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: September 30, 2022
(prior updates: September 23, 16, 9, 2, August 26, 19, 12, 5)

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

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

September ~ The 2nd brought a few FOS items. Maybe three Baltimore Oriole were in the yard. A Traill's type (Willow or Alder) Flycatcher was at the park. A fall Firefly was my first since spring at dark. A couple dozen Upland Sandpiper at dusk the 4th means they were in pastures up-valley that day. My FOS Nashville Warbler was the 5th. Thought I saw an imm. or fem. Calliope Hummingbird on the 5th, confirmed it on the 6th, and saw it the morning of the 7th. Also on the 7th was a FOS Yellow-bellied Flycatcher in our front yard. A Couch's Kingbird was in yard on the 10th. On the 11th some Blue-winged Teal were bolting downriver at dawn. At twilight on the 11th there was a nice liftoff of Upland Sandpiper, I heard a couple dozen. My FOS Clay-colored Sparrow was on the 12th. A 62F low on the 15th is noteworthy. On the 18th I saw my FOS Wilson's Warbler. Also the 18th was my FOS Monarch, and a rare White-patched Skipper (Chiomara). The 19th saw my FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Two FOS migrants on the 22nd were an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Lincoln's Sparrow. A Bullock's Oriole was also the first real fall migrant of those, also the 22nd. The 23rd there was a FOS Broad-tailed Hummingbird at our feeders at dawn, and a bit later a FOS Swainson's Hawk. The 24th we had FOS American Redstart at our bath, a fly-by FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher. Late the 24th the Broad-tailed Hummer was here again. On the 26th there was a FOS Common Yellowthroat, and the first White Peacock butterfly I have seen in several years. On the 27th had FOS Kestrel and a thrilling low of 55F, followed by a 52F on the 28th.

August ~ OMG fall migrants! At dusk on the 3rd I heard my FOS Upland Sandpiper of the fall. On the 4th a FOS Least Flycatcher was in our front yard, another was at Utopia Pk. on the 5th. On the 6th had a FOS Dickcissel. On the 8th were the second-of-fall for Dickcissel and Rufous Hummingbird. Two more Dickcissel here on the 10th. Another Upland Sandpiper on the 11th. Orchard Orioles are moving south through yard daily. A couple adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird were reported at Little Creek Aug. 9 and 12. Some FOS Blue-winged Teal blazed down Little Creek dawn the 10th or so. An imm. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was at Utopia Park on Aug. 12 at the north end of the island. Many local areas got a little rain on the 11th and or 12th. The 13th I saw my FOS ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummer here, and a FOS Yellow Warbler. The 15th a Peregrine Falcon flew by southbound. Bigger on the 15th, there was rain; we had 1.25" at our place. A Black-headed Grosbeak on the 18th is my first August date here. A Calliope Hummingbird was here on the 19th. At least two Yellow-crowned Night-Heron were seen at the park this week, I saw one Aug. 19. Lots of Yellow Warbler and Orchard Oriole passing through now. A Louisiana Waterthrush was at the park on the 26th. The imm. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron continued there that day as well, and an adult was seen earlier in the week. A significant rain event here on the 30th and 31st brought over 5" to float out of the month with.

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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. I post my walk notes there often. But we have not been going there as much the last two years.

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. They said if you parked outside the gate and walked in only without using tables, swimming, and just birded they would not charge.

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 several 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 notes of what is going on with birds, or butterflies, dragonflies, fish, flowers, reptiles, triops, cerambycids, buprestids, or 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 18+ (!) 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 (2021) with seasonal status and abundance for each species. It lists all 350 plus species (!) known from the upper Sabinal River drainage.

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. The photo pages named by the year are the weekly update photo break photos and text for each year. They may be birds, bugs, flowers or a snake, though mostly birds. Since 2017 the last four years have bigger better improved images, and lots of the unusual or interesting stuff encountered.

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
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 18 year plus bird news archive file.

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***  This is the page for visitors with ideas, links, phones, contacts, etc., about where to stay locally.

Where to Stay

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***  Here is a page which compiles 18 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

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Here are assorted links of all manner, and a handy way outta here.

Mitch's Links

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Bird Photos

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Here is a new page of recent ode photos the last few years.

New Ode Photos (2.5mb)

~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~

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:
September 23, 16, 9, 2, August 26, 19, 12, 5, July 29, 22, 15, 8, 1

Each week's update break is marked with a bad (often bird) photo.
You may want to scroll down to said bad photo (last prior update)
and scroll up to read in chrono order day to day.
~ ~ ~ and now for the news ~ ~ ~

Here is a new page where moth photos will be tossed.

Moths of Utopia

And now for something completely different ...   support page

Sept. 30 ~ Low about 54F again. Wonderful. I could stand this all year. Got up to 90F, but much dryer, so totally bearable. No migs in the morning. Saw a Northern Cloudywing (butterfly) on the Blue Mist in the morning. In the afternoon a couple Fiery Skipper. No Summer Tanager, Vermilion Flycatcher, or any greenie Painted Bunting. Three of the last summer holdouts here. Poof! Gone! A couple White-eyed Vireo still here though.

Was a town run day so check of the park. A Hutton's Vireo was in the woods, but that was it for anything different. Great was the male Yellow-throated Warbler still there by the north end of island in woods, but no Summer Tanager. The warbler has been on territory there since March! Little Creek Larry said he had 4 Blue-winged Teal yesterday morning. Some Green Darner, a Black Saddlebags, some Checkered and Swift Setwing, a Red-tailed Pennant, and some too distant bluets was it for odes.

Sept. 29 ~ A very comfortable 54F for a low, which I could get used to. After a summer of 74F lows, and coupled with the dryness, this is outstanding. No mig motion in the morning, save a single Nashville Warbler at bath just before noon. Did not hear a greenie (Painted Bunting), or the males of Vermilion Flycatcher and Summer Tanager. They likely departed. Mostly it was butterflies. Thousands of Snout again, counted two dozen plus Pipevine Swallowtail at once out on the Tube-Tongue patches. Saw the Texas Powdered-Skipper again, a Gray Hairstreak was new. Great was an Empress Leila, one of the Emperors like Hackberry and Tawny, but the rarest of the three here. I saw one last year, but have not seen any in 7 or 8 of the last ten years here. So, a good bug. In Skippers saw Sachem, Fiery, and Whirlabout

The great mystery of the day was a call we heard before sunup sitting in bed with coffee, and then again at dusk just before dark at 8 p.m. I asked Kathy what it was in the morn, she replied, an alien. That is how foreign the sound was. Single notes well spaced mostly but closer together at other times. I thought at first it might be a very distant ambulance. Fairly clearly whistled somewhat low-pitched, and hollow, reminiscent of say Elf Owl chirps. At dark Kathy heard it fly from one calling spot to another in the Pecan over the bird bath. I was out front trying to see something but could not, it was too dark. I think it must be another new and unknown to me call from the mccallii Screech-Owl. Lived with them 20 years and stillk hearing new things from them. I have had individuals that did essentially perfect Saw-whet Owl and Ferrigunous Pygmy-Owl calls. Surely they have never heard either. No other Screech-Owl I know of has this variety of calls.

Sept. 28 ~ I saw 52F before the final dip just before sunup, so probably hit 51 like KERV did. Did not see squat for birds today. No migs. But, the male Vermilion Flycatcher and Summer Tangers were both still here. Butterflies are still active, but the Lantanas, Frog-fruit and Tropical Sage are all past peaks so less is stopping. The Blue Mistflower Eupatorium is going gang-busters though. Must be at least 300 flower heads now. A pair of Whirlabout were nice. A Little Yellow, several each Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur, another Mestra (the 4th one maybe), a Texas Powdered-Skipper, hundreds of Snout and a couple dozen Queen. Did see the puff of a Silver-Puff flower.

Sept. 27 ~ A low of 55F was fantastic, the first below 60 since April methinks. About time. Might have hit 85F peak heat. In morning I heard a FOS Kestrel but which when I went out was not there. A big ad. female Cooper's Hawk was up in top of the big Pecan. The Kestrel must have buzzed it. LOL. No migrant motion besides the raptor. Couple dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird around. Heard the Screech-Owl at dark. Heard some bluebirds going over high in morn, that could be migrants arriving from elsewhere this time of year. Still some Fireflies, but we are past their peak for the fall flight now. At least it got up to a couple dozen at once after the pitiful spring flight.

Mostly just got checks of the butterfly flowers on breaks from the desk and computer. Finally after it warmed up about 11 a.m. or so I saw the White Peacock again, so a two-day record. It must have tanked and split, as it was not seen again after the morning. Black, Giant, and Pipevine Swallowtail, Large Orange, Cloudless, Lyside Sulphurs, a female Dogface, some Sleepy Orange as always, still lots of Snout, a couple Gulf Fritillary, couple dozen Queen, late in day Monarch number 5 of the fall. Vesta Crescent. Some skippers were single Sachem, Whirlabout, Dun, and Julia's the latter first in several weeks here, plus one Southern Broken-Dash. Early morn I saw a Celia's Roadside-Skipper, latish for that. No blues, hairstreaks, or metalmarks. But a whopping 20 species of butterflies around the front porch in a day is better than some whole months were here over the summer. Some falls in good years you can see 40-45 species in an hour just at one good patch of flowers like the library garden used to be, or the deco gardens at park and north end of town.

Sept. 26 ~ Low of 67F. More hummers at the feeders, a big bump in numbers from say last Thursday four days ago. No other migs in first few hours of the morning though. About 4:30 in the afternoon while working at desk all of sudden on the garden fence out the window was a FOS male Common Yellowthroat, which went down to the tub! The cattails are working! They must be about 7' tall now, one little 50 gal. tub full. Plus a water lily and some other aquatic veg besides Gambusia Mosquitofish. Still waiting for Marsh Wren, Sora and Least Bittern. But it is a start! One day have to put a tub list together, since Green Jay and Audubon's Oriole are both on it.

Some butterflies were great. Best was a WHITE PEACOCK. First I have seen in several years here, maybe since 2017 or so? Whatever year was that last good fall butterfly invasion, I think five years ago. Kathy got a good docushot (see below). Saw Monarch number 4 of the fall. Great was a female Questionmark. The sex was determined by watching it lay eggs, on Hackberry. That is a mighty tiny egg. Saw the Southern Broken-Dash again, still numbers of Snout going by. Male and female Cloudless and Large Orange Sulphur, and still Lysides going by. New were a Dainty Sulphur and a mint fresh Variegated Fritillary.

A bit after 7 p.m. just the tops of the highest trees are getting sun. I was walking by the big Lantana out front off porch, and the White Peacock flew out of it. It had gone to roost in it! It landed out in the grass yard. Then 5 minutes later, I heard the Common Yellowthroat in the Lantana. Then I watched the White Peacock fly from the grass over to the Frostweed and after much decision-making, landed to roost in it. Best bug ever so far on the Frostweed, grown from one 6" stalk I dug up and trans-planted. So as I am thinking about how neat this is, the Yellowthroat flies over to the Frostweed. He was watching it too! Now they are both in it! OMG. The bird went from you-are-great to you-better-not in a split second. All of a sudden the Peacock bolts and a nano-second after that, the Yellowthroat lands right where it was. It was going after it! The Peacock shot 15' over back into the Lantana somewhere, the Yellowthroat over to the short hedge of junipers at edge of driveway. Catastrophe averted. How many good butterflies do not make it on the way, due to birds? Last Christmas we lost a county first Teleus Longtail to an Anole!

Sept. 25 ~ Low about 65F, and clear. A front is coming this evening so we are at the hot warmup part in front of that today. Saw about 6-8 hummers at once on the front feeder this morn, all Rubies. But was not out there vigilantly. There is a wave of them showing up right in front of the front. About 8:30 the birdbath had 2 Wilson's and a Yellow Warbler drop in for a sip and splash. Also a Yellow-throated Warbler came down, which was a female or imm. male, not the territorial adult male that continues. A couple more Wilson's Warbler came in over the next couple hours, surely different birds, which made four of them here this morn. A Wilson's wavelet. The third individual had nice orange in forhead and lores so was one of the two western subspecies in fresh basic (winter) plumage, and not the eastern nominate (default here) type. Not every year, but I see very low numbers of these here.

Had a 25 count on Queens in the morning Male and pale morph female Large Orange Sulphur. Fewer Snout finally but still a hundred or more. Still Lysides mostly going by, a couple dozen at least. A Sachem was the first in months. Sure great to see some butterflies! The Tropical Sage is fading, past this peak now. Maybe will go off again in a month or so. The Lesser Goldfinches are nuts about the seeds. Had one greenie (imm. Painted Bunting) still here. Kathy spotted the imm. Cooper's Hawk (from local nest) hiding high in the pecan over the birdbath. A couple brief showerlets dropped a couple hundredths of an inch of precip and the temp to 76F from about 90, which was great. Afterwhich the light winds turned to a NE flow. A pre-frontal sign of the front! The real cool air won't get here until Tuesday morning though.

Sept. 24 ~ Low about 65F, which is fine. And the bird bath says.... there was some migrant motion last night a day ahead of the front. Between 8:30 and 9 a.m. again. Which maybe is when they are actually falling out of the sky? There were TWO American Redstart (FOS), a female and a male(!). The male kept coming back the female not. We had great long views of the male. Whaddabird! Also coming down were a female Wilson's Warbler (first female of fall), a Nashville Warbler, and a female Yellow Warbler. Plus an imm. Chat, which I suspect is a passage bird, but could be local too. Have not seen one here in several days. Then shortly later I saw (in bins) a FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher fly by. Then it was dead all day. Summer Tanager still here.

In butterflies, got a higher count of Queen, of 26 at once. Three new species for the fall were single Ceranus Blue, Phaon Crescent, and a Southern Broken-Dash. The, or the third, N. Mestra was around a bit. Black, Giant, and Pipevine Swallowtail, a Large Orange, still numbers of Lyside Sulphur. Still lots of Snout, a few hundred at minimum.

Late in the day as the last sun was nearing the Broad-tailed Hummingbird came in to the front porch feeder a couple times. Did not see it all day yesterday after my dawn encounter, and did not see it all day today until nearing last sun. Where is it all day? Appears a female or imm. female, no dark feathers in throat. Love that soft chip call. It also made a high thin seet whilst pointing bill directly at a Ruby-throated that was acting a bit uppity towards it.


