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: May 14, 2021
(prior updates: May 7, April 30, 23, 16, 9, 2, March 26, 19, 12, 5, 2021)


   ** SPECIAL NOTICE **

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


~ ~ ~

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

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

OMG it is May! On the first there was 3" of rain, and 2 BLACK SWIFT to get the month going. Also saw my FOS Cattle Egret the 1st. The 2nd was my FOS Cliff Swallow and Olive-sided Flycatcher. The FOS Common Nighthawk was May 3, another male Am. Redstart that day as well. On May 4 a FOS male Rose-breasted Grosbeak sang in our yard, another here on May 6. Astounding was a SWAINSON'S WARBLER at Utopia Pk. on May 5. Also May 5, 22 Baird's Sandpiper and 17 Wilson's Phalarope at the W. Sabinal Rd. ponds were great. My FOS Green Heron was May 7. There was a Green-tailed Towhee and a couple Tropical Parula reported recently at Lost Maples. The Northern Parula continue nesting at Utopia Park May 7. Another Northern and a pair of TROPICAL Parula are near Jones Cmty. on that road May 9, as was a FOS Mourning Warbler. A female Merlin was tardy on May 11. May 14 there were FOS Swainson's Thrush, Eastern Kingbird, and Pectoral Sandpiper locally.

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

splish splash I was takin' a bath!

male Golden-cheeked Warbler



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Back to Top
Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

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

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

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


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


Notes without location cited are in or from yard which is a couple miles south of town at edge of the river habitat corridor. If it doesn't say where it was, it was in or from the yard. Usually a few daily yard notes is all the drivel you get. But you never know what that can lead to. Ready, steady, go!

Commonly used ABBREVIATIONS are:

To repeat since commonly used:
sps.=species; FOS=First of season (can be any season); FOY=First of Year; FOF=First of fall; LTA=Less than Annual; UP=Utopia Park; SLC=So. Little Creek Rd.; dF=degrees Farenheit; (ph.)=photo obtained; ad.=adult; imm.=immature.; ma.=male; fem.=female; juv.=juvenile; odes=Odonata = dragonflies and damselflies; leps=Lepidoptera (butterflies), town=Utopia; the park= Utopia Park at SW corner of town. WU = Weather Underground (sometimes local station readings referenced) BanCo = Bandera Co.; UvCo = Uvalde Co.



Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples


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

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

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

*** Utopia Park is open, $10 entry per person.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

another big migration special break...

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

wilsonsphalarope

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

bairdssandpiper

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

pectoralsandpiper

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

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We went south down to UvCo 363 as surely the pond there has water now. There were a few Cliff Swallow at the 4-mile bridge, but very few. The 363 low spot was with water, but no birds at it. A few Bell's Vireo singing along road. Some Englemann's Daisy is open. Then up to the 354 Pecans where about 4 Nashville and a couple Yellow Warbler was it for migrants. Then the park woods. First Tropical Sage flowers open. Great was a heard FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher, love that call. There were a Chat, a few Nashville and a couple Yellow Warbler, heard Comm. Yellowthroat and a couple No. Waterthrush, plus the singing territorial No. Parula, and usual Yellow-throated Warbler. Great was hearing a Catbird singing from the Mulberries on the island, got a glimpse of it finally. Third one I have heard this spring, first one I saw. But hearing it sing was better, very rare to hear sing down here. Might suggest a Long-billed Thrasher but obviously not a Mockingbird.

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

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

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

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

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

americanredstart

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

rosebreastedgrosbeak

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


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ April summary ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ end April summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wilsonsphalarope

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


and here is a bonus bunting...
paintedbunting

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

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lazulibunting

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

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golden-cheeked Warbler
goldencheekedwarbler

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

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

northernparula

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

a bonus pic...
martinhouse

This is the martin chalet, Chez Martin'.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ March summary ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ end of March summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy March update header ~ ~ ~

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

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

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Mar. 31 ~ The front finally got here just after daybreak, was calm at dawn, northerlies blowing with dropping temps by 8 a.m. Temps dropped to upper 50's and slowly climbed back to lower 60's over the day, but didn't stop blowing until late afternoon. Saw both ad. White-crowned Sparrow still here, not seeing the two immatures though. Nothing new or different today, but was stuck at the desk for the most part. That grass sure grows fast though. Maybe a dozen or so American Goldfinch left, at least that many Pine Siskin still here. Dozen Lincoln's Sparrow, heard Clay-colored singing. Saw two male Vermilion trying to decide who gets the corral. Still have not seen a female but did see a first spring male besides these two adults. Kathy saw a Turkey right over the north fence. Saw a Ribbonsnake go under the front porch.

Mar. 30 ~ Maybe 58F for a low, on and off drizzle most of the morning. Great was finally my FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Five males calling and fussin' around in the Mesquites right across from the gate. Great to see them again! My what a fancy bird. Whaddabird! I love 'em. I got a count of 50 Chipping Sparrow in the drizzle. Gets wet and they all show up. Couple Gnatcatcher went by. Glimpsed a Zone-tailed Hawk. Saw an imm. fem. Sharpy depart empty-fisted after a dive and a miss. Late in day there were two adult White-crowned Sparrow at once on the patio. A pink-billed black-lored bird that showed up yesterday, and the orange-billed gray-lored bird that has been here 4 months or so now. East meets west. Heard a few hoots out of the Long-eared Owl at about 12:10 a.m., just after midnight last night. It has been here 10 days now!

