Bird (and nature) News Archive # 32
July 1 to December 31, 2019
Old Bird News XXXII

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 - our yard March 2005 to Mar. 2013.
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 XXXII (#32) ~ 2019: July 1 - December 31

Scroll to bottom and read up to read in chronological order.
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2019


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) ~ ~ ~ ~


2019 bird news archive #32 (XXXII)





July through Dec. 2019 (to Oct. so far)

Read from bottom up to view in chronological order.

~ ~ ~ below is 2019 ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ 2019 summary ~ ~ ~

Well there went another one. It was very dry overall with a brief very wet period in spring. Drought has reared its ugly head again. Much of the year much of the river between Lost Maples and Utopia existed only below ground. We remain unrecovered from the prior exceptional event despite a respite of a few years with some rain. Trees are still dropping like flies at Lost Maples for example. It looks to me like desertification in slow motion. Of course natural history study is fascinating no matter what is going on. As long as you keep looking you will keep seeing interesting things. Then record and document.

Butterflies were about 83 species for the entire year, we have had better months. Last year was worst ever with only 80 species, so this year is barely better. Most of the regular expected types, but not all. No vagrants, no fall invasion from the south. It was over and pitiful by October. It was weird in fall seeing all the flowers without any hairstreaks, blues, crescents, and skippers on them. Drought kills it for butterflies here. Still a few things missing since the epic exceptional drought that sorta ended a few years ago but we never yet recovered from. Still no sign of Common Wood-Nymph, Silvery Checkerspot, or Carolina Satyr for isntance. They all remain MIA. Only saw a few Arizona Sister early in season. No Soldier, Zebra, or Mourning Cloaks this year. There were several Laviana White-Skipper, which was the only LTA - less than annual - thing to show up from southward. The fall Monarch movement missed us this fall. Snouts never got bad, we had no rain for them to chase. Found a huge wild patch of Flame Acanthus at Garner S.P., likely explaining the Crimson Patch population there.

First a single one day, then an emerging another day, then finally a pair, of mating Luna Moth on Pecan right off front porch were a major highlight of the year, and my life. It was like a dream come true to be able to watch them more than just fly by. And get pix. A Vine Sphinx was nice too, found dying on the front porch! Saw two, photo'd one of the Aellopos sphinx moths, probably clavipes. A couple Black Witch were seen in summer, always a treat here. Saw an Imperial Moth somewhere. So some great moths made up for the lack of any unusual butterflies.

It should be noted, night lighting for insects was nearly pitiful the several times I tried over the summer (monthly). So few insects I could not believe it. Scary. It is nothing like it was, that is for sure. What is disappearing all the bugs? Is it just drought? Not at the lights, I did photo a couple Neoclytus sps. Cerambycids in the yard this year, and a Mesquite Borer (Placosternus) in town. A couple 'bycids to ease the pain, but saw no gigas 'bycid this year. Saw several of the gold Dicerca sps. Buprestids, and good numbers of Eyed Elaterid. A live female Dobsonfly at the gas station was awesome.

Odes were barely OK and are still very low in numbers like butterflies. They too have never yet recovered from the major epic drought of 2008-15 or so. It looks like 53 species: 20 damsels, 33 dragons. There were only a few items of interest. A Cyrano Darner at Lost Maples was nice. Lots of Plateau Spreadwing and Band-winged Dragonlet at the usual ephemeral floodpond spots on S. Little Creek Rd. (BanCo) when late April or early May rains hit. A Great Spreadwing in the yard was er, great, the first. Another Twelve-spotted Skimmer here too. Did see a few Black-shouldered Spinyleg which have been scarce. Barely any Smoky Rubyspot. The Orange-striped Threadtail continue at Utopia Park, but their numbers are far lower than before. As are most species.

Birds for me were about 195 species locally in the upper Sabinal River drainage (USRD). That is to say no brush-country off-the-plateau flatlands stuff is included in that total. Just strictly up here in the valley, Lost Maples to Clayton Grade, and mostly just around Utopia. Last year ('18) was 210 species, so it was down a fair bit. Lots more rain last year. I think Little Creek Larry saw at least 5 sps. I did not see this year. I do not think I added any species to the local USRD area list this year. It took 16 years to get to that point. I was still getting one or two a year the last five years. The USRD list is about 359 currently. One big lake with a little marsh, an island, and some mudflat and we'd have 400 here. The Utopia Park list is stuck at about 269. Our (2 acre) yard list is stuck at about 220 NIB. No introduced birds. Here are the best 2019 bird highlights.

In Jan. a Western Kingbird with a couple Couch's not in the USRD, but down in the flatlands at Sabinal, plus 500 Am.Go in one flock there were both outstanding. Also in Jan. a Black-n-White Warbler at Lost Maples is very rare on plateau in winter. A Brown Creeper wintered at Utopia Park, my first to stick for the winter locally. Same goes for the three Red-breasted Nuthatch that spent the winter visiting our yard. April 15 was the last date for the last one. May 2 saw a Northern Goshawk northbound over the house. A Wilson's Phalarope at the SLC ponds May 11 was outstanding in BanCo. Another pair of Cassin's Kingbird were here, May 9, after a single in April. The June highlight was nesting Grasshopper Sparrow in Bandera Co. on W. Sabinal Rd. Others were suspected in a few other places. Pretty clear Olive Sparrow and White-tipped Dove are now breeding if not resident at Lost Maples, for probably their 4th years or so each now, at least if not more. Several pairs of each are there. Some still there in December.

The second half of the year... Over the whole fall we probably had 10 Rufous Hummingbird at our place alone. Which is a much higher than average number (double or more). On July 7 Leslie Calvert had a Roseate spoonbill sw of town a few miles at their pond. August 15 we had a Common Pauraque at our place, which stayed to Sept. 15. A juvenile Acadian Flycatcher Aug. 25 was great in the yard as a passage migrant off breeding territory whence very rare. Seven Mourning Warbler around Utopia Sept. 22 was great, as was the dozen count for the month. A Wood Thrush on Oct. 25 at the park that let me have pix was awesome. A heard only Long-eared Owl the night of Oct. 21st was also great, not my first here. A Clay-colored Sparrow seen to late Nov. is my latest ever here. A second-of-the-fall Broad-tailed Hummer was around a few days in November. The American Woodcock at the park Dec. 4 was a major highlight of the year, thankfully letting me get a few docushots. Seems a nice wave of Pyrrhuloxia and Verdin have moved in for the winter. Warblers were weak spring and fall. None of the scarcer eastern or western types showed. However the five Black-throated Green over the fall was a good fall total for here.

Like most journeys of a million steps, nature data collecting is one point at a time. It never ceases to amaze me how it all adds up. Currently the overall biodiveristy and output here are obviously severely drought-reduced. Whence it seems slow going at times. Still when you add it all up at the end of the year, we got a bunch of awesome data points. Lots of new earliest ever and latest ever dates, peak numbers for a passage, etc. All kinds of great stuff was seen, much to most photographed, and we filled in a bunch of blanks, some we didn't even know we had. The key is to be looking, you will find and see. Then document.

~ ~ ~ end 2019 summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ oh no, not another summary!?!? ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ December summary ~ ~ ~

It was a dry month, with record heat and cold within a few days of each other mid-month. We did not get an inch of rain, probably about a half-inch at our place, should be two inches. The drought continues, it is parched out there. The river is running very slow and low (dry - only underground - in many areas).

Butterflies were 9 species, the lowest diversity of any of my 17 Decembers here now. After a very poor fall more weakness was expected, this though being exceptional. It was all only and just the expected last flyers. Dragonflies were the two usual December species, Variegated and Autumnal Meadowhawk, plus one Green Darner, and a couple damsels that got away before I could ID them. The winter Mayfly hatch seems fairly weak so far.

Weird out there for birds. Numbers are down. Still barely any Waxwing, Robin, or Siskin. A few American Goldfinch, no nuthatch, and no flicker yet for me, only a couple Sapsucker sps. flying away. A few Golden-crowned Kinglet, no Junco, very very few waterfowl. There seem to be very few bugs compared to usual too. The male Wilson's Warbler that returned for a second winter at Utopia Park in September left after mid-November, after a couple months. Not enough bugs to stick. The American Woodcock was the bird of the month, at the park on the 4th only. Always good to get in December, Olive Sparrow and White-tipped Dove were still at Lost Maples. I count about 81 species of birds locally for the month that I saw. But did not get out much. I am sure over 90 are around the area, and nearer a hundred would not surprise me.

~ ~ ~ end December summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ December update header ~ ~ ~

December started with a Verdin at Little Creek on the 1st. Then on the 4th at the park, a WOODCOCK! But I have not reseen it in ten attempts. A Sora on the 7th is a great bird locally. Green Kingfisher, White-tipped Dove, two Olive Sparrow and a couple Golden-crowned Kinglet were seen at Lost Maples Dec. 8. We had record heat in the mid-80's the 14th-15th, and record cold (16dF) on the 18th and 19th! Finally saw my FOS Sapsucker on the 19th. There is some Cedar (Juniper) pollen starting to get going. From perusing ebird I see the 18th was the Love Creek Christmas Bird Count which covers parts of Lost Maples. A Louisiana Waterthrush was found on a private ranch NE of Vanderpool, a very rare winter record on the Edwards Plateau. A couple Winter Wren and Verdin were also turned up in Bandera Co. Fair numbers of Pyrrhuloxia and Verdin are around this winter. Finally had a Pine Warbler, at the park on Dec. 27th.

~ ~ ~ end Dec. update header copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Dec. 31 ~ Holy smokes, another year gone by! They just keep getting faster and faster as I get older and slower. Another cold morn with 25dF at 7 a.m., it often drops another dF by 7:30 but I don't hang around out there to watch it. Tossing the bird seed before sunup is enough wakeup chill for me. These late sunups are nice though. I'm gonna miss them. A Carolina Wren was 25' up in the pecan belting out song, just to make sure the others around knew it was serious about it. Saw an Eastern Bluebird at the box hole at the far corner of the front yard.

Dec. 30 ~ A chilly 26dF low with ice on the birdbath. Did not see any hummer today, for the second day, but it sometimes goes in and out quickly and does not hang around long. Worked on stuff in the office, but nice it warmed to about 62 or so at peak heat. Very low humidity, great blue skies, of a sort we just do not see in summer when always very humid. Night sky is great too for the same reason. Mocker and Kinglet (Ruby) came into the bath. Heard some cranes southbound late afternoon, and heard the Barred Owl after dark.

Dec. 29 ~ Low 40's dF for a low, calm early but by 9-10 a.m. the northerlies began to blow. Will be a blowout today, so will work on stuff here. Next weeked looks more birdable. Have been dyin' get down to the brush country around Sabinal. Maybe cranes, geese, Sprague's and sparrows, even Mountain Plover if real lucky... plus all the south Texas stuff. It is great down there in the winter. Lots more activity and numbers down in those flatlands where just a few dF warmer, than up here in the colder hills. By 11 a.m. it was about 55dF and wind was 20 mph gusting to 30. Got up to 62 or so, but howlin'.

Dec. 28 ~ About 60dF for a low, which means fog, mist, and wet. We might have gotten a tenth of an inch of precip as the thickest part of it went by over a couple hours. Knocks the dust and cedar (Juniper) pollen down anyway. Saw the male Rufous Hummer out there early. Was low 60's about 1:30 when the leading edge of the front hit with northerlies and a 10dF temp drop in 15 minutes. But the real wind, the post-frontal blow, is not arriving until tomorrow. Checked the park in the afternoon. Sure neat now to often be the only one there again. There was a flock of at least 50 Robin there moving fast through the live oaks. They were not there yesterday and is the first double-digit flock I have seen this winter. It's movement. The imm. Zone-tailed Hawk was in the live-oaks hunting a very nervous squirrel. Saw the Coot, the 5 Whistling-Duck, a few Myrtle Warbler, couple Kinglet (Ruby), Hermit Thrush, and one Sapsucker sps. flew off, my second of the season, again unidentified as to species.

~ ~ ~

Howsabout we finish the last mystery bird and start a new one? The prior mystery bird of which there have been three pix posted now, is an immature Audubon's Oriole. That is, a hatch-year, bird-of-the-year, maybe three months old. It was taken September 18 so could be 4 months old maybe. It is just getting the first few scattered black feathers. Note the stepped, graduated tail, e.g., the graduacauda. Especially on the closed undertail shot this shows well.

Wasn't that fun? So let's do another. This one is another example of one of my favorite types of bird poses, what I call the 'Audubon pose'. Positions that seem 'not natural'. Audubon painted lots of birds in poses people called odd and weird and said things like 'they don't really do that'. Those folks just have not watched as long and hard as John James did. If you painted this frame those same folks would ask what the heck you were thinking making it like this. Yet this is a photograph of a real bird in action.
mysterybird3
This one might be a bit deceptive. It is a crop out of a frame that had no other birds in it. But otherwise not adjusted. The ground is parallel to the bottom of the frame. The bird is alive and well, operating as intended. Taken here in September.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 27 ~ Stayed about 60 overnight, still gray, was some fog early, they keep backing up, down, and off on the rain forecast. We need some badly, it is parched out there. Town run, e.g., park check. On way at the corrals on 360 east of the river there was a flock of 350 to 400 Brewer's Blackbird, at least 75 Red-winged in with them, which is the biggest number of Red-wings I have seen at once ever here in winter. About 4 Eurasian Starling there too. At the park, the family of 5 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck continue, missed the Coot, saw the Pied-billed Grebe, three ginchy Gadwall were there briefly. Great was a Pine Warbler, finally, above the screen shelters. My FOS but a NMD - not meaningful date, save for its lateness. Heard one Robin singing, nice since there have not been many around, this my first in a couple weeks. Nothing was up in the woods save a Green Kingfisher at the island. On way home another GreenKing was fishing at the 360 crossing.

Dec. 26 ~ Happy Boxing Day! At 11 p.m. last night it was 50dF, at 7 a.m. this morning it was 60! It seems backwards to my hardwired programming. Some fog and overcast, those nice sunny days are gone for a few now. Saw the male Rufous Hummer early-thirty. The Carolina Wrens seem to be getting much noisier, three were seriously counter-singing at once this morning. Photo-period is increasing, not even a minute per day yet so far, but several of our resident species will commence singing very shortly. Was a bout of mist once or twice over the day, got up to mid-60's maybe. Saw a couple Field Sparrow. The rest was the same gang. Some Eastern Bluebirds messing around along front fence in area of the box a pair uses, probably the pair. A pair of Black Vulture were in love, er, pair-bond, flight. They are great graceful flyers, ungainly as they may appear on the ground at roadkill.

Dec. 25 ~ Merry Christmas! Or as proper birders might greet this time of year: Merry Vagrants! Hope you got some good birds for presents. Was foggy and about 52dF for a low. We took a couple hour spinaround in the peak heat of afternoon, the low 70's, and sunny, nice. At the park were the 5 or so Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, the Coot, a few Myrtle Warbler, a couple Kinglet, and a few Blue Jay. The jays had just bathed and were preening it out, up in sunny holes up in the live-oak canopy. A few Mayfly were out in the heat. No birds on them though.

On 359 at the first corner south of 1050 there was a small group of birds. Kathy saw an imm. White-crowned Sparrow, there were Field and Chipping there too, some Cardinal, and a Long-billed Thrasher stopped for a photo in the open, in the shade of course, but close. We then drove around up on the knoll behind us and saw some of the common species, but nothing different. One close Hutton's Vireo. Had a quick look at what was likely a Spotted Towhee shooting between bushes. By then it was peak heat and getting quiet. Lots of Eastern Phoebe and Cardinal, everywhere you go. As we returned a couple hundred yards down road had a short binoc look at a sparrow along the corral that may well have been the missing from the yard a month now Clay-colored Sparrow.

Dec. 24 ~ A dF warmer at 25 this morning, and again got to about 75 on the sunny south side of the house. Third day straight with mid-20's lows and mid-70's highs. Weewow. At least we can open, air, and warm up house in the afternoons. Only seeing the male Rufous Hummingbird now for over a week, nearing two. The female probably moved to a neighbors, if it didn't leave. Couple Field Sparrow among the 75 or so Chipping on the seed. One Red-tailed Hawk. Too busy working on stuff here, maybe tomorrow we'll sneak a peek in.

Dec. 23 ~ Another cold one, we had 24dF this a.m. here. I saw a flock of 15 American Goldfinch nearing the feeder, most I have seen at once so far this winter. Only a couple came in before they left. About noon a Verdin was in the Mesquite-Hackberry combo tree out by the gate. Love seeing them in the yard. Otherwise the same, trying to get work stuff wrapped up. Never saw the sapsucker again after the initial sighting on the 19th. Have not seen the Clay-colored Sparrow all month. Got up to about 74dF, another 50dF diurnals day. Incredible.

Dec. 22 ~ A 23dF low, I saw KRVL hit 24, they were predicted at 29 for a low. Nice frozen bird bath. We took an hour walk upslope behind us into the Live-oak, Juniper, and Agarita. Got a mile of motion for the muscles in anyway. One Rufous-crowned and two Field Sparrow, a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, heard a Bewick's Wren and Black-crested Titmouse. No Spotted Towhee. Very few birds. In bugs only saw two of the 1.5-inch light green-winged Acridid Grasshopper. More birds in the yard. Afternoon got up to 74dF or so, for some 50dF diurnals!

Dec. 21 ~ A chilly 29dF low, but sunny, and afternoon got up to about 65dF and pretty nice. All seemed the same here in a.m. We took a spin around about noon. Kathy spotted some Turkey just down the road a bit. At the pond on golf course next to Waresville Cmty. was one Wilson's Snipe and about 40 some Red-winged Blackbird. Along UvCo 363 a hundred yards W. off 187 there were a couple male Pyrrhuloxia and a Verdin. Park in town had 9 Egyptian Goose, 1 Coot, a Great Blue Heron, couple Myrtle Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, slow. There were some mayflies though, and one Autumnal Meadowhawk. It was Rosie's last day before her couple or few week holiday shutdown and vacation so I grabbed some stuff to freeze for while she is gone. Nice to have an extra dozen of those tamales and some tacos stashed. Best tamales this side of Durango. A small winter flocklet right out front of the former Utopia on the River had some Chipping Sparrow, Eastern Bluebird, a few Myrtle Warbler, and at least a half-dozen American Goldfinch, all eating crushed pecans on the road.

here is a big end-of-year bonus break

First a couple of our winter visitors. We can suppose they are from nearest or nearer-by populations, but that of course is pure speculation. We don't know. Both are remarkably seasonal here and do not breed locally in the upper Sabinal River drainage. But both, varying in numbers annually, move into the area in fall, spend the winter, and leave early in spring.

Verdin

Verdin is a common widespread resident of the brush country, but is absent from the Sabinal River valley in summer. Some that winter appear to be returning individuals to the same site, such as one around our yard (this not that bird).



Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia is a breeding resident in the brush country, but does not summer or breed in the Sabinal River valley. In winter it can be common, as singles, small groups, and some years in flocks of 10 to 20 at once. Some years it is scarcer though. Note rounded horn yellow bill. Structure rules. I will get a good pic of a male in the sun one day.



Here is a final shot of the mystery bird.
mysterybird3
I will tell you what it is next year, er, next week.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 20 ~ Before midnight last night it was in the upper 30's dF, whence the southerly flow began and by morning it was upper 40's, and misting. Gray and damp all day, no real rain as of 3 p.m. and it does not look like we will get any. Maybe got up to about 52dF. Town run and park check where nothing new. Six each Egyptian Goose and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, the one, our, Coot continues. The Whistling-Duck were 3 adult and 3 immature. One Myrtle Warbler and two Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the woods. Left town with some of Rosie's tacos and a dozen tamales, man it's like Christmas. Kathy saw the male Rufous Hummingbird. Chipping Sparrow flock was 75 plus.

Dec. 19 ~ Weewow another 16dF low this morning, has to be another record. Two days in a row! Way colder than forecast, as so often here. Saw the male Rufous Hummer out there just after 9 a.m. whence in the 20's. Better was finally seeing a FOS Sapsucker! Better late than never. Not sure what type it was though. It flew out of the big dying Hackberry over into the corral. If it was over 25dF I might have chased it, but hoping it hangs a bit until it gets warmer out there. Mid-morn I heard a single Cedar Waxwing, a single American Goldfinch, and about noon a Long-billed Thrasher over in the corral. Sure was nice to hit that 50dF mark in the sun, might have made 56dF at peak heat, for some 40dF diurnals again. Counted four Common Ground-Dove at one flushing. Never saw the Sapsucker again dang it. In my binoc view it looked most like a first winter Red-naped. The years they occur, December is usually when they show up. Will have to go down as Sap sp. though for now, which stinks on a FOS. A great Cardinal count was had at last light when they all show up for last seed, 40! Gotta be my highest single flock count here. I presume we get additional birds from northward for the winter.

Dec. 18 ~ It was record-range low of 16dF this morning here. I saw 17 at KRVL (where 22 was forecast). Being south of the 30N line, this is cold, it will freeze yer fern. Extra seed rations and a dose of 'scrap' Pecans. Afternoon was about 58dF or so, and humidity was about 15%! Just the same gang for birds in the little bit o' peekin' I did. It was another work-the-day-away Wednesday here. One single lone White-winged Dove was around the seed. That flock seemed to depart when the accipiters were being relentless. Eastern Screech-Owl (Tex-Mex mccallii) was calling at first dark. There is some Cedar (Juniper) pollen starting to flow. Kathy's nose knows. Some male flower buds have been visible ten days now.

Dec. 17 ~ About 32dF for a low, got up to about 52dF at peak heat. The wind still has not stopped since the front arrived yesterday morning. Now you can feel the cold air advection, with next two mornings forecast in low 20's. Saw the male Rufous Hummer, heard some Cranes haulin' donkey south with the tailwind. Orange-crowned Warbler and Field Sparrow both out there. Saw the Ground-Doves but they have gotten real ginchy, must be the accipiters. Only saw about 75 Chipping Sparrow, and have not seen the Clay-colored since late November.

Dec. 16 ~ Front was coming through as day broke. A bit of mist fell, just a trace or two. Northerlies cleared it out quickly, not cold yet but will be the next few mornings. Wind blew all day, but had lots of work to do at the desk anyway. Saw the ad.ma. Rufous Hummingbird. Over 70 Chippy and over 30 Cardinal are the bulk of the seedeaters here. Titmice (Black-crested) and Chickadees (Carolina) work the pecans and hit the sunflower feeder daily. Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker are also in the yard pecans daily.

At last sun I go out on back porch to catch a few rays as we used to say in socal. Looked up in the pecan and there are a couple Chipping Sparrow, eyes closed, doing the same thing. And I think about that teeny reptilian part of their brain, which is apparently shared with me, and us, and with those few shared cells, we do the same thing at the same time. And I feel more connected. To them, earth, and the dinosaurs.

Dec. 15 ~ Low about 40dF, the story was the highs, record or near-record for many areas locally, for second day in a row. The record at SAT for this date was 81dF. I saw Del Rio and Junction were at 87 about 3 p.m., we were 84-85 (81 on cool shady front porch), KRVL and Uvalde were 84dF. Amazing for the date. Humidity was only 20%, so nice and dry anyway. Saw the male Rufous Hummer, and thought I saw the female too. So they are visiting neighbors places, cheatin' on us. Otherwise seemed the same gang. In butterflies saw singles of Gulf Fritillary, male Little Yellow, and a Lyside Sulphur, which was first of the month, Had a bunch of biz to do, Sunday afternoons are the Monday morning of the work week here, and it started early this week.

Dec. 14 ~ A low of 35 and a high of 85dF making for a 50dF diurnal spread is amazing. Was right around record high for the date. Amazing. We did not see any hummingbirds today. Presume they are at neighbors. Before noon I checked the park again in town, and had nothing different. The imm. fem. Green Kingfisher was at the boatramp and caught a fish in the shallows there. Looked a little Lepomis sunfish. They dive full throtle into less than a foot of water. They have to keep going full speed ahead until strike point. They must be able to stop on a dime and give 9.9 cents change underwater. Whaddabird. A few Myrtle and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, the Chipping Sparrow flock in the live-oaks. There were some Meadowlarks on 359, I got some pics, so we'll see, might maybe be able to tell what one of them was anyway. They didn't call, which I am fairly sure is a conspiracy amongst them. Kathy saw a Hermit Thrush at the bird bath. I saw a Snout fly by the porch, first of the month. It was so warm a bunch of crickets were singing at dusk.

A couple more pics of two of the best birds of the fall...

Woodcock
American Woodcock, Utopia Park Dec. 4, 2019.

Wood Thrush
Wood Thrush, Utopia Park Oct. 25, 2019.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 13 ~ Hope it was a lucky Friday the 13th to all. Started chilly at 29dF here. NOAA had KRVL progged for a low of 40, they froze. A category off, again. We have 3 nice sunny warm days lined up though, which is great. But which decreases activity around the yard and feeders. Town run and park check. Nothing there but 3 great chicken tacos to bring home for lunch. The Coot at the park was maybe the highlight. Not many places you can say that. The least seen kingfisher locally was on the spillway, a Belted. Oh, and an Orange-crowned Warbler. I think the Wilson's bugged out due to lack of bugs. Can't believe I have not yet seen any Flicker or Sapsucker this fall. It was a dry breezy 75dF in the afternoon.

Dec. 12 ~ Another 29dF low and an iced-over birdbath. Fog rolled in after sunup and didn't burn off until nearly noon. But that 62dF felt nice in the afternoon. Kathy saw the male Rufous Hummer today. The female could be at neighbors' places. Nothing different in birds today, and Thursday is hectic at the desk day. Sorry to see the news that the ABA blog is ending and being archived. Sad to see methinks. Well, we have outlasted the ABA blog (among many others), which started in 2010. These Utopia nature notes go back 16 years to 2004! Dare I say they contain the most detailed record ever recorded of the natural history of the area.

Dec. 11 ~ A chilly morning at 29dF here, and we were the coldest reading I saw locally. I had to run to town early, the windsheild and windows were coated solid in ice from the condensation freezing. Took five minutes of defrost to get drivable. Was hoping an early look at the park would give me a better shot for the Woodcock, nope, guess again. So far it remains a 5 minute miracle. The 6 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck continue, as does the Coot. There was a Green Kingfisher in the slough by the island. The immature Zone-tailed Hawk was also there again, presumedly it is roosting in the area. It was calling a fair bit, which you hardly ever hear, especially in winter. Compared to Red-tailed or Red-shouldered, Zoneys are quite quiet. Any day you get to hear one is a good day. Was able to get over the Woodcock miss by stopping at the taco trailer and hitting Rosie up for a couple breakfast tacos to bring home. The egg, chorizo, and cheese are awesome.

Dec. 10 ~ Temps dropped from about 60dF at midnight to lowest 40's by dawn. A little bit of drizzle, by noon was maybe a tenth of an inch. Holding fairly steady all day with temps, don't think we hit 50dF. The birds were the same gang, nothing different here at the hovelita. Saw the two Rufous Hummingbirds. Too busy with work though. Dec. is a messed-up month for our biz, we have a couple weeks of hectic prior to a couple wondering where they all went. Moving perishable aircargo (live fish and corals) out of LAX is not recommended during the Christmas shipping rush. But which is great for giving some breathing room to try to finish anything undone before the end of the year.

Dec. 9 ~ Low was about 52 dF. Today is the warmup before the next front. Scheduled arrival is overnight tonight, with some rain advertised, windy with a cool day tomorrow probably not reaching this morning's low. So this 81dF afternoon is quite nice. That imm. male Sharpy was out there first thing diving on the seed-eaters. Kathy saw a Field Sparrow at the bath. So warm the Anoles were sticking their heads out of the cracks in the stone wall of the house outside. One was heavilly shedding. I saw a young female Eastern Fence Lizard run up to a bee on the ground, mouth it, and release it. It was not stung, just decided against it, perhaps from experience. The northerlies from the front hit in the evening after dark, just light winds and no rain yet.

Dec. 8 ~ Ran about the same as yesterday, about 37-72dF. We went up to Lost Maples for a walk, about 9 to 1:30. Did maybe 1.5 miles each way up Can Creek to past the second pond a bit. Saw a few Kestrel and a couple Red-tailed Hawk on the way up the valley. Not many sparrows along road. At the trailhead parking lot feeding station one White-tipped Dove flew off. A fair number of little flocks with a few Titmouse and often a couple Chickadee were encountered. Ruby-crowned Kinglets with most of those flocklets, at least four Hutton's Vireo seen with the flocks, heard a couple Orange-crowned Warbler but not a Myrtle. The flocklet at the second pond had at least two Golden-crowned Kinglet chasing around together. A Green Kingfisher was at the second pond, looked a hatch-year (imm.) female to me. Had great looks at Olive Sparrow at the brushy (lower) end of the main big (first) pond, there were two together, at times on the mud and one went into the cattails. Heard Scrub-Jay and Canyon Wren, couple Ladder-backed Woodpecker, saw one Black Vulture and 2 Common Raven. saw two and heard another Hermit Thrush.

Weird walking through the place and seeing no flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, or herps (reptiles and amphibians). Actually did manage to muster one Sleepy Orange butterfly, and one Autumnal Meadowhawk dragonfly. Mayflies were very few and far between. Still some color on a few of the Buckley Oaks, but it is mostly over and out. Maples are done, only a few Lacey Oaks with a little yellow left. The Buckley are often great to late Dec., I think the drought did them in early this year. Heard a couple different chip notes that got away. One sounded like a Pine Warbler. It is amazing how loud people are on the trail. You would think they are trying to be heard in a high school hallway. You can watch your flocklets melt into the background away from the trail as the noise bubble goes by. The one time I said something (humorously of course) Mr. Muscles got louder and made more noise, of course. Citiots.

Dec. 7 ~ We ran about 37-72dF for a temp spread, sunny and nice. Took a couple hour spinaround noonish, primarily to look for the Woodcock at the park. No love there, came up empty. In the woods, heard an Orange-crowned Warbler, saw a few Myrtle and one Audubon's Warbler, one Hermit Thrush. On way out of park there was a Pyrrhuloxia in the deco garden under the entrance sign. Then over by the Methodist Church there was another one right in town. Looks a good winter for them here this year. Though they are resident in the brush country just south of us, they are only a winter visitor here. My question is are these wintering birds that invade most winters from close, or far?

Then we checked the pond on the golf course by Waresville. I had a quick look at a Sora, which is a great bird locally, I have only seen a few here. It flushed and plopped down in the water momentarily before disappearing into the reeds. I would presume it is the one we glimpsed a couple weeks ago since they are so scarce here. Other things there were an Eastern Meadowlark, the 45 or so Red-winged Blackbird continue, one Wilson's Snipe. Plus about 6 Autumnal Meadowhawk dragonflies.

zonetailedhawk
This is the imm. Zone-tailed Hawk wintering locally,
apparently roosting at the park (Dec. 11, 2019). I would
not be surprised if this is a locally hatched bird.


And now for just a little more squirming I wish I could see...  ;)
mysterybird2
This is a whole bird shot of the mystery bird posted three weeks ago.
Not the greatest on the head, but, the pic shows a definitive character
which absolutely proves the ID. Hint: the key definitive character
shown is the species specific epitaph.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 6 ~ A front came through at daybreak with northlies but dry and not cold. Low was 50dF and it got up to 75 or so. Pretty breezy. Did not see anything different around yard. Town run and park check did not turn up the Woodcock. It could be on the island where unless at near edge (like when I spotted it the other day) we can't see much. There was a pair of Gadwall on the pond, the FOS I have seen this fall. One Coot and 1 or 2 Pied-billed Grebe was it. Not much moving. A few Myrtle Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Guess I need to get out and look somewhere else. I see some color on some Red Oaks now, the last big hurrah of fall color. Out west at dusk that is Venus shining bright, with Saturn up above it.

Dec. 5 ~ It was light northerly flow and mid-40's dF about 2 a.m., whence southerly flow got here warming to low 50's by sunup, and fog followed shortly after. The gulf flow. Today will be excruciating knowing there is a Woodcock at the park and I have to be here at desk in office. Town run tomorrow so will just have to bear the pain. I hope I make it. Saw the two Rufous Hummers, the 2 Myrtle Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, no doubt the same one each Robin and Am. Goldfinch. Heard the Robin squawking over in the corral at dusk so it is roosting there, then hits the top of the big pecan to squawk at first sun every morning. Saw a Checkered White and a Variegated Fritillary fly across the yard.

Dec. 4 ~ Another nice sunny one, about 38-74 for a temp spread. It was the same gang around the house save one orange-billed immature White-crowned Sparrow. Probably a western Gambell's type. We get a few regularly. I had to run to town to get Sunflower seed, so a look at the park. Not seeing the Wilson's Warbler, it may have bugged out due to the lack of bugs. It was here mid-Sept. to mid-November or so. The returning Black-and-white Warbler we had several years there did that the last year it was there. Returned again for a couple months in fall, but the extreme drought meant no bugs and it left, it did not stick for the winter. You have to be flexible.

However up on the island in the woods there was one rather rotund bit of excitement. A WOODCOCK! Timberdoodle! Best hunter's name ever for a bird. It was shady and I had to jack ISO up to grainy but got a couple fuzzy docushots anyway. It was doodling about the timber. Once it jumped up on a log upslope from where it was, at least 16" of upward motion, which it did by hopping with both legs at once, wings remaining closed. It doodled right over that fallen timber. Whaddabird. This is the fifth one I have had here. Now three of my sightings form a date cluster of Dec. 4, Dec. 5, and Dec. 9, giving a clear signal of arrival timing. Considering detection rates of Woodcock, certainly having seen 5 here, many more have occurred. Most folks would say we don't see 10% of them. It is one of the most easily overlooked birds in America. You can look straight at one and not see it.

A funny thing is that on the way into the park Little Creek Larry was at the spillway, I told him I was going into the woods to look for a Woodcock. Darn if he wasn't gone when I came back out. When Kathy and I checked it Sunday a few days ago, I said to her, watch out for Woodcock. Ya see, my Birdinator ™ software had been pinging me. Which then gives me bird pangs. It is the most amazing app, it called the bird days before it got there when it was still on its way!

A fresh Texan Crescent butterfly was in the woods. A genetic dead-end due to mis-timed emergence due to the warmth. One Green Darner dragonfly flew by over the pond. Later afternoon at the house I heard Cranes going south.

