Bird (and nature) News Archive # 16
July 1 - December 31, 2011
Some commonly used abbreviations used are:
"in town" - means in Utopia
LM - Lost Maples SNA; GSP - Garner St. Pk.
SRV - Sabinal River Valley
FOS - "First of Season" (usually used for
1st spring or fall migrant to show up locally)
SR - Seco Ridge a couple miles west of Utopia
in Uvalde County.
Ode - Odonata (dragonfly or damselfly)
Lep - butterfly
BanCo - Bandera County UvCo - Uvalde County

2011 - July 1 to Dec. 31 reverse chronological order, unless you scroll to end and read from the bottom up.
Bird News Archive XVI

Well that is it for 2011!  Went out in a ball of glory
with the 73 species on the winter bird count, the vast majority
of that within four miles of town.  Nothing new for the
Uvalde County year bird list on the count so 279 it is, my
best annual total so far, eclipsing 2010's 259 and 2009's 245.
Was a poor year for shorebirds, no gulls/terns, but was the best
year for warblers, which was the real boon.  On the other side
of the coin, butterfly and dragonfly diversity (like the river)
were at their lowest in 8 years, the drought got worse, save
the last 3 months of the year over which we got 9" of rain,
enough to save the plants but not to catch up the aquifer.
Butterfly total species diversity for the year, a paltry 68 species,
we've had single months with higher totals numerous times.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dec. 31 ~ Count Day!  Since the 1st tomorrow is a wash for
weather with the front hitting (and I have other things to do
next weekend) and since it is best to keep the survey dates as
close together as possible, today was the day.  Low about
40 dF, and high reached 79dF, over 15dF over normal.  No
wind to speak of which is the crucial item besides rain that
kills bird finding in most situations, but especially wind
roughs up landbirding, which is most of what we have here.
In the afternoon it almost got warm out.

I did a few hours here before setting out, and spent 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m. scouring the local area finding and counting every
bird I could.  I again blew Lost Maples off, you need a
seperate party for it, a long haul for a couple species, more
than doubling driving time and miles.  I only drove 50 miles
total covering all the local roads I could from town and up-
valley in Bandera County.  I imagine some of the folk
in town wondered why that blue pickup with white shell kept
going in circles around town, again.

It was a great day, and it seems I found 73 species, which
ties the highest total in the 8 prior counts.  Remarkable
if I must say so myself.  75 is still a dream here, but
just a matter of luck, like if you run into a Roadrunner or
Turkeys, which I missed both this year, probably looking out
the wrong side of the car as I was driving, both species
likely saw me.

Best birds are the 3 new to the count, this being the NINTH
effort at this, something not yet seen on any count rates high.
Wilson's (Common) Snipe at Haby's wet spot on West Sabinal Rd.
was a good new one.  Then 6 Lark Bunting at the Prickly Pear
patch on 187 near the historical marker just north of the
W.Sab.Rd. turnoff was another new one.  At least one
Anna's Hummingbird was here at the house, I thought I heard
the other while watching it but just counting one.  This
puts the 9 year total at 129 species recorded combined from
all 9 counts.

There was a flock of 8 Mountain Bluebird on W.Sab.Rd., just
east of the first low water crossing on south side of road
feeding from the tops of short mesquite.  Another Mountain
Bluebird was still in the flock in town.  I've only seen
them (2) on one prior count.

Ducks were great with 7 Pintail (SLC) and 18 Ring-necked Duck,
both of which I'd only seen once before on count day.  Then
20 Gadwall (SLC & UP), and a surprise male Green-winged Teal
(at UP) were good.  One of the Ring-necks was upriver at park,
a first year male, alone.

Cypress Hollow had a nice first winter male Red-naped Sapsucker,
the only sap I saw all day, working the wells on those drilled
Cedar Elms.  The only Hermit Thrush of the day was there too,
as was the heard only Green Kingfisher.  I missed the male
that has been at the park a couple weeks, two times today.

I had 5 each of Caracara and Say's Phoebe, often I struggle for
one on count day, a big flock of 90+ American (Water) Pipit at
McFarland's fields on Lower Sabinal Rd. off W. Sabinal, a male
Northern Harrier crossed Lemond, just west of W. Sab. Rd.. I
was scrutinous this time so got Eastern and Western Meadowlark.
The Loggerhead Shrike was still out front of park, I saw it at
5:01 p.m., the last new bird for the day, after not getting a
response from the Barred Owls at the park (missed 'em).

Other misses (besides Turkey and Roadrunner) were Red-shouldered
Hawk and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, both of which I saw Friday
(the day before) at the park so have for CW, count week. Then
no Bushtit or Canyon Wren, those two most likely at Lost Maples
which I didn't do.  Also missed Lincoln's, White-throated,
and Lark Sparrow, House Wren, Hutton's Vireo (usually around yard),
no Golden-crowned Kinglet, and no thrasher was seen, was hoping
for a Sage if not Long-billed.  That's a dozen more one could
get if lucky on the best day, meaning 85 sps. for a day would be
possible if you had a small army out covering the valley.
With a few groups a few more rarer things would get dug out and
so 90+ is probably possible in a day in the valley in winter.
I bet that the Broad-tailed and the adult male Allen's Hummers
are both still around too, but didn't show for the count.

By not doing the count Friday, I lost the White-fronted Goose
and Golden Eagle as count week birds by one day.  After dark
I went out every half hour or so until 11 p.m. hoping to hear a
Screech-Owl or Great Horned Owl to no avail, and no geese or
cranes went over after dark either.  There was a real nice
Chorus Frog chorus though at 11 p.m..

The whole list is up on the winter bird count page (link above).
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (3) and Myrtle Warbler (14) were 25% and 50%
respectively of their average numbers, these being mayfly dependent
winterers here, no river = no mayflies = no winter insectivores.
Hermit Thrush was 1 instead of avg. 5, no doubt due to lack of
a juniper berry crop this year due to drought.  Have I told
you lately how everything is connected in nature?

The bird that got away today was an Athya duck that flushed with
the Ring-neckeds off the pond behind Jones Cemetery.  I saw
a bold all green head, like a Greater Scaup, and so checked for
a wingstripe which was white, and seemed all the way out wing,
not gray, but they flew off and that was that.  It looked
like a Greater Scaup to me, though it is possible to get green
off the head of a Ring-neck this seemed too solid and saturated
for that, besides the white trailing edge of wing.  But for
a rare bird like that here, a flying away view stinks for a count,
and it would probably be a very rare record for Bandera County.

Update: I spent the rest of winter watching every Ring-necked
Duck flush I could, here, at the hatchery, the slough, I watched
a couple hundred Ring-necked Ducks flush and fly off in Jan. and
Feb. just studying how their wing looked.  The count bird
was a undoubtedly Greater Scaup as I thought when I saw it.
I am now confident to add it in to the count totals.  Sometimes
additional study is required to make a positive identification.

A surprise was the dozen species of butterflies found as I looked
around, TWO of which were new for the month; a Buckeye along
187 in Bandera Co., and a Northern Cloudywing at the Spring
Branch crossing on the West Sabinal.  A Pipevine Swallowtail
was nectaring on the big (still blooming) Loquat in town.
One Question Mark and a late Gulf Frit was neat too.  I lost
count of Dainty Sulphur but must have been a dozen.  The two
new for month species made for 27 species this month, one of my
better Decembers, but half those species weren't seen after the 3rd.

Autumn and Variegated Meadowhawk were the two ode species today.

Dec. 30 ~ Was seriously going to do the count today, did a
couple hours around house early as had a few things had to
do, and then the wind kicked up to 15+MPH.  Went to town
for a couple things and looked around a couple hours just
in case it was hoppin' I'd go for it, but 'twas deadish, so
tomorrow is the big day.  One male Variegated Meadowhawk
dragonfly out front in the driveway here on SR though.

At the pond south of 355 where that hits S. Little Creek were
15+ Ring-necked Duck, 6 Pintail, and some Gadwall, but the
Redhead, Wigeon, and Green-winged Teal were all gone.  The
weak hackberry crop is really getting depleted quickly in town
and that huge bird flock was nowhere to be found for the
second time in a week, perhaps they've moved on, but only
one Robin, a dozen bluebirds, maybe 50 waxwing, 10 Myrtle
Warbler.  It is the nature of frugivores to move around,
hunting the next patch of trees with food.  I was hoping
they'd stick until I did the count, especially since there
were 2 Mountain Bluebird in the flock.

At the park was the male Green Kingfisher, heard the Belted,
no Great Egret it's gone, one Great Blue Heron, a Red-shouldered
Hawk, an immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a nice male Audubon's
Warbler, the Black Phoebe, but missed Blue Jay there and in town
and a bunch of stuff just wasn't out and about it seemed.  The
wind had lots of stuff down I think, it was just enough to be
irritating for landbird hunting.

Other things about were a female Large Orange or Cloudless
Sulphur butterfly, one Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly, both at park.
A Pipevine Swallowtail was in town, new for Dec., sps. #25
for the month and probably one of my latest ever here.
A couple each of Orange Sulphur, Variegated Frit, Sleepy Orange,
Common Checkered-Skipper, and one Red Admiral were out in the
ca. 70 dF highs.

There was a flock of 18 or so Eastern Meadowlark out UvCo
Stub 378 off the NW corner of town.  Just after I'd
decided visually they were Eastern the one I was looking at
called, veeet, a couple times, a diagnostic call of Eastern,
which was neat, that it didn't call like a Western after I'd
decided they were Eastern.  :)

On a botanical note, the junipers (cedar) are starting to
pollenate, I see the rust colored tips on the male trees,
so get your allergy stuff ready, it's about to start.

Dec. 29 ~ Here at the hovel on SR, one Lesser Goldfinch was
with a hlaf dozen American, and 18 Pine Siskin was my count.
There were 2 pairs of Ground-Dove on the seed, 8 Inca, saw
one Oregon Junco, and the same hummers as yesterday.  Best
was a Question Mark butterfly, new sps. for the month, #24.

Dec. 28 ~ Trying to decide when to do my one day winter bird
survey.  Most have been on the 1st, and best to keep it
close as possible to the same date, but this year there is a
front predicted to hit some time that day.  So methinks
Dec. 31, but, if I did it Dec. 30, it would be a nice day the
31st to mop up for count week species, whereas on the 31st the
following day the front hits sometime so would not be as good
a day to try to get a few misses for count week.  Decisions,
decisions.  Since on the 2nd its back to the salt mine
and no chance but for flyover count week birds..... hmmmmmm.

Anna's, Rufous, and mystery hummer all still about off and on.
Audubon's Orioles, Pine siskin, American Goldfinch, lots of
House Finch.  TWO pair of Common Ground-Dove were out there
on the seed, which would be good for count week insurance, if I
count by Saturday, as you get three days before and after count
day for count week (CW).  If I do it Friday the 30th, the
White-fronted Geese and Golden Eagle from Tuesday would be CW birds.
Hmmmmm.... tempting isn't it?

Dec. 27 ~ The bird of the day was at 12:30 p.m. when I went out
on front porch for a minute and heard geese.  Grabbed bins
so I could check for anything mixed in.  Was 2 big skiens
of White-fronted, 175+, heading due south at 1000', homogenously as
usual.  Because I went through them in the course of seeing
some sky I saw a large dark soaring object I couldn't instantly
get a fix on for species.  When things are at a distance
size is hard to judge, but once in bins I saw it had a big white
tail base, which meant it was going to be good.  I ran inside
for scope and in five seconds had a bead on it.... GOLDEN EAGLE!!
An immature, without the white patches at wing bases, only the
white base of tail, they can be either way.  It started
to head down-valley, got about to 1050 and turned around drifting
north back up toward the big ridge behind Seco, the divide, and
back into Bandera County.

I just recently counted since I didn't expect to see any new
different species in Uvalde County this year, so know that was
the 279th species I've seen in Uvalde County this year.  One
more for an even 280 would be nice.  I'm sure it is the
highest total for a county year list here ever.  I had done
244 and 259 as my two best prior years, and this year was much
better, really great, despite less coverage than normal for me
down around Uvalde at the great watered hot-spots and in the brush
country, and despite (or because of?) the drought.  I'd guess
if you were retired and worked at it all year, in a good year,
300 species would be possible in Uvalde County.

It's been a few years at least since I've seen Golden Eagle locally,
and have only seen 4 maybe 5 in now 9th year here, less than
annual for me.  If I hadn't have gone out for a minute I wouldn't
have heard the geese, then if I hadn't have checked them out
for something else, I wouldn't have seen the eagle.  This
is the serendipity of birding.  How many things are going
over all the (most of) time we aren't out there looking up?

I didn't see the Great Egret at the park, just the Great Blue
Heron, Belted Kingfisher, and Pied-billed Grebe.  At least
15 maybe 20 Phaon Crescents were still down around the now
defunct Corn Salad, Marsh Fleabane, and Frogfruit, the last
3 things to go in Dec., there are no nectar sources out there now.
A few other butterflies were around, a Red Admiral, 2 Orange Sulphur,
2 Dainty Sulphur, 2-3 Variegated Fritillary, a Com. Checkered-Skipper,
and a couple Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies were at the park.

Finally I did see some Mayflies above the island in the still
wet section of river that didn't dry out.  Not lots, but
some.  It seems most of the wintering passerines that subsist
on them came in, saw the dry riverbed, and left after a short while,
knowing there wasn't going to be the customary mayfly madness to
sustain them all winter.  I've never seen the park woods so
consistently dead for a flock of wintering insectivore passerines.

Sorta seems the hackberries are quickly getting depleted in town
as well, and when they do that big bird flock will also leave the
area.  With the bluebirds, robins, waxwings and chippies,
plus hangers on like goldfinches, Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler
and others it is 300+ birds.  Hope I can find them on count day.

Dec. 26 ~ Happy Boxing Day! Today we celebrate making it through
Christmas.  :)   Black-crested Titmouse singing its "phone ring"
song out back.  I think this is early date wise for that,
have to check prior years notes.  Still cool and breezy
with low 30's/low 50's for a Hi/Lo spread.

Dec. 25 ~ Merry Christmas!  Now go birding, there is
hardly anyone out there moving around, the places are empty!
A bit chilly in the 30's this a.m. with some wind on it,
chill factor was freezing.  Waiting for afternoon warm-up
to upper 40's I hope to take a peek in town.  Meanwhile
here at the ranch (campsite is more like it) on SR, I heard
what I thought sure was that adult male Allen's Hummingbird
wing-whistle, snuck out front, and sure enough on the feeder
and later perched in the tree a fully gorgeted fully green-
backed adult male Selasphorus Hummer, the ALLEN'S continues!
I hadn't seen it in a month!  Must be some other feeders
up nearish-by.  Two imm. male rufous and two Anna's make
at least 5 hummingbirds here now.  Now if that imm. male
Broad-tailed would show back up I'd have 4 species, and I bet
it is still around.  We have a near-freeze for the next
couple/few nights, then is supposed to warm into 40's for lows
and those lovely 60's for highs.

The weather people we're joshin' I guess about that 3-8 dF
warmer today as it no way got over 43, maybe 1 dF over yesterday,
and with the wind the chill factor no way got out of 30's today,
so we stayed in where it was warm and watched Seven Days in Utopia.
Just in case we ever go there .....   :)  I don't know
how those Hollywood special effects people made it so the waitresses
thumbs weren't in the water, they are really something there with
those special effects.  How did they get all those skyline shots
without a single vulture once ever?  And no roadkill?

Dec. 24 ~ A cold wet day, supposed to be last rain for 10 days
at least as jet stream moves north.  Low and high was
about 42 dF, with rain is enough to keep me indoors working,
on feeder watch all day.  Will be nicer tomorrow so will
peek around town then.  Not much for precip total though,
as of p.m. maybe 1/8" again, but nearly 3" for last 3 weeks!
And probably about 9" in last 3 months.  Spectacular!
We're still 2' short from having a river again, but for the
plants, biologically, it's a lifesaver.

Best bird here was a record count of Junco, 20 individuals, the
highest count I've ever had here, 1 Oregon, 1 Pink-sided, the
rest Slaty.  Chipping Sparrow count is 135+, maybe 150 now.
A few Field still here, including one white-winged one, and a
Chippy has about 3 white outer primaries on each side as well.
Ten or so Pine Siskin including the yellow-tinted one were
on the sunflower tubes.  The two Anna's and two Rufous
Hummers continue.  The other best bird of the day was a Turkey,
with the most tender juicy breast meat you can imagine.  :)

Dec. 23 ~ Two ANNA'S and two RUFOUS (prob.) Hummingbirds are
still here for sure as of today.  Didn't see the Broad-
tail since last weekend, and I haven't seen the adult male
Allen's since right before Thanksgiving.  It sure seemed
like winter with the couple dozen Robin and Waxwing in yard,
a half-dozen each American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin, a couple
Hermit Thrush and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and 125+ Chipping
Sparrow now, maybe 150.  Today I heard Titmouse give the
ringing phone song for the first time this season.  One
Lady (Vanessa - butterfly) was about that looked American
but it got away.  Cold north wind all day, high in 40's,
and rain supposed to move in tonight billed as last for bit
with great forecast for my planned 9th winter bird survey
and count next weekend, warmer and mild.

Dec. 22 ~ Some MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD flew over calling at SR this
a.m., a unique call, sorta like terp or tyerp, but I couldn't
pick them up against the blue sky so don't know how many, it
only sounded like a couple or three.  Down at UP there
was my second ever park Roadrunner, while 2 Great Blue Heron,
the Great Egret and Belted Kingfisher continue, plus I heard
the Green Kingfisher upriver.  It warmed to mid-60's in
afternoon and I saw a couple Orange Sulphur, a Dainty Sulphur,
a couple each Sleepy Orange and Variegated Fritillary.  A
couple Autumn Meadowhawk (odes) were at the park.

Dec. 21 ~ Happy Winter Solstice!  The days will start
getting longer and birds will start to sing.  What could
be better than that?  :)  Quietly and intermittently
at first, but within a few weeks on nice days there will be
a few species like Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Black-crested
Titmouse and others starting to get after it pretty well.
Increase in photoperiod triggers testosterone and voila!

Another 1/2" of rain in the evening so now 2.5 " in 12 days or so.
WOW!  Heard N. Little Creek got an inch, northwest of town.
One female Oregon Junco was in with the dozen plus Slaty Junco.
We don't call it Blue-colored Jay, or Green-colored Jay, or Brown-
or Gray-colored Jay, why is it Slate-colored Junco and Clay-colored
Sparrow?  The word "colored" is superfluous isn't it?

A Red Admiral (lep) came out in the afternoon.

Dec. 20 ~ Sunny and windy, the post-frontal blow, so cool too.
There is a little bit of Cardinal song beginning out there off
and on the last few days, mostly under-the-breath, no full-blown
beltin' it out, but some bits of song for the first time in months.

Dec. 19 ~ Anna's and Rufous Hummers still here at SR, Hutton's
Vireo, a Caracara passed by in the p.m. after the front cleared
it out, 'nother 1/8" + of drizzle and showers in the morning.
We're over 2" in last 10 days for precip.

Dec. 18 ~ Today would have been a great day to do the winter
bird count, except it's 2 weeks off schedule so data would not
as directly comparable.  Every two weeks things change a bit,
it's different, and one critical aspect of comparing data year to
year is to survey as close as possible to the same date, every time.

Watched around the house a bit in the a.m., went out at 11, and was
back at 2:30 p.m., just birding around town.  I saw what to me
was an incredible 63 species.  In a few hours!  I've had
whole count days I worked 12 hours and drove a hundred miles locally
and only found 59 species.  Several of the species were ones
I've never recorded on the count, so it really would be neat if they
stayed two weeks.

A male Lark Bunting is at the north end of town near the med.ctr.,
I think the same one for a couple or few weeks now, haven't ever had
one on the count.  I worked the bluebird flock at the park and
the hackberries on Cypress St. at entrance and found 2 MOUNTAIN
BLUEBIRD in with 50+ Easterns, neither an adult male, but very good
birds here, only had them on one count in last 8 years.  Ya gotta
look at EVERY bird, EVERY time.  20 Waxwing and 10 Robin, were
in the hackberries, along with Chippys underneath them.

A single male Common Grackle was flying over town in most directions,
calling, usually miss them.  At the park was 8 Gadwall and the
male American Wigeon continuing, very good birds.  Upriver in
wet section above the island was a male Green Kingfisher and a Pied-
billed Grebe, and the Great Egret continues (never had one on count).
No Winter Wren though.  The live-oaks are deadsville, being that
they were in drought mode all year, they have no bugs, and there is
no bird flock.  Heard the Downy Woodpecker, and a flock of 27
Brewer's Blackbirds flew over the dam while I was on it, 'bout fell off,
for the hundredth time, tracking overhead is so hard to do on a 18" wide

There was the rest of the bluebird flock, 40+ more, so nearly 100 total,
on the east side of town, hitting the hackberries with 75 C. Waxwing,
30 Am. Robin, some American Goldfinch and Chipping Sparrows.
Maybe 9 white-crowned Sparrow in 2 small flocks, no Harris's love,
one male Pyrrhuloxia at east end of Lee St. (first corner), a Say's
Phoebe just past west end of Lee St. on UvCo stub 378 (Black at dam
at park and Easterns everywhere), a Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird at Judy
Schaeffer's place along with Pine Siksin and Lesser Goldfinch.

The real motherlode of the day though was out at Little Creek, at
the pond south of where the road curves along creekbank, which has
ducks!  DUCKS!  Good thing I had the scope with me though.
It's a hundred yard scan.  Best bird was a female Redhead!  WOW!
Then there were 6 Pintail, 5 Ring-necked Duck, 4 Green-winged Teal, 5 Am.
Wigeon and 35 Gadwall!  It was the jackpot for here.  6 species!

Other odds and ends were Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks, which I miss
as often as get on the count.  Hutton's Vireo in the yard, another
easy to not see when you want it, Audubon's Oriole, Anna's Hummingbird
and Broad-tailed Hummer, 12+ Slaty Junco, here at the SR hovel,
The Hutton's was #64 for the day when I got back in p.m..

I have little doubt I would have seen 75 species had I birded all day
starting early, staying out late, covering all the local roads, and
now hackberries are the key, it is where the food is since junipers
berryless as most live-oaks are bug and acorn free.  75 sps. is the
holy grail 100 species here, as it is a figure I have yet to reach on
count day.  Coulda done it today.  It is easier in spring
on a good passage day to reach 75 locally.

I saw Little Creek Larry and he mentioned he had a Catbird in Oct., so
that would be at least a fourth here this fall with 3 I had in Oct at UP.
Most falls I don't see one.

Dec. 17 ~ More cool and damp, high in low 50's so worked here
at the office today.  Tomorrow a bit warmer, will look then.

We wish the bird counters well....

Dec. 16 ~ One thing neat about this season is all the annual
Christmas Bird Counts going on all over the country.  Often
you can see reports at say where you go
to (click) bird mail, then scroll down, to peruse states, many have
multiple lists, and click to see what is being seen around the country,
since the whole army gets out and looks to do them.  Check
out your home state, you'll be amazed I'm sure.  I like
checking out say NJ and Mass. since we lived there and the
winter birding can be so exciting.  The Uvalde CBC is/was
the 17th.  Fortunately I had too much to do to get up
at 4 a.m. to drive there for a good cold and muddy day birding.
But it is always interesting to see what all the counts find
without having to wait 9 months for an official publication.
I plan to do another January 1 local count here ..... #9!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dec. 16 ~ More breezy, chilly and humid, drizzle, in 40's,
finally for a short bit in late afternoon broke into 50's,
maybe 55 for an hour or so.  Mostly the SOS here out the
office window and about yard, heard some Cranes southbound
early afternoon.  The NBE, near-bird experience, of the
day was while I was standing on back porch looking through
the Chippies and Juncos.  The lower-most 6' or so of the
immediate juniper patch is all cleared, for visibility across
it and brush piles every 10' for stuff to dive into when
the accipiters visit.  There is a full solid canopy above.
A hawk, an odd looking hawk, comes sailing into the lower
open area, Chippies bolting in every direction as are Cards,
and Juncos, all alarming of course, and thinking accipiter.

Quickly I am realizing this is a big slow hawk, not whatsoever
accipiterine, and it turns on a dime, standing on a wing tip and
does a pirouette around a juniper trunk, just hanging in the air,
like a Pterodroma or Albatross.  Sending the second wave of
previously frozen Chippies bolting in every direction.  Then
it came down the cleared path right at me on the porch and I saw
the facial disks, at about 8' distance, MARSH HAWK!  OK
Northern Harrier, I'm an old guy that learned a long time ago.
It continued right past me perhaps 4' away at most, I could have
caught it with a butterfly net as it went across the little clearing
and through an opening in the junipers out the other side.
A Marsh Hawk (N. Harrier) hunting UNDER the juniper canopy!
It did not seem like it was this birds first try either.  Not
kidding, I coulda grabbed it, 'twas at arms length, and turned its
head to take a look at me as it floated silently by.  Was a female.
WEEWOW!  Always something amazing to see, right out the door!
Just get outside the box.  :)

Dec. 15 ~ Two Anna's, two Rufous and a Broad-tailed Hummer
continue here at SR.  A few Pine Siskin were on the tubes.
Dozen Junco (Slate), a hundred Chipping, a few Field and a
couple Rufous-crowned Sparrow.  A Myrtle and 2 Orange-crowned
Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, an Orange-winged Flicker, two
Audubon's Oriole, Robin, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, a few Spotted
Towhee, and the regular seed theives: 6 Black-crested Titmouse,
2-4 Carolina Chickadee, 5 Scrub-Jay, 2 Carolina and 2 Bewick's Wren,
plus 75 White-winged and 9 Inca Dove, a couple Ground-Dove.
Orange-winged Flicker about again.

