Bird News Archive IX
Jan. 1 - June 30, '08
Commonly used abbreviations used are:
"in town" - means in Utopia
UP - Utopia Park on 1050 just west of 187
TC area - area of Thunder Creek Rd.
LM - Lost Maples SNA; GSP - Garner St. Pk.
SRV - Sabinal River Valley
FOS - "First of Season" (usually used for
1st spring or fall migrant to show up locally)
SR - Seco Ridge a couple miles west of Utopia
in Uvalde County.
Ode - dragonfly or damselfly
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
June 30 ~ An adult male Indigo Bunting right out the window was
nice. Another post-breeding wanderer. Lots of stuff is done,
and recovering, and then fattening up before they head south.
I heard an Audubon's Oriole a couple hundred feet away and just
whistled one short whistle and in 5 seconds it was 10' away
on the tip of a branch giving me a dirty look, one eye at a time.
It seemed it wanted me to quit doing this (why I virtually never do).
At least 3 Blue Grosbeaks regularly in the yard, an adult male,
a SY (second year) male, and a female. 10 Painted Buntings now
with juveniles, 2 are adult males. The 2 Chipping Sparrows have
dumped their Cowbird at least. Chihuahuan Raven flew by calling.
June 29 ~ Hutton's Vireo again around outside the hovel on SR.
Also a White-eyed Vireo was calling lots, a post-breeding wanderer.
The first juvenile Scott's Oriole of the year was here today,
looking like a male, and being attended by the alpha adult male.
The begging note is reminescent of a Green Jay ge ge ge ge call.
Kathy had a Zone-tail being mobbed by Purple Martins. It is a
good way to spot Zone-tails: Martins virtually never scold or mob
Turkey Vultures. It is not the ID issue for them, that it is with us. :)
While at Utopia Park procuring a couple Ictalurus punctatus for
research purposes (a Channel Cat taste test) at dusk a Lesser Nighthawk
splashed into the water and took a drink. They must nest in the valley
here somewhere. The other spectacular show on the dam at dusk
is the Chimney Swifts screaming by your head as they drink, just
a couple feet away often. One made four passes defecating each
time as it approached me, which I don't know quite what to make of.
It was as clear a strafing run as I have seen. I actually was moving
back and forth on the dam in hopes of being a harder target,
while carefully teasing my bait of course. :)
June 28 ~ Early in the a.m. there was an adult - juvenile pair
of Golden-cheeked Warblers in the feeder-bath juniper out front.
The juvenile was begging incessantly. Wonder how far away
they nested? Kathy spotted an adult female Common Grackle
in the back yard eating sunflowers. It was worn brown throughout,
with only a small area of metallic iridescence on the head and breast.
A Zone-tailed Hawk was cooperatively circling low around town.
A pair of Chihuahuan Ravens were playing an amazing game of tag
on the updrafts of the first knoll on Seco Ridge by the dump.
Upside down, leapfrog, barrel rolls, tandem dives, flips, in
a very tight restricted area of air space on the updrafts there.
June 27 ~ The imm. Carolina Wren continues around the hovel.
There is a much advertised front on the way into the hill country.
We sure need it! We've had over 6 weeks (since mid May) of above
average temperatures, and 9 months of below average rainfall.
Rather unusual for late June and early July, and hopefully it
will break this stubborn high pressure over northern Mexico down.
June 26 ~ Heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler late in the afternoon,
calls and then flight note. The Whistling-Ducks flew over again
at dusk. A bushel of Orioles out there: at least 4 Hooded and
at least 6+ AHY or older Scott's, plus a few Audubon's !!
June 25 ~ A couple juvenile Cave Swallows passed over SR. A juvenile
Hooded Oriole showed up, as did a couple juvenile Painted Buntings.
Always good to see non-Cowbird juveniles ! I heard a Canyon Towhee,
and 5 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks flew over at dusk. They have
been scarce lately. The male Roseate Skimmer was still hanging around
the blue kiddie pool with plants.
June 24 ~ The pair of Ash-throated Flycatchers here around the yard
has gotten rid of their 4 young and are looking at boxes again.
I heard a Field Sparrow singing not too far off. Those juvenile
Lark Sparrows beg incessantly, the poor parents. A few
dragonflies passed over southbound: 3 Spot-winged and
1 Wandering Glider.
June 23 ~ In the SR yard was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher which is a
southbound FALL migrant on this date, the 3rd day of summer.
Our Chipping Sparrow continues but has raised a Cowbird ! YECH !
I removed over 2 dozen female Brown-headed Cowbirds this breeding
season and hate to think of how it would be if I did not.
Scrub Jays have one fledgling only again like last years 1st nesting.
Cardinals have one fledgling too, at least it's not a Cowbird.
Kathy found our first Buckeye butterfly of the year, finally.
Normally we would have had many by now for a month or two at least.
Late in the p.m. there was an immature male Vermilion Flycatcher
on the power line out front. Two Cave Swallows flew over at dusk.
June 22 ~ We went for a walk at Lost Maples for a few hours to see
if we could see Golden-cheeked Warbler one last time before they are
gone for the year, until next March. We did not see or hear one in
over two miles of walking. It seems like dry years they are gone
earlier. I did have a good brief look at a male Black-capped Vireo,
and we saw Green Kingfisher and a Zone-tailed Hawk. The prize of the walk
was a 3'+ or so Baird's Rat Snake Kathy found. The other interesting
thing was a heard Chuck-wills-widow begging about 11 a.m.. A Black Rock
Squirrel was seen between the two ponds. Lots of dragonflies were about
in the heat but few butterflies. A Nysa Roadside-Skipper was nice-a.
Black-and-white Warblers and Louisiana Waterthrush were feeding young.
4 probably Cave Swallows flew over southbound at sundown.
June 21 ~ HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE !! The longest day of the year !
At least we now know the days are getting shorter, as it gets hotter.
A juvenile Audubon's Oriole was at the "oriole feeder" again.
Was there a week ago too. Just hard to keep an eye on it all the time
and there are soooo many greenish-yellow female orioles it's hard to
pay attention to all of them all of the time. The real excitement of
the day though was finding 3 different Dytiscids (diving beetles) in
the kiddie pool, just a week with plants in it now. There were two
Roseate Skimmer dragonflies debating who got to perch near and guard it.
A Red-spotted Purple was the butterfly highlight in the yard today.
About 6 p.m. a small thundercell T-boned us and we got a good 1/2"
of rain, a decent soaking with runoff. We sure need the water !
Best was the temperature dropping from the upper 90's to the lower 70's!
June 20 ~ Amazing was an unpredicted MCS (meso-scale convective system)
(a group of thundercells joined together moving as one) coming in
just before dawn again this morning. This one had a little more in it,
and the ground actually got wet, maybe a 1/4"+ or so of much needed rain.
More bark than bite, but perhaps a signal that the month of high pressure
we've been locked under is breaking down? This last month of spring was
6-8 deg.F above averages, and we had almost none of the normal spring rains.
Last spring and summer, were cooler and wetter than normal averages.
SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:
Note on our front page now, if you scroll (page) down towards the bottom,
you will find the current weather conditions and sun and moon rise, etc..
If you run past the turkey, you have gone to far, it's right above it.
Miracles of modern technology. And courtesy of the weather underground,
and more importantly the Rogers' weather station on Seco Ridge.
Note that it is much warmer up on the ridge than down in the valley,
regardless of season. There may be as much as 5-10 deg. F. difference from
SR to being at the park next to river in water-cooled air in the shade.
June 19 ~ Just before dawn there was a small spritzing of drizzle
as a small system faded away passing over, enough to rinse the leaves
was about it. A bright pink male Roseate Skimmer dragonfly was around
for a bit this morning. The kiddie pool doesn't have enough
established emergent aquatic vegetation to keep or hold dragons long,
but it seems to be getting more of them to stop long enough for
me to see them. There are many hundreds of hummingbirds at our
feeders, finally seems all Black-chinned now for a week maybe.
I'd say a second set of young are fledging now. There are still
6-8 Scott's Oriole daily and 3-4 Hooded Orioles too. They may be
the best thing about summer here, besides Painted Buntings,
Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Golden-cheeked Warblers (which are really
more "spring" birds, about gone for the year, till next March).
June 18 ~ A couple excellent rare locally dragonflies patrolled the
yard for a quarter hour around 7 p.m.. First was another (the 2nd
in a month) Hyacinth Glider, and the other was even rarer up here,
a Striped Saddlebags. Both stayed out of net reach, but I watched
them in binocs at leisure as close as I could focus. At least 3
Chihuahuan Ravens passed over today. The first was a pair, one in heavy
molt and one not, = an adult and a juvenile. Funereal Duskywing
was about the only butterfly of note, but some Lyside Sulphurs
are picking up, as are Gulf Fritillary, and a few Snouts are about.
Right at dark a couple Chuck-wills-widow flew right by me out front.
June 17 ~ The Hutton's Vireo continues calling nearby. There was a
Prince Baskettail (dragonfly) here on SR, odd away from water.
A Julia's Skipper was in the yard, notable due to butterfly scarcity.
Bushtits are flocked up with a dozen together moving through today.
June 16 ~ A Double-striped Bluet (damselfly) was at the kiddie pool
with the aquatic plants out front (dragonfly bait) so it's working.
June 15 ~ In the p.m. we went upriver from the park in the raft.
The avian highlight was an OLIVE SPARROW that flew across the river,
about a half mile above the park. It is probably the furthest north
record locally (maybe one of the furthest ever of all) and my first
away from the Clayton Grade stronghold. Another one of the southern
species moving north at amazing rates! There were begging Chihuahuan Raven
fledglings way upriver too, and a couple just fledged Red-shouldered Hawks.
Yellow-throated Warbler territories are wall to wall. The Canyon Wren
at the exposed bedrock must be a resident, not just a winter visitor.
A couple young Black-and-white Warblers were working the cypresses,
and probably from an immediately local nesting since they were still together.
Lots of nice fish as always, the highlight being my first MOXOSTOMA
locally, Gray Redhorse (minnow), including 6" breeding colored males!
Lots of Texas Shiners, probably some Edwards Plateau Shiners, and
a dizzying array of Lepomis sunfish as always. Ph. of a female.
A Dragonhunter was a good dragonfly as was a Neon Skimmer, rare here.
There were lots of damselflies, but I didn't work them. Rubyspots on
the other hand were consipicuously absent. Orange-striped Threadtail
were about (been a couple weeks now at least). Rambur's Forktail,
Double-striped Bluet, Violet and Blue-ringed Dancer were noted.
Decent numbers of of Setwings as always. Some nice aquatic plants too.
A Large Orange Sulphur circled us way up the river.
