Bird (and nature) News Archive # 28
July 1 to December 31, 2017
Old Bird News XXVIII

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 XXVIII (#28) ~ 2017: July 1 - December 31

Scroll to bottom and read up to read in chronological order.
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2017


Notes without location cited are in or from yard which is a couple miles south of town at edge of the river habitat corridor. If it doesn't say where it was, it was in or from the yard. Often a few daily yard notes is all the drivel you get. Ready, steady, go!

To repeat since commonly used:
sps.=species; FOS=First of season; FOY=First of Year; FOF=First of fall; LTA=Less than Annual; UP=Utopia Park; UR=Utopia on the River; (ph.)=photo obtained; ad.=adult; imm.=immature.; ma.=male; fem.=female; juv.=juvenile; odes=Odonata = dragonflies and damselflies; leps=Lepidoptera (butterflies), town=Utopia; the park= Utopia Park at SW corner of town. WU = Weather Underground (sometimes local station readings referenced) ~ ~ ~ ~

September back to July 1 (so far) below

~ and now for a brief interlude ~

~ ~ ~ partial update header for archive's sake ~ ~ ~

As of Friday Sept. 22nd the river was not flowing over the spillway at the park and is dry in many sections, not a drop of rain in 6-7 weeks, and so far a poor fall flower bloom as a result, plus butterflies are then of course down. No small stuff. Then a big rain event last few days of Sept. brought the river up, the pond is at bankful again, with water barely trickling over the spillway on the 29th. But by Oct. 6 is was again not going over the spillway. We remain a couple feet behind, and un-recovered from the drought.

Many migrant birds are past us already southward. The bulk of many species have passed already, things like Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, Upland Sandpiper, Yellow and Black-and-white Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, have peaked and are all but gone for the year. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds had a good peak in late Sept. during the rain event but blew out the couple days after it cleared. A very few might still be around. Now we are in the gap before the second half of fall, when the wintering species show up.

Three great local records in week of and after Harvey were of birds that are regular to common down coastways, but accidental or rarer here. Little Creek Larry reported two WHITE PELICAN at the park 3 weeks ago, Friday the 25th, when the first outer bands of Harvey hit us. Then Tues. eve the 29th I watched a LEAST BITTERN fly right by me out on the driveway working just over treetops heading up the river habitat corridor. Then Thursday morning the 31st two FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK flew over the yard calling, I got fair looks. All three are exceptional finds locally, keep your eyes peeled as other displaced birds are likely around.

First third of Sept. there were FOS Loggerhead Shrike back for the winter, FOS Mourning Warbler, and my earliest ever FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The 13th the park had 5 Cattle and a Snowy Egret, as well as single Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal. It is fall migration! We need some weather to knock the birds down though.

Passerine migration has been in full swing now. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Orchard Oriole poured down-valley daily for two months. Lots of Ruby-throated Hummers went through, some Baltimore Oriole (1st Aug. 24) and Dickcissel (1st was Aug. 9) were moving, Upland Sandpiper (first on Aug. 1, eight on Aug. 9, many since) at dusk and dawn calling overhead, a few Yellow Warbler (1st was Aug. 2), a Wilson's Warbler on Sept. 6, a MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER Sept. 8 at the park, a Traill's (Willow or Alder) Flycatcher Aug. 20, a couple Louisiana Waterthrush at the park in early August, and a few Rufous Hummingbird have been seen. No Golden-cheeked Warbler were detected at Lost Maples July 30. Black-capped Vireos were still there Aug. 21. Our three yard adult male Painted Bunting were all gone Aug. 6. Birds are on the move now!

~ ~ ~ end update header archive ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ September summary ~ ~ ~

What a weird weather month it was. First third had abnormal low temps, many in the 50's dF (!) due largely to Harvey which brought premature north flow for nearly a couple weeks. But it was hot, and it was bone dry until the last week of month. Aug. 7 to Sept. 26 or so, there was no rain, as in none whatsoever. Sept. 26-29 we got 4.5" a couple miles south of town, others around had more, some less. It was the perfect slow soaker for aquifer recharge, just what the doctor ordered.

Butterflies were 50 species for the month, weak for the fall, likely due to the lack of rain ergo flowers. Best was on the last day of the month, a male FLORIDA WHITE (ours is Mexican Tropical White) Appias drusilla (photos), since only a handful of UvCo records. A fair movement of early Monarchs was nice, up to 7+ at once at one Frostweed patch. Others were seen racing south-southwest. Otherwise was the expected species. All 6 of the regular possible Swallowtails were seen, but again, no Metalmarks. None of the scarcer skippers besides the Green at Lost Maples Sept. 23. Lots of Painted Ladies went through, numbers in the thousands.

Odes (dragons and damsels) are already dialing back from the summer peak, with 30 species seen for the month. Best was several male Twelve-spotted Skimmer, since not a sure thing annually here. We had one in the yard 10 days or so! A couple were at the golf course pond by Waresville, one was at the Park (Utopia), and I photo'd one at Lost Maples in Bandera Co., where only maybe one prior documented record (which was one I got pix of at Lost Maples several years ago). Good bug hereabouts, nice invasion this year. A couple Thornbush Dasher were still at the golf course pond at the end of the month.

Birds were about a hundred species again. Had I gotten to Maples early in month a few more would have been had. Besides the regular common migrants anything else was scarce and hard to come by. We need weather to knock them down and there wasn't any. Best bird was a MacGillivray's Warbler on the 8th at the park, my second fall record here in 14 years.

When you don't live on a coast where it is really explosive for vagrants in fall, you instead get excited by minutae of details. There were only a couple Mourning Warbler over the month, slow for them this fall. My earliest ever Clay-colored Sparrow on the 1st was followed by none the rest of the month. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet on the 12th is early for here. Good late dates were a Common Nighthawk on Sept. 24, and Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler on the 28th.

~ ~ ~ end Sept. summary - back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ Looks like we are finally drying out. Low was a great 64dF or so, no rain overnight. Overcast, cooler, some slightly NE to ENE flow. Should be migrants. First couple hours were dead in yard. Stuff was prolly still flying since not hot. Eventually a couple ea. Yellow, and Nashville Warbler, a Dickcissel, a Baltimore Oriole, and a Gnatcatcher. Checked a couple spots 11-1. At the park there were two Common Yellowthroat, 2 Yellow, a Nashville and a Wilson's Warbler. The library garden had another Wilson's and another Common Yellowthroat.

I drove out Seco Ridge to check the magic Stenaspis verticalis insignis sumac. Every September when the Evergreen Sumac bloom the amazing metallic green and orange Stenaspis Cerambycid beetles meet to mate on them. I saw some in bloom so went to check the magic bush where you could have a dozen at once. I have checked a hundred bigger bushes that have never had one on them. There are only a few other Evergreen Sumac I have found them on, this one must be the historical bush. The magic bush was gone, courtesy of the electric companies maintenance crew. It was not in the way, and never could have been. I did find one Stenaspis on a nearby bush. See the Critters-Insects page for a photo from prior years. The one I found was not reachable for good pix but I grabbed a couple docu-shots. Had a couple Scrub-Jay out on back of Seco Ridge.

The private Frostweed patch had zip but 3 Monarchs. The golf course pond had no birds but a couple Thornbush Dasher dragonflies, a Desert Checkered-Skipper. A Mimosa Yellow and a Julia&apo;s Skipper were at the library garden. At the deco garden at the Golf Utopia entrance sign on the yellow Lantana was the bird of the day, a male FLORIDA WHITE (Appias drusilla). Ours are the subspecies often called Mexican Tropical White, from the mainland southward. This might be the fifth UvCo record, and I did get some ID shots. The males are white as satin, without a mark on them, and twice or more the size of a Lyside. It is the third I have photographed locally here in the last 14 years. Rare bug. Was another Wilson's Warbler at that flower patch too.

Mid afternoon in the yard was 'nothers of Gnatcatcher, Nashville Yellow, and Wilson's Warbler. I had a quick look at a Rufous Hummer but did not see any gorget feathers in throat so it wasn't the one that disappeared yesterday, but a new different one, and likely an imm. female. Nearing dusk about 7 p.m. an Eastern Wood-Pewee was flycatching from a mesquite snag right across from the gate. I got great close views, it was giving just one piercingly clear whistled note of a couple seconds duration which changed tonal quality without changing pitch. Wing bars were buffy so an immature. After dark I heard the first Barn Owl I have heard in months.

Easter Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Buttonbush


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 29 ~ A little more rain overnight, about another half inch. So we are just under 5" for this week's event! I saw Anthony Sharp at the P.O. and he said 10 miles west over at Rio Frio they had over 7"! So totals float quite a bit, but there was rain! In the last 3 days you would not believe how green it got. From our yard to the pastures along the road all has gone from brown to green this week. One old-timer in town said at the start of the week his pastures looked like winter, now they look like spring.

Not much moving in the yard this morning, a Yellow Warbler, a Gnatcatcher. Checked the park in town and found a good shower which was heavy enough to supress things. Saw a Gnatcatcher, one imm. Common Yellowthroat, and a Wilson's Warbler for migrants, heard a Ringed Kingfisher. At the north end of town there were about 20 Cave and 15 Barn Swallow on some wires, and a dozen Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

On the way back from town a male Kestrel was on W. 360, prolly one of our local winterers back for the season. Saw the male Vermilion today, but it appears to have lost its tail in the last day or so. Probably a close encounter of the accipiter kind. Now will it leave without a full tail, or stay until a new one grows in? I did not hear the Great Crested Flycatcher around the yard today. Maybe it punched through one of the holes in the sky and left last night? Was hoping for an Oct. date on it. The ad.fem. Rufous Hummer was here in the morning and until the early afternoon, afterwhich the feeder it had taken over had only Ruby-throated, and I did not see or hear it at other feeders. So methinks she left.

Sept. 28 ~ Rained lightly off and on overnight, .75 more since 8 p.m. yesterday. So we are about 4.35" for the event now. Wow. Some places southward in the brush country got 10 inches! The Great Crested Flycatcher is still here calling, all day. We have to be getting near my late date for them. Around 11 a.m. a great flock of migrants moved through the yard southward and down the river habitat corridor. There were at least 10 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 6 took off flying south in a group together. My second Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the fall, an imm. Blue Grosbeak, an ad.ma. Baltimore Oriole, 4 Nashville and 3 Yellow Warbler, a probable Orange-crowned got away, would've been a FOS. The Yellow-throated Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler loosely among the flock as they passed through may have been the local breeders, though I hadn't seen the vireo in a couple weeks. Certainly a good late date for it. The White-eyed Vireo is still out there as well. Those three are all in stellar bright fresh basic plumage now. About noon-thirty an ad.fem. Rufous Hummingbird showed up and promptly took over a feeder. Lovely gals aren't they?

This half dozen Scissor-tails flies over the house a couple times per day, often a few males singing on the way, sometimes one breaks formation, climbs up in display and flips, to show off. Today one did it directly overhead. I was amazed at how the wings produce a loud deep low drumming as it climbs up, each flap making a hollow woody drum beat, at the same time its song is going to crescendo, and then the flip. Holy cow. This noise is mechanical, obviously the wing beats, but which of course are essentially silent in passing level flight. They are giving themselves a mechanical drum roll to go with the insane crescendo of vocalization, culminating in the incredibly acrobatic feat of flight, a flip. Whattabird. I have watched this display and flip many times, from the side, but I presume not ever directly exactly under the climb, as I don't recall hearing this wingbeat drum roll before. It is low pitched and likely does not carry outside a very narrow area where hearable. Often mechanical sounds, like even a Common Nighthawk boom are quite directional. Yes you hear it from the side, but it sounds nothing like what the female hears at apex. If you have ever been right under that magic sweet spot, you know what I mean. This is likely similar.

Sept. 27 ~ It was a rain day. There was another inch overnight so we are at 2.75 so far for the event (36 hrs. and counting). The NOAA storm radar total shows us for a half inch. The divides hide us from the doppler. Over the day .85 fell. So 3.6" at the 48 hr. mark. Now a cold front is supposed to hit this wet tropical one and give us some rain. We need it. It has been a great "slow soaker" as they call them so little runoff and lots of recharge, just what we needed. But not much for birds I could see during my breaks. A Yellow Warbler, a Gnatcatcher, the male Vermilion. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are thick now, no bugs, just sugar water, and there must be a couple hundred here. A dozen or two ad. males still, mostly imm. and female type, did not pick out a Black-chinned today, or the last couple days. We will see in the a.m. by by 11 p.m. I think there was another quarter inch or more, so we are nearing 4"!

Sept. 26 ~ Bit more rain overnight, there was a half inch around dusk yesterday, now this morning it looks like we are up to about 1.25" inches fell. By mid afternoon it was 1.75", and no dust in sight. Saw a Yellow Warbler, a Gnatcatcher, couple Baltimore Oriole, and what was probably the same Great Crested Flycatcher as yesterday over in the draw and in Mesquites across road, calling. Male Vermilion Flycatcher still here. Lark Sparrow count 30 at once on patio! Must be new arrivals? In the later afternoon during a shower, at one time I counted 8 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher from the front porch. A ad.fem. Baltimore Orio and a new different female Yellow Warbler. Had a few Barn Swallows, the half-dozen Scissor-tails, Caracara, and the rain total at dark is one and seven-eighths inches. Just under 5 cm. There was a termite hatch with the rain and the male Yellow-throated Warbler was getting in on that action. Lots of migrants here on the rain day, wish I could get out and bird during the week.

Sept. 25 ~ A few light showers overnight, low of 72dF. Raining west of us, hope it makes it here. In a.m. heard a couple Yellow Warbler, an Orchard Oriole, a Dickcissel, another sounded like a Nashville. Later a Baltimore Oriole, a Gnatcatcher, another Yellow and a Least Flycatcher. Then a Great Crested Flycatcher mid-day. Migration movement, and I have to work. Male Vermilion still here, as is the pair of Canyon Towhee. Kathy counted 24 Lark Sparrow on the patio! Holy cow! I have been getting 14 or so, perhaps some migrants from northward are showing up? Saw an imm. female Sharp-shinned Hawk dive through yard in afternoon, landing in the big pecan. We will count that as the FOS, but I have had quick looks of what were surely Sharpies the last three days. In the early evening we got a bit of rain, maybe a half inch plus by midnight. There was a Hister Beetle in the kitchen after dark.

