Current Bird (and nature) News
Rufous-capped Warbler

Rufous-capped Warbler - Basileuterus rufifrons jouyi
at Neal's Lodge, Concan TX, March '06


MOST RECENT UPDATE: June 18, 2021
(prior updates: June 11, 4, May 28, 21, 14, 7, April 30, 23, 16, 9, 2, March 26, 19, 12, 5, 2021)


   ** SPECIAL NOTICE **

*** Lost Maples and Garner St. Pk. are open for day use and
    limited camping; advance reservations advised.
    See the park, or TPWD, websites for details.

~ ~ ~

FOS - first of season - for the first one back.

First a short version of highlights of the month as we go.

June! Rain on the 1st and 3rd is a good sign and start. It is high breeding season here now, the next month everything will try to go again. Dawn chorus is early, starting before 6:30 a.m. if you want to hear it. Fireflies are finally starting to show well and my FOS Katydids were on June 4. Two Tropical Parula were at Lost Maples June 6 on the ponds trail. Lots of Golden-cheeked Warbler families are showing well now too. All sorts of stuff with babies out now which can make finding things easy. Skeeters and heat are out in force now too.

OMG it is May! On the first there was 3" of rain, and 2 BLACK SWIFT to get the month going. Also saw my FOS Cattle Egret the 1st. The 2nd was my FOS Cliff Swallow and Olive-sided Flycatcher. The FOS Common Nighthawk was May 3, another male Am. Redstart that day as well. On May 4 a FOS male Rose-breasted Grosbeak sang in our yard, another here on May 6. Astounding was a SWAINSON'S WARBLER at Utopia Pk. on May 5. Also May 5, 22 Baird's Sandpiper and 17 Wilson's Phalarope at the W. Sabinal Rd. ponds were great. My FOS Green Heron was May 7. There was a Green-tailed Towhee and a couple Tropical Parula reported recently at Lost Maples. The Northern Parula continue nesting at Utopia Park May 7. Another Northern and a pair of TROPICAL Parula are near Jones Cmty. on that road May 9, as was a FOS Mourning Warbler. A female Merlin was tardy on May 11. May 14 there were FOS Swainson's Thrush, Eastern Kingbird, and Pectoral Sandpiper locally. UPDATE: There were 3 peeps with the Pectoral which after studying the pixels were WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, as I thought at the time. May 16 there was a KENTUCKY Warbler in our yard briefly, a couple Harris's Hawk on Jones Cmty. Rd., where Northern and Tropical Parula continue. The wet spot by Haby's on W. Sabinal Rd. had two White-faced Ibis and a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was in our yard, both also the 16th as well. Another Tropical Parula (third different) was at the county line bridge crossing just NW of town May 21. OMG you can buy beer and wine in town now! A COMET Darner dragonfly at the Waresville golf course pond May 30 is very rare bug here.

~ ~ ~

splish splash I was takin' a bath!

male Golden-cheeked Warbler



This page has the current bird and nature news from the area around Utopia, the Sabinal River Valley (SRV), and occasionally elsewhere in the area, such as Uvalde, Concan, Lost Maples, etc. Often unusual sightings will be in CAPS. There will also be occasional mention of butterfly (lep) or dragonfly (ode) sightings when they are out and about. Or anything natural history of interest, bats to beetles.

In general for current Lost Maples sightings ebird seems to be the place most folks put them. Go to ebird and search Lost Maples SNA in Bandera Co., Texas. Same for Garner St. Pk. but which is in Uvalde County. Often reports there do not include specifics about where a bird was seen though. There is a Lost Maples reports page here on the site, but which is not often real useful for the latest current news. There is a report in the news below for March 19, 2021.

Pro Tip: Ignore the ebird Chihuahuan Raven reports at Lost Maples, they are mis-ID'd Common Ravens which are common residents. You would think with so many reports, ONE could be proven. Guess again.

A quick note about Utopia Park. There have been some changes in management and rules. It is now $10 per person per day to enter No charge for Utopia or Vanderpool residents. Been gently suggesting we need a one hour or two hour birder rate. They are receptive to the idea but no action yet on it.

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll or read UP day-to-day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way. For repeat offenders there is a link just below to jump straight to newest update. There is a broken line of tildes (~) to denote prior update breaks, usually with a photo to make it easy to spot. Sometimes the 'quick take' highlights header above is archived within body of news as well since it changes. Seperated by tildes as well, as are monthly summaries.

For visiting cell phone users, often only AT&T works here, or Concan, and many local areas Sabinal to Leakey, etc. Often around Hwys. 10 or 90 (Hondo, Uvalde) you can get other signals. Then wi-fi is available at the Utopia Library, the store in Vanderpool had a sign saying they have it there too. State Park headquarters may have it? Don't tell them I told you.   ;)

Please holler if you see something good locally! THANKS!  :)  (local 830 Utopia landline WON~2349)
E-dress clickably linked at bottom of most pages: mitchATutopianatureDOTcom

Note on navbar at top of this page and the home page, and somewhere around the chat picture below is a link to a new LINKS page that is a quick handy way outta here. Who loves ya baby? It is a collection of some of the links I will publicly admit to using, though a couple with no small amount of trepidation. Space, weather, bugs, birds, blogs, bird cams, and other stuff...   Enjoy!



I have been fairly good for a few years now about posting the weekly update Friday evenings. Since night life is so exciting here. Usually this is just minor local (often yard) notes from nearly every day. Some daily or near-daily notes of what is going on with birds, or butterflies, dragonflies, fish, flowers, reptiles, triops, cerambycids, buprestids, bombyliads, and so on. Anything might get mentioned. Usually just yard notes. Unless you got to be stationed at the park all day, one site of observation locally is about as good as another. The big picture only becomes amazingly fascinating by filling all the little details in, one tiny bit at a time. I have a strong interest in bird behavior and often will discuss some aspect of that which I observed.

If you're in the area and see something, please don't hesitate to let us know. For instance, we would be happy to post Lost Maples SNA, or any bird news, if it were reported to us. I love hearing from locals when they see something of interest. Perhaps other visitors might better know where to look for something of interest. E-mail link in next (pale yellow) box, and at bottom of most pages. Local (eight-three-zero) landline WON~2349. I can be at the park in 10 minutes, 8 if I was dressed with shoes on, 5 if it is a Sabine's Gull, but I might not be neatly dressed.

Some rudimentary maps of the area are at the bottom of the "site guide" page, if you need help locating any of the places mentioned.

There are now 17+ (!) years and growing worth of nature notes here, mostly in the bird news archives (Old Bird News) pages linked at the bottom of this page in 6 month segments. You can fairly easily check, 10 fall or spring periods, etc., and get a good idea of what goes on when, where, or how weak migration is here.   :) If you're coming in April, you can check several years out and see when different species arrive.  For instance for Painted Buntings not till later April, earliest numbers about the 18-20th, later is better, some years not till the 21-22 are the first back locally.  Often a few days earlier down in lower altitude brush country (earlier still down on the coast) etc. Adult males mostly depart territories and the area the first week of August.

Be sure to check out the Bird List page, which is updated (2020) with seasonal status and abundance for each species. It lists all 350 plus species (!) known from the upper Sabinal River drainage.

And here's something else.......
Sometimes I may be available as eyes and ears for hire. Send an E-mail if you desire professional expert level birding guide services while in the area. Take out the spaces around the at if you copy this instead of clicking it: mitch @ utopianature.com
Or check out the Bird Guide page.

The BIRDING SITES, HUMMINGBIRDS, BIRD LIST, LM REPORTS, SPARROWS, BRUSH COUNTRY, WARBLERS, HAWKS, and the RARITIES pages have all been recently updated! Most have lots of new pics added in the last year or so.

With apologies, I am not interested in photos from other areas for identification. Please please please do not send unsolicited out of area photos. Contact your local Audubon Society if you have pictures of a bird that you would like identified, every area has one. From Houston to Travis to Ft. Worth, Big Sky, Llano Estacado, no matter where you are there are other local folks interested in your local birds, and since you are (to have a pic that you want ID'd) you should want to know them.  :)  Thank you in advance.



Back to Top
Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

Here are links to some new pages added in the last couple years:

Here is a master index page of 'Old Bird News' links:
Bird News Archives Index
It has links to all the 'Bird News' pages, in 6 month increments. It is the 16 year plus bird news archive file.

~ ~ ~ ~
***  This is the page for visitors with ideas, links, phones, contacts, etc., about where to stay locally.
Where to Stay
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a page which compiles over 16 years of observations at Utopia Park. It is a long discussion about the how and why of birds at Utopia Park, and is the home of the park bird list.
The Birds of Utopia Park
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Here are assorted links of all manner, and a handy way outta here.
Mitch's Links
~ ~ ~
Bird Photos


~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2021


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. Usually a few daily yard notes is all the drivel you get. But you never know what that can lead to. Ready, steady, go!

Commonly used ABBREVIATIONS are:

To repeat since commonly used:
sps.=species; FOS=First of season (can be any season); FOY=First of Year; FOF=First of fall; LTA=Less than Annual; UP=Utopia Park; SLC=So. Little Creek Rd.; dF=degrees Farenheit; (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) BanCo = Bandera Co.; UvCo = Uvalde Co.



Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples


Just to have this handy again for reference, recent prior updates:
June 11, 4, May 28, 21, 14, 7, April 30, 23, 16, 9, 2, March 26, 19, 12, 5
Each week's update break is marked with a bad (usually bird) photo.

You may want to scroll down to last prior update and scroll
up to read in chrono order day to day.
~ ~ ~ and now for the news ~ ~ ~

*** Lost Maples and Garner are open for day use and camping, reservations advised.

*** Utopia Park is open, $10 entry per person.*
  *If you park outside gate and walk in to bird for an hour
not using picnic tables, swimming, etc., they will not charge you.


June 18 ~ Wow a 66F low! KERV hit 65. They had a rain yesterday. Forecast shows a low of 75F for next Monday morning, to give an idea of how nice this is. Birdsong has really died back. Dawn chorus is not what it was a month ago by a long shot. Maybe a quarter of the noise, if that. Night and day difference, and with the heat they are shutting up early. Lots of stuff must not be going another round. Some may be at a lull between attempts, but this is very noticably quiet for the date. A gnatcatcher was out there first light. The Black-chinned Hummingbird have another round of young fledging, lots of gray-headed juveniles, using lots of fluid. First ones are at the feeders at 6:30 a.m., last one I saw fly off tonight was at 8:45p.m.!

Town run. At the park there were two Black-n-white Warbler on the island, an ad. fem. and a first spring male which is likely the one I saw there recently, still trolling. She seemed not interested. Green Heron below spillway, Zone-tailed Hawk flew over high. Odd was a Chipping Sparrow singing there, they have never bred there in the 18 years I have been here. At Rosie's besides tacos, there was a Red-eyed Vireo singing, this on Main St., where there has not been one. At 4 p.m it was 90F on the cool shady front porch, local WU stations were showing 92-98F. Saw probably the same male Widow Skimmer dragonfly in the yard again today that I saw a few days ago. Also saw a Pale-faced Clubskimmer. Does not look like a strong year for Firefly, a couple dozen, maybe three tops out in yard at dusk. Good years it is 50, great years 100. Two add-ons I forgot. On the Blue Mistflower at the porch was my FOY Celia's Roadside-Skipper. Kathy found a dead just-fledged Eastern Phoebe so a second batch got out, but at least one did not last a day or two.

June 17 ~ A wonderful 67F for a low is great. I do not hear the Blue Grosbeak singing across the road, for the second morning in a row. Had to confirm I didn't just miss it. It is not out there now. Which means either it fledged the young and left, or they got nest-predated. Usually when they fledge young, like Painted Bunting, they bring them here first for the easy pickins for teaching seed eating. They did not show up here as usual so am a bit nervous. Just gone and silence. Makes me worry that they were not successful. Late in the afternoon a Red-eyed Vireo went through the yard north to south, sang a few times, otherwise I likely would not have detected it. Moving down river habitat corridor, another breeder done and on the way out.

Usually Red-eyed Vireo keep nesting through July. They are not one of the usual June departers as several of the March arriving species are. There are very few bugs out there. No Common Nighthawk which feed on aerial plankton, insects up higher, and no Eastern Wood-Pewee which feeds on canopy level flying insects. Totally different niches with no overlap, both insect eaters, and not here, both formerly common. There is no food. Very few Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Barn Swallow, and Chimney Swift, fewer Purple Martin, across the board the insectivores are missing. Way fewer White-eyed Vireo around. We presume things just moved elsewhere to where there was food. You hope.

June 16 ~ Briefly hit 69F for a low this morn. Mostly all I saw was the same set of breeding birds. Lots of desk work on Wed. and Thurs. so mostly hoping it shows up in the Hackberry outside the office window. Late afternoon I heard an Orchard Oriole out in front yard. I think likely that first spring troller I have had a couple times in last few weeks. On Chat sounds, which will never cease to amaze if you listen to them... the hard ack ack ack ack ack they make can really sound not too far from a Ringed Kingfisher. Then the gee gee gee gee can seem surprisingly close to a Green Jay. The single whistled 'few' note really is not all that far from the Audubon's Oriole single note call. Alas, it is all just the vocalise of the rather very well-named chat. Did see some just fledged begging young Lesser Goldfinch, FOY for me.

June 15 ~ Low from the rain-cooled air was 67F! World of difference to trap a house of cooler air. Bell's Vireo singing in yard early. I was out back moving a cover in the garden and a male Widow Skimmer flushed off the 'maters! Nice in the yard. What a beauty, maybe my favorite dragon. A couple males patrolling and fussin' with each other looks awesome. Wished I would have seen it before I flushed it. At least one of the male Painted Bunting really likes hitting the bath for a splash. Cuckoo around lots, likely feeding a young now. I think they are nesting over in the draw or maybe live-oaks on other side of it this year. That is the area they keep coming from and going to. Much as I would love to have pair or feeding young shots, I don't want to bug them. So I just stay away. Same for digging a Painted Bunting nest out. Maybe it is since I grew up with the western Cuckoos, but they seem fairly sensitive to disturbance to me. The babies are ugly anyway. :) A few more thundercells popped up around, one hit Garner to Leakey along the Frio. Missed us though.

June 14 ~ A low of 69F felt great. Pretty stiff today after the workout yesterday. It was the trail clearing that was brutal. Good thing I had to be back here at the desk. Only hurts when I move. At 6:40 a.m. there was a Red-eyed Vireo singing in the yard, I think the bird that has been over in the corral since right over the fence. Mid-morn a juvenile Yellow-throated Warbler was on the clothesline 15' from me. On its own, can't be a month out of the nest, and likely progeny of the male that sings here daily. We had a bit of cumulus cover today so maybe a dF or two of relief, but still in mid-90's F and sticky, heat indices in low hundreds locally. About 4:30p we had a sun shower, really helps with the sauna effect. A little later Kathy spotted a warbler at the bath, which turned out to be an ad. female Black-and-white. Which means it is a post-breeding bird, done with that for the year. They can get a set out by early May, and a second set out in early June. She wasn't interested in a third go.

A fairly unpredicted outflow boundry sprouted a bunch of thundercells at peak heat along the southern edge of the plateau. One north of town up W. Sabinal Rd. looked like it gave them some real rain. The cell was going west, then turned around and went SE to town, then hooked a west on 1050 and went SW. I was watching it from the driveway at last twilight and a Chuck flew right by me, out the driveway over the gate and must have landed in the big Mesquites across the road and went into song. We caught the edge of a cell about 9:30p finally and got a tenth of an inch and a quick drop to 74F! Lots of areas got a little, a few got a lot, there were cells for 80 miles east to west right above the escarpment. The SE trade winds hitting that 1000 feet of altitude increase provides just enough lift to make rain.

June 13 ~ Wow a chilly 67F for a low was astounding! KERV only showed a 72F low, the heat island effect from all that pavement got them. What a difference 5dF makes in that low compared to yesterday morning. Add on to that it was dry air with no Gulf flow and it was fantastic. But it didn't last long. It was pushin' 90 by 1 p.m. I did a bunch of work on the trail to the river. Saw a Texan Crescent on Zexmenia over there. Late afternoon at peak heat we went over to the river to open swim season here. The water is already warm in the sun, shady spots nice. In birds had Great Crested and Vermilion Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, a couple Yellow-throated Warbler, heard a Black-n-white, Chats, Titmice, Chickadees, Bewick's Wren, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, a Caracara, some Cardinals, but no Kingfishers. Most is singing on territory or feeding young. Just a few butterflies but an Elada Checkerspot was nice. Some new odes for me this year though since we hadn't been in the water working the banks yet this year. For dragons several Swift Setwing, one Gomphid with yellow got away, a few Dot-winged Baskettail, and in damselflies one Dusky Dancer, several Stream Bluet, a bunch of Double-striped Bluet, and a Violet Dancer. No Rubyspots.

In fish saw a couple probably intergrade Guadalupe x Largemouth Bass, besides some Largemouth, one a three pounder. The Guads did not look clean of genes, but were mostly Guad. They looked more like Spotted Bass than Largemouth. Two Channel Cats, one of which was about 1.5 lbs. and looked worth catching. Lots of Long-eared Sunfish, the predominant type in this section of river. No native minnows were seen. Finally found a couple of the big Dolomedes fishing spiders, which looked like a pair (as in male and female) of the usual type, D. scriptus. After going downriver a quarter mile we waded a half mile upriver from start point, which gets to be against a good current so feels like two miles by time you get back. But no people on a mile stretch of river is great.

