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: August 12, 2022
(prior updates: August 5, July 29, 22, 15, 8, 1, June 24, 17, 10, 3)

~ ~ ~

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

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

August ~ OMG fall migrants! At dusk on the 3rd I heard my FOS Upland Sandpiper of the fall. On the 4th a FOS Least Flycatcher was in our front yard, another was at Utopia Pk. on the 5th. On the 6th had a FOS Dickcissel. On the 8th were the second-of-fall for Dickcissel and Rufous Hummingbird. Two more Dickcissel here on the 10th. Another Upland Sandpiper on the 11th. Orchard Orioles are moving south through yard daily. A couple adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird were reported at Little Creek Aug. 9 and 12. Some FOS Blue-winged Teal blazed down Little Creek dawn the 10th or so. An imm. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was at Utopia Park on Aug. 12 at the north end of the island. Many local areas got a little rain on the 11th and or 12th.

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

~ ~ ~
splish splash I was takin' a bath!

male Golden-cheeked Warbler



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Here is a master index page of 'Old Bird News' links:

Bird News Archives Index

It has links to all the 'Bird News' pages, in 6 month increments. It is the 18 year plus bird news archive file.

~ ~ ~ ~

***  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

~ ~ ~

Bird Photos

~ ~ ~

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:
August 5, July 29, 22, 15, 8, 1, June 24, 17, 10, 3

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

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

Moths of Utopia


And now for something completely different ...   support page


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

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

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

About 4 p.m. a rain cell found us, and took 15dF off the top dropping it to 81F and stopping the solar heating. We got just under a quarter-inch! A real dust-buster, for a day or so. OMG about 7 p.m. another cell found us and dropped another half-inch plus. Probably 22-23mm, or seven-eighths of an inch for a total. Incredible. Besides the molting ad. ma. Indigo Bunting, there are two still fully blue ad. males here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


<"summertanager"

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


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

not a current pic
<"blackandwhitewarbler"

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


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not current photos.

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

Shining Flea-Beetle eating hole in American Germander.



<"shiningfleabeetle"

Shining Flea-Beetle still eating holes in American Germander.


<"fleabeetle"

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


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<"nightjar"

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


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<"sailfinmolly"

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


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<"HuttonsVireo"

Hutton's Vireo Oct. 6, 2019.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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

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

~ ~ ~ June summary ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ end June summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ June update header copy ~ ~ ~

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

~ ~ ~ end June update header copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

June 30 ~ Wow, there goes another one. Low was about 71F, nice. Prepare for heat. One down, two to go for climatological summer. I bet we lost a whole minute of daylight in the last week. Heard a, or the, Black-and-white Warbler singing early, sounded like that 1st summer male that nested and raised young very nearby. Mid-day Kathy saw a female or imm. at the birdbath. One of the male Indigo Bunting seems quite fond of flight song as it departs from feeding here. Saw a couple Reakirt's Blue butterflies coming into water, some Snout and Lyside. One Dot-winged Baskettail dragonfly.

June 29 ~ A low of 68F was thrilling. A wee bit of that cold front washout air. We'll take it. It was nice while it lasted. Got up to upper 90's again, so back to the above average heat. Climate forecast is continued hotter and dryer than average. Lots of birds singing, they seemed to like the cool and rain, almost as much as we do. They were the same gang mostly, but yesterday's Hutton's Vireo was still singing nearby. Lots of begging baby buntings, Painted, dull greenies. Great Crested Flycatcher was out there early. Ash-throated later. Vermilion Flyc. still doing display flights so still nesting. Heard a Gnatcatcher go through. Forgot to mention a few days ago Kathy found a dead Reduviad, or Blood-sucking Conenose - the Chaga's carrier, in the house. Likely a spider or scorpion victim? Common Nighthawk and Chuck-will's-widow both still going at dusk.

June 28 ~ Low about 71F, and wet ground. Weewow! And the birds were singing. You can see greeness to the yard that was not there yesterday. Literally overnight. And no dust. But the male Cardinal are sure getting dull. Yellow-throated Vireo may be nesting over in corral, it is still visiting almost daily in the mornings mostly. Kathy saw the adult male Orchard Oriole in the bath again today! I got a quick glimpse before it left. The male Vermilion Flycatcher was in the front yard, it is the best red. Yellow-throated Warbler singing in the Pecans. Heard a Hutton's Vireo sing uphill behind us. It was a great break for it to be cooler today, about 88F at 3 p.m. is a treat here nowadays. A couple hours later a rain cell popped up to our east and there was thunder, maybe Seco Creek or eastward got some rain, we just had some spits and a nice cooling outflow which dropped us to 74F! So we beat peak heat again, two whole days in a row. It is the little victories sometimes. Heard Common Nighthawk calling and booming a few times. A couple Chucks are still going off at last sliver of light.

June 27 ~ A low of 71F felt great. Must be that cold front. I see 3 juv. Brown-headed Cowbird now, none ever begged or was attended by our breeders so far this breeding season here. These young are from further afield than our immediate vicinity breeding birds. I heard an Orchard Oriole singing in the big Pecan, but it was not singing like the first-summer male we have around that is with a female. An hour later Kathy sees an adult male Orchard Orio in the birdbath! I saw a Celia's Roadside-Skipper on the Blue Mistflower. Its bloom is fading, I think the 100F daily temps are too much for it. Heard that kip note call again, either a Kingbird (Couch's) or a Scissor-tail.

Just before 4 p.m. I saw 101F on the cool shady front porch! Hot air being sucked up in front of the inbound rain cells. By 4:15 we were getting a shower and it was dropping just below 90F. It must be that cold front. By 4:30 some local WU stations where rain were showing lower 70's F, and we had 74F! Looks like maybe just over a HALF-inch of the precious holy wet stuff so far. The first-summer Hooded Oriole gave a long bout of song in the rain right out office window (where his favorite feeder). Must have been its first bath in a while. About 6 p.m. the last of this bout of rain moved off. Looked 1.7 cm, or about five-eighths of an inch. Little over a half-inch of pure awesomeness. We had an inch early in month, almost four weeks ago.

June 26 ~ Low about 73F and some low Gulf clouds, to thwart any planetary alignment view seekers. Another begging juvie Painted Bunting, still unable to eat, only knows how to beg yet so far. Sure great to see all these begging babies. Kathy keeps seeing a juvenile Ladder-backed Woodpecker at the birdbath. Late in day there was a Gnatcatcher in yard. It must have been a hun in the sun, was mighty toasty out there.