Dec. 14 ~ Astounding was a flock of 10 WESTERN BLUEBIRD flying
east over the hovel on SR in the a.m., calling all the way.
Their flight note is much shorter duration, lower pitched, and
more guttaral than Eastern Bluebird, quite obviously different.
At least 2 were blue headed adult males.  In the afternoon
a Pine Warbler was flitting about the junipers.  As if that
wasn't enough for the first time in many months the Chorus Frogs
burst into song!  This our 'spring peeper' tree frog which
has been silent most of the year.  It got to 75 dF today,
and the drizzle continued, a week of wet now, and bam! the frogs
go into song.  We're at 1.5"+ (prob.1.75"+) of rain in last week,
a slow drizzle and mist with some light showers, but around the
clock for a week and it adds up.  Great Horned Owl out there
calling after dark as well.

Dec. 13 ~ A run to town netted a quick check of the park where
there were 7 Gadwall and a drake American Wigeon, good birds
at the park.  One Brown Creeper and a couple Audubon's Warbler
were all I saw in with the Titmice and Chickadees.  One
Belted Kingfisher and two Red-shouldered Hawk there, lots of
Cardinals.  On the way down SR a flock of 200 Chipping
Sparrow flushed from the edge of the road.  Add the 100
here and the 100 plus at the park and they are the most common
species here in winter easily.  On the ridges especially
the Spanish (Buckley) Oaks are still really good with color
if they still have their leaves, though overall they are past peak,
what is left is very nice and intensely colored.

Dec. 12 ~ Did Uvalde run in the fog-mist and drizzle making
birding about impossible.  At least it had warmed up since
Sat. a bit.  Along the way a hundred+ Lark bunting, a Say's
Phoebe, few Pyrrhuloxia, one Harris's Hawk, but stuff was trying
to stay dry so hunkered down.  20+ Turkey were right at the
base of Clayton Grade.  Had one Merlin shoot by but with
the fog the visibility was so poor we couldn't scan fields.

We got a 30 minute break in light showers at the Uvalde National
Fish Hatchery so took a quick walk to pick up 20 lbs. of mud
on the shoes.  The waterfowl was a great show.  Water
must be freezing up, up north.  Perhaps best was 27 Redhead
(I think more than the total I've seen in the county in 8 years),
7 Bufflehead is a good count here too, one Eared Grebe is always
good in UvCo, one female Ruddy Duck and one female Canvasback
might be continuing birds, at least 50 Ring-necked Duck and a
dozen Lesser Scaup made for an impressive diving duck showing.  For
dabbling ducks there were 100+ Gadwall, 35 Shoveler, 30 Am. Wigeon,
85-100 Pintail, 4 Green-winged and 1 drake Blue-winged Teal.

At least 40 Coot were there as well, heard a Swamp Sparrow,
a dozen American (Water) Pipit were in one of the dry ponds,
at least 6+ each Great Egret and Great Blue Heron but it started
to rain again so we had to duck out.

Dec. 11 ~ More of the same cold, wet, drizzly mist so more work
here.  2 rufous, 2 Anna's, 1 imm. male Broad-tailed Hummer,
maybe a couple other hummers too.  Never seen it like this
here for hummers in the winter.  A dozen Pine Siskin were
around hitting the sunflower tubes.  One of the times I went
out back I heard the explosive smack! of a Brown Thrasher, but
never saw it, and would be a yard bird durnit.

Dec. 10 ~ A weak cold front has passed this early a.m., so we
cancelled our Uvalde supply run due to weather, cold rain makes
the birding not to mention shopping a lot less fun.  Work
here until I maybe figure out something we need down in town.
 :)  Eggs! that's it, I think we need eggs!  That
would of course take me right by the park.  :)

Didn't make it out after all, too wet, turns out it was
100% chance all day here, and maybe hit 45dF tops.  Chilly
and damp.  Did have Rufous, Anna's and Broad-tailed Hummers
at the feeders.  At least a half-dozen Pine Siskin, a couple
American Goldfinch, pair of Lesser Goldfinch, dozen House Finch
on the sunflower tubes, besides the Titmice, Chickadees and
Scrub-Jays.  The Ladder-backed Woodpeckers hit one of the tubes
taking each sunflower seed to the live-oak adjacent, opening and
eating it, returning for another.  The female did it for
months before the male tried.  He prefers the peanut feeder,
but now that it's freezing, they're not so bad I guess.
There was a Bushtit or two that were out back for a bit.

Dec. 9 ~ Still the same half-dozen hummers here seeming to
just visit occasionally though, probably working a trapline
of feeders out there, so the three feeders seems enough.
A pair of adult Audubon's Orioles were on the feeders in the a.m.
and a pair of first-winters were in the bath together late
in the afternoon so at least four here.  One white-winged
Field Sparrow continues, the Slaty Junco count is a dozen now.

A quick run to town got me 20 minutes at the park and the
hackberry row out front of it on Cypress St..  The same
huge flock of Chipping Sparrows and Eastern Bluebirds was
all over the place, some couple dozen Cedar Waxwings with
them was the high count so far this season, a dozen Robins,
some American Goldfinch, a few Lesser, some Myrtle Warbler,
one Audubon's, a Slate Junco.  Nice big group of birds
to work.

There is an immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (or 2?) coming
to some sap wells on a tree in the park, maybe have a stakeout
for my winter bird count, and the female Downy Woodpecker
continues as well.  Black Phoebe on the dam as usual,
and the Great Egret, Great Blue Heron and Belted Kingfisher
all still there at the last puddle which won't go down any more.
Some Blue Jay, a Song Sparrow below the dam plus the regulars.

I hear they are still waiting on a permit to doze the silt out.
I guess they can't find a state government person awake in Austin?
The state owns the river, the state knows the pond is silted in
from the flood of '02, but the state must issue itself a
permit to clean the silt out.  The permit should require
of one person about 5 minutes, OK, it's the government, perhaps
a few could make a day of it.  My guess is that a large
group of them will take 5 weeks to 5 months to do it by when
water will fill it back in before they get it done, making it
impossible to doze.  :) So call me a cynical curmudgeon.

Dec. 8 ~ No ice outside this morning so must have been 33dF.
There were 3 Cedar Waxwing, so the loner with the Robins
maybe found some friends.  The bird event of the day
was at night as can happen, at 11:10 p.m. when I went out
for my last look and listen.  A couple biggish birds
bolted over in what surely was a high speed chase and pursuit.
About a hundred yards past me they called revealing their
identity, fortunately, so I could sleep later.  They
were Common Ravens, two of them, one chasing the other at
11:10 p.m. in the black of night!  Yeah there is a lot
of moonlight (near full) but Ravens running around at night?

This is what bird watching is about.  Something new to make
you think, and be wondered, at your doorstep, everytime you go
out and look, forever.  For me seeing the common thing
in an uncommon way is as exciting as it gets, 'lifer' behavior.
So what about a name and number on a list.  'Bout the birds.

I was straining soooo hard to see them (black birds) against
the (black) sky, but they were too low, so against the knoll,
and hearing the wingbeats and not knowing what it is was just
killin' me, then after they pass and you think you'll never know,
they call, to get the ID with vocalizations (clearly from 2
different birds) and so you can figure out what happened, and
then all the questions that arise from that...... This is bird
watching at its best to me.  How was I to go to sleep then?
What if I was missing a big nocturnal Raven movement?

Dec. 7 ~ The coldest morning of the season so far with a
21 dF in KVL, 24 in HDO, likely between that down in town, and
up here on SR perhaps 25dF, and a nice crispy cruchy ground
from the frost.  I can't believe all the hummers here.
At least 6, maybe 7, at least 2 Rufous, 2 Anna's, a Broad-
tailed, and what seems an Archilochus I'm still getting glimpses
of.  and maybe a 3rd Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus too, just
remarkable.  What I'd been thinking was an adult female
Rufous due to triangle of gorget in lower center of throat has
now acquired a gorget feather higher up away from patch showing
it to be an immature male.  An immature White-crowned Sparrow
(Gambell's) is still here, Hutton's Vireo was out and about.

Dec. 6 ~ Third day with highs in the 40's dF, with the wind
a bit chilly (sub-freezing chill).  Freezing mornings
are fine when it gets into the 50's or 60's.  I thought
it was supposed to warm up in the daytime?  It froze
here on SR this a.m., ice on the water outside for the first
time this year, and forecast is for colder the next two morns.

I stopped by Jerry & Judy Schaeffer's, Judy showed me the different
hummingbird there, which is an immature male ANNA'S, with a mostly
red throat.  So with the two we have here at SR which
are obviously different that is three here, and the Sharp's
10 mi. west of town have a fourth!  While we were watching
and waiting a Roadrunner came up and took a House Sparrow for
dinner.  If we could just train them to just take that
(non-native) species it would be great.  Their adult male
Hooded Oriole was about as well, with a bit of droop to one wing,
Judy says it was a bibbed bird (immature, not full adult) this
past spring (so a year old then) and it molted into adult
plumage over the summer/fall.  An amazing record, even
though through accident, hope it lives through the winter here!

Here at our hovel we have two different Rufous Hummingbird,
two different Anna's, and a Broad-tailed appeared that is
clearly the same one here in late Nov. by the few dark
gorget feathers on lower right of throat.  Hadn't seen
it since Nov. 28, a week.  A Northern Harrier was down
at the base of 357 near 1050, the only one I've seen locally
this fall/winter so far.

Dec. 5 ~ Low maybe <40 dF, freezing chill factor, breezy, overcast,
rained a bit overnight, almost glad its Monday at the desk.
We probably got a quarter inch of rain Sunday, and another
quarter overnight, so about a half-inch total from the event.
We're pushin' 9 inches of precip since it broke in mid-September
when they advertised no relief in sight.

Judy Schaeffer called, she has a hummingbird at her place
with dark red in the throat, sounds like another ANNA'S!  Our
adult female is still here, and with the Sharp's over Rio Frio
way, that is at least THREE Anna's here now!  Quite an invasion.
Judy also has a couple Rufous, and most amazing a Hooded Oriole
that is crippled (maybe it was wounded?) and can't fly right,
been there months, didn't migrate, now trying to winter at her
feeders.  Thanks for the news Judy!

Besides an anomolous late Nov. 03 record (, not near town!),
I have no Hooded Oriole records from mid-October to mid-March,
and of course if this one wasn't injured we still wouldn't.

We have a second non-Rufous hummer here, which may be a second
Anna's, I'm not sure yet, mostly glimpses of it here and there,
but if so is an imm. female, as it has no dark area in throat.
Plus the Rufous and we have 3 hummers now.  Wow! 
So does Judy, so do the Sharps with a couple Rufous and an Anna's.
Seems like a lot of hummers for freezing weather.  That's
just at three feeder banks I know of right now.  I did
get OK docu shots of the adult female Anna's here today.

While at the desk a Cooper's Hawk hit the window less than
two feet from my keyboard, saved me a cup of coffee this a.m..
I thought it was coming through it.  Couldn't tell if it
got something or not, was an immature, and seemed OK as it flew
off.  9 Inca Dove still, and as many Junco (Slate).
Pretty sure it was three Audubon's Oriole.

Dec. 4 ~ Cold, wet, and windy, so worked here and watched the
feeders a bit.  The adult female ANNA'S and the ad. fem.
Rufous/Allen's Hummingbirds each settled on a feeder for the day.
Surely a hundred Chipping Sparrow out there now, one White-crowned,
a couple Field and Rufous-crowned, maybe 8 Slate-colored Junco.
Still a pair of Ground-Dove about, 7+ Inca Dove, bunch of White-
winged Piggie-Doves.  A Ladder-backed Woodpecker can sure
eat a lot of peanuts in a day, in case you were wondering.  I'd
to have to feed a couple Pileated!

Dec. 3 ~ On my way out shortly, but first thing, sorta, 7 a.m.
I heard a couple/few blackbirds go over, didn't see them but
they sounded odd, then at 8 a.m., I got a good look at a single
calling RUSTY BLACKBIRD as it flew over!  Probably headed
toward Bear Creek Pond?  They have a much deeper fuller rich
chuck note, more Common Grackle like, than the thin kik of Brewer's.

Then besides the adult female Rufous Hummer, a new one showed
this a.m., an Archilochus (!) that seemed a Ruby-throated to me.
No curved primary tips, short straight bill, very emerald green,
very white below, dark crown to lores, white speckled throat.
WEEWOW!  Better go have a look around before the weather
goes south on us as forecast to do by tomorrow morning.  Back
in a bit..... BTW, never saw that hummer again(!).

On the way down SR I saw a four ducks going down on a tank way
to the north and not anywhere accessible, methinks were Gadwall.
Overall birds were weak, I really think stuff is hittin', and finding
little to no food, and moving on.  There was a ZONE-tailed
Hawk at the park, the first I've seen locally in a few months.
Which reminds me Anthony Sharp said he saw one last Sunday
Nov. 27 along Frio River in Rio Frio, and hadn't seen one in
a while either.  My guess is the fewer winter birds we
get are not the summering nesting population, which seems to
have long departed when a rare few winterers move in.  So
though you may see them seemingly 'all year', they are not
likely the same birds.  Another thing to keep in mind with
Zoneys is that though they may be passed off as a Turkey Vulture,
at this time of year there are no Turkey Vulture here, so if you
see something you think is a TV, double check it well from November
to mid-late February when Turkey Vulture returns.

I checked the 1050 pond (Bear Creek) on the way to the pass,
no blackbirds, no ducks, no nuthin', as usual, at the deadest
puddle I ever knew.  Why is the question.  But the
pass was beautiful at peak color for the Buckley (Spanish)
Oaks, with a brilliant layer of yellow, orange, and red, on
the hills in the belt where they grow.  At the top of the
pass at Post Gap there was a flock of Chipping with some Field
Sparrow, and some Bushtit (5+) (hard to come by randomly here),
one Ruby-crowned Kinglet with them.

I checked the butterfly garden twice, first noonish, cool, so then
after going up to the pass and it had warmed up around 1:30 I
stopped for a quick second look, the smartest thing I did all day.
There was a female MEXICAN TROPICAL (was FLORIDA) WHITE (Appias drusilla)
there which I got a couple pix of.  Though I have been certain I've
seen it here before, and at Ft. Inge in Uvalde, I've never had one
stop long enough to document as this one did, which is likely the first
documented locally here, though not a first ever Uvalde Co. record,
Charles Bordelon (pers. comm.) has taken it in the county, probably
Concan vicinity.  Note pic above in highlight photos.

A very rare stray to the county, and rarer up here in the hills.
Always great to add "photo" behind the name of one you've only
seen prior, for documentation purposes.  I have photos of about 90% of
the butterfly species on the local list, ya just can't get everything.
The only reason I don't have a voucher specimen is I missed it when
I swung the net.  I suggest they are deceptively fast and agile,
or I'm getting older and slower.

It was last seen fearing for its life as a south-end view of a
northbound butterfly, in rather rapid progression accellerating
and gaining altitude quite impressively I might add.  Who
would have thought they had afterburner like that?  They are
known, I think rare but regular in far southmost Texas, and primarily
coastward, though odd strays have shown up to Colorado and Kansas,
and now we have one for Utopia.  It was pretty torn up.
Consider we have had two days of very strong southerly winds
and flow in front of the system bearing down on us.

It is the only new butterfly species I added to our local list
this otherwise dismal year.  Talk about going out in a
flaming ball of glory, you'll see below I just said how I've
never added a new butterfly for the year in December, much
less first docs of a new one for our all-time local Utopia
area list!  WOW!

Other butterflies were a couple Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak (new for
Dec.), couple Reakirt's Blue, couple Fatal Metalmark, a couple
Dogface around town (new for month), a couple Lyside around town,
two Queen at garden, 8 Painted Lady there too, a few Fiery and
a Sachem (Skippers), still lots of Checkered-Skipper and Dainty
Sulphur, a few Little Yellow (new for Dec.) over by the hackberry
row behind library, a few Cloudless and a Large Orange Sulphur,
several Sleepy Orange, a couple Snout, most all frantically nectaring
in the last 70 deg.F we'll see for a week or so methinks per forecast.
It will be a new ballgame when it drys out and warms up in a week.
At the park were still 30 Phaon Crescent and 20 Checkered-Skipper.
Some Variegated Fritillary were about as well of course, so saw
an amazing 22 species of butterflies for the day with a super-
mega-rary, a great to spectacular showing for a December date.

The best bird around town was an Audubon's Oriole in the
blooming Loquat near Broadway and Garden in the SE quadrant
of town.  That tree had a few Myrtle Warbler and Titmouse,
likely picking off bugs, a dozen Pipevine Swallowtail, a few
Painted Lady, a Red Admiral (new for Dec.), THREE Monarch still (!)
besides the fancy oriole poking around the flowers.  Last year
there was an Aud. Oriole in Ligustrums near the same area in January.
Amazing you can pick one up just rolling around town, and with the
Zone-tailed Hawk at the park, not bad for city birds.  The Great
Egret and Great Blue Heron continue at UP as does a Belted Kingfisher.

Then out back here at SR, 3 p.m. I hear a sound I've heard a million
times, or two, the sharp metallic clicking of an ANNA'S Hummingbird!
Having lived a couple decades in coastal socal this is a sound
that gets ingrained like only a million repetitions can do.....
and the nanosecond you hear the first click you know what it is.

I get a quick look, seems an adult female, and grab the audio
tape recorder.  So within a minute, I get a minute of tape,
it shuts up, and I never see or hear it again all afternoon.  The
ad. female Rufous was about quite a bit seeming defensive, perhaps
a problem for it?  Tape was quicker, easier and a surer deal
than hoping auto-focus could find it in the snarl of juniper
branches for first-thing immediate get-the-docs purposes.
Didn't have to see it, just hit record and I got the docs.

So add a hummer species for the yard this year, number 8 (!) for
some surprising and incredible diversity in 2011.  A very good
hummer year it was, as I just rounded up some of, uh, yesterday (next).

Lots of Variegated Meadowhawks around town, even at the rain ponds
on the roads, one odd Green Darner sorta thingie was seen.

Dec. 2 ~ A possibly new adult female Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus
showed up, I didn't see/hear any hummers at all the last three days.
I've tried to keep track best I can with mapping and dating all
the throat patterns present, and come up with 16 Rufous/Allen's
this fall passage (since first one in July or August) while the
previous best season was 10 maybe 12 and average per fall is 6.
The Broad-tailed last weekend was the fifth of that sps. fall 2011,
double norm, and the Calliope total was at least 8, maybe 10
individuals for the whole passage, triple or quadruple normal.
So all the Selasphorus were way above baseline numbers (n~8 falls)
this passage.  Was it drought driving them to feeders,
or were there really way more and then why?

I suspect it was some of both.  Toss on the long-staying green-
backed adult male Allen's, unpredictable as he is, it made it a
spectacular Selasphorus showing, over 30 different individuals
at minimum, four species, it's really amazing to me.  Consider
too a couple locals with feeders have told me they had lots of
Rufous this fall too!  They might have each had ten or a dozen
too!  So then, how many then go through the area?

Are the late ones going east and the early ones south? This is
where banding studies can give us info we'd never otherwise come by.
There are plenty of unsolved mysteries out there and so recording
our sighting data if nothing else helps us ponder questions.
This late Nov. wave phenomenon is something else isn't it?

An amazing hummer report right now is a Violet-crowned out in
the Christmas Mountains in Big Bend area.  It pays to keep
your mind open, and maybe a feeder up, but watch it those freezing
mornings.  Best to have a couple so you can rotate them in
and out of house to let one thaw if need be.

A Merlin shot over doing Warp 2 at the NW corner of town where
UvCo 378 takes off to river at west end of Lee St.

Dec. 1 ~ Had to do some errands in town so stopped at
the butterfly garden quickly to get some December diversity
before it's frozen out.  I see more freeze damage and
very few good flowers left producing nectar but still some
desperate butterflies on them.  60 or more Common
Checkered-Skipper and 30 Dainty Sulphur for the two numerous
species.  One each Queen, Reakirt's Blue, and Fatal Metalmark,
a couple Painted Lady and Variegated Fritillary, a few Fiery
Skipper, a Pipevine Swallowtail, a Cloudless Sulphur, a few
Sleepy Orange, 2 Snout, so a dozen species and I'm forgetting
something.  Then at the park 35 Phaon Crescent and 45 more
Checkered-Skipper on Corn Salad.  Here at SR the Large Orange
Sulphur was still about sometimes hitting a hummer feeder, but so
saw 14 species to start the month with, and with the rain and
freeze on the way it might be the last hurrah.

I don't think I have yet added a new butterfly species for the
year in any December, so I'll get the woeful annual total shortly.

No hoped for towhee in the yard today, darn it, I hate when
that happens.  No hummers either.  It never ceases
to amaze me, here today gone tomorrow.  And wow, just paying
a little attention to the natural world as it goes by, can make
it astounding when you think about it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

November butterflies topped out at 39 species, the
highest species diversity of any month this year, and
never before has the peak been in November.  Lots
of it was individuals from elsewhere, immigrants, as
was often visible by their worn condition.  It is
now all but certain no month this year will break 40 species
(I tried) as December is typically a major retraction
from November with regular freezes becoming the norm.
We lucked out not having a real hard freeze throughout
November.  The flowers which had a late bloom due
to the fall rains that began mid-September stayed nectar-
bearing and attracting the few butterflies about, all month.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Nov. 30 ~ Still mid-30's a.m.'s, 60's in p.m., very nice,
and I can't believe it but no hummers again today, after
that wave the few days prior, they seemingly were just
tanking up then.... and I have not seen the full adult
male green backed Allen's type in a week I think, since
the first real near-freeze at 33dF or so.  That bird
had been here since September, and I've missed it for a
week before, so hold out hope it is still around.

The bird of the day was a quick look out the office window
of a female EASTERN TOWHEE!  The female Spotted Towhee
chased it off!  I have not reseen it.  It was one
of those 10 second sightings I hate.  In full sun at
perhaps 20' out the window, a very different tawny shade of
brown than the Spotted Towhee females are.  It had not
one speck of white, buff, or nuthin' on the upperparts, very
uniform, however a big white area at base of primaries.

These darn Spotted Towhee did this to the Green-tailed Towhee
recently.  Chased it off when it showed up.  Two
male and a female Spotted are returning birds methinks,
and quite territorial about it to other towhees, though
nothing else seems to raise their ire.  There is a
Concan E.Towhee record, so not new in the county, but I have
never seen one in the hill country before, they are quite rare
west of their normal range, east of the Edwards Plateau.

I threw extra seed around the periphery and kept an eagle
eye out all day, to no avail.  Two immature White-crowned
Sparrow were it besides the regulars.  Cooper's and
Sharp-shinned relentlessly hounding the birds out there.
Few Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch, some Robin too,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Flickers, Myrtle Warbler, Eastern
Bluebirds, but watch for other types of bluebirds this year.

Our problem is we don't have much fruit or seed crop so
lots of stuff won't likely stick.  No juniper berries
even on our big productive one that gets the bird bath drip
overflow, so would be considered watered.  No river so
no mayflies and all the little insectivore passerines know it.
Very little seed crop, only for the rains since mid-Sept. or
there wouldn't be a thing.  Hackberries seemed to have
pulled off fruit though not dripping with them as they can be.

Nov. 29 ~ TEN was the yard Junco count, all Slate-colored.
Fitting for the just above freezing temps again here up on
SR, mid-30's or so, might have frozen a bit in town.

I heard a Rufous/Allen's hummer in the a.m., but that was
it for the day, I didn't see one.  'Tis as if everything,
at least four birds here the other day, are gone.

Belted Kingfisher, Great Egret and Great Blue Heron still
at UP, but only a couple Myrtle Warbler besdies residents.
Still 30 Phaon Crescent and 30 Checkered Skipper on the
Corn Salad at park.  The butterfly garden had some
plants that froze, and some were OK still.  There were
75 Common Checkered-Skipper, at least one Desert Checkered,
a few Fiery, one Sachem, one of those miniscule Ceraunus Blues
(not much bigger than Western Pygmy), a new Marine Blue,
a Snout, couple Queen, 7 Painted Lady, Red Admiral, 4 Fatal
Metalmark, 2 Orange Sulphur, 1 Large Orange Sulphur, 20+
Dainty Sulphur, 6 Pipevine Swallowtail, but it's fadin' fast.
Was hopin for one last new one for November.

Nov. 28 ~ Saw the two regular Ruf/All types (1121 and 1122 -
yes arrival dates) and the Broad-tailed out there all day,
sometimes fighting with each other, despite me thinking
3 hummers with 3 feeders on different sides of the house
maybe should eliminate that.  Guess again.  Then
in p.m. saw what seemed a fourth new different R/A hummer!

Major hummer wave going on.  I talked with LeAnn and Anthony
Sharp and besides some imm. Rufous/Allen's types, they have what
seems an ANNA'S Hummingbird (imm. male) at their place out 1050
over Rio Frio way.  It seems another Anna's year as they are
being widely reported all over eastward of us to the coast.
I had a couple Anna's here fall '05 I think it was, and maybe
one since, but it is far less than annual so a real good bird.