Sept. 24 ~ Up early and saw Orion, Tarus, Gemini, Sirius, Procyon, friends I have not seen in months. A few spotty showers in the area, supposed to be a rain event this coming week. Hopefully a good shower will find the car.  ;)  Went to Lost Maples early, some actual rain on the way and up there, car got washed, but just showers early. Just out the gate down the road there was an Olive-sided Flycatcher on the powerline. At the first crossing north of town a couple miles in BanCo there were 3 Great Egret downriver.

We walked to the headwater spring on Can Creek, so about 2 miles each way up canyon and back. A few migrants, most of the breeders are gone by now of course. Always interesting what is not there: Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireo (didn't hear any Black-capped either), no Pewee or Black-and-white Warbler, so quite a different place in fall. We did see about 6 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Wilson's Warbler, heard a Yellow, saw a couple Nashville Warbler, a few warbler flight notes got away as always.

One greenie (imm. Painted Bunting) and one brownie (imm. Indigo Bunting), 4 FOS Kestrel in a line went downcanyon high up, one Summer Tanager, a Hutton's Vireo, a half-dozen White-eyed Vireo, 3-4 Scrub Jay, a couple Rufous-crowned Sparrow, heard a few Canyon Wren, saw several Common Raven, and best two birds were heard only, continuing Olive Sparrow and White-tipped Dove were both calling along the trail. One Black Rock Squirrel.

Too cool and wet on way up trail, but sunny and warmer by time we headed down, and so some butterflies came out to see us. A Green Skipper was outstanding, a very neat local species here, and a good late date. Also we saw at least 3 worn Spicebush Swallowtail, again, a good late date. A couple Southern Broken-Dash were on Frostweed, some Queens, several Painted Lady. Best was point blank views of a huge female Two-tailed Swallowtail (ph.) which we watched oviposit on an Escarpment Cherry.

In odes, leaving house there was a Pale-faced Clubskimmer at the 360 x-ing. At Lost Maples a Twelve-spotted Skimmer (dragon) was the ode highlight, there are only one or two Bandera Co. documented records, the first was one I photo'd there several years ago. I had a couple quick looks at what looked like a Jade-striped Sylph, but it disappeared, at the pouroff falls below the pond where I have seen them before. A couple Common Pondhawk and Green Darner, but overal ode activity was way down. It will crash fast when it cools off.

One Scissor-tail by the propane place at north end of town was the only besides the ones around our place. Several were on W. 360 early. The park in town looked over-run so we passed and took a quick look at a private prop Frostweed patch south of town on way home, which yeilded 3-4 Monarchs, the rest the usual, no birds. On the road nearing house a small fast raptor shot over, either Sharp-shinned Hawk or Merlin, I thought the latter. About 3:15 p.m. after some rest, in the front yard was a Least Flycatcher and a nearly tardy imm. Blue Grosbeak. Male Vermilion is still out there today.

So then since we hadn't done enough today we went for a swim at peak heat, about 87dF it got to. But cloudy and muggy and we were hot from the hike. There were a handful of Scissor-tails over there, sometimes in the cypresses overhead, other times singing and displaying, including a flip or two. A male Green Kingfisher allowed close approach and did not flush as we floated past less than 30' away. There was a small group of passerines, mostly 4 Chickadees and some Titmice, but a Summer Tanager and a male Yellow-throated Warbler too. My guess is the warbler is one of the local birds still here. We are not on any migration path for the species, and I have a number of late September records, seemingly mostly males in the freshest of basic plumage. Just before dusk Kathy alerted us to a calling Common Nighthawk, first one I have heard all month, and a good local late date.

Sept. 23 ~ Ran about 70-90dF for a temp spread today, some Gulf clouds for morning. Just a few of the usual suspects went through the yard: a Dickcissel, an OROR, a Yellow Warbler, and a Gnatcatcher. The 5-6 male Scissor-tails were around quite a bit. Worked on stuff here since planning to go out tomorrow.

Bewick's Wren

I am bark. I love trees. Bewick's Wren hugging a tree.
I have seen them do this when a predator was present (hiding), and when not,
whence I wonder if they are listening for critters in crevices.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 22 ~ Happy fall! Summer is over! Time to cool down. Low about 70dF, a little better, with some Gulf clouds and moisture. Hot and sticky in the afternoon. The upcoming week has some weather forecast, so may be our big chance for a wave of fall migrants. There is tons of stuff going over, but you usually need some inclement, any migratory impediment will do, wind, rain, etc., to knock them down. Often there will be a bump in birds before a front, another set grounded during it, and a post-frontal wave behind it. We get three chances.

Town run so a look at the park. On road leaving house there was Yellow Warbler and Gnatcatcher, plus 3-4 Field Sparrow. At the 360 xing a nice male Green Kingfisher posed. At Utopia Park there were a few migrants for a pleasant change. One C. obscurus (see last weeks' update photo break) Underwing moth, and NO water going over the spillway! Six at minimum Wilson's Warbler was impressive, a couple Yellow Warbler, heard a couple warbler flight notes that got away. One Great Crested Flycatcher is nearing tardy, a couple Least Flycatcher were in the woods. Two Hutton's Vireo were also there. No Yellow-throated Warbler, they seem to have gone. Still male Summer Tanager around. One Ringed and two Green Kingfisher, and one squeaky tree that sounds sorta like a Catbird. Heard Hooded and Baltimore Oriole, saw at least four Blue Jay. The woods were full of Eastern Phoebe, a dozen at least, a major wave of them must have arrived from northwward.

Sept. 21 ~ Low was only 74 and balmy. Supposed to be the last hot hot day before things slowly start to become more like fall instead of summer. Early the yard had a male Baltimore Oriole and a Wilson's Warbler. Mid-day Yellow Warbler, late a Gnatcatcher. Last light the male Vermilion came into yard and sang a couple times, appearing to go to roost into the big (still dying) hackberry. Our resident pair of Eastern Phoebe are chasing out interlopers, so I presume there are new arrivals from the north showing up now. A few scattered rain cells were around, we got an outflow of about 35 mph, and smelled rain once the dust cleared.

Sept. 20 ~ Low of 72dF, we were upper 90's. Hondo was 102, with much higher heat index. Drippy. Dickcissel and a winter form Questionmark (butterfly) were about it for passage today. A few male Scissor-tails crossing yard daily, still singing and displaying including the quick flip. Seems to be a group of about 5-6 males feeding along airstrip in morning, then uphill behind us in day and then in the afternoon they move toward the golf course across river. I had a Red Bat at dawn fly up and hang under the porch a couple times, but it didn't stay there. Maybe two imm. Black-chinned Hummer here, lots of fiesty Rubies.

Sept. 19 ~ Low over 70dF, so not very. Hot as heck, surely over a hun in the sun, heat index higher. Heard the male Vermilion give flight song this morning, and last night at dusk. It has been back around this last week or so, but it is about to go. They always sing lots, right before they leave the territory. Scott's Oriole does it, Great Crested Flycatcher does it. Probably many or most songbirds do. Had a Yellow Warbler and a Dickcissel go through yard.

Sept. 18 ~ Might have hit 69dF for a low, with some gulf low clouds. Heard a Wilson's Warbler and a Dickcissel, Gnatcatcher and a Monarch butterfly, but not much for movement. The Yellow-throated Vireo is gone, haven't heard it in several days now, but White-eyed are still around. Red-shouldered Hawk whining over by river. Couple Caracara flew over. Hopefully this will be our last hot humid week. Heat index near a hundred. Saw one imm. Black-chinned Hummer today, but otherwise a few dozen Ruby-throated is it.

Sept. 17 ~ Thought sure I heard a Black-throated Gray Warbler chup but could not find it, though saw something that looked like it could have been one fly off. And a Gnatcatcher. Mid-morn we went to park and check it, but it had no migrants we could find. Checked the private Frostweed patch a half mile south of town and it had two Wilson's Warbler and I glimpsed a Mourning Warbler, no doubt yesterday's bird I heard. Again there were Monarchs as yesterday, and again, at least seven counted. Maybe 8. Not as many Painted Lady and Queen though. Went swimming in the afternoon, a Ringed Kingfisher was at the river.

I keep forgetting to mention how many trees are starting to turn yellow or brown. Especially where the river is only underground, which is in lots of places now, the Sycamores and Cypresses are both going brown. Where the river is still with surface water they remain green. I see Hackberries and Pecans turning yellow and the pecans in particular are starting to drop leaves. If we don't get some rain quickly the fall bloom (= butterflies) will be shot.

Sept. 16 ~ About 67dF for a low with some gulf clouds just arriving at sunup. Standard summer stuff, high in low 90's. An hour after sunup I was on front porch and heard that great "three beers" call of an Olive-sided Flycatcher twice. Then it gave a full song: Quick! Three beers! What a great sound. My FOS too. Heard the Verdin again across road in Mesquites. Then a bit later I heard a warbler flight note in the pecan over the bird bath. The bird chipped as it flew off, an Audubon's Warbler! Another FOS, there was movement last night.

About 11 I went to the park in town to see if any migrants there. Sure enough. Three Wilson's Warbler at once was great, a FOS Blue-headed Vireo was nice too, one C. Yellowthroat, a Yellow Warbler, a Chipping Sparrow up in the woods, at least two Baltimore Oriole, a few Blue Jay, and one Empidonax Flycatcher that was a Traill's type, either Willow or Alder, I lean the latter on it. More pix of ovipositing Orange-striped Threadtail damselfly.

Stopped at a private prop with a Frostweed patch a half mile south of town and it was jumping with butterflies. A fourth Wilson's Warbler and a Least Flycatcher, plus about 5 big Tom Turkey were there. Butterflies were maybe 25 Pipevine Swallowtail, 200 Painted Lady, 50 Queen, 1 Soldier, and an amazing 7 or 8 Monarch, which are early leading edge of the migrants. Also a Mournful Duskywing, and one Laviana White-Skipper were new for the month.. Thought I heard a Mourning Warbler a couple times but did not kick it up.

Then checked the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. There was another C. Yellowthroat there for the only bird, and two more male Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonflies. Which makes at least four around so probably a bunch more. A Western Kingbird on a wire there was nice to see since we don't have them nesting in the valley any more. The pic right below is one of the birds at that real cute-as-it-is-clever Martin house between the Waresville Cemetery and the pond on the golf course. Taken a couple months ago, they are of course gone for the year now.

Purple Martin

Male Purple Martin is a beauty, that calls "beer, beer". What's not to like?


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 15 ~ Low temps back to normal for the date, 67dF, got up to about 93dF in afternoon, so not as bad as yesterday. Ringed Kingfisher flying north over cypresses and river early in morning. On the way to town right out the gate a male Scissor-tail flew across the road coming from the corral, and flew up and did the flip as it was calling! Awesome. Nothing for migrant movement in yard, or at park later in morning. Only migrant at park was a nice bright yellow and dark olive fresh Great Crested Flyctcher. Two Green Kingfisher were interacting. One was wing-flashing at the other, much like a Mockingbird wing-flash, raising the wings up high as possible flashing white wing-linings at the other individual. A pair of Orange-striped Threadtail damselflies were ovipositing (ph.). Kathy had the Twelve-spotted Skimmer in the yard again today when she was spraying water around so it has been here a week now.

Sept. 14 ~ Finally the lows are warming back up, was about 67dF this morning. We had almost two weeks in the mid-50's, which I had not seen for the dates in the 14 years we have been here. At dawn heard some Summer Tanager and Carolina Wren song, and a brief 2 measure sputter of Vermilion Flycatcher flight song. Saw two FOS Nashville Warbler go through yard early. Thursday so stuck at the desk, phone, and computer... Too hot anyway, the afternoon hit 97dF on the cool shady front porch. The sunny south side of house was low 00's.

Sept. 13 ~ A low of 57dF is great. Town run early so a look at the park. On the spillway was a flock of egrets which was 5 Cattle Egret and 1 Snowy Egret. Both are scarce here. Three Yellow Warbler stopped on the spillway for a splash and were gone in a minute. Hiding in the lillies were one each of eclipse male Blue-winged, and a Green-winged Teal. Two Green Heron were seen, the park pair, still have not seen a young yet this year. One greenie and one brownie (imm. Painted and Indigo Buntings). The Shrike was along W. 360. About 30 Cave Swallow were perched on wires across the street from the post office, a few Barn mixed in. The gas station is still out of fuel! Incredible! Good thing I have a few gallons here in case I need to make a getaway. The yard bird of the day was a Verdin calling over in the big Mesquites across from the gate. Couple each Gnatcat and OROR.

Sept. 12 ~ Another 55dF low and still not complaining. Dry and somewhat northerly flow as well, but hot in afternoon. Best was my FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the fall. Seems it is my earliest ever fall date for one here (n~14). Also had a Mockingbird fly over high up, clearly a passage migrant. One brown Indigo Bunting was about a bit, as were a couple Gnatcatcher. The male Vermilion Flycatcher is back around a bit, off and on, but they do not appear to be re-nesting after losing the last one to the electric company tree cutters. A couple dozen or more Ruby-throated Hummer around, not seeing any Black-chinned now the last few days.

The bird of the day was a Two-tailed Swallowtail, our biggest black and yellow butterfly, of which there is always a small flight in September. It is as if there are spring ones, and fall ones, like Rain Lily. Kathy saw the Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly come in to sprayed water again this morning. Surely the same one as a few days ago.

Sept. 11 ~ Still hitting 55dF for a low temp, I can't believe it continues. Couple Gnatcatchers, couple Orchard Orioles, the standard morning passersby for the last two plus months. The ones going by now likely are not so much local birds as those that nest much further north. Otherwise no movement, so work it is. We need a front for birds, and rain for the flowers. It has been since earliest August since we had any preciptation. If we don't get any soon, the fall flower bloom will be shot. Which is what we need for a good fall butterfly season. So far it looks grim.

Sept. 10 ~ Holding in mid-50's dF for low temps, high about 85-90 or so. At 7 a.m. the Screech-Owl flew out of the yard quick before the sun comes up. A couple Gnatcats and a couple Orchard Orios. Otherwise very slow of movement this morning, as it has been in this flat high pressure. So worked on projects here instead of birding. Trying to wait for a frontal passage will occur that has birds on it, then I will sneak out for a few hours. Mid to late September can be prime-time here, but usually weather is what knocks migrants down. Without it it can be work finding them. Water is the great attractant.