June 12 ~ Low of 72F a couple dF better than yesterday. A bit of Gulf flow and low stratus but not a thick solid layer and it did not last long. Worked on things here all day. Hot and sticky from late morning to after dark. Saw a Questionmark butterfly zipping around. A few Six-lined Racerunner around, what a beautiful lizard. Birds were all the same gang, the juvie Red-tailed Hawk still begging over at the river. There was a dead Pompilid (spider wasp) on the front porch, which likely lost the battle. The American Germander patch all around the NE corner of house is nearing the end of its month-long run. Just the top flowers of the blooms are left now. Sure has smelled great, and made one type of native bee in particular very happy. Probably about three hundred stalks with flowers. I think it was 6 of them I transplanted here maybe four or five years ago. The one pet Frostweed is looking robust this year too, after being destroyed by hail last year. Sure neat to see the female Painted Bunting in it hunting bugs to take the young multiple times daily.

tropicalparula

Here is a long distance high ISO grainy docushot of one of the
Tropical Parula warblers at Lost Maples June 6. We had
better closer looks at the second one but could not get a shot.
Five in a spring is more than double the most prior for me.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 11 ~ Low of 74F, some morning stratus trying to keep the sun at bay for a bit. Black Rock Squirrel surveying from up on cottage chimney early. Thought I heard a Black-and-white Warbler singing in yard but was unable to run out for it at the time. Town run day fer grub and stuff. Nothing new at the park. Little Creek Larry says near a hundred Black-bellied Whistling-Duck over at Little Creek. There is a big game ranch where they feed things over there. He also said he has heard Poor-will, across the creek (where a rocky slope). They are just not on the flat valley floor, it is all Chucks down here unless you get a rocky slope on a knoll maybe. At 4 p.m. KERV NOAA was reading 87F, our front porch a hair under 88F. The 5 local Utopia WU stations showed 90-95F with 50-65% humidity. The highest humidity was at the same station as highest temp, and showing 115 for a heat index! It is wonderful out, come on down. I will be whacking the trail to the river later today. Soon as it starts to break peak heat, skeeters show up if you are in the shade. Big crop of Treeholers from all the recent rains. Fireflies are picking up and showing well, if you can stand the skeeters.

June 10 ~ Low about 73F, and only a little bit of low stratus, sun out early, and a cooker of a day. Birds were the same gang. To mention a few, Blue Grosbeak, Painted and Indigo Bunting, Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, Bell's and White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Cardinal, Chipping and Lark Sparrow, lots of House Finch, Chickadee (Carolina) and Titmouse (Black-crested), Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Ash-throated and Vermilion Flycatcher, and some other things. Trying to get used to the idea that we have arrived at the three months of hot and sticky part again. It is by far the slowest 3 months of the year to go by. Chucks are going well but no nighthawks.

June 9 ~ Low of 74F and low stratus from the Gulf. Mid-morn misted enough to be dripping off roof. Had an early town errand. Heard a Green Heron at the island at north end of park, so nesting again this year. A singing first-summer male Black-n-white Warbler is new and likely an unmated troller working up and down river habitat corridor. Chimney Swifts, Purple Martin overhead, Bell's Vireo at the P.O. Back here the trolling Great Crested Flycatcher was very noisy for a half hour. Really weird it does not have a mate here this year. Heard a Red-eyed Vireo singing over in corral, which also seems an unmated troller. A Cooper's Hawk was last seen just about to grab a House Finch out of the sky, which for 300' dodged every grab attempt but had gotten itself out in open airspace as they went behind trees blocking my view. Never saw the Coop come up and soar away so think it got it. Around 3 p.m. it was about 85F and 75% humidity. Kathy spotted an Emperor butterfly out back, FOY no matter what type, it looked a Tawny to me. Was perched with hindwing up over most of the forewing including the two bars at leading edge. Didn't want to flush it just for the ID. It may have been still pumping up and drying out from emergence as abdomen seemed somewhat enlarged, so best not to bother.

The bird event of the day, and week, since Lost Maples, was at dusk when a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was moving around the perimeter of the yard calling bik notes. It took off towards the golf course from behind the house in the big live-oaks. It went into song so I figured it was going to do the display loop and flip and luckily was out on driveway. Right when it got over me, maybe 60' above me it did two full 360 loops with somersault flips at the top, screaming its head off the whole way. The mind-blowing stunning part is the mechanical sound made during the fast tight loop. Which I was just in the right place to hear exquisitely. I presume it is the tail which is quite bent and likely pulling a few G's as it makes the high speed tight circle and flip. Obviously it is a mechanical and not vocal sound, the bird is screaming its head off coming to a vocal crescendo at the same time simultaneously. By doing two loops consecutive it kept the sound going for a long time with just a brief lull in the middle - at bottom of first loop.

It is a quavering trill not unlike a Snipe winnowing, which is probably close to what is actually happening. The tail being very rapidly bent and stressed to the quivering point, whence it generates noise. The speed of the actual flip seems to create the whip that creates the feather tension that creates the sound. The bird seems to be trying to hold the rectrices as stiff as it can against the forces of bending from the loop and flip. They too quiver at peak when the sound is being generated. It is spectacular. It is an occillating wo wo wo wo wo series, with somewhat of a humming reverb aspect to the notes. Maybe 5-6 notes per loop. You can hear the wind going through it, the sound and the feathers. Sorta like you are shaking a big piece of sheet metal or a saw blade. But it is the bird's tail! To me this is another one of those 'why wasn't I ever told about this?' things. Number ten thousand seven hundred and eighty six. It is every bit the amazing mechanics of snipe or nighthawk mechanical feather sounds, and everyone knows about those. You probably have to be right under this to hear it very well and due to the low frequency surely it does not travel well.

June 8 ~ Some drizzle early from the outflow of a rain cluster now far NW of us along I-35. Low about 74F here, worse at Del Rio, theirs was about 80F and a record high low for the date. We are having a warm sticky week, highs in low 90'sF with the heat indices near a hundred, and over that if not up here in the hills. It is the first week here that really feels like summer. Drizzle keeps the dust down anyway, and makes for a nice sauna in the afternoon heat. Saw 85F for a high on the front porch, and you could cut the air. Saw a Monarch, a Funereal Duskywing, a quick look at a FOY Orange Skipperling, a Red Admiral, a few butterflies out in the afternoon heat. Sun barely burnt through a little bit. Really bummed to not be hearing the nightly nighthawk booms and calls. It has been a soundtrack of summer evenings the last 17 years we have been here. Has to be a lack of sufficient bugs to raise young. They came in, counted bugs for a couple weeks, and they left. It might look largely the same out there but it is not. The nighthawks did not stay and breed this year.

June 7 ~ Well the cool of spring is over. Low was 74F or so. Summer is here, 3 months to go. Most of which will run low 70's to the mid-90's F for a temp spread. We are both suprisingly not stiff at all this morning from the 4 miles yesterday. Which is a good sign of course. Except it means we must run our keisters off here on a daily basis. Mid-morn we had some mist here, I saw 82F on cool shady front porch at 2:30 p.m., and very humid with Gulf flow. About 5 p.m. NOAA was showing 85F for KERV. Birds seemed the same as far as I could tell. The Black Rock Squirrel was again sitting perched up on top of the sealed chimney on the cottage. Surveying its territory. Stone chimney looks like a rock stack. Funny, once a Canyon Wren landed on the one for the house. A or the, Gnatcatcher was in the yard late, kinda acting like it knew the territory. Heard the Bell's Vireo still singing.

June 6 ~ It was about 66F at midnight, and 72F by 6 a.m., the low clouds and warm moist Gulf air arrived. We got up an hour early for a trip to Lost Maples after missing it all spring due to work and weather. Dawn chorus here at the house peaks about 6:20-6:40. Chucks are still going to around 6:15, hummers at feeders by 6:30 and change. We went north from town via Jones Cmty. Rd. and had two singing Parula warblers along it, one where a Tropical has been, one where a Northern has been. A wee bit o' water at the W. Sabinal Rd. wet spot but no birds or odes. One Orchard Oriole singing in the trees along road there. One pair of Scissor-tails there, but none northward going upvalley.

Lost Maples looks pretty lushly green now due to recent rains, but is in a flower bloom lull. I suspect it will burst forth in bloom in a couple weeks. Looks like some gully-washers finally took out most of the cattails in the ponds, which is great, they were clogging them. Maybe the nesting Green Kingfisher will be a regular thing again. It was misty early with sun barely showing later, so mostly very overcast with bad photo light. Lots of breeding activity in birds though is great to see. We saw two TROPICAL Parula along the Can Creek trail to the ponds, both singing males. Which looked and sounded different to me. Both looked pure and clean of genes. One was just before and downstream of the second crossing up from trailhead parking lot. The other a quarter mile above that crossing toward the pond past the rangers house with big CB antenna. There had been a couple reported in May.

We encountered at least 4, probably 5, family groups of Golden-cheeked Warbler, each with a bunch of just fledged nestlings they were feeding. A couple groups had at least 3 young, two looked like they had four! Fairly tame and gave lots of great views feeding their ugly babies. ;)  Which are great to see, but geez they are on the motley side, eh? Only a little bit of song was heard from the males though. Of Yellow-throated Warbler we heard a handful, saw a couple, and one family group with a few just-fledged young. Saw begging just-fledged Louisiana Waterthrush at the pond. Heard a half-dozen (LAWA) of them, including singing. Heard as many Black-and-white Warbler, only saw a couple and saw no juvies. Five species of warbler in June is great there, four is the usual limit, and that only since Yellow-throated colonized in the last decade or so.

Heard a few Black-capped Vireo but didn't see one. Heard a Chat, several Canyon Wren, only one Ash-throated Flycatcher was heard, heard a Scott's Oriole, heard a half-dozen Acadian Flycatcher, saw a couple. A few each of Indigo and Painted Bunting singing, as some Blue Grosbeak. Great was hearing a couple Yellow-billed Cuckoo a half-mile apart, so surely two birds. They have not been a summering bird there the last two decades. They must be nesting this year. Will be watching to see if there is a tent cat outbreak there this year as can happen. A couple Inca Dove were at the HQ feeder. Had a few Gnatcacher, but not as many as usual.

Always of great interest are the misses. Did not hear or see Olive Sparrow, White-tipped Dove, or Scrub-Jay, all of which used trailhead feeders heavily and which are not being filled now. Did not hear a single Eastern Wood-Pewee, which do not use the seed feeders. Something else is missing for them not to be there in numbers. Only might have heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Only had one Chipping Sparrow! No Zone-tailed Hawk or Green Kingfisher. Keep in mind we are in and out in 6 excitement-packed fun-filled hours on one trail, so our coverage is more a nick in the surface than comprehensive.

By time we were leaving (2 p.m.) a few odes and butterflies were just starting to show. Have to go in the afternoons to see them when mornings are heavy with mist or overcast. We did see a couple old worn Spicebush Swallowtail, one Monarch missing much of a forewing, a Gulf Fritillary, 5 Dun Skipper, a couple Pipevine Swallowtail, and best, a couple Red-spotted Purple. What a beauty. No AZ Sister, no Satyrs, no big yellow swallowtails. Kathy spotted an Underwing (Catacola sps.) forewing on the ground from a dismembered bird breakfast no doubt (ph. in case ID is possible). Saw an adult Two-lined Spittlebug (family Cercopidae) which I essentially never see, only the spittle nests of the larvae on wildflowers like Mexican Hat.

In dragons and damsels there was not a lot but a few new so far this year for me types flying. One Pale-faced Clubskimmer was overdue, a male Widow Skimmer on upper pond, one Prince and a few Dot-winged Baskettail, male and female Eastern Pondhawk, and a couple Damsels got away, the only one ID'd was an Aztec Dancer. Do afternoons for insects. Insects of all sorts seem low in numbers, but for skeeters, from about the pond and upcreek from there there were always a few around us.

In flowers Indian Blanket is getting going well, Some Snapdragon Vine showing, a bit of Green (aka Pearl) Milkweed Vine - an awesome sleeper of a flower, a few Prairie Larkspur - what a beauty, one Limestone Guara, a few smaller Mountain Pink, and a few of the more common things were, common. Only a few Scarlet Clematis and Texas Milkweed. I saw no Cherries taking on any cherry tree, almost no Maple seeds, only a very few green Persimmons developing, seems like production is down. Certainly some of the birds are far fewer than they were before, such as Carolina Wren and White-eyed Vireo. Only had one or two Yellow-throated Vireo. Red-eyed were numerous though. Titmouse seemed down too, did have a couple Chickadee family groups, Cardinal was numerous, a few Ladder-backed Woodpecker, a couple Common Raven, no hawks.

We went the mile past the ponds to the end of the permanent water at the Can Creek headwater springs. Saw the Mexican Tetra, Notropis Shiner sps. (Sand?), and some Long-nosed Dace, three nice natives. Only herps were a couple Red-eared Sliders. Too cool for them on misty mornings. It was pleasantly empty of people, just a few here and there but very nice as expected the weekend after a big holiday weekend. All the people we saw seemed as though they have never heard of a pandemic though. We had to step out into the grassy several times for small groups to pass. Luckily found no chiggers.

June 5 ~ A low of 61F felt great, only a few dF above a record low for the date. It might have hit 80F at peak heat. I could take that all summer. They are already raising temps for next week, so the coolish is not going to be here after today probably. Worked on biz and other stuff here at the hovelita, hoping to sneak away to Lost Maples tomorrow for a morn. Here it was the same gang. A Funereal Duskywing butterfly was different, one Monarch and one Queen were on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. Great Crested Flyctcher trolled by, as did the pair of Ash-throats. Vermilion too. The Eastern Bluebird pair, and the E. Phoebe pair both seem to be getting another round underway. Not hearing the Nighthawks at dusk. I wonder if there were not enough bugs and they left? Usually both knolls have a pair and we hear booming besides calls as they go by. Nothing for almost a week now it seems. I think the bugs are very very depressed of populations. We have hardly had any chiggers all spring (not complaining - it is not like missing say warblers), though after these rains I do expect them and the skeeters to make a show.

goldencheekedwarbler

This is a tasty green morsel being prepared for feeding
to a juvenile Golden-cheeked Warbler by the adult male.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 4 ~ About 64F for a low, overcast, a lull in precip activity since yesterday afternoon. Some spots around AUS and SAT had over 4" yesterday over in that more humid air to the east. By afternoon today they are backing off a bit on the forecast for more rain today, maybe overnight. Got up to about 80F out there, warmest day all week, which is amazing, no one complained. Town run day, lots of standing water around. Checked the park, nothing new, nice to see all the people gone. The Red-eyed Vireo is still on territory there. Ran out to the wet spot on W. Sabinal Rd., water yes, birds and odes no. Great look at a male Bobwhite on way back though. Heard a Parula singing near Jones Cmty. where a Northern has been on territory. Didn't have time to go run it down. Otherwise the same as it ever was. Best dusk so far for Fireflies, at least a couple dozen, finally. Great to see. My FOY Katydids were making noise after dark. Oops, forgot... in the morning the Black Rock Squirrel was up on top of the sealed chimney of the cottage as if he owns it. It does live under it, along with Armadillo and Striped Skunk. But I think they have separate rooms. Though I can't verify that they are not down there playing cards.

June 3 ~ Sprinkling at dawn, actual rain a couple hours later. Bring it on. Cool and wet is just how you want to do June. At 1 p.m. it was still drizzling and 62F! The rain ended in early afternoon, we got about 3 cm, or 1.20". Outstanding. At just a hair under 2" for the new month. Another round progged to come tomorrow and Saturday. Many birds will renest again when a wet May and early June. This is exactly the signal they are looking for. Heard the Gnatcatcher out there, and a Scissor-tail. The one Red-tailed Hawk fledgling is still begging and flying around a bit, I presume the parents are still dropping by with food occasionally. That will end very soon. Heard a Red-shouldered Hawk uphill behind us a ways. Martins dove low over yard calling a bit. Finally a chance and checked my two docushot attempts at a pic of the Comet Darner Sunday, got nothing but air. Unless you count out of focus water reflection as something. The half-second delay for the shutter to fire after pressing button is a killer when trying to shoot a dragon that does not hover in place or perch. Gotta spend a grand to get something workable for that, probably two. A few hun did it in the old days.

June 2 ~ Low about 65F, overcast. In flower news, saw a few White Rock Lettuce flowers out front, the Blue-eyed Grass has some flowers, saw a Blue Gilia out back, some Hedge Parsley in bloom (yech), the Mexican Hat is going real well now but short and thin from the lack of rain earlier. The one single yard Prickly Poppy has a single flower, for two days. If you break a stem on one of those the gooey sap is a weird bright cadmium orange color. I don't see any Musk or Malta Star Thistle coming up, yet, after a several years heavy battle against them. Surely some will sprout yet, but obviously have made good headway. Out back I see a couple FOY Pincushion Daisy and some Three-seeded Mercury in bloom (which does not have much of a flower - just seeds). Zexmenia is going well. Lots of Skeleton-Plant in bloom along the road out front. Like the birds, the flowers will be the same tomorrow as yesterday. I thought I heard some begging baby warblers over in corral early. Could have been either Yellow-throated or Golden-cheeked.