We hovered just over freezing up here on SR, but it probably
froze down in town, can be 2-5 dF difference on the lows,
and 10 dF difference is common the first few hours of morning
when it warms up here on the ridge quickly, and the cold air
stays sunk on the valley floor until past mid-morning often.

Nov. 27 ~ Hummingbirds were the big story today, besides the
chilly morning with freezing chill factor, high in the 50's,
and still breezy so worked here instead of went out.  The
two different immature male Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus) hummers
were both about a lot, and then an immature male BROAD-TAILED
showed up!  And another different Rufous/Allen's type
appeared late in the day!  I map the gorget feathers on
my desk pad so I know which showed when, stayed how long, etc.

Nov. 26 ~ Rained overnight, about a half-inch up here on
SR, but south of town to NE of town they got an inch.
Actual front hit in a.m., wind blew all day, supposed to keep
blowing all night and tomorrow.  And we're to get
to freezing tonight, and below 30 when the wind stops
tomorrow night, which then will be the first real freeze
of the year, and probably wipe out the remaining flowers and
butterflies.  At least we 'bout got through November
without a freeze, always good for butterflies.

Nov. 25 ~ Both immature male Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus
hummers continue plus thought I heard the adult's wing whistle.
Hutton's Vireo and Ruby-crowned Kinglet in yard, a Myrtle
Warbler or two, couple Orange-crowned, few Junco, couple
Audubon's Oriole, and one hungry Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Quick look in park found the Winter Wren still there,
maybe it's in for the season, mostly in the huge root
balls and debris at the very north end of the island.
The Great Blue Heron and Great Egret still there too.

Nov. 24 ~ Happy Bird Day turkeys!  Best bird was
a SAGE THRASHER from the porch in the a.m., T'd up in
the top of a close Spanish Oak.  Not new for the
yard, but great anytime here.  The Robins flew over,
some stopping for water again, the Hutton's vireo was
noisy, I saw one of the new immature male Ruf/All hummers
and heard the adult male green backed Allen's, so that is
still here, sneaky one it is.

While watching a Sharpy soar off after missing, as it got
way high all of sudden there was a Say's Phoebe in my bins.
Way up, moving south but slowly, I thought the Sharpy
might go after it, but it didn't, probably knowing the
Phoebe can evade it in open airspace.  Say's is very
rare up here on the juniper covered ridge.  It was
500' up going south, and we're a couple hundred feet
higher than the valley floor.  If I hadn't have
been watching the Sharpy soar away in the bins (and
don't ask me why I was, the good viewing was long over,
just an old habit, birdwatching) I would have never
seen this bird, probably only my 3rd from porch in more
than twice as many years.

UP had the Winter Wren, and finally I saw some FOS
American Goldfinch, 8-10 or more of them below the
dam coming in to drink.  I really prefer seeing
FOS things though was pretty sure I heard singles three
times in the last week, but never laid eyes on them.

The butterfly garden had a new (male) Great Purple
Hairstreak (the two last week were females) that was
a stunning fresh individual.  Another Vesta Crescent
was there, a couple Ceraunus and Reakirt's Blues,
a Lyside, few Cloudless Sulphur, couple Fatal Metalmark,
50 Checkered-Skipper, 8 Fiery Skipper, 12 Dainty Sulphur,
6 Painted Lady and Queen, one Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak,
a Eufala Skipper again, one Sachem, Red Admiral, couple
Orange Sulphur.  At the blooming Loquat in SE quadrant
of town were at least a dozen Pipevine Swallowtail and
two tardy Monarch.  Man that tree sure smells good.

Due to an accipter flush this a.m. at the house I got
all the White-winged Dove in the air at once and counted,
twice, over 130, a yard record for the pigs with wings!!
No wonder it seems like I turn around and the seed is gone.

Nov. 23 ~ Over 55 American Robin flew over in a few
waves, with the lone (C.) waxwing still in the big group.
A dozen Robin stopped and came into the bath for water.
They got the place staked out already.  I thought
sure I heard an American Goldfinch, but didn't see it.
There were at least 4 Lesser Goldfinch here, and they
are still scattered in small numbers at park and in
mixed flocks around.  Late, 11 p.m. Great Horned Owl
calling, and a yearling dillo was out front tearin' it up.
Black Vulture count in the a.m. was 50 in one kettle as
they got up off a kill north of SR.

Nov. 22 ~ OMG ANOTHER new Selasphorus immature male, which
is clearly different from yesterday's new one, which I've
seen better and is an immature male as well, but they both
have gorget feathers coming in differently so can tell them
apart.  Two new hummers showing up in two days here
is most unusual in late November.  NINE was the Inca
Dove count, and 8 Pine Siskin were about yard briefly.

At UP there was a Pyrrhuloxia out front, hard to get at
the park, and the Winter Wren was still at the north end
of the island.  Thought sure I heard American Goldfinch
there again, but again, didn't see it.  Four Field
Sparrow were at the island, and 35 Phaon Crescent with
one Vesta, and 45 Checkered-Skipper still on the Corn Salad.

At dusk I heard a Cardinal go off with super-accellerated
high speed alarm notes, followed by the last two notes
they make when they expire.  I ran outside and it was
raining red feathers.  One of the Sharp-shinned Hawks
no doubt, got a male I think.

Nov. 21 ~ I can't believe it a new Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus
hummer has shown up, either an imm. male or ad. female,
can't tell yet.  20 Robin in town, Golden-crowned Kinglet
and Hutton's Vireo in yard at SR.

Nov. 20 ~ Saw the Brown Creeper at UP, and at least 3 Song
Sparrow, over 85 Eastern Bluebird in the fields out front.
Went out West Sabinal Rd. to Lower Sabinal Rd..  Couple
Shrike in Bandera Co., but didn't see a Harrier, sparrows a
bit slow too, but was late p.m..  There was a Pyrrhuloxia
in Bandera County where you come near river channel (first
place close) at end of goat farm, and better, there were
at least two or three a third mile past the first crossing
at the bent (run) over county maint. sign (end Bandera) so
in Real County where kinda hard to come by.  Tony Gallucci
said he knows of one Real Co. record at Big Springs Ranch once
so a good Real Co. bird.

They were in a mixed flock with a couple dozen E. Bluebird,
some Myrtle Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 3 sapsucker of
which 2 were immature Yellow-bellied, and a bunch of Chipping
Sparrow, a few Field.  At the crossing which is still in
Bandera Co., there was a Pine Warbler (FOS) right where I've had
them before.  On W. Sabinal or Jones Cmty. Rd. there was
a Say's Phoebe.  A few White-crowned and Vesper Sparrow,
more Chippies and Field, some Savannah, some Meadowlarks I didn't
ID, no love on Sage Thrasher or Green-tailed Towhee.  Did
have a Merlin in Bandera Co. though.

FYI this road comes out on 337 at the Lodges at Lost Maples,
which means over the first divide west from Vanderpool.
The river crossing there might be called Little or West
Sabinal River, and (this) Lower Sabinal River Rd. goes south
from 337 (while Upper goes North from 337).  Lower goes
south first 4-5 miles in Real Co. then from just above the river
crossing the next 4-5 miles or so through Bandera Co., where
it comes out on W. Sabinal Rd about 3 mi. NW of Utopia.

It has potential to be birdy.  All land is private
and so you can't go off the road but it is fairly untravelled
and wide enough to pull off to the side and anyone could
get by.  I did see a Gray Fox up in Real Co..  Right
on the road there was a nice patch of Thoroughwort or Boneset
(white) Eupatorium blooming in Bandera Co. that had a lot of
(the regular expected) butterflies on it.

Nov. 19 ~ Four Slate-colored Junco in the yard, but I
didn't see the male Oregon.  Must be 90-100 Chipping
Sparrow now, maybe 8 Field.  Missed the hummer now
for a couple days, hope he's just being sneaky.  The
Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks are seemingly nearly
constantly diving on everything out there.  And I'm
seeing them at the park, around town, they are everywhere.
So are Flickers, in the air mostly, I'm seeing them moving.

At the park was finally a FOS Brown Creeper, large numbers
have been being seen 100 miles east at Bastrop St. Pk..
Two male Audubon's Warblers were among 8+ Myrtles, no Pine
still yet.  125 or so Chippy still around the ball
diamond, and had a couple Vesper, White-crowned, and a
Lark Bunting on the fences too, a hard-to-get park bird.
Two Starling on the pole in the field, Song and Lincoln's
Sparrow were in the weeds below the dam.

No Winter Wren on the island today but a beautiful bright
fresh Blue-headed Vireo was there.  Still a few dozen
Phaon Crescent on the Corn Salad mostly out there.
The Eastern Bluebird flock out front of and in the park
was 60 at least, a few Robins were about, no waxwing.
Still a Great Blue Heron, a Great Egret, and a Belted
Kingfisher hunting the last pondlet, which came up a bit
since the last rain.

The butterfly garden had the torn up Great Purple Hairstreak,
now there a week.  It also had 7-8 Painted Lady, the
first for the month, and a female Orange-barred Sulphur,
also new this month, so species # 37 and 38, pushing
Nov. to the top diversity month of the year, and done
on immigrants from elsewhere of course.  Lucky it
hasn't really hard-froze yet, so there are still bugs
and flowers.

Still 2 Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak there, 45 Common Checkered-
Skipper, a dozen Variegated Fritillary, 6 Monarch were seen
today, 4 at the garden.  A nice white morph Orange
Sulphur was among a few nice males, Red Admiral nectaring,
a few Fatal Metalmark still, over a dozen Fiery Skipper,
one female Sachem, a Eufala, at least 6 Cloudless Sulphur of
the regular flavor, and a couple marcellina spotted types,
1 Lyside, 1 Little Yellow, Pipevine was only Swallowtail but
several, and one torn up (migrant) Buckeye nectaring.

Looks about 29 species and nearing 200 individuals,
so suffice it to say it was pretty busy.  The white
Eupatorium, Thoroughwort is the one methinks, is the
hot thing there right now.  Might have had a Desert
Checkered-Skipper, and a Large Orange Sulphur, I was not
being really thorough with everything, got distracted
taking pics of a Reakirt's Blue that was tame.

A Say's Phoebe was at the NW corner of town on the fence
past the jog in Lee St. as it heads to the river, two
Black Phoebe were at the park, and Eastern are everywhere
as the wintering population has moved in now.

Many cypress trees now are in full rust or rufous glory,
along the river channel, and the leaves left on the pecans
are mostly very yellow, half of their foliage has fallen
already.  The Spanish Oaks are just starting to get
some color, usually late Nov. to early Dec. is their peak,
they are the best dependable color show out here, along
every and any road at that time through the hills/divides
(not so much on valley floors in other words) virtually
every year they show very well.

Nov. 18 ~ 'Nother chilly morn, and high in the low 60's.
Not complaining.  A nice male Oregon Junco was new
with two+ Slate-colored continuing, but not seeing the
Pink-sided around.  One new (leucophrys) White-crowned
Sparrow was an adult.  Two Orange-crowned Warbler at once
on a hummer feeder, so not just one of them here again
this winter.  In the p.m. a flock of 20 Am. Robin
flew over westward toward some roost site, I saw them
in town on the hackberries.

At least 50 Eastern Bluebird in the flock often in the field
adjacent to and east of the park.  At the NW corner
of town where Lee St. jogs and heads toward river there
was a single imm. Lark Bunting, a couple Vesper and a few
White-crowned Sparrow - leucophrys, small pink bill with
black lores.  Flickers seem more numerous this year
than usual but most seen just in flight.  Thought sure
I heard an American Goldfinch flyover at the park, though
haven't had one yet this fall it is time they show.  At
the north end of the former island there was a Winter Wren.

Nov. 17 ~ Low felt like upper 30's dF, and high in low 60's.
Had an American (Water) Pipit go over in the morning, and
45 Sandhill Crane in the p.m..  The regulars about the

Nov. 16 ~ Sure seems like winter might be on the way out
there, judging from the birds in the yard.  This morning
there were 8-10 Robin, one Cedar Waxwing with them, looking for
Juniper berries, seemingly mostly absent this year, a Pine Siskin,
two Junco, one each Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
Myrtle and Orange-crowned Warbler, heard a Flicker, a
couple Hermit Thrush and 3 Spotted Towhee.  You could
almost expect it to be cold soon.  The Allen's Hummer
showed, but it doesn't like the bees that have just the
last few days shown back up on the feeders, having been
gone all year since spring.

Interesting after a few at the garden was a Desert Checkered-
Skipper in the yard today, and better since new for the
month, a Eufala Skipper was on the Blue Mist Eupatorium.
That was number 36 tying my highest monthly diversity counts
for the year, so one more and November will turn out the
best butterfly diversity month of the year.  That would
be a first, peaking in November, though it is often good
for southern origin vagrants, it is not usually the peak
of annual diversity.  There were 35 species locally
in March, and 36 in April and May, those being the three
(woefully low) high diversity months this year.

Nov. 15 ~ Wow, RAIN!  Early pre-dawn a good bit fell,
seeming between 1.75 and 2" as a line of storms went over.
The hissing sound of the ground sucking water up woke me.
This puts us at 8" of rain roughly since mid-late September.
More in the last two months than the year prior.

Good thing, we need it badly.  The junipers on SR
look a world better since the prior 6" fell, but I'm not
seeing berries on them this year, due to drought no doubt.
Things like Robins and Waxwings, and even Sage Thrasher
feed heavily on them in years they show up, so this year
if numbers show, they likely will not stick long without
a juniper berry crop, though the hackberries look OK.

Ran to town but didn't have time to check the park,
about 15 minutes at the butterfly garden was it, and
was 4:30 p.m. so late at that.... but saw TWO Great
Purple Hairstreak, the torn up beast of a couple days
ago, and a mint fresh new one, both females.  Otherwise
the regulars, and no warblers.  The good bird, and I
can't believe I'm saying that about these, was a pair
of Great-tailed Grackle that crossed 1050 at the river
(bed) and eventually landed on the wire out over the
field on the east side of the park by the ball diamond.
Male and female.  Weird this time of year.

Nov. 14 ~ Missed the Allen's Hummer, had it yesterday.
Nine was the Inca Dove count, my highest ever here,
and since I caught the whole group up high after an
accipiter (Coop) stoop, I was able to count the White-winged
Dove flock, 100+ birds, I got 103 one pass, 104 the
other.  Those are truly pigs with wings.

Note if your feeders or feeding areas often seem empty
now it is likely a Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk
causing it.  We have both here now hunting sparrows
and doves coming the ground seed we toss out and much
of the day there is nothing out there.  Roadrunner
too often lurks in the brush too, hunting ground feeding
sparrows especially.

Nov. 13 ~ A late start but seemed slow compared to the
brush country flatlands yesterday.  One Wilson's Snipe
still at the cattail pond on the golf course.  Ground-Dove
drinking at the park, Loggerhead Shrike out front there.
Best was a double-red Yellow-winged Flicker, a hybrid male
with yellow wings and both the nape crescent and the malar
whisker were red.  Funny since below, you'll see a few
days ago, I just discussed this..... so won't here.

The show of the day was the butterflies.  They were
fantastic. They were outstanding at the garden (behind
the library). After checking the garden about noon,
almost two hours later I stopped back since birds were so
slow, and saw a bunch of new stuff that wasn't there earlier.

I saw 30 species there alone today, the biggest species diversity
day of the YEAR locally!!!  Obviously lots of immigrants
from elsewhere (southward generally) coming in, and little in
the way of nectar sources in most areas around.  There were
8-9 species there I hadn't seen this month, half of which
I hadn't seen locally this year!!

Ocala Skipper doesn't even occur here every year so probably
the best bug today.  A Great Purple Hairstreak is always
a prize.  My first Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak (2+) of the year
(finally - I was getting worried), Ceraunus (2) and Marine Blue
were both first of them here this year, and at least 4 Reakirt's
Blue made for some good blues.  Some Vesta Crescent were
the first since summer, a couple Whirlabout were new, a Dun
Skipper was the first this month, 5 each Fiery Skipper and Sachem.
Common Checkered-Skipper was THE abundant butterfly with
at least 40 of them, in with which I found 2-3 Desert Checkered
Skipper and no Tropical.

Along the immediate river banks still the Maxmillian Sunflower
and Corn Salad are going, and those had butterflies on them,
but Frogfruit is done and Marsh Fleabane nearly so, some Water
Willow (Justicia) still with flower, but in the lowest spots
in river bed it froze.  Otherwise virtually no signs of
a freeze-off from last week, or yet.  Amazing was the
Phaon Crescents, at least 35 on the Maxmil. Sunflower and
the Corn Salad at the S. tip of island.  A couple dozen
Checkered-Skipper was almost the only other thing there,
but one Buckeye, the one species I saw that wasn't also at
the garden.  So 31 species leps locally today, as good
as most of the totals for entire MONTHS this year!

I heard a warbler chip at the garden I didn't see but it
was a thick rich Yellow Warbler type note, and probably
a Chestnut-sided was my guess.  There were Myrtle and
Orange-crowned there, Kinglet, but someone came in and
the stuff flushed and I never saw it.  The bird of
the day gets away, again.

Along the water in the river bed at the park one Autumn
Meadowhawk and a dozen Green Darner were seen, no damsels.

Nov. 12 ~ Ahhhh Uvalde.  A pair of Common Raven were
8 miles north of Sabinal on 187, again, in the last good
belt of Live Oaks before it turns to mesquite and juniper,
as you drop onto the flatlands brush country, but before,
still a bit of gradient, barely, a couple miles below the
D'Hanis cutoff.  Interesting though since 8 years of
driving this road didn't regularly produce Ravens in that
area but has been lately, probably living on road-kill.

Once in the ag lands with hedgerows near Sabinal, Lark Bunting
flocks were regular, at least 400 is a low conservative
estimate, likely 500+, quite a few were along Old Sabinal
Rd.(OSR).  Vesper, Savannah, White-crowned & Lark Sparrow
were also numerous all along the way.  A few Shrike,
lots of Western Meadowlark (hundreds), a few Caracara and
Fuertes' Red-tailed Hawk, one eastern Red-tail and best
the small blackish (Western) male has returned on OSR, and I
got a photo as it jumped off the pole.  A beautiful bird.

At Cook's Slough there were 4+ Golden-crowned Kinglet, one
Audubon's Oriole, heard Green Jay, Kiskadee, and Long-billed
Thrasher, two White-eyed Vireo (one doing Black-capped Vireo
imitation so we know where its from - White-eyed doing Black-
capped is the most common vireo mimicry I hear in the central
hill country).  Saw Olive Sparrow, some Myrtle and
Orange-crowned, 2-3 Green Kingfisher, no swallows, but
2 Greater Yellowlegs, 14 Least Sandpiper, and 1 Wilson's Snipe.
One Blue-eyed Darner dragonfly was still flying among a
number of Green Darner.

At the fish hatchery there was a nice collection of ducks,
which were great to see, a sign of winter in southerly
climes.  At least 60 Gadwall, 10 Shoveler, 12 American
Wigeon, 16 Green-winged Teal, a Ruddy Duck is always good,
14 Ring-necked Duck, and best was 3 Canvasback which I
ID'd in flight as they flew in from elsewhere, while we
were just getting stuff ready at the parking lot, so good
to see them when we got to the pond with the waterfowl.
I knew those were Canvasback as they shot over high and
fast.  One male, two female, poor docu digishots.
First time of multiple individuals for me here, only a
couple records of single birds the last 8 years.

Three Wilson's Snipe were at the East Pond across from HQ,
and a nice-sized Indigo Snake crossed the pond too.
Then the usual Lincoln's, Vesper, Savannah, White-crowned
Sparrow.  I got a good digiscope of one ORIANTHA
White-crowned, the first I've positively seen here.
Black lores, bigger orange bill (than little pink-billed
leucophrys, the normal eastern one at Utopia).

Maybe they're out there in the flats of the brush country?
Too bad there is no one down there paying attention.
There are probably 3 subspecies wintering locally,
regularly: leucophrys, gambellii, and oriantha, and all
are ID'able in the field visually by bill and lore color.
At Utopia they are Eastern leucophrys with black lores and
small pink bill for the most part, while Western Gambell's
is scarce but regular with its gray lores and bigger orange
bill.  Oriantha (Rocky Mtns.) is orange-billed like
Gambell's, but black lored like Leucophrys.  I suspect
it is likely scarce, I've never seen it up in the hills.
Again, perhaps they are out in the brush country flatlands
westward?  Most of what I'd checked from the area of
Uvalde to the EAST to Sabinal was seeming to have been
primarily leucophrys, but perhaps I'm not checking enough of
them hard enough.

An Osprey flew over the hatchery, a dozen Double-crested
Cormorant were there (and as many at Cook's Slough),
heard a Verdin, and a hundred Sandhill Crane were in
the field adjacent to the east of the hatchery offering
very good scope views.  Another hundred or two
Cranes were seen along OSR.  No love on Mountain
Plover, Longspurs, no geese, but we didn't go out to
Dunbar Lane, the geese might be here or starting to show
by now or real soon.  Lots of bluets (damselflies)
way out over the pond too far to tell past Enallagma sps..
A few Black and one Red Saddlebags were there too.

Nov. 11 ~ There was frost in town this a.m., and some
said 32 in the shade, so likely the first of that this
season in town, but not a hard freeze, the flowers at
the butterfly garden looked fine.  At the park
and the garden each had a Fiery Skipper.  The rest
was the regulars but still chilly in the late a.m. so
it was just starting to get active.  Must have been
over 55 dF because the bees were out.

Up here on SR it was about 35, but JCT was 28 and KVL 30.
I heard someone had 29 up at Vanderpool this a.m..
Between the two loops on 357 I was surprised to see
the Mockingbird sharing the Pyracantha bush, which it
is usually loathe to do, with a SAGE THRASHER!

Down in town on Cypress St. was a flock of 35 Cardinal.
At the park besides 50 Eastern Bluebird, new there were
30 Am. Robin and 20 Cedar Waxwing.  A few Myrtle Warbler,
but still no Pine yet.  A couple Sapsucker flew off
one chasing the other, and no ID.  A couple Common
Ground-Dove flew over the spillway, scarce at the park.
A hundred plus Chipping Sparrow across the dam, and
one male Slate-colored Junco with them.  Thought I
heard a White-throated Sparrow but didn't see it.
One ea. Lincoln's Sparrow and Orange-crowned Warbler
across spillway too, and a Black Phoebe below it.

Nov. 10 ~ A chilly near-freeze morning, as the winds
are finally dying down, high in low 60's dF.  A
nice black Slate-colored Junco is about the yard, maybe
a returnee?  Yard had Allen's Hummer, Audubon's Oriole,
Myrtle and Orange-crowned Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet
and Hutton's Vireo, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, one white-winged
Field Sparrow, 3 Spotted Towhee, 75 Chippy, one Roadrunner
hunting them, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawk diving on
everything, Scrub-Jay, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina
Chickadee and Wren, 30 White-winged Dove, a few Ground-Dove
and the 8 Inca.  Far far fewer House Finch and Lesser
Goldfinch around now, as evidenced by a welcome major
dropoff in sunflower seed usage.

Nov. 9 ~ Post-frontal blow all day so chilly.  Four
Audubon's Oriole for sure today.  The local Caracara,
Common Raven, and Red-tailed Hawk blew by.  The Allen's
Hummer still here.

Nov. 8 ~ On a front, in the a.m. mostly there was about
a quarter inch of rain.  A Large Orange Sulphur was
on the potted blue mist Eupatorium, more remarkable were
20 species of butterflies for the day, most at the
butterfly garden in a quick p.m. check.  A Monarch
is getting late, the neat thing was a Clouded Skipper,
the first I've seen this fall, was quite beat up and so
likely an immigrant.  I've seen a hundred there at
once in a day before, amazing that one is a highlight.
A couple Reakirt's Blue, a Fatal Metalmark, 2 Lyside,
2 fresh American Lady, 2 fresh Red Admiral most all
nectaring on the white Thoroughwort Eupatorium.  One
Little Yellow and a bunch of Phaon Crescent at the park.
Dainty Sulphur (8+) and Common Checkered-Skipper (10+)
were the two most numerous species at the garden.

No Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks at the park so it seems
they've finally left, with one young making it all the
way to leaving the breeding grounds, they started with
at least 8, Larry said 10, and they still had 5 just over
3 weeks ago.  Only one made it out alive.  If the
river had water, surely they'd have fared much better.

Had a long look at the green backed adult male Selasphorus
in the p.m. at the front porch at 3', and perhaps the missing
area of green is due to molt, ergo its a good Allen's.
Wing-whistle sounds Allen's, higher and thinner without
the reverberating zzzzzssssshhhhhh in the whine.  A
narrowed tip of the outer primary is what makes the noise,
and is quite like a Broad-tailed's if you know that feather.

Nov. 7 ~ The Allen's Hummer continues.  Chipping Sparrow
numbers are a solid 75, and one new arrival is a dilute
plumage, or leucistic, individual.  That is, not fully
pigmented, this one appearing as though it just climbed
out of a bowl of milk.  The patterns are all there,
just very faded and pale, but discernable, while at a
distance it appears milky white.  Yes got photos
and will put on oddities page when I get them done.
Eight was the yard Inca Dove count, one a new fresh juvenile,
following a new fresh one in early October, seems late.

