Old Bird News XXVI
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
WU = Weather Underground
....in reverse chronological order, unless you
scroll to end and read from the bottom up.
Bird News Archive XXVI (#26) ~ 2016 - July 1 - December 31
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ below is 2016 ~ ~ ~ (in reverse chrono order)
July through December
Scroll to bottom and read up to read in chronological order.
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ 2016 summary - The Year in Review ~ ~ ~ long and boring ! ! ~ ~ ~
Wow man, holy cow, a whole dang year has gone before us.
Seems like I just did this? These are brutal, the annual
summary. But it sometimes makes it easier for me to look
stuff up, like the monthly summaries. Especially for items
that don't make one of my excel files. They also help
me put records in perspective. And each year adds another
layer or level, of observation, and therefore understanding.
We finished 13 years here in late Oct., and are now on our
14th Nov., January, etc. WeeWow.
It was our 5th year of not driving a thousand miles all year,
all driving total. Most of which is just town and back runs
for supplies, mail, etc. Which is remarkable methinks. That
includes a few big city runs to Uvalde for supplies @ 100 mi. ea.
Total birding miles is a couple hundred of the less than thousand.
I guess one could say I am in a fairly sedentary phase.
I have always preferred concentrating lots of effort in a small
area. It seems to yield more results than little effort in
lots of places. Maybe not a bigger species list, but those
are not the results I seek. I want to discover something new,
something that we don't know. Chasing already known
discovered birds does not provide that for me.
This year my Upper Sabinal River Drainage (USRD) total was 368*. ;)
The area is from a couple miles south of Utopia where we live
up the valley and canyon to the Sabinal River headwaters at
Lost Maples SNA. Of course all the way 9 miles south of town
to Clayton Grade and the escarpment I consider the USRD.
I just did not see anything south of 360 that was different this year.
*My USRD 2016 total works out like this:
212 species of birds
104+ sps. of butterflies
52 sps. of Odes (dragonflies and damselflies)
368 total - LOL
I think it is the first time I have broken 200 on a bird year
list just up here in the USRD. The year I did 279 in Uvalde Co.
I birded the Uvalde area and everything between way over a dozen
times. Considering it was a poor passerine spring and fall
migration here it is a pretty amazing total. The river is a
creek, and there are only a couple weak stock tanks for ponds,
not any real lake. I hadn't counted all year and so was shocked
when I hit 200 and still had orioles and finches to count. I am
usually more like in the 170-80's for the year up here locally.
There were about 8 more sps. of birds, a couple butterflies,
and a couple more odes, seen down at Uvalde not included in
total which is strictly the local USRD list. The 104 sps. of
butterflies locally is second only to a 108 year in prior 13 years.
Odes were lackluster overall and remain depressed still
since drought. Most of the great fall butterfly show is
immigrants from elsewhere (southward primarily).
There was nearly FOUR FEET of rain locally this year, it was
a wet one. But most was in brief periods during major events,
with dry spells between them. All or nuthin' in other
words. The Persimmon and Hackberry crops were wiped out by
the couple feet in spring, and a major wind event took out
the pecan flowers at just the wrong time so there was only
a very very minor pecan crop. Seed crops however faired well.
Flower blooms were great.
Best butterflies were the second UvCo record for Purple-washed
Skipper (Panoquina lucas) in Nov. again, just like the first
I found a few years ago. A Malachite was outstanding at the
park. Both are Mexican origin vagrants. I saw a couple Adelpha
sisters that were not Arizona, one looked Spot-celled, another
looked Band-celled. I only counted Adelpha sps. (non eulalia),
besides Arizona. Dang things won't stop. A Mourning Cloak
is always good here, not a sure thing every year.
Many butterflies occured that I had not recorded in a number of
years, often going back to the start of the drought. Like Julia,
Empress Leilia, Tailed Orange, Tropical Leafwing, Coyote Cloudywing,
Zilpa Longtail, Rawson's Metalmark, a Polydamus Swallowtail,
(a couple probable Ornythion got away), and a Brazillian Skipper.
Scarce still but not firsts in such a long time were lots of
Orange-barred Sulphur, numbers of Ocola Skipper, a dozen Crimson
Patch, a Dark Buckeye, a handfull of White Peacock, and it was a
big invasion year for Mestra, but only a very few Zebra.
Misses were no rare whites, Great Purple Hairstreak (!),
no Dorantes or Longtailed Skipper, no Wood-Nymph, Mexican Frit,
Tailed-Blue. Read the Sept., Oct., and Nov. monthly summaries
for amazing numbers of things like Bordered Patch, Theona Crescent,
Sachem, and many others. The fall invasion was outstanding.
We missed any major Monarch flight this year, but in Sept.
had a week-long flight of a billion Snout.
A photo was shown to me of a Calleta Silkmoth caterpillar, from
late Oct. in town, the first I know of that species locally.
Some good bugs were a couple Eyed Elatarid, one Stenaspis Cerambycid,
(those two are on the 2016 photos page), Wheel Bugs, a Hister
Beetle, a few S. gigas Cerambycid, a Banded Sphinx ad. on porch,
and a couple of the cats on Ludwigia at the park.
The few good odes were a Blue-faced and a Swamp Darner, a few
Ivory-striped Sylph, Halloween, Red-tailed and Four-spotted Pennant
(all 3 scarce up here), some Band-winged Dragonlet, a few Orange-striped
Threadtail, Springwater Dancer at Lost Maples, but generally lackluster.
No Amberwings, Comanche or Twelve-spotted Skimmer, and Black-shouldered
Spinyleg that was common 03-08 remains absent since the drought and
dredging of the park pond.
Best birds were the Roadside Hawk last winter, now back again,
for its third winter. The Green Violetear (now called Mexican
Violetear) at Sabinal River Lodge in May and June was outstanding,
and one of the birds-of-the-year. Certainly the rarest documented.
The Short-tailed Hawk in late September was another great Mexican
origin vagrant and record. Perhaps the first fall Edwards Plateau
record? Tropical Parula were at Concan as usual in spring, but
I did not get one here. A Common Crow was a mega-rare vagrant
here this year as well.
In spring an immature Goshawk was seen several times from late
Feb. to early May. The couple Harris's Sparrows that
overwintered into Feb. were good too. A Great Kiskadee in the yard
in May was, uh, great, as were a couple Philadelphia Vireo. It was
a weak spring for warblers and eastern passerines (songbirds).
Even Nashville Warbler numbers were way down.
In summer finding nesting Olive Sparrow just south of town was
outstanding and maybe the furthest north known nesting at present.
Also a family group of Black-throated Sparrow were a nice find.
A juvenile Broad-winged Hawk in July in our garden indicates
they nested somewhere very nearby again this year. White-tipped
Dove surely must be nesting in the area, numbers are regular
spring to fall at Lost Maples now.
August from or in the yard we had a couple Roseate Spoonbill seen
flying downriver, a Townsend's Warbler, and a couple late
Golden-cheeked Warblers. Plus a couple Acadian Flycatcher off
breeding grounds in river habitat corridor. September had the
Malachite (butterfly), a Philly Vireo, and the Short-tailed Hawk.
October saw the return of the Roadside Hawk, one Red-breasted
Nuthatch, a Sprague's Pipit, and a great total of 77 species
of butterflies for that month.
November had an amazing calling Eastern Wood-Pewee on the 11th at
the park, and a Common Crow flew over the yard on the 23rd, my
first in Uvalde County. December provided a Bald Eagle, Fox Sparrow,
and I saw the Roadside Hawk again, on the 22nd.
So it may often seem light and slowish at times, but there are
always some incredible exciting things to be found. Surely we
miss more than we see and there is lots going by un-detected.
When you add it all up at the end, it was a great year out
here with lots of outstanding finds. You just have to keep
ploughing. The more you cast your visual net, the more you catch.
Always, some of it will blow your mind.
~ ~ ~ end 2016 summary ~ ~ ~ December summary is below ~ ~ ~
~ OMG, not another summary ~ I'll need a couple pix....
Here is one of the dozens of Rocky Mountain Bigtooth Maples
around town. Peak week or two we get a nice color show.
Here is another...
~ ~ ~ December summary ~ ~ ~
December was a warmer and wetter than average, by far. Wonder
what that could be? We had a 5-7" rain event over a few
days at the start of the month, nearing double the average monthly
total. The last few days of the month I talked with an expert
on how cold it has been, Mafy the propane guy. He said
business has been very slow because it has not been cold yet.
We had a couple freezes, but they were brief 2-3 day events,
and none the last couple weeks of the month! For the times
they are a changin'. Around Christmas there were some
record maximum low temps in the mid-60's F, which is the
average high for the date!
Butterflies were pretty good for Dec. with 28 species seen.
It ties my 3rd highest Dec. total, out of 14. An Adelpha
sister that was either a Band-, or a Spot-, celled Sister
was good. Looked Spot-celled but was a fly-by. A blooming
Loquat in town became the main magnet for most of the month.
A remarkable 17 sps. were seen on Dec. 17. A late Monarch
beating tracks SSW on Dec. 13 was good. A late White-tipped
Black (moth) Dec. 27 is my first Dec. record.
Odes were scarce of course. Not 10 sps. were seen over the
month, and all were the expected end-of-season types. By the
last week of the month Chorus Frogs (our spring peeper) had
begun calling. Heard the Ringtail calling one night, and
a couple nights it (the Ringtail) was raining hackberry pits
on the steel carport awning out back. It loves them.
Birds were good for the little looking around we got to do.
I saw the Roadside Hawk fly over the yard on Dec. 22. This is
its third winter locally. A third-year Bald Eagle flew over
on Dec. 13. A Fox Sparrow on 26th was great, and 5 White-crowned
at once on the 1st was a yard record. Bushtit (6) were great
to see on the 24th. The Coot since Nov. at the park pond
might have left by late in month. We made two Dec. trips to Lost
Maples and saw just about nuthin'. A Turkey Vulture around
south of town for a week was a rare sighting for December.
The rest of the funner stuff was the usual local specialties:
Some Green and Ringed Kingfisher, Audubon's Oriole, a
couple Zone-tailed Hawk, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Texas Scrub-Jay,
the Louisiana Waterthrush continued through the month in its
3rd year wintering at the park. The ad. fem. Rusty Blackbird
continued its 4th year wintering just south of town a couple miles.
A few Pine Warbler are around. I think Jerry and Judy Schaffer
have a couple Rufous Hummingbird at their (heated) feeders.
~ ~ ~ end December summary - back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~
Here is one of the turkey in the yard around Thanksgiving.
This was through office window and screen.
Dec. 31 ~ Ran 48-74dF for a temp spread, fog and mist in
morning, sunny off and on in the afternoon. Noon we ran
over to Waresville and checked the pond on the country
club there. One Wilson's Snipe and one Savannah
Sparrow flushed, that was it. Heard some Killdeer and
saw some Western Meadowlark and Eastern Bluebird.
A few butterflies were out in the heat, a couple Red
Admiral, a few Sleepy Orange, a Common Mestra, a few
Snout, and an astonishing two new ones for the month.
A Vesta Crescent flew over the river at the crossing
on 360 while we were standing on it. Later in p.m. a
male Goatweed Leafwing was on the house! Two on the
last day of the month in Dec. is highly unexpected.
That makes 28 species for the month, and a good total
Just a reminder, a lot of the resident cavity nesters
like Titmouse, Chickadee, Bluebird, and the two Wrens
can all start nest site selection quite early in the
year. So now is a good time to service your nest boxes.
Besides some weed whacking, I pulled three nest boxes
down to clean them, especially the one the Red Wasps
took over this past year. Their nest had 60+ cells in
it (!) but was empty. No larvae, no adults, nothing.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
Dec. 30 ~ Happy New Years eve, eve! Cool and overcast
about a 47-57dF temp spread for the day. Luckily a
town run was in order, so I got a stop at the park
between errands. Saw the Louisiana Waterthrush very
well up on the island, it didn't flush at the sight
of me as usual (which is why I suspect it is a female) and
gave great views. The female Green Kingfisher is still there.
About 4 Myrtle Warbler, all males. No Coot. It either left
or was taken. Just south of town a half-mile at the UvCo354
cutoff there was an adult Zone-tailed Hawk circling low. It
seemed to be eyeing a big fresh carcass a Common Raven was working.
Saw a handful of Robins and a dozen Waxwings. Later p.m.
at house I heard a Hutton's Vireo over in corral junipers,
and a Merlin flew by.
Dec. 29 ~ Front blew in as daybreak arrived, dry, and winds
were northerly 15-20 almost all day, gusting higher briefly.
Thursday so my most stuck-at-phone-and-monitor day of the
week and just as well when cold, wet, or windy. Saw only the
regular gang in my brief breaks outside on the sheltered-from-northerlies
side of house.
Of about 16 total House Finch there was one male that was
the reddest below (underparts) I have ever seen. I have
seen many thousands of House Finch. It took 20 minutes but
I grabbed a couple digiscopes which when I get off camera
hopefully one will show it and will post. It was almost
entirely red below. Like the N. Cardinals they too are
getting redder now as their basic (winter) plumage wears
the duller tips off the feathers. But this was ridiculous.
In fish we would call it a super-male. Highly pigmented.
Dec. 28 ~ Was another mostly gray day until late p.m., a.m.
was fog, mist, overcast, about 68-78 temp spread today.
Still too busy and didn't see anything different today.
Maybe 75 Chippies, 30 Cards, 8+ Titmouse, and briefly about 35
Waxwing and a couple Robin in the morning. Saw the imm.
female N. Harrier heading north at last light. A Sharpy
and couple Cooper's made attempts on the seed-eaters.
One Lark Sparrow, a couple Ground-Dove. In leps, one
Mestra went by again, and a couple Sleepy Orange, a Little Yellow.
Dec. 27 ~ One of the Cooper's Hawks grabbed a Cardinal.
Heard Chorus Frogs again, and a Leopard Frog. Saw one
Mestra (lep) and a few Sleepy Orange. Heard Cranes again
heading south. Too busy with work, saw only the same gang
outside. Saw the Harrier heading over towards airstrip
and pasture. The beast of the day was a White-tipped Black
(moth), which was so worn it was a ashy-tipped gray, and
surely my first December record. We had a good invasion
this fall of this diurnal nectar-feeding moth, which are
less than annual and always scarce here. Numbers were
reported up to Dallas. Early to mid-November is usually
the last of them those years that some few do occur here.
Dec. 26 ~ Happy Boxing Day! Still mild and humid, was
about 65-77dF temp range, mostly overcast a little sun
here and there in afternoon. A horse jumped the fence and
was in yard several hours. Told Kathy it was her present.
A real pretty mare. It mowed parts of the lawn, as well
as fertilized some others. Had to cut a fence to get
it out. In leps, great was a Checkered White in the yard,
first one of the month. Since I checked, species #26 for
the month and likely the last new one for this December.
It is back to the salt mine here so just a few peeks
around outside, twas the same gang. Except in the later
afternoon I heard a FOX Sparrow belt out a bar of song!
What a great explosive surprise earfull! Outstanding.
I grabbed binocs and went out front along fenceline but
could not find it. Less than annual here, a good bird,
and of course my FOS. Heard some Cranes going over southbound.
Dec. 25 ~ Merry Christmas! It was a windy one here most of
the day, 10-20 gusting to 30, and some spots had 40mph gusts.
But warm. Low was about 65, high nearly 80dF, I think it
broke some records for warmest low for the date. Overcast
and some mist early, finally cleared later afternoon. Did
not see anything different around the yard. An anole was
on the porch later p.m.
Took a spin up to Lost Maples SNA noonish and walked a mile
and a half up Can Creek, past the ponds. Was dead for birds.
Maybe too late in day? We had two small flocks with a
handful of birds in them each and that was it. Amazing to
walk a mile and a half of brush-lined and wooded creek edge
and not even hear a single woodpecker or sparrow. The main
feeding station at the trailhead parking lot does not seem
to be filled in winter.
A few Ruby-crowned Kinglet, maybe two Orange-crowned Warbler,
a few Titmouse (Black-crested), a Carolina Chickadee, a
couple Carolina and a Bewick's Wren, heard one Myrtle
Warbler, a few Eastern Pewee, but generally dismal. No
Spotted Towhee or Hermit Thrush. A few juniper trees had lots
of uneaten berries on the ground beneath them, and no birds.
I may have heard an Olive Sparrow, the super high thin metallic
tik call note. I did hear a brief bit of a Canyon Wren call
The three miles we did was needed and felt great, but the birds
were absent for the most part. I flushed a couple damselflies
which went un-ID'd, and we saw a few Variegated Meadowhawk,
the only dragons. One ode got away that had to have been a
Great Spreadwing, a big oversized damselfly that I watched fly
away in binocs. One Rio Grande Leopard Frog was calling.
On the way up to LM we saw at least a dozen Common Raven along
Hwy. 187, and another over the ponds. About a dozen Black Vulture
were on some roadkill. On the way back there was an Eastern Red-tailed
Hawk, a migrant from elsewhere, with a nice big belly band
our local resident Fuerte's Red-tails lack. As we were
on the last mile coming home along the river, something shot
across road toward river, having to watch road I just saw a
bit of motion, Kathy said her glimpse looked like a Ringed Kingfisher.
After dark I saw some glowing Firefly larva in the grass.
Dec. 24 ~ Merry Christmas Eve, a gray muggy one it seems.
Temp range 60-70dF, humidity about 90%, foggy early, then
misty, then overcast with occasional streamer showers,
but not cold. Heard a Flicker over in corral early, and
a Western Meadowlark was chucking thataway too. The rest
was the usual yard gang.
Great was hearing the first Chorus Frogs of the season, our
'spring peeper' here. They are the first frog to get a new
season going, often December is when they start. Strecker's Chorus
Frog is this species here. Spotted Chorus Frog are here, but
they don't do the spring peep chorusing, rather sounding more
like a mccallii Tex-Mex Screech-Owl, or a mid-range toad trill.
We took a little putt up and back along E. 360 (the part on
the east side of the river where we live). There was not
much along the road, but we went up on the north knoll, the
1500' one, and found a small flock of Chipping Sparrow and
assorted passerines with them. About 40 Chippys, maybe 50,
a few Field Sparrow, great looks at a Rufous-crowned Sparrow
and heard a second one, two Hutton's Vireo, at least 4
Black-crested Titmouse, 2-3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 2 Orange-crowned
Warbler, and best of all about 6 BUSHTIT. Which I have not
been seeing lately, though don't spend much time in the
juniper-break type habitats they prefer. The knoll has a good
stand of Buckley Oaks mixed in. Also while we were standing
around a, or the, Rusty Blackbird flew over calling. Also
heard some Cranes going over somewhere up in the clouds.
Here is one of the 5 or so White Peacock butterflies
that showed up this fall. They are about 3" across
so decent sized. When fresh they can show a beautiful light
lavender overscaling this worn individual lacks. This one has
also worn off the orange-ish color along margins. They are
less than annual here so always a treat to see.
~ ~ ~ archive copy of update header ~ ~ ~
MOST RECENT UPDATE: December 30, 2016
(prior updates: Dec. 23, 16, 9, 2, Nov. 25, 18, 11, 4, Oct. 28, 21, 14, 7, Sept. 30, 23, 16, 9, 2)
Winter is here! Pecans and Mesquites are nearly bare of
leaves as are most deciduous trees now. Still a little color
left on the Spansh (Buckley) Oaks, many are just going brown.
Cypresses are mostly dropped of leaflets (needles or leaves).
Two Rufous-backed Robin have been seen recently on either
side of us, one in Bexar Co. (near SAT), and another in Del Rio,
so keep your eyes out. They like Chinaberry so check them.
That is what the one Kathy and I saw in Uvalde several years
ago was in, and a pic of the Del Rio one was in it. American
Robins were back, I saw almost 500 on Nov. 11, but it seems
like they left. Only seeing a few now. There are very few
juniper berries or hackberries this year, almost no fruit crop.
Stuff will not stick. Some few waxwings are back and a few
American Goldfinch are around. Yet to see a Siskin this winter.
A BALD EAGLE soaring upriver a couple miles south of town
on Tues. Dec. 13 looked like a 3-year old. One of the best
birds of the year was at the park in Nov., an Eastern Wood-Pewee
that called (soft chip notes) on Nov. 11. Even more remarkable
was a yard COMMON CROW flyover on Nov. 23! My first in Uvalde Co.
A Coot was at the park, for over a month, but missed it today,
it may have left. Seeing a few Pine Warbler back for the winter.
Saw Bushtits on Dec. 24, and heard a Fox Sparrow on Dec. 26.
A couple recent sightings in e-bird from Lost Maples are interesting.
Nov. 25 an Empidonax flycatcher, a Blue-headed Vireo, and a
Townsend's Solitaire were seen, and Dec. 15 a Winter Wren and
two Olive Sparrow. Besides the Solitaire (just past the first big
main pond) no details as to where any of them were. An Empi here
in winter is likely a Hammond's, the only two Empis I have
had in winter here were Hammys. We have been to LM twice in Dec.,
and saw none of the above.
Oct. 21 had the first of fall Myrtle Warblers I have seen, 4-5 of them,
a month behind Audubon's Warbler. Also on Oct. 21 in the yard
was a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH which is LTA - less than annual - locally.
Winter birds are around with Flicker, Sapsucker, Orange-crowned Warbler,
and others present now. Kathy heard Sandhill Cranes on Oct. 20, many since.
An adult female RUSTY BLACKBIRD on Oct. 19th south of town where one
has wintered the prior three winters is likely a returnee and continues.
A SPRAGUE'S Pipit was at the golf course Oct. 22. A very late
and not likely of local origin Summer Tanager was at the park Oct. 26.
Audubon's Oriole sang in and around our yard an hour each day
Oct. 26-27, more recently again on Dec. 21.
A ROADSIDE HAWK was on private property south of town a couple miles
on October 3, and in our yard Oct. 4, last seen flying north out of
yard with a Cotton Rat in its talons. There is no public access
where I saw it, all property is private along the road including
anywhere you think you can pull off to the side. It is one of those
Texas privately maintained Co. roads through private property with
no public access save stopping in the road, which ain't too cool
in a working ranch, or for the few folks that live off it. What would
seem most likely to be "the bird" that was seen the last two
winters, is back. In the prior 2 winters I did see it at the park,
and in the row of trees on Cypress St. out front of park. Other than
cruising roads, the park is the only public access place to look for
it without landowner permission. Not very chaseable is a probably a
generous assessment of that aspect of it. If I can stake out I will
post, but that did not work the last two winters. There is simply
too much habitat with too little access. I have seen a small buteo a
few times in the last 6-8 weeks, but not well enough to ID it.
Update: I saw it fly over the yard on Dec. 22. It is around.
But you can't plan on seeing it, or find it when looking for it.
Even further back...
An imm. SHORT-TAILED HAWK (vagrant from Mexico) was just south of town
Sept. 29 (ph.)! A BROWN THRASHER was in our yard Sept. 27. A MALACHITE
(butterfly from Mexico) was at the park Sept. 23! A WOOD THRUSH was on
the island at Utopia Park on Sept. 14. A PHILADELPHIA VIREO was at
Lost Maples Sept. 11. A CATBIRD on Sept. 10 was eating Snouts on
UvCo 363 near Waresville. Two COUCH'S KINGBIRD and a YELLOW-BELLIED
FLYCATCHER were near the Waresville Cemetery on Sept. 3, at least one
Couch's continued Oct. 1.
A first fall male TOWNSEND'S WARBLER was in our yard Aug. 31.
Two immature ROSEATE SPOONBILL were seen flying south downriver over
the Cypresses a couple miles south of Utopia on Aug. 23!
On Sept. 4 there was a Mississippi Kite and imm. Mourning Warbler
along W. 360, another Mississippi Kite was seen Sept. 30. A Louisiana
Waterthrush most of Sept., through Dec. 29 so far, at the park is surely
a returning bird back for its third winter here. Fall has been
good, but you have to work for it, and be lucky. Always remember,
the harder you work, the luckier you get.
Of expected but scarcer or local things around, there are the usual:
Zone-tailed Hawk, Canyon Towhee and Rufous-crowned Sparrow,
a few Long-billed Thrashers, Ringed and Green Kingfisher. Some few
Audubon's Oriole are around, you could see one anywhere
anytime, or nowhere at no time. It's birding!%^*@%! Again some
White-tipped Dove and Olive Sparrow have been at Lost Maples, and
around Utopia, the new normal. My take is that they are probably
nesting here and there. I found 3 just-fledged Olive Sparrows being
attended by adults June 5 about 2.5 mi. SSW of Utopia on private property.
The deco native flower gardens around town were loaded with
southerly origin fall invader butterflies in October, which
faded in November, the first couple freezes have taken their toll.
What is left is about to be frozen out. Oct. 23 Kathy and I
saw 51 species in less than three hours of checking flowers!
Nov. 5 at the Sr. Ctr. Lantanas there was a Purple-washed Skipper
(Panoquina lucas), the second Uvalde Co. record, and another
Mexican vagrant. If a butterfly can make it here from Mexico
how hard do you think it is for a bird?
A few chiggers are still out, even after the freezes, bug spray on
pantlegs usually keeps them off. Do not run around in flipflops and
shorts like I do. Some of the small fast gray Eastern Treehole
skeeters are still about too. Had both in the last two weeks.
~ ~ ~ end archive copy of update header ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Dec. 23 ~ The front returned overnight as predicted, warmer,
southerly flow and gulf moisture so in low 50's dF with
fog-mist-drizzle. It is back to the semi-cloud forest thing.
The 10 day forecast shows us not freezing through the end of
the year! The next five days are supposed to be this regular
fog-mist-drizzle thing common here, with a temp range of about
60-70dF and maybe some showers. Three Myrtle Warbler and a
Ruby-crowned Kinglet were out front early. The winter Chipping
Sparrow flock is pushing 60 birds now. There were about 35 Cedar
Waxwing in the Hackberry by the gate raiding that tree. The
Mocker did not appear thrilled about it.
Town run for some supplies so a look at the park. Don't
know why, a glutton for punishment I suppose. You just have
to keep going and keep checking. The rare stuff is mostly
passing through, so some luck helps, but the more you cast
your visual blanket, the more you end up seeing. In the woods
there were no passerines. Not even Cardinal or Titmouse.
I heard a few Myrtle Warbler on other side of river and pond,
but nothing in the woods. It has been remarkably quiet there of
late. Heard a Green Kingfisher, but didn't see it. There was
my FOS Ring-necked Duck, a female, hanging out with the continuing
Coot in the pond. What seems our first over-wintering Coot now.
Dec. 22 ~ A not very cold front came through before dawn,
no rain, just light northerlies, but is supposed to dry
us out briefly. By tonight and tomorrow it returns northbound
as a humid warm front. A weird but regular phenomenon here.
We get the same front twice, once as a southbound cold dry one,
and then as a northbound warm moist one, ususally within 12-24 hours.
Was 45-70dF spread today. The heat brought out a few butterflies.
One Little Yellow, 6 Snout, an American Lady and a Red Admiral,
a few Sleepy Orange, and a Common Mestra.
I briefly saw the Rodadside Hawk which must have been in one of
the big live-oaks up the slope behind us. I was out on patio and
saw it flying from up the hill, over the other side of the yard,
and then down the draw. It was a tiny buteo, not one of the
multiple daily Coooper's Hawks, and much smaller than a
Red-shouldered without any bold checkered pattern. Wings too
long for an accipter, small buteo wing shape, and tail proportionally
far too short for Cooper's. The brown appearance above and
size always generates a knee-jerk Cooper's thought first for me.
Until you see the parts don't fit due to much shorter tail
and longer wings. Completely incorrect for accipiter structure.
It is Thursday so I was lucky to be outside and couldn't go
run off after it. Will be looking around this weekend though.
Dang thing is the most unpredictable bird I ever knew. Apologies
if I said this before, but finding seabirds in the middle of the
ocean is more predictable.
Dec. 21 ~ Happy Solstice! Shortest daylight day of the year,
they start getting longer now. Outstanding! It is officially
winter, climatologically speaking. I heard a couple Cardinal
singing little bits and pieces of song today, tuning up, in the
sunny smokin' hot 68dF heat. That felt great. Low was 37
or so. Lots of the resident bird species will start singing over
the next couple weeks as soon as the increased photoperiod kicks
off the male's testosterone.
What I presume are the same nesting pair of Eastern Bluebirds
went to their box by the gate today. First thing early in bad
light there was a flock of 250 White-fronted Goose heading
north up-valley. The seperate back 4 birds looked different
of size, shape, and structure, I suspect they were Snow Geese,
but the birds were east of me toward the sun, so silhouette only.
I was stuck at computer so just saw the regulars in the yard
until late p.m. an hour before last sun. I went outside to
catch a blast, and an Audubon's Oriole was in the live-oaks
on the slope out back, while at the same time a Ringed Kingfisher
flew downriver calling so saw both at once. A great twofer
up here in the hill country. How many times I go outside for a
break and see something of interest, really makes one wonder how
many times things are going by that we don't see. More and most.
Dec. 20 ~ The last day of fall... it did not freeze as predicted,
that cloud blanket that moved in after the sun warmed things up
yesterday afternoon held the heat in. Much better. We warmed
to 60-62dF! That felt great, I am almost thawed out. Had to
do some errands in town. Saw the Turkey Vulture just south of
town. The park had the Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, and one female
American Wigeon. No landbirds.
Just out the gate by corral there was a female Pyrrhuloxia,
and last light there were 3 Lark Sparrow (so we got another one
in the flocklet) on the patio gulping white millet down fast as
they could crack it. You could hear their bills breaking seeds
as they were chowing down. Heard Cooper's Hawk calling from
over in the corral in the afternoon. Few each Cedar Waxwing, Robin,
and American Goldfinch.
Dec. 19 ~ Another hard freeze, about 22dF for a low, but with just
5mph or less wind so not as chilly feeling as yesterday morning.
Bird bath had to be thawed three times before it got above
freezing. It got up to about 50dF at peak heat before a cloud
sheild killed the sun around 4 p.m. Was pretty nice for a bit.
A flock of 30 Cedar Waxwing went over, most I have seen so far this
season. A few Robin came into the bath for a drink. Two Lark Sparrow
again this morning. One Lesser Goldfinch was the new odd bird, we
don't get them much in winter, unless you feed nyger seed. The
rest was the same gang o' seed thiefs.
Dec. 18 ~ Oh my freezin' fern it is cold out there this morning.
Temps in mid-20's dF with 20 mph winds on it = single digit chill
factors. At 9:30a I saw 22dF at Kerrville, with 20 mph winds and 6dF
for a chill. Vanderpool just north of us had about the same and 7dF
chill factor. A bunch of local areas were single digit chill factors.
Bird bath was frozen solid like a rock. And it was 77dF yesterday
afternoon. Gadzooks! A 50dF real temp drop, plus the loss of 20
more due to wind. No T-shirt and flip-flops today! Birding will be
from in the house trying to see through fogged windows.
There were 4 American Goldfinch at the sunflower tube, and a dozen
Cedar Waxwing were here for a brief bit. The rest was the regulars.
A blackbird flock settled in the corral late that was a couple
hundred Brewer's, 40+ Red-winged (which is a big number for
winter), a few Brown-headed Cowbird, and one Starling. Here in the
yard over five pounds of seed was consumed, probably 6. A weird
raptor went over early but I didn't get enough of a look to ID it.
Dec. 17 ~ Low of 50dF, very foggy first half of a.m., slowly lifting,
and clearing after noon. It got downright warm out, into the upper
70's dF! Tommorow morning is supposed to be 50dF colder! Baton
down the hatches. Had a Dainty Sulphur, a Little Yellow, and a
Cloudless Sulphur around yard when the sun broke out.
We took a little spin around town and out to the 1050 pass a few
miles west of town where the little bit of hills (and altitude)
have lots of Buckley Oaks. Leaves were more rusty and orange-brown
than red in color, a few were red, but it looked kinda like fall.
Figured we better have a quick look as there are 35mph northerlies
forecast with gusts to 40-50 are possible, which may strip the trees.
At the park in town there was a winter form Questionmark (lep) in
the woods, which I missed in November. The library garden had a
few Cloudless and Large Orange Sulphur, one So. Dogface, and a
rare December Rounded Metalmark. Another Dogface was at the Sr.
Ctr., probably wondering what the deer did to the Lantanas.
A few Sleepy Orange were there, and on the Loquat in town.
Great was at Bear Creek Pond which is the pond on 1050 about 4 or
5 miles west of town, and a mile east (this side) of the peak of the
pass. Ducks! Waterfowl! I haven't been seeing any so a pleasant
change. There were 6 American Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, and 11 Green-winged
Teal. Very neat. I could see a couple dragonflies at the edge of the
pond patrolling but they were too far to ID. The roadsides were
devoid of birds save one Mockingbird and an Eastern Phoebe, no
sparrow flocks. Still have not seen a Say's Phoebe this fall.
The other neat thing was the blooming Loquat in town, which had
a good selection of butterflies on it, a number first for the
month, and likely last and only. A Fatal Metalmark, plus an
un-ID'd (too worn and frayed) Metalmark were on it, one Sachem
(Field Skipper), a Mestra, a few Variegated Fritillary, a Reakirt's Blue,
a Snout, a couple Buckeye, one each American and Painted Lady,
and an Orange-crowned Warbler, probably eating them.
The northerlies hit with a vengance about 8:15 p.m., the front is
here. Was still 60dF then. Reports of 30dF drops in temps in an
hour to our north where the front passed already. The winds at
15-20 sustained (gusting twice that) are here for 36 hours or so
per forecasts. No birding tomorrow save from house. Good thing
we have a hundred pounds of various seeds here for the birds.
They are going to go through a lot the next few days.
This is the entrance at Utopia Park so you recognize it.
Some have been wondering what I have been doing the last
13 years here... I suppose you never tried to train
vultures before? They might not be there when you arrive
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
Dec. 16 ~ Temp spread 50-60dF and fog with some mist, overcast all
day, no sun later as advertised. First thing in a.m. the Rusty
Blackbird flew over calling. Did a town run for supplies so got
a look at the park. SOS - the Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, and a female
Green Kingfisher all present, but nothing else. I heard some
Myrtle and a Pine Warbler across the river, no Louisiana Waterthrush.
The bird of the day was a Turkey Vulture, which are absent here
from mid-Nov. to mid-Feb. I have about 2 records in that 12 week
window over the last 13 years. It was on a roadside carcass
with a Caracara ca. 2 mi. south of town right by our turnoff around
2 p.m., and then later about 3:30 presumedly the same bird (considering
their rarity here now) was right over the house a mile west of the
first sighting. Normally if you see something that looks like a TV
in the winter window of absence period it will be a Zone-tailed Hawk.
Dec. 15 ~ Temp range today was about 44-55dF, overcast, humid and
cool. Thursdays I am stuck at desk and computer so didn't see
much besides the yard regulars. Three Ground-Dove and the Lark
Sparrow were on the patio, heard a Pine Warbler up the slope behind
us with the big ancient live-oaks. A couple Caracara went over.
One Red-tailed Hawk was an imm. eastern type, not a local Fuertes'
Red-tail, the first of those I have seen this winter. Which is still
a week away but it looks and feels like it is here already. I see
some nice red-leafed Buckley Oaks, the hills are getting some good
color with them now.
Dec. 14 ~ A quick run to town this morning, so a look at the park.