June 1 ~ Off to a great start with some rain just after midnight, I think we got about .75" and the low was 64F! Sure would be nice to have a cool wet June too. It probably hit 82F or so, but only saw 79 on front porch. A Gnatcatcher was around yard a bit, it was here a few days ago too, sorta seems like maybe one of the failed nesters still visiting. The male Bluebird was making a lot of noise, hopefully talking her into going again. Yellow-throated Warbler singing uphill behind us in the big live-oaks. Lots of ball moss on them, their favorite foraging habitat here. Not hearing a Roadrunner this spring. Usually every year we have one uphill behind us calling all the time, have not heard it this year. Means there is not one nesting very close as usual. Heard an Orchard Oriole out in the Pecans out front for a bit in the afternoon. A Turkey is still gobbling a bit at dusk, whence also a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over.

~ ~ ~ May summary ~ ~ ~

Well it was a wet one, finally, a wet month. About 6" of rain, more for some locally, bumps us into D1, and out of D2 level drought. A big collective sigh of relief was heard up and down the valley. The temps were below average only seeing a few days of 90F temps, mostly highs were in the 80'sF, some rainy days in the 70's. Quite a nice May actually. The Huisache trees all around took a bad hit from the single-digit mega-freeze event in Feb. They are barely leafing out. They look mostly dead. Some palms look rough too, as do the Figs.

The insects generally remain much reduced. Presume it is the drought and then the big hard freeze, but numbers are way down and species diversity is down too. Will have to watch as summer unfolds to get a better idea whaddup. Butterflies and dragonflies were both very low in numbers for May. Past surprisingly low almost to alarmingly low. In butterflies a Cassius Blue was maybe one of the better beasties. I do not ID one every year (probably overlook them every year though), and early May might be my early date for them here. Amazing was not seeing a single Black Swallowtail this year until May 30. I often see one in Feb.! March at the latest. April for sure. It was a dismal 33 species for the month, tying my worst ever May total, which was just last May. Fresh emerged Monarchs showed well though, from eggs laid by the returning Mexican winterers. The new ones are always much smaller.

The main, ok almost only, actual ode excitement was at the W. Sabinal Rd. flood pond by Haby's place. The usual customary Band-winged Dragonlets were there in low numbers much of the month besides the other few usual common early spring fliers. Some Plateau Spreadwing and one Prince Baskettail was there one day. One good rare dragon was seen in May. A male COMET DARNER was at the golf course pond by Waresville Cmty. on May 30, where there were at least a couple last year. Amazing. It is a very rare bug in Uvalde County. I count 17 ode species for the month, low.

Birds were fantastic. Lots of nights were clear until wee hours before dawn, whence Gulf overcast arrives with low clouds, often with mist, by sunup. And a few migrants a couple hours later. There were not high numbers of most of the usual common things in general save two species that showed well. Clay-colored and Lincoln's Sparrow were the standouts in that regard, best springs ever for them here. There was good species diversity though, and a great bunch of the eastern migrants (warblers!) we barely get here. By about the half-way point, mid-May, it is 99% over for passage transients here. Last new species I saw for the spring was the 16th. Often we get more flycachers later than that but not this year. No Alder, only one Willow. The 23 species of warbler ties second best spring total for me here in 18 and so was outstanding.

There were three mega-raries this month. A SWAINSON'S WARBLER at the park May 5, where I had a a prior hypothetical sighting was karmaic birding justice. Two BLACK SWIFT were a re-affirmation, at the 360 xing May 1, makes my second sighting locally at the same time of year, in same exact weather pattern (first clear air behind major system coming out of Mexican mountains). Three WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER in BanCo at the W. Sabinal Rd. floodpond are likely the first ever reported in the upper Sabinal River drainage, and very rare in BanCo or UvCo, and on the Edwards Plateau. Then two not quite mega but high-end raries showed. A BLACK-BILLED Cuckoo was outstanding, so was a KENTUCKY Warbler, both were in our yard, both about my 5th local records.

The four male American Redstart and three male Rose-breasted Grosbeak were personal bests for a single spring passage here. Just one Swainson's for thrushes this spring though, paying for last year. The BanCo floodpond also had Wilson's Phalaropes (17 peak) and Baird's Sandpipers (22 peak) on a couple days, single Pectoral Sandpiper on two days, and a couple White-faced Ibis, all are good birds here. The other big show was 7 territorial locally Parula warblers. The pair of Northern nesting at the park finished, but I do not know if they were successful. Two more singing male Northern and three Tropical have been along Jones Cmty. Rd. NW of town in BanCo. Two of the Tropical are acting like a pair looking for a place to nest. There are a couple more Tropical being reported at Lost Maples! That is nine Parulas, the usual tally is zero!

I would say it was an outstanding month. Had to work nearly every day though, surely there was a lot more going by unseen. Mostly I am just watching one observation station with one eye. Locally here I saw about 128 species in May, just around Utopia, no Lost Maples trip again this month, which is painful. Surely if one was retired and birding daily, 150 would be possible in a May of local birding. Mid-April to mid-May is the peak month for spring migrant birds here.

~ ~ ~ end May summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

May 31 ~ Aaaaand there goes the fifth month of the year. Cool and overcast, a bit breezy today, but a temp spread of about 67-77F is spectacular for the date. We totally dodged the heat bullet in May this year. Had work to attend to here, no holidays in the fish biz, save the King of Tongas birthday, Chinese New Year, Ramadan, and such like that. Supposed to be getting some rain again this week and the cooler than average continuing. It is strictly the breeders now, we are in the heat of nesting season. Many things have gotten a brood out and now is the time they decide if they can do another. With the recent rain, I think lots will go again, which makes for a much better season. It is nice and lushly green finally. A new set of flowers will be popping in a week or two.

May 30 ~ Was mostly clear with no moon much of the early evening last night, and great stars. Overcast this morning and it must have sprinkled a little bit. Low about 67F or so. Comfortable. Some martins were diving low over yard and calling first thing early at 7 a.m., seeing if anyone is home at the empty house methinks. A bit of mist and a showerlet in the a.m., at noon we went up to the W. Sabinal Rd. pond, which still had some water but no birds save a Lark Sparrow. There were some odes including a Band-winged Dragonlet, a couple Wandering Glider, Red Saddlebags, and Green Darner. The trees that got stripped by hail are resprouting leaves, it looks like March or early April up there now. On Jones Cmty. Rd. we heard two singing Parula Warbler, each right where Northerns have been on territory. I watched one quite a bit but light was so bad I could not ID it. We did not have any other Parulas. All the usual river habitat corridor breeders were singing though. Kathy spotted a group of begging fledgling Yellow-throated Warblers way up in a Cypress. We went to the golf course pond by Waresville Cmty. and were shocked to see a Comet Darner! A rare ode here, there were at least two here last year. Amazing. Did it emerge from the pond? I think my first May record here. There were a couple martins at the delapitated house that used to have 10 pairs. Some Red-winged Blackbird are nesting in the cattails. One Questionmark, and Kathy spotted the FOY Black Swallowtail, finally. A few Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were on the golf course.

May 29 ~ Finally some rain! Low about 62F. Around dusk last night some big cells just missed us to our north and east, we had a great outflow boundry cool-off though. After midnight some cells marched east from Del Rio area, it rained here about 4-8 a.m., a whopping TWO inches! Outstanding! All the good totals the last couple weeks have missed us here. We will have a good June bloom for sure now, and birds will be far more inclined to go another round for nesting. Likely bumped us from the edge of D2 drought well into D1, so a major improvement. It has been a wet May. Love hearing Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting singing in the front yard. From a song volume standpoint, Painted Bunting are low key and subdued, Indigo are between boisterous and raucous. There is some Western Horse Nettle and Silver-leaf Nightshade blooming, I don't mention them like I don't mention Eurasian Collared-Dove, because I don't like invasives. Saw a nice male Dun Skipper, which pretty sure is FOY for me, and the latest ever for that.

whitefacedibis

These are the White-faced Ibis at the W. Sabinal Rd. floodpond May 16.
Unfortunately it was very overcast so none of the beautiful colors of
the maroonish chestnut and oily green plumage show.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 28 ~ About 72F and overcast, was a showerlet overnight, some mist over the morn. A trace keeps some dust down and the leaves clean. Since the birds are the same gang... here is some local news. In case of interest for visitors, there was a new law passed recently that allows some sort of (light) alcohol sales here in Utopia. I hear the gas station is going to carry beer, to make up lost beer run gas sales. There is also a new place in town now that has some takeout beer and wine, as well as some craft drafts. This will require a full investigation obviously. The last year or two the Vanderpool store has been carrying beer and some wine. So, it is no longer totally 'dry' in Utopia, as of 2021. Cutting edge progress. Some of the residents seem pretty slap-happy about this. It will save a lot gas, and I do mean a LOT. Tons of CO2 per year. It just keeps getting more and more like utopia here. Town run day for supplies and tacos. I can't believe it, I bought beer in Utopia. Just a test run to make sure this was really legal. A sixer of Shiner Brewery Tour. Has 6 different examples of their short run stuff. Some of which are really great, a Black Lager, one with Poteet strawberries, the Texas peach wheat, and others. The place is in the old brick post office building. It has short hours, closing early in afternoons I think all but Friday. There were no migrants at the park save people in all manner of large colorful floaty things in the water. Town was still quiet, the hominids haven't gotten here yet. I got the store stuff we needed, Rosie's tacos, and out of Dodge, with beer!

May 27 ~ Low about 72F, some overcast and breezy SE winds from the Gulf. Same gang for birds. Sure love hearing Bell's Vireo out there still, I suspect he has a mate and nest near the front of the adjacent corral. Awesome voice. I think the Bluebirds are between cycles. I did not see the young fledge, but they got some out, and now are around without them, so likely deciding on the next round. Been pretty dry, not many bugs. A good bug was an Eyed Elaterid (the big 2" click beetle with the fake eyes on thorax) on the table on front porch, FOY. Such a neat beetle. I cannot believe how often I see them here. Ran to town late in afternoon for a quick P.O. errand. Did gas and bird seed to get some of tomorrow's stops off the list. Town was awesomely dead quiet, before the storm that starts tomorrow and lasts through Monday. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk right over the entrance to Utopia Golf, a mile and change south of town on 187. Have not been seeing them this spring. I think the prey base is way down due to drought and not as many are around. Got warm, surely was 90F in the sun since I saw 89 on the cool shady front porch. At least a dozen Firefly is the first double-digit count I have had so far this year. They are late and low in numbers so far.

May 26 ~ Maybe 71F for a low. Overcast and humid. Dawn chorus going well at 6:30 a.m., some few voices earlier of course, but the all-to-brief concert is quieting down by 7. I hate to say it but you are going to have to find something exciting to do for a couple months. It is going to be the same gang every day for the next two months here. Save maybe some insects will get flying. This weekend there is a rodeo here in town as always on this big holiday opening weekend of summer. The park, town, and area becomes a hominid zoo. We will mostly check some private local spots real closeby, hiding from it the best we can. The small worn Monarch was still here today. The Germander patch is in full roar, looks and smells awesome. All the little white flowers look like a big patch of living lace. Hummers and bees love it too. Didn't see anything different in birds or beasties today. A quick run out the back of 360 at dusk to feed animal scraps away from here, there was some White Milkwort in bloom at the one spot I know for it here. A bit of Coreopsis opening now too.

May 25 ~ Low was 71F, humid, overcast, a spit of mist a couple times. It is breeding season. The migration party is north of us now. Way north. Sure was great while it lasted, it is over way too quickly. We get a great month from mid-April to mid-May here. Now it is back to watching a chat take a bath every day. Leslie Calvert a few miles south of town has a Golden-cheeked Warbler at her bath every day! She also had some Yellow-headed Blackbird about the 21st, which is when I saw a couple up on W. Sab. Rd. The first spring male Blue Grosbeak with hardly any blue on the face is still around. Unless you look close it looks like a first winter young or a female. Lots of Painted Bunting around. Saw a small very worn Monarch, not sure what to make of that. Cuckoo must be nesting nearby, it goes through yard multiple times daily. The average hi-lo spread for SAT this date is 70-90F.

May 24 ~ Low was about 70F and quite sticky. Just four months to go. It was the same gang here, no migrants but there were 10 Cedar Waxwing. More interesting was perusing ebird for unusual area reports from the spring passage and influx of touring birders. Here are a few of the best finds that I saw...   A Cerulean Warbler was photographed in Concan in late April, a Scarlet Tanager was at Garner S.P., a Canada Warbler was reported at Utopia Park, a Wood Thrush was seen in Uvalde, a Blackburnian Warbler at Lost Maples, an Eastern Whip-poor-will was reported at Concan, and a Least Tern at Cook's Slough in Uvalde. Having eyes out there makes all the difference in the world. Those are all very good birds here. Nothing of major interest here in yard today.

May 23 ~ We might have had a quick kiss with 68F for a low but it was fast. A little mist overnight but no real precip. Still more rain east of us, they got a good slug of tropical moisture from this low that came ashore Friday night, it just did not make it inland to us. We did get the humidity. No transients seen today, it is over and out here. I had work to do with a bunch of shipments of Kenya fish so couldn't get out until late. We rolled up to the W. Sabinal Rd. pond hoping for a shorebird, nothing there but cows. Did not hear any Parula singing along Jones Cmty. Rd. but it was 4:30 p.m., not a good time for that. Quite a few of the regular breeders at the county line crossing, but we heard no Parula there either. The park woods were also quiet, save a few Yellow-throated Warbler, and one Red-eyed Vireo sang. Amazing was a pile of feathers on the trail in the woods. Remains from a plucking. It was an Eastern Screech-Owl! Gadzooks! I can't see a live one in the park (heard it only) but find a pile of feathers. Ouch. That hurts as much as it is a great data point. The pile was not there two days ago on Friday. Late p.m. Kathy spotted a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bath, has not been one around in a while. Saw a FOY of one of those beautiful Harlequin Flower Beetle (Gymnetis thula now), the black and cream inch long big scarab. It came into to my pipe tobacco smoke whilst I was on front porch in observation chair, working of course.

May 22 ~ Low was 70F or so. Pretty balmy. There was a low in the western Gulf that was thought to have a 50% of becoming something last night, about the same as me. It moved ashore overnight and rained a bunch down on the coast and to our east. So we have very wet tropical airmass and are just hoping for rain. No migrants through yard, that party is over. Sure was a great spring here though. Very low individual numbers overall, so weak where it should be strong, but a good number of very rare (here) birds showing up wins the passage for most birders. If one could bird 7 days a week I bet it would have been fantastic. I only get the tip of the iceberg having to be at desk and computer 7 days a week.

Turned out to be dry here, maybe a spit of mist at one point, mostly just very sticky. Birds were the same breeders. It is going to be really boring here the next couple months with just the same little set of breeders present. Hopefully the butterflies and dragons will kick in and there will be bugs to look at. Odes (dragons and damsels) can really save a hot summer day. Seems at least four different adult female Painted Bunting hitting the millet tube. Which matches my best estimation of males present. Maybe one or two green first spring males around too. At least a couple singing male Blue Grosbeak have stuck, so likely have mates and nests. I think only one male Indigo is sticking (nesting). Seems a couple or few Chat pairs pretty close, one at draw, one across road at other corner of yard. A few Chucks calling lots nightly, one very close, two close.

purplemartin

Here is one of the pair of Martin that were at the house.
They didn't take it but at least landed to inspect it.
I think a first spring male.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 21 ~ Low of 68F, some overcast. Had a warbler go through yard about 9 a.m. quickly, just got a glimpse as it landed in top of Mulberry but was binocless, got a couple flight notes enough to be real interested and it flew north. It was not a Yellow. Great was a late Lincoln's Sparrow in the bath later morning. Town run day, so checked a few spots. The 354 Pecans had no migrants, neither did the park and woods there. Went out to W. Sabinal Rd. to check the wet spot, there was one Cattle Egret and one Pectoral Sandpiper. Oops, forgot, there were 2 Yellow-headed Blackbird too. Slow-rolled the road where the Parulas were but didn't hear any. Until I got to the county line bridge just NW of town, where a Parula was singing. Nice clean male Tropical! Not either of the pair a mile up river, a new different male with nice orange wash on breast. We are having a good year for Parulas here this spring. We have had two single singing male and a nesting pair of Northern, and this singing male plus a pair of Tropical. Plus two Tropical and I think at least one Northern were reported at Lost Maples. I have personally seen 7 Parula of both types, and have had springs where my total was zero. I talked to a guy in town that owns one of the double-wides in Sabinal that got hit by the hail a couple weeks ago. His and his neighbors each took 20 through the roof, which stopped at the floor. Biggest piece of ice he measured was 6" x 12"! Photos of some cars in D'Hanis looked like a war zone, they were totalled.

May 20 ~ An awesome 54F for a low feels great. Might be the last of that we see until fall. Not as many male Indigo Bunting singing across the road now, there were 3 at least, maybe one left now, perhaps one that got a mate. The others then move up or down river habitat corridor to troll elsewhere. Forgot to mention the other day I saw a first spring male Blue Grosbeak (nearing a year old) with just a wee bit of blue on front half of head, the rest of the bird was still all brown like a female or juvenile. Just before noon Kathy spotted a warbler at the bath, it was a first spring male Wilson's. First year birds is a lot of what might be left to go by yet.

