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 20, 2022
(prior updates: May 13, 6, April 29, 22, 15, 8, 1, March 25, 18, 11, 4)

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

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

May!?! ~ On the first I heard my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo, finally. FOS for me here on the 2nd were a Baltimore Oriole, a Broad-winged Hawk, and a Swainson's Hawk. May 3 there was a FOS Philadelphia Vireo in our yard Pecans. May 4 a FOS Warbling Vireo was at the park, and a FOS Dickcissel off 354 just south of town. Astounding was 2" of RAIN in an hour late on the 4th. On the 5th was my FOS American Redstart (male) in yard. A female and an imm. male were there May 10 and 11. On the 6th there was a FOS Catbird at our birdbath, and a second Swainson's Thrush at the park. May 8 at the park I saw my FOS Mourning Warbler, and about 10 p.m. I saw my FOS Firefly finally. May 13 at 10:30 p.m. a N. PARAQUE belted out the office window for five minutes. May 15 we saw a Little Blue Heron (white) at the park, which had been reported earlier in week. May 16 a male Mourning Warbler bathed in our birdbath. Finally my FOS Scott's Oriole here this year, singing on May 17 and 18. May 20 my FOS Green Heron flew over the house, and right out front of our yard was a Cassin's Kingbird.

April ~ Brings a whole month of FOS dates! A returning pair of Hooded Oriole was seen this week at Little Creek. Better, a small flock of Black-throated Sparrow was seen there on April 1. My FOS Summer Tanager was singing at the park, also on the 1st. On the 2nd I saw my FOS Nashville Warbler, one here at house, and one at the park. Also the 2nd saw my FOS Common Grackle, the returning park breeders. The 3rd had a FOS Solitary Sandpiper. The 5th was our FOS Lazuli Bunting. The FOS Bell's Vireo went through the yard April 8. Also the 8th was my earliest ever by two weeks FOS Swainson's Thrush at the park. April 9 Osprey and Zone-tailed Hawk were at Little Creek (at 355), Poor-will was heard there a few days ago. April 10 had FOS Bullock's Oriole and Yellow-breasted Chat. April 11 FOS Nashville Warbler. April 12 FOS Blue Grosbeak. April 13 FOS Chuck-will's-widow and Painted Bunting. There are reports of Tropical and Northern Parula at Lost Maples SNA. A Spotted Sandpiper was reported at the park April 15. I saw a huge pile of FOS on April 15 at the park: a male Indigo Bunting, Great Crested Flycatcher, Black-throated Green Warbler, and rarest there, a (Long-billed) Marsh Wren! Also the 15th I saw my FOS Chimney Swift over town. Oops, also had a FOS House Wren in the yard the 15th. Four FOS Red-eyed Vireo singing Apr. 16th. A FOS Blue-headed Vireo was singing at the park the 17th, as was a first-year male Golden-cheeked Warbler. Thirty Clay-colored Sparrow at once in yard is peak clay on April 19, EIGHT Painted Bunting at once the same day is a lot of paint too. The second in yard this spring male Lazuli Bunting was here the 20th. Also on the 20th Kathy saw the FOS Yellow Warbler, a male at the bird bath. Rare here, a BREWER'S Sparrow was in our yard Apr. 20-22. Our FOS Orchard Oriole bathed on the 21st. Also FOS the 21st was female Blue Grosbeak (male was 12th). The 22nd had a pile of FOS birds at the park: Common Yellowthroat, Northern Waterthrush, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and a VEERY! An Ovenbird was at the park Apr. 23, my first in too many years. On the 24th there was a Chesnut-sided Warbler in our yard, at least 5 FOS Least Flycatcher, and 2 FOS Tennessee Warbler as well as an 11 warbler species day. At dusk I had my FOS Freetail Bats. On the 27th I saw my FOS Bronzed Cowbird, and FOS Brown-crested Flycatcher. The 28th at dark our FOS Common Nighthawk was heard. The FOS on the 29th were: some Cave Swallow in town finally, then late in day 4 male Yellow-headed Blackbird, and a pair of Couch's Kingbird, both at our casita. The Couch's KB continued on the 30th.

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splish splash I was takin' a bath!

male Golden-cheeked Warbler



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

In general for current Lost Maples sightings ebird seems to be the place most folks put them. Go to ebird and search Lost Maples SNA in Bandera Co., Texas. Same for Garner St. Pk. but which is in Uvalde County. Often reports there do not include specifics about where a bird was seen though. There is a Lost Maples reports page here on the site, but which is not often real useful for the latest current news. I post my walk notes there often. But we have not been going there as much the last two years.

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

A quick note about Utopia Park. There have been some changes in management and rules. It is now $10 per person per day to enter No charge for Utopia or Vanderpool residents. Been gently suggesting we need a one hour or two hour birder rate. They are receptive to the idea but no action yet on it. They said if you parked outside the gate and walked in only without using tables, swimming, and just birded they would not charge.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Be sure to check out the Bird List page, which is updated (2021) with seasonal status and abundance for each species. It lists all 350 plus species (!) known from the upper Sabinal River drainage.

The BIRDING SITES, HUMMINGBIRDS, BIRD LIST, LM REPORTS, SPARROWS, BRUSH COUNTRY, WARBLERS, HAWKS, and the RARITIES pages have all been recently updated! Most have lots of new pics added in the last year or so. The photo pages named by the year are the weekly update photo break photos and text for each year. They may be birds, bugs, flowers or a snake, though mostly birds. Since 2017 the last four years have bigger better improved images, and lots of the unusual or interesting stuff encountered.

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



Back to Top
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 18 year plus bird news archive file.
~ ~ ~ ~
***  This is the page for visitors with ideas, links, phones, contacts, etc., about where to stay locally.
Where to Stay
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a page which compiles 18 years of observations at Utopia Park. It is a long discussion about the how and why of birds at Utopia Park, and is the home of the park bird list.
The Birds of Utopia Park
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Here are assorted links of all manner, and a handy way outta here.
Mitch's Links
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Bird Photos
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Here is a new page of recent ode photos the last few years.
New Ode Photos (2.5mb)


~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2022


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 13, 6, April 29, 22, 15, 8, 1, March 25, 18, 11, 4


Each week's update break is marked with a bad (often 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 ~ ~ ~

May 20 ~ Low of 72F, but some good coverage from the Gulf flow and low stratus it sends. Humid but not hot in early a.m. at least. A great FOS early was a Green Heron that flew over the yard. Have only seen one or two over yard, heard several more. The Lincoln's Sparrow is still here. A Black-and-white Warbler sang out the office window, likely an unmated troller. The 3 baby Carolina Wren made their first night out of the box fine, so a small army of bug hunters were in the flower beds. I heard what sounded a small group of Bushtit moving across the slope behind us, probably a family group would be my guess this time of year, seemed 5-6 birds.

As I was leaving for a town run, on the power line in front of house was a Cassin's Kingbird! LTA - less than annual, so a good bird to see. In town and at the park I saw no migrants, just breeders. There were baby Yellow-throated Warbler in the woods at park. Second week now Rosie is gone, so no real deal tacos. Water is 10-12 inches below the spillway, so way way down. In afternoon here there was a begging baby Blue-gray Gnatcatcher which must have just fledged very nearby. Heard the cuckoo. A rain cell dropped a hundredth or two on us mid-afternoon. Skies cleared later and it got up to 90F or so, but which is a break from what it has been anyway. About 7 p.m. I heard a Scott's Oriole sing real close, right behind house, I was out front. I suspect it had just left the back feeder. Which would be great, awesome bird to have around to watch and hear. What a song. Little Creek Larry said he had lots of fledglings, the same types as what we have been seeing, but add Lark Sparrow.

May 19 ~ Low at 70F again, some low stratus from the Gulf a few hours early. The Carolina Wren are feeding young in the garden nestbox out back. I think they used it before, and I think Bewick's used it once. The box is on a pole out in open airspace 10' off the ground. Nearest vegetation is about 8 feet away, as is carport. Kathy saw three young out of the nestbox late afternoon today.

There is some type of small biting fly here pushing the limit of bothersome. Only a few, but that is all it takes. Little bigger than a moth fly (the ones in the sink), and they hurt when they bite. Wings are dark mottled held out at 45 deg. from body, and they are fast. Did I mention it really gets your attention when they drill? Pesky if you wear shorts. Was near a hun in the sun again, day 12 of this early-to-mid May record heatwave of 2022. We are supposed to be getting spring rains.

Mid-day the trolling first-spring male Golden-cheeked Warbler was in the pecans, it sang 8' over my head. Whaddabird! Later afternoon Kathy saw a female, and then a first-spring male Orchard Oriole at the bath. Five minutes later the male was singing a few bars in the big Pecan. It had just a few chestnut feathers on the breast below the black bib. I presume it is that one I have had troll through a few times in the last few weeks. Seems he got a mate, and now is at the nest-site prospecting stage. Please pick me, pick me, pretty please. Look at those leafy Pecans, it like an orchard out front. Got water. Probably sees all the cowbirds and doesn't want to be around here.

In the afternoon both a N. Rough-winged and 3-4 Barn Swallow hawked over the front yard Pecans. A couple of the Barns looked like juveniles. Later afternoon there was a Lincoln's Sparrow in the yard, which is getting late. A few butterflies today were a Funereal and a Horace's Duskywing, another male Large Orange Sulphur and 2 dozen more Lyside Sulphur. Saw my FOY Zopherus sps. Ironclad Beetle, on the front porch late in afternoon. They are soooo neat looking.

May 18 ~ Low about 70F, a couple hours with some low stratus from the Gulf early. About 8:30 the first-spring Golden-cheeked Warbler trolled singing through the yard again. Now over 3 weeks in the area. There was a first-spring Yellow Warbler out in the Pecans a bit noonish. In the afternoon I heard the Scott's Oriole sing upslope behind us in the live-oaks. Wish it would find our feeder out back. About 5 p.m. several WU stations were reporting 100F and higher. I saw 95F on cool shady front porch. Al Roker on the Today show weather this morn said ELEVENTH straight day of widespread record temperatures across Texas. We have been at or above that line here certainly. Summer started early, wayyyy earlier than it used to. Chats and Yellow-throated Warbler hitting the birdbath daily. Kathy saw an Ash-throated Flycatcher at it, so you know it is hot hot hot. At least 20 Lyside Sulphur flew by.

May 17 ~ Low of 69F, no Gulf stratus, go directly to the sun, do not pass the shade. About 10 a.m. I finally heard my FOS singing Scott's Oriole. They are very scarce on the flat valley floor. They return to breeding territories in mid-to-late March up in the hills and divides, as at Lost Maples, on Seco Ridge, etc., they need that terrestrial gradient. Like Poor-will, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Wren, Golden-cheeked Warbler, and others. In the afternoon I saw my FOY just-fledged juvenile Eastern Bluebird in front yard. So we got one out at least so far. Also begging baby Carolina Wren, and Carolina Chickadee here now, besides the House Finches. Kathy saw a Roadrunner over in the corral. First one here in quite a while, though heard it singing uphill earlier in spring. In bugs, a Juvenal's Duskywing came into water on patio. A Queen went by. Kathy saw a blue, usually Reakirt's here and now. I saw a male Large Orange Sulphur blast past, my FOY. A female Common Whitetail dragonfly came to inspect the water on the patio, my FOY.

May 16 ~ Low about 69F, supposed to be the peak heat day of this heat wave. Heard the cuckoo cooing for the first time this year in the morn. So likely going to be nesting again, nearish enough to be daily in the yard Pecans. Noonish Kathy spotted a male Mourning Warbler at the birdbath. It proceeded to go in for the full monty bath. Then it sat on top of the stick pile a minute or two providing the best MOWA preen scene I've ever seen. Awesome. Makes up for the poor ID only look on my FOS a week ago. Saw about 95F in the shade on front porch again today. Near record heat out in the sun. Used to peak at 92F in May and June here. We are again running 5dF over normal, or more. There was a Questionmark about the porch in afternoon. Saw a Lyside go by, a Vesta Crescent, but slow for butterflies. Keep forgetting to mention, it seems the Ruby-throated Hummers have not stuck this year. Too dry, no bugs. Often a pair or two nests here mid-late-April to mid-late May. Not this year. When they do breed, I would guess they are departing northward to catch another spring breeding cycle. I have not seen one in several days.

May 15 ~ Low of 67F was great. But no low stratus from the Gulf to block sun early. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be peak heat for the week. We went to the park earlyish, mid-morning. Just the breeders at the 354 Pecan patch, and no migrants in the woods. But saw the Little Blue Heron Little Creek Larry mentioned a few days ago. Saw him too, and I misunderstood, it was here at the park, not his creek, where he saw it. And his first sighting was earlier in the week last week, maybe the 10th or so. It is a nice white imm. just showing a wee bit of gray in a couple spots. It was catching some Gambusia at south end of the island. Have not seen one in a couple or maybe few years now. They are LTA here. Less than annual. Not a sure thing any given year. So always a good bird and fun to watch. A Black Saddlebags dragonfly was my first of the year. An ode got away that probably was a Checkered Setwing. No damselflies.

We checked a private spot south of town (with permission) where some water. Pewee, Cuckoo, a begging fledgling Yellow-throated Warbler. One Giant Swallowtail, no odes. There is one juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in a, or the, nest there this year. Two springs ago it fledged 3 in May. Showing how the reduced food supply is. It means many fewer young are generated. Our nest only had one young as well a mile downriver. In a decent year two nests generate SIX young here, not two. Which is surely far below replacement levels.

We did have a couple begging juvenile Carolina Chickadee at a couple stops. At least three Great Crested Flycatcher here and at least two of the stops. Red-eyed Vireo at park, 354 Pecans, 360 x-ing, etc. Begging House Finch here on the patio. About 4 p.m. I saw 95F on the cool shady front porch, so purt near a hun in the sun.

The eclipse was nice, eh? What was neat to me was how the Chuck-will's-widow were calling their heads off, at least four of them not counting anything distant. As the moon darkened they went silent. They remained silent until after totallity when a nice sized slice of white was shining light again, and they all broke back into song. Amazing. I have had the same thing happen with a solar eclipse in the daytime, everything shuts up and quits singing while it was dark. Ya gotta figure, for things nocturnal, the moon is their sun.

