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: July 12, 2024
(prior updates: July 5, June 28, 21, 14, 7, May 31, 24, 17. 10, 3)
(updated Friday evening)
~ ~ ~

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

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

July ~ this space available... Oh lookie here on the 5th we have a taker... what appeared a mated pair of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher male and a Couch's Kingbird (presumed female) was in our Pecan.

June ~ A tardy MacGillivray's Warbler at the bath on the 3rd was very unexpected. A Bullock's Oriole at the park on the 7th was a surprise. June 9-11 we got a whopping 3.5" of precious holy RAIN! Almost 2" MORE fell on June 19-20 from Alberto. Usually this inspires most of the breeding birds to nest another round, if they had not bailed already (some have). Daily heat indices of 100F are typical all summer, be prepared. A Common Grackle was at Utopia Pk. June 28, first one I have seen this year

~ ~ ~
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 (in season). Anything of natural history of interest, bats to beetles, flowers to fungus, may be mentioned.

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. It is a good reference though. I post my walk notes there. But we have not been going there as much since the pandemic got going.

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 above and just below to jump to newest update. There is a broken line of tildes (~) to denote prior update breaks, usually with a low quality photo of some sort to make them easy to spot. The 'quick take' monthly highlights header above is archived within body of news as well since it changes. Seperated by tildes as well, generally after the 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 20 (!) 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 (2022) 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 few years. 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 six 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.  :)  Thanking you in advance.



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


Woodpecker Photos


Vireo Photos


Flycatcher Photos


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 19 year plus bird news archive file.

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

Where to Stay

***  Here is a page which compiles 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

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

Mitch's Links

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

Moths of Utopia

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

New Ode Photos (2.5mb)


 * * BIG NEWS * *

The Butterfly Photos pages have all been updated! Finally! Each group's page has new photos. Over a hundred new better higher res butterfly pix have been added to this set of pages. A massive overhaul and improvement that was years overdue, and in the making.

Butterfly Photos


And now for something completely different ...   support page


~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2024


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:
July 5, June 28, 21, 14, 7, May 31, 24, 17, 10, 3

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

July 12 ~ Another totally approved low, of 68F felt great. Some low stratus early, and mid-level in afternoon, so not as hot. Plenty humid though. It was all the same gang. Too swamped to look. Town run so a park check. To no avail. It was deadsville. No Martins overhead. Water dropping like a rock, lowest level and flow in a decade probably, based on shrinking park pond. The island is not. No odes either. Drought stage may only be D2, but we are FOUR FEET behind in rain. Kelly at the P.O. said he has most ever numbers of juvenile Cardinal at his place, loving his sprinkler. Water is better than food for attracting birds. Lots of things that don't eat seeds come in that otherwise wouldn't. Late afternoon there were some rain cells to our south, which sent us an 80F outflow boundry at peak heat. We have been very lucky the last week with beating peak heat a handful of days. Saw our Lonesome George Firefly out there again, day 7 all by its self. Saw the Mestra again.

July 11 ~ An astonishing low of 67F was fantastic! Best we felt in nearly two months. KERV had a 65 and change. What a difference five dF can make. Buried at the desk as a Thursday. Heard a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. The rest all seemed the same to me. I saw a rerport that the radar return rings of Purple Martin fall roosts are starting to show up at Houston. Time to check Austin radar at dusk and dawn. Saw my FOY N. Mestra (butterfly) today.

July 10 ~ After the rain yesterday afternoon we had a spectacular low at about 69.5F. KERV had a 68! Amazing! Feels SOOOO good. It is the little things. We did have another brief showerlet, maybe a half a tenth of an inch (.05-) of precip. But kept us below 80 for the first three hours of the afternoon. Very nice. Hear a Scissor-tail over by airstrip. The Gulf Coast Toad is still around the birdbath, and growing well. Heard Bluebirds and a Martin. Saw the lone Firefly (day 5) again. Also confirmed what I had been thinking for a couple weeks, but not nailed down, there are TWO begging Great Horned Owl fledglings around. Sometimes it takes a while to make absolutely sure of things, especially in the dark.

SPECIAL NOTICE !! ~ APOLOGIES if you visited after morning of July 9 to the 10th when the site was hacked and some foreign stuff showed. Apparently was at the webhost server. When we were able to get back, the server cloud copy they had was missing the prior birdnews update. We fixed it, and got up the next morning to find the update not there again. Now fixed again, and hopefully for good. SORRY!

July 9 ~ Low about 73F felt better. No morning low stratus though. Spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with the hijacking of the incredibly sought-after utopia nature website. I doubt anyone that reads the site could read what was there!

A shortwave trough moved over in the afternoon which rained over a lot of the Edwards Plateau. We got an INCH! ZOMG! Cooled it down to mid-70's F for peak heat, so which, we beat. Pure awesome. Kathy saw the male Indigo Bunting on the patio. That bird is so ginchy I cannot get a decent photo of it. After about 10 days of silence as often after a rain in July, at twilight the nearby Chuck-will's-widow was calling. Great to hear it again, and after rains is almost the only time I hear them after early July. This year they shut up in latest June.

July 8 ~ About 76F for a low. Beryl is making landfall near Houston, hope they come out unscathed in east Texas. You could not tell here save an occasional puff of an easterly. Both Hooded and an Orchard Oriole were around in morn. Kathy had a Black-n-white Warbler at the birdbath. I had a Scissor-tail call from the big dead Pecan in the afternoon. Kathy had the juv. Chat outside Kitchen window in the tangle. Another hun in the sun afternoon here. Indigo Bunting singing over in draw the last week plus. If the same as in spring, as seems, then it disappeared for an entire week and returned. Which seems odd for a mated bird. Maybe they ran off with a set of fledlings? Never saw any here and we usually do. Nor has it ever left for a week, even between nestings. You lose your mate quickly methinks.

July 7 ~ The low of 71F was outstanding. KERV had some 69 readings! Wonderful rain-cooled air. Hot and humid, with some high thin debris clouds from Beryl, and occasional easterly winds. It has turned more northward towards middle or upper Texas coast and we will be lucky if we get anything out of it. The Common Ground-Dove has been calling a lot lately. I heard an abbreviated Blue Grosbeak song which I suspectd was that first spring male that has been around. For the third night I watched a lone Firefly with a bad circadian clock flying around blinking, to no response since spring flight was over weeks ago, and fall flight won't start for 6 weeks or so probably. Have not heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo since July 2.

July 6 ~ Low 76F, some low stratus for half the morning. Heard the Hooded Oriole around. Did not see anything different. Kathy saw the colorless juvie Chat again outside the kitchen window getting fed by adults. She also had 10 Queen at once on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. In the afternoon there were some rain cells around much of the Edwards Plateau, but mostly north of us. We got spit on, but were happy with the outflow which took it from 96F in the shade to 84, right at peak heat. Actually got down to 78F! A thrilling break. In the outflow gusty winds one of the big dead Pecan branches came crashing down on the porch roof, while I was out on porch. It then fell onto lots of our flowers around the porch. Got all of it off the flowers into bare area, will water good and see how bad the damage is tomorrow. Late evening heard the Couch's Kingbird calling over in the corral! Our FOS 'fall migrant', a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, went through in the afternoon. Done breeding and heading south.

whiteeyedvireo

This is a White-eyed Vireo diving into the birdbath. Vireos are mostly splash-bathers, not waddling in as most birds will. Only diving into the water and splashing as they do. You can see the pale iris, yellow lores and sides. It is kinda hard to catch in the act.


~ ~ ~ last prior update beloiw ~ ~ ~

July 5 ~ About 76F for a low, and some low stratus from Gulf until abut 11 a.m., whence instant hot and humid as the sun breaks. A great odd couple of birds was in the top of the big dead Pecan about 11 just before I headed out for my town run. A male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was acting like it was trying to get its mate to choose this as a nest site. The other bird was a COUCH'S Kingbird. I presume the one that we have seen monthly since March. These two species have been known to hybridize before. Had to walk in to park as they were setting up for the big firework show tonight at dark. Did not detect the Acadian Flycatcher, for the first time in about two months. I think last week when I heard what sounded like it feeding a young was the last of it. Still singing were Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler, Summer Tanager, and below spillway an Indigo Bunting. Some Chimney Swift over town and park. Water is dropping fast and hard still.

July 4 ~ Happy Indepence Day, aka national beer and hot dogs day. And water recreation where available. Wish we had a running river. Third summer in a row without our walk-to swimming hole being in safe zone IMHO. Water is too warm and flow too low. Another just about a hundred dF day. Saw a male Hooded Oriole come into back office hummer feeder a couple times. Maybe it and that female have hooked up nearbyish? Would be great. We had a pair here for years, which one spring did not show up. We have had visitors since, but not a local nesting pair using it regularly. Did hear Martin today, they will be gone soon.

July 3 ~ Low about 76F and not much for morning low stratus, prepare to bake. Kathy had a juvenile Chat right outside the kitchen window being fed by adults in morn and evening. It has no color below, and virtually none above. Just a sordid dusky dark above and light below bird. I had it in front porch tangle. Heard a Field Sparrow sing out back. That Chipping Sparrow is sure a perfect trill. There is at least one juv. Ladder-backed Woodpecker around. Had a bunch of biz work and smokin' hot out there anyway. Begging Red-tail still whining all day, as is the juv. Great Horned Owl over in corral. Which seems a great place to lead and leave it. There are lots of cotton rats around. It HAS to be able to learn how to get them there. Hasn't stopped the begging yet though.

July 2 ~ Low of 76F, briefly some low stratus from Gulf in morning. Pretty hot out before noon, by afternoon a hun in the sun. Heard the Orchard Oriole singing again. Wish it would come in to the bath. Would love a pic of a partially chestnut first summer male. Heard the Hooded Oriole chatter. After not hearing it (presuming our local yardish breeder) for several days, I heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the Mulberry, so it is still here, or came back by to say goodbye. Also hear the Roadrunner cooing uphill behind us where it somewhere nests. There are very few Lesser Goldfinch around, maybe just one pair here, they never recovered from that major hail carpet bombing we had in May a few years ago. Kathy saw an Eyed Elaterid out back, first one this year. She also saw a W. Ribbonsnake on a trip outside. About 7 p.m. I heard an Inca Dove out front.

July 1 ~ Low of 73F felt great after the run of 78's we have had. Flowers around the porch are doing well, as we water them, but the rest looks fairly dessicated. Birds were the same, heard an Orchard Oriole sing in the afternoon. Heard some juv. Painted Bunting begging. Saw a swallowtail that I will just call an odd Black for lack of a better guess. About 98F in late afternoon. Today we hit 14 hours for daylength, so have lost a couple plus minutes since solstice, and almost losing a half-minute per day now.

~ ~ ~ June summary ~ ~ ~

We had two rain events in the otherwise bone dry month, but which were good ones totalling 5.5" for us here! Meanwhile water tables at park pond went down, from just over 2' below spillway to THREE feet below spillway overflow. Drought level remains D2. FIVE inches did not bring the water table up. It is parched and dire out there. Trees are dying.