Mar. 29 ~ A nice brisk 40F or so for a low. I saw KERV had brief 38 and 39 between some 40 readings, we may have but I was not watching. Lovely out though. Dry is sure nice. Kathy got a count of 35 Chipping Sparrow. Only a handful are breeders here. Most of the adults that had fully rusty crowns already departed in the last week to two. These remaining are almost all first spring birds. Lots fewer Goldfinch and Siskin, they are thinning out, and the Lincoln's Sparrow wave is subsiding as well. But the Black-chinned Hummingbirds are picking up fast. Saw two male Vermilion Flycatcher jockeying about, a corral area is a prime territory. Barn and Rough-winged Swallow were about, a Zone-tailed Hawk passed over quickly. Yellow-throated Warbler about the yard is surely the local breeder. As are the Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo singing daily again.

Mar. 28 ~ Front came in overnight. Was northerly but still warm, 70F, at midnight. Then 60F by 5 a.m. and in 50's at 8. An hour or two as it hit wind was 20 mph sustained gusting to 30. No rain as of 10 a.m., doubt we will see any. One Gnatcatcher out there first thing early. Too windy. Good thing I spray-painted yesterday. The lawn gator looks great in swamp green. Blew all day, worked on stuff here. Saw a couple Monarch go by. Generally it was a wind-suppresed quiet today, and the same yard gang. A few more skimpy Laurel flowers open. More Tube-tongue, Anemone, and Yellow Wood-Sorrel opening. Must say the martin house sure takes the wind great, barely moving. Now if a martin would just agree with my assessment of how spiffy it is...   A Zone-tailed Hawk dove on stuff in the afternoon, was that same first spring bird I saw a week or so ago. A couple N. Rough-winged Swallow dove on and scolded it, and gave alarm calls.

Winds finally laid down late in afternoon, was a blower of a day. Amongst things, worked on a knothole bird house. Wait until you see this. Taking a big long ago broken branch stub (still on tree), hollowing it out (old weathered pecan is hard as steel) and cutting a front to fit into the opening. So the box itself will be the foot of stump at base of the broken off branch. It is going to be very cool. For something small like Wren, Chickadee or Titmouse, and right off the front porch. About 10:15 p.m. the LONG-EARED OWL was calling over in the corral. Got Kathy out in time to hear one hoot. It was really moving around though. For the first time I hooted back, it did not call again the next 10 minutes. We won't be trying that again. I will be the first to admit whilst my Western Screech-Owl and Flammulated Owl imitations are deadly, I never spent enough time talking to Long-ears to become a whisperer with them. Note to self: need more work.

Mar. 27 ~ Overcast, misty and 62F for a low. Mid-day southwest flow cleared and dried it out, it got up to about 84F in the afternoon. Wow. There is a front inbound arriving before midnight tonight and tomorrow will be a blowout. Gonna be a dry passage though, we just get the wind. Here on the patio in the morning the usual gang of Goldfinch, Siskin, and Chipping Sparrow were here. Great was FIVE Clay-colored Sparrow at once on the patio amongst the melee. The imm. male Ruby-throat continues, as do the White-crowned Sparrows (3) and a gaggle of Lincoln's. Heard a northbound group of Crane but could not spot them, they were high. Caracara came by low. An Ash-throated Flycatcher went to three of the nest boxes, so I suspect one that has been here before, and probably the male. Only one back here so far. Some more Laurel flowers open but instead of the big racemes with a dozen or two flowers on it, they have 2, or 4 flowers, dinky pitiful things. At least the metallic turquoise bees will get a little bit of something. Maybe that inch of rain we just got will inspire the flowers yet a bit. An unblemished immaculate mint-fresh Monarch late in month defies explanation. A FOY orange skipper got away that was likely a Fiery. Saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk grab something, presumably a Chipping Sparrow. Keep forgetting to mention the Turkey are gobbling at dawn the last couple or few days.

blackbelliedwhistlingduck

These are Black-bellied Whistling-Duck ducklings.
July 16, 2019 at Uvalde Nat. Fish Hatchery.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 26 ~ Sunny, dry, and 42F is wonderful. Heard a Gnatcatcher at first sun that must have slept here. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo both singing uphill behind us in the live-oaks. Town run, no Scissor-tails along fence or power lines yet. A dozen Barn Swallow at north end of town, finally, especially at the bank. Where there was also my first pair of Cave Swallow back. Bob at the post office said the Barn Swallow pair that nests on their dock out back got back three days ago, Tuesday. Little Creek Larry said this morning he saw his male Hooded Oriole back. He also saw some groups of Gnatcatchers going through. At the park there was a male Common Grackle, surely the one that breeds on the island every year. Larry said he had one Pied-billed Grebe there still. He also said the Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks number 40 now at Little Creek. There was one FOY, a freshly emerged Green Darner dragonfly flying at the park.

Back here at the hovelita I saw a Grasshopper Sparrow on the fence line under the Mulberry by the cottage. Only the second that would qualify as being in the yard. Botanic FOY today were a few puny Mountain Laurel flowers, and a Tube-tongue was open. Got up to 80F in the afternoon. The imm. male Ruby-throat continues, often guarding the side-porch feeder. Now on day 8 since his arrival. Got here early and stuck, still have not seen an adult male. We are doing a quart per day of fluid now and Little Creek Larry said the same at his three feeders. So we each probably have over a hundred birds.

Mar. 25 ~ The front passed overnight, it rained briefly but well, we got about .65 or five-eigths, so now have an outstanding inch for the last couple days. Great timing for flowers. Low was about 49F, northerlies but not a hard blow this time. It was pretty windy all night and no owls were calling on any of my hourly checks outside up to midnight last night. It was still southerly then, but does not appear any migrants got knocked down by the turn to northerlies. The yard was all the same stuff. Nothing new or different. No movement. The Texas Persimmon have leaves breaking stem now. Gonna be real green real soon. Saw a couple Monarch, an Orange Sulphur, a Vesta Crescent. One FOY Yellow Wood-Sorrel flower. Did see the adult and both immature White-crowned Sparrow at last seed.