Before it got too hot, about 11-12 noon we went over to the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. to have a look for dragonflies before June is done. There were a very few, incredibly few, it was astounding how few. It should be covered in them, there is nothing out flying over the water, and hardly anything along the edges. We saw a few Banded and one FOY Halloween Pennant, and one FOY Thornbush Dasher. A female Red Saddlebags, a male Eastern Pondhawk, and no damselflies (!?!). One tiny blue flowered thing was blooming, I am not sure what it is, the bushes are big, flowers tiny, might be Bluehearts. The miniscule flower must have a drop of nectar though as it had all the bees and most of the butterflies. One Reakirt's Blue, one Gray Harstreak, five Funereal Duskywing, 10 Snout, 25 Lyside Sulphur, a couple Queen and a Pipevine, and on some Frog-fruit was one Sachem.

The three male Purple Martin were still around the nest box, with what appeared some juveniles. At times some landed in the top of a short Hackberry at the edge of the pond. I never see them sitting in trees here. Some Barn Swallow included some juveniles, and the Red-winged Blackbirds are still nesting, and with juveniles. Bell's Vireo singing along 363, Waresville Rd., just west of 187 as usual. Only Vermilion Flycatcher we saw was one juvenile on a green. No Scissor-tails, usually a couple pair, at least, there.

The 360 crossing had some blooming Alamo Vine, a native morning glory family species. No Rubyspot damselflies still is amazing. No damsels period. One Banded Pennant, one Blue Dasher up by the drying Water Lillies, and one dragon got away. Singing birds were Yellow-throated Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, and Yellow-throated Vireo. Saw one blooming stalk of Venus' Looking Glass, a few Sneezeweed flowers, and the Dodder wiped out the Justicia.

June 25 ~ Low 73F, no clouds, go straight to sun. All the same stuff here. Lots of babies of everything being fed. Saw a Chickadee following a parent today. Saw an Ash-throated Flycatcher ride a juvenile House Finch to the ground. What tyrants. Saw a couple different butterflies. A Mournful Duskywing was great, a Funereal was also around, and a Dun Skipper was good since have not been seeing any. Probably the same as before Texas Powdered-Skipper was here too. Couple dozen each Lyside Sulphur and Snout, a few Queen. In the afternoon I heard a kip note that was either Scissor-tailed Flycatcher or Couch's Kingbird, heard it a few times across the road. I heard it a few days ago as well over in corral.

<"coot"

This is a Coot, taken at Utopia Park March 24, 2018.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 24 ~ Low about 73F, clear, should have woken to see the planetary alignment but slept through it. I like them better when in the evening. Here it seemed the same gang. Town run so a park check. Lots of exposed dying aquatic vegetation has a nice scent. Two begging juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk still around. One seemed to be eating a crayfish. Up by the former island an ad. fem. Black-and-white Warbler was foraging on the mats of dying aquatic veg where flies and bugs. Above the island at top of park were a few dragonflies. A pair of ovipositing Orange-striped Threadtail are always good to see. One male Widow Skimmer, an Eastern Pondhawk and two Blue Dasher, plus a FOY Leaftail, which looked a Four-striped to me. There is a rodeo this weekend so the park and town will be a bit of a zoo methinks. The water is amazingly low. Most of the river is likely subterranean. Pretty near four feet below spillway, so not safe really to swim in. Except for tourists.  ;)   More reports of wells going dry in the valley. At the afternoon seed toss I saw a chilly 98F on the cool shady front porch about 4:30 p.m., so over a hun in the sun. I would say about five of last six weeks, daily highs have been about 100F or within a couple dF. Adding on: I heard a Verdin at the Post Office, just gave a few calls, but since I did not go run it down I did not write it down, but saw it July 1, so noting first heard date...

June 23 ~ A 70F low is delightful. No Gulf clouds so we had good radiational cooling, but then, it is straight to the sun. I see two different first-summer male Hooded Oriole here now. One is more orange. Saw a female and at least one juvenile as well. Interesting how they never came in while nesting but as soon as the young fledged, here they are. Still hearing the Orchard Oriole singing, so they are still going. The Vermilion Flycacher is around but not in yard a lot. It got so used to being chased out by the Eastern Phoebe for years, the Phoebes died months ago, before spring, and it is still hesitant about the yard. As if it expects one to come bolting out after it at any time. Saw a juvie Painted Bunting chasing after an adult male a couple times. The males might pay attention to the juvies a day or few at most after fledging. Kathy saw a Mockingbird at the birdbath, first one around in a month or so.

June 22 ~ Low about 74F, some Gulf stratus so humid. Great to see all the baby birds considering the conditions. Today a couple Field Sparrow were begging, a much buzzier more insect-like beg note than a Chipping Sparrow. Another common cowbird victim too, so nice not to see any of that. I have seen a couple juvenile Painted Bunting around. Still no young Indigo yet though. The cowbirds are starting to post-breeding flock up. We had about double the number we have been having. They will depart in a couple or few weeks. Can't wait. Saw a Julia's Skipper on the Blue Mist Eup., first one this month.

June 21 ~ Happy Solstice! We made it. The sun is at its furthest north. Daylight is a full second longer than yesterday. It is a big hump to get over when you live in the heat. Earlier sundown means sooner cooler. We also have a major planetary alignment eastward an hour before dawn, five of 'em lined up, if you can see Mercury on the horizon. Remarkable since they are in the order of orbits. Mercury, Venus, then Mars, Jupiter, and way to the right Saturn. Some days the moon will even be in between Venus and Mars.

Low was 72F, which is great at this point. Did not see anything different, it seemed the same set of birds from my angle. Heard the Orchard Oriole singing, juvenile Summer Tanager (two) and juv. Black-and-white Warbler begging. Saw two juvenile Bluebird chasing adults for food, so they got a couple more young out in a second nesting this year. Always great to see. Heard Nighthawk at dusk, so at least one pair stuck to nest here this year, I think on the 1500' knoll just north of us a bit.

June 20 ~ A nice 71F low felt great. Also great was the Black-and-white Warbler singing in the big Pecan before sunrise. I hear a baby begging out there too. Hear a begging juvie Summer Tanager at sunrise as well. Juv. and first-summer male Hooded Oriole also out there. Lots of juvie House Finch and Lark Sparrow, and the hummer feeders are being flooded with another wave of juveniles as well. Saw a Dot-winged Baskettail dragonfly uphill on the slope behind us. One Northern Cloudywing butterfly was new for the month. The cool shady front porch was 95F from 3-6 p.m., a bit toasty. Almost forgot, there was a Gnatcatcher out there first thing at daybreak. Heard a Cicada after dark, which reminds me I forgot to write one down doing the same a few days ago. Still have not heard a Katydid. The Firefly show was a bust this year. Hope they come back next year.