The Louisiana Waterthrush, Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, and a female
Green Kingfisher were all continuing. New was a first-winter
White-throated Sparrow in the ragweed patch, and a Pine Warbler
was there. Best was an amazing flight and vocal display by two
interacting Ringed Kingfisher. Incredible flight maneuvers, and
calls I never heard from them. At one point one of them had one
wing pointed straight up, the other straight down, belly towards
horizon, not flapping, holding position, for an extended dive right
over my head. It was awesome. At dusk a third Ringed Kingfisher
flew upriver past our place a couple miles south of town. More
common than Coots here.
In leps I saw a couple Common Mestra today, sps. #11 for the month.
Another (diff.) Gulf Fritillary went by, two Sleepy Orange, and I saw
the Mexican Yellow out front again. There were about 15 Waxwing
(Cedar) in the big pecan and three American Goldfinch here now.
The one Lark Sparrow was out there on the patio again. About a
half-dozen Turkey were over in the corral. Two FOS (for me) species
were seen today, finally a Spotted Towhee was over the north fence in
the draw, and also finally, a female Merlin shot through the yard,
much as one did routinely the last two winters. Maybe we have another
Dec. 13 ~ It got up to an amazing 75dF or so in the afternoon!
First in butterflies there was a tardy MONARCH, making tracks SSW,
way behind the main pack by about 6 weeks or more. Great was a
Mexican Yellow on the couple Tropical Sage flowers open. Saw 2 Snout,
3 Sleepy Orange, and a pale morph female Orange Sulphur. At last
sun I was on back porch in a pumpkin colored T-shirt and the first
Gulf Fritillary of the month kept attempting to land on me. I was
just the right color. Six sps. of butterflies today, best day of
the month so far. A guy in the LRGV had 71 species today! Oh
what a difference 1000' of altitude and a couple hundred
miles can make!
There were two different birds for the day, first a female
Pyrrhuloxia flew across the yard heading towards seed out back.
Wonder if it could be the one that was off-and-on visitor the
last two winters? The great bird of the day was a BALD EAGLE.
It was likely a third year bird, with a mostly white tail,
mostly white head but both still with dark areas. White on
belly and back. I grabbed the scope and called Kathy out,
we watched it slowly drift north, soaring not too high up, last
seen across and up the river from us over the country club.
Dec. 12 ~ The sun! It lives! Early there were a couple Waxwings
that stopped in the pecan with a few Robin, one Lark Sparrow,
the juv. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was in the big pecan too.
Holy cow we got into the low 70's dF in the afternoon!
First time this month. Immature Cooper's, and imm. Sharp-shinned
Hawks diving on the seed eaters all day. Nearing dusk the Rusty
Blackbird flew over the yard calling, and alone.
Most amazing was my monthly butterfly list skyrocketed from
the two species seen Dec. 1 (Sleepy Orange and Comm. Checkered-Skipper)
finally. A whopping 6 species today! There were several Sleepy Orange,
a Red Admiral, three Snout, a Variegated Fritillary, a Desert
Checkered-Skipper and an Orange Sulphur. Also saw an Anole basking.
There were lots of bees out, and loads of lady beetle (bug) that were
the introduced Asian non-native type looking for cracks to hibernate in.
Dec. 11 ~ drizzled all night and into the morning, so chilly and
damp. But mid-50's dF by noonish. Was supposed to be partly
sunny and lower 60's by afternoon but that never happened.
We checked the park, the Coot and Pied-billed Grebe continue,
and were side-by-side acting like buddies now. Pretty sure they
qualify as an odd couple. One female Green Kingfisher, no waterthrush,
hardly any birds. As Kathy noted, there was more action around our
yard. A corral on W. 360 had about 75 Brewer's Blackbird and no
Rusty, but one male Red-winged.
We went up to Lost Maples to have a quick look around there.
Most of the leaves are off the maples, a few still had some
color and looked nice. Most of the best ones though were maples
planted ornamentally in picnic area or campround, the natural
ones in canyons were mostly bare. Actually right now if you
drive around Utopia more of the planted ornamental Maples are in peak
full color here in and around town. The Buckley (Spanish) Oaks
are getting going, another week or two, some will be three, and
they should great.
It was dead for birds though. Heard (Texas) Scrub-Jay and Hutton's
Vireo, saw almost nothing going a half mile out the Maples Trail and a half
mile past that on that end of the East Trail. Sounded like a morgue.
Not even a Spotted Towhee. Along 187 there were a few small flocks of
Vesper Sparrow, a larger flock of Chipping, and 1 Savannah Sparrow was
on a fenceline. Eastern and Western Meadowlark were seen, a Shrike,
probably over 150 Mourning Dove in three flocks, some Black Vulture,
a Raven. But overall seemingly few birds out there, at the park,
along the road, and at Lost Maples.
Dec. 10 ~ Cool and damp, a bit breezy, not particularly inviting
out there so worked here. Had 4 Common Ground-Dove on the patio.
A Field Sparrow was out there for a bit. The rest was the usual gang.
The male Cardinals are getting brighter now as their basic (winter)
plumage wears and the duller feather tips wear off. They are much
redder than they were a month ago, and way more so than two months
ago. After dark, Screech-, Barn, and Great Horned Owls calling.
Heard the Barred a few days ago and forgot to mention methinks.
One of the Sickle-winged Skippers from this fall.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
Dec. 9 ~ Some wind and cloud cover kept it from the 27dF or so
that was forecast, we were 33 maybe, the bird bath wasn't frozen.
Got up to a blazin' 43dF or so. Chilly day. There was an
ad. Red-shouldered Hawk in the pecan out kitchen window,
which brought a good scold scene out of the yard passerines.
Titmice in particular, but Cards, a Mocker, Bewick's Wrens all
got in on it. Later in the afternoon a male Yellow-shafted Flicker
used the bird bath for a drink!
A quick town run, too cold for butterflies if there are any left.
The Maples folks have planted around town are at peak color,
they look great, lots of yellow, some orange and red, very nice.
That cold set them off apparently. The COOT continues at the
park, amazingly, our first long-staying individual (n~13 years).
A couple Green Kingfisher were around the pond, heard the Ringed
upriver, and an ad. Zone-tailed Hawk was roosting in a big cypress
in the woods at north end. No waterthrush detection. A couple
Inca Dove were on the pallets behind Utopia Ranch Outpost, where
the seed gets spilled.
Dec. 8 ~ A dry cold front blew in overnight, winds were 15-20+ sustained
and several nearby stations had gusts at 35 and 40 mph! It howled
all day. Cleared lots of remaining leaves off the trees. It
looks a lot more like winter out there now. Temps were in 30's dF so
chills were in 20's! It was a cold one. Yard had 50-55
Chipping Sparrow, 30+ Cardinal, 3 Ground-Dove, and a Lark Sparrow
on the seed. Didn't see any White-crowned Sparrow today.
About 50 Brewer's Blackbird and the Rusty were out in corral,
on powerline, and in one of the pecans out front.
Dec. 7 ~ Warmed into the 60's dF today ahead of an inbound
cold front. The imm. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was around the
yard working Pecans and the Mulberry. A No. Harrier went over,
a couple American Goldfinch came in, a few Robin were around,
a Pine Warbler was out there with a couple Myrtles for a bit,
and a seemingly fairly unskilled immature Sharp-shinned Hawk was
diving on the seed eaters all day.
Dec. 6 ~ About 36dF for a low, colder than forecast by several dF.
WU had us for low 40's, dang near a category off. Mostly it
was the same gang today. One Lark Sparrow among the Chippies,
a Cardinal or two starting to do some warmup type singing just
a wee bit. After the solstice they get going quickly. A couple
Caracara went over early, some Brewer's Blackbird in the
corral, couple Myrtle Warbler and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, the pair
of Common Ground-Dove, at least 3 of the White-crowned Sparrow
still here including the adult, and heard the White-throated again.
Seven Robin and a waxwing came by briefly.
The birds are really going through sunflower seeds now, likely
stashing as many or more than they are eating. September and
October there was very little sunflower seed traffic, even the
House Finches were all but gone, likely due to the seed crop
being very good, so natural sources were very productive.
Dec. 5 ~ Holy cow it rained another 2 cm overnight. We are now at
7.5" for the 3.5 day event! Weewow! Very little runoff,
it just kept lightly raining for most of 4 days. Would be nice
to dry out a bit. Had a Field Sparrow and an Orange-crowned
Warbler, it is amazing how similar a chip note those two can make.
Saw three White-crowned Sparrow, and heard a White-throated out back.
Actually made the sun out through the clouds about noonish. I hear
rumors of its return... there it is the last 15 minutes before it
set, the skies cleared. Heard Barn Owl, and 4 or more Great
Horned, their breeding cycle is about to commence so they
have gotten quite noisy lately.
Dec. 4 ~ Day 3 of the cold wet event, another inch of rain overnight
and now at 5" for the event! Temps holding from upper 40's dF
to lowest 50's dF steady for 3 days. Did I mention wet? It
is a sopping mess out there. It has been slow and steady so a
good soaker with little runoff and great for aquifer recharge.
Not so much for going birding though. December, and winter, are
normally the dry season here so this is a significant event and
more rain already than the average entire month of December gets.
Supposed to be one last round overnight tonight into the a.m.
Between the rain and winds it sure looks a lot more like winter
out there now than last weekend. Lots of trees were de-leafed
finally in the event and the level of brown has increased greatly,
concurrent with a huge drop in levels of green to be seen. At
least with live oaks and junipers lots stays green through the
winter. Saw the ad. White-crowned Sparrow, and the Lark Sparrow
has been joined by a second one. Counted at least 6 Black-crested
Titmouse at once hitting the sunflower seed feeder. Along with
3 Carolina Chickadee, male and female Golden-fronted Woodpecker,
and over a dozen House Finch.
Dec. 3 ~ TWO inches of rain overnight, thunder, all the clocks and
microwave flashing reading 1 a.m. when I got up at 5:30 in the dark,
a touch lamp turned itself on from the power surge... it looked
like there was a party goin' on and I was sleeping through it.
So at daybreak after yesterday's 1.25" we are at 3.25 for the event
so far whilst the NOAA storm total radar shows a half inch here!
Sometimes, lots of the time, it just doesn't read rainfall well
out here. Too many hills and too much rain between us and the too
distant doppler sites (New Braunfels and Brackettville) for it to
read rainfall here correctly. By noon about another half inch over the
morning, and more thunder. Holding steady at 50dF. Afternoon saw
another couple tenths, now we are just under 4" so far.
I got a fair count on the winter seed-eaters as they crossed
the road coming into yard. About 55 Chipping Sparrow now, and
35+ Cardinal (18+ males), and one Lark Sparrow. Saw a couple
of the White-crowned Sparrow, an ad. and an imm. on a brushpile.
Nine big Tom Turkeys walked up the corral, no doubt had roosted
in the big cypresses along the river. They spotted the Chili Pequin
plants over there and raided them big time. That is who is eating my chilis!
These wee bittie chilis are a little tiny red dot about the size
and appearance of those red hot candies, but some are hotter than
a four alarm fire. Not all are though. My understanding is that
pepper doesn't do to bird tongues what it does to mammal tongues.
I think I figured out what the natural seed dispersal method for
Chili Pequin is though, and who my competition is. I hope they
left me some. Half-dozen in a taco and you will think you have
been to Mexico, especially if one completes the effect with say a
Corona or Dos Equis in hand...
There was a big invasion of Theona Checkerspot
(Thessalia theona) this fall.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
Dec. 2 ~ The advertised rain event is starting, in fits over the day,
but about 1.25" by 5 p.m. Supposed to rain to Sunday or Monday.
We need the water. Along the road I saw Red-shouldered Hawk and
Black Vultures bathing at their perches, wings out, trying to
get their wingpits wet no doubt. Been so long since a good bath.
The 5 White-crowned Sparrow all seemed to be around the yard still
today. Quick look at a small buteo over in the (treed) corral this
morning. About 30 Brewer's Blackbird on the powerline out front.
Ran to town for supplies, it was raining at the park, I saw nothing
but a male Green Kingfisher. So I drowned my sorrows, with a beer run.
That is making lemonade out of lemons if I ever saw it. B double E
double R-u-n, beer run... Don't recall if I mentioned it but as
of this year you can buy beer and wine in Vanderpool, just 10 miles
away in Bandera Co. So I did. ;) It is even a workable selection.
The Texas brewer Shiner has a great IPA, their first, that is very
good if you like bitter hopsy IPAs with silly names (Wicked Ram).
Dec. 1 ~ Oh man don't tell me it's December! I would swear
we just started the year. Three weeks until the solstice and
shortest daylight day. The month started out chilly with a low
of 29dF here! Same as KRVL, bird bath was frozen over here. Then
got up to 70dF for quite the temp spread. Now we are supposed to have
a three day cold rain event Friday through Sunday. There goes
the weekend birding. Hutton's Vireo and Scrub-Jay heard today.
Noonish there were two 8-point (4 on each side) buck White-tailed
Deer head butting, rattling antlers right in the road on the
other side of the gate. Huge cloud of dust. The sound of rattling
antlers set off Mr. 10-point Buck that was in the yard. When he
heard the rattling he turned 180 deg. and set off at high speed
right at where the noise was coming from. Jumped the fence and
the two 8-pointers both unhooked antlers and took off running.
He snapped when he heard the sound of those antlers rattling.
Not in his territory. Wow.
Amazing was FIVE White-crowned Sparrow in the yard today at once.
A record. Just don't get big Zon flocks here, down in the brush
country off the escarpment yes, but up here not so much. Maybe it
is just this valley, I do not know. It was one ad. and four immatures.
The ad. and 2 imms. were the expected pink-billed, black-lored
Eastern leucophrys race, and 2 imms. were the Western gambelli with
bigger orange bills and gray unmarked lores without a black line
through them. They were even singing a bit in the afternoon heat.
Too cool. Sure like to keep them around. They hit the bird bath too.
~ ~ ~ November summary ~ ~ ~
The month was good, always a couple surprises you would never
guess. Butterflies were the main show, but there were a couple
good birds too. The huge fall butterfly invasion slowly faded but
enough spilled over into Nov. to make a good month. It was 60
species total, which is the best Nov. all the way back to 2008,
in eight years. Since the drought started. The critter of the
month was a Purple-washed Skipper (Panoquina lucas) on Nov. 5 at
one of the Sr. Ctr. Lantanas. It is only the second ever known
from Uvalde Co., it is mostly a rare vagrant from Mexico down
in the lower Rio Grande valley. The other UvCo record was one
I photo'd at the library garden Nov. 19, 2013.
Two others that were first since the drought (7+ years) were great,
a Tailed Orange and a Tropical Leafwing. A Dark (Tropical) Buckeye
was my first in a few years. A bunch of Orange-barred Sulphur
continued to mid-month, as did a few Mimosa Yellow. One last
Sickle-winged Skipper was great early in the month, as were a couple
more White Peacock. An Arizona Sister showed until late in the month,
providing a new late date for them.
Odes (dragonflies and damselflies) were expectedly weak as their
season fades faster than butterflies. It was only about 13 species
left flying over the month. Nothing unusual, all were the most
expected types. Good numbers of Autumnal Meadowhawk are in.
Birds were a mixed bag. Mostly Nov. sees the arrival of many
wintering type species. Migratory breeders are largely gone,
the diversity of migrations fades. I saw about 78 species of
birds for the month, down 9 from Oct. (87 sps.), which was
down about 13 from September (100 sps.). If you spent all of a
day or two hitting all the various micro-habitats you might
find about 90-100 speces around here now.
There were two outstanding finds. A COMMON CROW was the bird of
the month and maybe year. First in UvCo I have heard of since
we got here (13 yrs. ago). It was a flyover at the house Nov. 23.
I yelled at it to 'caw' but it didn't. The other bird
is close to 2nd best for the year, an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE on Nov. 11
at the park. They are absent after earliest October here. Probably
a far-flung vagrant, the last of the local population leaves by late
I saw a small buteo Nov. 10 & 12 which was likely the Roadside Hawk.
A Coot was at the park Nov. 15-29 so far, I have never seen one
stay 2 weeks. Pine Warblers returned as usual towards end of
month, the ad. fem. Rusty Blackbird in its 4th winter (we know of)
locally continued, as does the Louisiana Waterthrush now in its 3rd
winter here at the park. A couple Zone-tailed Hawk (ad. and imm.),
plus Ringed and Green Kingfisher were around.
~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~
Nov. 30 ~ Holy cow that was a fast month. Didn't it just start?
A weak front came through overnight, light northwest winds and dry
cooler air. A 44-64 dF temp range today. Swamped at the computer
in office, something needs to show up in one of the trees out the
windows. The juv. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was working the
Mulberry, so it will likely be around all winter. A Hermit Thrush
came into the bath late afternoon. Best was two immature
White-crowned Sparrow. Finally! I have heard 10 this fall but
these are the first to show themselves. They were at the edge of
the patio eating seed, occasionally shooting into one of the
brush piles. Had a Pipevine Swallowtail go by. Heard Barn Owl.
Nov. 29 ~ Major temp spread today, 42-81dF! Was mostly too busy
working but heard the Rusty Blackbird and a Pine Warbler out front.
A quick run to town had Ringed and Green Kingfisher at the park,
and the continuing Coot and Pied-billed Grebe, missed the waterthrush.
Butterflies were few, a Pipevine Swallowtail, well about 60% of one
continues at the park entrance. A Rounded Metalmark was at a Sr. Ctr.
Lantana. One Clouded Skipper, a few Cloudless and Large Orange Sulphur,
some Sleepy Orange, a Gulf Frit, a Red Admiral. Yard had 12 Mestra,
a Comm. Checkered-Skipper, few Sleepy Orange. It is about dead
and done. Just give it two days until this next near-freeze.
Looks like I missed Questionmark in Nov., shoulda put some bait
out at the park woods.
Nov. 28 ~ Still balmy lows in 60's dF, and though wind laid
down overnight, picked back up first thing, 15-20 out of west and
northwest, so dried the air at least, and calmed a bit noonish or so.
The male Golden-fronted Woodpecker is hitting the sunflower feeder
and taking and stashing sunflower seeds. Mostly in the bark of pecans
especially since they have that nice thick flaky crevice-filled
bark. I only briefly wondered how the sunflower feeder got so
empty so fast. And there he was... he flew up to the big pecan
right off the porch where I was standing, below my eye level,
ten feet away tops, and stashed a sunflower behind some bark and
shot back to the feeder. Faster than you could say Golden-fronted
Woodpecker. A bold, blatant, 'this is what I am doing with the
seeds, thank you very much'. The titmice are going to have
fun with this all winter.
Nov. 27 ~ Still balmy (60's dF), cloudy, and stiffly breezy out
of the south. There has been a nice buck White-tailed Deer around
the yard, harassing the females, it is that time of year. Probably
5+ years old, nice rack, 10 points, and like everything it too loves
the yellow just-fallen Mulberry leaves. Must be tasty or something in
them of high nutritive value the way everything goes after them.
Nothing touches the just-fallen yellow Hackberry leaves adjacent,
which admittedly feel about as sandpapery as a cat's tongue.
It is like a yellow Mulberry leaf vacuum goes over the areas
around that tree every night. Clean as a whistle every morning.
Noonish I did a mile loop on the live-oak slopes behind us.
A couple Buckley (Spanish or locally 'Red') Oak were turning
but most were still green. Another week or two for them. They
get flamin' red regardless of the weather almost every year,
but in December. It was dead, not even a Spotted Towhee in the
Agarita patches. Little Creek Larry said he had both Spotted
and Eastern Towhee a week ago.
I needed the mile anyway. It was one Titmouse, one Bewick's
Wren, one Chipping Sparrow and heard one Lincoln's Sparrow,
plus one bonus Chigger found several hours after the walk.
The grass is knee-high or better due to this years' 3 FEET of rain.
I thought maybe with the recent freeze I would get away with it.
Nov. 26 ~ Balmy low in upper 60's dF and a bit breezy
with gulf flow and low clouds. We can hear the two highways
a mile or so to N., and E., and can tell there is a bit of
traffic out there this holiday weekend so laying low and
working here. Caught up some overdue yard work.
A No. Harrier flew by early in morning. Later had the imm.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the Mulberry. That one Lark Sparrow
was with the Cardinals eating seed at dusk. Wonder where it
is from, not likely a local bird. Heard a white-eyed Vireo
over by draw again. A few Myrtle and an Orange-crowned Warbler
went through, a couple Kinglets (Ruby). In later afternoon warmed
enough for the Mestras (butterflies) and a half-dozen at once
were around back porch.
Here is a pic of the Purple-washed Skipper
(Panoquina lucas) on Nov. 5, second UvCo record.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
Nov. 25 ~ Low in upper60's in southerly gulf flow ahead of
an inbound coldish front. Off and on cloudy like it might rain
in the a.m., the northerlies hit about 1 p.m. and it was a dry
frontal passage, with only light winds. A few Robin were around
early in a.m., heard American Goldfinch out there too. Also
heard a White-eyed Vireo for the first time in a week, perhaps
a tardy transient. Heard the Rusty Blackbird early and saw a flock
of Brewer's Blackbird shortly after sunup.
At the park the Coot continues, now here a 11+ days, which
is unprecedented. A few days tops is it for them here. The
male Green Kingfisher was in willows at north end of pond and
I heard the Louisiana Waterthrush on the other side of the island.
For butterflies it was about like yesterday but with less. The
blooming loquat near SE corner of town has the most stuff. The
Monarch continued as did a couple Queens, the Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak
and Dusky-blue Groundstreak. The only thing new and different was a
White-tipped Black Moth. At the library garden was a female Orange-barred
Sulphur, two Tropical Checkered-Skipper, and yesterday's Rounded
Metalmark continued. At the park there was a Sleepy Orange that
was as small as a Dainty Sulphur, less than half normal size.
That will get you goin' every time. When a caterpillar runs
out of larval foodplant before it finishes growing fully it can make
for a tiny adult.
Nov. 24 ~ Happy Thanksgiving Turkeys! Heard Yellow-bellied
Sapsucker out front in morning. As we left for a quick spin
before lunch, I heard a hissy note along the corral that sure
could have been a Green-tailed Towhee but we could not find it.
My most wanted UvCo bird. Probably the species seen most often
(annually or nearly so) here that I have yet to see.
We rolled around the country club checking perimeter and ponds.
There were a few Autumnal Meadowhawk and Variegated Meadowhawk
dragonflies and lots of Enallagma sps. (Bluet) damselflies of
some sort. A Wandering Glider was a late date. One Green Darner.
Best was a DARK (Tropical) Buckeye! Butterfly. First I have seen
this year! There were a number of Common Buckeye, over the day
I saw way over a dozen. There were 8 Killdeer on a fairway, and
at the Waresville pond, 3 FOS Wilson's (formerly Common) Snipe.
We had one Savannah Sparrow fly out of that pond and another bird
I heard sounded like maybe a LeConte's or (Nelson&apo;s) Sharp-tailed
Sparrow but it would not show itself. An imm. Zone-tailed Hawk gave a
great point blank flyover, circling low right overhead for a minute.
After lunch I ran to check some flowers in town for butterflies.
The park had Blue Jay, Green Kingfisher, and Louisiana Waterthrush.
The best single butterfly stop was a blooming Loquat tree in a
yard. It had a Monarch, Gulf and Variegated Fritillary, Desert
and Common Checkered-Skipper, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Fatal
Metalmark, Fiery Skipper, Buckeye, Mestra, American Lady, Reakirt's
Blue, Snout, Large Orange Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, and Little Yellow,
and a Dusky-blue Groundstreak for 17 or so species. Other things at
the few flowers left at the gardens were a Rounded Metalmark (ph.),
Orange and Dainty Sulphur, Sachem, Queen, Clouded and Julia's Skipper,
Cloudless Sulphur, a Pipevine Swallowtail, and some Red Admiral. So
about 28 sps. of butterflies for the day, and one new for the year
(ca. 104 sps.) and month (60 sps.) totals. Had a weird small
dark skipper too, but it got away before I could photo it.
Nov. 23 ~ I think it was upper 40's dF and the northerly winds
finally got here behind the front, so felt cooler. Chamber of Commerce
sunny and blue skies. Dry is the thing, the spring to fall is so
humid here. Night skies are way better now too as they are much
clearer without the haze of the humidity. Short week so stuck at
desk. But had something unbelievable first thing in the morning.
I was on back porch facing SW and a bird appeared overhead going
in that direction. If only I had been on the patio out from under
the overhang and got on it a few seconds earlier.
A CROW! It was black and small compared to daily Ravens, wings made
no sound, it flapped fast, rowing or swimming type deep strokes. It
was so small compared to the daily Ravens (Common - smallish ones),
I double checked to make sure it couldn't be a Lewis's Woodpecker
or a Pinyon Jay, both of which can appear all dark in flight in
certain light. It was neither, bigger than both, and truly black.
It was a crow! The first one I have seen in Uvalde Co., they are
regular in Bexar Co. around San Antonio and west to Castroville or
so in Medina Co. I have not heard of one in UvCo since I have been
here. It is one of those things that if I had not have seen it
myself, I doubt I would believe a report without photos. There
is no way to do that with a flyover of course. Amazing a Crow can be
so exciting. My first in 13+ years here. There is always something
to blow your mind no matter how long or how much you study birds.
It is a better yard bird than the Kiskadee here. There is always
something new to see, just around the next corner, bush, tree, etc.
Nov. 22 ~ warm and muggy overnight, low clouds most of day, a few
spits and drizzles here and there, finally a frontal passage late
in day. Short week so had to be at computer all day. But did
sneak down to the crossing about noon-thirty and caught a bathing
show. It can be a morgue easy walking the river habitat corridor.
But if you catch the flock, or a bathing show, it is astounding what
comes out of the woods. It is as if someone blows the all-clear whistle
and they decide it is safe to bathe. Everything comes in to various
good shallow spots and gets a bath. There was so much action at the
frenzy even a Yellow-shafted Flicker flew in and down to the water.
It was a dozen each of Eastern Bluebird and Myrtle Warbler for
the most part. Then others were a few Black-crested Titmouse,
a couple Carolina Chickadee, and Wren, a Hutton's Vireo, a
couple Pine Warbler, a Cedar Waxwing, a couple Eastern Phoebe,
a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and a Song Sparrow or two. I heard
a Golden-crowned Kinglet. And a Green Kingfisher was around the
crossing. Pretty sure it was 20 of the best 30 minutes of the day.
Those two big Tom Turkey waltzed up the road to our gate, turned,
flew up on to the gate, then down into driveway, and did a loop
around the house hitting all the places where we throw seed,
talking back and forth the whole time, there must be a lot of news
in Turkeyworld these days. Walked by less than 8' from the office
window, over to patio and did under those feeders. When a Turkey
scratches it moves some dirt and leaf litter. That foot and leg
is like a garden implement on a broomstick.
Nov. 21 ~ Just a frost, not a freeze, ran 36 to 72 dF for temps today.
Short week so had to be busy at desk. Had a few Myrtles, a Pine
Warbler was in front pecans after yesterday's FOS down at the
crossing. A few Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Hutton's Vireo, heard the
Rusty Blackbird over in corral, some Eastern Bluebirds and a few Robins.
Chipping Sparrows are about 18-20 at least. Cardinals are more. The
female Golden-fronted Woodpecker is hitting the sunflower seed feeder
again now, and for the last week. The weak pecan crop is done
Seems a poor winter for wild food crops ahead, besides the seed crop.
A near total lack of a good Pecan, Juniper, or Hackberry crop, and,
there was no Persimmon crop this year as well. All the rains were
great, but the 2 feet in the spring to early summer, along with the
winds associated, wiped out the fruit and nut flowers at the wrong time.
Besides seedeaters which will do well, the fruigivores will come in, and
depart after having a look around to asses wild food crops. Like
the 500+ Robins did a week ago.
Nov. 20 ~ First freeze of the winter season! I know it is still
just late fall. For another month. We had a 28dF reading!
Some stations at Kerrville and Fredricksburg both reported 29dF.
Lots of plants will turn purple now. It was several hours below 32dF,
the bird bath was frozen over. Last year Nov. 22 was the date of first
freeze. Does not look like we will have another for rest of the month
though. Incidently I do not think the Maples are having a great color
year up at Lost Maples. You can go to the parks website and at top
click on fall leaf report or somesuch and see weekly pix updated on
Thursdays during fall. Some say they need cold temps for best color,
wind, wet, and warm does not make for a good color show usually. The
Spanish (Buckley) Oaks will be going soon and are the better sure thing
red show anyway. Maybe 10 to 20 days or so before they get going.
Was a juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the pecans for a while.
Couple Myrtle Warbler went through yard. We went up and down the
road a bit around noon. At the crossing Kathy spotted the FOS Pine
Warbler, probably an ad. female. They will be showing in the winter
passerine flocks along water courses locally through February. At least
two Song Sparrow were there as well, and a few of the usuals like
Titmouse, Eastern Bluebird, Kinglet (Ruby), a Mockingbird. Cruised
the junipers out west 360 and had nothing, deader than a doornail.
At Berteau Park area but on west side of river, we had a House Wren and
a Mexican Yellow butterfly which is my first for the month. There
was a bit of Tropical Sage that still had flowers down there along
river in Frostweed patches. In odes saw a few Variegated Meadowhawk
and a pair of what looked like Kiowa Dancer damselflies in tandem.
Nov. 19 ~ Wow a chilly 38dF or so this morning, first morning in the
30's since March! Where are my socks and long pants? Going
to have to use hot water in the shower again now. The wind blew
all night, the only reason it did not freeze. It blew all day
too, so the 60dF high never felt like it. Supposed to lay down
tonight and so freeze, the first freeze, tomorrow morning. Wow!
I am not much on windy birding (except a wee bit at sea) so worked here.
There were two big bearded Tom Turkey right outside all day.
I didn't want to scare them, one has a slight limp and bad
left foot maybe. They ate the millet and sunflower seed we
throw for Cardinals and sparrows (and Painted Buntings all summer)
all day long. It was really neat, unbelievable views from 12'
away watching them eat, hearing them converse, watching them
preen, they owned the patio. But I really do not want to feed
a couple big Turkeys. You would think Thanksgiving week they
would avoid this sort of gluttonous behavior. Clearly they do
not know what is in the freezer here.
Great news today was I finally got a temporary page up with a few pics
of the Nov. 5 mystery Panoquina skipper I was not positive of ID on.
Posted link to TexButterfly asking for ID help. Three sharp guys said
it was what I thought it was. Purple-washed Skipper (Panoquina lucas).
It is the second Uvalde Co. record, the other in Nov. 2013 I photo'd
at the library garden. A Mexican vagrant species to south Texas.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
One of the Crimson Patch this Oct., you can see why they
are called 'the crimson beauty'. Most adults are about
2 to 2.5" across. I saw larvae on the Flame Acanthus
(larval foodplant) at the deco gardens in town.
~ ~ ~ prior update ~ ~ ~
Nov. 18 ~ A frontal passage occurred about 11:30 a.m. with strong
northerlies that blew the rest of the day. There was just a little
mist in the morning, low was about 70dF in the gulf flow sucked
up ahead of it, dried out with passage. Some forecasts are calling
for upper 30's when the wind stops Sat. nite - Sun. morning.
In any case at low 40's it will be the coolest since mid-March.
That is EIGHT months for those not counting at home. Eight months!
By time I got done with morning work tracking airfreight and e-mailing
customers and then raced to town for errands... I got 15 minutes at
the Sr. Ctr. Lantanas before the howling blow hit. Man it hit hard too,
cleared the whole parking lot of fallen leaves in one huge 25 mph swooosh.
Gonna be a real leaf-fall of a day. At the park there was a Green
Kingfisher or two at the island, and the rare American Coot continues
on the pond.
Three Monarch total around town. Great was a Tropical Leafwing
at the library garden, my second of the year and first for the monthly
list. Also there was one Lyside Sulphur which too was my first for
of the month. I found two more Lysides at flowers in yards around town,
so 3 of them today after hitting flowers hard and seeing none all month.
Since it will probably be the last big day of butterfly diversity for
the year I'll list what I saw.
Pipevine Swallowtail 2-3; Orange Sulphur 2; Large Orange Sulphur 6;
Cloudless Sulphur 5; Lyside Sulphur 3; Dainty Sulphur 4; Little Yellow 8;
Sleepy Orange 10; Orange-barred Sulphur 1; Gray Hairstreak 2; Mallow
Scrub-Hairstreak 3; Rounded (1), Fatal (1), (and 2 unk.) Metalmarks,
Snout 6; Monarch 3+; Queen 2; Soldier 1; Gulf (7) and Variegated (3)
Fritillary; Painted (1) and American (1) Lady; Red Admiral 2; Tropical
Leafwing 1; Desert (1), Tropical (1), and Common (2) Checkered-Skippers;
Eufala (2); Fiery (6); and Clouded (5) Skippers; Sachem 1; Buckeye 2;
Bordered Patch 1; Common Mestra 60+; Phaon Crescent 4. About 34 species.
I would not be surprised if I don't hit 30+ sps. in a day again
this year, or until latest March next year, if that.
At least they go out with a bang. A major fall invasion is customary,
this years' was fantastic to outstanding, many thousands of
butterflies of dozens of species. Then boom the hammer drops, it
freezes. Or nearly so. And so then you go cold turkey on butterflies.
The odes have already collapsed to next-to-nothing in October. The
butterflies get you through that, with a final blaze of glory lasting to
early-to-mid- November in lucky years, when that first major front and
near-freeze hits. It quickly becomes a very small select group of a
few cold-hardy species.
Nov. 17 ~ Too busy to see much today. Strong southerlies ahead of
the front inbound tomorrow. About 65-80dF spread. Wished I could
have run to the flower patches in town as by time I get there
tomorrow the cold front will be hitting and it will be a new
story. We can hope for some showers as the front passes overnight
or in morning early tomorrow. Had one Monarch go by, and a couple
dozen Mestra at once in the yard. Bird of the day was my FOS
Northern Harrier. Had a Lesser Goldfinch which was around yesterday
too. Saw a dragon that looked Spot-winged Glider.
Nov. 16 ~ Low was about 47dF or so (!) and high of 80dF, with strong
southerlies much of the day. Kerrville had 44dF! Birds were the
usual expected suspects. Couple Myrtle Warbler and Kinglet (Ruby),
a few Robin, heard a Flicker at dusk from the river in an area
where an orange-winged hybrid roosted the last few winters. Might
be back. Maybe a dozen Chipping Sparrow and 20 or so Cardinal.
Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks daily, Red-tailed and
Red-shouldered nearly so, as well as Caracara. Can hear Kestrel.
At dusk a couple hundred White-fronted Geese flew over. I love
hearing geese go over, one of the calls of the wild.
Busy at work so mostly just some butterflies. A couple Monarchs
went through yard and a Soldier was around for a bit, besides a few
Queen, for the Milkweed trifecta. Saw a Goatweed Leafwing, several
Red Admiral, a few dozen Mestra, a few Large Orange and Cloudless
Sulphur, lots of Sleepy Orange. Outstanding was a TAILED ORANGE
which I have not seen locally since the drought, maybe 7 years
or so, will have to look it up. Been a long time. They were
regular in low numbers 2003-2007 or 08, but not since. There were
some being reported over Austin way and I was wondering why we weren't
getting any. At least a dozen Little Yellow went through yard.
Saw an Arizona Sister out the office window, my latest ever date
Over at the one close Huisache Daisy still with a few flowers in
the corral there were only a few Dainty Sulphur and 3 Rounded Metalmark.
A big wild Lantana on a fenceline had a few each Gulf and Variegated
Fritillary, a few Little Yellow, some Mestra, Comm. Checkered-Skipper,
a Eufala and a Fiery Skipper. Leps are fading fast. After the cold
front Friday and this weekend it will be a different world for butterflies.