June 13 ~ Well it's the "summer doldrums" when only breeding birds are
present and the month almost no bird movement is taking place. But there
are some things moving already. Like a singing Black-and-white Warbler
at UP today. Probably a southbound fall migrant. A couple folks in kayaks
said they saw 2 Green Kingfisher upriver a bit. Fledged White-eyed Vireos
were on the island, where a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was calling. The guy
also said last fall he had a Great Kiskadee up on North Little Creek, the
second report I've heard of then since last fall (re: the report this spring).
June 10 ~ A Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenea) dragonfly was the first
of the year for me here, and was ovipositing on the pick up hood and shell.
Chipping Sparrow continues at SR.
June 8 ~ Finally saw the first wandering Golden-cheeked Warbler
of the year in the yard feeding in the live-oaks. Looked like
a SY male to me. Nice bird in the yard. The Cooper's Hawk
stooped on the backyard again today. At least one adult female
Ruby-throated Hummingbird continues. They wouldn't be staying
if they were not tied to a nest. The Golden-cheek was the 120th
species of bird identified in the yard this year so far.
June 7 ~ A load of Scott's, a few Hooded, and a couple Audubon's
Orioles here at SR. A few Bushtits were about. Carolina Wren
and Chihuahuan Raven too. The first 7 days of June averaged
6-8 deg.F above normal temperatures. We're way dry still too.
June 6 ~ A couple Killdeer and a few Common Grackle were commuting
over SR to the Bear Creek Pond on 1050. Chipping Sparrow pair here
at SR surely nesting. Hutton's Vireo continues here at SR
June 5 ~ A couple female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are still present
amongst the hundreds of Black-chinneds, probably nesting nearby.
June 4 ~ 2 full adult male Scott's Orioles had a singing duel at
the feeder today. Didn't fight, just sung at and over each other.
There is also a SY male, and besides the full adult female there
is a SY female or two as well. A herd of Scott's Orioles here.
Probably 6 birds at least. And this years young aren't out of
nest yet! Hutton's Vireo at SR.
June 3 ~ Chihuahuan Raven, note how the adults are worn brown and in
heavy molt now.
June 2 ~ A Killdeer flew over SR heading toward the 1050 pond.
June 1 ~ JUNE !?!?!?! I counted and including Concan and Lost Maples
my whole 2008 butterfly list is at a very weak 70 species. I haven't
yet seen a Buckeye, Little Yellow, or Dainty Sulphur, amongst others.
May 31 ~ One Chipping Sparrow continues at SR singing, and is surely
nesting here close by. One male Ruby-throated Hummingbird continues
as well. Surely a bunch of them bred before moving on. At UP there
were a couple fledling Red-shouldered Hawks. A real bummer was at the
interesection of 187 and 1050 a run over hit dead Barred Owl !&^%!
Slow down folks ! Unfortunately the ones that need to won't read that.
At 354 was Dickcissel and Chat, and the regulars were at UR. Along
the river on 360 there was a singing Black-and-white Warbler, and
singing Hutton's Vireo at a large Oak motte, both probably breeding.
There were 2 just fledged Great Horned Owls in the Cypress trees.
No migratory species were detected again. It's over folks. Actually it's
been over for a week, save maybe a late flycatcher if you are lucky.
Hope you got a slice of spring migration while it was passing by!
We have a really narrow window of passage here for many species,
and if you aren't out looking each of their's peak weeks, you will not
likely see them. For example Eastern Kingbird and Catbird are a sure thing
here, but one week of the year, otherwise they are rare and unpredictable.
This is the situation for many mirgatory species occurrence here.
I saw 20 species of warblers over the course of spring, but numbers
of individuals were way down, except our common warbler, Nashville.
May 30 ~ 3 species of Orioles still at SR, once as 3 flew in towards
yard it was 2 Scott's and 10' behind and above the male Scott's,
an adult Audubon's! In flight together! A Killdeer flew by at dusk.
Fledgling Scrub-Jay was out today.
May 29 ~ Still enjoying 3 species of Orioles at the feeder daily:
Hooded, Scott's, and Audubon's, which seem to be more interested in
the bath and water, than the sugar water. A Zone-tailed Hawk
circled SR again. A Red-shouldered Hawk was overhead as well.
A few neat insects happened today in the yard. First a Bold Jumper
(that green eyed black jumping spider you see all the time)
took a 5-spotted Sphinx moth (of tomato hornworm fame), about
100 times its weight! Then a 2"+ eyed elatarid (giant click beetle
with big false eyes) flew around the yard, but I couldn't find it
when it landed. As if that wasn't enough a Hyacinth Glider
(dragonfly) was patrolling the yard, but left after I swiped at it
with the net a couple times. They are quite rare up here on the
plateau, and I did not see any up here last year.
May 28 ~ Audubon's and Scott's Orioles taking turns at feeder.
Audubon's mostly whistling at the Scott's, while Scott's only
eng eng back. A Cooper's Hawk dove on the seed crowd today.
First I've seen in a month locally, a few pairs nest around.
Caracara at SR.
May 27 ~ Lesser Goldfinch has fledglings out now. At UP at dusk
there were a dozen Chimney Swifts skimming the pond at the park.
If you stand out on the spillway they zing by at 60 MPH just feet
away. On dump road just after dark a Chuck-wills-widow flew up off
the road right in front of me. Good thing I was going below
the speed limit or I'd have hit it.
May 26 ~ The Bewick's Wrens using one of our nest boxes
fledged young today. Titmouse got some out of another
box a couple weeks ago. All 3 regular oriole sps. at feeder today.
About 5-6 non-breeding one year old Painted Buntings hanging
at seed pile, probably last year's young. Adult male around
a little bit. The 1st yr. male Summer Tanager seems to have
May 25 ~ Everything uses the bath in the heat of the day lately.
Just any kind of very very slow tink, tink, drip into a
bath makes all the difference in the world. A Zone-tailed
Hawk circled low overhead for some time this afternoon.
A Bushtit family was around for a while.
May 24 ~ A late migrant was a Lincoln's Sparrow at UP.
An adult-juvenile pair of Caracara were on some road kill
with the Vultures in town. Some Chihuahuan Ravens around.
The juvenile Yellow-throated Warblers are out of the nest
at UP, begging. No yellow yet, just dark and light gray and white,
like so many just-fledged juvenile warblers. Unlike the
Golden-cheeked which largely do not do 2nd nestings, these
Yellow-throateds will nest again before leaving for the year.
May 23 ~ At the fish hatchery in Uvalde were 3 male Shoveller,
a male Gadwall, and 8 Blue-winged Teal, 3 Black-necked Stilts,
14 White-faced Ibis, a couple Common Moorhen (Gallinule), but
no shorebirds. Curve-billed Thrasher and Bell's Vireo sang.
Still Audubon's, Hooded, and Scott's Orioles daily using the
feeders and or bath here at SR. The most interesting thing of
the day though, was a Shrike (Loggerhead) down in Sabinal.
They vacate the area in summer, and this bird is in the same
place it was 3 and 5 weeks ago, and surely must be part of a
nesting pair to be at the same place this time of year. They
nest to the north and east of us 50 miles, but not here, so
now I have to go snortin' around in the thorniest of bushes
looking for the nest or young for documentation.
May 22 ~ Another Lost Maples trip to help some folks see
Golden-cheeked Warbler. It was quite windy (20 + MPH) and
we had to walk two miles to see one bird very well, though
we heard 5 on the way. They are really getting harder to
see already. All the rest was the regular expected suspects.
At UP there was a female Common Yellowthroat, a late migrant.
May 21 ~ Besides the orioles, Inca Dove and Common Ground-Dove
are both around daily. A White-eyed Vireo was a bit odd up here
on a juniper slope. Failed or finished nester already wandering?
May 20 ~ Audubon's, Scott's, and Hooded Oriole pairs at
our oriole-friendly hummer feeder today. Still record heat.
A number of fireflys have been out nightly lately, finally.
May 19 ~ Audubon's Orioles hanging out seeming to appreciate
the water in the bath on these hot hot days. Eastern Screech-Owl
calling in evening.
May 18 ~ We took a 5 mile walk at Lost Maples to Mystic Canyon.
See the Lost Maples Reports page for the whole list. We saw
Black-capped Vireo very well and a few Golden-cheeked Warblers.
One of the rangers said there were a couple Western Tanagers there!
Since we know there was one in Junction, and 2 in Utopia this week,
we can feel comfortable with calling it a mini-invasion, probably
due to the strong storms moving out of N. Mexico daily lately.
Here at SR, swarms of just fledged juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbirds
are around. The Ruby-throated males have mostly departed with only a
few left. Still numbers of females present, which I think are nesting.
We have several hundreds of Black-chinneds here now though.
May 17 ~ A nice cool morning we won't see many more of for 5 months.
At the Cypress St. Mulberry I got a brief look at yesterday's
WESTERN TANAGER, the ratty dull first spring male. Also there was
the imm. male Baltimore Oriole from Thursday May 15, so we can
confirm it was a three-day bird, at least. Still a couple few
dozen Cedar Waxwings around. At UP was an Olive-sided Flycatcher.
At 354 Pecans was a Yellow Warbler, possibly yesterday's bird.
At UR there was a female Black-and-white Warbler, a late migrant
I presume. A Least Flycatcher was along 360. It appeared most
of yesterdays migrants left, a few stayed, and very few arrived.
Sometimes the day after a front or grounding event is very good.
Other times it is dead. We'll see tomorrow and Monday.
May 16 ~ Another overnight rain, with perhaps another 1/2" or so.
And still N to NE winds. A few migrants were about, undoubtedly
knocked down by the weather. Besides 3 Olive-sided Flycatchers
(1 at UP, 1 @ UR, 1 @ SR), Least and Willow Flycatchers were at
UP, plus an Empidonax I couldn't ID but was probably an Alder.
Also at UP were 2 Common Yellowthroat, and a yellow type (western)
Northern Waterthrush. At 354 pecans was a Yellow Warbler singing
an aberrant song. 2 Yellows were at UR, and a Wilson's Warbler.
Also at least one Swainson's Thrush and aforementioned Olive-side
were there. At the Cypress St. Mulberry was a ratty looking
first year male WESTERN TANAGER, clearly not the female there
two days ago. Another was found up in Junction today. Probably
from these systems coming out of Mexico.
We have to be at least at 3" of much needed rain for the week!
May 15 ~ A little rain overnight again, perhaps a half-inch or so.
NE winds too! Not much for birds though. At UP was an Olive-sided
Flycatcher, and another was at UR, where I heard a single Yellow
Warbler. At the Cypress St. Mulberry was a Swainson's Thrush and
a first year male Baltimore Oriole. Two Audubon's Orioles were
whistling again early at SR. I presume the pair with the young.
