22 I heard a LAUGHING GULL depart the park right after I got there. It called 3-4 times as it flew off, I never saw it. Having lived on the Texas coast and slept to them, their calls are permanently ingrained, recognition is instantaneous.

A COMMON PARAQUE called Aug. 24-26 at last light around our yard, audio taped the first night when it was seen at point blank. Only a few Black-chinned Hummers left, most are Ruby-throated now, and a few Rufous are showing up, I had one Calliope so far. Ruby-throated Hummingbird is peaking Sept. 10 or so to 20, and will fade fast after that.

The first good landbird migrant of the season was a DUSKY FLYCATCHER on Sept. 21 in our yard, studied a half hour and which at one point lost track of me in the foilage and landed TWO FEET from me! I needed my reading glasses to continue observations at that point.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ end update header ~ ~ ~ ~




Sept. 19 ~ Some migrants early in a.m. through yard, though some seemed maybe overnighters, like the two female Yellow Warbler (one was the type that gets mis-ID'd as Orange-crowned), and the Blue-headed Vireo looked the same too. The male Yellow was new, as was a Wilson's Warbler, a couple Dickcissel, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Blue Grosbeak, though not sure about the two Least Flycatcher or couple White-eyed Vireo. One of the vireos was doing a call that our local bird does, a Summer Tanager call followed by an Ash-throated Flycatcher call. Pik-it-up-cup-cup, ka-brreeeer.

Canyon Towhee bathed again, and sang some too. Some Scissor-tails around. Had another bee swarm zoom overhead, what a sound. Methinks forgot to mention a swarm went over a week or so ago.

A quick run to town had a Wilson's and a Yellow Warbler at the park, also a Green Kingfisher there, but very slow for landbird migrants, a Green Heron still, best bird was a FOS Pied-billed Grebe. Heard a Yellow-throated Warbler chipping. No swifts in town. Ludwigia blooming well now along river, Maxmillian Sunflower too.

Swallow flock wasn't around out front on power lines. Some decent bloom going on, but no butterflies on the flowers, at 80+dF it was certainly warm enough, saw a Clouded Skipper. What was likely a Red-tailed Pennant (dragon) was over the pond, and a female Flame Skimmer was above island, no threadtails. Lots of Checkered Setwing, some of Green Darner, both Saddlebags, both Gliders, and bluets out over the water of some sort.

The water level is plummeting, even after the late Aug. big rain event, it is 3-4 FEET below normal bank level at the park pond, and from going over spillway. And even with 18-20 inches of rain this year, we are still FEET behind getting the aquifer up to snuff. Things don't look as bad as they are because it is green due to the rain. But there are few to no bugs on the flowers.

Had just enough sugar to keep the feeders going until I got back with 10 lbs. of that most popular of white powdery stuff, sugar. Seems to be more departures going on, I'd approximate a hundred in the morning, and many fewer in the p.m. rush hour before dark. All Ruby-throats, I did not see one today I could call a Black-chin. Still a fair number of ad. males, but mostly imm. and female, and of them, most seem immature males.

After dark heard a couple weird calls overhead that sounded like migrant birds, but don't know what type. In the a.m. early I thought I heard an Audubon's Warber chip, which is the second time in a week I thought I heard an Audubon's Warbler going over. They typically beat Myrtle Warbler arrival by a couple to few weeks.

Sept. 18 ~ Fairly quiet out there for migrants early, single Least Flycatcher, Nashville Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Dickcissel, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher (clearly a passage migrant) was best. Canyon Towhee at bath again. In afternoon a couple Least Flycatcher, a couple Yellow Warbler, heard the Yellow-throated Warbler chipping across the road again. Heard a Bell's Vireo sing over in corral, a migrant, probably young based on un-refined song.

Of course then the daily bread like Caracara, Roadrunner, Scissor-tailed and Vermilion Flycatchers (1 ad.ma, 1 imm. ma., most V.Fly have left now), Eastern Bluebird and E. Phoebe, Cardinals (still mumbling some song), Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren and Car. Chickadee, Lark Sparrow (still singing too), Bewick's Wren (still singing), Hooded Orioles (4-6), Red-tailed Hawk (fuertes'), Summer Tanager, TV and BV, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker. The Chipping and Field Sparrows seem to not be around now, they went somewhere. Lots of House Finch and Black-backed (Lesser) Goldfinch, Ground-, Inca, Mourning and White-winged Doves.

Still over a hundred Ruby-throated Hummingbird here, hoping more leave this afternoon, running low on sugar and can't get to town until tomorrow. Soon as I get a bag they'll be gone. The peak was over the past weekend with the front and had to be 250 birds. There would be 40 at once around the feeders and 40 in the trees waiting, most after feeding depart the yard, and constant flow of birds can be seen incoming. It was over a half gallon of fluid a day at peak. Kathy has about had it with 'em, good thing they are leaving not a moment too soon, just in time. LOL ;)

Sept. 17 ~ Warmish and muggy, very little bird movement this a.m., a Least Flycatcher and a Yellow Warbler was about it early. Heard a couple warblers move though, one sounded Nashville. Later morning my FOS Blue-headed Vireo sang to alert me of its passage through the yard. For migrants you can figure it will usually be good on Thursdays, because that is one day I no way can leave the desk and computer. Thought I heard the Yellow-throated Warbler chipping across road.

The Canyon Towhee was 'yelping' at the seed out back again. They sound like a dog toy just before the squeaker finally dies. They also sound unsure as to whether or not they should be calling, what should be an easy single note is drawn out with hesitation to nearly two. The combo of rufous crewcut spike-doo and blank face looks somewhere between just waking up and shock. The disorganized mess of spots on the breast looks like they spilled something all over themselves. Dull colored as a bird can be, ya gotta love 'em. Maybe because this is a juvenile, the undertail coverts are nowhere near as dark and bright as California Towhee (they were formerly one species, Brown Towhee).

Though pretty busy in the morning, over the afternoon it seemed like a good hummer departure took place with many fewer at the dusk rush hour. A third Monarch butterfly in three days was nectaring on the Blue Mist Eupatorium, I grabbed a quick shot, it was worn and pale, and departed (bearing 220 deg.) southwest. The Firefly show is very much reduced (Wed. eve) over say last Thursday through Sunday. It was a good fall show. There will be some for a week or two more as they dwindle now.

Sept. 16 ~ Back into the low 70's dF for lows, and got way hotter than predicted 85, to about 93dF or so and humid! Supposed to cool back into 80's and maybe rain, so they say.

The post-frontal bird movement is over, it was clear enough last night that everything grounded took off. And not much seemingly was overhead come sunup. There was a Dickcissel, a White-eyed Vireo, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher through yard early and that was about it. Heard a warbler flight note move by. A Nashville Warbler bathed in the afternoon, Least Flycatcher out around yard too.

A second Monarch in as many days was very pale and worn, surely a migrant, hungrily moving from one Tube Tongue flower to another nectaring. The fall Firefly flight has definitely decreased in intensity. I think peak was 11th-14th. Still a couple dozen, but half what it was a few days ago.

It seemed there was some hummingbird departure this afternoon, not lots, but some. Still 150+ Ruby-throated here today. The Yellow-throated Warbler again sang today and hunted the big Pecan right off the porch, just like all summer. Taking one last look around before he goes.

Sept. 15 ~ Still in the 60's dF this morning, OMG we are loving it. And mid-80's dF for highs is entirely bearable. Still a post-frontal trickle of migrants going south through yard and river corridor habitat. A couple Yellow Warbler, one un-ID'd warbler sps., my FOS Nashville Warbler, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, couple each Least Flycatcher, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, and Dickcissel, and a Warbling Vireo (all pale yellow below and fairly olive above - e.g. like a pale worn Philly save lores).

Surely if one could cover some spots there was good movement of migrant birds today. A few Upland Sandpipers at dark. What I take to be 'THE' local breeder male Yellow-throated Warbler that forages in the pecans in the yard daily all summer was back, perhaps some last few times before he leaves until late next March. It sang across the road earlier in day. The corral male Vermilion Flycatcher was out front but it sorta seems like most of the young have left, perhaps only one young today, had been 3-4 daily last month, besides the adults.

There was a Monarch on the Blue Mist Eupatorium, for which I ran in to get camera for pix and it was gone by time I changed two (dead) batteries. Watched it fly off to the southwest when I got back outside.

Sept. 14 ~ Another low low around 64dF or so this morning was outstanding. The swarm of Ruby-throated Hummers sounds like a B-25 idling on the patio. I expect a big blowout in the next day or two. In yard early still not a lot of movement, a Dickcissel, a Least Flycatcher, a different warbler (not a Yellow or Wilson's) got away.

We took a walk to crossing, not many migrants on the way, though as often is the case a small bathing party was just below the crossing. A couple warblers got away, a male Baltimore Oriole was nice, single Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Dickcissel, lots of Cardinal and a few Summer Tanager, Titmice, Wrens, Chickadees..... A total of 5-6 Least Flycatcher were along the road, and four Yellow-throated Warbler were along the river, probably the local breeders still here.

Flowers look good but hardly anything on them, a Clouded Skipper, Desert and Common Checkered-Skipper, a pair of Fiery Skipper, 3-4 Reakirt's Blue, a few Phaon Crescent, some Large Orange Sulphur, a few Queen, some Sleepy Orange, couple Dun Skipper, few Snout, a Giant Swallowtail, Gulf Frit, one Variegated Fritillary, 6+ Mestra, but mostly the regulars.

A couple pairs of Green Darner (dragons) were ovipositing above the crossing, several males also patrolling the area. A half-dozen American Rubyspot damsels were about it for zygops.

In the yard in p.m. a Yellow Warbler used the bath, a couple Least Flycatcher, a couple White-eyed Vireo, but not much save the regular offenders.

Sept. 13 ~ The front came in late p.m. yesterday, up-valley north of town might have gotten a half-inch of rain, town and down-valley got a trace. Kerr WMA had 3-5 inches and flooding! The amazing thing was the low, of about 61dF here, KVL had a brief 58dF, mostly 59, and it only warmed to the mid-60's dF! Holy cow! Been since April when we last saw it this cool! Had to find pants with legs and a shirt with long sleeves! OMG, we used a sheet while sleeping!

But the wind blew all night and until late afternoon. Barely any bird movement, I think most were grounded in it to our north and unable to proceed, so there was little with front as it passed. Then it should be good behind it when everything gets first chance to move again. We'll see. We can always hope, in fact just about better than any, it is what migrant hunters do. We are eternally optimistic that the next front might have the bird of the year on it.

Had a Dickcissel, a Yellow Warbler, a White-eyed Vireo, that was about it for passage movement through the yard. Three Scrub-Jays were around the yard a bit, picking seeds up off the patio, this is new.... looks like a group of this years' young, probably from the pair up the road.

Also saw a Cicada Killer flying around the patio, which reminded me I saw one yesterday on the way to town as well. That one caught my eye as motion right outside the driver side window, so I looked over and 3 feet from my face is a Cicada Killer paralleling me, glad the window was up, looked down at the spedometer and I was doing 25 MPH. What a beast of a bug, it wasn't near breaking a sweat.

Sept. 12 ~ More warm and muggy ahead of the front, but a couple degrees cooler. The wind change didn't hit until after dark, a cell or two moved across Bandera Co. just north of town, we had a spritz or two south of town. Still waiting for rain at 10 p.m., but it is cooling down out there with occasional puffs of northerly winds! Fall is arriving!!!

There was some bird movement ahead of the front as expected. The regulars in yard in a.m., a couple each of Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, Yellow Warbler, single Baltimore Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, imm. Indigo Bunting, Least Flycatcher, no Yellow-throated Vireo. As most mornings a few warblers got away, which I usually fail to mention.