June 19 ~ About 74F for a low, clouds, but which held heat in since they were here hours before dawn. We are at baby bird prime time now. I heard at least one begging juvenile Summer Tanager over north fence towards the draw. And did not see the pair around yard much today, so suspect they are over there attending it. Great no cowbird juv., since a common victim. Nesting success in the yard! A few times I had to walk 150 feet out to the wellhouse and the male would be following right overhead in the Pecans calling at me, pick-up, or pick-it-up, ushering me on out of his area. All the way out, and back. At last light the begging baby was in the yard. Saw the first-summer male Hooded Oriole hitting a feeder a few times. Later afternoon saw a juvenile chasing it begging. So, it nested nearish and the two juvies I saw are likely its young.

The first-summer male Black-and-white Warbler was around a couple times including at the bath twice today. Throat is still with much white but auriculars are black. Then at last light a begging Black-and-white was being fed in the north Pecan in yard! It looked to me there were two young as it was three together in a Hackberry out front. I saw it feed one young, the other bird flew over begging trying to get in on it, which if the other adult, it would not do. So, it was not just trolling, it was mated and fledged young here! I was not hearing it every day, so it wasn't right over the fence, but it was very close as evey couple or few days it was in yard for the last 5 or 6 weeks. Very cool. Late afternoon saw 94F on the cool shady front porch. A FOY butterfly is always good, so a Fatal Metalmark is exciting despite being rather dull and brown. A Gnatcatcher was about the Pecans at sundown.

June 18 ~ Low about 73F, just an hour or two of low stratus from the Gulf. It all looked and sounded the same out there. Except the biggest best Lanata got topped by a deer. And a fairly guilty looking doe, that just dropped a fawn. Anything watered, they are eating. I will be putting some more fencing around the front porch and flower beds. Vultures are circling down the road a piece, right where I hit that pig on the way back from the park at dark last night. Was glad for the tubular steel grill guard - Hill Country ready they call it here.

Saw another Texas Powdered-Skipper, third at least, maybe fourth this month. In the afternoon I heard a bunch of things scolding outside, primarily the Bewick's Wrens, but couldn't find anything. An hour later still going, was looking around, a bluebird had joined in, Carolina Wrens, and an adult Red-shouldered Hawk flew out of a Pecan on north side of house. The Pecan with Bewick's Wren using a nestbox. The 1st summer male Orchard Oriole blurted out a bar of song right when the hawk bolted, then some chattered chucks. So it had joined the scold too. They are nesting very close by. Like the Summer Tanager in the yard, I try to stay away from the trees they are in so as to not disturb them.

<"matingmoths"

Kathy took this pic of a pair of mating moths.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 17 ~ A low of 70F was thrilling. Must have been radiational cooling last night. It used to be the usual low in the late 1980's here, heck it would be 68F at Lost Maples. Besides the birds it was the 2nd reason Kathy and I used to come camping out here back then. LOL No screaming Limpkin this morn. I will be up at park in a few hours. Larry is there early, so maybe he will see it. Best place around for one, as Purple Galinule and Anhinga records indicate. There was a juvenile Black-and-white Warbler at the birdbath early, first time, you could tell. Same for the juv. Chipping Sparrow there too. Kathy saw an Oriole on the front hummer feeder that did not look like the lanky long-tailed Hooded that has been on the back feeder.

Town run so a park look. Water is THREE FEET below the spillway! So maybe 3' of water left out in the pond? The island is not anymore, lillies are baking in the mud. The big annual Fourth of July fireworks show has been cancelled. The county burn ban is back in effect. Saw two new FOY odes, a couple Banded Pennant, and an Orange Bluet. One Orange-striped Threadtail and a Blue-ringed Dancer were seen as well. One juv. Great Crested Flycatcher was across the river flycatching. Always great to see one of those.

I heard one loud squawk of a sort I did not recognize that may well have been the Limpkin. It was across the river and inaccessible, in the big willow patch above spillway. It only called once, so I can't claim it, but I do not know what else might have made the noise. Maybe I can get back up there at dusk.

Gas was $5 per gallon in town! Between the lack of water and price of gas there are no tourists, or barely so, compared to normal. Next canyon over westward is the Frio River, which moves more than twice the water that the Sabinal River does and gets five times the tourists. At Concan which is a rental town for the tourists, they are in severe water restrictions. As in none between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.! No lawn watering, car washing, etc. Five of their eight wells are dry, and they turn off the water system at night now. Unbelieveable! Our place here is on a deepwater well, so we're fine but lots of surface water wells locally are going dry too. It will take that great Texas drought buster, the hurricane, to fix this.

Later afternoon I saw two juvenile Hooded Oriole in the big pecan, looking like they were headed for the feeders. That would be great. I went back to park at dusk, but saw heard nothing in the way of screaming wailers. The Chimney Swift show however remains spectacular at dusk. After sundown. The swallows and martins come in for last drink at last sun. The swifts wait for it to go down. There were 20 or so, at least, hitting the water, I was out on the dry spillway and they were often blazing by at a few feet distance. You could hear their wings, and they were mostly adults, all in heavy secondary molt. It is quite the experience to have them at point blank for 20 minutes. Whaddabird!

June 16 ~ About 75F for a low again, and not much for morning low clouds. A great start to the day though. After the seed toss and birdbath refill and refresh, before 7 a.m. sitting at front porch station waiting for coffee, a LIMPKIN broke out into wailing, screaming its cries for 10 minutes at least. Nearest record is Travis Co., and then Brazos Bend S.P. over near the coast I think where a few have been for a while. They only first occurred in Texas maybe two years ago. This has long been a FL only specialty species, which is a Apple Snail specialist. They are in a major expansion with recent records in OK, MO, KS, TN, AR, and near Houston, I think nesting in LA, and a few other states in SE have been getting them. Currently this would be the westmost record in the U.S. So, a spectacular occurrence here. No big snails here, so not likely to stick long. Now if I could just get it up at the park for that list. Can't say I ever expected to get this as a yard bird!