In the afternoon heat of the low 80's some butterflies were out. Three Queen is a high count so far this spring. Two mint-fresh Monarch surprised me by doing tight spirals around each other, flopping onto ground, and hooking up into copulation. These are new emergences that just got out of the box, which we virtually never see hooked up. They hatch and blast north. Also had an Elada Checkerspot and a couple Vesta Crescent. Still no Black Swallowtail this year. What the heck happened? They were common to abundant, and often a first butterfly of the year in February. Usually fair numbers out by March. None yet. Drought? Mega-freeze? The patch of American Germander is really roaring now with a hundred flower spikes (inflorescence) with open blooms. Smells heavenly, sort of a cross between rose and sweet pea. Hummers love it, so do Pipevine Swallowtail and a native bee or two.

May 19 ~ A great low at 64F was from rain-cooled outflow of thundercells that missed us but at least we got cooled off. We have been totally shorted all week on the rain so far. We were supposed to have our best two chances the last three days and were progged to get a couple inches if not more. It looks about .4 here, tops, so far and the low is moving away this evening. We were supposed to get a couple inches or more. Lots of areas around central Texas did get some good totals, we got a dry slot. Will take the cool air and continued break from arriving at the summer heat part of the year yet. It has been very comfortable so far this May, a lucky break ahead of the long bake. No migrants through yard, we are about over and out for that here. Will just be some strays here and there now for a week if we are lucky.

Surely there were some good things grounded this week if you could get out and check all the best patches of vegetation every day. I gotta work, until a peek on Friday. Did not see the Bewick's Wren today which is good, means they got the young out and to somewhere safe. The martin house must wobble too much for the Carolina Wren female, it seems like they are not taking it after all, just put a bunch of nest material in it. The key prime item, the most common item by far I see used in Carolina Wren nest here is peeled pieces of Ashe Juniper bark, just like what a Golden-cheeked Warbler nest is made of. They make a cedar chest. I hear they keep bugs away. It is what most of the nest is made of. Thought I saw a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Heard some Comm. Nighthawk booming at dusk.

May 18 ~ At least we cooled down into the upper 60's F this morning. Last night there was a big thundercell to our south around Hwy. 90 but we just got some mist. This morning more cells in the area but none finding us yet. Heard a warbler singing early in front yard, but not any typical proper song, so likely a first spring something, maybe Black-and-white or Restart, was high and thin. Later morn Kathy had a Nashville Warbler at the bath. Been at least a week since I have seen one, they are mostly past us now. We caught a little shower about 1:30 p.m. and temps went from 76F to a wonderful 63F. Awesome. We got another .2 out of it. The Bewick's Wrens must have fledged, there is no activity at the nest box. They were feeding the young still this morning, but apparently the time came. Ya gotta go when ya gotta go. Missed a tail count though. At least I will get to finish my knothole nestbox now though. I had to stop work on it while they did this. Too much work to go bird unfortunately.

May 17 ~ A low of 72F is not very. KERV station showed 72 from 9 p.m. to past 8 a.m.! Dawn chorus is in full roar at 6:30 a.m. and by 7 it can be amazingly quiet by comparison. About 8 on the side patio porch I heard some werid screaming noise, got up and went toward it and saw a Gray Fox moving up the slope behind us with an Eastern Cottontail in its jaws. Enjoy your wild America. That silly rabbit was eating lots of bird seed, in a yard full of grasses and forbs. One Yellow Warbler was it for migrants in the yard. Misted a little bit, just a trace. Supposed to be a rain event shaping up for a couple days. We got .2 today in some showerlets. I guess the big avian event of the day is the first wave of fledging juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbird has begun to appear. Lots of gray-headed birds today for the first time, and a corresponding jump in fluid consumption to go with them. Here we go again. A Red Satyr butterfly flopped aroud the house in the afternoon and the worn Queen was still here.

May 16 ~ Low about 68F, a little drizzle must have fallen, it is pretty wet out there, but just a tracelet. Whaddaday it was here! Incredible was at 7 a.m. after the first early seed toss I was on the side porch by patio and heard a close weird chip I did not immediately place. This sends me into a five-alarm all-senses-on-deck highest level of alert of course. I love that first thing in the morning. Gazing toward the sound a bird moved inside the fenced-in gardenlet with the tub pond maybe a dozen feet away. It jumped into the fence whence I see it is a KENTUCKY Warbler! OMG! It chipped a couple times and flew over into the lowest part of the big Mulberry which is just over an area that looks great for a ground warbler. Chipped a bit more but then moved away without dropping down. I came in a drank a precious holy first cup of coffee. When I went back out the big female Cooper's Hawk flushed and no birds were to be seen or heard. Thought I might have heard it uphill behind us which has a good thick Laurel and Agarita understory below a huge live-oak canopy. Need to check the draw in a while, it might catch it. Only the off-the-charts spring of 2011 did I record them here, maybe 3 that spring, and I have one fall (August) Utopia Pk. 10-day record (ph.), but none in a decade, it borders on mega-rary here. New yard warbler. Went over to the draw after breakfast and nothing there.

We went and checked a few of the tree patches to see if migrants. The 360 xing had two Yellow Warbler, which were the only two we saw. One Eastern Wood-Pewee there, a first spring male Summer Tanager, several of which have just shown up the last week. The 354 Pecans had only the breeders, no migrants. At Utopia Pk. the Northern Parula are gone, I presume done nesting. Wish I could say if successful or not. The pair was there a little over four weeks, which is all they need really. At least we know they attempted, as at Utopia on the River several years ago. Nothing in the Mulberries but Squirrel and Waxwing. Thought I heard a Green Kingfisher, heard a Pewee (E.). We did see a Barred Owl and two cooter. Then up to W. Sabinal Rd. and the wet spot. No grasspipers or ducks, but two White-faced Ibis in breeding plumage. Always good birds here, easy to miss any given year. Beautiful but was bad light for photos, unless you like silohuettes like I do. Size, shape, and structure rule. The three S's. On the way up there at another muddy spot we flushed a pair of Harris's Hawk, none of which we have seen locally in months. Looked like full adults. Probably pushed north out of south Texas by the drought.

Nothing left to do but work on the Parulas near Jones Cmty., so we did. To reiterate, you can only bird from the road there, note purple paint, NO TRESPASSING. Do not walk off road toward river unless you have permission, and you don't. It is all private property. I presume the singing bird at the corner by the Hill Ranch entrance gate is the Northern we had there last week. We did not stop to re-see that one. We refound the presumed pair of Tropical, and another male Northern Parula. Generally in the area just west of the Jones Cmty. entrance road. Mostly down by the river but at one point on the south side of road again in the same big ballmossy live-oaks just east of the Cemetery entrance. We had a few minutes of spectacular viewing when the pair was low in a pecan very close. Though I was on bad light side of tree at the time and trying to get docushots more than studying views.

They were so bonkers active though I only managed one usable grainy docushot of one Tropical. The situation is somewhat confusing as for sexing the birds. One Tropical is amazingly orange across the breast, sings, and is certainly a male. It shadows the other bird I would say protectively, like a male oriole does to its mate in breeding season. The other barely has a wisp of color on the yellow breast, does not sing, but has a fairly well-defined black mask - see photo below. If they would just slow down a little. It was as stellar of an encounter with Tropicals as I ever had. Which was more complex than at first apparent. A singing bird overhead we were looking for stopped singing while we were watching the two Tropicals low in a small Pecan.

Later at home going through the photos mostly just trying to find a bird, any bird, I got one with eye crescents. A Northern! That other singer was a male Northern and had shut up and snuck into the tree with them! That is why they were zinging around so fast all over the tree. I was trying to get shots so not seeing all the details as well as you do if just watching the birds. Mr. T was trying to eject that yankee Parula. I saw something get chased out that looked Parula but quickly saw the two Tropical were still in the tree so did not follow it. Weewow. The literature mostly seems to say only males have a black mask. Both of these have black masks. So then why does it not have an orange blaze on breast, or sing, and is hanging out in the same place with a singing male for a week? Maybe older females can get blacker masks? Why would a singing male Northern sneak into the tree and persue the one without the orange breast if it were not a female? Why would a male Tropical chase it out of the tree? Wouldn't it let another male fight its own fight?

Then back here at 5 p.m. I was minding my own business on the front porch when a cuckoo flew out of the pecans out front into open airspace across the yard, the driveway, and more open airspace. It had no rufous in the upperwing, and no color on the bill. It was a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO! It was on the compact side to boot. I saw a whole bunch of full downstrokes and the entire outer upperwing was the same color as the back and innerwing. All brown. No rufuos. Yellow-bills are everywhere now of course, I see them multiple times daily in the pecans as they nest adjacent somewhere. This bird was obviously not one. I have seen a few here but never got a photo of one locally yet. It is a near-mega here. Over the day I saw five mint-fresh Monarch. These are new emergences from eggs laid in March probably as the Mexican winterers return on their way north. They are popping now.

Late p.m. I saw Carolina Wrens taking nesting material INTO one of the holes in the martin house! The young were due to fledge any day. I went out back to carport and found the nest ransacked. They got predated a day or two before fledging, probably last night. Coon or Spotted Skunk most likely. Dang it. Nest was in a bad place though, apparently why they have now chosen the highest hole around. Hey didja see my martins? They don't soar very well, these have a poor glide ratio (like a helicopter) and need to go on a diet. Nearing last sun I saw a fledgling Red-tailed Hawk flying around begging.

May 15 ~ Low about 66F or so, heavy overcast, over the morning by about noon it showered off and on for a half-inch or so of the wet stuff. Every bit counts. Not much migrant motion in the yard though being on the backside of the big bubble of birds. One Eastern Wood-Pewee sang early. Two Yellow Warbler over the day. Late in day was a getting tardy Lincoln's Sparrow. The rest was the territorial breeders, but a fine set I might say. Painted and Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-throated, White-eyed, and Bell's Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ash-throated and Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Crested Flyc. heard, Summer Tanager, Lark, Chipping and Field Sparrow, hear Yellow-throated Warbler singing, and then of course all the resident non-migratory species. The Carolina Wren (in back) and Bewick's Wren (in box on big pecan out front) both are working overtime feeding begging babies that will soon be fledging. So will a screaming Red-tailed Hawk juvie over at the river soon fledge. The Queen butterfly was still here on the Blue Mist Eupatorium.

tropicalparula

This is a Tropical Parula. Note black mask, no broken
white eye-crescents, yellow malar, and no black or rusty
band across upper breast.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 14 ~ Low was about 58F again, though likely was colder a dF or two, it was warming at 6 a.m. KERV had a 54F earlier. This has been a great treat to be dodging the heat so far in May. The forecast looks for it to continue another week to ten days (!) with chances of rain daily and a 60-80F or so temp spread all the way to the last week of May. With overcast and easterlies it means we should continue to get somewhere between a trickle and a dribble of migrants too. A couple Orchard Oriole were in yard early. Better and weirder, was a singing Canyon Towhee up in the big Pecan for a bit. Have not seen one in months. An unmated troller no doubt, it wasn't here for 15 minutes.

Town run day so a peekabout for birds, finally. The 354 pecans had two Yellow Warbler and a tardy Clay-colored Sparrow, besides the usual breeders. Utopia Park had a FOS Swainson's Thrush in the Mulberries on the island, but heard no Northern Parula, or any migrant warblers. The Parula might be done nesting and gone. Went up to the wet spot by Haby's on W. Sabinal Rd. via Jones Cmty Rd. Near the Spring Branch cutoff had my FOS Eastern Kingbirds (2). At the wet spot the teal and Pintail were gone, there were single Spotted and Pectoral Sandpiper, and 3 distant peeps I couldn't ID for sure, they were Baird's or White-rumped. Got some distant pixels to study. Heavy on the distant, and pixels. Have to go back tomorrow when not time constrained. UPDATE: The three peeps were WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, my first ever locally. Back in the yard there was a FOY Queen (butterfly) on some open Blue Mist Eupatorium. Some of the Am. Germander (aka Wood Sage but is not a sage) is opening flowers, hummers are right on it.

May 13 ~ Another 58F low, overcast and humid, but cool. Sun breaking out by noon. Quite nice if I could only go birding. Maybe hit 72F in the peak afternoon heat. Wow. Seems like one pair each of Chipping and Field Sparrow nesting adjacent to yard. Lots of Lark Sparrow around. The only Siskin left doesn't look well. Fading to breeders fast here. One Yellow Warbler was in the bath. There for a minute and gone. Who knows what we miss there. The Chat(s?) love the bath and visit often, getting very wet. The Great Crest is trolling for a mate moving up and down river habitat corridor calling, which it doesn't do when it has a mate and nest at this time. Too busy at the desk. Too many hummers, a half-gallon of juice today means a couple hundred Black-chinned here. At least a couple Ruby-throated still present. Really would like a Buff-bellied or Broad-billed but would settle for a Violetear (already have seen that in UvCo).

May 12 ~ Rootin' for that record low max today, wish us luck. Low of 58F, the cold front passed, but with little precip on it for us, they got more eastward. Very breezy northerlies and cold air advection, a big win for the date. Not seeing any migrants over the morning, the northerlies got over 10mph around 2 a.m. or so, whence likely shut any migrant progress down. At least one male Ruby-throated Hummingbird still here, and saw at least one, maybe two females yesterday, with nest bands. That wear or pressure mark incubating females get across the breast from the nest. At 5 p.m. it was about 68F and the sky was clearing, wind calm. Not a record low max, but only a few dF from it. Kathy spotted a few things coming into the birdbath late p.m.: a female Orchard Oriole, and single Yellow and Wilson's Warbler. Three migrants. There were 2 male Indigo Bunting on the patio late, with a third singing across road at same time, likely all are territorial here now. At last sun one leaving the patio did a nice flight song right overhead as I was out on driveway. I think he likes it here.

May 11 ~ Low about 65F feels great, and only to go up 10F or less today! We are dodging a heat bullet now. Last night it cleared after the big thundercells, stars were out at midnight, so I suspect migrant birds here moved out. We were socked in with Gulf overcast at dawn. Supposed to get another round of rain. This is saving spring. We should get flowers and butterflies yet. Did not have any passage passerine migrants through the yard over the day. Though one good migrant was viewable a few seconds. A pale female Prairie Merlin flushed everything as it dove by, right over my head, quite a late date. Some minor showerlets, a tenth of an inch plus over the day, might have gotten up to 72F for a high! Lower than yesterday's low! Did have a Great Crested Flycatcher troll through yard. It must be moving around trying to attract a mate. Neat seeing Blue Grosbeak on the seed out back. A last seed call at patio there were 4 ad. male Painted Bunting at once, plus a few greenies.

May 10 ~ A balmy 73F for a low, better get used to it. Scattered overcast filled in to solid by 9 or so. Have a cold front on way arriving tonight maybe. My THIRD Rose-breasted Grosbeak of the spring was singing across road from gate in the big Mesquites. I miss them lots of springs, and three is as many as I ever saw in a spring here, so a good showing for them. At least two Yellow Warbler around yard. No Clay-colored Sparrow, it was clear until way after midnight. Glad I got to hear it singing yesterday, that was probably it until next March since they don't sing in the fall. A couple times a Chimney Swift buzzed the sadly sealed chimneys here. At last light three silent Common Nighthawk flew over yard lowish. After dark a group of severe thundercells made it here from the Rio Grande, we got about .75" of rain, was constant lightning but not scary close. Along Hwy. 90 to our south there was a couple inches of precip. They needed it badly down there too.

May 9 ~ Low of about 72F is not very, get ready for about 4 months of that now. Here we go again. Overcast, gulf flow, but at least the howlin' winds stopped for the morning. Seems like there should be a migrant or two out there. First few hours in the yard had one new different Clay-colored Sparrow (after none present yesterday), a trolling Orchard Oriole singing a minute or two in the Pecans, and really weird, an American Robin, the first one in about 8 weeks. One lone bird, besides seeing it, it gave 3 different calls, the here I am call, the alarm call, and then the flight call as it flew across yard departing.

We checked a few local patches for migrants 11-1. The 354 Pecans had 4 Yellow and a Wilson's Warbler besides the breeders. Heard Orchard Oriole singing, saw a pair of Red-eyed Vireo there, several Bell's across the road. At Utopia Pk. there was a Yellow or two, we did not hear the Northern Parula but folks were camped in the area and a bit noisy. Then we checked the wet spot on W. Sabinal Rd. There was one drake Blue-winged Teal and the female Pintail continues, no shorebirds. Lots of odes though including rare in May Red-tailed Pennant, plus Roseate Skimmer and Wandering Glider. Figured we best check the ID on the singing Parula by the Hill Ranch entrance on Jones Cmty. Rd. It is a good male Northern. I went down by the river there (which is private, note purple paint, enter with permission only - you can only bird from road here) and flushed a FOS Mourning Warbler out of the Frostweed.

Moving toward a big patch where it went I heard another Parula singing. Both singing at the same time in each ear, sounded virtually identical. I ran it down anyway. Ended catching up with it right on the road just east of the Cmty. entrance turn. It was a male TROPICAL! Then a female flew into the tree with it! It was also a Tropical! A PAIR of Tropical Parula! Both for all intents and purposes appearing wholly pure good clean birds. Whilst trying to get a pic a pecan there with some flowers had a Yellow, a Wilson's, and a Black-throated Green Warbler. Just missed a Tropical pic though. Will have to go back and see if they are nesting, it looked like it. We intended on checking the 360 xing Pecans but it was being mowed when we passed it, so just came home. Some migrants were out there, and some newly territorial things are just being found. Here at dusk I had my FOY BOOM from a Common Nighthawk, right overhead. I also had TWO looks at Chuck-will's-widow in front yard at last light. Only a couple Firefly still.