May 14 ~ Maybe 69F for a low, some morning clouds, but was a baker of a day. Heard a Yellow Warbler and an Orchard Oriole early, but no migrant motion in yard. I had desk biz work to do so did't get out. Saw a Snout come into water, only when I told Kathy did I find out she had one yesterday. It is soooo hard to remember everything you see, especially the less remarkable things. A Horace's Duskywing came in as well. A boatload of Six-lined Racerunner around the yard, at least ten methinks. What a beauty of a lizard. A couple of the males have nice metallic indigo undersides now. Male and female Summer Tanager were at the bath together. Lotta Chucks.


<"littleblueheron"
This is the Little Blue Heron that was at the park for several days.
Kathy chisled these pixels onto a floppy disk with the Mavica.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 13 ~ Another 67F low is a treat, feels great. At the bath early Kathy saw a first-spring male Wilson's Warbler, and a female Yellow Warbler. We should still get some trickles or last drips of migs for another week if lucky. As for breeders, you can already tell dawn chorus is dialed back from the April peak. The Gulf low stratus got here around sunup, so kept it mostly overcast and in 70's F most of the morning, and was still holding at 80F at 3 p.m., amazing. A much appreciated break from the afternoons in the 90's F, which are on their way back, another heat wave is ahead. NOAA et.al. blew the high temps by a category though! Rare for highs as it is regular for lows after fronts. Yard is actually green for a primary color now. Wow. Late afternoon the Red-winged Blackbird went to the 50 gal. tub pond and drank. Catails and a Red-wing, the pond is maturing. Still waiting for Marsh Wren and Sora. Gonna have to make a tub pond list. This spring got Am. Redstart and Golden-cheeked Warbler for it. Last year had Green Jay and Audubon's Oriole.

Town run so a park check. At the 354 Pecan patch only one Yellow Warbler. Migrants in the woods at park were a Common Yellowthroat, a Black-and-white Warbler, and one Yellow Warbler. The Red-eyed Vireo continues on territory. The mystery of the day was a singer across the pond at the spillway in those willows you can't see into. I thought it was a Kentucky Warbler. No way to get to it, and no way to tape it for me now. Ya gotta let some go, easier when you already have it on your park list. Little Creek Larry said he had a Little Blue Heron on his creek yesterday or today, I forget which. Kathy saw a female Orchard Oriole at the bird bath in the afternoon, later I saw it in the front yard Pecans. Oh man, 10:30 p.m., from desk in office I hear a N. PARAQUE belting out, just on other side of cottage in the corral. Close. Loud. Went on for five minutes. Awesome! Bird of the week, had to re-up the bird news for it...   ;)     LOL

May 12 ~ A low of 67F was fantastic. What a difference 5dF can make. Did not note any migrant motion in yard. The bulk of our spring passage is past, the rest is fading fast. Still should see some flycatchers, and a few stragglers of other sorts. Nothing in the weather forecast to indicate any major action in store. Heard a or the cuckoo. The Golden-cheeked Warbler continues, it sang around the yard a couple hours, often in the big Pecan right off front porch. It also visited the birdbath again. This is the same first-spring male we have seen off and on since April 24. In two days it will be three weeks here trolling in the area. So neat to be able to watch and listen to it for extended periods of time. It does a much better song now than when it got here. They are incredibly fast and agile when sallying after something, as in Redstart or Wilson's Warbler level agile whence in one of those tight circular sallies. BTW I keep forgetting to mention our current drought level is D4, as in exceptional. That is how dry the year has been.

Late late afternoon I was sitting in my chair on front porch. A big bright green Anole returning from a day of bug-eating strolls across the porch towards me. Stopping a couple times to flash its pink throat pouch (dewlap). At times it comes within a foot or two, and knows it is safe. It worked over to my sandaled feet, which had a few small flies on them, we are in one of those breakouts right now, lots of little flies. It dove and picked one right off, sitting on my toes to gulp it down. Over the next 10 minutes it grabbed SIX off my feet! I called Kathy out so she could watch the show. City people ask us what we do in the country. So exciting watching a bright lime green lizard popping little flies off yer feet. No muss, no fuss.

May 11 ~ Low of 72F is a frog's hair better. The Golden-cheeked Warbler continued around the yard singing in morning, and late afternoon, and was at the birdbath. It is that same first-spring male that has been around, an unmated troller. Heard a Scissor-tail over in corral. One male Yellow Warbler was around much of day. Couple Caracara went over. Lots of begging from a juvie Red-tailed Hawk in that nest over at river. We are sure glad when they feed it! Still better than the three baby Ravens though. Have to put the scope on nest and see if I can get a count on the young. Only sounds like one. Last year in the drought they only raised one. Only got up to 90-92F so bearable compared to the last several days. Was too busy at desk. Saw a Malta Star Thistle sprig with bloom, will remove that. We have done fairly well getting rid of it and Musk Thistle here.

May 10 ~ Low of 74F is not very, and like July. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was whistling in yard early. A Cuckoo clucked a bit too, maybe our adjacent breeder is back. In the morning Kathy heard the Golden-cheeked over along north fence where it was singing yesterday, and I heard it late about 7 p.m. We have big Junipers and Live-Oaks, but no Lacy or Buckley Oaks, two of their key trees. A bit before noon an American Redstart came down to the tub pond right out office window. I thought it had some peachy tones on breast sides, unlike the bird yesterday which was pure yellow and a female. I think this was a first spring male. Any Redstart is a good start. There was a Yellow Warbler in the Pecans. The Great Crested Flycatcher is trolling up and down the river habitat corridor and seems unmated as last year. Same for the Yellow-throated Vireo here, trolling, unmated as last year. A pair of Indigo Bunting were on the millet tube early. This is the first year they or the Blue Grosbeak has used the tube feeder here. I suspect due to the lack of normal higher protein insect fare which is not available yet this year. Hopefully that 2" rain will change that soon. Saw one Texas Thistle with flowers down near the crossing.

May 9 ~ Low of 72F, some low Gulf stratus held the sun off a few hours early in morn. Saw a Turkey over in corral early. I heard a Hutton's Vireo go through yard. Heard a buzzy zzeet as in Yellow Warbler. Noonish Kathy spotted a female Black-throated Green Warbler coming into the birdbath. It just drank a bit. About 3 p.m. she spotted a female American Redstart coming down to it, which then got chased by a male Wilson's Warbler. First female Redstart of the year, great to see. After 4 p.m. I heard an offish warbler song in big Junipers along north fence. Finally figured it out, a Golden-cheeked! Came inside and told Kathy, just a few minutes later she saw it at the bath! It is a trolling un-mated first spring male. Suspect it is the same one we saw here in late April. About 7 p.m. Kathy spotted the female Redstart coming back into the bath. It got to splash a bit this time. So it was around 4 hours and never chipped once. A White-eyed Vireo decided to splash-bathe at the same time the Redstart was in the bath. Chat and male Summer Tanager were there over the day too, when it is hot everything comes in to it. Saw a few spindly Mexican Hat flowers, the first this year.

May 8 ~ Was still just over 80F at midnight, early morn finally dropped to 71F. The thick low Gulf cloud deck got here and kept it cooler (below 80F is cooler from now until September) until almost noonish. At least a few hours of relief. Saw no migrant motion in yard whatsoever. Except the last three Clay-colored Sparrow are gone. No mas. First day without them in over a month. We checked a few spots anyway. Saw some Mealy Sage in bloom, and the yellow rose of Texas, the Prickly Pear. The 354 Pecans had nothing but breeders. The park woods had at least two Common Yellowthroat, and I got a crummy but ID'able look at a FOS Mourning Warbler in that thickest stuff at the south end of the island. There is at least one young of size in the Red-shouldered Hawk nest above the screen shelters at the park. There were 8 teal over in the lillies across the pond. Six were Blue-winged, two drakes had dirty heads with reddish-brown, dare I say cinnamon, feathers admixed in at a level that made the white crescent hard to detect. I suspect they were intergrades, likely back-crosses, perhaps second generation (F2) or somesuch type hybrids. The fencelines were bare again. There should be Scissor-tailed Flycatchers around, and am not seeing any. I think they came in and they left since no bugs. Have not seen a single Western Kingbird this spring. Scary. I have driven to town and back three days consecutively (only in spring migration does that ever happen) and seen zero Scissors. Where annually there have been five pairs I know of. I saw none up Jones Cmty. Rd. to W. Sab. Rd. yesterday as well, where there should have been three more pairs. None. No bugs. Not enough for nesting anyway, so they left.

We did a full scientific analysis and assay of some Mulberries on one tree (yes the low-hanging fruit). The results were mmmmm tasty. I thought it would make great wine, Kathy said jam. In the afternoon I saw 95F on the cool shady front porch. Hondo and Uvalde were both reading 100F with a 105 heat index. The south side of SAT (Stinson Field) had 103F and a 111 heat index! Which must have been 115-120 at Mitchell Lake just west of that. That was our main birding patch (with Brackenridge Pk.) for three years in the late 80's. For now we are just hiding inside from the heat here, none too thrilled about near-record heat early in the season. In the afternoon Kathy heard a Cuckoo, I heard an Orchard Oriole sing later. Finally about 10 p.m. I saw my FOS Firefly. Has to be my latest FOS date for them.

May 7 ~ The low of 67F was nice. From 4-6 p.m. the cool shady front porch was showing 97F, so it had to be a hun in the sun. Our first scorcher of the long hot season. NOAA is calling it early and unseasonally early, There was no migration motion today, at least here on the ground. Went to town to get that dang item I forgot yesterday at the store, so another look at the park woods. Wasn't on purpose, but I sure don't mind. Other than what is likely a continuing Northern Waterthrush, there was nothing but the residents at the park. Also checked the 354 Pecan patch with about the same results. Did have a Yellow Warbler, and a pair of Orchard Orioles were around the trees where a pair usually nests. Saw in the little Mulberry on roadside, female Painted Bunting, Bell's Vireo, and Yellow-breasted Chat. Cruised out Jones Cmty Rd. listening for Parula Warblers, heard none but it was noon and hot, need to check early. Did a mile of the well fence-lined road north from Cemetery to W. Sabinal Rd. as it is good for E. Kingbird, there were none. I see a distinct green tint appearing in the brown front yard. Saw two Common Nighthawk fly over at dusk. They did not seem to be grabbing many bugs. I heard my first boom from a diving male of the year. And I see I picked up a chigger here today. There were still three Clay-colored Sparrow here today, singing of course. Late in day, probably the last Lincoln's Sparrow took a bath. Late in day Kathy spotted a bunch of Rain Lily had opened up. I roughly counted, at least a hundred blooms on north part of yard. Just add water.

Not a current photo, sorry for the repeat.

<"redearedslider"
Red-eared or Pond Slider are probably the most used names for this turtle. Texas River Cooter is the other regular type found locally. It is less green without yellow marbling on carapace (top half of shell) and much darker, almost blackish, with only a little yellow on head. It is also not as domed of carapace, so a much flatter shape, better for speeding in the river.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 6 ~ A fantastic low of about 61F was a cheap thrill. We are set for a four-day scorcher now though. Mid-90's, hope you are ready to sweat. At least it waited until there were some leaves on the Pecans. Heard a Baltimore Oriole in yard early. Town run so got our Cinco de Mayo real deal tacos from Rosie today. First on the way into town I stopped at the 354 Pecan patch. The Dickcissel was gone, knew it would not stick. There was a pair of Brown-crested Flycatcher there, and a distant calling Great Crested at the other end of patch. Great Crest nests there some years. Heard a Cuckoo (Y-b), saw one Eastern Wood-Pewee, a Yellow Warbler or two, and one female Black-throated Green Warbler. At the park was a Swainson's Thrush, in Mulberries on the island. No Catbird though. There were a couple Yellow Warbler, a Northern Waterthrush, another female Black-throated Green Warbler, and a couple warblers got away. One sounded like an American Redstart. Seems last years territorial Red-eyed Vireo is back in the woods. Plus all the usual breeders like Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, etc. The Red-shouldered Hawks are seemingly nesting again. Little Creek Larry had a male Common Yellowthroat at his place this morn. No Eastern Kingbird on the fencelines, we are at the prime week for them now.

Here at the hovelita just a handful of Clay-colored Sparrow left, and not for long. A Yellow Warbler was in the yard all day, looked the same male on at least day 3 now. Heard a Gnatcat in yard. Saw 90F at 3:30 p.m., and it is humid. Welcome to Texas. Late afternoon before 6 p.m. Kathy spotted a FOS Catbird at the birdbath, which drank and took a quick splash in it. I actually did my Catbird call at the park Mulberries noonish, trying to elicit response from any unseen suspects. Hey I have had it work sometimes. Later in the afternoon I saw a female Lazuli Bunting, my first female Lazuli this year. There are 4-5 female Indigo here too for good comparisons. Finally saw a Common Nighthawk at dusk. Was out looking for that FOS Firely, no luck yet, but got four more mosquito bites. Just before 9 p.m. we had a Chuck-will's-widow calling right out the office window over the tub pond in a Hackberry. We went out and it kept belting it out, after a minute we got a look as it flew off. Bunch of Coyote real close too. I heard in town someone say they killed a Coral Snake this week fearing for their cats. Which of course are killing lizards and birds. I have heard some here say they kill any Porcupines because their dogs will get into them.

May 5 ~ Happy Cinco de Mayo! Mexican food, beer and shots for all! Amazing to see the ground re-arranged from the downpour. Since it hadn't changed in many months. Biggest rain in 5 months or so. Yard will turn green in a few days, and need mowing in two weeks. Maybe we will get some flowers yet this spring. A little mist still over the morn. I had a crummy look at a FOS American Redstart high in the big Pecan, it shot off and out of the yard quickly. A Least Flycatcher was around the gate all day. Might be a half-dozen Clay-colored Sparrow left. A Yellow Warbler spent the day in the Pecans, maybe the same one as yesterday, the red streaks were the same, maybe a bit over half-way in. The Barking Frogs were going at dark. Got a couple mosquito bites at dark, a whole day after the rain. There have not been any this spring so far due to the drought. One day, less than 24 hours after adding water, and poof, or bam!, is more like it. Skeeters. How does this work anyway? Do the larval treeholers just estivate in winter, ready to emerge as flying adult as soon as some fool adds water?