Second thing early, Kathy had an oriole bigger than Orchard on the back hummer feeder. A bit later we heard a Hooded call out back, so surely that was it. Then I saw it later, it is a first summer male Hooded Oriole. Nice since we have not had any around this spring as usual. I heard a Hutton's Vireo singing over in the Mesquites (!) across the road. In butterflies other than the common stuff, Kathy saw a Questionmark and I saw a Tawny Emperor. At dusk I went over to the river and walked a half-mile up it, to no avail. I can't believe how low, and how low of flow, it is. On the water surface it appears nearly stagnant, though I know some water is moving below surface. It is not much, maybe 5 gallons per minute? I did see some Cynanchum just about to open its tiny flowers. Some Buttonbush is also in bloom.

June 15 ~ Low about 74F, with Gulf low stratus, so a break. We made it to 10:30 before we hit 80F. A big win here lately. Kathy spotted the female Orchard Oriole at the bath. First time I got a good study, it is a very worn first summer female. The male is a first summer too, so a good pair. I heard him yesterday singing over in the corral. Nice to see the female at the bath. Great to have them around! The male was singing a bit late afternoon again. Nesting very nearby. I heard a Red-eyed Vireo and Bell's Vireo in the corral, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo here in yard. Yellow-throated Warbler was in yard a couple times singing too.

The Summer Tanager pair hardly leaves yard. The best thing I saw today was watching the FEMALE Summer Tanager sing. It wasn't all great like the male, some was the same phrases though, somewhat subdued, and some was different gibberish song too. I have never seen a female sing before. Lots of female songbirds sing a little and fairly recently it has been discovered many more than thought. Most knew just of a few obvious ones like N. Cardinal. Always more new things to see, especially in behavior. Heard a Gnatcatcher late in day near dusk.

June 14 ~ Low about 73F, a wee bit of low stratus from the Gulf an hour or two maybe. And then back to sun. I just saw the long range GFS graph for June high temps in Texas. They show this heat dome from hell holding until the end of the month, about the 27th or so. Below the spillway at the park the Cypresses are turning rust, as if it is November. Some Sycamores are curling and browning leaves too. This is brutal on the environment here.

Late morn heard a chip that was certainly a Golden-cheeked Warbler over in the junipers along north fence. A juv. or two Ash-throated Flycatcher still tagging along with an adult through the front yard. Lots of juvie Lark Sparrow. Dang deer ate a bunch of the Red Turkscap. Anything we water they are eating just for moisture. I had to cage a Lantana and the Wooly Ironweed to keep them from being eaten. There are thousands more deer here than would be without hundreds of corn feeders. They are horribly over-populated, which then takes an additional toll on all the plants.

June 13 ~ Low about 74F, a couple better than yesterday. The high pressure kills the low stratus from the Gulf before it gets here in the mornings, so it is straight to the sun. The birds head straight for the seed and water. Heard a Black-and-white Warbler sing first thing. Still a female Bronzed Cowbird coming around a bit, and a couple males. Saw one juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird but it was not being attended or begging, so was from somewhere else and not from our local birds. It is very hazy today, which is Saharan dust again. It was noticeable a couple days a week or so ago but is thicker today.

June 12 ~ Low was 76F, which is usually a July-August heatwave low. I saw 99F on the cool shady front porch in the late afternoon. Local WU stations were showing 102-103F. Ten over norm. Once it gets past mid-90's, the humidity cooks out and it goes dry out there. It is still no fun. We have not been swimming yet this year. The river is a bit dicey when in low-flow mode, as now down here a couple miles south of town. It goes underground at the spillway at park, comes back up to surface a half mile or more south of there. So surely cleaned very well from the underground part. When so hot though it really gets warm, 75-80F, in slow moving spots. The fast moving areas are shallow of course, but likely safe. You just have to roll over to get both sides wet.

The birds were the same gang of seed and water users. One Red-winged Blackbird still visits. Bug supplies out there have to be very low. In butterflies saw a female Black Swallowtail, as well as a Giant or two, a few Large Orange Sulphur, the ratty Texas Powdered-Skipper was back on the Blue Mistflower, one Reakirt's Blue. Kathy got a pic of some mating moths on the stone walkway. Hear begging baby Black-chinned Hummingbird still. It was a cooker today, everything was panting and hitting the birdbath.

June 11 ~ Low about 73F, no low stratus, prepare to be baked. Birds were the same gang of breeders. Going to be fairly stagnant on that front for a while now. Save the new batches of babies as they appear. Heard begging baby hummingbirds today out front. Later afternoon there were 3 male Indigo Bunting at once on the seed out back, likely the three adjacent-to-yard territory holders. Love hearing that song all day, Blue Grosbeak too, but they stay further from house for a territory.

In butterflies, saw a Texas Powdered-Skipper but which was not the one seen a few days ago. A couple Giant Swallowtail, several Large Orange Sulphur, appropriate for the heat was a FOY Desert Checkered-Skipper, lots of Lyside Sulphur going by, a few Gulf Fritillary, couple Sleepy Orange, a Reakirt's Blue, a Southern Broken-Dash, several Queen on the Blue Mistflower Eupatorium.

Local temps were 102F at KERV, 104 at Uvalde, 105 at Hondo, and 106 at Junction and Del Rio. We had 99F on the cool shady front porch, the local WU stations were reporting 101-102F mostly. Ten F over average and normal. The Chucks are already quieting down, nowhere near as vocal as a few weeks ago. They will go silent in about a month.

Filling in with some older photos...
<"DottedRoadsideSkipper"

Dotted Roadside-Skipper, June 28, 2009.


<"GhostMoth"

One of the Ghost Moths methinks.


<"ScottsOriole"

Male Scott's Oriole


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 10 ~ Low was 74-75F, no low stratus early, some got here about 9:30 or so finally. Lots of baby Lark Sparrow, and several juvie Cardinal. Great to see a bunch with no juvie cowbirds. Both are common victims, so far we are doing great on that count. Kathy saw a juvenile Chat. Little Creek Larry reported one last week. So first week of June for first young out for them here. Town run and park check. Little Creek Larry said he had 4 Zone-tailed Hawk together, which must be a pair with two fledged young. Not often seen. Also great was Rosie being there, so, tacos!

At the park a Red-eyed Vireo continues trolling in woods at north end, and I heard presumably the pair of Common Grackle around the island area. Best were a few FOY odes flying. A few Checkered Setwing, several Blue Dasher, one Red-tailed Pennant, and a Violet Dancer. All were FOY sightings. Also both Red, and Black, Saddlebags were seen. Best though was at the Boyce's place, sure glad I stopped to see Kathryn today. There was a BLACK WITCH (moth) flopping around her back patio, that landed on the cedar wood wall. We had great close looks. They are LTA - less than annual here, and I have not seen one in a few years. Always a great sighting this far from the coast where they are semi-regular.