Mar. 24 ~ Overcast and fog-mist at dawn. It was briefly in mid-40's F about 3 a.m., but low 50's by dawn. Likely a highlight of the day was actually just after midnight last night, on my last listenabout. Besides two Great Horned, the LONG-EARED OWL was calling again. This time from right over in the corral where a patch of big thick junipers. Will check them today. It was not 200' away. But where pigs, and I didn't feel like putting gun on to go look for it. Have seen and heard lots of them, but would sure like a docu-shot of one here, in a XL way. Probably mentioned this before, but...  I have pics of one at Bentsen St. Pk. on the Rio Grande by Mission from the later 80's. My pix there are Long-eared, and not Stygian, as a Long-eared reported there once turned out to be. Yes I did recheck my slides and ID when I heard, almost hoping I had blown my ID.  ;)   No such luck. Update: of the two prior heard records from this yard, one was Apr. 9, the other in October.

White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo singing much of day might be our returning breeders. Mid-morn went over into corral and checked the patch of big thick Junipers, no owl there. Looks lots like patches of Tamarisk I have had them in. Plenty of rodents here for it. At the near corner of the grass airstrip at least one, maybe two FOS Grasshopper Sparrow were on fenceline (at different times and places but I did not keep track of bird 1). A Vesper Sparrow was searching the hay, which maybe was the one I had in afternoon in the yard. Heard a couple bars of White-crowned Sparrow song from a yard stickpile. Chipping, Lark, Field, lots of Lincoln's and a Clay-colored rounded out sparrows here. One male Am. Goldfinch is getting especially attractive now. Had a quick town run in afternoon, did not even check park. Nice to see town empty after the spring break crowds this past week plus. No Scissor-tails yet along the roads. I saw one big Cypress that has broken stems with greenery. Our big native Pecan has also broken stem with green stuff. At last sun a loose train of six Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through the yard, there were 3 at once in one Hackberry. Great to see and hear them psssssssing around again!

Mar. 23 ~ Front passed just after midnight last night. A narrow band of rain with it, we got a bit of precip for 20 minutes or so, about .35 of an inch. No big post-frontal blow though is nice for a change. Just light northerlies. Was 40F for a low and got up to 80F in the afternoon! Our average date for last freeze is about the spring equinox. Was not an average winter, so I would not be surprised to see more freezes. Average means lots of years it still freezes later than the equinox, but that is the median.

Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo singing out there early. One Clay-colored Sparrow grinding out song, and in with the Chipping and Field on patio. Lots of Monarch going by today, we saw at least 10 or 12. That is a big day for them in spring, it must have been major movement day hereabouts. Saw both ad. and imm. White-crowned Sparrow, both with orange bills and so surely the winterers that have been here, and just evaded me most of last week. Still 15+ Lincoln's, and only a couple Lark Sparrow. The Eastern Phoebe looks like it acquired a new mate and they are using the old nest. The Carolina Wren still seems single and is not singing much, maybe it is the female?

Mar. 22 ~ Low about 56F, overcast and drizzle-mist. Heard a Clay-colored Sparrow singing, a sound of spring here, for a month of it anyway. The cool wet brought all the Chipping Sparrow out of the woodwork, there were 75 at once, more than twice as many as I saw the last several nice days. Still lots of Lincoln's, and a couple Lark Sparrow. At least 30 Am. Goldfinch still here, 25 or so Pine Siskin, over a dozen House Finch of which the males are wearing to their reddest now and looking good. The imm. male Ruby-throat is still here and guarding a feeder. More Anemone and Straggler Daisy flowers opening. White-eyed Vireo calling over in the draw. A Ringed Kingfisher flew upriver over the Cypresses just before dusk. Front supposed to pass overnight tonight.

Mar. 21 ~ Was in low 40's F in earliest a.m. but upper 40's by dawn. Sunny, but a bit breezy from south now. At least a couple dozen Pine Siskin here still, and maybe about 30 Am. Goldfinch, some of which are giving snippets of song. When they give snippets of song, their departure won't be long. Saw ad. and imm. White-crowned Sparrow in the yard, the ad. was the darker orange-billed bird, the imm. I missed a positive on. Saw a fresh FOY Northern Cloudywing butterfly in yard as it warmed.

Late afternoon we went over to the south (1450') knoll to collect a few large rocks. We heard a Golden-cheeked and a Black-and-white Warbler sing. Heard 3 Hutton's Vireo, no Black-capped Vireo yet. Heard an Ash-throated Flycatcher. It is just barely spring. A few Lark Sparrow, a male Vermilion Flycatcher, Mockingbird, and a few Robin, was the rest besides a few heard residents like Titmouse, Bewick's Wren, and Chickadee. Only flowers were a couple FOY: two Dutchman's Breeches and one Slender-stem Bitterweed. Got the martin house put in place, now all there is left to do is sit, drink, and watch. Kathy heard a Great Horned Owl right at dark, but all I got on my hourly checks outside was silence.

Mar. 20 ~ And so we have equinox. Happy spring. Official spring begins today, astronomical spring, let it rip. It started on a high note, well actually a low, single note, lots of them in sequence, spaced out well measured, at 12:05 a.m. last night. Whence at my last listenabout, besides the usual Great Horned (3) and Barred (1) Owl calling, a LONG-EARED OWL was calling from right across the road. For well over five minutes it went on. I was too tired to put a gun on (pigs) and go look for it. Have to check but March might be when I heard one once before. Have heard a few here over a couple decades, never saw one yet but have not chased after them either.