Lots of stuff is blasting through southbound down the river habitat corridor, I especially miss warblers, likely having flown all night, and still jittery, it takes a while for them settle down, they are often still jetting about tree to tree first thing as they make landfall, seemingly almost unable to quit flapping at first, so you always miss a few.

Then in town at the park there was a male Wilson's Warbler, a Warbling Vireo, TWO Mourning Warbler, a Black-n-white Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and a Least Flycatcher, so a few migrants. Didn't have time to work the gardens or bird around though.

Back at yard in afternoon was a male Wilson's Warbler here, a couple Yellows, two Least Flycatcher, another Gnatcatcher, a bunting sps. heard, another Baltimore Oriole, couple more Orchard Orios. At least 150-200 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, 90% immatures or females, consuming ridiculous amounts of sugar water, a couple immature Black-chinned remain present.

The neat thing was late just before dark a calling group of four Great Blue Heron circling up on a thermal gaining altitude before moving off to the SW, clearly a cohesive migrating group. Wouldn't be surprised if they were from somewhere way way north. A Belted Kingfisher called from along river, my FOS this fall. Barred Owl and Barking Frog called after dark. Firefly show continues outstanding.

Sept. 11 ~ Still warm and muggy, waiting for the front to get here tomorrow. We had 93dF on the porch at peak heat. Too busy to look much but a Least Flycatcher or two, a Dickcissel, an Orchard Oriole or two, maybe two Yellow Warbler, one or two Balitmore Oriole. Must be 150 Ruby-throated Hummingbird, maybe 200. A ridiculous swarm, all day the 4 four shared feeders are covered in birds, 20-30 at a time, with as many in the trees around waiting their turn.

The big thing today was NO Yellow-throated Vireo singing this morning, for the first morning in months. Did it leave or just quit singing? I didn't even hear it call today and usually it feeds in the yard calling regularly daily. Probably gone until next March.

A few butterflies, Large Orange Sulphurs blasting by, a Lyside, a Questionmark, Southern Dogface, Vesta Crescent, N. Cloudywing, Celia's Roadside-, and Julia's skippers. The great Firefly show continues at dusk, and a few Upland Sandpiper flew over calling then too.

Sept. 10 ~ A bit warm with a 75-95dF spread, one more day until the first real fall front gets here and we break the summer spell. Meanwhile hummingbirds are thick as theives. We have well over a hundred Ruby-throated and a few imm. Black-chinned still here. This a.m. a couple Yellow Warbler, a couple Orchard Oriole, the Yellow-throated Vireo weakly sang, a Dickcissel or two, another Least Flycatcher, but slow. Scrub-Jay over by draw heard today.

An early run to town garnered a look at the park briefly. The Green Heron continue, 2 Green Kingfisher were there, a Scrub-Jay was across the river in the live-oaks above the island, one Yellow Warbler, a Gnatcatcher and a couple White-eyed Vireo.

The big action was swallows and sparrows. A couple dozen Cave Swallow were on the powerline out by ball diamond and rodeo ring. Small numbers were going over to park drinking and bathing in the pond. Besides a fair number of Barn Swallow, there were amongst them, one N. Rough-winged, one BANK, and one imm. TREE Swallow! The latter two very hard to get at the park, great birds! All seen nearly point blank and above and below eye-level. A couple Chimney Swift were still around town, and Blue Jay at park.

Then at the weedy area along east edge of ball diamond there was a flock of 35 Lark Sparrow, a Blue Grosbeak, one greenie Painted Bunting, which got me to walk into the weeds, and flush a CASSIN'S Sparrow, an excellent fall migrant here.

In the yard in late p.m. a couple Cliff Swallow went over, which I did not see in the swallow flock this morning. At dusk the firefly show is excellent for the fall flight, three to four dozen going off at once in the front yard is great to watch. Right after Kathy left I was sitting still and a Great Horned Owl flew up and landed not 20' from me on a broken off low limb of the big pecan. It stayed a minute and then flew up driveway, skimming within an inch or two of the ground on the way and popping up to land on the gate! Then after a minute it jumped up to gate post. I think I just got an idea for a dead squirrel..... I have put some up there a couple times, so maybe.....

We should have a movement of migrants the day ahead of, the day of (with), and behind (the day after) this front. It is now prime-time for fall migrant movements, and weather knocks 'em down so we can see them. The Ruby-throated Hummers should peak too with a big departure right after it passes.

Sept. 9 ~ The major passerine (landbirds - migratory songbirds) movement of the last several days has passed. The wave began Friday, a couple days ahead of the weak front. Saturday the day before front a few more migrants. Sunday the front passed before sunup (ideal) and knocked everything down, it was a decent fallout for here, 10 Least Flycatchers in less than a mile means there are a boatload out there. Monday the day after the frontal passage was still pretty good, though I could only check yard, lots of birds being sucked up in the vacuum behind, or tailing, the front. Monday night the first clear night after and everything blew out, a very minor, barely detectable movement this morning.

A couple Yellow Warbler, an Orchard and a Baltimore Oriole, one Least Flycatcher, a Dickcissel, and one Wilson's Warbler in the afternoon. And so we wait for the next frontal passage. I'm sure if I could get out and cover a few miles of river locally during these events some rarer migrants would be turned up, especially the odd warbler here and there, but you have to cover a lot of habitat to find the needle in the haystack. I am chained to the computer and phone all day every day so detect a part of 1% of what goes by. But at least have some actual data, beyond hypothetical speculation interpolating from other not-so-close areas.

The last week plus the Summer Tanagers, and the last few days the Baltimore Orioles are really hitting the ripe Texas Persimmons. The Yellow-throated Vireo was still singing this morning, but the Great Crested Flycatcher seems to have departed, until the third or early in fourth week of next April (avg. 16-24). Sure was nice having that constantly in earshot the last four and half months, not to mention watching it bathe in the sprinkler.

Sept. 8 ~ Still a good flow or wave of migrants behind the cold front today, or else some have stuck around overnight here. The 3 Baltimore Oriole seemed the same birds. Not so sure about a couple Least Flycatcher, four Yellow Warbler and three+ Dickcissel, a couple Orchard Oriole, thought I heard a Black-throated Green Warbler but didn't see it, for the second time in a week.

There are at least a hundred Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the feeders now, a veritible swarm. I guess the highlight of the day was getting a Ringed Kingfisher for my throne list, yes out the bathroom window (while I was working on a decree) flying about 150' up, calling to make sure I saw. There is only about 15 degrees of airspace visible at one angle, and it managed to find it, and gain my attention, at just the right time. Birds are really amazing. Kathy hears me yelling and figures there is something wrong of course, until she realizes that again, it's just that I'm calling good birds out in the bathroom. No, I can't seem to shut it off. There is no off switch. I dream of them when I'm lucky.

We did get a trace of rain in the afternoon, I don't know, maybe town and spots up-valley might have gotten a tenth to quarter inch. It dodged around us down here, maybe .05, cooled us a bit, then got real humid.

Sept. 7 ~ Rain overnight! The cold front got here about 4 a.m. with some lightening and rain, around town it was variously about a half inch to an inch pending how lucky you are. We got around three-quarters of an inch. Outstanding! This makes about 1.25+ in four days, the fall flowers will make the most of it.

In the morning there was a male Baltimore Oriole and a first year male Bullock's Oriole, FOS on the latter. Also a few Orchard Oriole, 2 Least Flycatcher, couple Yellow Warbler, a Dickcissel. Heard a White-tipped Dove again. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. Bewick's and Carolina Wrens about the only other things still singing constantly, besides doves. Did not hear the singing Great Crested Flycatcher this a.m., but heard one calling down river corridor.

We took a noon walk to crossing. Along river corridor we had 8+ Least Flycatcher, a couple Yellow Warbler, a greenie imm. Painted Bunting, maybe two, an imm. Blue Grosbeak, a Gnatcatcher, Kathy saw a Yellow-throated Warbler and I had my FOS Wilson's. The best bird surely ID'd was an Acadian Flycatcher, very rare here out of a breeding territory, last week a couple were at UR. Wow! Probably 4-5 Vermilion Flycatcher including ad. ma., and a tree with 6 chorusing male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was nice.

The best bird will remain hypothetical as you may have surmised. We heard a bird calling, obviously a small seedeater type of passerine. It repeatedly called 'wing....wing....wing....wing'. We continued walking slowly down the road as I was sorting through dusty files trying to place the call. It was sort of House Finchy but not, not a Lesser Goldfinch, I hear both all day every day. Finally I stopped when I figured I better get on this and should be able to spot it from where I was. It flushed, I watched it fly off, we could not relocate it, it went some distance and disappeared. If I had to guess what it was correctly or die, from what I saw and heard I would say it was a White-collared Seedeater. As it flew I saw the size, shape and structure, which generated a result from the dusty file in my brain to remember that call..... SEEDEATER!

After lunch there was a small buteo calling somewhere along river, I went out front but couldn't spot it. The call was clearly not a Red-shouldered which I hear routinely, nor a Broad-winged Hawk, it sounded like a Gray Hawk to me, but I couldn't find it, it sounded to be heading downriver. A couple Baltimore Oriole used the hummer feeders much of the day today, ad. fem. and imm. fem., plus the usual herd of Hooded Orioles.

Ruby-throats are thick now, probably 100 here. A rain cell moved through after 4 p.m., hitting mostly lower valley and Seco Creek, and around town but dodged us a couple miles south of town. Some areas got a quarter to half inch more, we got a trace, but it cooled us into 70's dF for afternoon to evening.

There were scattered traces falling for an hour or two and about 6 p.m. I was out there with bins scanning opening sky when a loose group of a dozen swallows went by southbound, TREE SWALLOWS! My first fall flock ever here locally. Also there was a pair of Chimney Swift, which broke into rocking display, the male coasting up right over female with wings in deep V, rocking side to side to show off flying skills. So likely local breeders still here.

I walked back down to crossing after dinner about 7 p.m. Saw the Acadian Flycatcher again, once chasing one of two Eastern Wood-Pewee! A couple Least Flycs still about, 5+ Vermilion Flycatcher (1 ad. ma.), at least two, probably three Yellow-throated Warbler, presumed summerers still here. One Northern Waterthrush down near crossing. Heard a couple Baltimore or Bullock's Oriole. No seedeater or 'wing' call.

It kills me because in the late 1980' I knew that call so well, Kathy and I birded Salineno to Falcon to Zapata and San Ignacio all the time, we spent weeks at S. Ignacio hearing seedeaters, but just too long ago. That is why refreshing your calls is so important, either with tapes, cds, online, or better by revisiting the birds regularly. Not the first time I have done such a thing either. Forgot a call I knew well and lost a record really by not going into high alert as I should have. Part of it is that it is out of context, if you were at San Ignacio you would know it. I should remind that I heard a Seedeater once singing at Ft. Inge, Uvalde, in July one year several years ago. It was in the cane on other side of river and no way to it. There is about no coverage between known sites (Laredo) and here, who knows how far north they are. I frankly would be shocked if they were not at Carizzo Springs. Who covers it?

These late juvenile/immature Painted Buntings offer a rarely seen plumage now, the juvenile plumage is a gray green, very dull, often you have to see it well in good light to get the green part. One along corral is molting into first basic, or first winter plumage (into an immature plumage from juvenile plumage). The back is the first thing to go and is now bright lime green like an adult female almost, while the rest of the bird is the dull worn gray green of which most of the green has worn off now. So they can appear rather worn, dull and almost colorless all over, save a fresh bright green back.

Hummers were about a hundred Ruby-throats, overwhelmingly mostly immatures, a half-dozen immature and one ad. ma. Black-chinned.