Dec. 3 ~ We were 28dF this morn, NOAA had forecast 37 for KRVL, where they were 30, most of a category off, again. Single Robin, American Goldfinch, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, plus the same two (daily) Myrtle Warbler were it early. Mid-morn an Orange-crowned Warbler was around, surely the one Kathy saw last week, our one winterer apparently. Hit the mid-70's in the afternoon, I saw KRVL at 77dF! Which means about a 45dF diurnal temp spread. The seed eaters are not as tied to our place when it is nice out, they seem to forage in the natural habitats all around more. Which are mostly pretty weedy and seedy. Plus the imm. Sharpy and Cooper's Hawks were about as usual.

Dec. 2 ~ About 7 a.m. it was 31dF, I saw an hour earlier KRVL had a 28dF. So a sunny chilly morning. One Robin was squawking from up top of the big pecan at first sun. Mid-morn I had one lone blackbird fly over that looked like a Rusty (bare-eyed). Always key in on lone blackbirds. Otherwise it seemed the usual cast. Got up to about 66dF in the afternoon, dry, sunny, nice. I was of course inside stuck on the computer at the desk working. A whopping 3 species of butterflies visited the one Lantana that still has a few flowers: Gulf Fritillary, American Lady, and Sleepy Orange. Saw both Rufous Hummingbird, and the big herd of Cardinal (30+).

December 1 ~ Meteorological winter starts today, though climatological starts the 21st on the solstice. December through February are meteorological winter. The cool air from the front finally arrived, 45dF for a low with breezy north winds on it. Sunny and nice though, warmed up to mid-60's dF in the afternoon. Was all the same gang around the casita. We took a couple hour spinabout in the afternoon.

Just down the road a hundred yards we had a Long-billed Thrasher fly across in front of us. Nothing at Utopia Pk., it is dead a lot lately, methinks no bugs. There was one Audubon's Warbler and that was it for passerines. We went out UvCo 355 to look at Little Creek. Right where 355 hits the creek is always good for some reason. A dozen Black-bellied Whistling-Duck were there. By the ranch gate there we had a flock of at least 45 American (Water) Pipit. Also there was a Verdin, always nice to see. It was not a half-mile from Bandera County where rare. One Towhee got away that was a male Rufous-sided type, but I can't tell you if it was Eastern or Spotted, though did not see any spots. A Belted Kingfisher was on the powerline that crosses the creek. I heard a couple and saw one Pyrrhuloxia just south of Little Creek Larry's place. There were some Field Sparrow around, an adult Red-shouldered Hawk, heard a White-crowned Sparrow. Lots of Cardinal and Mockingbird, seemingly everywhere all along all the roads. Did see one Autumnal and two Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies, a few Sleepy Orange butterfly, and one Blanchard's Cricket-Frog.

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ November summary ~ ~ ~

November was fairly dry with a couple inches of precip if you were lucky when the few cells went by. The river is way down, dry in many sections up-valley. After the early freeze in October, there were a few days of freeze in first half of Nov., the last half was fairly mild. As for two main key winter wildlife forage items, it is not a robust Pecan or Hackberry crop year here. Some trees are good, but many more are not very. Juniper berry crop looks good though. So, gin it is.

Butterflies were 20 species, and nothing unusual, all just the last stragglers of the most likely common expected types. There was no southern invasion this fall. Likely due to the drought. Odes were 3 species: Green Darner, plus Autumnal and Variegated Meadowhawk. That was it. Turn out the bug lights, that party is over for the year.

Birds were fair, probably better than what I saw as there was not much time for looking. We again skipped Lost Maples in Nov. due to leaf-peepers. The trails are so loud the birds move away from them. Mostly Nov. here is about the returning of the winter species. Everything showing up hasn't been here since last winter, so a treat to see again. It was about 16 FOS species I saw over the month, so about every other day on average, there is a new arrival. Not much for Robins or Waxwings yet, just a very very few, same for American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin. Looks like they sent scouts and since they haven't returned with good food news they went somewhere else. We have two Rufous Hummingbird apparently wintering at our feeders.

The only thing really unusual was the Clay-colored Sparrow that has stayed with the Chipping flock around our place into late in the month. Don't think I ever had a November record before, and certainly have no winter record, so of interest. A second Broad-tailed Hummingbird for the fall was good Nov. 9-12. A Grasshopper Sparrow late in month was nice, easy to miss most falls. A flyover calling Sprague's Pipit is always great from the house. An Indigo Bunting (1st yr. male) stayed to mid-month, much later than usual. My FIFTH Black-throated Green Warbler of the fall here was tardy on Nov. 6. Little Creek Larry had a male Bufflehead with Ring-necked Ducks at the park after the big feeze and ice day mid-month. Looks like I saw about 86 species of birds locally for the month, and a few others were reported locally. Bird were 108 sps. at peak passage in September, dialed back to 97 sps. for October, and now have calmed to 86 sps. in November. See why I like September?

~ ~ ~ end November summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ November update header archive ~ ~ ~

November is when wintering stuff really starts to fill in. We started with a 26dF low, and the first rare bird of the month was... a Coot, at the park, on the 1st. Which might be a bird returning for its third winter there. There was also a FOS (first of season) Wood Duck there the 1st. Another FOS on the 1st were 2 Northern Harrier. FOS on Nov. 2 was Eastern Meadowlark, American Robin, and White-throated Sparrow. Nov. 4 saw my FOS Rufous-sided, oops, Spotted Towhee and American Pipit. Nov. 6 there was another Black-throated Green Warbler here at the bath. Better yet, late afternoon on the 6th a FOS Sprague's Pipit flew over giving a few calls. The 9th was my FOS Merlin. The second Broad-tailed Hummingbird of the fall here was present Nov. 9-12. We had hard freezes the 12th (chill was 13dF!) and 13th, windy with highs barely 40dF, so cold season is here, be prepared (long johns). An FOS Song Sparrow showed on the 14th. Saw my first Shoveler on the 15th. A male Wilson's Warbler at Utopia Park a month or two now is surely a returning winterer, often up in woods or on island. Saw my FOS Wilson's Snipe on Nov. 16. My FOS Brewer's Blackbird was Nov. 17. FOS American Goldfinch was the 22nd. A Grasshopper Sparrow on Nov. 24 is only I have seen this fall.

~ ~ ~ end Nov. header update archive copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~


Nov. 30 ~ Another month shot by. We barely knew thee. It was in the upper 60's dF all night with heavy fog-mist. The couple day heavy mist total is about .25 of an inch of precip. The approaching front cleared skies about noon, rather passively but dry air finally. Got up to an amazing lower-to-mid 80's dF in the afternoon! The cold air stalled northward and the temp drop won't happen until after dark, a roughly 40dF drop overnight to morning tomorrow. Saw the two Rufous Hummers. Heard a Long-billed Thrasher over in the corral which is my first detection here in five weeks. Have to wonder if related to the prior two that were here a month until about 24 October, and unseen or heard since.

americanwoodcock
American Woodcock at Utopia Park Dec 4, 2019.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 29 ~ That was a fast week, eh? Today we spent in the 60's with drizzle. Pretty soppy out there. Along 360 saw a small group of Meadowlark which flushed before I could ID them, and a group of 7 Killdeer, which are surely migrants from the north that winter hereabouts. At the park the continuing Coot, and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck family of 6, and one Green Kingfisher was it. Woods were dead. Around the yard it all looked the same. Supposed to stay soppy until tomorrow afternoon when the front is supposed to pass and clear it out. By dark it was heavy mist, like about 120% humidity.

Nov. 28 ~ Happy Turkey Day! Hope you had a nice tryptophan. We ran about 45-58dF for a temp spread, 3 days now mostly in the 50's. Overcast and humid, on the chilly side, no rain yet. A Merlin shot over early. The two Rufous Hummers were here. Saw an adult White-crowned, and had a quick look at the Clay-colored Sparrow! Amazing it is still here. Thought I heard a Pine Warbler but didn't go looking for it. Saw one was reported over near Bandera over a week ago. It is time for them to show. Heard some Brewer's Blackbird over in the corral. Otherwise was the regulars. Couple dozen Cardinal at minimum, a Caracara, a couple Ground-Dove... sure couldn't get much stuffing in one of those.

Nov. 27 ~ A weak front came in late yesterday with no precip but light northerlies. About 49dF this a.m. and might have made 58dF under the cloud cover. Rain is said to be inbound Thursday and Friday. I worked about 70 or so Chipping Sparrow when they were down on the seed, and did not see the Clay-colored Sparrow, just one adult White-crowned and a Field for other types.

Nov. 26 ~ A low of 60dF, and some sprinkles first half of morning. A tracelet of precip. I heard the White-throated Sparrow again, so it is around but not up for photos apparently. Saw the two Rufous Hummers. Too busy with work to look much today. Short week so swamped trying to cram it all in.

Nov. 25 ~ A low of 45dF, and by noon it was 80dF! Saw humidity at KRVL was 11%! Amazing. Great flaming pink sunrise. Saw one American Goldfinch at the sunflower feeder, first one ON the feeder so far this fall. Have lots to do in this short week, and now there is rain forecast Thursday when I hoped to sneak in a lookabout. The two Rufous Hummingbird were here, the rest was the regular repeat offenders. Looking like late fall out there, lots of sticks (bare trees). We can see the Cypress along the river from the living room sofa again now that the pecans are bare.

Nov. 24 ~ Saw 35dF around sunup. That birdbath water is cold first thing. When ya get back in from it and the 7 a.m. (ya gotta love these late sunrises) seed toss, you do not need a handle on the coffee mug. Mostly the same gang around the house, but Kathy saw an Orange-crowned Warbler at the bath, I have not seen one in at least a couple weeks. A small group of about 10 American Goldfinch came by briefly. Thought I heard the White-throated Sparrow. Saw both Rufous Hummingbird, the adult male and ad. female are both still here.

We took a spin around for a couple hours mid-day. At UP there was the family of 6 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (I must have missed one young a couple times) that has been there a couple weeks. Saw the Pied-billed Grebe, missed the Coot. Below spillway were two Lesser Goldfinch, most of which are gone a few weeks now, they have become very scarce as usual once it gets cold and starts freezing. A few stay around feeders. Seems like there are very few bugs around, both in the woods, and along the riveredge. It's the drought. The Buckley (aka Spanish or Red) Oaks are getting some color on the ridges now, mostly yellows to oranges, but they will turn real red in a week or two.

We checked the cattail pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. Great was a Grasshopper Sparrow we had great views of, only one I have seen this fall. A male Pyrrhuloxia also flew in to one of the little hackberries and offered views. About 45 Red-winged Blackbird is a big uptick in their numbers here now. I had a glimpse of a white butt disappearing into the reeds that looked like a Sora's arse to me. It got away. We saw a few Autumnal and Variegated Meadowhawk. Then we cruised UvCo 361 south of our place a couple miles. No hawks, no water, hardly any sparrows, no Say's Phoebe. Saw a couple Kestrel, a couple Shrike, at least 20 Common Raven in a big tight flock, some Field Sparrow, 50 Brewer's Blackbird, and at end of road one Spotted Towhee and a Rufous-crowned Sparrow.

There were a few butterflies along 361 in the warm low to mid 70's dF warmth. At least a half-dozen Orange Sulphur were the first I have seen all month. Kathy thought she had a Mestra. There were Gulf and Variegated Fritillary, a few Sleepy Orange, a couple American Lady, and a Comm. Checkered-Skipper. One Dogface flew across the yard later. The butterflies and odes are all but over for the year. It is a long wait until they get good again. March and April for butterflies, April and May for odes. Winter is for working on the pix you took of them from spring to fall.

Nov. 23 ~ Low was 38dF in wake of the dry for us cold front. Sunny and got up to 73dF or so in afternoon. Pretty darn nice, and dry air too. Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks are harrassing everything. Heard American Goldfinch again overhead, saw 30 some Brewer's Blackbird. Only saw the male Rufous Hummingbird today. Trees are sure getting leafless. Got a chigger, sure was nice to go without any for over a month. These winter ones always seem like they must be pissed off. They irritate right away when they go in. Must have been waiting forever for an idiot to walk by. Always get a few in winter from walking in dry grass. Had a distant view of a Zone-tailed Hawk moving along the ridge behind us. Had one of the small sphinx moths buzz me when I was smoking pipe just at dark.

Hey Imma let you squirm another week on the mystery bird. Hope you don't mind.

indigobunting
This is a male Indigo Bunting, presumably a first fall bird. I never got to study these over a winter and watch them change into blue. This is a pretty spiffy plumage, a blue-spotted bunting. The earliest young we get out of the nest are in mid-late May. So this bird (photo Oct. 15) could be about 5 months old.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 22 ~ Was about 67dF all night until about 6 a.m. when the cold front arrived. Was about 52dF by 8 a.m. with breezy north winds, but not a real strong blow. In the morning I had 5 calling American Goldfinch fly over, my FOS for them. In town at the park I flushed about 10 Wood Duck out of the slough in the woods, and a couple Blue Jay were there. Saw Little Creek Larry. He said the day after the ice (would be 13th) there was a small flock of Ring-necked Duck at the park with one Bufflehead amongst them! The buffle is a great fall bird here. He also mentioned he was still seeing a White-tailed Kite out 355 toward Little Creek. Heard a Barn Owl right after dark. At dusk there is a great conjunction of Venus and Jupiter very close together, low to the southwest, with Saturn higher over them a little southward. Nice.

Nov. 21 ~ A low if you can call it that of 66dF, in strong southerly flow ahead of the next front to hit tomorrow morning. Cloudy, breezy, might sprinkle, and not hot or cold. Saw the imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk out there, the seed eaters are nervous. The White-winged Dove have barely been around. Too many attempts, they departed for safer grounds. I see some in town. Otherwise the same gang. Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker are working the pecans. Not much for a crop this year, some for wildlife, but in our yard with 7 decent trees we got about zip. Some trees around town seem to have done well though.

Nov. 20 ~ Low was about 62dF! Maybe a little mist, very damp. But not cold. We have low-end chances for rain for a couple days, which usually means we don't get much but drizzle-mist, but so, it is wettish out. Stuck at the desk in office anyway. No matter. Still raining leaves, it was 20 mph winds with gusts to 30 from the south for a few hours. All the birds I saw were the same gang. Sharpy was floating around.

Few things make birding harder than falling leaves. We are so keyed in on picking up motion, and this just totally screws that. We also key on color, and that is shot too. You have to mentally re-calibrate to just key on motion other than the leaf motion. More easily said than done. It would be easier if the falling leaves didn't look so darn pretty. The leaves generally have a certain pattern of motion, so you dial that in as the standard, and then run your search pattern app for non-standard movements.

Nov. 19 ~ About 40dF and foggy at sunup, but burned off mostly by 10 or so, making for a nice sunny day. We were around 75 by noon. It was a work day, as they all are, so didn't see but the usual gang outside. Saw only Chipping, Lincoln's, and Field Sparrow, but did not work the flock hard. The two Rufous Hummers were around. Too busy to bird. There ought to be a law...  ;)    It is raining leaves as it turns to sticks out there. Hackberries, and even the Maples for that matter, vary tremendously as to what colors they turn as they change in fall. Some of our hackberries turn brown, some nearly black, others a great yellow. A guy here that knows things told me there is a genetic reason certain maples are always red no matter what every fall, while others are not. Seems the same with Hackberries. It is more than just environmental as seen by different trees in different colors, side by side, repeatedly year after year. There is a Maple at Lost Maples they call 'old faithful' because it turns flaming red no matter what every year. Drought or floods, or how it gets cold (fast or slow, wet or dry), doesn't matter, it is the same color every year.

Nov. 18 ~ A 36dF low was nearly chilly. Got up to an outstanding 75 or so! Sunny, skies bluer than you ever see spring to fall when humidity in the air. After the FOS at last light yesterday, a flock of 20+ Brewer's Blackbird flew by southbound. They are back. A couple Robin were at the bath. Heard the Lark, and saw one ad. White-crowned Sparrow. Have not been seeing the Inca Dove lately but still a couple Ground-Dove around. Besides office work, got some more outside and yard stuff done whilst not too hot or cold. Harder to do now that we go straight from summer to winter with just a wee bit o' fall between.

Nov. 17 ~ A 42dF low was a big warmup. Overcast early. In the morning saw two adult and one imm. White-crowned, and a couple ea. Lincoln's and some Field Sparrow amongst the Chippies. Some dang House Sparrow too. The two Rufous Hummingbird continue. Had a flock of Meadowlark fly over, but no calls for any IDs. A N. Harrier went by too. They might have been connected. Couple Myrtle Warbler, a Kinglet or two, 3-4 Pine Siskin flew over calling. Must be a non-local Golden-fronted Woodpecker out there because the male was chasing the dickens out of one to get it out of the yard pecans. Worked on stuff here all day, it got up to a wonderful 70dF late in day when sun finally showed. Last light I heard then saw my FOS Brewer's Blackbird fly over (two) heading west toward wherever they roost is.

Nov. 16 ~ A chilly 26dF low. This second front was so weak of wind or rain as to be barely noticeable, but it packed a cold punch. I took a couple hour spin-around mid-day. At the golf course pond by Waresville I saw my FOS Wilson's Snipe, a Savannah Sparrow, about 10 Red-winged Blackbird, and one male Common Grackle which departed alone. I had several random Myrtle Warbler flocks, one at the county-line crossing just NW of town, another near the Utopia Hill Ranch cattleguard, another at the Spring Branch crossing, totalling about 40 Myrtles, plus two Audubon's. No Orange-crowned around, the cold may have pushed them out. A big influx of Myrtles. As were the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, about a dozen were seen in the same three flocks. No Pine Warbler yet. At least a dozen Eastern Bluebird were at the Spring Branch crossing. Water sure is low, just wet holes. A mile past that crossing a Canyon Towhee was in an area of big brush piles. A couple flyover flocks of Meadowlark were seen, out of one group I heard only Eastern and out of the other only several Western called. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk just south of town which looked like the one I got a grabshot of at the park a week or so ago. It is an immature. Wonder if it was locally hatched, so then one that is still here hanging? Probably. Most if not all of my prior wintering birds are adults. We'll see if it sticks. The local breeding birds seem to depart in fall as the regular near-daily sightings over the town or yard cease, in October.

mysterybird
Here is a quiz bird. It jumped when I shot and the head was cut off,
This was not intentional. Prior, got a couple shots of the whole bird.
It is a scarcely seen plumage so I thought maybe fun or interesting.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 15 ~ A weak front went through yesterday late which cleared it out finally, and we had a 28dF low. Was 45 by 10 a.m., which feels great. The whole few days event precip might have been .25 of an inch. But lots of real cold. Finally broke not just 50dF but 60dF this afternoon! Local stations were reading 61, 63, and 65dF about 3 p.m., the thrill of it all. Opened up, warmed and dried out the house and cottage. Town run fer errands. One female Shoveler was the excitement at the park, first I have seen this fall, though Little Creek Larry said he had a few a month or so ago. The Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, and male Wilson's Warbler continue. Here at the hovelita the Song Sparrow was heard a few times, finally seen again late, so still about. Heard the White-throated Sparrow a couple times, saw the one remaining Lark Sparrow, one adult White-crowned and the Clay-colored Sparrow, a hundred Chipping, couple Field, and late one Lincoln's Sparrow showed. Eight species of sparrow in the yard today here at sparrowtopia. There are Vesper, Savannah, and Rufous-crowned within a mile or less. And surely others around as well. The two Rufous Hummers are only hummers here now. Had a couple Myrtle Warbler and a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Hermit Thrush, and Kathy had a few Robin at the bath while I was in town.

Nov. 14 ~ About 40dF for a low was nice, to not be freezing. A bit of drizzle in morn. Outstanding was a FOS Song Sparrow on the seed out the office window. It is the first I have seen in the yard in 6 years here, only had one in yard before, Nov. of '13. They are so strictly of riverside (or pondedge) habitat here, they are absent 500 yards away. Heard my second Golden-crowned Kinglet of the fall. Saw one adult White-crowned and the Clay-colored Sparrow today. Hear the Rufous Hummers, the big green one seems to have departed. It was a Broad-tailed. Smart to keep going. We have been at or below 40dF for most of 3 days now. This is way early in season for this cold of an event (mid-20's with chills below 15dF) for this duration. Hope it is not a sign. Average for now is low 70's for highs. I saw a good solid 47dF in the afternoon today. Great to be out of the 30's!

Nov. 13 ~ About 31dF for a low, and the winds were fairly calm to very light, so not as bad as yesterday morn. Overcast and chilly. Saw the imm. Sharpy out there. Heard the hummers. Fortunately it is a desk day, near a heater. It might have gotten up to 38dF or so peak heat, but supposed to hold fairly steady and not freeze in the morning. Two days of 30's! I think it did break some earliest ever cold records in central Texas. Over a hundred cold records were broken over east half of U.S.

No Lincoln's Sparrow again today, amazing, they must have left. There were three for several days up to Sunday. In the afternoon I did see two adult and one imm. White-crowned Sparrow at once. After 4 p.m. I picked the Clay-colored Sparrow out of the Chippies, so it is still here, but no Indigo Bunting. This is my latest staying Clay-colored here ever (n~16 falls). The Rufous Hummers were around, not sure I had the apparent Broad-tailed though besides thinking I heard it in the morning. Wasn't outside much though, was not a day for lollygagging about out there.

Nov. 12 ~ Low was about 26dF, I saw at 8:30 KRVL was 25dF with a chill factor of 13! It's lovely out, come on down. Saw the hummers out there early after checking feeders, bird bath was iced over, wind still blowing but we seemed to have missed most of the precip. It was about .2 here. But a little ice on the porch where roof dripped. Windows are fogged, gonna be hard to see stuff out there. Icicles got about 3" long from the mist-drizzle along the eaves. It really warmed up, just after noon it was a sizzling 28dF. Arctic air. Extra bird seed rations today. The Chipping Sparrow count I would put at a hundred now. They really thickened up in the last couple days. Late afternoon saw an adult White-crowned Sparrow, briefly bare-eyed, it seemed to have an orange bill. Did not see the Indigo Bunting or the Clay-colored Sparrow. It allegedly got up to about 40dF, but was below freezing again by 7 p.m., gonna be a long cold night.

Nov. 11 ~ Low was about 65dF, warm moist southerly flow being sucked up in front of the cold front inbound. I saw 5 Robin early, then a bit later Kathy had 11 birds fly over high she thought were Robins. Saw the big hummer again, still looks Broad-tailed, still no good looks or pix, again I heard soft Broadie chips though. Mid-morn I first heard, then saw the adult White-throated Sparrow (white-striped morph), which is surely the one that showed up here Nov. 2 and I have thought I heard a few times since then. Sure love to have one stick for a winter, or at least a picture. These white-striped adults are one of the prettiest birds in America. That head is spectacular.

The front hit after 1 p.m. and when the first major gusts arrived it was a blizzard of yellow leaves. Thousands of them at once from the Pecans, Hackberry, and Mulberry, it was incredible. By 3 p.m. KRVL was 39dF with a chill of 30 with light rain. Supposed to blow all night until the morning. Will look a different place out there tomorrow. At midnight it was 29dF or so, and some of that 'unknown winter precip' was falling. Some seemed like ice pellets, some was sleet, some seemed pretty close to flaky.

Nov. 10 ~ Was 45-65dF for a temp spread, cloudy all day, front coming in tomorrow. Worked on stuff here mostly, supposed to get real windy and real cold. Also spent an inordinate amount of time watching hummer feeders. We saw the big green one a few times, and I got some shots, far and high against a white-gray sky, am not sure of any ID help, unless you do shape and structure. I still think it is a Broad-tailed, especially because I heard some soft Broad-tail chips. It is too white below for an Anna's, has a big bill, and a big long rear-body, tail, and big wings. Kathy saw it near last light so another chance for study tomorrow. I saw the rusty Indigo Bunting again. Great was a FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet, a couple Ruby-crowned were around, one Orange-crowned Warbler and a male Yellow-rumped Warbler that was an intergrade. Was at the park briefly to 'free Willie' and saw the 5 Whistling-Ducks still there. I acclimated and returned a Red-breasted Sunfish I had raised from under 2" to about 6", back into the pond below the dam from whence he came.

Nov. 9 ~ Low about 45dF, high was maybe 71 or so, sunny, pretty darn nice out. In the a.m. there were at least 3 Robins here in the yard, first day with more than one. An imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk was sitting on the power pole over in corral. When it left, it was about 60 yards out, just past the road out front, a FOS Merlin buzzed it! Kathy had seen something shoot by earlier, very near the Coop, surely this was it. It must have been soaring around with an eye peeled, and when the Coop left, it strafed it! Ya gotta love a Merlin! I could hear the wind in the Merlins wings as it stooped, it was doin' a hundred when it buzzed by the Coop. Too cool. The Coop thinks it is all that, Mr. Bad, and owns the place, and here comes a bullet by so fast, it could only dream of achieving such speeds.

Went to town and checked park again. The Coot remains. Nothing in the woods. A few Myrtle Warbler and Chipping Sparrow up by entrance live-oaks. Butterfly garden was dead, a few Gray Hairstreak, one Pipevine, one Sleepy Orange, one Am. Lady. Pitiful. But Big Ern was in town so I left happy, with a pound of BBQ pork. Talk to ya after the siesta. It is really looking fall out there, lots of stuff is yellow and the Cypresses are really getting really rusty now. Not seeing anything on the Red Oaks yet, the real sure thing annual color show here. Some of the deco Maples around town and along 187 are looking good. I hear so-so for color at Lost Maples. As you read here first back in mid-October.   ;)

The two Rufous Hummers were here, and are the only species here the last few weeks. Until... nearing last light a big hummingbird was on the feeder out office window. Too little light to ID it! I hate when that happens. Green above, and big. It was either Broad-tailed or Anna's. Obviously way bigger than a Ruby-throat or Black-chinned. Hope to nail it down in the morning. Looked like a Broad-tailed.

mockingbird
Behold! The great Mockerdini! Able to mimic other birds at a level fooling expert birders so well as to have had some bolt out of the house in just skivies and bins. This of course is the state bird of Texas, and several other states, a Northern Mockingbird. This might be what keeps you up at night singing in summer, those are mostly unmated males. Sometimes they will do this wing-flash to flush insects up out of the grass. This one was at the bird bath, so perhaps narcissistic. Actually I think this was likely a method of checking the water for hidden predators. Wing-flash it. Ten times. Finally it actually went to bath edge and drank.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 8 ~ About 40dF for a low, drizzly, light showers, at least the wind laid down. By 10 a.m. there was a little less than a centimeter of new precip, from the overnight and early morn. We are a bit under an inch then since yesterday, about .8. NOAA radar shows under .2 for here. Sometimes it is close, other times way way off, due to the hills, and somewhat, the nature of the rain. I would go .85 by the afternoon for precip total here since yesterday.

Heard the two Rufous Hummers out there early. Amazing was seeing a Clay-colored Sparrow and an Indigo Bunting. It is surely the latest Clay-colored date I have here, and the one here the last couple days of October. Never had one winter here yet so far (n~16). The Bunting is surely the rusty one of the two here a couple days ago. Both are great late dates. Town run in the drizzle, so a park check. A great late date was a family group of five Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, 2 adults, 3 juveniles. I have not seen any here for months. The Coot continues. A Zone-tailed Hawk was sitting in the Cypress trees across the pond at the park. Must have been a hawk through the woods, they were dead. At the south end of the island in the tangle was the male Wilson's Warbler, amazingly back wintering for its second winter here.

Nov. 7 ~ Some drizzle and about 67dF for a low, a front is inbound. Thought I heard the White-throated Sparrow out there early at first seed toss. Heard an Audubon's Oriole whistling out there early morning. Front got here before noon with a little bit of rain and wind. There went the high temp for the day. The first blast of wind rained yellow leaves off the pecans. By the afternoon the rain seemed to have mostly passed, we got a half-inch, which is great. About 3 p.m. temps were upper 40's, chills in lower 40's, and dropping. The two adult Rufous Hummers were around, male and female. The rest was the same gang. Saw one Queen early before the front hit. The Mulberry is really yellow and dropping leaves now, and so are many of the pecans, and some of the hackberries. Some of the Cypress along river are going rusty, others still greenish but yellowing.

Nov. 6 ~ Low was 69dF, was cooler at 11 p.m. last night. A moist tropical airmass is over us, again. Sure could use some rain. Front due in tomorrow morning. Saw a N. Harrier go over low again about 9 a.m. A Kinglet (Ruby) was trying to go to the bath but the crowd of Cards made it too nervous. Just after 11:30 Kathy spotted a Black-throated Green Warbler coming into the bath! This is the FIFTH one I have seen locally this fall, surely the best showing in 16 falls. It was the start of a bathing frenzy which lasted 10 minutes. Amazing was two Indigo Buntings coming in, females methinks an adult and an immature which were interacting, well sorta fighting. Kathy asked if that suggested they were related. I reminded her we must not be anthropomorphic in our animal behavior interpatations. Those were the first two Indigos in a week, and running on the tardy side for them here. Got pix of the buntings and the warbler. Otherwise slow until just before 5 p.m. when I was outside and heard first, then looked up to see a Sprague's Pipit right overhead, which continued calling a couple more times as it flew off. Probably came up off the grass airstrip. Always a great bird from the yard. I have worked hard for them many a time before. So I would say the day ahead of the front was very good. I bet there was more good stuff out there, like at the park. Stuck at the desk on Wednesdays and Thursdays here.

Nov. 5 ~ It was about 60dF at midnight, and 65 by dawn. Mostly cloudy, got up to about 76dF. There was nothing goin' on around the yard most of the day. A pile of plucked White-winged Dove feathers over under the big Mulberry tree indicated why. One of the accipters was here. It should be gone a couple days now anyway. It was the deadest day here for birds in months. Saw a couple Queens on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. Counted at least 45 Chipping Sparrow, only saw one imm. White-crowned Sparrow, no adults, no White-throated, one Lark Sparrow, a few Field. Heard Screech-Owls and Barred Owl after dark.

Nov. 4 ~ About 47dF for a low is fine. Mostly sunny is nice too. When tossing seed first thing I heard a FOS Rufous-sided Towhee upslope behind us from the Agarita under the live-oaks. Saw one imm. White-crowned Sparrow and neither adult White-crowned or White-throated. About 10:30 or so at least a couple FOS American (was called Water) Pipit flew over. I missed a hawk heading south fast. Heard a Kestrel out there. Noonish there was one of the Aellopos Sphinx moths (Hummingbird Hawkmoth) on the Blue Mist Eup but when I got back with camera it was gone and never came back. Other things on the Blue Mist were a Monarch, a Gray Hairstreak, an American Lady, a Sachem and a Clouded Skipper. One Cloudless Sulphur was bouncing around yard again, a Little Yellow went by. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby), an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Myrtle Warbler. Since warm out I caught the Anole inside the cottage the last week since it got cold, and put it outside. Both adult Rufous Hummer still here, male and female. Saw 3 Lincoln's Sparrow at once out the office window, within 8' of each other.

Nov. 3 ~ Another 35dF low, clear and sunny. Heard the Robin early morn, it must have roosted in the corral Hackberries. I did not see the White-throated or the adult White-crowned Sparrow. I did see TWO imm. White-crowned Sparrow. Turnover. I'll have the passerine turnover please. The Chipping Sparrow flock is 40+ birds now, and there are at least 3 Lincoln's Sparrow around the yard. Saw a Field Sparrow with the Chippies, no Clay-colored, one Lark Sparrow, a couple each Ground-Dove, and Inca Dove. One Myrtle Warbler was at the bath briefly, heard another later. Still the two adult Rufous Hummers here, male and female. Butterflies on the Blue Mist Eup were a Clouded Skipper, a Queen, an American Lady, and a Gray Hairstreak. One Cloudless Sulphur blasted past. One Swift Setwing dragonfly still out there. Got up to low 70's dF briefly at peak heat around 4 p.m. Worked on things around here that need doing before it gets too cold out.

Nov. 2 ~ A 35dF low is chilly but warm compared to yesterday. Around 9:30 my FOS Meadowlarks flew low over the patio and house, a couple dozen at least. The only flight notes I heard were Eastern Meadowlark. The biggest ID problem is back. In muted fresh plumage they can be tough when silent. Mid-morn a lone Robin called from the front yard, my FOS. Four Pine Siskin were on the seed out back, first in yard this fall, though our FOS were two at Garner last Sunday, Oct. 27th. There were TWO White-crowned Sparrow out back. I presume the first adult from a couple days ago stuck and another showed up. The second bird is an immature, both are the default type here, eastern nominate leucophrys.

Then shortly before noon there was an adult White-throated Sparrow, FOS, which was the much sharper looking IMHO white-striped morph with a big yellow lore, such a striking head. Audubon's Oriole went through the yard a couple times. We walked out on the road for an hour noonish. Lots of Chipping Sparrow, some Field, several Lincoln's, one Vesper, lots of Cardinals, a few Mockingbird, some Lesser Goldfinch, Carolina Wren and Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, the usual gang. Thought I heard a Long-billed Thrasher. After we got back I heard the Pyrrhuloxia across the road.

I ran to town late in the afternoon, today was the annual craft fair so it was packed, and surely way worse earlier. Got some of granny's jellies: Agarita, Mesquite Bean, Dewberry, and Wild (Escarpment) Cherry. Just drive down the road and spot granny, it's like utopia. I felt like I robbed the jelly bank. Checked the park, it was dead at 4 p.m. but for a few residents and six stinkin' Egyptian Goose. One Monarch though. Went to the library butterfly garden and a few butterflies were there. A Queen, a Buckeye, a few Pipevine Swallowtail, a Sachem and a Whirlabout, a Dusky-blue Groundstreak, one Painted and 6 American Lady, a Sleepy Orange, man it is a bad butterfly fall.