Saw the first spring imm. male Ruby-throated Hummer still here this morning, got pics. I have seen them with more ruby feathers in fall than this one has now. So retarded of molt whilst advanced of migration timing. Hear White-eyed Vireo singing. Great was a couple very scarce lately BUSHTIT moving down the Juniper row on other side of the north fence, and toward the draw. In the afternoon got up to about 72F, dry, wonderful. Ran to town for a couple o-rings I needed. On way along river habitat corridor a Yellow-throated Vireo was singing, and on return a Yellow-throated Warbler was singing at the crossing. No Scissor-tails yet, any day now. Did have a couple Barn Swallow in town finally. Park was a bit spring break busy so I skipped it.

Back here in the afternoon I saw the Vesper Sparrow again, and Kathy saw 2 White-crowned Sparrow at the bath. So maybe I just missed them the last week? Heard another (I think) Yellow-throated Vireo over in corral. At various times a couple White-eyed Vireo were calling nearby. Sounding springy. Vermilion Flyc. was up in the big Pecan singing. A few Red-winged Blackbird were down on the seed. A number of groups of Sandhill Crane went over, over the course of the day. One flock was 85, another bigger flock (by vocalizations) I could not pickup to count. Surely a couple hundred went over. Makes over 500 in two days. Kathy thought she heard Green Jay over in the corral.

Did the silicone and o-ring thing on the martin house and dug the hole to the drop anchor in. Tomorrow when silicone dry I will see about dropping it in and finding some big rocks to lean up all around the base to finish installation. Saw my FOY Crow Poison flowers while out in yard. At last seed I saw Kathy's two White-crowned Sparrow on the patio, the adult had an orange bill, and was darkish, like the one that has been here. So I think it is the same bird continuing. The imm. I did not get a positive on. There were also two Vesper Sparrow on the patio (!), a couple Lark Sparrow (two back now!), a dozen each of Field and Lincoln's, and two dozen Chipping Sparrow. I sure love seeing Vesper in the yard since I never thought of them as that sort of thing. Dead silence outside at 9, 10, 11, and midnight. No wind, moon higher and bigger, no owls calling. Was a large owl racket at midnight last night.

goldenfrontedwoodpecker

This is a female Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

goldenfrontedwoodpecker

Male Golden-fronted Woodpecker has red patch on crown,
and more extensive brighter nape patch, often infused
with orange or red feathers.

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Mar. 19 ~ A brisk morning at 36F felt great. Early my FOS Yellow-throated Warbler was 8' away on a little pecan by the back porch. A bit later I heard a FOS Yellow-throated Vireo. We played hooky today and noonish went up to Lost Maples to meet a great friend we hadn't seen in years, Dr. Barney Schlinger and his wife Lori from California. It is soooo good to see old friends. We had a great walk up Can Creek to the pond, despite it being afternoon. Before they got there Kathy and I had 300 plus Sandhill Crane northbound over the HQ building. Impressive flock size here. Couple Inca Dove calling there at HQ as usual. At the trailhead parking feeding station there was at least one male Scott's Oriole, and we saw one White-tipped Dove while hearing another (and up the trail we had a third calling). At the seed was one Clay-colored Sparrow was amongst a dozen Chipping and as many Lincoln's, and a couple Rufous-crowned Sparrow, plus a FOS Ash-throated Flycatcher.

On the trail up to pond we had a FOS Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (just 1), a Yellow-throated Vireo was at pond, Kathy spotted a FOS N. Rough-winged Swallow, and Barney spotted an early FOS Nashville Warbler (my earliest ever) and a male No. Harrier over the pond. We saw the bird hosts Les and Jane, Les said others just reported a couple Townsend's Solitaire at the pond this morning I think. We had good looks at a couple Golden-cheeked Warbler, and heard a couple others. Whaddabird! Have I told you how awesome these things are lately? Every time I see them, I can't believe it. It's a magic warbler. Heard several Black-and-white and Yellow-throated Warbler singing, saw a couple Orange-crowned and a Myrtle Warbler, but no Louisiana Waterthrush yet. Had a few White-eyed Vireo, a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, heard a couple Canyon Wren. It is just barely spring up there. The Redbud trees were blooming, as were the Maples, but nothing else. Buckley (Spanish) Oaks were barely breaking stem, and many live-oaks are in full leaf-drop mode presently.

We saw over a dozen, maybe near 20 Dot-winged Baskettail dragonfly, and a couple bigger dragons got away, one looked like a Springtime Darner. We also saw several Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, quite a few Pipevines, but no Spicebush yet. A couple Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, one Elfin, a Checkered-Skipper, and a FOS Juvenal's Duskywing. Was on the chilly side so no herptiles. No Mountain Laurel or Agarita in bloom yet. Hopefully they will still go off and it is just that cold that set everything back a couple or few weeks.

Some sad news was that several months ago Bill Bailey whom was a long long term ranger at the park passed away. He goes back decades at Lost Maples and was a great great ranger. Best one the park ever had. He loved the park and it showed. Coming from the Roy Heideman school of what a State Natural Area was originally intended to be, he really had a fantastic understanding regarding the natural history values of the park, not to mention he knew how everything worked. It is a great loss for the park, and its users. He is not easily replaced. R.I.P. Bill. We're gonna miss you buddy.

Late in day, after 7 p.m. I saw a hummer I thought sure was a Ruby-throated, but it was an imm. male. So went for binocs, luckily it hung around defending a 3rd feeder we just put out. I confirmed its short straight bill and very dark forehead and lores, super white throat, the tail was longer and more deeply forked than a Black-chinned, and finally after I decided the primary shape was good for a Ruby, only then, it turned just right and I saw the few dark gorget feathers just coming in were red! Pretty sure this is my earliest ever date for one here, and twice as good as it appears for it being an imm. and not an adult.