Here is a docushot Kathy got of the White Peacock on Sept. 26.
Mavica floppy disk pic so not overwhelming of detail, but great docs.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 23 ~ Another low about 62F, KERV had 61. Totally awesome. A Broad-tailed Hummingbird was at the front porch feeder at dawn, my FOS. A bit later a couple Mourning Dove flushed from the top of the big Pecan, followed by a FOS Swainson's Hawk coming in to land in it! It saw me below and flared off just as it was going to land. Nice adult light morph. Thought I heard a couple chips from a Black-throated Green Warbler out there. Kathy saw a female Summer Tanager at the bath, of which there have only been two males around for a couple weeks. So suspect it is a migrant from elsewhere.

Town run and park check to make sure still nothing there. One Spotted Sandpiper was it for migrants. Up in the woods the males of Summer Tanager and Yellow-throated Warbler are still present, the warbler gave some song. In dragons, a half-dozen Green Darner, which is more of them, an Eastern Amberwing, two dozen Blue Dasher, and that was about it save some bluets that looked like Familiar. Little Creek Larry has had some more Blue-winged Teal over on his creek, he heard some White-fronted Goose go over, and only has a couple hummers (Ruby) left.

In butterlfies here there was a different Black Swallowtail from yesterday, a Giant and a few Pipevine Swallowtail, a Texas Powdered-Skipper, hundreds of Snout, couple dozen Queen, and at least a dozen Vesta Crescent. Still Lysides going by, the odd Gulf Fritillary and Sleepy Orange. Great Firefly show at dusk, with a couple dozen at least in front yard. Had one greenie imm. Painted Bunting late in day.

Sept. 22 ~ Happy Equinox! I saw 63F before the final dip so surely it hit 62F here for a low. KERV had a 60F! Weewow! The thrill of it all. High temps are per NOAA well above normal, in the mid-90's F. The summer heat just hates letting go. They are talking a dry front next Monday, so cooler is coming, after four more days well above normal. We have spent most of the last four months well above normal.

There was migrant motion! One of my favorite things. Mostly 8:30 to 10:30 or so at or around bird bath was where the action was. A couple Nashville Warbler hit the birdbath first, then a male Wilson's Warbler. Then a FOS Orange-crowned Warbler came in. Followed by a female Bullock's Oriole which came in a few times. It is the first one I can call a fall migrant, as the July birds are locally breeding or bred post-breeding wanderers, not migrants from elsewhere. I would swear I heard a Black-throated Gray Warbler across the road but could not see anything. Then I had a FOS Lincoln's Sparrow in the taller unmowed grass behind the birdbath. All the while a parade of the local stuff was at the bath too, including the male Summer Tanager. Which is fairly gray billed now. What is the deal with horn-ivory pale colored bills, versus gray bills on Summer Tanager. Is it seasonal, e.g. hormonal?

Still some butterfly action. Hundreds of Snout still passing. A bunch of them are barely over a half-inch long, the smallest Snout I have ever seen. New was a female Black Swallowtail on the Tropical Sage, and a male Whirlabout on the Blue Mistflower. At least 20 Queen on the Blue Mist as well. One Little Yellow, about 8 Vesta Crescent on the Frog-fruit, a Reakirt's Blue and an Orange Skipperling. Great to see a few new different things after a dearth of such.

Sept. 21 ~ Low of 67F was fantastic after the last four days at 73. What a difference. Our male Summer Tanager was singing from the big Pecan with the one nearly half-mile away down the ridgelet counter-singing with it. The male Vermilion Flycatcher is still here too. It does almost 7 months here on territory, arriving in earliest March. The female has been gone a month. The tanagers arrive in early April so are at about 5.5 months here now. Heard one Gnatcatcher mid-day. But no migrant motion today, again. Best thing was maybe nearly 20 Lark Sparrow chorusing in the big Junipers along north fence. They went off like I have not heard in months. All going at once, what an incredible chorus. Probably getting ready to depart for the season.

In butterflies, still Snouts going by, but not as many. Still lots of Lyside Sulphur. A couple Lyside were the yellow morph. Saw a or the Giant Swallowtail and N. Mestra both again, as well as the beat worn Olive Juniper Hairstreak still on the Frog-fruit. New on that were at least a half-dozen Vesta Crescent. A wave of immigrants. Then a Dun Skipper was the first in a month or two. Saw 21 Queen at once, still no Soldier. One Funereal Duskywing went by, as did a male Large Orange Sulphur. There were two Gulf Fritillary, some Pipevine, and a couple Sleepy Orange. A couple dozen Firefly at dusk, makes for a nice show.

Sept. 20 ~ Another 73F low, and just some scattered low stratus for the morning. Saw 90F on the cool shady front porch, so a few hotter in the sun. No migrants through yard all day, in stark contrast to yesterday. Still the Summer Tanager and a handful of Ruby-throated Hummingbird here. Some butterflies anyway. Still Snout going by but less than the last couple days. Great was the first Northern Mestra I have seen this year (FOY). Also Monarch number two of the fall was around amongst 18 Queen, and a Giant Swallowtail stopped to sample a few flowers.

Sept. 19 ~ Low about 73F again, getting up to low 90's F now. At least it is much dryer and the days are way shorter. An Eastern Screech-Owl was calling just before 7 a.m. right over shed out back in a big Hackberry. There was motion last night, there were migrants this morning. Five Nashville Warbler at once vying for a spot in the birdbath, a couple more up in trees. A couple Yellow Warbler, the still here male Yellow-throated Warbler came in, then plus some residents like Lesser Goldfinch, Cardinal, Chickadee and Titmouse, all right around and after 8:30. It was party for 10-15 minutes. Then a FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet came in, but was too fidgety to use the bath. Kathy thought she maybe heard one a few days ago, but only one chidit.

And but (I know, don't start a sentence with a conjunction, but don't two negatives make a positive?-LOL) no Chat. The last 4-5 months that was what started the morning bath parties as often as not. Did not hear one yesterday either, I think they bugged out finally. There were still two rattling around out there a couple days ago. The Summer Tanager, 2 White-eyed Vireo, and 1 greenie imm. Painted Bunting are still here. Very few Ruby-throated Hummingbird left, maybe a dozen? Seems the three feeders are each being guarded by single birds now. Another is on patrol at the Turkscap and Tropical Sage patch. Eastern Screech-Owl calling at dusk over shed.

There were lots of Snout again, still going SW to NE, at times hundreds at once. They hit the ground when you spray water. So we do. One American Lady was on the Blue Mistflower, a Gulf Fritillary was around a bit, a Sleepy Orange, a couple Pipevine on the Tube-tongue, one pale female Large Orange Sulphur on the Tropical Sage, dozens of Lyside Sulphur again as well, and 15 Queen. No small stuff though, even on the Frog-fruit. On that are a couple types of native bees, and bombyliads, and Snouts were on it.

Sept. 18 ~ Low of 73F, some off and on low stratus. Mid-morn at birdbath there was a female Yellow Warbler and a male FOS Wilson's Warbler. Only two migrants I saw all morn. Surely if you went out and beat the bushes you could kick some things up, like a Mourning Warbler. A couple Gnatcatcher went by over the day. Heard one greenie Painted Bunting. At dusk there was the best Firefly show I have seen maybe this year. There were at least 20 in the front yard. Great to see.

In butterflies, lots of Snout going by, surely there are thousands passing. We had hundreds at once coming it to a mud puddle we made for them. They are rain-chasers and we just had a bunch of that a few weeks ago. And here they are. One Large Orange Sulphur, some Lysides, and on the Blue Mist Eup., Queens. I counted 20 Queen at once, and as I was counting first a White-patched Skipper (Chiomara georgina) landed on some Blue Mist right in front of me. They are LTA - less than annual, and a rarity here. Always great to see, but it just hit a few flowers and bolted off. Then a FOS Monarch came in. My first migrant Monarch of the fall!

Sept. 17 ~ Low about 73F, still warm and muggy. Be glad when this is over. No migrant motion in morn. Noonish I went over to the pond on the golf course by Waresville Cmty. for a look. I can't believe the lack of odes. Where are the dragonflies? I saw 4 Black and 1 Red Saddlebags, 1 Green Darner, and 1 Blue-ringed Dancer damselfly. No birds at the pond but the usual fall flock of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher scattered around the course. Checked the 360 x-ing, and saw no odes there either.

The best bird was a fish. I saw a Long-nosed Dace below the crossing, a nice big one, just one. They are regular up at Lost Maples headwaters in small numbers. But I had never seen one way downriver here. Of course with 99 percent of the river private, determining particulars of native minnow species distribution here varies from problematic to impossible. Also at the crossing were some Texas Cichlid, one still in breeding colors, half dark. Mostly it was Long-eared and Red-breasted Sunfish though.

not a current photo

Vesta Crescent

A small wavelet of Vesta Crescent seems to be showing up.
The abundant one right now is Snout, again, but I am seeing
small numbers of Vesta building on the Frog-fruit now. They are
the most common crescent here, but often as immigrants from
elsewhere, such as the Snouts are.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 16 ~ The gulf flow returned overnight so a low about 72F, with low stratus and muggy. Those 60's were nice while they lasted. No migrant motion in morn. Town run so park check. The male Summer Tanager in woods there is also still present singing. Was the only thing I had. Little Creek Larry had a Ringed Kingfisher at the park pond this morning. Earlier in week he had a flock of Blue-winged Teal with 4 Shoveler there. Ducks! He says his hummers are about all gone too, just a couple or few left. Saw in bloom a couple open Goldenrod in river, a Sneezeweed, and some Cowpen Daisy in the corrals on 360 across river. Lots of Boneset Eupatorium blooming on other side of pond at park. I heard the Indigo Bunting sing from its Hackberry at last sun, it is still here! What makes some leave to molt elsewhere after nesting, and others stay on the territory to molt? One greenie was still out there as well. A baby Anole took a fly off my foot! You have to be fast to grab a fly with your mouth.

Sept. 15 ~ I think the low was 62F here! KERV had 58F! OMG! What a treat, I needed a sheet. Did not see any mig motion first half of morn. Kathy saw the Yellow-throated Warbler at the bath and the Summer Tanager is still singing. These are both the continuing summering birds that bred adjacent, as is the still here male Vermilion Flycatcher. Some of their kind have departed, some long-departed, but some remain on territory, probably until they nearly complete their post-nesting molt. Mid-morn a female Yellow and a Nashville Warbler were at the bath. An Eastern Phoebe was around yard, a new arrival which now could be a migrant of some distance from further afield in mid-September. This is when the first wintering birds from elsewhere start showing up. Heard a Scissor-tail. Nice to see us improved all the way up to D2 (severe) drought at the new U.S. Drought Monitor map out today. The west half of Bandera Co., and almost all of Medina and Bexar Counties both are still D3 or worse. UvCo is mostly D2 now.

Sept. 14 ~ Maybe 67F for a low, some clouds moving in with Gulf moisture. No migrant motion in morn. Summer Tanager and White-eyed Vireo still singing, a couple Chat still noisy but not really song, Titmouse still singing a little, as are Lesser Goldfinch. A little Lark Sparrow song here and there but they are about done. Kathy had a Hutton's Vireo a couple feet from kitchen window in the Sumac. Had one greenie imm. Painted Bunting. In the afternoon a Yellow Warbler and a Least Flycatcher were around a bit. As it neared dusk a Dickcissel called. There is a plant flowering out back, I presume bird deposited, which is an ornamental favorite of locals, Four O'clock (Mirabilis jalapa). This is not the wildflower found here by that name but a cultivated horticulture species. Said to attract Sphinx moths since open mostly at night. Hmmmm...

Sept. 13 ~ Another 64F low is relished. What a difference it makes cooling the house down. It lasts all day, even when getting to 90F. No mig motion through early afternoon. The last two days prior, I have been seeing what seems like lots fewer hummingbirds. It is looking like fair numbers of hummers rode the minor frontal passage out of dodge. I saw only a few yesterday in the evening and this morning is just plain slow compared to what it was before the slightest northerly flow arrived. Other than the Calliope last week, it has been all and only Rubies for about 12 days or so now. Lots of leaves are falling from the Pecans already, green even. Sorta think due to the drought. The Blue Mistflower is getting another bloom cycle underway. Saw 10 Queen on it at once. All fresh in good condition. On the Frog-fruit in the driveway had a very worn Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, with no olive left. Heard a Scissor-tail over in corral late in day.

Sept. 12 ~ Before the final dip at dawn I saw 64F which was outstanding! Weewow! It surely hit 63 and maybe 62 by time it bottomed out. KERV had 61F! Been way too long since we felt that. Around mid-morn a few migs went through, a Baltimore and a few Orchard Oriole, a Yellow Warbler and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and about 10 a.m. at the birdbath, the FOS Clay-colored Sparrow. They are a real sign of fall here. Still a greenie (or two) and a couple Indigo Bunting. Heard a Bell's Vireo besides the couple White-eyed still out there. The Bell's is a passage transient. Vermilion Flycatcher male still here, not for long though. Hear a seemingly bigger louder begging owl doing a squeal note. Maybe a Great Horned?

Sept. 11 ~ Another 67F low is fantastic. It was only 70F at 8:30 a.m., amazing. First thing about 6:45 I heard the begging baby Eastern Screech-Owl out back. Before 7 a small flock of Blue-winged Teal blazed right over the yard heading south. They are so fast that it is almost that 'by time you hear them they are gone'. Almost. A few Orchard Oriole went by early before sunup, a few more mid-morn. Heard a couple Yellow Warbler go by. Hooded Orioles still coming to feeder. Male Vermilion Flycatcher still here. Got warm though, probably 91F or so. There were a couple spits of rain around 4 p.m. as the 'front' such as it was, passed. One dropped it to 82F for a bit, while raising humidity. Some nearish by may have gotten some precip but showers were widely scattered and few.

At twilight there was a great liftoff of Upland Sandpiper. From just after 8: p.m. until about 8:20 I heard at least a couple dozen. All lowish, southbound, gaining altitude for a night of flight. When I see flocks usually a minority call. So the number of calling birds is likely a fraction of them. There must have been numbers in the pastures upvalley all day. At least now they were green and probably had some bugs. When the sun comes up they will be in Mexico.

Sept. 10 ~ Low about 73F, and a bit muggy. No migrants through yard first half of morn. About 10:30 four went through almost all at the same time. One Yellow Warbler, a Baltimore Oriole, and an odd pair of Tyranids. First I heard a Couch's Kingbird calling, so got binocs. They were together in the big Hackberry left of gate. When they flew together I saw the other bird was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. They flew very close together and landed in top of Pecan on north side of house. Then continued on in a minute. There were migrants for two minutes.