In flowers, the Wooly Ironweed is mostly done, Frostweed getting going well, Frogfruit continues nicely with the rain, Cedar, Tropical and Mealy Sage are all ripping, some Huisache Daisy is open as is Maxmillian Sunflower, lots of Skeleton-plant, some Lazy Daisy, Snow-on-the-mountain making some nice displays, some Zexmenia and lots of native Lantana going well, we even saw a few Eryngo (see plants page for photo) finally, late but still came up after the rains. That nasty Buffalo Burr is having a great bloom, it should be cut before it seeds. I just cut off a dozen flowering heads of Arundo Giant Cane from a patch nearby. It doesn't get to seed any more. You can dry, cut, and use the bamboo canes, they make great tomato cages with a little baling wire. It is some evil water-sucking invasive non-native vermin.

Sept. 6 ~ Same migrants through yard ahead of front, a half-dozen Yellow Warbler, 5 Orchard Oriole, a couple Gnatcatcher, a few Dickcissel, a Least Flycatcher. The Yellow-throated Vireo and Great Crested Flycatcher continue singing (local breeders). (The same?) Bell's Vireo sang from over in the mesquites. Chipping, Field and Lark Sparrow are all locals as likely is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher still singing. A couple Ringed Kingfisher were calling over at the river. Great firefly show at dusk, maybe three dozen going off at once. Upland Sandpiper went over about 10 p.m. Heard a warbler flight note and chip that sounded like an American Redstart but it went through fast and I missed it.

Sept. 5 ~ Was down at crossing a couple hours early, saw a few of the standard migrants go by, an Orchard Oriole or two, a Yellow Warbler or two, 5 Bronzed Cowbird, heard Yellow-throated Warbler, saw 4 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a few Summer Tanager, too cool early for odes or leps, save a couple American Rubyspot.

The ad. ma. Vermilion Flycatcher was out front of corral, so still here. Couple Yellow Warbler, an Orchard Orio or two, and a female Indigo Bunting were here at the yard. Blue-gray Gnatcat or two through yard too.

In town at the park there was my FOS Northern Waterthrush, of the yellow washed variety. Two Yellow Warbler, a Great Crested Flycatcher, maybe heard a Black-n-white Warbler. A couple Questionmark butterflies, and an Orange-striped Threadtail damselfly. Mid-day I did see and confirm an imm. or female CALLIOPE Hummingbird at our feeders, first glimpsed yesterday. Only a few imm. Black-chinned, most of the immatures now are Ruby-throated, as the adults are now. There was a female or imm. Rufous too.

Again beat the heat, probably barely hit 90dF, for the third day in a row, hard to believe 90dF could be such a relief. Supposed to be a front washing out tomorrow (Sat. evening to Sunday) here, could be good for migrant birds. Then supposed to warm up mid-week ahead of a cold front that is set to make it here the end of next week or on weekend. That mid-month first real cold front will bring the peak of Ruby-throated Hummingbird passage, lots of other migrants, besides being a major change in the season. Summer is fading fast, fall is almost here.

Sept. 4 ~ Beat the heat today from the rain yesterday, did not get past 90dF. A little humid but fine not being 95+. Seemed some birds moving, the regular few Dickcissel, Orchard Oriole, Yellow Warbler, a greenie imm. Painted Bunting, and at least one Least Flycatcher. The Great Crested Flycatcher and Yellow-throated Vireo continue singing. A Rose-bellied Lizard on the big Pecan was my highlight of the day, my first in the yard, though have had it nearby in habitat corridor along river this spring.

Had a quick look at what surely was a Calliope Hummingbird, female or immature. Kathy thought she heard a Rufous or Selasphorus out there. I also saw an adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird, the first in over a week, so clearly a transient.

Sept. 3 ~ RAIN! An outer rain band from Tropical Storm Dolly making landfall in Vera Cruz about 400 miles south of us hit just before 3 p.m., and gave us a good brief downpour. Here a couple miles south of town we got a half inch and a smidgen, to be technical. Most excellent. The outflow boundry as it hit was 35+ MPH, roughly tropical storm force, for 15 minutes it was raining sideways. It hit before we ever hit 90dF so we cheated the heat for the day. Great for fall flowers!

After the rain let up shortly before 4 p.m. I went out to look around and a Common Nighthawk was hawking overhead silently. Then for 5+ minutes a group of swallows milled around which besides a dozen Barn had my first BANK SWALLOW for the yard (3 of them!), a very scare to rare bird up here. Plus a couple Cliff, a Cave, and a Northern Rough-winged, but no Tree Swallow, plus a Chimney Swift.

Went back out at about 7 and the same or another C. Nighthawk, a pair of Chimney Swift, several more Barn, Cliff, and Cave Swallow, some Caves in active primary molt, and one Hirundid (swallows and martins) flew right over me (in bins, I was out on driveway to get some visibility) which I am afraid to say what I think it was.

Then over at the draw was my FOS Mourning Warbler, an ad. fem. Two ad. ma. Summer Tanager were in a Persimmon together eating ripe fruit, nary a sign of the testosterone that prevents that from April to August, and likely transients, not locals. A female Scissor-tail was about for a bit too, and the imm. Vermilion Flycatchers continue, plus one ad. male.

Heard the Ringed Kingfisher and White-tipped Dove again today. A small number of the daily Dickcissel, Orchard Oriole, Yellow Warbler, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Bell's Vireo bathed. Great Crested Flycatcher and Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. Some White-eyeds seeming to be moving through.

Sept. 2 ~ A fair day for passage after all was done. It could be that just being out in the yard four hours with a weed-whacker just got me more time out there so more detections despite ear plugs, but the trickle of movement was nice. Mid 70's dF to mid-90's was the spread, but clouds in a.m. kept us coolish past noon. Most of the birds were during breaks when it quieted.

I heard Ringed Kingfisher and White-tipped Dove, and saw a Zone-tailed Hawk. Migrants were Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a few Upland Sandpiper first thing early, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow Warblers, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a couple Least Flycatcher, a few Orchard Oriole. Four Cliff Swallow were interesting transients. The Yellow-throated Vireo and Great Crested Flycatcher singing are local breeders still here. Not a bad day in the yard getting some work done.

September 1 ~ September !?!?!?!? OMG! And Labor Day too. The highlight was my FOS Baltimore Oriole. Several Orchard went through and perhaps 5-6 Hooded hitting the feeders. The rest was the regulars: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Dickcissels, Yellow Warblers, White-eyed Vireos. The Yellow-throated Vireo and Great Crested Flycatcher are still singing.

Celia's Roadside-Skipper and Northern Cloudywing were off front porch (the former loves the Mealy Sage), at least a dozen Firefly at dusk. For odes, besides all the Red Saddlebags, a few Black, good numbers of Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, some Green Darner - all passage migrants, there were still two Blue Dasher (ad. ma. and imm. or female) in yard.

~ ~ ~ ~ above is September 1 and after ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ August summary ~ ~ ~ ~


The big event was some rain, 4-6" locally depending where you were as usual. We needed it beyond badly, it offers some temporary relief to the ongoing drought. A couple good birds were around. At the park on August 1 was an imm. YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, and on Aug. 22 I heard a LAUGHING GULL calling as it flew off from the park. The other rare bird was a COMMON PARAQUE which are decidedly un-common here, only my second in 11 years, Kathy and I had great looks Aug. 24 and got some audio tape, it called again at dusk on the 25th and 26th.

Some landbirds really migrate heavily in August with small numbers near daily, like Orchard Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Dickcissel, smaller numbers of Least Flycatcher, some days some Upland Sandpiper, and the Martins leave early in month for the most part.

Butterflies were low in individual numbers overall, as has been the drought regimen. A mediocre 51 species were seen, the statistically most likely ones, in other words, nothing rare. A Cassius Blue was good, right where I had one last year so interesting. A probable Rawson's Metalmark was left un-counted and hypothetical. One Viceroy was seen, finally, and oddly one Monarch was also noted. No Zebra or Sister, a few Mestra.

Ode (dragonfly) activity remains low like the river levels. All the dry sections aren't helping. There was a good influx of Green Darner, Red Saddlebags, and the two Gliders moved through in numbers. Blue Dasher are more common than the last 10 years along river. Swift and Checkered Setwing are common as well. A few Eastern Amberwing and one Red-tailed Pennant were seen one day at the park. Orange-striped Threadtail was out in very low numbers (3 peak at once). A Band-winged Dragonlet at the 360 x-ing was probably the highlight.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ end August summary ~ ~ ~ ~




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ August 31 update header ~ ~ ~ ~


MOST RECENT UPDATE: August 31, 2014
(last updates: Aug. 20, 10, July 31, 19, 13)


Summer is blazing here so be prepared for hot afternoons if you visit, mid-90's dF or so daily until about mid-Sept., mornings are still nice first 4-5 hours of light. Lots of baby birds (juveniles) out of nests now. Most breeders are finished and on their way out, southbound. Fall migrants like Orchard Oriole and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher are moving in numbers. Some Dickcissel are going over early some mornings. The first local Rufous Hummingbird I heard about was July 28 by Judy Schaefer, I had one a few days later. My first of fall Yellow Warbler was Aug. 10, which is another serious sign of it being late in summer, a fall migrant warbler that doesn't nest within hundreds of miles. Upland Sandpiper can be heard going over at dark some nights. For many birds, it is fall.

A major rain event unfolded on the evening of Aug. 18 and the morning of Aug. 19, from about 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. there was 4-6" of rain locally! We will get a good fall bloom out of it, things like Frostweed and Frogfruit will have a good run, and hopefully some butterflies on them. A half-inch Sept. 3 from Tropical Storm Dolly will help too.

We have been very lucky since late May with rain, though the two major events were not exactly well predicted and occurred when we were given a 20% of rain within 24 hours prior to the big 6"+ events. There was only an inch or so in July, two inches in June, and a couple in May, but for a 7-8" event May 25-26 (some had 10"+ locally!). And we had about 1.5" for August before the 6" on the 18-19th. So we are around 18" of precip since May, but still a couple feet behind. It has been a biological lifesaver though. It is now green again for the time being. The river was about a foot from going over the spillway at park in mid-August, before the 4-6-inch event of Aug. 18-19.

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll or read UP day-to-day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way.

The great rarity lately were two ROSEATE SPOONBILL photographed on private property NW of Utopia July 10-11, in Bandera County. Keep your eyes open, you might see a couple big pink birds with large spoon-shaped bills. Congrats to Syliva Hilbig, and thanks for the great news!!

I managed to muster a couple of the late summer coastal invaders that wander inland each year in Texas. First a juvenile YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON at the park Aug. 1, far less than annual here, about once every 3-4 years on average. Then Aug. 22 I heard a LAUGHING GULL depart the park right after I got there. It called 3-4 times as it flew off, I never saw it. Having lived on the Texas coast and slept to them, their calls are permanently ingrained in my brain. Then a COMMON PARAQUE called Aug. 24-26 at last light around our yard, audio taped the first night when it was seen at point blank.

Since some of the following are still possibly around or are possible anywhere locally so will continue to mention that some spring internet postings reported Tropical Parula at Concan, White-tipped Dove and Olive Sparrow at Lost Maples. Apparently Rufous-capped Warbler(s?) are back at Park Chalk Bluff or Chalk Bluff Park, whatever they are now. So keep your eyes and mind open while you're out there.



~ ~ ~ ~ end August 31 update header ~ ~ ~ ~


Aug. 31 ~ In the a.m. there were a couple Yellow Warbler, a greenie Painted Bunting that passed through, a couple Orchard Oriole, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, and a nice bright Bell's Vireo for migrants. Yellow-throated Vireo and Great Crested Flycatcher singing.

I think the Great Crest is the one that nested, it left a week or so and change to get rid of the young, and is back hanging out in territory fattening up. I have seen orioles do that, leave the territory to get rid of the young, and then return to feeders to fatten up before going. I guess they tour the local area a bit after leading the young away and ditching them.

In the peak afternoon heat we checked Utopia on the River (UR) mostly to see if the Frostweed was blooming and in butterflies yet. It is just starting to go, and there wasn't much there for leps, or odes.