May 8 ~ A balmy low of about 65F, summer is coming. Breezy SE winds most of day 10-15 mph gusting 20-25. A bit of a blower. Only migrants in the yard were one male Yellow Warbler and a Lincoln's Sparrow Kathy saw at the bath. Tomorrow is supposed to be less windy so will try a lookabout then. Both the Bewick's and Carolina Wren are feeding young fast and furiously, at opposite ends of the house. No wonder I don't see any bugs out there. There was a Vesta Crescent floating around the yard, and Kathy said she pulled something out of the tomato 'greenhouse' that looked a Crescent. Still low on leps. The Cuckoo was in yard off and on all day so surely our local nester, love 'em. I am not hearing Great Crested Flycatcher, of which a pair has nested just south of us in earshot all prior 8 springs and summers. One was there calling a couple weeks, and it seems as if it has departed. Kind of a drag (Buckinghams, 1967). Did not see a Clay-colored Sparrow today for the first time in many weeks. Yesterday two were left, but it blew hard from the south all night, and methinks they rode it out of Dodge. I think it was four Pine Siskin left, finally. They were persistent this spring. Three seems to be the high simultaneous ad. ma. Painted Bunting count, which are all likely territorial here.

another big migration special break...

Here are a few shorebirds, often called sandpipers.
Besides Killdeer, Snipe, and Spotted Sandpiper they are scarce here.
Mostly seen when it rains during migration at flood ponds.

wilsonsphalarope

Wilson's Phalarope, May 2 in BanCo. Phalaropes float and swim well.
Had to improve on that dark docushot a couple weeks ago. They peaked on
May 5 at 17 birds.

bairdssandpiper

One of 22 Baird's Sandpiper May 5 in BanCo. A generic small sandpiper,
between its Argentina wintering grounds and arctic Canada breeding grounds.

pectoralsandpiper

This is a Pectoral Sandpiper, photo May 2018 on W. Sab. Rd., one
at the same spot May 14, 2021, but pics today were just docushots.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 7 ~ Low about 54F, clear and dryish, wonderful. I could take that every morning all year and never complain. No migrant motion the first four hours in the yard. The bulk of the flood is past us already. The couple weeks of fade-away on the backside often sees some great birds though. Perserverance is omnipotent. Be indefatigable. Until it gets too hot. Town run so a park check. Nothing in the way of migrant motion. Not a Yellow, Nashville, or anything else, there or at the 354 Pecans. 354 had a Giant Swallowtail. The No. Parula continues singing and surely nesting at the park, and I heard what surely was begging baby Yellow-throated Warblers out on the island high in the Cypresses. Only thing new was a FOS Green Heron. Little Creek Larry said he saw a couple Snowy Egret there this week one day. I ran up to W. Sabinal Rd. to check see the wet spot. There were 5 Baird's and one Spotted Sandpiper, no Phalaropes. The Pintail is still there, and now 2 drake Blue-winged Teal, the 2 female teal were nowhere to be seen. One late Savannah Sparrow was at the eastmost water. No Kingbirds on any fencelines, checked a few miles worth. Two Clay-colored Sparrow were still here today. A Tropical Sage in front flower bed is opening flowers. Nearing 10 open heads of the Blue Mist Eupatorium now, with another mint fresh Monarch on it today. Saw a small probably male Pepsis Wasp go by porch. A Cloudless Sulphur was my FOY for them.

May 6 ~ More clear, cool, and dryish is great, low was about 50F! I saw KERV grabbed a quick 49F. Wow. No migrants in yard in morning. What was here left, and nothing new the first couple hours. Desk day for me though, can't lookabout until tomorrow. Nice to see those Siskin numbers going down, maybe a dozen left now. Kathy had one Yellow Warbler and near noon I saw a Nashville. One Least Flycatcher after noon. Pretty soon it will just be breeding season here. But we get a week or two more when there is an ever-slimming chance to see some fancy spring migrants. Most likely if we get some inclement weather to knock them down. Noon-thirty Kathy spotted the migrant of the day in the yard, a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the bath! I got the window open without flushing it and got a shot before it was done drinking and left. First time we have seen one at the bath. Second one in three days, and I often miss it in spring. Then she spotted it again, eating sunflower seeds on the patio about 6 p.m.! OMG! Whaddabird! It was sneaking around out there all day, unseen. Kathy was on the side porch by the patio when a Gray Fox sauntered across the patio in the heat of the afternoon. They must be feeding young too to be out in the heat of the day.

On the premature fledging of the four Eastern Phoebe young day before yesterday, of which two made sundown yesterday. It looked like two made the night here at first early. One tried to fly and flew into the gas tank of our big truck parked out back. It has been in the grass all day, getting fed. Finally about 5 I saw a second baby in the pecan. So two have almost made it through their second full day. Of four. At least one was lost to Mrs. Cooper's yesterday. They still can't really fly and have no biz being out of the nest. They always follow that first premature jumper, the oldest one, by days for half the clutch. The parents should ignore it at first and teach the babies with food to stay in the nest still. Instead they go over to it, and then the others think they need to be down there. Days before they are flight capable. We keep watching this over and over. Fairly frustrating to watch I must say. And I didn't even lay the eggs or catch all the bugs for a month.

May 5 ~ The cool air from the front got here and the low was a wonderful 52F or so. Sunny, dryish, nice. Some of our Blue Mist Eupatorium (maybe greggii) has open flowers and one of those mint-fresh just-emerged Monarch landed on it for nectar and photos. Also see the first couple Dayflower flowers open. And the first couple Mexican Hat. What a little water and heat can do. Got up to about 82F or so at peak heat. There were 4 baby Phoebe still first thing early in the morn. We only saw 2 at dusk. One was taken by the ad. fem. Cooper's Hawk late in the afternoon.

Had to run to town early so a couple quick spot checks. First at the park there was a singing male Am. Redstart, number 4 for me this spring. Mind-boggling was a SWAINSON'S WARBLER in the woods! It came up off the trail onto a big low horizontal branch, I got it in bins and wondered what weird sort of wren that was at first. Brownish above, warmer darker cap, dark line through eye with long pale supercilium, pale dirty underparts. But was shaped all wrong for a wren. Too long and horizontal, not rotund whatsoever. It took a few seconds of not being able to make any wren out of it for me to realize what that pointy beak and square ground-warbler tail meant. Not the first time I did that with one of these. I had a few more seconds on it reconfirming all the characters after I ID'd it, Whence it disappeared. Probably out to the island. Where I once thought I had one a few years ago. There were a couple Yellow, a Nashville, and the N. Parula continues singing. Combed the understory in the woods well and it had to have gone out on the island where you cannot see much.

Then I ran out to Haby's wet spot on W. Sabinal Rd. in BanCo. There were about 22 Baird's Sandpiper, and 17 Wilson's Phalarope. I only had my bins with me so was sorta hobbled at 8x. Took some pix to blow up of some distant birds. Update: all I see in the pixels are Baird's. The Pintail was still there, grabbed a docushot this time. The N. Parula was still singing between Jones Cmty. and the Hill Ranch entrance at the curve. Drive-by singing Orchard Oriole were at north and south ends of town. The 354 Pecans had 3 Yellow and a Nashville Warbler. I got a ton of work at the desk and can't steal more than the hour I did. Was a Least Flycatcher out by gate late afternoon. A couple Yellow Warbler spent all day in the yard, and Kathy heard Common Nighthawk again just before dusk.

May 4 ~ Front came in after midnight with northerlies 10-15 gusting 20-25. Was about 72F at midnight, finally dropping to 64F or so around 8 a.m., and very dry. At 8 a.m. there was a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the dying hackberry, calling and singing. Ran in for camera, it flew out to pecans, sang more, then flew across the road and sang more from the Mesquites, then flew toward the draw so I gave up. Easy to miss in spring so great to see. Wish I could have gotten some pixels. A Baltimore Oriole and three Yellow Warbler went through yard at the same time, and then it was empty. Save the local breeders. One male Red-winged Blackbird still visits, which I suspect is a bird nesting across the river at the golf course ponds. Nearest ones anyway. Siskin numbers seemed to have dropped, hope it stays that way. Maybe 20 or so, or less. Which is way better than 75 if you are buying the seed! Heard a good warbler sing that got away.

The nesting pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher are gone. I have not heard them in four days since the big 3" at once finale rain event. I presume the nest was wiped out and they are gone. Two years in a row a pair tried here, failed, and moved elsewhere. Last year the hail got them. Kathy saw fledged baby Eastern Phoebes out of the nest today, at least four. The oldest one jumps and the others follow despite just getting to the day the oldest one thought it was ready. The others are too young. They do this all the time, I don't know how any make it. I saw the Bewick's Wren carrying a fecal sac, so they have hatched young. I had to stop work on my knothole nestbox due to them (and my stupidity of not moving a nearby box before I got work underway). Now I get scolded if I go over there. Two Yellow Warbler were in the pecans all day, male and female. Couple Chucks and Firefly at dusk.

May 3 ~ Low about 60F feels great. Partly sunny early, calm wind, nice. Some migrant motion as I had a Baltimore Oriole and a Yellow Warbler got through yard early. At least some stuff moved. But it is Monday at the salt mine. A Cuckoo (Y-b) was calling out in the yard, hoping it is our local breeder back to hang around a couple months. They are in and out fast, fast as Golden-cheeks. A couple Yellow Warbler around yard. Kathy spotted a male Am. Redstart at the birdbath noonish. Third one for me this spring so far, and though I usually get one in spring, not always, I have missed it. Three is about peak here for a spring for me. The highlight of the day was after 1 p.m. when two Purple Martin landed at the martin house! The thrill of it all. I am guessing it was a female and an first-spring male. There was lots of noise, they were on the roof and the porches, so will be hoping they choose it. It was a big first step past it just getting buzzed. I presume some of the probably new pairs are still out looking for a site then. Saw 88F on the cool shady front porch at 4 p.m., surely was 92 in the sun, which is what KERV showed at NOAA. Del Rio was 101, Castroville 96F. It is the heat ahead of the front inbound tonight with a slight chance of a shower as it passes. Tomorrow should be good for birds. How come so many Yellow or Nashville Warbler will spend the whole day in the yard circling the pecans and the rarer warblers NEVER do? Late nearing dusk Kathy heard the FOS Common Nighthawk! She also hears begging baby Phoebes in the nest.

Of interest was another mint fresh right out of the paint shop Monarch. As in just emerged. Heading NNE. These have to be individuals that just hatched from eggs laid by the ones on their way North that just passed by. Our passage window here starts around March 10. So that means eggs are surely being laid south of us before that, probably in northern Mexico a couple weeks before that would not surprise me. I am not sure how far south they lay eggs, or what those earliest egg dates are. Or if it is really solidly known for that matter. We know they are laying when they pass by here though. These fresh ones we see now are from eggs laid 6-8 weeks ago maybe and the first of the new generation heading north that did not winter in Mexico.

May 2 ~ Foggy at dawn and first couple hours from all that ground moisture, low about 54F, was sunny by 9, and wonderful. Still hear the river but it has dropped quite a bit from last night by the sounds of it. Just after midnight last night I again heard the Long-eared Owl over in the corral. Now it is 6 weeks of detections. Is it nesting? Just singles of each Yellow and Nashville Warbler, and a Least Flycatcher in the yard over the morning. Seems like stuff blew out. Also a male Hooded Oriole, which I inadvertently flushed when I came out of the cottage. Went out for a few hours mid-day. First the 360 xing Pecan patch, which had a few each Nashville and Yellow Warbler, a few Clay-colored, Chipping, and a Lincoln's Sparrow, and the rest was breeding stuff. Of note though was the first fledged juvenile bird I have seen this year, a nice streaky begging juvenile Chipping Sparrow. Water was below top of crossing bridge so the foot-deep bubble of runoff has passed. Bet they were happy to see that down in Sabinal.

We went south down to UvCo 363 as surely the pond there has water now. There were a few Cliff Swallow at the 4-mile bridge, but very few. The 363 low spot was with water, but no birds at it. A few Bell's Vireo singing along road. Some Englemann's Daisy is open. Then up to the 354 Pecans where about 4 Nashville and a couple Yellow Warbler was it for migrants. Then the park woods. First Tropical Sage flowers open. Great was a heard FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher, love that call. There were a Chat, a few Nashville and a couple Yellow Warbler, heard Comm. Yellowthroat and a couple No. Waterthrush, plus the singing territorial No. Parula, and usual Yellow-throated Warbler. Great was hearing a Catbird singing from the Mulberries on the island, got a glimpse of it finally. Third one I have heard this spring, first one I saw. But hearing it sing was better, very rare to hear sing down here. Might suggest a Long-billed Thrasher but obviously not a Mockingbird. Got an out of focus docushot of a blue (butterfly). UPDATE: Subsequent study of the images shows it to have been a Cassius Blue, always a good find here. Semi-regular in very low numbers, but can easily go a year without seeing one.

Then we went to the ponds on W. Sabinal Rd. at Haby's place. On the way just west of Jones Cmty. there was a No. Parula singing along the road. At the ponds each had 5 Wilson's Phalarope, for a total of ten. Got better shots in the sun. One Spotted Sandpiper, the three teal were still there, a pair of Blue-wing and maybe a Green-wing, but they have been joined by a very tardy female Pintail. There were also two tardy Savannah Sparrow on fenceline. Great was some odes. Several Band-winged Dragonlet which are always a treat, some Green Darner, both Red, and Black, Saddlebags, E. Pondhawk, a Prince Baskettail, probably Variegated Meadowhawks, and some damsels I didn't ID, but looked Plateau Spreadwing. We cruised west of Haby's past the Heideman's and Hilbigs, and we were gobsmacked by the denuded trees from the hail. OMG! It looks a moonscape. Looks like February, not May. Did not hear a bird along the road for over a mile through it. A few Swainson's Hawk were in the area. Got up to the mid-80's F in the afternoon here at hovelita. Kathy got the maters in the ground in the garden.

May 1 ~ At midnight (and a couple checks right before April ended) it was clear with stars, and no wind. I bet the grounded birds moved. More rain starting before dawn and then for much of the day. Lots of it. I would say THREE INCHES MORE here! We are at SIX INCHES now for the event over the last 3 days. It is flooded in any low spots, the river is roaring, first time I have heard it since last June probably. I am looking for a No. Waterthrush here in yard. Was in the 60's F all day. A few Yellow and a couple Nashville were the only warblers I saw here in the yard, nothing different. Save the ponds, and the stream over in the corral.

There was a break about 2-4 p.m. maybe so I went out for a look. Down at the 360 x-ing there were 7 Yellow, a few Nashville Warbler, and a couple warblers got away. Two Eastern Wood-Pewee, a dozen each of Lark, Chipping, and Clay-colored Sparrow. I was out of the trees at south end of patch (in the lee) and saw a couple swifts overhead. They struck me as off right away and had them in bins in two seconds. They had well-forked tails, were big, and black, had long thin scythe-like wings with wrist near body, and were clearly swifts. They were BLACK SWIFTS! I had perfect sun on them the last half of view, over-the-shoulder, and they were coal jet black. I had them in bins 20 seconds maybe before they went behind the treeline of the Cypresses along river. They were big black swifts with forked tails. This low just came out of northern Mexico, they were in a clear slot behind what here was the main event. This is the second time I have seen them here. The prior was two from the yard on April 26, 2018, right in the first clear air behind a big low that came out of northern Mexico and west Texas.

I headed to town to check the park woods. When I went over the crossing the water was about 3" deep. There was a FOS Cattle Egret with the horses on the east side of the river on 360. Utopia Park had way fewer birds, and no raries. A few Yellow and Nashville Warbler, a Black-throated Green, a couple Common Yellowthroat, seemed like three Northern Waterthrush, one of which was singing. Which I have never heard here that I recall. A few warblers got away. Couple Least and a Great Crested Flycatcher. River was raging nearly a foot over the spillway, and is over bankfull. Headed home and as I neared the crossing Big Ern of B-B-Q fame, and the J.P., was coming from it, flagged me down, he just barricaded the crossing, it was over a foot deep now! In an hour, from three inches. So I went the two miles back to town, west out 1050 a mile and change, and then came in the back way mile and half. I was a mile from home and it took 5 to get there.  LOL.   Another Least Flycatcher here. After dinner I was out in driveway at 7 p.m. and heard a Catbird calling over in the draw. Then heard a FOY Couch's Spadefoot Toad. Goes great with Clay-colored Sparrow. Sounds like a factory out there. Six inches of rain will get the spadefoots out every time. The Leopard Frogs are in full roar now too. Saw a few open Scarlet Pea flowers.

~ ~ ~ a couple of my favorite rock in the yard ~ ~ ~

americanredstart

American Redstart (male) at the birdbath May 3. Whaddabird!

rosebreastedgrosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male) at the birdbath May 6.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ April summary ~ ~ ~

Wow what a month! After spending most it bone dry we got 3" of rain the last couple or few days. And 3 more the first day of May to end the event. Saving spring here no doubt. There will be May flowers now. Lots of the ground was pretty parched with grasses turning brown already and hardly any flowers coming up.

Odes (dragonflies and damselflies) were nearly pitiful. There was barely anything flying. I presume it was the drought and extreme freeze that set things back. One species of damselfly and a few sps. of dragons, it was about 5 species for the month, surely the worst April I have seen here for them. They are MIA so far this year. Hopefully May will see them.

Butterflies were pretty weak as well, I presume the lack of flowers, drought, and extreme freeze set them back too. I count 26 species, average is near 45, worst ever April prior in last 18 was 36 species, so we blew that away. Did see Henry's Elfin and Falcate Orangetip, our spring-only specialties. But still not a single Black Swallowtail yet this year. Monarch passage from mid-March to mid-April was fair.