Mar. 18 ~ A nice crisp dry 42F for a low after the frontal passage. Sunny, still some cool breeze (cold air advection) ongoing. Finally heard a FOS White-eyed Vireo go by out back this morning. They held back on their return this year compared to a mild winter when they can show in February. Later in the afternoon I heard a second distant one. Saw the Lark Sparrow out back, just one here so far. Should have Gnatcatcher and Black-n-white Warbler pretty soon. Three Red-winged Blackbird males came in for some white millet at last sun.

Saw an Anemone flower today, then Kathy said she saw a couple a day or two ago. Mulberry flowers have popped out of our male tree. Also saw some Straggler Daisy flowers. Just about got the martin house done. One last ditty to silicone, house is on pole and standing on patio for the moment. After some silicone dabs, then it is placing it out in the yard. For which I have to dig a shallow scrape a couple or few inches deep for it to settle in to, and get a few big XL rocks to lean up all around the anchor. Should be up maybe Sunday, finally.

Mar. 17 ~ It was upper 60's from about midnight to 4 a.m. or so when the front got here. Promptly dropped almost 20 dF, but we only got a spit of rain, a few hundredths. The wind was ferocious at passage, and is a blower of a day with red flag warnings. Dry and sunny anyway. The yard is green with grass, getting too tall too fast. I hardly recongize it after 4 months of mostly brown. But the ground sure looks great, save the 'you will soon have to be mowing me' aspect. Mid-morn I saw a White-tipped Dove flying away from patio area. Hope it was down at the seed, as opposed to it flushing before it learned what a great spot this is. Also had a first-spring Zone-tailed Hawk come by low and close enough to flush the seedeaters.

Had an armfull of last years' stems I cut, Lantana, Frostweed, Wooly Ironweed, etc., took it over to a stick pile and tossed on top. As I did counted 8 Lincoln's Sparrow that flew out of one of the two stick piles in front yard! Went to back porch and two more flew into the just vacated pile from a smaller pile by the patio. So the SE quadrant of the yard has ten at once, minimum, which then does not count any in back or on north side where bath and more stick piles. Bet there are over 20 in the yard. Amazing. Always loved 'em anyway. Lots of great fine details in their overall somewhat somber presentation. Seems like almost every time I look at the birdbath there is one at it, for a couple weeks now. Having a great passage of them here this year.

In the afternoon I finally saw my FOY new fresh dragonfly, a Dot-winged Baskettail, as is usual. We typically get a couple leftover Variegated or Autumn Meadowhawk in earliest January, and then as soon as they perish there is nothing until the first of these pop out usually. Not unusual for them to be out in late Feb., but this year was too cold. Male Vermilion was out on the fenceline in afternoon, still have not seen a female. The winds finally relaxed a bit around dark, there were lots of gusts over 30 mph, and lots of sustained at 20 plus much of the day.

Mar. 16 ~ Was in the upper 50's F around midnight but about 64F by dawn. A little mist. Still a bunch of Lincoln's Sparrow here, well over a dozen. Had to run to town quickly as they got some B grade bird seed and I was down to a couple days tops left. Also needed more ant poison as the Red Harvester or Leaf-cutter ants whichever they are, are walking off with what little seed I spread. They are a nightmare here if you spread white millet. Just a quick drive through at the park, there were 9 Green-winged Teal (5 drake, 4 hen) and one Ring-necked Duck still here. The teal are likely transient passage migrants. The water going over spillway is now making it all the way to 1050, a couple hundred yards, for the first time since last July or so. Great to see a stream there again.

In the afternoon I saw my FOY Lark Sparrow IN the yard, which is likely a local breeder back. Also saw my FOY fresh Red Admiral in the afternoon. Our neighbor Hattie Barham brought back some birdseed for us from a 'big city' visit when she was picking hers up. Word is Wal-Mart is out, Tractor Supply was the ticket. So we can breathe a sigh of relief on the seed front for the time being. About 10:30 p.m. I heard a Screech-Owl finally, and a Blanchard's Cricket-Frog calling from over at the river. Have not yet heard a Chorus Frog this spring.

Mar. 15 ~ Low of 36F was nice and crisp. Sunny and dry, beautiful. Some birdsong. But dang, what is it with the time? The clocks were set around midnight, the middle of the night, and high noon, for good reasons. Scientific reasons. The photoperiod. It worked for hundreds of years. Whatever happened to don't fix it if it ain't broke, and leave well enough alone?

There was a Vesper Sparrow behind office on the seed. Which is neat because we know this is a transient passage migrant that just found the place. Due to the flock of sparrows going in and out. After not seeing one for almost two weeks it seems, a Sharp-shinned Hawk broke up the party removing a Chipping Sparrow I think it was. A couple female Black-chinned Hummingbird are here now, probably a dozen males. A Caracara landed in the big Hackberry briefly, until it saw me. The male Vermilion singing a bit, waiting for that female.

One of the small stunted Pecans a few feet tall in a flower bed had leaflets break stem, way early for a Pecan. Lots of sprouts in the Blue Mist Eupatorium patch, the Wooly Ironweed and Frostweed have sent up new stems, American Germander is coming up nicely, and a couple Tropical Sage are showing their first leaves. It is starting...

Mar. 14 ~ Front came through last night, but we got zip for precip. Low about 50, winds 15-20 mph gusting to 25. Will continue to work on things here whilst waiting for spring and birds to show up. Saw my FOS female Black-chinned Hummingbird get chased from the feeder. Still lots of Lincoln's and Field Sparrow, maybe 50 Chipping, and not seeing the White-crowned, I think they left. They spent 3-4 months here. Maybe 35 Am. Goldfinch, a dozen Siskin, a few Waxwing briefly, an Orange-crowned Warbler down on the millet seed is likely the one that wintered doing same on cold days. Winds finally laid down in the afternoon late. First calm in nearly a week.