A Yellow-throated Warbler was feeding begging young, a good late nesting date, likely a third brood. A male Northern Parula sang a few times, in fresh basic now. I haven't been to UR in ca. 6-7 weeks maybe, so it could have been present a while. We have no summering local record prior, and even fall migrants are exceedingly rare, plus usually are not singing.

The other good bird was two Acadian Flycatcher, which I had not seen or heard in my May and June attemps this year. Maybe a pair hooked up late in season? I did not hear the Red-eyed or the Yellow-throated Vireo, so those seem to have left already. Thought sure I heard a Downy Woodpecker. Male Vermilion was still out front by the sign.

Aug. 30 ~ Neither the last greenie Painted Bunting nor the Blue Grosbeak were around today, I presume they left last night. The grosbeak ate for 5 days here. The Yellow-throated Vireo is still singing as if still nesting. I think the White-eyeds are passage birds moving through.

The morning migrants were a few Orchard Oriole, a couple Dickcissel and a couple Yellow Warbler, another Yellow at 1 p.m., and 2 more went through at 7:30 p.m. Some Barn Swallows moving over too. Didn't see the male Vermilion Flycatcher, maybe it left as well?

Aug. 29 ~ One greenie Painted Bunting and the Blue Grosbeak still here, singing Yellow-throated and (migr.?) White-eyed Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher and Dickcissel, at least three Yellow Warbler went through yard in a.m., Kathy saw the imm. Chat again. Missed primetime window (about 1 min. wide) at dusk to hear if Paraque still around ... Heard Scrub-Jay again. Rufous-Allen's Hummer still here, it is a different imm. male than the the one a couple weeks ago.

The park had an Eastern Kingbird, a scarce fall migrant here which I don't see every fall. North end of town had a Zone-tailed Hawk. Frostweed is getting going but I didn't see anything on it at park, nor was there much for dragonflies out.

Later in afternoon a nice fresh Tawny Emperor butterfly was in yard, new for the month, sps. #51 for August. Hackberry Emperor was #50 four days ago. Sure could use something fancy though, been pretty vanila all month, summer, and year.

Aug. 28 ~ See previous few days - LOL. Only 1 greenie imm. Painted Bunting now, Blue Grosbeak continues as does the singing Yellow-throated Vireo, some Orchard Oriole and at least 3 Dickcissel were in yard in morning, Kathy saw an (the?) imm. Yellow-breasted Chat, and a new immature male Rufous or Allen's Hummingbird is here. On computer and missed the narrow window to hear the Paraque, right at last light.

Aug. 27 ~ Dickcissel, Orchard Orioles, 2 greenies (imm. Painted Bunting), same Blue Grosbeak, same singing Yellow-throated Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, and a dozen Firefly again, missed being outside at right time to hear if Paraque here.

Did see something funny though today. A Roadrunner chased a lizard into a thick area of mesquite from a branch that had been broken, lived, and created a 8-10' diameter area of living thick mesquite clump right at the ground. The Roadrunner began circling it, every once in a while diving in as far as it could get, stabbing at the lizard, which would dash out of reach to the other side. The Roadrunner would run to the other side around this 8'+ circle of thorny vegetation and try to stab in, the lizard appearing to know exactly how to stay out of reach.

The Roadrunner got madder and madder and wasn't about to give up. It was running around the circle so fast it was stirring up dust, sometimes it would make three full high speed sprinting loops without a stab at the lizard and then dive in far as it could again. The circumfrence of an 8' circle is over 24' and I swear sometimes it made the loop in a second. I have never seen a Roadrunner move so fast, and had no idea, having seen thousands. The whole time it was also bill rattling nearly constantly, it was jacked up beyond belief, the bare skin behind the eye flashing red and blue like police lights.

This went on for minutes, I was trying not to laugh at times, as between the cloud of dust, the blurr of the Roadrunner, and the bill clacking, it was just like watching the cartoon! In fact I know it was a Roadrunner because it looked just like the cartoon. I did not see a Coyote though.

Aug. 26 ~ In the a.m. first thing a few Orchard Oriole, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Yellow Warbler were the migrants through yard. Great Crested Flycatcher still calling and Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. A Chickadee sang too, the high thin 'see-you see-me' full song. Had a Scissor-tail, 2 Greenies, the female Blue Grosbeak, and at dusk the Common Paraque called briefly. A dozen Firefly were out, the first big count of the fall, been onesies and twosies the last week, the fall flight is on now.

Aug. 25 ~ A couple Orchard Orios was it for morning movement, but heard the Canyon Towhee singing across road from gate in the big mesquites, heard Great Crested and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and noonish a Bell's Vireo sang from the corral. White-eyed and Yellow-throated still singing here, White-eyed may be passage birds.

A Hackberry Emperor (lep) by the door looked like a fresh emergence, and butterfly sps. #50 for the month. Common Mestra floating around yard as yesterday. Forgot to mention there have been some Rain Lily since the big even a week ago, I presume the fall Rain Lily now, not the spring Rain Lily (they are different).

There were a hundred plus odes feeding low over the tall grass in front yard the first few hours of light, almost all were Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta). A couple each of Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, and Black Saddlebags, but 95 Red Saddlebags. Which I think has been changed to Red-mantled Saddlebags because 'Red' wasn't unweildy enough. An immature Blue Dasher was about the yard again as well.

The Common Paraque called a few intro notes and that was it. Several Upland Sandpiper flew over calling at dark right after and of which I got a couple calls on tape.

Aug. 24 ~ More of the same, Blue-gray Gnatcat, Orchard Orio, Yellow Wobbler, heard a Dickcissel, 5 greenie Painted Bunting, an imm. Blue Grosbeak in p.m., a Great Crested Flycatcher, 2 Yellow-throated Vireo, one singing, one appeared a passage bird on the move. At 7 p.m. a Yellow-billed Cuckoo moved through pecans methodically as usual, haven't seen one in a month, so surely a transient, and a flock of 6 Eastern Bluebird went over southbound.

Loads o' odes (dragonflies) in the a.m. hunting over yard, both flavors of gliders and saddlebags. Mostly Red Saddlebags now. Butterflies were the same stuff, didn't get out for a walk in the heat. Did move a couple Frostweed, hopefully they'll transplant ok. Nice big Four-lined Skink on front porch.

The recent rain has brought forth a crop of Eastern Tree-holer Mosquitoes, fierce biters for being so small and they are fast. Problem is that in contrast I am largish and slow.

Just as I was writing that paragraph Sunday evening 8:30 p.m., a COMMON PARAQUE calls from out the open office window! We ran out and I did my Paraque call. It circled the patio landing in the trees and on power pole/line, calling for 5+ minutes, and yes I got audio tape. But it's growl (much like Chucks) was too low pitched for the 8" dish to pick up (like Chuck). A GREAT yard bird, it flew not 8' over our heads a dozen times, we could see the white bands in outer wing and white edges to long tail. AWESOME VIEWS!! Now as I finish this paragraph, a quarter to 9, I hear Upland Sandpipers out the window, besides the Paraque still going a bit.

I had a Paraque call once up at Seco Ridge a couple years ago, in July, so not my first record in the SRV (Sabinal River Valley), but first I've seen, astonishly well at that, and first documented with audio tape. I expect they are regular in the brush country of southern Uvalde County, but up here in the hill country they are generally absent as far as is known. It is another of the south Texas species pushing northward from the brush country into the hill country at the southern edge of the Edwards Plateau.

Aug. 23 ~ A little bit of movement this a.m., a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, several Orchard Oriole, a Least Flycatcher, a Blue Grosbeak, a Yellow Warbler or two, an Ash-throated Flycatcher, were all transients. Saw the Zone-tail, 5 Greenies (imm. Painted Bunnies), the Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, and a White-eyed, the Summer Tanager and Vermilion Flycatcher families still around, 3 Roadrunner in corral at once.

In butterflies another Dogface and couple Goatweed Leafwings, a Northern Cloudywing, and the regulars..... In odes hundreds of Wandering and Spot-winged Gliders, dozens of Red, and Black, Saddlebags, dozens of Green Darner, lots of movement overall. A female Roseate Skimmer was in yard.

Late in p.m. I heard, and then saw a Canyon Towhee across road and gate in the big mesquites. Great Horned Owl and Eastern Screech-Owl calling at and after dark.

Aug. 22 ~ Still a brief bit of Yellow-throated Vireo song, and the Great Crested Flycatcher was still around making sure I hear, a White-eyed Vireo is likely a migrant, as was a Yellow Warbler and an Orchard Oriole or two early in morning.

Zone-tailed Hawk over house in a.m., another at town just before noon.  On the way to town on barely used UvCo 359 there was a DOR (dead on road) Coral Snake, a fresh kill (ph.). They sure look a lot better live than dead. I hope folks know the only way to get bit by one is to pick it up and play with it so there is no need to kill them. That goes for most snakes, as they are the best mousers you'll ever meet, save perhaps owls.

The bird of the summer for me was at the park at noon. Though I only heard it calling as it departed right when I got there, a LAUGHING GULL! It called three or four times total, and having lived in Portland on the Nueces Bay it is a sound you hear around the clock which becomes implanted. I ran to get some visibility to the airspace above the pond and never saw it, as it flew off calling. So a bit bittersweet, a great bird at the park, my first gull there, but I didn't get to see it. Fortunately it is a unique call I know well so got an ID and data out of the encounter anyway.

Otherwise no migrants around, a Southern Dogface (lep) was at the park, and another through yard in p.m. were my first for month. A Streaky Skipper was at the Library Garden, but not much else. Orange striped Threadtail and Orange Bluet damselflies were at the park, nearly side-by-side for great comparisons. An immature Blue Dasher was in the yard later, my first in the yard, and some other odd smaller dragon eluded me at the Library Garden.

Aug. 21 ~ The Yellow-throated Vireo sang a bit this morning, as did a distant Great Crested Flycatcher, five greenies (immature or female Painted Bunting) were in a tight cohesive flock. Heard a Yellow Warbler, one young Bronzed Cowbird was on patio squawking, nothing responded so not likely from a yard area nesting. Zone-tailed Hawk flew over a couple times, a couple Caracara had a squirrel in the driveway.

Aug. 20 ~ Five big bearded Tom Turkeys were in the corral today. A couple Orchard Oriole in the a.m. Did not see an ad. ma. Black-chinned Hummingbird today, it seems we are nearing the point when Ruby-throated outnumber Black-chinned here.

Aug. 19 ~ The overnight rain continued off and on from the eve of 18th, at times it was quite heavy, and another 2.5-3" so a total of 4-6" locally in 12 hours from 8 p.m. last night to 8 a.m. this morning. Not bad for a 20% chance of rain. Lots of lightening strikes, very close by, a couple about blew us out of bed. Low was about 70dF, and by 2 p.m. barely 80dF and starting to clear, probably barely got 90dF if that. An amazing event and welcome break from the dog days of summer. The cyclonic rotation was clear on radar loops, at times showing a well-defined eye, it was quite the impressive MCV (mesoscale cyclonic vortex).

No migrants moving in a.m. save an Eastern Wood-Pewee, a Least Flycatcher was around yard in afternoon. Lots of dragonflies and Snout butterflies as it cleared and got sunny 3-5 p.m., both were in the thousands that went by just this one observer and site. Dragons were mostly Gliders, Spot-winged, but also lots of Wandering. Black and Red Saddlebags and Green Darner were presnt in the march as well. And another migrant Mockingbird, they are moving now.

A couple Scrub-Jay were heard up the slope behind us and over in the draw. A flock of 4 Common Nighthawk went over at dusk, silently, but Kathy one heard them earlier, they will be southbound soon. There was lots of termite eating today as always after a rain there is a hatch or emergence and the Summer Tanagers in particular but everything was gorging on them for hours today, even Cardinals and wrens making runs picking them off. Counted 7 greenies (immature Painted Bunting) at once on the millet in the afternoon.