What the bugs lacked the birds made up for, they were great, once the rain hit. We had a good grounding the last few days of the month as a low was parked out west of us and gave us proper conditions to put the migrants overhead on the ground where we mortals can find them if we are lucky. Most of the excitement was in the form of warblers for me. We get about a month window when the migratory types might be seen if we are lucky. This April two of my most-wanted locally warblers showed, albeit briefly. A male CERULEAN sang while in our yard on the 27th, and a male GOLDEN-WINGED was at Utopia Park the 30th. Both are accidental this far west, I had not seen either here in 18 springs. Bexar Co. is as far west as they are semi-regular in very very low numbers (one or two per spring, maybe). Less than annual so always good was a Magnolia in our yard the 28th. Also LTA, two Chestnut-sided is good, one at and by the Hilbig's on the 27th, another at Utopia Pk. the 30th. There is a pair of Northern Parula attempting to nest at Utopia Pk., for which there is only one prior Sabinal River drainage nesting attempt known for the species. The other rare bird was a shorebird, there were 7 Wilson's Phalarope a few miles NW of town in Bandera Co. April 30. There are only a very few BanCo records. Looks like about 125 species for me for the month. Others saw additional species in the area of course. Considering we how little we got out, that it was mostly the yard and a couple checks a week of the park and other very local patches, with no Lost Maples visit, it is pretty good methinks. Two new Uvalde County warblers for me is off-the-charts and over the moon phenomenal.

~ ~ ~ end April summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ archive copy April update header ~ ~ ~

April!?! My first FOS was just after midnight on April 1st, a Barn Owl. Later in the daylight the 1st another FOS for me was a Hooded Oriole (the Hilbigs had one Mar. 13). On the 2nd my FOS was a Chimney Swift at dusk. My FOS adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was the 4th (but had that imm. male record early in March). Also on the 4th were FOS Swainson's Hawk and a record-early Wilson's Warbler. April 7 a few FOS were at the park: Northern Parula, Summer Tanager, and Bell's Vireo. April 8 there was our FOS Indigo Bunting on the patio. April 9 my FOS Red-eyed Vireo was singing at Utopia Park, and the Northern Parula continued singing. April 10 heard FOS Yellow-breasted Chat on territory. April 11 confirmed a female Northern Parula with the male. Also April 11, FOS local Black-capped Vireo a couple miles south of town, and at first dark, a distant FOS Chuck-will's-widow gave a few weak calls. The 13th my FOS Orchard Oriole sang from the big pecan out front in the morning, in the afternoon a FOS male Black-throated Green Warbler was in it. Just after midnight on the 14th I heard a LONG-EARED OWL again over in the corral, and a FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo. That morning the FOS Blue Grosbeak sang. The 15th I heard FOS Yellow Warbler singing through the yard. The 16th a FOS Northern Waterthrush was at the park, and the N. Parula continue, on territory. Also my FOS Great-tailed Grackle was by the gas station, though Larry had a couple a couple weeks ago. The 22nd we had FOS Lazuli and Painted Bunting on the patio, both males of course. On the 23rd there were FOS Common Yellowthroat at the park, plus No. Waterthrush and continuing No. Parula. First thing in a.m. the 24th, 2 FOS Western Kingbird and a FOS Bullock's Oriole went through yard. The 25th we had a FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee. My FOS Blue-headed Vireo was April 26. On April 27 I saw likely the bird of the spring, a male CERULEAN Warbler, bare-eyed 12' out the bathroom window, which sang! The same drizzly day Sylvia Hilbig had a Chestnut-sided Warbler at their place. My FOS Least Flycatcher were two that same grounding day as well. The 28th the drizzle and grounding continued to produce birds, that day FOS for me were: Baltimore Oriole, Mississippi Kite (18-20), Tennessee Warbler, and Magnolia Warbler. Sylvia Hilbig also had 3 Miss. Kites that day. The rarest thing of all this spring, RAIN (!) showed up April 28-29, 2" and up for many locally, WOW! April 29 there was a FOS singing American Redstart at our place, which continued morning of the 30th. A FOS Willow Flycatcher was along 360 the 30th. Utopia Park had lots of migrants the 30th, at least 11 sps. of warblers including a male Chestnut-sided, and a male GOLDEN-WINGED! Plus 3-4 No. Waterthrush, male Am. Redstart, and others. Heard a FOS Catbird. Also the 30th there were 7 Wilson's Phalarope, plus single Solitary and Spotted Sandpiper on W. Sabinal Rd. at and by Haby's wet spot. Another FOS the 30th was Bronzed Cowbird. This week with the weather birds have been great, we are at peak primetime for spring passage.

~ ~ end archive copy April update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

April 30 ~ Northerlies still blowing since yesterday, overcast and about 62F for a low, but no additional rain yet. More is forecast. Winds are 10-15 gusting 20 and higher, tough bird finding conditions. At least a couple Yellow Warbler in the yard first thing, and seemingly about 20 Clay-colored Sparrow. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher must be nesting over by the old well, singing there at dawn and dusk every day. Mid-morn after thinking sure I heard the chip note, I heard a measure of song from the American Redstart, so it is still here. So is the bright yellow American Goldfinch, a good late date. Heard only my second Cuckoo of the spring, two weeks after the first. Right before I left for a town a Black-throated Green Warbler came down a couple feet over the patio to see what all the birds were doing.

On the way down 360 heard a few Least Flycatcher and one FOS Willow Flycatcher. I looked at the 354 pecans on the way into town but they were blown out with the northerlies. So I just checked the Mulberry from the car. Felt like a cheap tramp, willing to settle for a 10-second stand with a rary. One female Summer Tanager. In town I heard tales of hail. It was bad down by Sabinal to D'Hanis and Hondo along Hwy. 90. And up here out W. Sabinal Rd. I heard an area had hail a FOOT deep! They say there is an area where all the trees are denuded, including junipers. Another carpet bombing, but worse than the one last May. Most locals got 2-3" of rain but some got 3-4". Little Creek Larry said he got 1.5" and has been seeing an Osprey a few days over there. I went out there and the SLC ponds are still dry. There were 40 or so Black-bellied Whistling-Duck downcreek, Larry said a guy feeding stuff on the ranch downstream says there are a hundred.

I went out W. Sabinal but only to Haby's wet spot. There was lots of water, it should be good for weeks. Great were FOS Solitary and Spotted Sandpiper there, and better, 7 WILSON'S PHALAROPE. Very rare in Bandera Co.! Also a pair of Blue-winged and one other Teal I got grainy pics of to study. A Great-tailed Grackle was at the gas station, a Swainson's Hawk was over the pasture just to the west of that. Then to Utopia Park. Warblers! In the woods was a male GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, the first one I have ever seen here. OMG! Had it at 12' just above eye level. Behind the house there was a male Chestnut-sided. There may have been a second Parula singing besides the male of the nesting pair of Northern. Other warblers included a singing Black-and-white, singing American Redstart, singing Black-throated Green (of 2 there), at least 3 each and probably 4 each of Northern Waterthrush and Common Yellowthroat, about eight Yellow, a few Nashville, an Orange-crowned Warbler, and a probable Ovenbird got away to the island. Heard a FOS Catbird. Also a Kinglet (Ruby), a Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireo, male Baltimore Oriole. I was pressed for time and had to go too soon. Saw one Western Kingbird on a fenceline, another I was sure enough was an Eastern that I stopped and turned around, went back less than a hundred yards and they were both gone. Migration.

There were Yellow Warbler, Least Flycatcher and Clay-colored Sparrow everywhere along the roads today. Watching radar for a break to head back out this afternoon. Just a few Yellow and a Nashville in the yard pecans. Was a bit rainy the first hour but went back out 4-6. At the 360 crossing pecans there were a dozen Yellow, an Orange-crowned, and a couple Nashville, plus heard a Black-throated Green, number four today. Also a singing Blue-headed Vireo, and over a dozen Clay-colored and 2 Lincoln's Sparrow. Then checked the 354 pecans. At least 8 Yellow and a couple Nashville Warbler, Least Flycatcher, Bell's Vireo. Back to the park. None of the good stuff showed, some yellow, Nashville, Northern Waterthrush and Com. Yellowthroat, Wilson's Warbler, singing Parula, but the stuff either had moved north into the live-oaks north of the park or had gone to sleep. On the way back checking the fenceline just south of town, it had 2 Western Kingbird on my way into town, 12 were on it on the way back less than an hour later. When I pulled back into our driveway and started walking back to close the gate, a sparrow flew up from the side of the driveway and landed IN the gate. Had bins on luckily, it was a Grasshopper! Whaddaday! One of the great fallout days here, I can only imagine if one got to bird all day, surely more goodies would have been turned up.

I would guestimate 50-60 Clay-colored Sparrow today, probably 35 Yellow Warbler at minimum, at least 10 Least Flycatcher. I think it was 11 species of warbler, which is a 5-star grade A day here. And oh yeah, I didn't do a bunch of work I was supposed to do. Late in day there was finally (though not as though I was wanting it) a FOS Bronzed Cowbird. This morning I mentioned to Kathy how they are late this year. Interestingly Sylvia Hilbig mentioned they still have White-crowned Sparrows there! By the end of the day I see we got another inch of rain, so we are at 3" for this event so far. Amazing how some rain gives a glimpse into what is going by normally undetected. Add-on forgot to mention... a Field Sparrow here has a snow white crown, and much snowy whiteness about the sides of face, neck and on nape.

April 29 ~ Just after midnight a big cell hit with scattered hail, I saw some .75 to 1" rocks, and we got another 1.5" of rain! There were some 3-4" monster hailstones in Sabinal 20 miles south. We had at least 2" for a rain total here, looked like northward some may have gotten more. Spectacular, amazing, the first rain in April, finally. We were dessicated. It was beyond desparately needed, lots of the front yard was looking more like August or Sept., not April. It came up green in March and promptly turned brown. That is how dry it has been. Maybe we will get a wildflower bloom in May now. Temp dropped to about 63F as some cold air came in with the front behind the rain. Never did make 70F. Average Lo-Hi spread for SAT now is about 64-84F.

Saw the yellow-orange Painted Bunting with the yellow orbital ring again this morning. Pine Siskins just blew off the chart with about 75 on the patio after 10 a.m. Twice as many as any count all winter. Late April is not usually peak Pine Siskin time here. Several Yellow and at least one Nashville Warbler in the yard Pecans. About 20 Clay-colored Sparrow is great. They love the fallow aspect of the yard, especially along the fencelines. A Dickcissel was by the patio and sang a dozen times! Lots of calls, but we never hear them sing in the yard. One Least Flycatcher on fence at NE corner of yard. Be a good day to spend birding locally! I am stuck at the desk.

The winds behind the front were pretty gusty all day, making spotting birds in the trees very difficult. It was 10-15 mph gusting 20 plus. About 5 p.m. there was a singing American Redstart behind the shed out back in the lee of the ridgelet that terminates there. Also one Least Flycatcher there. Always bird the lees in the wind. It is where the stuff is hiding. Kathy spotted the one ad. orange-billed White-crowned Sparrow still here, which later gave some snippets of quiet song. Sings like the California birds I grew up with. Presume it is the same continuing Gambell's since November. Late in day I saw what would seem to be the same all super yellow male American Goldfinch, for the first time in a couple days. Visting other feeders no doubt. What a stunning beauty.

April 28 ~ A balmy 72F for a low is starting to feel summerish. But it stayed coolish under the overcast, with a bit of mist off and on. Supposed to have rain this evening. First thing early there was a FOS Baltimore Oriole in the yard. There were 4 Yellow Warbler at once in the pecans in front yard, and a Nashville with them. But no blue and white warblers. The only blue and white was the male Lazuli Bunting which showed again, looking like the same one as two days ago. A FOS female Blue Grosbeak was at the bath. One generally adult appearing Painted Bunting is rather oddly colored below, surely the one that looked an orange flash the other day, with much yellow. Under heavy overcast with max ISO I got a few (no doubt granular) shots that will show some of it. At least a couple Audubon's Oriole were up the hill behind us late morning. Have not heard any here recently so nice, but they seemed to just move by northward.

Noonish a flock of warblers went through the yard. There were at least 6 Yellow, maybe 5 Nashville, two Black-throated Green, an Orange-crowned, and a male MAGNOLIA Warbler! Maggies are less than annual here so always a big treat. Whaddabird! Walked over to draw as it moved north out of yard, but could not refind it. Did have a male Wilson's, and one of the Black-throated Green was singing. A Common Yellowthroat was across the road from our fence near the gate. After lunch I rolled down to the crossing pecan patch. Before I left the driveway I saw FOS Mississippi Kites! There were about 20 of them in the drizzle, no doubt which drove them down to ground level where seeable. At the crossing pecans there were about 8 each of Nashville and Yellow Warbler, and one female Black-and-white. A couple more warblers got away. One Kinglet (Ruby). Also two FOS Dickcissel flew off calling from there. Of course Yellow-throated are singing up and down river, hearable anywhere you stop. One Least Flycatcher was down the road. Eight migrant species of warbler plus the Yellow-throated makes a good warbler day here.

In the early evening a couple rain cells went over, we probably got a half-inch or so for a total. Not much but something and at this point anything is more than welcome. Heard a few hail stones hit the roof and there was lots of lightning. There was a big cell headed in right after midnight whence I shut down and unplugged.

April 27 ~ Balmy, overcast, a little mist, low was about 67F. Some migrant motion though. Another or the, Blue-headed Vireo sang outside early, got a look today. Two Nashville and a late Orange-crowned Warbler. Incredible was a CERULEAN WARBLER that sang right out the bathroom window in the pecan over the bath. I saw it bare-eyed in the low branches 12' from the window! It was blue above, 2 big white wingbars, and essentially all white below, there was no yellow. By time I got outside with bins and camera it was gone. Looked around quite a bit and it must have kept moving. Two miles upriver and it will be at the park. Awesome and frustrating at the same time as only seeing a rare bird briefly and not getting a pic can do to you.

Checked the pecans in the draw, 2 FOS Least Flycatcher. Walked a half mile of the road out front checking the blooming pecans, a couple Common Yellowthroat, Nashvilles, heard Yellow and Black-throated Green Warbler and a couple warblers got away. One looked good. Back here then the first migrant Black-and-white Warbler I have seen in the yard this spring went through. There is a grounding, obvious from the light sprinkle of migrants and megarary. All afternoon was too busy to go look further than the yard pecans, which only had Nashville and Orange-crowned Warbler.

Sylvia Hilbig sent an email, they had a CHESTNUT-SIDED Warbler at their place this morning. Wish I could go birding, but had a ton of work. Sylvia also reported they had a Barn Owl in their woods last Saturday (24th). I have yet to see one 'on the ground' here, only getting them calling as flyovers in the dark. So there are good birds all over the place. It is that time of year, here. We are at peak prime time for migration the last 10 days of April and first 10 of May. Near the middle of that is usually the best day. After dark I saw a Firefly, number two now this year.

April 26 ~ Overcast, low about 62F. Stayed cloudy most of the day. Barely 80F at 4 p.m. Heard a different vireo sing, surely was a Blue-headed but it shut up when I went out. Was a Red-eyed singing out there too, besides the Yellow-throated, White-eyed, and Bell's. So, five species of vireo in the yard this morning, four with ID. Also saw my FOS female Indigo Bunting. Great was another male Lazuli Bunting, clearly not the one several days ago. Three in a few days is a good showing here. Got a better pic too. More than a half-dozen Clay-colored Sparrow singing at once is a funny sound. Noonish a male Wilson's Warbler came into the bath briefly. Did not seem to be much for migrant motion though. My first of the year Firefly was about 5 minutes into the 26th at 0005 hours.

April 25 ~ A cool dry 50F for a low is awesome. After 9 some breeze picking up. Those first couple hours of calm are always great, because they don't last long here. An Orchard Oriole and a Yellow Warbler or two went by early. Over at the draw I heard two Common Yellowthroat. So, a little bit of migrant motion. After breakfast we slow-rolled down to the 360 crossing and birded it for an hour and change. A FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee was nice. So were decent views of a Northern Waterthrush. An ad. male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is nearing lateish, have not seen one in over a month. These late April to early May birds must be ones that winter way far south in Mexico, and are going way north where still frozen. A couple Yellow and a few Nashville Warbler were the only other migrant warblers. A few singing Yellow-throated Warbler are territorial nesters. Had one Red-eyed Vireo, one Great Crested Flycatcher, a half-dozen each Clay-colored and Lark Sparrow, a Lesser Goldfinch, some Pine Siskin went over. From here to there it was at least 4 singing Bell's Vireo, 6 singing Indigo Bunting, a few each Chat and Yellow-throated Vireo. At crossing a pair of Vermilion Flycatcher on E. side of river, another pair downriver a bit on west side.

Kathy spotted the first damselfly of the year, a Kiowa Dancer, finally. Only ode we saw. One summer form Questionmark puddling at crossing, a Dainty Sulphur on way back. A couple Water-willow (Justicia) had flowers open, Mealy Sage is going but had no butterflies on it. Worked in the garden in the afternoon heat, local WU stations showing 85-90F. Weird was the last now all yellow male American Goldfinch showing up after being gone a few days. Cheatin' on me at some other feeders no doubt. The other weird thing was what I presume was a male Painted Bunting, but decidedly orange below. I just saw it for a flash when it dropped onto patio, saw me, and it flushed, but got mostly orange below off it. Waited for some time with camera and it did not drop back down. Over the day from here (8) to crossing (6) and along road (6) I would say 20 Clay-colored Sparrow minimum. One Lincoln's Sparrow at crossing and one here. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher still here in yard early and late.