Insects well reflect the dire situations of our habitats and ecosystems. Their numbers continue to be astonishingly few. Only minimal dragonfly and butterfly numbers. Still scraping for odes (dragonflies and damselfies). Three new for the year species seen: Red-tailed Pennant, a Prince Baskettail, and Widow Skimmer were nice to see. I saw only 8 species over the month. Pitiful.

For butterflies, there was nothing unusual, as expected, we typically do not get vagrant types in spring, that is a summer and fall thing. Flowers are all but non-existent away from water, and butterflies are hard to find, save at watered flowers. If we did not have watered flowers here we would hardly be seeing any butterflies. Looks like 31 sps. for the month.

Not insects but arachnids, we did have two Wolf Spiders in the house in sinks going after water (repatriated to great outdoors) this month. They used to be abundant. There has been a full-blown wholesale crash of spiders here along with the insect crash, of course. There was one group of numbers of Harvestmen (the outdoor daddy longlegsish thingie) seen here.

Birds were as expected for the most part. The only rarity was a female MacGillivray's Warbler June 3rd. My first June record for one. An Acadian Flycatcher again was territorial at Utopia Pk. the last two months and may have nested. No nesting Pewee there this year. Mostly it is just the breeding birds getting a clutch of young out. Overall numbers are way down, and fledgling productivity seems low. Another year, about the fourth in a row, of mostly one or two fledglings per nesting cycle. Over the month dawn chorus went from a mild roar to nearly non-esistant. Much is finished and done for the season already. I saw about 65 sps. locally over the month.

~ ~ ~ end June summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

June 30 ~ Low 77F, a bit of low stratus in morn. Upper 90's F in afternoon. Hot and humid. Getting mighty quiet out there for birds. I hear new baby begging Chipping Sparrow, seeing juvenile Lark Sparrows. Summer Tanager and White-eyed Vireo still singing well. There was a dragonfly seeming to be attempting to oviposit on the wet sidewalk. It looked like a Pale-faced Clubskimmer which I had not seen yet this year.

June 29 ~ Another 78-98F temp spread day. So, nothing changed. Brutal out there. I can't believe how the Frogfruit has a fair bloom going, and nothing is on it. Should be covered in all the small butterflies like skippers, hairstreaks, blues, and such, nothing there. Did not hear a Chuck or a Chat after dark.

carolinachickadee

Our local pair of Carolina Chickadee in birdbath.


~ ~ ~ last prior udpate below ~ ~ ~

June 28 ~ A chilly 77F for a low. Dawn chorus is dead. Some things go off here and there but the wonderful mild roar is over. It is mostly one at a time now. Town run and a park check. Singing there were Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, and in the live-oaks north of woods the Acadian Flycatcher. Which sounded like it was maybe with a young? Could not see it, but it seemed it and a second bird making similar call were together. Best bird was a male Common Grackle. First one I have seen this year. The usual nesting pair on the island does not nest when the island is not one. Same for the Green Heron pair. I have not seen them either this spring. Saw a male Widow Skimmer dragonfly again. Water still going down, the 5" of rain seems to have done nothing for the water table. Next week the big Utopia firework show is set for the 5th, on Friday. The fourth will be the parade. Which is a Utopia doo-dah parade. Everyone is welcome to do anything they like. Old cars to decorated ones, and hopefully not too many trombones. Kathy saw a Hackberry Emperor on kitchen window screen again. She also flushed a Roadrunner off the back porch under the hummingbird feeder stalking for a victim. That means there are very few lizards out there to eat.

June 27 ~ Another 78-98F temp spread day. Heat index over a hun. Sticky and not particularly pleasant. Oh for the beach or mountains. Some low stratus a couple hours in morning. A Celia's Roadside-Skipper landed on my ankle out on back porch this morn. I guess that is close enough to count it? Not hearing cuckoo, which likely means it is done and gone. They leave immediately after fledging their young, often by late June, and that is that. By early July they can all be gone locally. Where do they go? Saw an Elada Checkerspot in the afternoon. Heard a Martin family overhead, and near dusk a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher went over.

June 26 ~ Ran about 78-98F for a temp spread. Hot and sticky. Stuck at desk working and just as well. The female Hooded Oriole is around, and ginchy as they are. There was a Gulf Coast Toad at the birdbath early first thing. Did not hear a cuckoo today, again. A male Indigo Bunting is singing over in the draw, but no Blue Grosbeak around. Heard Yellow-throated Warbler visit the Pecans. The Tropical Sage is getting a bloom cycle underway so a hundred or two flowers open around front porch is nice. Lantana doing another bloom cycle too.

June 25 ~ Low a hair under 77F, balmy, and a brief showerlet to make sure humidity was topped up. A Hooded Oriole hit a hummer feeder earlyish but could not sex it due to bad light. Kathy saw it later morn, said it looked a female. Otherwise the same gang. Chuck-will's-widow are fairly quiet already. Just a little calling. They go mostly silent here by end of first week of July. Begging Red-tailed Hawk still going. Some baby begging Carolina Wren too. A juv. Cardinal is losing the dark bill and has pinkish color in basal half now. Heard the Black-and-white Warbler a few times. Did not hear a Cuckoo today.

June 24 ~ Low of 76F is nearing balmy. Sure getting quiet of birdsong. Barely a dawn chorus left already. If we get another round of nesting from the rains it could pick back up. Mr. Bell singing in the Mulberry over cottage. It was the same avian gang as is the June passerine program. Some family groups with begging babies is always nice. Bluebirds still noisy and around. Best was near 5 p.m. Kathy spotted an oriole at the birdbath. I got a look through bathroom window and screen. It was an adult female Hooded Oriole. No way you could get window open for pics without it flushing, darn it, as sun was on bath. Have not been seeing one on hummer feeders but they can be pretty furtive.

June 23 ~ I saw 70F on the front porch at 7 a.m., and it felt great. Earlier KERV had some high 60's! We may have before I got out there. What a difference a few dF makes. Lark Sparrow, Carolina and Bewick's Wren are three of the birds singing most around yard. A few morning looks and listens turned up nothing of note. Note over the next several days we saw a ad. female Hooded Oriole around. So, that could well explain the mystery song yesterday. It was a female Hooded Oriole. Lots of female songbirds sing and we know very little about it. Kathy had a Bordered Patch butterfly today.

June 22 ~ Ran about 72-92 for the temp spread today. Kathy caught another big wolf spider, this out of the bathroom, and set it free outside. I think they were coming in for water and then did not find their way out. Mr. Bell still singing and was in yard doing so. Love that song. Neatest thing was Kathy spotting a Gray Fox which drank at the birdbath. The big mystery of the day was an oriole I heard sing in the late morning and again in late afternoon which I did not recognize. I know my oriole songs beyond well and this was none of the usual normal songs. Both times I went inside for bins and camera, and never heard it again once I got back out armed. The rest of the daily show was the expected. Heard Roadrunner, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Ground-Dove.

paintedbunting

The compulsory annual photo of a male Painted Bunting in the bird bath. No better way to attract more birds than watering them. Even a sprinkler in bushes or a tree can be very effective. This bath is a large garden pot drain dish. Change the water daily if using a bath.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 21 ~ Full moon today on the heels of the solstice. Low about 72.5F, and a few more hundredths of an inch of precip from passing showerlets overnight. Near 90F in the afternoon. We luckily dodged several days of heat and got a much-needed break. If one of those parent Red-tails doesn't come by and feed that young (which sounds like pleading steel rail wheels) soon, I am going to have to shoot a squirrel and feed it myself. Town run and a quick park check. They were doing a sound check for the rodeo this weekend, so was loud. Best was a couple Red-tailed Pennant dragonfly. They surely must be on-site emergences now. They were rare here 20 years ago, far less than annual, becoming regular in last five years. Birds singing in the woods were Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, a few Yellow-throated Warbler, Summer Tanager, and with much less vigor than the last month, the Acadian Flycatcher. Heard a B-n-w Warbler. The 5.5" of rain the last 12 days has not caught up with the water table drop, which is still THREE FEET from going over spillway at park pond. It has gone down near a foot so far in June. Maybe some will filter down next week? I hear a Vermilion Flycatcher singing over in the corral here at hovelita, maybe they will nest again now. Fourth day with no Firefly, they are over until the fall flight.

June 20 ~ Happy solstice! Astronomical (or celestial) summer is here, the sun is at its furthest north bringing the longest daylength. Of course we have already had a way over a month of summer temps here. Which is why I like climatological summer better: June, July, and August. Farmer's Almanac for the win. The main band of light rain from short-lived Tropical Storm Alberto started yesterday evening and lasted until pre-dawn. Total was 3cm, or 1.2". We lucked out. Eastern Bluebirds singing up a storm makes me think they are going to try another round of nesting. The rain the last dozen days will induce lots of birds to nest again this season. They know there will be flowers and bugs. There are some Junipers and Hackberries with fair amounts of green berries on them, a good sign from the spring. I saw my FOY flowers of Red Turkscap, Indian Mallow, and those low peachy un-ID'd things have come out now too. Only saw about 82F in the afternoon for the second day, what a great break. About 4:30 we got another couple rain cells from leftover Alberto moisture and heating. Totalled about 17.5 mm or just under .75 of an inch. Making the two day and event total 47.5 mm or 1.9"! And making for 5.4" in the last 12 days! To say it is a relief is a gross understatement when you are three feet behind. It was a 'slow soaker' so there was little to no runoff.

June 19 ~ Low about 74F, overcast and rain from the tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico is supposed to make it here this afternoon, eve, or overnight. Thick clouds will keep it 10dF cooler anyway. Light rain started around 7 p.m. and brought temps down to about 70F. Wonderful. Heard the B-n-w Warbler, and a Blue Grosbeak sang nearishby, Cuckoo-cooed, and heard fledgling Lark Sparrow begging. As does the juv. Red-tailed Hawk still. Tomorrow the daylength will be 2 seconds longer. Being a glutton for punishment, I tried to take some pix of the awesome violet of the Wooly Ironweed flowers. You won't believe this, but Canon auto-focus screwed all six shots. I might grow to hate this camera. Saw a Gray Hairstreak on Tube-tongue.

June 18 ~ A low of 72F was induced by a pre-dawn showerlet. About a half a tenth of an inch (.05) maybe. At 3 p.m. it was 90F on the front porch. The first spring-summer male Black-and-white Warbler took a bath early in morn. Got a chigger yesterday, after not having a single one all spring so far. I told Kathy that rain would bring some out. Believe it or not, no one had complained about their absence. If only we could order summer rain, hold the chiggers.

Too many piggy juv. House Finch around lately, that need to learn how to forage for wild seeds. Near end of day an ad. male Blue Grosbeak was on patio, and then an ad. male Indigo Bunting tried to land on white millet tube! Have not seen or heard either in about a week. Are these new birds? If you leave for a week you lose your mate so not something they do when there is time to go another cycle still left in the season. Oh for some color bands on these birds. A freak feather somewhere, some way to differentiate and get us past unknowing speculation.