Saving the day was a Cerambycid (Longhorn) Beetle, apparently a Mesquite Borer (Placosternus erythropus). Got pix, was on Thoroughwort Eupatorium. Have not seen one in a number of years locally, probably a decade or so. My only photos were at Big Springs Ranch above Leakey, and low res, so this was great to have one drunk on Eupatorium and not care about my lens 2" away. It appeared to be raking the flowers with its front legs and then wiping them off on mouth. There were also a few Ailanthus webworm moths on the Eup.

mesquiteborer
This is a Mesquite Borer (Placosternus erythropus), one of the
Longhorn (Cerambycid) beetles. Methinks we are safe calling this
a bee mimic. I have seen them with bright red-orange legs.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 1 ~ We were welcomed to November with ice on the birdbath. It was about 26.5dF at 8 a.m.! One local in town said they had 26 as well. KRVL showed a 25 briefly! Cold all morn. At least it did warm into lowest 60's later afternoon. Did not see anything unusual around the yard, but two FOS Northern Harrier flew over low at treetop level, both immatures. Town run day. At the post office when I got out of car there was an Audubon's Oriole singing and calling up top in the sun on the big live-oak at NE corner of parking lot. Man it is like utopia here. Checked the park and it was slow but for a couple low-end FOS's. The FOS Coot there may well be the bird that wintered the last two years, and as such significant. If so it is a Maverick Coot, a loner choosing to winter hanging out with a Pied-billed Grebe. What if the other Coots knew? They all probably wonder what happens to Fred in the winter. He is hanging out with a grebe! Their lobed toes match anyway. The other FOS was Wood Duck calling as it flushed out of the swampy slough as I walked back into the woods. I heard the Wilson's Warbler over on the island. There was a small winter flock of E. Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, and Myrtle Warbler up at the live-oaks by the entrance, one Audubon's Warbler with them. Some Cypress and Pecan trees are still green, others turning yellow or brown, a few fairly leafless already. Maxmillian Sunflower is the yellow flower blooming along riversedge, showing quite well now.

~ ~ ~ October summary ~ ~ ~

The drought continues, we are way behind on water since the tap turned off in June. Was 1.8" of precip for us here in October. The river is very low flow, the fall flower bloom is very restricted, weak blooms from a few species, mostly those in riverside or flood zone habitats. Pecan and Hackberry crops are weak, though some trees have fruit or nuts. Persimmon crop was fair but mostly gone now. First freeze of the fall was late in month, briefly the 27th, and a good 6 hours on the morning of the 31st.

Butterflies were about 46 species, a very poor showing, only twice in last 16 falls was it less diversity. There is no fall flight and invasion from the south this year. In years of good fall invasions I have had 46 species in one stop in 45 minutes. Not the whole month. And many this month were OOI: 'only one individual' seen. Numbers are way down with the rain and flowers. A few Laviana White-Skipper were around, which are LTA - less than annual here, so the highlight of the month. Otherwise it was just the most expected usual normal common stuff. Had to scrape for a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a Metalmark, any blue, it was amazing really how few butterflies were around. There was no big Monarch flight for us here this year, they missed us too. The FOS Monarch was Oct. 2, there were no early ones this year. I missed one shiny satiny white thing that was likely a Florida (Tropical) White.

Odes were a weak showing this month as well. I count 22 species, and it was the statistically most likely. The first Autumn Meadowhawk of the fall showed up late in the month. No raries, nothing even scarce, and the numbers crashed fast early in the month. The ode season is all but over for the year.

At least the birds were good in October! I am coming up with about 97 species for the month locally, so not as much diversity as September, but it was good. The best two birds were a WOOD THRUSH at the park on the 25th (ph.), and a LONG-EARED OWL calling for over an hour here the evening of the 21st. A couple Long-billed Thrasher were around our place, and we had a couple at Garner S.P. A Broad-tailed Hummingbird from the last few days of Sept. made it to Oct. 1 before departing. A few Rufous Hummingbird are seeming to stick and may well winter. A couple Black-throated Green Warbler were nice.

~ ~ ~ end October summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ October update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

October started with a couple left-overs from September, four Rufous (1 may be Allen's), and one Broad-tailed Hummingbird were at our feeders Oct. 1. The big hummer blowout finally happened, Oct. 3. Ruby-throats are still around, but not the ridiculous numbers we had early in the week. My first Monarch was Oct. 2, a Bell's Vireo was here on the 3rd. The 4th there was a Black-throated Green Warbler, and first of fall of both Blue-headed Vireo and Common Yellowthroat in the yard. October 5th had four FOS (first of season) sps., virtually all what are 'winter' species here: Kestrel, House Wren, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Orange-crowned Warbler. Finally the first front of fall arrived Oct. 7. My FOS Sharp-shinned Hawk was the 8th. A White-tailed Kite was reported at Vanderpool on the 8th (Laura Levy). Two Long-billed Thrasher have been around our place the last week, one has been present since late August. The 2nd fall front, a stronger one, hit early a.m. on the 11th, with a high of about 50dF, 45dF or so colder than the 10th! On the 12th I saw my FOS Pied-billed Grebe, Vesper Sparrow, and Myrtle Warbler. Also on the 12th was a great late date for Common Nighthawk. The 13th we had our FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet after probably hearing them a couple days. The evening of the 15th and pre-dawn on the 16th we got 1.2" of rain! Saw my FOS Swainson's Hawks (2) liftoff the 16th. The 18th was the first 'winter flocks' of Myrtle Warbler, Chipping Sparrow and Eastern Bluebird. The 19th we had FOS Hermit Thrush, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Pyrrhuloxia. Late evening the 21st there was a LONG-EARED OWL calling near our place, among 5 species of owls that evening. My FOS Cedar Waxwing was a single, on morning of the 22nd. Major cold front and blow Oct. 24-5, about .6 of rain, 39dF and sub-freezing chill factors morning of 25th. A WOOD THRUSH at Utopia Park the 25th is the best passerine vagrant of the fall so far. My FOS Sandhill Crane was the 26th. Our FOS freeze was an un-forecasted surprise on Oct. 27! We had two FOS Pine Siskin at Garner S.P., also on Oct. 27. An adult White-crowned Sparrow was my FOS on Oct. 30. We had a 5-6 hour freeze (got down to 29dF!) on Oct. 31!

~ ~ ~ end Oct. header archive copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

Oct. 31 ~ Saw 29dF on the front porch about 8 a.m., KRVL had the same. Wind chill at KRVL at 9 when 31dF was 22dF. So a cold end to October with a 5-6 hour freeze. Chilly willy. Hit 40dF about noon, but with a cold breeze on it. it is like winter out there. High and low were about 25dF below average. Heard two Rufous Hummers, two Inca Dove, thought sure I heard the White-crowned Sparrow too. Should be some raptor, crane, and goose movement today or tomorrow behind the front. It did climb into lowest 50's dF later in the afternoon. I saw the Clay-colored Sparrow in with the Chippies on the patio, the Lincoln's is hanging around the stick piles. The imm. fem. Sharp-shinned is still here. At least two adult Rufous Hummingbird (ma. and fem.) remain present. The LRGV has a Green-breasted Mango!

Oct. 30 ~ It was low 50's dF at midnight, by dawn the low 40's, with drizzle and mist. Intermittent winds at 10-20mph had the chill factors just over freezing. Not sure it will warm up much, a stronger front is set to arrive this afternoon or evening with real rain. As of 5 p.m. or so it was just over a half-inch of precip (14mm) so far, and that includes the .14 or so from yesterday. At least the ground and plants are getting a little water. We sure went from too hot to too cold quickly. Never got above 43dF, flatlined all day. By 4 or so the winds got here to seriously advect cold air, but will keep it from getting too cold. A first of season for most (barely) freeze is predicted, though we kissed 32 for two hours last Sunday morning.

Always a great FOS to see was an adult White-crowned Sparrow on the seed out back! Like seeing an old friend. There was also a Clay-colored Sparrow in with the Chippies, an imm., which is at the tardy end of the fall window for them here. They pass through in fall, I have never seen one winter locally. Lincoln's, Lark, and Field Sparrows too makes six species of sparrows. Now where are that Vesper and Rufous-crowned? Adult male and female Rufous Hummingbird are here. May have seen that imm. male as well.

Oct. 29 ~ A shallow cold front moved in dropping temps from just below 60dF pre-dawn to low-50's shortly after. Might have gotten to 56dF for a high. No wind, just a thousand foot thick layer of cold air ahead of a real front tomorrow. So drizzling a little, a light shower here and there, fairly fallish for here. Might have been .14 of an inch of precip over the day. Good weather for being indoors. I will let you know if anything shows up out the office window behind the monitor. At the noon seed toss (so exciting here in Utopia) in the drizzle there was a Mocker singing in the rain. They will always be there for you, brightening up even a wet gray day.

Late afternoon in a spent patch of weedy Mexican Hat I was supposed to cut, there were a Lincoln's Sparrow and two Orange-crowned Warbler foraging. Weedy patches are great for birds. Unfortunately people treat them like any dead branch, get rid of it asap, and remove lots of great bird habitat in the process. Weedy patches are full of bugs and seeds, like hedgerows. Heard the Hutton's Vireo out back in the live-oaks. Counted 17 Turkey over in the corral, early morning I heard one gobble. They maybe ought to put the kabosh on that the next few weeks?

Oct. 28 ~ It was in the low 50's around midnight, warmed into 60's by dawn, and got up to mid-upper 70's dF for a high. Was too busy working, no migration motion noted. The adult male and ad. female Rufous Hummingbird were both here. The rest was the regular gang. Still 2 Lark Sparrow here with a dozen Chipping and some Field. One Kinglet (Ruby) and a heard Orange-crowned Warbler. The Inca Dove were out there, a few Ground-Dove, White-wings might number 35 or so, Cardinals the same. I heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow just upslope behind us again later in afternoon.

Oct. 27 ~ Astonishing was an un-forecasted brief freeze this morn! NOAA had KRVL for a 41dF low. It was just below 40dF around 6 a.m., but as sun warmed uppermost atmosphere and all that cold air sunk, we plummeted to 32dF before 8 a.m.! Holy cow! I saw KRVL had 33dF. It was amazing, I saw dew on surfaces as light broke, and a while later I noticed it had gotten colder and had gone to frost! By time I got back to thermometer it was 32dF and actually freezing! Funny, we planned to go to Garner S.P. this morning instead of yesterday because it was going to be a bit warmer low today. Guess again. Saw an adult male Rufous Hummer at the office feeder early! Wonder if our bird was gone a few days at a neighbors and came back? It looked purely Rufous of back like the one that was here. I don't get why it would be gone a few days and reappear. It did not sit where the other one sat on the Hackberry.

We were up earlyish to have a look at Garner S.P. as we avoid it most of the spring and summer due to crowds. It is still pretty busy with lots of people, a real circus compared to Lost Maples usually. But Maples is entering its busiest month due to the leaf lookyloo season, despite there not being much to see in that regard. Maples is hard to bird with herds of hominids going by all the time. Be there at opening and you might get an hour or two, maybe, especially during week.

I can't believe how low Bear Creek Pond is just east of the 1050 pass (ca. 4 miles west of Utopia). We are wayyyy behind on rain. One Great Blue Heron and some pigs was it. No ducks. Fair numbers of Chipping Sparrow flushing up from verges on way, just like winter. No color to speak of on the hills yet.

At Garner we had one good Chipping Sparrow flock of about a hundred birds. A few Field Sparrow with them, did not see a Clay-colored though. Some Bluebirds with them too, one Myrtle Warbler. Only a couple scattered single Myrtle were heard. There are more at Utopia Park. We had a few Rufous-crowned Sparrow calling at various areas around the park. One Canyon Towhee was at the visitors center (not HQ), did not see a hummer at the feeders there. Most of the stuff is working pecans now, and lots crushed on roads. Pro tip: drive the edges to crush more for them. Good numbers of White-winged Dove, Cardinal, Chickadees and Titmice, a few Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, dozen+ Eastern Bluebird scattered around, some Lesser Goldfinch, one Red-shouldered Hawk. Below the spillway at the south end of park we saw a Green and heard a Ringed Kingfisher. I glimpsed a Black Rock Squirrel as it dove into, er, the rocks. One Spotted Sandpiper was on the rocks below the spillway. Sure be a good place for a vagrant Dipper. Saw a couple Common Raven. Wild Horse Creek and Madrone Walkway trails were quiet. Persimmon Hill seemed mostly cleaned out of fruit, missed it by a week or two I'd guess, but some random others elsewhere still had fruit.

We slowly cruise around listening for flocks, hoping to find a close place to park, repeat. Parking is quite controlled so lots of it is hard to cover actually. By noon the campground loops are more than half cleared out. We did one (Rio Frio) loop where there is a drawlet that drains into the Frio River (off southeast corner of that loop). Amazingly perhaps the most common, the dominant shrub, in the draw is Flame Acanthus! We did not see any Crimson Patch, or cats, but surely this is ground zero for the Garner population. It is the biggest wild patch I have found locally. Many dozens of big old bushes, but only a few flowers left on each this late in season. In that area Kathy spotted the only Elada Checkerspot of the month, and so was an Orange Sulphur. There were also two Long-billed Thrasher calling back and forth (were Persimmons with fruit there). Great was 2 FOS Pine Siskin! In odes lots of Green Darner around, a few Variegated and one Autumnal Meadowhawk was it for dragons and damsels. Acquired a few obligitory Frio River photos. P.S. later at house a Swift Setwing was in front yard.

Garner is actually closer to us than Maples, maybe by about 8 minutes on the road. It is a harder windier drive up and over all the hills of the divide, you really have to watch it on 1050. Whereas 187 can be driven with eyes closed. Just kiddin' sherrif. Hwy. 1050 itself is great when the Buckley Oaks go red later November into December. Garner differs from Lost Maples primarily in being a citified very manmade altered park. But there are little jewels scattered about if you can find them, like Sycamore-leaf Snowbells and the above mentioned Flame Acanthus. This morning its population was likely twice that of Utopia, and all of them were out, something you never see here. LOL. There are a lot of people there. Most of the trails away from park roads are toward and in earshot of Hwy. 83, which has big truck traffic. So it is not the feeling of a wild place or natural wilderness that you get at Maples. Regardless, there are breeding Golden-cheeked Warbler on the trails, though long gone this time of year of course. I am sure Garner gets lots of good birds going through it. Lots. It is kind of hard to bird though. These river habitat corridors are major migrant corridors.

Oct. 26 ~ At least the wind quit blowing sometime overnight. Was about 41dF for a low, nice and brisk, KRVL had 38 for a bit. Weewow! No migrant motion in yard, the fall party is about over. I hear the big girl warming up. Yesterday's Wood Thrush at the park might be the last big hurrah. The juvenile female Sharp-shinned is still terrorizing everything here. I saw only the adult fem. Rufous-Allen's Hummer in the morning. Late afternoon Kathy spotted a new imm. or female Ruby-throated at a feeder. It looked thrilled to find it the way it just sat on it forever. I think the Cardinal flock is 35 or so. Lots of green leaves down. Pecans and acorns are falling. Cypress are sure turning now, first going yellow, pecans too, lots of yellow, and lots of leaves down.

I went to the park hoping to get better pix of the Wood Thrush, but could not refind it. It seemingly was like most out-of-range (vagrant) Wood Thrush, a one-day wonder. But we don't know if it was there the day before. They and Great Crested Flycatcher are two birds famous for not being there on day 2 when they occur as vagrants west of their normal ranges. Park woods were dead, heard a Green King. The first live-oak patch near entrance had a flock of E. Bluebird, chippies, and Myrtle Warbler.

Checked the library butterfly garden, since so few flowers around. It is ratty looking but there were a few flowers. I can't believe they killed some Lantanas. Thought they were indestructible. Saw a couple Fatal Metalmark, several Gray Hairstreak and one Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a couple Whirlabout, a couple C.Checkered-Skipper, a Clouded and a Dun Skipper, a few Sleepy Orange, 2 Gulf and a Variegated Fritillary, two Queen, several American and one Painted Lady, one Monarch, a Fiery Skipper, pretty pitiful actually for October. Later in yard saw Clouded and Dun Skipper, a Large Orange Sulphur, So. Dogface, a Red Admiral and a few of the more common things. In the late afternoon here at the house I heard Sandhill Crane going over heading south, my FOS. Heard a Barn Owl heading south after dark. Coyotes got something, they went off bonkers, it is incredible, I love it.

claycoloredsparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow, 2 adults, 1 imm. (front center facing right), one
adult explaining finer points of birdbath etiquette to the youngster.
Now you don't just jump in and splash all over the place...
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 25 ~ No more rain after the quick blast yesterday evening, the wind blew hard all night, supposed to go all day until the evening. This is a real blower. I know of nowhere that goes from too hot to too cold so fast so often so regularly as Texas. I saw 39dF at 7 a.m.! Methinks March was the last temps in the 30's, seven months ago. The chill factors were sub-freezing with the 20-30+ mph northerlies, some may have been in the highest 20's! Gadzooks! Where's me longjohns!?! It made it up to 60dF or so but the winds were still at 15-25 mph at sundown.

I did hear a Ruby-throated Hummingbird early, and then later saw a Rufous of some sort. If they are smart they will ride this wind wave to a warmer clime. Town run. Lots of green leaves down is how hard it blew. Cypress and Pecans lost lots of greenery. Water barely going over spillway at park. Saw one male Green Kingfisher in the slough by the island, and a Ringed King flew by while I was standing around looking stupid. There was a winter passerine flock with a dozen Eastern Bluebird, 18 or so Chipping Sparrow, 15+ Myrtle and 2 Audubon's Warbler.

The bird of the day, week, and month, actually the rarest passerine of the whole fall passage so far, was a WOOD THRUSH by the screen enclosures up at north end of parking area. It flushed off the ground before I saw it. A while later I found it on top of the screen shelter (!), got a half-arsed grabshot and 10 OOFs - out-of-focus (throwaways). Hattie Barham pulled up while I was looking at it so handed her my binocs for a view. The only other fall Wood Thrush record I know in the area is one I briefly saw Sept. 14, 2016, here at Utopia Park. I did not get a pic of that one though (was on the island), so any kind of docushot moves it to the next level. There are a few spring records nearby, one at Park Chalk Bluff, another at Big Springs.

Interesting was ebird revealing yesterday the 24th TWO Wood Thrush were reported nearish in cental Texas, one in Bexar Co., and one at Ft. Clark Springs! Another was near Lake Corpus Christi yesterday as well, nearer the coast where it is scarce but regular in fall. It is an accidental species in fall in the west half of Texas, the Ft. Clark bird the only reported in ebird this fall that I could see for the west half of the state.

I went back to the park at 5 p.m. hoping to get a better pic. Refound it by the blind eating those American Beautyberry in the fenced-in area. But was mostly very shady in the woods so had to use high ISO which means grainy, but got better shots of it anyway, and got to watch it for 10 minutes before it dematerialized again. Back here at the hovelita at sundown there were over 30 Cardinal on the seed.

Oct. 24 ~ Low about 68dF and some drizzle, a cold front is due in this afternoon to early evening. No migrant motion. Maybe some things will come through in the wake of the front. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby), saw an Orange-crowned Warbler, Kathy heard the Long-billed Thrasher, saw the Inca Dove pair, Field and Lincoln's Sparrow, a couple Caracara crackled overhead. Waiting for the rain. Supposed to get real windy with this one so it will be a great de-leafer of a post-frontal blow. It will look a different world out there tomorrow. Lot more Raven around lately, say the last few weeks. There were few to none around most of the summer, the nesting Red-tails do not tolerate them. Go be smart and funny somewhere else seems to be their attitude towards them.

At least two Ruby-throat, and one ad.fem. Rufous-Allen's type remain in the way of Hummingbirds. I suspect the Rubies will ride the post-frontal blow out of town tomorrow. The front hit shortly before dark with 30+ mph northerlies, seemingly precluding the usual hummingbird last tank up for the night. The band of precip with it was quick and narrow here, building up and slowing down after it passed us. In the hour or so there was rain we got about five-eighths of an inch. Something anyway, we need it badly. Some lucky folks elsewhere got more. It dropped to 50dF or so in a little over an hour.

Oct 23 ~ We ran about 64-82dF for a temp spread, sunny, and still dryish, but pretty breezy out of the south now. No migrant movement that I saw. The adult female Rufous Hummer remains, and I saw 3 imm. ma. Ruby-throated at once. Saw the 3 Inca Dove again, nice to have them around. Heard the Long-billed Thrasher. Otherwise it was just the regular gang. Maybe 2 Lark Sparrow left here now. Turkey flock still hitting the oat line. The Titmice and Chickadees are barely hitting the sunflower feeder since there is lots of pecan available now. The coons go up in the trees and so the branches have bits of nuts in the bark and this seems to be what they are getting.

Oct. 22 ~ We had a 44dF low, coolest in 6 months, and all kinds of awesome. I saw KRVL showed a 40dF low! In the afternoon KRVL humidity was 10%! It was bone dry. Saw at least two imm. male Ruby-throated, and the Rufous Hummingbird here is not either of the two males that were here, so 3 hummers, at least, are still here. The Rufous today is another (!) new different one. Some Chipping Sparrow hit the patio for millet and one imm. Clay-colored was with them. Great for the FOS was one lone Cedar Waxwing that flew over calling, on the early side of arrival dates. Otherwise no migrant motion.

Afternoon had a Nashville Warbler and maybe it was the Hutton's Vireo that came in for a quick splash. Not hearing any White-eyed Vireo around, methinks they have flown the coup. After dark made the usual hourly sound checks outside. Heard the three resident owls, Screech-, Barred, and Great Horned, and on one step outside I heard one call from the Long-eared Owl, further down the habitat corridor. It is great to have seen enough of them that I don't feel the need to have to chase it down.   ;)

Oct. 21 ~ Front came through about 3 a.m. or so with some gusty winds, and about .2 of precipitation. Dry northerlies not too strong, a chamber of commerce weather day. Seems like everything rode the front out of Dodge, there was nothing going on this morning. A few hummers around but seems a few likely left yesterday. There were maybe 3 or 4 Ruby-throated tops. The big news is that we did not see the adult male Rufous Hummingbird that has been out the office window on that feeder since Aug. 8, 10 weeks and 3 days but who is counting. I presume it left late yesterday or first thing this morning on the front. So it was just fattening up for that long of a stay as a migratory stopover? Weird. Glimpsed a non-adult male Rufous today.

Saw the Laviana White-Skipper again. Three Inca Dove were on the patio in the afternoon. After 6 p.m. single Nashville and Orange-crowned Warbler hit the bath. Maybe tomorrow there will be migrant motion? Hoped the eternal optimist. Heard the Pyrrhuloxia out there again, saw it fly from out back to across road so maybe it is hitting the sunflower seed I toss at the back fence.

After dark the usual Screech-, and Great Horned got going quickly. A bit latter I heard a Barn Owl flying south down-valley, then the Barred Owl started. At 11 p.m. I heard a LONG-EARED OWL calling over in the river habitat corridor! It was giving the one long single note hoot that is a bit drawn out as if it has some wind blowing through it. At midnight it was still calling occasionally. So a whopping FIVE species of owls from the porch tonight. I have traipsed all over the mountains all night for that.

Oct. 20 ~ About 64dF for a low, winds were light and northerly much of the night, was hoping for migrant motion, but they turned southerly and gulf clouds got here, does not seem to be much motion. Front due in overnight, the hot day before today, some more record hot at some area stations for the second day in a row. Heard a Long-billed Thrasher early first thing before sunup. Over the morning a couple each Myrtle and Nashville, and one Orange-crowned Warbler were around briefly. Kathy spotted a Hutton's Vireo splash-bathing at the bath. I heard the Pyrrhuloxia across the road. A pair of Inca Dove were at the bath in the afternoon. Had both Rufous Hummers and maybe 6 or so Ruby-throated left, but fewer at dusk.

A few butterflies were around the Blue Mist (greggii) Eupatorium and a Lantana next to it. A few Monarch, a couple Clouded Skipper, Dun and Julia's Skipper, Celia's roadside-Skipper, a pale morph female Large Orange Sulphur (ph.), Gulf Frit, Queen, Gray Hairstreak, and later afternoon my first of month Orange Skipperling. A Buckeye flew by among other things. An introduced type (Asian) Praying Mantis caught a Monarch at a Lantana flower. I rescued the Monarch and dispatched the Mantis. The Monarch flew off seemingly OK. An Anole is still making diving leaps at the butterflies, and I chased a Leopard Frog off. Stuff just sits and waits at the few flowers, and wipes out the few butterflies. Not on my porch watch. Probably a half-dozen Monarch over the day.

Oct. 19 ~ Only about 67dF for a low, and got up to 87 in the cool shady, KRVL showed 92dF. But drier than the summer sopping. Today and tomorrow are the hot days before the next front Sunday overnight. Austin and Del Rio hit record high temps today. There was migrant movement last night. Early before sunup I heard the two Long-billed Thrasher calling back and forth out front. A few Scissor-tails around early again. Just before 9 a.m. I heard at least one, probably two Audubon's Oriole.

Then there was a flurry of activity at the birdbath. First Kathy called the FOS Hermit Thrush. By time I got there with camera there were two! So they arrived overnight. There were a bunch of Cardinal, a Nashville or two, an Orange-cronwed Warbler, Field Sparrow, some Chipping Sparrows, and then THREE Clay-colored Sparrow dropped down to the bath at once! FOS. Got a weak shot of them anyway (1 juv., 2 ad.) and a Hermit Thrush. While all this was going on I saw something high in the pecan over the bath, but at an angle I could not get camera on, a male Pyrrhuloxia! FOS. They show up in October here after being absent all spring and summer. Man I wish it would hit the bath for a photo session! A Ground-Dove flushed from near the bath I had not seen.

Went to town to check the park without a stack of errands overhead. On the way the 360 crossing had nothing but a Cicindellid (Tiger Beetle), always nice to see (ph.). The park had two little winter type passerine flocks consisting of Eastern Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, and Yellow-rumped Warbler, which were not there yesterday. Each group had a half-dozen bluebird, a half-dozen to 10 Chipping Sparrow, and 18 or so Yellow-rumped Warbler between the two groups. Two were Audubon's Warbler. These are surely migrant bluebirds and chippies, not the locals. This was the first big Myrtle Warbler arrival day, I had only seen a few singles here and there so far.

Saw Kiowa Dancer at the 360 xing, a Roseate Skimmer at the park, fair numbers of Black Saddlebags, Green Darner, and Familiar bluet. A few Red Saddlebags. Nice was my first Autumnal Meadowhawk of the fall, three or four males. These things emerge locally in July, and then are not seen again until October. Those clearly depart and go somewhere else. Then we get a small wave in fall. Then where are these from?

Little Creek Larry said after the first front a week and change ago there were some Shoveler on the pond at the park, and currently there are some Blue-winged Teal on Little Creek. He mentioned he saw all three of the regular Kingfisher species lined up on the spillway the other day close enough together to have gotten them in one frame. He also saw a White-tailed Kite out 355 toward Little Creek in the big pasture off south side of road.

Saw about 10 Monarch over the day, a couple hit the Blue Mist Eupatorium. Early morn one went to Tube-tongue, hardly ever see that. Saw the Laviana White-Skipper cross yard again late in afternoon. The two male (ad. and imm.) Rufous Hummingbird continue, the Ruby-throated seem down to a half-dozen or so. In afternoon there were a couple Inca Dove on the patio.

woodthrush
Here is a docugrabshot of the Wood Thrush at Utopia Park
on Oct. 25. You take what you can get when a rarity.
Actually got some sharper, but shady without much rufous.
They are stunningly bright rusty above in the sun.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 18 ~ Weewow a 48dF low! KRVL had a 45! Methinks the lowest temp since April, six months. Where are my socks, long pants and longsleeve shirts? Sunny and dry to go with the cool brisk, feels pretty autumnal. Nice. Saw a couple Nashville Warbler shoot through yard early, heard a Myrtle Warbler. Thought there might be movement behind the front today, second clear day after. Three Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were sallying from the big pecan in front yard for a while mid-morn. Saw a couple Monarchs go by.

Town supply run. No migrants at the park, maybe a hawk had been in woods? Only a male Wilson's Warbler which is surely the returning winterer, and likely present a month already. One Green Kingfisher in the slough by island. Not even a White-eyed Vireo. They are all but gone now. The Maxmillian Sunflower at riveredge is blooming great. Here in yard the Blue Mist Eup has some flowers. Saw Clouded and Dun Skipper, plus the Celia's Roadside-Skipper on it. The Cypress trees are really getting yellow, some brownish, the Pecans are yellowish too. A Laviana White-Skipper flew across yard about 4:30 p.m. Heard an Audubon's Oriole or two at dusk, but not the Long-billed Thrasher. Maybe the cold scared it away?

Oct. 17 ~ About 54dF for a low felt great. Just a few clouds, getting sunny and blue skies, the first clear day after the front. No passerine migrant motion early. About 9:30 saw two Monarchs, one lifting off, one up thermalling already, and two hawks went by. The close low hawk only a hundred feet up was a textbook adult Swainson's, which circled twice right over the yard, my FOS. What a beauty. If only we could know where the migrants we see are from, and where they are going. Mid-morn saw single Nashville, Orange-crowned, and a getting tardy Yellow Warbler, plus one Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Couple more Monarchs but not seeing any more hawks. Sparrows in yard are Vesper, Lincoln's, Chipping, Field, Lark, and Rufous-crowned, so six species. Couple more Monarch in the afternoon. Same three owl species calling again tonight, Screech-, Barred, and Great Horned.

Oct. 16 ~ Rained a little overnight, mostly early pre-dawn. About a half-inch. Which means an event total of about 1.2" here, I heard in town 1.2" was one reading, so I am stickin' with it. Low was a nice 62dF or so, and the ground got water! It was a nice slow-soaker, just what we needed. Was in town early, Green and Ringed Kings at the park but that was it. Save some Axis Deer in the woods. One big buck jumped straight into that 7-8' deer or hog fence at north end of the woods a few times. I'd say he might have cleared 5-6', which was pretty impressive for its size. Then it jumped into river and swam across to the other side.

Back here in the yard about 9 a.m. or so a couple Nashville and at least one Orange-crowned went through, heard a bunting which is surely the imm. male Indigo. The two Rufous Hummingbird continue, and about 8-10 Ruby-throated appear to be all imm. males. About 3:30 p.m. a small group of birds in the yard was a Kinglet (Ruby), a Hutton's Vireo, Nashville and Myrtle Warbler. Saw a Rufous-crowned Sparrow in the stick pile out in front yard, Kathy said she saw it at bath earlier in day. At 11 p.m. there were 2 pairs of Great Horned Owl counter-calling right across the road, a pair of Screech-Owl calling in back of house and a Barred Owl calling nearer the river. Seven individual owls of three species at once.

Oct. 15 ~ The hot day before the front tonight. Low was about 73dF, and humid of course. They are saying this is the last hurrah for the summer sub-tropical high that locks over us for 4 months or so now. It was closer to 5 months this year, and used to be 3 months. It was a sticky 88dF in the shade, 90somethin' in the sun. The perciptible water was in 90th percentile for the date. Which means instead of licking a stamp, you just wipe it across your forehead.

I thought there might be some movement ahead of it, but it seems not. At the bath there were single Nashville and Orange-crowned Warbler, and the imm. male Indigo Bunting. The latter we know is here a while, the warblers probably are holdovers as well. So no mig motion. Heard the Long-billed Thrasher, saw the Turkey flock in corral. Tragedy was seeing a flock of 7 House Sparrow circle high overhead, quite unlike city sparrows. They fly around like crossbills or other finches, way up high, calling. It looked like they kept going this morning. Then in the afternoon Kathy said she saw a group under our big truck out back. I can assure you they will not be hanging out here.

At least 4 Monarch through the yard over the day, one stopped on the Blue Mist Eup for a bit. Clouded Skipper and Celia's Roadside-Skipper on it as well. A Queen, a Gulf Fritillary, a Little Yellow, but not much action. Very nice was a two foot plus Western Ribbon Snake in the flower bed at front porch. Beautiful snake. Ahead of the front we got a couple rain cells between 7 and 9 p.m. and a whopping .75" of precip and took it down to low 70's finally!

Oct. 14 ~ Cloudy, low of 64dF. Great to get up and not be hot and sticky. The first half of morn around the yard was a little birdy. Heard Long-billed Thrasher and Audubon's Oriole. Saw the Chat again, in the Red Turks Cap at corner of house! It appears an imm. male and I wonder if it is the one hatched here, still present. At the bath I saw a male Wilson's, a Nashville, Kathy said she thought she had an Orange-crowned, and best was up in the pecans, a Black-throated Green Warbler! My fourth of the fall, which is a great showing, it appeared an imm. female to me. One Ruby-crowned Kinglet was the first seen in yard this fall, though probably heard a few times in last 5 days. A nice male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew over, bet they are glad to have their tails back.

There was at least one different, maybe two, other Nashville warbler over the day. I got pix of a pale Orange-crowned Warbler at the bath. There was a Blue Grosbeak out front in the afternoon. Saw the imm. male Rufous Hummer out front, the ad.ma. continues out back. Great was a flock of Eastern Bluebird decending on the bath, there must have been a dozen or more, eight at once at the bath in one single frame! They were in and out pretty quickly though. Lincoln's and Vesper Sparrow in yard, saw the Vesper on patio, wonder if it is the one that wintered around yard last year eating the millet. White-winged Dove count is 30 at least here now. Late afternoon an Audubon's Warbler went through yard. Made 5 species of warbler in the yard today. Plus the Chat. Couple Caracara went over. Have not been seeing the Zone-tailed Hawks lately. A Large Orange Sulphur stopped on the Lantana briefly.

Oct. 13 ~ Got up and first thing heard a Long-billed Thrasher well before sunup. Whadda great wakeup bird. We went to Lost Maples since it finally is not 90dF, and trying to beat the leaf peepers that crowd the place out most of November. HQ said it was like peak Nov. yesterday, totally packed, cars parked on grass. There is very little fall leaf color, a little yellow, a lot of brown, and my sense after seeing it today is there will not be a good color show this fall. Many maples are just turning brown and falling already. Sure there will be a good tree here and there, but it is not going to be a great color show year. It has been wayyy too dry, even Lacey Oaks are going brown.

On the way upvalley from Utopia to Lost Maples we had about 6 Caracara, a couple Kestrel, a Shrike, various sparrows including Lark, Vesper, Chipping, Field, and a FOS Savannah. A male Scissor-tail was south of Vanderpool a couple miles on the way up, a female was on 360 on the way back. A FOS Say's Phoebe was early on Jones Cmty Rd., one Red-tailed and one Cooper's Hawk were along 187.