Back here at the hovelita after the tacos, about 2 p.m. I heard the Couch's Kingbird calling from the Pecan. About 6 p.m. the Orchard Oriole was singing in the Pecans out front. Saw 96F on cool shady front porch, had to be a hun in the sun. At last sun a couple Common Nighthawk were lazily floating over the driveway in perfect light. They must have stuck to nest this year. Also late a Gnatcatcher went through yard. Litte Creek Larry also mentioned he has not been hearing his Screech-Owl pair lately, for months, and is wondering what happened. They have been there for years.

Did leave the porch light on a few hours after dark and there was a bit of a moth response. Most were micros, and nothing unusual to my eye, but some response at all is great to see. It was more than 50 or 60 individuals, but mostly micros. Ten of a neat satiny white one. I have a new step-ladder that will make taking photos up at the light easier.

June 9 ~ Some low Gulf stratus got here right as the sun was coming up. Low about 72F. No changes on the ten day currently, highs up to low hundreds and no rain. Sat.- Mon. looking to be peak heat. The (first-summer) Orchard Oriole singing here at sunup in the trees along the fence between us and corral. It is nesting in there somewhere. Only a couple female Cowbirds left here, what a shame.

A Chat was at the tubpond early in the morn. Opposite side of house of the birdbath, and likely the Chat from over in the corral, not the ones in the draw or across the road. At least three pair are around us. Yes it is noisy and there are all kinds of sounds. Yesterday I heard one sounding like it was trying to imitate a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher call. It sounded like a nuclear radiated steroidial Gnatcatcher. I have never heard the sound before. After years of living with them all spring and summer. Surely then they are continuing their vocal education. Is mimicry involved? Do they get ideas from other species?

June 8 ~ Low about 71F, and just a little bit of low stratus from the Gulf, mostly sunny. Was 98F at 5 p.m., when the Couch's Kingbird was again up in the big Pecan calling. Just one, I think the female is probably on eggs now. We must be on his trap line. Fine by me. In butterflies Kathy saw a Snout, I saw Giant Swallowtail and Little Yellow, at the same time, providing a good size contrast in butterflies. There was a Texas Spiny Lizard out back, which I am sure is new for the yard list. Like Greater Earless Lizard, I have seen it nearby, but not in yard. Many birds are hitting the birdbath hard all day. We have to refill it and the pin-holed dripping milkjug over it two or three times daily. Water is critical for birds in this heat folks. Keep your birdbath water clean. Right after the dawn seed toss, I have to rinse the mud out of ours every morning due to coon and dillo. So it starts clean and fresh.

June 7 ~ At least we are getting down to 72F for a low so a brief respite from the burn anyway. A bit of morning low clouds. In the morn heard a, probably the, Black-and-white Warbler sing upslope in the live-oaks out back. Seems an unmated first-summer male, been around off and on for a month now trolling the area, hear it every few days. The first-summer male Orchard Oriole was singing quite a bit mid-morn, a 15 minute bout was great. Saw a FOY Texas Powdered-Skipper on the Blue Mistflower. About 3 p.m. saw 92F on the cool shady front porch, and a Couch's Kingbird was calling from the big Pecan. When I freshened up the birdbath late afternoon I lifted it to spill the morning water out, a W. Ribbonsnake was under it. I am afraid of finding my first Copperhead here that way.

At 7 p.m. it was 99F on the front porch! Junction, Hondo, and Uvalde all hit 105F, but Del Rio was cooler than yesterday's 110. Pretty sure SAT broke their daily high temp record. Again we are running 5-10dF over average for highs. Seeming like 10 years in a row now in summer, maybe 12 or 14 years in a row. Highs in high 90's F instead of low 90's F that it was a couple decades ago and prior. Desertification. Note the dessication.

June 6 ~ Maybe 72F for a low, we'll take it. Today is supposed to be peak heat of this wave, in low huns today and tomorrow. At or near the high temp records area wide. But when it is set to be around a hun for the next 10 days, a dF or two this way or that hardly matters. We saw 98F in the cool shady, so over a hun in the sun. Some local stations showed 101-2F. What was singing most out in that? Summer Tanager. A few things made noises but even the never stops talking Chats were nearly quiet. I heard the Orchard Oriole sing one bar, Kathy saw it at the bath. They must be nesting over in the corral somewhere. Close enough to be using the bath regularly. Last couple times he was alone so I think the female is on eggs now. Hope they are hers. Heard Cuckoo, Lark Sparrow, and Indigo Bunting sang a little. In butterflies the Southern Broken-Dash and Orange Skipperling were on the Blue Mist Eup. again. But holy heat, SAT was 104F, Hondo and Uvalde had 105F, Junction had a 107F, and Del Rio 110F! Latest afternoon a Red-eyed Vireo sang from the far Pecans out in front yard.

June 5 ~ A low of 68F was great! Let the burn begin. Heard the cuckoo (Y-b) out there this morn, so they are nesting around somewhere closeby again. Summer Tanager must be nesting in the yard, this is where it is at dawn and dark. Heard a Black-and-white Warbler uphill in the live-oaks behind us. Otherwise the same gang. Lots of baby Lark Sparrow and House Finch are good to see. About 96F in the shade at 4 p.m. is toasty, prolly a hun in the sun. Saw a FOY Orange Skipperling on the Blue Mistflower, and Kathy had a Questionmark nearing dusk.

June 4 ~ I saw stars at midnight but overnight there was more rain, mostly pre-dawn. I think it was another third to half-inch or so. Rained pretty good from a band that moved over the area west to east. This northwest flow from the front to north has baffled the forecasters and models. It was a hair under 64F this morning! Astounding. So we hit the jackpot with another shot of water and cool air overnight. I would say 1.4" for an event total. And the birds were singing way more this morning. Clearly they were thrilled too. Incredible was at 3 p.m. we were still not 90F. What a treat to mostly beat the heat for a day. It was like a great late-spring day out there. Just the breeding birds here now of course, but at least a neat selection to be had and heard.

<"tropicalcheckeredskipper"

Tropical Checkered-Skipper, taken July 16, 2019.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 3 ~ Low 73F, no morning low stratus from the Gulf. A washed out frontal boundry was in the area, not sure any precip was nearer than Rocksprings. Low-end chances for rain as we start this next heat wave. Progged for near to above three digits for next 4-5 days with peak and possible record highs Mon. and Tuesday. Some of the cloud cover kept it in check today in lower mid-90's F. Saw a just fledged Cardinal, first one I have seen here this year.