June 17 ~ Low of 75F, some low stratus, a brief spitting, exactly when I went to toss seed at 7 s.m., of course. Did hear cuckoo out there today, so still around. Heard a distant Blue Grosbeak, and the Bell's Vireo over in the corral. The Ash-throated Flycatchers got a couple young out and have been over in corral lots last few days. Kathy caught a big Wolf Spider in the kitchen sink, which was repatriated to the great outdoors. There were a Dun and two Celia's Roadside-Skipper on the Wooly Ironweed, which is blooming well now. What an awesome electric purple that is. I fenced it this year so unlike the last two it did not get massacred by deer early in season, so a good bloom again. Kathy saw a couple male Painted Bunting out back from office window late in day. No Fireflies tonight, I think they are done for the spring flight. Which was weak at best, a very poor showing for them.

June 16 ~ The standard, low of 75F, some low stratus for a few hours early. Then mostly sunny and 96F or so with heat index over a hun. Kathy spotted an odd skipper out front and Canon SX40 auto-focus screwed my six shots. WORST AUTO FOCUS EVER: Canon! A veritible Microsoft of auto focus. The engineers involved should commit hari kari. Fifty years ago for a hundred bucks you could buy a camera that focused on anything. Now with modern technology there is a $500 camera that can't focus on anything! Heard the Bell's Vireo over in corral. Kathy also saw a Questionmark. Heard some Martins overhead. Too hot and sticky out there. Still can't believe I am not hearing Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting. They both normally sing (nest) into August. When we are drought-stricken LOTS of birds only nest once. Especially the migratory breeders. Whereas many of the resident breeders have already gone twice. But with albeit low fledge rates. One or two young is the rule, three an exception. Two juvenile Raven were begging for an hour over in the corral.

June 15 ~ Half way through the first month of climatalogical summer. Low of 75F, high above 95. Little bit of low stratus for a short while in morn and very humid and sticky. Heard a Bell's Vireo singing in corral. Bird of the day was an Empidonax flycatcher Kathy saw. It disappeared before the resident empiphylliac could get a look. Have no idea what to make of it. Begging Chipping Sparrow still doing so, and besides the juv. Red-tailed Hawk, there is also a begging Great Horned Owl around. Kathy saw a couple Blues, the butterflies, probably Reakirt's. Makes me want to hear Butterfly Bleu, Iron Butterfly, Metamorphosis album, got the vinyl, 50 some years ago. Some Blue Mistflower still going and some Queens still on it. Not much for butterflies though, and less for dragons - none.

nashvillewarbler

This is a Nashville Warbler this spring. Usually our most common migrant warbler in spring. Yellow underparts including throat, olive upperparts, gray head, big white eyering, no wingbars or tailspots, and sometimes you can see the rufous in the central crown feathers.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 14 ~ Low of 75.5F, not very. Some low stratus off and on, barely. That 3.5" of rain this week was a biological life-saver here, things were in critical condition. Red-tailed Hawk flew right over begging. I think it was going to land in the big dead Pecan until it saw me. Town run day so a park check. Singing were: Acadian Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed Vireo, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Titmouse (B-c), and Chickadee (Caro). Purple Martin and Northern Rough-winged Swallow over the pond. In passage transients there was one Black-and-white Warbler, and across the river I heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler chipping in live oaks across from furthest north end of park. Post-breeding wanderers. My FOY Widow Skimmer was nice, what a beautiful dragonfly.

June 13 ~ Low was 74F, some low stratus early and some clouds scattered late afternoon, but probably 95F and heat index over 100. Come on down, it's lovely. A busy desk day, and with added phone issues for more fun. Did not see anything different. It is the silence of Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak that is killin' me. It sure got a lot quieter out there in the last week. Two of the best blues, and best singers we had. Yellow-throated Warbler was around a bit. The big outflow boundry two days ago knocked down the martin house. I had already done so once to remove an in-process House Sparrow nest, no martins, so am leaving it down for now. Kathy saw a beautiful bright male Hooded Oriole at the back hummer feeder. I saw a dull brown False Duskywing.

June 12 ~ Low was 71F, not bad, and there was a brief pre-dawn showerlet of about .1", a tenth of an inch. A parting shot from the over-performing upper-level low. The cell last night got severe right after passing us, to our SE. Well now we have gone three days without the yard singing male Indigo Bunting. It is absent. Like the Blue Grosbeak. If they fledged young we'd see that here, the female and some juveniles. The males disappeared, dare I say in this case, out of the blue. They or their nests were predated, the latter far more likely. Two of my favorite singers, and the most beautiful blues in the yard, lost in one week. I would say that I would bet June is THE month that the most bird nests are predated in the United States. Begging juv. Chipping Sparrow around. Heard a Yellow-throated Vireo, but it went though yard quickly. Eurasian Collared-Dove singing, if you can call that that, out back. Please go away.

June 11 ~ A low of 71F is nice, if only it could do that all summer, we would be fine. Clear so go straight to the warmup. Sure a lot less bird singing going on out there already. Plants look better today. I see a couple FOY Texas Bindweed (a smaller magenta morning glory) flowers opened. Some skippers like it, will keep eyes out, there have been almost no skippers this year. Never seen anything like it in 20 years here. The cumulative toll of 15 of last 20 years in drought, as well as much of the 90's before that. You can only have so many bad years in a row, or so close together.

Had a Skipper land on my knee after I wrote the above about skipper scarcity. It was my FOY Clouded! Should complain more about the bad conditions, obviously. At 3 p.m. on front porch it was 91F, so a few dF higher in the sun. About 5:p another thundercell (!) found us and in about 45 minutes dropped about 42mm more of holy rain! About 1.7"! WEEWOW! An incredible 3.5" in the last three days! A week ago, studying the weather forecasts, you would have never guessed it. Couple Chucks in a calling duel over and up the draw not to far. Either yesterday or today we hit the 14 hour daylength mark. We will only add a couple minutes and change before it turns around.

June 10 ~ Pre-dawn we had another thundercell go over! Apparently we have an over-performing upper-level low that seemed to me to be fairly disregarded, until it couldn't be. It is always OK to wake the drought-stricken with rain. The low was a chilly 66F, which felt amazing. It was another INCH of rain! We have now 1.8" (45 mm) with the .8 last night and this inch. This was so badly needed. It is parched out there. Had a neat moth land on my hand, so no way to come inside for camera and pic. Heard an Orchard Oriole sing a bit early, poorly, so surely that first spring male I saw a few times recently. Also heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler chipping, and zzeet notes from the Black-n-white. No ad. ma. Blue Grosbeak to be heard. Aaaaaarrrrggghhh! Male Painted Bunting on seed out office window, I suppose consoling me. What do they think? They were watching it sing every day too, and know it was in the middle of nesting like it is. The Rio Grande Leopard Frogs are roaring. A small sphinx moth buzzed me whilst I was smoking my pipe.

June 9 ~ Low about 74F, low stratus held heat, but kept sun away early. And which lasted most of day, we were a few dF cooler than yesterday. The bad news is I did not hear the ad. male Blue Grosbeak all day today, or yesterday. The sudden departure probably means its nest was predated. Major bummer. I heard a poor quality song that was surely the blue headed first spring male that has also been around. But the ad. male is gone. Disappearing mid-cycle is either nest predation, or it got predated. Bummer. Heard Eastern Bluebird out there in morning. Kathy saw the Cuckoo almost come into bath but it chickened out. A Black-n-white came in. Study of the pics show it to be a first spring male, surely the one I have been hearing sing lately. A Yellow-throated Vireo made some splash bathing dives at the birdbath. Saw a female Hooded-Orchard Oriole there briefly too. A big and welcome surprise was a fairly unpredicted thundercell between 9 and 10 p.m. that dropped .8 of an inch (20 mm) of precip here~ And took 15-20 dF off the temps in short order! RAIN! It smelled soooo good. Sounds like the Barking Frogs are thrilled.

June 8 ~ The low about 72F was great. Dreamy after the hun+ heat indexes. Clear and hot early. At 4 p.m. on the front porch 96F, so a hun in the sun. Just two weeks or so to solstice and the longest day. Of course climatalogical summer is here as of June 1, and it feels like it. In morn heard Great Crested and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Birds were the same otherwise, nothing new or different. Tis the season to hide inside in front of a fan. No flowers out there save what we planted and water. Still Lysides and Queens, the odd Sleepy Orange and Red Admiral, but not much else. Kathy saw a teneral damselfly in the cattails of the tub pond. Which could mean there was an emergence there!?!

yellowbreastedchat

This is a male Yellow-breasted Chat. They sing all day and night, but the noises are often not very 'song-like'. Honks, chatters, whistles, squawks, all sorts of sounds, many not very avian sounding. They are in their own family, related to nothing closely, a one-off gene pool. Can be nearly common in riparian habitats along the river corridor. Upperparts are olive, this photo in shade under overcast. They are the only species I have seen take Red Harvester or Leaf-cutter ants here. We sometimes have duelling counter-singing constests, one on either side of yard, because one is not enough of a racket.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 7 ~ Low about 74F with no morning low stratus from the Gulf. So, hotter faster. Our big old male Mulberry tree has leaves turning yellow and dropping. The drought is bad. Kathy flushed a feral cat out of the front porch flowers where Chats go daily. Town run and a park check. Best was my FOS Bullock's Oriole, which is actually pretty rare in the park (LTA-less than annual). Surely an unmated bird moving around. Acadian Flycatcher still there singing. A Yellow-throated Warbler sang a song I never heard. The first half was our normal (abnormal) song here, but finished with an accelerating trill recalling Wilson's Warbler. Weirdest Y-t Warbler song I ever heard. Some Swift and Checkered Setwing and a Red Saddlebags in dragonflies. Something at least. The Sneezeweed is finishing up blooming. Chimney Swift and Purple Martin in town. In that lot behind Big Ern's there are singing Bell's Vireo and Summer Tanager, both I suspect nesting. Rosie's tacos are still just as good as ever. At 4 p.m. five local WU stations were reporting 98 to 102F. Just before 5 p.m. I spent 10 min. outside, 96F on shady front porch. Singing were Roadrunner, Chat, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, and Indigo Bunting, House Finch, amd Cardomal. Heard Summer Tanagers calling, and probably the Black-n-white Warbler. The hummers kept fighting as usual, and the Red-tailed Hawk is still begging over at the river. Kathy thought she had a Beezlebub Bee-eater Robberfly.

June 6 ~ Clear for a change this morn, and low about 72, but likely dipped more after I looked. A local WU station had 71F and KERV a 70F. Didn't last but a few moments though. Saw 95F on cool front porch, surely a hun in the sun, and hotter on the patio. Was a desk day as Thursdays are for me. Kathy late in day saw the juvie Black-n-white Warbler come into bath again. That slaving away in the kitchen really pays off, eh?! I have yet to see it, she has seen it four times. Did see a male Summer Tanager come into the tub pond. The Money-Penny-Dollar-whichever-wort is doing great in the pond this year, and the Cattails not too bad. Still 90F at 9 p.m.! A big sphinxmoth buzzed me after dark when I was smoking my (tobacco) pipe outside. Manduca sized.