Sept. 9 ~ Another 55dF low is amazing, keep 'em coming! In the a.m. passing through were a Yellow Warbler, a Gnatcatcher, a couple Orchard Oriole, heard a Baltimore, and again heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. After one of Kathy's spraying water around events, a Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly came into yard, perching on clothesline. New for the yard proper, my first one this year, and I got some shots of it perched on a Mexican Hat stem.

Had to run to town for some bricks and got another park check out of it. Best was my FOS Mourning Warbler, an immature female. Almost got a pic, nice shot of a log it was just on. Green Kingfisher and Heron were there, the couple young Blue Jay, a Yellow Warbler. Below the spillway there was another Twelve-spotted Skimmer, so two today, whence my first sightings of them all year. A male Roseate Skimmer posed for pix.

Underwing

One of the Catacola Underwing moths we have locally, probably C. obscura, or something similar. They are nearly invisible on tree bark. Some types have striking red, pink, or orange and black banded hindwings you see when they explode off a tree trunk, and names like Darling, Sweetheart, and Girlfriend. This is our most numerous one though, with dull boring brown hindwings you can just see the corners of.


~ ~ ~ Last prior update below ~ ~ ~


Sept. 8 ~ Another double-nickel low of 55dF. Awesome. Two weeks now of break from the summer heat. Lows way below normal average, highs just a wee bit below, but northerlies and dry air for much of the last two weeks has been amazing. We needed the break, now we need rain. River is low, flow is low, after the last big event it has been bone dry for a month and the plants grew well but need a rain for a good fall bloom. None in sight. At the end of the day there was an imm. fem. Selasphorus (Rufous or Allen's) Hummer at our feeders.

A town run and quick look at the park. On the way my FOS Common Yellowthroat was at the 360 crossing. At the park, a great find was a MacGillivray's Warbler, only my second or third fall record here in 14 falls. So rarer than a Townsend's Warbler here in fall. Though we get one or two 'Macs' most springs, we do not get them in fall. A House Wren was my FOS as well. A couple juvenile Blue Jay. The rest was the expected, though a Yellow-throated Vireo was likely a migrant, haven't been any there lately.

Sept. 7 ~ An amazing low of 55dF was outstanding. Too busy Thursdays though. Had a Scott's Oriole go through yard with some Orchard and Baltimore, a nice troop. Gnatcatchers and Yellow Warbler, heard Dickcissel. Best was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, first in the yard in several weeks since the nesting pair left in July. A passage migrant no doubt.

Sept. 6 ~ The front got here after midnight some time, no rain, dry, but light northerlies, and drier. Amazing treat for the date. It will get hot again yet, so this break of almost two weeks from the summer scorch and drip has been absolutely wonderful. At sunup there were a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in the big pecan, shortly after 2 or 3 Yellow Warbler went through. There is movement, wish I could go birding. Noonish Kathy spotted a warbler at the bath, a FOS Wilson's, and a Yellow came down while it was there, followed by a female Baltimore Oriole. That was a great minute. I thought I heard Nashville Warbler flight notes outside but did not see it. There is movement. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk and a couple Caracara go over.

Sept. 5 ~ About 67dF for a low, creeping back up, but a front is supposed to hit overnight and drop them back down to nice for a few days at least. Today is the hot in front of the front. Some local stations were upper 90's for a high. A couple Orchard Oriole early. Best was hearing a Great Crested Flycatcher calling, which I haven't heard in a few weeks since the local pair departed the territory. Heard a Baltimore Oriole chatter, an hour later whilst on phone it flew right by the office window and landed in a hackberry, a beautiful male. Whatabird. Saw five male Scissor-tails fly by late afternoon going north above trees, from airstrip toward golf course. They were calling and even singing, one got so excited about it, it climbed up a bit as in breeding display and did the flip! Incredible. Couple Dickcissel went by (farted as they flew over) early. Screech-Owls at the bath right after dark, as often on hottest days.

Sept. 4 ~ Happy Labor Day, the closing holiday of summer. I get to labor today. Still 65dF for a low temp is awesome. An Orchard Oriole or two went through, as did Dickcissel. Summer Tanager singing like it is still nesting. Heard the Yellow-throated Vireo call a bit, and heard a few Scissor-tails. Two Canyon Towhee around yard, but in and out. Best was my FOS Least Flycatcher, finally, I thought I heard a couple in August but never saw one. Not seeing any greenies (imm. Painted Bunting) in the yard for a couple days now. Methinks they are all gone. You will still find a stray or few the next couple weeks, but the local birds are gone.

Sept. 3 ~ Still mid-60's dF for a low is outstanding. Only barely hitting 90dF for a high, the seasons seem to be changing. Busy working on a project so not getting out, prefer to avoid the generally busier holiday crowds anyway. Town is out of gas, so is Sabinal I hear. A bunch of (local) folks panic-bought out the gas last week when Harvey (which never was forecast to come our way), all the way out here! For a holiday weekend, there is no gas here! Welcome to Utopia! Maybe Tuesday I hear... good thing I am busy and hadn't planned a fuel-driven getaway. Always gas (and beer-liquor) up before you leave the last stations on the way here.

Saw another Monarch go by southbound. Couple Orchard Oriole and a Gnatcatcher went through, heard a Baltimore Oriole, thought I heard a Least Flycatcher but didn't see it. One imm. or fem. Indigo Bunting was about for a bit. In the afternoon we went for a swim. Saw something too late after it flew overhead, going away it looked like the south end of a northbound Harris's Hawk.

Sept. 2 ~ About 65dF for a low, so the below normal lows are holding, for a week now, nary a single complaint. The bird of the day was a baby Indigo Snake about 15" long. The orange bands on undersides of the young are very bright, and extend quite a ways up the sides of a mostly blackish animal making for quite a striking appearing snake. Had a Yellow Warbler, Orchard Orioles, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Dickcissel and a Red-eyed Vireo for migrants through yard in the morning. Summer Tanager singing, Yellow-throated Vireo here but not singing, White-eyed Vireo still here occasionally singing, nesting seems over for them. Three or four Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were around in the afternoon, including singing. Heard the Ringed Kingfisher over at the river. Saw another Monarch blast past heading SSW fast.

Spotted Skunk

One of our neat local friends, a Spotted Skunk.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

September 1 ~ Holy cow we made it. August is over. Another amazing low, 61 dF, is very fall-like. The week of destruction from Harvey to our east brought the nicest weather we have seen here since spring. Cooler, northerlies, drier, a much needed break. But we needed rain and did not get any, the water is barely trickling over the spillway at the park now. For some reason our big male Mulberry tree is turning yellow already, very early for that.

Town run so a look at the park. Three Green Kingfisher were at the 360 crossing as I left the house, one ad. fem. and two immatures. At the park there was Great Blue and Green Heron only for waterbirds. Migrants were a Red-eyed Vireo, a Gnatcatcher, an Indigo Bunting, and outstanding was tying my earliest ever fall Clay-colored Sparrow, which was a juvenile (photos while bathing). Saw one male Purple Martin south of town, the locals have been gone weeks. At dusk an Eastern Screech-Owl flew over the yard.

Aug. 31 ~ The 60.5dF was just one dF higher than yesterday morning, and incredible in late August here. High got to 90+ in afternoon. A couple Yellow-throated Warbler were chasing around the bird bath in the morning, at least 3 each Gnatcats and Orchard Oriole, and again Monarch, Queen and Soldier. The Monarch was beating tracks southward, or SSW more properly. Best was two FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK that flew over calling to get my attention in the morning. I have one prior record here (of 4 flying over Seco Ridge), and there is one Uvalde record (Mary Gustafson), but so it is accidental locally. Saw the Zone-tailed Hawk go by.

~ ~ ~ August summary ~ ~ ~

After 4.5" of rain in July, we got 3" Aug. 7, and that was it for August, all in three hours. It is dry as a bone, the river has fallen alot, and is barely trickling over the spillway at the park. The fall flowers grew well, but now are stunting from four weeks without a drop of precipitation. The fall bloom is yet to show for the most part. As one might guess then, butterflies were fairly unimpressive for August. It was 48 or 49 species for the month, and the statistically most likely ones at that. A few Monarchs late in the month were of interest, and likely what they call "pre-migrants", which is silly, they are just migrants, early migrants. The leading edge of the bell curve of Monarch passage. Seven White-striped Longtail Aug. 6 was my local high count ever.

It was about 34 species of dragonflies and damselflies in Aug. Two were rare here odes this month, two male Slough Amberwings at Utopia Park (photos). It is my second record here, there are only a very few county records. So good bug. A Hyacinth Glider at the 360 crossing was my first locally in maybe 8-9 years, since pre-drought. Those are both vagrant strays here. Some good migration flight days were had with many dozens to hundreds of Spot-winged and Wandering Gliders, plus Red, and Black, Saddlebags with smaller numbers of Green Darner. Still some Red-tailed Pennants around, the first couple Autumnal Meadowhawk at Lost Maples, Comanche Skimmer and Thornbush Dasher, a few Orange-striped Threadtail at the park.,

I come up with about 97 species seen in the upper Sabinal River drainage this month. Little Creek Larry reported 3 more, so an even 100 were around that we know about. Three great birds locally were seen and or reported, were likely Hurricane Harvey displaced birds. Two White Pelican at the park (Little Creek Larry) Aug. 25, a Least Bittern over the yard Aug. 29, and 2 Fulvous Whistling-Duck on Aug. 31, are all common down on the coast and accidental here. The rest was mostly the migrants getting going. The lack of rain after early in the month seemed to cancel another breeding attempt for many species. Besides daily Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Orchard Orioles moving south, others start showing like Upland Sandpiper, Dickcissel, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Rufous Hummingbird, Eastern Kingbird, all longer distance migrants, true passage migrants that breed way further north and winter way further south.

~ ~ ~ end August summary, back to your regularly scheduled drivel ~ ~ ~

Aug. 30 ~ An unbelieveable low of 59.5dF! Holy cow, coolest temp in a few months! And dry due to northerly flow last 5 days. Amazing. But hard to revel much with what happened to the east of us. Harvey has flooded southeast Texas with record rainfall, 30-50 INCHES in many areas. Our thoughts are with the affected. Here counted 40 White-winged Dove together on the ground here this morning. There was a Yellow Warbler around yard much of the day, a couple Gnatcats, and at dusk a couple Upland Sandpiper headed out. Saw another MONARCH late for a fire southward, a couple Queen, and a Soldier, for the Danaus trifecta, all three U.S. milkweed butterflies. Sounded like 15-20 Coyotes went off calling like crazy as when a kill is made, just a hundred yards from the house. Probably piglet or rabbit.

Aug. 29 ~ Wow a 68dF low, still with northerlies and drier air, feels great, almost like fall. Had an Upland Sandpiper in the morning, more Gnatcats and Orchard Orioles. Saw the Zone-tail here at the house. Had a quick town run. Park had a couple Green Kingfisher and Green Heron, couple Blue Jay, a Barred Owl. The water is way low, barely going over spillway in a couple places. Saw my FOS Eastern Kingbird on the fenceline along 187 just south of town. Incredible was at dusk a LEAST BITTERN flew right over the gate and driveway not 30' from me, just above treetops moving up the river habitat corridor. My first in UvCo, and only the second record I know of in the county. Still a greenie (juv. Painted Bunting) or two around. Thought sure I saw an adult male Black-chinned Hummer.

In town I ran into Little Creek Larry and he said there were TWO WHITE PELICAN at the park last Friday (the 25th) which is the day the outermost first band of Harvey reached us. I presume they were coastal origin refugees. I check the park every Friday, but missed due to illness this past week. Virtually all the records here are of migrant flocks passing over soaring high in spring. Some on the ground is outstanding. New bird for the park list too! He also said he had an adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at the park this morning, and the imm. is still around, but you have to be early in the park before people in the morning. He also mentioned some FOS Blue-winged Teal over at Little Creek.

Aug. 28 ~ Low hit 69dF, winds out of north still, dryer air, feels great. But they are still being flooded by Harvey down on the coast. A few Orchard Oriole, Gnatcatcher, a Dickcissel, just the usual low-end regulars. One worn summer form Questionmark butterfly. The White-winged Doves are flocking up and flying high, you would think they have a calendar, season starts Sept. 1. I do not hear the Yellow-throated Vireo singing anymore, which means it probably lost its nest in these strong gusts. They nest way out toward tips of branches where they really whip around alot.

Aug. 27 ~ Still low end tropical storm conditions, the winds are under that force but fairly steady varying from 15-25 mph, gusts to 30-35. Not good for birding and such. There seems to have been a lot of Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrivals, there are at least a couple if not a few dozen. Still a few immature Black-chinned around. Kathy saw the Zone-tail dive through the yard. Harvey pouring east of SAT and AUS areas and toward coast. A couple drops here. Been seeing deer up on their hindlegs eating Persimmons out of those trees.

Aug. 26 ~ Still too under the weather to do anything, did notice a new different male Indigo Bunting, and one greenie juv. Painted still here. Some sustained winds from Harvey (which made landfall in Rockport overnight as a Hurricane) here were variably 15-25mph with occasional gusts to 30-35 mph. Too windy to bird, ode, or butterfly. A few bands spit on us as they went by, but no real precipitation here. Hope everyone is OK down coastal bend way. Kathy and I lived in Portland for a year (many moons ago) so it was once our playground.

flowers

I have not ID'd this yet, being botanically challenged.
Was at Lost Maples in late May, and a beauty it is.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 25 ~ Not much for news today, most of it was spent too far under the weather to pay attention. Couldn't even make my normal town run. The outer most bands of rain from Hurricane Harvey occasionally pass, with a spit or two of precip and interesting E, NE, and even N winds. As it moves onshore a bit we should get an inch or two of rain maybe over next two days. Some Orchard Oriole, a Gnatcatcher, the 2 Canyon Towhee, one greenie (juv. Painted Bunting), but I did not lookabout much.

Aug. 24 ~ The front is stalled and sagged just north of us, a wee bit of movement in front of it this morning. Another handful of Orchard Oriole had a couple imm. or fem. Baltimore Oriole with them, my first so far this fall. Also had a Yellow Warbler, 1-2 Dickcissel, and a couple Upland Sandpiper calling as they drop out of the sky as it warms. Heard the Ringed Kingfisher over at the river, a Summer Tanager singing might be re-nesting yet, the Yellow-throated Vireo is still singing as well. The two Canyon Towhee seem to be taking to the place, and again a Field Sparrow was among the Larks and Chippies. Gray Fox took a long drink from the bird bath in the morning, must have been a pint. Last light a tight group of five Blue-gray Gnatcatcher worked around the yard.