May 4 ~ Low about 72F, overcast and humid, almost some mist. Strong southerlies for the third day or so. Early there were three male Yellow Warbler at once in the birdbath. Looks like many fewer Clay-colored Sparrow and did not see the White-crowned Sparrow today. There were departures last night. Had to run to town to get a couple tires put on in the morn. So a look at park. Great was a FOS singing Warbling Vireo. Also one N. Waterthrush, a couple Yellow Warbler, a few seets and chips got away. There were a couple just-fledged begging Carolina Wren. Little Creek Larry said he had a male Shoveler in with a few teal at the park this morning. At the UvCo 354 Pecans just south of town another Yellow Warbler. Heard a very interesting chip that got away, the wind was making it hard. Heard one FOS Dickcissel north of 354 in the field they used to always nest in. Now being overgrown with Mesquite, and too dry this year anyway for them. It was singing rather forlornly, like where did you all go. When rains, there is a colony in this pasture annually. Along roads saw some blooming Prickly Poppy, and some Englemann's Daisy around the water plant. In town, nice to hear Blue Jay, and see Chimney Swifts.

In the afternoon here at hovelita Kathy saw a male Orchard Oriole right out the office window working down to the tub pond. I later heard it singing on north side of house. One Yellow Warbler spent all day in the Pecans. Five Red-winged Blackbird came in for white millet, the golf course breeders no doubt. About 10-11 p.m. a severe thundercell went over, we finally got actual precipitation! It was a whopping TWO INCHES here. More than the last four months total probably. Which means more than all year so far. We heard a big bubble of a roar go down the river after the cell passed. Two inches in less than an hour, there is runoff. River went from quiet to roaring and back to quiet in an hour and change. Got flushed anyway. About an hour after the rain stopped there were two Barking Frog, barking, outside.

May 3 ~ Low maybe 71F, overcast, breezy from south, the same. White-crowned Sparrow still here with 15 or so Clay-colored. Best was noonish in the yard Pecans, a Philadelphia Vireo. Great looks very close. As they often do, it struck me as more warbler-like due to the bright yellow on breast, greener upperparts, and it being far more active and high-energy than a Warbling Vireo. Which is usually fairly sedate like a Blue-headed. Later had a Least Flycatcher and a Brown-crested Flycatcher for a while. I could hear Ash-throated and Great Crested Flycatcher calling whilst the BC was doing same from our big Pecan.

May 2 ~ There was some rain late last night and the first couple hours of today, but a malfunction means I will have to ask others how much it was. Maybe a half-inch, but more than the last two months. Flatlined about 70F most of the night. Some precip anyway. Mid-morn I had a FOS Baltimore Oriole in the yard, gave some calls and song snippets. The White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrow continue. Noonish a Nashville Warbler or two, single male Yellow and Wilson's Warbler were in yard. In later afternoon 2 Least Flycatcher were working Pecans.

A showerlet between 2:30 and 3 p.m. dropped nearly a half-tenth of an inch of precip. The cell was real black though. As it moved east on the backside of it my FOS Broad-winged, and Swainson's Hawks moved north over river habitat coridor. Don't see Broad-wings every spring, so always nice. Looked for MS Kites but did not see any. The backsides of cells are great for migrating aerial species (as hawks, swifts, etc.) that detoured around them. Always worth a check if you can. At least 3 Lyside Sulphur went through yard over the day.

May 1 ~ About 70F much of the night, maybe dropped to 69F when a showerlet hit early first thing. Ground and trees are wet anyway. There is a stalled cold front just north of us since yesterday, boy I wish it would have made it through here. Was probably good northward somewhere where birds hit a wall of wind from the wrong direction to proceed. Was supposed to be lifting back north as a warm front today. Just after 3 p.m. Kathy saw the first migrant in yard today, a Nashville Warbler. The White-crowned and a Lincoln's Sparrow continue, Clay-colored Sparrow number 15. There were three male at once Lesser Goldfinch down with a few females, first flocklet I have seen here this year. Ten green Painted Bunting, some of which are first-spring males. A bit of drizzle and showers began the last hour or two of the day.

~ ~ ~ April summary ~ ~ ~

We are pushing the April record for dryness I am sure, we had a quarter inch of precip maybe for the month. No freezes, no spring wildflowers as usual when rains. Several days were very near or at record heat.

The bugs were bad. But not in the usual sense, bad because there were hardly any to see. No Firefly yet might be the first April I have not seen one here (n~19). One Eyed Elaterid was the best bug. Odes were pitiful still, they are not going yet. I was able to ID only one species of damselfly all month, on the 30th (!), and only two species of dragonfly the whole month, for a whopping three total ode species. There have been Aprils that were great with odes. Butterflies were also poor, at 24 species one of the worst Aprils here. For the number of individuals seen it was likely the worst in a decade since the peak of the last exceptional drought. The only highlight was a Little Wood Satyr around the house a couple days. Maybe one or two Monarch was it, no spring wave of mention here. A few Elfin early in month, no Falcate Orangetip. Almost no flowers, barely a few.

Birds are always great in April, as like March there are waves of them passing by northbound, besides all the returning (migratory insectivore) breeding species. Mostly songbirds, like warblers, orioles, vireos, tanagers, flycatchers, the stuff of great bird sounds. Dawn chorus goes next-level in April with all the returns. Best birds were a record early Swainson's Thrush at UP on the 8th. Veery and Gray-cheeked Thrush both there on the 22nd. A 3-day Brewer's Sparrow was in our yard Spizella flock April 20-22. A male Chestnut-sided Warbler was in yard Apr. 24. Three male Lazuli Bunting were in our yard over the month. I think almost everyone saw Painted Bunting this spring, the arrival wave was tremendous, we had 16 ad. male at once in yard. An Ovenbird at UP on the 23rd was the first in a while. A male Bullock's Oriole on a hummer feeder April 10-11 was the first of that here for us, and a record early date for me here.

l count 111 species very locally this month, no Lost Maples trip. All from around our place to town. Little Creek Larry saw at least a half-dozen things I did not. Surely there were 120-125 sps. around over the month. Pretty big jump from the 78 in March, and double the diversity of the weak winter months in Jan. and February. Now if we would just get some rain and flowers.

~ ~ ~ end April summary ~ ~ ~

April 30 ~ And there goes another one! The low was 70F, and here we go with that again. Some mist and drizzle, ground wettish. Early in morn the Couch's Kingbirds were in the big Pecan! Mid-late morn they were over in the corral. Noonish they were down nearish the crossing. Looking for a place to nest. A pair of Orchard Oriole and a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher both went through yard seemingly nest site prospecting. Early a Least Flycatcher was working the Pecans. A couple Nashville and a Yellow Warbler were it for warblers in yard first half of day. Noonish we went down to the crossing to check the Pecan patch. Slow. Maybe 4 Nashville, one or two Yellow, and one Tennessee Warbler. No other migrants save a Lincoln's Sparrow down along the river. Territorial singing White-eyed, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Warbler, Indigo and Painted Bunting, Chat, the regulars. Kathy spotted the first damselfly I have been able to ID to species this year, a Kiowa Dancer. Nice to see, but still no dragons though.

In the afternoon around the yard finally late in day I saw the White-crowned Sparrow on day 3 here now. About 10 Clay-colored Sparrow still here. Way too many Brown-headed Cowbird, heard the Bronzed. Heard the Couch's Kingbirds out front later in day. Would love having a pair of them around nearish. Four ad. male Indigo and 7 ad. male Painted Bunting, so the wave is subsiding and probaby trimming down to territorial birds. Lots of greenie Painted, some female Indigo. For warblers there were a couple Nashville, a Yellow, and Kathy spotted a male Wilson's at the bath. I saw the female Yellow-throated there. Did some yard-garden work, pretty sticky working out there.

Not a current photo, sorry for the repeat.

catbird
This is a Catbird at our birdbath 2 falls ago. The one at bath today looked the same.  ;)  In early May watch Mulberries for them, and thrushes, grosbeaks and orioles.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Apr. 29 ~ Low about 68F, overcast, some mist, a showerlet to wet the ground. Stayed coolish all day, 80F at 3 p.m. is nice. Not much for bird movement. Fewer Clay-colored Sparrow, ten at most, they are departing on the southerlies. The White-crowned Sparrow of yesterday is here, as is the bright neon yellow male American Goldfinch. Later afternoon saw a female Black-and-white Warbler working the Pecans. Town run, so a peek at the park. In town I heard Blue Jay which I have not been, so good. Also saw some Cave Swallow gathering mud, also good, and my FOS this year. At the park was one Northern Waterthrush and two Common Yellowthroat, heard one or two Nashville and a Yellow. Slowish. Best was four Blue-winged Teal, three drakes and a hen hiding in the lillies.

But the poor hen teal could not rest like the drakes. Due to that dumped domestic Frankenduck. The domestic hybrid barnyard bastard bird would not stop harassing the female Teal. She was constantly having to fly to get away from it, it was relentless. So the wild migratory bird that needs a pond to rest in can't, because of an introduced non-native hybrid Frankenduck. That someone just had to have it at the park so they could say 'look at the wildlife, I love nature' whilst pointing at the hybrid domestic barnyard Frankenfowl.

After 6 p.m. when I was bringing the birdseed in from trucklet, I thought I heard a weird Fox Squirrel chuck notes up in the big Pecan. Figured it must be anemic or have Covid. But when I heard that rusty gate opening braying I knew before my eyes found them, Yellow-headed Blackbird! Four males were in the top of the tree, occasionally braying, what a call. I threw some more seed out quickly, the cowbirds came down, and one male Yellow-headed proceeded to slum it with them on the patio. That head is cadmium yellow. Then after 7 p.m. I heard a Couch's Kingbird out front, grabbed bins, went out gate and down road. Right there on the powerline were a pair of them! Calling! I have one nesting record here locally, many years ago, right after we got here. Do not get them every spring. They were singing, it was a pair. I went back to front porch and at least one of them landed and called from atop the big Pecan! The big Pecan rocked this late afternoon to early evening. At twilight I finally heard a Common Nighthawk, Kathy heard our FOS yesterday. Great to hear again, hope they stick to nest this year.

Oops forgot, had a FOS Eyed Elaterid (the giant click beetle with big false eyes on thorax) on the big Pecan. Actually was sure I saw one in flight 5-6 days ago or so, but couldn't find it when I jumped up and ran after it. This one landed and that awesome camo will only get it so far with those big giant fake eyes.

Apr. 28 ~ Low about 66F, overcast and humid, the usual. There were a few spritzes in the morning. Just enough to spot up the dust on the leaves. An ad. White-crowned Sparrow was a surprise after not seeing any for the last 3 days. I suspect it is a new passage transient. Another surprise was a neon yellow ad. male American Goldfinch on the sunflower feeder. We have not seen one in a week or more. One Lincoln's Sparrow still here, 12 Clay-colored, 6 Chipping and Lark, about 4 Field. Shortly before noon a small group of warblers worked the Pecan flowers. I got at least 7 Nashville, 3 Yellow, and 1 Wilson's Warbler out of the group. Thought I heard a Black-throated Green across the road. A very typical spring flock here. Though I was really looking for something in atypical. Since that goes so well with me. Bird of the day was a Savannah Sparrow that bathed! Surely my latest record? Have not seen one in weeks. After dark, an hour after I mentioned their tardiness this year, Kathy heard the FOS Common Nighthawk.

Apr. 27 ~ Low about 62F, overcast and humid, but calm. Yard was all the same in a.m., nothing went through. Had to run to town so a quick park check. A handful of Nashville and 2 Common Yellowthroat, but no time, and to work those trees properly you need time, especially when against a white sky. Definitely less Clay-colored Sparrow today, some left last night. Still a dozen plus male Painted and 7-8 male Indigo Bunting, saw the male Lazuli of yesterday again. More females of both Indigo and Painted. Had Painted, Indigo, and Lazuli males in one field of view, but with a male Blue Grosbeak instead of that elusive fourth bunting species. Heard a Least Flycatcher out along the fenceline and road. Oops, forgot a FOS... two, what seemed a pair, of Brown-crested Flycatcher were in yard 15 minutes in the afternoon. Calling most of the time. Nothing else through yard in afternoon.

Apr. 26 ~ The front passed and cool air got here, the low was 55F! That is great! Overcast and dampish, but we missed the rain many parts of central Texas got yesterday. Lots of places got an inch, or two. I am being generous at a tenth of an inch here. I got a 22 count on Clay-colored Sparrow this morn and 30 in the early evening. Also one Lincoln's, 6 Chipping, 4 Field, 6 Lark Sparrow. No White-crowned again today, they flew the coop. In the afternoon a 12-13 count on ad. ma. Painted Bunting, and 8 for ad. ma Indigo. We had our third this spring male Lazuli Bunting in the afternoon, always a treat. Where is that Varied? There are at least 30 buntings in the yard. There were a few Nashville Warbler, and in the afternoon I had a singing first-spring male Golden-cheeked Warbler, again. Maybe the one that was here a couple days ago trolling the area? We peaked at about 70F from 3-6 p.m., what a treat that was, I could stand that all year. Heard a Yellow Warbler zzeet. After dark about 10 p.m. I heard a Barn Owl fly over NE bound.

Apr. 25 ~ Stayed about 70F all night. The cooler air dropped it to 68F about 7 a.m., then lower by 8. A tenth of an inch maybe of precip as of noon, most missing us so far. No migrants through yard in a.m. Kathy thought sure she heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler sing. I saw my FOS first-spring male of Painted Bunting. Of the salmon underparted flavor, quite the beauty really. Just after noon a group of 4 Nashville and 1 Yellow Warbler were in the Pecans out front. Heard a Least Flycatcher out by the gate. A few spritzes but the precip missed us again, the Utopia rain kryptonite held.

Late about 7 p.m. counting buntings and sparrows as they have a last feeding frenzy. No White-crowned Sparrow today, finally they are gone. One Lincoln's Sparrow left. Still 18 or so Clay-colored, 10 Chipping and some breeder Lark and Field Sparrow. In buntings, 16 ad. male Painted at once is a new high mark. At least two salmon underparted first-spring males, a half-dozen greenies looked females. For Indigo, 8 ad. male at once, a few females. There is one first spring male Indigo around too. A few Blue Grosbeak, a female bathed, we virtually never see.them at the bath. A male Indigo bathed too. They never did that when I had a working camera.

Apr. 24 ~ Low about 68F, SSE winds blew all night, overcast and humid. Big passage day here. About 9:45 Kathy spotted a warbler out the kitchen window in the pecans over birdbath. It turned out to be a male Chestnut-sided Warbler! Whaddabird! The day is made right out of the gate. She spotted a second bird while we were trying to refind the first, which was a female Black-throated Green Warbler. Out front by the gate I heard a FOS Least Flycatcher, maybe two. Had a four count on greenies, female Painted Bunting.