The way they stayed so close together made me wonder if they were a pair. Scissor-tails are known to hybridize with Western Kingbird, and I am pretty sure there is a record of a vagrant hybrid maybe on east coast, that was a Couch's Kingbird x Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. It was not a fully tailed male STFL for sure, but males are growing new ones right now so often do not show a full tail presently. That said, I thought it was a female but only saw it in flight, though at about 50' or less, close. Only the Couch's called and it called alot.

Saw a young Four-lined Skink at the front porch. Around 7 p.m. a rain cell ran north to south just east of us looking like maybe an inch or so in town and out on 187 a mile east. We got about a tenth of an inch (.10). Typical Texas rain. But it did take 10F off the top and dropped us to 80 in a couple minutes. Supposed to be a front arriving from the north tomorrow, mostly dry but some might get rain. It is considered an 'early season' front at this time of the year per NOAA.

not a current photo...


This Northern Mockingbird has molted its tail and a new
one is just growing in. Giving the usually long-tailed
bird a fairly funny bob-tailed look.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 9 ~ An amazing 67F low felt fantastic. Heard the Summer Tanager singing, and Kathy heard a Hooded Oriole singing. Locally territorial birds still burning off excess testosterone. No morning migrant movement through yard the first few hours of light though. In the late afternoon here at the hovelita there was an Inca Dove calling. Town run and park check. Saw a few new flowers around blooming: Snow-on-the-Mountain, Boneset (a white) Eupatorium, Buffalo Bur, Lindheimer's Senna, and a couple Frostweed. That rain was a miracle for a fall bloom. Some Mealy Sage going off again as well. At the 360 x-ing there was a Louisiana Waterthrush. At the park pond, water is back to 3' below the spillway. No Night-Herons, Little Creek Larry had a couple Green Heron earlier. Dragons were the highlight at the park, and most were just upriver of the top of the island. Not many but a couple different ones, and clearly some new things. A male Widow Skimmer is getting late, it showed the wear too. One Eastern Amberwing, one Thornbush Dasher (lots of Blue Dasher) were new arrivals, Thornbush very rare at park. There were several Green Darner, but best was a male Twelve-spotted Skimmer which is my FOY and not a sure thing annualy.

Sept. 8 ~ An amazing 68F for a low was fantastic. KERV had 67F! Dreamy. Just a few migrants early, a Baltimore Oriole, couple Orchard, a Yellow Warbler, and a Least Flycatcher. Saw the Calliope Hummer again working the Tropical Sage, yet to see it at a feeder. Day 4 for it. In the afternoon on the seed out office window in back besides a greenie imm. Painted Bunting there was an ad. male Dickcissel. Most of the fall birds I see here are immatures and females, so a treat to have a male on the ground at 15'. Beautiful bird, great colors and patterns, it has it all. New Drought Monitor map shows us all the way up to D2 level now. From D4 two weeks ago. Which is still severe, and we are still a foot behind, but we got some major relief. Some flowers are blooming now in response. I saw a nice male Cardinal Feather so there must be some females around. Lots of patches of Wood-Sorrel coming up a few opening, a few Rain Lily. A couple more Shaggy Cap shrooms, which disappear overnight I suspect to the deer.

Sept. 7 ~ Low of 72F, just occasional low stratus passing early, mostly clearish. Still with NW flow so dryer than the summer sticky regime. I did see the Calliope Hummingbird first thing early. Otherwise no migrants around the yard first half of morn. There was a blowout last night. We were thick with them nearly a week. First as the trough arrived they started showing, got thicker as it passed, and an actual wave followed on that first clear night after it passed. Then it was good for a couple days (the last couple days) and now it is all gone. Migration also means here today gone tomorrow.

Finally about mid-morn a few migrants showed up and broke the silence. Couple Baltimore and a few Orchard Oriole, a Gnatcatcher, a Yellow Warbler, a Least Flycatcher. After noon there was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher sneezing out in the Pecan trees out front. Do not get them every fall so always a treat. Later saw one Nashville Warbler. A big drop in birds since yesterday but one good one, and it only takes one good bird to make your day. Kathy spotted a Northern Cloudywing (butterfly) on the patio porch. I had a quick glimpse at what looked like a Dusky-blue Groundstreak out front. About 5 p.m. a rain cell passed near enough to spit on us and drop the temp from about 90F to 76F.

Sept. 6 ~ Low of 71F, scattered low stratus, no solid deck, sun out early. More Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, and Yellow Warbler, a Dickcissel, and a couple Least Flycatcher. Heard a Canyon Towhee in one of the branch-stick piles. First in a month I think. Mid-morn I was on front porch and spent 5 minutes watching an imm. or female Calliope Hummingbird at 5-10 feet. It seemingly hit every Tropical Sage flower, which are many (a few hundred right around porch). It also hit the Clammy-weed, which has a big drop of nectar. This is the bird I glimpsed briefly yesterday. Got to hear it call several times too, that pillowy-soft chip. Wonderful. Other than the hummer most of the birds seemed to stay around much of the day. Great to have migrant activity around the yard.

Sept. 5 ~ A brief low of 69F, KERV per NOAA had 65F! The clear skies arrived last night and there were migrants today. Morning best of course but much of it was around much of the day. There were 10 or 12 Orchard and 4-5 Baltimore Oriole, a FOS Nashville Warbler or two, 6 Yellow Warbler, 2 Least Flycatcher, a Dickcissel, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher for passage transients. Breeders still here hanging on are Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler, Summer Tanager and Chat. Saw a Gulf Fritillary, first in a bit, more Lysides, couple each Sleepy Orange and Queen, about a dozen Snout. Had work to do here but it looks like it would have been a great day to see some of the few migrants we get. Bet there was a Mourning Warbler or two out there somewhere along the river. In the bird of the day always gets away department, I saw a hummer I am sure must have been a Calliope, but a Ruby-throat chased it from the Tropical Sages. Saw another Firefly at dark.

Sept. 4 ~ Overcast, low about 71F. Damp out. Heard an Upland Sandpiper at first light early. Some Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler early. A couple Baltimore Oriole too. A Caracara flew by. Yellow-throated, White-eyed, and Hutton's Vireo all heard singing or calling. One Least Flycatcher in morning. Chat and Cardinal making song type noises they are so thrilled to see green vegetation and have cooler temps. In the afternoon a Dickcissel was out there, and a couple greenie imm. Painted Bunting.

Yard is greenest it has been all year. The Tube-tongue has burst forth so some ten-foot diameter patches of 2-3 inch ground cover height purple flowers. In a wet year it is 6 inches tall. One major water year I saw some a foot tall with huge flowers, didn't recongize it at first. There is also some Wood-Sorrel blooming now, that beautiful magenta, hardly saw any all spring. Amazing what a half-a-foot of water can do. At the last glow of orange light to the west about 8:15 p.m. over 6 or 8 minutes I heard at least a couple dozen Upland Sandpiper go over southbound, taking off for a night of flight. There must have been a bunch in some pastures upvalley a few miles.

Sept. 3 ~ Low about 73F, some low stratus but not solid, some sun too. In afternoon became overcast, and latest afternoon to early evening some rain cells were nearish and dropped it 84F to 74F, then sprinkled a little just before dark. Birds were the same. Heard a couple Baltimore and saw a number of Orchard Oriole. The Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler continue. A few Yellow Warblers, a couple grayish greenie imm. Painted Bunting. Heard an Upland Sandpiper overhead heading south as it got dark.

Yard is greener than it has been all year. The 4' section of hog fence I put up to protect the deer-ravaged Red Turkscap was knocked down. I heard the commotion last night just after midnight, now I know what that was, I flushed a deer out of the front porch flowerbed. It was no doubt eating the ripe Persimmons. In morn saw everything low on that treelet is gone. Dang deer. There are a boatload of these all over the place. They had to walk up 3 stairs onto front porch to get into that flower bed! I see about 5 of a columnar mushroom I think is Shaggy-cap (Coprinus sps.), or something very similar. There was a showerlet around dark, we had a bit over a tenth of an inch, maybe .15 or so.

Apologies for the poor old shot... which is a
Mavica (floppy disk) digiscope.

Vermilion Flycatcher

This is a juvenile Vermilion Flycatcher. At first they
are streaked on breast and a yellowish-salmon rearward below.
Not sure any of this plumage on site, so filling in holes.
Apologies if I put this up somewhere and forgot it.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 2 ~ Low about 73F. Some scattered low stratus off and on early. Saw stars last night, which, have not been visible much lately. First thing there were 2-3 at least FOS Baltimore Oriole in the big Pecan and going to the gate Texas Persimmon with Orchard Orioles. Couple Yellow Warbler, heard a non-Yellow call but could not see it. Usually the ones you can not find, are the good ones, it is some cosmic thing. Five very gray greenies (imm. Painted Bunting) is an increase. A couple imm. Indigo too. One Least Flycatcher in morn and afternoon. Kathy saw a male Baltimore Oriole near bath in the afternoon. Did have an ad. ma. Indigo in heavy molt, which I think is that same continuing bird from the draw, now more brown than blue. A couple Upland Sandpiper called nearing dusk. At dark I saw my FOS fall Firefly.

Town run. On way down road to crossing had Yellow-throated Vireo and an Ash-throated Flycatcher. Thought I heard a Mourning Warbler. There was water flowing at the crossing! Not a lot but that was definitely water movement, I remember what that looks like. The park pond about half-filled, maybe 2' from going over spillway now, instead of four. I heard some dry crossings north of town have water again now too. For the main big event I heard 5-7" were the totals, higher were north toward Vanderpool. Water was muddy, only saw a Great Blue and a Green Heron trying to see anything in it. At edge of the woods by start of island there was a FOS Traill's type Flycatcher, either Willow or Alder. Habitat better for the latter.

September 1 ~ Weewow it's September! The start of fall for climatological (or meteorlogical) seasons. Which differ from astronomical seasons. Two-thirds of the way through the year now. Low of 72F. Cloudy, overcast, humid, maybe some stray showers around. Some Orchard Orio and Yellow Warbler early. One Gnatcatcher in the morn, another went by mid-afternoon. Heard the Yellow-throated Vireo again. Orchard Orios hitting the Persimmons. Couple Caracara were walking around in the corral. At last light another Upland Sandpiper called overhead southbound. Kathy heard an Ash-throated Flycatcher. More Lyside Sulphur going by SW to NE, about 20.

I see the U.S. Drought Monitor has moved us up to D3, from D4, on the new map today. Data is crunched on Tuesdays, new map out Thursdays, so it does not reflect the 5" we just got Tues. and Wednesday. We likely will show as D2 when it is updated next Thursday. A NOAA report said that Lake Amistad came up 170,000 acre feet, and 10'! I hear the Medina River bed now has water running in it again as well! Can't wait to see the park pond and river tomorrow.

~ ~ ~ August summary ~ ~ ~

The big news was that there was rain! It was Texas fickle rain so totals varied widely. The last two days of month saw over 5" at our place! Our total for the month is over 7.5"! The wettest month in a year, maybe two. Most of the month we were at D4 exceptional stage drought, until the rains came. A couple nice rounds of Cenizo blooming resulted from the rains. The river is 4-5 FEET below normal bank. Drought stage is D4 (through 29th anyway). Exceptional. Trees are dying and wells are going dry. The park pond is less than half full with lots of exposed bank along edges. The island at park pond has not been for at least a couple months.

Bugs (insects) were weak, due to the drought no doubt. Porch light hardly brought in anything. For the most part no butterfly-type flowers, save where being watered. Butterfly diversity was likely the worst August I have seen in 19 here. Certainly fewest individuals. A Dusky-blue Groundstreak was exciting, sadly, the only one I have seen this year. They used to be abundant. Maybe 17 species of butterflies, a third of which were only one individual seen. Pitiful. Odes were only 13 species. There were a few more overall, as the first fall migrants from elsewhere show up. Not due to more local production. It remains incredibly depressed out there for them. The pond at Utopia Park is amazingly devoid of dragons and damsels. I have not seen a Rubyspot this summer! As the fish are concentrated when water levels get low, predation on ode larvae goes up.

Birds get interesting with the first few species of the early fall migrants starting to pass through. Ruby-throated Hummingbird shows back up as the Black-chinned of summer depart. A few Rufous Hummer pass through. By the second half of month Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler are numerous. You might hear the odd Upland Sandpiper going over in the dark. A couple Solitary Sandpiper were at the park now that it has exposed mud banks again. A few Dickcissel through yard mostly early in month.

A huge part of August is our migratory breeding bird population departing over the month. No more dawn chorus. Adult male Painted Buntings leave the first week of the month. A few interesting things were noted though. A Peregrine Falcon on the 15th was great, though brief, it had a date south of here somewhere. A Black-headed Grosbeak the 18th is my first August record here. Calliope Hummingbird is always good, an ad. male best, one was here on the 19th. There were a few Yellow-crowned Night-Heron reported at Utopia Park over the month, an adult, and a couple immatures at least. I saw an imm. Aug. 12-26 (ph.). I count about 73 species seen locally, within one of July total.

~ ~ ~ end August summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

Aug. 31 ~ More rain! A low of about 72F, but in the rain around sunup it dropped a bit more, some local WU stations were showing 69F in the morn. Again the main event started pre-dawn and lasted a couple hours. Looks like an eighth of an inch under 2"! Which means about 5.5" in about 27 hours. Incredible. Maybe there will be a river again? We were in a flash flood warning for a while as the main cell departed.

A Yellow Warbler or two, same for Orchard Oriole. One greener greenie imm. Painted Bunting, that is neither of the two here yesterday. Kathy saw an Empidonax flycatcher that might have been a Willow. About 11 a.m. an Upland Sandpiper must have come up off the airstrip as it was just barely over the corral trees as it gained altitude, calling the whole way, it flew across the front corner of the yard heading for river and toward golf course and pastures on other side. Heard a Dickcissel in yard in the afternoon. Also another quick small shower, maybe another eighth of an inch. About 5 p.m. there were 4 Yellow Warbler, 2 Yellow-throated Warbler, and the Dickcissel in the big Pecan. The Yellow-throated were not ad. males, either females or immatures. About 6 p.m. I heard the Couch's Spadefoot Toad call from the front yard. Soooo cool to hear that in yard. The rain was finally enough to get the Zexmenia to bloom, it has not most of the summer. Just before dark at last sliver of light I heard an Upland Sandpiper go over southbound. At least a couple dozen Lyside Sulphur went by, SW to NE over day.