Nov. 6 ~ The probably Allen's Hummer is still here at SR.
The action today was at the entrance area of the park mid-a.m.,
and at the furthest water below the dam where everything
came to drink and bathe.  I hid in the cypresses less
than 20' from the water and watched a couple hundred birds
come in over a half-hour and change at near point-blank range.
At least 50 Eastern Bluebird, 1 Robin, 3 juvenile (streaky)
Cedar Waxwing with barely tufts of crests, no wing markings,
so very young birds, and there were 7 Myrtle, 2 Audubon's
and 1 Myrtubon's (male) Warblers.

Most of the 150-200 Chipping Sparrow, which were mostly out in
the ball diamond, the rodeo ring, and the field by the gate
came in to the water too.  The highlight a BREWER'S SPARROW
in with them and a CASSIN'S SPARROW, both by the gate, and
both very scarce in Nov. here.  Might be my first fall
Brewer's, and methinks first Nov. Cassin's here, which was
a fresh lacy beauty.  I saw one Clay-colored, which
is late, they've been gone a week plus, even the slow ones at
the feeders that dawdle.  Other sparrows at UP were Song,
Lincoln's, Vesper, Savannah, and Field, so about 9 sps. of
sparrows in a hundred yards tops!  No love on a White-
throated in the woods unfortunately.

Three White-crowneds in town were ad. and imm. leucophrys,
and an imm. Gambell's.  One Lark Sparrow was down
360 in the pastures, and Rufous-crowneds were here at
the SR seed so 12 sps. of sparrows locally today.  Then
beside White-throated, I missed Swamp (checked 3 mile bridge
and cattail pond at golf course).  But so, 14 species of
sparrows is possible here in a day, and toss in a rarity
like a Grasshopper or Black-throated and 15-16 is actually
in the realm of possible!?!  Remarkable sparrow diversity!
Almost makes you want to try a big sparrow day doesn't it?

Of near-sparrows, did have (Pink-sided) Junco here at the hovel
on SR this a.m..  And for oversized nearly-sparrows, two
Lark Bunting were just south of 3 mile bridge on the fence by
some Prickly Pear as were 8 Vesper and 4 Savannah.  Spotted
Towhee was a good bird at the park, the 3 here at SR seem in
for the winter.  I didn't see any Sage Thrasher down 361,
but 'twas late by time I got there.

At the park there were 10 Northern Flicker, which I didn't
get to study all of them, but a few were good pure Red-
shafted, a few were good pure Yellow-shafted, one was
clearly a hybrid with orange wings, and a few red- and
yellow- *winged* ones got away without being able to check
the other characters.  Here at SR in the a.m. another orange
winged hybrid flew over early, there've been 3 Flickers
here, the other 2 are pure males, a Yellow- and a Red- *shafted*.

They should just be called Red or Yellow *-winged* in
flight, until you can check face, crown, nape crescent,
throat and moustache colors for correctness to call them
*-shafted*.  Many here with red or yellow wings are
hybrids if the other parts of the head are checked carefully.
Remember Mitch's real simulated ancient proverb: One who call
flicker here in flight by wing color alone, get shafted.  :P

The *-shafted* term denotes it is pure to that type, that
subspecies (formerly species), which can't be known without
checking the parts of the head where the impurities generally
show up most obviously.  It's pretty hard to check them
in flight most of the time.  We live in a zone where
the overlapping parts of their populations winter.  At
least 5% or more with red or yellow wings are impure here.
I would never claim any ID if I thought there was a 5% chance
of error. Heck, I won't claim one if there is a .05% of
chance of error to the best of my knowledge.

Other things at the park were the female Downy Woodpecker,
the continuing Black-and-white Warbler, two Golden-crowned
Kinglet were new, several Myrtle and Audubon's, and one
Orange-crowned Warbler, but no Pine Warbler yet.  One young
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck still with the 3 adults.
Couple Hermit Thrush, Blue Jay, Black Phoebe, Golden-
fronted Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Hawk, and the regulars.

Three Belted Kingfishers fighting incessantly over the
dwindling pond and food resource, wish I'd have had
my audio gear for's always like this,
don't carry it, you'll hear the audio show of a lifetime,
carry it, and it works like a camera, and you won't see
or hear a thing.  ;)

A few butterflies were out.  Three Monarch, one at
the garden, one going WSW at golf course, and one going
North at SR, all probably migrants.  Ten Queen at
the garden, a Gray Hairstreak, a Metalmark probably
Fatal, 3 Checkered-Skipper, Gulf Frit, Varieg. Frit here
at SR, a few Dainty Sulphur at garden and 6 at N. end of
town, a Red Admiral flew by me somewhere, Giant Swallowtail
and Lyside were at Audrey's Mealy Sage patch which is
still in full roar, 9 Phaon Crescent were at the Corn Salad
at the south end of the former island at the park.  One
pale morph Orange Sulphur flew by somewhere, and at UR
there were a couple Cloudless Sulphur, and one Large Orange
Sulphur, a couple scattered Pipevine Swallowtail were seen.
Some Sleepy Orange were at each stop.  Might have
been 17 species of butterflies today.  Not bad these
days here, considering, though should be 35 species at least
here now.

There are some Bluets blooming at the 360 crossing I keep
forgetting to mention, a few Lindheimer Senna still going.
The Boneset Eupatorium is blooming at the park, and some
Sida in disturbed areas at N. end of town.  The
Frogfruit at the park is about done as is the Frostweed,
Marsh Fleabane still going a bit.  The Prairie Flameleaf
Sumac is coming into full flame though as its leaves turn.
A few Zexmenia flowers still, and I can't believe how the
Damianita continues its first fall bloom I've seen here,
lots of Paralena going, and the Maxmilian Sunflower is
still strong at former river-edge, where a bit of Goldenrod
is still going, and a few Fireweed here and there.
Narrow-leafed Thryallis still has some flowers on it,
and the Brickel-bush is going well, but half normal height.

A few Green Darner dragonfly were seen, a couple dragons
shot by too quickly to tell, and one Autumn Meadowhawk
male was still patrolling at the 3 mile bridge crossing,
where there was only one Song Sparrow for birds but 'twas
late-ish, around 2 p.m..

The Porcupine was sleeping in the same spot in the same
tree as last week at Utopia on the River (UR).

Nov. 5 ~ One lone Cedar Waxwing here at SR was my FOS.
The 2 Pine Siskin were back, the mostly green-backed ad. ma.
Selasphorus continues, a new pink-billed (our normal one) ad.
White- crowned Sparrow showed up, didn't see the immature
Gambell's that has been here over a week though, maybe I just
missed it today.  Selasphorus still here, Hutton's Vireo.
Amazing the Damianita still blooms out front, never seen it
bloom in fall before.

Nov. 4 ~ It was a near-freeze, the closest we've been so far
this fall, 35 dF up here on SR, I don't know if it froze in
town.  Two Pine Siskin were my FOS this fall here at the
sunflower tube.  And yep, it's hopefully a returnee for
the winter, a nice PINK-SIDED Junco is out back, we'll know
if it stays.  A pale morph female Orange Sulphur hit
the flowers of Paralena and the (potted) Blue Mist Eupatorium.

Only one young Black-bellied Whistling-Duck left now, with
the three adults.  They'll leave when this last one
gets picked off.  Coyote have been out there I know,
one is dying on the island, and I've been hearing them
for a month now, nearly nightly, which I love and am not
complaining about.  It is to me one of the great
quintessential calls of the wild and to be able to hear
them outside at night is fantastic in my book right there
next to dark skies without light pollution at night.

The butterfly garden had a few things in the late p.m. heat,
2 late migrant Monarch, 2 Queen, a Gulf Fritillary, a Snout,
2 Fatal Metalmark, a Cloudless Sulphur, a Sleepy Orange,
10 Common Checkered-Skipper, a Pipevine Swallowtail
and 6 Dainty Sulphur.  Wow, ten whole species.

Post Office had a Sachem, a Fiery Skipper was at the park
plus another pale morph female Orange Sulphur, 'tis their time.
Some Variegated Frits here at SR, 3 Sleepy Orange and more
Checkered-Skipper.  About 14 species in an hour or so
is dismal at best, should have that on one bush at once at
this time of year.  Worse than I ever imagined for
butterflies here now.  Surely many other groups of
insects I don't study and watch are equally in a hurt due
to the exceptional drought.

Nov. 3 ~ Windy with the post-frontal blow, high in low 60's.
Selasphorus hummer still here, one white-winged Field Sparrow,
6 Inca Dove, and at least 60 Chipping Sparrow now, the little
piggies.  Got a glimpse of a junco that looked maybe
like Pink-sided.  The single Robin was out there again
at dawn.  A couple Hermit Thrush are hanging around.
The mccallii Tex-Mex Screech-Owl gave the longest burst
of calling I've heard in a couple months at twilight,
and later at 11 p.m. the Great Horned Owl was calling.

Nov. 2 ~ A front came in the evening and it blew like
the dickens all night.  Selasphorus hummer still here.
Roadrunner out there hunting Chipping Sparrows, all there
is for them to eat here now.

Nov. 1 ~ Adult male mostly green-backed Selasphorus still
here.  Only 2 of the young Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
continue at the park, they've lost 3 in the last couple
weeks, since the water is being drained out of the remains
of the pond making them more vulnerable to predators.

~ ~ ~ ~

October butterflies totalled 31 species, deplorable.
Numbers are a tiny fraction of normal for the few types
that are about.  Most years any day of October
one can go to the butterfly garden and see 30 species
in 30 minutes.  I don't think I had 10 species
there any visit this month, barely mustering the 31
species in the whole area locally all month.  The
paucity of butterflies surely extends to all manner of
insect life, which have many critical roles from being
pollinators to wildlife food.

Oct. 31 ~ The ad.male Selasphorus hummer with the mostly
green back is still here but I didn't see the Ruby-throat.
The FOS for the day was American Robin, one single in
the a.m., and p.m..  No sign of a Green-tailed Towhee.
Had a Junco but couldn't tell type as it flushed.
Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawk are hitting the yard
multiple times daily now.  Just two Audubon's Oriole
come through a few times each day for sugar water and peanuts.
Seems only one white-winged Field Sparrow is still here.

Oct. 30 ~ Poked around town and south a bit for a couple
hours.  At UP was my FOS Winter Wren, but otherwise
pretty slow, a couple few Myrtle, a Lincoln's Sparrow.
Out front in the field there were 12 Starling on the pole,
some Red-winged Blackbird, W. Meadowlarks, E. Bluebirds,
a few Chipping Sparrow (50 Chippy at the SR hovel now).

At the cattail pond on the golf course near Waresville
there were 25+ Red-winged Blackbird and 20 E. Bluebirds on
the course.  At the 360 crossing was a Song Sparrow.
At Utopia on the River (UR) there was an FOS Golden-
crowned Kinglet, and a male Downy Woodpecker, the first
adult male I've seen here in 8 years.  One Orange-
crowned Warbler was among a half dozen Myrtle and
Audubon's, and one Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Just south of 3 mile bridge (3 miles south of town) there
were 3 Lark Bunting on the fence along the road.  South
of the bridge I went down UvCo 361 a bit and just after the
initial mesquite patches it opens up to pasture.  There
I saw FOUR SAGE THRASHER AT ONCE!  Never had but
singles locally, quite remarkable methinks, I don't even
get them annually here.  Scattered about were some
White-crowned, Vesper, Savannah and Field Sparrow,
a couple Lark Sparrow, and a tardy female Indigo Bunting.
A few Eastern Meadowlark were down there too.

Under the 3 mile bridge at the crossing was a good flock
of birds that had a Swamp Sparrow, 4 (!) Song Sparrow, few
Lincoln's, 10 White-crowned, Myrtle and Audubon's Warbler.
A male Green Kingfisher caught a fish close enough to see
it was Astyanax mexicanus, Mexican Tetra, the only tetra
(Characin) native to the United States, and quite a neat local
"minnow" that is for the most part found in
the U.S. only on the Edwards Plateau.

Adult male Selasphorus and Ruby-throated Hummers still here,
Hutton's Vireo, Hermit Thrush, and I'm sure I heard a Green-
tailed Towhee do it's hissy cat-call up the hill behind us.
It is distinctly two-parted with a break after the short intro
hiss whereas Spotted Towhee hissy fit is one drawn out long note.
Also Spotted Towhee's hiss is somewhat musical sounding, while
Green-tailed Towhee's is strictly a dry mechanical hiss.
With the Rufous-crowned Sparrow in yard, I saw TEN species
of sparrows locally today, not counting the Lark Bunting
or Spotted Towhee.

I thought I was done but at 5:50 p.m. I was on the
front porch when the blood-curdling "curleee" of
LONG-BILLED CURLEW rang out 3 times, southbound, but must
have been the other side of the knoll as I couldn't
pick it up visually.  I've had them in spring at
night, maybe once or twice in Aug., but no late fall
or winter records.  A great late Oct. record.
I scanned some fresh-plowed fields today too, and
saw dirt, very well, lots of it.

At least a dozen Monarchs were seen moving WSW or so.
One late Olive-Juniper Hairstreak was in the yard.
Couple Red Admiral, some Variegated Fritillary, a Pipevine.
The Fri. and Sat. a.m. lows were in high 30's but enough
to really put the kabosh on odes.  I did see my FOS
Autumn Meadowhawks today, but otherwise it was just Green
Darner and Variegated Meadowhawk, plus some bluets that
looked like Familiar below the dam at park.

Oct. 29 ~ The ad. male Selasphorus with a mostly green
back like Allen's, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird still here.
Few Queens & Cloudless Sulphurs, 3 Common Checkered-Skipper
at butterfly garden, couple Gray Hairstreak, one Snout.  Just
seems two Audubon's Orioles here at our feeders now, the
pair that summered, as first summer (year-old) birds.
Low was probably 38-40 dF or so on SR, a few dF colder on
valley floor (in town).

Oct. 28 ~ At UP no Catbird or White-throated Sparrow.
I ran into Judy Schaeffer whom said she had a White-throat
this past week stop in for a day or so, but so an earlier
date than my FOS by a few days.  She said she still
had a couple imm. Ruby-throated Hummingbird at her feeders
as well, but her Rufous were all gone.  There were
30 Eastern Bluebird out front of the park, and one
Loggerhead Shrike which is pretty scarce around the park.
Nice lows in the a.m. in upper 30's or so, high not 70dF.
Chipping Sparrow number at house at least 45, saw one
Clay-colored today, probably the last of them up here.

Oct. 27 ~ Two hummers continue, what seems an immature
Ruby-throated and the adult male Selasphorus that I've
been calling an Allen's due to mostly green back.
I'd thought it was all green, but now have doubts.

A quick check at UP found a royal scrape job below the
dam.  Yes the pond needs dredging, but that is
above the spillway.  How that translates to burying our
best patch of fireweed below the dam seems a not very well
considered action.  I realize this is Texas and it's
just the environment, not the size of your truck so does
not merit consideration.  If the guy's orders were to
bury the fireweed patch, he should get a bonus for doing
a great job.

It is a completely different habitat and landscrape now.
That flower patch under the new 8' high pile of rocks
was always loaded with birds and butterflies.  At
least I won't have to worry about what is there now.
It was the only publicly accessible big fireweed patch
around.  And there was no where else in the world
to put the rocks but on good habitat countless animals use?

Three adult and now only 3 young Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
continue.  Across the spillway there was a CATBIRD.
At the woods there were two FOS White-throated Sparrow,
one a nice adult white-striped morph.  My earliest
fall date methinks.  A few Myrtle Warbler, the Downy
Woodpecker, but not much though was heat of day.

Oct. 26 ~ Just when you thought you knew what was going
on.... the adult male ALLEN'S Hummingbird shows back up.
It is one stealthy bird, I missed it for two days.
It's been here now off and on for a few weeks, at least,
and is clearly using other feeders elsewhere, we're
just on its trapline.  Then after 5 p.m. and until
dark, an imm. Ruby-throated showed!  The pair of Spotted
Towhee seems to be hanging, probably last winter's pair.
Two days with no hummers seen, and today two here.

Oct. 25 ~ NO hummers again, that's it, fini, methinks?
One immature White-crowned Sparrow - Gambell's still.
Hermit Thrush eating seeds, surely because there are
so few bugs, normally they don't do this unless sub-
freezing for a period later in deep winter.

Oct. 24 ~ Didn't see a hummer here at SR today.  Saw
only one immature White-crowned Sparrow here today, Gambell's.
The hummers may have bugged out.  There was a Junco
around the yard but not the FOS one.  Went to park to look
for warblers and contents had changed drastically overnight.
I did not see an Orange-crowned Warbler or a Ruby-crowned
Kinglet, the Downy Woodpecker, or any of the 4 Sapsuckers
there yesterday.  Though there were 4-5 Audubon's and
4 Myrtle Warbler and the Black-n-white Warbler.  No
trace of Cape May or Black-throated Gray, and the library
garden had no Nashville or Black-throated Green either.
Monarchs are thinning out, only a dozen or so, but a male
Blue-eyed Darner was at UP below the dam, where they are
now bulldozing a deeper drainage channel I suppose?
Took out a lot of nice habitat that was always full of
birds and butterflies. 

In town someone told me that someone up in Vanderpool saw
a Bald Eagle this past weekend, and it is time for them
to pass through so remember to look up once in a while.

Oct. 23 ~ One Ruby-throated Hummingbird was still here
at our feeders in a.m., but not in p.m..  Had 2 close
immature White-crowned Sparrows that continue and they
were orange-billed gray-lored Gambell's like the adult
two days ago.  Then three adults appeared, one was
pink-billed black-lored leucophrys, the normal one, but the
other two were Gambell's!  This constitutes a wave
of them.  I've never had 4 Gambell's at once here, ever.
These are a western type while our normal pink-billed one
is the eastern.

People are reporting Green-tailed Towhee and Sage Thrashers
all over Texas east of us, so there should be some here.
A female Spotted Towhee showed up to go with the male
continuing in yard.  A tardy Dickcissel called in the
morning, and I heard it again near dark.

At UP there were two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on the
island, in a wild place with some flowers but no feeders.
I didn't have a hummingbird at the butterfly garden, though
there was a Nashville Warbler, and better, a nice first year
male methinks, Black-throated Green Warbler in the pecans.
UP had a good flock of birds in the live-oaks but they were
moving fast like newly arrived migrants.  When I first
went through the park I didn't see any warblers.

After doing the north end woods and the island an hour
later it had a dozen plus in a group with all the Titmice
and Chickadees and Kinglets (Ruby only).

I saw one warbler briefly, maybe 15 seconds, at <20' that
was clearly a CAPE MAY Warbler but over an hour couldn't
relocate it, OR the BLACK-THROATED GRAY Warbler I saw shortly
after the Cape May!  I couldn't refind either again!
There were a half-dozen plus Myrtle, four Audubon's, some
Orange-crowned, and the Black-n-white.  I left the
park to check other spots and came back and searched again
to no avail.

Outstanding is that the adult female Black-and-white Warbler
continues, so now I am convinced after over two plus weeks
is surely the returning winterer on her fourth winter here!
The first overwintering B&W on the Edwards Plateau and it keeps
coming back, too cool!  Some warblers have been known to
return to a wintering site a dozen years.  Wintering site-
fidelity is like breeding site-fidelity.  To the bone.
Imagine the bird knowing every branch already, a tremendous
advantage for predator evasion and food location.

The Cape May was of the dull type, small size and short tail
is a real attention getter to my eye.  There is no other warbler
that has that type of fine streaking all the way to throat,
and as a whisker, and all the way across breast.  Dull
greenish yellow rump, wingbars indistinct really, no yellow
patches on sides or buff on flanks, but a slight yellowish
tinge below on breast, a trace of a yellow ear crescent,
a sharply pointed bill with decurve to culmen, ain't nuthin'
like 'em.  There is also nothing like the excitement and
frustration of getting a quick good look at something and
then not being able to refind it.  I hate even reporting
what I call "10-second sightings" if they are rare,
considered hard to ID, or mis-ID'd often.  Though remember
some ID problems (like say Myiarchus flycatchers) are made to be
much bigger than they are, perhaps to sell books.

Black-throated Gray was on my most wanted list as it was
the only warbler species I knew of a record of from the park
that I hadn't seen there.  We can't have that can we?  %^
Had one at N. Thunder Creek so have seen it locally, and I
found one wintering at Uvalde several years back, so not
new in the county either, but even better, new at the park.
Was starting to seem a bit overdue frankly.  When I first
saw it I only saw a black line across the white breast and
throat, and couldn't see rest of the bird, so thought until
it jumped into open, you better be a Black throated Gray
or else its a Cerulean.  Then it moved into open for a while
and was a nice female 'gray' just like the ol' California days
foraging in a live-oak, but it disappeared with the Cape May.
There were several other warblers they were moving about with
them that I didn't get.... because I was distracted focussing
on these two odd ones, one was a Nashville. But 7 species of
warblers locally on this late date is surprising to me.

I saw four FOS Sapsuckers in the park, and another crossed
the road just south of town, so five the first day they're
back.  One was an immature Red-naped, 3 were muddy brown
immature Yellow-bellied, and the flyover was an adult but no
ID on it.  Flickers were everywhere and Red-winged
outnumbered Yellow-winged which is not the normal case.
The female Downy Woodpecker continues at UP so with the
Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted it was 6 sps. of woodpecker.

Another local FOS at the park was Song Sparrow, and my earliest
record in fall here, on the heels of an FOS in Uvalde yesterday.
Some species seem on the early side so far, but too early to
mean anything, all the species aren't back yet.  A dozen
Red-winged Blackbird were at the cattail pond at the golf course.

The female Belted Kingfisher is still trying to keep a male
from settling in at 'her' pond at the park.  Great Blue
Heron and two Great Egret continue as well.  Good since I
hadn't seen them in nearly two weeks and was getting worried,
was seeing the Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks that nested at
the park with their young.  The two adults plus the helper
adult and four young continue, which have finally made it
to flight stage!  I got a pic of them in the air, and
I expect they'll be leaving soon now.  So the first
local nesting at the park in 8 years got 4 young to fledge.

I didn't see the other attendent throughout this breeding
event, Orangesauce the roaster.  Once the river dropped
too much, since it couldn't fly, it couldn't get away.
Folks should consider when they dump ducks they are usually
just feeding predators not saving a duck. They thank you.

For leps a number of Monarchs still around, couple dozen plus,
couple Queens, 2-3 Cloudless Sulphur, a Snout, a Lyside or two,
a Gulf Fritillary, couple Variegated Frit, some Sleepy
Orange, a Red Admiral, but very low numbers overall.
If it doesn't freeze too soon, the butterfly garden will
have some white Eupatorium blooming and should be good
for attracting strays, if anything is out there.

Oct. 22 ~ First thing in the a.m. at least one Ruby-
throated Hummer, and the adult male Allen's Hummingbird
came in.  Before sunup a FOS Hermit Thrush came
to bath as they love to do first and last light.

We did a Uvalde run down 187 and via Old Sabinal Rd..
Glad we left the area as it was a big cycling event here.
These bicyclists here sure are the rudest anywhere.
They insist on blocking your passage and progress, NOT
moving right as far as possible, to the white line, when
you are behind them, as I was taught courtesy dictated.

In California we were taught when impeding traffic to move
AS FAR AS POSSIBLE to the right SOLEY to let you by, to be
courteous.  Seems these here want to be treated like a motorized
vehicle, yet are not, and do not treat motorized vehicles
as any driver would if he were impeding traffic.  The
farmer with the John Deere is polite and intelligent enough
to move over as far as possible when impeding flow, but not
these citiots cyclists we get.  If I drove 1/3 of the
speed limit and refused to move as far over as possible in
front of DPS, remind me what happens?

This is why the bumper stickers out here: keep bicycles
off rural roads, because the cyclists are inconsiderate and
rude.  It can only work if the cyclists are courteous
to the motor vehicles (the thingies that go vrooom that the
road was built for) using the road.  Us locals lives
depend on being able to use them.  We don't have panties
with silicone butts, we're trying to live and work and eat.
Not moving over ALL THE WAY OVER is not sharing the road.

Until the state constructs roads made to handle them, with a
bike lane, since that is how they want to use the vehicle lane,
they are a traffic hazard as operated and used by these cyclists.

These roads were not made for two cars to pass in opposite
directions, and bicyclists that won't move over as far as
possible to the right.  They are farm to market roads,
not bicycle roads.  What if we all brought our tractors
into their city and blocked their roads?  They would be
the first to call and complain.  There is room for them to
move over TWO FEET, and they won't.  BTW Do they pay for the
sherrifs directing traffic (at how many intersections?) that
aren't normally required, or are my tax dollars paying for that?

See why I try hard to not be political and/or opinionated
about these sorts of things here?  :)  Don't get
me started.  :)

The trip to Uvalde was overall uneventful, but always
different so interesting.  There were ZERO Scissor-
tailed Flycatcher - gone for the year!  Normally now
there are still some around, but without the rain=bugs....
Then instead there were Lark Bunting everywhere along
the way, probably 250 or so total, biggest single flock
was over 100.  It may be a good year for them here.
And Western Meadowlarks were in, a few Eastern were seen too.