April 24 ~ Low was about 42F or so, KERV had a 40 briefly. Feels great. Was calm first thing, the cold air was here but not the wind yet for the first couple hours. Then it blew 10-15 mph, gusting 20-25 most of the day. Afternoon got up to 86F on the cool shady front porch, and I saw 14% humidity for KERV! Bone dry for here. First thing before 7 a.m. a Ringed Kingfisher flew over the yard twice, chacking away. A Kinglet (Ruby) was out back early. About 8 a couple FOS Western Kingbird passed over yard, and a FOS Bullock's Oriole stopped to chatter and whistle in the big Pecan. A couple Nashville went through. Got a count of 8 Clay-colored Sparrow on the patio at once. The couple Vesper there too, as well as an ad. White-crowned. Just saw one Lincoln's, 4 Chipping, and over a dozen Lark. Two ad. male Painted Bunting at once on seed tube. Saw a greenie, Painted Bunting which was likely a first-spring male. Also saw my first, first-spring male Blue Grosbeak.

Went to town for some soil stuffs for the garden, didn't want wet bags in the back of the truck yesterday. I think we have all we need now for the space we have. The maters need to get in the ground. Going down 360 to the crossing from here, about .75 of a mile, there were 4 singing Bell's Vireo and 5 singing Indigo Bunting. A great soundtrack. Checked the park in town. Did not hear the Parula singing but it was noon and over 80 already, plus people camped there. In the woods there were several Nashville Warbler, two Common Yellowthroat presumably from yesterday by the island, no Waterthrushes though, one Kinglet (Ruby) makes two for the day, a pair of screaming Red-shouldered Hawk, several Martins over the pond, and one Great Crested Flycatcher went through the woods. A Red-eyed Vireo singing there is likely the one that was territorial there last spring to summer. A few warblers got away.

Mostly the same in afternoon at the hovelita, it got hot and things quieted down. At least there are on and off bouts of singing now though. Chat and Bell's Vireo are probably the most dedicated vociferous ones. Outstanding was late in day an adult female Lazuli Bunting dropped down onto the patio. Nice bright one, but only got a fuzzy docushot through window. Another 3 bunting day on the patio. Sure could use a Varied. Chuck-will's-widow seem fewer in number so far still, but a couple or few. Got all the soil and stuff out back in one of the garden enclosures, will try to finish it for Kathy's now foot-tall 'maters tomorrow.

wilsonsphalarope

This is two of the four females, of the seven Wilson's Phalarope
in Bandera Co. April 30 where hard to come by.


and here is a bonus bunting...
paintedbunting

Some may have noticed I have an inordinate fondness for all
weirdos, oddballs, and abberations. Especially fascinating are
these Painted Buntings that are not all pure red below.
Didn't they read the books and look at the pictures?
Here yellow was dull but extensive, reddish areas often appeared
orange. Neat thing is the orbital ring is more yellow than red.
The rump too was not red but greenish yellow. Sorry about
the 3200 ISO (!) granularity, was under dark clouds in shade.
At least it's not just a description trying to convey what it was.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 23 ~ A misty muggy morning, it was around 59F at midnight, 65 by dawn. Drizzly first half of day, then cleared and warmed to the mid-80's F! Might have gotten a tenth of an inch of precip. Not much but a wee bit. Saw the male Painted Bunting here today, but as of 4 p.m. no Lazuli. Counted 31 Pine Siskin, did not see the bright Am. Goldfinch. Heard Martins overhead. Town run day so a look at the park. Light was bad with the bright overcast behind the dark canopy. About a half-dozen warblers got away zipping around in it. Had getting-lateish Myrtle and Orange-crowned, and a couple Nashville Warbler. Along the island there were 3 FOS Common Yellowthroat and 2 Northern Waterthrush. So clearly some grounding action. Two ad. Pied-billed Grebe on the pond are new, the two imm.s that wintered have been gone a month. Saw a Green Kingfisher on other side of the river. The 354 Pecans had a Nashville Warbler, an Orchard Oriole, and a warbler that got away. No Dickcissel there yet in pasture. Did see one female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at the corner of 354 and 187 where a pair often nests. Late afternoon a couple Vesper and one first spring Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow were out back behind office. A couple FOY butterflies in afternoon warmth were a Giant Swallowtail and a Gulf Fritillary. Saw some Prickly Poppy in bloom, first ones this year.

April 22 ~ Low was about 50F, drizzle and mist moved in, another damp cool gray day. Any precip helps. You can tell the forbs and wildflowers in particular are not coming up as in good wet times. I don't think we broke 60F today, about 20F under average. The first-summer Cooper's Hawk took a Eurasian Collared-Dove this morning, which it is welcome to. One down, two to go. I am surprised the adult pair of Coops has let this yearling remain in the territory this long, as I would think they would have begun the new nesting cycle by now. About 4 p.m. a FOS male Lazuli Bunting dropped onto the patio. One of the most beautiful birds in America. It only takes one good bird to make your day. Then just before 7 p.m. a FOS male Painted Bunting was on the patio! Two FOS male buntings on the patio today. Of course I saw the male Indigo a few times out there as well, so a bodacious three bunting day on the patio. If I could just get them all together for a field guide photo. Still haven't seen a female Indigo yet. With the cold and damp the hummers were out of control on the one communal feeder, three feeders are being guarded most of the time. It was near a couple quarts of consumption so surely over a couple hundred are here. Did see one male Lesser Goldfinch, they have been very scarce so far this spring. Another (or same?) Red Satyr (lep) flopped across the yard.

April 21 ~ Another low of about 42F is nice, but it is breezy from the north still and feels cooler. Not much for migrant motion this morn as expected with a night of northerlies. Temps never made 70F, maybe 66F tops, probably 15F below average for the date. And no one complained. A couple Nashville was it for migrant motion. There were at least 6-7 Clay-colored Sparrow together, often in front yard pecans. Which have blooms out now, but which don't look open yet. Live-oaks are done, Pecans are it, where to look for insectivore migrants, now for a couple weeks. Clay-colored now outnumber the Chipping Sparrow left, a pair or two maybe. Only a couple Lincoln's Sparrow left. Thought I heard a Brown-crested Flycatcher across the road in the big Mesquites. Had all that extra whhhh wind going through the whhhip call.

April 20 ~ A great brisk low of about 40F! We will soon be longing for this, so cherish these last cool mornings. Early a Nashville Warbler and an nice male Orchard Oriole sang through the yard. So movement happened. Today would be a good day to be out looking, of course I am stuck at the desk. Awesome to hear all the neotropical migrants singing on territory again. Singing out there were Bell's, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireos, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-throated Warbler, Summer Tanager, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Indigo Bunting gave a quiet short bar or few, Vermilion Flyc. singing, Great Crested Flycatcher calling. Then add all the non-migratory residents which are going well now of course, and it makes for a great symphony. Probably the same FOY one I saw last week, a summer form Questionmark butterfly is zipping about. In the afternoon I saw a first spring orange-billed gray-lored White-crowned Sparrow, a Gambell's. As in like one of the immatures that wintered here maybe, but I have not seen in over a week? Again the lateral dark crown stripes were black, the dorsal were still brown. Kathy saw a male Blue Grosbeak at the birdbath. Got up to about 80F right before another frontal passage in the afternoon, dry again, but more cool air advection. Pretty windy from north prior to dusk so likely not a lot of movement is my guess for tomorrow.

April 19 ~ Low about 45F, little bit of morning low clouds from the south but overall still with the post-frontal northerly flow and cool air. Feels great. It is exploding in green and birdsong out there. Kathy saw the ad. White-crowned Sparrow still coming into the bird bath. The Lincoln's are thinning out, not a half-dozen left now, the peak of their bubble has passed. One Nashville was about it for transient passage. The northerly flow from the front still has progress shut down. Heard a Scissor-tail, there were 3 Waxwing here in afternoon, one male Indigo Bunting is likely our local breeder, still waiting on Painted to show. Lots of hummers, 95+% Black-chinned, a dozen or so Ruby-throated at least, but not really checking the females thoroughly. I go for the bright shiny objects. Saw more of what looked to be migrant passage Turkey Vultures northbound. Our locally nesting birds are dropping lots of wing feathers already since nesting underway. The migrants are not missing any feathers. Our nesting Black Vulture are underway and dropping wing feathers too.

April 18 ~ A bit breezy still, 10-15 mph NNE, low was a wonderful 46F. A few warblers went through yard going northbound in the morn, one was a Myrtle, two got away. The one Am. Goldfinch left here is getting nicely yellow but still a bit splotchy. The only FOS was a male Four-lined Skink showing nice breeding colors. Worked on a bunch of garden and yard things today since pretty breezy to windy. Two days of strong northerlies have surely mostly shut down much progress from the south. As soon as it turns there will be a wave. Whence I will be stuck at the desk. It got nice late in the afternoon, mighta hit 70F. I saw that one waxwing that has still been hanging around. Kathy saw the adult Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow, amazingly still here, since November. We have the nicest stick-brush-branch piles, made them ourselves. Guess I need to put up pics of a couple of 'em.

April 17 ~ Wind blew all night behind the front, low about 50F, 10-15 mph gusting 20-25, feels like lower 40's. A few off and on mists and spits. Sure glad I didn't have to be out finding birds in it. Since the front and winds arrived before dark last night, there obviously wasn't going to be movement into the area from above. What you can get is stuff moving 'on the ground' up the river habitat corridor, still making northward progress, faculative movement is I think the correct term. Things may stack up at particularly juicy habitats. Nothing that was here was taking off north for a flight last night. As of nearing noon, no new migrants detected in yard yet. The couple Clay-colored Sparrow still on patio and singing. One American Goldfinch left among a couple dozen Siskin.

Ran to town noonish quickly, checked the park again since no pressing stack of errands. N. Parula singing away, there seems to be a couple trees that might be the nesting area. Most of the rest was the same, some Orange-crowned and Nashville, and a Yellow Warbler. New was a singing first spring Golden-cheeked Warbler! Very very rare to get one in the park in spring where clearly a transient moving up the river habitat corridor. Almost all my park sightings are post-breeders in June and July, and those are far less than annual. The big Hermit Thrush was still there but out on island, no way to get any pixels. Was pretty windy. A male Great-tailed Grackle was at the Ranch Outpost. Big Ern's B-B-Q is up and running in the new building next door, so acquired some finger lickin' good stuff and Kathy doesn't have to cook today, uh, or tomorrow. Winds laid down a bit near evening for a while, but picked back up after dark.

lazulibunting

This is the male Lazuli Bunting on patio the 22nd.
Pretty enticing patio, eh? The back half of head
and upper back are still brownish-gray winter color.
They light up to glowing in the sun, was very overcast.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 16 ~ Mist and drizzle overnight, low about 62F, soupy. Might have totalled .2 for precip by the afternoon. At least it is something. We got up to about 77F or so in afternoon ahead of the inbound front. The record high and low for SAT this date is 100F and 37F. You could freeze or boil. Town run day. Still no Scissor-tails along the road, including at a few trees that always have them. Nice to hear some Chimney Swift over town again. My FOS Great-tailed Grackle was across from the gas station and P.O. at the usual spot. The park had some migrants. I heard a FOS Northern Waterthrush, and a Black-throated Green Warbler. The male Northern Parula continues singing around the dance floor area and should be considered on territory now at the 10 day point. There were a couple Orange-crowned, a Wilson's, 6 Nashville, and one singing Yellow Warbler. Plus the nesting Yellow-throated made seven species of warblers.

Great was a Hermit Thrush that was much larger than the ones we have that winter here. I see one or two of these seemingly every spring in April long after ours leave. Of course our winterers have been gone over a month now. One Great Crested Flycatcher went through the park. A pair of Vermilion Flyc. are nesting in the Mesquite between the ball diamond and rodeo ring. About a dozen Vesper and half as many each Lark and Clay-colored Sparrow were in the rodeo ring and ball diamond, more of all were in a pasture along 360 too. Another half-dozen Clay-colored were in the park live-oaks. The Red-eyed Vireo singing by the 360 crossing is likely the one that has been territorial there the last couple summers. An Indigo Bunting was singing on 360 just this side of that nested there the last few years as well. At the water company spot by park there was lots of blooming Missouri Primrose and Prairie Fleabane looking most excellent. Heard at least four Bell's Vireo whilst driving around town. The northerlies and cool air got here around 7 p.m., took 10 dF off the top. A cool blustery weekend in store now.

April 15 ~ Low overcast and a balmy 70F or so for a low! It is way too soon for that. At least it only got a dF or two warmer at peak heat. Dawn chorus is really rippin' now. By quarter to 7 it is an outstanding mild roar. The addition in the last week of Chat, Blue Grosbeak, and Summer Tanager really put some sizzle and spice in it. In the first couple hours this morn a FOS Yellow Warbler sang through the yard, a Wilson's Warbler sang out back, a couple Nashville went through, the Yellow-throated Warbler breeder singing around too. Before 11 a.m. a Golden-cheeked Warbler sang, which appeared to be just leaving the bath, dang it. So movement and probably a real good day to hit patches of trees with flowers. I am stuck at the desk on Thursdays, hoping to catch something going through the yard. Five species of warbler in the yard in the morning is great any time here. Bell's Vireo is singing across road from gate in the big Mesquites. Heard the Great Crested Flycatcher again over in the corral. The day was then pretty quiet for birds, save the 30 some Siskin. Scrub-Jay out back again, ad. Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow still here. Some mist in late afternoon.

April 14 ~ Low was maybe 65F or so, overcast and balmy. The birds for the day started just after midnight last night though. The (I presume same) Long-eared Owl was calling again over in the corral from 0010 to 0015 hours. Moving around it a bit. I had not heard it in two weeks. Seems more likely the same bird rather than another considering their scarcity here. Then at the end of that my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo called. I thought I heard one a few hours earlier (on 13th) but only caught a wisp of it. This was the full monty call. Often as not my FOS cuckoo is a nocturnal vocal detection. Saw my FOY summer form Questionmark butterfly.

There was a FOS Blue Grosbeak singing across the road where they nest. Thought I had one on Monday (2 days ago) but was a distant silohuette and buzz. There were at least 30 Pine Siskin which sure sounds neat when they are all buzzing at once. Only a few Am. Goldfinch left though. Heard a waxwing. Late in afternoon I saw two male Indigo Bunting at once out back where seed tossed. Seemed like some migrant passage Turkey Vulture going over intent on making ground northbound. Saw one getting late Sharp-shinned Hawk, one Cooper's was the local resident. At last light a Chuck-w-w called close from the draw, probably that breeder is back. After dark a FOS spring mosquito was buzzing my ear. Still no Firefly yet. No Long-eared Owl at last check at late-thirty.

April 13 ~ A cold front is arriving, dropped temps to about 62 right around dawn, a little bit of mist and a very light shower. ANY moisture now is welcome, it is very dusty out there. A few Nashville Warbler went through yard, a couple warbler sps. as well. Great was a FOS Orchard Oriole, a male that spent a couple minutes singing from the big pecan right off the front porch. Awesomeness. There must have been 35 or so Pine Siskin. One is a green (often called yellow) morph with more yellow in wings and tail, and greenish back and rump. In the afternoon a FOS male Black-throated Green Warbler was in the big pecan right off porch a few minutes. Last seen over the draw going north at 3:30 p.m. or so. Kathy saw a female Summer Tanager at the bath, and a Chat. The Scrub-Jay was out back. At last sliver of light we heard a distant Chuck-will's-widow calling.

April 12 ~ Low about 63F, overcast and humid, last hot day before a cooler week with precip chances every day. I saw 86 on the cool shady front porch about 3 p.m., a bit warm. In the morning Kathy saw a Golden-cheeked Warbler in the pecan over the bath, but was gone when I got out there, so it was likely done and leaving already when she saw it. A couple Nashville Warbler went through yard. Thought I heard a Red-eyed Vireo, a Summer Tanager was singing, as is a Clay-colored Sparrow still. The ad. orange-billed White-crowned Sparrow is still here too. Thought I heard the heavy buzz of a Blue Grosbeak, saw a silhouette of something that could have passed for one distantly, need more for a FOS date but was probably it. Saw a Pepsis Wasp go by.

April 11 ~ Low was briefly around 44F, maybe colder, KERV had 41. Afternoon was about 86F or so, was 83 on our cool shady front porch. Not much for movement apparent in yard in morning. One worn Monarch that was not yesterday's. Martins were soaring overhead low for a couple minutes, calling too. Went to the park for a look. At least two Chat were singing along the river habitat corridor here on 360. At the park, great was finally getting a decent look at that pesky shy female Parula warbler. It is a good Northern. So, there is a pair of Northern Parula at the park, now for 5 days at least. Sure be great if they stuck and nested. There were a few Nashville but nothing else for migrants. At the NW corner of town in the Hackberry rows we heard about three Bell's Vireo, saw a male Common Grackle, and one first spring Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow (orange bill, gray lores). The lateral crown stripes had molted to black, the dorsal two were still brown. A pattern I have seen before in first springs.