We went down to crossing to check the bloomin' Pecan patch. A few warblers were in it, maybe 5 Nashville, a Wilson's, a couple Yellow, singing Black-n-white and Golden-cheeked, and a FOS Tennessee Warbler. Then we went to the park in town to check it. Little Creek Larry said he had a Spotted Sandpiper this morn on spillway. Which water is not going over presently. No O-bird, a Northern Waterthrush was still there, white type as all the early ones are. A male Common Yellowthroat was up high in the live-oak canopy, my FOS female C. Yellowthroat was down low where it belonged. Several Nashville Warbler, a couple each Wilson's and Yellow, one Black-throated Green singing, and another (!) singing Golden-cheeked Warbler, this out on the island.

Most interesting was finally detecting a Yellow-rumped Warbler this month, a singing male. The only one I have seen this spring since the wintering birds left. It was an intergrade. Throat was admixed yelllow and white. From some angles it looked yellow, from others, white. It had wingbars, like a Myrtle, call was flattish like Myrtle too. No supra-loral white spot or post-occular white supercilliumlet of a Myrtle, but broken eye-crescents of an Audubon's. It was a tweener all the way. Another item of interest was a single Pine Siskin we heard. Maybe the lone bird we had a month ago at the house? There is one wandering around it seems. We also had Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee, a Blue-headed Vireo, and an ad. ma. Painted Bunting in the Mulberrys. The usual breeders were singing like Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, Summer Tanager, White-eyed Vireo, etc. At least two probably three Least Flycatcher were in the woods. Another was down by the crossing on way home, so at least 5, maybe 7 Least Flycs. on this FOS day for them. A couple Gnatcatchers were heard.

About 2 p.m. Kathy had a Tennessee Warbler in the Pecan over the birdbath, two in a day here is excellent. Then a couple Nashville Warbler. Later before 4 p.m. she spotted a male Golden-cheeked Warbler which came down to the bath. It was a first spring male. I suspect all three today along the river habitat corridor were just arriving first spring males There was also an ad. male Black-and-white in the tree then. Any day you get 10 or more species of warblers locally is a outstanding day. We had 11 with the breeding Yellow-throated, not counting the Orange-crowned I was sure I heard. Surely there were more out there, just amongst the seets and chips that got away. Late in day I got an 11 count on adult male Painted Bunting at once. Also two White-crowned Sparrow still here, both Gambell's, one ad. and one first-spring. At dusk saw a few of my FOS Brazillian Freetail (formerly called Mexican Freetail) Bats over the yard. Still no Firefly.

Apr. 23 ~ Low about 67F, stayed breezy from SSE all night but at least slacked off to 10-15 mph. We had a couple or few Nashville in the yard in the morning. Most amazing was White-crowned Sparrow, late in day I finally mustered three. There were 11-12 yesterday. Most then left last night! Some few had been here all winter, most a few weeks. Most of the Clay-colored Sparrow left as well. Their numbers crashed as well overnight. Maybe a dozen left. Incredible. They took that free ride on the south wind outta Dodge. Later morn a Black-throated Green Warbler sang out back.

Went to Utopia Park to look for thrushes. Saw none. One Northern Waterthrush and the male Common Yellowthroat were likely the birds from yesterday. An OVENBIRD was on the island! I got an ID look and then spent a half-hour trying to re-see it and did not. Still birds in the live-oak blooms but they are past peak now. I had a flock of warblers go through them northbound fast and furious, more than 25, but I barely saw half. Light was horrible against bright white sky. I saw at least a dozen Nashville, a Yellow, a Wilson's, a Black-throated Green, and a Black-and-white Warbler. Plus one Blue-headed Vireo singing, a Great Crested Flycatcher, and Chipping and Clay-colored Sparrows in the blooms. The treetop warblers went through quickly, you had 15 minutes maybe and that was it. 10-15 got away un-ID'd.

After 7 p.m. I was working on Bunting counts. There were 15 ad. male Painted and 7 ad. male Indigo at once. Two female Painted and one female Indigo. Twenty-five buntings. Five male Painted in one binoc field-of-view. I have to go rest my color receptors now. One of the Painted Buntings Kathy noticed was off color on the back. It was mostly yellow and red with the only proper lime green being narrowly around the edge of the usual back patch. Otherwise the rest was pretty bright yellow with a tint of lime, but half was red showing. And oh yeah, Little Creek Larry said he had a FOS Common Nighthawk on Thursday (the 21st).

Not a current photo, sorry for the repeat.

paintedbunting
A male Painted Bunting. You should be seeing some now. There has been a great wave of them moving through. We had 16 adult males at once (!) in the past week, likely more were around yard we missed in the moment count. They love white millet, and-or a birdbath, but keep it clean if you do that.
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Apr. 22 ~ Happy Earth Day! Low about 68F, overcast, humid, very breezy gulf flow all night. Was 15 mph gusting to 25 or so from S and SSE, KERV had gusts over 30! I saw the Brewer's Sparrow again this morning, so day 3 for it, and apparently my ID the other day was correct. It is still a Brewer's. Otherwise just a few Nashville through yard in a.m., and lots of buntings. In afternoon counted five male Indigo at once, a yard record methinks. Also 6 Painted at once, and likely more out there. A couple male Blue Grosbeak. Kathy saw the FOS greenie - a female Painted, here at the casita while I was in town.

Park had some birds hiding from wind in the woods. TWO great thrushes at once is unheard of here. First I saw a Gray-cheeked Thrush out on the island. Then I heard a VEERY singing! But could not see it One of the most beautiful and distinctive songs in the bird world. I can't believe I heard one sing here. Presently birding 'blind and naked' with no way to document. Two FOS warblers were a male Common Yellowthroat, and then Northern Waterthrush, of which there were seemingly two. A few Nashville Warbler, single Wilson's and Yellow Warbler. A few chips, seets, and zeets got away. Heard my FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee. The strong SSE winds in late April and early May make for hard birding conditions but also for good birds. The breeder pair of Common Grackle continue out on island. Zone-tailed Hawk was over Rosie's taco trailer, but actually I needed the tacos more.

Apr. 21 ~ Low of 68F and very humid. Stayed coolish all day, 80F at 3 p.m. is pleasant despite the humidity. A few Nashville Warbler went through yard over the morning. Before noon a couple FOS Orchard Oriole were in the male Mulberry over the cottage, ten minutes later Kathy spots a male bathing in the bath! Whaddabird! About 1 p.m. a male Black-throated Green sang and foraged in a Pecan. Gnatcatcher singing out there too. Three male Indigo Bunting together at once, and more than a handful of Painted. There are kilos of Clay-colored Sparrow, but was too busy at desk to work them. The hummingbirds were fewer this last week than the one before. Must have been a passage wave going through.

Late in day saw my FOS female Blue Grosbeak, my FOS male was on the 12th, nine days ago. Again, a very typical stagger, males arriving on territories a week to two before females, to prepare for battle. With Painted Bunting and Blue Grosbeak it is often a day or two the males are back before they even quiet sing (under the breath). And a few to several days before they really even start singing full songs at volume. It is still very reserved at first and takes a while, and females arriving, for them to really get wound up.

Apr. 20 ~ Low about 65F, and maybe spritzed a bit more, nothing consequential, but overcast and wettish out there. The huge gaggles of Clay-colored Sparrow and Painted Bunting continue. On the millet tube whilst tallying up male Painted Buntings, a male Lazuli Bunting landed! Second one here this spring. Whaddabird! It was around an hour or two at least. A couple Nashville Warbler went through, heard a Gnatcatcher. Kathy heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. In the afternoon she saw the FOS Yellow Warbler, a male at the bird bath. I got an eleven count on White-crowned Sparrow! May well have been twelve.

In the late afternoon I saw a House Wren at the bird bath! It took a full monty motorboat excursion across it. Do not have a pic of one on the website. Late p.m. after 7 the ground was crawling with Clay-colored Sparrow again. This time I pulled a BREWER'S out of the herd! Finely streaked brown crown and nape, and brown streaked rump, plain face compared to the Clays bold pattern and Chippies eye-line. GREAT bird, far less than annual for me here. It may well have been 35 Clay-colored, and a pretty obvious difference between adults and first spring birds, the latter being much duller of head pattern still, the adults looking very bright and contrasty, crisp and sharp. Some Field and a dozen Chippy were mixed in the herd. Four species makes Spizellatopia. After dark I heard some Black-bellied Whistling-Duck fly over, just few.

Apr. 19 ~ What they called a reinforcing shot of cold air came in behind the northeasterlies of yesterday. The low was about 58F! KERV had 54 and 55F readings. We may well have been colder than what I saw. At 11:30 a.m. it was still only 62F! Amazing. Did some garden work, translocating super-magic gro-fast from the corral to planting places, getting beds ready. Have to do the flower beds around house with it too.

A couple Nashville Warbler were around. The first Indigo Bunting in the yard this spring was one I heard singing right out back, which is likely the male that was territorial here last year doing that after eating. A little while later there were 2 males and a female on the millet out back. Add two male Painted Bunting and two male Blue Grosbeak, and it is looking much better out there now. A Great Crested Flycatcher went through trolling, hope it gets a mate this year. Kathy saw either a Golden-cheeked or Black-throated Green Warbler at the bath, but just for a bare-eyed second and did not get upperpart color. But it had a full black throat and sides. It was dark overcast so light was not good. Heard a Gnatcatcher out there late in day. Mid-afternoon there were spritzes of precip. We'll keep an eye on it in case it passes leaf-washer status and perhaps becomes a full blown dust buster for a day. As of dark it looks about a tenth of an inch of the wet stuff. I do not think it hit 70F today, which is astounding.

Neat was about 5 p.m. counting the Clay-colored Sparrows off the corner of the patio where I toss seed by the broken pile of branches from the big dying Hackberry. Must have counted six times, each time getting higher, finally got a THIRTY count! No Brewer's but a suspect got away. All at once on the ground eating white millet some dingbat puts out there. This is why the yard sounds like a machine shop of elves. Got another ten count on the White-crowned Sparrow, which is also amazing this late, and for being almost all Gambell's. What one good brushpile with seed can catch going by. There are several Lincoln's Sparrow continuing as well. The Chipping, Field, and Lark will feed in fairly open areas where seed, but these others all require good cover they can dive into immediately adjacent.

About 7 p.m. I had EIGHT male Painted Bunting at once, FIVE were ON the millet seed tube at once! If only the California Bird Record Committee could have seen it! They disparage any male at a feeder as if it indicates prior captivity. That is how dumb their bird record commitee is. They don't know this is what Painted Buntings do. This is the level at which they are attracted to feeders, just shy of hummingbirds and House Finch. No self-respecting Painted Bunting sees a feeder with white millet and goes away. Unfortunately there were 35 Brown-headed Cowbird.

Apr. 18 ~ An awesome low of 63F or so felt great. Heard a Barn Owl last night just after midnight. A Couple Chucks were going too. Heard a Black-n-white Warbler sing through yard early. Ad. male Blue Grosbeak back on the white millet tube, this is great. Saw an ad. female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Thought I have been seeing them the last couple days. I cannot believe how brown the yard and pastures are for the date. No rain this winter or early spring. Water is barely trickling over the spillway in two narrow spots. At least somehow the trees are leafing out, but lots are still just getting going.

There is a Mockingbird singing out front for a few days now. I wish one would get a mate, we get these trollers every spring, but none ever stick to nest. He is up there in the big Pecan now doing Couch's Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Long-billed Thrasher, Cactus Wren, House Sparrow, Green Jay, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and more. It is almost like I went somewhere. Don't laugh, our yard Kiskadee was one that came in to a Mocker doing its imitation so keep your eyes peeled.

Apr. 17 ~ Got down into the 60's F anyway, but barely. Dawn chorus is going great guns now. It is a wonderful symphony. Heard a couple Nashville Warbler go through yard early. One came to bath as well as a FOS Wilson's Warbler. A surprise was a male Blue Grosbeak on the white millet seed tube. I have never seen a Blue Grosbeak on it. We went to the park for a quick migrant check and walk before the Easter crowds took over. Initially in woods only heard the breeders, and three Nashville Warbler. Then on way out as we were almost out of the woods, at south end of island (where the bathing frenzy was Friday) there was a termite hatch going, and birds. There were probably 5 Nashville Warbler, at least one male Wilson's Warbler, heard an Orange-crowned Warbler, female Summer Tanager, male Indigo Bunting, female Blue Grosbeak, White-eyed Vireo, all seemingly going after the termites. We heard the Marsh Wren, so it is still here, now on day 3. It was in the water lillies. Heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. It was a beehive of activity and a great show.

Then as we were slowing rolling out of park, there is that patch of live-oaks right at entrance, which is roaring in bloom now. At the first tree (last if entering) I heard a warbler song, turned engine off rolling into shade and jumped out with bins. I said to Kathy Golden-cheek or Black-throated Green. It was quiet singing and took some time to find, but finally we got good looks. A first-year male Golden-cheeked Warbler! That explains the bit off songs. GREAT bird in the park as a spring migrant. My first, first-year (nearing a year old) Golden-cheek this year. All prior males this year were adults, as were the couple females I have seen. The age and sex arrival stagger is textbook. Adult males a few weeks ago, ad. females a week or more ago, now first-spring males, and in a week or so first-spring females. Textbook. There were a few Nashville Warbler and a Yellow-throated Warbler in the blooms too. A number of sparrows under them included Lark, Chipping, White-crowned, Lincoln's, and at least five Clay-colored Sparrow. Then I heard our FOS Blue-headed Vireo singing, which we found for good looks. Live-oaks in bloom are great bird magnets. Sometimes that patch is real good in April when those go off. It is hard to bird due to all the ball moss and how dense the canopy is, but that is also why there are birds in it.

We heard a Bell's Vireo out front of the park and two more rolling around town, plus yesterday I had the one back at the Post Office at NE corner of lot there, the usual one is out front singing here and a few along the road. Drive any road with Hackberries with window down, you will hear them now. It was over 90F in the afternoon. About 5 p.m. a big thunderstorm cell moved south to our east a couple or few miles. Some lucky folk got some rain. We had a few spits here, but the outflow hit us and took 10F off the top, which was fantastic.