Now working on the pole assembly for the martin house. Thought I would have it up by now, guess again. Think I got it and final attachment of box to top of pole will be next. Have to wait until the cement inside the PVC pipe dries in a few days. Did put the box on once to make sure all fit properly, but removed it to connect pole to anchor. About 6 p.m. I saw the humidity at KERV was reading 7 percent! That is nearing bone dry. Great Horned and Barred Owl hooting it up after dark. Wonder why I am not hearing the Screech? I have to go back and check notes for start of singing dates here for them. Seems like they ought to be going too.

Mar. 13 ~ Same thang. Low 60's F for a low, misted a bit early, humid, overcast and blew like heck all day from south, ahead of next inbound front. Was too busy on projects to see much. A couple Pipevine Swallowtail went by. Saw my first Hackberry flowers of the year out. Flowers first, leaves follow. About five days now of southerly winds at 10-20 mph gusting 20-30 mph. A few brief periods on the calmer end, but brief. Birds are thinning out with the reduced rations. The Chipping Sparrow in particular are seeming to bail. Front supposed to pass tonight with a band of rain and a turn of wind to north with dry air.

easternmeadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 12 ~ More of same. Overcast, gulf flow, humid low 60's for a low, wind has not stopped blowing well out of the south in about 4 days. Blew all day again. Had a migrant Ruby-crowned Kinglet through the yard in the morning. Still a gaggle of Lincoln's Sparrow, but less Chipping and Field, and maybe the White-crowned have departed. There are probably at least a half-dozen Black-chinned Hummers here now. Was town run fun. Have a couple folks there going to nearby bigger city national chain type places that will hopefully have some birdseed they will pickup. At the park did not see the Pied-billed Grebe, only a few Ring-necked Duck left, maybe 4. One Kinglet in the woods. Heard a Green Kingfisher. Little Creek Larry said he had a small group of 8-9 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at Little Creek a couple days ago. Those are FOY new returnees.

There was a small spot at the park they messed up IMHO (and the previous park managers opinion), destroying some understory over-dozing last year. The had dozer dude back and finished the patch off. It had Red Turkscap, False Dayflower, and other wildflowers, a few Hackberry trees with vines, Virginia Creeper, it was a great little spot of habitat. It is all dozed and scraped. I had seen a couple dozen Mourning Warbler, Ovenbird, Wood and Gray-cheeked Thrush, Kentucky Warbler, amongst a few hundred small birds in this little patch of habitat, won't have to worry about that happening again. I have never seen so many people so obsessed with dozing understory, and so little understanding or appreciation of what habitat is, or what habitat values are, as I have here. When you live life as a bulldozer, everything needs scraping, and chainsaw man thinks more trees need cutting. They call it improvements. It was a beautiful patch of streamside (river-edge) habitat (you are not supposed to touch) full of life, now it is a bare scrape of ugly, devoid of any life. It was just a thousand square feet or so, but they are chiseling away at the little tiny bit of natural streamside riveredge habitat left, which is not a good sign. My guess is to add another screen shelter, e.g., for money.

Late in day at last seed call I went around looking out windows with bins counting Lincoln's Sparrow. Holy Melospiza sparrowman, there were 18 at once! I bet there were more and I did not see them all. It is the biggest concentration of them I have seen in modern memory. Though once as a kid I saw a big fallout of them, was in March too, 1970 maybe. A place called Agua Calientes in the Borrego Desert in socal. One morning after a rain there were many many dozens, probably over a hundred of them a short strip of a desert wash, as well as a dozen Sora (the rail!). In a bone dry (but lush) desert wash, running around under the Mesquites.

Mar. 11 ~ Low of about 62F, breezy gulf flow and low clouds. The usual. Having to dial back on the seed to make what we have last a few days. Now we have an actual XL existential crisis. You can tell the birds are thinning out already, just from a couple days of a slight reduction in amount spread. Saw another worn pale Monarch, a Pipevine Swallowtai, an Orange Sulphur, and the Elfin. Was too busy at the desk, did not see anything different in birds.

Mar. 10 ~ Low was about 60F, still heavy with the gulf flow and humidity, overcast. Supposed to be another blower gusting up to 30 mph again today. At dawn when tossing seed I heard the male Vermilion Flycatcher sing again over in the corral, this time several times. It has not been in the yard yet best I can tell. On 360 just east of the river I saw my FOS Barn Swallow, two of them. The ripples from the big freeze of Feb. 2021 just keep landing like hot new hits. Now there is a feed supply problem. This includes horse and cow feed, and mixed bird seed! Six weeks maybe they say!?!?!?! I don't have a week of mixed (mostly holy white millet) on hand. OMG! Gets cold for a week and everything goes to prairie pastries.

Out the back west end of 360 there was no Agarita in bloom yet. I see other Mountain Laurels that have dropped leaves (which I have never seen them do here) and no buds or blooms in sight. Sorta looks like the single digits cost us a laurel bloom this year. A couple Redbuds in town have some flowers, don't see any wild ones going yet. In the afternoon Kathy thought she saw a Pepsis Wasp (Tarantula Hawk). I thought I saw a Monarch go by and an hour later a very worn pale one did, which looked much paler than the one I thought I saw earlier, but got a FOY date anyway. Also saw presumably the same Elfin again over by the wet spot. Saw the little orange and black job that has been buzzing by a few days now, it is a Vesta Crescent. A second Eastern Phoebe just showed up, one has been here a few days, singing a little. Like maybe one of the pair survived and is back. It has gone up to the nest. Late in day I finally saw the male Vermilion Flycatcher in the Pecans out front. Great to see that red again. Wish the wind would stop blowing so hard.