June 5 ~ A low of 80F is too dang high. Humid with low stratus as recently. Not exactly fresh feeling out there. Mid-day I heard the zzeet of a warbler, Black-n-white is most likely zzeeter now, but it sounded kinda Yellow to me. Did not see anything so just a zzeeting warbler sps. Another cooker of a day, at 3 p.m. 94F on the cool front porch in the shade. Near a hun in the sun, and heat index over that. Just three months to go. Hope we make it. If the morning stratus holds it is bearable to noonish. If you don't mind being sticky. Birds were the same gang, heard the Yellow-throated Warbler out there. Love the dedication to singing of Indigo Bunting. They are indefatigable. Kathy had a Setwing on the clothesline, likely a Swift, the default yard setwing.

June 4 ~ A low of 77F does not bode well. Overcast early to about mid-morn. I heard a begging juvenlie warbler uphill in the live-oaks behind us. Sounded Golden-cheeked or Black-and-white juvie (which are indistinguishable to me), but was absolutely not Yellow-throated. About 3 p.m. Kathy saw the juv. Black-n-white Warbler at the birdbath again, third day in a row. Also then it was over 100F, local WU stations showing 101-103F. Heat index is worse. I saw 98F on the cool front porch. Heard three coooers out there: Roadrunner, Cuckoo (Y-b), and Ground-Dove. In the afternoon, it sure gets quiet in the heat. Did not cool down as usual. At 11 p.m. it was still 90F!

June 3 ~ Low of 76F, overcast and humid. Nothing has changed. Kathy spotted a warbler at the bath which I got bins on too. It was a first-spring female MacGillivray's Warbler! Only Mac we saw all spring, my first June date for one, and surely my latest spring migrant warbler date. Wished I would have grabbed camera instead of bins! Late morn the first-spring male Blue (headed) Grosbeak came into bath quickly. It has new blue feathers on throat and breast it did not have a couple weeks ago. The blue of head is working its way posteriorly. Heard Bell's Vireo again around perimeter of yard. When I go out on front porch the Chat often flushes out of the thick foliage all around it. Probably grabbing some of the Lyside Sulphurs on the Lantana and Blue Mist Eupatorium. Still a handful of Queen on the Blue Mist too.

June 2 ~ Low of 75F, overcast and humid. Will be low 90's F, but heat index around 100F, a bit oppresive to me. In the very frustrating department in morn I had a singing warbler outside I could not see. which I think it was a Bay-breasted after coming in and listening to some songs. It was one of the types I told Kathy it might be before I looked the songs up. It went through fairly quickly, I heard about six examples of song very well. Late in day Kathy saw the juvenile warbler at the bath again, it is a Black-and-white. So out of the nest and wandering on own now. Otherwise it was the same gang.

June 1 ~ OMG, in a month we will be half way through the year! Low about 72F, KERV had some upper-60's F from rain-cooled air. We heard a Bell's Vireo singing from bed with that first cup of coffee. Mid-morn a Great Crested Flycatcher was trolling around, surely an unmated bird. It was encouraged to leave by the courage of an Ash-throated Flycatcher. After 7 p.m. Kathy saw a juvenile warbler at the birdbath, Black-n-white or Yellow-throated. Just a couple Chucks in earshot, used to always be a handful. Not hearing the Common Nighthawk either so wondering if they have come in, counted bugs, and moved on to nest elsewhere as they have a couple times in some recent drought years. Like the Scissor-tails do.

~ ~ ~ May summary ~ ~ ~

It was on the hot and dry side. The 1.6" of rain we had south of town a couple miles is less than half normal for the month. The drought stage is stilll D2 (severe), and water is still two feet from going over spillway at the park pond. Certainly some record breaking high temps were had as well, and lows were often in the mid-70's F.

In odes (dragonflies and damselflies) there were hardly any to be found. A few at the park pond, but it is dismal for them in general. Now, I cannot believe how abundant they were 15-20 years ago when we were in a wet cycle. I used to see more in my yard in a day, than I see in a month here now. I am seeing none in the yard. I saw 5 species this month.

Butterflies were also slow, with just the most common things, but in very low numbers save Lyside Sulphur. I count about 36 species for the month, of the statistically most expected types. You need spring rains, ergo flowers, for insects. March was a third of normal and May less than half. Fairly cancelling out that April was average.

Birds were about as expected for being way down overall in drought springs. The later migrants go through, especially flycatchers, the later breeding arrivals fill in, and the early breeders get the first set of young out of the nest in May. Though I wasn't out scouring as usual, a meager 53 species was all I saw in May. Far fewer warblers then when in wet cycles for instance, here in yard and at the park. Fewer migrants of all sorts. Also no rain ponds so no shorebirds. We are being overflown. The numbers of breeders are way down too.

The Couch's Kingbird continuing since March is great. A three-day Catbird in yard was nice. A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher calling at park the 17th was good as easy to miss any spring here. The Acadian Flyc. is back on territory at the park again this year. Did not see Am. Redstart or Black-throated Green Warbler, any Grosbeak but Blue, missed Olive-sided Flyc., easy stuff we should see. Also not seeng Zone-tailed Hawk as usual. Turkey Vulture are all but absent around our place. It is weird out there.

~ ~ ~ end May summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy May update header ~ ~ ~

May ~ Started off on the 1st with FOS Least Flycatcher. Late on the 2nd a FOS Catbird was calling. May 3 Kathy saw a FOS Wilson's Warbler at the bath. At the park I saw FOS Northern Waterthrush, FOS Great Crested Flycatcher, and at the UvCo 354 pasture a few FOS Dickcissel. Three tardy FOS on May 4 were Orchard Oriole, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, and Chimney Swift. A Catbird was here the 6th. A Catbird was at our place May 6-8. On the 8th, noonish a FOS Swainson's Thrush took a bath. May 9 was my FOS Baltimore Oriole. The 10th brought a FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee. My FOS Western Kingbird was on the 11th in yard. A FOS Warbling Vireo was singing here the 15th. A couple FOS at the park the 17th were Empidonax, about all that is left that has not gone through already. One calling Yellow-bellied Flycatcher high in the Cypresses, and on the island a singing Willow Flycatcher, in the willows. The first Bank Swallow I have seen in a few years here flew over yard southbound on May 24. A singing Couch's Kingbird was in our big dead Pecan on the 30th.

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ end archive copy May update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to our scheduled programming ~ ~

cardinal

Here is a male Northern Cardinal head to compare with the Summer Tanager pic a couple weeks ago. They do molt the crest once a year for a month or so. In fact their whole heads can be without feathers, showing almost purple skin. Learn the big red conical or triangular bill. Also the black surrounding bill, including chin, face, lores and extending over bill. A bird-bander said you never forget getting bit.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 31 ~ About 75F and nearing mist. About 8:30 a showerlet moved through and dropped it to 72F! Cheap thrills. Especially since it stuck much of the day. At 3-4 p.m. I saw 82F on the front porch, 10dF or more below what it has been then lately. Town run and a park check. Another set of begging baby Yellow-throated Warbler out of nest in woods. Still singing there are the Acadian Flyacatcher and Red-eyed Vireo. Also a Yellow-throated Vireo there. A warbler sps. got away on the island. Whatever it was, it was a good one. Probably my latest spring migrant warbler date. Some Bell's Vireo singing around town. A Great Crested Flycatcher was near the UvCo 360 x-ing.

May 30 ~ Low about 75F, with the Gulf low stratus layer. Thursday is a desk office day. About 1:30 p.m. out front there was a singing Couch's Kingbird in the big dead Pecan. Full song! A couple kingbirdy two-note questioning upslurred phrases, followed by an explosive squeaky musical three note answer phrase. Very cool. Beautiful! Great to hear one sing here! Usually we just get the brrreeerrr calls. After maybe 5 minutes of it moving around yard and tree, and catching a couple bugs, the (nesting) Ash-throated Flycatcher chased it out of yard, apparently it was too yellow for it. Before it was gone an Orhard Oriole began singing and did so for 10 minutes. Was a first spring male, clearly trolling around. A great burst of unexpected birdsong is always nice. Humid and low 90's F in the afternoon. Some Chimney Swift went over at dusk. A bunch of rain cells again moved around us, only spit here.

May 29 ~ The rain-cooled low of 71F was a great treat after the 75F and higher lows most of last week. Nice to cool off. Heard both trolling vireos go through singing, the Bell's and the Red-eyed. I was watching a male Indigo Bunting on the white millet out back when a dang White-winged Dove all but landed on it, flushing it away of course. Rude bird. Overnight a deer ate a Four o'clock we thought was doing well. Also stripped a bunch of leaves off all the low branches of the Mulberry tree. They are hell on your local flora. Considering the drought levels most of the last two to three decades, without deer feeders, there would be a fraction of the deer here that there are. Which are putting factors above normal pressure on local plant life. Overpopulation of deer is altering the habitat and ecosystem forever just the same as goats did. That is before we get to Axis goats, I mean Deer.

May 28 ~ Low of 76F for a second or two. About 3 p.m. saw 92F on the cool front porch, not as bad as yesterday. But humid and not particularly comfortable. Kathy saw a male Blue Grosbeak on the patio where we toss seed. There was an Emperor butterfly on the kitchen window screen (Tawny or Hackberry). After dark some rain cells went by but all dodged us for the most part. Some nearishby areas got some, we got maybe near a tenth of an inch at most.

May 27 ~ Low of 77F with low stratus, muggy Gulf air. A cooker of a day, the local WU stations at 4 p.m. were showing 102-106F! I saw 98F on the cool shady front porch then. Was over a hun in the sun here. Record for SAT (per WU) this day is 100F, safe to say it was record-breaking heat today. Lovely. It is Memorial Day. Was a time long ago (79-82) when I would be birding in Death Valley this weekend... but it's a dry heat!   :)   Only two things different today were a Roadrunner, which are around but sorta secretive when nesting, easy to go a week or two without seeing or hearing one. Then a trolling Bell's Vireo sang through the corral late in day. Some rain cells moved sorta nearish-by, but none found us.

May 26 ~ Low of 76F, overcast and humid. Today is supposed to be peak heat. Oh boy! The low stratus from the Gulf kept it to 80F still at noon. Just the regulars for birds. Yesterday the notes covered the migratory breeding species around yard daily. Here are the resident (non-Migratory) breeding species seen or heard daily or so now. Mourning, White-winged (partially migratory), and Common Ground-Dove, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawk, Black Vulture, Caracara, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, Northern Cardinal, Chipping Sparrow, House Finch, and Eastern Phoebe. The Eastern Bluebird left with last couple young and are sorta around. Not seeing the usual nesting Cooper's Hawk pair though very secretive early in cycle. Great Horned Owl are near-nightly, Screech- less so but nests in draw adjacent. Can't believe we are not getting Turkey Vulture daily though, astonishing really. Eur. Collared-Dove likely nesting fairly nearby, and surely Turkey is too. A Giant Swallowtail was around, at one point on the wet patio Kathy said right where a Black Swallowtail was yesterday. Must be a good spot.