There must have been 6" of rain as Couch's Spadefoot Toad is calling, and I have never heard them when less than a 6" event. Also going off were Barking Frog, Blanchard's Cricket-Frog, Rio Grande Leopard Frog, and Gulf Coast Toad, for 5 species of amphibians calling tonight (all from rocker on porch).

Aug. 18 ~ Some clouds much of the day from the odd convergence of a trough axis, low-level jet stream, gulf moisture pooling, this a.m. NOAA has us for 20% chance of rain today and tonight. Finally after a nice outflow boundry around 7, before 8 p.m. it started raining, and it rained off and on until 8 a.m. on the 19th, sometimes very hard. There was about 2-3" by time we went to bed, and 2-3 overnight!

In yard in a.m. had a couple Orchard Oriole, singing Eastern Wood-Pewee, a Blue Grosbeak juv., plus the regular gang. The Yellow-throated Vireo just sang a little, it is about done. One of the last singing territorial breeders, as I'm not sure the White-eyed Vireo now aren't migrants moving through, the Summer Tanager is all but done singing, but still around daily with young, like the Vermilion Flycatcher. Had a migrant Mockingbird, that window is now open. Bluebirds going over lots of mornings now, mostly groups of 3, often looking like immatures.

Aug. 17 ~ Another baker today, hot and humid, NOAA said some rain in north and western parts of plateau might make it here. Only cooled to about 76dF for a low. Saw four ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummers at once on the feeders this a.m., and a few immatures, one ad. ma. Black-chinned, and a couple dozen immatures of them. One Indigo and 5 greenie Painted (immatures) Buntings, heard a couple Orchard Oriole, a Least Flycatcher was in yard early.

A mid-day walk to river crossing produced some butterflies on the Frogfruit, it is the happening nectar now. A few things on the Wooly Ironweed. Snow-on-the-Mountain was mostly devoid of bugs, some Frostweed has buds just about to open up. There were a couple dozen Skipperlings, 90%+ Orange, a couple Southern. At least 6 False Duskywing, a dozen Buckeye, 6 Mallow Scrub- and more Gray Hairstreak, a dozen Reakirt's Blue, one Rounded and one un-ID'd Metalmark that looked like a Rawson's to me.

In Skippers there were Sachem, Dun, Fiery, Whirlabout, a couple dozen Common/White Checkered- and a couple Desert Checkered-, plus a couple Celia's Roadside-Skipper. Some Gulf and a Variegated Fritillary, a Goatweed Leafwing, one or two Common Mestra (new for month), a bunch of Pipevine Swallowtail and Queen, some Snout, Phaon and Vesta Crescents, Bordered Patch. In Sulphurs, a Cloudless, a handful of Dainty, several Large Orange and some Lyside (two yellow form), a couple Little Yellow, and probably some others I can't think of now. Common Streaky Skipper was new for the month, and always a favorite for its uniqueness. Turned out to be a butterfly walk.

Odes were weak as they have been, the same usual subjects in lower than normal numbers. One thing I noticed on the way to town that I forgot to mention before was how the hail in areas stripped lots of good green leaves off live-oaks in particular. These poor live-oaks, in drought stress mode, didn't leaf out as normal in April, but after the late May major rain event did an odd catch-up leafing-out. Now some lost a quarter of their leaves (that are supposed to make sugar etc. until next February) from the pea+ sized hail Aug. 11. No one is complaining about all the ball moss it took out of the trees. It looks like Tribbles from Star Trek all over the ground (from the original TV show - yeah I'm old).

Aug. 16 ~ A scorcher today, low was about 75dF, high about 100. Not much moving by in the morning for 3 days now under the high pressure. A couple Orchard Oriole and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was it here. Chickadees have a couple new young just out of the nest. The beast of the day was a Monarch butterfly, of which I have not seen one since May. Question is it from an alleged local population (which I have not found convincing proof of existing) or a migrant from elsewhere? At heat of day it hung up in the big Hackberry a couple times nearish to a couple Queens, but I lost it when I came in for camera. Did have an ad. ma. Black-chinned Hummingbird, a couple ad. ma. Ruby-throated, and immatures of both.

Aug. 15 ~ Another low in the (upper) 60's, briefly, but relishing every moment of it. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was singing in the big pecan in the a.m. Saw the ad. ma. Ruby-throat, and an immature or two, a couple dozen immature Black-chinned, but did not see the adults today. About 4 greenies, immature Painted Buntings still in yard, Yellow-throated Vireo still singing.

At the park I finally saw my first Viceroy (lep) of the year and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, but it was fairly quiet, even before noon while still coolish. The insects are obviously way down though, there and around yard it is clear, not nearly as much bird food flying as what used to be 'normal or usual'.

Aug. 14 ~ Low was about 64dF and KVL saw 61! Now if it only didn't get up to upper 90's dF it would be bearable. Two ad.ma. Black-chinned Hummingbirds at the feeders this morn, a couple dozen immatures, at least one imm. Ruby-throated here too. The regular Orchard Orioles going through yard in a.m., maybe 4 immature (greenies) Painted Bunting, no adults. A few White-eyed Vireo, heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee, and saw a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Bill Barham mentioned he had a Black-capped Vireo at his bath recently. A great yard bird!

Roadrunner was hunting on the porch under the hummer feeders, presumedly trying to pick them off. It went out to front porch and found a mouse Kathy had thrown into a patch of Eupatorium. There is no way it could see this mouse, yet keyed right in on it as it walked by. It stopped and went directly to where it was, pulled it out, and proceeded to eat it. It seems to me it had to have smelled it, it was not visible. Most birds in general are not believed to have great senses of smell except a few exceptions like Turkey Vulture and seabirds.

There were Orange and Southern Skipperling, and Northern Cloudywing in yard besides the regular butterflies. Eastern Screech-Owl was calling out office window after dark.

Aug. 13 ~ A cool morning in mid-upper 60's dF for a low was great. In town were a couple Yellow Warbler, and here in yard were a half-dozen Orchard Oriole, a couple Dickcissel were on the fenceline south of town, and another flew over yard calling. These are 'behind the front' migrants as typical in fall migration. The park had nothing save a couple juvenile Green Heron, nice to see they had success nesting this year. One Scissor-tail on fenceline south of town. The ad. male Ruby-throated and Black-chinned Hummingbirds were both present still, as was the imm. ma. Rufous/Allen's. The Yellow-throated Vireo is still singing a little bit. Kathy had an Empidonax flycatcher that was browinsh and looked like a Willow. In butterflies a Questionmark and a pair of Goatweed Leafwing were about the yard.

Aug. 12 ~ A slightly cooler though humid morning, low 70's dF is welcome. Singing still were White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo. The second Yellow Warbler of fall was flycatching termites from the fence along road, this an adult male. It was out there from 8 a.m. and at 6 p.m. was still going at it. A few Orchard Oriole went through, and before sunrise I heard my first flyover Dickcissel of the fall. A Least Flycatcher was in the yard much of the day.

Saw my FOS ad. male fall migrant Ruby-throated Hummingbird, plus an immature male, and the immature male Rufous/Allen's was around, as well as the continuing ad. ma. plus at least a dozen imm. Black-chinned Hummers made for 3 species of hummingbird today. A half-dozen plus Chimney Swift were buzzing around an hour before dark. A dozen plus Barn Swallow and a N. Rough-winged about too.

We got nicked by the edge of another rain cell, dropping about .2 (two tenths) of an inch, and surely putting us over 1.5" for the last 24 hours. The cooler day was a great break too! At dusk a couple Common Nighthawk flew over, one boomed, the first of them we've had in three weeks if not four, the local breeders disappeared after the mid-July rain.

Aug. 11 ~ What a day it was. A cold front is bearing down on us, the third in about 4 weeks. Remarkable. Is that how it always was here in July and August? Cold fronts? It was a good 95dF or so before the outflow boundry hit about 5 p.m.. Then a cell popped up right near town, moved SE a little, then S, then West all within a few miles around town. It blew up to lightening with hail from pea to dime sized, and wind at 35-40 mph, all at once. We had winds from the N., then the E., then the south as the cell rotated right over the area. It blew up to a red top on radar and rained out, right over us, all in an hour. It was raining sideways, blew all kinds of leaves and branches down, we had to drop everything to quick close the windows as it was coming in from all directions at once as it swirled around with cyclonic action! The rain totals were 1 to 1.5" locally, we got about 1.3 or so here. It was astounding, especially dropping from 95 to 75dF. What a cell!

After the rain in the evening a Great Crested Flycatcher was calling, a transient, the locals have been gone over a week. Also another Eastern Wood-Pewee sang as it passed by. And the Barking Frogs got fired up. Heard Scrub-Jays at the draw.

Paying very close attention, there were no male Painted Bunting here today, the last one left last night. One ad. ma. Black-chinned Hummingbird continues and a couple dozen tops imm. Black-chinned. Four Caracara together at once shot over with a bunch of their namesake cracking cackling. The juvenile Chat was back at bath.

Aug. 10 ~ The big sign of fall being on the way today was my first Yellow Warbler of the fall! An immature (pointed rectrices (tail feathers)) fed in one of the hackberries 10' and less out the office window for 15 minutes, but I could not see for sure what it was getting, it appeared to perhaps be gleaning scale off the branches. A juvenile Yellow-breasted Chat was at the bath, I presume from the pair that nested across road and visited bath daily all summer.

Went down to 360 crossing about 5-6 p.m. at heat of day, upper 90's dF. Dragons were mostly gone, just a few Swift Setwing and Blue Dasher. Some damsels were Blue-ringed, Powdered, Kiowa, and Violet Dancers, American Rubyspot, and Stream Bluet. Also had some Texas Shiner minnows (Notropis amabilis) besides the usual Lepomis sps. (sunfish/perch) assortment, plus some Texas Cichlid (Rio Grande Perch). It was drippin' hot.

The Wooly Ironweed is blooming and a bit is on it, also some Bluets were blooming, also with bugs, and the Frogfruit continues to attract. Saw a handful each of Fiery Skipper and Whirlabout, an Orange and a few Southern Skipperling, Reakirt's Blue, some Buckeye and Gray Hairstreaks, a few Lyside and Large Orange Sulphur (one pale morph female Large Orange was smaller than the Lysides), lots of Pipevine Swallowtail, a few Gulf Fritillary, several each Dun, and Eufala Skipper (Julia's in yard), a Celia's Roadiside-Skipper (several in yard), and a number of Phaon Crescent, lots of Snout, a Sachem, and a Desert Checkered-Skipper. Clouded Skipper in yard. A very little bit of Snow-on-the-Mountain is starting to bloom.

One male Painted Bunting continued today, a half dozen juveniles, and one ad.ma. Black-chinned Hummingbird continues. I saw a 'for sure' immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird today, though thought there has been one around a couple or few days. More Orchard Orioles through yard in morning. Eastern Screech-Owl called at dark.

Aug. 9 ~ Another dog day. In or over yard were more Orchard Oriole, Zone-tailed Hawk, Caracara, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Black-n-white Warbler, Turkey and Roadrunner in corral, and the regular stuff. There were still both ad. ma. Painted Bunting present and 6 or more juveniles. Been feeding extra seed the last week since I know they are about to blast. The adults are in body molt, many patches in the red underparts where feathers missing, and red showing through gold-green back on one now due to molt there too.

A male Roseate Skimmer (ode) passed by the porch. A bird shot across yard and called as it did a couple times, a Louisiana Waterthrush!

Aug. 8 ~ Another 75-100dF spread, the dog days of summer are here. At least by time it hits 95 the humidity burns away and it is a dry hundred. At the park there was one adult male and 3 juvenile Painted Bunting where transients. Also a first summer male Black-and-white Warbler and an Eastern Wood-Pewee. Fall migrants. Must have been a dozen Orchard Oriole go through yard in morning.