Apr. 16 ~ Low about 69F, and balmy. A couple Nashville Warbler went through yard in a.m., and saw a male Painted Bunting on the white millet. Heard my FOS Red-eyed Vireo singing in the morning . Driving along 360 I heard FOUR of them counting this one. When I drove it twice yesterday I heard none. When they hit, they hit. The rest seemed the same, but the heat. Was about 90 on the cool shady front porch, hotter readings at many local WU stations. A thunderstorm cell was up-valley near Lost Maples and might have hit Little or Seco Creek a bit. Supposed to be a front inbound tomorrow, we are in the hot humid pre-frontal steam-bake..Keep forgetting to mention I have been seeing Silver Puff, the native Dandelion thingie, for a week now, I think the first were about April 7 or 8. Heard Bell's Vireo and Yellow-breasted Chat out in front of the park in the brushy entrance garden.

This is not a current photo

underwing
This is an Underwing (Catocala sps.) moth of some flavor.
Apologies if this is up and you have seen it before.
There are a bunch of types, I think a half-dozen or so,
at least, here. The hindwing on several types is bright red,
orange, or pink, but the most common one is brown.
They are all flavors of incredible camo above. In flight
the hindwing is stunning if a colored type, and the wingspan
is 2.5" so it is a good sized moth.
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Apr. 15 ~ It's that day again. Not any motion in yard in the morning besides what has been here. About 30 Brewer's Blackbird at corral on east side of the river on 360 is getting late for the number. Town run day so check of the park. I heard a couple Nashville Warbler but could not get on them. Could not find anything in woods, until almost back out of them when a couple birds caught my eye across the water on island. Nashville Warblers, which began a bathing frenzy for 10-15 minutes. They were followed by more Nashville Warblers, at least 10 came down out of the trees. A male Indigo Bunting was my FOS. Two Orange-crowned Warbler are migrants. A FOS male Black-throated Green Warbler dropped down and bathed. Females of Yellow-throated Warbler and Summer Tanager did too, both likely local nesters. A FOS Great Crested Flycatcher whistled from the canopy. A couple White-eyed Vireo were there, it was bonkers with birds. Then I spotted a Marsh Wren (formerly Long-billed Marsh Wren)! Maybe my 4th park record or so. Very rare there. I thought I heard a Redstart but could not spot it. It was the best I have seen it there in ages. Over town there were my FOS Chimney Swift, Little Creek Larry said his were back a week or more. Thought sure I heard a Yellow Warbler but don't want a FOS on one zeet. Almost forgot. As I was leaving for town, a FOS House Wren flushed out of the little Junipers at driveway, over into stick pile. I let some grow along edges wherever the waxwings put them, and trimmed them into a short deco hedge so there is SOMETHING in the way of understory out there. Lincoln's Sparrow a lot lately now, but Bewick's and Carolina Wrens are in it all the time. The White-crowns use it too.

April 14 ~ Wonderful cool air with the northerly flow, about 50F for a low. No migrants in the morning, as expected after a northerly blow. Sometimes you might get some going through in afternoon on the ground. Still have 10 each White-crowned and Clay-colored Sparrow, at least 5-6 Lincoln's, and some breeder Lark, Field, and Chipping Sparrow. A tardy Sharp-shinned Hawk dove on things here today, looked an imm. male to me. Laura Levy sent a report of Tropical and Northern Parula at Lost Maples, so if you go there, keep your eyes and ears out for them. Thanks Laura for the tip! Check ebird for Lost Maples reports.

April 13 ~ A very humid low of about 71F is not welcome already. A front is inbound to pass today, dry of course, the torture continues. Just after midnight about 5 minutes into the day, I heard calling my FOS Chuck-will's-widow. About noon Kathy spotted the FOS Painted Bunting, a male at the bath. An hour later she saw TWO males together there! A real bright male American Goldfinch was here. We had a major malfunction with our main computer unit today. On a backup now but without access to lots of files. Of course everything was not backed up.

April 12 ~ Kathy spotted a FOS male Blue Grosbeak out back on the seed in the morning. What a blue! I had at least 6 male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. About 3 p.m. I saw another female Golden-cheeked Warbler, this one took a last drink and left the bird bath.

April 11 ~ The male Bullock's Oriole was on the feeder much of the day. Whaddabird! A few Ruby-throated Hummer here now. A female Golden-cheeked Warbler came down to the tub pond but stopped a foot short. Kathy had a FOS Nashville Warbler at the birdbath. A Black-and-white Warbler sang through the yard. In afternoon a Bell's Vireo sang over in the Mesquites, later yet, a Chat was making noise across from the gate. Maybe our breeder is back.

April 10 ~ We had a couple FOS in morning. First Kathy spotted a male Bullock's Oriole at the front porch hummer feeder. First male Bullock's we have had on a feeder. Then down toward the crossing we had a FOS Yellow-breasted Chat. We went up onto the 1445' knoll, and most of the same things: singing Golden-cheeked, Black-and-white, and Yellow-throated Warblers, Long-billed Thrasher. Still no Olive Sparrow or Black-capped Vireo. A.Turkey strolled down the road late in afternoon.

April 9 ~ Had to go to Bandera for bird seed again. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk at Little Creek on the way. Larry said he had an Osprey there earlier in morning. He also said he heard Poor-will this week, his FOY. After the Bandera run back here in the afternoon I saw my FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird. On the tardy side for them.

... sorry, no photo this week...

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Apr. 8 ~ Amazing lows this morning, briefly hit about 36F here. KERV had a quick 32F! It may have been colder here than what I saw, was not watching the dip. Nearing record territory for the date though. There were about 10 Brewer's Blackbird in the big Pecan along with a few Red-winged, and Brown-headed Cowbird early in the morn. The Brewer's will be gone very soon. When I cleaned the bath I could tell a female Summer Tanager had been there since yesterday by the feather she left. Mid-morn a FOS Bell's Vireo sang its way across the yard. Great to hear that again. Town run. Outstanding was my earliest ever by two weeks FOS Swainson's Thrush at the park. My prior early date was Apr. 23. Average arrival date about a week after that. So FIFTEEN days earlier than the prior earliest, three weeks earlier than average arrival date. Amazing. No other new migrants in the park woods, but on river at very top end of woods, were two Green-winged Teal. Still a gaggle of White-crowned, Clay-colored, and Lincoln's Sparrow in the yard. I see the first few Texas Persimmon flowers coming out. Take a few hits of that when ya see them, and then tell me there is no such thing as aroma therapy.   ;)   I cannot believe how parched it is out there. In town I heard of more folks whose wells are going dry the water table is dropping so much. I saw a county water tanker truck at the crossing pumping water out of the river into the truck tank. That is how you know water is way low. Kathy had an Eastern Phoebe outside late in day. It is the first sighting in a month.

Apr. 7 ~ A great low at about 48F or so. One local WU station showed 47F, KERV had a 49F. I could stand this all year. Heard a Scissor-tail over in the corral, only the second one this year. They have been slow to get here, how do they know it is a late spring? Those last couple fronts making it way down into Mexico? We have not made any effort (or had time really) to get to Lost Maples yet, largely because spring is about two weeks behind here. Much is not here yet so no hurry. Just missed some early FOS dates for some things. Can't get all of them all of the time. Not if you are a workin' stiff anyway. I saw 74F on the front porch in afternoon, dry, wonderful. Still a few Red-winged Blackbird around, did have one Am. Goldfinch. Twice I thought I heard a distant Scott's Oriole sing. Late, got a six-at-once count on Clay-colored Sparrow off the corner of patio by brushpile where I throw seed. Heard them singing, er, grinding, all day around yard, there might be 8-10 around. Chipping have mostly vacated. There are only a dozen and change left, tops.

Apr. 6 ~ Front arrived overnight, dry, but cool with northerlies, low about 60F is great. Was 15-20 mph gusting to 30 and higher, Hondo had a 41 mph gust. That will put everything down wherever it hit them. Afternoon highs were upper 70's F, a bit below average. No one complained. Did not see any migrants in yard. Canyon Towhee remains unseen now for third day, surely it left. As yesterday, again had three species of Spizella sparrows in one binocular field of view. Chipping, Field, and Clay-colored on the white millet. Methinks four sps. of Spiz is not likely doable in one binoc field-of-view. Three sps. of Spiz is all most will ever see in one field-of-view. Wind finally laid down at the end of the day. Very few uneaten sunflower seeds under the feeder, the Am. Goldfinch are all but gone. Couple Cooper's Hawk diving on stuff all day.

Apr. 5 ~ It got to about 65F or so the first couple hours after midnight, but then warmed to 69F until dawn. Gonna be a hot one today. Saw a Cooper's Hawk grab something early. Kathy started it off great with a FOS Lazuli Bunting male on the seed out back. What a blue that is! Nothing else like it in America. Only place to see that is on a male Lazuli in the sun. Mid-morn I heard and glimpsed a couple warblers chipping and chasing at each other up in the live-oaks behind us. I think they were Golden-cheeks from the glimpses I got. The live-oaks are yellow with flowers now so have to keep an eye on them for birds. Whatever is blooming is where you want to be. About 3 p.m. I saw 92F on the cool shady front porch. So add a couple or few for being in the sun. KERV was 94F, Hondo 95F. SAT record for the date is 93F, so we are right on the cusp of it. Less than 20 percent humidity is the bright side. Heard some waxwings. Nice not to see all the goldfinches taking turns tossing good seeds on the ground, except that one bright male. No Canyon Towhee again today, methinks it has left. Was here since late last summer. Off to the breeding grounds, wherever the heck that is.

Apr. 4 ~ Maybe 65 or 66F for a low, here we go with that again. This is a land of extremes. The 60's are bearable though, at least it is not a hot sticky start. There were some Purple Martin that came down low over yard buzzing the chalet and calling. First ones I have seen look at it this year. Come on martins! The overcast kept it cooler, which was nice, low chances of rain later and overnight. A couple singing warblers went through the big live-oaks uphill behind us. About 1:30 a Black-and-white was singing there, and at 2:45 a Golden-cheeked Warbler was singing. Not real close, bare-eyed views of it foraging, but good for not going anywhere on a work break. Kathy had a Turkey over along the north fenceline, and it wasn't me. She also had the first female Summer Tanager with the male. I got a count of 10 minimum at once, and it seemed 11 or 12, White-crowned Sparrow. We keep snagging more of them as they pass through. They hear that chorusing. Did not detect the Canyon Towhee today. Was an Am. Goldfinch departure as there were hundreds less uneaten sunflower seeds on the sacks under that feeder.

We seem to have lost our Eastern Phoebe that always nest under the eaves. None around. Been a couple weeks plus Kathy has been asking whaddup. I think maybe an accipter? Could be old age too. The eight prior springs, nesting was underway now and they were noisy in the yard. The silence of the Phoebes is a sad thing. It seemed to us they were resident, other than the worst couple single digit and teens days whence they might disappear I presume over to the river for a few days. Generally they stayed the winter and in fall vigorously chased away any yankee phoebe that showed up, they were very territorial year round. And now nothing. Wowsers. I saw my FOY of the nearly 2" big fat Scoliid wasp with the red bands on abdomen, which are quite the looker, but I wouldn't grab one.

Apr. 3 ~ Stars were nice at midnight, overcast at dawn, low about 60F. A Summer Tanager is singing this morning, first in the yard this year, after the FOS at park two days ago. Also singing I hear the two Yellow-throateds, vireo, and warbler. Those are all likely our local yard vicinity breeders. The singing Clay-colored Sparrow are strictly transients. This is fine. Got a NINE count on White-crowned Sparrows, and there was probably one or two more there. Had 5 ad. and 4 imm. at once though. Most are Western gray-lored orange-billed Gambell's. Which is quite odd compared to the last 18 years.

Great was after breakfast I was sitting on the back porch about 10:20 a.m. when a FOS Solitary Sandpiper flew right over the house calling. I could not stress enough how important it is to learn bird calls folks. This bird or the Golden-Plovers at night several days ago, would never have been identified if I did not know the calls. Knowing them, it is instant recognition, and you do not have to even see the bird to know absolutely positively beyond any shadow of doubt what the bird was. It's a dream. It is the difference between 'whazzat?' and data. Surely there are at least a dozen species on the yard list that are heard only nocturnal migrant flyovers (likely half are shorebirds). You couldn't have seen them if you wanted to, but there they were yelling what they are at you as they pass overhead in the dark.

We took an hour and a half spin around the conservation easement adjacent to us (actually technically we are part of it). At the crossing a FOY Giant Swallowtail and a FOY Six-lined Racerunner was it. Over at the south (1445') knoll there was a singing Golden-cheeked Warbler we got a glimpse of. Singing exuberantly was a Long-billed Thrasher which nests there annually. No Black-capped Vireo or Olive Sparrow yet, both of which usually nest on the densely brushed south side of knoll like the thrasher. A few Hutton's Vireo were singing, several White-eyed too, heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, saw Ash-throated Flycatcher, heard a couple singing Black-and-white Warbler and one Yellow-throated Warbler. Also Black-crested Titmouse and Bewick's Wren. Barely a few Mountain Laurel flowers, most look like they are passing on blooming this drought spring. Had a quick look at a Pronghorn Clubtail dragonfly. I see a few up on the knoll early every spring. Then mostly do not see them the rest of the year.

April 2 ~ Low about 60F, already. About 9 a.m. I had my FOS Nashville Warbler here in yard. About noon I had a second one singing at the park. Heard the Summer Tanager singing at park again, I suspect a local nesting returnee. Lots of Yellow-throated Warbler, half-dozen at least, and new were two apparent females. There were two FOS Common Grackle at park as well. These are likely the pair that nests on the island every year. Heard one in town too, there were none yesterday. A surprise was a male Kestrel on 360 east of the river, I have not seen one in those pastures for a month when the only local winterer I knew of seemed to have departed. Then this likely is a bird that wintered much further south and is on passage heading back north. Still a few Brewer's Blackbird at corrals. The Canyon Towhee is still here at the hovelita. About 3 p.m. local WU stations were reading from 88 to 94F! It was 87F in the shade on the front porch, so surely 90 or more in the sun. Heard a Turkey gobbling after dark.