May 25 ~ More of same, 76F low, overcast and humid. I saw 96F on the cool shady front porch, so it had to be a hun in the sun. And very humid. Just the breeders for birds now. Over the day we get to see and-or hear quite a few migratory breeders, the non-resident species just here to nest for a few months. Yellow-billed Cuckoo, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Summer Tanager, Indigo and Painted Bunting, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, Lark Sparrow, and Lesser Goldfinch. Mostly hearing only for Vermilion Flycatcher and Yellow-throated Warbler. No Great Crested Flycatcher here for first year in eleven. And of course there are Brown-headed Cowbird, and a Bronzed Cowbird or two, as well as a Red-winged Blackbird or two that visit regularly. Daily at and after dark Chuck-will's-widow call. At dusk today a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew over going upriver. Seemingly none nesting in earshot this year, also very unusual. Red-eyed Vireo regularly trolling by, but not nesting.

My entry for the impossible shot category: 2 golden warblers
2warblers

I know it is not a great photograph. Except for that it might be the only one of its type. At the upper right is a departing male Golden-cheeked Warbler, at left edge of bath a Golden-winged Warbler. There was only a second or two to get them in one frame together. They are both threatened species, with very little range overlap. Golden-winged is very rare in spring in the range of Golden-cheeked.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 24 ~ Another 76F low, humid and overcast. The heat wave that was supposed to be last weekend, is starting today. We were clouded up and a few dF cooler all week, and now it arrives this holiday weekend. A few RV's in town, none at park. But park noisy with the rodeo preparations for the weekend. No campers yet as with no swimable river, many fewer touristas. Just the breeders for birds. The Acadian Flycatcher still on territory. One odd song from across river I could not locate. Back here in afternoon about 3 p.m. a Bank Swallow flew over southbound calling! I have not seen one here in a few years at least, quite a while actually. They are very scarce locally, though regular all summer in Uvalde at the water holes like the fish hatchery and Cook's Slough.

May 23 ~ A chilly 76F for a low. Overcast and humid. The migration party is over. Except Kathy saw a very tardy Lincoln's Sparrow in the birdbath. Must have wintered in Guatemala. And probably a first-spring bird. The sequence of migrants is adults first, then birds on their first trip back to breeding grounds later. Also, males arrive before females. For instance first spring Painted Bunting or Blue Grosbeak may arrive a couple weeks after adult males. The sparrow was the big action of the day. Thursdays are swamped at the desk days. Saw 91F in the shade of the front porch, so likely 95F in the sun.

May 22 ~ Might have hit 75F for a low, overcast and muggy. Welcome to summer. Birdsong is already quieting down. Just the breeding crowd here now. At least it is a good bunch. Having cuckoo (Y-b) around is awesome. Too busy at the desk anyway. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo distantly, it is trolling around the area, like last couple summers. There is no Great Crested Flycatcher around, for the first time in 11 years here. The last two years I have thought it may have not nested. Hardly any nighthawk booming either. As go the bugs so go the birds. Dragonflies are pitiful this year, they just keep getting worse for the last five years now.

May 21 ~ Low about 74F, a little low stratus seemed to hang in much of day. We were 85F on front porch at 3 p.m., and fairly muggy. No migrant motion for fourth day in a row. Chances are fading fast. Saw a Bronzed Cowbird go up to a hummer feeder as if trying to land on it. What a dummy. What can it do with it? Saw a Duskywing butterfly but did not get an ID on it. Still hearing the begging baby Red-tailed Hawk, and which is only one young again this year. For the fourth year in a row. Far from replacement rates. There simply is not enough food for more young to fledge. I also hear a pair of distant Red-shouldered Hawk which sound like there are begging young. These Red-tails do not allow the Red-shouldered Hawk, Raven, or Caracara to nest within a half-mile of their nest.

May 20 ~ Low about 71F, overcast early part of morn. Great hearing that Blue Grosbeak claiming the yard as his territory every morning. Summer Tanager and Cuckoo are also great to hear throughout the day. No migrant motion, that party is over. Be lucky to pickup any stragglers now. It ends soon a way down south below the 30N. line. We had a fairly weak passage anyway, making three or four in a row that were really poor. Presumably because the entire region looks so parched from the sky. It was 90F on the cool front porch at 5 p.m., local WU stations were reporting 94-97F. A bit toasty. Did see a big black and yellow swallowtail butterfly fly by that looked a Two-tailed to me.

May 19 ~ Low about 72F is a far cry from the last couple mornings. Sure was nice while it lasted. Again a male Red-winged Blackbird was out on white millet in the morn. At least he calls a few times when he comes in. Love hearing it in the yard. Another day with no passage transients. The party is about over. Hearing begging young Chickadee (Carolina), Titmouse (Black-crested), Goldfinch (Lesser), and House Finch. Late in day Kathy thought she saw a juvenile Chat. Got up to 93F or so, pretty toasty. Welcome to summer, a month before it officialy starts. Though climatological summer starts June 1. Saw a Juvenal's Duskywing on the Am. Germander, which is in full roar. Also saw a FOY Elada Checkerspot out in lawn, if you can call what our yard is a lawn. After dark several Katydid let loose after hearing the first quiet calls last night.

May 18 ~ Another low at 60F or so, outstanding! We got lucky with a few late-season lows this week. Later afternoon was about 95F out there, pretty warm. No migrant motion through yard today. Kathy spotted and we got to watch a male Hooded Oriole take a full-blown soaking bath mid-day. First adult male we have seen this spring. Whaddabird! No way to get camera and window open without flushing it so just watched and enjoyed a stellar view of a sort not often had. Otherwise it was all the expected regulars, now the local breeders. I will mention no Ruby-throated Hummingbird around for over a week, and actually hardly any this spring. Have not had a spring with so few in last 20 here. They never got common or numerous as usual. I heard the first few whispers from a Katydid of the year after dark.

summertanager

Male Summer Tanager, head. Besides male Cardinal, the other all red bird here. Vermilion Flycatcher and Painted Bunting are not red on upperparts. Note lack of crest or large red triangular bill. Note bill is not surrounded by black. Not often seen on ground, forages in trees. Females are mustard olive.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 17 ~ An amazing low about 58F, KERV had 56! Not likely to feel that in the next 3 plus months. Town run and park check, oh boy! Great were two FOS Empidonax flycatchers. Always the last thing to go through. A calling Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was high in the Cypress trees, and on the island a singing Willow Flycatcher was in the willows. Both great to hear. Also heard another Mourning Warbler in the low jungle on the island, and saw my first Wilson's Warbler of the spring. Kathy had one a week plus ago but I had not seen one. Last spring it was our most common warbler. Several Chimney Swift heard over town, and some Barn Swallow and Purple Martin. Town was dead, I presume due to next weekend being a big holiday weekend so everyone is saving their ammo.

May 16 ~ Low about 72F, 5dF over the prediction. Balmy, some mist first thing. I did not detect any migrants through yard today. The party is about over a way down south here below 30N. We get some flycatchers yet, and a few stragglers in the next ten days, usually, and sometimes evem still a goodie or two as the spring passage flames out. Were a couple Red-winged Blackbird out there early, I presume nesters from the golf course pond. Heard some juvenile Lesser Goldfinch. Clouds kept it coolish, was still under 80F near 3 p.m.! The first big long term heat wave of the year starts Saturday, for a week at least, maybe 3-4 months. Brace for complaining. Sounds like a begging baby Red-tailed Hawk over by river, is that time of year. A Caracara went over late. Some thundercells around in the p.m. but all we got was more spits. A couple hundredths over the day.

May 15 ~ Low about 67F and quite nice. Red-eyed Vireo singing in yard first thing. An Orchard Oriole went through about 8 a.m. About 10:30 a.m., my FOS Warbling Vireo was singing across road at the gate. The Red-eyed was still going out back, Yellow-throated and White-eyed going as usual. Need a Bell's today. Good time for a Philly too. Around 3 p.m. Kathy saw a Lincoln's Sparrow soaking in the bath. Been about 10 days since the last one. So, a tardy one.

May 14 ~ The low 60F was fantatic, the cold air behind the front got here. Might be the last one that cool for a long time. There was an Orchard Oriole out front early that sang a bit. Love that song. Noonish a Least Flycatcher was on the corral fenceline. Had a Bronzed Cowbird in the afternoon. In butterflies four Queen at once and a fresh American Lady were on the Blue Mist. Couple Pipevine Swallowtail and a Gulf Frit on the Tropical Sage. Kathy found a new wildflower for the yard list, Pearl Milkweed, aka Green Milkweed-Vine. They have beautiful flowers, and at least one seed pod already. Very cool. It is regular at Lost Maples. I do not recall ever seeing a butterfly on one. Don't know what pollinates them, maybe a beetle?

May 13 ~ Low about 70F and very humid. Mid-morn a severe thunderstorm went over and dropped temps to 65F and 1.5" (37-38 mm) of precip in an hour and change. Finally something more than the few hundredths for May precip. The plants needed it badly. Kept it way cooler than expected too, was only 70F or so after noon. A real treat. Heard a Baltimore Oriole but that was the only migrant as of 4 p.m. Saw a Vesta Crescent in the afternoon.

May 12 ~ Low about 67F was great. KERV had a 66. Was some mist so ground wet but no rain overnight, all missed us again, as usual. There was no migrant motion whatsoever through the yard today. Northerliy flow must have shut it down. I still expect some thing or two moving north at ground level over the day. Nada, zilch, zip, zero. Birdbath was dead too today. Fortunately I am always way behind with plenty to do. Kathy did some garden work. I am way behind on yard work. Besides the big old-growth original native Pecan we just lost in front yard, another that was planted in the 60's way out front died as well. The drought continues to take its toll. Saw 4 Queen at once on the Blue Mistflower Eupatorium. Kathy heard a Nighthawk boom.

May 11 ~ Low about 69F or so, northerlies, but we got no precip with frontal passage. Around noon there was my FOS Western Kingbird in top of the big dead Pecan. They are scarce here now, and were common 20 years ago. Scissor-tails are way down too. I presume the drought-driven lack of sizeable flying bugs to eat. A few hours later heard a Least Flycatcher and a Yellow Warbler. A male Yellow came into bath an hour later. Then about 5 p.m. I heard a Baltimore Oriole uphill in the live-oaks behind us. So a little migrant motion. Thought I heard a Nighthawk boom distantly. Smelled some skunk out back this morning, just that pleasant light waft, not strong enough to be pungent.

yellowwarbler

Male Yellow Warbler showing the red streaks of breeding plumage on underparts. Which can be more extensive and brighter than this. Quite the beauty!


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 10 ~ The front came through overnight but we got no rain. The 70F low was great though. KERV had a 68F! Very nice after yesterday. Especially about 3:30 p.m. when it was 82F with northerlies so didn't feel like it. Not much for migrant motion though. Town run and park check. At the 354 Pecan patch there was a FOS calling Eastern Wood-Pewee. But blown out from north so birds were at other end. Heard Dickcissels in the field to north though. Nice to hear Chimney Swifts around town. At the park was a female Common Yellowthroat, and the continuing Acadian Flycatcher seemingly on territory. Heard what was surely a Mourning Warbler out in the thick stuff on island but no way to it, or to see into it. Saw some Coreopsis flowers along 360.