May 14 ~ Well we got some real rain, about 2" worth pre-dawn
today, and a badly needed one too. I did a quick migrant check
and there were some knocked down. About 5 Least Flycatchers were
scattered about, some at each stop. At UP there was a beautiful
very yellow PHILADELPHIA VIREO in the willows, the 3rd spring of 5
I've recorded it locally. At a stop there an hour plus later,
I found an amazing SEDGE WREN on a very late date this far south.
My first for the Sabinal Valley, and first up on the plateau.
One Willow Flycatcher, and one un-ID'd empidonax were at UP too.
Audubon's Orioles duetting early at SR.
At UR there was a Wilson's Warbler, a Common Yellowthroat,
a male Mourning Warbler, 2 of the Least Flycatchers, and a
male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. At 354 there were C. Yellowthroat,
a male Mourning Warbler, a singing Warbling Vireo, 2 of the Least
Flycatchers. At the Cypress St. big Mulberry there was Swainson's
Thrush my first stop, and an hour plus later a female WESTERN TANAGER!
At dusk over 30 Common Nighthawks, with a few Lessers were over the
high point on Seco Ridge where the Common nest. I heard at least
5 Chuck-wills-widows tonight.
May 13 ~ A little pre-dawn rain fell so a quick check of the
local migrant traps was in order. Nothing. A Common Yellowthroat
was at UP, but most amazing there was a Scott's Oriole stopping
and singing from the top of a tall cypress tree! A Swainson's
Thrush was at the big Mulberry on Cypress, and a Lincoln's Sparrow
was at UR. Summer Tanagers are picking off teneral (just emerged)
Black-shouldered Spinylegs (dragonflies) like kids at a candy store at UP.
I don't know how any make it between them and the Eastern Phoebes.
May 12 ~ Two fledged Green Kingfisher juveniles at UP. Barred Owls
out and about early, probably feeding young. No migrants early.
No Maggie, which was Warbler species #20 locally for the spring.
May 11 ~ At UP were 6 Blue-winged Teal, 2 Spotted Sandpiper,
4 Common Yellowthroat, 1 Wilson's Warbler, and best a first
spring male MAGNOLIA Warbler. Also there was another
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, and a Least Flycatcher, plus a
Couch's Kingbird. At UR there was a male MacGillivray's
Warbler, a Common Yellowthroat, a Yellow-breasted Chat, and
smaller numbers of Painted and Indigo Buntings, with one
female Lazuli. At SR in the a.m. was a Dickcissel down on the
seed. After dark the Chuck-wills-widow positioned himself
right in front of a grotto cave surely to amplify his call.
Heard a couple Yellow-billed Cuckoos around finally.
A Clay-colored Robin was upriver of UP for two minutes.
It was not seen again despite intensive searching for a week.
May 10 ~ We suffered our third straight day of 95+ degrees F.
hitting about 100 (!), and seems like just about having skipped
the mid-80's period we usually get now. We've missed the rain too.
We're supposed to cool to 85 after today. Still some fog-mist
the last couple mornings so early it ain't that bad at all.
A quick check of a couple of the local patches for
migrants produced a few. Best was a toss up between
a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH at the Cypress St. big Mulberry,
and a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER at Utopia on the River.
Distant runner up at UR was a male MOURNING Warbler,
recorded annually though, unlike the first two birds.
My only other Gray-cheeked Thrush here was May 10, '05.
My only other Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were mid-May '04.
Also on Cypress St. was a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak,
a singing Blue-headed Vireo, and a trio of Orchard Orioles.
Other things at UR were a Traill's type (Willow or Alder)
Flycatcher, a female Common Yellowthroat, Lincoln's Sparrow,
10+ Chipping and 6+ Clay-colored Sparrow still too.
At UP a Catbird continued at the Mulberries, and one of
the Barred Owls ejected a Red-shouldered Hawk from its
territory in no uncertain terms. Amazing interaction.
At the 354 pecans were 2 Yellow and a Wilson's Warbler,
and a ZILPA Longtail (butterfly) flew right past me.
The field is loaded with thistles and Dickcissels.
Still no cuckoos heard around today. For butterflies,
in the SR yard were Nysa Roadside-Skipper, Red Satyr,
and Spicebush Swallowtail, which is new, though I have
seen a number of prior beasts that I am sure were.
Right at dusk two Lesser Nighthawk (FOS) flew over SR.
I'm sure they are present in small numbers in the mesquite
on the valley floor, and probably present weeks there.
May 9 ~ The couple Chipping Sparrows continue at SR.
Amazing was a pair of Audubon's Orioles duetting for a
half hour outside, during which I got a glimpse through
the trees of an all yellow-green JUVENILE! Much earlier than
last years' but surely they were doing the same thing, showing
it the water and hummer feeder with the oriole openings.
I stayed inside so as to not scare them, though they are
usually far far more tame than the Scott's Orioles are.
A White-M Hairstreak was at UP (photo) which unfortunately
sits with wings closed hiding the neon iridescent indigo blue
upper surfaces visible every time it flew. WOW !! STUNNING !!
At UP there was a Catbird, Wilson's Warbler, and thought sure
I heard a FOS Mourning Warbler but didn't see it so won't count it.
Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireos were singing, but still no Cuckoo.
Late at SR a couple Chuck-wills-widows had a prolonged
growling match...grrrr...grrooowww...gruk..gwok, for 10 mintues
too low pitched for my 8" dish to pick it up.
May 8 ~ A Rose-breasted Grosbeak called and sang here at SR.
2 Chipping Sparrows continue. A female Hooded Oriole was
at the hummer feeder while the male called nearby.
The Common Ground-Dove pair that has been here a couple
months is now a trio, and I presume the new bird to be
a fledged juvenile.
May 7 ~ I guided a group at Lost Maples SNA this a.m.,
and we got to watch Golden-cheeked Warblers feeding just
fledged young. We heard but did not see Black-capped
Vireo. In contrast to normal, it seemed every time we
turned around there was a Zone-tailed Hawk in view.
A pair of Chihuahuan Ravens also passed over above the
high ridges, in heavy molt (looking shot full of holes).
There were 2 singing Yellow-throated Warblers, a Nashville,
a female Lazuli Bunting, and a Traill's type (Willow-Alder)
Flycatcher. A Cassin's Sparrow was my first ever there.
A few Lincoln's Sparrows and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet too.
Hutton's Vireo was singing 2 mi. up Can Creek trail.
The highlight of the walk however was a dark morph
SHORT-TAILED HAWK that circled fairly closely not too high up.
With the light morph being seen there just two weeks ago,
it is nearly certain there are TWO BIRDS there now. There may
have been one very recent nesting or attempt in extreme south
Texas. The first state record was about 1989, and about 17
were seen by 2002. Now annual in very small numbers (a handfull
at best - most at hawkwatches), and another of the species moving
north from Mexico that bear paying attention to.
At SR an AHY (after hatch year - nearing a year old)
salmon underparted green above male Painted Bunting showed up.
May 6 ~ A friend passing through was a good excuse to check
the local patches for birds. Best was at UP, a calling
ALDER Flycatcher, only rarely identifiable with certainty
in migration. Also there was Catbird, Blue-headed Vireo,
Wilson's Warbler, and Spotted Sandpiper. At Cypress St.
was an FOS Baltimore Oriole, and at least 3 Orchards, plus
about 60 Cedar Waxwings and some Painted Bunting females.
At 354 were a few singing Dickcissel, and my buddy found
my FOS Warbling Vireo. Also a Least Flycatcher, more buntings,
Blue Grosbeak, and Wilson's and Yellow Warblers.
At Utopia on the River there was finally a calling Acadian
Flycatcher, but still no Cuckoo in there (or UP) yet. Also there
were Yellow and Wilson's Warblers, Clay-colored and Lincoln's
Sparrows. Good was finally a FOS Swainson's Thrush there.
Early in the a.m. at SR there was a hybrid Bullock's x
Baltimore Oriole, and in the evening there was a pure male
Baltimore, which the Scott's didn't care for and chased it
tree to tree out of the yard.
May 5 ~ Finally a FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo, at 6:30 p.m. at SR.
There are a bit tardy statewide based on (non)reports so far.
It would have been a good migrant day locally but I had to go
to SAT so missed it.
May 4 ~ In town it is often worth checking the hackberry row
at the Cypress St. when the two mulberry trees are fruiting.
This morning there were 14 Painted Buntings on the street
under the big one. Finally FOS local Yellow Warbler (2) were
there too. And a few Orchard Orioles were nice. Over at UP
there was still a male Wilson's, and Orange-crowned Warblers,
probably both left-overs from yesterday. New were the FOS
Catbird in a mulberry, a Northern Waterthrush, a half-dozen
Painted Bunting, a FOS Willow Flycatcher. Some Nashvilles
and 2 Common Yellowthroats were still grounded.
At the 354 Pecans there were more Painted and Indigo buntings,
and a Least flycatcher. At Utopia on the River the male
Black-throated Green Warbler continued, and a second one was
found. another Least Flycatcher was there. 3 Yellow Warblers
were seen, and a couple Nashville. Still about a dozen Painted,
4 Indigo, and one male Lazuli Bunting.
We still have 6 Chipping Sparrows here at the seed, and a pair
of Ground-Dove which surely are nesting nearby. A pair of
Chihuahuan Ravens flew by, one "shot full of holes" in heavy molt.
May have been ad.-juv. pair. Caracara regular at SR too.
May 3 ~ Northerlies at 20-25 MPH surely knocked migrants down,
and small numbers were evident at a couple stops. At SR there
was finally a FOS local Orchard Oriole, a male that sang too.
A few more were scattered around town. At UP there were two
local FOS's: Tennessee Warbler and female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
Also there were 2 Common Yellowthroat and 2 male Wilson's Warbler.
At Utopia on the River there was a singing male Black-throated
Green Warbler, 2 male MacGillivray's Warblers (FOS), and a couple
Nashvilles. Also there were a dozen Painted Buntings, with some
Indigos, and one male Lazuli. A Hooded Oriole might be new there
for me, and out front were our FOS (3) Eastern Kingbirds, plus
another down the road a bit. A couple were sitting right next
to Western Kingbirds. A freshly fledged Eastern Bluebird was nice.
There were some Chipping and Clay-colored Sparrows there, and
one I got a brief study of that appeared in every way down to its
brown rump, to be a BREWER'S Sparrow.
May 2 ~ Blue-headed Vireo singing outside at SR this a.m..
I really don't appreciate the Mockingbird doing Green Jay imitations.
Uvalde run so checked Fish Hatchery for shorebirds of which
there were a few. 1 Solitary Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Sandpiper,
2 Baird's Sandpiper, 1 Black-necked Stilt, 2 Killdeer, and
15 Wilson's Phalaropes. Also there were 3 Plegadis Ibis there
2 looked like White-faced, but one may have been a Glossy.