A big movement of Snouts today, I saw hundreds around town, and at least 5 Large Orange Sulphur is more movement. Texan Crescent and Clouded Skipper were in the woods at the park. Still no Viceroy this year.

Both male Painted Bunting were in the yard today, and a half-dozen greenies (females or immatures), and one first summer male with pale salmon underparts. Over two dozen House Finch, and a dozen Cardinal on the seed, a few Chipping Sparrow, heard Field Sparrow. I can't wait until the parent dillos chase the three young out of the yard.

Aug. 7 ~ A balmy 75-6dF for a low, and a dry 100dF for a high. Two Scrub-Jay went by yard in the a.m., nice to see them again. A couple Orchard Oriole, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher for migrants. Both male Painted Bunting were still here today, one is much faded of red compared to the other so distinguishable. The ad. males will be gone any day now, until next mid-April. They fly SW to western Mexico to take advantage of the monsoon season seed crops and molt there, then heading southward further for the winter, then returning here in April. Amazing animals.

The last few days there have been a couple bats circling the big pecan right off the porch at dusk. I thought they looked bigger than the common Brazillian (was Mexican - name changed) Free-tailed and tonight before it got dark I got great looks, they are RED BATS! One is so rufous above it is stunningly reddish, likely the male. I presume what we have here is Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis). I have seen them at the park in town and at the river here off 360 before. They often roost in leaf clumps, in hardwoods, which the pecans surely have some of. Neat beast.

In a.m. there were dozens of Wandering and Spot-winged Glider dragonflies hawking low over yard and road out front.

Aug. 6 ~ The Rufous/Allen's Hummer was here in the morning. A Hutton's Vireo was about, Kathy said she thought she heard one a day or two ago, and I thought I heard one a day or so before that, but today it was calling lots from the hackberries and live-oaks on the slope behind us. A new juv. Chipping Sparrow is begging away out there today. Three Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew upriver early at sunup. Zone-tailed Hawk in p.m. Only one or two at most adult Black-chinned Hummers left here, and am seeing one immature male hummer that looks Ruby-throated.

Aug. 5 ~ The immature male Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird was back this evening. One new juv. Painted Bunting and about 8 greenies (females or immatures) total in yard pigging out on white millet. A Ringed Kingfisher went by late near dusk heading downriver was probably the one I heard at the park at about noon today. Also at park two Eastern Amberwing dragonflies were the first of those I have seen in a couple years here.

Two butterflies new for month today were a Cloudless Sulphur and likely the same Tawny Emperor came into water again. At the park were at least 3-4 Orange-striped Threadtail damselflies, several Fragile Forktail, Stream Bluet, Blue-ringed, Variable, and Kiowa Dancers, several Green Darner, lots of Blue Dasher and Checkered Setwing.

A real sign of fall being on the way was the first big flock of White-winged Dove since they broke up to nest in spring, at least 80 birds together in one cohesive flock. There were still Purple Martins calling overhead, here at house and in town.

Aug. 4 ~ The three big gobblers are still hanging around the corral next door. Three Roadrunners together interacting was at least one juvenile, if not two, with an adult. Nice to see them get some young out. Coons especially wreak havoc with Roadrunner nests.

August 3 ~ Low was about 66-7dF, KVL saw 64dF! Coolest it has been since May. Got up to about 94dF, a bit warm... but still drier NE flow feels great. Didn't pay attention to the hummer feeders in a.m. and so didn't see the Rufous/Allen's immature male as it didn't seem to stick, though was here at dark, so first-thing probably tanked up and split the fighting scene here. Great was a couple Scrub-Jay in the yard, they looked wet as if just came from the bath, maybe they will learn there is water here.

Checked the area around the crossing for an hour around 4 p.m. looking for butterflies and dragonflies. The two best things were odes, a Band-winged Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax umbrata) and a Forceptail (Aphylla sps.) that looked like a Broad-striped. Both are new for my 360 area list. Also saw a Green Darner, Widow and Comanche Skimmer, Checkered and Swift Setwing, a Four-striped Leaftail, Blue Dasher and Red Saddlebags, for 10 sps. of dragons just at the crossing. In damsleflies there were a dozen American Rubyspot, some Variable and lots of Kiowa Dancer, Sooty Dancer, and some other stuff I didn't work.

Butterflies were good to, mostly on the Frogfruit in the rocky river channel. Four False Duskywing was a good count, best was a Cassius Blue, my FOY and less than annual, though I had one right in the same spot last year. Ceraunus and Reakirt's Blue showed, Crescents were Pearl, Phaon, and Vesta, plus Bordered Patch. Variegated and Gulf Fritillary, a few Queen, a Snout, lots of Pipevine Swallowtail, couple Sleepy Orange, Orange and Southern Skipperling, Fiery Skipper, Whirlabout and Sachem, Common/White and Desert Checkered-Skippers, lots of Dainty Sulphur, one Little Yellow, Gray and one (brown) Juniper Hairstreak, and 6+ Buckeye. Also saw the multiple Celia's Roadside-Skipper daily in yard.

The amazing behavior and plumage in a bird today was a one-year old Cooper's Hawk that took I think an immature Cardinal here in the yard. We could only see through window and screens at a bad angle, but the bird was still veritically streaked on breast but had red barred thighs/leggings. So just starting to get adult plumage, at a year or so old, and a plumage not shown in most of the field guides, which I always like to see.

August 2 ~ Low was about 70 or so, quite nice, and high about 90dF, with a light NE flow/breeze, a much needed break. Nice male Orchard Oriole besides a few others in the a.m. Yellow-breasted Chat and Yellow-throated Vireo still singing but not much else, save doves and Roadrunner. The Bronzed Cowbirds seem to have departed for the most part, there were about 5-6 daily, now none are here on the feeder.

August 1 ~ August already!?! The back side of the cold front chilled us down to a high around 90dF today, almost needed a jacket it was so cold. Can't complain with a high that low this time of year. At 7 a.m. a Ringed Kingfisher flew north calling, over the Cypresses along river. A few Orchard Orioles were in yard in morning as usual now, maybe 6 Hooded hitting the hummer feeders regularly, an adult pair, a first summer pair, and two juveniles. A couple dozen Black-chinned Hummers around.

In town a male Hooded Oriole was on a feeder north of the storage spaces, some Chimney Swift and Purple Martin were overhead as were a few Cave and lots of Barn Swallow. At the park there were a couple migrants: a Great Crested Flycatcher and an Eastern Wood-Pewee. The best bird was an immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, up at top of island in the swampy backwater area (ph.). It is maybe the 3rd year of 11 I have seen one locally, so it is far less than annual, and the first one that I have seen here in 4 or probably 5 years so a real treat. There was a Black Phoebe on the dam (spillway) which I would not be surprised if the same individual here in yard last week.

About 5:30 p.m. in the yard fall migration really busted loose with two more migrants, a Least, and a Willow Flycatcher, at the same time. Great comparisons in size, shape, and structure. The Eastern Phoebe didn't seem nearly as thrilled as I was, being competition and all. It is my earliest fall date for a Willow, and ties my early date for Least here locally. The Least was out there still 90 minutes later.

With the Black Phoebe at the park, Great Crested, Brown-crested and Ash-throated, Scissor-tailed and Vermilion Flycatcher, plus Eastern Wood-Pewee it made for TEN species of flycatchers today, 9 of which I recorded from the yard! Could have run up and down 187 and maybe found a Western Kingbird, and surely some Acadian Flycs. are along river, though not at public sites. So at least a dozen species of flycatchers are around, which is pretty good diversity in most places.

The butterfly gardens were pretty dead, but at the north-end curve on the native Frogfruit there was a Western Pygmy-Blue, the first I have seen this year, and something missed in the 54 species seen in July. A Rounded Metalmark was also there.

Also at park was the first Green Darner (ode) I have seen in months, if not all year, then another was at the 360 crossing. Three Orange-striped Threadtail and a Variable Dancer were also seen.

A post to the yahoo group 'San Antonio birds' reported a Varied Bunting in NE Medina County this date.



~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

In a word, hot and muggy was the score for July, as usual. I saw 54 species of butterflies locally, the high month of the year so far, and a decent total considering the drought. Zebra Longwing and Common Mestra were a couple of our semi-regular (less than annual) southerly invaders that showed up, hopefully a sign of things to come. A big satiny white got away, but was surely not any of the 54 species identified this month.

A Ringed Kingfisher was nice, a Black Phoebe was the first I've seen in a couple or few years locally, the enigmatic Canyon Towhee is always nice to see too. Judy Schaefer had a Rufous Hummer July 28, and the Hilbigs reported the bird of the summer, two immature Roseate Spoonbill in Bandera Co. NW of town July 10-11. A couple Upland Sandpiper were early on July 16, a migrant Louisiana Waterthrush at the park on July 25 was a good find. A major hummer blowout occurred late in the month, the Black-chinneds seem to be departing early.

In dragonflies the Swamp Darner from June 13 at the park was seen until July 18. A couple Orange-striped Threadtail were there too, they are way down in numbers like so many odes. A Red-tailed Pennant July 25 was good, they are less than annual here.

July 31 ~ Another (!) cold front is bearing down on us, which maybe will drop us from 95 to 90. Hope we get some rain. A few spits was all I saw as of about 4 p.m. as it hit, a bit of cooling, but mostly just an increase in humidity.

There were a few Orchard Oriole, a few Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Black-and-white Warbler, and an Eastern Wood-Pewee through the yard in the a.m. ahead of it. An Ash-throated Flycatcher was about too, haven't been any around for a while, so is a passage bird. The ad.fem. Red-tailed landed in the big pecan while I was on the porch right under it. Zone-tailed Hawk and Caracara flew by later in day.

In butterflies another Common Mestra was nice but better was another new species for the month, #54, a Marine Blue that came into puddle at some mud to finish the month in butterflies.

July 30 ~ Maybe got down to 71dF for a low, worth being out at dawn just for that. A few Orchard Oriole went through yard, one Black-and-white Warbler. Overhead about 9:30 were some aerial planktivores, a number of Barn Swallow, one Cave Swallow, several Purple Martin (imm. or fem.) and a few Chimney Swift. It was three or more Blue-gray Gnatactcher through yard today.

The hummers are so few that a jerk imm. male has decided he wants everything in all four feeders. So I had to split them apart, which usually ends up with one hummer guarding each. Keeping a dense bank of them usually crowds enough birds together that one can't defend them all, until there are very few hummers around, such as the situation we just entered here. Actually seems a fairly early for such a vacuous departure that one could do this. Usually they are common enough until the Ruby-throats get back that this does not occur until late October.

Four-lined Skinks out and about, what looked a male on the porch today, yesterday a big fat female was out there. Kathy saw little baby Racerunners today, I saw a couple at the park garden last Friday, teeny 2.5" long cuties.

A Common Mestra was the first of that buttefly I have seen all year, and species #53 for the month.

July 29 ~ Low was about 70dF, felt great for the few minutes it lasted. Another Eastern Wood-Pewee went through yard, at least three Orchard Oriole went through yard in a.m, Roadrunner still around yard and Turkeys in corral. Got another Harvester Ant sting, dang they hurt, it grabbed my sandal on the move as I was slowly walking, then got stuck in it, and I pay the price for its stupidity. Another scorcher, about 97-8dF.

July 28 ~ Several Orchard Oriole went through yard in morning. Kathy found the first Tawny Emperor of the month (#52), seemed to come in for the water, being on the hose and all. A mob of Martins were on a Zone-tail, spotted out the bathroom window from my throne.   :)  That my friends is success. Was about 97dF peak heat.

Judy Schaefer sent an e-mail with news of a Rufous Hummingbird at her feeders this morning, the first fall migrant of them I have heard about this fall locally, thank you Judy! Here we have a diminishing herd of Black-chinned but that is it so far. Fall hummer season is officially open when the first Rufous shows up. Besides Black-chinned and Rufous, August typically sees Calliope and Broad-tailed if you work the birds hard, and of course the Ruby-throateds show back up.