A few eastern Red-tailed Hawks have arrived for the winter,
and one dark morph western Red-tail all blackish but for
some rufous on breast was seen.  Several Fuertes types,
a Merlin, some Caracara, a dozen Kestrel, a Cooper's Hawk
with a bird at Ft. Inge.  Didn't see any Mountain Plover yet.
A Common Raven was down off the escarpment in the brush
country a few miles north of Sabinal, again.  Lots of Shrike
and Mockingbird along the roads, and Mourning Dove.

Although Ft. Inge is still mostly closed we got in - it
pays to volunteer to contribute locally - though the birds
were way down due to it being without water for many months
now.  It has a few puddles since the rain, but still was
almost scary quiet.  Some Green Jay and Great Kiskadee were
neat but we barely scraped up two Ruby-crowned Kinglet and as
many Orange-crowned Warbler, no Yellow-rumped yet there.
Olive Sparrow was heard only, a Rock Wren is back on the
historic rock wall near the first parking lot.  The
neatest find was a couple fossils of some type of bivalve
(an odd mussel methinks, one I've never seen the likes of)
which of course I gave to Chief Bill Dillahunty from the
Historical Society for their collection.  Very cool,
these were marine species from a time when it was a shallow
saltwater sea there, methinks roughly late cretaceous, like
our Texas Heart (Protocardia) clams here, about 105-107
million years ago or thereabouts.

At Cook's Slough there was a FOS Song Sparrow, and two
Swamp Sparrow, but it was warmed up and slow by time we
got there.  Green Jay was heard, as was Long-billed
Thrasher and Kiskadee.  At the hatchery there was a
late-ish Indigo Bunting, and better 5 Plegadis Ibis that
a couple were sure White-faced, as probably all were, and
a late date for them here.  A Common Gallinule was
a bit tardy too, haven't had one there in months.  Five
American Wigeon was it for ducks, about 20 American Coot,
and a half-dozen Pied-billed Grebe, 5 Double-crested
Cormorant.  5 Wilson's Snipe were my FOS, one Spotted
Sandpiper and heard a Least Sandpiper flying around.

The only swallows I saw were 100 Barn scattered about
everywhere, and a few Cave at the slough and hatchery.
Some others of regulars were seen on the way: lots of
Meadowlarks in now (most Western), Vesper and Lark Sparrow
all along the roads, 10 FOS Brewer's Blackbirds at Sabinal
Feedlot, some Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Pyrrhuloxia,
a Red-winged Flicker (not safe to call them 'shafted' in
flight views here, too many are impure when studied).
Lots of Bronzed Cowbird at supermegamart parking lot.

Butterflies and odes were few, lower than normal for
this time of year.  For odes there were 2 Blue-eyed
Darner at Cook's Slough, 1 Roseate Skimmer, numbers of
Green Darner and Variegated Meadowhawk there and at the
hatchery.  A few blue Dasher were at the hatchery,
Black Saddlebags were scattered about and even along the
roads, a couple Wandering Glider were gliding about.
One Rambur's Forktail at the slough, and some bluets
there and the hatchery I did not work over to ID.

Oct. 21 ~ At least one Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still
about, as well as the ad. male Allen's.  Only 3 imm.
White-crowned Sparrow continued, and one adult was here
but it was not yesterday's adult, this one was a GAMBELL's
type with a bigger orange bill, not a little pink one!
And with gray lores, no black line through the eye.
Huttons' Vireo and Audubon's Oriole were about, still a
Clay-colored Sparrow or two and the Chipping Sparrow now
number at least 30.  Seven Common Raven passed over
late in the p.m..

Oct. 20 ~ An amazing FIVE White-crowned Sparrows were in
the yard this a.m., perhaps 3 is the highest number here
at once in the prior 6+ years here on SR.  It is not
the best habitat, a random spot on a juniper ridge; other
than onesies at the seed here I generally only get them at
the valley floor hedgerows.  One was adult, 4 immatures,
and one (presume the ad.? gave me 3+ notes of non-Gambell's
song) was pink-billed and black-lored.  This is the
nominate eastern leucophrys, which is what most of what
we get is and our default White-cronwed.  Attention
to detail however will find the occasional Gambell's and I
didn't get to work the immatures.

Oct. 19 ~ Fitting for the first morning at 40dF in 6 months
was the FOS JUNCO, a female Slate-colored, with some
brownish on flanks.  Last years FOS was the 18th.
I saw Kerrville was down into the upper 30's for a low!
An adult White-crowned Sparrow (leucophrys) has joined the
immature.  The 4 hummers continue, but I think only two
Ruby-throated today, the ad. male Selasphorus continues to
play hard to get but again flying away it showed a solid
green back, and the imm. male Rufous/Allen's continues too.
Late, Kathy got the FOS Sandhill Crane as a southbound flock
called in the dark at 8:30 p.m..  The call of the wild.

Oct. 18 ~ An Orange-crowned Warbler at the hummer and
peanut feeder has to be a returnee wintering bird, the
migrants don't do that.  At least two Ruby-throated,
the imm. Rufous/Allen's, and the adult male Rufous/Allen's
are all still here.  That came up to feeders
twice while I was feet away, working with back turned,
and slow as I could I turned my head, it flew just about
the time I could see it, twice!%^!.  The back looked all
green as it flew off though.  The imm. White-crowned
Sparrow continues as does the male Spotted Towhee, which
so is seeming a returning winterer, nice to get to see
friends again.

Oct. 17 ~ An adult male Selasphorus with a full gorget
was here today, with full wing whistle but refused
to let me see its back.  I'm leaning Allen's.
The newer imm. male Rufous/Allen's continues, as do
three imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  New was
an imm. White-crowned Sparrow.  Kathy got the
Chipping Sparrow number up to 20.  Still some few
Clay-colored, a/the Lincoln's, and the regulars.

Well I have too much work to do to get out much now, but
the peak of fall is past.  Much of the second half of fall
migration is the arrival of wintering species, whereas the
first half is the passage of the ones that winter in Mexico,
Central America, and South America, the neo-tropical migrants.
There will still be good waves, of things like Myrtle (Yellow-
rumped) Warbler, Hermit Thrush, and if they show up this
year Robin and Cedar Waxwing, Siskin and American Goldfinch,
again, wintering type species, but the lion's share of
passerine fall migrant diversity is well into Mexico now.
We'll be lucky to pick up much more for warblers for instance,
save Pine which will soon show up, to winter.  Rhandy
Helton up in Junction had a Palm Warbler today I think it was.
There can be late season goodies and often that is when
some real good stuff can show up, like say western things.

Oct. 16 ~ I've heard a few migrants in the night the
last few nights, but not much visible on the ground,
and since low altitude and early I presume departures.
At least 2 probably 3 Ruby-throated Hummingbird continue
and one immature Rufous/Allen's on day 2 that is not
the imm. male that was the week prior.  I didn't
see the Indigo Bunting, but the male Spotted Towhee
was still here, maybe a returning winterer.  A
Hutton's Vireo was at the bath early.

The park had little, a Common Yellowthroat, an Orange-
crowned Warbler, but it was dead save Carolina Wrens,
Cardinal, Titmouse and Chickadee.  The Great Egret
and Great Blue Heron continue, one Blue-winged Teal
was there.  One male Blue-eyed Darner (ode) was
below the dam again, 3rd Sunday in a row, whilst missing
them on trips during the week.  At the park a
couple dozen Monarch were on the sunflowers, a dozen or
two on Frostweed, and roosting, but virtually none on
the Evergreen Sumac on SR that was covered the last
two days.  Must be past peak nectar.  No
cerambycids on any of it either.

At the butterfly garden was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird,
a Common Yellowthroat, and 4 Orange-crowned Warbler,
a few Queens and 1 Fatal Metalmark, one probable
Orange-barred Sulphur, couple Monarch.

Oct. 15 ~ A great day with some obvious movement, but
few birds in total.  From the front porch in the
a.m. I had my first ever SPRAGUE'S PIPIT in Uvalde Co..
Calling, southbound, and long overdue, I'd had flyover
fall migrants at North Thunder Creek in Bandera Co.,
and so it was on the SRV (Sabinal River Valley) list
from fall '03 and/or '04, but it's been a big jinx bird
for me in UvCo.  Now if I could just find a
Green-tailed Towhee, my other county jinx.... Funny
how always there will things like that, without even
trying, all of a sudden you realize some not very rare
bird is really doing a good job of avoiding you.

Just after the Sprague's a FOS American (Water) Pipit
flew over calling, which I got a look at before it
disappeared westward.  Then a male Spotted Towhee
was a FOS in the yard on the seed first thing.  At
least 3 imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird still here,
and a immature male Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus sps..
The imm. female Indigo Bunting continues.

Park was slow, 'cept for dead fish below the dam,
those numbers were up.  They could have trenched
from up river 75 yards and not drained the water through
the mud so much (via the methane, hydrogen sulfide, etc.)
thereby creating a lethal toxic brew for anything
live downstream e.g., below the dam?

A couple dozen Monarch were mostly on the Maxmillian
Sunflowers at the north end of the island, and a
hundred were on the Mealy Sage in front of Audrey's
place.  Some birds were one Great Egret, the
female Belted Kingfisher, 2 Orange-crowned Warbler,
2 Common Yellowthroat, FOS seen Myrtle Warbler,
heard the Black-and-white (been there all week) Warbler,
few Lincoln's Sparrow, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
The show was a couple flicker trying to sort out
whose live-oaks they were to work, one Red-shafted
and one Yellow-shafted both with raucous calling and
wing-flashing at each other from a foot apart for
10 mintues chasing around the woods, it was amazing.

At the golf course there were a couple Vesper Sparrow,
and at the cattail pond a FOS locally SWAMP Sparrow,
early here, even after the early one Oct. 1 in Uvalde.
6 Red-winged Blackbirds continued, one Yellowthroat.
There was one FOS local Eastern Meadowlark about.
A Green Darner dragonfly took a Variegated Meadowhawk
dragonfly out of the air right in front of me.

Went up to W. Sabinal Rd. to check the wet spot where
the Hilbigs (and Diane Causey told me she saw it too)
had the White-faced Ibis recently but it was gone.
It looks like a good wet spot to check after rains,
seems like it could get shorebirds earlier in the
season, I'm hardly ever up thataway.  One Scissor-
tailed Flycatcher was at the junction of W.Sabinal Rd.
and Jones Cmty. Rd..

One Wilson's Warbler was at the butterfly garden,
and a half dozen Monarch on the Blue Mist Flower
Eupatorium.  One imm. male Ruby-throated Hummer
continues there as well.  The blooming Evergreen
Sumac seems to be the big Monarch magnet now, as on
SR there were again dozens on each one, a few Queen,
and one Stenaspis cerambycid was seen.  Monarch were
also seen on two different Lantana, Kidneywood, a white
Eupatorium, and Mealy Sage.  Decent numbers were
moving W to WSW through the day.

At the park was a weird single hooted owl call I
could not find or know.  Like an overgrown Flamm,
way to big and loud for that but otherwise similar,
a single deep resonant whooo.  Early before
sunup about 7 a.m. there was a flock of ducks that
flew south over SR that looked like Lesser Scaup or
Ring-necked (Athya type) Ducks to me.

Three Ruby-throat and a new imm. Selasphorus (Ruf/All)
showed up, the imm. male with the big patch of red
on it's right throat is gone.

A few other butterflies around were Dainty Sulphur,
Little Yellow, Cloudless Sulphur, Gulf Fritillary,
Giant and Pipevine Swallowtail, Gray Hairstreak,
Checkered-Skipper and Fiery Skipper.

Oct. 14 ~ At the park there were 9 Cattle Egret, and
15 Blue-winged Teal, and dead fish below the dam where
the pond is being drained to via the mud so becoming
anoxic on the way.  There's some big dead fish
I sure would have loved to have caught.

There has been an influx of migrant Chipping Sparrow
arriving from the north, with at least a dozen here
today.  A Lincoln's is still out there on the
seed, and the regular Lark, Field, and Rufous-crowned,
while a couple or few Clay-colored continue, and the
highlight an immature White-crowned Sparrow, for another
7 species of sparrow day out the window.

Was the biggest Monarch numbers I've seen this year,
with 200-300 just on the SR Evergreen Sumac in bloom.
It is the biggest draw at the moment but a few dozen
were at the park on Sunflower and Frostweed, and 50
plus were in the Mealy Sage in front of Audrey's on
the river.  In between some were moving WSW mostly.

The immature male Rufous/Allen's that has been here
some time now had a big patch of gorget feathers on the
back lower right side of throat, over two rows high and
maybe 6 rows long, a round-cornered barely rectangular
patch.  It seems gone, and a new imm. male has shown
up in the p.m. that has a few gorget feathers in center
and 1 row along bottom edge all the way around throat.
Noting these details one can keep track of turnover and get
better (more accurate) numbers.  If I hadn't have
noted the earlier birds throat in detail, I would think
this is the same one, instead of it being obviously
different.  The result is much better data.

Oct. 13 ~ WOW, the hole dug to open drain in dam and the
draining of the pond at park begun, for dredging the rocks
and gravel that filled the pond up from the great flood
of 2002 I hear.  Gonna be some major habitat changes
down there.  Hope they leave some shallow enough
shoreline where the water lillies and other aquatic plants
can grow.  Besides being the filter for the water,
they are the habitat for the fish, and all they feed on.
I realize most here call and consider them water weeds,
but they are part of the ecosystem, the web of life,
just like trees, shrubs (bushes) and forbs as in wildflowers,
and all the parts of the puzzle are important, whether or
not we understand how or why matters not.

Was it Popular Mechanics magazine that used to have the
quote "The most important part of intelligent tinkering
is to save all the parts".  Unfortunately this
message often seems to have been lost when it comes to
environmental tinkering.

For birds the 3 Ruby and 1 Rufous were still here at SR,
but I didn't see the Rufous in the p.m., though a new
imm. female Indigo Bunting showed up.  There were
a Great Egret and 3 Lincoln's Sparrow at the park, and
I heard the Black-and-white Warbler.  Best was hearing
an Eastern Screech-Owl call, new for me at the park.
I've always figured they should be there, but haven't
been able to see one, nor ever heard one the times I
was down there in the evening.  There were some
bats around in the p.m., at least one maybe two, looked
like Red Bat.

On SR every blooming Evergreen Sumac is covered in Monarchs.
A dozen to two dozen on the 5 big blooming ones along the
road. Also a dozen or two on Frostweed at the park, and
antoher couple dozen on Maxmilian Sunflower there, besides
a dozen in between, moving WSW.  Some were also on
Kidneywood which is just about to burn out, and Mealy Sage,
besides a Lantana in town.

Oct. 12 ~ 3 Ruby-throated and 1 imm. male Rufous in the
a.m..  Front approaching and low stratus so I bet
there were birds, but I couldn't get out of work as usual.
Nashville and Orange-crowned Warbler in yeard early, a
Barn Swallow went over, but a Cooper's and a Sharp-shinned
Hawk kept stuff away all day.  They could have done
me a favor and taken the three House Sparrow that showed up.
Might be a couple new migrant Chipping Sparrow in the mix.

Oct. 11 ~ No Blue Grosbeak or Dickcissel, they both musta
split last night.  Four days of white millet and
they were good to go.  Most of the Clay-colored Sparrow
departed as well.  An imm. male Rufous Hummer
continues, and some unknown age/sex Rufous/Allen's.
I did not surely see the ad. ma. Allen's of yesterday.
There are about 3 imm. ma. Ruby-throated still here.

At UP there were a 5 Nashville, a Wilson's, two Orange-
crowned Warbler, a Common Yellowthroat, the Black-and-
white Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 5 Lincoln's Sparrow,
but no Coot or Marsh Wren, Catbird or other warblers.
When is the next rain?

Oct. 10 ~ Well it was dead at the park mid-day, a heard
Nashville or two, same for Orange-crowned, 2 Yellowthroat,
a Wilson's, but that was about it.  Only one Coot
was still present, but I did get to see the FOS Flicker
I heard the other day, a good female Yellow-shafted that
is probably the one that sleeps in a broken dead Cypress
the last 3 winters.  The Black-and-white Warbler
continued as well.  In the yard were still the
Blue Grosbeak and Dickcissel, but not the Indigo Bunting.
The highlight of the day was just after 4 p.m. when an
adult male ALLEN'S Hummingbird flew up to the front porch
3' from me, full gorget, full wing whistle, fully green back.
One immature male Rufous/Allen's continues, I don't see the
imm. female now, and about 3 imm. ma. Ruby-throated still here.
Almost forgot, Olive Sparrow across dam at park.  Photo'd
an Erynnis duskywing (lep) that was likely a Juvenal's.

Time to take down the hummer feeders folks, unless you are sure
to be here all winter maintaining it to feed Audubon's Orioles
like we do here. You have to make sure to keep it clean,
with fluid, and not forget, and let it be frozen out there
during a freeze event after you get the birds dependent on it.

Oct. 9 ~ The rain hit about 11 p.m. Sat. night and by
this a.m. there was 2" in my gauge (a 5 gal. bucket).
Amazingly the multi-million dollar doppler radar gizmo
showed I should have, um, 2" (in the bucket) as well.
It was a good slow soaker for the most part so just
what we needed.  Now we just need two more feet.

The Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and Dickcissel
couldn't go anywhere of course so are still here.
New was a near-tardy locally Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at
8 a.m..  Probably a migrant from the furthest
north parts of its range. The imm. male Rufous and
at dusk four Ruby-throated continue as does the pair
of 2nd fall Audubon's Oriole.

As advertised the rain brought birds, it was really
hoppin' out there around town.  I didn't go out
early waiting to make sure it was done, and knowing
it would be active later because of the rain.

First at UP there was a Coot (!) which is a rare bird
here, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m..  I left and checked
other spots for two hours and upon my return at 3:30
there were TWO Coots!  How exciting can it get?
Sometime in the middle of the day, a 2nd Coot flew in!
We had one knocked known in a nocturnal storm into
our backyard near San Antonio once, probably in fall.
That was a tough to get yard bird.

Around the park there were over a dozen Nashville
Warbler, a half-dozen Orange-crowned, a couple Wilson's,
4 Common Yellowthroat, a Black-and-white Warbler (which
could be returning winterer? - will be 4th year if so),
and amazingly when I came back through the woodlot at
3:30-4 p.m. I found an OVENBIRD and a Mourning Warbler
that I did not see in an hour, just a couple hours earlier.
Seven species of warblers is good here now.  Add
a late Yellow at Waresville, and a Tennessee at Utopia
on the river, and it was 9 sps. of warblers seen here today,
plus a heard Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) for 10 sps. total.
That's a big WOW here in the fall.

Other things at the park were Great Blue Heron, Great
Egret, Black Phoebe, Blue Jay, continuing Marsh Wren on
other side of spillway, a Dickcissel over there too, two
Blue-headed Vireo together, one bright, one dull type, both
Blue-headed.  Neither flicked it's wings in 5 mintues.
Which reminds me, 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and in the latter
visit a heard FOS Northern Flicker, and the second CATBIRD
here of the fall.  Haven't seen or heard the first one
for a week now, in several visits, so surely this is another.

A couple ea. Scissor-tailed and Vermilion Flycatcher
were around town and at golf course, the Say's Phoebe
was still at Waresville, where a puddle forms at the
jog in the road and birds bathe there.  I stopped
and sat in the truck and watched things come in for
10 minutes, a dozen Eastern Bluebird, a Baltimore Oriole,
the Yellow Warbler, a BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK which is
less than annual here in fall, some Lark Sparrow, and
then 30 some Red-winged Blackbird from the cattail pond
came in and flushed everything off, but it was a great

A couple more Baltimore Oriole were on the golf course,
besides another half dozen Nashville, another Wilson's,
an Orange-crowned, a Yellowthroat, and a great fall bird
here, maybe my first (?), a Grasshopper Sparrow. 
Down at UR it was getting late but there were over a
dozen Nashville there too, my only TENNESSEE Warbler this
fall (I don't get one every fall), a couple Wilson's,
a Yellowthroat, a couple Orange-crowned Warbler,
6 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and just a couple wet spots
in the river bed.

Water was running at the 360 crossing, for 50' maybe,
but great to see.  Clay-colored and Lincoln's Sparrow were
at every stop, as were Monarchs if there was Frostweed.
Otherwise butterfly and ode activity reduced due to
cool wet conditions, which in fact had me in a pair
of long pants perhaps for the first time since April.

25 Collared-Dove at north end of town, a few Barn
Swallow about, Mockers everywhere, a Cooper's here,
a Sharpy there, couple Kestrel, couple Common Raven,
few Blue Jay, Red-shouldered at park, fem. Belted KF
still there too.  One pair of the Cerambycids still
mating on the same flower as yesterday.  I guess
when you do it once a year....

Oct. 8 ~ The Blue Grosbeak (ad.fe.?) and the imm. male
Dickcissel continued, and were joined by a first year
male Indigo Bunting.  All three of these species
will soon be gone until next April.  The imm. ma.
Rufous Hummer continues, and maybe 3 Ruby-throated still,
imm. males too of course.  Orioles seem all gone
for a week now, save the resident Audubon's.  It
is possible I'm suffering from empty feeder syndrome.

Too windy with 15-20 gusting to 25 but tried finding
birds in it anyway around town, tough going in wind,
as when all the trees are moving, the bird's movement,
one of our key detection strategies, is camoflauged,
whereas action normally makes them stand out. 

Except things like the huge flock of 35 presumed migrant
Starling on the wires outside the park, anyone would notice.
Normally we have 10 or so in town, and this seemed
overwhelmingly first winter birds.  The next day
I went and checked, our normal 10 were all in their places,
so I really think this was a transient flock.

At UP mustered a half dozen Nashville Warbler, an Orange-
crowned, 3 Common Yellowthroat, thought I heard a Myrtle
Warbler again, but didn't see it.  House Wren and
Lincoln's Sparrow singles, but it seems most has cleared
out and not much has flown into the strong southerly
headwinds (as required of any new arrivals - they're all
grounded north of us).  A few dozen Monarch still
nectaring on Frostweed mostly, and roosting mostly on Pecans.

BTW in the east (coast - Jersey anyway) the best fall warbler
days seemed the day after frontal passage, the first clear
night with the northerly winds they can ride.  Oh, the
Marsh Wren was still across the dam/spillway, Two Black
Phoebe around the waterhole left at the former park pond.
A couple Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were about town, and
one Audubon's Warbler, my 2 FOS local Vesper Sparrow (my
UvCo FOS was last weekend near Knippa down in flatlands
brush country).

Two pair of mating Stenaspis Cerambycids near Morris's
at the east end of SR.  I brake for 'bycids.  The
wind was blowing so hard I had to hold the branch to keep
it still enough for a pic, which they did not like at all,
got very agitated about my presence, they wanted to leave,
but didn't want to get unhooked up after waiting all year
so put up with my momentary intrusion, I'll get one of the
pix up.  Probably my best pic yet, I left quickly.
You could see the other pair watching, as if thinking
"I hope he doesn't want to that that to us!" Not
even safe for a bug to mate around a nature nerd, next thing
ya know a flash is goin' off.....

We need the rain to hit, and the front to pass.
Maybe Sunday and Monday.  Should be a good wave
on it considering seasonal timing.  I've done the
numbers: bad weather = good birds.  :)

Oct. 7 ~ Maybe 3-4 Ruby-throated Hummingbird left,
and one imm. male Rufous for sure as I watched it do
its dive display complete with tail-waggin' flourish
(I can see your green glow) and it started dives from
same exact position (relative to a tree) in sky, so it
is absolutley not Allen's which I studied for decades
in our former yard in L.A..

Besides the Dickcissel continuing, really nearing tardy
was a Blue Grosbeak (fe., imm.?) that showed up (ph.)
mid-morning and ate like a pig all day.  Clay-colored,
Lincoln's, Field, Lark, Chippy, and Rufous-crowned rounded
out yard sparrows.  I gotta say, it is so neat to
whip the bins up, and out the office window where I spend
all my time working, since the Clay-colored got back in
early Sept., them, Field, and Chipping, in the same field
of view is a great study.  I saw one juvenile (HY -
hatch year) Clay-colored that still had a few streaks on
the underparts, and not the first time for that.

A quick sneak through the park at peak heat of 3 p.m.
found little as expected, 3 Nashville, 1 Wilson's,
a Common Yellowthroat, a Marsh Wren, and I thought
sure I heard a Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler, a couple
House Wren, a White-eyed Vireo, some Blue Jay, a Black Phoebe,
Golden-fronted Woodpecker, heard the Downy WP, and the female
Belted Kingfisher caught a 3.5" young Lepomis Sunfish which
appeared Longear to me.  They have no problem calling
with fish in beak in case you wondered.

Were 35-40 Monarch mostly on the Frostweed at the north
end of the park in the little woodlot where they
also roost.  That little piece of woods is
major critical habitat at the park, as it is the
only spot around with an understory, instead of the scraped
park-grounds look.  There were a Giant and a Pipevine
Swallowtail, some Lyside Sulphur, a Queen or two.
Around town a Monarch on Lantana, some Fiery Skipper,
one Sachem, 3 Lyside, 2 Cloudless, a Dogface, 4+ Painted
Lady, a couple Gray Hairstreak at the bombyliad garden.

No Blue-eyed Darner at the park, but two Eastern Amberwing,
and no Dytiscids, they must have flamed out for the season,
I should have vouchered a couple for ID.  The Stenaspis
are still on the Sumac flowers, as are lots of bees, and
a few Monarchs.  Numbers of bees on the Kidneywood too
which has exploded with bloom now.  Stop and smell it,
by the dump especially, the legume with white spears of small
flowers, with little pea-like leaflets.  Many folks have
Cenizo of purple sage fame that is neither purple, nor sage,
which is in full purple-pink roar after the rains, beautiful!