Town run so a park check. Saw my first Sneezeweed flowers at the 360 x-ing. The Dodder (orange stringy parasitic plant) is ravaging the Justicia (Am. Water-willow) which seems to be its primary prey here. The water level is falling fast. It is 16" or more below the spillway now, the island is not, a couple feet of mud is exposed along the river banks, it is looking bad folks. Some Cypresses below the spillway are turning rust, done with the green cycle for the year already.

Did not see or hear the 2 juv. or the ad. pair of Red-shouldered Hawks, so presume they fledged their young and are out and about. Saw another just-fledged juvie Eastern Phoebe there. The juvie Ravens are still begging in the live-oaks north of the park. In dragonflies saw a couple each of Red Saddlebags and male Widow Skimmer, and one male Eastern Pondhawk over the pond. Nice hearing Chimney Swifts over town. Rosie was gone though, so no tacos. Little Creek Larry said he saw just-fledged Golden-cheeked Warbler juvies from the pair around his place.

Amazingly a lone thunder cell popped up after 5 p.m. just east of town. Nothing else within over 60 miles. Looks like it hit Little Creek, Seco Creek, then moved west over 187 and town, and even hit us. An astounding INCH of the precious holy fluid fell. Took 15F off the steamer we were in. Then the termite hatch began. So all the baby birds are going to get bugs! The ground is so dry the wet just dematerializes into it. No dust for a couple days! By 7 p.m. skies were blue, and there was no sign of it on the radar, it rained itself out.

June 2 ~ Low about 73F and balmy. Dawn chorus continues to dial back daily. Kathy found a Reduviad (Blood-sucking Conenose) in the house this morning, which I duly dispatched outside. I have it on good authority some dogs here have tested positive for Chaga's. We see one or two a year usually, mostly outside, only very rarely in the house. We have a zero tolerance policy for them here. I see the new drought monitor map today still has us at D4 exceptional stage. So the rain did not make a dent in that yet. That is how far behind we are. Heard a Couch's Kingbird calling from over on the powerline in the corral.

Saw an Ash-throated Flycatcher feed a young in yard, so they must have nested nearby somewhere. Maybe in that box faced the other way out at NE corner of yard that I cannot see the front of? Also saw a female Painted Bunting drop a fecal sac nearish the front porch. She is hunting frantically in yard for bugs. I cannot believe how long it takes her between finding things. There is next to nothing out there. Walk across the yard and nothing flushes for bugs, or spiders. No grasshoppers either, usually a big big food item for feeding young.

June 1 ~ OMG its June! About 73F and balmy to start. We are only gaining 40 seconds a day of daylight now, which decreases daily over the next three weeks until the solstice. So they won't get a whole lot longer, ten minutes maybe. In the morn I heard Gnatcatcher and Black-and-white Warbler in yard. In the afternoon I heard a or the Orchard Oriole sing again. Saw a just-fledged Lark Sparrow being fed. Always nice to see since a very common cowbird victim. There was a family group of N. Rough-winged Swallow (begging juvies) overhead briefly. Not hearing the juvie Red-tailed Hawk, it must have finally left. I saw a whopping three skippers on the Blue Mist Eupatorium today. The Celia's Roadside-Skipper and Southern Broken-Dash continue, new was a Fiery Skipper.

~ ~ ~ May summary ~ ~ ~

It was a weird one. We finally got some rain, two events totalling 3.5" plus, where we were anyway, others got more and less. Those were in the first and fourth weeks of May. It did not move us up out of D4 level exceptional drought. First month of near-average rainful in at least six. The second and third weeks of May much of Texas spent breaking daily high temp records. Wildflowers continue to be fairly to very supressed, much of what little does come up is severely stunted.

Butterflies saw a few new different species flying as expected in May, but overall they remain very depressed in numbers. Immigrants from elsewhere were the only things in quantity, primarily Lyside (hundreds) and Large Orange (dozens) Sulphurs started showing well late in month. Hardly any small stuff flying yet, still. End of the month saw my first Southern Broken-Dash and Celia's Roadside-Skipper. Total was 28 species, amongst the worst May diversity totals here in my 19 Mays of paying attention. Some folks did a butterfly count at Lost Maples and got a good one day diversity snapshot, in a rough year.

Odes finally showed a few signlets of activity, but are just barely getting going. Did see an Orange-striped Threadtail and a Widow Skimmer at end of month, but not very much moving yet. These drought periods seem very hard on dragons and damselflies. We keep having exceptional droughts without recovery periods between (also why we are losing so many trees). I count 10 species of odes in May, a woefully low diversity total.

Odds and ends were one neat Cerambycid (Longhorn Beetle) photographed, a Zopherus Ironclad Beetle was seen on front porch. An Eyed Elaterid was seen a few times. Lots of Six-lined Racerunner lizards out and about, and a couple Western Ribbonsnake.

Birds were ok for how little there was in the way of migrants. There is usually a nice last hurrah the 2nd or 3rd weeks of May, but which this year apparently melted on the way. Overall it was fairly dismal for migrants, but a few were seen. Some highlights were a Philadelphia Vireo in yard May 3, a N. PARAQUE in our yard May 13, on May 15 a (white) Little Blue Heron was at the park which was reported a few days prior, a male Mourning Warbler bathed in our birdbath May 16, a Cassin's Kingbird was here the 20th. Calling Empidonax are always nice, yard had an Alder Flycatcher the 21st, a Willow the 24th, and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher the 25th. Well illustrating when to look for their passage, late. The pair of Couch's Kingbirds from April 29-30 were here again May 22 and 31.

What is not there is always half of the big story. Only one Dickcissel briefly in the usual 354 nesting pasture. Missed Eastern and Western Kingbird, and Olive-sided Flycatcher. Scissor-tails seem to come in, count bugs, and move out. Nothing for the scarcer warblers after the late April Chestnut-sided. I missed both Rose-breasted and Black-headed Grosbeaks but heard others saw some. Lots of seemingly unmated trolling birds singing up and down river habitat corridor. Things are rough out there when D4 level drought. I count about 103 species I saw this month just around our place and town (no Lost Maples trip), and probably a half-dozen more were reported by others.

~ ~ ~ end May summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy May update header ~ ~ ~

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. May 21 a calling Alder Flycatcher was in the front yard. A late season cold front arriving the 22nd was a surprise. The pair of Couch's Kingbird were in our big Pecan again on the 22nd (first here April 29). My FOS Willow Flycatcher was in the yard May 24. Very rare was a RAIN overnight the 24-25th with a cold front! On the 25th a FOS Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was sneezing in the yard. Which as of the 31st is seeming the last new migrant of the spring.