They flushed before I could get close enough to photo them.
There were still 3 Blue-winged Teal there, and a number of
Clay-colored Sparrows, 2 Savannah Sparrow, 1 Grasshopper Sparrow,
and 5 American (Water) Pipit seem late, maybe not for arctic nesters.
Also there were a few Orchard Orioles, Bell's Vireo, C. Ground-Dove,
Black Phoebes, Dickcissel, Couch's Kingbirds, lots of Black-bellied
Whistling-Ducks of course, and Common Moorhen is back finally.
At least 6 Chipping Sparrows still at SR this evening.
May 1 ~ The bird of the day was at Utopia on the River,
an Ovenbird! It flushed out of the big frostweed patch.
Couple Nashvilles, a singing Blue-headed Vireo, were it for
migrants. Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos are in, but
the Acadian Flycatchers and Yellow-billed Cuckoo are not.
At UP was a male Wilson's Warbler, and a couple C.Yellowthroat.
I received a note Anthony Sharp had an American Redstart today.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ special note ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Before we finish April.... one of the neat things at Nature
Quest was getting to meet some of the locals. One, Judy Schaefer
gave me a convincing verbal description of a Great Kiskadee in her
yard in town (Utopia) in mid-April. It is to my knowledge the first
local report. It is not on the Lost Maples list. She has seen them
before. They have been resident at Uvalde for 5 years at least now,
and there have been singles at Abeline and Waco and Houston for years,
so somewhat overdue actually, but a great find.
There are a few things one should do immediately when one sees something
that might be unusual or rare. First, take a picture or get someone to.
Second, write a description of the bird WHILE you are looking at it.
That will often end up meaning as much as a photo. Third, tell others.
Getting others to see a bird is called corroboration, and good birds
need it. Two handwritten descriptions made while watching a bird
can be more useful than a photo. Get other eyes on the bird. It is
usually easier to get someone else to see or hear something, than it is
to get a picture of it. Now is the time to muster those skills you
learned in kindergarden, and play show and tell with others.
Finally, use a desk calendar or weekly planner book at the very least,
to make daily notes of numbers and things in your yard. Then you have
actual useable data, instead of memory, which will be foggy sooner than
you think !! Trust me on that.... now what were we doing???????
Without numbers and dates, you have no data. :) Even better,
start an excell file just for your yard, or favorite local patch.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ end special note ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
April 30 ~ Anthony Sharp reports a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak at
their place on 1050 about 10 miles west of town by Blanket Creek.
Our Black-headed Grosbeak is still about singing. 10 Chippys still
here at SR. Zone-tailed Hawk low overhead too.
April 29 ~ A male Black-headed Grosbeak was on our sunflower tube
at SR which later sang. A male Hooded Oriole flew up-ridge early.
At UP was finally the FOS Spotted Sandpiper, and The FOS Dickcissel
were fly-overs at SR early, then one was singing in their field just
south of town at 354. Back at UP there were 9 Blue-winged Teal there,
and one Mourning Cloak butterfly, the second so far this spring.
April 28 ~ Record lows in the low low 40's this morning felt great!
Last of this for 6 months! A White-striped Longtail (butterfly) was
nectaring out front. At UP there was a FOS Green Heron,
a Yellow- breasted Chat and 3 Common Yellowthroat.
Audubon's Oriole came into the sugar water.
April 27 ~ Tony Gallucci and I led a Nature Quest bird walk at
Big Springs, 9 miles north of Leakey at the Frio headwaters.
There was a frontal passage early in the a.m.. There were
fly-by Little Blue Heron, Franklin's Gull, and Chihuahuan
Raven (with a Common but in heavy molt). Golden-cheeked Warbler
was seen closely and 2 young were found dead thrown out of a
nest by the wind. A neat aquatic nymph was a Snakefly (Raphididae)
larvae I found at the spring. Some rare plants like Black Sedge,
Texas Mockorange, and blooming Chatterbox Orchid were seen too.
At House Pasture in Concan there were 3 White-crowned Sparrows,
all large orange-billed ones, as seems norm in late April here.
April 26 ~ Mike Overton and I led a Nature Quest walk at the
Waters' Ranch just south of town along the Sabinal, and even
got the pleasure of Mr. and Mrs. Waters company on top of it.
We had a few interesting birds, topped by a pure singing male
Tropical Parula seen well, and another probable, heard only.
Also a FOS female Northern Parula was present, and two FOS
Yellow-breasted Chats. There were a pair of Canyon Towhee
there too. A Least Flycatcher was a good bird as well.
Derek Muschalek reported a male Tropical Parula with a
female Northern Parula at Garner St.Pk., on April 22. You
have to scrutinize every Parula warbler for signs of hybridization
in this area where both are equally rare, and hybrids are known.
Derek also had at Garner numbers of Hutton's Vireos.
Interesting in the SR yard besides a Crimson Patch was one fresh
mint-condition Mourning Cloak butterfly. Perhaps we'll see an
echo of last years flight this spring.
April 25 ~ Guided another Nature Quest Lost Maples walk today.
Best bird(s) were on the way in the heavy drizzle-mist over a
bare field just north of the Stagecoach Inn, in Bandera Co..
A flock of 32 WILLETS were circling the muddy field, seen by all
participants. Surely Western Willets, and my first in the Sabinal
Valley! You never know what you might see if you just go look!
At Lost Maples in the drizzle we had of course a hard time
with the birds being as active and vociferous as usual. We barely
got Golden-cheeked Warbler looks (and not all of us), but a nice
male Black-headed Grosbeak was good, and one male Lazuli Bunting
continued at the overflow parking trailhead (new) feeding station.
We spun through Utopia Pk. just to show the site for future
birding reference, and at the entrance a FOS Grasshopper Sparrow
popped into the water co. fence for viewing pleasure. An Osprey
was at Jones 1050 pond. The two month+ present imm. Common Yellowthroats
at UP are gone finally, but an adult male Common Yellowthroat on a
normal passage arrival date was at Utopia Park.
April 24 ~ A Nature Quest walk I led at Lost Maples was nice,
with the highlight being watching a Golden-cheeked Warbler
working on a nest that we watched leisurely. We also had a short
look at a SHORT-TAILED HAWK (adult light morph) that is probably the
individual that flew over SR on April 8, and I suspect a long-time
returning individual. FOS Acadian Flycatchers were back.
At UP was a FOS (usually only get one per spring if lucky)
Northern Waterthrush up on the island. Also there was a FOS
local Great Crested Flycatcher there. My FOS local female
Blue Grosbeak was outside today here at SR.
April 23 ~ At Cook's Slough in Uvalde, on a walk I was leading for
Nature Quest, we saw a Ringed Kingfisher, lots of Dickcissel and
Orchard Orioles (neither up here on the hill yet), and heard one each
Brown-crested and Great Crested Flycatchers. At the Fish Hatchery
was a male Cinnamon Teal still, a Black-necked Stilt, and a
couple Avocets flew across the road at Fish Slough on the way there.
April 22 ~ No moon and the Poor-wills were calling at dusk again.
The FOS for the day was Common Nighthawk at SR. Nice to hear
their BEER call notes, and the booming!
April 21 ~ Surprisingly 2 Audubon's Orioles flew right over the
hovel on SR today, landing in a Bailey Oak for viewing. At midnight
the Poor-wills were calling. They have been silent almost a week,
which may be normal around the full moon.
April 20 ~ A Cattle Egret was minding the cows in Vanderpool.
At Lost Maples were 3 FOS's: Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Wood-Pewee
and Bullock's Oriole, which was an immature male. Lots of
Golden-cheeked Warblers and a number of Louisiana Waterthrush
are in and on territory. At least 20 Nashville Warbler were there.
Also a calling Couch's Kingbird was there, apparently a new park record.
The last FOS today was a Western Kingbird at the north end of town.
April 19 ~ An Osprey flew north over SR in the a.m..
Lots of Black-capped Vireos are in up at Kerr WMA,
with as Tony Gallucci says Bobcat Pasture being a great
place to see them well. Early in the season (NOW) is better
when the Scrub Live-Oak is blooming and has dropped its leaves.
April 18 ~ At UP was a FOS Wilson's Warbler, a FOS Least Flycatcher,
a FOS Brown-crested Flycatcher, and spectacularly a calling
WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE. That was the first one of them I have
identified here, in this the fifth spring of listening for them.
A couple dozen Clay-colored Sparrow were feasting in the live-oak
blooms, and amongst 12 Myrtle and 3 Audubon's Warblers was a
hybrid "Myrtubon's" Warbler. One of the Little Blue Herons
continued at UP, and 15 Nashville and 2 Orange-crowned Warblers
plus the 2 Common Yellowthroats continue, rounding out warblers.
At SR was a FOS male Blue Grosbeak, and the same or another of a
large grayer migrant type of Hermit Thrush bathed at dusk again.
April 17 ~ Too much work and too little play, but a FOS
adult male Painted Bunting made for a nice day!
We have probably 300 or more hummingbirds at our feeders.
Mostly Black-chins, but good numbers of Ruby-throats too.
April 16 ~ About 20 Chiping Sparrow continue here at SR.
Next week is spring Nature Quest, at Concan, and I will be leading a
few morning walks, in case you have absolutely no life and nothing to do.
:) Wed. I lead a Cook's Slough walk. Thurs. and Fri. will be
Lost Maples walks. Contact them (google Concan TX Nature Quest or
find the link on our links page) if you are interested in all sorts
of subject specific study walks or hikes: butterflies, dragonflies,
plants, geology, birds, etc..
April 15 ~ A jackpot of Egrets was at UP this windy morning.
One Great Egret, three Snowy Egrets, and 2 one year-old (AHY)
white phase Little Blue Heron! I got digiscopes of the latter two
species. A couple male Common Grackles are back at the island,
probably to nest again. A larger migrant type of Hermit Thrush
came in and bathed at dark. Locals been gone a while anyway.
April 14 ~ My FOS local White-striped Longtail (butterfly) flew around
the yard today. My local FOS Bell's Vireo was in the mesquite patch near
the storage spaces. There was a Cattle Egret below the dam at UP, and
amazingly, a MARSH WREN in the lillypads across the dam.
Also FOS Prince Baskettail dragonfly there today.
April 13 ~ Along the Sabinal river from UP to Jones Cmty Rd. (JCR) were
a couple dozen each of Nashville Warblers and Clay-colored Sparrows
feeding in the live-oak blossoms. At UP there were a couple Blue-
headed Vireo, 6 Myrtle and 1 Audubon's Warbler, 2 Common yellowthroat
still continue, plus the regular Blue Jay, Black Phoebe, Green King.
A couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and at UP a Yellow-throated Vireo that
alternated between its song, and that of a perfect Red-eyed Vireo.
A Kestrel was on JCR. Of dragonflies at UP there were Orange Bluet,
Blue-ringed Dancer, and Black-shouldered Spinyleg. A Solitary Sandpiper
was at the fenced tank near the storage spaces.
April 12 ~ A couple FOS butterflies were a Crimson Patch at the
Lion's Auction (at firehouse) downtown, and Dusky-blue Groundstreaks
at UP. A Zone-tailed Hawk flew over the Lion's auction too.
April 11 ~ At Neal's Lodge in Concan there was an exhausted FOS
Brown-crested Flycatcher, and my FOS Bell's Vireo. At the Hatchery
in Uvalde there was Couch's Kingbird, and on 187 on the way back
FOS Western Kingbird in the brush country (none up on the hill yet).
Lots of Scissor-taileds moving through. Still some Kestrels and
Shrikes around. Only a couple Meadowlarks. Concan also had a
White-striped Longtail and Coyote Cloudywing for FOS butterflies.
April 10 ~ 30 Chippy left. Immature Sharp-shinned Hawk still here
hunting them daily. Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird for sure.
Poor-wills calling late at 11 p.m.. Little drizzle
April 9 ~ 40 Chippy at SR, plus the 2 Pine Siskin, and 2 Clay-colored
Sparrow in with the Chippies. A few Swainson's Hawks and migrant
Turkey Vultures passed over. The local TV's are nesting already.
Kathy had a Chuck-wills-widow calling again. Little drizzle.
April 8 ~ A few more FOS's today as makes this time of year so fun.
Getting to see old friends again, every day some new ones. One of
my not so favorites was a male Great-tailed Grackle below the dam
at UP. Also at UP in the live-oaks was a Black-throated Green Warbler.
Best was about 6:20 p.m. an adult light morph SHORT-TAILED HAWK
flew right over our hovel on SR. Not even a yard bird, but a great
look of a great bird. It is the 3rd spring of 5 I have detected one.
It should be looked for at Lost Maples now where they have been
known to summer. 45 Chipping Sparrows are still here at the seed,
as well as 2 Pine Siskin.
April 7 ~ A surprisingly early spring migrant (for here) was a
Broad-winged Hawk over SR with a few Turkey Vultures and Swainson's
Hawks. Another bird looked like a Golden Eagle, but I had to let it go.
I probably had a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird today (my first).
Kathy got the FOS Chuck-wills-Widow this evening at SR.
April 6 ~ Two more FOS's today were Chimney Swift, same date
as last year's returns, and 6 Cattle Egret by the fenced tank west
of the storage spaces. One of the two Yellowthroats at UP
is that same imm. male from mid-March. Saw FOS Pondhawk and
Checkered Setwing dragonflies at the park. Also there was
a FOS black form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. A regular
yellow one was up on SR. A Hutton's Vireo is singing from the knoll
near the west end of the ridge. Chihuahuan Raven at SR in a.m.
Was a warm day with a toasty 88+ deg.F up on the ridge. At UP
spectacular views of the Yellow-throated Warblers can be had
now before everything leafs out, especially as they feed low in
the flowering Live-Oaks. Nice to hear Summer Tanagers singing.
there again too. A FOS Northern Cloudywing was on SR.
April 5 ~ Some FOS's today were Blue-headed and Yellow-throated
Vireos at UP, the latter was all along the river with 6 heard
over a mile or so of habitat. At SR in the p.m. an Indigo Bunting
was another FOS. A few migrants were at UP including a few
Nashville Warblers, more of which were along Jones Cmty. Rd. (JCR).
Ruby-crowned Kinglets were also everywhere, and singing with
the typical enthusiasm. TWO Common Yellowthroats were at UP.
There was a single adult White-crowned Sparrow that was not the
regular expected nominate eastern leucophrys type. It had a
large orange bill, and a gray supra-loral area, and was browner above.
Lots of Clay-colored Sparrows in with Chippies in the blooms
of the Live-Oaks all along the river. Fields north on JCR
had Vesper and Savanah Sparrows and a couple Swainson's Hawks.
Chihuahuan Raven was at the county line bridge crossing
(they are at SR daily or nearly so). This was the first day
of the year with over a dozen big pale (northbound migrants
from Mexican wintering grounds) Monarchs. Nearly 20 total.
A number of Queens were moving too, 1st multiple number day too.
No Pied-billed Grebes at UP. FOS Bronzed Cowbirds on SR (5).
Kathy spotted the FOS Carolina Satyrs at UP. For the first day
this spring big numbers of the 1050 bridge Cliff Swallow colony
were back, perhaps 60-75 birds.
April 4 ~ 6 Pine Siskin continue here at SR. The amazing sighting
of the spring probably was late in the p.m. where one of the
brush piles meets open and we throw seed and there is usually
sparrows. I saw something fly in I could not pigeon hole.
I got smaller as I backed away slowly and when around the corner
RAN for binocs and wife inside. Using an office window we saw
it come back out in the open: a MARSH WREN !! A beautiful
MARSH WREN at 1500' on a rocky juniper covered slope !!
It has been obvious the noise of the coral system water pumping
attracts birds, and at least there is a bath with a drip
when they get close enough to see there is not a bubbling spring
here as it sounds. Guess I should look for Sora next.
It is the first Marsh Wren I have seen in the Sabinal Valley.
April 3 ~ The FOS Nashville Warbler here was in the blooming
Live-Oak out back. Whatever is blooming is where the birds are.
This morning it was 5 Scissor-tails in a flock going over north
in the fog mist low. Still 6 Pine Siskin. At dusk Poor-will,
and after dark Eastern Screech-Owl and Barn Owl. The FOS
butterfly for the day was a Two-tailed Swallowtail that
came to a hummer feeder but got scared off when it saw me.
That is not the first animal to bolt at the sight of me.
For dragonflies There were FOS Leaftails at UP, as well
as what surely was a Stream Crusier. Lots of Double-striped
Bluets were also seen. Observations were incidental as I
was attempting to obtain an Icthyid sample voucher, which was
successful. An 8.75" Green Sunfish Lepomis cyanellus,
of the orange-edged unpaired fins male type, stunning in beauty as
delicious kings table fare. Also spotted below the dam at UP
due to above project requiring long period at one spot, I spied
deep in the vegetation after a half hour, a single lone COOT!
April 2 ~ Another Scissor-tail flyover early. Today there
were 6 Pine Siskin at the sunflowers, some singing a little.
A few Ruby-throated Hummers (males) are around, and lots of
Black-chins (100). Outside at SR there was Ruby-crowned
Kinglet, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American
and Lesser Goldfinch, 75 Chipping and 6 Clay-colored Sparrow.
At UP there were 2 Cliff Swallow (FOS) but the 1050 bridge flock
is not back yet.
April 1 ~ No foolin'! April !?! Another male Scissor-tail
flew over going N. early in the a.m.. NO Kestrel is the
amazing difference outside today. Green Kingfisher and
Black Phoebe at UP, and the Osprey continues, and no doubt
caught more trout than everyone put together.
March 31 ~ Fog mist drizzle again. A male Scissor-tailed
Flycatcher flew over low in it early, going north. There were
4 Clay-colored Sparrows and 2 Pine Siskin continue.
The FOS male Summer Tanager flew by SR in the afternoon.
Two butterfly FOS's were Southern Skipperling and Dun Skipper.
Barn Owl late. Poor-will just after dark. Late in the p.m.
the wintering adult male Kestrel circled and dove on its
perch of the last 5 months calling its head off for 5 minutes,
and then flew off to the north. I haven't seen it since,
and am reasonably sure this was a departure display.
The other behavior of the day was a Scrub-Jay dancing
around its mate with food in its beak, circling it as it
bobbed and stretched in a most exagerated of manner as to
nearly make you laugh. Out the window while we were working,
it went on for two minutes. Try just watching birds some time.
March 30 ~ More fog mist drizzle which keeps the native
vegetation and habitat in great shape, but doesn't count
as precipitation as far as alleged drought goes which only
measures rainfall in relation to mans activities. It does
not measure biological or physical useable moisture presence.
With our friends Sam and Nancy Golden from Fredericksburg,
at UP we saw a pair of Green Kingfisher, Lincoln's Sparrows
and a group of 30 Swainson's Hawks lifted off from nearby.
Someone camping at UP caught a nearly 2' 20 lb. FLATHEAD Catfish!
I got photos to document this double-ugly species presence here.
At SR were 3 or 4 Clay-colored Sparrow in with 135 Chipping,
a Caracara, 10 Swainson's Hawks, and continuing wintering
Orange-crowned Warbler. Probably migrants were Ruby-crowned
Kinglet, and a Hermit Thrush, since the locals haven't been
around for a week or more. Barn Owls after dark.
March 29 ~ 3 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers was the most for a day
so for this spring at SR, and they have just been one or two
every other day or so the last 10 days. Lincoln's Sparrows
still at the seed, and 2 Siskins on the sunflower tube.
The Black-tailed Jackrabbit was out front briefly this a.m..
What a beast compared to the dinky Eastern Cottontails.
At UP there were Green Kingfisher, 2 Pied-billed Grebe still,
and 2 ducks flew over that looked like Ring-necks.
Wintering Kestrel still here at SR. Fog mist drizzle in a.m.
March 28 ~ Wintering Ornge-crowned Warbler continues on
the peanuts. 3 Siskins still here too. Clay-colored
still with Chippies, but no sign of the Brewer's.
FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatchers at the north end of town.
Common Grackles around town. Best sighting of the day
was out the office window, a Black-tailed Jackrabbit at 15'.
March 27 ~ Stunning was a BREWER'S SPARROW right out
the office window which I got binocs on for a minute,
at 12' distance. Good yard bird. Only my second or
so for Utopia or Sabinal Valley. One Clay-colored in
the p.m. with 125 Chippies made for a 3 species of Spizella
day. The wintering ad.male Kestrel continues.
March 26 ~ FOS ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was
the earliest in 5 years. NO Juncos. About 1/2 way down
SR was a flock of 100+ Brown-headed Cowbird and 2 dozen
Common Grackles. Barn Owl after dark.
March 25 ~ Henric's Elfin out front at SR.
March 24 ~ Two Pied-billed Grebe continue at UP, but
unusual was a Ring-necked Duck there, probably an imm. male.
2 non-ad.male Junco still at SR.
March 23 ~ Front hit again, low 54 and high 60, 25 MPH,
about .5" rain. FOS local Yellow-throated Warbler at UP.
A dozen Red-winged Blackbirds flew over SR in the a.m..