Already is for dragons. Saw Green Darner, Pale-faced Clubskimmer and
Swift Setwing in yard, singles of each.
Nov. 15 ~ Was low 50's dF for a low and got up to mid-80's!
Had to do a dump and recycling run with old electronics, so of
course ran by UP and a couple flower patches. But though was 2 p.m.
so heat of the day and birds were quiet. I did have the Louisiana
Waterthrush at the park, up on the island. Better was a real
good bird here, an actual rarity that really gets my excitement
meter pegging... a COOT! Only one I have seen here this year.
I never thought I would be so excited to see a Coot. But when you
are not absolutely guaranteed of seeing one each year at your local
patch and this it, it will do just fine. In dragons had Red, and Black,
Saddlebags, a Checkered and lots of Swift Setwings, fair numbers of a
Bluet damselfly out over the water.
The usual gang of Sulphurs on the park entrance Red Turks Cap,
Large Orange mostly, some Clouded and Sleepy Orange, Gulf Frits,
but not much else. The Roadrunner still there, hunting any rare
butterflies that show up no doubt. The Sr. Ctr. Lantanas had a
couple new for the month American Lady, and another Painted Lady.
Otherwise just the regular expected assortment. The library
garden had a female Laviana White-Skipper and a few of the
expected suspects. It is going to be over very very soon.
It would not suprise me if this was the last week like this.
Diversity is plummeting, number of individuals dropping faster.
A cold front is headed in this weekend that will drop temps
enough to really put the kabosh on the great show this fall.
Nov. 14 ~ Heard the Rusty Blackbird over in the corral in the a.m.,
and had a Zone-tailed Hawk over the yard. Later evening after dark
a bunch of White-fronted Goose were calling overhead. The first
I have had this fall but others had them over a couple weeks ago.
I checked the daisies in the corral in the late afternoon. Had a
Wheel Bug again. There were 40+ Dainty Sulphur, 3-4 Rounded and
a couple Fatal Metalmark, a couple Ceraunus and 3 Reakirt's Blue.
Best was a Cassius or Marine Blue that I thought was Cassius.
It was mostly white below. The rest was the expected suspects.
An Orange-crowned Warbler looked like the Rocky Mountain orestera
subspecies aka Gray-headed Orange-crowned Warbler. Actually it
sounded like it too. They make some call notes I believe are unique
to orestera. Softer, higher and thinner than other O-c's.
Nov. 13 ~ Maybe about 60dF for a low, a bit cloudy but some
sun. Thought I heard a White-throated Sparrow again outside.
There was one Lark Sparrow with the Chipping Sparrows on the
patio, first there in almost two months. Between breakfast
and lunch we took a walk to the crossing. A much-needed mile
and a half roundtrip. Glad its flat though.
Sure enough over in the corral there were TWO White-throated
Sparrow! So I have been hearing them the last couple days.
Had a House Wren or two along the road. At crossing a small
flock with a couple Myrtle Warbler, Kinglet (Ruby), E. Bluebird,
Titmice and Chickadees. No Pine Warbler yet. The only odes
were 4 Pale-faced Clubskimmer, 1 Dusky Dancer, and 1 Smoky
Rubyspot. A couple Yellow-margined Flower-Buprested were
copulating (ph.) on Huisache Daisy.
In butterflies there were at least 50 Mestra, 5-6 each Gulf and
Variegated Frits, an Orange Sulphur, 5 Dogface, 25 Little Yellow
15 Dainty Sulphur, a Large Orange and a Cloudless went by, as
did a couple buckeye, Pipevine, 100+ Snout. On the best couple
Daisys left in bloom there were Common and Desert Checkered-Skipper,
Eufala, Fiery, Dun, and Julia's Skippers, a Gray Hairstreak,
Ceraunus and 3 Reakirt's Blue, a couple each Fatal and Rounded
Metalmarks, a couple un-ID MM as well, a So. Skipperling, a couple
dozen Sleepy Orange, one White-tipped Black moth (ph.).
Just after dark I heard the Hackberry seeds dropping on the
steel carport roof. The sound of a Ringtail up in the tree.
I tried to sneak back quickly with the flashlight, but it is
about impossible to sneak up on a Ringtail. It is just good to
know it is around and back doing its thing with the Hackberries.
The speed with which the seeds drop indicate it is just sucking
the husk and wee bit of pulp off the seed and then spitting the
seed out. Every November like clockwork.
Nov. 12 ~ About 60-75dF spread today, mostly cloudy, a bit humid.
First thing I saw a small buteo fly over the yard. Definitely a
buteo and definitely small. Later Cooper's, Sharp-shinned,
and Red-shouldered all went through. Heard a Common Grackle out
front early. Lots of Robins in yard in morning, some Myrtle and
one Audubon's Warbler. I thought I heard a White-throated
Sparrow a few times, which actually I thought I heard yesterday
and the day before as well. Later p.m. heard a Scrub-Jay out back.
A few Monarch went by first half of day, 3-4, and a Cloudless Sulphur,
besides the expected things.
Noonish I walked over to the one good patch of Huisache Daisy
still blooming in the corral for butterflies. Had a FOS Song Sparrow
and a House Wren. Butterflies were Ceraunus and Reakirt's Blue,
a couple each Phaon Crescent and Bordered Patch, several Little
Yellow and one, another, Mimosa Yellow! Which later I saw IN the
yard, new for the yard list methinks. Handful of Dainty Sulphur,
a Large Orange Sulphur, couple pale morph female Orange Sulphur
and one male, couple Dogface, a Southern Skipperling, Sachem, a
few Fiery Skipper, Julia's and Eufala Skipper, a Mallow
Scrub-Hairstreak, a Pipevine Swallowtail, three Gulf and a couple
Variegated Fritillary, a Red Admiral and on way back to gate a
male Goatweed Leafwing which is new for the month. A few Common
and a couple Desert Checkered-Skipper. Also had Rounded, Fatal,
and a probable Rawson's Metalmark. This patch that had all
this is about 4' x 6'. About 25 species in 25 minutes.
But numbers are way down. And but, it is prime time for raries.
So about 3:30 I went to town for an hour to check the flowers.
The Sr. Ctr. Lantanas are the best thing now. A White Peacock
was on one, and then perched on the brick wall. I photo'd a
smaller Sphinx moth I hope will be good enough to ID, a type I have
seen here before but never got pix of. One Painted Lady was different
from the one a week ago, a Soldier, couple Queens, Julia's and
Eufala, plus Fiery skippers, some Comm. Checkered-Skipper too, a
few Dogface, Gulf and Vareig. Frits, Pipevine Swallowtail, more
Little Yellow and Dainty Sulphur. Then at library garden there
were a few Clouded Skipper, couple Fatal and a Rounded Metalmark,
Julia's, Eufala, and Fiery skippers, and an adult White-eyed
Vireo and an Orange-crowned Warbler in a small passerine flock.
The park had a male Green Kingfisher in the willows at north end
of the pond, heard prolly the female on other side of island,
another White-eyed Vireo ad., a Hermit Thrush, a few Kinglet,
an Orange-crowned Warbler. At least 125 Black Vulture and at
least 25 Turkey Vulture were roosting in the big cypress trees.
Thought I heard an American Pipit at the park entrance area,
but a flyover and did not see it.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
Orange-barred Sulphur female, backlit you can see
the orange on distal dorsal hind wing showing through.
Nov. 11 ~ A little sun mid part of day but mostly cloudy, about
60-72dF temp spread. Yard had Hutton's Vireo in morning and a
Texas Scrub-Jay upslope out back in afternoon. Had a Sapsucker and
a Golden-crowned Kinglet in yard too, and later another Golden-crown
was at the park. In a.m. on the way to town had a flock of about
80 Am. Robin. Later afternoon at least a couple hundred were in our
yard, and way over couple hundred flew over high whilst the 200+ were
in yard. A couple dozen Cedar Waxwing were with them in yard, a Myrtle
and an Audubon's Warbler seemed maybe associated. In a pasture
on W. 360 was a small group of Meadowlark that looked Eastern to me,
but had cold stuff in ice chest so didn't study long and hard,
malars were not yellow though. Did have an American Goldfinch in yard
today, so actually counting yesterday's heard bird as the FOS date.
I was sure that is what it was, and hearing it again today confirmed it.
Actually thought I heard it the day before that too! Probably did.
It is OK to take time to gather more information in order to be
absolutely certain of your identification. You do not have to call
everything right on the spot. In the old days people went to the
museum with their notes, or specimens, to ID them. Some things we
figure out later, with more research, knowledge, or experience.
Few things are better than a reinforcing experience to show you
what you saw, or heard. Take photos first, ask questions later.
For example right now I am working on some poor pix of a skipper
(butterfly) I saw last Saturday Nov. 5. Until I figure it out and
know for sure, I can hardly claim an identification.
At the park there were a couple Green Kingfisher, male and female
by the island. Female got a nice 3" sunfish of some sort. A few
big Pumpkinseed were there speaking of sunfish. Quite a few
Autumnal and Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies, as well as Swift
Setwing. One of the best birds of the year here (due to the date) was
an Eastern Wood-Pewee at the park. About 99.999% of them are far
south of the U.S. by now, they are scarce after mid-October, and
here they are rare by early October. A third of the way into
Nov. is unprecedented and remarkable. It even called a few times
for me to confirm it vocally, a soft pip or chip note. It was as
pale below as any I have seen, but I have probably not ever seen
one in almost mid-November (winter, aka basic) plumage. Wish I
could get a Greater Pewee here.
The butterflies are crashing fast. One Bordered Patch, no Crescents
(save one Texan) or Checkerspots, were hundreds two weeks ago. Mostly
Pierids (Sulphurs, Oranges, Yellows, etc.) now. A few species were
first of the month: three Red Admiral, late in day in corral a Reakirt's
Blue, and best was a Mimosa Yellow at the library garden, my first for
November and second one of the fall. Other better things were three
LTA's (less-than-annual): one Ocola Skipper, one Laviana White-Skipper,
and one tardy Coyote Cloudywing (ph.).
Then the usuals: a few Monarch, couple Queen, one Soldier, still Julia's,
lots of Eufala, some Sachem, Clouded, Dun, and Fiery Skippers, an
Orange-barred Sulphur, 2 doz. Large Orange and a few Cloudless Sulphur,
lots of Little Yellow and Dainty Sulphur, 2 doz.+ Mestra, a few Pipevine,
a few each Rounded and Fatal Metalmark, plus some un-ID'able metalmarks,
some Gulf and Variegated Fritilary, one Tropical and a few Common Checkered-Skipper.
One Texas Wasp Moth at the Sr. Ctr. south-side lantana. One Buckeye
somewhere. About 35+ species in as many minutes checking the few
flowers left at the flower gardens around town. Three weeks ago
it took over two hours to check them just with a cursory glance
for anything unusual that stands out. There were so many you could not
even begin to check them all. Roadrunner was at the garden at SE
corner of the intersection of 187 and 1050. Hunting butterflies.
I wonder how many good ones it ate the last month? How many
Crimson Patch? Bet it ate something I wish I would have seen!
After the update was uploaded.... after dark, I heard a good sized
flock of Sandhill Cranes going over. Then about 11 p.m. I heard
a nice-sized flock of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. Probably the
couple dozen I had a week or 10 days ago are still in the area.
Nov. 10 ~ More drizzle and mist, another tenth of an inch. In the
last 7 days we have had about 5 on which we received .10 of precip.
So a half-inch total, for the week. Humid but cool, 60-70dF for a
temp range. This morning there were about 10 American Robin and 10
Cedar Waxwing in the big pecan out front. FOS on the waxwings for me.
A couple times I thought sure I heard American Goldfinch out there.
Then in afternoon there was a Golden-crowned Kinglet in yard. A
Sapsucker was out there as well. All seemed pretty 'wintery'.
A small buteo flew out of yard in p.m., was not Cooper's Hawk
or Red-shouldered Hawk, but a small buteo.
Nov. 9 ~ Some more spritzing and drizzle, another tenth of an inch.
Heard the White-eyed Vireo again, saw a Great Blue Heron fly down
the river. A quick zip into town briefly early. Was too cold and
wet for butterflies. Only things at the park were Ringed and
Green Kingfisher, and Blue Jay. Becky Blackstone told me they
had a Zebra (Longwing - Heliconian - butterfly) at their Lantana
yesterday, so a November record locally! Heard a single lone
blackbird over in corral that sounded like a Rusty to me. Also heard
a couple passerine migrants after dark, and have a few times in the
last week, most sounded like sparrows, maybe a warbler or two.
Also thought I heard a Junco today a couple times but didn't see it.
Nov. 8 ~ A bit of sprinkles overnight and in a.m., a tenth maybe.
The northerlies arrived with the front in the morning, but only
10 mph or so. Barely got to 70dF. Was all the same stuff for
birds and butterflies, which were few in the cool and wind.
I had to be at the work desk anyway.
It is weird how the pecans start dropping leaves in August and
September, but hold some presumedly to grow the nuts. But also
in October they sprout fresh new whole leaflets just like in spring.
Not lots of them, but most trees have a number of fresh spring green
type leaflets, I would guess to supplement nut growth and storing
any more energy it can for the winter. The nut crop is a wash this
year. What little we had survive the 45 mph winds when they were
blooming in May has been fairly decimated by squirrels, coons,
woodpeckers, and who knows what else. Heard Barn, Great Horned,
and Screech-, Owls after dark.
Nov. 7 ~ About 65-75 temp spread, some sprinkles. Heard White-eyed
and Hutton's Vireo, Orange-crowned and Myrtle Warbler, the
Gound-Dove are around, Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted Woodpecker
have been relentless in the pecan trees. Only two of 7 with crop,
and those weak at best. High winds wiped them out when blooming in
late April or early May. The two with nuts have been almost all
de-nutted by various critters, and especially the woodpeckers. We
will get nothing for nuts this year.
The one good white Eupatorium the dillo didn't destroy had a Rounded
Metalmark and a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak on it today, besides a
number of nectar feeding flies (Syrphids). Couple dozen Mestra today,
a Queen, a dozen Large Orange Sulphur, some Gulf Frits, a dozen
Sleepy Orange, a Pipevine, the usual.
Nov. 6 ~ Off and on sprinkles and threat of rain so stuck around
and worked. Sorta cleared in afternoon so late p.m. we took a walk
around the corral Huisache Daisies for butterflies. One was really
at peak nectar and covered with 40 butterflies. 3-4 Ocola was nice,
a couple each Rounded and Fatal Metalmarks, one probable Rawson's,
and a couple metalmarks I couldn't ID. Phaon, Vesta, and Texan
Crescents, a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, lots of So. Dogface, Gulf
and Variegated Fritillary, Sachem and Fiery Skipper, a few Eufala,
Whirlabout, Julia's, and Clouded Skipper. A Tropical, a Desert,
and a few Common Checkered-Skipper. Five Skipperling were all Southern.
It was a great break for just out the door a couple-few hundred yards.
Heat of day so no birds but Cardinals.
Nov. 5 ~ Was thick low clouds threatening rain most of first half
of day. Only got to 76dF or so. Got a tenth or so of precip.
Early I heard the "quick! quick! quick!" alarm series of an
American Robin down the draw towards the river, my FOS. Cooper's and
Sharpy hunting the seed eaters at the feeders relentlessly. A couple
Myrtle Warbler and Kinglet (Ruby) went through. Tawny Emperor went
through yard as did a bunch of the usual regular expected butterflies.
In the afternoon peak heat about 3:30 to 5:30 I checked the butterfly
flower patches around town. On the way at a roadside Huisache Daisy patch
on W. 360 there was a Sickle-winged Skipper. At the library garden
there was a nice female Orange-barred Sulphur, a White-tipped Black
(moth), a continuing torn and frayed Texan Crescent, Vesta, Pearl,
and Phaon too. Lots of Julia's and Eufala, plus some Clouded
Skipper, and one Tropical Checkered-Skipper, a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak,
Rounded and Fatal Metalmarks...
The Sr. Ctr. Lantanas might be the hottest thing right now.
The one on south side especially. It had 100+ butterflies on it.
It is about 6' tall and 8' across with a thousand flowers.
There were 30+ each of Sachem and Firey Skipper, 15 Eufala, 10 Julia's,
7 Ocola (!), a couple Whirlabout, and a number of things like a few
Dogface, Gulf (6) and Variegated Fritillary, Pipevine Swallowtail,
Large Orange Sulphurs, etc. The Lantana on east side had a Painted
Lady, which I did not record in October! It also had a (nother!) White
Peacock, another Ocola, bunch more Firey and Sachem, Eufala and Julia's,
more Gulf Frits... These 2 lantana are really amazing right now.
One White-tipped Black moth was there too, so two today. Another
skipper photo'd there I need outside confirmation on the ID for.
Will update... it might be good. Update: It is as I suspected a
Purple-washed Skipper (Panoquina lucas), the second Uvalde Co. record
(the first I photo'd at the library garden Nov. 2013).
At the park entrance garden there was still a Theona and an Elada,
one Ceraunus Blue is my first blue of the month, several large Orange
Sulphur, a few Phaon, Dogface, but it is fading fast for nectar as
is the county line curve garden at the north end of town. There
were a couple Monarch through yard, and a couple at the Huisache
Daisy patch just a quarter+ mile south of us at the other end of
the corral. Mostly that patch had the same stuff, but a Coyote
Cloudywing was there, and another Tropical checkered-Skipper, and
a couple Southern Skipperling. So saw 5+ more for the monthly list
with the Sickle-wing, Painted Lady, Coyote Cloudywing, Tropical
Checkered-Skpr, Ceraunus Blue all being new, plus maybe the odd
skipper I photo'd. Was about 41-42 species for the couple hours.
Still good, but overall individual numbers are dropping fast, as in plumetting.
Heard Barred, Barn, Great Horned, and Eastern Screech-, Owls.
Did not see the hummer today. Maybe it left late afternoon
yesterday when it cleared up a bit and we had light notherlies.
Dang dillos tearing up the flower beds took out about 6 White
Thoroughwort Eupatorium which the one left is the best thing
blooming now in yard... Dillos are neat until you have a few
living in your yard tearing every square inch up relentlessly.
They can become like squirrels or coons. Pushy and overbearing.
I don't know where these chingaderas got the idea this was
their yard, flower beds, and garden, or that those were their pecans.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
Here is a pic from Oct. 30, the incredible Cerambycid beetle
Stenaspis verticalis insignis eating a Huisache Daisy.
They are about a couple inches long, the antennae longer!
Spectacular beasts... I just love Longhorn beetles.
~ ~ ~ prior update ~ ~ ~
Nov. 4 ~ A light north breeze and a low in the 60's is nice.
A big blob of rain is SW of us over the Rio Grande Plains, but it
moved north as it rained out and we got blanked. Near Eagle Pass
they got 3-6 inches! Barely got to 75dF due to the thick cloud
cover and occasional sprinkle. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is
still here, don't think it can leave now. Maybe tomorrow when
the weather breaks a little it will go. Heard White-eyed Vireo
over in the corral, and Kathy thought she heard a Hutton's
when I was in town.
In town there was no bird action at the park save a couple
Green Kingfisher and the Pied-billed Grebe continues. A painful
moment was hearing a strained Robin type note up in the woods.
The bird flew out the back side and did not call again. All three
of the possible Robins (American, Clay-colored, and Rufous-backed)
make versions of the strained hissy Robin note. I never heard it
after it called as it flew out. Actually didn't sound American
to me, and I have yet to have one this fall.
I hit the butterfly flowers as if you don't get stuff quick early
in the month in Nov., you might not get it at all once it freezes.
It was a bit cool though so the action was limited, and reduced
by many factors from a week and two weeks ago. The wave is waning.
There were two White-tipped Black moths at the library garden and
another at the senior center Lantana, and a Texas Wasp Moth was at
the library garden.
The Sr. Ctr. Lantanas had 2-3 Ocola Skipper and a Buckeye, plus a
nectaring Monarch and some of the regulars. The library garden had a
couple Texan Crescent. The park entrance garden had another White
Peacock, a late Theona, still numbers of Large Orange Sulphur, an
Orange-barred Sulphur was seen crossing the pond at the park heading
toward the garden. A few Whirlabout were seen, still numbers of
Clouded Skipper, a couple Julia's and Eufala, no blues or
metalmarks though. A few Monarch were seen over the day. Butterfly
season crashes hard and fast when it goes.
Last week Shirley from the store showed and then sent me a caterpillar
photo taken by a friend of hers locally, somewhere west of the bank.
A friend, Berry Nall from Falcon Dam area gave me an ID on it, a
Calleta Silkmoth! The pic was from Oct. 27 or 28. I have seen
Polyphemus locally but still not a Calleta. These are cousins to the
Chinese ones that silk comes from, and flying adults can be 5-6 inches
across. A great find of a very beautiful caterpillar. Thanks y'all for
sharing! And thanks Berry for the ID!
Little Creek Larry said one day earlier this week Mon. or Tues. he
heard Geese going over (White-fronted), which is the FOS I have heard
of them, he had cranes at night as well. He also had a big flock of
well over a hundred Eastern Bluebird. Surely these are migrants that
come down for the winter. He also mentioned a day or two with some
fair numbers of Monarchs passing, one per minute at best. We did
not have that along the river south of town where I watch every day.
Oops, I was in a hurry and uploaded the update before I remembered all
that I saw in town. A few add-ons... At least 20 Starling were at
the north end of town bathing in a roadside puddle, where there was
also one FOS Eastern Meadowlark. Also at the park a flock of
15 or so Brewer's Blackbird flew by, my FOS for them too.
Nov. 3 ~ A little bit of shower and sprinkles pre-dawn mostly was
only a tenth and change. The hummer is still here, and appears
to be an imm. male Ruby-throated. It is soooo ginchy as to not
yet allow good viewing. The Ringed Kingfisher was calling from
over at the river in the afternoon. Heard a White-eyed Vireo.
In butterflies there were a couple Monarch, a few Queen, and one
Soldier, besides still good numbers of Large Orange Sulphur and
a few of the regulars. A Pale-faced Clubskimmer dragonfly was
still patrolling the yard.
Nov. 2 ~ Warm and muggy still, maybe a 70-84dF temp spread. As for
the color change with Maple leaves, they need cold to turn well,
and it hasn't happened. Another Monarch and a Tawny Emperor (leps)
went through the yard. An ad. fem. pure appearing Yellow-shafted flicker
was in the big pecan. Bluebirds hit the bath, some Chipping Sparrow,
an Orange-crowned Warbler and Lesser Goldfinches with them. A few
Kinglets (Ruby) and a couple Myrtle Warbler went through yard.
A couple Red Saddlebags (dragons) were patrolling the yard.
November 1 ~ Holy cow, November!?!?! It was mid-80's dF today!
Amazing was a Hummingbird! First in over a week. I could not get a
positive ID on it as it is very ginchy, and the light was bad. It
came in late at dark so will be here tomorrow. It is very very green
of back, and not a Black-chinned.
A few Odes were about, in yard an Autumnal Meadowhawk, Black, and
Red Saddlebags, Green Darner, Pale-faced Clubskimmer, Swift Setwing,
and a Blue-fronted Dancer damselfly. Some butterflies in yard were
a Soldier, a Laviana White-Skipper, a pale morph female Orange Sulphur,
a Monarch, but no Mexican Yellow today. A White-tipped Black moth was
my second this fall, and first ever in the yard. Lots of Mestra and
Large Orange Sulphur going by, a Buckeye. Around 4 p.m. I did a
quick half-hour check of the Huisache Daisy patch a third-mile south.
The Stenaspis Cerambycid beetle was gone, so no Nov. date for it.
There was Pipevine Swallowtail, Cloudless Sulphur, lots of Sleepy
Orange, a few Dainty Sulphur, some Little Yellow and So. Dogface,
a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, several Gray Hairstreak, Fatal and Rounded
Metalmarks, Snout, Queen, lots of Variegated and several Gulf Fritillary,
a few Elada Checkerspot, a Texan Crescent, lots of Phaon and a few each
of Pearl and Vesta Crescent, 80+ Bordered Patch, as many Sachem, a
couple dozen Fiery Skipper, a few Eufala and Julia's Skipper,
Common and Desert Checkered-Skippers. So about 32 or so species of
butterflies today, and for the new month now. I had to go see some
after going to bed last night with 77 on my monthly butterfly list,
and waking up this morning with zero, was feeling kinda nekkid.
~ ~ ~ October summary ~ ~ ~
It was hot and dry for the most part, temps were above averages.
Birds were slowish after the mass movements obvious in September,
but a few goodies were seen. Mainly winterers start arriving.
The butterflies were great, and odes (dragons) start to fade.
Due to Aug. and Sept. rains the fall wildflower show was great,
and the river is full.
Odes (dragonflies and damselflies) were about 27 species with a
couple Ivory-striped Sylph being the highlight. Fall is when I
see them most regularly. A Thornbush Dasher or two were also seen
into early October but otherwise it was the 25 most expected species.
Butterflies were fantastic with about 77 species seen in October.
This is the fourth highest monthly diversity total I have had here,
and the best month in 8 years going back to Oct. 2008. In other words,
since the drought started we have not seen this level of diversity.
The fall wave of what I think is a southerly origin invasion was
huge this year. We get such a wave every fall but haven't had one
like this in quite a while.
The best things to me are those species that are LTA - less than annual.
Perhaps none were as fancy as the late Sept. Malachite but it turns
out that was the harbinger of what was to come. There were likely
a dozen Orange-barred Sulphur, as many as any year of the last dozen
here. About 3 White-striped Longtail was good, better was a Zilpa
Longtail, my first since the drought started ('08). Also first
since drought was a Coyote Cloudywing or two, a Julia Longwing, a
Brazillian Skipper, a Tropical Leafwing, a couple Empress Leilia, a
couple Sickle-winged Skipper, and a couple Rawson's Metalmark.
Maybe first in about 5 years was a Mimosa Yellow and several Laviana
White-Skipper. There were about 4 White Peacock, five Ocola Skipper,
and at least a half-dozen, maybe a dozen Crimson Patch. Studying
photos of two at the library garden on Oct. 21 and 23, the white
spots were clearly very different patterns, they were not the same
animals as a casual glance might lead one to surmise. The one that
got away was a probable Band-celled Sister that flew through the yard.
Ailanthus Webworm, White-tipped Black and Texas Wasp-Moth were three
nice moths, the 2 White-tipped Black were the first in 6 years or so.
There were numbers of things like Theona (over 100 in a day), Elada
(over 25 in a day), Bordered Patch (over 150 in a day), Sachem (over
150 in a day) that were amazing. Things like 75+ Large Orange Sulphur
in a day I haven't seen since before the drought. Phaon Crescent
were over 100 on the best days. The flowers were covered with butterflies.
Walking along the park entrance garden was like viewing a live
smorgasbord gallery of butterflies, hundreds of them at once.
The deco gardens in town were particularly good, the library garden
was ok too. Also wild patches of Frostweed (early in month) and
Huisache Daisy (late in month) were particularly productive.
Birds were about 87 species, so a fair dip from September, over 10%
less diversity locally. Mostly the loss of the migratory breeders that
winter from Mexico to South America. A few good ones were amongst
what was here though. Best was a couple looks at the Roadside Hawk
Oct. 3 & 4, presumedly the same bird back for a third winter. The
Lousiana Waterthrush is back for its 3rd winter at the park as well.
A female Rusty Blackbird south of town is likely a returnee for its
fourth winter on Oct. 19! Returning winterers are a thing in October.
We get our first Sandhill Cranes going over, Golden-crowned Kinglet
(Oct. 28), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Oct. 12), Hermit Thrush (28th),
Myrtle Warbler, and other winter birds.
A Couch's Kingbird was at the golf course Oct. 1 (present from Sept.),
A Red-berasted Nuthatch was in our yard Oct. 21, a Sprague's Pipit
was at the golf course Oct. 22, a record late Summer Tanager was at
Utopia Park Oct. 26. Semi-regular regulars like Ringed and Green
Kingfisher, Zone-tailed Hawk, and Audubon's Oriole were about.
The best beast was one Kathy found, a Stenaspis (S. verticalis insignis)
Cerambycid beetle eating the flower of a Huisache Daisy. Only one I have
seen this year (prior photo on bugs page) and probably my latest date
ever on Oct. 30-31. A couple Wheel Bug were nice too. Earlier in
month a Five-spotted Sphinx moth came in to our porch light one night.
The insects fall off real fast in November, especially after that
first freeze, from whence it is a new fairly bug-free world, until next
spring. Often early November can have a great butterfly or two though,
it is prime time for southerly origin vagrants.
~ ~ ~ end October summary ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~
Oct. 31 ~ It dipped to 60dF about 2 a.m., and then rose to 66 by dawn.
Got up to lower mid-80's dF in afternoon, downright warm.
Had a small buteo flush from across the road in the big mesquites
early. All I could tell is that it was a small buteo, not a
Cooper's, or a Red-shouldered Hawk. Heard the Audubon's Oriole
mid-morning. In butterflies just before 1 p.m. a White Peacock
flew across the yard, stopping briefly a few times as it moved north.
The Mexican Yellow is still here now on day 6. An Arizona Sister
came into water sprayed about and is my latest date ever for one
In Odes there was Green Darner, Black Saddlebags and Swift Setwing
in yard, another Setwing in corral at the Huisache Daisy patch in
late afternoon when I checked it. Last day of month for a new
butterfly so had to hit some flowers one more time. Tomorrow it
is back to zero when I wake up. The Stenaspis cerambycid beetle
was still there for more photos. A Crimson Patch was floating
about, an Ocola Skipper was there, and a very worn Laviana was
a new one. Mostly it was 100+ Bordered Patch, 30+ Variegated
Fritillary, 35+ Phaon Crescent, 100+ Sachem, 50+ Fiery Skipper,
and a bunch of the other regular stuff. One Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak,
a couple Whirlabout, a Pearl Crescent and a couple Elada Checkerspot.
Two Wheel Bugs, one was eating a Sachem (skipper). A pair of
grasshoppers were photo'd in copula.
Oct. 30 ~ Mid-60's to mid-80's dF for a temp spread, a bit toasty in
the afternoon. No action around yard in morning except the Mexican
Yellow now on day 5. After lunch we went to the butterfly gardens
around town trying to muster another species for the month.
No love on that. Had 4 Soldier at once at the library garden,
and a new different White-striped Longtail there. A couple
Orange-barred Sulphur were at the park entrance garden. Single
Crimson Patch were at library, and park entrance gardens. A few
Elada still around. A Banded Orb Weaver spider was at county line
curve garden. A half dozen Metalmarks there were mostly Fatal.
One Ceraunus Blue at park entrance.
The two most interesting things were a pair of copulating Wheel
Bug on the Huisache Daisy at south end of corral. Better, Kathy found
a Stenaspis cerambycid beetle eating the flowers. This is the
metallic green and orange 2" beauty (pix on the bugs page).
My first and only one of the year, I had checked some Evergreen
Sumac a month ago but it was past prime time. It is my first
sighting ever on Huisache Daisy, and my latest date ever for one.
I got some great shots of which will put the best up shortly. Due
to the flood of stuff the last 2 weeks I am a couple hundred
photos behind... I might have gotten lucky once or twice.
Oct. 29 ~ Was about 60dF at 2 a.m., then warming about 8dF by dawn as
southerly flow air arrived. Heard some Whistling-Ducks at the first
crack of light before I could see anything. A few Myrtle and one
Orange-crowned Warbler went by, a few Chipping Sparrow, Flicker is
calling. We checked the corral daisy patch just after noon. Still
lots of butterflies, but less than it was. One Laviana White-Skipper
was the only scarce item seen, the rest was the usual expected.
Before we went down there mid-morning I finally got a yard list
Crimson Patch here! It landed on the Tropical Sage (Salvia) for a minute.
The one that got away was in the afternoon about 4 p.m. when an
Adelpha sister that looked to be a BAND-CELLED SISTER flew right by
the porch while I was holding a chair down. I am not going to add
it to the monthly total, as it was a quick fly by of a rarity, but
surely that is what it was. If only it had stopped for a second.
About 4:30 we ran up to town to check the gardens for butterflies.
Just got there as the traffic jam from the Homecoming Parade was
clearing up. Forgot all about that. The library garden had two
Crimson Patch, two Pearl Crescent, a couple Texas Wasp Moths (a wasp-mimicing
moth), a Danaus trifecta of Monarch, Queen, and Soldier, and Kathy
found a Sickle-winged Skipper. The rest was the regulars. A male
Whirlabout let me take pix.
The senior center Lantanas are blooming great now, and are covered in
skippers, Pipevine Swallowtail, Gulf Fritillary, and a few other things.
THREE Ocola Skipper was great, a Coyote Cloudywing was too, especially
being tame for photos (update - a digital malfunction caused the loss of
what were frame-fillers!#$$%%^($%) . Then at the park entrance garden
there was a female Orange-barred Sulphur, another White Peacock, Kathy
found a Crimson Patch caterpillar eating Flame Acanthus flowers (ph.), and
the rest was the expected gang. About 7 species today that are LTA -
less than annual, so can't complain.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Oct. 28 ~ Low was about 52dF, got up to 82 or so. Nice, dry. I thought
I heard a distant Robin sing early first thing but it did not last long
enough for me to be sure. I did have my FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet in
the yard, plus a couple Ruby-crowned. There were Turkey Vultures migrating
south early, and Turkey in the corral. A White-eyed Vireo was out there
briefly but which did not sing like the local ones. A transient. A
Sapsucker was in the big pecan briefly, later in the afternoon there was
an ad. ma. Yellow-bellied in the north Pecan, prolly the same bird.
A town run for a couple hours around noon. Best was a bag of tacos
from mamacitas taco trailer to bring home for lunch. There are a few
new places to get some grub here now. There is a sandwich shop in the
building with the General Store, and north a bit just south of the Ranch
Outpost there is a taco trailer, a BBQ stand and something else I haven't
figured out yet, a bigger green trailer. Toward the southish end of Main St.
the former pizza shop is now a little donut shop. Often on Saturdays there
is a guy or two selling grandma's tamales along the road too. You can
get anything you want...
At the park there was a loose aggregation of some passerines, a few
Titmice and Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a couple Myrtle Warbler,
an Orange-crowned Warbler and one Blue-headed Vireo. My FOS Hermit
Thrush popped up to pishing. Did not see the Summer Tanager of two days
ago, or the Louisiana Waterthrush. Blue Jay were there, the usual couple.
In Odes a pair of Variegated Meadowhawk were ovipositing, additional
singles were seen, and one Autumnal Meadowhawk. a number of Bluets
(damselflies) were out over the water, and a few Setwings. Later in
the day a Pale-faced Clubskimmer was still patrolling the yard.
The park entrance garden had the Roadrunner hunting the butterflies. The
butterfly invasion wave seems to be on the wane, the numbers are much
reduced from the last week. Or the Roadrunner ate them all. But still
lots of them. Only one Theona, one Elada, still one Crimson Patch, but
a male Orange-barred Sulphur was new, beat up as it was. Best was TWO
Cassius Blues, my first for the month. Interesting in the prior 8 days of
pounding the flowers and working this wave I had not seen one, now today 2!
So still new stuff is showing up, even though the main bulk of the wave
has passed. Couple Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, lots of Grays, I can not
seem to find any rare Hairstreak or Metalmark here to save my soul.