The park was a bit busy, but apparently not like yesterday. Still there were times you best sit out groups going by if you want a chance of seeing birds along the trail. At HQ we heard the customary Inca Dove. Best to walk to the first crossing from there as nowhere else to park and check it. There is a great weedy seedy area below the road. We had a late Blue Grosbeak, Linclon's Sparrow, House Wren, and 20 Lesser Goldfinch in it. Heard a bunting. Sometimes there is a winter passerine or warbler flock around it but not when we were there. Kind of a lot of traffic by 9 a.m. too.

We parked in trailhead lot where feeding station, but which apparently continues to be not in use. On the slope between the lot and the road to it, back toward stream crossing near main road, was a pair of Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Heard others up the trail, but saw these close. We squiggled back and forth up the trail and did Can Creek to the second pond. About 3 miles or so for that part. Always amazing when all the breeding stuff is gone, it seems soooo quiet. And what is not there is to me of great interest. No Olive Sparrow or White-tipped Dove for instance. It is almost as if they are just here for the breeding season, like migratory species, which they are not considered. Did not hear or see a Canyon Wren but which I think do not leave, they just shut up real good. Heard about 3 Scrub-Jay, and one Audubon's Oriole.

A FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet was among a small group of warblers. I thought I heard one twice in the last 4 days but each time it just called once and I never saw it so I let 'em go. This one was fairly unvocal too, but showed. There were a few stray single Nashville Warbler and a single Orange-crowned Warbler, but mostly it was just one little group of warblers we encountered. It had about 4 Orange-crowned, maybe 6+ Nashville, and one Black-throated Green. We saw one Ruby-throated Hummer up near the pond gnatcatching over the stream.

There was very little in bloom, normally the Frostweed should be going great, it is wilted due to lack of rain. It is drying up, done blooming for the most part. We saw 5 Monarchs, looking for good Frostweed. Saw a couple more Monarchs on way home. There was a fair bit of Goldenrod showing well where in water, saw the last few Snapdragon Vine flowers, some Brickel-bush was open, Poverty Weed was going well, the best color along the trail though was Broomweed. There were some pastures with hundreds of acres of it off W. Sabinal Rd. west of 187 that look solid yellow.

The one good fruiting Escarpment Cherry just below the big pouroff below the main pond is still covered in Cherries. I do not get why there are not birds on it. Some cherries are being eaten, but this is twice in a month we were at it and saw nothing. So we ate some. OK, some more. They are bitter as they are cherry. Talk about cleaning your pallete. They are about half pit but still worth it if you like bitter cherry.

Saw 30 Black Saddlebags, 10 Red Saddlebags, 20 Green Darner, 10 FOS Variegated Meadowhawk, 1 Wandering Glider, 1 male Roseate Skimmer, 1 Checkered Setwing, 25 Familiar Bluet. Odes are fading fast. One male Black Swallowtail on Goldenrod looked good but would not sit for a pic. A few Sleepy Orange, a couple Queen, a Red Admiral, a Gulf Frit, a Clouded Skipper, it was weak for insects. They are flaming out fast. Drought. No reptiles were seen or heard, save turtles in the pond. Lots of Green Sunfish, single Bantam and Red-breasted Sunfish, but didn't look much really. Those are what are in the pondlet below the crossing a quarter or third mile or so below the main pond. The ones with the dark spot in posterior soft part of dorsal fin are the Green. It was great to walk the canyon without dripping.

Oct. 12 ~ A chilly 52dF for a low was great. The wind finally stopped last night around dark, but clouds stuck. Not much for migrant motion in the morning around yard though. One Nashville and the same imm. male Indigo Bunting with blue wings and tail was at the bath. That bird is about 5-6 days here now. Thankfully autofocus screwed my shots of it. Same less than a dozen Ruby-throated Hummers, and same two Rufous continue.

Went to the park and checked some fencelines and pastures about 11-1 or so. Might have had some migrant Chipping Sparrow on 360. In flycatchers saw one Vermilion and no Scissor-tails. The park had Ringed, Belted, and Green Kingfisher again, as yesterday. Heard a Wilson's Warbler, saw a Nashville. Four House Wren in the woods constitute a wave of them here. My FOS Pied-billed Grebe was in the lillies by the island, and was still stripey on the face, a very young juvenile. Some migrant Turkey Vulture were heading south.

Saw one Monarch at the park, another going down Main St., and later afternoon a third here at the house (makes 5 so far this fall). A couple Sachem were on Maxmillian Sunflower which is blooming well now at riveredge. The Goldenrod is going great too. The Frostweed, Fireweed, Boneset Eupatorium, and Snow-on-the-Mountain are all past peak and fading fast. The Cypress trees are getting some yellow tint to them, starting to go. The Sycamore leavess are half brown and falling. Lottsa Hackberry are turning, and lots of the Pecans are in yellow and shed mode too. Still some Persimmon fruit on some of those. Nut crop looks weak. That big last spring frontal blow right when they are blooming gets them every time.

Back here at the casita there was a brief flurry activity at the bath in early afternoon. Two Nashville joined the melee, and a FOS Vesper Sparrow came in! Then Kathy spotted a Chat, which is tardy and I wonder if it is one of the local breeding birds young? About 4 p.m. a Gnatcatcher went through yard. After 5 p.m. three warblers flew into the Hackberry-Mesquite combo tree by the gate. An Orange-crowned, a Nashville, and my FOS Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler. Saw Audubon's on Sept. 27 so not my first Yellow-rump of the fall, just the first Myrtle type. Right on time 2-3 weeks behind the first Audubon's. After 7 p.m. I was out on driveway and heard then saw a Common Nighthawk working south over the river habitat corridor. That is a great late date here. After dark the Barred Owl was calling just down the road a couple hundred yards. Later the Great Horned was calling from in the yard trees. After 9 p.m. I saw something I have not seen since April, when I came out of the shower, steam on the mirror!

blackthroatedgreenwarbler
Black-throated Green Warbler at Lost Maples Oct. 13, 2019.
Missed the ID on the green something going down the hatch.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 11 ~ Fall has arrived, pre-dawn the cold front got here with a tenth of an inch of rain and chilly northerlies. It was 56dF before 7 a.m. and by 9 it was 49 or so and dropping. There went the high for the day, before it was light out. Winds are 15-20 gusting 25 to 30 and over. Gonna be a different world out there when this passes. We spent the day in the upper 40's, maybe a few spots hit 50, but with lots of wind on it.

Town run so park check. A Ringed Kingfisher on the spillway is always a nice touch as you enter. There were two Belted Kingfisher around the pond, male and female, and a male Green Kingfisher was in the slough by island. On my way out there were TWO Ring King on the spillway, one chased the other off. A Common Yellowthroat was in some Maxmillian Sunflower at riveredge. In the woods there was a new female Wilson's Warbler, an Orange-crowned Warbler, and a female Yellow Warbler. Four species of warbler with the Common Yellowthroat. There were some Common Grackle in the willows at south end of island.

Saw a flock of a dozen Common Raven over town. A few low flying Turkey Vulture still around. Here at the hovelita about 3 p.m. Kathy saw Orange-crowned and Nashville Warbler at the bath. The Nash makes five sps. of warbler around today, and surely there are more out there. No Yellow-rumps though, and the Yellow-throated are gone. Less than a dozen Ruby-throated Hummer left, maybe 8 or so. Plus the ad. male Rufous out back still here of course, who seems in for the long haul, present about a couple months now already.

Oct. 10 ~ A low of 74dF is more than 10 over normal for the date here, as is the high in low-mid 90's. It is like summer has not ended here yet. It was record hot at Austin, and within a dF at SAT and Del Rio. Today is the big warmup in front of the front, tomorrow will be in the 50's all day! But southerlies blowing hard ahead of it so no migration movement apparent in morning. In the morn it was about a dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird left. The ad.ma. Rufous continues guarding its feeder in back. The new imm. male Rufous-Allen's continues visiting one of the front porch feeders. Saw what was likely the same Lincoln's Sparrow of late last evening around the yard today. Late afternoon I saw my second Monarch of the fall. A Goatweed Leafwing hit the sprayed about water. Julia's and Clouded Skipper on the Blue Mist Eupatorium, plus one Celia's Roadside-Skipper. A Large Orange Sulphur hit a Lantana briefly. It is mighty thin for butterflies out there. Thought I mighta heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Oct. 9 ~ the low was about 71dF, a category, 10dF over predicted. Actually it did get down to lower 60's about 2-3 a.m., but warmed 10dF by dawn due to strong southeast Gulf flow. Mostly cloudy then until afternoon. Not much for movement. Some Bluebirds going over high as has been the case for a couple weeks now. Hearing groups way up going south. Before noon heard a Gnatcatcher. About 1 p.m. a single Nashville Warbler came in to the bath. There was a different imm. male Rufous-Allen's type Selasphorus hummer out front. The ad. male continues out back. The tail-less and other Rufous-Allen's that were here prior to the front have not been around. Saw something different appearing at the back-office feeder that Rufous guards, but it got away, twice. It looked biggish to me. Nearing last sun the last drink scene at the bath besides herds of Cardinal and White-winged Dove, I was surprised to see an ad. female Blue Grosbeak, and a Lincoln's Sparrow. Then at last light again there were two Long-billed Thrasher calling out front.

Oct. 8 ~ A low of 58dF was fantastic, the first 50's since April methinks. Kerrville had a 56dF low. No wind, dryish, weewow. No migrant motion early in the morning. Noonish an Orchard Oriole and a Gnatcatcher went through. Heard the Long-billed Thrasher, the Turkeys were over in the corral. The big FOS for the day was a big imm. female Sharp-shinned Hawk that was in yard briefly.

The main IOI - item of interest - for the day, was watching a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at a Red Turks Cap flower when a Rio Grande Leopard Frog made an attempt on it. It is not even a second from ground to the flower when the frog launches, but the hummer saw it and was already gone when the frog hit the flower. Gadzooks. It was a big Leopard Frog, but really??? A hummer?!?!? It just barely got out of the way in time. About 5 p.m. I saw 83dF on the cool shady front porch, but dry out so very bearable. Finally. If we hit 60 or lower we can trap enough cold air in the stone house to keep it comfortable all day without a-c. After dark heard Great Horned, Barred, and E. Screech-, Owls. Laura Levy sent an email reporting a White-tailed Kite up at Vanderpool this date. Always a good bird here.

Oct. 7 ~ A fall front has arrived! It sprinkled a little pre-dawn as the winds came out of the north, but we got just a trace. A small cell upvalley gave some lucky folks a half to an inch near Vanderpool. It was 68 before 7 a.m. and by 9 a.m. 65dF as the cold air arrived. All kinds of awesome. Did not see any migrants though. I suspect all rode the wave out of town. Seemed about 18 Ruby-throated Hummingbird this morning at the two shared feeders on the front porch. I suspect some will jump on these northerlies over the day. Should be some hawk movement too. Kathy heard a Gnatcatcher out there, I heard a bunting of some sort. But there was no movement otherwise. The north winds were 10-15 mph, with periods of 15-20 gusting higher until later afternoon. Seemed about a dozen hummers around 3 p.m., and a high of 79dF. Finally feels like fall here. Saw some Turkey Vulture moving south, but that was it. They have been moving a few weeks.

Oct. 6 ~ Was roughly near about 64.3861058dF for a low. Today is the big warmup before the long-awaited first-of-fall front which is progged to hit between midnight to dawn. One last day of torture. Kathy spotted the Long-billed Thrasher in the brush pile next to the bath and I got a docushot. Was early and shady so high ISO and grainy. At least we know it is coming in. A couple or few Nashville, one Wilson's and one Yellow Warbler came in. A very very yellow below greenie Painted Bunting came in but auto focus foiled a good shot. A blue tailed first year male Indigo Bunting also came in. These two buntings definitely are new. One Orchard Oriole came in to the bath as well, looked an ad. female. I counted four Field Sparrow at the bath at once. The Hutton's Vireo was trying splash bathe a bit too. Did not see the Bell's Vireo.

Still 19 Turkey over in the corral working the oat line. The Indigo came back in late afternoon and again flushed before I could get a pic. The amazing thing was at dusk while the Long-billed Thrasher was calling over by the draw, a SECOND one called back. The sharp note, single and doubled. The draw bird responded and moved toward the other getting about to the gate, but on other side of the road and the second bird quit calling back. It was just about dark.

There were maybe three or four dozen hummers (all Rubies) much of the day, but, seemingly only a couple dozen or less at dark. One or two ad. male Ruby-throat is all of them that are left. One non-ad.ma. Rufous-Allen's was out front, and the ad. male continues at the office feeder. It was hot today, 89 on the shady front porch, probably about 94dF in the sun. Right about record heat for the date. The Screech-Owl was calling from right over the bath as soon as it got dark, as so often on hot days. Gotta figure out how to get a pic of it there.

Oct. 5 ~ About 67dF for a low is better than the 70's. First thing early I saw a FOS Kestrel flying south over river habitat corridor. Probably much of the same group as yesterday, at least 7 Nashville, a male Wilson's and a Yellow Warbler were around yard early, most visiting bath. New was a FOS Orange-crowned Warbler. Great was what seems the same Bell's Vireo for about 4 days now came into bath and at least I got a fuzzy shot. Neat bird at the bath. Had one juv. Orchard Oriole. Heard the Long-billed Thrasher right over north fence again. Heard a Gnatcat mid-day in yard.

Went to park after breakfast for a look. One Yellow and one Nashville Warbler were it for migrants. The male Wilson's is likely the returnee winterer. Then there were two FOS of what are 'winter' birds here, a House Wren and a Lincoln's Sparrow. Saw Roseate Skimmer (dragonfly). Out front at the Red Turks Cap by the sign there was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (butterfly). Back here there was a Fatal Metalmark (lep) around the few Blue Mist Eupatorium flowers that made it. There was a Julia's Skipper at the 360 crossing, Celia's Roadside-Skipper at the park and here at the porch. A Laviana White-Skipper was here at the house briefly as well.

longbilledthrasher
Long-billed Thrasher at the brush pile by the birdbath.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 4 ~ Finally a low below 70, we were 67dF! I saw KRVL had 63! Weewow! Bring it on, the people are ready. No strong southerly wind, a bit of migrant motion. Single Yellow, Nashville, heard Wilson's, and a Black-throated Green Warbler were great. A Blue-headed Vireo was my FOS. It splash bathed a few times at the bath. Later morn I had the three Nashville together again, methinks continuing birds. Appears to be migrant Turkey Vultures moving south. Some have looked like migrants for a couple weeks actually. The local population is largely departed.

Town run fer errands and stuff. Park had a Nashville and a Yellow Warbler, plus a male Wilson's which I think is the returnee winterer of last year. A big willow on the island fell and took out a big Mulberry! Gadzooks. A great loss, one of the big xxl female Mulberries. Big hole in the canopy, the willow now laying in slough. It could well live like that, but the broken off Mulberry won't.

When I got back Kathy said after 1 p.m. there was a male Common Yellowthroat bathing in the bath! Only the second ever in the nearly undergrowth-free yard. Also the first of fall, wish I'd have been here to get pix. Whaddabird. The only other prior here also came into the bath, no doubt due to the sound of the drip. Then about 2 p.m. a flock of 8 Nashville and 2 Yellow Warbler worked around the yard pecans, a few Nash went to the bath. Big single flock of Nashville for here in the fall. The only excitement in the afternoon was a F-7 Tigercat and a P-51 Mustang making a couple passes. My ISO was set to high for the bright white sky and blew out the images though.

Oct. 3 ~ Still 74dF for a low, with a hot, humid, and sticky afternoon. Today was the major hummingbird blowout day. We were swarmed first thing and a hundred must have left after tanking up, more left in the afternoon. Less than 50 present by dusk, was 175+- in the morning. There were no winds, the very strong southerlies stopped, they bolted. Second day without seeing the Broad-tailed Hummer, the 1st was its last day apparently. The ad. ma. Rufous is still at the office feeder, but some (at least two) of the 3 others that were out front seem to have departed.

In the a.m. there were three Nashville warbler together, which seem likely the same three seen a few days ago. One Wilson's and one Yellow Warbler, one Orchard Oriole, a Hutton's, a White-eyed, and one of those beautiful bright juvenile Bell's Vireo. The Bell's splash-bathed a few times. The Long-billed Thrasher called again just over north fence. Hope it is sneaking in to the bath, because I will catch him sooner or later. Heard a Dickcissel go over. Scissor-tails going over a dozen or two a day, generally a few calling as they do.

Oct. 2 ~ Still balmy at 73dF for a low, and still getting up to low 90's, so 10dF over normal average. Which I think we can say goodbye to. When you get a cold front in July and none in September, things are not normal. There was less wind last night and this morning, and a bit of migrant motion, as well as seemingly some of the hummers starting to leave.

One Yellow and 2 male Wilson's Warbler were around early. I am fairly certain these are the same two Wilson's males around for a week now. Mainly because one has a slightly different than the usual normal dry 'chit' for a chip note. It is a fuller, flatter and rounder note, almost Myrtle Warbler-ish . When I first heard it a week ago or so I thought sure it was not going to be a Wilson's. Same bird this morning.

I heard a Long-billed Thrasher right over the north fence which I wish would come in to the birdbath. Mid-morning a couple new migrants showed up at the bath, 2 Blue Grosbeak, which appeared an immature and an adult female, they were in and out quickly, followed by two Mockingbird. Which have not been around the yard lately. Often we get a good obvious wave of migrant Mockers, I presume the lack of a cold front is why nonesuch yet. A Black-and-white Warbler then came in, and a Gnatcatcher went through, and one juv. Orchard Oriole came to the bath.

There are migrant or winterer type Eastern Phoebe around a couple weeks now, though our resident pair seems to still be nesting (!) and is chasing them all out of the yard as they show up. Likely the same one as a week or two ago, a Downy Woodpecker went through the yard. Also probably the same individual the last two weeks was a Two-tailed Swallowtail (butterfly) floating around a bit. Great was my FOS MONARCH of the fall. Was odd not having any early ones in September as has been the usual case recently. No Broad-tailed Hummer today, and a third Rufous-Allen's type at the two neutral front porch feeders might be an Allen's.

October 1 ~ Gadzooks it is October!?!? How can it be with a 74dF low? This is a July or August heatwave low. The summer sub-tropical high remains locked over us. At 4 p.m. I saw 89dF on the cool shady front porch, so over 90 in the sun. Lots of Gulf moisture, low clouds, a showerlet or two and another tenth of an inch of precip, so .2 for the two days. Still strong southerlies and very little migrant motion. One Yellow Warbler and one Gnatcatcher was it all morn. The Scissor-tail flock flew over in the afternoon again.

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird came in a couple times in the rain and I got a couple poor (high ISO, high mag) docushots of it. I pulled the feeder in to refill it and when I got back out within less than two minutes, there was a hummer perched on the vertical wire holder. This is invariably done by an imm. male Ruby trying to guard a feeder. I gently reached up and pushed it off the hanger, it begrudingly moved as I gently pushed it with my fingers, calling in protest, it was the Broad-tailed Hummer! My official report: Distance from bird: none.

~ ~ ~ September summary ~ ~ ~

In a couple words, hot and dry would define the month. It averaged 6-12dF OVER normal, almost the entire month. There was an inch to two of precip locally, way below normal. It is parched out there, drought is showing its ugly head again. At the end of the month it should be running 63-83dF for a temp spread, it was 75-95dF, just like the worst of August still, it never let up. There was no 'first-of-fall' cold front as usual mid-month, or any at all even the second half of the month. It stayed August all September and into early October.

Butterflies were weak as were the flowers. At the end of the month there are a few flowers out there, with nothing on them. There seems to be little to no southern invaion going on this year probably due to drought conditions returning. Late month saw one Laviana White-Skipper, but otherwise none of the usual southern invaders were seen. One White-striped Longtail early in month was likely the one around in August. Further, numbers of the usual local stuff were way way down. Drought shows quickly in flowers and butterflies. I count 49 species seen locally for the month. The best three butterflies were moths! The dying Vine Sphinx on the porch, and the Black Witch late in the month were both great. The mating Luna Moth on the 4th were the best leps though by far.

In overall total numbers, dragonflies really crashed over the month compared to the summer activity levels. There was the normal migration of the usual 5 transient species (Green Darner, Red, and Black, Saddlebags, and Wandering and Spot-winged Glider) but numbers were lower than good years. A couple hundred on the best days. No real rarities were seen. Some Thornbush Dasher were at the golf course pond by Waresville. Orange-striped Threadtail were still flying at the park mid-month. Lots of things (like Widow Skimmer) you may see at the start of the month, but by the middle they are mostly gone and over for the year here. Two Twelve-Spotted Skimmer flew through our yard over the month. One Band-winged Dragonlet did the same. Sept. total was 12 sps. of damselflies, 19 sps. of dragons, so 31 odes.

Birds were good, as September is a heavy movement month so lots of stuff is passing through all the time. Nearly daily you can see new birds migrating by, just by standing around and watching. I count 108 sps. seen locally this month, and Little Creek Larry saw a few I did not. Pretty good diversity. The highlights were many. Perhaps best was the Common Pauraque from August 15 staying until Sept. 15. We got to hear it lots, and it was awesome. A dozen Mourning Warbler is a good month, 7 in a day the 22nd was most excellent. A couple Couch's Kingbird were seen (together), and single American Redstart, Black-headed Grosbeak, Mississippi Kite, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron were all good. Saw a couple Catbird (miss half of falls), and heard a Lesser Yellowlegs (very rare in fall here). There were about 6 Rufous Hummingbird over the month, four daily at the end of the month, one might be an Allen's. A Broad-tailed Hummingbird showed up late in the month too. The Upland Sandpiper passage was weak, barely over a handful.

~ ~ ~ end Sept. summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

September is one of the biggest bird movement months here. Weather though is what knocks migrants down so wish for fronts and such. First five days of the month had lows in the 60's which is a good sign. A Black-headed Grosbeak on the 3rd is a good fall bird here. A pair of mating LUNA MOTH Sept. 4th will be a highlight for the month no matter what happens. Sept. 15 is seeming the last date we heard the Common Pauraque at our place, was present since Aug. 15. Two Rufous Hummers continue, becoming three at once Sept. 24. There is an adult male since Aug. 8, and ad. female since Aug. 23, and now another ad. female. Upland Sandpipers were calling at dusk some evenings as they head south. A LESSER Yellowlegs was heard southbound at dusk on Sept. 5. Sept. 6 had a Northern Waterthrush at Utopia Pk., plus 2 Spotted Sandpiper on the spillway, and about 7 p.m. a Mississippi Kite flew by the yard. The 8th was my first Mourning Warbler of the fall, an immature, along UvCo360.

Another imm. was in our Red Turks Caps the 10th and 11th, when we also had about 1.4" of much needed rain. Astounding were (seperately) an adult male Mourning and an adult female MacGillivray's Warbler in our Red Turks Cap patch Sept. 12! My first of fall Nashville Warbler was at the park Sept. 13. A Catbird was at our place Sept. 14, a second was south of town Sept. 22. A couple Couch's Kingbird were here Sept. 15. A nice later date for Black-capped Vireo was one at Lost Maples on the 15th as well. A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron flew over our place southbound at dusk, on the 18th. Seven Mourning Warbler were seen locally on Sept. 22, a good single day tally. A Warbling Vireo was seen the 24th, scarce in fall here. On the 25th there was an immature American Redstart at our bird bath. The 27th I heard my third Catbird of the fall. Audubon's Orioles have been around the yard, one is a hatch-year immature. My first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the year was in the yard briefly the 27th, an Audubon's type, as always. An imm. Broad-winged Hawk also the 27th was my first migrant hawk this fall (besides a July Peregrine). A Broad-tailed Hummingbird showed up Sept. 29.

~ ~ ~ end update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ Another 75dF low to finish the month. Incredible, at least 10dF over formerly normal average. Was clear last night at least until midnight, but strong southerlies still. By dawn was gulf low stratus and maybe a tenth of an inch of a light shower. Early one Yellow Warbler and 2 Orchard Oriole went through yard quickly. Nothing else though. Too much south wind. At least if we would get some rain out of it, would be nice. These strong southerlies have all but shut migrant progress down.

Later afternoon a flock of over a dozen Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew over low going north, some screaming all the way. Two seemed to nearly flip as they were doing the flip call. But the flip was more lateral like a barrel roll as they were in high speed level commuting flight. Oh for high speed video to see what is going on during this maneuver. This is the yearly fall staging that occurs locally, of what I suspect is birds from elsewhere, but who knows. Maybe it is all the local breeders. But it seems they were largely absent for weeks or a month, then a flock appears.

As of 6 p.m. have not seen the Broad-tailed Hummer. Still at least three Rufous, and apparently a fourth (!) actually. Probably over 200 Ruby-throated, less than 10% are adult males now. Amazing to have so many still here so late. Last year I see on Sept. 27 the low was 60dF and there were 20 Ruby-throats left present. They like to ride a fall front with the extra 10-15 mph free push from the northerlies out of here, and there hasn't been one yet. Usually the big departure is the first front in mid-September.

Sept. 29 ~ A 75dF low ought to be illegal at this date. Cloudy and humid, rain possible, good and sticky. One Yellow Warbler in the yard in the a.m. but no migrant movement otherwise. Southerlies are too strong and likely blew most of the night shutting it down. One Yellow Warbler and a couple Chimney Swift were all I saw go by yard early. We did a couple hour spin around late morning to early afternoon. No migrants at the park save two male Wilson's Warbler, likely the two I saw on Friday, and wouldn't be surprised if one is the winterer. We heard a Ringed Kingfisher close but could not find it in the thick stuff. Green Heron (ad.) was on the island. Best bird was a Rufous Hummingbird guarding some Flame Acanthus (no Crimson Patch cats that I could find) out at the entrance sign garden. A scarce find away from feeders here. One Yellow Warbler was there.

Scanned all the blooming Evergreen Sumac for the metallic green and orange Stenapsis Cerambycids (this is key week to see them) and did not spot any. Have had them there before. Didn't feel like driving out to the magic bush out back on Seco Ridge to see one. In leps at the garden was one Cloudless Sulphur and a Southern Broken-Dash but mostly the flowers are bare save a couple Gulf Frits, the odd Queen, and Pipevine Swallowtail. No blues, hairstreaks, crescents, and so on. Dead. A few Ailanthus Webworm moths on some Frostweed at the Preston Place but no birds were in it, lots of bees though, which is good.

After we got back about 1 p.m. I had the Broad-tailed Hummingbird at the front porch, same feeder. No camera on me of course. Spent a bunch more time hanging out there with camera and it was a no-show. But, at least I know it is still around. The sick ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird is still here. About 4 p.m. I heard a hummer squealing and looked in their staging area in low pecan branches and there was a fluttering hummer in the clutches of a big female Praying Mantis. Normally I am generally non-interventionist when it comes to these things. But Kathy grabbed her grabber stick and I was tall enough to reach it so got the hummer free from the Mantis. Of course grabbed a couple docu-shots before the rescue equipment arrived. The hummer seemed OK when it flew off. I realize the mantis will probably just grab another, and has been doing so. I have heard of this and seen vids of mantis with a hummer. I have flushed mantis off feeders before (not here), but had never seen one with a squealing hummingbird. I think this also explains why there are over a half dozen hummers here with wholly or half missing tails. Mantis near-misses. The mantis appears the non-native Asian type introduced for garden pest control.

Sept. 28 ~ A 74dF low is a drag, 10dF warmer than the average for the date. This is ridiculous! A whole category! Average low at SAT is 65dF for this date, we should be a couple-few less than that by now. One of the best items of the day happened when I was still half asleep, before 7 a.m. as I came out of cottage with birdseed to toss, a Black Witch (moth) fluttered around my head! Must have been under the porch eaves. I lost track of it and could not find it under any of the other eaves later in the day.

In the a.m. just a few migrants through yard, mostly at the bath. Two juv. Orchard Oriole, a first winter male Wilson's Warbler and a female Yellow Warbler. The two warblers looked like yesterday's birds. Heard a Baltimore Oriole chatter but didn't see it. A Catbird shot across the yard, surely the one I heard a few days ago, and now beginning to wonder if that was the one I saw a couple weeks ago at the gate. As in all one bird that has stuck, since rarish here in the fall, probably more likely.

Went to the park for a peek. On the way saw a Robberfly with prey which was a dragonfly! Swift Setwing methinks. Got one shot mostly showing the Robberfly. No migrants in the park woods and the residents were dead silent. I suspect a hawk had recently been there. The Common Grackle flock was unseen in the willows at south end of the island, a Green Kingfisher clicked unseen as well. At the Red Turks Cap patch under the entrance sign I got out to watch the hummers a few minutes. A Long-billed Thrasher popped out of the patch! Good bird in the park. Dragonflies are fading fast at the pond.

When I came home there was a dying sphinx moth on the porch. Photos of course, it was a Vine Sphinx (Eumorpha vitis). Probably done mating or laying eggs and fading. After lunch I insisted Kathy take a look at the sphinx. Was about 1:30, I was off the porch nearer the big pecan, and I heard soft chips coming in to the hummer feeder not 6' from her. It was a BROAD-TAILED Hummingbird! Female or imm. type. First one of the fall, and lately I have not been getting them annually as we did up on Seco Ridge. It fed for a couple minutes, often moving around showing well its peachy sides and rufous in base of outer tail feathers, calling the whole time. Awesome. I did not have camera with me of course. As of 7:30 I have spent way over an hour out there watching for it, with camera, and have not seen it again.

About 4 p.m. Kathy spotted 3 Nashville Warbler coming in to the bird bath. I had just refreshed it and refilled the drip jug. I jumped into action and got absolutely no great photos. Have I told you lately how I hate auto focus? Three out-of-focus Nashville in one frame, awesome. The way the manual focus works on the Canon Powershot is so clunky to operate and take a photo with, as to be ridiculous. Let me know if you want to know how I really feel about it.     ;)

special hummingbird edition...

broadtailedhummingbird
This is the Broad-tailed Hummingbird on Oct. 1, its last
day here (day 4). Note pale pastel peachy sides, bright
grassy green above, it has rufous in bases of outer tail
feathers you can't see here. Bigger than Ruby-throats,
with a neat soft chip call note. It was having a bad hair day,
we'd received a tenth of an inch, on its head apparently.
mantishummingbird
Here is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird being attacked by a
Praying Mantis (which appears the introduced non-native type).
I separated them (after grabbing photo - yeah I know, but...
must... get... docushot...), and the hummer flew off seemingly ok.

rubythroatedhummingbird
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Sept. 12.
A little over-exposed and burnt on the reflective part of gorget.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 27 ~ A 71dF low, a few low clouds got here around sunup for a couple hours of intermittent cover. Peak heat day of this late Sept. burn, per forcasts. Great was about 6:50 a Long-billed Thrasher called from inside the biggest Hackberry. Gave several calls and sharp notes. I did not see or hear it last night, nor did I see it later in the morning, contra my hopes. Still a horde of hummers, probably near 200 Ruby-throated and the three Rufous continue today. The Rubies normally would have peaked already and be down to a couple dozen by late September, but since there was no typical mid-Sept. first-of-fall cold front, they have not blown out yet. In related news, sugar prices remain high.

The birdbath had a little action, about 8:30-10:a.m. seems best. Besides the ususal parade of residents, there were a couple Yellow and another Wilson's Warbler, my FOS Audubon&apos's Warbler was nice, a greenie imm. Painted Bunting, a White-eyed Vireo, and the Yellow-throated warbler came in. In an hour I see I took over 80 photos. Might get three good ones if lucky. Half get deleted on first pass on average.

Heard a Baltimore Oriole. The Chat might be gone, did not hear it this morning. The male Vermilion Flycatcher is still over in the corral. I think the first year male left though, the females (ad. and imm., left a few weeks ago). Turkey flock was over scavenging the oat line after the horses get through, clucking like big chickens. In the afternoon I was watching a Queen (butterfly) on the one Blue Mist Eupatorium flower open when a Rio Grande Leopard Frog took the Queen. Wonder if it will get indegestion? I don't have time to follow the frog today unfortunately. A Two-tailed Swallowtail floated through yard late afternoon.

Town errand run. At the park there were at least two Wilson's Warbler, and one imm. Mourning Warbler, all up in the woods. I think it is about the twelveth Mourning of the fall so far. I was watching the Turks Cap at the entrance sign and an imm. Broad-winged Hawk flew over real low going south. My first hawk migrant of the fall (besides that late July Peregrine). Little Creek Larry said he had a flock (dozen+) of black and yellow orioles. Which of course any flock of that size here, much less at this time of year, has to be Audubon's Oriole. He also said he had a few Blue-winged Teal over at Little Creek. There was a Laviana White-Skipper (lep) at the Sabinal Canyon Museum yellow Lantana patch out front. Phaon Crescent was below spillway at park dam. Some Goldenrod is starting to show well along river, and some Maximillian Sunflower opening up as well. Broomweed is going well now. No Plateau Agalinis this year, was too dry in August.

Sept. 26 ~ At least it got down to 70dF this morning. Few morning clouds, we are still burnin' up here like it is August. No fronts, no relief, just a longer hotter summer. Now there are four months of brutal heat and humidty here whence it was just three. Of course winters are milder and shorter too. Radical changes. Not much for migrant motion this morn, one Yellow and one Nashville Warbler was all I saw. Second Nash of the fall, been weak for them so far. Hear the Hutton's Vireo out there, and the cluckin' Turkeys. Just after noon I heard a Catbird calling repeatedly. Third one of the fall, which is great. In leps saw a Giant Swallowtail, and a pale morph female Large Orange Sulphur which was nectaring on Tube-tongue. One Celia's Roadside-Skipper, the female Goatweed Leafwing.

Edit:
I didn't mention at the time of the update, but it was 16 years ago today I came to Utopia and leased the 'hay house' on N. Thunder Creek Road.

Sept. 25 ~ Low of 73dF, a bit of low clouds in morning off and on. A few migrants trickled through yard. Best was an immature American Redstart at the bath, which I got poor pics of. I see one about half of falls here, it's LTA - less than annual, so good. Especially when ya missed seeing one in spring. There were also 2 Yellow Warbler and a female Wilson's Warbler, and a Gnatcatcher. In orioles, single Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, I heard an Audubon's Oriole whistle through the yard, but was too busy to go look, and later an imm. Bullock's Oriole hit the bath. Four species of oriole, three of warbler. Not a bad trickle. Love that Redstart. Was 91dF at 4 p.m. in the cool shade. Saw a Clouded Skipper today.