Aug. 30 ~ Oh my! A rain event happened about 5-7 a.m. dropping about 1.85", or 1 and seven-eighths", or 47mm or so! Low about 72F, and now the 10-day shows rain chances every day with highs in the 80's F. Surely very humid, but a break in heat, and maybe some water for that empty bank. Kathy found a Barking Frog in the house, which was repatriated to the great outdoors. Another rain cell hit late afternoon about 5-6 p.m. with another inch! I would say about 3" for the day, so far. The birds were the same gang. Some Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler, and 2 very gray greenies (imm. Painted Bunting). A Bell's Vireo that tried to sing was clearly not one of the local birds as its sounds were nothing of the sort. A passage juvenile. Around dark another half-inch of rain fell! We are at 3.5" for the day! OMG! Incredible. Kathy heard the Spadefoot Toad out front after dark.

Aug. 29 ~ Low of 75F is not very. Another hot one in store, and then we are to get a slight drop and some rain chances for a couple days. Bunch of Orchard Oriole, a few Yellow Warbler, all around yard, some at bath for another splash parade at 8:30 a.m. Chat seems to start it, as it uses it every morning. Otherwise it was the same stuff here today. Did see a female Large Orange Sulphur on the Red Turkscap. Have not heard the Bell's Vireo in a couple days now, methinks it left. Might have heard a Rufous Hummer, has not been one in several days. Maybe the weather the next week will knock some birds down. I saw 94F on the cool shady front porch, a bit toasty in the sun, and it was very humid, surely a hun with heat index. Saw female Summer Tanager and Orchard Oriole hit the Texas Persimmon.

Aug. 28 ~ Low of 74F, and a bit of broken low stratus deck off and on early. Gonna be a hot one. I saw it just over 92F on the cool shady front porch about 4 p.m. Heard a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher first thing early. Quite a parade at the birdbath about 8:30 or so. This is why I devoutly rinse and refresh the bath and refill the milk jug dripper every morning before sunup. Over ten minutes there were a half-dozen Orchard Oriole, 4-5 Yellow Warbler, 2-3 Yellow-breasted Chat, and the orange first-summer male Hooded Oriole. Plus a number of Lesser Goldfinch and Cardinal, and a couple Titmouse. Needed a pipe smoke after that, so manned front porch station, and whilst basking in the afterglow I heard then saw a Least Flycatcher flippin' around the Pecans. That last ad. male Indigo Bunting continues, in pretty heavy molt. Been here since mid-late April, so four months on territory, though the other local males have all departed. Still giving the odd snippet of song from the Hackberry left of gate. It and a Painted used that same tree as a singing post all summer, but not at the same time.

Aug. 27 ~ Low of 71F was nice. Clear at first, then some low stratus, then sunny. Got into low 90's F. Early lots of Orchard Orio and a few Yellow Warbler around yard and at birdbath. Saw the ad. ma. Vermilion Flycatcher still on corral fenceline. Chat at the bath, and a greenie Painted Bunnie. Did a dump and recycling run to make space for more. It has been months, since early spring. Went west out the back end of 360 to 359. Saw one Common Ground-Dove. Water flow at the 360 crossing seems to have doubled and must nearing TWO gallons per minute now. Should be 100-200. Still not flowing downstream below the bridge though. It is almost all Ruby-throated Hummingbird here now, I only see a few imm. Black-chinned left, maybe two or three. At least a few dozen Rubies present.

Lesser Goldfinch

Male Lesser (Black-backed) Goldfinch on Musk Thistle.
Musk is the Euro non-native introduced invasive Thistle here.
I would like the pic a whole lot more if it were on a native.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 26 ~ Low was 72F, clear and sunny for the first time this week. Orchard Orioles and Yellow Warblers are the story. In the afternoon for orios I saw 5 imm. or female and one male around the bath at once. Three in it together again. Two greenie Painted Bunting here. One dull gray toned, one bright fresh one. The dull one is obviously a juv. just a month old or so. The bright one could be a young from say June now molted into first basic (winter) plumage, or an ad. fem. that has molted into basic plumage. There was a Yellow-throated Warbler in the yard before sunup for the first time in a couple weeks.

Town run so a park check. The imm. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was still at the north end of the island. Little Creek Larry said he had an adult there early one morning this week. Saw the ad. Green Heron. Great was a migrant warbler, also at top of island, a Louisiana Waterthrush. First one of the fall, and can miss it, so great to see. Heard a Yellow-throated Vireo sing, and a Red-eyed Vireo call a few times in woods.

In flower news, there are some! The rain has inspired a few to pop. I saw the first Fireweed, aka Cardinal flower, the aquatic Lobelia, at the 360 x-ing. A few Snow-on-the-Mountain are now blooming, but hardly any came up compared to normal. The Purple Sage (that is a Mugwort not a sage) Cenizo is flaming in bloom as it responds to every couple inches of rain with a full roaring show for a couple days. There are spectacular patches of it around. For maybe another day or two. A few Day-flower (aka Widow's Tears) are open around the porch here. Great to see something, anything, blooming besides what we water.

In bugs, saw a Vesta Crescent fly across the patio. At park for dragons, a couple each Spot-winged, and Wandering Glider, a couple Green Darner, a Red-tailed Pennant, a Black Saddlebags, a Red Saddlebags, several Blue Dasher, an Eastern Pondhawk, and a Checkered Setwing. Low numbers but at least a wee bit of diversity.

Aug. 25 ~ A low of 72, and very wet out there from the prior rain. Don't think it did much overnight. Sure a welcome break. Weird to get a washed out tail of a front and sorta nothing-burger of a disturbance, that breaks the heat for a week with major rains, in late August. Awesome. Heard an Upland Sandpiper or two going over before sunup. Again I heard the Couch's Spadefoot Toad calling, in the morning. Can't find it, as always. Even when it is light out! The imm. Zone-tailed Hawk is still begging high overhead to the west behind us. In Yellow Warbler, I saw a couple, then Kathy spotted four at once in the bath of Yellow Warbler. The four were all female or imm. and one I saw was an ad. male so at least five are here. At least as many Orchard Oriole as well. It is almost like fall migration. Some nearish rain cells brought a cooling 80F outflow in later afternoon but no precip.

Aug. 24 ~ Overcast, 74F, ground still damp but don't think it rained any more. The break from the heat is great though. Early there was a herd of Orchard Oriole, over a handful, and a Yellow Warbler, both could be holdovers from yesterday. Also a Gnatcatcher went through early. One greenie Painted and one ad.male Indigo Bunting still here. A few brown Indigo too. Might have been a couple Yellow Warbler out there. The Eastern Bluebird family still seems to be around visiting not quite daily, but nearly. Did not detect the Rufous Hummer today, 3 days was it. Great was after dark hearing a yapping juvenile Eastern Screech-Owl! So they got at least one young out this year! It was in a big Hackberry right over the shed out back 10' from the corner of house and office.

For a rain report, a light shower moved in and parked for the afternoon, giving a minor slow soaking, and kept temps about 76F. A big win. It was about an eighth-inch per hour for three of them. So about three-eighths of an inch, or 1 cm. Which makes three quarters (.75) of an inch with the same total Monday a couple days ago. Which then makes the total 3" here so far for the month. The wettest month in way too many. May was the only wet month in last ten or so? There was 3.5" which fell mostly on two days in May. We might get a little more before this all moves out. Thrilled for the heat relief too.

A highlight of the day was when we got to watch that first-summer male Hooded Oriole take a long full monty bath like never before. Generally the body including rump is orange now, the back and wings are black. Most of the bird has molted in the last month. Still no wing coverts, so no wingbars or white edges whatsoever on wing. Tail is black and mostly replaced now, but not all grown out yet. One interesting part is that it shows a half way there black bib on the breast coming in, but the lores and face are still not black at all really. The crown and head is still mostly green like a first summer bird. No black lores and lower face yet. A really neat plumage only available very briefly for observation here, a first-summer male in late summer as they molt into their first adult type plumage.

The bird of the day that got away today were some swallows. A small group flew over which I only caught flying away, but just after they passed right over head. I saw 3 but trees blocked lots of my view. They were not Rough-winged, Bank, Barn, Cliff, or Cave. They looked like Tree Swallows to me, which is what my mind said when I saw them. Now is a great time to catch them passing by.

Aug. 23 ~ Low of 72F is much better. Doesn't look like it rained much overnight, sprinkles maybe. A light showerlet briefly early and mid-morning, but not much to add to total yet. Outstanding to have a break from the summer heat since it started the second week of May and we had three months already. Before sunup I heard the first in months Eastern Screech-Owl calling from over in the draw where they seem to reside. The Rufous Hummingbird was at the front feeder again first thing, day 3 for the fourth one of fall here. A few Orchard Oriole and a Yellow Warbler were around yard. One greenie Painted Bunting, a few brown Indigo, and one adult male still continues.

Under a big cloud shield and 85F at 3 p.m. is great. Rain more scattered today it seems, and not anything but a few spritzes here over the day. The Tropical Sage we have been nursing all summer is now with some flowers, great spots of red, the hummers love it. A stalk of Indian Mallow has some flowers too. Later in afternoon I saw three imm. Orchard Orio IN the birdbath at once. They left so I refreshed the water in it. Kathy said as soon as I left it an ad. male and a first summer male went into it and sparred whilst bathing. Five here at once anyway.

Aug. 22 ~ Low of 76F is not very, quite balmy too. They have us progged for rain and 90F or below all week. Sure hope they are right this time. We could use a break from the burn, and some water. BTW today is the ONE HOUR day. Length of day is one hour less than it was at the solstice. So two months, to lose an hour. We lose another hour of day length in just the next month.

Been meaning to mention, now seeing sap on the Pecan leaves. They exude a sweet sticky layer making the leaves shiny, which attracts insects, which is why Yellow Warblers hang out in the pecans all day in fall. The smallest gnats get stuck at times, and Yellows are excellent gleaners. Larger (still very small) types (Dipterids - gnats, flies) appear to be feeding on it, making themselves more nutritious in case of Yellow Warbler.

Before sunup there was a Rufous Hummingbird at the front porch feeder, no doubt what Kathy heard last night as it got dark. A few Orchard Orio went through, and one Yellow Warbler was around early, which later was at the birdbath. Kathy heard a Hutton's Vireo over north fence in the junipers. It seems as quickly as a Persimmon turns purple, it is eaten, since what is there are only green ones now. So the birds are really watching it, with their UV vision. I saw a Chat fly out of it, and Titmouse and Carolina Wren came by and checked it. Male Vermilion Flycatcher still here, as is the male Summer Tanager. Still begging baby Lark, Field, and Chipping Sparrow, and Hop-along, the flight challenged Carolina Wren.

An outflow boundry with cooler air got here shortly before 4 p.m., taking 10F off the 91F we were at. Humid, but cooler, and can smell rain, which should be inbound. It rained all around us for about three hours with us only seeing spits. Some got good totals no doubt, there were thundercells. Finally about 7-9 p.m. we had some slow soaking light rain. At least we got a little, and 75F. Lots of areas in central Texas got inches, some nearby. But not us. It was 1 cm, or about three-eighths of an inch. The Barking Frogs were thrilled.

Aug. 21 ~ Low about 74F, balmy, a few sprinkles fell. The system landfalling into northern Mexico and south Texas yesterday, PTC 4, seems to have mostly evaporated, and under-performed fairly well. Though a slug of moisture has come in from it which might make for more rain in a day or two. A few Orchard Oriole went by southbound in the morning. Kathy saw a fem. or imm. Black-and-white Warbler at the birdbath in morning, a Yellow Warbler female in afternoon. I saw the Yellow out in the Pecans. The rest seemed the same. At least one male Indigo Bunting still here. There were two greenies, imm. Painted Bunnies. Kathy heard a sharp chip from a different hummingbird right at last light. It did't return after the last sip.

Aug. 20 ~ About a 73-93F (in shade) temp spread today. At least a half-dozen Orchard Orio went through yard, likely more. Saw the 1st summer female Hooded Orio at the feeder out back. At least one ad. ma. Indigo Bunting still here, as well as one greenie (imm. or female Painted Bunnie). No Blue Gro. A few Chat still around. The juv. Bell's and a couple Wide-eyed Vireo still here. Heard a Yellow-throated Vireo way uphill behind us. The one sprig of Clammyweed that came up again this year has a small flower cluster on it. I see a few Wild Petunia (white here mostly) opened as did a few Rain Lily flowers, which I suppose by now would be the fall Rain Lily, not spring Rain Lily. They are said to be different at some genetic level.

The following are not current photos, but show current events

Yellow Warbler

We saw 4 Yellow Warbler at once in the bath this week.

Orchard Oriole

This is a fall female or immature Orchard Oriole in our birdbath.
There were three of these at once in the bath this week, and
as soon as they left 2 males dropped in to it.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 19 ~ Low about 73F, some mid-level clouds, and shortly before dawn some sprinkles. We got three-eighths of an inch (1 cm) of precip. Keep it coming. A FOS Calliope Hummingbird was at the Salvia in the morning, an adult male which are the scarcest type here. Most are females and immatures. By 10 a.m. a first-year male Ruby-throated Hummer was guarding the flowers. A small Texas Persimmon by front porch that gets watered has some fruit. About 10 are purple, each showing signs of birds eating them. Now for some orioles to find them. Baltimore usually really go after them, so do Orchard. Heard flight song from that same ad. ma. Indigo Bunting this morning as it left seed area. Have not seen any Blue Grosbeak in a few days, they seem to have left. Heard the begging baby Zone-tail again today.

Town run for supplies so a look at the park. Just south of town over the pasture at the SW quadrant of the 1050 x 187 intersection was a Zone-tailed Hawk. One Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was at the same big root mass at the north end of the island as a week ago. Little Creek Larry said he saw two at once, and a third bird flushed out of a tree that looked like one as well. So there may be three there. A good showing. He has also is seeing one juvenile Green Heron, they got one young out of the nest this year. He also saw a Solitary Sandpiper a couple days ago, besides a Spotted. One Spotted was there today. I had a glimpse of a warbler in the woods that got away, and was of great interest, durnit. Could not dig it back out.