May 9 ~ Low about 75F. At 7 a.m. my FOS Baltimore Oriole was calling in the live-oaks uphill behind us as I tossed seed. Love that call, great to hear it again. A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher stopped in the big dead Pecan for a bit aorund noon. Over 90F by noon, very hot and humid, got to mid-90's locally. It is the hot day before the 'cold' front which is to arrive overnight with low rain chances. Cooler tomorrow anyway. The most heat and humidity oppresive day of the year, so far. No Catbird today, three days was it. Kathy did see a few Bordered Patch at once though.

May 8 ~ A low of 74F if you can call that low. Misty and drippy. Had to run to town early whence I finally had some Chimney Swift there. Here at hovelita after 10 a.m. in yard was an Orchard Oriole and a Dickcissel. Then around noon I caught last minute of a FOS Swainson's Thrush finishing up a bath. Kathy saw a female oriole at the birdbath that was Hooded or Orchard (all yellow below). Local WU readings in afternoon were 89-94F. Our front porch was 86F. Was 102F in Junction, 104 in Del Rio. Hot afternoons season is upon us. At least we made it into May. Nearing 8 p.m. Kathy had the Catbird again right outside the kitchen window, now on day 3 here! Weewow! Saw a Bordered Patch and a FOS False Duskywing for not daily common butterflies. Heard an Empidonax across road I thought was an Alder Flycatcher, but no visual.

May 7 ~ Low about 73F with mist, so drippy. Warmed to upper 80's F. One Yellow Warbler was the only migrant motion I saw all day, though heard a Dickcissel early. Nearing 7 p.m. the Catbird showed back up at Kathy's kitchen window calling. It probably had just come from bath as it did not go there. I finally got a Common Nighthawk. Saw two Queen on the Blue Mistflower. Some duskywings were on the wet patio early. One Juvenal's, one Funereal, and one not ID'd. Saw a bright green Green Anole on the front porch. Love that shade. The Germander is bringing in those native bees with the green eyes and black and white abdomen.

May 6 ~ A low of about 72F, overcast, was some mist, more of same. Heard a Dickcissel up top in the dead Pecan. About noon Kathy spotted a Catbird just two feet out the Kitchen window! It went to stick pile near birdbath where I got a couple out of focus photos, and then it flew off without coming into the bath. Before it dropped to stick pile it called a half-dozen times from the Pecan right above the bath. That was the only real avian excitement of the day. I heard it calling across the road from gate at 8:30 p.m., just before dark. Also shortly before dusk a pair of Caracara flew over. Late about 11 p.m. I heard a Barn Owl go over.

May 5 ~ Low about 71F, wet and were a few drizzles overnight. A trace of precip. Late morn there were a couple Least Flycatcher on fencelines, a Yellow Warbler, and heard the first in yard Bell's Vireo this year. Been wondering why we hadn't had any Bell's in yard yet this year. Pretty slow over the day for migrants though. Was breezy with occasional mist, and never warmed past about 75F, cool for the date. Just the other side of the draw is a large patch of Paralena and Slender-leaf Hymenoxy. Which is covered in Dainty Sulphurs, and yesterday Kathy saw lots of Blues on it. Which are Reakirt's in May. Nothing at the bath as many wettish days.

May 4 ~ Another soppy drizzly day, but cool anyway. Heard a couple Yellow Warbler early, but that was it for the day. I had my FOS Orchard Oriole (finally) out front in morning. Kathy had the FOS Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (2) fly up the river. In the afternoon I heard my FOS Chimney Swift, also finally. A trough to our west kept it wet out there much of the day. It went over after midnight and we got a few hundredths, again. Lots of rain to further north but we were in the Utopia dry slot. I see the first American Germander (aka Wood Sage but not a sage) flowers opening, our main patch is huge this year, and invasive towards the Blue Mistflower. Forgot to mention on town run yesterday I saw some Engelmann's Daisy in bloom.

goldencheekedwarbler

Here is my compulsory annual photograph of a male Golden-cheeked Warbler in our birdbath. Got one frame before the Golden-winged flushed it! Probably what it is looking at, thinking, holy warbler!


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 3 ~ Almost fog-mist, low of 73F and very humid. Before 9 a.m. heard a singing Red-eyed Vireo and a Yellow Warbler. Town run and park check. At the pasture on 354 there were a few FOS Dickcissel singing. Did not get a Swift in town still. At the park there was a FOS Northern Waterthrush and FOS Great Crested Flycatcher. Also a Yellow and a Nashville Warbler, and I stepped over a 4 foot plus Indigo Snake. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby) sing. A few Yellow Warbler along the roads as well as some Bell's Vireo. After 5 p.m. Kathy spotted a Blue-headed Vireo approaching bath. Kathy had another Common Nighthawk after 8 p.m. this evening.

From the funny not funny department... On Apr. 26 Kahty said there were some beetles on the one Prickly Poppy flower in yard. I finished what I was working on and 5 minutes later went out. Took a few pics as she had. There were some small things, a few flower Scarabs. She cleared the floppy the other day, and her pics have one of those big 1.5" carmel colored Meloid Blister Beetles (Lytta fulvipennis) in it that was not there when I got there! This is THE beetle I was looking for, and missed it, by five minutes.

May 2 ~ Low about 71F, not very, but very humid, as in drippy. Flushed a warbler from on or near ground that got away and was something good based on the seet flight note I did not immediately recognize. I hate when that happens. Visually it struck me as a Kentucky. Otherwise there was no migrant motion in yard. Mist off and on. Kathy found another Elytramitatrix Cerambycid (Longhorn Beetle) in the house, set free after some pics. Must be a type that is in these dying Pecans or Hackberries, getting one or two annually lately. I saw a Hairstreak that looked like Southern Oak. Another Queen went by. About 3 p.m. NOAA was showing 83 for KERV, and WU had 84 for Utopia, whilst our front porch was 78F. Over the day Kathy had at the bath a Lincoln's Sparrow and a female Yellow Warbler. Nearing dusk I heard a FOS Catbird just over the north fence towards the draw in the thick stuff.

May 1 ~ Low maybe 69F with some mist early. No migrant motion in morning. Around noon there was a FOS Least Flycatcher out by the gate on fenceline. Misting again in afternoon. Did have begging baby House Finch. Birdbath dead all day as often when any sort of precip. Did see a Queen again on the Blue Mistflower Eupatorium. Was a small group, maybe three, just-fledged Carolina Chickadee around the yard, which I heard just one of yesterday. The baby Carolina Wrens were about as well. Maybe a few hundredths of an inch of precip over the day. The real rain missed us.

~ ~ ~ April summary ~ ~ ~

My that was an odd one, eh? Two one-hour events last two weekends in month was all the rain, but which totalled 3.7" or so. Was a fairly flowerless April compared to normal due to the dry March. Still at D2 level drought, and pond at park still a foot from going over spillway. Temps were mild.

Odes were about 5 species, still horrible and hardly any to see. The years of drought take a severe toll on them. Butterflies were about 30 species, all the expected types as usual in spring. Rarities show up in summer and fall. Some days had hundreds of Lyside Sulphur passing by. Checkered White was as common, nearly abundant, as I have ever seen it. Most seemed down overall though.

Birds were mostly the expected types, also as usual in spring. I count about 75 species for me this month around house and at park and between. Mostly it is great to acquire another year of spring arrival and passage dates, my twentieth here. And getting to see and hear our old friends like Painted and Indigo Bunting or Cuckoo. There was only one rare bird we saw, at our bath on the 30th, a male Golden-winged Warbler. Only my second one locally in 20 years.

At ebird I saw reports of Northern and Tropical Parula at Lost Maples, which have been regular the last few years. Also a Common Black Hawk there, and at Cornelius Rd on river two Prothonotary Warbler. Get lots of eyes out there and you can turn up all sorts of great birds during migration as they pass through. A Buff-bellied Hummingbird over in Montell is very rare in the county.

~ ~ ~ end of April summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy April update header ~ ~ ~

April ~ The 1st finally saw a dragonfly this year, a Dot-winged Baskettail, as expected. It is predicted that we are going to be innundated with sun-seekers this weekend for the eclipse. My FOS Summer Tanager was on the 6th. The 9th my FOS Yellow-breasted Chat. The 10th was my FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Outstanding was hearing the LONG-EARED Owl eve of Apr. 11. My FOS Indigo Bunting was the 12th. The 13th I heard my FOS Bronzed Cowbird. A female Pyrrhuloxia at the birdbath the 14th was a surprise. On the 15th were FOS Chuck-will's-widow before sunup, and Blue Grosbeak later. Then FOS Strecker's Chorus Frog after dark the 15th. Our FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo was the 17th. Our FOS Painted Bunting and Yellow Warbler were on the 18th. The 19th my FOS Red-eyed Vireo was singing at the park, and FOS Brown-crested Flycatcher was along the river towards crossing. Heard a FOS Blue-headed Vireo the 23rd in yard here. On the 26th the park had my FOS Common Yellowthroat and Acadian Flycatcher. Late eveing the 26th saw my FOS Firefly. On the 37th Hattie Barham had 3 Cattle Egret in a pasture on 360. Back in early April a Common Black Hawk was photo'd at Lost Maples, a great bird. Two (!) Prothonotary Warbler were reported at Cornelius Rd. the 27th. Outstanding was a GOLDEN-WINGED Warbler at our birdbath on Apr. 30. One was at Lost Maples in earlier April. Also on the 30th, at dusk Kathy heard our FOS Common Nighthawk.

~ ~ ~ end archive copy April update header ~ ~ ~

Apr. 30 ~ Low about 71F and overcast with a wee bit of mist early. The Mocker came by to sing for a half-hour or so in the morning. Kathy saw a herd of just-fledged baby Carolina Wren, four in a row, in one of our messy stick piles they love. After noon we had a flurry of activity at the bird bath. Started when Kathy spotted a different warbler that ended up not coming back in for an ID. She had a male Yellow and just as I got my blindoscreen magic window open with camera a male Golden-cheeked Warbler came in. Which was in the bath when a GOLDEN-WINGED Warbler dropped in! New yard warbler! Only the second I have seen in 20 years here. A Nashville or two and an Orange-crowned Warbler came in. Kathy also saw a FOS first-spring male 'blue-headed' Grosbeak, a young male Blue with just blue on the head so far. A few of the locals came in during the flurry like Cardinal, Lesser Goldfinch, Caro. Wren, White-winged Dove, etc. Heard a House Wren singing out front again. At dusk Kathy heard our FOS Common Nighthawk. Whaddaday!

Apr. 29 ~ Was about 62F for a bit last night during clear portion after midnight. Gulf flow and its low strats showed up pre-dawn and was 66F or so by sunup. Wonderful cool air. We have had a pair of House Sparrow around a bit, which will be departed like those before them. Must be a couple dozen White-winged Dove hitting the seed. Heard a Ground-Dove, saw a pair of Eur. Collared-Dove. Dozen plus Mourning Dove around as well. Kathy saw a Nashville. I saw my FOS Queen butterfly. Most interesting was a Mockingbird singing around for a while. We never seem to get one to stick here to nest. It is obviously an unmated trolling bird.