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

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

May 31 ~ Low of 73F, looks like we will burn our way out of May. Got past the big opening weekend of summer. We did not so much as peek our heads out to look and see how it was out there. Too much to do here. I think due to things like the economy, no water flow in the river, and the tragedy in Uvalde, it was a bit subdued and dialed back this year. Saw 92F in the cool shady in the afternoon. In leps saw five Queen at once on the Blue Mist Eupatorium, and again a Southern Broken-Dash and a Celia's Roadside-Skipper on it in the afternoon.

Same gang o'breeders here. But a great gang it is. Love hearing that Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting and Summer Tanager going off early. Add Chat, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Painted Buntings, and Yellow-throated Warbler more distantly. Plus of course the residents like Cardinal, Chickadee (Caro), Titmouse (B-c), Caro and Bewick's Wren, Chipping and Field Sparrow, all are still going. Makes for a nice symphony even though reduced by the day now. Heard Orchard Oriole out there noonish. About 1 p.m. and again at 5 p.m., there were calling Couch's Kingbird in the big Pecan again! They are about five weeks in the area now presuming the same pair. Settle down and nest already!

The adult pair of Carolina Wren are gathering material for another nesting, in a different spot. The young are out in a back corner of the yard, maybe the adults are still helping them a bit. The young made it about 8-9 days before the parents started showing more interest in another nest, than them. It's a hard world out there. Go get 'em tigers! Now I wonder how long they will hang semi-together? Interesting was seeing a juvenile Eastern Phoebe in the yard today, first juvie this year for me. Sure is weird not having our nesting pair here over the bathroom window after nine years of that.

May 30 ~ Low about 72F or so, the low stratus from the Gulf made it for the morn. When those clouds, we are just hitting 80F at 11, which gives a few hours to get some things done before it is dripping out there. Without the clouds it is 90F by 11. Then it drops back below 90F about 8 p.m. Mmmmm toasty. It is just the breeding birds here now. They are nowhere near as vociferous as they were a month ago. Some are already duller too, like the male Cardinals. Wondering how many second cycles of nesting there will be. If we get some more rains soon, everything will go again right away. I heard baby Chickadee. Heard a or the Black-and-white Warbler out back upslope in the live-oaks noonish.

May 29 ~ Maybe 70F for a low, some low Gulf stratus giving a few hours of a break (sub-80F) in the mornings. The chances of seeing any more spring migrants are crashing like a rock by the hour now. Great to have all these Painted and Indigo Buntings, and Blue Grosbeaks around to keep yer color receptors and ears happy. I missed both Rose-breasted and Black-headed this spring, nary a big grosbeak. I heard of others locally seeing them. This pair of Summer Tanager must be nesting in the yard or adjacent. They are here all day. I do not like to press to find nests right when they are setting up as it can cause abandonment. Letting them think all those Pecans are theirs. Had biz work at desk so didn't get out. Didn't feel up to melting for some dragons in afternoon. Did see a FOY Celia's Roadside-Skipper on a Blue Mistflower (Eup.) flower. Saw a half-dozen Firefly after dark, the first instance of a handful so far, finally!

May 28 ~ Low about 72F, warmer than forecast. Some low Gulf stratus early. Upper 90's F in afternoon. And so the three plus month bake begins. Saw the ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird again, surely here because there is a female. Heard the Orchard Oriole singing early, love that song. The Summer Tanager pair might be setting up in the yard. Lots of Chats visit the bath over the day. Heard the Great Crested Flycatcher and a pair of Ash-throat are around. The usual singing White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, and Yellow-throated Warbler. Had biz work keeping me busy at desk. The 3 baby Caro Wrens made it a week now so far, doing well, starting to act like wrens. Saw my FOY Southern Broken-Dash, a skipper (butterfly), on one of the Blue Mistflower Eupatorium flowers. A few Queens stopping by daily for them of course.

<"cerambycid"

This is the Cerambycid (Longhorn) Beetle from a
couple weeks ago (May 21). Elytrimitatrix undata is
what it looks like to me. Based on Mike Quinn's
most excellent Cerambycids of Texas webpage.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 27 ~ Low about 65F, the last of the cool mornings for most of four months. Great Crested Flycatcher out there early, and a Bell's Vireo. The rest was the same. On way to town saw my FOY Widow Skimmer dragonfly (male), at the 360 crossing. Town run so a park look. I cannot believe how low the water is at the park. It is still dropping fast, the rain did nothing for that, we were too dry and behind. Now over a foot below the spillway at park, the island at north end (not park property) is no longer an island. I heard an Orchard Oriole and a Hutton's Vireo singing in the woods but that was it for anything besides the expected. Great was one of the orange hind-winged Underwing moths (Catocala sps.). They are smaller than the obscurus or the big red and pink ones, and more mottled or marbled of camo above. Rosie was there so tacos! In the afternoon here I saw 93F on the cool shady front porch, so over 95 in the sun. Let the summer blaze begin. Here it comes.

May 26 ~ A near-record low of 53F was great! Last of that until fall is my guess. The SAT record for the date is 52F, so we were right on the edge of it. KERV had a quick 49F reading pre-dawn! Got up to about 90F locally in the afternoon. The hummer feeders were swarmed at first crack of light. Second wave of just-fledged juvies is out and they are thick. Two to three hundred here is my guess but maybe more. Did not see or hear anything different, as in a passage transient bird today. It is about time to turn the lights out, the spring migration party is over. A Gnatcatcher was in yard this morning again. Got a mosquito bite, that didn't take long. It has become obvious the male Cardinal are past peak red and really fading with wear now. Heard the Roadrunner cooing uphill of the corral. Saw a baby foot-long Western Ribbonsnake.

May 25 ~ Wow, a low of 57F is incredible! Post-frontal cool northerlies on this date is too. The record low at SAT this date is 54F, yesterdays is 58F, so we were near the line. The rain total here looks over 1.5, maybe 1.6-7" or so. Incredible. So 3.5-6" for May, near an average total, for the first month in 6 or more. Probably pushed us up out of D4 stage drought anyway for the present.

A couple interesting mammal reports have floated around locally. One is a Black Bear that was photo'd at a feeder by a game cam just below Clayton Grade, so 10-12 miles south of town. Other sightings have occurred above Vanderpool. It maybe sounds like more than one is around. Amazing. There was also a report of a Mountain Lion locally a few months ago. Incredible. Generally the only large mammals here are domestic sorts, except for the deer. And compared to some wild west Texas Mule Deer, these are half-domesticated.