Most awesome behavior today goes to a male Cardinal. They are pretty, and pretty testy too. Certainly they are bossy around the bath, using beak to intimidate other birds, not just other Cards. Alpha male had grown impatient waiting and waiting and waiting for a (big buck) Cottontail rabbit to finish drinking. It flew at the rabbit and slammed it in the rear with its claws! Just like a kingbird or crow does to a hawk. It nailed it. Enough already! We are waiting you furry armadillo! Said the Cardinal to the Cottontail. I was taking pictures but it was so fast I missed it. Luckily Kathy was watching at the time too and saw it.

Sept. 24 ~ Same old stuff, low of 74dF, low stratus cloud deck. Heard a Dickcissel in yard early. A surprise was two male Wilson's Warbler together with a female Yellow again hitting the bath first thing, gotta be the same three bird group as yesterday. About 9:30 a Warbling Vireo splashed in the bath once at least. They are rare here in fall, most falls I do not see one (about a third of them I encounter one). It was a greener above eastern type, and yellower below so probably an immature. Heard a Hutton's Vireo in the live-oaks behind us, and a couple White-eyed are still around the yard.

A third Rufous Hummingbird is here now, it is another ad. female, but is fully tailed. So we have it, the now un-tailed ad. female, and the adult male continues guarding the office feeder. Pretty good showing this fall, I think this makes six so far here for the season. A female Baltimore Oriole hit the bath after noon, and a Gnatcatcher went through the yard later afternoon. The flock of Turkey has been daily over in the corral lately, still 19, year-olds.

Sept. 23 ~ Low of 74dF, just a few low clouds, sunny early, not a good sign. Two male Wilson's Warbler and one female Yellow were around, the Willies went to the bath together (ph.). A Scrub-Jay (texana) passed through mid-morn. Sounded like an immature based on call. September is when most of my few park (Utopia Park) records are, which are always wandering young-of-the-year out on valley floor. Great Horned and Barred Owl calling after dark. The Screech-Owls were going pre-sunup, so 3 sps. of owls today.

The imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk was diving on the seed eaters all day. Once it went after a Mourning Dove. The dove was in straight line acceleration climbing slightly, escape flight. Between about 20' and 200' of the escape flight the Coop closed on the dove, barely, but I thought it was going to grab it. At the last moment the dove gave its best evasive twist and turn and the Coop was out of steam and broke off. When a Coop does the same to a White-winged Dove, by 150' the Coop breaks off as the dove is pulling away from it. The (bigger) White-wing has lots more power in that initial acceleration and escape climb and beats the Coop on that alone. If the Coop doesn't surprise a White-wing, it can't catch them. The Mourning uses evasive maneuvers because the Coop can actually gain on it in that escape flight.

Sept. 22 ~ Some light streamer type showers early morn were nice, something to keep the dust down, about .2 of precip, anything is great at this point. Low was 74dF and it dropped a degree from the rain. Temps have been 5-10dF OVER normal all month and forecast to stay that way another week at least. We are supposed to get some nice between the too hot and too cold.

We checked the park noonish. The male Wilson's Warbler continues, which could well be a returnee, the one that wintered last winter. There were three Mourning Warbler in the understory in the woods. One was an ad. fem., one an imm., the third I didn't get to age or sex. A fourth something got away that may have been an Ovenbird. Heard Summer Tanager and a couple White-eyed Vireo.

A couple Green Kingfisher were along island. One flew into a low thicket. A huge Largemouth Bass came completely out of the water striking at it. We could not see if it got it or not but sure did not see anything fly away, or hear any alarm notes. We saw one of the brown hindwinged (cf. obscurus) Catacola underwing moths. A few Blue Jay were up near park entrance live-oaks where green acorns falling. A bunch of Ruby-throats are at the Red Turks Cap patch at the entrance sign.

Since no one there, we stopped at the old Preston Place and checked the Frostweed patch around edges of yard. One Vermilion and one Least Flycatcher, one Catbird, one male Wilson's and three more Mourning Warbler. A good Frostweed patch is hard to beat in fall. Lots of bees on it too. I saw SIX Mourning Warbler at two small patches of understory. How many then are around today? Puts me over 10 for the fall so far, nothing to be mourning. I bet if you trudged the Frostweed a bit you could get 10 for the day today.

Late afternoon I thought about going over to the draw to check it for Mourning warbler, but blew it off in the 90dF heat. Nearing dusk I was out on driveway leaning up against trucklet when a bird flew up out of the draw into the big Hackberry x Mesquite combo tree by the gate, a Mourning Warbler! Number 7 for the day. It flew into the shorter thick pecans in front yard. Obviously working up to tops of trees and getting ready to go for the night. Awesome. Then at 11 p.m. I heard my first of fall Barn Owl, going north over the house.

Sept. 21 ~ Starting yesterday before dark the wind out of the south (and off the Gulf) was blowing at 20 mph, gusting higher, which was still going past midnight. Calm by morning, but a humid low of 75dF and no migration movement. What could fly into that? I told Kathy last night, no migrants tomorrow. Don't worry, you will never get a fallout on a Saturday. They only happen work days. Still two Rufous Hummingbird here, Ruby-throated numbers have to be 150+, maybe 200. Two feeders are being defended, one by the ad. ma. Rufous, and two feeders are neutral, which are swarmed. The ad. fem. Rufous lost her tail, so not likely to leave now in such condition.

Actually down at the 360 crossing I saw two Yellow Warbler, male and female together going down to bathe. The Yellow-throated Warbler below the crossing seems the breeder, and is still territorial, chasing things, and singing from his usual posts. Not much odetivity (dragonfly activity). A couple each Green Darner and Wandering Glider, one Black Saddlebags, saw no Rubyspots. Water is low, we need rain. One Red Saddlebags was here at the house late afternoon. Wind picked up again in the afternoon, if it gets like last night it shuts down movement pretty well. Somewhere north of us at leading edge of the southerly windfield is where the action is now.

americanredstart
This is the immature American Redstart that visited the bath.
Did not get a good pic, but you get the idea. They flash the
wings and tail incessantly making themselves really quite showy.
a bonus piclet...
rubythroatedhummingbird
Here is a headshot crop... there are lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird
passing through right now, most are pale throated immatures or females,
but fair numbers of adult males are present.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 20 ~ Low stratus cloud layer is back from the Gulf, low temp was about 74dF. One Gnatcatcher out there early. Saw a warbler briefly that looked a Nashville. Heard a Yellow Warbler, and single Baltimore and Orchard Oriole. Clouds stuck until after noon, at 4 pm. we were 90dF so 5dF less than the last couple days. A least a little easing of the heat. Those poor folks in far southeast Texas though are swimming. I have not heard the Yellow-throated Vireo in the yard the last few days and suspect it has departed. The two Rufous Hummingbird continue, with 100+ Ruby-throated. The ad. fem. leaves for extended periods though, probably cheatin' on me at another's feeders.

Town run, a couple Scissor-tails on the way. Little Creek Larry said he had a good flock of them the other day, just for a day at his place. At the park I saw four migrants, all warblers. One Wilson's, one Black-and-white, one Northern Waterthrush, and one ad. fem. Mourning Warbler. The Mourning was one with the broken eye-ring that looks like MacGillivray's eye arcs, but much thinner. The s short tail and long undertail coverts are very useful on these types. It called a few times anyway. Heard a Green Kingfisher. A flock of a couple dozen Common Grackle were in the willows at south end of the island, all the local post-breeding population methinks.

Sept. 19 ~ About 70dF for a low. The poor upper Texas coast and southeast Texas has been innundated with rain from Imelda, over two FEET in places. We'd gladly take several inches for them. We are in the subsidence ring around the low, at 4 p.m. it was 95dF on the cool shady front porch, so had to be a hun in the sun. Which is brutal at this point, we are at 4 months with highs in the 90's now. Currently there is still no 'first fall' front forecast through the end of the month, which is very unusual. We usually have a couple if not a few fronts hit in September. Sometimes we get the first fall cold front in late August. This year we had one in July, and none then through September.

Not much for migrant motion in the morning. Saw 1-2 each of Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, and Yellow Warbler. That was it. They could have been holdovers from yesterday. Saw the ad. ma. Rufous Hummer out back. Three Scissor-tails flew over going upriver. A Zone-tailed Hawk soared over. Heard the Audubon's Orioles go through yard, but busy so did not run out to look for them. In leps saw Clouded Skipper and Celia's Roadside-Skipper, a Mestra, some Queens, the Goatweed Leafwing still in charge of its opening in the pecans. Saw a (second of fall) male Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly late afternoon. No Pauraque again (as yesterday) at dark.

Sept. 18 ~ Low of 69dF. Heard the Pauraque at 6:50 a.m. A Gnatcatcher about 7 must have roosted here. A couple Yellow Warbler were around. There were about 4 Baltimore, 2-3 Orchard, and at least a couple Audubon's Oriole in the yard first couple hours after sunup. I presume these are the Audubon's I have been hearing lately going back and forth through yard. I finally got a look, and a pic of one, it is a mostly green headed immature. Born locally no doubt. Wish I could have seen the second bird. I hear them working up and down river habitat corridor weekly or so for a month but hadn't laid eyes on one. Of course I am at the point where when I hear them I just note it, having quit chasing looks of them years ago.

On the bummer side of the coin, I found a DOR (dead on road) just run-over baby snake, methinks Black-headed Snake, right outside the gate. I would love to see a live one. It was only 8" long and thin as a pencil, a hatchling from this year. Only a few cars go down the road in the morning. Photo for the record, nice to know they are here, but darnit.

Saw a Canyon Towhee in the afternoon out front but it did not seem to stick around. Bird of the day was at dusk. Kathy was out watering so saw it go over, I was at desk working so only heard it call two or three times. Which I wondered if it was a pig over in the corral until Kathy came in and said she thought a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron just flew over. Dialed up some calls at xeno-canto, and sure enough we found a couple perfect matches. Great yard bird. I saw one flying upriver June 15, 2018 from yard so not a yard first, but darn rare.

Sept. 17 ~ Another 66dF low is dreamy. It is the little things. Only thing singing early was Carolina Wren. In the a.m. saw a couple each Yellow Warbler, Orchard Oriole, and Baltimore Oriole. We seem to be in the ring of hot subsidence from Tropical Storm Imelda over on the upper Texas coast. Lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and the two Rufous are still here. Nothing else. Only one feeder of four is neutral, three have guards. The greenie imm. Painted Bunting of yesterday is still here. Did not hear anything at dusk or dark save the Owls.

Sept. 16 ~ A low of 66dF felt great. The only migrant motion I saw early was a group of four Baltimore Oriole in the top of the big pecan at first sun. Then later morn they were hitting the Persimmons by gate and along fence toward the draw. Saw a Chat and a Yellow-throated Warbler, both looked like the young from nearest nests. The two Rufous Hummingbird continue, Ruby-throated must number a hundred or more. One greenie imm. Painted Bunting. Caracara and Red-shouldered Hawk.

A Two-tailed Swallowtail (butterfly) floated around the yard several times over a few hours. The male Goatweed Leafwing remains patrolling one area of the yard, seemingly a month now. A Texas Powdered-Skipper came in to water when I sprayed it once, took 5 seconds or 5 drops and it was there. At dusk a Common Nighthawk called, sounded an immature. The pack of Coyotes went off close, musta got something. Hopefully it was a little pig. I suspect if one could see they could learn and be able to tell whether or not it was pig or rabbit they got, by their vocalizations.

Sept. 15 ~ We got up a bit early and went to Lost Maples. The low was 64dF! KRVL hit 63! That sure hits the spot. I did not hear the Pauraque this morning, or last night. I did hear a Chuck-wills-widow giving just the wills-widow part of the call for a bit at 6:40 a.m. This is likely the latest date I have for calling locally, so very neat. Left here just before 8, these later sunrises are nice. At the 360 crossing on the way out there was a year-old male Green Kingfisher with half a brown breastband. A male Mourning Warbler flushed and flew along and then right in front of car there too. On way at one point four Baltimore Oriole flew across road right in front of us. There were lots of sparrows on a fenceline upvalley but I did not stop to check them. Bad birder. Many were Lark and Chipping, some were Field.

At Lost Maples HQ there was a Baltimore Oriole and an Inca Dove, at the first crossing just past HQ a first fall male Wilson's Warbler and an immature Painted Bunting. Nothing at the feeding station at the trailhead parking area. A few Cave Swallow were overhead. We did the Can Creek trail to the ponds. We heard two White-tipped Dove along it, and a couple Audubon's Oriole. White-eyed Vireo numbered about 18 or so, to one Hutton's. The highlight was a Black-capped Vireo at the corner of the big pond calling quite a lot. It is my latest date for one locally. One Yellow-throated Warbler was still by the pond, a few Summer Tanager were along the canyon. At the second pond I had a poor look of a Mourning Warbler flying away, which I later heard chip a few times. we heard one Canyon Wren and saw one Scrub-Jay. Coming back down we had a group of at least 3 Baltimore Oriole, a few Common Raven. Only one imm. Turkey Vulture for large soaring objects.

Noteworthy is all that is gone. Breeding season is over and besides the White-eyed Vireo and a few Summer Tanager, the migratory nesters are over and out. No Gnatcatcher, Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow-throated or Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak or Indigo Bunting, Eastern Wood-Pewee or Acadian Flyactcher, no Louisiana Waterthrush, so the huge population of nesters has vacated for the season. Interesting was one big Escarpment Cherry tree that had a bumper crop of fruit of decent size (which is still small). Even purple they are still fairly bitter, but very cherry. Why no birds in the tree?

We saw 2-3 Spicebush and about a half-dozen Two-tailed Swallowtail, but no Eastern Tiger. Saw several Northern Cloudywing, one Duskywing sps., a couple Celia's Roadside-Skipper, some Gulf Frits, a Queen, one worn Questionmark, but butterflies were slow and the flower bloom was not great. Did see one Clammyweed with blooms, lots of Broomweed is doing well, the Frostweed was the main bloomer now, but mostly just covered in bees. The Lindheimer's Senna is blooming well, nothing on it. The dragonflies were also weak. A couple Pale-faced Clubskimmer, a few Green Darner, a couple Wandering Glider, a couple Eastern Pondhawk, some Kiowa Dancer damselflies, plus a few un-ID'd damsels. Odes are fading fast up there already. In herps I saw young-of-the-year Greater Earless Lizard and Six-lined Racerunner.

On the way back we had a few Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and on a snag one Olive-sided Flycatcher. Thought I saw one on the way up in the morning too. Best was as we pulled up to our place two Kingbirds flushed off the powerline out front, Couch's! Since we hadn't done enough, after a rest, we went for an afternoon swim. Nothing goin' on at the river, but a nice cool-off. Only got up to about 88dF on the cool shady front porch. At the start of dusk Kathy heard a Common Nighthawk flying downriver. Good date, a migrant, the locals are long gone. Then at the dark end of dusk I heard the Pauraque call a bit. So with the Chuck this morning, we got 3 species of nightjars here today.

Sept 14 ~ A 66dF low was fantastic, I saw KRVL hit 64! Weewow! Feels so good. At least 2 male and a female Yellow Warbler and an Orchard Oriole was it for migrants early morn. About 9:30 I saw a Catbird on the ground out at the gate! It may have been getting Red Harvester Ants. Hard bird to get here in fall, most, I do not see one. Late morn took a quick look at the park in town. Green and Ringed Kingfisher at the island where a Barred Owl as well. A little scolding scene developed around it and besides the local common stuff there was a Wilson's Warbler, an Eastern Wood-Pewee a Great Crested Flycatcher, and an imm. Painted Bunting, all four transient migrants. Great was a butterfly, a very worn Red-spotted Purple, hard to get at the park.

I guess they weren't done butchering the butterfly garden, it looks worse than last time I saw it. Not worth stopping. Pitiful. Why do you cut a fifteen year old Evergreen Sumac back to its base like it is a Lantana? One of the best fall Monarch shrubs. Why do they cut everything like it is Lantana? Because they do not know what they are doing. Worst managed native plant garden I have ever encountered in my life.

The cemetery and golf course pond at Waresville had two Loggerhead Shrike, my first of the fall. A few molting male Red-winged Blackbird continue. There were three Scissor-tails and 2 first-year male Vermilion Flycatcher around the golf course, the only of either of those I saw as I rolled around. Heard a Blue Grosbeak somewhere around the golf course. Later afternoon a couple more Orchard Oriole went through yard, heard a Scissor-tail go over, heard more at dusk. A couple Chimney Swift circled a bit at dusk. Had a single moment count of 18 Lesser Goldfinch on the patio.

yellowcrownednightheron
This is a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, July 16 at
the fish hatchery at Uvalde. Not the one that flew over calling
in the dark a few nights ago. Most that occur here are juvenile
or immatures, adults are rarer here.


~ ~ ~ update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

August is peak heat month here, and lots of birds really get to moving this month. An adult male Rufous Hummingbird was at our place July 31-Aug. 3. A second different ad. male has been here Aug. 8-23 so far. A third imm. or female showed up Aug. 23. A cormorant was reported at the park Aug. 9, surely a Neotropic, said to have a straight neck in flight. You may yet catch a passage or transient male Painted Bunting but the local breeders have departed for the season. Lots of Orchard Oriole going through now and Yellow Warbler have been about daily for a couple weeks.

We had a 1-2" rain event on the 15th related to outflow boundries from a front that washed out northward. A few hours in front of the rain my first fall migrant Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrived, an adult male. Quickly followed by my FOS Yellow Warbler, a female, hit the birdbath for a long one. Then at dusk on the 15th after the rain, a COMMON PAURAQUE called a few times from just up the road over the draw. Awesomeness. It has continued into Sept., Aug. 21st it put on a full monty show flopping around on the driveway in response to my imitating its call. Have seen a couple Audubon's Oriole pass through the yard a couple times the last couple weeks.

Finally an Empidonax flycatcher showed up Aug. 20, looked like a Least. A definite Least Flycatcher was in the yard Aug. 23. A Black Witch moth was at the park up in the woods on Aug. 23. A rare migrant juvenile Acadian Flycatcher was in the yard Aug. 25. My fourth different Rufous Hummingbird showed up Aug. 26-29, my fifth on Aug. 30 was the third adult male. Kathy spotted a LUNA MOTH on Aug. 27 at dusk! Black-throated Green and Wilson's Warbler were FOS on Aug. 28, when I also saw the VERDIN I had heard for a few days. The FOS Baltimore Oriole was a male at the birdbath on Aug. 29 and after dark that day, I heard my FOS Upland Sandpiper going over.

~ ~ ~ end update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 13 ~ A big happy Harvest Moon Friday the 13th. Low of 72dF, some scattered off and on low clouds over morning. Heard a Mourning Warbler out there early but no views to age or sex it. One Yellow Warbler, one greenie imm. Painted Bunting. Have not seen or heard the yard Yellow-throated Warbler in a few days, it may have departed. The Y-t Vireo still here singing. Later-morn there were a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Least Flycatcher and a Yellow Warbler in the Pecans. Best, at least two BUSHTIT moved through yard calling, mostly in the Junipers along north fence but flew into the Hackberries and Mesquite by gate. Have not seen any in a few months so nice. Town run, so a park check. On the way just down road a half mile I heard a Yellow-throated Warbler in the Cypresses. At the park was my first Nashville Warbler of the fall, on the island. That was it for migrants there. I saw 88dF on the shady front porch around 5 p.m., hotter in the sunny, but at least it is running a few dF cooler than it was in August. The Pauraque called a bit at dusk.

Sept. 12 ~ About 72dF for a low, and a nice wet ground from that inch last night. Stayed in 70's until almost noon. At 3 p.m. it was 86dF, KRVL was reading 92. Just barely a trickle of birds in the morning. Pauraque called before 7 a.m. again. One or two Yellow Warbler, a Least Flycatcher was all. Mid-morn a Hutton's Vireo was calling, joining the White-eyed and Yellow-throated still singing. Chat made some noise this morning, maybe only one left here now. Both Rufous Hummingbird continue, lots of Rubies here now. Verdin. A number of swallows were feeding in the area loosely assembled at best. Mostly Barn, but I saw one Cave, a couple Chimney Swift, and at least two TREE Swallow. Which are rare and hard to get here. Pretty sure one small one was a Bank but let it go.

About 10:30 I heard a chip over by the bath and saw an adult male Mourning Warbler right over the bath. It was probably just there. Went inside house and tried to get a shot but it moved. So ran back outside and hid by front door as it seemed to have been heading for the Turks Cap at corner of house. BINGO there it came around corner in it. It worked the low thick green mess around the porch (Red Turks Cap, Am. Germander, Tropical Sage, Eupatorium greggii, etc.) for over a minute whilst I blasted away. Auto-focus actually found it a couple times so I ended up with a shot before it flew across the porch (4' from me as it did!) up into lowest branches of the big Pecan, and then into the patio Mulberry tree. Down in the short thick it was not 10' away, not knowing I was there up against door. I love 'em. Whaddabird. See pic below.

Saw Northern Cloudywing and Clouded Skipper in afternoon. Then about 5 p.m. I saw an un-ID'd Mourning-MacGill type but not an ad. male. Later after dinner about 7 I was out front and heard what was clearly a MACGILLIVRAY'S Warbler! I spotted it in the Red Turks Cap! It called a lot, the typical hard dry keck or tcheck note, sharp, mechanical, quite unlike the flat ball sound of a Mourning. I grew up with Macs as a default warbler chip. Never walked by one yet. It had very thick white arcs above and below eye, well broken fore and aft. Tail appears long compared to Mourning partly due to shorter undertail coverts. Bill was shorter and more compact than Mourning. Had a decent look. About my 4th here in fall, all of which are in the last half-dozen years or so, the first 10 falls here I saw or heard zero fall Macs. It is more regular (nearly annual) in spring.

Sept. 11 ~ Heard the Pauraque just before 7 a.m. Was in town early, at park heard a Ringed King, saw Green Heron, heard a probably Mourning Warbler on the island. About 35 Barn Swallow were at the church at the 1050 x 187 intersection, mostly imms., and probably lots of this years production in town. Little Creek Larry said he had 1.5" of rain from the event yesterday and that Sabinal got 2" when we only got .4 or so. We were about 73dF for a low this a.m., and got up to about 87dF before some outflow air cooled us into low 80's about 5:30 p.m. A light shower of not even a tenth of an inch about 6:15 cooled it a bit. After dark we got a long slow soaker as they call them here, a cell camped in the area and made up for missing so much so close yesterday. We ended up with an INCH for the day!

Not much around yard early, one Yellow Warbler and a Least Flycatcher. At 10 a.m. a DOWNY Woodpecker called from the big dying Hackberry, then moved to the big Pecan and called again, then moved north up the river habitat corridor. Always a good bird here. About 11 a.m. I walked out on the front porch, heard a warbler seet flight note, a bit roughish, with a hoarse grating quality, looked low to my left and a warbler jumped out of the Turks Cap onto a Persimmon stem 8' from me, an imm. Mourning Warbler! It flew out into pecans out front. Same time and place as yesterday. I got a good look and it was an immature with yellow throat and thin thin eyering narrowly broken fore and aft. With sprinkles likely it couldn't move last night, I think it is the same bird and it stuck. I have been checking the bath lots since I figured I missed it there yesterday. Probably missed it there again today. If you have to flush something when you open your door, it could be worse. Once I flushed away a Green (now Mexican) Violetear that never came back. Just watched it fly off. Ohhh the pain, it is still a little tender there.

In the afternoon saw the Verdin, the 18 or so Turkey working the oat line for scraps, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew over. One Red Admiral and a Whirlabout for different butterflies.

At dusk it was sprinkling and the Pauraque went off louder than it has so far. It must be happy for the rain. I worked out driveway trying to see where it was calling from, quite near where it called from just before 7 a.m. this morning along north fence. Have been considering a daytime ground search for photo op. Anyway I spot it sitting and shaking, ON the birdbox on the fenceline. It was surely bathing on the nice flat surface out in the open. It soon flushed after it saw me though and flew over toward the draw. Great to hear a near full volume burst of ka-wheeerrr notes. It must have been thrilled.

Sept. 10 ~ Another 74dF low, lots of low stratus, some showers scattered around. No bird movement in yard in morning, one Yellow Warbler was my only migrant detection first couple hours. The two Rufous Hummers continue and lots of Ruby-throats. Mid-morn a Mourning Warbler flushed out of the thick low stuff around the front porch and shot out back. I bet it was just at the bath 30' away. One Least Flycatcher was out front in pecans.

A rain cell got close enough before 5 p.m. for outflow to cool us down to 82dF! Looked at KRVL and it was 96 there! Just before 7 p.m. it was 92 at KRVL and we were in a shower and 70dF! Holy rain-cooled air weatherman. We totally beat the heat this afternoon, and busted the dust to boot. We got about a third to .4 of an inch all told. But the east side of the valley got an inch and more.

Sept. 9 ~ A 72dF low, still muggy, still summer. A couple Yellow Warbler in the yard early, a Least Flycatcher, heard one Chat and a Gnatcatcher, the two Rufous Hummer continue as do White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Field Sparrow, and the usuals. Caracara made a few passes. Saw the Verdin, and a herd of about 18 Turkey in the corral. Most everything else I saw besides the hummers was between the Verdin and Turkey, sizewise. Best was a Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly, a male, the first I have seen this year. It is an irregular fall vagrant here not seen every year, and totally awesome looking in flight so always a treat. Heard just a few notes from the Pauraque at dusk. Hister Beetle about 11 p.m. on porch.

Sept. 8 ~ A muggy 74dF for a low is tiresome at this time of the year. The Pauraque called at about 6:38 and 6:55 a.m., Great Horned Owls going the whole time. A couple Yellow Warbler around yard early. That was it until after 10 when I heard Audubon's Oriole across road. We took an hour walk to crossing 11-12. Had a singing Bell's Vireo, saw an Orchard Oriole, heard a couple more, heard a couple bunting sps., heard the Verdin, a Chat, heard a few and saw a male Summer Tanager, heard Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Least Flycatcher, saw a couple and heard a couple Yellow Warbler, saw a Yellow-throated warbler, and best was a FOS Mourning Warbler, an immature with a yellow throat. I called ID at first chip but it took a couple minutes to find and see it, we ended up with great close views, and another great "the end" photo. But that was all I got. The end. You can tell it was not a Mac.

Sept. 7 ~ Back up to 72dF for a low, some clouds, good and sticky. Let go already summer. Over the morning in the yard I saw a very few migrants. Single juvenile Indigo and Painted Bunting that both looked new and different, a couple Yellow Warbler, a couple imm. Orchard Oriole, one imm. Baltimore Oriole and a Least Flycatcher. The rest were locals. Saw the Yellow-throated Warbler and the Yellow-throated Vireo was still singing. A few Summer Tanager. Afternoon was hot (91dF in shade) and sticky with no action. Weird was an immature Ruby-throated Hummingbird incessantly giving begging notes. I do not recall ever hearing one still begging here in the fall. It can't be too old. At dusk the Pauraque called bit, as did the Screech-Owls, which sound like one begging (yapping and high pitched weird trill) young and the ad. pair.

mourningwarbler
Mourning Warbler, male, September 12. I was trying to hide my
bloated carcass against front door, it was in adjacent flower bed.
another bonus pic...
lunamoth
This is the mating pair of Luna Moth on Sept. 4. Was on the
big Pecan, they were there all day.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 6 ~ Low of 70dF, and a bit sticky. In a.m. saw a couple Yellow Warbler, heard an Orchard Oriole, one Least Flycatcher out front, but not much for migrant motion. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, as is White-eyed Vireo, and Summer Tanager. Saw one greenie imm. Painted Bunting. Was a town errand run day. One Scissor-tail going there and back. At the park there was a Northern Waterthrush on the island, my FOS, a yellow tinted type. Also FOS were 2 Spotted Sandpiper on the spillway. Barred Owl was on island too, kinda surprised no Mourning Warbler yet. I think I keep forgetting to mention the Ludwigia is blooming a couple weeks plus now. Looking for but not seeing any Banded Sphinx larvae on it. About 7 p.m. I got a look at a Mississippi Kite as it flew by behind the house. Don't get it every fall, so nice. Heard the Verdin at last sun. The Pauraque first called at 8:07 p.m. Interesting was it giving the introductory notes in flight as it covered quite a bit of ground, 200' or so. Then it landed in the draw and then gave 10 minutes of just the climax ka-wheeerrr note. To cool.

Sept. 5 ~ A low of 68dF makes 5 days with lows below 70. Woohoo! There were more debris cumulus clouds and even a few rain cells nearish-by, one barely missed us and sent a few sprinkles. Remnants of T.S. Fernand, it kept the temps moderated. I saw 82 about 3 p.m., remarkable. A couple Yellow Warbler were about yard, Kathy saw an Orchard oriole at the bath, and later she spotted the big imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk in it! The two Rufous Hummers continue, no Black-chinned, a couple or few dozen Ruby-throated. Yellow-throated Warbler is around, but no singing, it's done. Saw a Rose-bellied Lizard on a pecan trunk.

Dusk was fun. The Pauraque was calling early whilst still light in the sky. It again landed on the powerline, and I got a silhouette photo anyway. It was working all around yard calling. Then it comes popping over the roof and me on the patio straight up I can see the white bands on rounded wings, and there is a Chuck-wills-widow not 8' behind it! They disappeared in front yard pecans somewhere. I wonder if it was an ad. or juv. Chuck? The Pauraque continued calling all around off and on for over an hour.

The other thing that happened at dusk was first hearing four Upland Sandpipers calling as they gain altitude to fly for the night. Outstanding was hearing a Lesser Yellowlegs! It is a new yard bird! I have thought I heard them a couple times, and have seen a few Greater, but this one kept calling, giving nearly a half-dozen repititions of the call so as to make sure I was getting it. They are generally rare here only occurring when it rains and there are flood ponds, most often in spring. It borders on accidental in fall.

Sept. 4 ~ Hit 68dF for a low, keeping our September streak of all 60's lows alive so far, I can't believe it. Only hit about 90dF peak heat due to lots of debris clouds from Tropical Storm Fernand making landfall south of us in northern Mexico. It formed and made landfall in 24 hours. They got lots of rain mostly. A couple Yellow Warbler, an imm. Blue Grosbeak, and a Gnatcatcher in yard in morning. Both Rufous Hummers still here, did not see any Black-chinned, it looked all Ruby-throats to me today. Later afternoon there was a spritz or two of rain, and a couple dozen Chimney Swifts were low over the trees calling as they bolted south. These are surely migrants from elsewhere on their way.

About 9 a.m. I sat down in the chair on the front porch to smoke my pipe and watch the bark grow on the big pecan right off the porch. And there 8' off the ground on it was a hooked up in copulation pair of LUNA MOTH! OMG! Got some photos of course. Amazing. I can't believe it. Mind-blowing for me here. They are using this big native pecan. I see a clear difference in their antennae, one much broader than the other. After 16 years here and not seeing one, this is the jackpot Luna week of my life. Much of my youth was spent dreaming of seeing one. I had seen several but 3 decades ago. They stayed hooked up until after dark. Sometime about 9 p.m. one of them left, the other stayed hanging right where it was. Which did which? The one with the smaller antennae stayed. I bet the female. It was still there at midnight.

At dark the Common Pauraque called again. I did a couple short calls and it landed on the powerline! Kathy came out and saw it too. Later it worked all around the front yard pecans calling just the final climax wheeeerr note. More awesomeness. Had to be over a dozen Firefly out there too, the fall flight is underway. Whaddaday.

Sept. 3 ~ an incredible low of 64dF was a suprise, NOAA called for 70! No one complained, it was awesome. Kathy heard the Barred Owl over at the river at dawn. Outstanding was a Black-headed Grosbeak briefly in the yard about 9 a.m., calling lots, got a couple flight views as it moved tree to tree. Was imm. or female type. Otherwise only a couple Yellow Warbler for morning migrant movement. Peak heat I saw 90dF on the front porch whilst KRVL was showing 97 again. All that blacktop and concrete.

Only 2 greenies (imm. Painted Bunnies) left. Saw one only imm. Black-chinned Hummingbird, and seems to have been some departure of Ruby-throateds. Still the two Rufous Hummer. Heard the Hutton's Vireo in Mesquites across road, and a Scissor-tail calling. One imm. male Cooper's Hawk got a House Finch that I saw, by keeping it up in open airspace until it tuckered out, and later I heard a Cardinal get taken, probably that big female Coop that has been here. Saw Northern Cloudywing, couple Goatweed Leafwing, Mestra, Giant Swallowtail, and lots of the more common butterflies. At dusk two Common Nighthawk flew low and fast downriver just over treetops, probably migrants from elsewhere. Then a Chuck-wills-widow flew right over me out on the driveway. Heard Great Horned, Barred, and Eastern Screech-, Owls.

Sept. 2 ~ The pool of rain-cooled air gave us a 69dF low again, sure feels great. But no migrants moving in yard in morning save one Yellow Warbler. What was here bugged out on the lightest of northerly flow. Still singing (so likely still nesting) are Summer Tanager, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, and Carolina Wren. There was a Least Flycatcher out in yard which may have been yesterday's bird. Both Rufous Hummers where still here in the morning.

Mostly it was hiding from the heat though the ground moisture humidity from the rain yesterday kept it a bit cooler. The shady front porch was 90dF through heat of day, whence KRVL was showing 97. We went for an afternoon swim to cool off. I found a feather that was just molted floating up against a cypress root. Looks like maybe adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron wing covert or scapular. Will have to photo and send away to expert methinks.

After we got back just before 5:30 p.m. I sat down on porch to smoke my pipe and spotted a LUNA MOTH drying out on the trunk of the big pecan. It was pumping up its wings from pupae emergence! In the sun! So finally got some real pix of a Luna! What an awesome beast. They must be using the pecan! It must have pupated at the base of the tree, it was about 28" up the trunk where it sat. It was there until about 8:34 or so when I walked past it to stand out in the driveway and look for nightjars for a couple minutes. When I walked back it was gone. Dang I wanted to see it fly off. Turned my back for a few moments and missed it.