The imm. male Common Yellowthroat continues at the
island at the north end of UP. Green Kingfishers at UP.
Chipping sparrow flock here at the hovel now 150 birds.
(ca. 2.5" for mo. + fog/mist which is unmeasured precip.)
March 22 ~ Interesting getting off the hill for a day, and
seeing down in the brushlands 7 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers,
waiting for it to get warm enough to come up here still.
Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo were singing at Concan,
around Neal's Lodges. There is still a flock of Green Jays
being seen there, perhaps a dozen, but we didn't get lucky.
We did see Field, Clay-colored, Chipping, White-crowned,
Lark, and Black-throated Sparrows, plus Verdin, at the feeding
area behind Neal's Store. Always a great stop ! Bell's
Vireos were not back yet. A Powdered Skipper (Systasea)
was near Cabin 61.
At Ft. Inge there were a few pairs of Green Jays. Maybe they
will nest this year !?! It is late for them, having only been
regular as winterers here for 4 years now. There were also
a pair of Great Kiskadee fishing. No Couch's Kingbird yet.
March 21 ~ Another Monarch at SR, and a nice male Vermilion
Flycatcher on the power line. Today's FOS was Clay-colored
Sparrow at SR late in the p.m..
March 20 ~ IT IS SPRING !! FOS Texan Crescent (butterfly) at SR.
5 Siskin and 3 Junco is winter winding down. Some have left.
March 19 ~ 2nd Monarch, at UP. No Scissor-tails in town yet.
Still 7 Pine Siskin and 3 American Goldfinch, and some Cedar Waxwings.
March 18 ~ fogmistdrizzle in a.m. and wind in p.m. Low of 64 (!) in
a.m. peaked at 70 at noon, then dropped all afternoon with frontal
passage and maybe a quarter inch of rain giving a March total of
about 2" here. By midnight it was 40-50 MPH post frontal gusts !!
7 Pine Siskin still at the sunflower tube. Two adult male
Slate-colored Juncos continue, 1 pearl gray, 1 nearly black.
March 17 ~ There were two blue FOS's today, a Reakirt's Blue butterfly
was my first blue of the year here, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was the
first one of them I've seen this year. An adult female Black-and-White
Warbler was in the yard today. some winterers continue like the peanut
loving Orange-crowned Warbler, some Juncos, but I think the 4-5 yard
Hermit Thrush have largely departed. 12 Cranes flew over mid-day.
March 16 ~ The adult male Scott's Oriole gave a few bursts of
normal regular song this morning between sugar water raids.
The adult White-crowned sparrow is still here at the SR seed pile,
now present 2 weeks, a first here at the hovel. There are some
more across from the dump in the Texas Holly etc., along the fence.
Around town the sound of singing Red-winged Blackbirds echoed
for the first time this spring, with a few dozen scattered around.
Also loosley associated with them were about a dozen Common Grackle
(spring migrants) and a dozen Starling (returning breeders).
We went up to 1050 pass again to check and see if Golden-cheeked
Warblers were back here yet, and we did hear a couple singing.
We also heard a Black-and-White Warbler singing at the crest,
an Ash-throated Flycatcher, and its a good spot for Bushtit.
At UP there was the continuing Common Yellowthroat, a nice
female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Brown Creeper, Black Phoebe,
Blue Jay, Green & Belted Kingfishers, and Purple Martins.
In the butterfly department there was a FOS Pearl Crescent at SR.
There was a Merlin zipping around just south of town, and I
do mean zipping, it was doing 60 MPH+ easily. Absolutely
amazing was just before 7 p.m. at SR when I spotted a couple
unusual looking raptors soaring over the knoll, coming right at me.
Grabbed binocs and wife (in that order), and watched a pair of
PRAIRIE FALCONS slowly drift overhead. Incredibly the or another
MERLIN shot by beneath them while they were straight overhead!
Prairie Falcon is new for my Sabinal Valley area list (and
Uvalde Co. for that matter), the first I've seen in 4 1/2 years here.
March 15 ~ I refound the Common Yellowthroat at UP today. It was
an immature (SY) male, but I couldn't detect anything unusual about it.
It was gray margined of mask, and restricted of yellow on breast.
Also odd there was a migrant Golden-crowned Kinglet, of which there
haven't been any around lately, and Robins were singing.
A fair number (2-300) of Waxwings are working the Ligustrum around town.
Vermilion Flycatcher males are more numerous now too. One may see
a few easily, while driving around now. More Barn Swallows back too.
A number of Baskettails (Epitheca sps.) (cf.Dot-winged) are flying at UP.
March 14 ~ Late in the afternoon an adult male SCOTT'S ORIOLE
was outside here at SR. It gave just a quiet 4-note butdidedo once.
In the morning I had the FOS Ash-throated Flycatcher this year.
Also today was the FOS Arizona Sister butterfly. A SY (second year)
male Audubon's Warbler briefly stopped in a live oak out back
while I was looking in it. There were strong westerly winds
with desert heat all day, it was a scorching 91 deg. F here !
Hottest since last September I think. And still winterers like
Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, and Slate-colored Junco continue.
March 13 ~ Astounding was a FOS Common Yellowthroat I heard a UP,
(which I saw two days later the 15th). My migration dates for
them here are in April. There was also a FOS Black-and-White
Warbler there, and a single group of 6 Blue Jays, plus the
regular Black Phoebe and Green Kingfisher and 2 Pied-billed Grebes.
At SR late in the afternoon I thought sure I heard the "eng eng"
of a Scott's Oriole. At 6 p.m. was the FOS Red Satyr (butterfly)
for the year.
March 12 ~ Ruby-crowned Kinglet still outside, Chihuahuan Ravens,
but new was an Inca Dove singing. A couple FOS butterflies were
seen in the afternoon, a MONARCH that seemed large and pale, and
on the move. There was also a FOS Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
There's a real sign of spring, a big black and yellow butterfly!
A worn beatup winter form Question Mark was sunning late today.
Still Green Jays being reported from Neal's Lodges area of Concan.
March 11 ~ The regulars at the hovel on SR: Chihuahuan Raven,
Caracara, the adult White-crowned Sparrow, the Lincoln's,
the pair of Common Ground-Dove, and now I would say about
6 male and at least 3 female Black-chinned Hummingbirds present.
A FOS flock of Red-winged Blackbirds flew over northbound at dusk.
A couple Poor-wills called after dark.
Rhandy Helton from Junction reported from Lost Maples SNA
3 Golden-cheeked Warblers but "mostly still winter birds".
Others had reported the warblers back March 9 or so.
Rhandy also reported a Least Flycatcher up Can Creek,
far too early for a migrant, surely a winterer, at which time
any Empidonax on the Edwards Plateau is virtually unheard of,
and should be thoroughly documented, as something unusual is
a distinct possibility, and identification is difficult at best.
I'd give a dollar to see this bird.
March 10 ~ The big news today was our first good rain in months.
A nice slow soaker of about 1.2 inches, just what flowers need.
In town was the FOS STARLING, 4 of 'em. Funny to have them
be a non-resident species, and nearly get excited seeing them
return. A juvenile White-crowned Sparrow was in town, a migrant.
The adult continues at our SR seed pile. The pair of Ground-Doves
contnues around the yard. Ruby-crowned Kinglets were at SR and UP.
Lincoln's Sparrow still at SR, as is a wintering Mocker. After
dark Barn Owl was again heard going over northbound.
March 9 ~ We again checked the 1050 pass for Golden-cheeked Warblers
and again found none. Again Hutton's Vireo was singing there, as
was a White-eyed, Bushtit, Scrub-Jay, and over the pass a Common Raven
again soared and called. There were 27 Green-winged Teal at the
Bear Creek Pond before the pass. SR Chippy flock is 300.
March 8 ~ Wind stopped last night, and surprise surprise, it froze.
Watch what you wish for. It was 21 in Junction, 23 in Kerrville,
and probably about 25 or so hereabouts Utopia. The first FEMALE
Black-chinned Hummingbird I've seen this year showed up today.
There was a Pine Siskin that sang its rising zzzzzzeeeeshhh song.
6 American Goldfinch were at the sunflower tubes.
March 7 ~ Wind still blowing, blew all day till sundown 20-30 MPH.
The White-crowned Sparrow is still here, 5 days now. There are a
few male Black-chinned Hummingbirds around now. A dozen Turkey Vultures
make it not look like winter, since they are absent then.
March 6 ~ Frontal passage at sunup brought a little tiny bit of
drizzle, and a lot of wind, 25-35 MPH all day, and all night.
March 5 ~ A pair of Green Kingfisher were at UP. The main thing
was 4 FOS butterflies today at SR: Queen, Bordered Patch, Lyside
Sulphur, and Little Yellow. White-crowned Sparrow still here.
At least one more male Black-chinned Hummingbird has shown up.
March 4 ~ The FOS of the day was Northern Rough-winged Swallow at UP.
Also there were Barn Swallow and Purple Martin making it seem more
like winter is ending soon. There was also singing White-eyed Vireo,
a Pied-billed Grebe still there, and Blue Jay and Black Phoebe.
March 3 ~ One of the Scrub-Jays is lucky to be alive after just
being missed by an adult female Cooper's Hawk. Clearly a migrant
since it hasn't been here was an adult White-crowned Sparrow.
Chipping Sparrow Flock is about 275. Couple Fields.
March 2 ~ Forktail damselflies (Ischnura) were emerging at UP, and a
couple Baskettail (Epitheca) dragonflies were flying there too.
Vouchered a couple trout for my scientific reasearch into their flavor.
Kathy counted 30 Cardinals at once out back before dark. The flock
will break up soon and some males are already getting testy shall we say.
March 1 ~ The big FOS for the day was a male Black-chinned Hummingbird!
Up at the 1050 pass about 5 miles west of town, there was a singing
Hutton's Vireo in good breeding habitat, and a Common Raven flying
high overhead, calling. From foothills to the valley floor, the Ravens
are Chihuahuan, and up on the divides where there are cliff faces,
they are Common. Ecological seperation it is called. The Bear Creek
Pond had a Great Blue Heron and a couple Killdeer. After dark
there was another FOS, two different what seemed to be northbound
Barn Owls passed over calling, a couple hours apart.
Feb. 29 ~ Well a big bonus day today, a chance to get things for
February that only comes every four years. The FOS birds today were
Barn Swallows (a pair in town), Vermilion Flycatchers (a couple around),
and after dark on SR, Poor-will calling. I'm not sure they leave,
but they do shut up all winter. They may hibernate here, as
excellent habitat for such is abundant locally (rock crevices).
Down in Uvalde there is a world of difference with numbers of
damselflies, and dragonflies out, quite unlike up here on the hill.