Apr. 28 ~ A Pacific cold front got here about 4:30 a.m. with lots of rain and thunder. And 61F! This morn looks like about 41-42 mm, about one and five-eighths of an inch. Which fixed our April rain total to near average. Half last weekend and half this morn. Will now bring May flowers and make a world of difference for the season for nesting birds and insects. No migrant motion whatsoever was a bit odd, thought there might be some with the system arriving pre-dawn. Saw and heard nothing but locals. With soft ground we pulled a bunch of Malta Star-Thistle out in driveway where it seemingly won't go away. Kathy saw two greenies (first year male or female Painted Bunting) at once today. Great having at least a few singing males around the yard. Finally some dry air arrived and it cooled off in evening under clear skies.

Apr. 27 ~ Flatlined at 72F all night! Welcome to summertime lows in Utopia. Overcast and muggy, very breezy out of south, a few passing spits of drizzle or showerlets. One Yellow Warbler first thing early. Kathy saw the Yellow-throated Warbler take a bath. It still visits but does not spend the time it used to in yard since the big Pecan died. Neither do the Yellow-throated Vireos. Major bummer. Saw my first flight song of the year from Indigo Bunting, our yardish male. Awesome. The local pair of Red-tailed Hawk that nest over at the river were screaming overhead a fair bit. Keeps the birds nervous. Saw a Rain Lily out back, FOY. Some Malta Star Thistle out front, which we will pull before it goes to seed. Saw two Firefly just as it got dark. Hattie Barham saw 3 Cattle Egret in a pasture on 360, a FOS local report.

goldenwingedwarbler

This is a male Golden-winged Warbler, at our birdbath on April 30. A male Golden-cheeked Warbler flushed out of the bath upon its arrival! These are very rare here, some springs one or two get turned up by the army of birders in Uvalde and Bandera Counties in April and May. As of 2002 there was no UvCo record, and maybe one at Lost Maples. It is also a threatened species in decline. And a great yard bird! Sylvia Hilbig had one May 2012. My only prior sighting was one at the Utopia Park woods on ... April 30 (!), 2021.



~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 26 ~ Low of 71F and overcast. Mid-morn heard another Blue-headed Vireo. Late morn a Red-eyed Vireo was singing behind the hovelita. Town run and park check. Was misting out so if any swifts are back they were not out. At the park there was a FOS Common Yellowthroat, and a FOS Acadian Flycatcher which may well be a returnee as one was territorial there last spring to early summer. Also a Red-eyed Vireo was there, which too might be a returning territorial bird. Great were some just-fledged baby Eastern Bluebird at the park. Did not hear any Dickcissel at 354 field but the Mesquites are so thick and tall I would not be surprised if they gave up on it. There was Chat, a couple Bell's Vireo, Painted and Indigo Bunting, and Blue Grosbeak. Post Office had Painted Bunting and Bell's Vireo as usual at the big live-oaks just off NE corner of parking lot. Some sprinkles into early afternoon was maybe a couple-few hundredths of an inch. Late in evening was my FOS Firefly!

Apr. 25 ~ Low about 69F, overcast, breezy and balmy. Was a bit of mist briefly. Thought I heard a Catbird early, a couple times. Heard single Nashville and Yellow Warbler over the day. A cuckoo was in pecans out front. Not much for movement, and swamped at the desk as Thursdays are. At least we have all the migratory breeders back so there is that gang around.

Apr. 24 ~ Overcast with low stratus, about 68F at dawn, maybe a couple dF cooler in wee hours. The only possible migrant I saw all day was a flyover Great Blue Heron. Which is likely a passage transient Got up to about 82F, balmy and breezy. Maybe near about 20 White-winged Dove hitting the seed, as well as some Mourning. Saw one Gulf Fritillary on some Tropical Sage flowers. Still seeing Red Admiral, Sleepy Orange, Pipevine Swallowtail, Lysides, the common stuff. Briefly a Turkey Vulture sat in the big dead Pecan. Not much else though.

Apr. 23 ~ Clear at midnight, gulf stratus arrived in wee hours. About 59F for a low. Around 9 a.m. heard a FOS Blue-headed Vireo. Otherwise the day was a bust for migrant motion. In some nearbyy rare bird news, there is a Buff-bellied Hummingbird in Montell, NW Uvalde Co., 2 canyons (about 30 miles east) of us on the Nueces River. Some good singing today in yard from Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Lesser Goldfinch, and Lark Sparrow, and Indigo Bunting just over fence. Awesome avian audio, now playing!

Apr. 22 ~ Happy Earth Day! While we still have one! Low about 50F was great, KERV had a quick 47! Gonna miss that brisk feel. Only got up to 72F or so and northerly flow. Kathy had a couple Gnatcatcher mid-day. I had another at last sun. I heard single Nashville and Yellow Warbler mid-day. Later I heard one of the House Wren in the same area of fallen branch jumble singing a bit. So one still here, three days at least, if not five, since when I first thought I heard it.

Apr. 21 ~ The cold front went through overnight, dropping us to about 52F which felt fantastic. Breezy out of the north to NE. Looks like 50mm, or 2" of very badly needed precip! One Nashville and one Yellow Warbler were all I had for transients today. The rain hit right after dark, followed by northerlies so a bad combo for knocking down birds. Need the rain to hit in middle of the night or pre-dawn. Heard one Lincoln's Sparrow, and Clay-colored Sparrow still singing in yard. Hey, can ya grind me a pound?

Apr. 20 ~ Low of 64F was much better, some mist late last night, still humid and overcast, now rain maybe tonight. Kathy spotted a House Wren at the bath which became two of them shortly. I told her two days ago I thought I was hearing House Wren bubbly gibberish from the big branch pile under dead Hackberry. Which you can't see into because I have let the grass grow up over it. The birds love it. So as often the wing splashing attracted other birds. My FOS female Painted Bunting, an Orange-crowned Warbler, and a Chipping Sparrow all came in. The wrens mostly just got wet on the rocks and a plant that were all soaked probably from some just prior White-winged Dove bathing. It is the first time we have seen extended bathing by House Wren at the bath, so very cool. I think though I will call the FOS date the 18th when I told Kathy I heard one. A bit after 1: p.m. a few more birds showed up at the bath including Lesser Goldfinch, male Painted Bunting, and 3 Nashville Warbler at once.

A line of thunderstorms moved over just after 8 p.m. which dumped a bunch of rain. Power came back on at 11:15 p.m., the phone at 12:15 a.m. Love the new advanced improved technology in which phone is lost with power now, so you can't call to tell anyone. And we have to wait for some mysterious reset event to happen for phone to work again. This is the second time phone went back on at 12:15 a.m. after power had been out and been back on some time. Internet comes back with power, phone not so. Great advancement and progress for the latest greatest tech. Great improvement Southwest Texas Telephone.

housewren

Well darn if it isn't a new species photo for the site. Of one of the dullest most non-descript and furtive birds here, a House Wren. A quintessential LBJ - little brown job. Note no bold eyeline as our common Bewick's and Carolina Wren have, which are non-migratory residents. The House Wren is strictly a passage transient here in spring and fall. Two came into our bath at once, April 20. When you can sing like a wren, you don't need fancy apparel.



~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Apr. 19 ~ Overcast, low of 68F. Today we hit 13 hours for daylength (sunup to sundown). In a month we have added an hour roughly since the equinox, more accurately a few days prior on the equilux. Heard maybe the same Yellow Warbler over in the corral, singing early. A couple Nashville here too. Town run and park check. On way to crossing there was a calling Brown-crested Flycatcher, my FOS, though thought I heard one a week ago. At park nothing on or around pond. In woods a singing Yellow, 2 plus Nashville, and one Orange-cronwed Warbler. A couple singing territorial Yellow-throated Warbler are there. A FOS singing Red-eyed Vireo was at north end of woods where one territorial the last couple years. Some Waxwings in the Mulberries, which have ripe fruit and should be watched closely if you have or find one. Back here afternoon, a White-eyed Vireo splash-bathed at the birdbath. Lots of Prickly Poppy in bloom, forgot to mention the first couple were open last Friday. At park some Sneezeweed and Water-willow (Justicia) had flowers. At front porch a few Day-flower (Widow's Tears), and the first few Blue Mistflower Eupatorium have opened.

Apr. 18 ~ Another 70F low, wow. Seems like this started early this year. Or I am just not ready for it yet? Heard a couple Nashville Warbler early. I heard a Painted Bunting sing about 9 a.m. when I was refreshing birdbath. Kathy saw it out kitchen window 45 min. later. Likely one of our daily yard user returning breeders. About noon I heard my FOS Yellow Warbler singing over in corral. It was out there a few hours. Heard the Cuckoo (Y-b) again. Clay-colored Sparrow was singing, first of that I have heard this year. Also heard some gibberish song from Lincoln's Sparrow again as last year or year before. Sounds like a couple Painted Bunting singing. Told Kathy I thought sure I heard House Wren in the pile of fallen Hackberry.

Arp. 17 ~ Low of 70F, get used to it. Just five more months of it ahead. Kathy heard the FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo about around 9 a.m., I heard it a half-hour later. Likely our local yard-adjacent returning breeder. Great to hear Summer Tanager and Blue Grosbeak going at it again. Sing on! The two yellow-throateds, vireo and warbler were singing around too. A few White-eyed Vireo around, and Chat is going well. Kathy saw the male Blue Grosbeak at the bath, lucky if that happens twice in a year. A Nashville Warbler or two went through yard, one singing in afternoon may have been the one that used the bath. A couple female Black-chinned Hummingbird came in when some birds were bathing and kicking up a splash, to take advantage of the spray and get wet. Heard a Chuck-w-w before dark. About 11 p.m. a Barn Owl flew over northbound.

Apr. 16 ~ Low if you call it that was 69F, a bit of drizzle early in morn. Dampened the dust. A front washed out, but all the cool air stayed north of us Did have a Blue Grosbeak sing from the big dead Pecan. The rest seemed the same. Only partly sunny at best but warmed to near 90F later afternoon. After dark heard Chuck-will's-widow, and a few Barking Frog. Might have been the first night with full-blown nocturnal singing from the Chat. So what, one week back here, and it is going in the dark. Maybe they spend a week making sure all is well with the territory first.

Apr. 15 ~ Low about 68F where flatlined all night. Overcast and humid. First thing before 7 a.m. and sunup, I heard my FOS Chuck-will's-widow, finally. Then about 10 a.m. heard my FOS Blue Grosbeak singing across the road. Both a few days on the slow side to arrive. Otherwise the rest was the same gang. A great dawn chorus, before 7 a.m. now. Nice to be again Hearing Purple Martin and N. Rough-winged Swallow overhead. Not hearing singing Field Sparrow which is odd. The Lark Sparrows do all they can to make up for it. Man they are exhuberant. Great was after dark hearing my first Strecker's Chorus Frog I have heard not just this year, but in a few years. Great! There were a few calling for some time. Wind blew almost all day again.