Aug. 23 ~ An amazing low of 68dF was 4 lower than the Kerrvile forecast. It was rain-cooled outflow air from rain to the north. There is a sagging front across central Texas, which I wish would make it down here. But it is pushing stuff I am sure. By later August there are fall migrants ahead of, on, and-or behind, every front, such as yesterday's Monarch. This morning and later in the afternoon there was a Great Crested Flycatcher over in the draw, probably the same bird all day. Have not had one around in weeks. Handful of Orchard Orios, a greenie or two, heard a Chat. An outflow from nearby showers that just spit on us cooled us down into 70's dF at peak heat which was a great welcome relief. At last light out on driveway besides ORORs, a half-dozen Upland Sandpiper called as they gained altitude taking off for a night of flight with a little northerly flow for help. A Chuck flew by whilst I was listening to the Ups. And it was wonderful. Those Ups had to be down in local pastures for the day all day.

Aug. 22 ~ About 72dF for a low was nice while it lasted. Still a few Orchard Oriole and 2 Gnatcatcher through yard in morning, new was one Dickcissel around for a bit. Yellow-throated Warbler was out there, presumedly one of the local birds. In hummers, more Ruby-throated arriving and more Black-chinned departing, RT might outnumber BC already. Did not see an ad. ma. Black-chin today. Were at least 8 Orchard Oriole in a group working around the yard at last sun. I would hate to be a worm in a Mesquite, Pecan, or Hackberry when they come through. The beast of the day was a Monarch butterfly bolting south like it was late for a fire. This is surely a migrant, albeit a very early one, but as typical right ahead of a front. I have seen prior late Aug. Monarchs on fronts here before.

Aug. 21 ~ About 71dF at Lost Maples at 7 a.m. was nice. Met Neil and Suzanne Amsler for a walk, and we had a great one. We went up the Can Creek (ponds) trail all the way to the spring at highest permanent water, and then back at pond went up the trail to the 'top of the plateau' and the short forest. I think we did about five miles. The neatest thing was some great views of the eclipse. After it got darkest, as it began to get lighter again, in the dead quiet heat of the day, birds began singing again. Canyon Wrens, Black-crested Titmouse, White-eyed Vireo, Cardinal, all broke into song as the sun began coming out again. It was a very interesting experience.

Most of the migratory breeding birds are gone, a few remain, but few. Of course no Golden-cheeked Warbler, also no Black-and-white Warbler, did hear a couple Louisiana Waterthrush, saw a Yellow-breasted Chat, likely a post-breeding wanderer, but possibly a transient migrant. Still lots of White-eyed Vireo, a few Red-eyed, and one Yellow-throated Vireo. One Black-capped Vireo was right over the trail in a Maple at the compost restroom at the pond. We heard another below us from up on the cliff top above the ponds. Thought I heard a Pewee, no Acadian Flycatcher, no Indigo or Painted Bunting, no Blue Grosbeak, but still some Gnatcatchers.

Past the second pond and up the canyon a half mile where you can see a saddle, we had a begging juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk hanging on the updrafts and crying for food for an extended period. Then later when we were up on the blufftops above the pond an adult shot right over us, calling as it did. Too cool. Saw Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the feeding station, and a couple Black Rock Squirrels, but no White-tipped Dove. Three Olive Sparrow, one was a ratty immature. A few Cave Swallow were up high. I heard Bushtits but never saw them.

We saw a few other things of interest. Two large Common Snapping Turtle in the upper pond is the first time I have seen them there. There is a pond across the divide over at Big Springs Ranch at the Frio headwaters that has a Snapper in it. These were 12-15" or so. Probably ancient animals. We also saw a Scorpion out in heat of day, with a load of babies on its back. Heard a few lizards get away, saw a 6-line Racerunner and a Greater Earless Lizard, a smallish snake got away that looked most like a young Baird's Rat Snake to me.

In butterflies great views of a Red-spotted Purple were had, and a puddling Spicebush Swallowtail showed well, but flowers were few and butterflies are down now. Waiting for the fall bloom. Didn't take time to more than glance at a few odes, an Autumnal (formerly Yellow-legged) Meadowhawk was interesting. The roar of breeding season is done and over, though a few things are still going. Regardless, always a bunch of neat stuff to see at Lost Maples. No Scissor-tails all the way up and down valley from house to LM and back. Local breeders are gone.

Aug. 20 ~ Orchard Orioles in the a.m., only one greenie Painted Bunnie. While swimming a long-legged wader squawked rather crow like as it flew by but I didn't get a good look at it. It looked, and sounded, like it was likely a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. At dusk a group of 4-5 Orchard Oriole were around, and I briefly saw a Chuck-wills-widow. They'll be gone soon. The bird of the day was my FOS Traill's Flycatcher. That is a Willow or Alder Flycatcher (before split called Traill's), which worked off the fenceline for quite a bit. Probably an Alder but could have been a bright eastern Willow I suppose, so yeah, I chickened out on the silent devil.

Aug. 19 ~ Three greenies (juv. Painted Bunnies) but no ad.ma. Indigo, some Orchard Orios, Gnatcats, a Yellow-throated Warbler, three Summer Tanager, no Vermilion Flycatcher, and a big bee swarm went over in the morning. Did a swim to cool off at peak heat. The bird of the day was heard only, right at last light, a Turkey Vulture was circling low looking for a tree to land in. It approached the nearest big cypress over a hundred yards away, and scared a Green Heron out of it which gave the standard series of alarm notes so I could detect the data point. Never would have known one was there if it weren't for that big 'ol lunk of a TV. Apparently the alarm also turned the TV away, as it went elsewhere too. I do not get one every year from the yard, so, good bird.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 18 ~ About 73dF for a low, maybe 98 for a high. Add sticky. Still OROR and Gnatcat through yard southbound in a.m., heard an Upland Sandpiper or two early as well. A Ringed Kingfisher was going off over at the river. Still no Vermilion Flycatcher back in yard. Town run found nothing at the park but a heard Black-and-white Warbler. Later afternoon here I saw the male Indigo Bunting, it is really dull from being in the middle of molt. One greenie juvie Painted Bunting was around. Mostly swamped with work to do.

Aug. 17 ~ Low of 76dF, which is complaint-worthy but I just saw a post on the intertubes from Austin, their low was 81, and more humid than here. No Vermilion Flycatcher in and around yard was the big change today. Hope they come back and try to nest again this year, but getting late to do so. More Orchard Orio and Gnatcats southbound, one greenie juv. Painted but no male Indigo Bunting, the Blue Grosbeak seem to have left as well. Best was at the sprinkler Kathy set up at peak heat, a juv. Bell's Vireo joined a juv. White-eyed to cool off. At dusk at least a half-dozen Upland Sandpiper went over southbound.

Aug. 16 ~ Still mid-70' for a low, and sticky. At least the (Gulf) clouds that bring it keep the solar heating down for a few hours of the morning. So you can get some things done before you sweat tying your shoe, which I think is why they wear boots here. Saw the male Indigo, and two greenie Painted Bunting. Best was a female or immature Yellow Warbler that spent hours in the pecans around the yard today. A quick town run late afternoon saw a Zone-tailed Hawk over the north end, and a Rufous Hummingbird at the Turk's Cap under the Utopia Park sign. Heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee there, a bit off on song, not sure if it was one of the pair that was nesting and then MIA after the big rain and wind, or maybe a young, or a transient?

Y'all know I hate to editorialze here, but sometimes ya gotta just let it out... so with apologies... We lost the Vermilion Flycatcher nest in the corral today. They were on their third brood for the year (new nest each time). It was due to the (in my opinion overzealous) cutting by the contractors clearing all the powerlines for the electric company. Which had just been done a couple years ago. They took countless shrubs (in other areas) and in this event branches 5' off the ground that were no threat for the next couple decades, or ever. One was a branch with a Vermilion Flycatcher nest. I realize the work has to be done, but how can make a big difference in results.

Consider I saw a hundred yards of cutting and at least one bird nest was lost. How many nests are lost in a thousand miles of this locally? How about nationwide? This work could be done outside of the nesting season. It does not HAVE to be done during the March-August breeding season. Technically of course it is a violation of Federal law, the Lacey Act, aka the Migratory Bird Treaty. Incidental take of migratory birds is prohibited. In some places there are people that care about this at a level that this is not allowed to happen. Major tree trimming work like this should not be done during the breeding season. There have been studies that show that in places of solid forest powerline cuts can increase bird species diversity, and holding capacity of forests, by creating what is called an edge effect. Powerline cuts can be good for birds. But not so much when you shred them during the nesting season.

Aug. 15 ~ About 75dF for a low, muggy, you know the drill. A couple Orchard Orios and Gnatcats southbound, 3 greenie (jv.) Painted Bunting at once, otherwise the usual suspects. The bird of the day, well I do not know what it was. It was at dusk, I was out on the driveway for it as usual, and a big dark nightjar flies right over the driveway at the gate, circling tight and seeming to grab a moth. There was still a lot of light and I got what I thought was a very good look. It was big and long winged, and lacking any rufous, or rusty tones, and even lacking an overall warm brown tone whatsoever. It seemed more gray and black, at least of upperparts which is what I saw best. As it did its tight 180 deg. turn going after prey object the tail was fairly fanned, and besides seeming long, I saw no white or buff corners on it. Tail appeared uniform above, even fanned.

It fluttered towards the big mesquites across from gate in a manner that seemed like it was looking to land. I figured there was enough light still in the sky I might be able to see it. I walked to the gate and saw it through an opening between two Mesquites, it was perched on the powerline (!). Vertically!!! Upright. Upright and vertical as an owl or flycatcher. But it was a big round-headed Caprimulgid. I guess from Nighthawks I think of a horizontal posture for Nightjars on a wire. Further all the Chucks I have seen on logs or branches were perched horizontally like Whips and Poor-wills. The tail hung way down, it was long, the round head on top of a fairly long slender body. It just looked dark in the low light at this distance (maybe 50'). It seemed to me way more black and gray than I am used to on Chucks here. It was big, bigger than a Chuck, wingspan seemed much bigger than a Chuck, it had long wings, almost reminiscent of a Pterodroma petrel. No way was this a Poor-will or Whip. No white or buff that I saw in wings or tail at only 25'. Chuck is the default goatsucker here, but it did not look like or perch like one. Do Chucks perch vertically on a wire?

Aug. 14 ~ Adult male Indigo Bunting still on patio at millet, as are two greenie juv. Painted. Canyon Towhee still here, Orchard Orio and Gnatcat went through. Best was about 6 p.m. an adult male Painted Bunting was at the bird bath. Never saw it again, wasn't out there the following morning. Was it a transient? Or one last stop by for a local bird? Hummers are way down, must be a lull, when lots of the locals have left. A couple ad. ma. Ruby-throated are nice to have though. Still a couple ad.ma. Black-chinned, but not many.

Aug. 13 ~ Clear in the a.m., but I slept though the last chance for a Perseid show, at least it was 72dF, a wee bit cooler today. Orchard Orio and Gnatcats through yard in a.m., what a surprise. More in the late p.m. There have been multiples pass through the yard southbound most mornings, and evenings, as well as strays in the day, for 4-5 weeks for the orioles, and 6+ weeks for the gnatcatchers. It is LOTS of them. Still nothing else though. A couple Ruby-throated Hummers around, Black-chin numbers are way down, still some adult males, but only a few. Canyon Towhee still here, and male Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting nearly side by side was all the blue I could take at once.

We have boatloads of work to do so trying to do that out of the heat as much as possible. Did the afternoon peak heat swim thing but saw no Kingfishers today. There was a Hutton's Vireo in the tops of the big tall Cypresses though, loosely associated with some Chickadees and Titmice. No Yellow-throated Warbler singing. Chat has gone quiet too. Breeding season is shutting down. Even the White-eyed Vireo is less enthusiastic than usual. Vermilion Flycatcher still doing flight display so still nesting, on at least third clutch now. Seeing a few fireflies at dusk, the fall flight is just starting, maybe a half-dozen or so tonight. A good show now of fall Rain Lily after the rains.

Aug. 12 ~ I was up late till after midnight last night and did see a few Perseid meteors, but the best one I saw was not a Perseid. We have too much moon this year. Then I went out at 5:30 a.m. to see and the low clouds had come in and mucked viewing up. Tried anyway. Low about 75 and then 95dF in the shade, a hun+ in the sun. It was so hot we had to go jump in the river at peak heat, a dirty thankless job... Late I watched the skies for an hour to midnight again, and only saw one Perseid, a couple others that weren't, and the moonrise was washing it out so I quit.

More Orchard Oriole and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher going by southward. Mostly worked on things here, inside. Maybe 3 greenies (juv. Painted Bunting), the male Indigo still here, as is the Canyon Towhee. Over at the river in later afternoon, working on the floaty board list... the Ringed Kingfisher went off with alarm at 500'. There was no way he could see my swim trunks at that point. We didn't go any closer so as to not disturb. But then on the way back upriver Kathy found a Green Kingfisher in a cypress, which then led me to a second, Kathy was less than 15' away at first. They stayed, one flicking wings, begging, it was a pair of juveniles waiting for parents return with food. They nested close by. I was on my back on my floaty board watching both species at once!

Black Rock Squirrel

One of the Black Rock Squirrel at Lost Maples.
They are a ground squirrel, though rarely you
may see one up in a tree. If the food is there.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 11 ~ About 72-3dF for a low, with humid gulf flow and low clouds. Which means hot and sticky in the afternoon. Heard RingKing over at the river early. More Orchard Orio and Gnatcats moving south. After only two the last couple days, there were five juvenile Painted Bunting at once on the patio, which indicates movement. Add a new juv. Indigo Bunting as well. Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo are both still singing daily on territory. The Great Crested Flycatcher left way early this year, after their last round in July. Not enough flying bugs and worms, they did not go another attempt as often.

Town run for stuff. Park had another migrant Louisiana Waterthrush hidden up on island. I could not find the Slough Amberwing dragonflies of last week. Good thing I got photos. Little Creek Larry said he is still seeing the juv. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron there off and on. I have been missing it. I did not hear the Eastern Wood-Pewee that have been nesting. Hope they didn't get wiped out in these last couple rain events (which had 40-50 mph outflow boundry winds). Never saw young, so probably not successful.