September 1 ~ OMG September! Some rain cooled outflow air arrived overnight from activity far north of us, providing a wonderful low of 69dF! Of course 12-gauge shotgun blasts are the standard alarm this day in Texas. Dove and duck season is now open if you wonder why the doves went high.

Around the yard in the morning were 3-4 Yellow Warbler and 1 Least Flycatcher for migrants. The two Rufous Hummingbird continue. A couple greenies (imm. Painted Bunting) still here. I took a spin and checked the 360 crossing where nothing. The pond at the golf course by Waresville, had a Common Grackle and 10 Red-winged Blackbird, all males, and a few Thornbush Dasher dragonfly besides the common stuff. The park in town had zip for migrants. Did not see even one Yellow Warbler whilst driving around. The yard was better. Did see a few more Fireweed in bloom at riveredge. Some Boneset Eupatorium is going well in places along the water, but not much on it. Some Broomweed starting to bloom.

Lots of clouds kept us a bit below the usual searing temps of late, until they turned into rain cells and we got really cooled off. We got one about 2-3 p.m., it was awesome, a whole INCH of rain! Dropped it to the upper 70's dF by 3 and 72dF at 4 p.m.! Weewow! And there won't be any dust for a couple days. After it rains there is always a termite hatch so birds were feasting on those. Saw Eastern Phoebe, a Gnatcatcher, Summer Tanager, and Yellow Warblers hitting them right away.

Then a swallow swarm showed up with 3-4 dozen Barn, a few Cave, and one Cliff Swallow just feet off the ground right in the road by the gate. You could hear incessant snapping of their beaks, a dozen dragonflies joined the melee too. It was an incredible show, we were just 30-40' from the TET - termite emergence tornado - and swallows were all around, often at eye level and below. The Least Flycatcher showed back up, stuffed itself and gave photos. I saw it multiple times forage on the ground as they may do. Most other Empis are wont to land on the ground. Later both Hutton's and Red-eyed Vireo showed up! At dusk I saw a Chuck-wills-widow flopping around toward the draw a couple times. Heard no Pauraque, but did heard four Upland Sandpiper call as they headed south. So some were in pastures here up-valley today, just not in any I checked.


~ ~ ~ August summary ~ ~ ~

It was hot and sticky, but fairly dry for precipitation. About 2" for the month is below normal. Getting fairly parched out there. High temps averaged 5-8dF above average, and lows ran 3-5dF above average. Decent Persimmon crop ripening, some Hackberries and Pecans on way, but not a bumper crop year for either. Unfortunately we did not make it up to Lost Maples this month. Too dang hot, and too busy. So missed a few things for the month in birds and dragons in particular, but probably a couple butterflies too.

Butterflies were 54 species, down a handful from last couple months. Best as a Laviana White-Skipper, they are less than annual here. Next best were a Crimson Patch, a White-striped Longtail that was around 10 days or so, and a Dotted Roadside-Skipper. The rest was the expected. No Zebra so far this year. Three good moths were seen. Best was a LUNA MOTH Kathy spotted on Aug. 27. The stuff dreams are made of for westerners. A Black Witch in the woods at the park on the 23rd was great. So was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth Sphinx moth (Aellopos sps.), likely clavipes or titan.

Odes were fair, but not as active as earlier in summer. Or was it me? I saw 27 species, and nothing rare or unusual. Orange-striped Threadtail, Comanche Skimmer, Black-shouldered Spinyleg, a few Thornbush Dasher maybe were the better amongst them. Surely working at it one could have rustled up another half-dozen or more species without much effort save being brutalized in the heat.

Birds were good with some migrant action picking up by the end of the month. Best bird was the Common Pauraque that was around our yard into early Sept. so far. What a treat getting to hear it call repeatedly. A Verdin showed up late Aug., which may well be a 3rd year returnee (!). A total of four Rufous Hummingbird in yard for the month is great, two of which have stuck into early September. An Olive-sided Flycatcher was my early date on Aug. 24. Good numbers of Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler passing through, both hitting double digits on best day, and probably a hundred or so of each, as well as Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through yard in August. A juvenile Acadian Flycatcher in our yard on the 25th is a very rare find as a transient in fall here. Looks like about 90 species of birds locally. A handful were missed by missing Maples. I saw a few ebird reports in early August of Golden-cheeked Warbler still there the first week or so of the month.

~ ~ ~ end August summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ partial update header (June-July) archive ~ ~ ~

July is hot and sticky season here. If lucky there are some low clouds from the Gulf in the mornings keeping it fairly bearable until noonish. Many birds are still singing and breeding, many are done and departing. Tons of baby birds out there. An imm. ROSEATE SPOONBILL was seen at a private pond 4-5 mi. SSW of town on July 7 (Leslie Calvert), a great bird locally. A BLACK WITCH (moth) was also seen the 7th. A Belted Kingfisher flying downriver on the 17th is my early 'fall' date locally by a couple weeks. A cold front arriving overnight July 22-3 is as rare a bird here as anything. Lows in the 60's not being rain-related, with dry northerlies and highs in upper 80's the 23rd-4th is amazing. The morning of the 25th we had 57dF, Kerrville had 55 and Rock Springs 52dF! These are record lows for the date. Outstanding on July 28 was an adult PEREGRINE FALCON right at the corner of 187 and 360. Also saw one (last of the year probably) Golden-cheeked Warbler at Lost Maples the 28th. July 31 our first of fall RUFOUS Hummingbird showed up, a nice adult male, still present Aug. 2.

June highlights... June 29 three juvenile Grasshopper Sparrow were on a W. Sabinal Rd. fenceline just west of the Jones Cmty. Rd. intersection. This in Bandera Co. where I had been watching them. Still begging Golden-cheeked Warbler getting fed at Lost Maples June 29 as well. Late late evening on June 19th an actual fall migrant flew over calling southbound in the dark, a Long-billed Curlew! A fall migrant 5 minutes before the last day of spring. Had Bushtit here at the hovelita on June 16. Breeding season is going hot and heavy, lots of begging babies appearing, so finding the breeders is relatively easy. There are also post-breeding wanderers moving around already too, some of the earliest nesters are done. Black-n-white and Golden-cheeked Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and White-eyed Vireo are a few of the things I have been seeing off breeding territories moving about now. A couple cormorants were seen at Utopia Park June 26, surely Neotropic, rare birds here. July is primetime for rare hummingbirds. Was a Mexican (Green) Violetear at Reagan Wells a month or so.

~ ~ ~ end June-July update header archive ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

Aug. 31 ~ Finally it is here, the end of August and climatalogical summer. Three more weeks for astronomical summer to end at the equinox. Ran about 74-92dF, hot and sticky. I was supposed to go rustle up some new butterflies for the monthly list, but passed. It is whatever it is. Too dang hot. The few bearable hours early there is less than great butterfly activity. Mid-morning here a Texas Powdered-Skipper landed right in front of me. A male Roseate Skimmer dragonfly has been around for days, especially when Kathy sprays water. A couple females were around for about a week.

About 4-5 Yellow Warbler around yard in morning, all hit the bath. No other warblers though, these may well be holdovers from yesterday. Also there was a fresh fledgling Common Ground-Dove, Chat, White-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, a Dickcissel, and all the usual gang. Nothing new and different. Only saw the usual two Rufous Hummingbirds here now, the ad. male owning the office feeder and the ad. female using one of the front porch feeders. No ad. male Black-chinned, two immatures was it. Must be a few to several dozen Ruby-throated here now. The salmon below 1st summer male Painted Bunting was on the patio, a couple greenies (imms.) were around still. Did not see an Indigo today though.

lunamoth
This is the Luna Moth pumping up and drying out just after
emerging from pupae on Sept. 2. They are 4.5" across!

and a mandatory bird pic
leastflycatcher
Here is the Least Flycatcher that was pigging out on termites as
they emerged after the rain, occasionally foraging from ground.
I had no idea you could fit that many termites in one of these.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 30 ~ Low of 76dF is not very. Great Horned Owl calling at dawn. The bath had a little action around 8:30. Maybe three Yellow and what looked the same male Wilson's Warbler came in. A juvenile Baltimore Oriole got a drink and split quick. Saw a juv. Orchard Oriole and female Summer Tanager. Two Rufous-crowned Sparrow took long baths allowing some good shots. Pics look like it was an adult and an juvenile. There are many fewer Yellows here today than yesterday, so a bunch bugged out. In the morning it was 3, in the evening it got up to 5.

Lots of Pecan leaves are turning yellow and lots are falling. The bees hit the sap first thing at daylight, the best tree humms. They seem to not be there in the afternoon. Maybe the sap gets hard or too dry. It appears the Yellow Warblers are gleaning bugs that get stuck to the leaves in the sticky sap. An Eyed Elaterid (the big click beetle) was on the patio at dawn when I tossed seed about. Heard an Audubon's Oriole early in the morning. Both Rufous Hummers still here, do not see any ad.male Black-chinned, a few imm. Black-chinned continue. Rubies now must number in the few dozens.

Town run fer shtuff. No migrants at the park. Wish I could have seen it yesterday since we know it was a big movement day. Can't get away from the desk on Thursdays. Heard Blue Jay and Green Heron, that was it. Little Creek Larry said he saw Inca Dove feeding two young this week. He also saw a Ringed Kingfisher at the park this morning. I saw a DOR (dead on road) Roadrunner on 187 just above the UvCo 360 turn. DOR was the first acronym I learned in life, at about four or five years old. There was a Eufala Skipper on the yellow Lantana at the Sabinal Cyn. Museum, new for the month.

About 4 p.m. a cloud shield from rain cells 25 miles west of us blocked the sun. Dropped from 93 to 87 in a half hour of no sun. From icky to bearable. So that is the dang problem, that friggin' sun thingie. A second male Rufous Hummingbird showed up late p.m., it was tussling with the adult female out front and flew off, I ran straight to back and the one guarding the feeder there was on his perch. So, three here right now, and number five for the fall so far. About 5:p I went out driveway and a male Orchard Oriole flushed out of the Texas Persimmon at the gate. Wish I had seen it first. Then after 7 p.m. a flock of 8 Orchard and 1 Baltimore Oriole flew over the yard from the draw. Bet they were in the Persimmons over there all day. Reminds me there is a camping area in Garner St. Pk. called Persimmon Hill, covered in them. It is in the northeast area, it can be good for birds in September when crop. Should be birdable after this weekend. Did not hear the Pauraque at dusk, saw about 4 or 5 Firefly. Saw a Northern Cloudywing butterfly by cottage today.

Aug. 29 ~ A sticky start with a low of 75dF, a few scattered clouds off and on over the morn. Both Rufous Hummers are still here. I am not seeing any adult male Black-chinned, only a very small number of immatures. Ruby-throated now far outnumber them. Lots of ad. male Rubies showing up now, besides imms. Heard a Blue Grosbeak, surely an imm. or female now. Three greenies (imm. Painted Bunting) around still, interesting was late in day a first summer male was at the millet tube with reddish salmon underparts. Noonish there was a very worn adult female Indigo Bunting with a begging just-fledged juvenile! This is a very LATE DATE for begging attended young for me here. Maybe this is why the molting male has been staying around? It was out there later.

The birdbath exploded with activity about 9-10 a.m. There were a number of Yellow Warbler around the yard first thing. On the bath I had 5 at once, was looking at 7, and estimate there were 10 total. So if all of yesterday's stayed, they were joined by as many more this morning. It was a full blown party. Besides all the Yellows, a male Black-and-white Warbler came in that was likely a first summer male. A male Wilson's Warbler came in, with orange in lores and forehead, a western type. A female Orchard Oriole came in (couple more in trees), a first year male Dickcissel came down, probably the one around yesterday. One Field Sparrow came in. Male and female Summer Tanager took baths.

Photo'd all of the above, but only managed four Yellows in one frame though. Saw three Chats in the Pecan over the bath. After it had sorta quieted down Kathy spotted the FOS male Baltimore Oriole there! It bolted right away before I could get a shot. It was the fastest I ever took 113 photos. Had to swap batteries. You will see some 'film at eleven' I'm sure. It seems a fair number were likely things that were here yesterday. It also seems like they ate for the first couple hours of light, and then all went to the bath for drinks and splashes. Of course the whole time there were Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Black-crested Titmouse, Lesser Goldfinch, etc., coming in and out when all this was going on. It was a few dozen birds at least, maybe four dozen, in an hour or so. It was an incredible parade. Who knows what we miss, the bath is not where we can always watch it.

The Verdin was around again. Sure would like a pic of it. Heard the Pauraque in the pecans out front at dusk. Right at dark I heard my FOS Upland Sandpiper, finally. Barred Owl called later over at river. Saw three Firefly at once, so the fall flight has begun. Some years it can be pretty good in September.

Aug. 28 ~ About 75dF for a low, a little better than yesterday. Some migrant motion in the yard early too. There had to be 5 Yellow Warbler around, I got a pic at the bath with 3 at once on it. Heard a couple Orchard Oriole go by, a Summer Tanager is singing still. Great was hearing a FOS Wilson's Warbler a bunch of times doing the dry chit they do. Better was a Black-throated Green Warbler that came into the bath. I got some shots but early it is dark where the bath is so have to jack up ISO to 800 often. Regardless still get usable shots for illustrative purposes. The Yellow-breasted Chat took two long baths, giving lots of good photos. A couple juvie Painted Bunting came in to drink as well, one pretty streaky below (ph.). The usual two DOZEN Cardinal scaring things away often as anything.

Great was noonish hearing and seeing a VERDIN in the pecan over the bath. Probably just missed it there. That confirms what I thought I was hearing across the road the last few days was indeed a Verdin and not a juvenile Lesser Goldfinch, which can make a very very similar single piercing metallic chip note. While I was trying to get a pic of the Verdin saw a Blue-fronted Dancer (damselfly) at my feet. A Least Flycatcher was out front after noon. Heard an Inca Dove. Had a Questionmark (butterfly) over by the cottage (ph.).

In the afternoon the Yellow Warblers seemed to spend the day in the yard but I never saw the Black-throated Green again, nor the Wilson's. However a Black-and-white showed up late afternoon or early evening. It was a whopping FOUR species of migrant warblers here today. So with the Yellow-throated still here on territory that was around alot, FIVE species of warbler in yard today, amazing. In the afternoon an imm. Dickcissel was in the brushpile by the bath, don't know if it got a drink or not.

Then at dusk I guarded the driveway. Saw a Firefly, which is a fall firefly. Heard the Pauraque briefly call a few times upslope behind us. A Common Nighthawk flew over low and 2 Chuck-wills-widow were goofing around the yard. No Luna Moth though. Three Caprimulgids at once from the driveway is fine by me.

Aug. 27 ~ The low was a ridiculous 77dF, the warmest low of the year so far. There were some mid-level debris clouds from washed-out outflows that sheilded lots of sun and it only got to 92dF, a good 5dF cooler than yesterday's burner. Some few birds in yard early, a few Yellow Warbler, a couple Orchard Oriole, and a Gnatcatcher. At least it was migrant motion. The Yellows seemed to stick all day, at least three of them. Ran to P.O. so checked park quickly, some Common Grackle, a Green Heron, and a Spinybacked Spider, white and black carapace type, but my photos were all out of focus. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo around yard. Saw on the Frog-fruit an Orange Skipperling.

The highlight of the day was at dusk when Kathy was spraying some water around and asked if I wanted to see a big yellow moth. I asked if it was an Imperial, sorta hesitant to walk though grass in sandals and risk chiggers for one. She didn't know, so I had to go. There it was on the fence sorta, underside towards us. LUNA MOTH!!! The Holy Grail of moths! Big, bright green above, long tails, it is fancy as you get. It came in to the water. It was just sitting in one place seemingly on a broad vine leaf on the fence that was covered in water.

It is my first locally, though I have heard of a few reports. Still a rare bug here. I ran back to house, grabbed flashlight and camera, barely any light in sky, went through corral gate behind the cottage to get uppersurface. I grabbed some crummy fuzzy flashlight photos, but at least got some docushots. It was low just above the ground, so had to hold flashlight in one hand, camera and other, and pray to the pixel gods. I had to jack the ISO up to 3200 on top of that. Left the porch light on for hours hoping it would come over but never saw it. On porch I could have put 6500k daylight on it.

Aug. 26 ~ Low of 73dF, a few low stratus clouds for a few hours early. A couple Yellow Warbler around the yard. Way way more Ruby-throated Hummingbird showing up. Still some ad. ma. Black-chinned, but few. The ad. ma. Rufous retains the office feeder out back. There are at least a couple newly fledged Bewick's Wrens following adults around, as are a couple new Carolina Wren fledglings with theirs. Heard a Gnatcatcher or two go through in a.m., a pair of Yellow Warbler were around, the Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo were both about the yard. Thought I heard a Verdin again.

Was sitting on front porch mid-morn when I heard the doves and everything flush off the patio. Turned to see a Zone-tailed Hawk climb up from patio, fly across yard, and up through the opening in pecans, with a dove in its talons. It was 40' away below eye level when it came into view. It circled low twice, but had seen me, so headed away with its prey. Had I not been there it would have landed in the front pecans with prey as it has done before. It was too fast for photos. Won't see that one for a couple days. They must be sooooo fast... you don't really think of Red-tailed or Red-shouldered Hawks taking doves, but Zone-tailed do it all the time, and White-wings. A lot of it must be the element of surprise, but some must be sheer speed and deftness.

It was almost 95dF on the cool shady front porch at 3 p.m., meanwhile Del Rio was at a record 106, their old record was 102 in 2002. At 5 p.m. Del Rio was 108! Hondo and Uvalde were 102, we were 97dF in the cool shady. Another Rufous or Allen's Hummer showed up out front. Later I got a look to sex or age it, it is an adult female, so surely not the bird gone for the last two days, a new arrival. Rufous Hummingbird number four for the fall so far. Did not hear the Pauraque at dusk again for the second day. Could be that I missed the narrow window when it gives a few measures, and then it shuts up.

Aug. 25 ~ Low stratus and a low of 74-5dF so muggy. Heard a hummer giving real soft Selasphorus chips that sounded a Calliope, got up from desk and went to check feeder out dining room window and as soon as my head got a line of sight on it, a tiny small hummer shot off. I hate when that happens. Never got any kind of look, but of size, which was Calliope, and which matches calls I just heard. The ad.ma. Rufous is still guarding the office feeder. More Rubies are showing up. Four greenies (imm. Painted Bunting) were on the patio early. Whadyaknow the male Indigo Bunting in heavy heavy molt is back out on the patio and out back. Missed it for a couple days but by molt I can tell it is him. What a mess he is. It is the ugliest male Indigo Bunting I have ever seen.

Thought I heard a Long-billed Thrasher early first thing, the sharp click notes. Shortly before noon I heard real full calls, there is a LbT over in the big Mesquites across from the gate. Probably a dispersing juvenile this time of year. They have shorter bills than adults and some pale in base of lower mandible, so can be confused with a Brown Thrasher much more easily than adults. Heard it calling again at last sun. Very cool, wish it would find the bath. Also thought I heard a few Verdin chips at one point in the day, from over Mesquite way. Did have a Bell's Vireo singing in the Mesquites. About a dozen big old trees about 20' tall, right across from the gate, is just enough of a patch to draw the Mesquite lovers in.

Outstanding was a juvenile Acadian Flycatcher in the yard. New yard bird! I came within a second of getting a photo. It is exceedingly rare to detect away from breeding grounds in fall here. I have seen about 3 maybe, all in the last 6 years, all in August, all along UvCo360 but which is likely just a function of time spent. My first ten years here I saw exactly zero in fall away from a breeding territory.

Went for a peak-heat swim to beat it, was quiet over at the river. A male Goatweed Leafwing has been hanging around yard, saw a couple Cloudless Sulphur, Queens are picking up. Did not hear the Pauraque at dusk to dark, and did not try to entice it to call. It was a 10-day bird as of yesterday, my longest duration record here.

Aug. 24 ~ A second spritz of rain occurred pre-dawn, just another tenth of an inch or so, but which puts us at a good solid quarter-inch with yesterday's shower. Some folks upvalley had 1.5", further north in southwestern Kerr Co some had 2.5-4+"! Low was 73dF, about 3:30 p.m. it was 90, the humidity holding temps down a bit. I did a dump run and so a lookabout for a couple hours around noon. Best was my FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher along Jones Cmty. Rd. in BanCo. Looked at about 10 miles of fence and power lines and saw 3 Scissor-tails total, they seem mostly gone. Far fewer Vermilion Flycatchers too, though our pair remain as do the last two young they fledged. Saw a Mournful Duskywing (butterfly) on flowers in BanCo. Saw one Green Heron and heard Common Grackle at the park, that was it. But for a pair of Orange-striped Threadtail damselfly in tandem.

Saw a nice patch of purple Eryngo in full roar, what a weird wild plant that is (ph. with some native black and white bees). Still two Rufous Hummers here in the morning, but only the ad. ma. in the afternoon. There were 5-6 Field Sparrow together in the weedy area by a stick pile I keep. Build the habitat and they will come. First flocklet of fall, likely local breeders gathering up. Male Yellow Warbler came to bath late, was a female around early. Despite some sprinkling the Pauraque called about 8:30, heard from the office, just uphill behind us where the big ancient live-oaks. Later about 11 p.m. I heard the Barred Owl calling over at the river.

Some outflow hit us from nearby rain cells in the later afternoon. Garner to Concan and Dry Frio area looked like they got it good, and a cell was just east of us too, towards Seco Creek and Tarpley. We were in the infamous Utopia Dry Slot. We got a trace to a tenth, but was in the 80's for the afternoon instead of the 90's. At this point in summer you take any kind of breaklet you can get. Sure could have used some of the rain though. Did have a Desert Checkered-Skipper on the Frog-fruit, and a Clouded Skipper on the Lantana. Thought I mighta heard a Verdin across road in Mesquites. Aug. is when sometimes they show up. From where? Nearby in the brush country?

edit:
Was a fuzzy Luna Moth flashlight pic here but since got a better one (above), so removed this one.

blackthroatedgreenwarbler
Here is the Black-throated Green Warbler at the bath. They are the
cousins to our endemic breeding Golden-cheeked Warbler, but only occur here
as migrants passing through. Note the tinge of yellow at flank, which
continues around vent area between legs. All Black-throated greens show
this, Golden-cheeked are snow white throughout posterior underparts, always.
birdbath
Here is the birdbath showing a little action. A milk jug over it
with pinholes provides a drip. On the left is an imm. Dickcissel,
on the right a male wilson's Warbler, and 3 Yellow Warbler between.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 23 ~ A balmy 75dF low, got up to mid-90's. One female Yellow Warbler hit the bath early. Did not see the male Indigo Bunting. Saw a bright imm. Bell's Vireo out front by the gate. The Texas Persimmons are purple now, should be Baltimore Oriole here any day. The ad. male Rufous Hummingbird is still out back, and a second bird has shown up out front, an imm. or female without gorget. Still ad.ma. Black-chinned here, and of course some Rubies. Nice to see something besides the Black-chinned we spend May through July flooded in. The pecan leaves are all shiny and sticky with sap, which mists off as they grow nuts.

Did a park check since an errand run to town. A female Indigo Bunting there is a transient. A female Ringed Kingfisher is the first I have seen in a while. Was a bit messy below, either an adult in heavy molt, or a one year old first summer bird. Saw what was surely a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron fly up from a dark swampy part of the island into the Cypresses and out of view. Durnit. Saw Orange Bluet damselfly. Flushed a Black Witch moth which flew over to the island so no photo op. One of those metallic gold Dicerca sps. Buprestid beetles landed on my leg (ph.) A Southern Broken-Dash was on some blooming Boneset Eupatorium in the woods. A Zone-tailed Hawk was over town amongst a bunch of Turkey Vulture.

Kathy spotted an Empidonax in the afternoon, about an hour later I saw a Least Flycatcher out there. Which is FOS though an Empi sps. I saw Aug. 20 was surely one too. Late afternoon a rain cell or two gave some water mostly up valley around town and northward, and another over in the Frio drainage. We got the outflow boundry after 5 p.m. and it took the sizzle off the heat anyway. About 6:30 we got grazed by the corner of the cell, maybe .15-.2" here, but up at town and north they got an inch. We got the cool down though, it quickly dropped to 71dF when the light rain hit. What a break, 20dF cooler than most days at 7 p.m. lately. Heard the Pauraque a few times before 8:30 p.m.

Aug. 22 ~ Back up to 74dF for a low, a few low clouds a couple hours of the morn to stave off heat. About 92 in cool shady. Saw the male Indigo Bunting, the male Rufous Hummingbird still guarding the office feeder. A couple Yellow Warbler zzeets in the pecans, two females were seen at the bath over the morning. A Gnatcatcher came in to the feeder action to check it out, must be a juvenile. Landed on the rope the sunflower feeder hangs on to see whaddup whilst chickadees and titmice going back and forth. Both Yellow-throateds, Vireo and Warbler, were around, and a White-eyed Vireo. A couple each ad. and imm. male Ruby-throated Hummers are here, still a few ad.ma. Black-chinned around too. Heard a couple Blue Grosbeak, which went unseen. Saw a Funereal Duskywing on the Frog-fruit flowers. Heard the Pauraque at last light. Did not want to bother it so I was silent.

Aug. 21 ~ A 71dF low felt great, what a difference a few dF makes. Saw the male Indigo Bunting early morning. A female Yellow Warbler was in the yard, until the Yellow-throated Warbler saw it. Ran it out. Chased it tree to tree and seemingly out. Must view it as a food competitor and is still in a very territorial mood. An hour or so later a male and female Yellow Warbler went to the bath together (ph.). Ground-Dove was at the bath again. Heard Gnatcatcher and an Orchard Oriole. Caracara went over. Maybe only hit 92dF on the cool shady front porch, so it dialed back a couple dF on the heat. Probably due to ground moisture from the rain. Yellow-throated Vireo singing around yard, as is a White-eyed still. A Zone-tailed Hawk circled over in the afternoon (ph.).

The big events of the day were at dusk. First I spotted a Sphinx moth at the Snow-on-the-Mountain so grabbed camera and got some shots. Sun was down had to use high ISO, but it was one of the Aellopos (hummingbird hawkmoth types) species, either clavipes or titan I suspect. It seemed greenish so probably titan, but will have to send pix to experts to see. I have seen a few of these types here over the years, obvious for their white band on adbomen, and hovering at flowers looking much like a tiny small hummingbird, which they have been reported as. I just love this dusk on the driveway thing.

Then as it got almost dark, the Pauraque started calling from in the pecans in the front yard! It was flopping around over top of the shorter ones 25' up. Kathy came out of office since she heard it. It was calling and flying across the yard. So to test and see what kind of Pauraque this was, I did my patented call again. Is this a real Pauraque, or is this a Russian Pauraque? The bird flew directly at me and got so close, I flinched, I think at the same time it did, but honestly had taken my eyes off the ball. It was a real Pauraque. It promptly plopped down on the driveway 8 or 10 feet from us and went to yukking it up with the intro calls. It would jump up and do that Pauraque flop, up and down a foot or two so at a time moving slowly away up the driveway. Gave a couple great full calls. Flew around the yard right past us, we saw the white outer tail feathers well. It flew right overhead another pass and against the last light in the sky we saw it was missing all of its inner primaries, on both sides of course. So it is in heavy wing molt right now. It landed back on the driveway, flopped around and yukked it up more, it was about 10 minutes of an incredible show. I grabbed the camera and got a few seconds of an mp4 with the lens cap on just to document the call with poor quality audio. Alas, my 20 year old faithful Sony Palm-corder cassette unit (used with a small 8" dish mic) seems to have finally given up after years of abuse. I can't believe it did that to me. Just like my guitars.

Aug. 20 ~ A 75dF low is a drag. But there were a couple migrants in the yard this morning to make one forget about it. An Empidonax flycatcher was my first of the fall. Looked a Least. An imm. Orchard Oriole, a female Yellow Warbler, and a White-eyed Vireo with a nice white eye (ad. - ph.) came into the bath mid-morn. Yellow-throated Vireo singing around yard, and I heard the Red-eyed over in the usual far part of corral singing! It must have moved a couple days out of earshot to the other area it spent time this summer just past the corral, but is back still going at it as usual again. The male Indigo was around and is in heavy molt (ph.) now, doing it here on the breeding grounds apparently. He is looking ratty for all that beautiful blue. Caracara went over.

Many of the same butterflies were on the Frog-fruit including the Laviana White-Skipper, a False Duskywing, a Rounded Metalmark, and a Southern Skipperling. All the other more common stuff was there too. Late afternoon peak heat I saw 92dF on the cool shady front porch, whilst KRVL showed 97dF. Only Rocksprings up at 2300', a thousand feet higher, showed cooler at 91, Boerne was 93. Most local areas showed several dF hotter than we are, we run close to the coolest temps in the hills. I call that a win but it is still way too hot for my old carcass.

At about 8:35 and 40 the Pauraque called several times. Then the Chuck-wills-widow got active, with two young begging flying right by me whilst leaned up against the trucklet in the driveway. One adult and two young, catching stuff right over the yard 20-30 feet away. I could only see silohuettes against last light in sky but saw two young begging chasing after an adult obviously. Finally one gave one good full call, the first I have heard in about 5 weeks since they quit singing in earlier July. It was a great goatsucker show.

Aug. 19 ~ Need I say it was 74-90 something dF? A wee bit of some low clouds in a.m., no migrant bird motion. By noon it was hot. Rufous Hummer still guarding the feeder out the office so I am hearing him all day. Saw at least a couple imm. male Ruby-throated, and maybe a couple adults as well. Still ad.ma. Black-chinned but thinning fast, as are the immatures. Three Field Sparrow around, at least one a juvie, plus new fresh begging young of Lark and Chipping Sparrow still. That dull dull first summer female Summer Tanager is still around. Since she nested she has not molted yet and wow is she beat, worn, and gray. Saw a Titmouse stashing sunflower seeds in ball moss. The first of that this season.

The verges of the road were all mowed last week, as was the corral, so a bazillion flowers are gone. Meanwhile the few patches we have are getting way more butterflies the last several days since the drastic botanical change took place. Around noon checked the Frog-fruit and found a Laviana White-Skipper (ph.). They are LTA - less than annual here. It is a big white skipper from southward, hopefully a harbinger of a good invasion from Mexico this fall. Been a year at least since I saw one locally. Sometimes we have gone years with out one occurring. A couple years of last 16 we had decent invasions of them.

There was at the same time on the Frog-fruit the same three as yesterday probably: False Duskywing, Streaky Skipper, and a Checkered-Skipper - probably a White. Plus a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, got a pic of a Rounded Metalmark, my first of the month, and a Reakirt's Blue or three. Just kneeling down to look and grab a couple pix and you are dripping. Welcome to Texas in August. Saw the Laviana a couple hours later, it visited again. Couple Painted Lady on the Snow-on-the-Mountain, still a Black Swallowtail on it, and a couple Olive Juniper Hairstreak. In yard Goatweed Leafwing, Giant Swallowtail, Mestra, several Lysides were among other things floating around.

Outstanding was hearing the Pauraque call again. Several times at last light in the sky, about 8:37-8. Straight across the road from the gate on the back side of the big old mesquite patch. Went out a bunch more when fully dark and never heard it again. Still no Upland Sandpiper calls overhead, though I saw a report of some a couple days ago from southwestern Bexar Co.

Aug. 18 ~ About 74-94dF in the cool shade. No migrant movement yet. Thought behind the outflow boundries and rain that was from a washed out front we would get something within a couple days. Still waiting. Kathy saw a male Indigo Bunting in the a.m. briefly on the patio, only sighting all day. About 3 greenie Painted left. Ad.ma. Rufous Hummer still here, Yellow-throated Vireo still singing in yard. We went for a swim peak heat, had a few dozen Barn Swallow in a swirl over the river, above treetops.

Some good butterfly action on the driveway Frog-fruit, and the adjacent Snow-on-the-Mountain. Saw two Streaky Skipper at once (probably a first for me) on the Frogfruit. One Checkered-Skipper looked like a White, not a Common. Couple Olive Juniper Hairstreak, a Whirlabout and a Fiery Skipper, a Clouded Skipper at the Wooly Ironweed early, Painted Lady and Black Swallowtail also on the Snow-on-the-Mountain. One Mestra was putting around, numbers of Queen going by.

Aug. 17 ~ We remain in that 'groundhog day' groove, now playing the summer burner version, like a broken record. Bet you would never guess it ran about 75-95 in the shade here today. The bright side cup-half-full I might have mentioned recently, we are in a large area of southern and south-central U.S. (inclds. most of Texas) which on average has its hottest day of the year between Aug. 6 and 16th. So statistically we should be over the peak heat hump. The last couple weeks of burning should be the worst of it.

Heard a few Orchard Oriole out there early. Did an hour of hard labor yard work before I dropped dripping. The ad.ma. Rufous and Ruby-throated Hummers continue, as do some ad. ma. Black-chinned. Thought sure again I saw imm. ma. Ruby-throated, a couple times. Maybe the same female Roseate Skimmer dragonfly was out front (ph.).

In butterflies saw a Desert Checkered-Skipper, besides a few Common, 2 different Olive Juniper Hairstreak (ph.), besides a couple Gray. A Southern Skipperling was my first of the year probably, unless I had one in early spring. Goatweed Leafwing was out there, Common Mestra, American Lady, the freshest mint Variegated Frit you can imagine (ph.), Julia's Skipper and Celia's Roadside-Skipper, the porch and Turks Cap area Dusky-blue Groundstreaks that won't let me get a picture... Also saw Whirlabout, numbers of Queen, Pipevine Swallowtail, a dozen Lyside, Little Yellow, and others, I was barely paying attention.

Oops, wasn't over. After dinner around last sun on the flowers, lots came out for one last shot of juice. A DOTTED Roadside-Skipper was best, first one I have seen this year, they have been very rare since the drought. They were nearly common 2004-08. Rare since. Was gone when I got back out with camera. Then a False Duskywing (Gesta gesta) came in, first of month and got pix of it. Over at the Snow-on-the-Mountain was a female Sachem and a Black Swallowtail, besides the Olive Juniper Hairstreak, Pipevines, a Syrphid, and some native bees.