Mar. 9 ~ Low in mid-50's F, overcast and humid. Waiting for spring. Besides the ground where green in many places now, everything else still looks like winter. Brown sticks everywhere still for all the Cypress, Mesquite, Hackberry, Pecan, and Persimmon, and all of last years wildflower stems. At dawn I heard just one measure of song from my FOS Vermilion Flycatcher over in the corral. Did not see or hear it again all day. Saw a couple each Black and Turkey Vulture soaring around. Other birds seemed the same in the yard, lots of sparrows and Am. Goldfinch, fair numbers of Siskin, a few Waxwing. Heard the Scrub-Jay. Kathy had 2 Black-chinned Hummingbird at once. A Henry's Elfin came in to a muddy wet spot I made whilst doing other things.

Mostly working on the bracket on the bottom of the martin house to attach it to the pole. I think the box refurbish itself is about done and its ready to go. Need a couple bigger hose clamps for attaching bracketts to the pole it will sit on (going to town tomorrow). Then to get that !^@%*&%! cement anchor with pipe stub out of the 5 gal. bucket I poured it in. Of course it does not want to leave. I have done many 30 pounders (a half-sack of cement) and they popped out fairly easily. Wish I had a walk in freezer to put this in for a few hours. Maybe I should have vegetable-oiled, or hefty-bagged the bucket? If I have to leave the bucket until next winter I will - LOL. Had to collect a handfull of 40 lb. rocks to lean all around it anyway, but then also to hide the dang bucket. Next is goggles, gloves and muriatic acid. Come on down, having blast.

Mar. 8 ~ Overcast, low in mid-40's F, springy. Might have hit 70F in the afternoon, stayed pretty breezy out of SE, with its attendant gulf moisture and clouds. Saw the Clay-colored Sparrow. I would say at least a dozen Lincoln's Sparrow around the yard now. Kathy counted five at once in a brush pile, whilst there were three at the bath at the same time. That was just on north side of house. Still about 60 American Goldfinch, a couple males getting color. Just a few waxwing, and what has to be that same one Robin up top of the big Pecan first thing early. Kathy had the Scrub-Jay at the bath. Another bird we have not seen since the big freeze is Hermit Thrush. We had one at least coming to the bath daily. Neither of us have seen any in a couple weeks at least, since the snow. We presume hopefully that it left. Adult White-crowned was at the bath again, was great to have an adult stick around the yard all winter. Only because of the half dozen big brush-stick piles we make from the constantly shedding Pecan tree branches. The Lincoln's love them too of course.

Mar. 7 ~ We ran about 38-68F for a temp spread, mostly sunny, dry, very nice but too breezy in the morning. Working on things here, have just a bit of time to get too many things done before birds start getting very distracting in the very near future. The Clay-colored Sparrow is still here, nice for it to have stuck, we are at a week now. Best FOY (first of year) was the first snake, a Western Ribbonsnake, about 20" long, a real beauty they are. The rest was the same gang. Nice to hear some birdsong even if in fits and spurts still. The Field Sparrow are going fairly well. Wish the White-crowned Sparrows would sing. A Red-tail is calling as it circles over the nest tree area, have not gone to look to see if mate in tree or whaddup. Did have a Turkey Vulture today. I would guess with that Polar system making it well into Mexico a couple weeks ago that lots of stuff held up on the rush for northbound progress. Late afternoon a flock of a dozen Brown-headed Cowbird dropped down on patio. Spring migrants.

Mar. 6 ~ We ran 50 to 64F or so for a temp spread, but with breezy chilly northerlies. A Lesser Goldfinch is singing quietly now, first of that I have heard. Kathy saw the Savannah and I saw the Clay-colored Sparrow, so both continue at the milletfest, as do 10 Lincoln's, 3 Gambell's White-crowned, a dozen Field, and a hundred plus Chipping. Some Robin and Waxwing. Only seeing one each of Carolina Wren and Eastern Phoebe, both of which troll around and are not pinned down here. Worked on things here including more on the martin house, last (3rd) coat of urethane on now. Went over to golf course pond and there was absolutely nothing there. Or going to and fro. Too windy I guess. Great Horned Owl pair is duetting all around us, and the Barred Owl is calling over at the river. Screech not going right now yet, should be any day.

redwingedblackbird

This is a female Red-winged Blackbird. I suppose you
could say they look sparrowish, but they are twice as
large, and no sparrow is this streaky of underparts. They
are obviously named after the male plumage. That is also
one blurry facing viewer in lower left corner.

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Mar. 5 ~ Dropped to low 50's F briefly just before sunup whence it promptly fogged up real good. But which blew out quickly as a front arrived with northerlies. Blew 10-15 mph gusting 20-30 most of the day. Looked the same birds around yard. Saw the Savannah Sparrow still visiting the patio. Loads of Lincoln's. Town run day. Went the back way out the west end of 360 to see if Agarita was blooming yet, a big negative on that. Many live-oaks are in full drop mode and yellow. Biggest thing in town was water going over spillway at the park for the first time in over six months! We are up to normal bankfull. All that snowmelt percolating up-drainage finally pushed us over. The island is an island again. Wow! Lot of new leaves coming up from the Water Lillies already. Mine in the tub pond has some too.