Apr. 14 ~ Cloudy, was 64F all night. Couple Nashville Warbler singing in yard early. Late morn there was a great flurry of activity at the birdbath. A bathing frenzy that lasted, well looking at photo timetamps from 11:13 to 11:29, but was going a minute to two prior to first shot. It started when Kathy saw three Orange-crowned Warbler at once there. Then it proceeded to go bonkers. Photo'd twelve species, and over two dozen individual birds came in. Had to rest my trigger finger after 108 images. Overcast and darkish out though, not the best light. The action makes up for it. Once that wing-splashing 'all clear' signal is sounded, everything quikly comes in. And boy they did, even things we did not know were in the yard!

There were a couple each of Cardinal, Titmouse (B-c), and Carolina Chickadee. The male Summer Tanager bathed whilst I heard one up in tree so suspect a female is here now too. Besides the 3 Orange-crowned were at least 3 Nashville Warbler. A couple Yellow-breasted Chat (male and female) bathed, a half=dozen Chipping Sparrow, at least one Lincoln's Sparrow, quickly a Clay-colored Sparrow showed. A pair of House Finch came in, and best of all was a female PYRRHULOXIA that briefly came in. First ever at the bath (n~11 years) and we have not had any around this winter or spring, so a great surprise. Even got a pic to prove it. The rest of the day seemed dull after that. I think this was the day Kathy saw the Questionmark on patio, which her shot shows was a summer form, with the black hindwings.

Apr. 13 ~ Clear and about 60F for a low. Turkey gobbling at dawn across the road toward river. One Nashville Warbler in morn. Kathy had Lincoln's Sparrow at the bath. Blew northerly much of night, so not likely a big movement day. Surprised we have not heard a Chuck-will's-widow yet. Thought I heard the flatter tchwip of a Painted Bunting but could not spot it. Did see a male Indigo. Heard the Ground-Dove over in corral. Without the big pecan lots less visiting from Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler. They go through but are not spenidng the time they used to. I heard a Bronzed Cowbird fly off today. Their wingbeats are far far more noisy than Brown-headed Cowbird and this is very distinctive. One would never confuse the two sounds they are so far apart. When a slock of cowbirds flushes they do not need to call and you do not need to see them to tell if there was a male Bronzed in the group.

pyrrhuloxia

This is the female Pyrrhuloxia that visited the birdbath April 14. Suggests female Cardinal but is mousey (slightly brown-tinged) gray, not warm brown of base color. Note orange-yellow very curved bill. Cardinal bill is red, without strong curvature, and surrounded by black feathers. Often the bill is just a dull yellow and not this orange, presumably breeding season related. Also note very long crest and narrow red eyering. The dark on side of face below eye is disheveled feathers, not any field mark or character.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Apr. 12 ~ Low about 44 or 45F, KERV had a 42! That felt great! A couiple Nashville Warbler in yard early. FOS Indigo Bunting in yard mid-morning. A small group of Waxwing stopped briefly. Town run and park check. Nothing on the pond, water still 2 FEET from going over spillway. Some Nashville Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, two Myrtle Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Warbler. A few dragonflies distantly over water, a couple looked Checkered Setwing. Some red Mulberries. and on the tree outside park on Cypress St. there were waxwings, a dozen or so. Kelly at the P.O. said he had his first male Painted Bunting up on B & R road last night. There was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail that floated past Rosie's taco trailer, so I knew I was at the right place. About 5 p.m. a Gnatcatcher went through yard.

Apr. 11 ~ Wind finally stopped last night, a wonderful cool low of 46F pre-dawn. Sunny, a Nashville Warbler singing outside early. It is a desk day here on Thursdays. Toss birdseed a couple times, refill and refersh birdbath and its jug. A handful of five or ten minute lookabout and listens. Zexmenia is getting going well out back. Kathy saw a Chat at the birdbath, likely the one that knows all about it. I heard and Kathy saw a Roadrunner over fence. Outstanding was at 10:20-25 p.m. hearing the LONG-EARED OWL calling over at the river. I had not heard it since late January. Probably went south and heading back north now. Great late date.

Apr. 10 ~ Low about 54F, northerlies blew all night from before midnight. No rain here but some nearishby in the area. Clear and dry, outstanding. But winds held movement down last night. Maybe we'll get some daytrippers through the yard later in day. I finally saw a FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Also saw a Giant Swallowtail, which I had just glimpsed a couple 'surely were' quick views of them blasting past the last week. Counted 8 Chipping Sparrow at once together. Still numbers of Lysides going NE but not as many as yesterday. Wind blew northerlies at 20 mph most of the day, and gusting higher. Calmed down late in evening.

Apr. 9 ~ It was still 72F at midnight! Cloudy and humid in morn, a bit of mist overnight. It is a cacophony of Cardinal out there at 7 a.m. Something about counter-singing territorial songbirds is really great. If only we could settle our differences with whistling contests. About 1:30 p.m. a FOS Yellow-breasted Chat was making noises at the usual breeding area just over fence towards the draw. Common Ground-Dove calling over in corral, surely nesting. About 3: p.m. I saw 90F outside, it got very hot. A front inbound tonight is why. There were lots of Lyside Sulphur going by to NE, surely hundreds went by today. Thought I saw a Goatweed Leafwing out back. Over the evening there were thundercells north and south of us but the Utopia rain kryptonite held and we just got a few spits. The system is passing and winds from north by late eve. Couple more Tropical Sage stems with flowers.

Apr. 8 ~ Low was around 55F around 2 a.m., from whence it climbed to circa 64F by dawn. Cloudy and humid with high chances of disappointed sun worshippers. Mid-morn Kathy saw two each of Orange-crowned and Nashville Warbler at the birdbath. Migrant warblers! We had some sprinkles off and on over the day, a few hundredths. At eclipse showtime the overcast was thick in most areas locally. It did get very dark, as in nearly nightfall. All the birds quit singing. No nocturnal species such as frogs, crickets, coyote or others made any noises. It was remarkably dark out, you could hardly see. Did see a Slender-stem Bitterweed (FOY) in the driveway. Later in evening I heard a Barn Owl fly right over the house northbound. Also a Barking Frog, well, barked.

Apr. 7 ~ About 62F at sunup, was a bit cooler earlier in dark. Overcast and very humid. Got sunny and a balmy 84F or so in afternoon. Kathy had the male Summer Tanager at the bird bath. First heard it last night and this a.m. it is at the bath. Surely our returnee breeder. She also had 3 Lincoln's Sparrow at once. No telling if any are our winterers or not still here. Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo singing daily is nice. Saw a Dun Skipper on the Mealy Sage. Kathy saw a butterfly that sounds like (dull plain brown with eyespots) it was a Little Wood Satyr. April is a good time for them.

Apr. 6 ~ Might have been in upper 50's F in wee hours but about 60F at dawn. Mostly cloudy all day and got up to 82F or so. Kathy had 2 Lincoln's Sparrow at once at the birdbath brushpile. She also had a Yellow-throated Warbler in the little Pecan right at kitchen window. Saw the Black Rock Squirrel out back in afternoon, such a neat looking beastie. Heard Purple Martins overhead in afternoon. After 7 p.m. I heard my FOS Summer Tanager. First some calls then the first few notes of song were repeated a half-dozen times. Great to hear it back!

lichen

This is a lichen of some sort. I only see it on tree bark here. Can't seem to get a good picture of it, sorry.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 5 ~ Low about 46F and sunny. Sunny is something it is not looking good for on eclipse Monday. We can hear above normal road noise in the distance, baton down the hatches, lock the gate, the tourists are coming! So glad I did town yesterday, and the road is over a mile away! Got very breezy again, and warmed into mid-80's F in the afternoon. Saw my FOY Six-lined Racerunner lizard. The rest was the same gang. After dark Kathy heard a shorebird call heading over northbound. Dang I wished I would have heard that!

April 4 ~ A brisk low of about 38F was great. Turkey gobbling at dawn over toward river. Got up to about 85F in afternoon. It is predicted that we are going to be innundated with sun-seekers this weekend for the eclipse on Monday. Looks like good chance for a cloudy Monday too. But so I went to town today to beat the rush tomorrow. Already a bunch of RV's of varying sorts in town. Glad to get all the errands done today. Stopped at park briefly. Water still not going over spillway. For migrants had one Nashville Warbler, one Ruby-crowned Kinglet, one Lincoln's Sparrow, and one Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. A very slow drip. A male Vermilion Flycatcher was at edge of ballfield on way out. Bob at the P.O. said those Barn Swallows are not back yet, but the ones at his place near Vanderpool are. Did not see any on Main Street either. No Cave Swallow at the bank, their eradication program seems to have worked, unfortunately. A couple Dot-winged Baskettail (dragons) were at the park. Saw my FOY Zexmenia flowers here out back today. Also saw my FOY Texas Powdered-Skipper on the Mealy Sage next to front porch (fenced now).

April 3 ~ A nice blast of cool air behind the system and a low about 42F, KERV had a momentary bout with the upper 30's F. We will soon be longing for this. Got up to about 80F in the afternoon, dry and nice. Saw the Dot-winged Baskettail dragonfly again. Heard a Clay-colored Sparrow again. A Gnatcatcher went through mid-day but that was the only bird on the move. Lots of butterflies though. A Painted Lady was worn and likely a spring northbound migrant. Couple dozen plus Lyside Sulphur, a couple Red Admiral, Orange and Dainty Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, Vesta Crescent, Pipevine Swallowtail, probably another Giant Swallowtail, an Olive-Juniper Hairstreak.so we are now in double-digit daily species diversity totals.

April 2 ~ Low about 48F was great! After the system went by last night (that missed us for precip) winds have been northerly. Still a Lincoln's Sparrow over in brush pile. In the afternoon I got bins on a Clay-colored Sparrow finally after hearing one or two for a week. None have sung yet though. Kathy saw what looked like Blue Gilia flowers. I saw something magenta-pink I will check tomorrow.

April 1 ~ Low about 68F, no foolin'. Only thing I saw of interest today was while seawatching I had a fly-by Great Auk. Balmy, some sun in afternoon, but mostly cloudy. I think without the former three biggest leafiest trees in the yard this spring, so far it seems much less is attracted into it. A lot less canopy out there. Biggest sighting today was my first dragonfly of the year, finally, a single Dot-winged Baskettail patrolled over the patio. Also saw my first Tropical Sage flower of year. Nearing dusk a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was in yard. After dark some rain went by but missed us. Thundercells to north and south, we got a trace.
~ ~ ~
Jan. 1 through June 30, 2024 will be here:
Bird News Archive XXXXI
2024 - Jan. through June (Jan. through March so far)

~ ~ ~ ~
2024 weekly photo break pics are here:
2024 pix

~ ~ ~
Bird news July 1 through Dec. 31 is here:
Bird News Archive XXXX
July through December, 2023

January to June 2023 is now at:
Old Bird News 39
Bird News Archive XXXIX



Learn how to support this website ...
Support


To Top of Recent Bird News

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Links to all 19 years of archived bird news pages below.
Broken into 6 month increments. One day I'll quarter it
out by season as well, so all of each season are together,
perhaps making say, searching springs easier.

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

Here is a master index page of them:

Bird News Archives Index

Index page with links to all 'Old Bird News' pages.



All photographs within this site are copyrighted
and may not be used without permission.
All Rights Reserved.
© M. and K. Heindel 2004-2023
www.utopianature.com