Aug. 18 ~ Low of 73F, no morning low stratus deck. Later afternoon some local WU stations were showing 98-99F. A front is washing out over the plateau, we had a minor outflow that took a wee bit off the bake. A few more Orchard Orios going through yard. Very surprising before 9 a.m. was an adult male Black-headed Grosbeak. First heard in the big Pecan, then the dying Hackberry, and finally seen in the Mulberry before 9 a.m. It is surely my first August sighting of one locally. Oddly there was one in latest June and early July over in Concan, which surely is the areas only summer record of that sort. Well over half of falls I do not see one, though very small numbers do move through the area annually. It is easy to miss any given year here. The ad. ma. Black-chinned Hummingbird continues, as well as a dozen or two immatures. One imm. chased the imm. Bell's Vireo out of the little Pecan by the patio porch just feet from me. Saw one ad. ma. Ruby-throated, and at least one immature, probably a few. I had a warbler of some sort get away in the later afternoon. Was white below posteriorly. A warbler of great interest. A different buzzed flight note. It was good, and it got away, the bird of the day.

Aug. 17 ~ Low about 74F, back to that. A few wisps of low stratus from the Gulf, but the high is building back in. Supposed to not last though and maybe more rain over the next week after a couple hot days. Two Gnatcatchers out in yard early at dawn. The begging Zone-tailed Hawk still up high overhead behind us to west. Late afternoon the male Summer Tanager was quiet singing in the big Pecan. Winding it down. A few Orchard Oriole went through in a.m., and a few more in late afternoon. Bell's Vireo still about. One greenie Painted Bunting is all I see left. Lots of baby Lark Sparrow, and some new Chipping and Field juvies besides the adults. The ad. ma. Black-chin Hummer continues. The first-summer Hooded Oriole is really getting orange of body. The breast patch is starting to come in well now. Still no wingbars (wing coverts), but new rectrices (tail) are growing out.

Aug. 16 ~ Wow, wet ground. Low about 72F and damp. The yard is greener than it was yesterday, and for the last month. In one day. The low is now out over Big Bend area in the trans-Pecos, where they also need rain badly. Amazing how together it still looked in early a.m. on its third day inland. Good thing it did not have a day out over the Gulf to build. Some areas east of Laredo had 5-10" of rain! About 9 a.m. there was a Red-eyed Vireo singing in corral, first I have heard in at least a month. Then about 10 a Yellow-throated Vireo was singing out front, the first in a couple weeks at least. Probably both are localish post-breeding wanderers that have yet to run out of singing gas. White-eyed and Bell's Vireo were both still making noise out front as well. Four vireos is always great. In morn a few Orchard Oriole went through, heard Yellow and Black-and-white Warbler. Late afternoon a Gnatcatcher went through. Common Nighthawk still calling 'beer'  'beer'.

Aug. 15 ~ Some sprinkles began in the wee hours before dawn. The low was 71F. The low system Invest 98-L seems to be over-performing. It made landfall yesterday, and is still together, and with circulation, just crossing the Rio Grande around Eagle Pass this early morn. A band of rain from it seems headed our way. The second Yellow Warbler of fall was out there early, and a few Orchard Oriole. Just before 10 a.m. a Peregrine Falcon flew south not high over the Cypresses that line the river. Always a great bird to see. It was almost funny how the birds alarmed right at the instant my mind said 'falcon!'. Off and on sprinkles and showerlets all morning. Hard to believe we made noon still in the 70's. We lucked into a nice band training over us in the afternoon, by time it was done we had 1.25" for the day! OMG! A perfect slow-soaker as they call them too. Never got past about 75F all day, incredible. The Barking Frogs were thrilled after dark.

Aug. 14 ~ Another 72F low is nice, that ought to be the legal minimum for a low. The disturbance that went over the last couple days west to east has now become a weak low, Invest 98-L, just offshore out in the Gulf. Now it is going to march west across south Texas with rain. They need it as badly as we do, so great for them. We may get lucky and get some. We had easterly to NE winds from the circulation and the debris cloud shield kept temps down, topping out at only about 85F! What a great break. Saw at least two greenies, imm. Painted Bunting, might have been three. Saw an ad. fem. Indigo Bunting feed a juvenile, so it just got out of the nest. Saw the juv. Bell's Vireo that has been around, likely from the corral nesting.

Kathy said the hummer fluid usage has plummeted the last few days. Which means for the most part the hoardes of immature Black-chinned have vacated, finally. That was the overwhelming bulk of what was here. It was in the low hundreds. I saw the one still here ad. ma. Black-chinned, and two ad. ma. Ruby-throats. Saw a couple that looked like imm. Ruby-throated, amongst at least a couple dozen still here Black-chin immatures. Also had a visit from the getting oranger every day first-summer male Hooded Oriole. A few Orchard Oriole went through yard. The male Vermilion Flycatcher is still here. Best beast of the day was a butterfly, the first Dusky-blue Groundstreak I have seen all year. It hit both the Lantana and the Blue Mist Eupatorium.

Aug. 13 ~ Low of 72F and the ground is wet. Wow. Plenty humid though. Just after midnight last night at last sound check I heard three species of amphibians celebrating the rain by calling. Rio Grande Leopard Frog, Barking Frog, and the Couch's Spadefoot Toad called too. Amazing for just under an inch of rain. In the morning did hear titmice singing, and an inspired distant Summer Tanager was as well. Finally there was a migrant swarm of dragonflies, the first I have seen this fall. Most were Spot-winged Glider, but Black, and Red, Saddlebags, Green Darner, and one Wandering Glider were among the couple dozen hawking low over the yard. Great to see, now we have some, for a couple hours, since some showed up from somewhere else.

Mid-morn I saw my FOS ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the office feeder on the heels of Larry's sightings the last few days. Recall those two imms. I saw in the last week but did not call them for a FOS date. Then late morn I heard then saw a FOS Yellow Warbler in the Pecans. I am sure that is what I heard and glimpsed that got away a couple days ago. The rule is to never claim or record any ID (much less a FOS date) that you are not ten thousand percent sure on. I would much rather have a sure date a couple days later, than a maybe probably speculative date, a couple days earlier. Eventually they will all fill in, and change, anyway. Being sure is better and more important than being first.

Heard the Common Ground-Dove out back. Great to see all these tiny baby lizards around. Maybe 1.5" of body, and nearing 2 of tail. Eastern Fence, Six-lined Racerunner, and Green Anole are the three numerous ones that seemingly had decent seasons. Late afternoon we had an outflow from a cell that cooled it a bit and spit a hundredth or two of precip on us. Kathy had an Ash-throated Flycatcher, which are mostly departed for the year now. She also heard a Common Nighthawk at dusk. I heard an Upland Sandpiper overhead southbound "Whip-ip-ip-ip-ip". Listen as and right after it gets dark, and as it gets light.


This is an underexposed docushot of the immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at Utopia Park Aug. 12. It continues today the 19th. At least two are there now. The are white-spotted on brown above, and brown-streaked on dirty white below. Those are Cypress leaves on the water surface, as in November, usually.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 12 ~ The rain cooled air provided a low of 70F! Weewow! First thing early before 7 a.m. there was some drama out front. A young fawn crashed into and then through the hog fence, coming from the corral. It sprinted across yard right past me, crashed into and through the hog fence on other side of yard. Shortly it crashed back through it and across yard to far corner, whence I saw a Coyote out on the road stalking it. The fawn was freaked out, it doubled back across yard and went back through the north fence again and headed up draw. Not long after I heard some odd strained fawn bleating. If it had stayed in the yard the Coyote likely would not have come in after it. It was panicked.

Town run and park check. Little Creek Larry said he had ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird this morning, and Tuesday (9th). First I have heard of this fall, though surely those two I saw this last week here were immature Rubies. He also saw some small fast ducks blazing down the creek at dawn one day that were Blue-winged Teal, the first of fall as well. It is mid-August. There were reports of an inch to 1.5" of rain in some areas locally yesterday, north and south of us and town. More reports of dry wells.

At the park the imm. Barred Owl is doing well it seems, head almost fully feathered now. An imm. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was at the north end of the island, first I have seen in a while locally and always a good bird here. One just fledged still begging Summer Tanager in main park still being attended. There was a Red-tailed Pennant dragonfly. An amazing lack of odes, and birds, forget butterflies, there are no flowers. Some, lots of, trees are turning as if it is late fall.

About 4 p.m. a rain cell found us, and took 15dF off the top dropping it to 81F and stopping the solar heating. We got just under a quarter-inch! A real dust-buster, for a day or so. OMG about 7 p.m. another cell found us and dropped another half-inch plus. Probably 22-23mm, or seven-eighths of an inch for a total. Incredible. With the tenth yesterday we can say we have an inch for August. A few Chimney Swift were overhead after the rain. There was the usual termite hatch as well. So everything got protein. Besides the molting ad. ma. Indigo Bunting, there are two still fully blue ad. males here.

Aug. 11 ~ Some mid level clouds kept some heat in, low was 75F and muggy. First thing I heard a Common Nighthawk pre-dawn. About 6:45 an Upland Sandpiper flew over not too high up, going north, so was looking for a place to go down for the day. Gnatcatcher out there early also. Nothing singing. Heard the begging Zone-tail up behind us somewhere later morning. The big live-oaks block view to west. Was about 94F at 1 p.m. when a cloud sheild saved us from the sun. Which was followed by a whole tenth of an inch (.1) showerlet over an hour, and temps dropping to 80F by 2:30. A thrill here these days. Maybe something to hold the dust down for a day. Any sort of break in the heat whatsoever at this point is great. Some others in the area no doubt got some real rain. I heard a zzzeeet and saw a flash through the trees that seemed a Yellow Warbler to me, but did not get a confirmatory ID look.

Aug. 10 ~ Low of 73F, no morning clouds from the Gulf. Prepare to bake. A small impulse of disturbance is supposed to move over, over the next few days, so low-end precip chances on way. Saw 97F in shade on front porch late afternoon. An outflow hit after 7 p.m. dropping us to a chilly 90F. Did hear two Titmouse countersinging still, before sunup. Only things left singing. A few Orchard Orio through yard, they are on the move now. Heard one Dickcissel in the morning, but at last seed toss late there were two out back. Saw one ad. male and two greenie Painted Bunting, first in a couple days, two greenies, one ad. male Indigo Bunting in heavy molt, one ea. ad. male and female Blue Grosbeak. About 15 ea. Lesser Goldfinch and House Finch, a dozen Lark Sparrow, about 6-7 Field and at least 8 Chipping Sparrow are likely the local breeders and some young of the year from them. A dozen White-winged Dove. Hop-along the flightless Carolina Wren continues. Kathy heard the begging Zone-tail way up high somewhere, and she saw another Mockingbird at the bird bath. That makes four Mockers in the last four weeks. Mocker movement. Vermilion Flycatcher still here, saw one male Summer Tanager, heard a couple White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo gone a week or so now though. Heard a Bell's Vireo over in corral but it sounded like a juvenile learning to sing, not the perfect-songed adult bird that was there on territory all summer. Likely one of its young.

Aug. 9 ~ Low of 74F, a couple hours of a low stratus deck. The alpha male Blue Grosbeak seems to have finally quit dawn singing. Hitting the seed a lot, he will be gone soon. Some Orchard Oriole through yard in morning. The ad. male Black-chinned Hummer is still here. I heard a begging juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk way up high behind us somewhere. They just hang up there at 1000' if not two, begging loudly, later July and August is when. Heard a Gnatcatcher mid-day. A couple more southbound Orchard Oriole nearing dusk, an ad. male belted out one measure of song. At dusk a Great Blue Heron flew downriver over the Cypresses. Only saw one greenie Painted Bunting today. A juv. Chat still poking around in the seed.

Aug. 8 ~ Low of 75F and just a brief bit of low stratus from the Gulf. The second Rufous Hummingbird here this fall showed up in the morning. A flocklet of Orchard Oriole went through yard southward earlyish-morn. The rest looked the same. Hot and very humid until later afternoon when it becomes just hot and kinda humid. Did see the ad. ma. Black-chinned Hummer still here. Later after 7 p.m. a Dickcissel landed in the big Pecan, called a few times, and flew out southward.

The two begging baby Carolina Wren are still at it. One is messed up, it does not fly right. Lots of hopping and skipping as it flaps but seems unable to actually fly properly. It is now 31 days out of nest and still begging and being fed. Something got messed up in development, which was likely related to the food shortage. The other young is seemingly taking advantage of the situation and I presume parents will be ejecting it from the territory shortly. Late as it got dark out on the road next to corral I saw a Chuck-will's-widow ON the road.

Aug. 7 ~ Low was 74F, way better than 76. Kathy saw an ad. male Painted Bunting on the patio in the morning, first one in three days. The last few are trickling out. We saw it again mid-morn. Only a couple greenies (fem. or imm.) left too. Heard the Bell's Vireo singing over in the corral, but have not heard the Yellow-throated in a few days. White-eyed or two still calling, but moving around a lot, seeming like not nesting still. A half-dozen Orchard Oriole again went through yard southbound in morning. Heard a zzeet that was likely a Black-and-white Warbler. Saw a flock of a dozen White-winged Dove, the first real flocking I have seen since spring nesting commenced. Saw the ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird still here today.

Aug. 6 ~ A bit balmy at 76F for a low. There were a few sprinkles just before dawn, a full blown near-dampening. A minor disturbance passing provided clouds that kept it a few dF cooler anyway, though humid. First few hours at least a half-dozen, probably 8, Orchard Oriole went through yard all moving south. It's on! Fall migration. Again saw what looked an imm. Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Had a great look at a Common Ground-Dove which flew right by me over the patio, and later was calling out back. Seems it found the seed. Have not had any around since winter so nice to see. I thought sure in the morning I heard a Dickcissel. Then about 4 p.m. again I thought I heard one. Then at 7 p.m. it was calling from up in the big Pecan. So it was here all day. I was not combing through everything on the seed so did not see it on the ground. But since I only saw one in spring over at the usual nesting pasture on UvCo 354, it is great to have one here again.


This is a first spring male Summer Tanager. They are pied with the mustard olive of an immature or female, the males acquiring red over their first summer. This was April 17, 2018, early in spring.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 5 ~ Low of 74F again. we have had a couple dozen of these recently. Interesting for every night NOAA has called for 72. Only once did it get that low in last couple weeks. The models consistently cannot place the lows high enough. Because it goes against all the prior modeling data no doubt. The two baby Carolina Wrens are still begging, today is a month, day 28 out of the nest. Incredible. A few Orchard Oriole went through yard moving south first thing, no doubt passage birds. Great look at a male in the Mulberry. Thought pretty sure I heard a Calliope Hummingbird first thing early. That sweet beautiful pillowy soft Selasphorus chip. There was a swarm and I had to get seed out, the Titmice were complaining, and the sun wasn't even up yet! I bet if the titmice had not have seen me they would have stayed quiet longer.