No Scissor-tails to town and back. Larry said none to Sabinal and back, as was our experience last run. The local birds depart after breeding prior to new birds from elsewhere showing up later in summer/early fall. Maybe in buggy years they stick and nest again? But this has been the pattern the last few years. No Martins around town, lots of Barn Swallow though. I lucked into Judy Schaffer and Diane Causey, both told me they have had Rufous Hummingbirds in the last week (seperate individuals). Those are the first reports of them I have heard of locally this fall (for hummers) so far. Thanks for the news ladies! Judy said she has had a fair number of Hooded Oriole as well.

Aug. 10 ~ Only 70dF this a.m., nice, but the cool break is over. Forecast shows increasing temps and 10 days of sub-tropical high locked over us, so hot and no rain. August. The male Indigo Bunting is still fattening up on white millet, but the adult male Painted are gone. Only a couple greenies (juvs.) left. Heard Orchard Orio and Gnatcats go through yard in the morning. Roseate Skimmer dragonfly was perched on truck antenna. Thursdays so stuck at desk, phone, and computer.

Aug. 9 ~ The 69dF low was great, and so were the Upland Sandpipers calling as they drop down out of the sky as the sun comes up. I heard about eight of them so it was a flight night, second day behind the system. Ring King calling over at the river. I also heard one Dickcissel go over, my first of fall. Had a quick early town run, at the park only breeders: the Eastern Wood-Pewee and Green Heron. The bank colony Cave Swallows were on the powerlines behind post office. Cruised the golf course perimeter to see if any Uplands went down on it or adjacent pastures, no love there. Only got to about 90dF in the shade today due to all the ground moisture from the rain. Great was when I was tossing seed out back in the afternoon I saw a, the, 5 foot INDIGO Snake from about 6' away! Oh man what a beauty. It seems more orange below now than it was last year. Came back in for camera and couldn't find it when I got back out there.

Aug. 8 ~ A dryer NE flow and 68dF is amazing at sunup, it won't last long. A few Orchard Oriole, a couple Gnatcats, only one greenie (juvie) Painted Bunting that I saw. They left early this year. We'll still get them for a few weeks, but likely transients, not the local birds. At last sun two male Orchard Oriole were in the gatepost Persimmon. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, so likely still nesting very nearby. Canyon Towhee still here. Not sure it hit 90dF today, a nice break due to the rain yesterday.

Aug. 7 ~ From 6-9 a.m. we got 3+" of rain! Roughly an average August monthly total. As NOAA wrote in their morning forecast, the models did not handle or predict this event well. Some northern parts of the hill country got 5-7"! Dropped us to 68dF! Until you get to low visibility fog, I don&aos;t care how humid it is if it is 68dF, at least when it has mostly been 100dF for a couple months. This should insure a good fall flower bloom, right when we needed it.

No adult male Painted Bunting today, again, and only 2 or 3 greenies, all juveniles. They are blasting out of here. There will still be a stray ad. or two the next week or two, and some greenies will be seen to earliest September, though they may well not be local origin birds. Couple Orchard Orio, couple Gnatcats, Canyon Towhee still here, the 1st summer blue-faced Blue Grosbeak still here too. Not much left singing though. White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Cardinal, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Titmouse, 3 sps. of doves still going a bit. The rest was the regulars.

Aug. 6 ~ Another 75dF low, and you guessed it, about 80-90% humidity. Do not see any male Painted Bunting around this morning, the male Indigo is still here visiting patio for white millet. Lots of greenies here, immature and female Painted Bunting, over a dozen. Few more Orchard Orio and a couple more Gnatcats in morning. The White-striped Longtail (WSLT) is back on the Lantana by porch this morn.

We went to a couple of the flower gardens in town noonish. Amazing was 3 WSLT at the yellow Lantana at the golf course entrance garden, another by the Waresville pond, and two at the Sabinal Canyon Museum (SCM) yellow Lantana. So I saw 3 at once, and two at once, and 7 total, in a bit over an hour. Most ever here for me in 14 years. There were about 15 Painted Lady at the SCM, which shows they are on the move now. Saw Whirlabout, Sachem, Fiery and Eufala Skippers, a few dozen Pipevine Swallowtail. The Library garden was dead now but looks good from the rains, there should be a good fall bloom there. The Purple Martins were not around the house at the Waresville pond. The odes at the pond there were dead too, nothing like the last few weeks. We are in a lull and need another wave. One male Slough Amberwing was still up in the slough by the island at the park. That is a pretty good bug up here.

Aug. 5 ~ Low of 76dF and sticky. Have a great day when that hits 95, and it did. More Orchard Orios and Gnatcats through yard in a.m., amazing to see it daily for a month plus. Around last sun a flock of at least 8 Orchard Orioles were circling yard working all the pecans and hackberries. They all at once dove into the gatepost Persimmon explaining lots of the hits in that fruit, one was a nice male. One was a female or immature 'Northern' Oriole of some sort, either Baltimore or Bullock's. I did not get a good enough look to tell which. Kathy had one male Painted Bunting in the morning but I did not see one all day, and watched. There were still 3 males a few days ago. There are male, female, first-summer male, and now juvenile, Blue Grosbeaks out there. Heard a fly over Martin in the morning.

About 1 p.m. I saw a White-striped Longtail (lep) on the porch Lantana, it came in and out until at least 6 p.m. Had a Bordered Patch fly by, Lg. Orange Sulphur, Mestra, Celia's Roadside-Skipper, Queens, Pipevines, Gulf Frits, Sleepy Orange and Lysides, a Northern Cloudywing also came in to the Lantana on and off over a few hours.

Banded Pennant

A teneral (just emerged) Banded Pennant dragonfly.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 4 ~ There was .25 of rain overnight, that was nice, if you like mighty drippy. Some places in town got twice that and more, others nuthin'. More OROR and Gnatcats through yard southbound. My first of fall (sometimes I use FOF here for that) Ruby-throated Hummingbird was an imm. male this morning. At dark the Screech-Owl again was seen departing the pecan over the birdbath toward draw where it mostly resides. These hot days it can't seem to wait to get water.

I did not see any of the local Scissor-tailed Flyctcher going to town and back, nor did I see any Martins over town, they may have departed. At UP there was Green Kingfisher, Blue Jay, Eastern Wood-Pewee is still singing (nesting) and the usual gang, the Black-and-white Warbler is likely a passage migrant. But a sure new fall migrant warbler was nice, a fresh bright ad. Louisiana Waterthrush working rain pools on the main road in!

Best birds were odes. Two male SLOUGH Amberwing dragonflies were spectacular, I have only seen a very few here, maybe 3 or 4 in 14 years. They were up in the, uh, slough, between the island and mainland. There were also 3+ Orange-striped Threadtail there, including a pair ovipositing. A Desert Firetail there is something scarce at the park habitats. In town a pair of male Roseate Skimmer were patrolling and interacting over a rainpool from last night's rain.

Butterflies were good at the Sabinal Canyon Museum's yellow Lantana. There were at least 20 Pipevine and 1 Giant Swallowtail, 3+ Painted Lady, a White-striped Longtail, a Mournful Duskywing, a Northern Cloudywing, couple Gulf Frits, some Fiery Skipper and Sachem, Whirlabout, if you can stand the heat coming off the blacktop in the sun. At the park there was a Clouded Skipper (missed in July) and Celia's Roadside-Skipper. Yard had Dusky-blue Groundstreak, another Celia's, and another Northern Cloudywing. Butterflies should pick up quickly. Low numbers of Queen, occasional (daily) Cloudless and Large Orange Sulphur going by, Little Yellow seems to have picked up, the annual southerly wave is on the way.

Aug. 3 ~ Too busy Thursdays. More OROR and Gnatcats. Canyon Towhee still about. Late afternoon I was looking out back door and saw everything flush, and a second a later a Zone-tailed was stooping across patio getting down to 2' off the ground, less than 20' away, but it missed and pulled up out of the opening and away. Great close look on the patio. It only takes one near-bird moment to make a day. Heard Ringed Kingfisher over at the river. Late about 11 p.m. an Ox Beetle was banging into the front screen door. They can really clunk.

Aug. 2 ~ Mostly more of the same, several Orchard Oriole and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through southbound. The Canyon Towhee is around, occasionally doing a bit of songish calling. The blue-faced Grosbeak is still here. This is a one year old male Blue Grosbeak that is still brown on upperparts and underparts, but with fully blue face. I have seen these in June and July before, this one is late to still be with so little blue. Another near miss with some rain, but the outflow broke peak heat just in time. The bird of the day was heard only, the zzzeet flight note of a FOS Yellow Warbler from somewhere in the pecans. Heard a Nighthawk boom, Eastern Screech-Owl calling after dark.

August 1 ~ AUGUST!?!?!? Holy cow, that is like almost fall. For many birds it is! Like the FOS Upland Sandpiper I heard calling as it flew over southbound just before sunup, it'll probably go down in one of the pastures down-valley for the day. My first long distance migrant of fall. Then a Great Egret flew over, which is quite scarce here, maybe a couple per year, but not a sure thing. Hear a Hutton's Vireo upslope in the live-oaks out back. Saw the Chat in the Mulberry. Heard the Canyon Towhee upslope too. A few Orchard Orio and Gnatcats went through. An outflow in the late afternoon took 5+dF off the peak heat. Which was only about 91dF or so due to all the moisture in the air.

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

Hot and sticky would describe it well. Miraculously we managed 4.5" of rain, but most on just a few days. Some locally only got half that or less, others more. Generally it ran 5-10dF above normal averages for temps most days. Overall it has been dry enough that only a few flowers remain in bloom, the dedicated July bloomers. It is sort of a lull between spring and fall blooms. Butterflies were a bit on the weak side in reflection, only 50 species were found over the month. But a couple were good ones.

A Mimosa Yellow the 9th was great. A Metalmark sps. was the only Calephelis I saw, a FOY too, was probably a Rounded. Small numbers of N. Mestra are moving north. A White-striped Longtail, also on the 9th, was good, another Urbanus sps. went un-ID'd. A couple Laviana White-Skipper later in the month were nice. At Lost Maples a couple black morph female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail were neat.

Odes really kicked it up a notch this month with 46 species being seen locally. There were 32 sps. of dragons and 14 expected species of damsels. They are great fun in the heat when the birds are hiding and are hard to beat photo subjects. I am sure an expert would add a number of species, especially damsels, which I do not work hard. The STRAW-COLORED SYLPH at the 360 x-ing was the best one, quite scarce up here in hills. A GREAT Pondhawk was a great find, at the golf course, less than annual here. A couple Bronzed River Cruiser were outstanding to see again, been very scarce lately. We had four species of pennants at once at a golf course pond one day: Banded, Halloween, Four-spotted, and Red-tailed.

Birds were mostly the expected, but a couple surprises. I come up with 99 species for the month locally, plus Larry's Spoonbills makes 100. Same as last month. The best birds seen were two Roseate Spoonbill flying down Little Creek the 13th. A male Yellow-headed Blackbird was interesting at the golf course on the 15th. A White-tailed Kite on the 19th is good in summer. Was nice to see 8+ Bushtit in the yard one day this month, presumedly some local breeding success. A juv. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was at Utopia Pk. July 12-14 (ph.), and great was 2 Lesser Yellowlegs on July 30 over the river near the golf course.

The main events in July are breeding records, and the first waves of departing breeders. My last Golden-cheeked warbler was July 2 but didn't make it back to LM after that until the 30th so not meaningful. I found a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk again at Lost Maples, on the 2nd, so they were successful again there this year, 3rd in a row. A pair of Eastern Wood-Pewee is nesting at Utopia Park up in the woods by the island, the first nesting there I know of in 14 years of watching. Bigger was my first ever local sure nesting of Bullock's Oriole, an ad. female and 2-3 young in yard (ph.).

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Orchard Oriole are pouring through in July, multiples daily through yard, prolly a hundred of each went by. Some Black-and-white Warbler movement noticable as well. By the end of the month Lost Maples seems way more than half-empty of migratory breeding birds, compared to April, May and June.

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~ ~

July 31 ~ Coolish and dripping from the rain yesterday evening. The Canyon Towhee was out back eating seed, chasing everything that got within two feet. It is a juvenile, a hatch-year young, not an adult. Already full of spit and vinegar. A flock of about 10 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck went over, a few Orchard Oriole and Gnatcats through the yard. One Orchard Oriole took a bath. Field Sparrow must be nesting nearby as still hearing them sing daily, which is neat, usually they are out of earshot. But not hearing Painted Bunting or Yellow-breasted Chat singing any more. Done. The Chats might go again, but not the Buntings, the ad. males will be gone in a week or so. The pair of Yellow-throated Vireo were moving around together, probably prospecting nest sites it looked to me, in the big pecan. Not too late for them to go again. These recent rains will fire off August attempts by many species.

July 30 ~ Wow what a day. Feels like it was about three. First the weather. Started about 71dF or so, but the cool shady front porch was reading 101 about 4 p.m. and some WU stations in town showed 104 and 105, one with a 117 heat index! We went to Lost Maples SNA 8 a.m. to noon-thirty, then we went swimming at peak heat in the later afternoon. Then after dinner some rain cells from an outflow boundry of a backdoor front found us and we got about an incredible inch and a half of rain! It went from upper 90's dF to lower 70's in a half hour around 7:45-8:15 p.m. Just south of us some got 2-3 inches! Unbelievable. There were some 40+ mph gusts on the outflow boundries when they hit and some nice lightning. We need the water badly. 1.5"! About 4.5" for the month now.

We headed out earlyish to try to beat the heat up the canyon at LM. The Cave Swallows sit on the powerlines along the Main St. at north end of town early in morning, probably about 40 now, which is the bank colony breeders and this years young so far. No Scissor-tails the whole way up 187 for 10 miles to the canyon above Vanderpool seems odd. The river is not running above ground below the Cypress Hollow x-ing, only underground.

Wanted to get one last summer season look at Lost Maples this year as the breeding season is fading fast. And it is a good time for bugs, leps and odes in particular are often great in late summer through fall. For birds we had Zone-tailed Hawk, Green Kingfisher, Audubon's Oriole, White-tipped Dove, and heard a, the, juvenile Broad-winged Hawk. Gone are the Yellow-throated Warblers (now that I was armed with a camera that offers half a chance at birds), and as expected no Golden-cheeked Warbler were detected. Heard a Black-capped Vireo way up a slope.