Saw or heard no nighthawks, nightjars, goatsuckers, or relatives. There was a big dozer working a half-mile away across the river but it was still too loud. The Screech-Owls called, that was it.

yellowwarbler
Male Yellow Warbler at our bird bath. I am seeing 1-2 daily now
so they are on the move. Nothing like a drip to bring birds in,
works better than food, and they really need water in this heat.
The dark spots on the wing are shadows from water drops.
a bonus pic this week...
hummingbirdhawkmoth
Here is a pic of the 'hummingbird hawkmoth', Sphinx moth
of the genus Aellopos, likely either clavipes or titan. Nectaring on
Snow-on-the-Mountain. They hover just like a hummingbird at flowers,
but often use front legs to steady themselves while feeding.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 16 ~ An amazing rain-cooled low of 69.5dF. Feels so good. Thought there might be some migration motion this morning behind the outflows from the north yesterday. Could not have been more wrong, guess again. Nothing. Didn't even have the usual Gnatcatcher and few Orchard Oriole of late. The Rufous Hummer is on day 9 now, the ad.ma. Ruby-throat still here. Still a dozen or so ad.ma. Black-chinned, but not for long. No ad.ma. Indigo or Painted Bunting, or Blue Grosbeak in yard. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. Chat getting way quieter. Town run, almost nothing at the park, kinda surprisingly. Only thing was a dozen Common Grackle, over half were hatch-year juveniles, only one ad. male. So likely a post-breeding party of all the local nesters gathered up now. No Martins over town, they are outta here. You might see stray migrants from now until early October, but the locals are gone. One Questionmark butterfly at the park. Saw my FOS flowers on Eryngo, the bizarre purple Thistle relative on roadsides.

Did an hour plus dusk nightjar patrol out on the driveway. First while still sun up there were four Common Nighthawk. It was a family group, presumedly from the nearby knoll a half-mile to north. The female had a couple young trailing it, and at one point the male did a decent booming dive. Great to hear that one more time this year. After watching them a while and sun dipped below horizon, twice I saw a Chuck-wills-widow flying right behind the house up the hill low right over treetops of the big live-oaks. Finally about 8:50 the Common Pauraque flew right over my head! Still enough light in the sky to get a perfect silohuette, straight up, of short rounded wings and a very very long tail. Completely unlike any of our other nightjars. Awesome. A pair of mccallii Screech-Owl were calling, sounded like they were going into the bath.

Aug. 15 ~ About 74dF for a low, no morning clouds, go directly to baking. Heard a few Orchard Oriole out there early, saw the ad.ma. Indigo Bunting, but no Painted around save the greenies. The adult male Rufous Hummer #2 is still here, day 8 now. Still can't get over how lucky I was to get a pic of the back of that first one with the green flecks, so as to know this one is different.

About noon-thirty I had my FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird, an adult male. Ties my latest fall arrival date, usually they are back sooner. But, it means they were probably breeding, which is good. When things come back early in fall, it might mean they failed nesting. So we have three species of hummers at the feeders today, which has not happened since last fall. The next month is prime-time to snag a passing Calliope or Broad-tailed. After them you are just dreaming, wishing and hoping. But that's OK. It may even help. There is a White-eared out in west Texas now. Saw that Olive-Juniper Hairstreak on the Snow-on-the-Mountain after the rain. One Mestra was around too.

At 1 p.m. an adult female Yellow Warbler took a bath, my FOS. So this little tail end of a system up in the plains brought us our first couple of fall migrants. Should be Upland Sandpipers tonight? We just got the outflow boundries, not the actual front. But it was enough to set off rain with the heat and humidity. Between 1:30 and 2 p.m. it poured, about 2 INCHES! Temp dropped to 68dF! About 3pm it was back up to 72, but holy cow what a break. We needed the water badly, it was parched out there. No dust for a couple days.

Termites went off of course with a hatch, so my Red-breasted Sunfish had some juicy treats. The birds had a feast all afternoon. Some swallows were going over low getting termites, maybe a few dozen Barn, and a half-dozen Cliff, which is rare from the yard. I heard they have already departed the colony at the 1050 bridge over the Frio River for the season, maybe about two weeks ago. Hopefully they got young out.

At dusk after the rain, a COMMON PAURAQUE called a few times from just up the road over the draw. I taped one once here in the yard, Aug. 24, 2014 (present to 26th) so it has been five years since last record for me. Prior to that had at least one, maybe two Seco Ridge records, one was in latest July. These are post-breeding wanderers moving north out of the brush-country. Very interesting. Was a miracle I was out in the driveway to hear the minute window it called. Just love watching and listening from last sun to dark. Went out and listened a bunch more and never heard it again, nor did I hear any Upland Sandpiper going over. Even did my patented Pauraque imitation, hate to brag but it is so good the last one dive-bombed me. This individual however apparently could not have been less impressed. You know, eye (or ear) of the beholder and all... I hadn't practiced in five years, perhaps I was off key. Sounded good to me, made me want to call back to myself.

The frogs went off after the rain. I heard a few Barking Frog, saw one and heard other Blanchard's Cricket-Frog, caught a Red-spotted Toad, and the Rio Grande Leopard Frogs were roaring. About midnight a pair of Great Horned Owl were calling across the road.

Aug. 14 ~ Ran 75-96dF and the meltdown continues. Town run early first thing so a look at the park. So great to be the only one there again. It has been a zoo most of the summer. Still singing were 2 Yellow-throated Vireo, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, and a couple White-eyed Vireo. All may well still be nesting. A couple interesting transients were heard, a Great Crested, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher, both of which have been gone from many local breeding areas for a month. Saw Green and Great Blue Heron, heard a Green Kingfisher. Summer Tanager and Yellow-throated Vireo were at the park but only called, no singing. Heard some new baby begging Blue Jays in town.

Saw the Indigo Bunting male early, but not late, and no male Painted Bunting, or Blue Grosbeak. A couple Field Sparrow around. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. White-winged Dove singing a very little. Saw some three hundred feet up, practicing for Sept. 1 no doubt. The male Rufous Hummingbird continues. An outflow boundry at 6 p.m. brought a cool breeze taking us down to 90dF in a few minutes. Terrible when 90 is a cool breeze. Got a little leaf-washer and dust buster a half-hour later, maybe a tenth of an inch. And which dropped us down to a chilly 82dF before sundown! And the people were happy. Two Audubon's Oriole went through yard at last sun.

Aug. 13 ~ Just another day baking, ran about 74-96 in the cool shady. Saw the male Indigo in the morning and evening. Might have glimpsed a male Painted late as it flushed out back. About a half-dozen greenies continue. The 2nd male Rufous Hummer continues. Gnatcatcher in a.m. and another late afternoon, several Orchard Oriole went through early and a few late. Saw a Barn Swallow feed young right overhead. A Field Sparrow around. We get back down to about 90dF as soon as the sun goes down, then it is a real slow drop from there to about 82 by around midnight. It ain't fer sissies.

Aug. 12 ~ Unless we get a 'cane, August weather is mostly a sub-tropical high that wavers a bit but overall is a whole bunch of sameness. It was still 82dF at midnight last night. Just under 76dF for a low. Early there were a couple Gnatcatchers, and a few Orchard Oriole as is the case lately nearly daily. The Orios came to the bath! The male went right in like a boss. May have been showing the young what a puddle is for. Very cool. Nothing ever wore black and brown better. An hour later a sharp black-bibbed first-summer bird (roughly a year old) came in quickly. Their wings are in bad shape at this point, in dire need of replacement. Dang Cards scared it off. Saw Chats and a Yellow-throated Warbler at the bath briefly too.

Heard the Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireo still singing as on territory this morning. White-eyed still going of course. Still some adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird around but most have left and immatures predominate now. Between 6-7 p.m. one ad. male Painted Bunting and one male Blue Grosbeak hit seed out back. Maybe a half-dozen greenies left. Few Orchard Oriole late p.m. are probably different from this morning's birds. Finally saw the Rufous Hummer about 7:30 p.m., day 5 for this one. Got usable pix of three purple beauties: Tube Tongue, Wooly Ironweed, and Purple Bindweed flowers. There were two Clouded Skipper on the Wooly Ironweed this morning.

Aug. 11 ~ It was 75-96 in the shade, same as it ever was for August. Four Orchard Oriole went through in morning. At least a couple Chats were at the bath in morning, got some pics. Heard the Rufous Hummer first thing early. Saw the male Indigo Bunting first and last thing. There were two adult male Painted Bunting after 7 p.m., only sighting all day, and first time I have seen two at once in a week at least. Saw one of the salmon below types of first spring-summer male Painted Bunting.

Weird was the first juvenile Cowbird being fed I have seen in the yard this summer, a Brown-headed, late for them here. The incredible part was it was being fed by a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. I don't know of a nest nearer than a half mile at best.We went for a swim in the peak heat late afternoon. A .75" Horse Fly bit me, wouldn't leave me alone, a first for that here. I had to go frogman and go underwater and depart the area I was in. In butterflies on the Frog-fruit in the driveway there was a pair of Phaon Crescent, a couple each of Reakirt's Blue, Gray Hairstreak, and Checkered-Skipper and a male Whirlabout (ph.). Lots of other common stuff around yard.

Aug. 10 ~ Ran 75-95.5dF in the shade for a temp spread. Had to be a hun in the sun. Hid inside mostly. Did some yard work early, doesn't take long to get drippy. First thing before sunup I saw one each ad. male Painted and Indigo Bunting. Eight greenies (imm. Painted) hit the patio first thing with them. These ads. are the same last two holdouts fattening up on white millet the last week. Did not have the adult ma. Rufous Hummer in the a.m., but it showed up at last call. Saw a male Blue Grosbeak late out back. Heard a few Orchard Oriole and a Gnatcatcher in the morning. Kathy saw a Roadrunner on the patio. I saw a Chat at the bath. Saw a Kiowa Dancer (damselfly) on the front porch. Got pix of an Olive Juniper Hairstreak, these late summer types sure look different from the spring flyers to me. Saw a Mestra, an American Lady, and a Whirlabout in other butterflies. In dragons, one Wandering Glider was out in heat of afternoon, and a Pale-faced Clubskimmer was, uh, skimming, with its club, around the front yard at dusk. Screech-Owl calling at dark.

orchardoriole
Male Orchard Oriole at our birdbath, there were several juveniles right
above him in the pecan. He went full submarine. It was early, dark and
overcast with very low light, had to use a high ISO and so a bit fuzzy
and dark, with apologies. One of the sharpest looking birds in America.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 9 ~ Ran about 76-96dF for a temp spread, these are the dog days. In the morning I saw both male Indigo and Painted Bunting, heard the draw Blue Grosbeak singing. Heard a Bell's Vireo which might be the one I saw coming into the bath mid-morn. Also had a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bath this morning (ph.). The bath is a Cardinal traffic jam lately. Anything else is lucky to sneak in edgewise. The male Rufous Hummingbird was still here in the a.m. as well. Heard a Gnatcatcher go through early.

Town run. Saw the Green Heron up on the island, surely they have a nest in there somewhere. Heard a half-hearted Yellow-throated Warbler song, same for Eastern Wood-Pewee. Saw a Red-eyed Vireo which do not nest there, a post-breeding wanderer leaving the breeding grounds. Heard Blue Jay. Saw an Orange-striped Threadtail damselfly. Below the spillway was a Comanche Skimmer dragonfly, which is rare at the park. Saw a number of juvenile Starling in some Fig trees in town. So I grabbed a couple Figs. It is an empty lot.

Aug. 8 ~ Low was 75dF but we had some Gulf low stratus to keep us sun-sheilded for several hours of the morning. Was 94dF in the shade about 4 p.m., lovely, come on down. Heard a Gnatcatcher early, the Red-eyed Vireo is still singing, was in the yard mid-morn. Saw a male Painted in morning, but as of afternoon, no Indigo yet. Saw one male and heard another call, Blue Grosbeak. Pretty sure it was 'the draw' male. A Canyon Towhee was around in a.m., and used the bath in afternoon.

Great was another adult male Rufous Hummingbird, which photos show to be different than the one here July 31 to mid-day Aug. 3. If I had not bothered to get a back shots of both birds we would only guess they were different because of the four day lapse with no sighting. But you might wonder if it was at neighbors feeders, etc. Nothing like some documentation photos to study, these two are absolutely not the same bird. The Indigo Bunting came in to the patio millet at last sun briefly. Got one more BlueMistEup caterpillar today, I think 219 now removed.

Aug. 7 ~ A 74dF low, a few clouds for a couple hours kept it in 70's for a short while. The male Indigo was giving just the first couple notes of usual song, but three of them, repeatedly with an abrupt end, as if it started to say something and stopped. Saw the male Painted out back early. Any day now will be the end of these here for the year. Sure has been a great four months them. Heard a few Orchard Orios in the morn. Great was one of those real colorful imm. Bell's Vireo, in the morning. Probably from a local nesting.

A couple good butterflies came in to the water sprayed about late morning. The White-stripe Longtail was still around, and better a CRIMSON Patch stopped to drink just off the back porch (ph.). What a beauty! In the yard! In afternoon I saw a still with streaks below juvenile Field Sparrow, I suspect was a very local nesting, maybe from one we have been hearing sing. Begging Chippy still out there too. Late afternoon one male Blue Grosbeak hit the sunflower seeds I throw in the bushes out back. I think the male that has been up the draw. The yard alpha male has not been around a few days now. Thought I might have had an imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, sure had a long tail.

Aug. 6 ~ About 73-94dF temp spread in the cool shady. It dries out in the late p.m. heat so you lose the humidity, in news from the 'cup half full' department. Gnatcatcher and some Orchard Orioles went through in the morning. Just Black-chinned Hummingbirds at the feeders now, where is that first Ruby-throat? No Blue Grosbeaks detected today. Late at 7:30 p.m. one male Painted Bunting was on patio eating seed, and at 8 p.m. the male Indigo Bunting showed up. Both were MIA all day. Seems only the one male Painted since about Aug. 1. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, but not hearing the warbler. Chat still going, as is White-eyed Vireo. E. Screech-0wl (Tex-Mex mccallii) right over bath right as it got dark, it couldn't wait to hit the water after a hot day.

Aug. 5 ~ Low was about 75dF, not very. A trace of sprinkles went over just after 8 a.m., saw a rainbow briefly. Saw the ad.ma. Painted Bunting first thing before sunup, and about 8 greenies hit the patio at the same time. Heard Gnatcatcher, some Orchard Orioles, and a Red-eyed Vireo in the pecans in front yard early morning. Male Indigo Bunting around later in day. No male Blue Grosbeak for second day though, the alpha male left the night of the 3rd after that spectacular spiral display flight. Some nearish spritzes and showerlets in afternoon sheilded us from the peak solar burn, but we didn't get anything. An odd orangish grasshopper was on the Turks Cap (ph.). Kathy pointed out calling Common Nighthawk before dusk. A just-fledged Chipping Sparrow is being fed on patio.

Aug. 4 ~ A sprinkle or two overnight, we got a tenth or so. Up near town some areas got a quarter to a half inch. It built into something more after it got south of us, looked like Sabinal got some. Low was 72dF, and some clouds kept it bearable for a bit. Yesterday while weed-whacking I got a puncture through the old sneakers, far deeper than I prefer, into foot from a big thorn I presume, probably a Mesquite. So I am a tenderfoot today. Hope I don't have to run from anything.

Gnatcatcher out there early, Yellow-throated Vireo and Chat singing, do not hear a Blue Grosbeak. Saw one ea. still continuing last ad. males of Indigo and Painted Bunting. A few Orchard Oriole early, better was two Audubon's Oriole that went through the yard about 9:30 or so. Did not see the Rufous Hummer this morning, or late at last call last evening, so it probably left late yesterday afternoon. Four day bird, nice for an ad. male. It was great to hear that wing whistle again. Most here are females or imms., which have no whistle in their wings, poor things. Cooper's Hawk got a White-winged Dove out back noonish.

Went for a swim late afternoon to cheat peak heat since that works so well. We finally had a Green Kingfisher fly by at eye-level while we were in the water. First one we have seen go by during weekly swims in a couple months so a treat. Was an immature with one green breast band. Saw a Black-shouldered Spinyleg dragonfly again. In damsels, over a dozen Am. Rubyspot, no Smoky. They are upriver where it turns to running creek, and not so much riverine. Lots of Stream and Double-striped Bluet, saw one Neotropical Bluet which is my first of year. Tons of Dusky Dancer, they are the predominant species. Can you tell there weren't many birds out in the heat?

Nearing last sun a begging Painted Bunting appeared with mum and was being fed for some time before it got the hint and flew down to patio and seed. At this point I do not think there is any male around helping. They seem to depart before the last baby is out of the nest on what is likely the third set of young. I have seen this before.

Aug. 3 ~ About 72dF for a low, was 92 on cool shady front porch at 4 p.m. Had some clouds though for a few hours in the a.m. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo still around yard and singing, one each male Painted and Indigo Bunting left, are not singing, Blue Grosbeaks have gone quiet too. Caught one of the Rufous-crowned Sparrow leaving the bath in the morning. It got them to stick around just to bathe again soon! A couple Gnatcatcher and a few Orchard Oriole went through in the morning. The ad.ma. Rufous Hummingbird is still here. Saw the big imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk.' Field Sparrow around the yard in afternoon. New begging being fed juvie Lark Sparrow just out of nest.

Neatest thing was a different type of Blue Grosbeak flight song, I suspect the departure display song. Several species of birds here I have noticed go bonkers singing and or calling right before they leave the territory for the season. For songbirds it is a day to three and noticeable because they have been in a comparatively silent period molting after getting rid of the last set of young. All of a sudden they explode in song, and then disappear. Typical Blue Grosbeak flight display song is like Chat or Orchard Oriole, Lesser Goldfinch, and most songbirds, a fairly horizontal affair across the territory.

Right before last sun, I heard a bzzzz flight note and looked up to see the male Blue Grosbeak climbing nearly straight up but in spirals, whilst immediately bursting into explosive song. He climbed vertically like a U-2, going up a spiral staircase, like an airshow stunt pilot, belting out with everything it had. Everytime it came belly to me the dark blue glowed in the sun. When it got over a hundred feet up it went into parachute mode, wings and tail in full fan, a little bit of quiver at first, and spiraled back down the staircase as song faded away. It only did it once. I said to myself, that bird is leaving. I have never seen that flight display, I watch them every day all breeding season. It was making one last proclamation, and taking one last look around.

goldencheekedwarbler
One last peek at a Golden-cheeked Warbler from this spring at Lost Maples SNA.
At this point, I will not likely to see another until next March.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 2 ~ A 70.5dF low was nice, we need to cool down after these scorchers, of which today is supposed to be another. The ad.ma. Rufous Hummer is still here. Kathy spotted two Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bird bath. Probably been a year since we saw one in the yard, maybe two. They nest very nearby, a third mile or so, but hardly ever occur here. The last little rocky slope ends right at the back fence line. The drip got 'em. The looked like a pair of very worn adults, but were soaking wet so was hard to tell. Wish they would stick. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo still singing over in corral. Also heard some Purple Martin over the yard early. That won't last, they are about outta here for the year.

Town run and quick park check. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk over town, heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee singing at the park, they must still be nesting. Little Creek Larry said he saw at least a couple Green Heron at the park this morning, maybe 3, and a group of 3 Common Grackle. Both probably local family groups. Back here after Rosie's tacos, about 1 p.m., there was another Zone-tailed Hawk, low right over the yard. It would take me at least several lifetimes to stop getting excited about them.

Saw one of those Peach or Fig Scarab beetles flying around yard. Better an Eyed Elaterid landed on the big pecan and I got a shot of it, was a dark one. At peak heat in p.m. (about 93dF in shade) a White-striped Longtail came in to water again, surely the same one as last week. Great to keep seeing it. Kathy saw the male Indigo Bunting on the patio nearing dusk. Like the ad. male Painteds, it will be gone soon. Eastern Screech-Owl calling 25' out office window after dark.

August 1 ~ The low was 69.7 or so, just a frog hair below 70dF. Hopefully a sign of a cooler month ahead, but a few days of burners are on tap. The ad.ma. Rufous Hummer is at the feeder first thing. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo still singing over in corral. A Gnatcatcher went through yard early, a bit later a group of Orchard Oriole (could be a local family group) were moving around. Painted Bunting have gone silent and some adult males seem to have already left. Not seeing as many, were 5 at once a week ago, not any more. Ten greenies (imm. or fem.) were on the patio at once in the morn. Saw a Pepsis Wasp. One Eufala Skipper (which I missed locally in July - only saw it down at Uvalde) so it did not take a day to see a butterfly species I did not see the month prior here. Another Gnatcat nearing dusk.

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

It was a hot one, and dryer than average, just over 2" of rain was it, mostly in two quick events. By the end of the month the river is on the low side of average. Spring to summer flowers mostly fried over the course of the month. Some summer stuff is starting to show, but we need some rain! Cherries and Pecans look to have a weak to poor crop underway, same for Hackberries where I have looked. Texas Persimmon has a spotty but very good crop overall, lots of branches are boughed over from the weight of the still green fruit. Birds and deer are already hitting them.

Butterflies were 57 species locally, one more than June, and a good showing for July. Nothing rare, just mopped up most of the likely contenders. Maybe best was not counted for total since at Uvalde, a Rawson's Metalmark. Here, a Common Sootywing was best since first IN yard. A Tropical Checkered-Skipper IN yard was only 2nd or 3rd here. A White-striped Longtail came to water on the patio for a couple days. No Arizona Sister, no satyrs, no Metalmark locally. The first Ceranus Blue and Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak showed up as usual. Saw the six usual expected swallowtails.

Update added: I photographed and collected an unknown-to-me large caterpillar July 9 which was pupating at the base of the big native pecan right off front porch. Hoping to get an emergence, it failed in pupation. However subsequent research has identified from the photos that it was a LUNA MOTH! Then August 27 we saw a Luna in the yard, another September 2 drying out on the same tree, then a pair mating on same tree September 4!

Odes were about 33 species locally. Still decent activity but clearly down from June. The early spring fliers and flight are done. The first few migrants show up as usual though, Spot-winged and Wandering Glider, Green Darner, Red, and Black, Saddlebags all were here in multiples if not small groups, heading south, by late in the month. Amongst the dozen sps. of damselflies were lots of Stream and a few Orange Bluet, Citrine Forktail, Orange-striped Threadtail, Springwater and Powdered Dancer, nothing rare. Not counted in local total above were a half-dozen different things I saw in Uvalde, best being a male Pin-tailed Pondhawk.

Birds were mostly just the breeders and lots of babies, which is great to see. Many things seemed to get second and third sets out. Surely the wet spring was a boon. There were flowers and bugs. Some things are still going at it. Others like Black-and-white and Golden-cheeked Warbler are done and all but gone from the area for the season. The first two long-distance migrants showed up the last few days of the month, a Peregrine Falcon on the 28th, and a Rufous Hummingbird on the 31st. Fall migration begins in July. A Belted Kingfisher on the 17th is my earliest ever fall return. Best bird locally was a Roseate Spoonbill on July 7 about 4-5 mi. SSW of town, seen (ph.) by Leslie Calvert at her pond.

I saw about 89 species locally over the month, all but two were breeders. A few to several more are around, I am not pounding the bushes, but a working stiff. Saw another dozen or so brush country species in a couple hours Sabinal to Uvalde area.

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

July 31 ~ Wow last day of the month, another blasts past. About 71.5dF for a low, not much for low stratus to keep it at bay. And so we enter the dog days of summer. Heard a Gnatcatcher go through early morning, and another late. Mid-morn a small group of Orchard Oriole went through, late evening a few more. Just after 10 a.m. I had an adult male RUFOUS Hummingbird at the front porch feeder. Got pix, it has a little green flecking on upper back, which is OK for them. Nothing like a nice long-distance migrant for a great sign of fall. There are less than a hundred Black-chinned here now. We are under a quart per day consumption, for a few days now. Male Indigo Bunting still hitting patio millet. Saw another Eyed Elaterid. Saw two Firefly at dusk.

July 30 ~ About 74dF for a low, and some low Gulf stratus kept the sun at bay a few hours. Got up to about 94 or so though. About five more weeks of this in store now. Birds were the regulars. Still singing (and nesting) on territory are Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler, Cardinal, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, White-eyed Vireo, Chipping and Lark Sparrow. Painted Bunting ad. ma. barely sang today. An imm. male Yellow-throated Warbler from this year was trying to sing a bit. Can't be but 2-3 months old. Heard the Nighthawk boom at dusk. No Fireflies. I see a Snow-on-the-Mountain with flowers open in the yard. We have about a half-dozen pop up ever year which I weed-whack around just to have a few. Have seen a few good butterflies on them.

July 29 ~ No Gulf flow and low clouds, a sunny start today with easterly winds. Low was 73dF. The south breeze got here mid-day, but no low stratus. Hot and sunny. Counted 8 greenies (imm. or female Painted Bunting) on the patio at once. There are likely well over a dozen around. A few adult male were present at the same time. It was all the usual regular gang and nothing new or different. Which won't last, August and September are two of the biggest movement months here, and though diversity is low without waterbirds, turnover is high. The Black-chinned Hummers have really thinned out already. I wonder where they go? The Brown-headed Cowbirds are mostly gone now too, finally, departing over the last week.

July 28 ~ Did not cool down last night, the balmy Gulf flow is back. Was 74dF this a.m. But the clouds stuck until 11 a.m. or so, at least up at Lost Maples, keeping the morning cooler a few hours. We even had some mist around Vanderpool. We were up before 6, which is before the birds nowadays. Dawn chorus is over. A few things singing early, but not anything you can call a chorus. It is fading fast. We left for Lost Maples just before 8.

On 360 east of the river along the pastures where a couple small mesquite we had a family group of Orchard Oriole, adult pair with three young. At one point the three begging juvies were on the fenceline shoulder to shoulder, luckily autofocus selected a tree way behind them. !*(#^%^%! Got over it pretty quickly when right before we hit 187, I said 'what is that?' to Kathy as I grabbed bins. It was big pale adult female PEREGRINE FALCON which blasted past quickly. Great early fall migrant date. That is surely a long distance migrant, our first for sure this fall. Save a June Long-billed Curlew, which I would call a short-distance migrant. So before we hit the highway we had ad.ma. Orchard Oriole feeding young and a Peregrine, and I knew it was going to be downhill from there as I pulled out on the highway first thing in the morning...  I marshalled onward anyway of course, as the eternal optomist does. Ahead was my last chance to see one more Golden-cheeked Warbler until next March.

In town across from the post office on the usual powerline, there were 20 or so Cave Swallow sunning just after 8 a.m. Just a bunch of Blackbuck on the way up 187, and lots of baby Lark Sparrow. The usual couple Inca Dove at Lost Maples HQ. On the drive into Lost Maples between HQ and the trailhead parking I heard an Olive Sparrow. The trailhead feeding station had one White-tipped Dove first thing, besides 10 White-winged. A couple just-fledged begging juvenile Painted Bunting were nearby and so surely they nested in the park this year. They don't always.

We did the usual walk up Can Creek a mile past the ponds to the highwater spring. What a great walk. We made it to the pond at 10 a.m. and were only ones there, plus there was still overcast. No insects on way up as it was too cool. As it gets to the later part of summer it is always very interesting to see what is still there and what is gone. Black-n-white Warblers are gone already for instance, we did not see one. Did not hear a Yellow-throated Vireo, though our yard breeder is still here singing today. Only heard one Yellow-throated Warbler call, no singing. Only heard one begging juvenile Acadian Flycatcher. No Ash-throated Flycatcher, and no Scrub-Jay.

Great is seeing some things feeding young still, which for most is likely third broods at this point. Besides the Painted Buntings, and Chipping Sparrow of course, we saw begging and being fed juvenile Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Summer Tanager. We saw one juvenile female Golden-cheeked Warbler just below the highwater spring, right over the trail. It never made a sound, got one poor pic. Love getting a later date for them, and a thrill to see one, one more time this year. I only have a couple August sightings, both near Utopia. I had a couple birds fly into a tree I thought were warblers, and maybe Golden-cheeks, but they shot off before I could binoc them.

Heard at least three maybe four White-tipped Dove along the trail. Heard a handful of Canyon Wren, one Rufous-cronwed Sparrow, one Black-capped Vireo distantly, one Hutton's Vireo, still fair numbers of Red-eyed and White-eyed Vireo, lots of Black-crested Titmouse and Carolina Wren, a few Chickadee, a handful of Louisiana Waterthrush still there, but none seen well enough to age. Got to hear that husky grating zzeet flight note a couple times. Still some Indigo Buntings seemingly going, and heard begging young a couple times. Heard a few Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Did not see or hear Blue Grosbeak, ours here at the hovelita are still underway. No hawks but one Red-tailed, no Orioles, no Raven, and no Green Kingfisher.

Odes (dragonflies) were nowhere near as abundant as in late June. Must be in a lull between flights. A couple American Rubyspot, a few Springwater Dancer, a Violet and some Dusky Dancer, some Green Darner, a few Black, and a Red, Saddlebags, but it was weak. No Flame, Neon, Commanche or Widow Skimmer, no Prince or Dot-winged Baskettail. And so it went.

Flowers are also in a lull, the late summer and fall stuff is not going yet for the most part, and the spring to early summer stuff is over. Some good Cedar Sage patches still, a few Snapdragon Vine and Green Milkweed Vine still in bloom, one or two Boneset Eupatorium, several Texas Milkweed. Did see the first few Frostweed flowers. Saw a huge old Escarpment Cherry, and a Walnut tree, both lost in the last month. Way over hundred year old trees. Bigguns. Both with crops on them. We just keep losing the major canopy trees. A real bummer when they are fruit or nut producers, key wildlife forage. The Cherry crop overall is sorta stunted this year, they mostly still look like big Hackberries, the Persimmon crop looks OK to good though.

Butterflies were kinda weak with the flowers. Three Spicebush Swallowtail, and about the same number of Bronze Roadside-Skipper were highlights. A few Celia's Roadside to boot. Three Eastern Tiger and one Two-tailed Swallowtail, a few Cloudless Sulphur and Sleepy Orange, one Dun Skipper, some Variegated and Gulf Frits, one Buckeye. No Arizona Sister or Red-spotted Purple. One Six-lined Racerunner lizard was it for reptiles, heard a few lizards get away in the leaf litter, usually Four-lined Skinks. A few Leopard and (Blanchard's) Cricket- Frogs were seen. We were done about 1 p.m., did four miles of trail but the way I zigzag back and forth for every bug, double back for heard birds, etc., it takes me 5 miles to go 4.

We went for a swim here in late afternoon to cool the hike off. Saw a Five-striped Leaftail dragonfly over the water but that was about it of interest. Lots of Texas Shiner minnows. No Firefly at dusk. There should be a fall flight which should start fairly soon. The spring to early summer flight lasted longer than usual, the last few in last week of July. The individual numbers peak however was not as good as last year.

July 27 ~ One last cool low at 65dF here before we get back to the standard summer 70's for lows. What a treat! Did more yard work early since cooler. Had to pick hit the P.O. in town, and Big Ern was finally there with his Bar-B-Q. The fact that the all of the pork ribs even make it home, whilst I am tortured smelling them, is a miracle, not to mention a testament to incredible dicipline. The chicken is not under threat like those pork ribs. Park was packed with people, nothing in a quick check of the woods but heard Common Grackle.

So checked the golf course pond by the Waresville Cemetery. One Common Grackle was there in the reeds with the Red-winged Blackbirds that nest there. No Martins around the house, which needs repairs badly. There were about 4 Thornbush Dasher dragonfly, my first up here (saw at Uvalde 10 days ago) in the hills this year. A dozen Green Darner was my first gang of them. Some Red, and Black, Saddlebags were in tandem and ovipositing. Saw a big female Eyed Elaterid flying around the yard. No Firefly at dark.

rufoushummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird, adult male, July 31. The iridescent gorget
feathers in throat usually appear an orangish red, but at some
light angles they can appear gold or green.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 26 ~ Another record low, we had 60dF here, and dry, what an event. KRVL was mostly 59. Three days with high temps at least 5-8 dF below normal due to a cold front. Lows 10-15 dF below normal. Two days of record lows, yesterday and today. What an event in late July. At the same time Paris, France recorded its highest temperature ever at about 110dF! London had 99.9, their second highest ever. The Arctic is record hot, and on fire. One could almost maybe wonder if the climate is changing?

Heard a Gnatcatcher early first thing. The rest seemed the regulars. What little I could look. Town run fer shtuff. I saw a Spot-winged Glider (ode) over the driveway when I left. At the park, still Martins overhead, best were a couple odes, damselflies in this case. A male Citrine Forktail was the first one I have seen this year, and several Orange-striped Threadtail were flying. Little Creek Larry said he had the Green Heron there early in the morning. Late afternoon here I heard the Field Sparrow singing. Saw a Mournful Duskywing come in to the water puddles here. About 7 p.m. saw a female Painted Bunting with a couple new just fledged young in one of the Mexican Hat patches I have left. I think these are from the alpha male that nests in the thicket right across road from gate.

Shortly before dusk I heard an odd cheeping from the grass in the front yard. Spotted a Bewick's Wren fledgling that was out of the nest too soon. It was not flight capable yet. Then looking around over where nest was in broken off branch stub, I hear the two parents over in the corral, with a baby. So as often the older ready-to-go young does the bolt, and others not ready try to, to follow parents and other young. It was as if they forgot about it. I grabbed it and put it in the brush pile under the nest branch. Finally the parents heard it and came back over. They spent 5 minutes trying to get it to fly up into the lowest pecan branches just a couple feet off the ground. But it is not flight ready. Hope it makes the night in the brush pile. Saw one Firefly.

Rantlet warning. I forgot to mention since I saw it a couple weeks ago, but today I did not even bother checking the butterfly garden at the library. It is so over-butchered, again, I can't believe it. Hardly any flowers there. By now this garden should be self-sustaining. The biggest reason more new plants keep having to be bought is OVER-cutting. It is a bad idea to have the people that bill new plants out, manage the cutting. In this case it seems obvious to me watching it for over a decade the people cutting are not horticulturists (one would never do that to a Thoroughwort Eupatorium), but just need a big pile of cuttings to show for the hours and billing. When you over-cut a flowering shrub 5 or 10 years in a row, it will die at some point along the way. As many there have that I watched. This is what is often happening. End of rantlet.