A few Rounded and Fatal Metalmarks were at the county-line curve
garden at the north end of town, and another Empress Leilia, this
one I got a photo of. The library garden had a second Crimson Patch,
and mostly the rest was the regular stuff. We are at prime-time for
rarities, often early November on the back side of the wave is when
the best stuff shows up. I had a Laviana White-Skipper at one of the
stops. The park entrance garden had a fairly dark morph Bordered Patch
with no color in median band, and otherwise all black (ph.). Had one worn
Pearl Crescent, total was about 75 Large Orange and 25 Cloudless Sulphur,
about 35 Clouded Skipper.
Oct. 27 ~ The Audubon's Oriole was still around yard today, as was
the Mexican Yellow, but no Zebra. A Wheel bug was the different item
(down at the Huisache Daisy patch at south end of corral a quarter+
mile away) which is said to have one of the most painful bites of all
bugs. It is a big Hemiptera so not surprising. I got nailed by a little
Red Gaviid once and went to the moon. I have not seen a Wheel Bug here
since the drought started.
One Monarch through yard, was likely the one I saw down at the Huisache
Daisy patch in later afternoon when I took a quick walk around it for
butterflies. There was a new different White Peacock there, an Ocola
Skipper that might be the same one for 4 days now, a couple Elada, a
Laviana White-Skipper was probably the same one continuing, but most of
the rest was the SOS. The dark Bordered Patch (half black) was gone,
but was there yesterday on day 4. About a hundred Bordered Patch
still there. The White-tipped Black was nowhere to be found as well,
nor were any Sickle-winged Skipper. The mega invasion seems to be slightly
on the wane. Still should get some good stuff yet though. Keep hitting
the flowers. Amazing numbers of Sachem and Fiery Skipper, Phaon Crescent,
Variegated Fritillary, Southern Dogface, Little Yellow, Gray Hairstreak,
In Odes there was a Swift Setwing down in the daisy patch. Here in
the yard an Ivory-striped Sylph was about the porch briefly. Better
was what got away un-ID'd, a big mosaic type darner that was
likely a Turqouise-tipped. No White-eyed Vireo in yard again today,
for the second day, it is gone, finally. Killed 8 more Eupatorium
caterpillar this week, so 89 is now the running total for those
of you keeping score at home.
Oct. 26 ~ An Audubon's Oriole was singing around outside for
an hour this morning. Great to hear a bird singing when hardly
any are. Then a Zebra (butterfly) showed up and spent an hour
hitting every Tropical Sage (Salvia) flower around twice. So a nice
black and yellow morning. Then a green Anole lizard grabbed a Pipevine
Swallowtail off a Salvia flower! Funny the alkaloids the swallowtail
ingests from the pipevine foodplant are supposed to make them unpalatable.
The lizard spent some time working the wings off it. I didn't see
it later to attempt to discern if it had indigestion. Good thing
it didn't take that Zebra! Later after noon there was a Mexican
Yellow hitting the Salvia flowers.
Had a quick errand run and stopped at park for a few minutes.
Amazing was a Summer Tanager there, probably an adult female.
Surely it is my latest date ever for one locally. Just as surely
it is not a local bird but a far flung migrant from elsewhere.
One Hutton's Vireo was in the woods. I heard a high thin
warbler tik note but couldn't find it. A few minutes at the
park entrance garden had a bunch of the expected butterflies, plus
two Orange-barred Sulphur and a Crimson Patch. Had a Pale-faced
Clubskimmer dragonfly in the yard in the afternoon. Did not hear
the White-eyed Vireo in the yard today, methinks it left.
Oct. 25 ~ Butterflies were the only thing different today, and a
moth. In the afternoon I did an hour check of the Huisache Daisy
at the south end of the corral. Hundreds of butterflies, but the
SOS - same ol' stuff. One Sickle-winged Skipper (3 yesterday),
about 7-8 Monarch, and the best thing was a White-tipped Black.
A diurnal nectar-feeding moth I haven't seen locally in a few years.
As you might guess it is black with white tips to the wings. And
an orange head. Pretty nice. I saw a Coyote Cloudywing in the yard,
after yesterday's first-in-years down in the Huisache patch
just south, could have been the same bug. Still 5 Firefly at dark.
Oct. 24 ~ About 60-80dF spread today. Seemed like 10 Chipping
Sparrow in a small flock, no doubt winterers showing up now.
A couple Myrtle Warbler, the White-eyed Vireo, an imm. Yellow-bellied
Sapsucker were around in the a.m. Four Ladder-backed Woodpecker
at once is likely the ad. pair of breeders with the last two young.
A small buteo flushed out front from the big mesquites across road
that looked like it could have been a Gray Hawk, but it got away
without a positive ID. Cooper's Hawk out back later.
Had 5 Monarch and one Orange-barred Sulphur through yard by noon.
From 4-5 p.m. I played hooky and went down to the Huisache Daisy
patch at south end of corral a third-mile away. More than 500
butterflies there. Best was a Coyote Cloudywing, the first I have
seen in 6-7 years here. They were abundant one year, absent most
of the other 12 I have been here. Species #100 for the year!
Another different item was a White Peacock, new for the month.
There were 7-8 Monarch, probably the ones that went through the
yard earlier, and a few more. Also new was a Laviana White-Skipper.
There were THREE Sickle-winged Skipper (one yesterday). There was
one Ocola Skipper (none yesterday). No Crimson Patch today. Maybe
200 Bordered Patch. One White-striped Longtail was different from yesterday's.
Probably 100 Sachem and 75 Fiery Skipper at minimum. I didn't work
the couple dozen Little Yellows past the first dozen for the Mimosa
of yesterday. I had a probable Tailed Orange get away. It is an
amazing butterfly show right now, and the turnover is obviously
substantial, with a number of things present today that were not
yesterday and vice versa.
Oct. 23 ~ About 55-80dF for a temp spread. A workable range.
A few Myrtle Warbler went through yard early. A Kinglet (Ruby),
Hutton's and White-eyed Vireo, a couple Chipping Sparrow.
I saw at least 6 Firefly at dusk tonight, so there are still a few
flying. A Pale-faced Clubskimmer (dragon) was in yard, and in
the corral late p.m. we had another, plus a Black Setwing.
From 11-1 we checked the park and butterfly gardens. The Pied-billed
Grebe still at pond in park, heard a couple Green Kingfisher,
nothing in the woods. The garden at entrance sign had good
butterfly numbers, the Roadrunner hunting them. There was an
imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird visiting the Red Turk's Cap.
Best butterfly was a Pearl Crescent (ph.), which we saw another of
at the county line curve garden, and a third just a half-mile
from our house on the Huisache Daisy along the dirt road! Had
not seen one in the last two days of checking all the gardens,
and saw three today - was new for the month. Also new for the month
was my first White-striped Longtail of the year, also on the
Huisache Daisy by the corral. The Crimson Patch was still at
the library garden, about 3 Orange-barred Sulphur were seen.
Another Rawson's Metalmark was seen besides a few each of
Fatal, Rounded, and un-ID'd metalmarks. There were about
a hundred Bordered Patch at the various stops, hundreds of skippers,
but all seemingly of the expected varieties. Probably 75+ Sachem.
A few Dusky-blue Groundstreak, dozens of Gray Hairstreak, 2 Mallow
Scrub-Hairstreak. It was 40+ species, walking the gardens is like
viewing a butterfly gallery right now. At least 60 Phaon Crescent.
Then 5-5:45 p.m. we walked to the south end of the corral a half-mile
down the road to the Huisache Daisy patch to work it well. It had
hundreds of butterflies. Two more Monarch (+ a few in town earlier).
A couple dozen Variegated Fritillary (but I couldn't find a Mexican
amongst them). Great was another Crimson Patch. Outstanding was a
Sickle-winged Skipper (ph.), the first I have seen in a few years,
and a favorite for that wing shape. Fantastic was a Mimosa Yellow (ph.)
amongst many Little Yellows, which is the first I have seen this year,
and is LTA - less than annual, but now is the time. So two more new
ones for the day in the last hour of butterfly action. I did a quick
tally and it was 51 species of butterflies today! Holy cow!
The annual species total is now at 99 species locally (upper Sabinal
River drainage - mostly yard, around town and at Lost Maples). Need
one more to break that big century mark. Seems a fairly sure thing
at this point considering the magnitude of this years southerly invasion.
I would be more surprised if we did not add any more species this year.
The four new-for-month butterflies today brings us to 72 species for
October so far. October of 2008 with 83 species was the last time we
had more than 69 species in a month (Oct. 2010). So it has been eight
years since we had this level of diversity in a month locally. Since
shortly after the drought started when diversity crashed. Of course
most are invaders from elsewhere. Southward in northern Mexico is
probably the primary origin of these fall invasions.
Still missing several species that might be findable in the week we have
left of the month. Like Great Purple Hairstreak, Tailed Orange, Streaky
or a Sootywing Skipper, Cassius, W. Pygmy or Marine Blue, Mexican Frit,
Dark Buckeye, Tropical Leafwing, White Peacock, Giant, Great Southern,
or Checkered (!) White, an Angled-Sulphur, an Ornythion, for a dozen+ off
the top of my head... there are plenty of possbilities still.
Oct. 22 ~ An amazing low of 42dF for us here! I saw Kerrville had
a brief 38dF and several 39dF readings this morning! Weewow!
A couple Myrtle Warbler went over early, White-eyed Vireo still
around, heard an Orange-crowned Warbler. Went to town to check
the butterfly flowers the gardens were so good yesterday. Stopped
at the country club and had a small group of 3-4 Myrtle with 2-3
Audubon's Warblers, and a Kinglet. Best bird I did not see,
a tractor mower was crossing the fairways and flushed a Sprague's
Pipit that called several times as it moved away. My FOS and first
locally in a while. Only rarely do I get a fly-over calling here.
I heard FOS Western Meadowlark chucking over at the country club,
and four Killdeer were on the fairways.
The butterflies were great again, and I saw four species I did not
see yesterday, all were new for the month. Plus Black Swallowtail missed
yesterday so 51 sps. in last two days. One Mexican Yellow was at the
park entrance garden. A Zilpa Longtail was at the library garden,
which is the first I have seen locally in several years (ph.). At the
county-line curve deco garden at the north end of town there was a
Laviana White-Skipper (ph.), and a Rawson's Metalmark among a few
Fatal and a couple Rounded. The butterflies are rockin'!
A FOS dragonfly was a male Autumnal (formerlly Yellow-legged) Meadowhawk
at the country club pond next to Waresville Cemetery. A few Black,
and Red, Saddlebags still about, some Green Darner, a pair of Common
Whitetail, some Setwings still, and damsels were probably Familiar Bluet.
One firefly at dark, the fall flight is all but over. Something must
have bugged the skunk as I could smell it strongly in late evening.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Oct. 21 ~ The wind finally calmed after the post-frontal blow.
About 50dF for a low felt great, high was upper 70's dF.
Lovely. And dry. In the morning there were a few different birds
around, some stuff did ride the wave into town. Several Myrtle
Warbler were my FOS. A RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH in the biggest Hackberry
was my first locally in a few years (none the last two winters).
A Solitary Vireo was seen which was one of the tweener difficult
ones. I hate when that happens. It could have been a very bright
Cassin's or a very dull Blue-headed. It moved off and out of
yard before I could be sure, though was leaning Cassin's on it
when it continued south. It was small and compact.
Amazing was a chortle of bluebirds (don't know what a flock of
bluebirds is called, just made that up), 11 of them, which all went to
the nest box that bluebirds reared 3 sets of 3 young out of this
year. The fuss they were making was so big as to draw a crowd of
everything else in the neighborhood to scold whatever they were on.
But they were just going to the next box. Five other boxes around
the yard were not of any interest. Was it the birds that were from
that box? Single Lark and Chipping Sparrow came in, 2 Hutton's and a
White-eyed Vireo, plus the aforementioned Solitary type, Ruby-crowned
Kinglet, Myrtle Warbler, plus all the locals like Cardinal, Titmouse,
both Wrens (Bewick's and Carolina), Chickadees. It was a show.
Then a town run 11-2. Fortunately I just barely remembered to do
the errands before I came home, like get groceries, good thing I got
hungry. Going there and back I saw only one Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.
Most are apparently gone now. Hit the park, the Roadrunner is still
around the entrance sign. A Pied-billed Grebe was my FOS. The
Louisiana Waterthrush is up at the island, giving great views
today. Green and Ringed Kingfisher were there. I heard something
that got away that was either Olive Sparrow or Rufous-capped Warbler,
that super high thin metallic tik note. Over town there was a flock of
vultures with 30 Turkey and 85 Black. Judy Schaffer said she has a few
Rufous Hummers at her feeders, as is usual at her place in town in the
winter. We have no hummers here at our place south of town a couple
miles for two days now.
Butterflies were again the real show though. I checked the three
best spots with 20 min. at the park entrance garden, and 10 each at
the library garden and the county-line curve garden at the north
end of town. In about 45 minutes of looking time I recorded 44 sps.
of butterflies. Amazing. Hundreds of individuals. A hundred Bordered
Patch! Best was 3 Crimson Patch, 2 at park and one at library garden.
What an awesome beautiful animal. Two Southern Skipperling were new
for the month (as were the crimson beauties). FOUR Orange-barred
Sulphur is outstanding, and only once or twice in 13 years have I had
that many that quickly here. Dozens of Large Orange and a dozen Cloudless
Sulphur, about 8 each of Theona and Elada Checkerspot, a couple Rounded
Metalmark (saw Fatal too), Ceraunus Blue, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak,
Vesta, Phaon and Texan Crescent, dozens of Clouded Skipper, over a dozen
Julia's Skipper, a few Whirlabout, dozens of Sachem, it was a
fantastic frenzy on the flowers. Also had a few of those Yellow-margined
Flower Buprestid (beetle).
Here at the house before I left I had a Zebra and a Monarch in the yard.
I saw at least 46 sps. today! No doubt if I had a couple hours to work
them I could have found 50 sps.! Killed 6 more evil bastard cats on the
Blue Mist Eup., and 2 the last two days, now we are at 81 sent to heaven,
trying to save my ravaged flower patch. I missed one that dropped into
the leaf litter when I went for it. It is not long on this earth.
Did have Wandering and Spot-winged Glider dragonflies today, besides
the 2 Saddlebags and Green Darner.
Oct. 20 ~ Finally a front is arriving! First puffs of northerlies
were between 8-9 a.m., around 11 it blew good for a bit, pecans
hitting the steel roof and lots of leaves falling. Winds got to 20+mph
sustained in the afternoon, and blew 10+ till midnight or later. Was a
dry frontal passage but blew the humidity and 90dF heat of the last five
days out. Probably 77dF or so was peak which felt fantastic. Saw the
Striped Skunk go into its burrow under the cottage mid-morning. Kathy
said she smelled it the other day. We hardly ever see or smell it despite
it residing 50' away. Which I guess is good, but I would like
more better photo ops.
There were some seet flight notes out front early but I couldn't nail
them down. Maybe Clay-colored or Vesper Sparrow. Three of them
got away. A flicker landed in the big pecan and called for a bit.
Was yellow-winged, looked like a good Yellow-shafted but the light was
bad so could not check the details properly. Kinglet (Ruby), the
White-eyed Vireo imm. still. The amazing thing was not seeing a
hummingbird today. One Ruby-throat was here yesterday afternoon,
but did not see one today. First hummer-free day since March 1.
In butterflies a Monarch went by but the Soldier was gone.
Should be a wave of birds behind this blow when it gets done.
Either tomorrow morning if some stuff should ride on it, and-or
the next morning after (Sat.) once winds lay down a bit. We
should have some new arrivals like Hermit Thrush, White-crowned
Sparrow, Myrtle Warbler, maybe even Pine Siskin, Robin, or Sandhill
Crane, etc. The season is changing hard and fast now. From an
avian standpoint it is late fall. The winter birds are about to
arrive en masse. Cardinal flock is already 9 males, and more of female
and immature types.
It was about 5:15 p.m. when I wrote the paragraph above. Kathy came in
from the yard at 5:20 and said she just heard Cranes! FOS. They are
here already, getting that free extra 20 mph ride on the wind. They
probably flew since this morning at 40-50 mph, likely covering 300-400
miles. About as fast as you could have over the same route in your car.
Oct. 19 ~ Had a couple Monarchs over the day. Great was TWO Tropical
Checkered-Skippers, my first this year here. Incredible was a
JULIA flying by the porch. A female, the first I have seen here
in about 7-8 years. I have only seen a few here, this is maybe the
third year of 13 in which I have seen one locally. New yard
beast as well. Dozens of Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur are
going by, very impressive numbers of them.
Had one great bird in the morning. I was luckily outside and
heard a Blackbird flight call. Spotted it quickly, one lone
blackbird, which kept calling is it passed over not too high up.
Female RUSTY BLACKBIRD! Which is almost surely the bird that spent
the last 3 winters in the area, back for a fourth! Gotta be my first
October record. Outstanding. Still waiting for Brewer's to show up.
The rest was the usual, a Kinglet (Ruby), the White-eyed Vireo still
here, a Hutton's too, a migrant Kestrel went over up high
southbound, a number of Turkey Vulture were following the river
southward as well, migrants. A Belted Kingfisher flew over the
yard calling early. Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, and Cooper's
Hawks, Caracara. Great Horned, Barred, Barn, and E. Screech-, for Owls.
Had at least one Ruby-throated Hummer here today, maybe 2.
Oct. 18 ~ Another 70-90dF temp spread for the day. Some morning
clouds help keep it bearable early. Lots of Large Orange and
Cloudless Sulphurs going by. There must be a lot of good seed
crop (probably some pecan scrounging too as they start to fall)
out there as the birds are just barely hitting the seed feeders.
Apparently there is more better elsewhere. Only one or two imm.
male Ruby-throated Hummingbird left.
I keep forgetting to mention the Lark Sparrows, which are largely
gone and have been so a couple weeks, and longer for most. Large
numbers breed, abundantly, and fair numbers winter here. I think
they are two unrelated populations. We have had none on the patio
lately, which is crowded with them (on the white millet) all spring
and summer (to early-mid Sept.). There are some things you can only
determine if and when you watch and take notes every day. Are they
just out on the wild forage? Since I am not seeing any when I drive
the local roads the last month, checking pastures and hedgerows where
they normally are, I think not. The breeders depart.
Oct. 17 ~ I could see our Blue Mist Eupatorium was still getting
eaten by caterpillars. I found and killed 13 this morning, and
3 in the prior 4 or 5 days. So we are now at 73 of them I have
sent to heaven. Out of 20 sq. ft. of it we only have 30 or so
flower heads this year, should be 150, and what we have is much
smaller than normal. It is the best butterfly honey (with the
white Thouroughwort Eup.) in October. The patch at the library
garden was 120+ sq. ft. and there are less flowers there than we
have, that patch was decimated by these caterpillars, without
someone there to cuss at them.
A female Orange-barred Sulphur nectared on our Tropical Sage for
some time, long enough for me to grab camera and get a couple shots
and for Kathy to see it well. What a beauty they are. Females are one
of the prettiest butterflies in North America. From above in flight
the front two-thirds to three-quarters is sun yellow and the trailing
quarter to third orange. Like an airbrushed sunset. Unfortunately the
upper surface is only visible in flight as they keep their wings
closed when perched on a flower to nectar. Had a Celia's
Roadside-Skipper, Vesta Crescent, and a Monarch in later afternoon.
Was 90dF again, and sticky, wishing summer would just go already.
Heard a Kinglet.
Oct. 16 ~ One Lincoln's Sparrow along road by corral.
Heard a few White-eyed Vireo along the road, a Hutton's
in yard. Didn't hear the Scissor-tails this morning though.
Heard a warbler zeet flight note that got away, and which did not
sound like a Yellow to me. Mostly it was butterflies. Two Soldiers
on the porch Blue Mist Eup., one is on Day 8. Outstanding was an
Empress Leilia nectaring on a Huisache Daisy along corral, I have
not seen one in several years. Perhaps I am overlooking them among all
the Hackberry and Tawny Emperors? Had about 3 Monarch, and 3 Elada
Checkerspot. Best was about 4 p.m. and 90dF when we went for a swim
in the river, a Zebra flew by. I have since checked and that makes
butterfly species #60 for the month! On the 16th! Which already
makes October the best month of the year. Those Cypress trees are
sure turning brown now. Green will soon be a memory. One Black
Setwing dragonfly was over at the river, they are scarce here.
I saw it from in the water, whence they allow quite close approach
with just head sticking up out of water as often opposed to stalking
them from shore whilst towering over them, when they can be quite ginchy.
Oct. 15 ~ The Turkeys were over in the corral this a.m., all 7
of the local Tom flock. Red-shouldered, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned
Hawks in yard in a.m. One Indigo Bunting along corral. Two Monarch
over the course of the day, one nectaring on Huisache Daisy. A
fresh mint Questionmark was nectaring with wings closed so I could
not tell if winter or summer form, but to be so perfect of edges
it has to be a fresh emergence, and would then be more likely a
winter form on this date. One female Variegated Meadowhawk dragonfly
is the first of that species I have seen in some time. They are not
one of our summer species here, present in later fall, the last few often
in latest Dec. or early January. Then seemingly a hatch in spring whence
a few around in April. Then none from late spring to late fall, I
usually record zero all summer, every summer.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Oct. 14 ~ A 70-85dF temp spread for the day. A bit balmy.
Dripping if out in the sun in afternoon. New today was an adult
male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the first ad.ma. in a couple weeks.
Five Scissor-tails in the top of one tree along W. 360, a Shrike
there too. At the park there were a few Blue Jay, 2 Green Kingfisher
and the Louisiana Waterthrush up at the island. There was one imm.
male Indigo Bunting in the Ragweed patch, but that was it for migrants.
The deco garden at entrance was good with butterflies though, sometimes
it pays to be flexible. If the birds are slow, maybe the odes or
leps are good. The Roadrunner is still at the garden hunting the
butterflies with a vengence.
The Red Turk's Cap patch was thick with Large Orange (15)
and Cloudless (10) Sulphurs. One Orange-barred in with them
was great - later another Orange-barred went through our yard.
A Brazillian Skipper was also on the Turk's Cap, the first
I have seen locally in several years. A Rounded Metalmark was
my first for the month. What was amazing was the numbers of
Theona Checkerspot, about 50 there! Most I have ever seen in
one spot here by far. A dozen Elada Checkerspot was off the
charts as well. One Ceraunus Blue was my first for the month.
Dozens of Bordered Patch.
Up at the deco garden at the north end of town curve there was my
FOS Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, more Elada, a couple dozen more Theona (!)
Checkerspot, a Fatal Metalmark. Best was my first Ocola Skipper of
the year, only get one to a few almost every fall but not all.
Both sites had lots of skippers: multiple Whirlabout, several Dun,
Fiery, many Clouded, loads of Sachem, some Julia's and Eufala
Skippers, one Funereal Duskywing, Common Checkered-Skipper, Orange
Repeat readers might recall I sometimes call this deco garden the
county line curve garden as the road curves at the north end of town
right after the last couple houses. At the Bandera Co. line. Someone
was coming south into town, and made it almost half way around the
curve. Thanks for hitting the concrete, rock, and steel gate
tower and the split rail fence, instead of taking out my beloved
butterfly flowers. Based on the extensive damage, it doesn't
appear that vehicle left on its own power. Hope they were OK.
The butterfly garden at the library had a couple Soldiers, two
Texan Crescent, a few of the common things, but nothing unusual.
One Monarch was there, one at the park entrance garden, 3 in the
woods at the park, one on Hwy 187 south of town, about 6 total.
Hundreds were reported out near Midland a few days ago. In maybe
90 mins. between 11 a.m. - 1 p.m I saw about 42 species of butterflies
at my 3 garden checks. Probably 400 or more individuals. Our yard
Soldier made Day 6 here.
Coming back from town by the corral right next door a big dark-
above sparrow flew across the road that must have been a White-crowned
Sparrow, but can't say absolutely. If there is one there tomorrow
I will count it as my FOS. Late afternoon 7 bearded Toms (Turkey)
strolled down the road past the gate. More Turkey Vulture moving
southbound up high, migrants passing through.
Oct. 13 ~ Humid with a low about 70dF, you would think it is
summer. We got some rain showers from 5 a.m. to noonish and
a total of a half-inch to .6 of precip. There was an imm. Red-shouldered
Hawk that looked different from the ones I have been seeing
and which I suspect is a migrant from elsewhere, not a local bird.
Had Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks too. About 75 Barn
Swallow were about, the normal fall flock we get that seems to
stage here like Scissor-tails do before departing.
A few birds across the road in the mesquites at gate included
my FOS seen Orange-crowned Warbler, a Nashville Warbler, and
both a White-eyed and a Hutton's Vireo. About 20+ Cardinal
were in a flock there, and maybe 6+ Lesser Goldfinch. Had a
Kinglet or two over the day (Ruby). The Soldier is still here
and on Day 5 now. A Monarch came in late looking for a roost.
Some Turkey Vulture seem to be migrating south down-valley up high.
Oct. 12 ~ Low was 55dF so nice, a fog came in around sunup in
the bottom of the valley, then burned off in a couple hours.
Had to make a quick town run, there were no migrants at the park but
there were Ringed, Belted, and Green Kingfisher around the pond.
Ringed often sitting on spillway. In 1972 and '73 I went to
the Falcon Dam spillway, as it was the ONLY place in the U.S. one
could even look for Ringed Kingfisher (yes I saw it). Now it is
a breeding resident up here on the Edwards Plateau.
No one would have even suggested the current hill country presence
at that time. Things can change that quickly, and often even more
than those studying them could begin to guess. Keep that in mind.
No one talked about Audubon's Oriole or White-tipped Dove
colonizing and breeding on the Edwards Plateau either, yet both have.
In the yard mid-morn there was my FOS Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It
was an immature, and my earliest ever fall arrival date for them.
The rest of the day it was the usual, the Soldier butterfly on Day 4
here. One Elada Checkerspot. Thought I heard an Orange-crowned
Warbler across the road again. Still a few Scissor-tails around.
Jerry Schaffer said he and Judy have a Rufous Hummingbird at their
feeders in town.
Oct. 11 ~ A second morning at 47dF for a low. I could get used to
this. High low to mid-80's is warmish but bearable after that
long summer. Only a couple Ruby-throated Hummingbird here this a.m.,
they seemed to have all departed since Saturday when the biggest
group left on the first day of northerlies after frontal passage. Only
a few were here Sunday, and 2-3 yesterday and today. More feeders out
(4) than hummers now for the first time since early-mid-March. Yet,
there are still fights!
Thought I heard a Vesper Sparrow out front this a.m., and which I
have thought I heard the last couple days. Also thought I heard a
Clay-colored Sparrow today, and yesterday. Yet to lay eyes on either.
Both should be around now. Did hear a Belted Kingfisher over at river.
Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper's Hawk in yard in a.m. Then in
afternoon I again inadvertently flushed a small buteo out of a pecan
in the front yard without seeing it first. It was small, it was a
buteo, and it had white scalloped uppertail coverts.
Oct. 10 ~ Holy cow, a low of 47dF here! It has been about six months
since we felt that. Wow that is nice. Heard a couple Blue Jay outside
this a.m., which are likely migrants from northward. Though there are
a few resident, mostly around town, migrants are usually only a once
every several years sorta thing, like winter 2013-14 had some around.
They make some different sounds than we usually hear though the main
calls are the same or very similar.
Heard a Kinglet, the White-eyed Vireo still here, thought I heard a
warbler seet (flight) note. Red-shouldered and Cooper's Hawk
in yard. Still hear a few Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, but not as many.
Yesterday's Soldier butterfly is still here, it has some white
on dorsal hindwing making it individualy marked. Four Clouded Skipper
at once, a few Julia's and a couple Dun Skipper, still Tawny
and Hackberry Emperors. Pale-faced Clubskimmer and Swift Setwing
dragonlies in yard, besides Black Saddlebags and Green Darner going by.
Oct. 9 ~ Low of 59dF was nice. Heard a warbler seet that got away.
Saw a small hawk up the hill behind us in the big ancient live-oaks,
but could not refind it when we walked around up there for it.
Heard the birds alarm as it flushed out the other side. Never
saw it again. Checked the Frostweed patch upriver a half-mile
and change. Only a FOS House Wren, but one great dragonfly, an
Ivory-striped Sylph. Now is the time for them here.
These are a rare local south-central Texas endemic (in U.S. range).
First one I have been certain of this year but had a couple probables
prior. It was an imm. male. Tried the 360 crossing and nothing there
for birds. A couple Smoky Rubyspot damselflies are still out among
more American Rubyspots. No Scissor-tails along W. 360, they might
have left on the northerlies. The hummers sure did. There were a
couple Ruby-throated left in the morning, imm. males, but most rode
the northerlies out of Dodge yesterday. One Arizona Sister butterfly
was seen up by the Frostweed patch. One Soldier at front porch
Eupatorium patch. Also there some Julia's, Dun, and Clouded
Skipper, a Dusky-blue Groundstreak, a few Queen.
Oct. 8 ~ The northerly flow dropped us to about 60dF for a low,
quite nice. But no migrant bird action through yard. We putted
around a couple hours checking some local spots 11-1 p.m. At the
country club in the bottom cattail filled pond there were a couple
Common Yellowthroat. I heard something stepping in the water that
sounded like a rail stepping but could not see it. At the pond
near the Waresville Cmty. there was a male Yellow-headed Blackbird
(with a male Red-winged), and a Marsh Wren, both FOS and scarce fall
migrants here. A couple Thornbush Dasher dragonflies continue there as
well. Also had a few sparrow seet notes at various spots, one sounded
Savannah, another Vesper, a 3rd White-crowned, but saw none of them.
In the hackberry patch by the back ponds only a Nashville Warbler
and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
They were mowing the roughs in between the fairways and a dozen
Swainson's Hawks were diving on things that were trying to
make getaways, which provided great viewing. Lots of Barn Swallow,
a couple dozen Scissor-tails along W. 360 and at c.c., but no
Vermilion Flycatcher were seen. They are mostly gone now.
At Utopia Park there was a Ringed and 2 Green Kingfisher, but
nothing else. Some various flowers around town and the library
garden had at least 6 Theona Checkerspot, an Elada was on the road
out front of our place. In a pasture on the east side of 360
there were 4 Cattle Egrets, following a horse. Barn, Screech-,
and Great Horned Owls after dusk.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Oct. 7 ~ The lightest whispers of northerlies occasionally in the
morning. About 14 Blue-winged Teal blazed by flying downriver
before sunup. Clouded up a bit as the front came in, winds 15-20 mph
about 12:30-1 p.m. and blew for several hours, cleared and dried
the skies, and stayed 82dF. A pleasant break from the last 4 days
of hot and sticky.
Went to town to do errands and had a couple Green Kingfisher at the
park but that was it. No migrants, even the residents were silent
so there must have been a hawk in the woods or on the island. Still
some Scissor-tails around, Vermilions seem about gone, and did not
see any small buteos. Roadrunner still hunting butterflies at the
deco garden at the park entrance. Should be a wave of birds tomorrow
on the back side of the front. Hattie Barham said they had a Coral
Snake at their place this week.
Oct. 6 ~ Another 70-90dF temp spread today, a front is supposed to
come in tomorrow afternoon, probably dry, but northerlies and will drop
the temps to climatalogical normal maybe. Thursday so stuck at the
desk, thinking of the raptors I have seen locally the last week.
Caracara, Kestrel, White-tailed and Mississippi Kite, Sharp-shinned
and Cooper's Hawk, Zone-tailed, Swainson's, Red-tailed and
Red-shouldered Hawks, plus two mega-raries, Short-tailed and Roadside Hawk.
Twelve species of diurnal raptors. Quite the showing methinks. Ought to
be a Merlin around, maybe a Broad-winged.
It was sad to hear of the recent passing of Charles Bordelon.
He was a giant in the study of Texas Lepidoptera - butterflies
and moths. Shortly after we got here 13 years ago I began
e-mailing with him, mostly butterfly distribution and ID questions.
I am a nobody in entomology, he was a big shot. He was nothing but
the most helpful a person could be, a gentleman and a butterfly scholar.
We have lost a mountain of knowledge about Texas butterflies.
I turned on a couple bug lights for him tonight... It was pretty buggy
too, if I only knew what it all was. A huge Five-spotted Sphinx moth
came in (of Tomato Hornworm fame) and a Black Saddlebags dragonfly
sat right next to it for photos. One small different Cerambycid,
a few Firefly, lots of small mantis, one big Thread-legged Bug, some
Green and Brown Lacewing, loads of moths, mostly micros, Charles
would have loved. With his best friend Ed Knudson they wrote and
published illustrated (mostly with specimen photos) checklists of
butterflies and moths for most of Texas, seperated by habitat region.
They studied in Concan every year for probably over 30, and are why
the Uvalde Co. butterfly and moth lists are what they are.
Oct. 5 ~ Low of 70dF and front porch had 89dF in the shade.
Dang summer just hates to go. We should be low 80's, not hot.
There was no migrant bird movement through yard today. We need
a front. I'm stuck at the desk Wed. and Thurs. so can only dream
about getting out to look for small buteos. Kathy found a Texas
Powdered-Skipper outside, which I missed last month. That's two
already this month, that I missed last month. Late in the p.m. I
saw a Theona Checkerspot on some of the Frogfruit in yard.
Oct. 4 ~ Nearly 70dF for a low is a bit balmy for the date.
One Gnatcatcher went through in the morning, a Hutton's Vireo
is about, and the imm. White-eyed Vireo is still here. Heard a
Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Mid-morning I went out front and inadvertently
flushed a tiny buteo from a pecan on north side of house. I saw
it well enough to say it was a Roadside Hawk. What I saw best was
the white scalloped uppertail coverts as it flew away. And the
Cotton Rat in its talons. Here we go again, my nemesis bird is back.
At least it left with food, so hopefully will remember where the hunting
is good. No doubt the bird I saw yesterday on the other side of the river
about a half plus air-mile away. Occurring in the yard it was
seen in or from the last two winters makes a strong argument for a
returnee. That is, 'it' being back for its third winter locally.
There was a Monarch through the yard, and a Soldier, besides a
number of Queens, Julia's, Fiery, Dun, and Clouded Skipper,
a Fatal Metalmark, Buckeye, Tawny Emperors, male Black Swallowtail,
Red Admiral, Goatweed Leafwing, a few Mestra, besides all the more
regular stuff. One other bird thing, yesterday and today there were
small Eastern Bluebird flocks going over early a.m., high up, southbound.
These are likely migrants arriving from elsewhere for the winter, not
local resident birds.
Oct. 3 ~ About 57dF for a low, and the last two days were 54, so
we have had quite the exciting run of about 5 days with lows in
the 50's. Which is about to end. One Gnatcatcher in the
morning in the yard, another in afternoon. One Hutton's Vireo
and one Monarch in yard. I had to run out for a quick errand.
There were about 3-4 Swainson's Hawk lifting off from the former
Utopia on the River area. In town there was nothing at the park.
I realize it is a bit soon to be reporting another rare small buteo,
but you can't pick what shows up, or when.
Sitting in a small mesquite in the pasture just west of the former
Utopia on the River was a ROADSIDE HAWK! When I jumped out of truck
to binoc it, after about 20 seconds of going over all the marks I
reached back in to grab camera and it flew. Into the UR grounds.
Which is locked and no entry now. It has pinky finger thick horizontal
bars which are well defined and crisp of edges and equally thick
pale creamy areas between them, from breast to legs, thinner bars
(half as thick) on legs, heavy messy vertical streaks on upper breast,
heavily streaked white and brown head with fairly distinct pale
eyebrow and dark malar, long tail for a small buteo with muted bands.