This is not a current photo

solitarysandpiper
This is a Solitary Sandpiper a couple springs ago.
At the small south pondlet on S. Little Creek Rd.
Just one, alone, solitary, as they usually are.
One flew over the house calling April 3 this week.
Only life bird I got from horseback (1973, Big Pine, CA).
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April 1 ~ April!?!?!? OMG! Low was about 50F. Morning was calm but was blowing out of the south strong again before noon. Nothing different in yard this morn. The bird of the day was a butterfly. In the morning a LITTLE WOOD SATYR came in seemingly to my pipe tobacco smoke. Flitting, or more accurately flopping, all around me for a minute. I have just one yard record I think, late April 2014. April is the month to get them. Saw the Black Rock Squirrel 35' up in a Hackberry getting fresh flower sprouts. Then it came down to ground and ate a few fresh sprouting leaves of Greenbriar Vine. A chaser I guess.

Town run. Still a couple dozen Brewer's Blackbird at the corrals east of river on 360. Glad I have bird seed, they don't in town. But Rosie was there with tacos, which actually I prefer myself. Found out at the store it was 'thunder in the hills' last weekend at Bandera. Sure glad I didn't miss that. Bad name for something when you are in a D2 drought dyin' to hear thunder in the hills and smell rain. All I got was motorcycles. This weekend is some bicycle event here in the hills, with 1800 cyclists in the area. These damned Chambers of Commerce are doin' all they can to disturb the peace.

At the park there was a singing male Summer Tanager, my FOS. Saw two teneral damselflies, which were not ID'able, but my first Zygops of the year. At least 5 Yellow-throated Warbler along the river was nice. One Springtime Darner dragonfly. Heard one Orange-crowned Warbler. Little Creek Larry said he had also Orange-crowns this week. Better, this morning he had about 10 Black-throated Sparrow at his place. Which have been exceedingly scarce recently. I have not seen one in a year, maybe two. Interesting too since still flocked up. Usually by mid-April at latest, often earlier, they are paired and not in winter flocks any more. Larry also said his pair of Hooded Oriole are back this week. Saw about 82F at peak heat in afternoon.

~ ~ ~ March summary ~ ~ ~

Well it was a dry one. We are at D2 per the USGS drought monitor. I presume that means 'in real bad shape, send rain' or somesuch. There was no significant rain. A tenth of an inch of mist and showerlets maybe. Almost no early wildflowers are blooming. Very cold early in month followed by some record cold mid-month with a couple mornings at 19F kicked spring back a couple weeks. By late in month the first bit of leafage breaking stems on trees. Slow to get going with spring this year. Agarita and Redbud both barely going, weak showings so far.

Odes were easy to keep track of. Two species of dragons and none of damsels. Dot-winged Baskettail (low numbers) and a Springtime Darner (one on 27th) were it. The butterflies were mostly the same but a few new emerging things. Henry's Elfin were few once the Redbud and Agarita put out some flowers. The rest was the expected cast of regulars. Save one immaculate mint-fresh WINTER form Questionmark. Which popped after 3 mornings around 20F mid-month. The summer forms are already showing, whilst winter forms generally are at least worn and frayed, if not torn and shredded by now. I count 23 species of butterfly for the month, at the very low end of the spread. Expected for the cold and drought.

Birds continued slow overall, spring is running a bit behind. It was great for what March really is, the first returns of some migratory breeding species. Generally, bug eaters. Insectivores. Martins and swallows, flycatchers, warblers and vireos, etc. The earliest returnees of many species show in March, so it is great fun seeing all your old friends, and recording those return dates annually. Twenty years goes by and you have some real data. The most anomolous sighting of the month was a lone PINE SISKIN that was a one-minute wonder here at our place on the 24th. There were none around this winter, so quite odd to have one. The other great and even rarer detection was only a hearing. A very large movement of AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER calling overhead northbound at 12:30 a.m. on the 30th was likely the most detected at once in the county ever. By the end of the month Black-chinned Hummingbird were reaching swarm levels after starting it at zero. I count 78 species I saw for the month locally, and several others were reported. A great bump in diversity from those 50 and 53 species months in Jan. and February.

~ ~ ~ end March summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ March update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

March ~ The FOS Sandhill Crane went over northbound on the 1st. They have been regular the first 10 days of the month, mostly mid-day. A great FOS on the 2nd was a singing Roadrunner. On the 3rd the FOS Vermilion Flycatcher was back at our place. March 5 just after midnight my FOS Barn Owl called as it flew high over northbound. In the morning the 5th our first returnee Black-chinned Hummingbird showed up. By afternoon it was displaying to a female. Strong cold fronts on 7th, another on 11th, are not speeding the arrival of spring. On the 9th a FOS White-eyed Vireo announced itself back. There was a local report of a Rough-winged Swallow on the 9th. I had a FOS Lincoln's Sparrow on the 10th. My FOS Ash-throated Flycatcher was the 14th. The 15th was my FOS Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and my FOS Lark Sparrow. On the 16th was my FOS Barn Swallow. The 17th the FOS Yellow-throated Warbler was at birdbath, probably the local breeder. Also the 17th was the first pair of Lesser Goldfinch this spring since the anomolous early Feb. winter sighting. On the 18th there was a local report of Purple Martins back. Our first Henry's Elfin (butterfly) was on the 19th. Spring on the 20th brought FOS Yellow-throated Vireo and Black-and-white Warbler. I heard a FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher early on the 22nd. The only PINE SISKIN all winter, and since spring of 2021, was one lone bird on March 24(!). Also the 24th I saw my FOS Monarch butterfly. The 25th a Yellow-throated Vireo was putting finishing touches on a nest at Utopia Park. Kathy spotted our FOS Golden-cheeked Warbler on the 27th, at the birdbath. Saw my FOS Clay-colored Sparrow late on the 28th, two on the 29th, there were 3 on the 30th. On the 29th finally I heard Purple Martin overhead, my FOS. On the 30th, about 30 minutes into it just after midnight, a large mass of AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER flew over calling, bearing due north.

~ ~ ~ end March update header copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the regularly scheduled drivel ~ ~ ~

March 31 ~ Aaaand there goes another one. Seemed kinda quick for a long month, eh? Low about 40F, dry, sunny, very nice. The Pecans are showing the first green breaking stem. The male Mulberry has flowers coming out. Saw one FOY Tube-tongue flower. A Henry's Elfin (butterfly) came in to water. Can't believe how the Racoons remodeled a bit of fence so they could use the tub pond. Hopefully I fixed it, dang things. There is an unfenced birdbath on ground in the open 100' away. I saw that old historical foreign aircraft again today. What a bird it is. Wish I knew what kind. Looked around web a bit, could not find anything so far.

March 30 ~ Low about 60F. Big change today, instead of 20+ mph southerlies, it will be 20+ northerlies. We got a spit and spritzlet of precip as the front passed. Wind blew all day, 15-20 gusting to 30 mph. Got up to 80F or so, but nice and dry. Kathy spotted a Duskywing butterfly which looked a Horace's, as it did not have the two spots on underwing of a Juvenals. Brown fringed, so not Funereal or Mournful.

I think the day peaked last night just after midnight, about 30 minutes into it. A Texas sized, ergo bodacious, mass of American Golden-Plover passed overhead calling, bearing Polaris. I heard several to many dozens. It took a full minute for the waves to pass over. It was likely hundreds of birds or more. I heard more in a minute than I have seen in the county in 19.5 years. It was astounding. The sky was full of those beautiful pure clear high tinkly silver-bell whistles, like ringing chimes. Though actually they were on a front, or in a river, less than 200 yards wide. What a passage. If only I could have seen it to get a number. It was off the charts. The only times I have heard that many, there were many hundreds of birds involved.

Hackberries have flowers, Persimmons are leafing out, saw Mesquite leaflets starting. The great greening is beginning. The Black Rock Squirrel is up eating Hackberry flowers as every year during the three days they are open. First fresh greens in months, it does this with religous zeal every year. Doesn't touch Pecan or male Mulberry flowers, too much pollen I presume. Nor is it interested in the Texas Persimmon flowers, too wonderfully pungent. Never saw it eat a Laurel flower and they are sweeter than sweet peas, and with nectar. No interest.  ... must have Hackberry flowers ...  Which are to flowers, what that fruit is to berries. A sad excuse. They have no smell. I had to take macro photos to see what was there. There is some Gnat I see around them. And Gnatcatchers.

March 29 ~ Low of about 63F is getting balmy fast. Last night late I heard the Vermilion Flycatcher singing up high in the night. That is how you can tell the female is back. He does not do that until she gets here. Power went out for about four hours last night. If you humm or whistle the theme song melody to Green Acres it really helps here. Was glad to not see many Am. Goldfinch here today. After noon saw a couple rare birds, an F-7 Tigercat and an A-20 Havoc, circling around a few miles south of town. Very rare birds. A P-51 was out later. Wind was blowing pretty good from south much of day, Hondo and Junction had 30 mph gusts, it was 15-20 mph sustained gusting higher here. Corpus Christi had a gust at 48 mph! A front is inbound tonight, hoping we get some rain from it. Late afternoon finally I heard Purple Martin up high overhead, my FOS, at last. Later after 6 p.m. there were two Clay-colored Sparrow together at the seed just off corner of patio. Saw a Field Sparrow bathe today at the bath. Canyon Towhee still here.

The Texas Persimmon in flower bed at front of house has broken stem with first leaves. The Wooly Ironweed has new stalks coming up, as does the Frostweed. Watered some trees and the flower beds. Lots of American Germander and the Blue Mistflower Eupatorium are coming up. Two of the native Plums the Schaeffers gave us are with new leaves, so making it. I have to go mining some gro-fast over in the corral. That snow shovel works great for, uh, other, er, shat, too, and here certainly is more useful as such. Just can't ever find any volunteers to do it.

March 28 ~ Low was in the mid-50's F, got up to mid-80's later in day, very breezy much of day. Yellow-throated Vireo singing out there daily again is nice. Late in day tried to get a sparrow count coming in to last seed. There are at least 8 White-crowned Sparrow, it may be ten! Most are western Gambell's type! Amazing. There are at least 8 Lincoln's Sparrow too. Sparrowpalooza. Finally one FOS Clay-colored Sparrow last half-hour of sun. Some Field, Lark, and Chipping, so 6 sps. of sparrows.

Got a dozen count on the Am. Goldfinch. Wish they would go though. They are tossing hundreds of sunflower seeds on ground daily, for being a few hundredths of a gram too light. The chickadees, cardinals, titmice, house finches, lesser goldfinch, etc. are all fine with all of the seeds. Some of these goldfinch are tossing out 20 to eat one. It appears piggish wastefulness. You could be the prettiest bird in the world, and I would hate you for wasting good food. I checked the seeds, there is nothing wrong with them, as all the other birds concluded that never toss any aside. We had to put down bags under the feeder area to salvage the good seed being wasted, nearing a pound per day. I would remove the feeder were it not for the residents that depend on it. No other birds are being wastefull with any food.

March 27 ~ Low about 55F or so, clear and dry, quite nice. Nice to have bird seed here and not have to go expedition for some. Just remembered, yesterday the 26th, was our first day here at this place, nine years ago. A singing male Golden-cheeked Warbler went through the yard that morning, so I figured it was OK here. I wrote that at 9:30 a.m. or so, an hour later Kathy says 'look at the bath!' There is a male Golden-cheeked Warbler which proceeded to waddle in and take a bath! Outstanding FOS view. It flew up into Pecan and preened for a minute when soaked. Pure awesomeness. Were a couple waxwings out there early, Roadrunner is singing uphill. Heard a Hermit Thrush, a passage bird since none have been here in a month or more.

We took a spin over into the live-oak-juniper habitat behind us. Heard a singing Black-and-white Warbler, and glimpsed flying off after hearing it sing a couple minutes, a Golden-cheeked Warbler. Three Hutton's Vireo singing, an Ash-throated Flycatcher, heard a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a few Lark Sparrow, male Vermilion Flycatcher, some Titmouse and Bewick's Wren. No Black-capped Vireo heard yet, and still pretty brown and winter. A few Mountain Laurel flowers were open for business, and smelling. Great was a FOS Springtime Darner dragonfly, and a FOS Goatweed Leafwing butterfly. A couple small Paralena flowers were open, as was one small Dutchman's Breeches, a couple Agarita had more open flowers than last week.

Saw two Monarch go by over the day, rest of the butterflies were the usual same ones being seen. We saw an old foreign historical aircraft of some sort I have no idea what it was. Open cockpit, round nose, high wing, with twin engines mounted on the wing in a pusher configuration! French or British insignia and markings. I get them confused. Apologies for not knowing how to tell those apart. Which is how to anger both sides at one fell swoop. Wish I could have gotten a picture of it. Big rounded tail.

Mar. 26 ~ Low about 42F or so, KERV had a 38F. Breezy most of day. About 5 p.m. local WU stations were showing 89-91F! I saw 87F in the shade on the front porch. So had to be 90 in the sun. A chunk of my day was spent driving to Bandera for bird seed. Our feed store is out here and they said two weeks, at least. So 35 miles each way for bird seed. What lately has been a month of driving. On a windy road that takes at least 45 minutes each way. Went via Little Creek and at the pond below where road turns left at it, there were 8 Green-winged Teal, 3 Am. Wigeon, and 25 or so Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. All of which Larry has mentioned recently. They feed grain at the game ranch on other side downriver there, so it is the Whistling-Duck magnet spot here.

At Bandera there was some biker thing going on so it seemed like Sturgis S.D. when I got there. The place was a hominid zoo on full dress Harleys. But they do have some supplies so I picked up a few things harder to get or more expensive in Utopia to make the gas burn worth it. If you need cookies or jelly, now is a good time to hit me up, have all kinds. Got at least a couple weeks of seed too. The feed store there (on 16 past (west of) the signal from hell downtown - which is the closest thing to being in L.A. around) seemed to have the best variety of supply. It still looks like winter the whole way there, everything remains sticks. Sure a lot of dead trees along 470. Had not been out it in years to see the drought damage. Barely any water in the crossings, none in motion. Saw no birds on way or return. Stopped at the high spot at the little passlet on 470 where there usually are Golden-cheeks but it was hot and afternoon, all I heard was a Rufous-crowned Sparrow. A blooming Redbud had two Funereal Duskywing, one Henry's Elfin, and bees. In Bandera I saw a Great-tailed Grackle in its natural habitat, a parking lot, so I quickly hooked a u-turn and headed back to the country before I caught any traits.