There were also migrant sandpipers at the fish hatchery: Solitary,
Spotted, and Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs and Wilson's Snipe.
Also there were lots of Red Saddlebags flying, and a female Widow Skimmer.
A Cactus Wren is singing from a Washington Palm in the parking lot at Oasis,
just east of the entrance, and will probably nest there. Violet and
Blue-ringed Dancers were at the City Park. The City Park on Hwy. 90
has been much improved by the removal of the feral pet ducks and geese.
The water is cleaner and native birds are coming back, as well as the
fish (which eat mosquito larvae), and aquatic plants, besides the
shore not being eaten to dirt mud. Much nicer !!
Feb 27 ~ After the wind stopped last night, it got cold of course.
A toasty 23 deg.F this morning, and of course the Audubon's Orioles
spent hours at the peanuts and sugar water today. They even sparred
with open bills at each other on the peanuts once. Wintering birds
still in the yard included a Lincoln's Sparrow, a Mockingbird,
at least 4 Juncos still, 3+ Hermit Thrush, and a few American Goldfinch
and Pine Siskin are still hitting the sunflower tubes.
Feb. 26 ~ The FOS Lesser Goldfinch spring arrivals were at the sunflower
tubes today. A flock of 25 Brown-headed Cowbirds were an FOS at SR.
Blew all day today 25-35 MPH. Counted 15 male Cardinals at once out back.
Feb. 25 ~ An amazing high of about 92 deg.F today made it feel a lot
like spring is coming. The main FOS of the day was a dragonfly at SR,
an Epitheca sps. Baskettail (probably Dot-winged). At noon a flock of
90 Sandhill Crane flew N. up valley. A couple Snouts were about.
The Hutton's Vireo that has been wintering is singing heavilly.
A front passed after dark with 25 MPH gusting to 35 !!
Feb. 24 ~ A FOS female Goatweed Leafwing showed up, and the male was
around too. Both Duskywings again, and a Red Admiral.
We've been spraying water every couple hours to wet some caliche,
grass, cut stumps, etc., and the smell really brings in the
butterflies when there are no flowers and imbibing minerals is critical.
The Desert Checkered-Skipper is still about the yard.
Feb. 23 ~ The male Leafwing and the Duskywings were around again today.
The FOS was an American Lady. A couple flocks of Sandhill Crane
passed over going north about mid-morning, totalling 175 birds.
Another teneral damselfly at UP was a Bluet (Enallagma) of some sort.
Feb. 22 ~ More FOS butterflies popping in the continued warm spell.
Today's FOS's were: Goatweed Leafwing, Horace's and Funereal Duskywings,
and amazingly, a Desert Checkered-Skipper, surely from last years invasion.
Most of yesterdays stuff was seen again too. Weewow, lots of leps !
Caracara and Chihuahuan Raven again about outside at SR.
AT UP was a teneral (just emerged) Double-striped Bluet (E. basidens).
Feb. 21 ~ So we are 2 out of 3 months through official calendar winter.
And it was 80 deg. F again today. I consider the first day of spring
the first day there is a massive insect emergence. Today was that day
locally, this year. Feb. 1-20 I saw about 20 total butterflies, of
12 species. Feb. 21 I saw about 20 butterflies, of 11 species, many of
which were fresh emergences (FOS). Spring sprang. Also other first
of season insects were a humongous XXL Bumble Bee, and a Dragonfly
that looked like a Marl Pennant, and a Cerambycid (Long-horned Beetle).
The Butterfly show today was the story though. A Black Swallowtail,
and the FOS Giant Swallowtail were nice. A few Cloudless Sulphurs, and
a couple Sleepy Orange, The 3 Variegated Frits were still here, and
2 fresh Gulf Frits were out. The FOS Gray Hairstreak and FOS Buckeye
showed. There was also a couple Dogface. The highlight however I
missed, but Kathy photographed, a Rounded Metalmark (Calephelis perditalis).
Surely the earliest record here. Purple Martin again overhead.
Feb. 20 ~ The FOS fresh Pipevine Swallowtail flew by today. I'd seen a
beat worn leftover winterer a while back. This a new season emergence.
Hutton's Vireo still singing lots. A blue sky hole in the solid low clouds
passed over and in it, in a few minutes was a Caracara, Cooper's Hawk,
Northern Harrier, and a Zone-tailed Hawk. The FOS Sphinx moth was
out front but I couldn't ID it in flight. Unfortunately for viewing
pleasure, the eclipse was mostly obscured by clouds.
Feb. 19 ~ Spring is coming: the FOS Purple Martin was over SR today.
Maybe some had some earlier, but it was my first this year.
The Hutton's Vireo is singing lots, and the Eastern Phoebe
did its first flight song of the year. Otherwise just regulars:
American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Chihuahuan Raven, and the Sharpy.
Feb. 18 ~ Twice heard a quick White-eyed Vireo call at UP, a bit early.
There was a pair of Green Kingfisher there, and no Odes still. The
Great Blue Heron and Belted Kingfishers of the past few weeks continue
as does the Pine Warbler. Kathy saw the Sharpy get an adult male Cardinal
here at the hovel today. White-fronted Geese flying north after dark.
Feb. 17 ~ A couple Audubon's Orioles raided the peanuts and hummer feeder.
Same 3 Variegated Fritillary and Sleepy Orange at SR yard. Kathy had
TWO Turkey Vultures today, presumedly a second bird has showed up, ON TIME!
A half mile of the Sabinal above UP had no Odes (dragon or damselflies).
Still waiting for the first emergences of them this season.
Feb 16 ~ A cool day with chills in the mid-30's (deg.F) and a 1/2" of rain.
At SR was a couple Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch and 15 Waxwing.
Feb. 15 ~ Chippy flock in SR yard is about 250 birds now. The immature
Sharp-shinned Hawk is daily as well. The Lark Sparrow flock is still
midway on SR. The TV is still waiting for others to show up.
The biggest flock of Waxwings this winter so far, about 500 was in town.
First emergence of the big yellow mayfly today at UP. Bat at UP.
Feb. 14 ~ FOS singing from Rufous-crowned Sparrow. 2 pairs of Chihuahuan
Raven, appeared to be one pair chasing off another pair.
Feb. 13 ~ 2 Snouts were about. Plus 3 Varieg. Frit, and Sleepy Orange still.
Feb. 12 ~ BFLY: the FOS Snout was about.
Feb. 11 ~ A flock of 15+ Lark Sparrow on SR was clearly spring migrants,
since no such thing has been present all winter. I counted 22 House Finch
at once here at the SR sunflower trough.
Feb. 10 ~ About 300 White-fronted Goose were going north in the morning.
The early bird Turkey Vulture is still around town. Down at La Jita
there was a FOS Black Swallowtail. Steve and Sylvia Hilbig on W.Sabinal Rd.
reported from there place today the FOS local Zone-tailed Hawk this "spring",
a Long-billed Thrasher, and a Brown Creeper.
Feb. 9 ~ Saw yesterday's Elfin again in the yard. A number of Dogfaces were
about and one FOS Checkered White was at UP. The Pine Warbler continues
above the park too. Was an amazing 80 deg.F today.
Feb. 8 ~ BFLYS: A Henric's Elfin was around today, the FOS.
Feb. 7 ~ Bflys: the FOS Olive Juniper Hairstreak was out back today (ph.).
Feb. 6 ~ Butterfly news: The FOS Skipper, a Fiery was in the front yard (SR).
Feb. 5 ~ Some butterflies were: 3 Variegated Fritillary and a Sleepy Orange
One flower popped up, the first of the year, a yellow composite, I think they
call Cowpen Daisy. The Turkey Vulture that came back over 2 weeks early was
still around. In town at someone's thistle sock feeder was a male and 2 female
Lesser Goldfinch. Almost 3 weeks earlier than normal local returns, and probably
overwintering birds, due to an un-natural food source not present before.
They do normally winter north of us in Kerr Co. for instance, but ONLY where
the artificial food source of a thistle sock is present. Was very warm until
a front blew through in the afternoon with gusts to 35 and 45 MPH.
Feb. 3 ~ At SR in the yard were some more fresh-hatched butterflies
including a Question mark, a Red Admiral, and a female So. Dogface.
Another female Dogface was at UP. Amazing at UP was a BAT flying around
in the heat of the afternoon, perhaps its tree hole got too hot.
It was feeding on Mayflies. First one I've seen here in winter.
Also a damselfly was at the pond at UP. A Bluet (Enallagma speices)
flew by me while I was in the raft. The first time I've seen a Bluet
here in February. Unbelievable was the 80 deg.F high temps today!
Feb. 2 ~ Osprey, Green and Belted Kingfisher, Great
Blue Heron, all outfishing me at UP. Here at SR the
Audubon's ad. female and immature came by and ate peanuts,
drank sugar water, and bathed. The two males were here a
couple days ago. Amazing at UP was a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly,
the first I've seen in months, another likely mishatch due to heat.
Kathy had four calling Chihuahuan Ravens here at SR.
They too are singing nearly daily now, like many resident species.
KEEP YOUR EYES OUT FOR GREEN JAYS !! PLEASE LET ME KNOW
IF YOU HAVE ANY AROUND UTOPIA. THEY HAVE INVADED NORTHWARD
THIS YEAR, WITH REPORTS OF FLOCKS OR SMALL GROUPS FROM
BANDERA, LEAKEY, CONCAN, NEAR GARNER, AND SO ON.
There almost have to be some along the Sabinal up here too!
I'd love to hear about any local sightings!
To summarize the butterflies for January there were
7 individuals of 6 species, the lowest in 5 Januarys,
to be expected for the coldest one in same 5 years.
To summarize the dragonflies, in the yard there was a (the?)
Variegated Meadowhawk on Jan. 7. That was it!
Jan. 31 ~ A front passed with gusts to 45 mph !! Chihuahuan
Raven singing again. Amazing was another butterfly for the
month: a Variegated Fritillary in the yard.
Jan. 30 ~ At SR were 50 White-winged Dove and 10 Eurasian
Collared-Dove. Collared's are resident, the White-wings
are increasing from spring arrivals. The Lincoln's Sparrow
wintering around the yard is still about. Most surprising
was a large fresh Cloudless Sulphur, likely another mishatch.
Jan. 28 ~ Hutton's Vireo giving long bouts of singing at SR.
Jan. 27 ~ Probably fooled by the heat was a flock fo 200
White-fronted Goose flying north over SR early in the a.m..
They'll wonder what they were thinking in a couple days.
Green and Belted Kingfishers continue at UP as does the
Great Blue Heron. Most unusual there was a Turkey Vulture
which is quite rare here in winter. Perhaps my second one.
Chihuahuan Raven, Hutton's Vireo and Pine Siskin, at SR.