Should be a good wave tomorrow or next day with the
front and weather to knock stuff down.  It's what
I call prime-time.  The middle of a couple or few
week peak of fall migration activity, when perhaps exists
the greatest chance of some things unusual being around.

At 11 p.m. I was outside and heard a bird call as it
flew over, not very high up, fairly due south, which I
am certain was a VIRGINIA RAIL!  They have a reedy
strained call they make while migrating at night, this was it.
What a way to get a county bird, a Sabinal Valley area bird,
and a yard bird!?!  I'll take the data any way I can
get it.  There are a few species I've only detected locally
as calling nocturnal migrants as they pass over, Marbled Godwit
and Am. Golden-Plover come to mind quickly.  It is the
easiest way to get a Long-billed Curlew here too.

Oct. 6 ~ Still 4-5 Ruby-throats including no-tail,
and the imm. male Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus Hummer.
Maybe 5 Clay-colored and the Lincoln's Sparrow still
on the white millet.  An imm. male Dickcissel
showed up mid-day.

Oct. 5 ~ 5 Ruby-throat, imm. male Selasphorus Hummer.
Time to catch up on some botanical news, so scroll on
down past the following oversized paragraph, if you
have no interest in what is blooming.

There is a nice Yucca in bloom on 357 about half way
between the two loops, closer to the back loop.  Lots
of little things popping up and open, not big nectar
producers often, but flowers and weeds for seeds and
bugs.  Sida, Rock Flax, Slender-stem Bitterweed,
False Pennyroyal, Yellow Ground-Cherry, Western Horse-
Nettle and Buffalo Burr, and the crab grass has gone
hog-wild, which is good sparrow forage when left to
go to seed.  Across the spillway in front of
Audrey's place the field of Mealy Sage blooming is
spectacular, the Goldenrod along the river is really
going well now, as is the Fireweed (Lobelia).  In
the woods mostly, Tropical Sage is showing well, and
the rains came just in time to save the stunted Frostweed
(which is IMHO one of the most critical fall bloomers
here) and it is going strong.  Still Corn-salad
and Frogfruit at the south end of former island with
bees and Phaon Crescents on it.  The Maxmillian
Sunflower is starting to show in a few spots, and a
white Eupatorium newly scattered along banks (which
I used to only at Lost Maples) is blooming.  The
best flower find was two Shrubby Blue Sage, or Mejorana,
along the fenceline (why it was wasn't cut or eaten
by goats) on 357 just north of the dump after the eastward
curve, which now that it's blooming I notice it, oops.
Also some Low Wild Petunia and Globe Mallow near the river.
A couple Navajo Tea were up, a little Snow-on-the-Mountain
still barely going, most done, as is the Poverty Weed
(Baccharus) which is fading now too.  The Zexmenia
and Parallena are really roaring now and the Evergreen
Sumac is peaking, if not just past, while the Kidneywood
is just spectacular.

Oct. 4 ~ A half-dozen Ruby-throats continue, at best,
including no-tail whom continues, now nearing 3 weeks.
No adult male, the last one seen yesterday, the 3rd.
A different Belted Kingfisher (male) at UP, a few
Nashville, a Wilson's, White-eyed Vireo, House Wren.
Everything from the last wave/front is 'bout gone.

Oct. 3 ~ Amazing is a couple new fresh just fledged
down fuzzy juvenile Chipping Sparrow, my that's late,
but I think these locals have done this before.
The Broad-tailed Hummer is still here, and a new imm.
male Rufous/Allen's showed up late p.m., while about
15 Ruby-throated were about in the a.m., it seemed
like a half-dozen at best by late p.m..  Audubon's
the only oriole species I saw, and at least 10 Clay-
colored and the Lincoln's for migrant sparrows in the yard.

Oct. 2 ~ A couple hours around town to see what changed.
The Catbird was still at UP, day 5, remarkable.  My
FOS Say's Phoebe was at Waresville, and the, or another,
Sora was at the cattail pond at the golf course.  At UR
a MARSH Wren was in exposed cypress roots over a puddle
in the riverbed, an Orchard Oriole is nearing tardy.
Everywhere has some Nashville and Wilson's, and multiple
Common Yellowthroat.  A 4' Indigo Snake at the
360 crossing slowed for pictures. 

Two male Blue-eyed Darner were at UP, after not seeing
them all week, they were back again this Sunday. 
Two Eastern Amberwing were there as well, and still a
Twelve-spotted Skimmer or two, but Green Darner and
Variegated Meadowhawk are the most common two species
now, Black Saddlebags has been numerous the last week.
A few Wandering Glider and Checkered Setwing still, and
one Swift Setwing.  Several Orange Bluet were flying
below the dam.  Stenaspis cerambycid on Evergreen
Sumac on SR.  No giant Dytiscids, they are done and
gone it seems, didn't see one, was a hundred or two last

A couple dozen Monarch mostly on Frostweed but some
roosting at park in woods.  New was a couple Buckeye,
one torn, migrants from elsewhere.  Many Painted Lady and
some Orange Sulphur migrants too.  Few Pipevine, one
Giant Swallowtail, couple Cloudless and Lyside Sulphur,
a Snout or two, 5 Phaon Crescent on the Frogfruit at south
end of island at park.  Kidneywood blooming at dump,
have to watch that sweet smelling stuff.

No Scott's or Hooded Oriole, no Baltimore Oriole, only
a couple Audubon's here at the SR yard.  OMG!
In the p.m. an imm. or female Broad-tailed Hummingbird
showed up, number four for the season methinks. One
adult male and perhaps 15-20 imm. male Ruby-throated
Hummingbird continue.

Steve and Sylvia Hilbig sent a note about a White-faced
Ibis on West Sabinal Rd. in Bandera Co. today.  Ibis
have been absent several years since about '07 when the
drought first started.  In the wet period prior
I was getting them almost every year, but none lately.
Great bird, and thanks for the news!

October 1 ~ Did a Uvalde run so down 187, cut around
Sabinal via the feedlots, and then Old Sabinal Road
into Uvalde.  Lots of Shrikes, winterers arriving.
No Meadowlarks until almost back here in Utopia just
south of town 4 miles one single FOS meadowlark sps.,
I was unable to stop for due to 3 ice chests of stuff
needing to get back into refrigeration.  A couple
Bobwhite, a Harris's Hawk, a Prairie Merlin at a site
SE of Knippa one wintered at last year, and near there
FOS Vesper Sparrow and Lark Bunting.

Gangsta activity at Cook's Slough 10 a.m. in the morning
ran us off to the Uvalde Nat. Fish Hatchery.  There
were 6 Nashville, 4 Wilson's and 2 Orange-crowned Warbler,
8 Common Yellowthroat, and other migrants in the best row
of mesquite and hackberry there.  Many Lincoln's
and my earliest ever FOS fall date in the county for
Swamp Sparrow. A couple dozen Shoveler, 2 American Wigeon,
1 American Coot, 40+ Blue-winged and a few Green-winged Teal,
and best was a calling AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER flying over
the ponds, I think my first fall record in UvCo.
Also 6 Wilson's Phalarope were good but otherwise no
shorebirds save 3 Killdeer.  Besides 5 Pied-billed
Grebe probably young hatched there earlier in summer,
the adults had 2-3 more recent young on another pond.
So it seems 3 sets were fledged this year there, the
first year I have seen them breed there.  Also
had a Pin-tailed Pondhawk dragonfly which is good.

After noon we went back to the slough for a quick check
and it had quieted down alot as it was warming up.
I saw a real good bird for a minute, but it's not *only*
an Ivory-billed Woodpecker that you probably shouldn't
report without documentation.  There are other species
that are mis-ID'd so often, are so rarely correctly ID'd,
that all reports are under extreme suspicion without
irrefutable evidence.  And so it goes sometimes,
the bird of the day gets away.  I'll work the area
hard next visit.

There were small numbers of Nashville, Wilson's, Orange-
crowned Warbler, 1 Northern Waterthrush, many Common
Yellowthroat (were thick), Green Jay, Great Kiskadee,
and surely some other stuff I'm forgetting.  Barn
and Cave Swallows, Verdin, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Kinglet.

While at the truck in the middle of acres of blacktop at
the parking lot at supermegamart about 4 p.m. a female
Baltimore Oriole and a Nashville Warbler passed through
via the puny oaks they planted.  That shows how birds
are on the move.

October!?!?  I have a month to find me long pants.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

October above, September below

September butterflies totalled a woeful 31 species.
There is a fall bloom getting underway from the Sept.
rains, so maybe October immigrants from southward will
show and bring some excitement.  The rain total
for the month (last two weeks) was just under 4" here
on SR, a couple miles west of town, a welcome and beyond
much needed respite from the drought.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ Frontal passage occurred overnight and
early this a.m., with northeast winds since midnight.
Here at the hovel on SR I had my FOS White-crowned
Sparrow this a.m., must have rode the front in.
A Lincoln's Sparrow was new here in the yard as well.
Toss in Field, Chipping, Clay-colored, Rufous-crowned
and Lark, and it was 7 species of sparrows IN the yard!

Also at SR a Nashville Warbler (or 2), the male and female
Baltimore Oriole still here, 4+ Hooded, 3 each of Scott's
and Audubon's.  An immature Dickcissel, 13-14 Clay-
colored Sparrow, and the greenie Painted Bunting still
here.  One Rufous (imm. ma.) and 25-30 Ruby-throated
Hummingbird is it, only a couple adult male Ruby-throats.

A quick run through the park to see how things changed
with the front.  Best was the CASSIN'S VIREO still
being present, seen and studied again, and it is still
an obvious Cassin's.  Nuthin' tweener about it.
The Catbird and immature Yellow-breasted Chat continued
too.  Warblers were 14 Nashville, 2+ Wilson's,
1 Yellow, 1 Audubon's, two Common Yellowthroat, and
four Orange-crowned.  Two Indigo Bunting were new
as was an Empidonax flycatcher I couldn't ID that had
a nearly completely orange mandible, upper (!) and lower,
save a small dark tip.

And there was also 4 Lincoln's Sparrow and 5 House Wren,
a White-eyed Vireo, a female Summer Tanager, a Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher, a Scissor-tailed Flyc., 41 Blue-winged and
one Green-winged Teal, and some warblers that got away.
A Green Kingfisher was new; continuing was Black Phoebe,
Blue Jay, and Barred Owl, finally I saw the DOWNY Woodpecker.
So some stuff left, some holdovers, and some new stuff,
typical.  And why you really have to check every day
to figure out what is really going on.

Seemed a wave of Monarchs, a couple dozen at least were
at the park and on the way on SR, some nectaring on the
Evergreen Sumac on SR, most on Frostweed at the park.
At least 5 Phaon Crescent were on Frogfruit at the park.

A couple Twelve-spotted Skimmer were still there at the
park, and one cruised the yard a while in the p.m. on SR.
Lots of Green Darner and Variegated Meadowhawk, Black
Saddlebags in fair numbers too.  I had a brief look at
a Darner that looked like Turquoise-tipped but it got away.

Sept. 29 ~ Here at SR still 10+ Clay-colored Sparrow,
one greenie Painted Bunting, 6+ Field Sparrow, the two
with white flight feathers still here, 1 Rufous Hummer,
25 or so Ruby-throated, only a couple adult males,
THREE male Scott's Oriole came in as a troop, two ASY
and one SY, 4+ Hooded, at least male and female Baltimore,
and some pesky Audubon's Oriole.  Hutton's Vireo
drank at bath, a Wilson's Warbler drank in the p.m..

UP was chock full o' Nashville Warblers, at least 20,
4 Wilson's, 5 Common Yellowthroat, 2 Orange-crowned
(one a holdover), the same imm. Chat still, one Yellow
heard, and a number that got away, but good activity.
Thought I heard a Black-throated Green again.  The
ones that have been there a day are down low working
flower areas while the new ones zing around in the
crown of the canopy as if unable to stop flapping yet.
Seven species of warblers, nearly 40 individuals.

The best bird was a CASSIN'S VIREO seen very close and
well, only my second ever here in fall (off the top of
my head).  Second best was FOS Audubon's (Yellow-
rumped) Warbler.  There were likely two or three.
I thought I heard one yesterday.

Something about Cassin's Vireo I notice is that they
flick their wings incessantly like a kinglet, often.
Maybe not all the time, but often, it usually stands out
when you see them, constant wing-flicking seems normal.
Whereas I usually can watch a Blue-headed Vireo 10 minutes
and it never flicks it wings, deliberate, sedate, like
a Red-eyed, not a wing-flicker.  Cassin's is like a
Hutton's Vireo in this regard, a serious wing-flicker.

The Catbird continued, a good bird in fall here.
Also there were a few White-eyed Vireo, an immature
Marsh Wren (rare here), 5-6 Lincoln's Sparrow, a few
Ruby-throated Hummingbird, an Orchard and two Baltimore
Oriole, a Dickcissel, an Indigo Bunting, continuing
female Belted Kingfisher, couple House Wren.

No Blue-eyed Darner, boy am I glad I took a grab shot
docu photo of one of them on Sunday.  There was
however one Orange-striped Threadtail at the north end
of the island where they were most regular this year,
it's been about a month since I last saw one.

Sept. 28 ~ Still at least one ea. adult male and female
Baltimore Oriole, ad. male Scott's, several Hooded,
a few Audubon's, a Calliope and a Rufous Hummingbird,
and 40-50+ Ruby-throated in the a.m..

There was a good bit of bird activity at the park as
I luckily had an errand in town, guess which got done
first?  Highlights a FOS Blue-headed Vireo, and
a rare in fall Catbird.  There were 11+ Nashville
Warbler, 4-5 Wilson's, 2 Mourning, and one each Yellow
and Orange-crowned warblers, 1+ Common Yellowthroat,
a Yellow-breasted Chat, and thought sure I heard
Black-throated Green, Yellow-throated, and Yellow-
rumped (Audubon's) Warbler.  A number got away,
but seven species of warblers were seen (maybe 10 sps.
present), at least two dozen individuals.  One Ruby-
crowned Kinglet.

3-4 Least Flycatcher, 3 White-eyed Vireo, 2 House Wren,
female Belted Kingfisher, and the pair of Whistling-
Ducks still with 5 young, one adult hanger-on, and
Orangesauce the roaster, one big happy extended family.
The Blue-wing Teal were gone.  A begging juvenile
Fuertes' Red-tailed Hawk was over the park.  These
have a fine light thin crisp distinct belly band, but
are otherwise blazing white below for the most part.

Did not see a Blue-eyed Darner!?!  There was Dun Skipper,
Phaon Crescent, Black Swallowtail, and a dozen Monarch.
The town square park had a Gray Hairstreak and a Sachem.
Wow four new butterflies for the month on the 28th!
Propelling me to a whopping 31 species so far in Sept..

Did not see the Calliope at the butterfly garden in the
three minutes I was there.  5 Blue Jay around town.
Hummers are blowing out here on SR today, often nothing
at the feeders by the late afternoon.  An Orange-
crowned Warbler was in the yard in the p.m., which looked
celata all the way, as did the one at the park.

At 4:20 a male Hooded Oriole was on their favorite feeder,
and after a minute it jumped off and a male Baltimore
jumped on for a minute, followed immediately by a male
Scott's, all the while an Audubon's calling.  A little
cooler today, mid-90's dF, so down 10dF from two days ago,
might get some precip this p.m., mostly dry front coming
on Fri. a.m., should be migrants in front of, on, and right
behind it.

A whopping third of an inch of rain at and after dark,
was at least a little more something.  We must be
between 3.75" and 4" for the last 8-9 days,
and month.  Wettest week in a year.

Sept. 27 ~ Hooded, Scott's, Audubon's, and still 4 Baltimore.
A Yellow and 2 Nashville Warbler dropped in before sunup.
Calliope and Rufous Hummers (at least 1 ea.), Dickcissel,
but didn't see the greenie painted bunny, maybe it left
last night.  Another Nashville drank at 6:30 p.m. when
it was almost 99dF (!).

We were saved by an outlfow boundry just before dusk
which dropped us 20 degrees in 20 minutes.  It was
mostly Turkey and Black Vultures on it, but one Common
Raven, a dark Merlin, and a male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
were all riding it too.  It was sustained at 25-30 MPH
for 20-30 mintues, some gusts probably 35+!  We got a
whopping near-tenth of an inch of precip out of it here
on SR, but some areas around town got more.  Bandera
got 3/4", and near Hunt got 3"+!

I keep forgetting to mention that since the rains last
week the Barking Frogs have been, uh, barking.  The
Great Horned Owl was hooting this evening after dark.

Sept. 26 ~ An immature Sharp-shinned Hawk was calling
and harassing the White-winged Doves this morning, after
yesterday's FOS adult at UR.  Still two Calliope
here this a.m., at least one Rufous, 50 Ruby-throated,
all but one feeder guarded by the jerks amongst them.
As they thin out it is hard to keep even one communal.

Still ad. male, ad. female, imm. male and female Baltimore
Oriole here, and an Orchard was around early, & the regulars.
An Orange-crowned Warbler fell out and dropped in early.
The imm. male greenie Painted Bunny was still out there.

A Nashville hit the bath at 3:30 p.m. in the heat of the
day, and I do mean heat, record hot, 104+ in Uvalde,
102+ in HDO and JCT, and the Rogers' station at weather
underground (on our front page) was showing 106 or so out
here on hotter than everything around it Seco Ridge.
Can't we just cool down already?  Wasn't 10dF over
normal for 5 months enough?  Supposed to be in the
upper 80's, not low 00's.

A quick check at the butterfly garden found that imm. ma.
Calliope still present, so 3 Calliope here for two days at
least, seems amazing to me.  At UP at the north end of
the island was an OLIVE SPARROW, my first inside the park,
though Kathy and I had one just upriver a bit a few years
ago, from the raft, nearly adjacent to park.  It is
number 228 on my UP list, no brag just fact: more species than
the official Lost Maples SNA park bird list (213?), in only
about 5 acres by one goomba in 8 years!  Whereas LM has
thousands of birders/hours over 30 years on hundreds of acres.

Always neat when FOS, a Lincoln's Sparrow was there with
the Olive, and out at the front gate was a Savannah Sparrow.
The two Blue-winged Teal were still there.

A few Nashville, one Wilson's were it for warblers besides
a couple that got away.  One imm. male or ad. female
Baltimore Oriole, a White-eyed Vireo, seemed slow, but it
was already 11:30 and getting warm by time I ran to town.
2-3 House Wren were about, a Dickcissel was at south end
of island in the blooming frogfruit where there are bugs.
Even though it was just a surface front, which stalled
to our north, I thought there might be more of a wave on it.

The pond is higher today than yesterday, and higher Friday
than Thursday, as the water from the rain slowly works its
way down the water table and fills it in a bit.  Even
though the flow above the bridge at the 360 crossing is
more than double this week over last week and the several
prior, it was still not flowing above ground there below
the bridge the 25th.

I'm amazed two Plateau Agalinis sprouted and flowered in the
last week in the front yard, I only see two, right where
water drains.  The other amazing event of the day was
seeing the Evergreen Sumac has bloomed and on the way back
up SR thinking "time for Stenaspis" as I drove
between a couple blooming and what flies right in front of
my windshield right then?  Stenaspis verticalis insignis!

That stunning metallic green and red with black dots
long-horned beetle (Cerambycid)!  Awesome bug!
There are pix on the critters-insects photo page
You get a couple weeks a year to see them, and
don't bother looking until the Evergreen Sumac blooms
and don't bother looking anywhere else.  They meet
there to mate, last week of Sept to first week of Oct.,
take or give a little pending bloom.

At dusk a couple Spot-winged Glider were hawking the front
yard with a Black Saddlebags.  Lots of Variegated Meadowhawk
at the park ovipositing now.

Sept. 25 ~ First thing before sunup at 7 a.m. there were
TWO fighting Calliope at the front porch feeder!  Now
there's an unused team name, the fighting Calliopes.  :)
Then a FOS Merlin flew over low and close.  There are
still a handful of Baltimore Oriole, Scott's still singing,
Audubon's and Hooded, two greenie Painted Bunting, a bright
first year male and a dull first year female, now 10 Clay-
colored Sparrow (Chippy and Field resident), at least one
Rufous and 50 Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and had the
Broad-tailed early only.  A Great Blue Heron flew over
SR northbound calling early as well.

I checked a couple spots around town for a couple hours
mid-morning.  At UP there were 5 Wilson's, 3 Common
Yellowthroat, 2 Mourning, heard 1 Yellow-throated Warbler.
One Great Egret, two Blue-winged Teal, Balt. Oriole and a
continuing Marsh Wren below dam in Fireweed.  The golf
course had a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and at cattail pond
by the cemetery Marsh Wren, 2 C. Yellowthroat, 45 Red-winged
Blackbird, 2 Brown-headed Cowbird, a still heavilly streaked
below (fresh) juvenile Mockingbird.  At the 360 crossing
there were a Wilson's, 3 Nashville, a C. Yellowthroat, and
at Utopia on the River (UR) there were a few each of Nashville
and Wilson's, a Black-and-white Warbler, Least Flycatcher,
and two Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  A couple Baltimore Oriole
were seen on the way.  The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck pair
are still sneaking about the park with 5 young, and Orangesauce.

The find of the day was a THIRD (!) CALLIOPE Hummingbird, at
the butterfly garden behind the library.  Though there
is a feeder hanging there it is long bone dry (many months?)
so the first one I've seen away from feeders, even though
at a butterfly garden.  It was guarding the Flame Acanthus
leaving the Red Turks cap against the building to a Ruby-throat.
It even was sitting on the fence very close (got poor photos).

So not bad, scraping a bit, surely would have been better
if I was out at early thirty but it was still moving.
I did not see or positively hear the zeet of a Yellow Warbler,
their peak has passed, though a few more will still be seen,
the bulk is nearing through, Nashville and Wilson's at peak now.
Almost forgot, an adult female Sharp-shinned Hawk at UR was
my FOS this fall.  Maybe the rarest bird of the day was
a Scrub-Jay at the park, up on the island, it stopped in the
top of a cypress to squawk a bit as it passed by.

The big find of the day was odes, three male (at least)
Blue-eyed Darner (Aeshna multicolor) were my first ever
up here in the hills on the plateau, and I got poor photos.
They've been on and off, new the last few years only since
the drought around Uvalde, but these are the first of them
for me up here on the Edwards Plateau, in this biome.

Lots of Monarchs on the move, at least a dozen around,
and a few Orange Sulphur, Cloudless Sulphur, one Eufala
Skipper was it at the bombyliad garden.

Sept. 24 ~ We did a few hour walk at Lost Maples SNA,
it was pretty birdy for fall.  The morning was in
the 50's (!) and wow was that amazing to feel that!
The best action now, is in the main lower canyon,
especially at first crossing, the migrants are feasting
on a mayfly emergence that was thousands of mayflies,
and dozens of birds eating them.  The higher back
canyon country does not have a mayfly hatch and many
fewer birds, as one typically finds in fall.  So
remember a different strategy is called for at different
times of the year.  If we hadn't have checked the
1st (& 2nd) crossings well, early, as we did, we'd have
missed most passerine migrants.

Due to the water there is a good bloom going in places,
again, especially below the first crossing, but few
butterflies, though lots of flies on the flowers, so
birds, in the frostweed especially.  Perhaps the
most amazing thing is that some Maples are at peak color.
There are orange spots all over the slopes, as in late
October!  Some are already browning up, some dropping
leaves, and many are turning dull orange, so it is not
likely there will be a blazing show there this fall.
A spot or two here and there will be it, if lucky.
You heard it here first.

Best bird was an immature female Magnolia Warbler
(my first fall record for the Sabinal Valley drainage)
up behind the second pond in blooming frostweed in the
creek bottom.  Runner-ups were two adult Eastern
Wood-Pewee, which I doubt are migrants, as one Louisiana
Waterthrush too, all may well be the last vestiges of
breeders still present.  FOS Orange-crowned Warblers
(2) looked like orestera.

Read the full detailed report on the LM Reports page.
Reports from Lost Maples

Other highlights were two odes, finally getting pix of a
Twelve-spotted Skimmer there (and in Bandera Co.) and
seeing Jade-striped Sylph there again.  There is a
pic of the Twelve-spot on the LM Reports page.

There was a Kestrel on wires in Bandera Co. on the way,
a family group of Common Raven near Thompson Rd., and above
Vanderpool a pair of Caracara again which seem resident
now all the way at the north end of the valley right
until it turns to canyon.

Here at the park (UP) in 1 p.m. heat on the way home we
had one Wilson's and an immature Mourning Warbler, and the
first Spotted Sandpiper I've seen here all fall, finally.
A couple Blue Jay were scolding a Barred Owl.

At the hovel on SR an imm. male Calliope continues, as does
the female Broad-tailed, a Rufous, maybe 50 Ruby-throated,
and no Black-chinned.  Hummers are blowing out.
Also still here are at least 4+ Baltimore, 1 female
Bullock's, 3+ Audubon's, 2+ Scott's, and 6+ Hooded Oriole,
a greenie Painted Bunting, some Clay-colored Sparrow,
Dickcissel, and the regular cast.  About 7 p.m. an
Orange-crowned Warbler came to drink at bath, 3rd one of
their FOS day.