In the afternoon a few birds were around. Best was a FOS Yellow-bellied Flycatcher which called a few times to make it even better. They are LTA - less than annual, so always a great find. The Orchard Oriole was singing loudly again, same first spring male. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was about. There were two different first-spring male Blue Grosbeak at once. At least two maybe three adult males hit the white millet daily. As well as several females. Great was TWO Firefly at dark. Second and third of the year here. Should have been hundreds already. Heard two Barking Frog after dark.

May 24 ~ Low about 70F, low clouds, still rain in forecast. A spit of mist. Some rain in area over day but not ours, the clouds kept it in lower 80's F. Last night just after midnight Chat and Cuckoo called. If it were a big day those would have been first two species. Before Chuck. In the morning there was finally a FOS Willow Flycatcher in the yard. Maybe I can still get an Olive-sided this spring. Otherwise it was the breeders. Dawn chorus is going at 6:15, you need to be out there by 6: at the latest to really get the full monty. The three juvie Carolina Wren have made day four fine so far. Hundreds of Lyside Sulphur are passing SW to NE generally. A cluster of thunder cells finally found us about 11 p.m., I think the whole area got some this time, finally.

May 23 ~ Low about 69F, heavy overcast, rain in forecast. There was some misty briefly. A group of rain cells moved across the area in the afternoon, missing us again of course. Some got rain, not here though. Only got up to about 80F or so, a real treat. Second day of reprieve from the heat. The birds were the same gang. But a boatload of batch No.2 of juvenlie Black-chinned Hummingbirds are swarming the feeders. Lots of 'em! Seems like near a ton or so now. Saw the 3 just fledged juvenile Carolina Wrens, so they all made day three so far, great to see. Heard a (or likely that same first-spring male) Black-and-white Warbler sing in the afternoon. Lots of Lyside Sulphur blasting past, one Funereal Duskywing, couple Queen, couple Large Orange Sulphur, a Vesta Crescent.

May 22 ~ A late season cold front arrived after the rain event last night. Much of the hill country and central Texas got some needed rains yesterday evening and overnight. We got nuthin' here but the cool air. Which after two weeks of record or near-record high temps is more than welcome. Low was 61F! NOAA said first below average temp all month. Late afternoon sun came out and it hit 85F. Which at 10-15dF below what it has been, is great! The two week heat event broke. Too bad a front like this didn't happen when there were still good numbers of migrants passing. We are at the last trickle of drips stage now. That two weeks of high pressure and record heat killed spring migration early here this year. The second and third weeks of May are usually still good, we get a front or two. They were a wash. Surely there is still a good passage bird or two out there, if you can find it.

As every year some Chimney Swifts were diving low over the chimneys here which are unfortunately sealed. A couple passes were within a few feet of me, it was pure awesome. There was a begging baby Lark Sparrow here today. Late in day counted 6 ad. male Painted Bunting at once, so with territories around the yard which is the designated semi-neutral area at center of the territorial pie they carve up. Couple male Indigo, at least, probably three, plus a couple ad. ma., at least, and one first-spring male Blue Grosbeak. All these seeders are on the white millet daily. Lots of greenie Painted, and some fem. Indigo too. If there were normal bug populations, they would not all be here as much as they are daily. In a good bug year they eat very little seed during nesting.

Yellow-throated Vireo and Great Crested Flycatcher trolling around. Best was about 6 p.m., the pair of Couch's Kingbird showed back up, in the big pecan. They were first here April 29. One was singing, sallied out and brought a bug back showing or offering it, it appeared as nest site selection behavior. Great to hear that song, not just the two usual calls. Kind of a short version of Scissor-tail song with a short series with some build up and a quick crescendo that is squeaky.

Lots of Lyside Sulphur going by, a Queen or two. Best was a Gray Hairstreak, which I think is my FOY. The first Blue Mist Eupatorium flowers are starting to open. Also saw a couple first Frogfruit flowers, little stunted ones. A few Am. Germander (aka Wood Sage but not a sage) stalks have some open flowers today as well. They are also stunted small due to lack of water too, and we give them a fair bit of supplemental water.

May 21 ~ Low was 73F, some thin low stratus staved the heat off a couple hours. Day 14 of the exceptional heat event in Texas, though yesterday we saw a bit of a reprieve. Today we pay. I saw 96F on cool shady front porch in late afternoon, so a hun in the sun. And humid. It's wonderful, come on down! Some days you are glad to have a bunch of biz work at the desk to do. I was stuck all day in it. Heard a thin zzzeet that sounded way off for a Yellow Warbler, but could not see anything. In the afternoon Kathy spotted an adult female Black-and-white Warbler at the bath. Not too early for one to be done nesting at this point, especially in a drought year when often only one brood for everything.

A couple times over the afternoon there were some good bouts of calling from a FOS Alder Flycatcher in the front yard pecans. Have not seen a Willow or an Olive-sided yet this spring. And no Eastern or Western Kingbird either, but a Cassin's and a pair of Couch's Kingbird. Just to make a liar out of me, as soon as I posted about not seeing any Ruby-throated Hummingbird for a week and thinking none stuck for nesting this year, a male was at the feeders today. I was not paying close enough attention obviously. There probably is at least one nest going on nearby.

Kathy spotted a Cerambycid beetle trapped between a screen and window. I had to unscrew the screen to get it out. Kathy got a pic so hopefully we'll get an ID out of it. Update: perusual of Mike Quinn's great Texas Cerambycids webpage has me thinking it was Elytrimitatrix undata. When I get pic off camera will post and confirm. About 6:30 p.m. we got an outflow boundry from a thundercell north of us promptly taking 10dF off the top. Hope some rain makes it here!

<"couchskingbird"

This is a Couch's Kingbird from a few
winters ago. The pair that we first saw in late
April came through our yard again this week.
I would say nest-site prospecting in the valley.
They nested at very SW corner of town in 2006.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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. (prob. haldemani) Ironclad Beetle, on the front porch late in afternoon. They are soooo neat looking, and seeming unique like fingerprints. Of six plus I have pix of, each is unique in the pattern and splatter of dots.

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, have not seen one come up yet this year.

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 update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

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.

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

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~



~ ~ ~ above is 2022 ~ ~ ~




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Links to all 18 years of archived bird news pages below.
Broken into 6 month increments. One day I'll quarter it
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