July 25 ~ A record low of 57dF here, I saw a 55 at Kerrville! I heard of reports of 52dF at Rocksprings! Incredible. I think Austin had a record low as well. Probably the first time I have seen the 50's dF in July in the last 16 of them here. Did some yard work early while cooler out. Heard the Bell's and Red-eyed Vireos singing, still trolling. A couple more Orchard Oriole first thing early. That makes 10 between late yesterday and early today. It's fall migrants. Eastern Bluebirds might be going a third time in their box. They have been around the box, even hanging at entrance.

The one still going good patch of Frog-fruit along the driveway is the best yard butterfly draw now. One check noonish and I saw Phaon Crescent, 2 Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a Desert Checkered-Skipper, Fiery and Dun Skipper, a Sachem and a Reakirt's blue. A couple Celia's Roadside-Skipper still around the porch, as are a couple Dusky-blue Groundstreak mostly on the Turk's Cap. Which is also very eaten. Got another Blue Mist Eup cat (218) today, after a few days of not seeing any, but something is still skeletalizing the leaves.

Best bugs of the day though were a couple dragonflies, that surely came in because of spraying some water around. First around 11 a.m. there was a male Widow Skimmer hunting from a short dead Mesquite snag. Great to see in the yard. Better was a GREAT SPREADWING, which is new for the yard. We saw one in April or May at Lost Maples, so this is the second one this year, and in many years, they have been absent since the drought set in. I got an ID shot overhead when it hung up in the pecan but I lost it when it moved. Saw one of the big metallic green Peach or Fig Scarabs. Only saw one Firefly at dusk, heck I saw more Armadillo (2).

July 24 ~ A great low of 64.5dF was a thrill. Dry too. Feels like Utopia. Birdsong is really getting dialed back out there now though. Even the stuff that is still breeding is not singing as much. A Dickcissel went through the yard in the morning, which could be a migrant though maybe more likely a local disperser. One Gnatcatcher in the a.m., another at last sun. Chats much quieter today. Not sure we hit 90dF at peak heat, and did I mention it was dry. What a break.

In butterflies, great was a White-striped Longtail that came into water on the patio. Also had Orange Skipperling and Phaon Crescent, a couple Dusky-blue Groundstreak, several Julia's Skipper, a few Queens hitting the two BlueMistEup stalks with flowers, some Lysides going by, one Cloudless Sulphur, a Buckeye, amongst the more common stuff. Saw a small Praying Mantis on the BlueMistEup. Wish it would take out all of whatever is destroying it. Have seen a couple tiny baby lizards, maybe 2.5" total including tail length, of both Anole and Eastern Fence Lizard.

Nearing last sun in the treetops, a group of 4-5 Orchard Orioles worked the big Pecan and big Hackberry before moving uphill, following that 'last sun in the treetops' they love. I went out in the driveway and another group of four Orchard Oriole followed them uphill after working the blooming Mesquites across the road and the pecans. It was at least 8, which means migrants if you ask me. Saw a couple Caracara go by, a couple Chimney Swift were feeding over the river habitat corridor at last sun.

The sundown song session was noticeably quieter today. Much of what is still nesting has been singing a good session or two nearing last sun. Not all at once like dawn chorus, more spread out, seemingly almost taking turns, each species has a time before last sun when they have one last bout of song for the day. It is like a birdsong jukebox to me. Tonight not very many records played. Didn't even hear the Summer Tanager. I saw the main alphamale Painted Bunting fly straight from the millet feeder across yard and road 160' and shoot right into the hole in the wall of bushes he uses to enter nest area, so he is still feeding young.

July 23 ~ The front is passing this morning, no cold air yet, 73dF, but northerly flow. So far the little bit of rain missed us though I can feel the air drying out. Northerlies from a cold front in July is mind-boggling. Heard a Gnatcatcher first thing. Otherwise the usual gang. Saw a Northern (Common) Mestra out back when tossing seed.

Had to go to town in the afternoon and leave car at the shop an hour and a half so walked to the park. Saw Little Creek Larry, he said he had a Downy Woodpecker at the park this morning. I had two items of intereset, my FOY Powdered Dancer damselfly, a nice pale male, pretty neat looking beast. Was below spillway on sand at edge of water. A few butterflies were there, Common and Desert Checkered-Skipper, the Desert new for the month. Best was a Mournful Duskywing puddling at point blank, since I didn't have camera. This neat trick always works. Seems like every patch of bushes I drove by has calling young Painted Buntings now. Saw a Texas Powdered-Skipper on Junior's Yellow Lantana in town. Heard the Nighthawk boom once at dusk. Barred Owl calling over at river after dark.

July 22 ~ Low of 73dF, not much for morning clouds. It is said to be the last very hot (above avg. mid-90's) day of this heat spell. A cold front is still being advertised to arrive tonight. A cold front at beginning of the last third of July. Perfectly normal isn't it? No worries, the Arctic is record hot. Nothing to see here, move along.

A couple Gnatcatcher went through over the day. Southbound. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo singing over in the corral, a Bell's singing in the Mesquites out front, a Hutton's Vireo called from up in the big Pecan and Hackberry out front. The White-eyed and Yellow-throated were both singing. Another five species of vireo from the yard morning in vireotopia. The Indigo Bunting is still singing but without the vigor of a week or two ago. Just giving a short-song now, the first half maybe of the normal full series. Chat and Blue Grosbeaks still going strong but in bursts with longer breaks.

Later morning a male Orchard Oriole went through yard moving south. Which could be a local post-breeding dispersant, but it could also be a fall migrant from further afield. We are at that time when we start seeing the first fall migrants from elsewhere. Common Nighthawk went over at last sun. Maybe 3 or 4 Firefly was it for them.

July 21 ~ A 70dF low felt great. The low Gulf stratus didn't get here until 8:30 and only lasted a couple hours. Gonna be a scorcher. Supposed to be a cold front on the way tomorrow evening or so. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo and the Indigo Bunting both singing still. Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler are both still singing, but the White-eyed Vireo is barely going, maybe between nest cycles? Did some yard work early when the clouds were here and still in 70's.

A couple Gnatcatcher went through yard. The rest was the regular gang. We went for a peak heat swim to beat it. Saw one of those ugly Grass Carp. Some Clammyweed is now in bloom, what a fancy flower! The first couple Maxmillian Sunflower also were open. Maybe it was the heat, but way less birdsong over there than there has been. I was mostly there for the 75dF water anyway. Late afternoon single Red-tailed, and Zone-tailed Hawk, flew over the yard. Right before dusk a Field Sparrow flew over calling, seemed it came out of the shorter pecans out front.

July 20 ~ a 73dF low, and low clouds for a few hours of the morning. Went to town briefly late morn. Heard the Eastern Wood-Pewee at the park, a female Common Grackle flew out of the island. Several Orange Bluet damselflies by the island. One Wandering Glider out over the pond. Here at the hovelita in the afternoon I saw a small accipiter which this time of the year had to have been a tiny male Cooper's Hawk. Man it was small. Three Turkey over in the corral as usual lately. Only a handful of Firefly at dusk. No Chuck calling for a few days now, since the dusk of the first evening after that last rain.

I keep forgetting to mention some of the imm. male Black-chinned Hummingbirds are getting their first dark gorget feathers. I first saw the first one the first week of July, a couple to few showed it the second week, now several are showing them. The earliest nests are last half of March, so young are out last part of April. So around 60-70 days or so after fledging, the earliest imm. males start showing dark feathers in the throat. Then, any imm. males fledging now will be gone for the season before they get any dark throat feathers. Only a handful of Firefly at dusk. No Chuck-wills-widow calling for a few days now, since the dusk of the first night after the last rain.

bluewingedteal
Blue-winged Teal (male, or drake) at Utopia Park April 7, 2019.
bobwhite
Bobwhite (female or hen), the second before she bursts into the air.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 19 ~ A 73dF low, and some clouds for the morn. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, and the Black-and-white Warbler all sing early, still trolling for mates. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was in the yard early, a transient, looked like a juvenile from the quick look I got. Town run day. At the park there was a female Green Kingfisher at the island, and a couple begging young Common Grackle with an ad. male appearing to feed them. So I guess a pair did nest there this year after all. Still some Purple Martins around. Saw four Viceroy (butterfly) at the park, around the Willows of course. One male Whirlabout (lep) was the only thing on the yellow Lantana at the Sabinal Canyon Museum. Saw a Mestra somewhere. Pulled one BlueMistEup cat, 217 removed now. The two un-eaten stalks both have flowers now. Should be 200 stalks with flower heads. Still trying to save it for a fall bloom. One of the yearling Armadillos has found the birdbath and thinks it is something you roll on your back in, after getting all the dirt off its underside.

July 18 ~ Low of 74dF, low stratus from Gulf kept heat at bay a few hours. Heard the Black-n-white singing early again. Another Gnatcatcher went through yard early. By time I get back up to Lost Maples they will be gone. Too busy Thursdays at the desk so not much chance to see anything but the regulars. Only standout was a brief look at a Tropical Checkered-Skipper, one of which I just saw and photo'd at Cook's Slough in Uvalde a couple days ago. I have only had a couple of them in the yard, and those were in fall when more typical, so, good bug. Had a Wandering Glider dragonfly among about 10 Red Saddlebags.

July 17 ~ Low of 75dF is not very. Gulf clouds got here though so keeping sun at bay a few hours early. Feels like vacation not getting up early and hitting the road. Chat still doing flight song first thing. Amazing was an early a.m. Belted Kingfisher flying high over the river Cypresses southward. Sure glad it called. It is my earliest 'fall' return date. My prior Aug. 1 earliest date is three weeks anomolous. Other earliest return dates are last week of August, often not until September do I see one back. Saw a Common Mestra butterfly, first one in a couple months.

If you look closely you can see the adult males of species primarily red are getting much duller lately. Noticeable on the adult male Painted Bunting, the Cardinals, male Vermilion Flycatcher, and Summer Tanager. They are all dulled up at peak wear, and now many have begun to molt. Heard the Hooded Oriole out there, saw the male Indigo Bunting. Heard a Gnatcatcher go through. Got a pic of a imm. White-eyed Vireo at the bath. Wasn't old enough to know yet that vireos only splash bathe, and though it did that, it also perched at edge of bath a few times long enough for me to grab a shot.

July 16 ~ Got up early as we had to go to Uvalde to do some paperwork. Hummers are at the feeders just before 6:30 a.m. now, right about civil twilight. Around Sabinal there was standing water on the ground from recent rains. Some Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Western Kingbird along the ag fields in that area, last year we saw none. We took Lower Sabinal Rd. to Uvalde. A couple places that were great for birds had huge rows of Hackberries and hedgerows clearcut and removed. Whilst we actually should be planting trees.

Fair numbers of Dickcissel along the roads, they seemed to have a good year, as did Red-winged Blackbird and Lark Sparrow. Heard Cassin's Sparrow singing at a couple spots, Verdin were everywhere, heard an Olive Sparrow, saw one Pyrrhuloxia, a couple Long-billed Thrasher flew across road in front of us, saw a pair of Bobwhite, Mocker numbers are high as usual, saw a couple Red-tailed Hawk, a few Caracara. As you arrive in Uvalde the first thing you see is a bunch of Great-tailed Grackle.

After a couple biz stops we did quick run-throughs at Cook's Slough and the fish hatchery. It was already dripping at 10 a.m. Much still seems to be nesting at both sites, surely due to the spring rains continuing. Orchard Oriole were singing at both sites. Couch's Kingbird at both as well. Three Neotropic Cormorant were at the slough, looked like the same three there in April, two first-summers and a second summer bird. Saw Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Olive Sparrow, Bank Swallow, among regular stuff at the slough. A Tropical Checkered-Skipper (lep) was nice there, so was a Pin-tailed Pondhawk dragonfly. At the hatchery there were a few adult Common Gallinule and at least 4 older juveniles, so they nested successfully. A pair of Coot there had no young, they usually depart for the summer.

Perhaps most interesting was at Cook's Slough, hearing the cicada that sounds like a jet engine idling. The F-14 Cicada. I used to only hear these when I went way down south on the Rio Grande below Falcon Dam along lower part of river. Clearly they too, like many birds, are moving their ranges northward.

Saw a couple Great Egret and one fresh juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Lots of baby Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at the hatchery. Heard were Bell's Vireo and Cactus Wren over in the Mesquites along north border. Lots of dragons flying, a few Thornbush Dasher and one Forceptail that looked like a Broad-striped. Did not have time to work the place, just a quick hit-and-run-through. At the city park on Hwy. 90 there were a couple Carmine Skimmers besides the Roseate, and some Eastern Amberwing. It got stinkin' hot fast down there, and of course the places with the action, the slough and hatchery, have humidity that makes saunas envious. Still no Bare-throated Tiger-Heron though.

By time we were driving the hour home it was over 95dF down there, and about 90 here, maybe 88 on the shady front porch, when we got back. About 5dF, and you can feel the difference. One BlueMistEup cat pulled this a.m., at 216 and counting. A Common Nighthawk flew over just before dusk. A male Blue Grosbeak gave some nice flight song at dusk. Male Indigo Bunting still out there on patio.

July 15 ~ Stayed at the 73dF the rain last night dropped us to, all night. A very humid 73. Sure great to have that Black-and-white Warbler singing out there first thing every morning. This is the second time we have had a first summer male go territorial here. In both cases the daily bird bath usage seems a major factor. No doubt without the water source there would be many fewer birds around the yard. I suspect several dozens of individual birds use it daily.

Great was a (Southern) Pearl Crescent (butterfly) sunning early in the morning on the (finished blooming) Am. Germander. Have not seen one in a few months. A Clouded Skipper stopped briefly, and got a pic of a Celia's Roadside-Skipper. There is one stalk of BlueMistEup that the cats missed which is a foot taller than all the shredded rest, and now has an open bloom atop it, with a Queen on it of course. There would be 20 sq.ft. of that if it were not for these cats from hades.

July 14 ~ The 69.8dF low felt great but didn't last. Yard was the same gang. Can't wait until the Cowbirds leave, should be soon. Barely a half-gallon per day of sugar water usage now so a couple hundred plus birds around, still all Black-chinned here so far. Rufous will show up shortly, but would prefer something fancier. Got hot, nearing a hun in the sun, 92dF on the cool shady front porch so we took a peak-heat swim to reset body core temperatures. Did not see anything but the expected suspects at river. One Dolomedes sps. fishing spider was on a lily pad 6' from shore. It walked there. Here at the hovelita in leps saw Hackberry Emperor, Goatweed Leafwing, Dusky-blue Groundstreak, and Celia's Roadside-Skipper, among the more common stuff.

From about 10 to 11 p.m. we had a rain cell blow up out of nowhere just north of and over town and very slowly moved south, dropping an INCH of rain! And the temp to 73dF. A sister cell went down the Frio where Garner and Concan got some. Puts us a hair over 2" for the month. We had 10" in May and June together, so at a foot in the last 11 weeks. We could be parched and instead are good and green with lots of flowers showing well. Yet for over a week now, not even half-grown pecans are being shed like gangbusters from the big native tree in particular, green a half-inch to an inch long. The tree is giving up on them for this season, which I do not understand with plenty of rain.

July 13 ~ An amazing 66dF low was fantastic. The NE flow continues from the back side of Barry in Louisiana. Kerrville had a 64 and 65dF briefly! Two BlueMistEup cats pulled, 215 and counting. Heard the Field Sparrow sing, which I haven't for a while, maybe they will nest again too. One good bird today was maybe my first landbird fall migrant, an Orchard Oriole. Sure it could be a local disperser, but it could be from further away too, especially with the NE flow we have had.

Best two birds were bugs, late in the day on the big pecan (native - not a graft) right off front porch. First I spotted a something zipping around which when landed and seen closer was a Neoclytus sps. Longhorn (Cerambycid) Beetle. One of my favorite genera of Longhorns, ran for camera and got a couple shots before it flew off. Which was like a rocket. It went the first 60' faster than a hummingbird departs the feeder. A second or two. Most impressive. Then within a minute in the same area of the tree I spotted one of the metallic gold Dicerca sps. Buprestid Beetles. It was beetle heaven. Auto focus could not grab the Dicerca though, only got one poor shot before it bolted, also like a rocket. Was a miracle I happened to be sitting in the dang chair on the porch smoking my pipe like an old man, watching the bark grow on the tree, and two spectacular beetles should crawl out of it before me. How much we must walk by.

~ ~ ~ early July daily yard and vicinity breeders ~ ~ ~

For birds here is what has been around the yard daily the first third of July, virtually all still breeding, or at least singing on territory in the yard or immediate adjacent vicinity. The daily yard birds are: Summer Tanager, Painted and an unmated trolling Indigo Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-throated and an unmated trolling Black-and-white Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Lesser Goldfinch, Lark and Chipping Sparrow, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, No. Cardinal, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Bluebird, Vermilion, Ash-throated, and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (see or hear daily), Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, Wild Turkey, Common Ground-Dove, Eur. Collared-Dove, Mourning and White-winged Dove, Black and Turkey Vulture. Chuck-wills-widow and Common Nighthawk have been regular. Purple Martin and Barn Swallow have been daily overhead, Chimney Swift weekly or so as is N. Rough-winged Swallow. Black-chinned Hummingbird are ridiculously abundant. House Finch nearly so. Brown-headed and Bronzed Cowbird are also unfortunately daily. Have seen a few young, but all dispersants, none begging or being attended by our local birds. Almost daily is an unmated trolling Red-eyed Vireo, and the last week a Bell's Vireo.

Seen every few days are Zone-tailed and Cooper's Hawk. Recently departed due to fledging young so were present daily all June but not now are Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Red-tailed Hawk. Every few days I hear Barred, Great Horned Owl, and once a week lately Eastern Screech-Owl. Once or twice a week I see Caracara go by, they nest nearby. Roadrunner a couple times in last week. Red-shouldered Hawk weekly. That makes about 54 species breeding in the adjacent vicinity. For which the yard is within their territory. Hutton's and Black-capped Vireo nest very nearby, as does Rufous-crowned Sparrow but all are out of daily earshot.

Some strays the last week were Olive Sparrow and Canyon Towhee. Not to mention the Spoonbill a couple miles SW of me. Daily passing through yard is Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, post-breeding departers, and almost every day a transient Black-and-white goes through, most getting acosted by the trolling 1st summer male on the way. A 1st summer Hooded Oriole has been visiting a feeder occasionally. So about 95% of the daily and weekly list in early July is the same as June, and actually May as well.

~ ~ ~ end early July local breeders note ~ ~ ~

whiteeyedvireo
White-eyed Vireo, a rather messy one, perhaps an immature (iris is gray)
just molting from juvenile into first basic (winter) plumage.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 12 ~ Even better this morn with a 70dF low. The difference between that and 75 feels like a lot more than the 5dF spread. Was dryer due to the weird NE flow. All the birds were the usual. One BlueMistEup cat pulled off, 213 removed now. Heard a Gnatcatcher go through yard early. Town run and park check, nothing different for birds there, one Green King up on island, a Common Grackle in the willows, heard a Green Heron, and an Eastern Tiger Swalllowtail was nice. Best was a Red-spotted Purple which is probably my first for the park butterfly list. Some Martins still calling overhead there, not for long though. Saw two Ceranus Blue butterfly, my first of the year.

Back here at hovelita, heard the Cooper's Hawk calling like it hopes it is going to nest again. I hope not. Probably sees all these juvenile birds here and figures there will be plenty of food. We are covered in juvies. Probably three dozen from a dozen species.

Just after 4:30 we had a miracle, a nice rain shower from a stray rogue cell. Took 10dF off the top in 5 minutes. Rained .85 of an inch in a half-hour. Got down to 72dF about 5:15, Kerrville was reading 92 at the time. I was on the front porch absorbing the cool when a lightning strike hit only about a quarter-mile away. One thousand one, one BOOOOM!

About 5:30 after the rain of course there was a termite hatch happening. Saw for the first time in a while Common Nighthawks overhead. Been wondering why so quiet with them. There were three over the yard whilst a male was booming over the knoll where they nest just NW a half-mile, so four recorded. Over the yard it appeared two juveniles and one ad. female, which one juvie was begging at incessantly. So I'd say they got two young off this year, outstanding.

About 8:30 p.m. as last sun showed, the two adult Yellow-throated Warbler were in the yard with three bob-tailed just-fledged juveniles in tow. So they got another set out, and a good one. I don't know how the adults can find food as when they fly from tree to tree, three clumsy ones crash into the tree around where it landed. There were two nice bucks in the yard, they are in velvet now. The 3 Turkey were over in the corral again. The Chuck-wills-widow was thrilled enough about the rain to give a decent blast at last light. Maybe 10 or so Fireflies still.

July 11 ~ An outflow boundry hit at midnight, mostly a little wind, but cooled it a few dF and a tracelet of big drops fell, noisy but we missed the rain. Made for a nice 71dF low though, what a difference a few degrees makes. Saw a male Blue Grosbeak with a juvie in one of the patches of Mexican Hat I left to grow in the front yard. Starting to look a bit ratty now since post peak bloom, but the Painted Buntings also love them, taking their young to them first thing out of the nest as well. Heard the Black-n-white singing early, later photo'd one in the bath. But which I think was a female. In the afternoon we actually had north to northeast winds! Methinks unusual for the date. It is from the back side of the rotation from the low in the gulf just off Louisiana, not a front. Two BlueMistEup cats, 212 removed now. Hope I can save some of the patch. Saw a juvenile Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

July 10 ~ A 75dF low, and another hot day. No morning low stratus from the Gulf, so a cooker in the works. It was 89 at noon, so 10dF hotter than when the morning low clouds. I saw 95dF on the cool shady front porch. Had to be a hun in the sun. If your shoes come untied you will be dripping by time you get back up from retying. A cloud sheild from some rain to the northwest took 5dF off our temps before 6 p.m. so we had 90, while Kerrville was reading 97 with a heat index of 106.

The bird of the day was a bug again. I had to run to town early. Great to be the only one in the park again. Heard the Eastern Wood-Pewee, they must be nesting again this year. Best was when I grabbed the gas pump I saw something on the hose. Which turned out to be a live female DOBSONFLY! Awesome beast. What jaws! Probably an Eastern Dobsonfly (Corydalus cornutus), but there are some similar types. Got some shots, though I hated the background and substrate, a gas pump hose (one below). I pumped my gas and left it there. Not the first time I found a good bug I had to stop and shoot at the gas station here. If I lived in town I would check it every morning early first light. I bet it is great for bugs. Pro tip: going around at night checking people's lights is a real good way to meet your local law enforcement folk.

As a youth, when in the desert southwest, there was nothing like a gas station out in the middle of nowhere at midnight for bugs. It was like candyland, a budding entomologists' smorgasbord. Bug city. In those days people actually might not call the cops cause some people with nets were running around at night under the lights. So if you see a little black Mazda pickup down there late at night, and spot a middle-aged, white, male, balding, slightly overweight dude, bent over looking at the ground, perhaps with net or camera, it could be me. No need to call the law, or funny farm. I'm already here.

July 9 ~ Another 75-94dF day. Clouds kept it bearable for the morning and held some heat back in the afternoon. Heard the Red-eyed vireo and Indigo Bunting singing, and the Black-and-white Warbler. I think all three are unmated trollers. Heard a Great Crested Flycacher uphill out back. Have not heard a Cuckoo in a week, they leave the nesting territory as soon as the young is or are out of the nest a week or so. Here I virtually always only see one fledged young.

Bird bath is having traffic jams it is so hot. Too many baby Cardinals, lots of juv. House Finch and Lesser Goldfinch. The Black-n-white was there, an imm. Yellow-throated Vireo splash-bathed for a bit, the Chats brought their young over and showed them what it was about. Later saw the Black-n-white chase another one away. No cats pulled off the BlueMistEup today, 210 and holding.

July 8 ~ A 75dF low is balmy. Probably got to 95 in the sun. Hot and sticky. Nuthin' sweet about it. Heard the Bell's and Red-eyed Vireo singing out there still, as was the Indigo Bunting. The rest were the breeders. Bird bath action is heavy in the heat. It is an avian parade. Kathy saw an imm. Chat and the Black-n-white Warbler at it between everything else visiting. There was a Canyon Towhee in it for a bath, maybe the one that was here a week ago or so. Chickadees have a new set of a couple young just fledged.

Outstanding was hearing from Leslie Calvert that she had a Roseate Spoonbill at her pond yesterday the 7th! She got an ID shot, it was a pale imm. as seemingly all of our few records are. This is 4-5 mi. SSW of town out the west end of UvCo 361, but nowhere the public can view. We have 4 prior records, 3 are of two together, and all of those three in the last 5 years. Thanks for the great news Leslie! From July on is the time to get coastal waders moving inland, especially the young of the year.

Found a big green caterpillar near the base of the big pecan, on the trunk a foot off the ground. It was weirdly convulsing a bit. I thought it was going to pupate maybe. Next morning was on the ground still pulsing. I think it fell out of the tree and has a parasite inside it that is nearing emerging. Many wasps parasitize caterpillars. I put it in a container to watch what happens. Suprised a bird didn't pick it off, or something overnight.

July 7 ~ Low of 74dF, a little off and on morning low stratus from the Gulf. Saw the Black-n-white at the bath, then heard it sing later, the same 1st summer male. Great was just before 10 a.m., an Olive Sparrow sang a few times from a pecan in the front yard! Hope it had found the seed. Not enough understory for one to stick here. Once one lasted a few days. Nice bird to hear in the yard though, especially considering last weekend we walked 4 miles at Lost Maples and didn't see or hear one. Today is the day most of the weekend warriors evacuate the area. Never did understand people leaving the city to go blare music in the country.

We went for a late afternoon swim over in the river. Saw a couple good bugs. Great was a Black Witch, the 5" plus across all dark brown moth that invades Texas annually in late summer. We do not get them every year here, I have not seen one in 5 years or so. It landed under some Cypress roots and we got a close look. But I didn't take my camera upriver this time (have to waterproof it) so no photos. Just as good was a Dragonhunter dragonfly, also the first I have seen in about 5 years. Best look I ever had, got 2' from it perched, since I had no camera on me. This neat trick always works.

Saw three of the big Dolomedes (Fishing) spiders, two were together touching a couple legs, one of them had an egg sac, so likely a pair. Must have been a thousand Texas Shiner minnow. One foot-long Guadalupe Bass was nice, saw a 2-inch young one too, lots of Longear Sunfish. The damselflies were the half-dozen expected types. Same for the birds, the dozen riverside regulars. Great to beat the heat though, was 90dF on the cool shady front porch when we left, likely mid-90's in the sun. Saw one Eastern Tiger Swallowtail flying downriver, and on a Buttonbush a Texas Powdered-Skipper.

There was a Roadrunner in the back yard hunting birds where we toss seed. It ran after a White-winged Dove! The dove saw it coming and flushed, as did all the small stuff. Everything was alarming when it arrived on the scene. They really go after just-fledged birds that habituate the ground. Here that means mostly Painted Bunting, House Finch, and Lark Sparrow. None trust a Roadrunner.

July 6 ~ Low of 73dF, sunny at first, the Gulf clouds did not arrive until after 9 a.m., then cloudy until noonish. Hot sticky afternoon. Heard Gnatcatcher go through early, heard the Black-n-white Warbler singing. Best was hearing FIVE species of vireo, the Bell's is still around, a Hutton's was right out back in the live-oaks upslope, the Red-eyed still trolling about, while the breeding Yellow-throated and White-eyed continue singing. I should run over to the Black-capped spot less than a mile away.

The Tawny Emperor was back around the back porch, photo of it on the screen door. Bunch of Julia's Skipper in the grass out front. Heard some Martins, they will gone soon. Saw a photo in ebird of a Yellow Warbler at Cook's Slough in Uvalde from the last few days. This is a month earlier than my earliest (Aug. 2 - twice) so I can't help but wonder if it is a post-breeding wanderer from breeding populations in the southwest U.S. rather than a migrant from the north. Great record.

dobsonfly
Dobsonfly, female, on the fuel line at the gas station. Yes
they can draw blood. Larvae are aquatic, called Hellgrammites.
Wingspan is over 5 inches! This is probably Eastern Dobsonfly.
The obligitory bird photo, another head shot...
paintedbunting
You looking for a bird photo here?
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 5 ~ Low of 75dF, maybe mid-90's in the afternoon sun. Hot and sticky, welcome to summer here. Five more cats pulled off the BlueMistEup, now 205 removed. Another Gnatcatcher went through in the morning, they will be daily all month. Nice to hear all the dawn singing still going, means stuff is nesting again. Just heard a couple calls from the Great Crested Flycatcher. I saw a female Black-chinned Hummer gathering thistle down, so they are still going at it! Town is a zoo of hominids, especially the park. On the way to town, just east of the 360 crossing I had a Tawny Emperor (butterfly). Then later in afternoon had a second one here at the house. Later afternoon I had a fly-bye of a Swallowtail that looked like a Polydamus, but it kept going after only briefly loitering.

What looked a different Viceroy from a week ago was at the park. I saw a 12', 2.5" diameter young Mulberry tree on the trail in the woods broken off near the base! Some citiot came to the country and killed a tree I have been admiring for 15 years! I am sure they feel real manly now. We barely have any young regeneration going on with the Mulberries, and this is what happens when it meets the average citiot. I heard from Marsha Jo one of the just-fledged baby Red-shouldered Hawks that has been at the park thrilling many was found dead a day or two ago. I would guess a human-related incident. Probably the guy that killed the Mulberry.   ;)   Heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee, they might be nesting there again this year. The Common Grackles did not nest there this year, though there are some as usual by Feller's place at the Waresville turnoff, and some are behind the storage spaces by that retention pond.

July 4 ~ Happy Independence Day! It is a hominid zoo locally due to the tremendous firework show at the park at dark every year. Highest hominid population day of the year here. So we lay low glad to be hidden on a fairly unused dirt county road. Would like to photo the fireworks, but the crowd so big now you can't just show up at showtime and have a great angle nowadays. It is crazy. The roads out of town sound like LA Freeways about 10 to 11 p.m. when it is over.

Low about 71dF, and was only 82 at 1 p.m. Did some overdue yard work. Eight more BlueMistEup cats pulled, makes 200! Heard a Bell's Vireo singing at the far front corner of yard. The Red-eyed is still trolling around. Yellow-throated still breeding and so singing lots, White-eyed must be between rounds, only barely singing now. So four vireos in the yard today, where is that Hutton's now? Heard Gnatcatcher go through. The same three Turkey were over in the corral. Saw another Streaky Skipper, second one in a week, was not the one a half-mile down the road a few days ago. Chuck gave a little bit of dusk calling, a minute maybe, at half speed and enthusiasm of usual.

July 3 ~ A 72dF low, and some mist so stayed cooler for the a.m. We have skated on a lot of heat so far this spring and summer. Red-eyed Vireo and Indigo Bunting still singing. Heard the Cuckoo and Scissor-tail, and all the regulars of the season. Had two Black-n-white Warblers at once, briefly interacting, one singing was the 1st summer male that has been around, the other a female or juvenile. Heard the Bluebirds early but they have not gotten a third round underway yet. White-eyed Vireo must be between rounds as well, fairly quiet right now for them. A couple Gnatcatcher went through yard over the day. Not hearing the Great Crested Flycatcher much, they probably got young out and are deciding whether or not to do it again. Only two BlueMistEup cats today, 192 pulled now. Saw another Eyed Elaterid flying around. Chuck gave a little about 10 p.m. after skipping the normal 'first dark' blast.

July 2 ~ About 71 for a low, and some light traces of mist kept it cool for the a.m. Only 3 caterpillars pulled off the Blue Mist eupatorium, maybe I am finally getting ahead of them, 190 now. Red-eyed Vireo still singing, Indigo Bunting as well. Blue Grosbeak still on patio occasionally, mostly sneaks around under cover out back. Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler both still singing through yard. Kathy spotted a Black-n-white coming in to the bath, I got a couple shots maybe. Gnatcatcher went through yard.

Bird of the day was a butterfly, a Common Sootywing. Which is new for the yard. Went and looked, #92 in yard! They are common at say Cook's Slough in the brush country at Uvalde, but I have only seen a very few up here in the hills, and none in several years. I photo'd one once over a decade ago at Utopia on the River a mile downriver. By time I got back out with camera it was gone. Was on Zexmenia out back.

Found a dead male Black Widow in the trucklet. Got some pix, males are pretty fancy looking. Nice to know they can get inside somehow. Can't leave the windows cracked a little bit I guess. It probably got in sometime I had them open, and then got cooked when closed and it got hot inside the cab. Glad I didn't spot it crawling on me whilst driving!

Three Turkey were in the corral, two bearded Toms and a hen or young tom. The first summer male Hooded Oriole was at the hummer feeder again. The closest-by Chuck-wills-widow did not do the usual dusk calling session. He is out of steam. A week early. Usually they call for three months, April 7-10 to July 7-10. There will be a little sputtering yet, and begging young, but the intense is over. Less than a dozen Firefly.

July 1 ~ About 69.5dF for a low is nice. Clouds kept it in 70's until almost noon. Heard a Gnatcatcher out there early, and another after noon, heard the Red-eyed Vireo singing over in corral. Amazing hearing the Blue Grosbeak and Painted Bunting singing at the same time both up in the big pecan right off the porch. Nine more BlueMistEup cats removed, so 187 for a running total, in case you wonder why it looks ravaged. I see the first flowers opening on our Wooly Ironweed. It has a dozen stalks this year, its third since sprouted from a seed I planted. Was 3 stalks the first year, 6 the second, now a dozen. Lots of begging baby Painted Bunting, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, and Lark Sparrow out there around yard and on patio. Fireflies are fading fast, the flameout is ongoing. Maybe saw a dozen.

~ ~ ~ above is July 1, 2019 and after ~ ~ ~




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Links to all 16 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)


Here is a master index page of them:
Bird News Archives INDEX
Index page with links to all 'Old Bird News' pages.

Bird News Archive XXXI
January 1, 2019 - June 30, 2019

Bird News Archive XXX
July 1, 2018 - Dec. 31, 2018

Bird News Archive XXIX
January 1, 2018 - June 30, 2018

Bird News Archive XXVIII
July 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017

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

Bird News Archive XXVI
July 1, 2016 - December 31, 2016

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

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