Town run and park check. Little Creek Larry said he saw a couple Spotted Sandpiper at the pond early. Also said he had a young Roadrunner at his place, and a group of 3 nighthawks (Common) which were probably adults with a young, or an ad. with 2 young. He also said a neighbor brought a mauled mostly gone, just enough to ID remains of a White-tailed Kite by. Because they figured he would still be able to ID it. At park on the former island I saw a Least Flycatcher on the heels of yesterday's FOS. A couple Blue Dasher dragonfly. Some of the big old deep-rooted Cypresses are now starting to turn rusty, like it is October or November. I saw or heard over town no Chimney Swift, Barn Swallow, or Purple Martin. The local breeders are all gone. The water is not flowing below the spillway at park, or at the UvCo 360 crossing, just rocks. Here at the hovelita we did not see those last adult males of Black-chinned Hummer or Painted Bunting today.

Aug. 4 ~ Low of 75F, some low stratus trying to block the sun a little bit, not very well. Another scorcher, I saw 98F in the shade on the front porch. Relentless heat. We are pouring water on plants trying to keep stuff alive. Mostly just continuing to quiet down out there. Another fall migrant (!), about 4:30 I saw a FOS Least Flycatcher out in the front yard, watching a fenced Lantana with a couple flowers on it. Something came in to a flower and snap! Probably the last one of one of those endangered flies. I had a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher later in afternoon. Kathy saw a Mockingbird at the bath later. I think about the third she has seen in the last month, all seemingly one-minute passage birds just stopping for a drink. That drip is magic.

Aug. 3 ~ Low of 76F is kind of a drag. There was low Gulf stratus, so kept the heat in. Often it arrives right at sunup, which is great as you get max radiational cooling, and then some sun shield to keep it cooler a few hours. When it gets here at 2, 4, or 6 a.m. you lose some or a lot of that overnight cooling. It is an interesting phenom here anyway. I saw 99F on the cool shady front porch. Local WU stations were showing 99 to 104.5F, most about 102F. Hondo and Uvalde both showed 105F highs. A burner of a day, I was busy on computer.

Blue Grosbeak is the one thing still going strongest at dawn. What little else there is still going is half-hearted. Saw the ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird still here guarding the office feeder in back. I did not see anything different today, it was the same as it ever was the last two months. Lesser Goldfinch still doing a Couch's Kingbird amongst its run of mimicry when singing. I had a quick dash to town for P.O. stuff. Right at south end of town at the 187 x 1050 intersection there was an adult Zone-tailed Hawk soaring over lazily at treetop level providing great views. Only takes one good bird to make your day. At dusk I heard a half-dozen calls from a FOS Upland Sandpiper. It sounded like it was over on the airstrip or in that horse pasture adjacent. The calls were repeated and coming from ground level, not a bird passing overhead. Was already getting dark, pig-thirty, and I did not feel like getting gun to walk over there to look for it.

Aug. 2 ~ Back up to 74F for a low and no low stratus deck. Same old song and dance, a hun in the sun. Gotta say, did not have 'experience desertification first-hand' on my bingo card. No relief in sight on the 10-day or any long term I can find. I heard yesterday there is no water at the 8-mile. That is the high bridge river crossing 8 miles south of town. First bridge is the 4-mile. For bonus points, how far south of town is the four-mile? Anyway, they had never seen it dry. Here we are again at the levels of the infamous Texas drought of the 1950's. Just like a decade ago.

Kathy saw an ad. male Painted Bunting at the bath nearing dusk. I saw the one worn ad. ma. Black-chinned Hummer still here. Pretty sure I saw an imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird as well. Short straight bill, super bright dark emerald green in sun, and the sides were so rufous at first I thought it might be a Selasphorus. Black-chin sides get buffy, and maybe even the slightest faintest bit warmish toned. But imm. Rubies can be pale rufous almost like a Calliope. As was this bird. Strikingly rufousish, at a level which a Black-chin never presents or imparts. The first-summers of male and female Hooded Oriole were at feeder, no doubt the pair that bred nearish and was ushering a couple young here. Which I am not seeing lately.

August 1 ~ OMG it's August!?! Low was 73F, some low stratus from Gulf off and on from 9-11 or so. First thing pre-sunup there was a Black-and-white Warbler singing out front a fair bit. I suspect it is the one that bred nearby as one on the move in passage would probably be over singing. Probably the last of that I will hear this year. Did hear a Yellow-throated Vireo a few times. Before 10 a.m. out back I saw at once two ad. male Painted Bunting, 4 ad. ma. Indigo, and an ad. ma. Blue Grosbeak. Always appreciate these last views of the season whence ground littered with this dazzling eye-candy before it all departs. At last sun there were 5 Orchard Oriole in a group in the top of the big Pecan out front. Might have been a family group from the area, but could have been a passage flocklet as well. Today was 30 min. less daylight than at the solstice.

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

Temps ran 5-10F over normal averages, continuing the trend from May and June. Miraculously we lucked into 2.5" of rain early in the month, however we remain in D4 exceptional drought. The river is 4-5' below normal bank in many places. In many areas up and down the valley there is no water above ground. There is no water below the spillway at the park pond, below the 360 crossing, or a the 8-mile bridge. It is as bad or worse than the 2011-12 years at peak of last exceptional drought we just had and never yet recovered from.

Insects were depressing for their absence. There are hardly any to see. A porch light barely brings anything in. There are almost no flowers for butterflies, and there are very few odes (dragons) over or around any water you might find. No grasshoppers or 'worms' (caterpillars). Looks like 19 (maybe 20) species of butterflies. Last July was 53 species. This is my worst July in the last nineteen of keeping track of species diversity here. Odes (dragonflies) were just as bad. I have never seen it like this, so devoid of them. Only managed to muster a meager 15 species, many were just one individual seen. A couple each of Halloween and Red-tailed Pennant were maybe the best things, since you can miss them here some years. Also probably the last looks at Orange-striped Threadtail this year.

Birds were the same breeding gang for the most part. At the end of the month the first long-distance fall migrants showed up to give hope for cooler temperatures ahead eventually. By the end of the month many of the local breeders that are migratory are leaving for the season, until next year. Many seemed to be leaving early this year, no doubt due to the lack of bugs. They are a critical food (protein and calcium) source for nesting season. It was severely lacking and clutch sizes overall were obviously reduced. Most were two at most. Many were just one fledged young (especially larger species). Best was the continuing Couch's Kingbirds on July 7, present in the area from latest April, about 6 weeks at least. Longer distance passage migrants showing late in month were a Rufous Hummingbird on July 26, and on July 29 single Spotted and Solitary Sandpiper at the Utopia Park pond. I saw 72 species very locally in July, essentially at park or in yard.

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy July update header ~ ~ ~

July ~ A Verdin on July 1 at the P.O. continues (since June 24). An amazing TWO INCHES of rain fell July 3 pre-dawn. Couch's Kingbird continues south of town a couple miles July 7 (since late April). Lots of begging baby birds, and heat. Flowers, butterflies, and dragonflies are all way down in numbers. We are in D4 exceptional drought, send rain. I saw in ebird a few interesting reports from the Concan area the last few weeks. A Mexican (was Green) Violetear was SE of Concan on July 7, a couple Green Jays have been reported, and a late June and early July an ad. male Black-headed Grosbeak is very surprising. A Rufous Hummingbird here at our feeders July 26-27 is the first long distance 'fall' migrant I have seen. Sure like to be wherever it came from. A couple fall migrant sandpipers at the park pond on July 29 were a Spotted and a Solitary.

~ ~ ~ end archive copy July update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

July 31 ~ One more scorcher and we will be through another burner of a month. Our third month of summer and of 5-10dF over average temps, so far. A quarter of the year with about six weeks at least still ahead. Around Aug. 7 is halfway from solstice to equinox. Chronological versus astromical half-way differs by a couple days per Sky and Telescope. Already daylight is almost 30 minutes less than at solstice, now six weeks after. The peak 3 months of UV and sun is done, but not necessarily peak heat. A low of 72F felt fantastic after a bunch of 74's lately. What a difference two dF can feel.

Not a whole lot still singing at dawn. Heard Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and Bell's Vireo. A few White-eyed Vireo calls, not sure if still nesting. A bit later House Finch and Lesser Goldfinch sang. Some sounds from Chats, noises, but not like singing. Early saw presumably that last same adult male Painted Bunting that continues, at the altar of the holy white millet tube of course. Just a few greenies left too. Usually we are covered in them now. Heard an Orchard Oriole out there again early, chucking. The two baby Carolina Wrens continue begging and tagging along with adults. Twenty three days out of the nest now.

July 30 ~ Hanging tough with the 74F lows lately. And highs about 98F or so. No morning low clouds. This sub-tropical high is soooo strong, and once it sets up, it seems mighty hard to dislodge for four months. One worn ad. ma. Black-chinned Hummer continues. The Rufous is gone, not seen since Thursday, now two days ago, was a three-day bird. Kathy saw a hummer with a bent lower mandible. Heard an Orchard Oriole, the mew call, as often from a bird that is on the move, as in a migrant. Most of the rest was the same. Clearly fewer greenies (imm. and fem. Painted Bunting) here now too. They appear to be departing early like the ad. males. There are no bugs to eat here this year. Evidenced by how many and often Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak have spent so much time here at the seed this summer. Wayyy more than normal. The usual supplementary protein and calcium source is not there. Which is why those two first-summer male Blue Grosbeaks have barely molted all summer.

not a current pic

Black-and-white Warbler, female or immature.
This is what I would be doing if there was a river.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 29 ~ Low was 74F. No low stratus, go directly to the sun. Did not hear the Rufous Hummer in the morn, it probably left. Did not see the male Painted Bunny either. I can't believe how early they bugged out this year. The two juv. Carolina Wrens continue begging like their first week out of nest, today makes three weeks. Sure great not to see any Cowbirds out there, but the 3 E. Cottontails probably eat more seed. Town run and a park check. Great was two fall migrant sandpipers! A Spotted and a Solitary. Outstanding, been a while since I have seen a sandpiper at the park. The one juvenile Barred Owl is getting feathers on the head now. One Eastern Wood-Pewee was calling in the woods. Kathy heard a Common Nighthawk at last crack of light.

July 28 ~ I guess the 74F low was better than it was yesterday. No morning low stratus. The Rufous Hummer was still here in the a.m., so day 3. Saw one ad. ma. Painted Bunting early in the morning and at last call only. It seems like the last one, a couple weeks earlier than we usually get to that point. A few male Indigo still around, not as many as there were, had a four at once count at last seed call, peak was seven. Three or four male Blue Grosbeak still here, counting the two first-summer birds. Fewer Hooded Oriole coming in less often.

July 27 ~ Low of 76F is not very. Only an hour or so of low Gulf stratus arrived after sunup. Saw one ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird, after none yesterday. Saw one ad. ma. Painted Bunting, after none yeterday. Most ad. males of those two are gone now. The Rufous Hummingbird continues, probably an imm. male. Saw the two first summer blue-headed Grosbeaks present since spring. Both have fairly fully blue heads now, one has nape still not all filled in. That one has no other blue. The other has a little blue on the underparts and upperparts. Generally most of their bodies are very worn nearly year-old first basic (winter) plumage. They provide a good example of how retarded molt can be, due to a shortage of food.

The two of three juvenile Carolina Wrens that made it the first week continue. Begging still with soft yellow area at bill gape. They fledged July 8, now 19 days ago. Have never seen young at this stage of un-development this long after fledging. Sometimes the parents boot the young out of the territory within a week of fledging! Great was a pair of Common Ground-Dove, since we have not been seeing them. Also had a couple cackling Caracara uphill behind us. Forgot to mention yesterday, but saw it again this dusk, a bat that is likely a Red Bat. Foraging over the yard, much larger and slower of wingbeat than the Brazillian (was Mexican) Freetails. Got a little bit of warmth in the color tone off it. We used to have a pair of them resident here but have not seen them in a year or so.

July 26 ~ Saw 74F for a low. No significant low stratus from the Gulf, gonna be a cooker again today. We are running uppermost 90's F, at least 5dF over the former average. But which is a couple-few dF less than it was all last week. Seeing no adult male Painted Bunting on the millet tube. Appears as a blowout has occurred. Normally their big blowout is Aug. 7-9 or so, but I think due to the drought, like so much, they will depart early this year. In the afternoon I first heard, then saw, my first long-distance fall migrant of the year. A Rufous Hummingbird, female or immature type. Went from 8 hummers on the feeder to one real fast. Had a dragonfly go by too fast to ID but it looked like a Pale-faced Clubskimmer, which amazingly I have not seen this year.

July 25 ~ Low of 74F, a little bit of morning low stratus from the Gulf, a couple hours worth maybe. That dang pig was back making sure any Prickly Pear we were trying save got totally trampled under foot. I will have to do something at the corral gate post. Sure great not feeding all those cowbirds. Otherwise the same summer gang. Out back saw a pile of feathers indicating that between noon and 4 p.m. a White-winged Dove was taken. Probably by a Cooper's Hawk. Saw an orange colored skipper fly by, but no ID, probably a Fiery. Still working on finer points of skippers in flight. Weird not hearing the male Painted Buntings singing any more, they are shut down and becoming scarce fast. Less Indigo but still at least some few going. One fairly adjacent over in the draw, often sings from a big Hackberry right on the fenceline left of gate. It is nesting over there somewhere, feeds here, often giving flight song on departure from seed injestion sessions. Bless his exhuberance.

July 24 ~ Low was 75F, a bit of low Gulf stratus arrived just as the sun came up, but just barely, not thick. Gave a few hours of a slight break in solar heating. Seems like fewer Cowbirds, finally. I saw a few juveniles, unattended strays from elsewhere, and that was it. The main flock of adults was not here today, it seems the bulk of Brown-headed have departed. The Bronzed always stay much later in the season, but there are just a few of them. All cowbird nest predation here in Aug. and Sept. is by Bronzed, not Brown-headed. In other departure news, I only saw one adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird here today. Lots of juveniles and immatures, maybe some females, but the adult males are fairly vacated. So where do they go? Mountains of Mexico? Some obvious departures of breeding birds are ongoing. Saw one Little Yellow (butterfly).

July 23 ~ Low was 74F, a wee bit of Gulf stratus early off and on, just a little something for the humidity when it hits 92F. Somewhere around 95F or so the humidity magically evaporates and we drop to 30% or lower, sometimes low 20's. Oh but its a dry heat my foot, it's a hundred! Adult male Blue Grosbeak on the patio early. What a great seedeater to have out there. Eagle-eyed and ginchy. I was in chair on back porch, and I am afraid to breathe as if it detects movement it bolts. It looks like it is watching me for movement, one twitch and its gone.