Sept. 23 ~ The actual front the rain of the 22nd was
in front of, passed last night, northerly winds hit
about dusk or just before.  Since yesterday it
was dead at the park I thought today there should be
a post-frontal movement.  I can be soooo wrong.
Slow again at the park, but definitely more, and
some new stuff.  The two Blue-winged Teal were
still there, but only a few warblers.

Three Nashville, two Common Yellowthroat, 1 Wilson's,
and a Chat.  One House Wren, and the best bird
was my first fall park record of MARSH WREN, below
the dam in the blooming Fireweed (Lobelia cardinalis).
Only one prior was a week or so ago at the golf course.
The Goldenrod is starting to get going now as well.
They are hard to beat together.

The real highlight though was for the first time ever
for me here, seeing the XL 1"+ Dytiscids (diving
beetles) at the park.  Dozens of them!  This
is a cool aquatic beetle, which I have not before
recorded here.  Also of note there were at least
5 Monarchs, surely early migrants nectaring on
Frostweed and a Eupatorium, Thoroughwort methinks.

Perhaps 3-4 Twelve-spotted Skimmer at the park and
several pairs of ovipositing Variegated Meadowhawk.
A Roseate Skimmer was the first of them this year
for me at the park.  Perhaps two dozen Green Darner
is the high count of the year so far on them, and an
Eastern Pondhawk was about as well.

Orioles in the SR yard number 6+ Baltimore Orioles,
one female Bullock's again, two Orchard, 3 Audubon's,
3+ Scott's, 7 Hooded.  Continuing are the imm.
male Painted Bunting, Dickcissel, some Clay-colored
Sparrow, the Calliope and Broad-tailed Hummingbird
both were about, one Rufous (the imm. male) seen,
75-100 Ruby-throated, and no Black-chinned.  A
Mockingbird in the yard was a migrant.

Sept. 22 ~ A few warblers fell out at sunup again, and
this morning I was rewarded with a new one for the yard,
and a tough one to get up here on Seco (dry) Ridge, a
Northern Waterthrush!  A great yard bird here.
The Great Horned Owl was calling at 6:40 a.m., the
Scott's Oriole alpha male sang at 7 a.m..  The
Hooded are singing too still, just a bit, mostly when
the full adult males see each other at feeders.  The
adult male Scott's in fresh basic plumage shows nice olive
edges to most of the black head, breast, and mantle feathers.
You only get a few weeks a year to see this plumage here.

The odd white-rumped Ruby-throat still here, now on
day 9, I'll name it coquette if it stays much longer.
Nashville and Yellow were the only other warblers ID'd
this a.m. in yard.  Kathy saw two greenie Painted
Buntings, one very dull, they other clearly imm. male.
Dickcissel, 5 Clay-colored, Indigo Bunting (imm. fem.),
and the continuing (?) Twelve-spotted Skimmer (ode) here
in the yard.

While hummers seemed to be blowing out all day, in the
p.m. new ones might show up, such as today, when it was
quite clear newbies were arrving as another immature
male Calliope showed up, as well as a Broad-tailed!
Then TWO Rufous were fighting as well! The Ruby-throated
numbers are about 75, and I wasn't sure of any Black-
chinned today, one probably was the best I could muster.

I thought after the rain last night there might be
migrants at the park, but as it cleared by midnight
it seemed anything there left.  It was slow with
single Yellow, Wilson's, and Chat, a couple White-eyed
Vireo, so it was dead for migrants.  Two Blue-winged
Teal, and at least a couple Twelve-spotted Skimmer present.
The pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks with 5 young
continues, but the Little Blue Heron has not been seen
since the 18th.  Belted Kingfisher still there too.
The first SR returning Kestrel on wire on the way home.

Sept. 21 ~ The odd hummer with the white rump continues,
day 8 for it. Still the 5 regular oriole sps. today,
no Bullock's, and continuing greenie Painted Bunny,
Dickcissel, Clay-colored Sparrows.  There seemed
to be hummingbird departures through the day as we
probably went under a hundred birds for the first time
in weeks.

As often happens right at sunup a few warblers drop out
of the sky.  They hit the high points as they are
flying at maybe 5000' much of the night, so ridges get
them first when it's time to hit the deck.  They
quickly melt into the landscape and it is difficult to
get ID looks at more than a couple before they're gone,
unless the bath attracts their attention.  This a.m.
at least 5 fell out into the yard, all I got was Nashville
before they were gone.  They cant' stop flapping
that fast and zing about restlessly until they calm down.

Then a big MCS moved over and in the p.m. right at dusk
we were hit with a great rain, at least 1.75" here on SR.
Spectacular!  This puts us over 3" for the week!
That makes this last week the wettest week in a year,
and probably the wettest month of the last year.
Should encourage a good Frostweed bloom even though
there are only half as many half as tall as usual.
Too late for ragweed, it didn't even sprout this year.

Sept. 20 ~ The bird of the day was early in the a.m.
at the bird bath, a SWAINSON'S THRUSH, which is very
scarce here in fall, less than annual then.  That's
what a slow slow one drop (to be loud) at a time drip
into a bath can get you.  The other highlight was
a female Bullock's Oriole, which is also scarce here
in fall.

The rest of the oriole show was impressive still with
lots of Baltimore, a couple Orchard, a few Scott's and
Audubon's, and at least 8 Hooded hitting the feeders.
So a second six oriole species day here in a week.

Other stuff was one+ greenie Painted bunting, a Dickcissel,
2 Clay-colored Sparrow, and the Twelve-spotted Skimmer
(ode - dragonfly) continues (or another?) about the yard.
At 11 p.m. a Great Horned Owl was calling on the knoll.

Sept. 19 ~ A quick run through the park found only
5 warblers of 5 species, no Ovenbirds, and a complete
blowout of migrants, no teal or Little Blue Heron
but the Belted Kingfisher was about.  Two Clay-
colored Sparrow were new there and I heard the Downy
Woodpecker again.  I could not relocate the
Wilson's Warbler with the orange forehead and lores.

Here at SR there were fewer Baltimore Oriole perhaps
only 8 (?), but with continuing Scott's, Audubon's,
Hooded, and a few Orchard it wasn't bad.  Hummers
are one imm. male Rufous, a few imm. male Black-chin,
and 150+ Ruby-throat but departures seemed to be
ongoing through the day.

Late p.m. on the millet was a Dickcissel, a female
Indigo bunting, and 3 Clay-colored Sparrow, besides
the regular Field (8), Chipping (4, 2 new juveniles)
and Rufous-crowned Sparrow, plus the piggy 65 White-
winged Dove, perhaps 4 Ground-Dove, and 6 Inca Dove.

Sept. 18 ~ Well there was a blowout overnight as most of
the migrants that were here were gone.  The orioles
are still at the feeders here on SR, but at stops along
the river and around town it was much slower by comparison
to the day before, very little new, mostly some holdovers.

One interesting bit of news was the herp (reptiles) guy
Tim and his wife said they had two American Redstarts
at their place on North Little Creek last week, which I
had not seen this fall, so another warbler species for
this passage season.  Puts us at 15 species of warblers
for the fall.  Tim also mentioned he had a bird he
thought was probably a Prothonotary last week (when the
major wave passed) at UP.  Something goes through
every day in fall, if we could just have eyes looking.

The tailless Ovenbird continued, day 8 (!), and there
was a new tailed Ovenbird there too, number FOUR for the
fall and week.  Remarkable since I had no prior fall
record.  Other things at the park were an ad. fem.
Mourning Warbler, Chat, Yellow, Nashville, 4 Wilson's,
2 Common Yellowthroat, 2 Northern Waterthrush, for 8 sps.
of warblers there.

The Blue-winged Teal flock grew by 10 overnight, and was
17 birds.  Little Blue Heron and Belted Kingfisher
continued, some Cave and Barn Swallows still about.
A few Baltimore and 2 Orchard Oriole.

At the golf course there were still some Baltimore Oriole,
and the Marsh Wren in the cattail pond.  UR had one
Northern Waterthrush, and the river is dry there now,
only a puddle or two left.  The 360 crossing had
a group of Wilson's, Yellow, and Nashville Warbler.

Every stop had a Least Flycatcher, maybe 3 at the park,
one Willow, 4 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher around town.
Three Indigo Bunting at SR in the p.m., 2 imm. males,
one female.

The odd highlight of the day was a Wilson's Warbler with
very orange lores and forehead, exactly as in the Pacific
coastal subspecies chryseola, which I think remains
unknown in Texas.  It did not look like staining
or pollen (where ya gonna get there here now?) and
was studied from 10' for 5 minutes.  A couple poor
digibin images were obtained but auto focus came through
again so I doubt we'll get anywhere with it.  If
legal, I'd have shot it to prove the subspecies in Texas.
I grew up with this type of Wilson's and I wouldn't
have given it a second look in California, but have
never seen such a thing here, it stood out like a sore

Just at dark a narrow MCS over a hundred miles long moved
over marching south, if it had gotten here sooner (when
light still) we'd probably had some birds in front of it.
They can really scrape the sky clean like nothing else.
It was lots of lightening, and we lucked into some rain!
I heard 1.3" in town, I think we were 1.4-5" up on SR!
So with the tenth on Saturday, and the tenth on Friday,
we got about 1 2/3" of rain in the last 3 days!  The
Frostweed should bloom well now.

An astute observer on Texbirds posted something that
rang my bell here, and that was how the birds are so
concentrated on the river or at water.  Move a
couple hundred feet away and there are no flowers, bugs,
or birds.  The only significant blooming I can find
is in the immediate river bed or adjacent to it.

Sept. 17 ~ Yesterday I had migrants at the house and
struck out at the park, today very few migrants besides
orioles in the yard, but a fair bit of action around
town made up for yesterday.  A MCS (meso-scale
convective system) moved from Big Bend yesterday
evening to Del Rio by dawn, and the edge of it hit
Utopia around 2 p.m. dropping a whopping tenth of an
inch of rain maybe, for the second day in a row.
It'll help the plants.

There were 10 species of warblers at the park, which is
great here locally, best bird being my first ever fall
migrant Northern Parula here, a first fall (HY) female.
At least 2 Northern Waterthrush, the tailless Ovenbird,
an adult female Mourning Warbler, a couple Common
Yellowthroat, a few Yellow, a Nashville, 2 Yellow-
throated Warbler (still?), and at least 6 Wilson's
Warblers.  One Bell's Vireo and one White-eyed.

There were 7 Blue-winged Teal, the Little Blue Heron
immature continues, a couple Black Phoebe, Dickcissel,
several Baltimore Oriole, one each Bell's and White-eyed,
a FOS Warbling Vireo, a near-tardy Yellow-throated Vireo,
several Least Flycatcher, 1 Willow, 3 empi sps. that got
away and the bird of the day, a calling DUSKY FLYCATCHER!
It is not the first I've had here, I had one at N. Thunder
Creek in Bandera Co. about 7 years ago, in September if
I recall correctly, and another Sept. I had one at Ft. Inge
in Uvalde.  It got away without pix though, and I gave
up trying.  A couple Vermilion Flycs were hawking over
the flats at the former pond.

Just south of town a Blue Grosbeak was on the fenceline.
Then at the golf course the highlight was a FOS Sora,
my first ever fall migrant record up here in the hills,
which I heard last week run off in the cattails, and I
couldn't get to it or see it, but this time I surprised
it, and got to see it.  I also heard something
else in the reeds I couldn't see, possibly a Sora, but
some sounds I'd never heard.  It's the mysteries
that make it fun.  There was a FOS Marsh Wren in
the reeds too.

At a puddle on a pathway there was a bathing scene
happening that was great with several Eastern Bluebird,
several Baltimore Oriole, several Lesser Goldfinch,
Yellow Warbler, and a male Summer Tanager all at once!
I didn't know which to look at!  What a dilema!
More Wilson's Warblers, a few Yellow, a female Kestrel
was my FOS locally, lots of Lark Sparrow, 2 Vermilion
Flyc., and at the deep hidden pond Clay-colored Sparrow,
Indigo and Painted (greenie) Bunting.  At one
hole the green was covered with a bunch of E. Bluebirds
and Baltimore Orioles hopping around feeding on it.

UR was slow as now that section of the river is a
couple small puddles and that is it!  The 360
crossing though was good with 5 Wilson's in a single
binocular view at once (!), 4 Yellow, 2 Nashville,
more Baltimore Oriole, heard another Yellow-throated
Warbler there in the Cypress, and at the horse corral
in with cowbirds one Yellow-headed Blackbird.

All along the roads today there were Baltimore Oriole
and Wilson's Warbler, many of each, the numbers must
be something if we knew.  Here at the hovel on
SR there were 20+ Orioles of 6 species!  At least
8+ Baltimore, and at 5:20 p.m. an adult male Bullock's,
which is quite scarce here in fall, about 8 Hooded,
a pair of Scott's and one juvenile (HY) came in, for
the first time in weeks, plus a few each Audubon's and

A couple ea. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Yellow Warbler
passed through yard and there were two Indigo Bunting on
the seed.  Blue-gray Gnatcats were everywhere today
too, a couple at each stop, and some more seen moving
while driving.  Besides a pile of Ruby-throated
(150+) and a few Black-chinned (3-5 at least) the only
other hummer I saw at the feeders was an imm. Rufous.

The Twelve-spotted Skimmer was in the yard in the p.m.,
been here over a week now, and there was the first
Question Mark (lep) I've seen all month.

Sept. 16 ~ At least two or three adult male Baltimore
Oriole in the flock now, perhaps at least 8 birds,
and nearly as many Hooded, a few Orchard and a couple
Audubon's were about, and with the light showers this
a.m. they were all over the feeders.  Probably only
a tenth of an inch of rain, but will help the plants,
especially Frostweed which is trying to bloom.

Hummingbirds at dawn were the immature male Rufous,
a new imm. or female Broad-tailed (!), and many
Ruby-throats, a couple immature Black-chinned still,
but no Calliope for sure, but thought I heard it early.

Passerine migrant movement was evident with 3 Blue-
gray Gnatcatchers lifting off first thing (they are
diurnal migrants), and 3 Nashville Warbler at the
bird bath.  A greenie Painted Bunting was there
too, and another Blue-gray came through noon or so.
A couple Dickcissel and the Hutton's Vireo were about.

Did a quick look at the park but it was raining at its
hardest and all the birds were hiding it seemed.
The Ovenbird continued but lost its tail overnight,
probably to one of the cats that live in the woods
now, from all the young generated at the residence.

People I guess don't realize all those cute kittens
end up in the woods killing birds.  Can I remind
everyone domestic cats (Felis domesticus) are not native,
but rather an introduced invasive species like German
Cockroach, Norway Rat, Argentine Fire Ant, feral hogs,
and West Nile Virus to name a few scourges on our
environment and natural ecosystems.  While they
live off the native animals that are important parts
of the web of life, it is not a good life for the cat,
life expectancy a third of one kept indoors and cared
for properly.

There was one ad. fem. Mourning Warbler, a Least
Flycatcher, 5 Blue-winged Teal, the Little Blue Heron,
the pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks with five young,
one other adult, plus Orangesauce the roaster continue.

I missed the action with poor timing during the rain,
as either everything was hiding or there was a big
clearout of passerines last night.  When there are
10 migrants in the yard at dawn, there are usually many
more at the park.  Hopefully tomorrow.

Sept. 15 ~ Still the flock of Baltimore Orioles about
the yard hummer feeders, but a couple Yellow Warbler,
and an immature male Indigo Bunting were new migrants.
I thought I had one Black-chinned Hummingbird immature,
there was a female Calliope and an immature male Rufous,
and lots of Ruby-throats.  I heard an Ash-throated
Flycatcher, probably the first in at least 3 weeks or
a month, so clearly a migrant.  Hutton's Vireo
was about the yard.  One immature male and one
ad. female Dickcissel on the seed too.

At UP was continuing Little Blue Heron, and the 3 Blue-
winged Teal, and numbers of passerine migrants including
finally a FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher which was calling,
always neat to hear.  That song would make a good
license plate: QK3BEER, but I think you'd have to make
time to meet local law enforcement folk wherever you went.

There were at least 6 Least Flycatcher, a Willow, and a
couple Empi sps., one Great Crested Flycatcher.  An Ovenbird
which I presume is a continuing bird since Sunday (day 5),
3 Chat, single Wilson's, Nashville, Yellow, Black-thr. Green,
and Northern Waterthrush.  At least 6 Summer Tanager
shows movement, and I heard the Downy Woodpecker call.

Sept. 14 ~ The group of Baltimore Orioles continue, same
adult male, bright imm. male, an ad. female and a couple
imm. females, now here for about 6 days at least.  Very
interesting to see them stick and tank up on sugar fat to
burn on their next leg.  Audubon's and Hooded still
here too, as is the ad. fem. Dickcissel, and an imm. male
showed.  A Nashville Warbler was down the draw early.
Immature male and female Rufous, a very few Black-chin
immatures, and a hundred plus Ruby-throateds here now.
An adult or SY female Blue Grosbeak was about a quick bit.

Sept. 13 ~ The Twelve-spotted Skimmer (dragonfly) continues
in the yard (since 9th), interesting when we can know
because it is a rare bug that it is the same one using
the same perches and staying almost a week so far.
A couple were at the park, and a bunch were at the fish
hatchery in Uvalde the 10th (a dozen).  Good
invasion of them this year.

Besides Baltimore, Scott's, Audubon's and Hooded Orioles
still here, and there was imm. male and female Rufous, but
not the adult female.  There have been so many
it is hard to keep track!  An adult female Dickcissel
was on the seed today, and a greenie Painted Bunting
continued as well, while a Wilson's Warbler passed
through quickly.

A quick run through the park found it still with birds
but not like Sunday.  The bird of the day was my
first ever FALL season MacGillivray's Warbler here.  And
I'd just mentioned (publicly on Texbirds) I'd not seen
one in fall here yet.  That will always bring them out.
It had a dirty white or ash colored throat, big thick well-
broken eye-crescents and was a cut and dry textbook Mac.

Also there was my first adult male Mourning Warbler
of the fall, Black-and-white, Wilson's, 3 Yellow, Nashville
3 Chat, 2 N. Waterthrush, seemingly some holdovers mostly.
Bell's and White-eyed Vireo, House Wren, Little Blue and
Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, the 3 Blue-winged but no
Green-winged Teal, a few Least Flycatcher.  One
Giant Swallowtail, couple Queen and Pipevine Swallowtail.

Sept. 12 ~ Here at SR in yard had the contingent of
orioles here, a few Audubon's, the same group of
Baltimore continue, 4-6 Hooded, the Scott's is singing
at dawn again, must be getting ready to go, and some
Orchards pass through like Dickcissel early in the a.m..
A Painted Lady was a different butterfly, a migrant
from elsewhere, that came in to the wet caliche to

I keep forgetting to mention what a poor year it was for
Zone-tailed Hawk locally, as there was no prey to speak of.
They came in, most moved on and went elsewhere.  I
haven't had a summer with so few sightings in the last 8.

Sept. 11 ~ A great migrant day around Utopia today,
probably my best fall day yet here locally, and the
first with over 10 species of warblers!  There
were 10 just at UP in an hour!  Twelve or more
for the 3.5 hrs. I looked until it got too hot (late

The best bird was a WESTERN FLYCATCHER, the first I've
seen in the whole county, though it was on the 2000
Uvalde Co. list (Blankenship, it was listed
for spring and summer (X) making me wonder if those
were Yellow-bellied Flycatchers?  This was at the
Library Butterfly Garden in the big live oak by the
gate.  I got great close looks of the teardrop
shaped eyering, peaked tufted crown, lower mandible
orange to tip with NO dark, generally very green above
and yellow below, long tail and bill, not black wings,
a textbook Western, my default (first originally learned)
Empidonax.  I've actually been looking hard for
them, and have been between amazed and fascinated by
my lack of detection of one the last 8 years.

The warblers were great at the park, as were Empis,
and it seems the water is really the major attractant,
it's probably drawing from a much larger area than
normal since most of the river is dry.

There was a FOS Nashville, Yellows, Wilson's, Yellow-
throated (2 still), 3 Chats, Black-n-white, 6 Mourning,
4 Northern Waterthrush, a two second look at a KENTUCKY,
and my first ever FALL season OVENBIRD, a whopping
THREE of them!  Two in bins at once!  A female
Cardinal attacked one by diving on it giving alarm notes
all the way.  The Ovenbird had a moth and the Card was
attempting to steal the prey item, but the Ovenbird narrowly
escaped!  It is just amazing what you can see darn
near in your backyard if you just go watch.

There were over a dozen Least Flycatcher, an Alder, a
couple Willow, a couple Traill's, Great Crested, and
the Eastern Kingbird continues eating dragonflies since
Friday.  It was hunting from the ground at the
edge of the water zipping out popping them like candy.

Also at the park was 3 Blue-winged and one Green-winged
Teal, the Little Blue Heron and Great Egret, some Orchard
and Baltimore Orioles (few of ea.), which were everywhere
along the roads, like Dickcissel.

I was sure I heard a Redstart (American) at the park, as
well as a Black-throated Green, of which I found one (B-tG)
later at the golf course.  Also there at the G.C. was
10 Yellow-headed Blackbird at the cattail pond with 50
Red-wings, a FOS Savannah Sparrow, another Clay-colored,
3 greenie Painted Bunting, a Blue Grosbeak (imm.), a few
each Vermilion and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, some
Orchard Oriole, White-eyed Vireo, a few Dickcissel and
two Killdeer.  Also at the cattail pond I heard the
clip clop of a Sora escaping my view in the reeds but
couldn't see it.

Utopia on the River had Green Kingfisher, some Yellows
and Wilson's, a Black-throated Green Warbler, a few
Least Flyc., a Willow, and one Yellow-bellied Flycatcher,
Dickcissel, and the 360 crossing had more Yellow,
a Mourning, and Baltimore Oriole.

Here at SR I didn't see the Calliopes today, nor the Allen's, but there was imm. and ad. female Rufous.
Some imm. Black-chins still (8-10), and surely way
over a hundred Ruby-throated.

Sept. 10 ~ A solo run to Uvalde for supplies turned out
to be a spectacular day for passerine migrants down
there at Cook's Slough in particular.  But before
I left first thing I was working the hummer feeders
when an adult male fully-gorgeted Selasphorus came in
with a completely green back!  As it dodged with
other hummers it fanned its tail several times giving
great views of the outer rectrices which were pin thin
and narrow, clearly an Allen's and not a Rufous!

At Cook's Slough there were at least 30 Yellow Warbler,
15 Wilson's, Nashville, 6 Mourning, 3+ Northern Waterthrush,
several Chat, 2 Common Yellowthroat, 5 Baltimore and
a few Bullock's Oriole, some Orchard and Audubon's
Oriole as well, Bell's Vireo, White-eyed Vireo and the
highlight of the day a female BLACK-CAPPED VIREO!
That the first of those I have seen as a migrant off
the plateau away from breeding grounds.  Also
there were Kiskadee, Olive Sparrow, Groove-billed Ani,
best numbers of Couch's Kingbird there all year, two
Verdin, one Solitary Sandpiper flew over, and I thought
sure I heard a Prairie Warbler but couldn't find it.
At least a half-dozen greenie Painted Bunting were there,
and as many Dickcissel.  First thing early there
were a couple Purple Martin and 60 Cave Swallow on the
lines out front, a few Bank and Barn, plus some Chimney
Swifts still over the ponds.

At the Uvalde National Fish Hatchery it was hot already
so slowing down fast, but there were more Yellow and
Wilson's Warbler, Chat, Yellowthroat, 2 Mourning Warbler,
Dickcissel, greenie Painted Bunting, Clay-colored Sparrow,
heard one Least Sandpiper, one male Kestrel, Cactus Wren,
Pied-billed Grebe, Whistling-Duck, 20 Blue-winged Teal,
some Bank, Barn and Cave Swallow.

In the "bird of the day always gets away" department,
at the fish hatchery I saw a Purple Gallinule dive into a
big Bacharis I couldn't get to or see in to.  They have
unmarked snow white undertail coverts, versus the black
centerline a Common Gallinule shows, just in case you get
that west end view of an eastbound bird.

Mockers were thick along the roads, I saw a couple
hundred, but only 25 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher tops.
Perhaps 5 Shrike, a few Red-tailed (Fuertes') Hawk,
a dozen Caracara, Yellow Warbler and a few greenie
Painted Buntings along roads too, an adult with a
nearby young Harris's Hawk, but no quail, and few doves.

Sept. 9 ~ Scott's Oriole was singing at dawn up on the
knoll, I haven't heard it in weeks.  Among the
Baltimore, besides the ad. male, there is an immature male,
an adult female, and a couple immature female types here
now, and toss in a few Orchard, 4-6 Hooded, and a few
Audubon's, and it was a FIVE species of Oriole day here at

A Mockingbird passed through, which is a migrant.  The
greenie Painted Bunting continues, as do 2 Calliope, a Rufous,
Black-chinned and Ruby-throated.  I had a nice splay
of purple gorget feathers sticking out from behind a
feeder that was either Lucifer or Costa's, but it got away.
I looked Costa's to me.