Only one Eastern Wood-Pewee, a few Acadian Flycatcher, only two Black-and-white Warbler, both 1st summer males, one singing, a few Louisiana Waterthrush, including singing, so some still nesting. A few Yellow-throated Vireo, more Red-eyed Vireo, and lots of White-eyed Vireo still going, two Hutton's were heard. More Canyon Wren song than a few weeks ago when they were in a lull, a couple Rufous-crowned Sparrow, only a few Gnatcatcher, several Indigo Bunting still singing (nesting), same for Blue Grosbeak and Summer Tanager. Nice ad. ma. Painted Bunting at HQ feeders is likely a transient, only Black-chins for hummers, Inca Dove at HQ and trailhead feeding station. Heard a couple Yellow-billed Cuckoo, which are post-breeding wanderers (they do not nest here - at least the last 14 years).

With the date and heat, as one might expect the leps and odes (butterflies and dragonflies) were good. But flowers were very weak, it was very dry so some of the rain we got missed them. Snapdragon Vine going well, but past peak, and generally almost nothing blooming along trail. The Escarpment Cherries have no crop this year, a big draw in August especially in good years.

There are very few small butterflies, only the larger stuff is flying at the moment. The Buttonbush was where everything was. The prime-time window of late summer and fall is open though. Swallowtails were great overall, with two black form female Eastern Tiger, 3-4 Spicebush, some Pipevine, a Giant, and a few Black. Missed Two-tailed though. I saw a Satyr fly by, but no ID, either Red or Little Wood, prolly Red. An Olive-Juniper Hairstreak is my first for the month, tore up as it was, a Southern Broken-Dash was also new for month. Always nice to add a few leps to the monthly species diversity list on the 30th.

An Eyed-Elaterid (the big click beetle) gave a good close look. Saw one of those 2" black wasps with red bands on adbomen. Photo'd an odd little dragon I have seen there before but not figured out, will get that pic off camera and to experts for ID. Dragons were great too. A Filigree Skimmer was the first I have seen locally in a few years. Lots of Comanche Skimmer are there now, both Flame and Neon Skimmer were seen, a Red-tailed Pennant was at the pond. Low numbers of the usual more regular stuff like Banded Pennant, Green Darner, Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, Black, and Red, Saddlebags, Common (E.) Pondhawk, Blue Dasher, Pale-faced Clubskimmer, Swift and Checkered Setwing. So about 17 sps. by accident in a four hours going up and back on Can Creek. In Damsels it was slow, just a few common things, but an Aztec Dancer was nice for being so dang blue. Can't seem to find any Coppery Dancer there lately.

OK so just when you think you have had all the nature you can stand in a day... We get down to the river to cool off after 4:15 or so. I see something flying oddly down the river, jinking up and down, left and right. But can'st put a name to it. It disappears. I walk upriver barefoot on the rocks (because after all, I am no tenderfoot) to see where it went, still not sure what phyla had been seen. There it is, IN the water, a BAT!!! It went in the drink! It was lifting its head up, seeming to be breathing, looking like it was drinking, and maybe just trying to cool off? Never saw a swimming bat before. This Utopia place is crazy man. The singing horses I had heard the fables of, but aquatic bats!?!

I went and changed into aquamogs so I could walk out to it, the water only 3' deep or so where it was, but where it was the bottom is stream slickened limestone bedrock with a slicker layer of algae on it since we haven't had a good gully washer in a while, traction is required (normally we swim downriver where no algae and it is mostly 4-5 feet deep now whilst river low). I risked it all and slowly carefully moved out to it with camera in hand and around neck, hoping not to fall. I got close, got pix, and moved back to bank where handed camera off to Kathy. Then I got a stick and moved it to shore. It was moving, but not seeming well. I left it in shade out of water. An hour later as we left it was still there, still moving a little and still one foot holding the stick I got it out with. I think it was a Red Bat, but got shots that should show it when I can get to getting them off camera. As a non-interventionist it was quite the quandry, what to do.

Amazing was two LESSER YELLOWLEGS that flew over the river while we were in it swimming. Their calling got my attention and then I saw them fly over and head toward golf course, where I presume they were flushed from one of the ponds. Last lookabout after 11 p.m. there was a Gulf Coast Toad on the front stepping stones.

July 29 ~ About 70-99dF for a temp spread on the cool shady front porch. Bird of the day was a Canyon Towhee briefly even singing a bit in yard, but disappeared quickly. A few Gnatcats and Orchard Orios southbound. Hummer numbers are down, the last wave of fledged young are departing, as are lots of the adults. Still all Black-chinned so far, and lots fewer. They appear done and over for the season. The Bluebirds are bringing their young to the birdbath each evening the last few days, after showing them how to bathe, now they know and go right in. They didn't know what to think at first watching a parent do it. Throwing a sprinkler on at peak heat where it hits a bush or shrub is a great way to give the birds a break. The Chickadees especially seem to go nuts over it when hot out. Not out in the open though, it has to be placed where there is cover to dive into in case of hawk.

Dusky-blue Groundstreak

One of five Dusky-blue Groundstreak that came
into a nightlight for bugs after dark June 23.
Sometimes butterflies are attracted to lights at night.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 28 ~ About 70dF briefly before sunup. Didn't last. Had to be a hun in the sun, was 96dF on the cool shady front porch. About 4 Gnatcats and 3 Orchard Orio through yard in morning, and 10 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over. Best beast was one of the big Scarabs of the Harlequin Beetle sort, which landed at my feet out in front yard. By time I got back with camera I couldn't find it. The rest was the expected. Quick check at park had Green Heron on the dam, and a family group of Blue Jay in the woods. The Eastern Wood-Pewee are still there, one singing, and methinks have nest. In damselflies, both Orange Bluet and Orange-striped Threadtail were flying.

July 27 ~ A nice low of 69dF felt fantastic, no southerly Gulf flow so some radiational cooling overnight. But in the afternoon, it was hotter than a Habanero. As the ZZ song went... 'The temperature had risen again, musta been a hundred and ten'... I think we were near that for a heat index. A flock of 7 Eur. Collared-Dove flew over high, about 600' up, going west. Been a pair with one juvenile (collaredless Dove) around the patio and where we toss seed out back. Oh how exciting, introduced non-native vermin. I sure wish someone would bring some over here plucked. Saw a Cicada Killer cruising around yard today.

The Cowbirds have largely departed, in the last week, their frequency has plummeted. So much finishes breeding by now, they give up and go too. Still a couple around but going half days without seeing one of either type now. It is the Bronzed that stay later and continue to parasitize through August. For those things that do nest a third or fourth time, like those still going now, there is vastly lower incidence of Brown-headed Cowbird parasitization presently than in May, June, and July. Little to none. Most predation from now on will be by Bronzed Cowbird.

Late afternoon a Yellow-throated Vireo landed 4 feet from me in some low Pecan branches and facing right at me, made a 3 and 4 note call series I had never heard from them. Musical, rich full notes, not unlike a yellowlegs, but more upbeat, not downslurred, almost bubbly and effervescent like Kinglet song. The excited notes were on the same pitch. I could not believe I was hearing this from a Yellow-throated Vireo staring straight at me barely over a meter from my face. I fumbled for camera but couldn't get it together for a shot, it was too close. It repeated the sequence at least 4, maybe 5 times.

At dusk I saw the Blue Grosbeak flight song display, which is pretty neat and not often seen, at least for me. They give the buzz note call on the way up as they climb, then at maybe 30' or so they fly a level almost complete circle, whislt belting out song with exaggerated flaps and fanning of tail, head cocked back, and just before finishing the circle it dives back into the thicket. Prolly to check with the missus if it was good enough.

July 26 ~ A few Orchard Orioles, a couple Gnatcatchers and a female or imm. Indigo Bunting went through. The ad. male Painted Buntings have really cut back on the singing in a big way, besides being in heavy molt. In the afternoon I was just off the front porch when I heard a flush of birds from the patio (on side of house), turned my head to see a Zone-tailed Hawk at 50' climbing from ground level with something in talons. Was not able to make an ID on the prey item. Finally saw a FOY Julia's Skipper in yard, the last couple years they were abundant, not getting why I am not seeing them this year. A few Red Bats were doing their loops around the big pecan at dusk, which I think they live in, and now probably have some young pups out with them too. Had the edge of some outflow hit just before dusk, took 5dF off the top instantly, smelled rain, but didn't get any. At dusk I saw a Screech-Owl (Tex-Mex - mccallii) flying along the north fence toward draw, looking like it was leaving the pecan with the bird bath. I hear them all the time, but only rarely see them as I don't persue them trying not to bother. Nice enough to know they are out there. Ceranus Blue (lep) today.

July 25 ~ The low 70's mornings are fine after the brutal upper 90's in the afternoons. Weed whacking is brutal in the humidity. It is the dog days of summer, with the drones of katydid and cicadas to prove it. Couple Gnatcats went through. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, so still nesting. Waiting for the first long-distance fall migrant to show up. Rufous Hummingbird, Upland Sandpiper, and Least Flycatcher are usually the first three, have had them all by now in some prior years. Been listening at dusk for Ups to no avail, and listening to the feeders but only hummer here now is Black-chinned still, so far. In leps I saw a Whirlabout whirling about Frogfruit, and a Phaon Crescent. Four or five Orchard Oriole at last sun in the Mesquites across from gate. The edge of an outflow hit us near dusk and took about 7dF off the peak heat temps. No rain though. Lots of Bats at dusk.

July 24 ~ Toasty and drippy, if you like that, me not so much. Hooded Oriole was out there a bit, which reminds me in the last week through the yard have been Hooded, Scott's, Orchard, Bullock's, and Audubon's Orioles. There are ripe Persimmons around on some of those, which had been pecked at. Baltimore are probably a couple weeks out yet. The pair of bluebirds had two young at the bath with them. Couple Gnatcats.

In odes had a male Black Setwing (dragon) which is scarce IN yard (Swift Setwing is multiples residing), and out over the yard were a number of Spot-winged and Wandering Gliders, a few Black, and Red, Saddlebags with them. Green Darner and Pale-faced Clubskimmer nearing last sun.

In leps a Laviana White-Skipper flew by, surely the big white skipper I saw yesterday, and first one of the year. Another big skipper with tails was zipping around a bit, but I never got a good enough look for an ID. It stopped on a windowscreen briefly, then flushed. I ran and grabbed hose, squirted water onto mud and dirt (caliche), whence it came back (!). That is right, I chummed a skipper in with scent. We don't screw around here in our nature nerding, this is a top notch operation. But the dang phone rang and I had to run. By time I got back out it was gone. The best beast of the day almost always gets away. I have to leave it at Urbanus species.

July 23 ~ Spread was 74 to 94+ (in shade) dF until an outflow hit about 6 p.m. from some rain to north and dropped us to 84. Checked golf course ponds again for odes, less activity than a couple weeks ago. Martins still at the house, no Yellow-headed Blackbird but heard Killdeer, which likely nest somewhere there. Same stuff at crossing, again with less odetivity. Went for a swim at peak heat in afternoon, had begging baby Yellow-throated Warblers. Couple Gnatcatchers through yard. Had a big white skipper go by that was different. At least two new juvie Vermilion Flycs just fledged. Nice close Common Nighthawk boom before dusk.

July 22 ~ The molting male Indigo Bunting was on the patio again today. The ad.ma. Painted are molting now as well. Barely over two weeks left for male Painted here, Aug. 7-9 is departure window for local breeding males. Methinks it was 3 Gnatcats through yard over day. A few butterflies were on the Frogfruit: Phaon Crescent, Lyside Sulphur, Southern Skipperling, plus a False Duskywing. We went for a swim peak heat. The dripping as I got out brought a Mournful Duskywing in to puddle.

I keep forgetting to mention the wild native pecan, the big ancient tree right off front porch, is dropping partly developed three-quarter inch green nuts the last couple weeks. It is blowing off the season apparently. The 6 graft trees only have a little bit going yet, and I suspect that 50 mph wind in late April whilst blooming took out the crop again this year, as last.

Neoclytus Cerambycid

This methinks is a Neoclytus sps. (c.f. mucronatus) Cerambycid.
One of the many Longhorn Beetles we have here.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 21 ~ Took all night just to get down to 71dF. Too busy to look around. Noonish was in town for supplies and stopped at the park. Up by the island there were FOUR Ringed Kingfisher, 2 adults (male and female) and 2 begging young. The young begging did not sound all that unlike begging Great-tailed Grackles, a funny extended quavering sound. My feeling is that this is a second set for the year. While I was watching and listening to them an ad. female with a juvenile chasing it Green Kingfisher flew by. So I had 6 Kingfishers at once, none were Belted. In Utopia. An adult male Indigo Bunting in heavy molt was on the patio eating white millet early. Methinks one of the local birds.

July 20 ~ A female Bullock's Oriole went south through yard early morning, a fall migrant. Couple Gnatcatchers too. Mid-morn an Audubon's Oriole moved north through corral and the big live-oaks right out back of house. What seems another just-fledged Vermilion Flyc. being attended by the ad. female. A male Roseate Skimmer (dragon) came into sprayed water. While we were eating dinner all the birds flushed, a dove hit the window screen, as I turned out of the corner of my eye I saw a Cooper's Hawk right there. No doubt the dove was dinner.

About 7:30 p.m. a rain cell went over and dropped a tenth of an inch and took 10dF off the top. About 4 p.m. I ran to town for birdseed as I wasn't going to make until I return from the normal run tomorrow. At the park was a Ringed Kingfisher up in the woods at the island. Otherwise it was loaded with people. Some flowers blooming at the butterfly garden, but no butterflies. I am dyin' to take a butterfly on flower shot to see how that works with the camera, so go to flower garden, no butterflies. This is my life.

July 19 ~ About 3 Gnatcats over the day southbound through yard. A couple Orchard Oriole were heard moving through yard. A Summer Tanager was singing, first of that in a couple weeks, they will probably nest again then. The action was later in day. About 7 p.m. a stray rain cell hit and we got a 92-78dF temp drop in 15 minutes, and a quarter inch. Awesome.

Shortly before 8 p.m. a White-tailed Kite flew by, my first summer record here. Last week Little Creek Larry mentioned he thought he had seen one recently over his way but it flew by quickly. Looks like he mighta had one. Great July data point. Then a bit later a Great Horned Owl dropped out of a pecan and grabbed a Cotton Rat (Sigmodon sps.) way out in the yard by the wellhouse. Outstanding. Looked like the one still with some down that was on the patio a couple days ago.