We went over to the 1450 (south) knoll maybe a mile from our place. One male Golden-cheeked Warbler was trolling around it. At least four Orange-crowned Warbler indicates passage. A FOS Black-capped Vireo was trolling the usual territory area with song. Had a couple decent but distant views. We heard an Olive Sparrow sing at the usual territory area for them. Heard a Hutton's Vireo, saw Lark Sparrow, Vermilion and Ash-throated Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, several Turkey Vulture. But was getting hot by time we were there (1-2 p.m.) so a bit quiet. Flowers were about the same as last week but the Mimosa were mostly cooked, more Paralena was going, and lots of Slender-stem Bitterweed which in one spot could be called a carpet, over an acre of solid yellow a foot off the ground.

Later afternoon here I saw a pile of plucked dove breast feathers. Presume a Cooper's got one while we were gone. A pairacara shot over low ejecting a third from the area, the pair nests very nearby. At last seed feeding there was a Vesper Sparrow, which is surely a new passage migrant as I haven't seen the last one that stopped a few days in over a week. There were 4 Lincoln's at once at the birdbath brushpile at dusk, maybe 8-10 still around yard. Still Clay-colored singing, as is at least one White-crowned. Toss in Field, Chipping, and Lark to round out sparrows. Eight species of them today with the Olive, 7 sps. in the yard. Shoulda gone for Rufous-crowned and Black-throated. There are 10 species of sparrow in the vicinity now. At first dark a distant Chuck-will's-widow gave a few half-hearted calls, and so then a FOS date.

April 10 ~ Front got here before dawn with some stiff northerlies, but a dry passage as predicted. Low was about 56F. To windy for birding for me. Not like I am not a couple years behind on stuff here. Around noon I heard my FOS Yellow-breasted Chat across the road right where they breed every year, so I presume the returning bird back on territory. At least a handfull of male Ruby-throated Hummingbird now, probably a couple. Heard some Scissor-tails across the road in the afternoon. Still very few around. Wind finally laid down late in afternoon. I saw 80F on the cool shady front porch, about 15F cooler than yesterday (for which NOAA said was just below record highs for most areas in central Texas). One very worn Monarch went by.

Golden-cheeked Warbler
goldencheekedwarbler

This one was a couple weeks ago, a couple were in the yard this week.
Bad light, overcast, in shade, but you get the idea, spiffy bird, eh.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 9 ~ Overcast, low about 65F, it was still 75F at midnight last night! Peak heat is today. Hottest day of year so far. Dry front coming in overnight tonight, so cooler tomorrow. We need water. About 3 p.m. I saw 92F on the cool shady front porch. Local WU stations reading 95-100F. Del Rio was 103 with light rain, winds 29 mph gusting to 38! Sounds great! Batesville about 50 miles south of us was 105 today. Heard a warbler seet through yard but missed the bird. One of the Eastern Phoebe attacked one of the Carolina Wren when it got too close to the nest area. Martins over the box again.

Town run so check of the park. The male Northern Parula was still singing in area near and north of dance floor mostly, in the blooming live-oaks. The female was nowhere to be found. Lending credence to my belief it was a Tropical. An early FOS was a singing Red-eyed Vireo, very nice. At least a half-dozen Nashville Warbler were zipping around the live-oaks. Saw my FOS female Summer Tanager. Some Texas Onion in bloom, but deer at the flower heads off the big one that was open last week. Little Creek Larry said a woman in town that has a lot of Red-winged Blackbirds asked him what the black birds with them were with the yellow heads, she had two of them. Larry said he heard a Parula type warbler song at his place but never could see the bird, as often the case here. He also just got Indigo Bunting in like we did.

April 8 ~ OK, it was a cold front after all. It got down into the mid-40's in the wee hours for a bit, but was back near 52F by dawn. Mid-morn the southwest winds (at least they are dry) picked up and we are in for the hottest days so far, today and tomorrow. I saw 88F on the cool shady front porch, was low 90's F in the sun. Del Rio hit 101 with 7 percent humidity! Our humidty was in teens here, so very dry too. It is said will be hotter tomorrow, then cooling slightly.

There were two disputing male and a female Yellow-throated Warbler in the big pecan early. First female I have seen this year. After 10 I presume the same two pair of Purple Martin buzzed the martin house for a couple minutes, great to see them back checking it out. Send friends. Saw the ad. orange-billed White-crowned Sparrow. Still 8 or so Lincoln's Sparrow around yard, a couple Field, a couple dozen Chipping, two singing Clay-colored, and a few Lark Sparrow. Heard a Summer Tanager singing its way up the river habitat corridor, first one from the yard for me here this spring, but it kept going, a transient.

Great was after 7 p.m. I looked out on the patio and there was a FOS male Indigo Bunting eating seed! Now that is some color! Wonder if it is our returning breeder of last two years? Or just a passerby? Near last sun the four martin were soaring high overhead calling. Neat to see them. Saw a FOS bat at dusk, but not sure what type. Might have been the Red that winter, rather than a returning migrant Braz. Free-tail, it looked a little biggish. A FOS June Bug was at a couple of the window screens late. Before 11 p.m. heard a Barn Owl call four times as it passed over.

April 7 ~ Overcast and 64F for a low, the gulf flow thing. Early here I saw all four White-crowned Sparrow at the bath at once! The two adults and two immatures, 3 Gambell's and 1 ad. leucophrys. All still here. Gnatcatcher singing in the same trees as the last few days almost has to be last years' nesting attempter. A dry front came through after noon, blustery northwest winds and dry air. They are calling it a cold front but it is 85F out there in the afternoon.

Had to run to town quick early so a look at the park. A FOS Bell's Vireo was singing at the entrance. A FOS Summer Tanager was singing in the live-oaks. A better FOS was TWO Parula warblers. The singing male was a Northern, the female was not seen well enough to absolutely positively ID, but it looked like a Tropical Parula to me. I was pressed for time and they were being their treetop selves and very hard to see. The blooming live-oaks are where the action is now. There were also a couple Kinglet (Ruby), a couple Orange-crowned Warbler, a few Nashville, one Myrtle Warbler, and singing Yellow-throated too of course. Also singing Yellow-throated Vireo. Late at the midnight at last sound check here I heard three Great Horned and two Barred Owl, plus one E. Screech-Owl.

April 6 ~ Low about 63F, overcast, but clearing by late morning. Temps heading up, the first heat spell of the year is this week. By 3 p.m. I saw 84-89F readings at local WU stations. Birds were the same stuff, no real migrant movement. Put the last (3rd) coat of varnish on the knothole nestbox front, so in a couple days will be able to drill the mounting holes. Gotta pick up an extra long bit for pilot holes into the inside of the knot. Still have some more chisling, grinding, gnashing, and some things best left undescribed, to get the hollow in the knot as deep as I can. Main concern is coon or Ringtail reaching in, so besides my coonscluder ™ deflector on inside of entrance hole, making it deep enough that nest can be placed out of reach would also help. A Gnatcatcher kinda seems to be hanging around, perhaps one that attempted nesting last year, until being wiped out by the hail storm. Lots of female Hummingbirds, all looking Black-chinned, at least a couple male Ruby-throated, dozens of male Black-chinned. The ad. Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow still singing, expect departure any day now.

April 5 ~ Low was about 59F, low overcast but no precip. Heard a couple Gnatcatcher and a Kinglet go through, saw a small group of at least 3 Nashville Warbler and a couple un-ID'd probables go by. Heard a couple martin low overhead, saw the male at treetop level so they came back by to see Chez Martin Chalet again. At least it didn't scare them away. Sure is neat hearing that Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow singing over in a stick pile. What a blast from the past, was the common one I first learned as a winterer in socal. Still two Clay-colored Sparrow in with the Chipping. Saw two ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at once. Heard a Red-tailed Hawk screaming, saw the big ad. fem. Cooper's that is the local breeder. Still one Ash-throat coming around, but not seeming paired yet. There are a half-dozen available boxes around the yard.

April 4 ~ Looks like the precip from the disturbance passing over is all east of us. Very humid, but no rain, low about 56F, might have creeped back up to 60 about noon. I got a 60 count on the Chipping Sparrow, and 2 Clay-colored. A Scrub-Jay was on the patio, not a usual thing. Amazing was hearing some quiet-singing, that under-the-breath singing many songbirds do early in their singing cycle when they are just getting warmed up for the season. It was gibberish, somewhat House Wrenish, scanned the guilty stick pile it was a Lincoln's Sparrow! I do not think I have ever heard one sing, even quiet-sing, down here before. Very neat.

The highlight of the morning was just before noon when a pair of Purple Martin buzzed the martin house a half-dozen times, calling a lot, for two minutes. It is one thing for me to think it looks like it ought to work, it's a whole 'nother animal for a male martin to be buzzing it with a female soaring overhead. About 15-20 minutes later they came back with another pair! So four know about it now. I'll be out back praying to the martin Gods...   There is a female bluebird going in and out of the gate box they have used before, but they often waffle between it and the other one down the fenceline early in the season.

About 1:30 I saw my FOS adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The record early imm. male that was the actual FOS has been gone a few days now, but was here about 10 days. We went over to the south 1450' knoll for an hour walk later afternoon. No Black-capped Vireo were heard but about 6 Hutton's were. We saw 3 Golden-cheeked Warbler, 2 males and my FOS female. Kathy saw a FOS male Wilson's Warbler, which is our earliest ever in 18 springs. A FOS Swainson's Hawk flew over. The couple small groups of feeding birds we found were largely in blooming live-oaks. Heard a couple singing Black-and-white Warbler, saw at least a couple Nashville, and an Orange-crowned. Five species of warblers is good here. Also two Ruby-crowned Kinglet, two Gnatcatcher, Ash-throated and a male Vermilion Flycatcher, heard an Olive Sparrow call (not song) right where they nest sometimes, heard a Hermit Thrush, and probably a Spotted Towhee. A few flowers in bloom, but overall it still looks more like winter from that standpoint, lots is just barely getting going. Saw the first Dakota Verbena open, a little Blackfoot Daisy, Dutchman's Breeches, Slender-stem Bitterweed, the one thing blooming well was the Pink Mimosa, it was roaring. The Mesquite and Texas Persimmon are putting out some leafage now and a couple Persimmon had flowers. Sniff one if you see it, same for Mountain Laurel. Heavenly scents.

April 3 ~ Low about 55F, cloudy, some drizzle and occasional light showers, cool and wet. Might have gotten up to 65F, maybe. Worked on stuff inside. Saw the orange-billed adult White-crowned, which has really cleaned up nicely over the last month or so of molt and no longer looks way darker than usual. Still 50 Chippy, two Clay-colored were on the patio with them. Field Sparrow seems to have thinned out though. A few still here, but nowhere near the dozen it was. Mid-day a Ruby-crowned Kinglet went through, later afternoon a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher went over singing on its way, notifying all of how glad it is to be back no doubt.

northernparula

Another bad pic, I figure you are used to them by now.
This male Northern Parula (warbler) was singing at Utopia Park.
April 7, interacting with an un-ID'd female parula sps.
A beautiful little warbler, bluish above with a lime green back,
yellow throat and breast crossed by chestut and black below throat,
white broken eye-crescents, a zippy buzz of a song, whaddabird.
It jumped when I snapped, so that is all we got.

a bonus pic...
martinhouse

This is the martin chalet, Chez Martin'.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 2 ~ Low of 50F and overcast, it might have hit 70F briefly but the wind was blowing strongly enough that it never felt like it. Great to hear some dawn chorus though. Cardinals are really going well. Heard a Gnatcatcher out there first thing. Otherwise yard was the same stuff, with fewer Am. Goldfinches. Town run day so a park check. A couple or few Common Grackle in the willows on the island was all I heard up in the woods. One Great Blue Heron in nice breeding plumage was below the spillway. Little Creek Larry said last weekend he saw a couple Great-tailed Grackle in a big Red-winged Blackbird flock on the east side of town. He said he might have had a male Summer Tanager yesterday but it got away in treetops. Judy Schaeffer said she had Hooded Oriole a few times, but seemingly not their regular daily feeder addict.

I saw my FOS female Vermilion Flycatcher on 360 on the way home, and then a Turkey in the road a couple hundred yards from the gate. Pretty to too breezy all day, 15 mph gusting to 25, southeasterly. Park looks to be crowding up, for Easter weekend I suppose. At dusk I heard my FOS Chimney Swift zip overhead. The hummers blew out today on the strong southeasterlies. There were wayyyyyy fewer this afternoon than the last week or two. The feeders were not packed at last call, and did not need refilling all day. So they had been stacking up over the last couple dry fronts with northerlies, and poof! They are gone on their way. If they fly 20 mph they were going to be making 40! In 2.5 hours they can make a hundred miles! Which is faster than me if there are any birds along the road.

April 1 ~ Wow, a quarter of the year is over already. The low was about 38F or so, nice and brisk, with a little northerly breeze on it. The first FOS of the month was at about 10 minutes after midnight last night, when a Barn Owl called a couple times as it flew NW. I get none all winter every winter, despite large rodent populations here. At the same time there were two Mockingbird singing, the first nocturnal song I have heard from them this year. At 7 a.m. there were two Scrub-Jay out back as I arrived with seed. Another FOS was about 9 a.m., a Hooded Oriole, always great to see, what a bunch of color. Both ad. White-crowned Sparrow still here, still hear a Clay-colored grinding, I mean singing. Two worn Monarch went by. Later in the afternoon a FOY Red Satyr flopped around the yard a bit, always a treat to see.

~ ~ ~ March summary ~ ~ ~

After that February March seemed pretty tame and benign, no one complained. It was on the dry side of average for precip, about 1.35". But all the snow melt has percolated and filled the river back up so it is flowing over spillway at park again. The big greening finally gets underway but due to the extreme cold much seems a bit retarded of schedule this spring.

Butterflies were weak, seemingly a bit delayed from the super cold event in February. Monarchs did show in fair numbers and fairly on time per usual. A few Elfin were seen (Henry's here), love that hindwing shape. Several Eastern Tiger Swallowtail at Lost Maples were nice. Not much for nectar out there, just some Redbuds going for the most part. The normal Agarita and Laurel bloom did not happen yet, usually a big draw for butterflies in earliest spring. I count about 22 sps. for March, just missing my worst ever 20 sps. in 2010. The March average is 30 sps., and I have had up to 40 and 50 sps. in the month. Not to worry, was the cold and so a natural normal delay of emergence.

The cold kept the odes in the water as larvae still. Unlike many a March I did not see any damselflies. Was too cold in Feb., they wisely delayed emergence. There were lots of Dot-winged Baskettail flying by the last third of the month, which is typically the first new thing out. A couple bigger odes at Lost Maples got away but looked like Springtime Darner, and one Green Darner was seen at Utopia Park at end of month. A whopping three species. April is really the first month with any real activity here, and it is often May before it really gets going.

Birds were fair, great if you like seeing all your old friends show back up. The big rary of the month was a LONG-EARED OWL calling on the 20th, 24th, 26th and 30th. Was just after midnight the first two dates, and very close by, extended calling, as great a 'hear' as you could ask for. The Anna's Hummingbird that was here from Feb. 5, was last seen the morn of March 1. Mostly March is getting FOS dates for all the passage migrants or returning breeders. The record early Ruby-throated Hummingbird on the 19th was odd for being an immature male. I missed the geese (White-fronted) this spring though. Often they all go over at night whence if you aren't out there at the right 5 minutes, they go undetected. Most springs you get them a few nights at least. I count 90 sps. seen myself, and I know others saw a few others. Surely there were over a hundred species around. The winter doldrums are over and birds are singing.

~ ~ ~ end of March summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy March update header ~ ~ ~

March! Meteorological spring is here, which means Golden-cheeked Warblers in a week. On March 1 a Clay-colored Sparrow is 3 weeks early. March 1 was the last day the Anna's Hummer was here. Sylvia Hilbig had a FOS returning male Vermilion Flycatcher March 3 at their place. Our FOS yard breeder was March 9. My FOS Black-chinned Hummingbird showed up March 5 about 2 p.m. Lincoln's Sparrow are thick the first week of March. My FOS Barn Swallow was Mar. 10, as was my FOS Monarch. Some FOS Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were seen at Little Creek around Mar. 8 or 9. Sylvia Hilbig reported the FOS Hooded Oriole at their place the 13th, and then a FOS Yellow-throated Warbler the 14th. Nine Green-winged Teal at the park on the 16th were probably passage spring migrants. I heard my FOS White-eyed Vireo on the 18th. A boatload of FOS species (for me) showed on the 19th. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, both in yard, and more later at Lost Maples. Then at Lost Maples Golden-cheeked, Black-and-white, and my 2nd earliest ever Nashville Warbler here, one Ash-throated Flycatcher, one Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, No. Rough-winged Swallow and Scott's Oriole. A few White-tipped Dove there as well. Late in day on 19th a FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird was at our feeders, another earliest ever for me here. A LONG-EARED OWL was calling just after midnight, on Mar. 20 and the 24th, and at 10 p.m. on the 26th and midnight on 30th. My FOS Grasshopper Sparrow was the 24th, FOS Cave Swallow was the 26th. FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were 5 males together right across from the gate on March 30.

~ ~ ~ end of archive copy March update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~
Jan. through March 2021 news now at Bird News Archive 35.
Bird News Archive XXXV
Jan. 1 - June 30 (eventually), 2021
~ ~ ~
The older weekly break bird photos are now at the 2021 photos page. 2021 pix ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To Top of Recent Bird News

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Links to all 18 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 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.

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and may not be used without permission.
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© M. and K. Heindel 2004-2020
www.utopianature.com