Still 10 or so Ring-necked Duck on the pond, one male American Wigeon was new. The two Pied-billed Grebe continue. One Myrtle Warbler and one Kinglet (Ruby) in the woods was it there. Did have a Turkey Vulture over town, but saw no Blacks coming or going. One Agarita in the garden at park entrance had a few flowers open, but not a natural native situation. The same for a couple Redbud trees at the Library, a few flowers open, but a groomed (watered) non-natural tree. Shirley at the store said a week or two ago she had an Audubon's Oriole at their place between Vanderpool and Lost Maples. She also said someone on the Utopia Facebook Community page posted they had a hummingbird this week. Then about 2 p.m. a FOS (for me) male Black-chinned Hummingbird showed up at our feeder. No Barn Swallow in town yet.

A few Purple Martin were calling high over the park. Think I got the rest of the parts (screws and clamps for mounting) for the martin house. Second coat of urethane on it today, so now after it dries, mount it to the pole. Still have not popped the 70 lb. cement anchor with pipe stub out of the 5 gal. bucket. Been 5 days so the cement should be set, but maybe tomorrow will take it out. Later afternoon I saw 72F on the cool shady front porch. Down in the flatlands Castroville and Del Rio had 80F!

Mar. 4 ~ It was mid-40's F at midnight but 50F by dawn. Almost foggy. The American Goldfinch number I would put at 60 now. They are plowing through some sunflower seed. Pine Siskin were at least 30. The Savannah and the Clay-colored Sparrows were on the patio eating white millet. It has to be 10 Lincoln's Sparrow now around the yard. Every time I looked at the birdbath today there were one or more there. Three at once was great. Still a few Red-wings coming in for millet, 3-4 each males and females. A passing conga line of 7 Black Vulture is the most I have seen in almost two weeks. Heard the Red-tailed Hawk over the nest tree area. Imm. fem. Sharpy flushed everything a time or two. The 3 White-crowned Sparrow continue. A flock of 18 Sandhill Crane was northbound at noon. Saw the little orange and black either Vesta Crescent or Elada Checkerspot again today. Leaning Elada based on flight pattern. Lottsa green sprouty sprouts sprouting. Our best Laurel continues dropping leaves and does not look good. I wonder if something underground got the roots? Saw my FOS spider in the garden, but no ID idea past that.

Mar. 3 ~ Was right about freezing this morning, but I saw 72 on the cool front porch in the afternoon, might have been 75F in the sun. It was great, dry. But had to work at desk all day. Still checking the feeder but no hummer. The Clay-colored Sparrow continued. Kathy saw the Savannah Sparrow at the bath again. There were 8 Lincoln's Sparrow, and a dozen Field Sparrow, a couple White-crowned. 20 Siskin, 50 Am. Goldfinch, some Robin and Waxwing, one Caracara, one Eastern Phoebe and one Carolina Wren, no vultures. Noonish a flock of 30 Sandhill Crane flew over northbound on strong tailwinds. The ground is sure getting green fast. Saw a pale morph female Orange Sulphur butterfly. One other butterfly got away, it was either a Vesta Crescent or an Elada Checkerspot, which apparently had somewhere else to be. Sylvia Hilbig reported her FOS Vermilion Flycatcher today, a male, presumably their local breeder there arriving back on territory.

Mar. 2 ~ Low about 35F or so, sunny and dry. Nice. The big news was that neither Kathy nor I saw or heard the Anna's Hummingbird today. She must have left yesterday afternoon, was here in the morn yesterday. So Feb. 5 to March 1 were her stay dates. Three and a half weeks. Amazing. She is heading west, with tales of snow, sub-zero chills, and single digit cold. And a dummy with a snow shovel in south Texas, that would come out and change the feeder every hour for days on end no matter how cold. It was great to have her here. What a first winter she had! Bon voyage!

The Clay-colored Sparrow continued, as did a gaggle of Lincoln's Sparrow (at least 6). Late afternoon I was in the cottage working on the martin house and the Clay-colored hopped on the patio right outside the door about 6' away! In the morning Kathy spotted a Savannah Sparrow at the birdbath. Might be a first there. Clearly a passage transient here in the yard. Sparrows are on the move. With the White-crowned, Field and Chippy, it made for six species of sparrow in the yard today. Not bad. Saw a first year male Lesser Goldfinch at the bath, it is a new arrival. A couple butterflies came out in the 63F heat, one a fresh male So. Dogface. Way better was the first Henry's Elfin of the year! A real harbinger of spring so always great to see.

March 1 ~ Well even if this month comes in like a lion, it will be more tranquil than last month. Was just a baby lion this morning. A front came through yesterday late afternoon and evening, but the rain, wind, and colder air came in overnight. Low was 45F, 15-20 mph northerlies gusting 25, and we got about a third of an inch of precip. Was one good downpour of a cell pre-dawn. Today marks the beginning of meteorological spring, which is March through May. Of course astronomical spring starts March 20 on the equinox.

Kathy saw the hummer. I heard the Scrub-Jay. At least 50 Am. Goldfinch, but found one dead, first of that I have seen. It was not long after an accipiter flushing event, whence everything explodes outta here, it may have struck something. Great was in the late afternoon going through the Chippies as if I haven't yet seen them all, after months of doing this, and BAM! A Clay-colored Sparrow! I have never seen one in winter up here on the plateau, only down in the brush country. My early dates are typically March 21 or 22, so this is three weeks earlier than the earliest, or it wintered locally undetected until now. Got a fuzzy through-the-window pic, looked like a first spring bird. I would bet on it being an extremely (record) early migrant. There were a couple nights of strong southerlies. During snow week I thoroughly scrutinized the Spizella here since their numbers exploded and they were often confined to small snow-shovel cleared strips. It was not present, nor was a Tree or Brewer's.

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

To Top of Recent Bird News

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Links to all 18 years of archived bird news pages below. Broken into 6 month increments. One day I'll quarter it out by season as well, so all of each season are together, perhaps making say, searching springs easier.

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

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

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