July 18 ~ Nice 70dF low and humid from the rain, and it looks greener already. Everything must have been dusty. Saw a couple Orchard Oriole move south through yard in the a.m., and a Yellow-throated Warbler was on the clothesline. Couple Gnatcatcher went through. For the third day straight I have heard a singing Field Sparrow out there. Yesterday I saw my FOY juvenile Golden-fronted Woodpecker. In the afternoon I heard a White-tipped Dove call a couple times from over at or across the river.

July 17 ~ Clear and 70dF for a low is nice, it won't last. Hot and muggy, pray you get the rain. Might be another round this afternoon, yesterday's was more spotty and we didn't get any. At least two Gnatcatcher in morning. There are two different first summer male Blue Grosbeaks around, besides the two singing adult males and couple females, one pair of which seems to be nesting over in the draw.

A rain cell spit on us a bit noonish or so and cooled it down briefly, town might have gotten a quarter inch. we had maybe a tenth. By 3 p.m. the cool is gone, it is sunny and more humid. Then about 5 p.m. a good line of cells found us and we got just under 3cm, about 1.125") in just over a half hour. By a couple hours later when done it was 1.35". Fantastic. Puts us at about 2 and five-eighths for the last three days, and month. Critical for the late summer and early fall bloom of many things like Snow-on-the-Mountain, Frostweed, Frogfruit, and a bunch of other flowers. Need a few more inches over the next month still.

Had seemingly four Gnatcatcher through yard by early afternoon. Saw an Eastern Wood-Pewee in yard get chased out by an E. Phoebe. Heard a Black-n-white Warbler upslope in the big live-oaks. There were begging baby Yellow-throated Warblers around the yard near last sun. The Vermilion Flyc. is so thrilled to not be hot, and bathed, it is in aerial flight display again.

July 16 ~ A nice 69dF low, clear and no sign of the rain yesterday evening, but everything is wet. At 6:10 a.m. as I walked by the back door at first crack of light I saw something big fly away and land on one of the clothesline poles. Great Horned Owl, juvenile still with some white fuzzy goin' on. It was at a bowl with rainwater in it on the patio not 8' from the door! We're off to a great start of the day.

Later I noticed a row of feces on the side rail of the bed of the pickup. Three big ones. XL. Jumbo. Not hummingbird, warbler or even woodpecker, clearly from being perched and shuffling a few inches between each, this was no fly-by. Something was sitting on the edge of the pickup bed. The bed has a old (A-1 quality) cotton duck tarp laying in it so water pools and puddles very well when it rains. And who, let me say it again, who, who who, was playing at water recently? Since it rained after dark we know this was just deposited. Who, who who who comes out at night? Apparently after rains when I am not using the back of the truck, it is an owl spa.

Gnother Gnatcatcher went through early, 2 more late in day. About 9:20 a.m. I saw a couple begging young orioles fly by chasing an adult. Looked like they went to the Mesquites across from gate, then they moved into the big pecan right off front porch, then the big dying hackberry, whence I saw and heard they were Bullock's Orioles. My first positive breeding record in the upper Sabinal drainage. Outstanding. I have suspected a few mostly far down-valley. In June I saw two males, and now an ad. fem. with two begging young, means absolutely positively upper Sabinal River drainage nesting.

Earlier morning a decent swarm of a couple dozen odes over the tall grass in yard were mostly Spot-winged Glider but a few Wandering Glider were mixed in with them. We drove down to the crossing about 11 and walked up and down river a bit from there (private prop.). Hot and drippy. The usual Frogfruit patches below crossing are weak at best this year so far. The last three years they were great dependable butterfly magnets, it does not look good so far for this year yet.

A couple good odes (dragons) were a Bronzed River Cruiser and a Straw-colored Sylph. The Sylph is very rare up here in the hills (rarely can be common at Cook's Slough in Uvalde), but I have only seen a couple or few locally. Neither would stop flying so I did not get any pics. Have not gotten to moving-hard-to-track objects with the different camera yet. A couple of Eastern Ringtail were seen, and a couple Smoky Rubyspot damselfly. The rest was the common usual expeted gang.

The Wooly Ironweed is blooming great as is Cedar Sage, but no butterflies but Pipevine Swallowtails. Upriver a bit was a Green Kingfisher fishing from a snag mid-stream. A small group of birds togetherish had Chickadees, Cardinals, Titmice, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, plus a Yellow-throated Warbler feeding a colorless (just-fledged) young, and what looked like a juvenile Hutton's Vireo with an adult, all in one area in the cypresses along river, on other side from our place. And a group of just-fledged Blue Grosbeak, first of those young I have seen this year. 100 feet of great action in 1500 feet of river-edge, which is not uncommon. The water is milky from runoff from yesterday's rain so no swimming today, and good thing we went yesterday. Usually the water is so crystal clear here you can barely tell it is there.

Later afternoon a rain cell to the west of us blocked sun during peak heat taking 5dF off the top. No rain or outflow really, but no solar pounding for a couple hours at peak heat. Nearing dusk a female Common Nighthawk flew lowish over the yard a couple times (just over treetops). Later near last light a Chuck-wills-widow made a couple passes across the yard, but never heard one call this evening or last. There were a couple Firefly out, flying high and fast quite unlike our usual normal spring type, and surely a different species.

July 15 ~ This mid-July weekend is to me the big halfway hump of summer. Halfway between Memorial Day and Labor day, halfway through the June through August peak heat of summer, so hooray. Low was a surprising 69dF and the cool shady front porch was an oppressive 97dF (!) at 5 p.m. when we returned from a swim all cooled down. A rain cell finally found us about 6 p.m. and in 10 minutes it dropped to 75dF, 5 minutes later it was 70dF! Holy cow! We got almost an inch in about a half hour, then another half over the next couple hours. At least 1.25" total. Amazing. We are sooo behind on water in the bank.

About 11 a.m. we ran over and checked the Waresville-Golf Course pond for odes again. A surprise was a male YELLOW-HEADED Blackbird, which is my first summer record here. There are a couple or few pairs of Red-winged Blackbird that nest in the cattails there. It was with the males. Too cool, and beautiful (ph.). The Martins are still at the house there. Odes were the same as last weeks' crowd but one standout was a GREAT PONDHAWK that was briefly present. They are scarce up here in the hills. At another pond we had an outstanding show at point blank watching the Martins drink. A couple Southern Skipperling (lep). Nothing at the river crossing but a bass that I think was a hybrid Guadalupe x Largemouth, and a Leaftail and an Eastern Ringtail for always-nice-to-see dragons.

The other bird of the day was BUSHTIT, at minimum 8 of them moved through the yard about 3 p.m., might have been 10. I did not seen any all spring, at least 10 trips to Lost Maples for instance found zero. At dusk just before 9 p.m. I was out in driveway enjoying the low temps, watching some bats. At least one Red Bat, many Braz. Freetail. A Chuck-wills-widow flying across yard pulled up and I thought sure it was going to take a Freetail. The bat disappeared behind the Chuck from my angle when it was right by the birds mouth. At the last second I heard the mouth snap shut and the Chuck broke off and didn't take the bat. I thought the bat was a gonner. Incredible. That was about all the nature watching I could stand for a day so I went inside.

Violet Dancer

This is a Violet (formerly Variable) Dancer (damselfly).


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 14 ~ Gnatcatcher through yard in a.m., and a couple at the park in town noonish. Also at the park was the continuing juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (ph.), over on the big dock across the pond. Also saw Ringed and Green Kingfisher up by island in woods. A Water Snake of some sort was sunning on a fallen willow and a nice scolding scene unfolded with Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Chickadee, Titmouse and the female Black-and-white Warbler all giving it hell and making sure all knew it was there. The Eastern Wood-Pewee pair seem to be nesting. The Blue Jays have a second set of young out of the nest now. Later afternoon there was a nearly 2" Eyed Elaterid (the big click beetle with false eyespots) on the big pecan (ph.).

Best thing was Little Creek Larry reporting two ROSEATE SPOONBILL flying down Little Creek yesterday (13th)! A very rare bird up here in the hills. This is the third sighting (each of two birds) since the Sylvia Hilbig's in Bandera Co. just NW of town a couple miles in 2014. Three pairs, in the last 4 years, with only one single known by locals in prior couple decades. Sylvia's and my sightings were both of two immatures, they are the most likely to move inland. It is one of the long-legged waders (herons, egrets, ibis, etc.) that move inland from the coasts every summer. Roughly Austin to San Antonio is as far inland as they are sorta regular late summer visitors in central Texas. The hill country and Edwards Plateau are generally avoided. Keep your eyes peeled for some pink birds with funny bills.

July 13 ~ Maybe 73dF for a low, as often the morning clouds from the Gulf just arriving around sunup. Birdsong is nearly dead now. Painted Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, and a little Cardinal was about it for early singers. Some things have just-fledged sets of young and hopefully will go another round, like Summer Tanager, Great Crested Flycatcher, the two Yellow-throateds (warbler and vireo), etc. Vermilion Flyc. is on another round, but fairly quiet about it this time.

A nice rain cell moved up from south and missed us to the west in the afternoon but the outflow and shade took 10dF of the heat. Mid-80's is entirely bearable. Sure great having that male Blue Grosbeak on the patio. They are so much shyer than Painted Bunting. If it sees you move inside the house, it flushes. The male Painted Buntings remain on the feeder whilst you walk slowly only 20' away. Heard a Gnatcat go through yard.

July 12 ~ Only 74dF for a low. Some rain was to the south out in brush country. We sure need it badly here. A weak outflow cooled us a bit late morning to afternoon. Was only 85dF at 4:30 p.m. A great 10dF break. At the park in town besides one of the ad. Green Heron pair, I saw a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, very fresh out of the nest. They wander inland every summer like many herons, and July is normal earliest arrivals, but we don't get them every year here, almost, but not a sure thing. A good bird locally. We have another pair of just-fledged Painted Bunting juveniles both being fed by mom at the feeder and on patio. They are having a good year here. I heard a Canyon Towhee across the road from the gate mid-day. An Arizona Sister has been around a few days coming into the water. No Chucks calling at dusk, I think they are done. Common Nighthawk still going though.

July 11 ~ The cool lows are over, about 72dF this morning. And no morning clouds, means its gonna be a hot one. What a surprise a Gnatcatcher went through the yard southbound. About 10 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks flew over early. The rest was the regulars. There is a hit deer a couple hundred yards away, so lots of vultures and a couple Caracara are about.

July 10 ~ An incredible 3rd morning in a row at 67dF is great. Another Gnatcatcher went through, the Black-n-whites are around still, and the Yellow-throateds, vireo and warbler. Hear the distant Great Crested only now. The Ash-throat here in the yard does all it can to live up to its family name. It is indeed a real tyrant. It seems an unmated bird, relentlessly harrassing a pair of nesting bluebirds. How uncool can you be? He forced them out of their usual box, and now he won't leave them alone at their new box. He chases everything in the yard all the time, especially any juvenile bird it drives to the ground just for thrills. With friends like that... it is an incredible bully.

There was a Horace's or Juvenals Duskywing butterfly out there where Kathy watered, a Roseate Skimmer dragonfly came in too, as did an Arizona Sister butterfly. The bird of the day was a dragonfly, which I got in scope for awesome ID views but it flew when I came back out with camera. Broad-striped Forceptail. Regular down in the brush country around Uvalde, but rare up here, less than annual I'd call it. Maybe if you were really working odes hard you could get one every year? Maybe. It was perched in the twigs of the huge fallen Hackberry branch.

July 9 ~ Another amazing 67dF for a low! OMG, it is the little things in life, like a few measly dF. The ad.ma. Yellow-throated Warbler landed on a tension wire that runs from house to an original (juniper?) 50 year old clothesline pole, just 8' from me, and for a minute we eyed each other. It snagged a bug off the pole which it then landed on top of and ate. Then it flew down to the patio and ate 2 white millet seeds. A fancy seedeater on the patio. Mid-morn the male and female Scott's Oriole were both on the office hummer feeder at the same time. Camera wasn't handy.

We did a 11-1 dragonfly lookabout. One Indigo Bunting still trolling just downriver a bit from us. A few Scissor-tails on the way over to the ponds on the golf course by Waresville where it was pretty active with odes. The Martins are still at that house, perhaps 20 of them, it appears they had a good year, they will be leaving soon. The pond had at least 5 Red-tailed Pennant, a Four-spotted Pennant, Checkered Setwing, Eastern Pondhawk, Blue and Thornbush Dasher, Widow Skimmer, a Red Saddlebags, and a Spot-winged Glider. Nine species of dragons in a 15 minute walk around the pond.

Over at the smaller pond on the main artificial creek there were more Red-tailed and another Four-spotted Pennant, a Banded and a less than annual Halloween Pennant(!). Four species of Pennants just at one little pond. A few more Checkered Setwing and Blue Dasher and a Four-striped Leaftail. A Metalmark (butterfly) was the first Calelephelis sps. I have seen this year, but could not get a positive ID on it, looked Rounded (perditalis). One Southern Skipperling (butterfly) was nice too. I also saw my first of year White-striped Longtail (Skipper - butterfly) fly across a fairway! One Bell's Vireo was singing along UvCo 363 (Waresville Rd.). Some juvenile Cave Swallow were near the ponds.

Then we stopped at the 360 crossing on the way back. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher downriver. Fantastic was in the woods along the river, a Mimosa Yellow butterfly, my FOY, some years I do not see one. In odes saw an Eastern Ringtail on a rock in the river, a Pale-faced Clubskimmer, 2 or 3 Five-striped Leaftail, Swift and Black Setwing, more Pondhawk and Blue Dasher, and a fair number of damselflies. Several American and one Smoky Rubyspot, Kiowa, Violet, Blue-ringed, and Dusky Dancer, another I am not sure about, Orange, Stream, and Double-striped Bluet, a Rambur's and a Fragile Forktail. Seems like it was at least 25 species of odes in 90 minutes of looking at two ponds on the golf course and the river crossing. A False Duskywing butterfly was at the crossing, and we watched a male Texas Cichlid (fish) herd around a few hundred tiny young. Some greenie juv. Painted Bunting along river, already out on their own wandering around now.

Went for a swim at peak heat. Had Eastern Wood-Pewee with begging young, maybe different from last weeks' as it was a third mile downriver from those. Singing Painted Bunting, Chat, Yellow-throated Warbler, another juv. greenie Painted Bunting wandering alone. Great was two Green Kingfishers that flew past us, one was carrying a fish, perhaps a second nesting is underway. Great bird to see from in the water.