These are not current photos

This is a real virtual artificial simulated reality of our FOS Golden-cheeked Warbler that bathed and preened on the 27th. These are (unposted prior) photos of another male that did the same thing a couple years ago.

goldencheekedwarbler
A male Golden-cheeked Warbler puttin' some water up.

goldencheekedwarbler
Soaked and preening in the Pecan over the bath.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

March 25 ~ In the mid-30's F again for a low. Chilly, but going up 50dF today! At 4 p.m. local WU station were reporting 85-89F! KERV was 87. Wow! Town run and park check. On 360 west of the river at corral about 35 Brewer's Blackbird continue, a tenth of the winter flock still here. No Scissor-tails along road on way and back. At the park it still looks winter, just a few willows with the first leaves breaking out. Heard a Belted Kingfisher. An Orange-crowned Warbler is a migrant, as was a Kinglet (Ruby) and a Gnatcatcher. Yellow-throated Warbler singing on territory in woods. Best though was my earliest ever date for a nearly completed being finished up nest of Yellow-throated Vireo. It is in a big live-oak. One singing Hutton's Vireo in the woods. Red-shouldered Hawk pair noisy enough to indicate another nesting attempt at park is in works. No damselflies yet, one Dot-winged Baskettail was it for dragons. One Monarch was in the woods. Very unusual was a mint fresh winter form Questionmark. They should be done and over now, summer forms are already emerging. Any winter form left flying now is typically very worn and frayed at this point. I can't help but wonder if the near-freezing cold the last three mornings got one to pop out of cycle. Will it mate with summer forms? Then what do you get? Little Creek Larry said one night this week he heard some White-fronted Geese northbound overhead, otherwise 'it still looks like winter'. The first returning Barn Swallow at the P.O. was today.

Mar. 24 ~ Another near-freeze, maybe 34F again very briefly. Incredible was a single PINE SISKIN here 8:30 or so. First and only one I have seen since spring of 2021 when the last wintering ones left. This fall and winter there were none. Usually that means there were good food crops up north or in the mountains out west, and they did not need to go looking for food. Just like the waxwings or Robins, many species in winter are irruptive, or not, pending food sources. About 3 p.m. local WU stations reading 75-78F, and TEN PERCENT humidity. Bone dry for here. Winds blowing 15-20 gusting to 30 mph from north. A bit breezy. One male Am. Goldfinch is mostly yellow now, pretty fancy. Sharp-shinned Hawk still terrorizing things out there. White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrow herd continues. About 4:15 p.m. my FOS Monarch butterfly drifted by heading NNE. A big female, worn, but in fair condition, for having made it to and through winter in Mexico and back to the states. Also saw one Dot-winged Baskettail dragonfly. Thought I had an Elfin go by as well. Also thought I had a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bath but it was bare-eyed, and gone before I got back with bins.

Mar. 23 ~ A chilly morn just over freezing, maybe 34 or so. KERV had a quick 29F! Dusty, that tenth of an inch holds it down for about a day. Was calm in morning, but was 5-15 mph northerlies most of day from later morn, and clouded up in afternoon. Maybe 66F or so. Did not detect any different new migrants, northerlies generally shut that down in spring. The flock of White-crowns is still 7 at least, with 5 orange-billed gray-lored Gambell's, three are adults. Two pink-billed black-lored adult leucophrys. Over a handfull of Lincoln's still, a Lark was singing by the cottage, still at least 50 Chipping Sparrow, and a few Field. Caracara and Zone-tailed Hawk went over, besides the usual Turkey and Black Vultures. Later in day I saw my FOS FEMALE Vermilion Flycatcher here, had not seen a female yet this year. If you are up before dawn, a nice planetary conjuction is in the SE sky. The bright object is Venus. The slightly yellowish one below and to left this week, below dead center to slightly right of that next week is Saturn. Below to right and reddish is Mars, next week about even with Venus to right. All pretty close together.

Mar. 22 ~ Wind blowing again 15-20 mph at dawn, from north, gusting higher, low about 52F, sunny. Heard a FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher which was over at edge of airstrip. Behind the shelter of corral trees no doubt. Five months since the fall-staging ones left. But which are not likely our local breeders which seem to depart at least a month or more before the fall staging thing happens. So which are likely sourced elsewhere. Great to hear one again! I see a couple Hackberry have broken stem with their barely flowers just showing their first green. Around 3 p.m. I saw 66F at local WU stations, and still blowing. Gusts at Hondo to 35 mph, at Del Rio to 40 mph! We were more like 15-20 gusting 25 mph. Still a herd of White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrow hitting the seed from the big brush pile. Canyon Towhee still here.

Mar. 21 ~ A low is moving in and over, a bit of drizzle and streamer showerlets, please let it rain. Low was 60-62F locally. Maybe a tenth of an inch by 9 a.m., maybe. A front is on the way later. We hit 80F in the afternoon, I saw 85F at Hondo! Didn't see any different birds out there. Heard a Lark Sparrow singing a bit, and a wee bit of some quiet song from a Lincoln's Sparrow, which I heard here in a prior spring maybe once. Canyon Towhee is still here. Red Harvester ants back out in force with the warmth. That big pile of dead Hackberry branches saves the sparrows, the first-winter male Sharp-shinned Hawk was sitting on it looking intently down into it. Was calm for a while early evening, but we missed the rain, or it missed us. The .09 or so was it. We got dry-slotted. Kathy saw a wet Yellow-throated Vireo at the birdbath, a very rare sighting here. They very nearly never use the birdbath. I only have a pic of a juvie doing that, once.

Mar. 20 ~ Happy equinox! Welcome spring! We are happy to see you again! Started at about 37F for a low this morning. Sunny, calm early, but wind is on the way. Started before noon. About 10:30 a.m. heard my FOS Yellow-throated Vireo singing. About 11: we went down to the crossing for a look, heard a singing Yellow-throated Warbler on the way but nothing else there at crossing. Still looks winter. Slow-rolled around the knoll and some of the conservation easement behind us through the live-oak-juniper-grassland habitat. Did not hear any Golden-cheeked Warbler but did have a FOS singing Black-and-white Warbler. Three Hutton's Vireo were singing as well. But little else. Some Bewick's Wren and Titmouse, saw one Ash-throat, a Cardinal or two, a Caracara. Back here after noon there was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in yard. Lots of Spanish Oak up there, maybe one barely starting to break stem barely, many will probably blow this week. Not one early wildflower. That is how dry it is. Parched. Good thing we went out earlyish, it was too windy all afternoon, gusting 25-30 mph. Saw a couple very small reduced Anemone flowers (white) in yard, in an area that gets watered. Might have hit about 76F in the afternoon in the winds.

Mar. 19 ~ Last day of winter, tomorrow is spring! We just about froze, maybe 33 or 34F for a low. KERV had a 32F. We were still at 34 at 8:30 a.m., so it was right on the cusp here. Average date of last freeze here is March 20, the first day of spring. We wish and hope, and dance, for a couple months of mildish weather before the burn returns. Current long-range predicts continued dry cycle in spring as La Nina finally begins to fade. Second winter in a row. We need rain in the worst way. It is parched out there. A pro cowboy I talked to today said it is as bad as they have ever seen it here. I saw local WU stations reading 75-77F in the afternoon.

At last hour or so of light looked at the sparrows a bit. Now SEVEN White-crowned Sparrow here, a yard high count. It is the big branch piles from the big dying Hackberry which I have left perfectly messily, creating the habitat that is now snagging passersby Zons. Bad enough we had to lose a climax Hackberry, at least we can get some sparrow habitat out of it. When the power compnay had to take out some major branches over the wires, they could not believe I said, no mulcher, just make a big pile on my side of the fence, TYVM. They looked at me like it was the first time they ever heard that. So I then asked them if while they up there with the bucket, if they could put a martin house up on the power pole for me. Apparently they never heard that either. Anyway, FIVE are western Gambell's type White-crowns. That is why that chorus was seeming to keep filling in more and more. Obviously they are on the move now. Then there were SIX Lincoln's Sparrow at once. So they too are piling in and through now. Sparrow migration is underway. The Canyon Towhee was out there too.

Late afternoon we took a mile walk uphill behind us into the live-oak-Juniper habitat. Thought I heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler but could not find it and since a non-A-type song letting it go, no FOS point. But had to be one. Otherwise just a Chippy, a couple Bewick's Wren, a few Black-crested Titmouse, and a Cooper's Hawk. Not even a Hutton's Vireo. It is parched. Many Agarita are leafless, a few had flowers but not thickly, more had buds, but they are generally in bad shape. We did see at least two Henry's Elfin, our FOY. A few Dainty Sulphur, but no Dutchman's Breeches or other early wildflowers. The Spanish (Buckley) Oaks are not yet even breaking stem! This is behind schedule. When they unfurl new leaves with their pink fuzzy, Golden-cheeks magically appear in them. Like the Hackberries I can see bumps on the stem where they are about to bust out. But not yet. Had a FOS White-lined Sphinx today, which reminds me I saw a sphinx several days ago, but it was not White-lined, being faster, smaller and darker, like maybe an Erinnyis obscura.

This is not a current photo,

odontomyia
Soldier Fly of the genus Odontomyia on blooming Antelope Horn.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 18 ~ Low was about 47F, the front arrived overnight, winds at 10-15 mph gusting 20 and more from the north. A bit blustery. Sunny and dry anyway. Town run day. No birds at the park, though might have heard a Yellow-throated Warbler chip a few times. Nothing else. Little Creek Larry said he had some Purple Martin this morning on the wire over the creek, and N. Rough-winged Swallow around the banks. Aerial insectivores! He said he has Ash-throats back as well. Still looks like winter here, all brown sticks save the Junipers as the live-oaks are yellowing and dropping leaves. I did see the Redbuds at the library are in bloom now though. That is a big sign of spring being around the corner. Best thing in town was Rosie was back finally, so TACOS! Real deal Durango tacos, OMG food of the gods. I can't believe we eat these here. No wonder they call it Utopia. One of Rosie's sons has a t-shirt that says 'I am only here for the tacos'. Saw local WU station temps of 73-75F in the afternoon. Dry, wind dialed back a little later afternoon too. Heard Screech-Owl over at the draw.

Mar. 17 ~ A low of 54F, clouds early but cleared. Back up to 80F in the afternoon, third day straight. Yard is still brown overall, some greens sprouting, but brown. I see some Mexican Hat sprouting and the Blue Mist Eupatorium at front porch is too. A pair of Lesser Goldfinch were on the patio. These are the first I have seen this spring. Normally they arrive around Feb. 22, none did this year. Three weeks late. There was that few-day winter sighting in earliest Feb. of a first year male. It was never seen again. Saw the Canyon Towhee still out there eating seed.

In the morning I thought sure I was hearing the sweet chip of a Yellow-throated Warbler. Mentioned it to Kathy sure. Then after noon, again in the big Pecan I heard it, but neither time could I spot it. Then mid-afternoon Kathy saw it at the bath, FOS! Surely the one that visits the yard and bath daily all breeding season. I knew that was what I was hearing. I saw one local WU station reading 88F! It wasn't that hot here, probably have thermometer in a hot spot like our patio is. A front is on the way and this the final big warmup before it arrives tonight.

Mar. 16 ~ It was about 33F this morning, KERV had 32F. NOAA had KERV progged for 41, and WU had us for warmer than that. I wondered why they were not seeing any cold after the frontal passage and those strong northerlies all day yesterday. It blows my mind how consistently they are off by a category, very often wayyy too high on the lows after fronts here. There were two dozen Red-winged Blackbird out there braying first thing. What a great racket. The rest was the same gang. Am. Goldfinches are tossing more seed on the ground than eating. Pigs. With the recent increase in costs, this is not good.

It was about 80F at 3 p.m., pretty springy. Very low humidity is nice too. Still looks like winter though. It is all brown sticks except the junipers and live-oaks. Lots of the live-oaks are underway somewhere in the annual cycle of going yellow, dropping leaves, soon will be flowering, and then finally leaf replacement. Over a month or so. They have tomorrow progged for upper 80's! According to the astronomical data at WU, today is exactly 12 hours of daylength, with sunrise and sunset both at 7:48.

Late afternoon I heard and saw briefly my FOS Barn Swallow! Finally. Two chasing males low over the yard and road for a few seconds. At least they called to get my attention. In butterflies, there was one FOY, a Funereal Duskywing which shot by fairly quickly. Also saw the male Black Swallowtail still out there, as is the Vesta Crescent, now about six weeks flying here, couple leftover Sleepy Orange, an old Dogface, an American Lady, and a Common Checkered-Skipper. New was a pale morph female Orange Sulphur in mint condition. Eight species.

Mar. 15 ~ Low at about 50F is fine with me. Sunny, a springy week will hopefully bring some of that forth. There was a dry frontal passage, so winds will again be too much, but from north today instead of south. Such a big change. It was gusting 20-25 mph. Around 80F again in the afternoon. Wow! Spring is coming. Mid-morn I heard then got to watch for a minute my FOS Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. You won't believe this but it was gnat-catching. Neat bird. In now 19 springs here all my FOS dates for them are between March 11 and 20, a neat and rather narrow 10 day window. Which the 15th-16th is the middle of. Whereas Barn Swallow arrivals fluctuate over a three week plus window (last week of Feb. to 3rd week of March). I am hearing quiet singing from American Goldfinch increasing intensity, they will be leaving soon.

Late morning I heard then saw my FOS Lark Sparrow. I thought I heard one a week ago, but didn't see it, and did not count it as a FOS. That was the 9th. Some few winter in the vicinity, but we get none from fall to spring around the house and mile or so adjacent environs where they are a common breeders. I suspect the few that winter locally are from somewhere else and have nothing to do with the local breeders which totally vacate the area in winter. Sparrows in yard today were Lark, Field, Chipping, Lincoln's and White-crowned.

Mar. 14 ~ Low about 50F and overcast. A bit of a chill but at least not freezing after those last two record breaking mornings in the teens. Mid-morn heard my FOS Ash-throated Flycatcher calling a few times. Smack dab dead-center in the middle of average arrival dates. Third time on the 14th. Had a 16 count on Red-winged Blackbird. One female is new, been all males. In afternoon heard two White-eyed Vireo calling at once outside. Got up to 78F on the cool shady front porch at 4 p.m., had to be 80F in the sun. Wonderful after that 19F the last two mornings. Have to get busy with garden and yard stuff quickly. I heard a few muffled boiks of Canyon Towhee song, which means it will be going soon. Saw it out there a couple times today. Too bad we lost one of them over the winter again.