Saw an adult male Orchard Oriole mid-morn. Kathy saw one a week or so ago. Many like to speculate (often foolishly) about every birds status. For some it is a full-time hobby. Is it the same bird Kathy saw still hanging around? Is it what is called a post-breeding dispersant that bred nearish by? Or is it a migrant from elsewhere which actually could occur now too? Pick a guess, any guess, one is as good as the next. Otherwise it was the same June and July gang. And hot. Weird how quiet the Chats are. Probably between nests, and trying to decide whether or not to do another round. In wetter years they do a last nesting in August. I do not expect that this year. But we are seeing a few fresh young around the yard so the few pairs did get some out so far already.

Not current photos.

This a Chrysomelid beetle of which there are many types. Leaf-chafers might be one group name for them. Here they are past chafing and more like devouring. These are flea-beetles. Note the enlarged base of hind leg. When they trigger it, they jump faster than your eye can follow, a foot in a tenth of a second.

Shining Flea-Beetle eating hole in American Germander.


Shining Flea-Beetle still eating holes in American Germander.


Another type of Flea-Beetle with nice polka-dots.

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July 22 ~ Low of 74F was way better than yesterday, and I can't believe I can say that about a 74F low. There was some low Gulf stratus first couple or few hours again. Kathy heard a Common Nighthawk right over yard before sunup. A female Red-winged Blackbird hit the seed early, have not been seeing one come in lately. Just a male or few, once or twice a week or so. Saw a juvenile Chat hopping around all the seedeaters wondering what the deal was. Town run and park check. Heard a Yellow-throated Vireo upriver of the park. One begging juv. Red-shouldered Hawk there. Drying up fast. Now maybe FIVE FEET below normal bank level. The water lillies all browning and dry. Below spillway the Cypress and Sycamore are mostly turned of color, many Sycamores dropped leaves already due to drought. In dragons saw 2 Red-tailed Pennant, and a Leaftail, likely the same three beasts for three weeks now. Little Creek Larry said almost all his Chimney Swift are gone, and I heard none over town. I also only heard a couple Purple Martin, and a few Barn Swallow. The insectivores are bailing early this year. The Scissor-tails didn't even stay to nest. A note from Tom Collins of Center Point said the Kerrville butterfly count had only half the number of species they recorded last year.

July 21 ~ A ridiculous low of 78F. Gulf low stratus for the first time in a week, held the heat in overnight. At least it stayed at or below 82F for four hours due to the clouds. I remember 68F lows were regular at Lost Maples in July in the late '80's. My how things have changed in a few decades. A pig came back and finished destroying our Prickly Pear patch. Has to be small to get through the gap in the gate. But knows not to show up if lights are on. The little bastard belongs in a burrito.

Heard both the Bell's and Yellow-throated Vireo singing at early-thirty pre-sunup, and yeah a couple Wide-eyed Vireo too. Kathy heard a Canyon Towhee. I heard a warbler bk bk bk series uphill in the live-oaks out back, probably a or the Black-n-white. Parade of Hooded Oriole at the feeders in the morning. Saw my FOY juvenile Blue Grosbeak finally today. Late for the first young, presume I missed some earlier. Another hun in the sun day. One Queen on the Blue Mistflower.

July 20 ~ Saw 75F at 6:40 a.m., it might have dropped a dF more, KERV had a 73F for a low. Saw the family of four Bluebirds still around and together. Two of the baby Carolina Wren continue, probably lost one, there were three. They are growing much slower than usual, 11 days out of the nest still with much yellow on bill and begging like it was the first day out. There is not the usual amount of food to be had. Often early in the nesting season when the adults are hot to re-nest ASAP, the young are kicked out of the territory in a week or less. The last batch of the year always gets a few more days, or more of parental attention. But these are not near as developed as they should be at 11 days out of the nest.

The, or a, Great Crested Flycatcher was around in the afternoon. Lots of baby birds out there, especially Lesser Goldfinch, House Finch, Painted Bunting, Lark Sparrow, and some Chipping and Field Sparrow. The Blue Mistflower Eupatorium is blooming again and it is really weird how there are so few (no) butterflies out there. Thirty flower heads with nothing. Saw 99F on the cool shady front porch, so over a hun in the sun out there. Still running nearly 10dF over historical averages. With no relief in sight, nothing on the ten-day.

July 19 ~ Low of 75F was not very. The oven roasting will continue. A hun in the sun is our new daily normal. Been meaning to mention I have not been hearing many Purple Martin the last week. Just a few here and there, the prior couple weeks there were lots with young, overhead multiple times daily. Some are probably leaving already. Heard the Bell's Vireo still over in the corral singing, it no doubt nested. A Great Crested Flycatcher was around in the morning a bit. Couple Ash-throated out there off and on all day. I saw local WU station readings at 101, 102, and 103F, it was plenty toasty out there. Was still 84F at midnight!

July 18 ~ Low of 72F, same at KERV. No significant low stratus. Nice there is still some dawn chorus at 6:30 a.m., nothing like it was, but still some going. Chats must be between rounds, and you take them out of the equation and it gets a lot quieter than just one species ought to make it. Kathy saw a Black-and-white Warbler at the bath early, which looked female or imm. type. I heard Orchard Oriole in the corral, presume that first-summer male. Lots of baby House Finch. Five each at once counts on males of Lesser Goldfinch and Painted Bunting. Probably all nesting adjacent. I see and especially hear, at least two of the baby Carolina Wren still around the house. No Chucks at dark. Not hearing Nighthawks now either.

July 17 ~ The 70F low was outstanding! The TEN new chiggers I woke up with not so much. Must have harvested them on my last listen and lookabout outside after midnight. Did not have any when I went to bed. Must have been out in driveway, will do some trimming. Some Prickly Pear we have been growing was destroyed, which must have been pigs, the patch is all busted up. Happened a couple years ago too. It is the one patch that gets some extra water, so had fat juicy leaves. Ransacked. Has to be a smaller one as the only openings in alleged hog fence are small. Probably via the gate to corral behind cottage which has a bit of a gap.

Birds were the same gang. Male Vermilion Flycatcher seems to be figuring out that mean ol' Phoebe is not here any more, and is spending lots more time in the yard. Which is great. At last light I heard a couple distant half-hearted "wills-widow" calls from a tired Chuck. After a shower counted now 15 minimum chiggers I am currently hosting, not of my own volition. All on sensitive skin areas of course. There have hardly been any chiggers, or skeeters, all spring and summer so far, due to the lack of rain. But there are hardly any dragonflies, butterflies, and there were hardly any fireflies this year too.

July 16 ~ Low was 74F, saw 95F on the cool shady front porch in the afternoon. Today is hump day for climatological summer, we cross the half way point of June-August, and are now on the back half. Days are nearing a minute less daylight per day than the day prior. We are about 13 minutes less daylight per day than peak day length at solstice. Nearing a month past the solstice, and the tail end of the peak UV window. Did have a juvenile Great Crested Flycatcher in the yard in the morning. It was still begging but not being attended. So just fledged from fairly nearby. Otherwise it seemed the same gang still here. Got a chigger. Need to weedwhack the walking paths around yard. Have not had to do one single full yard mowing all spring and summer as nothing grew as usual due to the exceptional drought. Half of the yard (in sun) it is brown like winter and getting cooked to over 100F daily.


Here is a little something for all those ID whiz superstars. This is a nightjar. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify it. Two species had just called from the immediate adjacent vicinity. This bird landed on the wire, there was just a crack of light left, I had to gas the ISO up to 3200, got one shot and it split. Only had a bare-eyed view, mostly was looking at back of camera. So you know what I did at the time, the two species that had just called were N. Paraque and Chuck-will's-widow. It was Sept. 5, 2019. I think it can be ID'd based on shape and structure. Interesting to me, I had only prior seen Nighthawks (both species) sit on wires, but, I guess why not, nice perch. I will not be posting a quick answer, or best guess, leaving it up as a mystery bird for a bit.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 15 ~ An amazing low of 69F was outstanding. Lots of the area had rain (besides us) last night around dark, I saw KERV was mostly 67F overnight. Weewow. The birds were singing as if they liked it too. But all looked the same here today. Town run where it was all the same as well. Besides a Green Heron at the park there were the pair of Common Grackle continuing. I have not heard or seen any young yet this year. With the pair still here, we can hope they will yet produce some. One ad. ma. Painted Bunting is a bird out moving around since they don't nest there. In odes it was the same. Halloween and Red-tailed Pennant, a Leaftail, and Eastern Pondhawk, Red Saddlebags and Checkered Setwing, mostly singles of each. In damsels, some Bluets that were likely Familiar. Did see one Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on 360, an ad. female. Otherwise the same mid-summer gang. Forgot to mention lots of Cenizo in bloom from the rains this week. It goes off a couple days after the rains, and some are looking pretty nice right now, but only last two days.

July 14 ~ Low of 74F, we'll take it. It was still over 80F after midnight last night. The new normal. No morning low stratus, the baking will continue. Birds looked the same gang, it is mid-summer. Another new Chipping Sparrow young begging, but only one, and but, at least no cowbird. Can't wait for Cowbirds to leave, which should be soon. They eat a ton of white millet, my bunting food. Speaking of which more begging baby Painted Bunnies out there too. Grayish greenies. Again late in afternoon or early evening some nearby rain cells were about. We just got spit on again, but it dropped us from a hun in the sun to 80F in short order. What a great break from peak heat. Some folks got some rain, there was thunder and such. No Chucks calling at dark again.

July 13 ~ Low about 71F was nice, the high is so strong though we are not getting the morning low stratus from the Gulf. The first-summer male Hooded Oriole hit the front porch feeder about 8:30 and then gave a nice bit of song for a minute after it left. Nice to hear that since I've had no breeders in earshot. Blue Grosbeaks are still singing well, three or four going, but two are first-summer birds with little blue, but which is slightly increasing as of late. Chat was in the bath first thing. Probably a half-dozen of them per day use it. There are at least three pairs around our place, and we are seeing several juveniles about as well. They never produce lots of young, at least here lately. One or two per nest is it. But they do two or three rounds.

Had to run to town mid-morn. Little Creek Larry said he hardly has any ad. ma. Black-chinned Hummers left, and it is almost all immatures. We still have some adult males, but a fraction of what they were. There are still some Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks over at his creek too. I saw an ad. Green Heron at the park, one of the breeding pair no doubt. Yellow-throated Vireo is still singing. No odes seems mighty weird.

But a new species of ichthyfauna. We hardly ever get that here. Like all new fish species here the last oh about a hundred years, it is an introduced species, and not native to the Sabinal drainage. Only the seven minnow species are native here. There are now shoals of Sailfin Molly in the pond. They are natural in the Nueces drainage but not Frio or Sabinal (sub-) drainages. Nearest I know of are in the Leona River at the Hwy. 90 park in downtown Uvalde, where it is very doubtful they are natural there. People like to put them everywhere, like big mosquitofish. But they are more herbivorus. Sometimes they can do algae control work, but the filament or hair algae that is a problem here is not generally eaten by anything. Obviously someone thought we should have some mollies here.

Who knows what ecological ramifications it will have? The (introduced non-native) bass certainly approve. At least the molly is a south Texas native species, and the males are pretty when in breeding colors. But usually this sort of thing does not play out well for the locals (natives) in the long term. The fish in the pond think a thousand people from Austin just showed up. Certainly trout introductions hurt the ode (dragonfly and damselfly) populations here and at Lost Maples SNA (and probably Garner S.P. as well). With all the bass and perch introductions, it is incredible the remnants (which is at best what we have) of the populations of the seven species of native minnows continue. Though I have only seen six of them.

Late in day there were more rain cells nearish but not close enough to send a cooling outflow. Just west enough to block some sun at peak heat. It was a hun plus in the sun. Brutal. I heard no Chuck-will's-widow call at chuck-thirty (last crack or sliver of light). I think they are out of gas. Three months of that and you would be spent too. We will still get the odd belt-out, especially after it (if) rains, but more grunting will be heard now. Kathy heard something that was probably begging baby Common Nighthawk.

July 12 ~ Low might have hit 75F. The same gang here. There is an adult male Hooded Oriole now coming into the back feeder. So after a couple weeks of the first summer male and female, then with their juveniles, now a 5th bird shows up. Nice to see that color. Wonder where it was all spring and earlier in summer? Another baker of a day, a hun in the sun. But again late near sundown some nearby rain cells from this boundry that continues gave us some outflow and took the edge off the heat. We got maybe a half of a tenth of an inch of precip (.05). Spit on. But, we got cooled off 10F.

July 11 ~ Cool air, an amazing 70F low, and wet ground. When the environment is in critical drought conditions, every half inch of precip is pure gold. Still hear the Yellow-throated Warbler singing over in the nearest Cypresses toward river about a hundred yards away. Also heard Orchard Oriole early, presume the first-summer pair we are getting off and on. Might be five Hooded Oriole hitting the feeder now. Weird after not having any all spring, they all show up. Not much different for birds otherwise. The heat goes on. Before 5 p.m. I saw readings of 109F at Hondo, 108F at Castroville, 107 in SAT, and so on. The SAT 107F is an all time high for the entire month of July. Local WU stations showed 102-106F! I saw 101F on the cool shady front porch. Record level heat. All the birds are panting to cool. Again some rain cells formed from this washed-out boundry area. None hit us, but some nearish enough to offer outflow dropping it 10F to 90F. One local WU station showed a 111F heat index right before the outflow hit! It was so hot (how hot was it?) the Dillo was on its back four legs up in the birdbath! I swear the birds in the tree overhead raised their eyebrows. Last slice of light still at least two, maybe three distant Chucks calling, but only briefly, and not our closeby near breeder bird.

July 10 ~ I presume it was some of the rain-cooled air, the low was 72F, very nice. The heat will not relent though. Forecast is for a hun plus the next three days, a few dF dialed back a few days, and back to another hun plus heat wave. It is relentless. It did not used to be like this here. The climate has changed. Way less rain and way hotter temps, we used to have to go to Del Rio to live like this. Welcome to desertification. That 30 inch per year average rainfall line has moved 100 miles east in 30 years. It was right here, now it is near Seguin east of SAT. So, what was it like 100 miles west of us? Del Rio. That is what we are becoming here.