Not sure the birding community is interested in hearing about another
sighting here without photos. I don't know what to do about
reporting it. There is no public access save being IN the road.
If I had only grabbed camera first, it would be all over but the
shouting. I have to presume it is "the" returning bird.
Oct. 2 ~ We got up on the early side and went to Garner St. Pk.
for the morning. Heard a White-tipped Dove calling from over
near the river around sunup here at the house. Figured the usual
summer Garner crowds should be mostly gone by now. We were wrong.
It is still a human circus and zoo. It was packed. It reminds me
of birding in parks in L.A. You can take some trails and get a
bit away, but still people are everywhere. It is beautiful, and
the Frio is running fast and high from all the recent rains.
On the way on 1050 at Bear Creek Pond about 5 miles west of Utopia
were a couple Black-bellied Whistling-Duck and a male Vermilion
Flycatcher. About 4 miles further west, a mile east of Blanket Creek
there was a White-tailed Kite hunting over a pasture, and another was
in Garner up at the north end where lots of open fields. Only warblers
were two Nashville, but I may have heard an Orange-crowned.
We saw two Green Kingfisher along the river, and heard a Canyon
Wren up on the big rock cliff at the south end of park. Lots
of Turkey Vulture, over a hundred, a couple Common Raven. One
Hutton's Vireo, and the rest was a few of the usual residents
like Cardinal, Carolina Wren and Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse.
A few Lark and Chipping Sparrow, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed
Woodpecker. Overall a bit on the slow side. No bluebird flock.
A couple Monarchs were seen, and a couple Mestra, plus one Elada
Checkerspot. In odes several Wandering and one Spot-winged Glider,
a few Green Darner, Blue-ringed and Dusky Dancer damselflies.
There is a good fall Mayfly hatch going, which can attract birds,
if they are around. One Roadrunner on 1050 on the way home.
Best beast was another Velvet Worm, this on the trail near the (empty)
bird feeding station.
After 3 p.m. from the front porch I spotted 1 and then a second,
Swainson's Hawk, my FOS this fall. Both were the usual
light morph adults. A few Tawny Emperor were about the yard.
I received a note from Christine Turnbull of the SAT area saying she
and her group saw Belted, Ringed, and Green Kingfishers today at
Utopia Park. Thank you very much for the report!
October 1 ~ Holy cow, we made it through summer! One Gnatcatcher
was it for migrants in the yard this morning. I had to make a
dump and recycling run today. Saw an imm. Indigo Bunting on the
road on the way out. Went out Seco Ridge to check for blooming
Evergreen Sumac and that fancy Long-horned Beetle (Stenapsis) that
meets on them to mate, but they are past peak, I was a week or so
too late, to see the friggin' bugs. ;) Texas Scrub-Jay
and Rufous-crowned Sparrow were both easy from 357 out on the back loop.
At the park there was almost nothing for migrants, it remains
far slower than usual. My FOS Flicker called from across the
river and at park entrance in the pasture adjacent was my FOS
Lincoln's Sparrow. Saw no small buteos soaring around anywhere.
The country club had a few birds near Waresville. There is one patch
of trees that gets birds, perhaps because it is isolated among
the fairways. It had 2-3 Audubon's Warbler, single Nashville
and Yellow Warbler, a Yellow-throated Warbler, 3 Ruby-crowned
Kinglet (after yesterday's FOS), and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
At least one of the Couch's Kingbirds continues there too.
Also present was a flock of 15 Chipping Sparrow which I suspect
was a group of migrants that just arrived, not local breeders.
At the deco garden out front of the park there were two Elada
Checkerspot, and a Theona Checkerspot which I missed in September.
Didn't even take one day to see a butterfly missed last month.
Shoulda checked this patch a couple days ago, but was pressed
for time. The Roadrunner continues hunting butterflies around
that flower patch, and probably hummers too at the Turk's Cap.
In the afternoon I had an Adelpha sister in the yard which stayed
low to the ground and looked brown, and like a Band-celled, not
the expected Arizona Sister. It got away though. Fall is when we
can get the southern strays, like the Malachite a week ago.
No Owls at dark but Great Horned and Screech. Whatever we listened
to for a half hour last night at dark, is not around tonight.
Turned on the porch light for bugs, but none came in. It was
amazingly dead considering how good it was a week ago.
~ ~ October 2016 above ~ ~
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ September summary ~ ~ ~
The month was hotter than average, with 90's F holding until the
last few days of the month. A couple wet spells early and late in
the month totalling just over 6" of rain was above average.
The river is high so that is good. Fall flowers are putting on a
good show, but there seem fewer than usual butterflies on them.
I saw about 57 species of butterflies for the month, with the
MALACHITE being the highlight. My fourth locally, but the first
in several years. Two Orange-barred Sulphur were first in a while,
they are less than annual. One day, the 11th, I saw 6 species
of Swallowtails, which is great methinks. A couple Laviana
White-Skipper were around, a couple Soldier, but lackluster
save the Malachite. A few Monarch showed up on the heels of
the frontal passages, one on the 11th, one on the 21st, and four
after the bigger front on the 27th and 28th. A Banded Sphinx Moth
(Eumorpha fasciatus) was nice, as was finding a couple of their
caterpillars on Ludwigia at the park. Some bagworms on willows again.
We also had a nearly week-long flight of a billion Snouts.
Odes (dragonflies and damselflies) were a bit weak as well. Only
24 or so species were seen. One Thornbush Dasher continued into
late in the month at a pond on the c.c. near Waresville. A couple
Orange Bluets were at the park the 29th. Odes will fade fast in
October, but like birds and butterflies, a good time for rarities.
Birds were good with about a hundred species seen, and a few
good ones. The imm. SHORT-TAILED HAWK was the prize of the month
on the 29th. A WOOD THRUSH at the park the 14th was my first in
Uvalde Co. A Philadelphia Vireo was at Lost Maples the 11th, and
a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was near Waresville on the 3rd. A
Brown Thrasher at our bath on the 27th was great, and a couple
Couch's Kingbirds near Waresville were good too. A couple
Mississippi Kite are always nice. Great was 7 species of vireo on
the 11th, missing Bell's, but hearing about 4 Black-capped
that day at Lost Maples. Catbird and Long-billed Curlew are
always good finds here in fall (both the 10th). The Louisiana
Waterthrush seems to have returned to the park for its 3rd winter.
~ ~ ~ end Sept. summary ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ Bird News update header for archive - in part ~ ~ ~
The first couple longer distance migrants showed up the last week
of July. My first Rufous Hummingbird was on July 24, and on July 26
saw my first Least Flycatcher. I have seen 20+ Leasts now, at least,
and at least 3-4 Rufous Hummers. I was seeing Blue-gray Gnatcatchers,
and Orchard Oriole daily moving south down the river habitat corridor.
Dickcissel were daily in August, but all have thinned out now.
Golden-cheeked Warbler are long gone. We had an immature in the
yard July 16, an ad. male on July 23, an advanced imm. male on August 1,
and another on Aug. 14! Painted Bunting are gone. Two Acadian Flycatcher
in August in the river habitat corridor south of town is outstanding.
They are amazingly rare outside of breeding territories. A couple
Eastern Kingbird were seen Aug. 19, and 1 on 24th. Upland Sandpipers
were numerous in August, mostly calling overhead at or after dusk and dawn.
A GREEN VIOLETEAR was at the Sabinal River Lodge just below
the south end of town. Originally found May 19, then not present,
and then re-appeared June 8-10. It was not available to the public,
except for guests at the lodge ($125 per night - 2 night minimum
- except sometimes during the week you can get one night).
830-966-3393. Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in their
very neat place. A report to Texbirds said the bird was not
seen Thursday evening or Friday morning (16-17 June) by someone
staying there. A dreamy blog post seemed to claim it was seen
about June 29 or so. I did not detect it on July 1 in a half-hour
of looking and listening. Then, it or another appeared in early
July in Medina Co., 30 or so air miles east of us, at a private
residence. Methinks it is long-gone now. Finally, another was
found at the Davis Mountains resort in west Texas in latest July.
As annual there were a few spring reports of Tropical Parula at Neals
Lodges in Concan. Always double-check any Parula seen locally.
At Lost Maples there was a BROAD-WINGED HAWK June 19 (and Sept. 11),
where they nested last year. A juvenile Broad-winged Hawk was in our
yard July 22 (ph.), so they nested again somewhere locally. I saw the
juvie again July 26 and Aug. 1, plus an adult was in yard on Aug. 6.
Most migratory nesters are gone or nearly so. No Cuckoo, Myiarchus
flycatchers, Red-eyed Vireo, etc. If you see any of those now it is
likely a migrant from northward, not a local breeder. There are still
some Scissor-tailed and Vermilion Flycatchers, Yellow-throated Warbler,
White-eyed, and Hutton's Vireo, Chimney Swift and Cave Swallow.
Of expected but scarcer or local things around, there are the usual:
Zone-tailed Hawk, Canyon Towhee and Rufous-crowned Sparrow,
a few Long-billed Thrashers, Ringed and Green Kingfisher, some few
Audubon's Oriole are around. You could see one anywhere
anytime, or nowhere at no time. It's birding!%^*@%! Again some
White-tipped Dove and Olive Sparrow are at Lost Maples, the new
normal, my take is that they are probably nesting there. I found
3 just-fledged Olive Sparrows being attended by adults June 5 about
2.5 mi. SSW of Utopia on private property. Also nearby 3 juvenile
Black-throated Sparrow with adult pair the same day. Some Black-capped
Vireo are in that area as well.
The spring and summer flower show was great. Now we are moving
into late summer and fall flowers. I saw some presumedly Fall Rain
Lily last week, and the first few Frostweed are just starting to open,
as is Maxmillian Sunflower. Snow-on-the-mountain, Red Turks Cap
and Lazy Daisy are going well now, Wooly Ironweed about done.
Frogfruit is one of the best for butterflies currently though.
Often it is in disturbed areas along roadsides, look for blues,
hairstreaks, metalmarks and skippers on it. The patches by the
deco garden at the county-line curve at the north end of town are
great, when not mowed.
Still some of the spring and summer flowers are still going. As:
Sneezeweed, Straggler Daisy, Tube Tongue, Paralena, Slender-stem
Bitterweed, Wood-Sorrel and Yellow Wood-Sorrel, Blue Gilia, Blackfoot
Daisy, Zexmenia, Mealy, Tropical, and Cedar Sage, Coreopsis, Alamo Vine
and Purple Bindweed, Scarlet Pea, Purslane, Blue Curls and Bluehearts,
Huisache Daisy, Mexican Hat, Limestone Guara, Pearl Milkweed Vine,
Cardinal Flower, a bit of Fireweed in the river, some Maxmillian
Sunflower, the white Boneset Eupatorium, Slender-leaf Hymenoxys,
and many more. Ought to be more butterflies for all the flowers.
~ ~ ~ end bird news header - in part - ~ ~ ~
~ ~ back to the regularly scheduled drivel ~ ~
Sept. 30 ~ Yesterday a weak dry front passed through which brought
an amazing low of 54dF. April was probably the last time we saw
that, 5 months ago. It's a long summer here. Got some more
yard work done while it was cool. No small bird migrant motion in
the morning here. Only morning migrant was my FOS Sharp-shinned Hawk,
an imm. female. Hutton's and White-eyed Vireo continue. Later
in afternoon I heard my FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet across the road.
Being the last day to see any new butterflies for my monthly
species total I went out from 4 to 5 p.m. and checked a couple
flower patches. Turned out to be a real coup. The Frostweed
patch a half mile+ north of us upriver was slow though. One
migrant Monarch, a Southern Broken-Dash, Dun Skipper, but good
were 2 dozen Mestra. No birds there.
The hot spot was a random patch of native flowers growing below
the 360 crossing. Mostly Zexmenia, some Tropical and Mealy Sage,
Palafoxia, but the Frogfruit was pretty cooked and done. In this
area I had a Pearl Crescent, an Elada Checkerspot, a Horace's
Duskywing, a Fatal Metalmark, a Whirlabout, and a Southern Skipperling.
All six were new for the month. A Roadside-skipper got away that
looked like a Bronze darnit. Also over a dozen False Duskywing
were there, a Phaon Crescent, a couple Tawny Emperor on Frostweed,
a couple Sachem and Fiery Skipper too, plus more of the the other
regular things. Six new species for the month in the last half-hour
of butterfly light and heat is outstanding. At home a Celia's
Roadside-Skipper came into the Blue Mist Eupatorium about 6:15 p.m.
The only bird of interest was a Common Yellowthroat at the crossing.
But about 5:30 a juvenile Mississippi Kite spent 5 minutes just
floating around right over the front yard. They seem helium
filled, they are so light on the wing. So graceful and bouyant.
I'll never get tired of watching them.
After I posted the update at 8 p.m. an owl unlike any I have
ever heard began calling outside, down the road and towards the
river a bit. At first it was mostly 3 notes, hoo, hoo, hoo, fairly
evenly spaced and similar. Unfortunately I don't have anything
that will record low frequencies like that. Later about 8:30 it was
giving single note call, much like an overgrown Flammulated owl,
but longer and but with a bit of decending at the end of the note.
I hear Great Horned and Barred Owls all the time, and have never heard
this from either, even the young. The tonal quality is very like some
recordings of Mottled Owl. Not as low as Great Horned in pitch,
lower than Barred though and with a different tonal quality than
either. It would take a lot of brush crashing to get to where it
is, and which is not generally a successful way to chase owls.
Sept. 29 ~ Still getting cool, 61dF for a low is great. First
couple hours of day saw no migrants through yard. A dozen the
day after the front, nothing before or after. Fair weather with
light northerly flow are good movement conditions. They must be
passing us by. Since Utopiafest is this weekend I went to town
for a few things today as I have seen the store run out of some
staples during these events.
Only one migrant at the park, a Mourning Warbler in the Ragweed.
Which looks like someone cut a bunch of. One of the best
migrant attractors there is, a patch of Ragweed. If opening up
the path was the goal, it seemed like a bit of overkill to me.
I was getting through fine as it was anyway. At the library
garden there was a Celia's Roadside-Skipper.
On the way home just south of town and the 354 junction there
was a small buteo soaring over the old Preston place, just above
treetops. I slowed and then stopped when it became apparent it
was not a Broad-winged Hawk, which by size at distance was my
first thought. Jumped out with binocs and right overhead was a
light morph SHORT-TAILED HAWK! OMG! Swapped bins for camera and
got one poor docu-shot that hopefully the authorities will find
acceptable with my description. It quickly gained altitude on a
thermal and drifted south along 187. I drove south of it to get
good light and when I got out at the historical marker, I could
not refind the bird. Typical of them. The disappear as quickly
as they appear. It had many narrow bands on the tail (besides a
thicker sub-terminal band), and few bands on the secondaries,
so was an immature or juvenile, not an adult. It is my first
fall record here, I have seen over a half-dozen locally, all
were in spring and summer. An immature is certainly a bird
that wandered up from Mexico (they are not known to breed in Texas).
My pitiful poor docu shot of the Short-tailed Hawk
Still trying to improve on my worst docu-shot ever.
Sept. 28 ~ A 60dF low under clear skies and light northerlies. All
the migrants left and essentially no new arrivals today but one
Gnatcatcher. The Hutton's Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler
are locals. One juvie White-eyed Vireo is also likely such, but
it seems the adults left a few days ago. A couple dozen imm. male
Ruby-throated Hummer around, no adults for several days now.
Besides the Monarch that roosted here last night and departed
in the morning, two other passed through, both heading SW.
So four in the two days after the front, which are early migrants.
A Soldier was on the Frostweed, and some Queens went through, so
another Danaus trifecta for the milkweed butterflies. Some other butterflies
seen were single Dusky-blue Groundstreak, False Duskywing, Clouded
Skipper, and Northern Cloudywing, plus an Orange-barred Sulphur was
great. Fair numbers of Large Orange Sulphur and a few Cloudless Sulphur.
Sept. 27 ~ The lowest temp in 4 months or more, 61dF this morning
felt outstanding. Got a little more yard work done. Much of the
night was still a bit clouded up, but there were a few migrants in
the yard the first half of the day, would be a good day to hit all
the likely spots for them. Alas, it is a work day. I saw at least
3 Nashville and a Yellow Warbler, and a nearing tardy Red-eyed Vireo
in a couple looks outside in the morning. A couple more birds got away.
After noon there was another Nashville and a Wilson's Warbler, plus the
male Yellow-throated Warbler is still here. About 3:30 there were
3 more Blue-gray Gnatcatcher together. I heard a warbler chip note
across the road that sounded like a Black-throated Gray, walked a bit
up and down working it best I could for 15 minutes and never found it.
One dull male Summer Tanager was in the pecans.
Kathy found the bird of the day at the bath about 4:40, a BROWN THRASHER.
Surely my first September record and the earliest date I have for one here.
It flew just as I got the scope on it for a pic. Brown Thrasher are scarce
here, some years I do not see one. This is the second one she spotted at the
bath this year (!), the prior was this spring. Resident in low numbers,
Long-billed is the more common of the 2 rufous thrashers locally. It
came back to the bath after 6 and again flew just when I got it in
focus for a picture. It is a good bird here, and did not see it
the next day.
So a dozen migrant passerines (songbirds) in and through yard today.
Surely other spots locally had the same, like the Cemeteries, parks,
and any good patch of trees, usually those with understory are best.
Like Pecan bottoms with Frostweed or Ragweed patches for instance.
Also if you have Cedar Elms, those are blooming and good in fall.
Follow the water, and the bloom (bloom = bugs = bird food).
One Monarch was about the yard for a bit, and lots of Black Saddlebags
dragonflies were hunting over the mesquites across the road. A few
Green Darner were mixed in with them. Another Monarch came in a dusk
and was looking for a roost in the pecans and the big hackberry.
Sept. 26 ~ Holy cow, thirteen years ago today I signed the lease for
the 'hay house' adobe on N. Thunder Creek Rd.
A bit of an
anniversary. My how time flies (according to Bullwinkle time flies
like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana. ;)
Bit more rain
overnight, maybe another half-inch by dawn, and then light rain the
first few hours of the day. The northerly winds haven't really hit,
just a few puffs here and there up to noon. Temps did drop a couple
degrees from the first few hours of the day. By noonish when the
rain stopped it was another inch total with the overnight half.
So that makes 3.6 inches of rain in about 24 hours. The high temp
was about 70dF. Weewow. We are also now at just over 6" of rain
for the month.
Cooper's Hawks keep diving through yard going after the seed
eaters, multiple times yesterday and this morning. At least one
adult and an immature, and likely the local breeders, not migrants.
I think northward at departure points the migrants have been
grounded due to inclement weather so there was very little
pre-frontal movement, no grounding during the event, so then
there should be a bigger wave behind it when it clears. In fall
the first clear night after frontal passage with north winds is
usually the biggest movement night. Which means tomorrow should
be it. Always happens on a workday too.
Did have a Zone-tailed Hawk fly over, Caracara, and the ad.fem.
local breeder Fuertes' Red-tail was back for the first time
in a couple weeks, haven't seen the begging juvie in a couple days.
In afternoon there was a Hutton's Vireo, a Gnatcatcher, one
Yellow Warbler. An hour before dusk 8 Chimney Swift went over
heading north towards town, probably local birds heading back to
their roost. Still 40-50 Firefly in the yard at dusk.
Sept. 25 ~ Low was 74dF, and very humid. A sprinkle or two passed
around 9-10 a.m., we are supposed to get some real rain. Overnight
to our west a bit there were areas of 3-5 INCHES of rain. Only
migrant in a.m. was a Gnatcatcher in the yard that probably spent
the night very near. It rained pretty well 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and
we had about 2" in that period, then another .6 the following
couple hours. Some areas westward were at 5-8" for the event by
afternoon. Temps went from 75dF at 10:30 a.m. to 67 by noon and
were only up to about 70dF by 4 p.m., what a real treat. I read it
was 96dF in L.A. (CA) this afternoon. But no bird movement here so
you get a weather report. Sorry about that chiefs! I presume or
hope there will be a wave with the actual frontal passage which is
supposed to occur overnight.
I left the porch light on for a few hours after dark to see what
bugs were about. A Banded Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha fasciatus) came in
and sat for hours, a real beauty, I'll get a pic up shortly.
Weird was a Green Darner dragonfly and a Snout butterfly that
came in hours after dark. Five little Mantis or Mantispids were
hunting the small stuff that came in.
Sept. 24 ~ Another balmy 73dF low. The approaching front is sucking
south flow up ahead of it as usual, 20 mph gusting to 25. Over the
day I had about 4 Gnatcatchers, one at the park, one at the golf course,
two in yard, one early and one in afternoon. I heard three warbler
seet flight notes at three places and never saw any of them. The
only warbler I saw was a silent ad. fem. Audubon's Warbler, a
migrant from westward, but right on time for the early first ones.
Three weeks or more ahead of when the first Myrtle Warbler show up.
A Zone-tailed Hawk was at the park, two Green Kingfisher were by
the island at north end, Louisiana Waterthrush was on the island,
yesterday's Malachite was nowhere to be seen. A Viceroy was
new for the month. A couple bagworm sacks are in riverside willows.
The country club pond near Waresville still held one Thornbush Dasher,
and a dozen plus Red-winged Blackbird, of which half were fresh juveniles.
Lots of Black and fewer Red Saddlebags (dragons) are around everywhere.
Still fair numbers of Green Darner, a very few Spot-winged and one
Wandering Glider. One other bird item from the yard, the resident
pair of Eastern Phoebe have been beating up on other Eastern Phoebe
the last week or 10 days. These new arrivals are migrants from the
north and which are not allowed to trespass in resident's territories.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Sept. 23 ~ A low of 73dF was balmy, and 10dF warmer than yesterday.
That front better show up as planned Sunday or Monday. Again
had 2 Hutton's vireo in the yard, and one gnatcatcher, but
otherwise nothing save the male Yellow-throated Warbler still.
The park had almost no action as well. The Louisiana Waterthrush
there is likely the returning wintering bird. Blue Jay and a
Barred Owl were up in the woods. A Roadrunner was hunting either
butterflies or hummingbirds in the patch of flowering Red Turks Cap
by the park entrance sign.
The bird of the day was a butterfly, and the only transient at the
park. A bit dull and worn, missing some of both hind wings from
likely multiple bird strikes, but still plenty fancy, a MALACHITE!
It is the third or fourth I have seen here in 13 years, and none in
about a decade. I only got photos of the underside as it sat with
wings closed, the upper side is twice as bright. Google Malachite
butterfly and check out some pix. It is a tropical beauty, lime
green and chocolate, that is mostly recorded in the U.S. in small
numbers along the Rio Grande in deep south Texas. I'm not sure
it shows up every year down there. It is a rarity this far north.
A pic of the Malachite... The upper side is twice as intense of
color as the underside, which is essentially its camo mode.
Above they are bright lime green and dark chocolate, color is much
lighter below. Sometimes you take what you can get for photo docs.
Sept. 22 ~ We hit 63dF this morning! Maybe the coolest we have
felt since early May, and not a moment too soon. We still have
three more days at about 90dF forecast but a front is to arrive over
the weekend and break the spell. Should have a wave of birds
with it, and rain is forecast. Hurry up, I can't wait. Today
is the autumnal equinox, so technically it is fall, it just does
not yet feel like it.
There were a couple Scrub-Jay in and around the yard briefly in the a.m.,
a Hutton's Vireo. I heard a warbler flight note which sounded
like a Nashville but didn't see the bird. Kathy had a Gnatcatcher
out the kitchen window mid-morn. Otherwise migrant motion remains nil.
The local breeders and early migrants are gone whilst we wait for
the next set of passers-through to arrive.
Sept. 21 ~ An amazing low of 64dF was outstanding and cooler than
forecast. No complaints. The heat dialed back about 5dF today
to the low 90's, not exactly relief, but a bit of help. As
soon as I walked out the door I heard the Ringed Kingfisher over
at the river which continued off and on all day. There were TWO
Hutton's Vireo at once here in the yard, I presume local young
of the year out wandering around. Just before dusk a Gnatcatcher was
in the yard.
A Monarch butterfly was my second this fall, and I had a Soldier besides
a few Queens, for the Danaus trifecta (all 3 milkweed butterflies).
One marcellina type (Speckled) Cloudless Sulphur was the first of that
form I have seen this fall. Another big white skipper flew through the
yard which again looked like a Laviana.
Sept. 20 ~ The male Yellow-throated Warbler is still here hunting
the ball moss, he will soon be gone. I relish every last look of
the local breeders when I know their departure is imminent. It's
not like there were any migrants in the yard to look at, again today.
Someone send us a front. One Hutton's Vireo, which is a local bird,
and a couple Hooded Oriole still sneaking in and out quietly, as if
they hope to not be detected. In leps there was Black Swallowtail,
Gray Hairstreak, Arizona Sister, a few Mestra, still a couple dozen
Large Orange Sulphur daily, with a few Cloudless mixed in, Snouts
finally down to just a few dozen.
Sept. 19 ~ A low of 69dF didn't last long, at 3 p.m. local WU station
readings were 98dF with a 116 heat index. Wonderful, come on down.
No migrants through the yard in a.m., this high pressure regime sucks.
Our front porch was 92 in the shade, you don't want to be on the patio.
No migrants through yard again this a.m., as seems the norm during these
Sept. high pressure events. There were more migrants in August, than
September, so far, by far. There was wayyyyy more action daily. It is
deader than a doornail. An Arizona Sister and a Goatweed Leafwing were
the lowlights today.
The adult (Fuertes') Red-tailed Hawks that breed a few hundred yards away
in the river Cypresses have left the territory to get the one fledged
young to leave. It has been flying around screaming begging for a week,
the parents nowhere in sight. They have quit responding, and disappear.
As soon as the young finally realizes the gravy train part of life is
over and leaves, they will be back.
Sept. 18 ~ Another nice 67.5dF low felt great, but gadzooks it got up
to about 95 in the sun. Heck the Seco Creek WU station was reporting
106 with a heat index of 126 again! Our front porch was barely over
90dF, but with humidity it felt over a hundred. By this time of year,
most are fairly sick of this. The longer the heat holds the more
quickly it goes from too dang hot to too dang cold. I have been
wanting to get a bunch of outside work done, but need it to cool
down below 90 and dripping for it to be bearable.
I saw my first migrant in yard about 1 p.m., an Orchard Oriole.
the stagnant high pressure is killing us here for migrant birds.
Hutton's Vireo in the yard again. We went swimming at peak heat
in the later afternoon. What a relief! Very neat was a big 9"
Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), a sunfish I don't see here often,
introduced as they are. When we came back right where the stone steps
meet the driveway there was a nearly 6' long Texas Gopher Snake!
What a big beauty! Not just bigger, but prettier than the Western
ones I grew up with. I grabbed a docu shot quickly before it
disappeared since it is the first IN the yard (see the 2016 Photo page
link above for a pic). I saw a big one (6') a few years ago on W. 360.
Just what we need to help that Indigo Snake eat Cotton Rats.
If you kill snakes you can not complain about mice or rats. They
are your fault. I understand not wanting a rattler in the yard,
fine. But Indigo and Gopher Snakes are far more afraid of you
than should be the opposite. They don't attack, they move
away from you. Most of both will not even bite if picked up gently.
Sure I have met some mean ol' Gophers, but that is what happens
when you get old. So I hear...
At dusk picked up a second migrant for the day in the yard, a
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. At this point it was exciting. I am
fond of them anyway, so inquisitive, small and fast. Neat bird.
In butterflies I saw a Goatweed Leafwing and an Arizona Sister in
the yard today. A big white skipper of some sort blasted by too.
Not a checkered-skipper type, probably a Laviana. The Snouts seemed
to have mostly passed, a few, some, but not clouds, finally.
Sept. 17 ~ Low was 67dF, a few less than forecast, not complaining,
felt great. But the high pressure stagnation has bird migration in a
lull. The only migrant through the yard early was a Gnatcatcher.
I went over to the country club to check the ponds for a stray
shorebird and came up empty-handed. One Yellow Warbler was the
only migrant. Three male Red-winged Blackbird were still in the
tules at the Waresville pond. One Hutton's Vireo was in an
isolated patch of trees out on the golf course. Went to the park and
saw no migrants, still a bunch of people and noise there. Saved
the town run with some bring-home Bar-B-Q from Ernie's. Their
pork ribs are outstanding. ;) Saw a Kestrel
on E. 360 on the way home, first I have seen this fall, though
heard one a few days ago from yard.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Sept. 16 ~ Only 70dF for a low, which is not very low. Summer
just hates to go. Now the forecast shows the 70-90dF temp spread
holding on another week, dammit. One Baltimore Oriole in a.m. was it
for migrants going by. The Great Blue Heron (going north low)
and Ringed Kingfisher are locals. The RingKing was the first bird
I saw from the front porch at 7 a.m., it was calling when I walked
out. They can fly along at a couple or few hundred feet, pretty high,
usually calling the slow measured 'chack' notes. It is
amazing when they make the dive from up high down to the river, like
a crazy falcon stoop.
In the afternoon the male Yellow-throated Warbler came to within
6' of me on the porch. The Yellow-throated Vireo seems gone as I
haven't heard it in a few days now. Around town a Hutton's Vireo was the
only non-resident at the park, likely a local post-breeding wanderer.
I checked the mesquite patch at the north end of town and did not
hear Bell's Vireo, so they are likely outta here now too. The
butterfly garden had only Snouts. Like I needed to stop for that.
A few Scissor-tails were singing away late in the afternoon and as
one flew over the front yard, out of nowhere it dove down from above
the trees into an opening between pecans and the big hackberry.
A full speed power dive coming to within a few feet of the ground to
get under the lower edges of canopy, screaming calls the whole way,
and pulled up just clearing clothesline, over the patio, and out
through the other main opening in the trees between house and cottage.
It was a nice long-tailed male with lots of orange, 20' away tops, from
the chair I was sitting in on the porch.
Then at dusk Kathy had a shorebird fly over but could only see
some silhouette. She thought the call and what she could make out
of the shape was that of a Black-necked Stilt! It was heading east,
I might have to go check the country club ponds early. I have one
record, in fall, of a small flock at Utopia Park when the pond was
mostly drained due to the drought.
I know the following is a pressing issue for most of you, the kind
of thing that keeps you up at night, so I will answer one of your most
important questions. It takes a Turkey Vulture about an hour to eat
well over half of squirrel. Head, guts, most of the meat, I do not know
how they get the ribs so clean so fast. I'll take roadkill and
carcasses for a thousand Alex.
Sept. 15 ~ The 68dF low felt nice. A couple Baltimore Oriole
went through the yard early, one singing quite a bit. A Texas
Scrub-Jay (texana) was out back up the slope in the live-oaks.
In p.m. one Orchard Oriole and a Gnatcatcher went through yard.
A Hutton's Vireo was in the yard working the pecans, and a
Zone-tailed Hawk flew over. I heard my FOS Kestrel calling, almost
surely a local returning winterer just getting back.
Sept. 14 ~ Still in the 70-90dF temp spread for the most part.
A quick shower in the afternoon dropped another tenth of rain.
Morning had 2 each Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, a Yellow Warbler
and a Gnatcatcher through the yard. Had to run to town early and
that was the lucky break of the day. Went to the park of course.
A Spotted Sandpiper was on the spillway. A Louisiana Waterthrush is
there, which might be the returning winterer, though it is not too
late to get a migrant passing through. One Mourning Warbler was
on the island as well.
All nothing compared to the WOOD THRUSH on the island. It was
calling to get my attention, and hard to see but I eventually got
a couple good looks at it. It is the first one I have seen in UvCo
in now 13 years here. There have been three spring records I am
aware of in the area over that time (1 at Lost Maples this spring,
1 at Big Springs Real Co. nearly a decade ago, 1 at Chalk Bluff
Park spring of '13). I know of no fall records.
Out front of the Methodist Church and around the tennis courts
there were about 50 Barn Swallows hawking something low just a
foot off the ground. Up on the wire there were 60+ Cave Swallow,
likely the flock of ads. and juvs. from the bank nest site.
Sept. 13 ~ It rained overnight into early morning, low was 68dF
Only got up to 82dF on the front porch, maybe 85 in the sunny spots,
but dripping humid. It did not knock many migrants down though.
It was between two-thirds and three-quarters of an inch total.
There was an imm. male Baltimore Oriole a couple times on the
office hummer feeder, besides some Hoodeds. A couple Orchard
Oriole went through yard, a Least Flycatcher was out there a bit,
and a couple Yellow Warbler passed by. That was it.
The male Vermilion is still around the yard, and a Summer Tanager
is still singing bits of song, a Scissor-tail was singing lots
this a.m. early, must have liked the rain. A Hutton's Vireo was
in the big pecan later in the afternoon. The rest was the regular
usual gang but I did catch a Zone-tailed Hawk flying over the yard.
Still fair numbers of Snouts, thousands, but today the heading was more
SE than E or ENE. Before last light the pair of Screech-Owl were calling
from the kitchen pecan (they hit the bird bath under it) and I gave one
mccallii (our Tex-Mex 'Eastern' Screech-Owl) trill. The male came right
in just 7' away. I never call to them here. It was the first
time he heard that out of me, so surely blew his mind.
Lots of fireflies, a great show for a fall flight. I wonder if they
are the same species as spring? They start later (when darker) and more
keep signaling later after dark than during the spring flight. Or is
just the behavior different seasonally? Which seems unlikely.
Sept. 12 ~ A 66dF low was outstanding and a long time coming. This
week looks to be still a 70-90dF or so temp spread, and humid.
There was a Baltimore Oriole and an Orchard or two that called
early, one Gnatcatcher, but that was it for migrant bird movement
in the yard. If only the squirrels were as absent. There are
four imm. male Ruby-throated Hummers each guarding a feeder on
'their' side of the house. Every new hummer that shows is chased
off and it has been this way for over two weeks now. Unprecedented.
The guards may have changed, or may not have, but the behavior
remains the same. This is the first fall we have not had a swarm of
a hundred or two, or a few hundred hummers. Which is how to attract
rare ones. Just because of a few punky teenage males. Whooda thunk?
I have tried putting the feeders more together, more apart, seems hopeless
as fighting the squirrels.
Sept. 11 ~ The 68dF low felt great! In case you were wondering,
and to save you the trouble, there are no birds singing at 6 a.m.
We went to Lost Maples for a bird walk hike. Did a couple miles
to the pond and back, and a bit around the main lower canyon floor.
Thought maybe there could be some migrant action with the front.
There was a little. Almost all the migratory breeding species are
done and gone, very few remain. For instance, no Acadian Flycatcher,
Eastern Wood-Pewee, Ash-throated Flycatcher, etc.
Vireos were the highlight with an amazing 7 species! I once had
6 species there in June in the late 1980's, maybe 1988, before
Hutton's Vireo colonized the Edwards Plateau, when 6 was hard.
Today we heard 3-4 Black-capped Vireo calling for some time up by
the start of the first pond where there usally are. A bunch were
calling from all over that slope. Probably young of the year.
White-eyed Vireo was in good numbers, at least a dozen or more.
One Hutton's was seen, another heard, one Yellow-throated sang,
two Red-eyed Vireo gave great views but never called. Then two
migrant species of vireo were seen. A Warbling was in a mixed species
flock of migrants in the last big maple woods below the ponds and
waterfall. Best though was a PHILADELPHIA Vireo at the crossing just past
the HQ near the park entrance. I am not sure I have a fall record here.