Mar. 13 ~ I saw 19F as the sun broke horizon. KERV had a 21, SAT record this date is 27F. So record cold second morning in a row, in mid-March. I knew that mild December would bite us on the other end of winter. Wind blew hard from south all day 15-20 mph, gusting 25 and higher. Got up to about 64F, but the breeze stayed chilly. Too windy. Did not see anything different out there today. Same gang o' seed theives. The six White-crowned Sparrow continue as does the Lincoln's. Bluebirds are nice and noisy. Great sounds. Ten Am. Goldfinch still. A couple toss more sunflower seeds on the ground than they eat, looking for a fatter seed. Worse than a Titmouse or Chickadee. Messy wasteful eaters here.

Mar. 12 ~ Record low temps this morning. The record for SAT this date is 23F, it was 17F in KERV. I saw it dropping below 20F here before the final dip, surely it hit 19 and maybe 18F. The first Black-chinned Hummer showed up at the feeders about 6:45, sunup was at 6:55. Whence after seed toss I was back under electric blanket with a hot coffee. Was slow to warm up out there. Saw 55-58F at local WU stations about 3 p.m. Birds were voracious at the seed all day. In afternoon I saw the Lincoln's Sparrow leave the tub pond where it just bathed. Birds use a 2" branch that goes down into the water (per OSHA tub pond emergency animalian egress requirements) and hold on to it do their thing. I see some Lily leaves sprouting, and a some new Cattail leaves are as well. During my lizard-in-sun imitation later in afternoon, I got a SIX count on White-crowned Sparrow. A yard record. FOUR are gray-lored orange-billed western Gambell's types (2 ea. ad. and imm.), and two are pink-billed black-lored (ad.) eastern leucophrys. Neat. Love me some Zons!

This is not a current photo,

anemone
This is an Anemone. They should be sprouting soon in your
yard. But most are white. Some are purple, and rarely
I see one of these pink ones.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 11 ~ It was about 60F at midnight. At dawn in the 30's with chills in the 20's, and strong northerlies. We got a couple tenths of an inch of rain first thing on the main arrival and passage. Much of which seemed to fall directly on me when I was doing the dawn seed toss. Which I wish you could see, the panache and flourish is most impressive I assure you. It alleged to get up to about 45F but with the cold northerlies at 25 mph gusting to 35, it felt freezing out there all day. Even the sun coming out did not help. I mostly just saw the stuff coming into the seed and it was all the same. One round of tossing I flushed an imm. male Sharp-shinned Hawk right over where I toss. Tomorrow morn set for low 20's F, at or very near record cold for the date. Sure glad I did the town run yesterday in that 70F, and didn't have to go out in this.

Mar. 10 ~ Low about 32F. The warmup day before the cold front tomorrow. Sun is sure up early, before 7 a.m. now! Did the town run today since tomorrow is not going to be a good day to be out there. It is also the start of spring break here so wanted to hit the store before the college critters did. Still a few Brewer's Blackbird at corrals. Little Creek Larry said he had a couple Cave Swallow at his place this week, and a N. Rough-winged Swallow at the park yesterday (9th). He said his pair of Vermilion Flycatcher are back. He also saw a Monarch today, which is the FOS report. Nothing in the woods except 3 Questionmark butterfly. Two FOS mint-fresh summer form, one old worn winter form. So the answer to the question as to whether or not you can see both forms of Questionmark at the same time is, without question. Also heard and saw a couple Blanchard's Cricket-Frog, also the FOS for them. When I got back from town I heard, and then late afternoon saw over by the seed, my FOS Lincoln's Sparrow. More cranes way high up northbound. Late afternoon heard a White-eyed Vireo. Got up to about 72F today, not as warm as they said. Male Black Swallowtail floating around yard.

Mar. 9 ~ Low was about 34F or so, chilly. About 9 a.m. heard my FOS White-eyed Vireo! Another bug eater is back! Had to run to town early, a quick spin through park saw about 15 Ring-necked Duck, and on spillway, one Frankenduck, an Egyptian Goose, and a Great Blue Heron, which is now acquiring some nice breeding plumage and bill color. The non-natives outnumbered the natives. A Caracara flew over town. Looked the same gang here at the hovelita. saw five White-crowned Sparrow again, quite nice. In the afternoon local WU stations were showing 65-68F. Agarita getting a few flowers on fenceline out back. Saw those four C-130 Herkybirds heading back to Laughlin AFB after noon, not as close, low, and fast as when they went over the other day. The first Queen (butterfly) I have seen this year flew by, but it was an old worn one, not a fresh new one.

Mar. 8 ~ Overcast and 42F or so for a low. Just a very light breeze fortunately. It got up to about 64F in later afternoon, and quite nice. A dozen Red-winged Blackbird out there mid-morn, I love that braying. I keep forgetting to mention, today is the third day straight now, of seeing a Turkey Vulture soaring over low. Surely one of our nearby breeders that is a daily fixture now until September or October. In the later afternoon I got a FIVE count on White-crowned Sparrow as the moved from the big stick piles in front yard down fenceline toward road where live brush (a few big XL Agarita). Two adults, two imm.s, and one was unknown. Twice today I heard call notes of birds heading over northbound that I never saw. The first one in the morning surely was a Sprague's Pipit, probably coming up off the grass airstrip. The other one in afternoon sounded like a Barn Swallow. A couple got away today.

Mar. 7 ~ Just before midnight last night it was about 68F, the front hit shortly after, and it was about 42F by dawn. We got about a quarter-inch of precip so that was nice. Bit of a leaf-washin' dust-buster, and a sip for all the green tyring to sprout. Winds are north at 15 mph gusting to 25, so chills are in 30's. A far cry from that 80 or so yesterday afternoon. They are talking another front, with a freeze, for next weekend. Good the swallows aren't back yet. The two White-crowned Sparrow adults are still here, only saw one of the immatures. Some Anemone leaves breaking the ground.

Mar. 6 ~ About 65F for a low, is getting too balmy too quickly. Some mist mid-morn. Saw two adult White-crowned Sparrow, which I presume are the continuing birds, one eastern and one western type. Great to see male Vermilion Fycatcher in the yard again. Amazing to see male and female hummingbirds after about 5 months without them! And six months since most Black-chinned departed. The rest was all the same gang still. A few Chipping Sparrow starting to trill a bit. Kathy saw a Black Swallowtail late in day. Afternoon blew 15 mph gusting to 25 so we did stuff here since too windy. We had about 78F but one local WU station had 80F. The warmup in front of the front, inbound tonight.

Mar. 5 ~ We might have hit 61F for a low. Later afternoon I saw local WU readings of 76-77F. Mostly cloudy all day. The first FOS of the day was just after midnight when a calling Barn Owl flew over northbound high up. A spring migrant. Then a real big but little FOS was HUMMINGBIRDS! As in plural! First mid-morn a male showed up, and a few hours later it was displaying to a female! Both sexes arrived the same day! That has never happened for me in 19 springs now here. Males are always a few days to a week or more ahead of females. The rest of the feathers out there all looked the same. Had too much biz work and was stuck at desk most of day.

Then put on a new (neg) battery terminal. The one on there was replaced with battery 3 years ago, completely disolved away the cheap pot metal alloy where the bolt holds it tight to stud. And I wire brush the fluff off routinely. It was just lose. I had to McGyver a scrounged nut, bolt and washers to clamp it tight enough to go to town yesterday. I bought two terminals so I have a spare on hand next time. Living semi-remotely in the country is like living on a sailboat. If you have two, you have one. If you have one, you have none.

And now for something completely different.

This is a satellite pic of the yard and vicinity to give a better idea of the immediate environs for much of what is being reported here. This is the observation station. Pic in winter however so fairly leafless and devoid of vegetation compared to lush spring and summer. Only the Live-oaks and Junipers have foliage. As you can see the traffic gets pretty backed up. The other day I saw 8 pigs, 6 deer, a coyote, and two rabbits had to wait for a dillo to cross the road.

yard

The left-pointing triangle at center is the two acre hog-fenced plot we live on. The bare dirt treed area to south of house (toward bottom) is the corral, then the tip of the grass airstrip is bottom center. Yes, you can fly in. Left of house the greenery is huge ancient Live-Oaks on a slope with Mountain Laurel and Agarita, the hill country. North half of north fenceline is Junipers and Mesquite. Across from the gate are big climax Mesquites (brush country), those are Junipers towards river from them. The yard has 7 big Pecan trees, more smaller, and lots of what is leafless in corral is Pecans (deciduous woodland). There are many dozens of Hackberry trees throughout. River is Cypress lined, nearest one just over 100 yards from gate. So it is a remarkable confluence of habitats in one place. This is what a 230 species yard list yard looks like in winter. Would love a summer shot.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 4 ~ Low of about 62F! Overcast. A Myrtle Warbler went north through yard in morn, which may well have been a migrant. Park pond had 4 Ring-necked Duck. I had a bad battery terminal had to jerry-rig so didn't stop to walk woods. Got a new terminal to install. Little Creek Larry said he also still has not seen a hummingbird, Barn Swallow, or Purple Martin yet. His Vermilion Flycatcher is not back yet either. About 3 p.m. I saw local WU station readings at 77-79F, despite remaining mostly overcast. Heard the Vermilion Flyc. displaying up high over the corral at last light.

Mar. 3 ~ We might have hit 52F overnight, but was about 55 by dawn. Overcast. Sun poking out mid-morn. Great was hearing and then seeing way way up high until it dove back down to the ground, a displaying male Vermilion Flycatcher! Talk about a spot of light. And all that exuberance. I mentioned to Kathy yesterday it was time. Later it was in the front yard, it surely is our breeder back. Wonder where he goes for six months? About 1 p.m. I finally heard some distant cranes northbound. About 3 p.m. I saw local WU stations reading 73-75F! So nice to not be cold.

Mar. 2 ~ I saw it hit 32 at KERV, but I am not sure we did, maybe 34F here. By 3 p.m. local WU readings were 72-74F! Weewow! Birds were the same gang still. One Kinglet (Ruby). Come on migration. I see lots of little green matter breaking ground barely now. In butterflies, saw the Am. Lady, Red Admiral, a Pipevine, the worn female Dogface that has been around, and a Sleepy Orange. Kathy heard more Cranes distantly. The big FOS for me was a singing Roadrunner! Have not seen one in months. Hardly saw any last year after early summer. Singing from the same area as always where nesting is presumed. Just upslope behind us in the live-oaks. Where the heck do they migrate, er, walk to? The brush country? Mexico? Hondo? Oh to have a pinger on one. Had a flock of four C-130 Herkybirds fly over the house not 500' overhead, and each not 30 seconds apart.

March 1 ~ About 28F for a low, a chilly start of the month. Got up to about 72F in the afternoon, felt great to thaw. I was out there doing my lizard impression in the sun. Kathy had the big FOS of the day, cranes! She heard a flock go over northbound noonish. The rest was the same as it ever was the last three months. Waiting for migration and Golden-cheeks in a week or so. Should be Martin and Barn Swallow any day now, and a Black-chinned Hummer too. Saw a worn Variegated Fritillary, a Red Admiral, and an Orange Sulphur for butterflies.

~ ~ ~ Feburary summary ~ ~ ~

Cold and dry like January. There was one rain event, we got 1.5", some others got one inch. At least something though. It was a very cold Feb., though not record and power system breaking as last Feb., there were lots of freezes and freezing days, it was below normal of temps. The temperature pattern recently is below normal winters and hotter that normal summers. It is almost as if the climate is changing.

Odes were absent as expected. Some Februarys you get some early ones, but not a cold one like this was. Butterflies were few too, but a few were new fresh emergences. Just the common expected stuff of course, mostly leftovers still alive from last season, and looking worse for the wear and tear now. I count 14 species for the month. If just of average warmth, it will comparitively explode in March.

Birds continue to be dismal. Weakest winter we have seen here. Nary a Flicker or Junco, no Siskin this year, maybe one Sapsucker, hardly any Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, and so on, it borders on bizarre nearing eerie. Hardly a Kestrel or Shrike, even the Chipping Sparrow flock never got near as big as usual. Half to two-thirds at best. Best bird was the female EASTERN TOWHEE Little Creek Larry has over by his place this month. There was a Lesser Goldfinch here a few days early in month, only one of winter we saw, and an Am. Pipit on the 7th was the only one of them. Three Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow is a good number of them to be in one spot here (our yard). The first long-distance migrant to return was Turkey Vulture (12) on the 20th. I count about 53 species seen this month, and Little Creek Larry saw about 7-8 sps. I did not, over on his creek.

~ ~ ~ end Feb. summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ Feb. update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

February ~ Starting the month with a major hard freeze and ice event Feb. 3-4. On the 3rd there was a Lesser Goldfinch here, first one in a couple months or more. A couple orange-billed gray-lored western type Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow showed up Feb.7+ after the extended freeze event. Some of the early-nesting residents are starting to sing a bit now, like N. Cardinal, Bewick's and Carolina Wren, E. Bluebird, Black-crested Titmouse, and Carolina Chickadee. Some few dozen N. Pintail were on Little Creek at the pond during the big cold early in month. Better was a female EASTERN TOWHEE on Little Creek. The back half of February means only two or three weeks to Golden-cheeked Warblers! There were 33 Ring-necked Duck on the park pond on the 18th, and still there the 25th. A big FOS was on the 20th, Turkey Vulture, a dozen of them! A big fat FOS on the 21st was a Bumblebee. Ended month with more hard freezes, will be a late spring.

~ ~ ~ end Feb. update header archive copy ~ ~ ~



~ ~ ~ above is 2022 ~ ~ ~


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ 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.

~ ~ ~

Jan.-Feb. 2022 news now at Bird News Archive 37.
Bird News Archive XXXVII
Jan. 1 - June 30, 2022 (Jan.-Feb. so far)
~ ~ ~

July - December 2021 news now at Bird News Archive 36.
Bird News Archive XXXVI
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2021
~ ~ ~

Jan. through June 2021 news now at Bird News Archive 35.
Bird News Archive XXXV
Jan. 1 - June 30, 2021
~ ~ ~

The older weekly break bird photos are now at the 2021 photos page.
2021 pix
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To Top of Recent Bird News

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

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

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

All photographs within this site are copyrighted
and may not be used without permission.
All Rights Reserved.
© M. and K. Heindel 2004-2020
www.utopianature.com