July 27 ~ At least we had some morning clouds to keep it cooler until about 11 a.m., the Hi-Lo spread is about 74-94 dF. Some Orchard Oriole and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher or two went through yard southbound. Still singing though not all day, are Painted Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, White-eyed Vireo, Lark Sparrow, a bit of Cardinal, but it is really quieting down quickly. The Cardinals had a great year, must be a dozen new young around the yard. Male Painted Bunting was feeding another new fledgling, they had a good year here too, at least around our yard where some dingbat spreads white millet endlessly.

In butterflies there were several Little Yellow about, they have been scarce this year, a few Snout, a couple or more Celia's Roadside-Skipper, a Buckeye went by, a Juniper Harstreak at the Buttonbush in the draw, from which I grabbed a couple switches since my seedlings got eaten when they sprouted. The best lep was the first Clouded Skipper I have seen this month (#51) at 7 p.m.

Kathy spotted an ode (dragon) swarm late in p.m., I counted over two dozen Red Saddlebags, one Black Saddlebags, a few Wandering and one Spot-winged Glider. A couple Swift Setwing were in yard, and prior an odd one flew by me I wish would have stopped for longer viewing. It looked and flew like a Sylph.

In the spider department what appeared a Red-spotted Ant-mimic was in the grass out front. All black with a red blobish streak on dorsal abdomen, and running around fast like a velvet ant, but a spider. If you have an interest in spiders you might like the new book Common Spiders of North America by Richard A. Bradley. The color plates are amazing, the text is fascinating, it is a major landmark breakthrough for the world of spiders and nature watchers. Did you know there is a spider that throws web at prey?

Near enough to note, Bob Doe in San Antonio saw a White-throated Swift at Mitchell Lake on the south side of town on this date. A great record, and a reminder to keep your eyes on the skies. There was one reported at Chalk Bluff Park in April. They are rare east of the Pecos River.

July 26 ~ Nice first thing at about 72dF, the first few hours of light are very pleasant. I heard a Canyon Towhee outside early, and then late in the p.m. in was out front. After breakfast I walked outside and a group of 5 wet Orchard oriole came up from the bath on the other side of the house. Wish I would have seen that! Still a few Purple Martin around, but not for long now. A Bell's Vireo sang from the big Mesquites across the road, and the 3 big Tom Turkey were in the corral next door. Saw a first summer male Painted Bunting of the salmon below, lime above variety.

A couple Desert Checkered-Skippers were around the yard, which seem to show up appropriately when it is in the upper 90's dF. It was butterfly species number 50 for the month, the first time to reach 50 in a month this year. Hopefully we will have a good late summer to fall invasion from the south, we could use some dang excitement around here. ;)

I walked to the draw to check the button bush, it is fading but still has a couple dozen flowers open. I quickly picked out SIX flowers with crab spiders, three due to prey in odd positions, two bees and an oddish skipper (ph.). They are ravaging everything that shows up no doubt. One Juniper Hairstreak was all brown below, but with good basal spots. Probably just the whole gamut of variation with them, from almost all green below to all brown below?

I just keep shootin' pix and one day I'll get time to put them all in a bunch of rows with dates and see if anything stands out different. I have a hundred pix of this species, and many others I would love to analyze. When you don't have time, you shoot first and ask questions later.

July 25 ~ Low was about 72dF, felt nice, high about 94dF, too hot. The best bird was in the afternoon, a war bird. I heard this unique sound, clearly it was a Mustang, so I ran outside with binocs in time to see a few close fly-bys of a P-51 with invasion stripes. Awesome plane. I guess from the Confederate Air Force at Uvalde. I love that sound, nuthin' like a P-51, identifiable as any bird call.

A Cooper's Hawk flew over early, Blue-gray Gnatcat went by. At the park in town I saw and heard a Louisiana Waterthrush, which is always a great migrant to get locally, an Eastern Wood-Pewee and a Black-and-white Warbler as well. Blue Jay too.

For dragons at the park, the Swamp Darner seems to have likely expired, I did not see it, so June 13-July 18 will be the date span of the record. There was a Red-tailed Pennant out over the pond, which I do not record every year here. A Prince Baskettail was the first in a while, they have a hatch in the spring, and then there are none, then a hatch in the summer, then there will be none. In damselflies saw a boatload of bluets out over the water, and in woods and backwater area Stream Bluet and Fragile Forktail, plus 2 Orange-striped Threadtail in the usual spot.

At the garden out front of the park there was a huge hole in that the big old mesquite there at the entrance has been removed, had to be older than anyone here. I used it for parking in the shade, besides seeing a bunch of good birds in it the last 10 years. Glad I have pictures of it and sad to see it go. Its loss does not add to the quaint look the entrance had, IMHO. Was it blown out by lightening? Someone hit it? Was it an 'improvement'?

Butterflies were strangely absent from the park entrance garden and the north-end-curve garden. One Dogface at park was new for the month, one Buckeye there, but otherwise all but dead. About 6:30 p.m. found my first Hackberry Emperor of the month on a Hackberry in yard, don't know why I don't have more of them here, 6 big Hackberries around yard.

Fireflies are really about done, hardly any going off at dusk now. Dang deer are eating the Eupatorium Blue Mist Flower, seems throwing rocks at night to chase them out isn't working will try some warning shots and see if they are trainable.

July 24 ~ Couple Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks went by over river, Black-and-white Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went by. Best was Kathy coming in and saying she heard a Scrub-Jay up the slope in the live-oaks behind the shed. I went out and found a very quiet family group at least one adult with at least two young, probably more were up there. It is only the second time I have detected them from the yard, and the first time I have seen them.

At about 5:30 or so p.m. another rain cell hit us and many areas nearby around us got a half inch, we were just over a quarter to .30. But giving us .40 for two days, and a major help for the plants = flowers = insects = birds.

July 23 ~ At least two male Painted Bunting still here, maybe two weeks more at most. We caught the edge of a rain cell just before 7 p.m., and got maybe a tenth of an inch, every bit is great at this point. Best was it dropping from 95dF to 79dF. The Eastern Screech-Owl was so thrilled it sang at dark. Blue-gray Gnatcat or two went through.

July 22 ~ More 75-95 temp spread, welcome to the sub-tropical summer high pressure ridge. The Roadrunner was on top of the Toyota under the carport out back bill-clacking, as in proclaiming territory. Some more just-fledged juvenile Painted Bunting out of the nest. 3 big tom Turkey in the corral next door. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are daily now.

July 21 ~ A 75-95dF temp spread was a bit toasty. Orchard Oriole in the yard in a.m. Butterflies were good today with a Zebra Heliconian that came into my watering and drank for a minute. American Lady and Buckeye were new for the month, A Whirlabout, Fiery and Dun Skipper, Sachem, Checkered-Skipper, Mournful Duskywing, yellow form Lyside Sulphur, Cloudless and Large Orange Sulphur, and on the buttonbush at the draw, 7 Olive Juniper Hairstreak, mostly brown type, one with almost no basal hindwing spots. I walked back to house, got camera and when I got back it was in the clutches of a crab spider. So I still got a pic, but it was no longer alive.

July 20 ~ The cooler days are over we were 95dF with a heat index likely over 100 due to the humidity. Dripping. Low of about 75dF was balmy. Early there were Orchard Oriole and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher southbound through yard, about 11 a.m. a first summer male Scott's Oriole was in the big pecan sang poorly once. The Hooded Orioles are visiting the hummer feeders regularly, so 3 species of orioles in yard today.

In the afternoon heat we went to crossing to check for butterflies and odes. A couple Olive-Juniper Hairstreak were on Frogfruit (as everything now), both were very fresh and very brown of ventral surfaces, the spring ones are the all green ones. These summer ones are much browner. Saw one Whirlabout, the first of the month, Julia's and Dun Skippers, a Southern Skipperling was out front of house on Frogfruit and new for month.

For odes at the crossing there were finally some American Rubyspot (damselflies), 3 males and a female, a couple Dusky Dancer, Kiowa Dancer, and for dragons male Widow Skimmer, Comanche Skimmer, Checkered, and Swift (FOY) Setwings, and Blue Dashers up in the lillies. At least a few things.

About 4:45 p.m. in the yard there was an adult male Black-and-white Warbler feeding a juvenile. They could not have nested very far away for the adult to be feeding young here. Out of earshot though as I haven't been hearing them.

July 19 ~ First thing this morning besides the nice low about 72dF a BLACK PHOEBE was in the front yard! First one I have seen locally in 3 years or so. The park and 1050 bridge pair disappeared several years ago as the bugs did too with the drought. Haven't been seeing them at Lost Maples either. It flycaught from the low pecan branches and flew not 8' from me as it went by house. #182 on the yard list. Nice to see since haven't been seeing them.

The rain-cooled air from the July cold front saved us again. It was the fourth day of a break from extreme heat, at 3 p.m. it was only 85dF, again. We will be paying for this soon, which is why I am enjoying it thoroughly now. An Eastern Wood-Pewee went through the yard, had one yesterday at park, they are on the move now, probably fairly local breeders that are done. Still singing as they go. Another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through as well, they are moving in numbers. Caracara, 2 Ravens (the pair), incessant begging from the one fledged young Red-tailed Hawk.

July 18 ~ The incredible July cold front has fought its way south and passed today, the high was about 84dF. Astounding. Lots of outflow boundry cooled air, we only got a spit or two of precip. If I were king there would be cold fronts every July, and in August, and June. .... so vote for me.....

First thing this morn I was on porch with coffee and I hear a Ringed Kingfisher coming towards me from the river, like it was coming up the draw (as the rare Green will). It kept calling non-stop, appears over the big ol' mesquites across the road, and flies right over the driveway straight at me, and circles the big pecan (I thought it might land in it) then flies right over the roof calling, it was like I was surrounded. Then it flew back toward river. It was less than 75' up directly overhead sounding like a gatling gun. Adult Female. Awesome! A few Orchard Oriole and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through yard during that cup of coffee too. It's just another day. In Utopia. This is why we live here.

Had to run to town, was a Zone-tailed Hawk at the west end of 360, and another in town. Good to see 9 Chimney Swift, which might be 3 pairs with a young each. Another pair with a young was around the first chimney north of the post office.

Park had Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black-and-white Warbler, Green Heron, a passage Eastern Wood-Pewee, and the rest was the expected gang, Blue Jay, Summer Tanager, Cardinal Titmice, Chickadee, Carolina Wren, etc.. A couple big Tom Turkey were around corral in the afternoon.

The SWAMP DARNER (dragon) continues (amazingly as June 13 was the first date I saw it) in the swampy area by the island. One Orange-striped Threadtail was along shore, and a Rambur's Forktail, lots of bluets (Enallagma) out over the water, lots of Checkered Setwing, but I didn't have time to work them, though finally starting to look pretty buggy good. Water is just barely going over spillway again, the river channel is dry not far below it. I have not seen a Viceroy (lep) this year yet at the park, they should have been out, I fear it is another species we have lost due to drought.

I think I keep forgetting to mention that the big beehive in the big ancient Cypress at the north end of the park by island is dead and gone. The hive was active a number of years but seems to have succumbed to something.

There were a few butterflies around about noon, around the garden at the north-end-of-town curve in the wild natural Frogfruit was what most were on. At least 6 Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak is a wave of them arriving. Lots of Gray Hairstreak too, a Ceraunus Blue was the first of the year for me, an Orange Skipperling was nice, a Fiery Skipper, and at the Library Garden a Rounded Metalmark was the first of them for the month. A pale morph female Large Orange Sulphur is likely what the last few of those (big pale Phoebis) that blasted by this week were. About 4 new for month species today.