Outstanding vireo show. On the way home we stopped for five minutes
at the Mesquite patch at the north end of town to see if we could
hear a Bell's Vireo but it was 1 p.m. and hot, and quiet. Figured
it was going to be my only chance for 8 vireo species in a day.
Kathy had a Black-and-white Warbler while I was in HQ, we had four
Nashville together, and at least 3 seperate Wilson's Warbler.
I did not positively hear a Louisiana Waterthrush, but maybe did,
and I thought I heard a Mourning Warbler, but both were in areas that
were not accessible. Had a couple Yellow Warblers. Saw a few Baltimore
and Orchard Oriole, an adult Broad-winged Hawk circled low. We heard
three White-tipped Dove but didn't see one. Only one Summer
Tanager, one Canyon Wren, one Gnatcatcher, a Roadrunner, a Golden-fronted
and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Common Raven, texana Scrub-Jay, a few
Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Likely migrants were four or five immature
Indigo and three imm. Painted Bunting, and a couple Blue Grosbeak.
The usual residents like Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee,
Cardinal, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, a few Inca Dove at HQ, etc.
Pretty birdy. About 6 Black Rock Squirrel.
Saw a couple Spicebush Swallowtail, and a Two-tailed or two as well.
Plus of course Pipevine and Giant. Then at home in the afternoon a Black
and an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail went by! Six species of swallowtail today!
Awesome. A couple Southern Broken-Dash (skippers) were on Frostweed
at Lost Maples, one Northern Cloudywing too, a couple Queens. Best
was the first MONARCH I have seen of the fall. Mostly though it was
sparse besides Snouts. There were still tens of thousands of Snout
from there to Utopia. Mostly heading E to ENE. As usual the last
five days a dozen male and a dozen female pale morph Large Orange Sulphur
moving among the Snout. Some Dogface too.
Odes were weak, seemingly beyond what they should be. A few Green Darner,
a Pale-faced Clubskimmer, a Blue Dasher, a couple Spot-winged and a
Wandering Glider, a few Black and a Red Saddlebags, but paltry. In
damsels, a couple Kiowa Dancer, an American Rubyspot, a Violet Dancer,
but that was about it. Pitifully weak for the season and place. It
used to be awesome there in September for odes, hundreds. I wonder if
besides the non-native fish introductions, the cattails are hurting them
too? The ponds are both more than half filled in with cattails. They
need to remove some of them and open the water back up. No Green Kingfisher,
and no wonder why they don't nest at the upper pond as they used
to for many years. Until the cattails clogged it.
Because we hadn't done enough today, about 4 p.m. or so we walked over to
the river for a swim to wash to walk away. Man that felt great. Instant
cool-down. Only thing I heard singing was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in a
pasture on the other side of the river. Saw a couple Guadalupe Bass.
Lots of Longear Sunfish, some small fry Blacktail Shiner.
Sept. 10 ~ About 70dF for a low, front supposed to arrive today.
A couple Orchard Oriole went through in a.m., Kathy spotted a
Wilson's Warbler at the bath, and best, a LONG-BILLED CURLEW
flew over calling. It sounded like it might have gone down on
the airstrip or pasture next to it. There are a bunch of pastures
south just a bit too. Saw one greenie (imm.) Painted Bunting.
The Yellow-throated Warbler also came into the bath.
Since it all looked clear on the radar at 11 a.m. I ran to the
park to see if there were migrants there. Lots of people, two
incessantly yapping Chihuahuas were part of one large party, you
could hear them a hundred yards away, and I mean incessant. Makes
for such a lovely relaxing peaceful park experience for everyone.
No migrants that I could find, only likely the same Green Kingfisher
I saw yesterday. Went over to Waresville and the Hackberry lined
entrance road (UvCo363) had thousands of Snouts on it. One CATBIRD was
better, having some snout candy. Catbirds are scarce here in fall,
I miss them as often as I get them, they are LTA - less than annual,
in fall here.
An outflow boundry hit with a heavy rain cell and I was rained out.
Came home and within 20 minutes it was a bit over .6 of rain. Temps
went from over 85dF to 70dF on the front porch in 10 minutes. Northerly
winds behind it but the front is still way far north as of mid-day,
this was an outflow from earlier rains further to the north. A small
cell T-boned us just right. There was a whole line, a string of pearls,
of small cells draped along the escarpment, over 150 miles across east
to west, but only half of the line had rain cells.
In the morning a Two-tailed Swallowtail drifted around the yard.
At the gas station in town there were remains of an Imperial Moth.
The park had remains of a Black Swallowtail, with just the head
missing so surely a bird kill. They will do that to Pipevines and
even Monarchs. Just eat the head. Mmmmmm best part, and likely none
of the toxins (in case of Monarch or Pipevine). At last sun there were
at least 5 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in the mesquites around the gate
and one last Orchard Oriole chucked.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Sept. 9 ~ The 68dF low felt great after the last few days.
Still no migrant motion through yard today. The current 10-day
forecast has this as the last 90+dF day. The Snouts are still
going, not as strong, but still lots. Tens of thousands just
through the yard, must be millions still going through the
area. A remarkable flight, now on day 4. Did a quick supply run
to town. Not a single migrant at the park as well. One Green
Kingfisher and a Tawny Emperor butterfly were the only two items
of interest. Lots of water flow from the recent rains.
At last sun there was a greenie juv. Painted Bunting, a Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher, and an Orchard Oriole in the yard.
There should be some movement the day right before the front hits
(like Sat. morning), then the day of arrival when it physically
knocks migrating birds down (Sat. nite to Sun. a.m.), and the day
after in the vacuum behind it (Mon.) there is often a push or wave.
Often all 3 days can be good, especially in fall. Let us hope.
Sept. 8 ~ Another hot muggy one, as summer seems to hate losing
its grip on us. A weakish front, but a front, is slogging down from
the north, maybe affecting us in a couple days. Let it be true.
Once the mid-Sept. break happens we may get a few hot days yet, but
it "ain't the same." Shorter days make the peak heat
period brief, we start cooler, and it is drier. It's a different world.
Average U.S. temps were highest ever this summer. Again. How many
times do you have to put water on fire to know it puts it out? Here
we are two-thirds of the way through the year and the U.S. has had
EIGHT events officially categorized as 500 year flood events.
If only there was just some kind of sign...
There was about no migration motion this a.m. in the yard as we
are somewhat stagnant. One Baltimore Oriole chattered a bit, a
Yellow Warbler went through, heard a Least Flycatcher. Dead.
The Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo are still singing.
The Snout butterfly flight was much reduced but still going on.
Only a few hundred thousand went through the yard. A little sprayed
water instantly attracts 500-1000 on the patio. One local told me the
flight extends at least to Leakey, and I have seen internet reports
from near Medina, and Del Rio, and today in Austin. These flights
are mostly males. They are rain chasers, hunting freshly grown
Spiny Hackberry (aka Sugarberry) leaves which is what the females
lay their eggs on. There can be a billion in a flight. Once they
descended on Chapparal Wildlife Management Area in the brush country
to our south and it was estimated 1.2 million Hackberry trees were
defoliated by the larvae from the eggs that hatched. The Spiny
Hackberry can survive this so no worries for the trees.
Sept. 7 ~ Low about 74dF again, around town 76 was the lowest I saw
at WU station reports. We should be down to the last few days or week
of the low 70's to low 90's standard summer temp spread.
A few hummers have taken over the 4 feeders and seem to be keeping
us from attracting another swarm, at least so far. A couple
Baltimore Oriole early, a Yellow Warbler, and a male Summer Tanager
was singing a bit, probably the local territorial nester. The
male Yellow-throated Warbler was on the cottage chimney and roof,
hunting eave edges again. A Least Flycatcher. Seeming slow and stagnant.
We need a weather change. At least 50, maybe 60 Firefly in yard at
dusk. A good fall showing of them.
Sept. 6 ~ Low only about 74dF, strong southerly flow, very humid,
with the low clouds from the Gulf. A few Baltimore Oriole, a
couple Yellow Warbler, one Least Flycatcher, a couple Orchard
Oriole was the migrant motion in the a.m. It was another Snout
day, millions passing by again today heading ENE in general.
Spray some water around and hundreds will quickly alight on it.
It looks like heavy snow, but is Snout butterflies. We were only
87dF on the cool shady front porch, but it was in the low 90's
in the sun, and drippy humid.
Sept. 5 ~ Early a couple Baltimore Oriole and Yellow Warbler were
in yard. A few Orchard Oriole, a Gnatcatcher and a Least Flycatcher
later. The amazing event of the day was a flight of Snout butterflies.
Many tens of thousands of them just through yard, hundreds of thousands
in sight. Probably millions in the local area. Direction was ENE
in general, it started later afternoon, after 3 p.m. a slight stream
was noticeable, by 4 it was going strong and lasted hours until I imagine
they settled down for the night. One small Pecan tree next to the gate
with leaves covered in sap was covered with hundreds on the leaves,
appearing to be imbibing the instant energy. At times there were a
hundred in a hundred feet flying by in one narrow stream, which were
replaced by another hundred every 5 seconds, for hours. This is just
one 10' wide slice of a stream that is likely miles wide.
Sept. 4 ~ Only about 72dF for a low, didn't cool down much
despite being fairly clear. South flow again. A wee bit of migrant
motion in the yard though. Several Baltimore and Orchard Oriole went
through, and though none first couple hours, ended up with 4 Yellow
Warbler by about 11 a.m. About a third mile away just after 11
there were 4 Yellow Warbler in the Huisache Daisy at the south
end of the corral, a couple more were near the crossing. Saw one
immature Painted Bunting, none are left on the patio, our gang is
gone. Those Daisies also had about 3 imm. Indigo Bunting. Finally got
a FOS Nashville Warbler near the crossing, and Kathy spotted a
Two-tailed Swallowtail that might have been ovipositing, if they
do that on Wafer-Ash. Had a quick look at a small buteo that had few
thick black and white bands on the tail, presumedly a Broad-winged Hawk,
but only based on probability, I did not get an ID look.
We went up to the Frostweed patch north a mile plus from the crossing
and boy are the pigs tearing it up. Great soil though. Very
few butterflies considering all the flowers. Saw one False Duskywing
and a Southern Broken-Dash, couple Giant Swallowtail. One got away
that was a small Yellow which I would swear did not have a black dot
at base of ventral hindwing and was a Mimosa, not a Little Yellow.
But by this time it was 1 p.m. and it was bird-quiet. In one good
Frostweed patch I pished up an immature Mourning Warbler. Super
saturated bright yellow throat not contrasting with underparts.
It had the type of broken eye-ring that can be taken for a MacGillivray's
if one ignores call, bill size, throat color, etc., and just sees
that without knowing the full extent of variation an immature
Mourning can show. Macs are exceedingly rare here in fall, I have
only seen one in past 12 falls.
In the p.m. at the house while working in office (Sunday afternoons
I have to take care of some biz) I saw motion out the window and
on the garden fence 8' away was the male Yellow-throated Warbler.
Beckoning me outside to go birding surely, and obviously. Then about
4:30 pm I saw a raptor relatively close, out the window in the slice
of sky I can see, a circling MISSISSIPPI KITE! Kathy got in quickly
enough to see it briefly before it finished climbing, and drifted south
down the ridge. It was an adult. Nearing 5pm I saw a Zone-tailed Hawk
from the front porch. It might be 4 dozen Firefly now in the front
yard at dusk. Which is lots for a fall flight.
Sept. 3 ~ After the clear night we made a low of 68dF again.
Quite nice, though very humid. Not much for migrant motion
around the yard this morning. A couple Baltimore and Orchard
Oriole, and 1 Yellow Warbler was about it. Noonish I checked
the crossing (nothing) and so went over to the country club.
On the way an Arizona Sister was puddling on the road by the corral.
In the section around the Waresville Cemetery there were besides
a couple Yellow Warbler, 2 COUCH'S KINGBIRD, the first I have
seen locally in a while, maybe a couple years. Better though was
a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, the first I have seen locally in
several years. On average I detect them every-other year, but
can get them several years in a row, and then miss them several
in a row, such as the current dry streak for them we just ended.
Add an Eastern Wood-Pewee, about 10 Baltimore and a few Orchard Oriole.
Not a bad stop. Two LTA - less than annual - flycatchers is outstanding.
The golf course is covered in Vermilion and Scissor-tailed Flyctchers,
at least a dozen Eastern Bluebird, lots were immatures, and one Shrike.
Note: never tresspass on any golf course, do not ever enter one without
express permission to do so. Most are not particularly birder-friendly
due to obvious liability issues. They know the quality of their golfers. LOL ;)
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Sept. 2 ~ A couple Baltimore Oriole were in yard, one sang, a
couple Orchard Oriole went through, seemingly the same female
Yellow Warbler continues, a Gnatcatcher, couple White-eyed Vireo
are the locals still, the Yellow-throated Vireo sang early.
A couple hours after sunup the clouds thickened and light rain
started becoming moderate before noon. The cell seemed to have
no motion to it and continued growing from 10-12 when we were
getting some lightning strikes. Just as the rain got going a
Common Nighthawk flew by southward. Once it built up, it moved.
We ended up with about two-thirds of an inch. .63 or so, and the
tenth yesterday makes about .75 for the two days, and with the 1.2
the day before that, 2" for the last three days. In town they
got more, I was told 3" in last three days. There was water
running down the road edges, many driveways were ponds, they got
some water. The park was mucky and as I waited out the rain and
got there at heat of day, there were no birds, it was quiet. Did
have a Zone-tailed Hawk over town. One very young juvenile
Red-shouldered Hawk was at Utopia on the River. Lots of Barn and
Cave Swallows at the country club. But that was about it. Late
in day here there were 3 Gnatcatcher, a couple Yellow Warbler,
a Least Flycatcher, a couple Orchard and another Baltimore Oriole
in yard. It was at least 3 dozen Firefly in yard at dusk.
September 1 ~ Weewow, 68dF this morning after the rain-cooled night.
I thought there might be some migrant motion this morning but
alas it seemed slow at first. Heard one Upland Sandpiper go over
early right at sunup. Two Least Flycatcher were in front yard, a
couple Orchard Oriole and likely the same female Yellow Warbler
as yesterday. There were a few more spritzes in the afternoon,
maybe another tenth of an inch, which cooled us down at peak heat.
There were a bunch of swallows around right before and after
the showers, dozens of Barns and Caves, a couple Cliff, and
a dozen Chimney Swift. All were hawking just over treetop level,
the swifts were sometimes just 15-20' away as they slowly
drifted by. One Eastern Wood-Pewee called between sorties from the
top of the big pecan. A Bewick's Wren was over 35' up in the top of
the pecan hunting the Ball Moss clumps. Ringed Kingfisher called from over
at the river. Heard a Yellow-throated Warbler sing a few measures in
the afternoon. A couple Upland Sandpiper went over calling at dusk,
taking off for a night flight, and will likely be well into Mexico
by tomorrow morning. At least a couple dozen Firefly at dusk to dark,
so seems like maybe we will have a decent (for fall) flight.
~ ~ ~ end September ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ August summary ~ ~ ~
It was the weirdest August I have seen here (n~13). A couple locals
that have been here 30, and 60 years say they have never seen one
like this. It was hot and dry the first 12 days of the month.
Some local WU sites recording a 115 and even a 126 dF heat index (!)
the 12th. Then it poured 5" of rain the 13th, and never got
real hot again the rest of the month. Mostly highs were in the
80's on our front porch the last two thirds of the month.
A great fall flower show is all but insured now with the rain.
Some Frostweed looks like Jack's Beanstalk in places, so tall
you won't be able to see the dorsal sides of butterflies on the
We were too busy to get out and about much but even if you
stay in one place here you will see something amazing, unless
you hide in a closet. Birds are like the weather in Texas, if you
don't like it, hang around 10 minutes or cross the street.
You will see rare birds, even if you are sedentary, if you just
keep your eyes open. Didn't matter whether we were living
at Thunder Creek, Seco Ridge, or here on the valley floor along
edge of river habitat corridor. Rare birds flew by, over and
through our yards. Especially during migration seasons.
This months prime examples were the 2 ROSEATE SPOONBILL that flew
down the river corridor one evening at dusk as I sat in the chair
on the front porch Aug. 23, and the TOWNSEND'S WARBLER in the
big pecan right off the front porch first thing in the morning Aug. 31!
Odes (dragon and damselflies) were about 30 species, all locally
around town at the park, the country club, and along the river.
The good dragonflies were a dozen Band-winged Dragonlet, a
half-dozen Four-spotted Pennant, about 3-4 Red-tailed Pennant,
and a Halloween Pennant. All four species are less than annual here.
Butterflies were about 47 species for me locally. Surely more were
around, and not getting up to Lost Marbles this month costs a few
species usually. Nothing rare really this month though, it was all the
expected suspects. Good numbers of Arizona Sister and Northern Mestra,
a Soldier was nice, as were a couple Texas Powdered-Skipper. No Zebras
or Peacocks. Red Satyr (actually 2) were the first of year, finally,
and good to see.
Best bird was the two Spoonbills on Aug. 23, a great rarity from
the porch. One had to be sitting there for it or they would have
been missed. Mere seconds the window of observation was open.
How many things go by unseen? Most. Another example was the imm.
male TOWNSEND'S Warbler in the yard 10+ minutes on Aug. 31. Which
is the second in the yard, I have 2 additional sightings for Utopia
Park a few falls ago, these are the only 4 UvCo records I know of.
All told locally around Utopia without a trip to Lost Maples, or any
of the brush-country stuff we saw toward Uvalde, I saw about 104 species
of birds here in August. Plus a heard Lesser Yellowlegs. Which is
20 more species than the 84 in July when it is almost strictly breeding
species locally. A 25% increase in diversity is major, mostly due to
passage fall migrants.
Also great were two late Golden-cheeked Warblers in the yard,
on Aug. 1st, and 14th, both advanced immature males. A Northern
Waterthrush in yard Aug. 15 was good. Two Black-throated Green
Warbler spent all day in the big pecan Aug. 21. So far warblers are
better than the rotten spring we had for them. Maybe we will have
a good fall? From Aug. 14-31 I saw Black-throated Green, Golden-cheeked,
and Townsend's in the yard! Plus No. Waterthrush. Amazing.
August sees boatloads of Yellow Warblers, Orchard Oriole, and Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher, pouring through, I probably saw a hundred of each go
through the yard. Also good numbers of Least Flycatcher and Dickcissel,
and at dawn or dusk, Upland Sandpiper have been numerous calling overhead.
A couple Greater Yellowlegs were detected, one Lesser was heard calling
as it flew over. Flycatchers are also moving in August. I saw a few
Eastern Kingbird locally, and numbers of migrant Eastern Wood-Pewee.
Better was a probable Dusky Flycatcher on Aug. 14, and an Alder confirmed
with call on Aug. 29. A couple Acadian were seen in the river habitat
corridor out of their local breeding territories. One went through the
yard, the other just down the road (south) a half-mile several days prior.
~ ~ ~ end August summary ~ ~ ~
Aug. 31 ~ Still light E to NE flow at low and mid-levels, and about
a 70dF low temp. Wow. Outstanding was an imm. male TOWNSEND'S WARBLER
in the big pecan at 8 a.m. for about 10 minutes. This is the second
one in the yard (late Sept. 2013 was first - photo on warblers photo page),
and the fourth local record (2 at Utopia Park in late fall of 2012),
and which are all the UvCo records I know of. This the first August
record, and just barely. What a great bird, a beauty, and an old
friend from the west.
UPDATE: As an interesting footnote, I found out a few days later
that on this same date, ANOTHER Townsend's Warbler was in
central Texas, at New Braunfels, Comal Co., about 100 miles east
of us. So then two made it to central Texas today.
A few Baltimore and Orchard Orioles went through yard in the morning,
a Yellow Warbler or two, a couple Dickcissel, and another warbler
that got away. The Yellow-throated Vireo was still singing as was
a White-eyed. A couple greenies (imm. Painted Bunting) still here.
Hummers still very low in numbers, the blowout of Aug. 26 has not yet
been replaced with new arrivals. We need a front to make it down here.
August finished with a rain cell, typical fashion for an atypical month.
From 6:30 to 8 p.m. we got 3cm or just under 1.2" of rain! It was 72dF!
There was a Least Flycatcher out there late, and a couple more of both
Orchard and Baltimore Oriole, some Hooded came in to feeders. Which
weirdly remain fairly devoid of hummers. One juvenile male Hooded is
just getting the first few black feathers in throat, another has a
fair spot there now.
Aug. 30 ~ Some easterly and north-easterly flow at low and
mid- levels from the little low over on coast. Here in the
morning was a Gnatcatcher, a Dickcissel, several Orchard Oriole,
and a couple Yellow Warbler. The standard usual. Again had
a few spritzes of rain and outflow cooled air most of the
afternoon. Did not see upper 80's dF again today. It is
incredible that since the major 5" rain event on Aug. 13,
the remainder of August we have mostly had highs only in the
upper 80's. Some local hot spots were in low-mid 90's, but our
front porch never saw 90dF again all month. It has felt more like
May than August compared to the last dozen I have experienced here.
Screech-, Barn, and Great Horned Owls calling.
Aug. 29 ~ A little low over on the upper Texas coast turned
the winds around here, they were northerly in the morning.
A bit dryer, low of 69dF, and light northerlies, is awesome
in August. Heard a Dickcissel go over, a couple Orchard Oriole,
a Yellow Warbler or two. Hummer numbers still way down, saw
the ad. fem. Rufous, several male Ruby-throated, a number of
immature Rubies, a few imm. but no ad. ma. Black-chinned.
But seemingly maybe a couple dozen hummers is it now. A couple
rain cells moved nearby just to north and south so we got a
nice cooling outflow, and a few bursts of spitting, a trace was
all we got. Kathy spotted a Least Flycatcher near the bird bath
in p.m., two Common Nighthawk were hawking over the river habitat
corridor at dusk.
Aug. 28 ~ About a 72-92dF spread, hot and humid. Not much for
migrant motion about the yard early. One Yellow Warbler and a
few Orchard Oriole, one was a nice male. The rest seemed the
regulars. The Yellow-throated Warbler sang weakly a few times,
so did the Yellow-throated Vireo. A few greenie (imm.) Painted
Bunting still around. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was in pecan
mid-afternoon. The trough that was predicted to move from east
and bring rain over the weekend has not materialized.
Just before last sun there was some activity in the mesquites
across the road so I grabbed bins and walked out driveway.
One Yellow Warbler, 2 Chickadee (Carolina), 2 Titmouse (Black-crested),
a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and an ALDER Flycatcher that called!
I was inside the gate so that counts as a yard bird. I am sure
I have had some before, but was waiting for a calling bird to
add it to the yard list.
The amazing thing today was how it is raining pecan leaves.
They are dropping like, well, leaves. Hundreds from a single
gust of wind. It looks like fall. Most of the pecan crop was
lost from one of the major rain events in late April, May, or
June. Don't know which one did the damage. Some trees have
some nuts, but most don't where I am. Don't get me
started on the squirrels.
Aug. 27 ~ Today we recover from yesterday's big city run to
Uvalde. It is exhausting. Fall through spring it is not so bad
when it is not over a hundred dF heat index. You think it is humid?
Go hang around Cook's Slough or the fish hatchery in Uvalde
in August. There was a Baltimore Oriole out front this a.m., a
few Orchard, a few Yellow Warbler showed later in morning, heard a
Great Crested Flycatcher, the Yellow-throated Vireo sang a bit.
There was a major hummingbird blowout yesterday as there are quite a
lot fewer here now. Amazing. Feeders were packed when we were
leaving at 8 a.m. yesterday. Do not see any ad. male Black-chinned now.
Saw the ad. fem. Rufous.
Had to run to town so stopped at the park. Lots of people,
few birds. Up in woods at island was a Green Kingfisher and
a Barred Owl. That was all folks. Lots of imm. and a few ad.
Cave Swallow still at the bank, some maybe still nesting.
The library garden just got its maintenance cut so almost no
flowers and absolutely no butterflies.
I ran into Little Creek Larry and he said he saw a couple Night-Heron
below the spillway at the park last week on one of the rain days.
Probably last Saturday or Sunday. Surely they were Yellow-crowned,
as that is the one we sometimes get in late summer. It is a scarce
bird here, maybe every couple or few years we get one, it is easy
to go a few to several years without seeing one locally. Great find.
They are annual in multiple numbers at SAT (prob. breed) rarer west
to Uvalde (very rare breeder), but not up here in the hills.
Heat of day we took a swim in the river, a Summer Tanager was
singing in the cypresses. A couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went
through yard later afternoon to early evening. At and after dark,
to go with the park Barred Owl, I heard Great Horned Owl, Eastern
Screech-Owl (Tex-Mex mccallii), and another Barn Owl went over.
Four species of owls is always good, much harder to do if one
is actually owling.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Aug. 26 ~ The first 90 minutes of the morning there was nary a
single Yellow Warbler chip from the front yard. After being
incessant the last four days, it is clear they left last night.
It was clear and the strong southerlies had subsided. A male
Orchard Oriole went through early but that was it by time we left
just after 8 a.m. Almost no dawn birdsong, a few anemic Cardinal,
a couple half-hearted Carolina Wren, even the White-eyed Vireo
is getting tired of it and starting to sound un-inspired. The
day length is shortening, so less testosterone, and singing.
We did a Uvalde supply run today. Between here an Uvalde we
saw about 7 Harris's Hawk, all in the brush country below
the escarpment. 3 were on 187 at the last high spot above the
D'Hanis cutoff in the usual area, the rest along Old Sabinal
Rd. below Hwy. 90. Saw a couple Curve-billed Thrasher, a couple
Pyrrhuloxia, lots of Scissor-tails, a herd of Bobwhite, Roadrunner.
A bazillion Mockingbird, they apparently are on the move. Near
Knippa was a single flock of over 400 Brown-headed Cowbird.
We only had time for one quick stop so checked the fish hatchery.
There were lots of greenies (imm. Painted Bunting) in the weedy
grasses, one adult male was very worn and pale. A couple Blue
Grosbeak, several Dickcissel, a few Verdin, single Orchard, Bullock's,
and Hooded Orioles, a few singing Bell's Vireo, a nice Eastern Kingbird,
four Blue-winged Teal, and of about 5 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron,
of which one was an adult. Best was one juvenile Least Sandpiper in
very fresh bright plumage. Heard an Upland Sandpiper go over and a
few Killdeer were there. The hatchery is covered in dragonflies,
I mean many hundreds. Didn't have time to work them though.
On the Leona River at the city park we saw Green Kingfisher in
the willow forest downriver from the concrete walkway. A Belted
Kingfisher there was my first of fall. Lots of odes there too.
It is so humid at the hatchery you drip just standing there.
Dove season starts in a couple days so this weekend is the last
chance down there without shotgun blasts at the birding sites
for a month or 6 weeks. Good news was apparently I still pass the
eye test with flying colors, as we found when I went to DPS for
a license renewal. I glanced down a few times while reading
line 5, and easily read line six. With a couple of ice chests
full of cold stuff we had to hustle back without stopping.
At last light there was a Yellow Warbler, a Least Flycatcher, and
a Gnatcatcher in the mesquites by the gate. There was apparently a
hummer blowout today as we expected to come back to low feeders
and they weren't. Everything must have tanked and split.
I saw the ad. fem. Rufous in the morning, and an un-aged Rufous
in the last hour of light. My second of fall Barn Owl went over
around 11 p.m. Oh yeah, at 7 a.m. I pulled 6 more of the Evil
Bastard Blue Mist Eupatorium caterpillars off of what is left of
that, now 56 have been disappeared.
Aug. 25 ~ A 69dF low felt outstanding. Got into low 90's for a
high, stayed under 90 on the shady front porch. Amazing in August.
Seemed the same 4-5 Yellow Warbler working around the house in
the yard pecans all day. A couple Orchard Oriole in the morning,
heard a Baltimore Oriole. Heard a Summer Tanager sing, which
they haven't been. Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo still
singing daily, and so likely still nesting. Saw an imm. male
Cooper's Hawk, likely a locally bred bird. Red-shouldered
Hawk noisy in morning. Hummer numbers have been steadily picking
up, Ruby-throated arrivals being the main thing. I would guess
nearing a hundred hummers here now the last couple days. Over
half are Ruby-throats, mostly immatures and or females but likely
over a dozen ad. males. One Soldier (Eresimus) came in to the
Blue Mist Eupatorium looking for flowers, but alas none. Due to
some evil caterpillar that butchered them this year. I got three
more today, now we are at 50 of them I have sent to heaven.
Aug. 24 ~ Another low 70's to low 90's dF temp spread.
That beats a hundred if you ask anyone here. Three or four Yellow Warbler
seemed maybe the ones that were here yesterday and the day before.
A few Orchard Oriole went through early, and a Dickcissel but
slow on the migration motion this morning. After the Spoonbills
at dusk yesterday I don't even care. I'll be good for a few
days. There were no spoonbills flying downriver at dusk this
I had to make a quick run to town so a stop at the park.
There was one Mourning Warbler in the woods at the north end,
and around the island, a Louisiana Waterthrush. Wonder if and
when the one that wintered the last two years will return? One
Arizona Sister (butterfly) at the park. On E. 360 near the former
Utopia on the River there was a Shrike on the power line, and an
Eastern Kingbird, besides a bunch of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.
At last light the big pecan off porch had 4-5 Yellow Warbler,
a Yellow-throated Warbler, a Yellow-throated Vireo, a Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher and a male Orchard Oriole. Good enough for me.
Aug. 23 ~ Temp spread was about 72-90dF, completely bearable.
There were a half dozen Yellow Warbler around in the morning,
at least four all day. Five Orchard Oriole in the a.m. and
a couple more in p.m. That seemed it for movement though.
Fairly strong southerlies blew most of the day. One Gnatcatcher
late in day. At least a half-dozen at once ad. male Ruby-throated
Hummingbird, one ad.ma. Black-chinned still here. A couple
Rufous. Immature Rubies are about even with imm. Black-chins now.
Sometimes sitting around doing nothing is the most productive
thing you can do. This is one of the great things about birding.
After working at computer all day and dinner I was on the front
porch nearing dusk at 8:05 p.m. and spotted a couple big paler
long-legged waders flying down-river, up above the trees. From a
half-mile the silhouette seemed to have a lot of neck and stuff in
front of the wing line. Ran in for binocs and got back out just
in time to watch two imm. ROSEATE SPOONBILL fly south downriver!
My first in Uvalde Co.! OMG awesome birds!
Sylvia Hilbig had a couple imms. upriver in Bandera Co. back in July 2014
(see Sylvia's photos on the rarity page at the bird photos page).
Then Morris Killough and Little Creek Larry told me of one a while back,
maybe over a decade ago, also in Bandera Co, just north of town in a
flooded area. So this is the third local report I know of. There are
a few records for the U.S. Fish Hatchery and at Cook's Slough down
at Uvalde in the flatlands brush-country, but it is a rare bird this far
inland and rarer up here in the hills. San Antonio is about as close as
they are predicitably nearly annual (Mitchell Lake). They are far less
than annual in UvCo. Seeing a new for me UvCo bird from the porch is
about as good as it gets.
Aug. 22 ~ Looks like the rain is missing us now. Five inches was
plenty anyway. Another batch of Yellow Warbler and Orchard Oriole
through the yard early, at least 6 of each plus single Gnatcatcher
and Dickcissel. By noon it was a dozen of each (the warbler and oriole)!
At least half-a-dozen Yellows spent the whole day circling the yard.
One of the Orchards was a nice male. Three juvenile Orchard Oriole
spent much of the day around too, often visiting the one Persimmon
that has a few fruit.
At least three different Yellow-throated Warbler were around lots too,
methinks the local breeder pair and one of their young. One landed on
the one-eighth inch cable two bird feeders hang on and went to both
feeders (sunflower and millet) to see what all the interest was. Whatabird.
Just before last sun at least 7 Yellow Warbler came into a wet hole
over in the corral to bathe. At 11:45 p.m. last check outside I heard
a Barn Owl fly over calling, the first of fall. I do not record them
here in summer.
Aug. 21 ~ We didn't get any rain overnight as forecast, but is
still about 99% humidity. Low was about 70dF. A few minutes of mist
or drizzle in the a.m., but that was it. Cloudy, overcast, and
some birds. Heard a couple Upland Sandpiper early, saw a couple Orchard
Oriole, a Least Flycatcher. The pair of Yellow Warbler seemed gone from the
yard as I saw none the first 4 hours of the morning. They would have
been here, there were the last week, all day every day. Incredible was
about 11 a.m. having TWO Black-throated Green Warbler together in
the big pecan. They were a few feet apart at one point, and one came
to within 8' of Kathy and I as we watched it. Not sure I have
ever had two together here in the fall.
For the hours either side of noon we took a walk .75 mile down to the
crossing. We had about 10 Yellow Warblers, a couple Eastern Wood-Pewee,
a Northern Waterthrush called from over at the river where we couldn't
see it. Several greeenie Painted Bunting, a couple imm. and one ad.ma. Indigo
Bunting, heard a Dickcissel, saw a Chat, several Summer Tanager, a few Orchard
Oriole, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Scissor-tailed and Vermilion
Flycatchers, couple Gnatcatchers, couple Cave Swallow, lots of Lark Sparrows
and a few things got away.
Perhaps most amazing was a Rufous Hummingbird down near crossing over a
half-mile from any feeders (our yard) foraging in the river habitat corridor.
It was near a patch of blooming Tropical Sage, and flycatching. I did
not see it closely enough to say if it was one of the ones visiting our
feeders. We have an ad. fem., an imm. male, and this morning I again
saw the imm. female. There are at least 3 hitting our feeders, which is
a high single site count as it is. I have only one other time seen one
away from feeders here, last fall at Utopia Park in the flower garden
by the entrance sign on the Red Turk's Cap.
One Black-throated Green was still in the pecan at 1:30, and again I
saw it at 3:30 p.m.! The other was probably sleeping somewhere near.
Also heard a Great Crested Flycatcher from the porch at 1:30 or so.
Adult and juvenile Yellow-throated Warbler were also in the pecan,
and a Yellow then too.
If I could just get either a Mourning, Black-n-white, Wilson's, or a
Nashville we would have 5 sps. of warblers for the day and call it fall
migration. Surely the first three are all around locally somewhere.
Four sps. is OK for afoot from yard on Aug. 21 though. The 'greens' and
Northern Waterthrush are both long-distance migrants so great to see
here and another sign of how fall migration really is seriously underway.
Later p.m. about 7, I had a Greater Yellowlegs flying around calling,
and 3 Orchard Oriole went through yard. Then there was a Red-eyed Vireo
in the big pecan and while we were watching it a male Baltimore Oriole
flew into the top of the tree and called a couple times. It is the first
I have seen this fall, though have thought I had heard one a couple times.
The Persimmon crop was wiped out by one of the spring major rain events.
It is maybe about 5% of normal this year, so the Baltimores will pass
through quickly. When as usual the crop is good they linger longer. Most
of the persimmons have no fruit whatsoever, a few have a few fruit.
Then after 7 p.m. BOTH Black-throated Green Warbler were together again
and remained so the last hour of light. Too cool. Amazing. They spent
all day, mostly in the pecan, one apparently need a bunch of sleep as
only one was out there most of the afternoon. A Yellow Warbler and a
Gnatcatcher, plus a Yellow-throated warbler all fed very near them too.
There is something on the underside of the leaves they are taking like candy.
Just before dusk a group of 3 migrant Great Blue Heron flew south downriver
but up higher than local movements. Another Dickcissel and a couple more
Upland Sandpiper just before dusk were probably taking off to fly all night.