Jan. 26 ~ Scrub-Jay carrying sticks to last years nest area.
At UP was a Green Kingfisher, and even more amazing was upriver
a bit, getting BIT BY MOSQUITOES !! Gadzooks in January !!
The Yellow-shafted Flicker is still roosting in the cypress in
the river, and the hybrid Red-winged Flicker is still about too.
Amazing in the 75 degree heat was seeing 3 butterflies. The
wintering American Lady came out, as did a Sleepy Orange.
A probable mis-hatch due to heat was a small fresh Gulf Fritillary.
Jan. 25 ~ On Hwy 16 north of Medina at a pond along the road is
a beautiful pair of Whooper Swans someone bought. Most of their
natural range is in Siberia. There is also still a pair of Mute
Swans at the Love Creek pond on 337 10 miles east of Vanderpool.
These are not countable birds, since they are domestic.
Jan. 24 ~ Just the regulars: Field Sparrow, Hutton's Vireo,
few American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin, Chihuahuan Raven.
Jan. 23 ~ After dark I heard a small group of ducks fly over SR in
the fog; not teal or Athya and probably Gadwall based on wing beats.
Jan. 22 ~ Here at SR Hutton's Vireo and Spotted Towhee. Lots of
spring singing has begun by residents: Titmouse, Chickadee,
Cardinal and Bewick's Wren, plus Chihuahuan Raven.
At the hackberries along Cypress St. just outside UP
there were 125 Cedar Waxwing and 30 Eastern Bluebird.
Jan. 21 ~ Counted 20 Cardinal on the ground at once out back,
10 are adult males. White-winged Doves increasing, now 25 here at SR.
Jan. 20 ~ Chihuahuan Raven buzzing a Black Vulture over SR was
turning upside-down right under the vulture as it shot past at
high speed, a half-dozen times ! Lows were in the teens !!
Jan. 19 ~ At UP there was a Canyon Wren again in the giant Cypress
at the north end up by the island. A Pine Warbler was in the same
tree at the same time. Tough combo to get in one tree at same time!
2 Pied-billed Grebes still, but one is below the dam for a week now,
must have been asleep and drifted over the spillway.
Jan. 18 ~ Two sparrow species that are around 11 months a year, but were
AWOL the couple weeks around the count were both in the yard today ! Ouch !
Seemingly the same single Lark and Rufous-crowned Sparrows were around
seemingly just like always, except for showing around the count week.
Common Ground-Dove still around, as are a half-dozen Junco (Slate-colored).
Jan. 17 ~ Woke up to 18 deg. F chill factors for saying that yesterday.
Audubon's Orioles at the peanuts. 150+ Chipping Sparrows and 1 Field.
6-12 each Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch.
Jan. 16 ~ Broke a sweat working in a toasty 62 deg. F in the afternoon!
Had an immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker out front let me get it in the
scope for a few pictures. House Finch singing.
Jan 14 ~ I must say there was a significant increase in song the last week.
I heard a few of the year-round resident species sing their first bits of
real songs since the stoppage last fall: Cardinal, Titmouse, Bewick's Wren,
Chickadee all sang their true songs, not just calls or other vocalizations.
Despite the temperatures, they must be thrilled the days are getting longer.
A Great Blue Heron was at UP, first in weeks here.
Jan 13 ~ A very beat and worn American Lady (butterfly) was about. It must be
the one that had been around before the cold, but its been two weeks or so!
Jan. 11 ~ Roadrunner has begun bill clacking.... been many months.
Ground-Dove still around, and 2 Audubon's Orioles raided the peanuts
and sugar water. A Cooper's Hawk missed the Mourning Doves.
Jan. 9 ~ We again saw that pilferer, the Osprey, flying north out of
town with ANOTHER Rainbow Trout in his talons. How am I supposed to
catch any with this? I can't compete with an Osprey!   :)
For something completely different we went up to the historical
Eagle Roost along the Guadalupe River. It is on 1340 between
Hwys. 39 and 41. I hear you go late in the afternoon, and sit and
wait for them to come in and roost. We saw one adult on the way
sitting on a rock in the river at a crossing on 39. The roost area
is big trees along a cliff-face at the Boneyard Crossing, I think
about 14 miles west from 39 in Hunt, on 1340. There is a brown roadrunner
observation area sign at the east end of the bridge, just off the road.
Park and wait, watching the skies and scan the cliff face.
None came in while we were there but a pair was sitting in a tree
when we got there and stayed the whole time. A telescope is best
for close views of perched birds preening etc.. Nice sunset too.
I don't know the best time of year but Jan./Feb. should be it, and
I'm sure it varies year to year how many are present.
Jan. 7 ~ In the yard at SR was a Variegated Meadowhawk dragonfly,
fairly beat up, and progably one that has been here, that made it
though some pretty cold stuff! Also a Sleepy Orange was about.
The bath was jumpin' with 2 each Orange-crowned Warblers and
Ruby-crowned Kinglets, plus the Hutton's Vireo!
Jan. 6 ~ You always go look around the day after a count to see the
silly things that wouldn't come out on the count day for you, since
you still get three days after, for count week. The first thing
we missed yesterday that we saw today, was 2 Killdeer at the pond on SR,
at the top far end of where 357A loops to 357. Then down at the
field by the park were Meadowlarks all over the place, Westerns.
And over on 355 I saw and heard a Verdin, for 3 species not seen
yesterday. Also saw Lark Sparrows just outside the circle, so they
don't count. One Dogface was seen, the third butterfly of the year.
Jan. 5 ~ Today we did our annual Winter Bird Count. We use the same
format as the well known Christmas Bird Counts of the Audubon Society.
15 mile diameter circle, 24 hours, consistent (similar) coverage each
year so results are comparable. So as long as we use just ourselves,
the results of our yearly winter-day spot-count, are comparable. IF we got
20 people to also survey, the numbers would not be comparable to the
years just 2 people did it. Anyway, our circle covers the north end
of the Sabinal Valley, from the town of Utopia to Lost Maples SNA.
We'll soon put up the totals on the bird count page. Some of the highlights
were an Osprey with a Rainbow Trout in its talons, plucked from the pond
at the park. A male Pyrrhuloxia was on Lee St.. A male Red-naped
Sapsucker was at UP, and was one of SIX sapsuckers seen today.
At the county line bridge (356) there was a small flock of landbirds
that had a Red-breasted Nuthatch and a Pine Warbler Kathy spotted in it.
The highlight though was an adult GOLDEN EAGLE soaring along 187, about
a mile south of the entrance to Lost Maples. What a beauty !!
Did I mention that another reason for forcing yourself to go out and
have a look around, even if under the guise that you have to count and record
every bird, will always turn up some very interesting and exciting observations?
I kept going out trying to hear owls after dark (you have till midnight)
but got nothing for sure. Chickadees were whistling their song today.
We ended up with about 67 species for the day, average, and missed a dozen
that are known to be present and regularly seen (like Turkey, etc.).
Jan. 4 ~ At SR from porch was the usual: Caracara, Chihuahuan Raven,
and a Northern Harrier for spice. Tomorrow is the 5th annual count day,
so this and the last two days are the 3 count week days prior to the count
that you get, just in case we miss something on the day itself (easy to do).
Jan. 3 ~ Two male Audubon's Orioles came by to raid the food spread,
making at least FOUR around, since the other "pair" is an adult female
and an immature (AHY - after hatch year - as of two days ago). The
male of the local SR pair of Red-shouldered Hawks put on an astounding
display flight for over 5 minutes over the female, right overhead here.
It left no doubt how they can catch all the various types of prey
they take, from frogs to birds. Also in the evening I saw two of
the Quandrantid meteors, but couldn't stay up to see the main shower.
Very very bright blue white not too fast with nice long silver train (trail).
Jan. 2 ~ Probably the coldest morning of the year, or in a year, so far,
it was 18 deg.F in town (Utopia), and at Kerrville, and some of the valleys
around recorded 11 deg.F such as at Junction and near Comfort !! We
were probably 20 up here on SR always a bit warmer than the valley floor.
Three Caracara were at SR, as was a Sleepy Orange, the second butterfly
of the year. I actually considered doing our annual New Years Bird Count
earlier than the planned Jan. 5, so as to be able to count the surely deceased
Broad-tailed Hummingbird for count week (3 days before and after count day).
His last day was Dec. 31, so we'd have to do the count by Jan. 3. Too busy.
JANUARY 1 ~ HAPPY NEW YEAR !! Happy new birds! If you keep "year" lists,
of species seen in the year, it's all new today. Last years lists can be
tallied up and compared to previous years' lists, with the interest being
in both what is different each year, as well as what is the same. I often
keep such lists for "butterflies or dragonflies around Utopia," or "birds
in the Sabinal River Valley" (Lost Maples to Clayton Grade), or birds in
Uvalde County for instance. They can become quite informative over the years.
Since it was cold and windy which makes finding land birds both more
difficult and uncomfortable we worked around the house watching the yard.
I saw 23 species with most of the regulars like Audubon's Oriole,
Ground-Dove, Chihuahuan Raven, Field Sparrow, 4 Slate-colored Junco,
150+ Chipping Sparrow and the 2 Orange-crowned Warblers addicted to peanut
butter and peanuts. BUT, the TRAGEDY of the day was the non-appearance
of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. Something happened. It has been here
daily since Sept. 27, and is a returning winterer which stayed till April
last year. The bird is dead. Screech-Owl? Cat? It flew off every
evening just as last year, to the east, gaining altitude, so going for a
good distance, to wherever it spent the rest of its time and roosted.
It's gone. It was freezing this morning and would have been here at sunup.
I monitored the feeder all day, since I wasn't seeing it. It never showed.
This is much much worse than being stood up. Our friend has expired.
The lone butterfly of the day was the American Lady that has been around,
and I was surprised to not see the Red Admiral that had been here. It too
must have expired last night, if not gone into hibernation. Let you know if
I see it again.
THAT'S ALL FOR 2007 FOLKS !!
Bird News Archive XII|
June 1 - Dec. 31, 2009
Bird News Archive XI|
January 1 - May 31, 2009
Bird News Archive X|
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2008
Bird News Archive IX|
Jan. 1- June 30, '08
Bird News Archive VIII|
July - Dec. 31, '07
Bird News Archive VII|
Jan. 1 - June 30, '07
Bird News Archive VI|
July - Dec. 31, '06
Bird News Archive V|
Jan. - June 30, '06
Bird News Archive IV|
July - Dec. 31, '05
Bird News Archive III|
Jan. - June 30, '05
Bird News Archive II|
June - Dec. 31, '04
Bird News Archive I|
and Mar. 31-May 30,'04
Current Bird News
Reports from Lost Maples
Winter Bird Count
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