Later afternoon a juvenile Field Sparrow was foraging around the bird bath, unattended, fledged, and very very streaky below. It was giving that sweet chip that is almost warblerish. We are covered in greenies, female, juvenile and immature Painted Buntings are everywhere. Black-n-white Warbler singing out back at dusk in the big live-oaks. Chucks called a short bit at dusk.

July 8 ~ The outflow cooled air and lack of southerly (Gulf) flow allowed radiational cooling, all the way down to 67dF! Holy cow! Awesome. Late afternoon the cool shady front porch was about 92dF, many local stations were upper 90's and a few hit a hun. I am trying to get used to the quiet (of birdsong) out there at dawn now. The two Black-n-white Warblers were around, a couple Yellow-throated Warbler, a couple Gnatcatcher went through yard. Yellow-throated Vireo around a while too, and heard the Hutton's out there. Mocker imitating Paraque and a poor Chuck-wills-widow, Green Jay, Curve-billed Thrasher, etc., keeping me on my toes. Went for an afternoon swim at peak heat. Thought I saw a female Orchard Oriole across river in some still blooming Mesquites. The Summer Tanagers have been in the Mesquite quite a bit the last three weeks as they bloomed, taking bees at will, apparently candyland to them. At dusk a Chuck flew 6' past my head while I was out on driveway, but from behind so only saw it going away and couldn't age or sex it.

Roadside-Skipper

This is an Amblyscrites (Roadside-Skipper) of some sort.
I think that is Texas Milkweed it is nectaring on.
Lost Maples SNA, May 29, 2017


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 7 ~ So a lucky 7-7-17 today. The standard 74-94+ dF in the shade hot drippy summer thing goin' on, if you like that. Town run so a little lookabout. The Cave Swallows seem like there are maybe a dozen adults and two dozen young around the bank, so they are still around, some were at nests, so perhaps they are still going at it. They can all be gone sometimes though. Perhaps one comes back with a report of aerial plankton somewhere and they all split for a while. Still some Martins around, 6 were drinking at the park pond.

The park had a male Green Kingfisher, saw one of the Green Heron pair, Blue Jay, and it seems the pair of Eastern Wood-Pewee are indeed nesting there. A couple juvenile White-eyed Vireo, the first summer female Black-n-white is still there all done molting into a fresh as can be set of feathers. Oddly just about no odes (dragon or damselflies).

The Common Grackles that fledged their young are nowhere to be seen. Wonder where they go after breeding here? Once these local breeders fledge young in summer they depart and generally none will be seen until fall. Which are surely birds sourced from elsewhere and not anything to do with local origin. Lots of birders like to pretend they know all about everything that is going on but in reality there are very basic questions about widespread species, even ones with the word "Common" in their name, that we can't answer. Heck if you are using a 1999 (Third Edition) National Geographic Guide you would think they only occurred here in winter and did not breed here anyway. And surely later editions than that continued to have it mapped incorrectly for within 50 or 100 miles of the Utopia area, like winter range of Pine Warbler and Rusty Blackbird. They were just guessing. Remember, always question authority.

Just after 7 p.m. we got an outflow boundry which took us from 94 to 84dF in 10 minutes or so. Wonderful. Smelled rain. Saw an amazing rainbow just to SE a bit. It was a triple bow of color for 80 degrees, three bands of violet, the whole spectrum twice and you could barely see the third set of colors below the 3rd violet arc. But incredibly for 20 degrees or so at azimuth where it looked like virga falling you could see a FOURTH band of violet. Unbelievable. They were packed together side by side repeating one after the next. At dusk I heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee singing, and a White-tipped Dove blew a good long note.

July 6 ~ There are at least two male Blue Grosbeak here, plus at least one female. There are at least three male Painted Bunting that seem to have pie-sliced the hood for territories in a manner that they all can use the feeders. Still more Gnatcatcher southbound, and the two Black-n-white Warbler are still here too.

July 5 ~ An Eastern Wood-Pewee called a bit from the yard early. First-summer male and female Black-n-white Warbler around, heard Scissor-tails, saw the Great Crested and Ash-throated Flycatchers, Vermilions seem to be nesting again, Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo around the yard, a juvenile warbler bathed. Barely a couple Chuck-wills-widow calls at dusk, and a few Common Nighthawk booms, but sure slowing down.

July 4 ~ Happy Independence Day! I think probably the biggest day for tourists here each year, because of the fireworks show at the park at dark. Then from 10 to 11 p.m. the roads out of town in all directions sound like an L.A. freeway. If you like a good show of this sort, this one would be very hard to beat, it is usually 45 minutes or so of shock and awe. Hope they like it hot and drippy, it was 75dF for a low this morning, and 90 by noon. A nice very humid sticky drippy 90. Looks like a swim day.

Two Black-n-white Warbler, a singing first summer male and a female, and a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher out in yard early. One T-6 Texan flyby. About 1 p.m. the Ringtail was out back. The leg injury got worse and has not healed, it now seems to be mostly without use of the front right leg and foot. Wonder if it was a fight with another Ringtail, or a Racoon maybe? Not good and probaby why it hits the sunflower seeds.

Walked the 5 min. or so for a swim in the river at peak heat of day for an hour. I heard the following singing still: Summer Tanager, Painted Bunting, Yellow-throated Warbler, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Chat, and saw family groups of Titmouse, Chickadee, Cardinal, and Eastern Wood-Pewee feeding young. Not a bad swimming hole. Odes were poor though, barely anything. At dusk I heard a bird call three times that I would swear was a Solitary Sandpiper, which would be a few weeks early, though I don't know what else it could have been.

July 3 ~ Not getting up at 5 was like sleeping in, that felt great. Only got down to 73dF though. It is sure getting quiet of birdsong, but at least some still going. Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Summer Tanager, Painted Bunting, Black-crested Titmouse, No. Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Scissor-tailed, Vermilion and Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, all still singing but none with the vim and vigor of March or April to May. They are running out of steam.

Early saw at least one male Orchard Oriole, heard one singing while another called, may have been two. Then after noon a male was around a bit. Still Black-and-white Warbler around yard, and a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through it. The rest was the usual gang. Kathy saw the Yellow-throated Warbler go to the bath. Heard Barn Owl again late p.m. so at least one pair must be nesting somewhere in the area. Mama possum has a baby hanging on her back and another hanging out of the pouch, and who knows how many more.

July 2 ~ Had an awesome morning at Lost Maples with some great folks over from Houston. The two early birders of the group and I did the Maples Trail quickly first thing. We flushed a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk seemingly off the ground. Had great close views perched in the open, so though I heard a begging juvenile two weeks ago, now we have a visual on a fledged unattended young. Three years in a row now at this newly discovered furthest southwest known nesting.

We watched the feeding station for a while and saw no Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Scrub-Jay or White-tipped Dove, so I think they are getting a little intermittent now on stocking it. I threw a cup out before we did the Maples Trail so there were some of the common things. Check out the Yellow-throated Warbler singing at the parking lot, with the boldly demarcated orange throat patch. Blackburnian orange, a big squarish area covering entire lower throat to central breast area. This is the second super orange individual here this year, the other over a mile away in another canyon. Are they older males? I think they wear into it, after most of the birding (tourists) is done for the season. They are not shown or discussed in any book. You can find them on the Frio too.

After meeting a couple more of the group we went up Can Creek to the ponds. Saw a Green Kingfisher right below the trailhead (feeding station) parking lot at creek there. Just the other side of the 1st crossing an Olive Sparrow called back to my cheap two-bit imitation but we didn't see it. Still there are Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, but I did not see a Black-and-white Warbler or Eastern Wood-Pewee. A couple Yellow-throated Vireo (1 juv.), heard a number of Red-eyed and had a bunch of White-eyed, heard a couple Louisiana Waterthrush but didn't see one, some Summer Tanager and Acadian Flycatcher, lots of singing Canyon Wren. No Zone-tail (didn't go to Monkey Rock sign) or Scott's Oriole.

We had to turn around to have time to get up the hill to the top of the bluffs to look for Black-capped Vireo, and had not yet seen a Golden-cheeked Warbler. I pushed it to the spot Kathy and I saw the stub-tailed molting ad. fem. two weeks ago. We got there and the bird was in the tree adjacent to the one we saw it in. Now with a brand spankin's new tail fully grown in, and all new wing feathers. She looked amazing. I have probably never seen a more fully molted perfectly fresh basic ("winter") adult female such as this one. Every primary, secondary, and tertial with bold snow white edges. Wing coverts with bigger wingbars than we see all spring in the worn old plumage of last year. Her back was that unique darker forest green, boldy short-streaked in black. Her cheek was nearly like a males, much black in the throat and breast, though the chin was pale. Undertail coverts snow white as can be. It was a spectacular bird. Not to mention our quarry. This bird I have no doubt is the one Kathy and I saw molting two weeks ago, and so it has stayed in this particular area while doing so. It was right as you approach the creek crossing after the 2nd pond, on the right, right along the trail. Just above eye-level, foraging actively in Ashe Juniper and W. Sycamore.

So powered on the that we headed up the steep grade because these young bucks needed to see a fancy vireo. Apparently they were pretty excited as they seemed to fly up the hill with my instructions, compared to my struggling to make it. Which I do, very slowly. That damn third of a mile seems like three and is longer every time. But I was slow enough to hear a Hutton's Vireo on the way. Wrong vireo. When I got up there I probably looked like I was dyin', I felt like I was. They looked all rested and refreshed, and ready for action and leadership. LOL

A couple of them had been listening to Black-caps from the edge of the cliff, straight down right below you, and seeing a flit here and a flash in flight there, but no real view yet. Also no hoped-for Varied Bunting that I heard or saw. So we walked a bit on the trail past the bench and the one near the first few taller (10-12') trees was singing. They moved up on the bird and had great views. The best approach is to approach them directly, slowly. If you are shy you will never see one. Just move toward the bush they sing from within. When they flush they often perch up to have a look at the beast that did that. Following the song around awhile will almost always get great Black-capped Vireo views. They are not shy, they just like the deepest middlest part of the thickest bushes most of all. You have to be a little more agressive of pursuit than the passive mode most birders operate in. Don't be afraid to stick your head into a bush, I have done so and had one sit there a few feet from my face. Poor thing is probably still traumatized...

Up there on top I heard Rufous-crowned and Field Sparrow singing, and had two Black-throated Sparrow fly over. It is a totally different habitat from anything you can experience on the roads or trails in the canyons. And very cool. There are several trails that get up out of the canyons and "up on top" and likely all of them have that Black-capped Vireo habitat of 3 to 6 foot high dwarf plantland of Evergreen Sumac, Persimmon, Laurel, and Agarita, and here with some occasional scattered small Buckley Oaks.

I saw a couple dragonflies up there on top in the short forest of shrubs. Best, outstanding, was a Bronze River Cruiser, which hung up (perched, hanging vertically as many dragons do)! I might have gotten pix, won't know until I play with it... couldn't see viewfinder in sun, pointed and shot. Also flushed a Widow Skimmer and Banded Pennant up there far from water. Did see a Prince Baskettail by ponds and something red shot by, likely a Flame Skimmer. By then we had to go, saw nothing new on the way back down the canyon. But we had a reasonably stellar walk. It was great to see sharp cool younger folk interested, out doing it. I saw a Roadrunner on the way back down 187 to Utopia.

July 1 ~ OMG JULY!?!?!?! Started out at a low of 75dF. Still Black-n-white Warbler around, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher going through yard. All the usual regulars were around. Heard the Indigo but have not been hearing the Red-eyed Vireo the last few days. It may have given up and moved to troll elsewhere. Only thing new and different was an Inca Dove on the patio, the first in the yard in a year or more since the local resident Cooper's Hawks took out our flock of 8, one at a time. It was an adult Inca. Saw the Zone-tailed Hawk go over, still Purple Martins up overhead. Worked on stuff around the house since guiding at lost marbles tomorrow.

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July to Dec. 31, 2016, now Old Bird News XXVI (#26)

(link below)

Above is 2017 (besides prior end-of-year summary)


Back to Top
July to December 2016 is Bird News Archive XXVI (#26). January to June 2016 is Bird News Archive XXV (#25). July to December 2015 is Bird News Archive XXIV (#24). January to June 2015 is Bird News Archive XXIII (#23). December 2014 and prior back to July 1, 2014 are Archive #22. January-June 2014 is Bird News Archive XXI (or Old Bird News 21). All are linked below.

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Read UP from bottom to go in chronological sequence.

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Links to all 14+ 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 January through June.
Even numbered archives are July through December.
(except a couple when the split missed, prolly due
to excessive amount of drivel in spring)


Bird News Archive XXVII
January 1, 2017 - June 30, 2017

Bird News Archive XXVI
July 1, 2016 - December 31, 2016 (July through November so far)

Bird News Archive XXV
January 1, 2016 - June 30, 2016

Bird News Archive XXIV
July 1, 2015 - Dec. 31, 2015

Bird News Archive XXIII
January 1, 2015 - June 30, 2015 (Jan.- May so far)

Bird News Archive XXII
July 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014

Bird News Archive XXI
January 1, 2014 - June 30, 2014

Bird News Archive XX
July 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013

Bird News Archive XIX
January 1, 2013 - June 30, 2013

Bird News Archive XVIII
July 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012

Bird News Archive XVII
January 1, 2012 - June 30, 2012

Bird News Archive XVI
July 1, 2011 - December 31, 2011

Bird News Archive XV
January 1, 2011 - June 30, 2011

Bird News Archive XIV
July 1, 2010 - December 31, 2010

Bird News Archive XIII
January 1, 2010 - June 30, 2010

Bird News Archive XII
June 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009

Bird News Archive XI
January 1, 2009 - May 31, 2009

Bird News Archive X
July 1, 2008 - Dec. 31, 2008

Bird News Archive IX
January 1, 2008 - June 30, 2008

Bird News Archive VIII
July 1, 2007 - Dec. 31, 2007

Bird News Archive VII
January 1, 2007 - June 30, 2007

Bird News Archive VI
July 1, 2006 - Dec. 31, 2006

Bird News Archive V
January 1, 2006 - June 30, 2006

Bird News Archive IV
July 1, 2005 - Dec. 31, 2005

Bird News Archive III
January 1, 2005 - June 30, 2005

Bird News Archive II
June 1, 2004 - Dec. 31, 2004

Bird News Archive I
Winter 2003-04 Summary Notes
and Mar. 31 - May 30, 2004
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.  ;)
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Read UP from bottom to go in chronological sequence.
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All Rights Reserved.
© M. and K. Heindel 2004-2017
www.utopianature.com