Aug. 20 ~ Wow a rain event just like they said. There was a bit
of lighter rain overnight, about .75" then from 7-10 a.m. there
was 3.75", for a total of 4.5" by 10 a.m.! A bit over a
half-inch more from 10-12 noon. Five plus inches total! Holy cow!
Further west out Del Rio way some folks got seven inches of rain.
After it passed us, over in Wilson Co. some areas had 10"!
Saw the male Indigo Bunting at the millet first thing in the rain,
he was on the patio after noon too. Heard a Least Flycatcher over
by road. The pair of Yellow Warbler continue, two Yellow-throated
Warbler were in the big pecan, probably the local nesting pair.
We took a spin around the area locally in the later afternoon to
check some pastures hoping maybe some grasspipers got knocked down.
Two Loggerhead Shrike were on W. 360 near the former Utopia on the River.
The country club had loads of dragonflies, best were several
Band-winged Dragonlet, kind of a rary here and very local. Got a
photo of an Owlfly which landed on the car antenna! Only a bunch
of Mockingbirds on the greens and fairways. The park had a calling
Barred Owl, and I didn't get stung by a bee today so that was nice.
Up-valley near Vanderpool there were my 4 FOS Blue-winged Teal.
Lots of good looking pastures but saw nothing in them.
A bit of water at Haby's wet spot on W. Sabinal Rd., but no birds.
The buffalo wallow pond on S. Little Creek did have a fair bit of water
and looks great for shorebirds, but only 6 Killdeer and a Black-bellied
Whistling-Duck were there. There were more Band-winged Dragonlets there,
in Bandera Co., this is the original site I discovered for them locally
here. One Red-tailed Pennant was there (another was at c.c. flood pond).
On Jones Cmty. Rd. past the cattle guard there were about 45 Cave
Swallow on a powerline, mostly juveniles. On E. 360 near the former
Utopia on the River out in the pasture to north were 2 Loggerhead Shrike.
My first of fall and they were not there yesterday. I bet they are the
pair that winters there and they just returned. Lots of Scissor-tailed
and Vermilion Flycatchers everywhere along the roads, but no Western
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Aug. 19 ~ Another day below 90dF. Amazing in August. What looked
the same pair of Yellow Warbler were still in the yard, a male and
female hanging together closely. Additional immatures went through.
A few Orchard Oriole, Gnatcatcher, a Bell's Vireo, the usual
White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Kathy saw a male Indigo
Bunting on the millet seed tube. Around 9 a.m. I saw a bird fly
by, only for a couple seconds, that got me to say Eastern Kingbird.
When I left for town a short ways east on 360 there was another
Eastern Kingbird on the fenceline. First of the fall for them.
At one point while working in the afternoon I thought sure I heard
the five-note call of a Lesser Yellowlegs go over. A few Chimney
Swift went over southbound at dusk. Kathy also had a group of
5 Common Nighthawk fly over nearing dusk.
Town was quiet, juvenile Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireos
at the park. I was standing minding my own business listening to
the Ringed Kingfisher going off like a machine gun real close.
I heard a bee flying around. The buzz stopped. Which was followed
by a shot of pain on the right side of my right hand just above
wrist. I looked down and there was a stinger embedded on the side
of my hand. I guess it just came down to commit suicide on me.
I feel so used. My hand is painful to the touch and throbbing hours
later. So how was yer day? ;) LOL
Aug. 18 ~ A little bit of spritzing overnight, and a warmer low
of about 74dF with the cloud cover. We have not seen 90dF since
last Friday, 7 days ago, and the current 10-day does not show us
getting to 90! Holy cow, in August? What the heck is going on?
If the forecast holds true we will go two weeks in August without
hitting 90. And there is no such thing as climate change?
I try not to be political here, but have to say something. About
the evil bastard Roy Spencer who testifies in congress and anywhere else
that will pay him, denying climate change as a former NASA scientist.
What he is, is a former scientist. Now he is merely a paid shill.
Every climate change denier has him on the air. He pretends he 'has no
horse in the race'. Now we see that in the bankruptcy documents
for Peabody Energy (biggest coal company in the U.S.) guess whom is
owed money? Roy Spencer. Big coal was paying him to testify against
climate change science with his Ph.D. credential. His stood for Piled
High and Deep.
One line item in Peabody bankruptcy documents is $4000 for Roy Spencer
to testify at the Minnesota Legislature. Probably left after breakfast
and was back for dinner. Whilst claiming he had no horse in the race.
He is a liar. He is lying to and cheating mankind for money. If Peabody
hadn't gone bankrupt, we would never know he was being paid for his
BS opinion. Follow the money. This is why so many, especially in
political arenas nowadays, try to hide it. So we won't know someone is
being paid to say something, or we won't know who is paying someone
to say something. We do know Roy Spencer lied about his lack of vested
interest whilst spreading false climate information like the manure he
is, selling it as science. I hate a phony pretend bought and paid for (former)
scientist with a passion. Like Will Rogers said 'tell me what butters
their bread, and I will tell you their 'pinion'.
I wonder why snowball Tom Inhofe (R-OK) didn't mention him being on
big coal's payroll when he had him testify in congress against
global warming? Probably the same reason snowball Tom didn't mention
the million dollars that Wei-Hock Soon took from Exxon, the Koch brothers,
and the Am. Petroleum Institute when he had him testify against climate
change. Follow the money. Rant over.
Aug. 17 ~ Another tenth or so of drizzle and spritzing overnight
and early a.m., but again the main rain missed us. Humid as
can be but a high of only 85dF is a big 10dF break from normal.
Still a pair of Yellow Warbler here, likely day 4 for the
lovely couple. A half-dozen Orchard Oriole went through yard. A male
Indigo Bunting was on the seed tube. Still a male Black-chinned
Hummer here, lots of imms., ad. ma. and imm. Ruby-throated,
at least the imm. male Rufous continues guarding front porch
feeder. In the afternoon we got another quarter inch of rain,
so at a half-inch since yesterday late evening. Now at 3" for
the event and last 4 days. A small buteo flushed everything late
in day, which as I saw later fly out of one of the pecans in front,
it looked like a Broad-winged Hawk. One Great Crested Flycatcher,
and better, another (!) Acadian Flycatcher, this in the yard, and
scoped from 30' for several minutes as it flycaught. Amazing!
Second one in a week. Heard Texas Scrub-Jay out back up the hill,
and had a Field Sparrow on the patio. Barking Frogs making a lot
of noise now, Leopards too.
Aug. 16 ~ Maybe a tenth of an inch overnight, low was 69dF.
Supposed to get more rain today and tonight. Through the yard the
first few hours in a.m. were several Orchard Oriole, a Dickcissel,
a couple Yellow Warbler, a few Upland Sandpiper (saw two and heard
two more). Then a calling flyover Greater Yellowlegs was, er, great!
I have not had one over the yard this year, or last. Only the third
or so for me here. The pair of Yellow Warbler hung close together
all day, and surely is the same male and female on day 3 here.
The Yellow-throated Warbler was in the big pecan right off the
front porch for four hours this morning. It was flycatching
something just off the bark, which when I inspected looked like
Eastern Treehole skeeters. Everytime I walked out front there it
was at eye-level 15' away on the big 30" main trunk. Too cool.
What a beautiful bird, I never tire of watching them. A couple bits
of rain, maybe a tenth and change, but the most of it stayed east of
us today. Imm. ma. and ad. fem. Rufous Hummers. Eastern (Tex-Mex
mccallii) Screech-Owl calling at dark.
Aug. 15 ~ After the inch yesterday late afternoon to early evening
there were just some light sprinkles overnight and an amazing
low of 68dF! It started raining again right around daybreak.
What looked like the same pair of Yellow Warbler were around
the yard, and a Least Flycatcher. About 10 am. a Common Nighthawk
was flying around in the rain in a manner that most resembled
About 11 a Red-eyed Vireo was around the yard, and shortly later
a Waterthrush flew up out of a flowerbed into some pecan branches
a few feet off the ground, just 10' from me. It was very heavily
and crisply streaked below. It flew over to the patio and landed on the
thin wire cable that holds two bird feeders! Then it disappeared into
the Mulberry. A couple hours later I refound it in the corral, and
studied it in the scope for 5 minutes. It is a NORTHERN Waterthrush.
Methinks my earliest fall date for a Northern here.
I measured about noon after the rain let up and we were at 4 cm,
or 1.5" for the morning, and so 2.5" since yesterday afternoon
at 4 p.m.! It was still 68dF at noon! Just a few days ago some local WU
stations showed 118-126F heat index, so 50dF cooler is beyond welcome.
From 3 to 5 p.m. it stayed under 76dF! NOAA says some sites will
likely have record lowest ever maximum temps for the date today.
And there was not a single complaint. Even were some northerly winds
in the late afternoon. Several Chimney Swift were feeding low after
noon for a bit. Update, NOAA said it was a record low maximum today
officially at San Antonio. I'm sure it was here too. And the next
day it was that, at Austin, another record lowest ever high temp.
Amazing in August to be breaking record low highs. WeeWow!
Aug. 14 ~ Cloudy but no rain in a.m., and lots of birds moving
south down the river habitat corridor. The front is stalled to
our north. In a few hours this morning going through the yard
I had a dozen Orchard Oriole, a half-dozen Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
one Dickcissel, at least two Yellow Warbler (male and female at once),
a very late Golden-cheeked Warbler (!), 3 Upland Sandipiper flew over,
and an Empidonax. Which looked like a DUSKY Flycatcher, though I am
letting it go, but bet it was one. Add on all the usual regulars,
and it was pretty birdy. Two Rufous Hummer continue, ad. fem. and
imm. male, at least one adult Ruby-throated, plus a few imm. Rubies,
a couple ad. ma. Black-chinned and a fair number of immatures.
From 11-1 we checked a couple spots up and down river. A half mile
south of us along the airstrip there was a patch of birds with ad.
and imm. Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanagers and Orchard Orioles,
a few Gnatcatcher, 4+ Painted and an Indigo Bunting (all imm.),
a couple White-eyed Vireo, female Hooded Oriole, a Least Flycatcher,
my FOS Willow Flycatcher, another Yellow Warbler, and a couple Blue
Grosbeak. At the crossing a Yellow-throated Warbler bathed with 8 or
so Lesser Goldfinch. One Flame Skimmer (dragon) was along the road.
Then we went north a half-mile of our place to the Frostweed patch
by Berteau Park (private). There we had more imm. Indigo and Painted
Bunting, 3 Blue Grosbeak, and best find was one Red Satyr (butterfly),
the first I have seen this year, finally. Overall it was too cloudy
and cool for odes and leps.
About 4 p.m. some light rain came in and by 8 we had an inch!
During that period there were 2 Least Flycatcher in yard,
probably the same pair of Yellow Warbler here this morning,
probably our yard same local breeder Yellow-throated Warbler, a couple
of Gnatcatcher, and 3 migrating Common Nighthawk flew by heading
southbound (they weren't hunting bugs in the drizzle).
The Great Horned Owl was so happy about the rain it called after dark.
It has been very quiet lately.
Aug. 13 ~ The 71dF low felt incredible after the last week of heat.
There was a tenth of an inch, maybe .15 or so, overnight, so the
ground was damp, but no real precip. Over a short while about
mid-morning I heard 5 seperate Upland Sandpiper fly over low.
The usual couple Orchard Oriole and Gnatcatcher went by.
From 11a-1p I went and looked around some pastures and grassy areas.
Along the 360 airstrip there were a dozen Scissor-tails and 10 Vermilion
Flycatcher, and 1 Yellow-throated Warbler among them out feeding on
the 8' deer fence with no vegetation around whatsoever. More
Vermils and Scissors were everywhere I went. Like greenie imm. Painted
Bunting, everywhere. On E. 360 I had a Four-spotted Pennant dragonfly
which is scarce here.
There must have been thousands of dragonflies moving across the
country club, mostly Wandering and Spot-winged Gliders. It was
covered in them. Best there was a flock of 6 Upland Sandpiper
that were moving around, looking nervous, likely due to the
immature PEREGRINE FALCON that was hunting there. That is the
FOF (first of fall) Peregrine. Nice fresh juvie. Close. Low.
Awesome. The Martins were gone from the nest box there, and gone
at north end of town, that's it, they're outta here.
Several Thornbush Dasher (dragon) continue at the pond near the
Waresville Cemetery. Couple Dickcissel along roadsides.
At 2 p.m. it was still just in the low 80's dF! We took a walk
to the crossing 4-5:30 p, the sun came out, and on the dirt road it
was hot and drippy. But, there were some birds. Kathy spotted
a female Yellow Warbler, the FOF. Then there were Empis! Best was
an ACADIAN Flycatcher, very rarely seen off breeding territory here.
One Least and a Traill's type (Willow or Alder) I thought was
likely an Alder but it wouldn't make a peep. All while standing in
one place, plus a Pewee (E.)! A couple Gnatcatcher were there, one
Bell's Vireo and an adult male Hooded Oriole too. For the
heat of the day it was surprisingly active.
We checked a bunch of Frogfruit for butterflies. A few each Fatal
and Rounded Metalmark, plus 4 metalmark sps., Orange Skipperling,
Olive-Juniper, Gray, and Mallow Scrub-, Hairstreaks, Whirlabouts,
a Sachem, couple Fiery Skipper, Desert and Comm. Checkered-Skipper,
some Mestra and Buckeye, a Vesta Crescent and below crossing over
a dozen Phaon Crescent, a couple False Duskywing (Gesta), Reakirt's
Blues, Dainty Sulphur, Little Yellow, flyby Large Orange and Cloudless
Sulphur, So. Dogface, Giant and Pipevine Swallowtail, Gulf Frit,
several Lyside, it was pretty leppy.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Aug. 12 ~ An easterly wave to our east is causing subsidence here
and the front porch was 99dF at 4 p.m., with many hundred plus temps
around the area locally. I saw heat indices at Weather Underground
stations locally at 110 to an amazing 126F!!! OMG! If you have to
bend over to tie a shoe you are dripping. A quick park check saw
lots of people and almost no birds, as usual when the hominids take over.
There was one thing of interest, two adult Green Heron. Which is the
first of them I have seen all year. Usually a pair nests on the island
but I have not seen them this spring and summer.
Here at the house the amazing thing this morning was THREE different
Rufous Hummingbirds. The imm. male guarding the porch feeder continues
his vigil. An adult female that has been in and out every few days
came in. Then an immature female showed up! This is the benefit of
noting small plumage differences in the birds to age and or sex them
when possible. Instead of thinking there is a Rufous here, I know
absolutely there are three different individuals, each with a different
pattern of feathers in the throat.
Yellow-throated Warbler still feeding young in the big pecan this
morning was nice. Some few fall firefly are starting to get going.
We ran over to river for a swim in later afternoon and saw one
Texas Powdered-Skipper, which I missed in July. I heard thunder
from a cell north of us near Lost Maples and northward. Hopefully
it will make its way down here. I would settle for some outflow.
Aug. 11 ~ 75 for a low and 100dF for a high. Cookin' and drippin'.
Scrub-Jay up the hill behind us, a couple Gnatcatcher went through
yard, Yellow-throated Warbler still feeding young in pecan out front,
a Bell's Vireo was at the bath. The imm. ma. Rufous Hummer continues
to guard the front porch feeder. A few imm. ma. Ruby-throated are around.
A few ad.ma. Black-chinned still here, but mostly it is immatures.
An outflow boundry hit about 8:30 p.m. and dropped us to 83dF
almost instantly. The rain stayed north but we got the cooling.
I forgot to mention, early early this a.m., before sunup, actually
midnight to 3:30 a.m. I was outside watching the Perseid meteor shower.
I think I gave up for some sleep before the best part. But did see
50 or so Perseids, lots of very nice ones, it was pretty good,
we were lucky to have clear skies. I heard it got up to 150-200 per
hour at some point, which must have been after I crashed.
Aug. 10 ~ At least a half-dozen Orchard Oriole went through yard
first couple hours of light. The family group of Yellow-throated
Warbler were in the big pecan again early. Had a quick town run
to make, checked the park. Wonderful to see it with no people,
seemingly the first time in months. There was a Ringed and two
Green Kingfisher there also enjoying the tranquility. A few
Chimney Swift around. One male Blue Grosbeak was there. A family
of Summer Tanager had 3 begging young at the park, and we had the
same count of beggars with an ad. pair in yard here this a.m. too.
Chat came in to the bath in yard, it has stopped singing and is done.
Aug. 9 ~ The highlight today was a Black-capped Vireo briefly in the
yard. Not a bad yard bird. Our neighbor once had one at their bath!
The rest was the regulars. A male Blue Grosbeak (the breeders
are gone), Kathy spotted a male Painted Bunting at the bath late
in the day. One Least Flycatcher, several Orchard Oriole, a few
Gnatcatcher, Scissor-tail in the big pecan, Scrub-Jay up the hill
behind us. A few adult male Black-chinned Hummer remain, but not
many, mostly it is all young of the year left. An imm. male
Ruby-throated and an imm. ma. Rufous are here.
Aug. 8 ~ We're stuck with a 75-100dF temp spread for a bit it seems.
An adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was the first ad.ma. I've
seen this fall, a couple imm. males have been around. Also an
imm. male Rufous Hummer was here, and it took over the front
porch feeder. A Great Blue Heron flew over, at least 3 Gnatcatcher
went through yard, one Least Flycatcher out there.
Aug. 7 ~ Low was only about 75dF, a bit on the warm side for a low.
First thing at sunup there was a family group of Yellow-throated
Warblers with constantly begging young being fed in the big pecan
right off the porch. Also first thing early there were TWO Rufous-
slash-Allen's Hummingbird at once on one of the feeders. This is
very hard to do here. Besides usually only ever having one at a time
their attitudes generally preclude any sort of feeder sharing.
When they interacted and spread tails, the one 30" from me had
an outer tail feather that was like a needle, a pin, like there is
just a quill, it was soooo ridiculously narrow. This is likely why
they accepted sitting on the feeder together at once. They were
different species. It was an Allen's. Looking hard a point
blank when it spread its tail, facing away from me, there was
no notch on R2.
A few Orchard Oriole and a couple Gnatcats went through early.
Three greenie (imm.) Painted Bunting were on the millet seed tube
at once. Mid-morn I saw an ad.ma. Painted Bunting, 6' from an
ad.ma. Vermilion Flycatcher on the fence for over a minute. At least
two or three Dickcissel were in yard a bit too. Then a family gaggle
of Great Crested Flycatcher were in the yard mid-morning for a while.
There were FIVE juveniles with the two adults! We were surrounded
by and covered in 'em. One landed on the roof rack on the pickup
shell. The young constantly give a softer ascending 'weeeep' call.
From about 11 to noon-thirty we took a dripping walk down to the
crossing and back. Best was a BLACK PHOEBE which flew into the
culvert while we were on the bridge. I have seen one locally in
the last 5 years. They nested at the 1050 bridge before the drought,
but not since. Also had a Green Kingfisher fly by, Yellow-throated
and White-eyed Vireo, lots of Summer Tanager and Lesser Goldfinch.
A number of Painted Bunting, mostly imm. but Kathy spotted an ad.male,
Gnatcatcher, couple Orchard Oriole and one female that was likely Bullock's,
couple Scissor-tails along airstrip, one Least Flycatcher by corral.
A bit of butterfly activity, including a Fatal and 2 Rounded Metalmark
on some roadside Frogfruit. Phaon and Vesta Crescent, lots of Blues
(Ceraunus and Reakirt's), Gray Hairstreak, Orange Skipperling, Fiery
Skipper and Whirlabout, Black, Pipevine and Giant Swallowtail, Questionmark,
Goatweed Leafwing, Mestra, Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur, etc. All
was pale in comparison to a POLYDAMUS Swallowtail. It is about the
fourth I have seen locally, and one of the species I have yet to
get a photo of here. Nothing unusual in odes, a Flame Skimmer was the
only different one, though a patrolling Pale-faced Clubskimmer was nice.
Aug. 6 ~ Today is the exact mid-point of astronomical summer, which
runs from the June solstice to the September equinox. Climatological
summer is June-August. For reporting birds (say for North American
Birds - the main offical journal of bird records) the summer season is
June and July only. By August so many migrants are moving it is not
really summer for most birds any more, though some birds do continue nesting.
Great was an adult male Indigo Bunting on the patio eating millet,
and an ad. ma. Painted hit the seed tube, for which I grabbed a
couple cheap grab-shots since the sun was on his back. Any day
could be the last day we see one until next April. There were a
couple just-fledged Chipping, and Lark, Sparrows on the patio.
Bell's Vireo was singing over in the corral, Yellow-throated and
White-eyed Vireos singing in yard still. An eastern Wood-Pewee went
through early. A couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a few Orchard Oriole
went through yard in morning, a couple more Gnats and a few more Orios
in the later afternoon. A surprise was an ADULT Broad-winged Hawk
which dove on the patio seed eaters, seemingly missing. Probably one
of the local breeders and not a migrant is my guess. Perhaps connected
to the juvenile that has been around the last two weeks?
We were over at the river for a cool-down in later afternoon a
Green Kingfisher flew by. I heard a Bullock's Oriole call and
chatter in the mesquites on other side of river. Saw a couple of
three lb. Largemouth Bass. Perch and bass numbers seem quite low
compared to the last couple years in this stretch of river. I think
the couple major flood events we had last year and this, besides
washing in a bunch of new rockbars (like sandbars but with rocks),
lots of the fish were washed out. They have yet to repopulate.
~ ~ ~ and now a brief maintenance interlude ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ spring and summer update header archive copy ~ ~ ~
MOST RECENT UPDATE: August 5, 2016
(prior updates: July 29, 22, 15, 8, 1, June 24, 17, 10, 3, May 27, 20, 13, 6)
A GREEN VIOLETEAR was at the Sabinal River Lodge just below
the south end of town! Originally found May 19, then not
present, and then re-appeared June 8-10. It is not available to the
public, except for guests at the lodge ($125 per night - 2 night minimum
- except sometimes during the week you can get one night).
830-966-3393. Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in their
very neat place. A report to Texbirds said the bird was not
seen Thursday evening or Friday morning (16-17 June) by someone
staying there. It's not here at our place (ca. 2 mi. S.).
A dreamy blog post claimed it was seen about June 29 or so.
I did not detect it on July 1 in a half-hour of looking and
listening. It or another appeared in early July in Medina Co.,
30 or so air miles east of us, at a private residence. See the
San Antonio Texas (SATX) birds yahoo groups discussion board for
the instructions to see it, if still around. Another was found at
the Davis Mountains resort in west Texas in latest July.
The first couple longer distance migrants showed up the last week
of July. My first Rufous Hummingbird was on July 24, and on July 26
saw my first Least Flycatcher. I have seen 4 Leasts now, at least,
and at least three Rufous Hummers. I am seeing Blue-gray Gnatcatchers,
and Orchard Oriole daily moving south down the river habitat corridor.
Surely most Golden-cheeked Warbler have left already, a couple were
seen at Lost Maples the second week of July as usual. We had an
immature in the yard July 16, an ad. male on July 23, and an advanced
imm. male on August 1. I saw Louisiana Waterthrush at Sabinal River
Lodge in June, one south of town late July (local breeders leaving).
There are numbers of Black-and-white Warblers moving southbound now too.
Male Painted Buntings are all but gone, lots of greenies left though.
As annual there were a few spring reports of Tropical Parula at Neals
Lodges in Concan. At Lost Maples there was a BROAD-WINGED HAWK
June 19, watch for nesting as they did so last year. A juvenile
Broad-winged Hawk was in our yard July 22 (ph.), so they nested
again somewhere locally. I saw the juvie again July 26 and Aug. 1.
An adult was also here a week ago.
Widespread now are: Scissor-tailed and Vermilion Flycatchers,
Hooded Oriole (but local), Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-throated,
White-eyed, Hutton's, and Red-eyed Vireo, Chimney Swift,
Great Crested, Brown-crested, and Ash-throated Flycatcher,
Indigo and Painted Bunting, Chuck-wills-widow (have gone silent)
and Common Nighthawk, Eastern Wood-Pewee (but saw none at LM 19 June),
Bell's Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Dickcissel, Blue Grosbeak,
Cave Swallow, Yellow-breasted Chat, and others. The stuff of
summer hereabouts, from May to July or August or so for most.
Much has quit singing, but most is still wandering around locally.
Some spring migration highlights were: two Philadelphia Vireo
splash-bathed in our bird bath, May 20 and May 27! A GREAT KISKADEE
was in our yard on May 8 for a bit! The same day an American
Redstart and an Ovenbird were along W. 360. A pair of Cassin's
Kingbird flew over (called on the way) May 1. I saw the immature
(Northern) GOSHAWK again (I presume it is the same bird) May 7,
last seen April 15 over the yard! Kathy and I saw it Feb. 28,
a third-mile from here on the ridge behind us. A Wood Thrush
was reported at Lost Maples in early May.
Of expected but scarcer or local things around, there are the usual:
Zone-tailed Hawk, Canyon Towhee and Rufous-crowned Sparrow,
a few Long-billed Thrashers, Scott's Oriole, Ringed and Green
Kingfisher. Leslie Calvert heard a couple Audubon's Oriole
singing south of town in mid-February, some were reported at Lost
Maples again too. They are around. You could see one anywhere
anytime, or nowhere at no time. It's birding!%^*@%! Again some
White-tipped Dove and Olive Sparrow are at Lost Maples, the new
normal, my take is that they are probably nesting there. I found
3 just-fledged Olive Sparrows being attended by adults June 5 about
2.5 mi. SSW of Utopia on private property. Also nearby 3 juvenile
Black-throated Sparrow with adult pair the same day. Some Black-capped
Vireo are in that area as well.
The spring and summer flower show was great. Now we are moving
into late summer and fall flowers. I saw some presumedly Fall Rain
Lily last week, and the first few Frostweed and Snow-on-the-mountain
are just starting to open, as is Maxmillian Sunflower. Red Turks Cap
and Lazy Daisy are going well now, and so is Wooly Ironweed, which can
be a good butterfly flower. Frogfruit is the best for butterflies
currently though. Often it is in disturbed areas along roadsides,
look for blues, hairstreaks, metalmarks and skippers on it. The
patches by the deco garden at the county line curve at the north
end of town have been great.
Still some of the spring and early summer flowers going. Some were:
Sneezeweed, Straggler Daisy, Tube Tongue, Dakota Verbena, Paralena,
Slender-stem Bitterweed, Yellow Wood-Sorrel, White Milkwort, Blue Gilia
and Blue-eyed Grass, Blackfoot Daisy, Zexmenia, Mealy, Tropical, and
Cedar Sage, Navajo Tea and Greenthread, Coreopsis, Mountain Pink,
Alamo Vine and Purple Bindweed, Scarlet Pea, Purslane, Blue Curls and
Bluehearts, Engleman's and Huisache Daisy, Indian Blanket, Mexican Hat,
Limestone Guara, Pearl Milkweed Vine, Cardinal Flower, Slender-leaf
Hymenoxys, Texas Thistle and Texas Dandelion, and many more.
A few ticks and chiggers are out, bug spray on pantlegs usually
keeps them off. Do not run around in flipflops and shorts like I do.
Some of the small fast gray Eastern Treehole skeeters are about due
to the heavy rains, but mostly only at dusk except in cool shady areas.
The firefly show was tremendous, peaked about mid-May, and is now
over. There will be a minor fall flight of them...
~ ~ ~ end update header archive copy ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
Aug. 5 ~ About 71dF for a low. The imm. male Rufous Hummer
is still here. A few Orchard Orio went through in the a.m.
as did a few gnatcatcher over the day. A Bell's Vireo was
in yard early, which sang a bit. Had a town run noonish.
There were 10 Purple Martin at the north end of town.
Park had fewer people finally which was great to hear.
A couple Blue Jay, a juvenile White-eyed and an adult Yellow-throated
Vireo were about it though besides the residents. No odes
or leps. Another Bell's Vireo was at the library butterfly garden.
The Frogfruit around the north-end curve deco garden still had
some butterflies, mostly the same as last week, lots of
Ceraunus and Reakirt's Blues, but the Western Pygmy-Blue
were gone. New were three Theona Checkerspot, a species I did
not detect in July. One Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak still there,
2 Southern and 5 Orange Skipperling, a few Whirlabout, but no
Metalmarks where there were 8 last week.
Like last Friday, several weedy patches had groups of imm.
Painted Bunting in them. On W. 360 I saw a group of three
adult males. One day this week I saw an ad. ma. in the yard,
but that was it. They are on the move and bugging out. Heard a
Ringed Kingfisher this a.m. over at river, heard it last evening
late too. And oh yeah, there was a fresh Olive Juniper Hairstreak
on the sidewalk after Kathy watered.
Aug. 4 ~ Some great radiational cooling took us down to about
68dF this morning, what a thrill. Cool air. I saw the male
Painted Bunting for the first time in 3 days. He is still
here but hiding from begging juveniles I suspect. They are
done singing now. As is so much. It is amazingly quiet out
there in the morning now for singers.
I hear the Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireos still singing
so they are still nesting, as are Carolina Wren and Cardinal.
But no Chat, Great Crested or Ash-throated Flycatcher, Blue
Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting, even the Eastern Phoebe have
quieted down. Bluebirds are still with their last set of young,
barely around yard, not hearing them. Vermilion flycathcers
are thick but male not singing now. Chickadee and Titmouse
barely singing too. The Brozned Cowbirds are not showing up
at the feeder for a week now. Hooded Oriole still coming in
and singing little bits. Summer Tanagers and young still here
but not singing any more.
Heard a Dickcissel go over early a.m., a couple Orchard Oriole,
a Gnatcatcher. A Red-eyed Vireo passed through noonish, and
'nothers of Orchard Orio and Gnatcatcher. The imm. male
Rufous Hummer is still here. Kathy's watering brought in an
Arizona Sister as that can do.
Aug. 3 ~ Over the day talled 6 Orchard Oriole and 5 Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher that moved south through yard, plus one Eastern
Wood-Pewee. A Rufous Hummingbird looked like an imm. male so
is #3 so far for the fall. Saw an imm. male Ruby-throated
again, and again did not see the male Painted Bunting. Common
Nighthawks still overhead at dusk but did not hear booming the
last couple evenings.
Aug. 2 ~ At least 4 Orchard Oriole and a couple Blue-gray
Gnatcats went through yard early. No male Painted Bunting
as yesterday. Saw an immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
One of the Least Flycatcher was out by the gate in the morning.
Delete one Cotton Rat from your total. I had never seen one
go straight up in the air flipping over as it climbs.
August 1 ~ Two down and one to go for climatological summer.
You can tell we are on the backside of it too. Days getting
shorter, angle of sun changing, just one more month of it.
Early first thing a few Orchard Oriole, a Gnatcatcher, and a
Dickcissel went through yard. And sure enough there was a Least
Flycatcher in the mesquites across from the gate. Likely the
one I heard just before dusk last night. Later in the afternoon
there were 2 Least Flycs at once in the pecans in front yard!
I call nine (as in a.m.) salt mine time. It's nine, salt
mine time, as I head in to the office to man my battle station at
the desk. Fire up the computer and cell phone and sit down at
the office desk with my coffee. This morn I look out the window to
the cottage about 25' away and see a male Golden-cheeked Warbler!
At salt mine time! It flew toward the house, landing in a hackberry
not 10' out the office window! Called Kathy in, she saw it,
then it flew over to the crowd of birds around the seed feeders at
the edge of patio. We grabbed binocs and went to back door and had
great views for a couple minutes as it checked out all the bird
action. I have only a very few August dates for them. One Aug. 5
and one Aug. 25 off the top of my head. This is probably the last
one I'll see this year, a spectacular view and encounter it was!
It will likely have to hold me until next March. It was an advanced
immature (hatched this year) male. We don't get to see many this late,
so very neat to study.
About 7 p.m. I was on porch, heard alarm notes and the feeder
birds flushing, then saw a smallish buteoish hawk fly away through
the trees. Almost an hour later a smallish buteoish hawk landed in
the mesquites right across road from gate. Got binocs and just as
I thought, it was the juvenile Broad-winged Hawk, still around and
hunting the area. Hope it is getting some Cotton Rats. Cardinal,
Bewick's Wren, Black-chinned Hummingbird and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
all came in to scold it.
~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~
It was hot and sticky, averaging about 5-6dF above normal averages
for daily high temps, like most of June. Upper 90's dF instead
of the lower 90's it used to be. All the monthly rain came
on 3 days, 4 for some, the 25th through 28th, most on 26-27th. It was
about 3.5" for us just south of town. Just in time, it was badly
needed. Used to be little bits over the month, now precip is all at
once, in one event. Warmer air holds more water.
Butterflies were 58 species, the best month of the year so far,
and which bodes well for the Aug.- Oct. butterfly prime-time here.
A less-than-annual White Peacock on the 11th that flew across the yard
was great, a few days after we saw one in Uvalde on the 8th. The rest
was mostly the usual expected, but which is good to see after the very
depressed numbers since the drought, maybe things will get back
to what normal was, yet. A Western Pygmy-Blue 50 feet from Bandera Co.
where there is no record was nice on the 29th, two were there the 30th.
Finding Crimson Patch caterpillars on the Flame Acanthus at the library
garden was the real highlight of the month. This is the first year
I have seen them there. Maybe we can get our own colony of the
crimson beauty going here?
Odes were 24 species of dragons and 10 sps. of damselfly, 34 sps. total.
The water came back to the park, but the odes didn't. The lack of
aquatic vegetation has major impact if you study odes. The basic
standard exected usual species are around in low numbers. Some of the
migrants like Saddlebags (Red, and Black), and Gliders (Wandering and Spot-winged)
start passing through in numbers in July. They are much more numerous
up on the ridges though, likely using the rising air currents like
hawks do to gain ground surfing air currents with minimal energy
expenditure. The ones that come down to the valley floor and river
habitat corridor are likely hungry and looking to feed.
Late in the month a few scarcer here types showed up. Red-tailed,
Four-spotted and Halloween Pennant are all LTA - less than annual - here.
So is Band-winged Dragonlet, but best was a Thornbush Dasher, it has
been 7+ years since I have seen one up here. I went back the next day
and saw at least FIVE of them! All the last 5 mentioned species were
at one of the ponds at the country club on July 30. Better than the park now!
A male Swamp Darner was again at the 360 x-ing in latest July.
It was about 84 species of birds locally for the month. The best
bird was the juvenile Broad-winged Hawk in our yard twice in
late July (ph.), providing evidence of additional local nesting.
Which we just proved last year for the first time. So that continues.
In general I would say there was good breeding success by most of the
local nesters I saw. Many got 3 sets of young out by late July. Now
many decide either to quit and depart, or pull another set off in August.
The rain may well trigger a yes to going again for many.
Most of the month there is significant movement of local breeders
departing the breeding grounds and nesting territories. There is a
parade of birds that move down the river habitat corridor as they
depart. Numbers of Orchard Oriole and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher are
near daily. Fewer but every couple or few days are Dickcissel and
Black-and-white Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee. We had TWO Golden-cheeked
Warbler go through the yard in July, they are scarce on the valley
floor. We had 10, 15, and even 20 in a 'fall' (June-July for them)
when we lived up on the juniper covered ridges.
Also the first long-distance migrants show up in July, a Rufous
Hummingbird (24th) and a Least Flycatcher (the 26th) were the most
anxious apparently. A second Least Flyc. was seen the 30th at UP,
a third the 31st at the house. Missed Upland Sandpiper this July.