Maybe a week or two of the year in the worst of July or August peak heat waves it used to be like this. This summer excess heat and record heat waves started the second week of May and there have only been a few minor very brief breaks. Mostly hotter than the worst prior heat waves, averaging 5-10dF over normal historical averages, again. We should have had a hot last month, we have had a record hot two months so far.

The first-summer male Black-n-white Warbler was singing around yard pre-sunup. It has been here about two months now, and raised at least two young from a very nearby nest. The Yellow-throated Vireo was singing out there pre-sunup as well. The three just-fledged Carolina Wren are still about. A bunch of Hooded Oriole using the hummer feeders, mostly the office feeder in back, which stays the coolest. One oranger bird might be an adult male.

It was at least a hun in the sun in the afternoon. Local WU stations showing 100-105F. About 6 p.m. or so some rain cells again popped up along this remnant boundry to our north. So first we lost the sun and a few dF. Then we lost power after a lightning strike I think north of town. Then nearing 7 p.m. the edge of a rain cell hit us, we got a half-inch of precip, and it dropped into 70's F! After just getting spit on yesterday, this was great. A little bit of relief goes a long way. As it hit the wind gusts on the initial outflow hitting us here were near zero visibility for a couple minutes due to dust, at 30-40 mph!

July 9 ~ Low about 75F again, and zip for morning low stratus. I saw 80F at 9 a.m., 90F at noon, and between 4-5 p.m. it hit a hun in the shade. Some local WU stations were showing 102-105F. Right on the record line for much of the area. Brutal hot. There was a front way further north in Texas that caused rain, which drove outflow boundries down into central Texas, which then cooked up into thundercells. A couple were nearish enough to send outflows here, which dropped it from about 102F to a chilly 92F near end of day. A few outflow-blown drops hit here, that was it. Kathy saw a juvenile Mockingbird at the bath, a post-breeding dispersant. That might have been the only new item. Maybe some more new baby Lesser Goldfinch and Cardinal. Still too many Brown-headed Cowbird here, they will be departing very shortly now, but not soon enough. I still have not seen any of our local breeding birds attending to or getting begged from a juvenile here this year. Kathy heard a Cicada. I saw a Funereal Duskywing butterfly.


In case you wonder what the new shoals of small surface fish
are at the park. This is the native Sailfin Molly found in
south Texas. Male has blue in tail and orange-yellow head,
both of which can get quite bright in breeding season. The two
upper fish in rear are females. These are the Leona River
individuals, which I kept and bred years ago.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 8 ~ Low about 75-76F, a bit on the warm side. The sub-tropical high is building in stronger for a few days, so almost no low Gulf stratus. I saw some 80F readings locally by 9:30 a.m., so we will be a hun in the sun. Town run fer shtuff so a look at park. E. Pewee singing at the crossing as I left for town. Had a group of begging juvenile Yellow-throated Warbler in woods at park, and another group of them in the big live-oak behind the general store. In the park woods there was a juvenile Yellow-throated Vireo, and a juvenile Yellow-breasted Chat on the island. The Chat doesn't nest there so we know it is a post-breeding dispersant. Was an imm. Painted Bunting there too. Odes were a Black Saddlebags, a female Roseate Skimmer, and the three Pennants continue: Halloween, Banded, and Red-tailed. Not much though.

Here at the hovelita in the afternoon there was a new batch of 3 just-fledged juvenile Carolina Wren! I mean just out of the nest. Still all together. Parents feeding them. I can't believe they got another set out so fast. Kathy spotted the adult female Bluebird at the bath with the two juveniles. It took her (mama bluebird) ten minutes and two baths for them to figure it out. She was drenched. Finally they drank and splashed in it. It was their first time obviously. Been a big wave of juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbird the last several days. Hopefully their last for the season. Draining feeders.

July 7 ~ Low of 74F, the high pressure is going to be near full strength for the next week with highs at or above 100F daily. And no rain in sight. One Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flying downriver at dawn. At least some good birdsong before and around sunup continues. Indigo and Painted Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Cardinal, White-eyed (3 diff.) and Yellow-throated Vireo, B-c Titmouse, Lark, Field, and Chipping Sparrow, are all still territorially singing (nesting) in or adjacent to yard. And Vermilion Flycatcher sputtering while fluttering up above it all. The Carolina and Bewick's Wrens are around, might be hearing more Bewick's Wren juveniles. The E. Bluebirds are still around with at least two young. Yellow-throated Warbler was singing in front yard Pecans mid-morn.

Due to a very complex calculus error I had to run to town to get some birdseed. The good stuff (50 lb. sacks of white millet) is due in tomorrow, so just some low-grade mix to hold a revolt off for a day. A small army of buntings without white millet can be a dangerous thing. This required a look at the park of course, which broke my heart. I thought I heard a Verdin repeatedly calling across the pond on other side. Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler are both still singing. The two juvie Red-shouldered Hawks are running along the very low waterline and out in the drying water lillies. Water is down four feet from normal bank, and if it hadn't have been dredged of flood buildup a decade ago there would be rock islands out in it. Up in the woods there was a very close begging baby Barred Owl. Still downy on head but flight capable. In dragons there was a Leaftail (looked 4-stripe), three Red-tailed, two Halloween, and one Banded Pennant, a couple Eastern Pondhawk, a Blue Dasher, and a Swift Setwing. No damselflies. Heard distant Chucks at dark here but not our close one.

July 6 ~ Low about 74F, just a wee bit of low Gulf stratus briefly. High about a hun in the sun. The different thing today was Canyon Towhee! The one we had left in March to go breed somewhere, there have been none since. Today I saw at least one, thought there were two, and heard a call that is strictly made by two birds interacting. Late in day Kathy saw one at the birdbath. I presume one is the bird that wintered and left in spring. They depart fall-to-spring territory, leaving water and seed to go to the breeding grounds to find a mate and nest. And then come back. Clearly some sort of seasonal movement. It happens every year, they leave to breed somewhere else. Usually I do not see one until August, I presume the early stoppage this year is drought related.

July 5 ~ Low about 73F, a few hours of low stratus from the Gulf early. Then the sun showed its hot head. Heard the Great Crested Flycatcher, Orchard Oriole, and Yellow-throated Vireo early, Yellow-throated Warbler more distantly but still visiting yard daily. First-summer fem. and juv. Hooded Oriole on the back hummer feeder at the same time. Must be hers. Kathy saw the male Summer Tanager back in yard. Seems like it has been avoiding it due to that incessantly begging juvenile. Saw likely the same ad. Red-shouldered Hawk in the Pecans out front. Hope it is getting Cotton Rats (Sigmodon). Kathy saw the first-summer male Black-n-white Warbler at the bath again, so it is still around. The White-eyed Vireo still nesting over in the draw tangle.

July 4 ~ The big middle holiday of summer, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. A quiet one here since the big annual firework show was cancelled (fine by me) and there is no river as usual (not good). So the typical tourist crowds are not here. Usually the biggest day of the year for visitors here. The low of 72F was nice, the low stratus from Gulf kept it below 80 until 11 a.m. or so. A few hours to do things outside without being overheated is a welcome respite.

Saw another Desert Checkered-Skipper, and a Dun Skipper was on the Wooly Ironweed, of course. It is a bit restricted in a deer proofish cage so it can't spread out at the top and be pretty as usual. But that Dun sure finds one open flower. I see two Red Turkscap flowers now. The deer sure butchered it. It should look like a hedge, it looks like ground cover. Heard a singing Eastern Wood-Pewee out front in the Pecans for a bit.

It was weird after dark having no firework show explosions a couple miles north in town, and really weird having it be quiet of road roar the hour after the show ends. Usually sounds like an L.A. freeway out there. Even the locals were not setting them off, methinks due to the burn ban. They might have banned fireworks as well, as quiet as it was. It was quite odd for all the peace and quiet on the fourth. A real holiday of another sort, the animals, wild and especially dogs, and cats, surely loved it. Heard the Spadefoot Toad again.

July 3 ~ After some near misses with rain cells yesterday evening, a low that formed over NE Mexico and the Rio Grande sent a mass of rain over Uvalde and Real Co. We got TWO INCHES here from 12:30-6:30 a.m. A fair bit of thunder and heard a few hail stones. Saw a report of .25" hail at Leakey. Also saw reports of 3" of rain along the Frio River at Leakey and down to Uvalde. Some very badly needed precip for the area. Low was 70F. We might have hit 80F around noon. Incredible. This low forming along the Rio Grande in northern Mexico was not predicted two days ago.

In other climate news, this weekend is the twenty year anniversary of the big flood of 2002 when Utopia flooded. The year before we moved here. The flood more or less ended a decade-long drought and began a 5 year wet cycle. It was a three day event over July 2-4, with 2-3 feet of rain. A tropical low moved in and stalled, and would not stop raining. Nearby a few decades prior, one of the state and national record or near-record rain events is listed as occurring at Medina, it was four feet over a few days, from a named system that moved in (Amanda, or Amelia?), stalled and rained out around poor Medina. Utopia was spared the worst of that one. But not 2002.

Critters were the same about the casita. Kathy saw a Black-n-white Warbler at the birdbath, which sounded like the first-summer male that has been around and bred. I saw a juvenile Indigo Bunting, my FOY, and saw a juv. Hooded Oriole, besides first-summer male and female. One first-summer Blue-headed Grosbeak (male Blue) looks mostly the same still, just blue-headed. It has been here since May and is singing uphill in what is certainly sub-par habitat. Many juv. Lark Sparrow and Painted Bunting, some juvie Chipping and Field Sparrow. I got some fence up to hopefully save what is left of the Red Turkscap after the deer massacred it. I see one flower on one of the stubs. Also see a flower on the Wooly Ironweed, which had to be caged due to deer.

July 2 ~ Low maybe 73F, Gulf low stratus moving in at sunup. Gives us a couple hours before the sun begins bearing down, however with the price of increased humidity. Which doesn't matter at 75F, but when it hits 90F it does. I saw 96F in the shade in afternoon. A few nearish rain cells blocked sun late in day so a bit of relief from the burn. Maybe upvalley and over in the Frio Canyon they got some rain. Was lots of thunder, just no precip made it to town and southward to us. Birds were the same gang of begging babies. One of the Summer Tanager juvies is still hanging around begging hoping parents show back up to feed it. Not seeing them. Heard the kip notes again, of Kingbird or Scissor-tail. Saw one of the juv. Bluebird. After dark I heard what had to have been a Couch's Spadefoot Toad right outside house, but could not spot it as always.


Hutton's Vireo Oct. 6, 2019.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 1 ~ And there goes the first half of the year, here comes the second half, hope yer ready. It started at about 73F for the record. Hot and dry is all I see in the forecast. Kathy heard an unknown grating call going up and down river early before sunup, maybe a heron or egret sort of thing. Town run fer shtuff. Little Creek Larry said he had some kind of heron or egret thingie distantly in flight. Best bird was a Verdin which I heard last week at the post office but didn't mention as I did not see it and Lesser Goldfinch juveniles make a very similar call. It was still there this week, and is a Verdin. So then June 24 was the first date on it. Nothing at the park, but a few odes. Saw a FOY and LTA Four-spotted Pennant, a Red-tailed Pennant, a Swift Setwing, a Green Darner, and some Bluets of some sort, probably Familiar. Very few flying.

In the afternoon here Kathy saw the first summer male Black-n-white Warbler. A couple rain cells got nearish enough to give us some outflow and drop it from a hun to 90F, and then a second one spit on us a bit and made it 85F. So we beat the worst of the afternoon heat. After 7 p.m. I got a count of SEVEN male Indigo Bunting at once, and could not see the patio. Has to be all of them nesting around, and maybe a couple more. Heard a Gnatcatcher out there late in day. Late Kathy heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee calling over at the river.

~ ~ ~ June summary ~ ~ ~

We had just over 1.5" of rain, less than half average, D4 exceptional drought continues. The river is way way down, nearly 4' below spillway overflow at park pond. River is too low of flow to swim in. Wells are going dry. There was no late spring flower bloom either, very little is blooming.

Butterflies were fairly vanila. Numbers of most things remain very reduced, especially the small stuff is scarce. Everything is way dialed back. Did see one Fatal Metalmark, a Mournful Duskywing, a Tawny Emperor or two, but nothing unusual. A couple days there were fair numbers of Large Orange Sulphur passing by, and on a few days there were several to many dozens of Lyside Sulphur. Looks about 34 species total, makes for a bad June.

Odes picked up a bit, but are really reduced in the drought. The numbers are a fraction of normal. I think in drought times when water is much reduced predation on larvae goes up as fish become more concentrated. Amongst many factors. Still a few Orange-striped Threadtail at Utopia Park, Orange Bluet there also. Single Thornbush Dasher and Halloween Pennnant were at the Waresville golf course pond. A few Widow Skimmer, some Banded and one Red-tailed Pennant , but very low numbers of the most common things. I count about 18 species of odes total, a very weak showing. Maybe 5 of the sps. were Zygops (damselflies).

Birds were about a bunch of baby birds, and one super mega rary, a LIMPKIN. Likely my bird of the year, and surely one of the most bizzare things I have ever found here. Kathy and I heard it calling for nearly 10 minutes over at the river, from the house at dawn on June 16. A search that evening along river and the next day and beyond at the park turned up nothing. Two other good birds of note. Best was a continuing pair of Couch's Kingbird from April into June. They may well be nesting. The other was a heard Verdin at the P.O. June 24, which continues on July 1. Most of the baby bird clutches I saw were two birds max. It has not been a particularly productive reproductive cycle this year. Or last. For the month, I saw about 73 species, Larry saw a couple more. But a Limpkin so it was fantastic!

~ ~ ~ end June summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ June update header copy ~ ~ ~

June ~ A continuing pair of Couch's Kingbirds through the 10th so far, a couple miles south of town, present since late April, might well be nesting locally. An inch in an hour (rain) late on the 3rd was great, and a bit more pre-dawn on the 4th. Then a second so far this season (since middle two weeks of May), record or near-record heat wave began. June 10 there was a Black Witch (moth) in town. June 13 saw lots of Saharan dust. A LIMPKIN calling for 10 min. at dawn, south of town a couple miles on June 16, is spectacular, the furthest west record was one in Travis County. There are not 10 state records. About the 21st, one was photo'd near Amarillo! Weather tip: if you are headed out this way nowadays, be prepared to bake. Around a half-inch of rain on the 27th was a rarity here lately. A Verdin was at the post office June 24 and July 1, on north side.

~ ~ ~ end June update header copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ above is 2022 ~ ~ ~

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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.
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