July 17 ~ Some outflows from the July cold front to our north cooled us down, we got maybe .15-.2 of rain. Saw new just- fledged Lark Sparrow and Hooded Oriole, some Orchard Oriole went by early. A Juvenal's Duskywing (lep) was out front, and a Sachem was my first for the month. Too busy working, same old stuff outside.

July 16 ~ UPLAND SANDPIPERS going over just after dark was the highlight of the day. At least two called back and forth from above, southbound of course, fall migrant shorebirds on their way to South America! It is my earliest fall date for them yet, by over a week, though I know east of the plateau they get them earlier, like everything. July 27 was my early date prior. Go outside around last light or first dark, and at crack of dawn too you may hear them going over. Surely you could google their call online to know what to listen for. 'Bout the only way to get them on the yard list. Sometimes if they take off for the night flight before dark, but more often early in the morning, they are low enough you can see them, flocks of 10 are not uncommon.

There were a few sprinkles from outflow boundries from the weird July cold front heading into north Texas. An odd event. The high was only about 85dF, some 10dF lower than yesterday.

July 15 ~ Funereal and Mournful Duskywing out front, there is a little bit of Mealy Sage bloom, the few Eupatoriums that were open are done, a little Mexican Hat, but not much open around the porch at the moment. The Frogfruit out in the yard is starting to get going though, which is great stuff the next couple months. Orchard and Hooded Orioles, and a Black- and-white Warbler were in the yard.

July 14 ~ Hot at about 95dF so the talk of the weird July cold front dropping this far south is encouraging, though likely more wishful thinking than anything. It is already heading south into the midwest, quite unusual for this time of year.

Saw a or the Zebra Longwing (Heliconian - butterfly) today, and a Horace's Duskywing was out front. And a Mournful still. Heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Roadrunner was singing. A Black-and-white Warbler went through southbound, and a couple Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over. No Chuck-wills-widows calling at dark. They are done.

July 13 ~ I received word from Sylvia Hilbig (and great photos) of two ROSEATE SPOONBILL somewhere near their place a couple miles NW of Utopia in southwestern Bandera County, on July 10-11. They were pale immatures. The only prior local record I know of is one Morris Killough got a photo of (and Little Creek Larry and others saw), somewhere nearby in the area, I think in Bandera Co., a number of years ago, but don't know a date. Thanks for the great news Sylvia!

It is a great bird anytime up here in the hills. Numbers move inland every summer from the coast, they are about annual at Austin and San Antonio, and have been at Uvalde a couple or few times in the last 10 years (once 9 birds were there). Would have loved to caught them going over at the park for that list, much less the yard as they surely flew in right over the river corridor! My park list is stuck at 248, two birds from a major milestone, and surely they flew over if not stopped there.

The first summer pair and the adult male Hooded Oriole were around today. They are easy to miss as their visits are quick. Another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher heading south in a.m., a pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks went over a dawn, mostly the same summertime gang, birdsong getting weaker and weaker by the day. I think we were over 95dF this afternoon, a bit toasty.

In leps I saw a couple of pale morph female Sulphurs that were likely Large Orange, but could have been Cloudless. Also saw my first Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak of the year, laying eggs on the common ground-cover flower in the front yard that is not in the Hill Country Wildflowers book. At 11 p.m. (!) I saw my first Eufala Skipper of the year, on the screen door.

July 12 ~ A few Orchard Oriole went through yard today, and at least a couple Hooded Oriole are still using hummer feeders (the first-summer pair), not seeing the adult male lately. An Orange Sulphur (lep) was the first of those for the month. Heard a Cuckoo today, the first since the yard pair disappeared in mid-June (presumably nest predation). Heard a Chuck at dark. Early a.m. there was a herd of 3 baby Armadillo in the yard. A large satiny white butterfly went by in the afternoon that seemed maybe a Giant White or White Angled-Sulphur, don't know, it got away, but was one of those fancier semi-regular southern invaders we get some years from summer through fall.

July 11 ~ Hanging in the standard summertime low 70's dF to low 90'sdF spread. Warm and muggy until it gets hot in the afternoon whence humidity is cooked away. And the standard too busy to bird program. Good thing there is stuff out the door to see in the yard. Another male Orchard Oriole worked through yard pecans southbound. I love that chestnut color. They never let you look at them as long as you want to.

A White-eyed Vireo was feeding a cowbird in the front yard. So, this year in yard I have seen cowbird juveniles being fed by Brown-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, Yellow-throated Warbler and White-eyed Vireo. Plus a Cardinal at the park, and surely I'll see some more victims.

A Two-tailed Swallowtail (lep) flew through yard, Kathy said she may have had one a couple days ago, probably the same one. Pipevine, Giant, and Black, made four swallowtail sps. in yard today.

July 10 ~ Another migrant Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through yard, lots of gliders (odes - dragonflies) were about in the morning. A Funereal Duskwing (lep) or two were around in the afternoon.

July 9 ~ Cloudless Sulphur and Little Yellow were nice leps, a Chuck-wills-widow called a little at dusk, they are just about over. Fireflies still OK, but clearly fading fast. The wild pig herd that runs through the horse corral every evening was 29 young of the year and 9 big sows. Incredible. How does anything nesting on the ground stand a chance? If you look along river virtually all the habitat is rooted. When I look at them I see loins, chops, ribs, hams...... tacos, a roast.....

July 8 ~ Hooded and Orchard Orioles again, and in afternoon a Scott's Oriole singing for an hour, but didn't come to feeders. Again saw a (the?) Zebra Longwing (lep) fly through yard, and a Bordered Patch went through.

July 7 ~ A nice male Orchard Oriole in front yard was great, they are on the move already. Hooded Oriole was around too. The ugly thing today was a Yellow-throated Warbler feeding a cowbird. Makes me sick. The warblers nest 30-40'+ up in a big tall cypress hidden in ball moss. Nothing is safe. Black Swallowtail and Goatweed Leafwing for fun leps.

July 6 ~ Thermometer said 71dF this a.m. on front porch, felt pretty good after the rain yesterday evening. Same old stuff from yard, Zone-tailed Hawk, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Painted Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler, Great Crested and Brown-crested Flycatcher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Hooded Oriole, you know the yard gang. One Chuck calling at dusk.

July 5 ~ I saw KVL hit 69dF for a low again this a.m., we were about 71 or so, and only a brief bout of morning clouds though remains of yesterday's outflows are supposed to keep highs in the low 90'sdF. Some odes going over southward early in a.m. again as typical now, gliders and saddlebags. A male and female Roseate Skimmer were out in yard in the afternoon.

One neat beast was one of the pepsis wasp mimic Cerambycids, the big one, Stenelytrana gigas. It came out of the big pecan it seemed. Sure wish I could get one sitting for a photo. Have to do some lighting and baiting to see if I can get one close. The other cool thing was a rain cell at about 7:30 p.m. that dropped nearly a third of an inch of rain on us! Outstanding, we need every drop, and the drop to 80dF from almost 90 was nice too.

July 4 ~ Happy Independence Day!! Town is somewhere between a zoo and a circus today, culminating in the incredibly popular (and equally impressive) firework show at dark. Many hundreds (maybe a couple thousand?) come from all around to watch it. We'll be hiding out and wishing everyone a great time from here. Generally we work on the holiday, and take a holiday when no one else is.   :) After the firework show ends, the departure roar of vehicles going south from town on Hwy 187 is amazing, over an hour of solid cars from 10 p.m. on. Sounded like a freeway in L.A. The new road surface is just as loud as the old one, very.

The firefly show is fading fast, it has already markedly decreased in the last week. Some tall grass, especially along the river, and under a tree canopy, like especially pecans and hackberries. BTW just to put in the good word for them since they came up, the Hackberries are a great wildlife tree, very productive and like everything, a very important component of the ecosystem, especially as winter season forage. I must say there are some very big impressive ones here too.

I figured out what happened at the Brown-crested Flycatcher nestbox. The juvenile Brown-crests fledged (3) over a week ago. The parents kept coming back to nest feeding another unseen young, and carrying out fecal sacs. How could it be? How could a young be 10 days out of sync with the rest of the clutch? It was another cowbird! Now they're all gone, and it is a lot quiter.

The bluebirds just produced a cowbird with their last clutch too. Both of our used boxes, were cowbird predated. At least in boxes the siblings can't be easily pushed out. The White-winged Dove nest in a pecan in front yard was ransacked in the last day, either squirrel or coon, pick your nest predator.

In odes I saw a Pale-faced Clubskimmer later afternoon patrolling driveway, and still gliders and a few saddlebags were up over the trees, an Argia dancer (damselfly) looked like a Dusky.

July 3 ~ The bit of a front washing out northward stopped the persistent south (gulf moisture) flow enough for it to cool down last night, was 69dF in KVL, I think we were 70dF, outstanding! Did the town run thing today so as to avoid the circus tomorrow. Heard Common Nighthawk at sunup, saw the pair of Cooper's Hawks. Roadrunner right across draw as I left for town.

Stopped at the park and heard the Downy Woodpecker, which I forgot to mention I heard a few weeks ago, and forgot to write down. I had at least 3, maybe 4 Black-and-white Warbler, these are birds departing the local breeding grounds. Fall migrant warblers. I also had an immature Golden-cheeked Warbler, not easy to get on valley floor in fall, I've only seen a few at the park in fall (July for them) in 10 years of trying. Otherwise it was the regulars like Blue Jay, Red-shouldered Hawk, etc.

Was warmish at noonish so there were some odes out to see finally. The real excitement was finally identifying the odd darner I have been mentioning the last 3 weeks there, the big dark one with blue eyes. If I can just get them to hang around long enough, 3 weeks sometimes, I can usually ID them! It is a SWAMP DARNER! Maybe the 3rd Uvalde Co. record? The first UvCo record was one I found and photographed right at the same swampy spot five years ago, July 27, 2009! So now we have two data points to rub together and ponder, which is all you really need for wild speculation.    ;)

I also flushed a female Black-shouldered Spinyleg, the first I have seen of this formerly very common species in a couple years at least. Finally I saw my FOY Orange-striped Threadtail, only one though. Other neat things seen were Rambur's Forktail, Checkered Setwing, and the black and white wings of the male Widow Skimmer look so cool in flight I never tire of seeing them. A few dancers were about but I didn't work them, did see Double-striped Bluets.

Photo'd the Mournful Duskywing this a.m. on Mexican Hat, the male Goatweed Leafwing was hanging around porch and water again, and two Pearl Crescents came into the water as well.

July 2 ~ No morning low clouds second day now, it was a nice June having them here almost every morning. Got to almost 95 but dry. Another (or same?) Zebra Heliconian (butterfly) flew through yard, a Goatweed Leafwing was about, a Mournful Duskywing, a Questionmark, I heard an Orchard Oriole sing, roughly, probably a first year male.

July 1 ~ OMG JULY!?!?!?!?! So we start the second half of the year! No morning low clouds, hot afternoons, balmy evenings, welcome to summer. A few good butterflies were about, the heat will do that.... A Soldier and at least one False Duskywing were the FOY of both, a Pearl Crescent was around too, all three I did not see in June. The first day of the month, 3 species essentially at the porch I did not see the prior whole month, I hate when that happens. Also had Black Swallowtail and Goatweed Leafwing.

Saw the Zone-tailed Hawk scoping out the feeders here again, soaring over real low and slow, and a male Scissor-tail was in the big pecan again, probably the same local breeder that has been around daily or nearly so. Still the regulars like Great Crested and Brown-crested Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, but only heard one distant Chuck at dusk.

The firefly show is off the charts tremendous around tall grass, but has probably peaked and will fade fast now. First 30 of the last 45 minutes of light is best. Good Glider (dragonfly) show in the a.m. this morning too, many dozens drifting southward, Spot-winged and Wandering, with a few Saddlebags thrown in.



Above starts July 1 2014, which is Bird News Archive XXII (#22).

Read UP from bottom to go in chronological sequence.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


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