In beetles I saw the S. gigas Cerambycid once, a couple Dicerca
Buprestids, and got in-hand photos of an Eyed Elatarid. A nice
chocolate brownish Eleotes was different from what I am used to,
had one Prionus, and a female Ox Beetle. Nothing much at the light
when I sheeted for bugs at night. I hadn't mentioned that in June
I did have one Ctenucha (virg.) one night on the sheet at the light,
which I just discovered going through the photos from that night.
The 5 foot Indigo Snake eating a Cotton Rat in the front yard was a
pretty nice highlight for the month. I got 4 with 4 rounds of ratshot...
Mr. Rat, I have a warrant... (think John Wayne in True Grit).
~ ~ ~ end July summary - back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~
July 31 ~ About 73 dF for a low, and hitting 80 about 10 a.m. so
the first few hours of the day are entirely bearable. Did not
have any migrants in the early morn save one ad. fem. Rufous
Hummingbird, the second Rufous of the month and year (fall)
here. I haven't heard the Blue Grosbeak singing in about a
week so think they gave up, the Cuckoos too seem to have gone
silent, so not likely going to nest again. I am referring to
my local yardish breeding pairs, not all cuckoos or grosbeaks.
We took a nooner drive and walk to a couple spots along the
river. Birds were already quiet in the heat by then. Some
odes were out, mostly the expected suspects, but a male Swamp
Darner at the 360 x-ing is a rary here, and right where there
was one last year! The swampy area with the lillies. Heard a
Louisiana Waterthrush down river from the bridge. We went to
the pond on the C.C. by the Waresville Cemetery and spent a
while watching and listening to the Purple Martins at the house
there. They will likely be gone in a week or so, until next March.
Seems they had a fair year, more than 20 birds there, more
than half were juveniles. A couple ad. male and a couple
1st summer males were neat. Gonna miss that call soon.
I did not see yesterday's Band-winged Dragonlet or Four-spotted
Pennant. But there were at least FIVE Thornbush Dasher! The
deal with them here is that they showed up about 3 of the first
5 years we were here, whilst in the wet cycle, and have not
occurred since the drought set in, about 08 or 09. We have
been wet cycle two years now, and here they are back again,
and in high numbers. A spiffy little looker too.
Last thing before dusk I heard a Least Flycatcher out by the
gate and road. I did not chase after it for visual ID, since
I was certain of the call. Killed three more of the Blue Mist
Eupatorium caterpillars too, now at 47 I have removed from the
butchered formerly awesome patch we had around the front porch.
July 30 ~ A few Orchard Oriole and a couple Gnatcatcher went
through yard yearly. I had to run to town so checked some
flowers. The park was so full of people, 40+ cars, maybe
50 there. At the entrance deco garden on the Frogfruit there
were a few Whirlabout (skipper - butterfly) which are my first
for the month. Another Least Flycatcher was there as well!
Only a couple Martin in town, methinks they are leaving.
Bell's Vireo still singing in the mesquite patch at the
north end of town at the county line curve.
The other action was odes (dragonflies) at the C.C. pond near
Waresville. Best was a Thornbush Dasher, the first I have
seen here in several years. Also great was a Band-winged
Dragonlet, the first I have seen there, and a Halloween Pennant
was another scarce locally find too. A Four-spotted Pennant
is less than annual here, and a Red-tailed Pennant is also
not a gimmie here. A number of more regular things like Red,
and Black Saddlebags, Wandering Glider, a bunch of Checkered
Setwing and Eastern Pondhawk, some Blue Dasher, a Leaftail was
probably a Five-striped, a Green Darner or two, Roseate Skimmer,
Common Whitetail, all added up to some real action for a little
pond. A couple Desert Firetail (damselfly) were ovipositing.
The 360 x-ing had Dusky and Kiowa Dancer and lots of American
and Smoky Rubyspot. Turned out to be a good dragon day with
at least 20 species seen in an hour.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
July 29 ~ A sticky 72-3dF for a low this a.m., and again
a number of Orchard Oriole, maybe a half-dozen, but I was
busy early so barely out. When I pulled out of the gate heading
for town a nice male was right there. What a beauty! Several
Gnatcatcher went through yard. The best bird was a FOS imm.
male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which I thought I might have
had a couple days ago. Had a couple Cuckoo, heard a couple
Martins, the rest was the regulars.
The park is still with lots of people and disturbance, and
no birds. Saw a Red-tailed Pennant out over the pond, which
is a scarce dragonfly up here. Library butterfly garden didn't
have anything but some caterpillars I photo'd on the
Flame Acanthus, which is a foodplant of the Crimson Patch.
*UPDATE* A web search reveals they ARE Crimson Patch caterpillars!
The only action I could find in town was at the Frogfruit
growing wild next to the deco garden at the north-end
curve, at the, er, north end of town. It was Frogfruit party time.
I saw 4 Rounded, 1 Fatal, and 1 unk. Metalmark. My FOY
Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, my FOY Southern (1) and Orange (4)
Skipperlings, 10 Ceranus and 15 Reakirt's Blues, plus one
(also FOY) Western Pygmy-Blue (50 feet from Bandera Co. where no
record), a False Duskywing, a couple Eufala, a few Common or White,
and 2 Desert Checkered-Skipper, some Buckeyes. At the
library garden and the park I saw about 6 Clouded Skipper.
A half-dozen new-for-the-month species as we get down to the
wire is great. Saw a number of Large Orange Sulphur on the move.
July 28 ~ 73dF for a low, real humid, and got near 90dF
when an outflow hit us and took us back to 80 for the
later afternoon and evening. Only a few drops of rain,
one lightning strike was only a half-mile away. Four days
in a row we have beat the afternoon heat, that is the big
story of the week. A much needed break.
The few days prior this easterly wave that has brought the
rain has kept migrants to our north from moving, but the dam
broke overnight as evidenced by at least 11 Orchard Oriole
going through yard today. Just in the times I was outside,
usually ten minutes an hour. The real number must have been
yuuuuuuuge. At least four Gnatcatcher went through, and an
Eastern Wood-Pewee. The rest was the usual regular gang.
July 27 ~ About 72 dF seemingly from yesterday when the rain
hit through this morning, what a pleasant break. I heard an
Audubon's Oriole across the road in the a.m., and a
couple each Orchard Oriole and Gnatcatcher went through yard.
Hutton's Vireo over in the mesquites across from the
gate again too. Then it rained again. Third afternoon in a row
we beat the worst of the heat, with rain! We got .75 or so
of an inch. Which puts us at 3.5" for the last 3 days,
and the month. It is all or nothing with the precip now.
After the rain another termite hatch and another bird feeding
frenzy. The Least Flycatcher was still out there today, and a
Yellow-throated Warbler got in on the action, as did lots of
juvenile Painted Bunting, Vermilion Flycatcher, House Finch,
Black-crested Titmouse, Cardinals, a Mockingbird, and others.
A dozen Black-bellied Whistling-Duck went over at dusk.
Eastern Screech-Owl called after dark. A Texas Scrub-Jay was
uphill behind the house, I was too busy to go look at it.
I thought I might have seen an imm. male Ruby-throated Hummer.
July 26 ~ Low was 71dF after the wee bit of rain last night. Heard
a Gnatcatcher early, then a couple Orchard Oriole went through
yard. Mid-morn all the doves flushed followed by the juvenile
Broad-winged Hawk flying over yard, empty fisted. But so it is
About 2 p.m. the daytime heating cooked up some more rain cells
for us. It was over an inch by 3 p.m., and a whopping 2.5" by 4:30 p.m.!
Weewow! And in the 70's! Lots of flycatching in the subsequent
termite hatch, even the juvenile Cardinals and juv. Painted Bunting
were getting in on it. Had a couple or three more Orchard Oriole,
another couple Gnatcatcher, a half-dozen Whistling-Duck (B-b) flew
over, and one of those beautiful juv. Eastern Bell's Vireo, the first
I've seen this year. A dozen Chimney Swift were hawking low,
probably taking termites.
Shortly before 5 p.m. I was watching the termite catching and saw my
FOS (first of season - fall in this case) Least Flycatcher. Which is
the first longer-distance fall migrant passerine I have seen. Migrants
we have been seeing like Gnatcatchers, Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, Black-n-white
or Golden-cheeked Warbler are more local of origin. Least Flycatcher
mostly nests no closer than the northern tier states in the U.S.
(some south to Wyoming, S. Dakota and NE Nebraska, but most nest
in N. tier states or Canada), and it winters way south of the border.
My prior earliest fall arrival dates were Aug. 1 (twice), until
last year when I had one July 24, making this the second earliest
date I have seen it in fall passage. And it well shores up the
outlier week-early date.
I saw a big bird of some sort for a half second out the office
window in late afternoon after the rain, just the north end of a
southbound bird. It was good, but I don't know what it was.
Another one that got away. It was a blurred (or blird) of some sort,
there were definitely two wings. The other thing that happened today
was the gate nestbox of Eastern Bluebird fledged young, their third
set for the year! They did a great job! Nine young out. I think
that will be it for them this year?
July 25 ~ Low of maybe 74dF and humid. At peak heat some local WU
stations were reporting 100dF and higher. On the shady front porch it
was 94dF here. Uvalde (and us) have been running about 5dF over
average for the dates most of the last two months. An easterly
wave is headed in with possible rain.
I heard the Rufous Hummingbird early in the a.m., but didn't see
it all day. It tanked and split. About three Gnatcatcher went through
yard again today. Yellow-throated Vireo and Great Crested Flycatcher were
calling a little, but not singing like another nesting is happening, yet.
Not too late though. Scissor-tails out there in the afternoon on the power
lines, some singing. The half-dozen Turkey still in the corral daily lately.
Still hearing some Martins, but they will soon be gone. Saw a Chuck-wills-widow
across from the gate at dusk.
Amazing was nearing 11 p.m. a bit of rain moved over, the thick of
it missing us, but we got about .2 of an inch over an hour. The
first drops in a month, it got most of the dust off the leaves and
watered the ground a wee bit.
July 24 ~ Male Painted Bunting still feeding young. Best thing
today was my first of fall Rufous Hummingbird. I heard it during
dinner, and finally saw it about 8 p.m. when it came back.
We went for a swim in the heat of the day, saw a bunch of the
Blacktail Shiner (native minnow), a couple big males (3"+) in good
color were impressive. Fair numbers of young Guadalupe Bass were good
to see. Still hearing Yellow-throated Warbler singing, so they are
still nesting. Three Gnatcatcher went through the yard over the day.
July 23 ~ Had an adult male Golden-cheeked Warbler in the yard
in the a.m.! What an awesome beauty! Was in Mulberry, Pecan,
and Hackberry trees, chipping away. It was downhill after that.
Single Dickcissel, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
and Orchard Oriole went through in the morning as well. There
is some bird motion goin' on. It was hot in the afternoon,
surely a hundred at some local sites, we had low-mid 90's dF
on the porch. Hooded Orioles really hanging out a lot in
the heat taking the easy way out at the hummer feeders. At least
a dozen juvenile Cardinal in yard from a few nestings, and probably
eight or more juvenile Painted Bunting, plus some adults.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
July 22 ~ Wow another sub-70dF low, at 69 was outstanding.
A few more Gnatcats through yard southbound. Heard the Indigo
Bunting singing, and we are covered in juvenile Painteds. There
are a bunch of just-fledged Cave Swallow at the bank now.
Had a Common Grackle at the park - a species not on the list of
70+ sps. below, a few nest locally. Otherwise the park had a
Hutton's Vireo and at least 2, maybe 3 adult female
Black-and-white Warbler, and Blue Jays. At least the people
population has somewhat subsided. Should be better now until
Labor Day weekend, after which we get our park back.
The bird of the day was about 4 p.m. as I was answering client
e-mails and phone calls at the desk. A large bird landed on the
garden fence right out the window, perhaps 10-12' away.
A juvenile BROAD-WINGED HAWK, teed up on a T-post! Recall last year
I found the first nesting this side of Austin, a begging juvenile
on Aug. 1 at Lost Maples (and BTW where I saw one a month ago in
mid-June). They certainly nested somewhere locally again this year.
I got an ID shot through the window and screen, which will be a bit
grayed or cloudy, but ID'able anyway. I actually had to ask a
client if I could call back in a minute as I had to take a picture of
a bird on the fence outside. It was not the first time for that either.
Had to crawl out of the office on the floor so it wouldn't see me,
go get the camera, crawl back in, and grab the shot. OMG. Got it.
July 21 ~ Holy guacamole it was 68dF this a.m. on the porch!
The thrill of it all. Heard the Indigo Bunting and better the
Yellow-throated Vireo sang, which means it might nest again.
It was in the big pecan right off the porch for a long time.
It is my busy work day so here is an update on what I saw the last week.
Scissor-tailed, Vermilion, Great Crested, Brown-crested, and Ash-throated
Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Hutton's, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo,
Summer Tanager, Indigo and Painted Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat,
Yellow-throated and Golden-cheeked Warbler (in yard!), Blue Grosbeak,
Scott's, Orchard, and Hooded Oriole, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Lark,
Chipping, Field, and Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Towhee, Texan
Scrub-Jay, Eastern Phoebe and Bluebird, Lesser (Black-backed) Goldfinch,
Bewick's and Carolina Wren, Cardinal, Eurasian Collared-, Mourning,
White-winged and Ground-, for Doves, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed
Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee and Black-crested Titmouse, House Finch,
Black-chinned Hummingbird, Purple Martin, Barn, N. Rough-winged and
Cliff Swallow, Caracara, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, TV and BV
(Turkey and Black Vulture), Great Blue Heron, Red-winged Blackbird,
Common Nighthawk, Chuck-wills-widow, Eastern Screech-Owl, Barred and
Great Horned Owl, Zone-tailed Hawk, Common Raven, Bronzed and Brown-headed
Cowbird, Dickcissel, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Chimney Swift, Black-bellied
Whistling-Duck, Ringed Kingfisher, Wild Turkey, plus heard a Black-and-white
Warbler. Saw Green Kingfisher and Blue Jay (at the park) and Cave Swallow
in town. SEVENTY ONE species plus the heard B-n-W! Man if only I could
have gone birding! Three were in town, two were up the road, and one was
heard only. So 67 sps. were in or from the yard.
July 20 ~ Did not see the Canyon Towhee today, nor heard the
Indigo Bunting. They are moving around. Scissor-tails singing
still, plus young and ad. fems moving around. Lots of Vermilion
young around, and a yuuuuge pile of Cardinals. Two more Gnatcats
through yard southbound. Another Mocker went by. Stuff is moving.
Some new just-fledged Chipping Sparrow showed up with ads. today.
July 19 ~ First thing saw the Gray Fox out back when tossing
seed. Heard an Eatern Wood-Pewee early in morning, and a
Dickcissel went over. Later morn heard a Scrub-Jay over in
the corral, then saw it over in the mesquites across from gate.
They sure look weird in a mesquite. Also saw the Canyon Towhee
in the yard. Hummer numbers seem down, apparently the last batch
of juveniles is dispersing. Could get a Rufous any day now.
Definitely far fewer adult Black-chins around than a month ago.
A couple more Gnatcatcher went through yard.
I saw there were a couple Golden-cheeked Warbler reported to
e-bird, at Lost Maples late last week, so a few still there.
They get tough but usually a few remain until later July.
I have only seen a couple in August locally. You have just
about a week left to see one this year, and it is not easy
as in spring. You have to get lucky too. The creek crossing
areas are the best bet late in the season.
July 18 ~ Three Orchard Oriole went south down the river habitat
corridor early in the morning. Perhaps a group of local young,
but clearly transients. I saw another single late in the day.
The male Scott's Oriole sang and hit a hummer feeder a
few times in the morning, please make a habit of that. At least
he knows there is food here now. At minimum four Hooded Oriole are
hitting them too, two are juveniles.
Heard singing Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Great Crested and
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Chat and White-eyed Vireo, and an
Eastern Wood-Pewee. I heard Yellow-throated Vireo calling but
not singing, apparently not committed to another nest attempt yet.
Three Blue-gray Gnatcats went through yard over the day. Two
male Painted Bunting were on the seed tube at once, which means
their testosterone is dropping. Two Mockingbird went by later
in day, one sounded like an immature. A couple begging young
Common Nighthawk chasing a couple adults around before dusk.
Also saw a big black darner go through yard, probably a Swamp
Darner, it had blue-green eyes. Huge darner. Whatever it was
it is not on the yard list.
July 17 ~ Oh man, it's like a cold spell at 72dF this morning!
Thought I heard an Orchard Oriole go by in the early, did
have a couple Blue-gray Gnatcats move through. A surprise was
an juvenile Rufous-crowned Sparrow in the yard, likely from a
very nearby nesting. Did not see the Canyon Towhee today.
Great to hear the Bluebirds still singing and calling strong,
saw one leave the box with a fecal sac, so young are hatched.
The half-dozen Turkeys were in the corral. One Roadrunner was
the first near yard in a while.
In the afternoon we ran up to road to make sure the water in
the river was still cool and clear. It was. Saw another Blue-gray,
and an imm. Yellow-breasted Chat, first one I've seen this season.
A Brown-crested Flycatcher was noisy, and a Blue Grosbeak was
up there too. Summer Tanager was eating suet from a suet cake.
Loads of Smoky and American Rubyspot damselflies, lots of
Kiowa Dancers too. One more Roadrunner too. Saw a Chuck-wills-widow
over the yard in the bright moonlight just off the porch about 10 p.m.
July 16 ~ We got down to a chilly 73dF this morning, at this
point a couple degrees is GREAT! Probably been a week since
I was that cool. Heard another Dickcissel go over southbound
early, and a Gnatcatcher too. Better was TWO Scott's Oriole,
both singing (both sexes sing). Later as I closed a window I
saw a male fly away from the area of the patio hummer feeders.
Man I wished I didn't scare him off, and sure hope he got to
the feeders and learned they are food!
Then I heard a Canyon Towhee singing! First time in yard
since they departed in spring. I only saw one, which is odd
since they usually stay paired. Hope the pair didn't get
predated. It was also chasing other birds (weird for a Can Tow),
which can be a displacement behavior you often see in a bird that
was nest-predated. Maybe I missed it and some juvie Cardinals were
begging at it? Anyway, yesterday I thought I heard a Canyon Towhee
but did not see it, and when I mentioned to Kathy there was one
outside this morning, she said she thought she saw one yesterday.
So it was here yesterday, that was what I heard and she saw.
After 10 a.m. we saw a Gray Fox hunting in the yard, very neat.
We saw it walk off with a Cotton Rat a few weeks ago, and surely
that is what he was after. We are on the foxes side. We think
it must have been a Cotton Rat that got in the garden and chewed
right through the bases of two big pumpkin vines, killing them.
Did not eat it, or the flowers, just killed it. For what? Seems
like potential food was destroyed? It is like the squirrels,
again eating one tenth of a green pecan, and throwing the rest away,
repeating ten times. They could have 9 good pecans left in a month
or two, and instead nothing. Not so smart if you ask me.
About 1:30 p.m. I spotted an immature female Golden-cheeked
Warber coming into the bird bath! It spent over 5 minutes
trying to get a spot, the Cardinals and others hogging the
bath kept it away. But what a treat to see it out the kitchen
and bathroom window! Grabbed a poor docushot (maybe), they are
very scarce here on the valley floor so a real treat in the yard!
In the later p.m. up the road a bit I saw a Zone-tailed Hawk,
and there was a female Ox Beetle at the Gotcher's place.
Then about 6 p.m. after a swim I heard bird fussin' so
walked a bit into front yard and saw something long and dark.
Ran in, grabbed camera, then moved up on it slowly, a 5.5 foot
INDIGO SNAKE eating a Cotton Rat (Sigmodon sps.)! Yeah snake!
Awesome! Got a pic or two, but don't know what will show, not
the rat though. What a great thing to see in the front yard.
I hope it stays, based on the numbers of Sigmodon I see it should
be able to get about 50' long here. LOL
No Chuck-wills-widow calling at dusk for the second night in
a row means that is it for our bird. You might get a couple
calls out of them in the next month before they go, maybe if you
are lucky, but usually once they go silent, that is it. They
have about a hundred days of song in them and they're out of gas.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
July 15 ~ Lows running about 75dF, highs about 95dF, with no
end or rain in sight. It is all or nothing here for precip
in the summer. Haven't seen a drop since late June and there
is nothing on the 10 day. In the a.m. a few birds went by
yard, an Eastern Wood-Pewee and a Dickcissel were transients,
a juvenile Hooded Oriole was probably one from the pair that
uses the feeders, and a 'nother 'natcatcher passed by.
Later the half-dozen bearded Toms (Turkey) went through corral.
Yellow-throated Warbler and Summer Tanager were singing well
at the park and so still going (nesting). One female or imm.
Green Kingfisher was there too. A pair of Blue Jay there had
at least two freshly fledged fledglings, always neat to see.
A male Painted Bunting there is a transient, one that has quit
breeding and is off the territory as they don't breed there.
A couple Fragile Forktail damselfly were there. An Eastern Tiger
Swallowtail butterfly was on some Buttonbush. A juvenile
Hooded Oriole was behind bank and post office. Still lots of
Martins around. Heard Ringed Kingfisher over at the river at
dusk. Saw one Firefly. Did not hear Chuck-wills-widow, last
night it gave a good loud series at dusk, might have been its
last for the season.
July 14 ~ Thursdays are stuck at the phone and e-mail day.
Birds were the same stuff. Painted and Indigo Bunting still
singing, Blue Grosbeak a little, White-eyed Vireo going strong,
but Yellow-throated are quiet. Eastern Bluebirds at our gate
nest box are now on their third nesting attempt having gotten
two sets of young out already. Early to mid July is when many
species seem to hesitate to make an assesment and decision as
to whether or not make another nesting attempt. Most species
have gotten two if not three sets of young out and will go
again, IF the food seems plentiful enough for them. I heard a
super high sharp metallic tik note that was most likely an
Olive Sparrow, right out by gate in the afternoon. A swarm of
Red Saddlebags dragonflies numbered over 20 in late afternoon.
Among them a couple Spot-winged and Wandering Glider, and a
July 13 ~ Had to run to town early and so checked the park.
Nothing going on but a herd of people. Summer sees lots of
non-locals camping, big family groups, and it can be fairly
active and noisy. Nighthawk still booming at dusk, Chuck-wills-widow
still calling, Gnatcatcher going through yard southbound.
July 12 ~ The adult male Hooded Oriole showed up singing lots
which tipped me off to look, as it is how they show the young
that "this is the spot", and sure enough I saw a juvenile.
First one I have seen so far this year. Another gnatcatcher went
through yard southbound. A Horace's Duskywing (lep) was good to see.
A couple Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over at dusk. A trio
of Common Nighthawk was a booming male, the female and an
July 11 ~ Butterflies besides the usual were an Arizona Sister
or two that went through the yard today, and better was a
White Peacock. I think only the second I have seen in the
yard, they do not occur every year, and are one of the
invaders from the south that are irruptive into our area occasionally.
Also interesting because we just saw one in Uvalde July 8.
Looks like maybe a movement year for them.
July 10 ~ Ring King and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, just like yesterday.
Indigo and Painted Bunting still singing. We went swimming in
the afternoon to beat the heat. I tried to use the minnow seine
to catch some of the native Cyprinella minnows. The current
where I was was too strong, so was relegated to using a couple
aquarium dipnets. To catch something that a bass has a hard
time getting. Being a live fish monger by trade, I deftly (if I
might say so myself) caught five including one nicely colored male
before one of the nets broke. The ones I caught were all Blacktail
Shiner, Cyprinella venusta, the colored-up male quite a beauty. Will
get a pic up once they are processed (presuming they come out). My
mask strap broke too so even just watching them looking for other
species became not doable. Oh well, that mask had seen its days.
I wore it when I was swimming in mile deep water 70 miles east
of Florida out in the Gulf Stream floating at 4 mph northward,
back in the 90's. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
The other highlight of the day was just before sundown when
I found an Eyed Elatarid (the giant click beetle with the false
eyespots on thorax) kind of stuck on the back window of the
truck. I grabbed it, the force of the click was duly impressive,
but it quickly just started walking around on my hand. I grabbed
a pic or two before it spread its elytra and took off. Should
have a nice full frame shot of it with wings extended.
July 9 ~ Today we had to find places to put everything we brought
back from Uvalde, and recover from the 8 hr. ordeal. It is a
long brutal slog. A Ringed Kingfisher was nice from the porch.
Over the day at least 3 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went south through
the yard. Chuck-wills-widow still calling at dusk, and Common
Nighthawk still booming. A couple Firefly left.
~ ~ ~ last prior update ~ ~ ~
July 9 ~ Sorry about being slow to get the update out, just could
not get to it yesterday.
July 8 ~ A brutal day it was, we had get up at early-thirty
to go to Uvalde for a piece of weekday only biz. A Chuck-wills-widow
was still calling at 6 a.m. But then of course we made a
supply run out of it to make the day, time, and gas, pay for
itself by hitting 5 stores for stuff we can't get in Utopia.
It is a major chore, well except for the liquor store. ;)
Luckily its a small truck and we ran out of room before money.
We had not made a Uvalde supply run in a few years actually,
having been getting everything locally or on-line.
On the way saw a half-dozen pairs of Caracara and a few singles
plus several Fuertes' Red-tailed Hawk. Saw one Ani up on a
wire along 187 north of Sabinal. On Old Sabinal Rd. I saw a 4-5'
Indigo Snake. We flushed at least 5 Bobwhite on the road, but
mostly it was just making the time to get to Uvalde, we didn't
really stop. Did not see any sparrows in the short mesquite tops
where there are usually Cassin's Sparrow. It has been very dry
overall down there. On the way back on Hwy. 90 we saw hundreds of
acres of toasted corn. Grew up to 5' real well, then the no rain
most of June and it all cooked, no ears. Dry farming (non-irragated -
rain only) is rough risky business.
We stopped briefly at Cook's Slough and walked a fast mile
around the place. Saw 4-5 Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a Couch's
Kingbird, heard a couple Olive Sparrow, Bell's Vireo, Verdin,
saw a number of Bank, Barn, N. Rough-winged Swallow sitting in the
tops of the mesquites, apparently foraging after something. One
Cave Swallow with them. Did not hear or see Green Jay, Kiskadee,
Long-billed Thrasher, but was warming up about 11 a.m. when we were
Good numbers of Purple Martin and Chimney Swift were still around
Uvalde. Did not see anything at the Memorial City Park on Hwy. 90
just east of H.E.B. besides lots of dragonflies. Best bird was
there, a White Peacock, butterfly, which does not occur every
year in Uvlde Co., it is a LTA - less than annual species here.
It is one of the invaders from the south, some years, that hopefully
foretells of a good late summer and fall butterfly season.
There were some Western Kingbirds towards Uvalde, fewer near Sabinal,
none up here in the valley. North of Sabinal several miles (5?) as you
start to climb into the first bit of hills of the escarpment we
had 2 Harris's Hawks just a few poles apart, and likley a pair.
We have seen a pair right in this area before, and once even the
family group hunting they do, of no doubt the ad. pair, and their young.
In the latest afternoon after we got home there was another ad. fem.
Black-n-white Warbler just 8' off the porch in the big pecan,
and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher somewhere high up in the top of it.
A handful of fireflies is all that are left flying now.
July 7 ~ Too busy Thursday. Was all the SOS - same 'ol stuff.
Turkeys, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher,
Painted and Indigo Bunting, the Blue Grosbeak is still singing, so
likely nesting again, a couple Chucks at dusk...
July 6 ~ Today's rare birds were warbirds. A flight of WWII
planes circled around just south of us in the morning. Two were
twin-engine bombers, a B-25 and a B-26. One was a single engine
prop fighter I just couldn't make out for sure, maybe a Mustang,
or a T-6, I didn't have my binocs with me. The fourth plane was
the rare bird. A P-38 Lightning! There are only about 10 of them
left that fly. I suspect it was Glacier Girl, the one found under the
ice in Greenland and restored to fly. It is owned or kept or flies out
of San Antonio. Awesome to see one circling from the yard for 15
minutes! It would take a pretty darn good bird to top that, which
of course didn't happen. After WWII we declared them obsolete
in 1946 and had the 100 unused P-38's stored in the Philippines
destroyed! FYI, if it flies, I am probably interested... 'tis a
defective gene methinks.
Anyway, today at peak heat in the afternoon Kathy and I snuck
over to a neighbors to refill their bird feeders while they
are out. I was so hot and drippy by time I got done, it
was easiest just to walk down into the river to take the heat
off. Real quickly there were the native minnows exfoliating
and whatever on my legs. Some green above, some with a distinct
purple haze on upper sides, some with some yellowish. These are
a Cyprinella minnow of some sort.
I am looking for the species lepida, the Edwards Plateau Shiner.
They are said to be Guadalupe and Nueces river drainages only.
The Sabinal and Frio Rivers are considered to be Nueces River
drainage systems, since they drain into it. This was fast moving
deepish pools over gravel, between shallower riffles, so not
really normally where one goes swimming.
There were 2 new juvenile Painted Buntings begging and getting fed
today. A herd of new Cardinal young too. Still new Lark Sparrow
young fledging. Lots of juvie Vermilion Flycs around. Turkeys
are still over in the corral hitting the water troughs, and
the line of oats for scraps.
July 5 ~ Had Ringed Kingfisher fly over the cypress up the river
calling so I would notice and see it from the chair on porch.
Indigo Bunting still singing over at draw. Have not yet seen
any female around. Too busy catching up the holiday weekend mess.
July 4 ~ Happy Independence Day! Hope you had a good Fourth!
I had to sorta work, and we try to go out when there are less
folks around. The gonzo bonkers Utopia fireworks show draws a
ginormous crowd. I mean astonishing. I'm sure lots of folks
come from 20, 40, and more miles for it. I would not be surprised
if some came from a hundred miles. It is the peak population day
of the year here, by factors. We kinda try to hide out. Did have
a Zone-tailed Hawk go by the yard today. The just fledged and
constantly begging Fuertes' Red-tailed Hawk is noisy as heck.
Not sure if it is only one young, or two.
It was hot here, most of the local WU stations were reporting
96dF and up, heat indices in low 100's to 110. Our front porch
in the shade got up to 92dF, we run a bit cooler than most local
areas, unless you are right on the river. Later afternoon we
ran down to the crossing and jumped in the river for 20 minutes.
Oh what a difference a few minutes can make. Kathy saw a big
yellow swallowtail (non-Giant), either Tiger or Two-tailed.
I saw a couple Viceroy messin' around with each other.
Another Indigo Bunting is singing there, and Yellow-throated
Warbler continues singing as well, meaning they are still nesting.
Will have to go back to study, hopefully catch and photograph,
the Cyprinidon minnows I found. I didn't have my mask or minnow
seine with me. Some looked like they could darn well be my
mythical Moby Dick, Cyprinella lepida. The Edwards Plateau Shiner.
A couple dozen did wonders on my feet and toes, it was like I was
in one of nature's spas. I hope they didn't take in too
much toxic or hazardous waste. My toes never felt so refreshed,
since the last time a school of fish did that. ;)
July 3 ~ Got that 75-95dF temp spread going, though we are a bit
cooler on our shady front porch, lowest 90's, still hot and sticky.
Birds were the regular summer gang. We walked a mile around the
top of the 1450' knoll a mile south of us. Rather slow but
we didn't get out until 11 a.m. so warming up by then.
There were a half-dozen Turkey at one of the troughs in the corral.
A pair of Caracara were up there on a snag. Probably the ones
we see over the house near-daily.
A few dragonflies I will have to wait for pix to study them.
Did see a dozen each Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, a few Red,
and Black, Saddlebags, some Black Swallowtail hilltopping, but no
Crimson Patch this time. A couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, flushed
a herd of feral hogs again. From the house We can barely hear a lot
of ruckus over at the river, likely lots of city folks trying to
tube it over the holiday weekend. You have to make a lot of
Here is some interesting Texas river legal stuff... My understanding
is that the Sabinal and Frio Rivers are not legally considered "navigable
rivers" so you do NOT have the Texas standard 3' of bank or shoreline
normally legal to stand on technically, as one does on any navigable body
of water in the state, and vitrually all other rivers. My understanding
is that it was during the last prior mega-drought of the 1950's that
they brought some guys from Austin and said, "see, not navigable" when
these rivers were dry, and they were re-classified as non-navigable. Which
meant then that even when they were navigable again, you then would not have
the right land on the land owners' river bank. Likely some local
will read this and kick my arse for getting something wrong...
I will correct if so.
July 2 ~ Despite the humidity it brings, you hope for the gulf
moisture and clouds to get here to keep the sun blocked for a
few hours of the morning, holding it to bearable for morning
chores. Some mornings they get here overnight, sometimes right
around daybreak, other times we get an hour of sun and then
the low clouds make it this far inland. We are just glad to
get them every day we do, like this morning. It means you will
not be 90dF at 10 a.m., just sticky.
Was the standard summer gang for the most part. An ad. female
Black-n-white Warbler came down to within 8' of the porch whilst
I was holding chair down there. A bit later the Yellow-throated
Warbler gave the big branches a good working over. I would hate
to have to work those after a Black-and-white had been there.
The Eastern Wood-Pewee that was about late yesterday was still
Late p.m. there was a Ring King or two over at the river, and
a couple Common Nighthawk boomed at dusk. Only heard one Chuck.
Saw a female or imm. male Blue Dasher dragonfly in the yard where
they are scarce, seemingly always over at the water, especially
where lillies or other emergent vegetation. A few Green Darner
dragons were by the draw at dusk. At 11 p.m. there was one of
the huge (2"+) Prionus Cerambycids on the screen door.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~
July 1 ~ Low 70's to mid-90's dF for a temp spread, hot
and sticky. Did a town run noonish and it seemed quiet for a
pre-holiday weekend Friday, the visitors are mostly still on
their way I guess. I spent about 25 minutes at the Sabinal
River Lodge and did not hear or see any fancy hummingbirds.
Went to the park and saw nothing really, even odes were slow,
but there were lots of people that don't know how to park.
A Neon Skimmer was the only good dragon, besides one that got
away that was odd looking, like maybe a Cyrano Darner again.
I saw Tawny Emperor and Pearl Crescent butterflies today, after
not seeing either in June. A couple Dusky-blue Groundstreak were
on the Red Turk's Cap we planted a couple years ago. Nice
to see flowers on that. Dang deer massacred the Purple Bindweed
I was trying to get going up the chimney.
I saw a dragonfly around the house about 1:30 that I do not know
what it was. Something good. Abdomen was mostly glossy black,
and it was big like a Green Darner in size. It seemed to come
in to some sprayed water, then I flushed it out back in the
carport by the saltwater tubs but quickly lost it. Hunted for
quite a bit with net in one hand and camera in other but could
not relocate it a third time. May have been a Turquoise-tipped Darner.
I saw big elongated paddle shaped cerci.
Later p.m. after dinner there was an Orchard Oriole singing in
the front yard. Didn't see it to age it, but it sang a good song.
Indigo Bunting still singing out there too at the same time, it was
a pretty nice ringy-jingly-jangly thing goin' on between the
two of them.
Above is 2016
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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. ;)
Above starts July 1 2016, which is Bird News Archive XXVI (#26).
Read UP from bottom to go in chronological sequence.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Links to all 12 years of archived bird news pages below.
Broken into 6 month increments. One day I'll quarter it
out by season as well, so all years of each season are
together, perhaps making say, searching springs easier.
Odd numbered archives are Jan-June, even July through December.