At UP there were a few migrants, at least 3 Great Crested
Flycatcher, two of which popped of dragonflies like candy.
As did an Eastern Kingbird at the pond.  There were a
couple Least Flycatcher, a couple Yellow-throated Warbler
which may be locals, an adult female Mourning Warbler, and
what looked like one of the SY/first summer Hooded Oriole
males from the house on SR was there, and in flight song!
A passage migrant probably wouldn't be in song. 

A couple Monarch included one so torn and frayed it had
to have been a victim of the big blow early in the week,
tears in the wings, rode hard and put up wet.  A male
Twelve-spotted Skimmer was good in the yard too (ph.).

Sept. 8 ~ Third morning at about 55 deg.F is just amazing!
Still 2 Calliope, ad. fem. Rufous, 125+ Rubys, and an adult
male Black-chinned showed up in the p.m..  The Clay-
colored contnues, and after dark Poorwill called for a bit.

Sept. 7 ~ Both Calliope are still present as is the Rufous
(ad. fem.) and the Clay-colored Sparrow.  A male Baltimore
Oriole spent all day on the feeders, and a surprise was
in a juniper out the office window a Great Crested Flycatcher.
Monarch, Pipevine Swallowtail and Common Checkered-Skipper.

Sept. 6 ~ The coolest low in four or five months at 55dF was
outstanding!  From the back porch during a short break
the best bird today was a WESTERN TANAGER!  It's a rary
here, was an immature or female.  A Clay-colored Sparrow
on the millet was my FOS here.  One greenie Painted
Bunting continues, a juvenile Audubon's Oriole with no black
on it yet stopped by, the year old and change pair of Hooded
Oriole was about too.

For hummers there are two Calliope (imm. male and female),
1 Rufous, over a dozen immature Black-chinned and 125+
Ruby-throated.  A Dogface (lep) came to wet caliche.

Sept. 5 ~ Wind blew all night at 20+MPH, some big fires
burning out Austin way are scary.  It darn near made
it down to 70 dF here.  Supposed to be in the 50's
tomorrow morning!  Been since April at least since
we've seen that, and I'll believe it when I feel it.  I'm
going to have to find where I put my long pants in another
month or two.  At least the heat broke, today a high
in the 80's under clear skies hasn't happened since spring.
Blew 15-20+ all day, finally layed down at dusk.

If only we didn't have to worry about our friends over
Austin way.  63 fires started in Texas during the
Sunday to Monday period, despite burn bans in all but
3 counties, during a 30-40 MPH Red Flag Warning wind event.
Something is horribly wrong with that picture.

Early in the yard at SR there was the continuing imm.
male Calliope, Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, and a
greenie imm. Painted Bunting, and one Upland Sandpiper
called going over southbound before sunup.  Later
in p.m. I saw what was an immature female Calliope,
maybe the one of a few days ago and I've been missing it.
But there were two different Calliope here this p.m.!

Had to run to town, wind blowing too hard, but one
Great Egret, and the Little Blue Heron were at the park,
2 Yellow Warbler and 2 YELLOW-BELLIED Flycatcher were in
the woods, the latter a very good score locally.
A nice bright female Baltimore Oriole was on a couple
of the hummer feeders all day here at SR, and a Dickcissel
was on the millet, a few more Orchard Oriole.

I'd swear I had a look at the adult male Black-chinned
Hummer out the window this p.m., and yesterday too I
thought I saw it.  Several immature Bl-ch, 1 adult female
Rufous/Allen's type Selasphorus, maybe an imm. ma. too,
and a couple dozen (at least) ad. male Ruby-throated,
probably a hundred or more immature and or female Rubies.
So four species of hummers here, and I had Calliope,
Rufous and Ruby-throat on the feeder 4' from my keyboard
all at once.

A Monarch blasted by late in p.m. southbound on the
northerlies, big worn female, like the one in the
park yesterday or so.  With this major front one
can't help but wonder if it is a migrant that got blown
down early.  Dogface, Snout, Northern Cloudywing and
Sleepy Orange all hit the caliche wet spot outside today.

Sept. 4 ~ I knew there would be movement last night
with the first front of the fall pushing down and
scheduled to pass around noon with lots of wind.
So I was out early to get a few hours in before it
got blown out and hot.

Before sunup from the porch I had a half-dozen Upland
Sandpiper calling unseen overhead southbound, and a
flock of over 20 teal, surely Blue-winged.  Boy
if that doesn't make it seem like fall, teal from the
porch over SR.  Imm. ma. Calliope is still here.

As I drove to the park another flock of Teal (14)
passed south over the east end of SR.  When I
got to the park a big flock of ducks flushed that
was about 40 birds, don't know if it was the same
and they'd circled back but I think different ones.
They bolted as I rolled in so I didn't get to work
them besides mostly being Blue-winged Teal.

The woods are slow early (cold) but the pond area
had the Great Blue Heron, 2 Great Egret, the immature
Little Blue Heron, Orchard Oriole, Summer Tanager,
Yellow Warbler, Dickcissel and a bunch of Upland
Sandpipers going over calling, more than a dozen.

At golf course another dozen Upland Grasspiper passed
over calling, major flight last night ahead of the
front as these like the ducks likely flew all night.
I heard more than two and a half dozen this morning,
days after mentioning how I hadn't heard them so far.
A couple Scissor-tailed and Vermilion Flycatcher were
about, Yellow Warbler, 3 greenie Painted and 1 Indigo
Bunting, nothing at the cattail pond, the regular Eastern
Bluebird, Lark Sparrow, Black-tailed Jackrabbits,
Golden-fronted Woodpecker and a few Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Utopia on the River (UR) had Yellow Warbler and Least
Flycatcher (1 ea.) and surely new for my grounds list
3 Green-winged Teal (FOS)!  They were at the
upper end of the wet area.  An adult male Green
Kingfisher relentlessly chased an immature male
trying to get it off 'its pond'.  The imm. ma. is
just getting a rusty breastband coming in over the green
one of juvenile plumage.  There was lots of the
sword brandishing or knife sharpening ssshheeek ssshheeek
calling, for which I didn't have recorder with me of course.

At the 360 crossing more Dickcissel, a Yellow Warbler,
and an imm. Mourning Warbler without a tail thereby
nullifying relative undertail covert length as a mark. :)
Just a trickle of water moving above the bridge, none below
at least above ground.  Went back to park as by
now woods should be active.

As I pulled in I saw the duck flock had returned so
stealthily got to check them before they flushed again.
There were 35 or so Blue-winged Teal, 2 FOS Shoveler,
and a few more Green-winged Teal, plus a Cinnamon Teal!
Now that's fall, four species of ducks at once at the puddle
in the park!  A very few Barn Swallow were about park
and golf course.

Up in the woods then there were 5 Mourning Warbler,
only one an adult (female), 2 Chat, 1 Black & White,
heard Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, juv. White-
eyed Vireo, 1 Least Flycatcher, a few Summer Tanager,
and the regulars.

Back at the hovel on SR I was quite surprised to see
a CANYON TOWHEE on a sunflower tube feeder!  There
has not been one in the yard in a year if not two.
This is one of the enigmatic birds here that is real hard
often to 'stake out', like Bushtit or Poorwill.

By noon it was 20-25 MPH winds, gusting 30+, and 90+ dF.
A few Orioles here in the yard were an immature Audubon's
(no black on head yet) a female or imm. Scott's, ad. Hooded
pair, and a couple Orchard including one ad. male.

The last thing of interest was I got a good look at the
Field Sparrow that has about 5 white primaries on each wing
when it flew to the bird bath and it has a bunch of white
in the tail it shouldn't have either.  I couldn't tell
if it was whole rectrices or inner webs or what but the
tail is about half white, like the primaries, but you
can't see it when it is folded (feeding) so is outers
mostly I think.  I got a poor shot that will show
some of the white primaries in folded wing though.

Sept. 3 ~ How nice to be on the subsidence side of
that tropical system pouring in Lousiana, keeping
it hotter here.  I'm getting kinda tired of
seeing people in water seemingly everywhere but here.

I got pix of the imm. ma. Calliope, didn't see the
ad. ma. Black-chinned, 100 Ruby-throats here at least,
a few immature Black-chins still here.  The
alpha pair of Hooded Orioles came in the male
acquiring fresh basic/winter plumage now with half
buffy back with black scallops, olive crown to nape.
One of the 8-10 Field Sparrow here has five or so
WHITE primaries.  It's the water.

The bird of the day was neat because though regular
in small numbers in spring, it is actually quite
scarce to very rare here in fall (less than annual),
a male LAZULI Bunting was eating millet out the
window at 9 a.m. giving great views.  Also
in the yard early were a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
passing through as well as a Baltimore Oriole,
some Orchards too, a Yellow Warbler, and Dickcissel.

At the park (UP) was the pair of Whistling-Duck with
5 young, one or two Green Heron continue the last
couple weeks I keep forgetting to mention. 
Probably the two young that were fledged there.

Up in the woods there was Chat, an imm. Mourning
Warbler, 4 Yellow Warbler, heard a Black & white,
Yellow-throated Warbler I think still the breeder,
and two Yellow-throated Vireo singing, but wonder
if migrants.  Dickcissel, Orchard Oriole,
4 Summer Tanagers, 2 White-eyed Vireos, 3+ Indigo

One Marl Pennant and two Four-spotted Pennant
were the two good odes still present.

Sept. 2 ~ Some bird movement at dawn here at the
Seco Ridge ornithological observatory.  The
sundry central Texas fare of Dickcissels, Orchard
Orioles, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat,
and an immature male Calliope with a heavilly dark
spotted throat to go with the imm. female here.
Ad. ma. Black-chinned still, and a few immatures,
bunch of Ruby's, I'm losing track, 6 dozen plus.  Two
Audubon's Orioles were around a bit.

Luckily I had to do some errands in town, amazing
how that works like that, so I checked the park,
uh, first.  There was only one Whistling-Duck
besides the pair with 5 young, and Orangesauce the
roaster.  One Monarch was in the woods.

Another Louisiana Waterthrush this fall there was
great (methinks no water in most of the river has
them showing here), a Black-and-white Warbler, at
least 5 Yellow Warbler, finally a Mourning Warbler
this fall, and I heard Downy Woodpecker, but didn't
see it.  Plus the regular cast.

For odes still MARL and Four-spotted Pennant there.

September 1 ~ Still an adult male Black-chinned
Hummingbird here, and a few immatures, which are
expected now, adults usually gone.  The imm.
Calliope (fem) was in first thing at least before
sunup, heard the Rufous early but didn't see it
all day, over a dozen ad. ma. Rubys, and over 50
immature or females.

At dawn a group of 3 Orchard Oriole flew down draw,
then a group of 2, exactly the opposite at dusk
last night, e.g., the same 5 birds.  The
butterflies to start the September list with were
Sleepy Orange, Juniper Hairstreak, Varigated Fritillary.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

August roundup: per NOAA it was the hottest August
ever on record in south-central Texas.  Aren't
we lucky to have been here for that?  It was
one of two of the hottest climatological summers
(June-Aug.) on record here.  I saw only 25
species of butterflies in August locally, surely
the worst August in last 8, and many of those were
represented by one individual.  Now even
though there are some flowers, there is nothing
on them.  The pond at the park is more than
half dry, they ought to be running a dragline
and dredging the flood debris while you can walk
out there it is so low.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sept. above
Aug. below

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

August roundup: per NOAA it was the hottest August
ever on record in south-central Texas.  Aren't
we lucky to have been here for that?  It was
one of two of the hottest climatological summers
(June-Aug.) on record here.  I saw only 25
species of butterflies in August locally, surely
the worst August in last 8, and many of those were
represented by one individual.  Now even
though there are some flowers, there is nothing
on them.  The pond at the park is more than
half dry, they ought to be running a dragline
and dredging the flood debris while you can walk
out there it is so low.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Aug. 31 ~ The imm. female Calliope is still here,
as is the Rufous, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went by,
a Hooded Oriole female came in, not sure which
one or what age it was, I think first summer,
it had no wingbars.  No Scott's or Audubon's.
At UP there were 21 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
plus the pair with 5 babies still making it.
Five Summer Tanager shows movement of them now.
Just before dusk 5 Orchard Oriole in yard.

Aug. 30 ~ Down to 101 deg.F. I'll need a sweater soon.
An immature female Calliope showed up, as did an imm.
male Rufous, so add Ruby-throated and Black-chinned
for 4 species of hummers, perhaps 60-75 individuals,
maybe a hundred now.  At dawn the standard
Orchard Orioles, Dickcissels and a Yellow Warbler
went by, but not once yet have I heard the typical
Upland Sandpipers going over in the a.m. as past
years.  And very few after dark in the p.m. too.
They're missing us this year.  A PAIR of Black-
tailed Jackrabbit in the yard was neat, probably
eating the flowers that popped from the rain.

The Narrow-leafed Thyrallis really came out well
finally, and the patch of Angel's Trumpet down
SR road bloomed well with dozens of flowers,
but the heat bent them over every day the two or
three they are open.  The Snow-on-the-mountain
was quite scarce this August, only a few patches
compared to normal, and the ones I checked had
about no bugs on them.  The Kidneywood is
going by the dump, and a few things are on it,
but not much.  Some Rock Flax, a couple Slender-
stemmed Bittterweed flowers have popped since the
rain too.

Aug. 29 ~ Heat backed off a couple degrees, maybe a
chilly 103 here today.  An ad. ma. Black-chinned
Hummingbird continues, about a half-dozen Ruby-
throats, and couple/few dozen immature or females.
No orioles at the feeders weird after
the summer season.  But at dusk as the fading
sun-line passed a flock of orioles was moving right
in front of it, at least one Baltimore and 11 Orchard.

Aug. 28 ~ The brutal heat wave continues, yesterday set
August records at SAT and AUS, it was 110+ in Hondo,
and over 105 here.  And today was a repeat.
There were far fewer migrants at UP but finally heard
an Alder Flycatcher call, saw a Least and one Empi got
away that could well have been a Western (Cordilleran)
Flycatcher.  A few Yellow Warbler, 1 Black-n-white,
Chat, Yellow-throated Warbler (I think still the breeders),
Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, and Wide-eyed Vireo of
course.  About 6 Summer Tanager shows movement of
them.  Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, and the
imm. Little Blue Heron continue, one Eastern Wood-Pewee,
and regulars like Green Kingfisher, Blue Jay, Black Phoebe,
Eastern Bluebird and Golden-fronted Woodpecker were about.

Among odes a Citrine Forktail allowed closeup photos,
but better was a PAIR of MARL PENNANT ovipositing in
the pond.  First of that I've seen in 8 years here.
A few stray males has been it, far less than annual,
and there were 1-2 additional males patrolling!  The
Wandering Glider were about 200, Spot-winged 100+,
Green Darner 6+, 1 ea. of Red-tailed and Four-spotted
Pennant continued, as do some Checkered and Swift Setwing,
and Eastern Pondhawk.  A few bluets out over the water.

At SR at dawn there were a few Orchard Oriole and
Dickcissel going by, over, and about.  There was
still an adult male Black-chinned, and a few immatures.
At least a couple, maybe a few dozen Ruby-throats have
taken over now. 

We had a few light sprinkles, a trace, of rain at
5:30 and 7 p.m., and yes I went out and stood in it.
Just enough to dirty the windsheilds.

Aug. 27 ~ some bird movement last night as I had a
distinct sprinkling of migrants at the park. Here
at SR early there was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, but I
didn't see Calliope or Rufous by late afternoon.  At
park there was some action.  I didn't see any
Whistling-Ducks, the Great Egret and Great Blue Heron
continue, as does the imm. Little Blue Heron.  An
adult male Painted Bunting was clearly a migrant.

A couple Ruby-throated Hummingbird were in the woods,
a Yellow-throated Vireo sang, Yellow-throated Warbler
(2 ad.) I don't know if are migrants or not, one
Black-and-white Warbler, one Yellow-breasted Chat,
3 Yellow Warblers (nearly a flock of migrant warblers),
one Louisiana Waterthrush, and I heard the 'plink' of
either a Black-throated Green or Golden-cheeked Warbler,
it sounded more like the former, but I couldn't find it.
Five plus a heard species of warbler is movement, in
this case fall migration.  The ragweed never even
sprouted this year, the frostweed barely, so the ground
dwellers like Mourning might be hard to come by this year.

One or two Great Crested Flycatcher were there, one with
new tertials on right side, old on left, for a great
comparison.  While the white edge is crisp inwardly
on the new terts, it becomes faded inwardly on the old,
losing its crispness with wear.  Better there was
a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher which lost me quickly, and
is rare here in fall, though we are at prime-time for
the window to open.  A couple White-eyed Vireo called.
One calling Willow Flycatcher was a FOS for me here.
I missed a Kingbird at the park, I think was Couch's,
and though out of focus I got a pic of a Roadrunner IN
the park, my first ever IN park, and # 227 for my UP list.

There was a swarm of 200+ Pantala Glider dragonflies,
mostly Spot-winged, going ballistic on a winged termite
emergence event.  They were coming out of a big
dead Cypress stump about 25' up, and it was insanity
with a cloud of apparently starving odes just going
bonkers picking them off fast as they left the trunk
for a half hour.  Also had a few Double-striped
Bluet, a nice male Citrine Forktail, a female Desert
Firetail, few Green Darner, Blue Dasher, Checkered and
Swift Setwing, Red Saddlebags, E. Pondhawk, at least
100 Wandering Glider over pond, no Threadtails.

Phaon Crescents on Frogfruit growing where normally
would be under water out below former island in former
pond.  Some Corn-salad blooming out there too,
a bit of Cedar Sage blooming in woods.  Then I
did a quick look at UR, Utopia on the River where
I have never seen the water so low, took pix.  Did
have a male Green Kingfisher, and another Louisiana
Waterthrush, probably my first one for the grounds.
Dickcissel, flock of Field Sparrow, first year male
Vermilion Flycatcher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, White-
eyed, and a Bell's Vireo which was singing, where they
didn't breed.  Ground-Dove were right out front.
A male Green Kingfisher was nice.

Then the 360 crossing has no flow below it, but you
can see a little trickle on the upriver side, wow it
looks scary bad out there for water.  I hear lots
of wells are dry and big water reservoirs are moving
like hotcakes; then you call the local (Vol.) Fire Dept.
to get them bring a truck out and fill it so you can
shower and cook!  Conserve folks! 

So when can we talk about population?  Does SAT and
AUS just get to breed little towns out on the aquifer out
of existence for their often wasteful water usage?  Sorta
seems like they drilled holes in the bottom of the reservoir
and are draining it?  Man I hope Uvalde votes against
giving them water-wasters a direct pipeline!  they'd
have us buying it from them!  Sorry, there I go again....
off soapbox...

The teeny patch of Angel's Trumpets we have in back have
thrown up one bud so far from the rain, a spectacular
flower if you ask me, the Narrow-leaved Thyrallis and the
Zexmenia have also both opened up some flowers.

At dusk a couple Orchard and a Baltimore Oriole moved by.
Had Hooded and Audubon's at the SR yard but no Scott's.
Only saw Black-chinned (few imm.) and Ruby-throated Hummers
today.  Though it was generally scraping for onesies
and twosies, a good showing of diversity of fall migrant
landbirds was showing well here today considering the near
record heat.  I missed the first few cooler hours,
but in a couple hours from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. plus a few
things at the hovel it was 62 species of birds without trying.

I uploaded and forgot to put the total above in, which was
only 60, but at 10:45 p.m. there was a begging mccallii
Screech-Owl yapping and an Upland Sandpiper called as it
passed overhead.  So by time I remembered, there were
two more additions.  Decent diversity for record breaking
hundred and ten degree F. late August and only a couple hours
and miles of looking.

Aug. 26 ~ Rain cooled air from nearby cells overnight gave
Kerrville a low of 68 deg. F (!), and I think were near,
maybe 70 here at SR.  Wow that was sure nice!
Early in the a.m. at SR pre-sunup there was a period
of a minute or two that was solid overhead Dickcissel
calls (one Upland Sandpiper).  I couldn't see
anything but there must have been a huge flight last night.
Then all over town, every weed patch and hedgerow had
Dickcissels.  A male Orchard Oriole near the dump
almost hit the windsheild.

Ad. male Calliope on day four now! In a.m. Rufous/Allen's
still here, 1 ad. ma. Black-chinned and a few immatures, a
few ad. ma. Ruby-throated, maybe 20 immature/female Rubys,
and mid-day an imm. or female Broad-tailed Hummingbird came in!
FIVE species of hummers here in the SR yard today!

At UP there were my FOS Blue-winged Teal (7), a Solitary
Sandpiper (#4 this fall there), only 20 Whistling-Duck,
plus the pair, with now 6 ducklings left, 1 Great Egret
1 Great Blue Heron, and a Yellow-throated Vireo still
singing, but not sure if locals still here or migrants.

Aug. 25 ~ Adult male Calliope still here sluggin' it
out with the big boys, he's a tough little sucker.
imm. ma. Rufous/Allen's continues, 1 ad. male Black-
chin still (late stay) and about 5-6 imm. Blk-chin,
a couple+ ad.male and 15+ imm. Ruby-throated, 4 sps..

Some nearby rain brought an cloud bank and outflow
that beat the heat in the late afternoon.  There
are some flowers popping from the rain a week ago:
Paralena, Yellow Ground-Cherry, Sida, False Pennyroyal,
and Prairie Fleabane to name a few so far.  Not
big patches and lots of flowers, but something at least.

Aug. 24 ~ ad. male Calliope continues, and I got a look
with great light in full sun of a fully flared gorget
as it fought a defending imm. male Ruby-throated off
a feeder, and I don't know if I'll be the same.
The books just don't begin to do it justice.  It is
interesting to recall there was an adult male Calliope
here August 20-22 in 2009, this is only my second adult
male here.  A Dickcissel was on the seed in the p.m..
Four species of hummers again today.

Aug. 23 ~ WEEWOW an adult male Calliope Hummingbird!
Then a female Rufous type, and later in p.m. an imm.
male Rufous/Allen's!  Black-chin and Ruby-throat
made for four species of hummers in the yard today.
One male, one female Indigo Bunting still, and one
HY juv. Painted continues, but it is thinning fast.
No Blue Grosbeak left, a new crop of White-winged Dove
young just in time, still 8+ ea. Lark and Field Sparrow.
Few Rufous-crowned and Chipping.

Aug. 22 ~ Didn't see Calliope, about a dozen each of
Black-chin and Ruby-throat immatures, 1 black-
chin, a couple plus male Ruby-throat.  No ad. ma.
Painted Bunting, methinks it left last night.  The
mated SY pair of Hooded Oriole visited, still not much
in the way of signs of molt, also a couple adult male
Hooded visited, but not seeing Scott's.  The nest
must have failed and they are not here now.  Bummer.
A male Marl Pennant dragonfly was a good bug in the yard.

Aug. 21 ~ The immature Calliope continues, as does the
(passage) adult male Painted Bunting.  Other hummers
were at least 3 ad. male and 10 or 12 imm./fem. Ruby-throat,
1 ad. ma. and 5-10 imm./fem. Black-chinned.  The
problem is the jerks have taken over a feeder each so
there are four feeders with one bird each and one that
remains communal.  Result of everything being bullied
away at most feeders is low numbers.

At the park there were 3 Great Egret, a Great Blue Heron,
a Little Blue Heron and the number of Black-bellied
Whistling-Duck hit 70!  Plus the pair with babies.
A dozen Cloudless Sulphur, 6 Large Orange Sulphur, 4 Pipevine
Swallowtail, a Queen or two, a Sleepy Orange, few Lyside
and Snout were the butterflies.  Lots of Wandering
and Spot-winged Glider, a Four-spotted Pennant, few Checkered
Setwing, a Green Darner, but weak besides immigrant Pantala.

Aug. 20 ~ 7 a.m. the Calliope Hummingbird was at the porch
feeder.  Male Painted Bunting still here, day 9, and two
juveniles continue, but the Dickcissel is gone.  White-
winged Dove flock is ca. 55 birds at least.  Dillo out
in yard at 7 a.m..  Did a quick check of the park.

There were 65 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, my record local
tally.  As I was watching them some tourists rolled by
slowly in their oversized SUV.  A young boy looking out
the back window behind the driver exclaimed "wow look
at all those birds!" at the flock of whistling-ducks.
Do you think the brake lights came on?  Your child is
excited about something, and heaven forbid you get out of the
AC and take a look at the real world, lest you break a sweat
and see or smell a rose.

There were two Black-and-white Warbler at the park, 2 Summer
Tanager, one of which threw a few bars of song out, the
immature Little Blue Heron, and regulars like Blue Jay,
Black Phoebe, Carolina Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, etc.,
and the bird of the day....

A dead female OX BEETLE (Strategus sps., cf. anataeus).  It's
the first one of these I've seen hereabouts, and a beast of a
bug at 1.5" long and an inch wide by 3/4" thick.  Males
have a horn like a Rhinoceros, females bring the larval grubs

For dragons at the park there were 150 Wandering and 75 Spot-
winged Glider over the pond, a few Red Saddlebags, the
Red-tailed and one Four-spotted Pennant, and along shores
Eastern Pondhawk and Checkered Setwing.  Some bluets
(Enallagma sps.) were out over the water.  A couple
Argia dancers got away in the woods.

There were a few what I presume were Fall Rain Lily out the
last few days from the rain last Friday, and the Illinois
Bundleflower has burst forth with a bloom in response too.

This a.m. I thought sure I heard a Pyrrhuloxia out back but
never saw it.  It gave the accellerating dry metallic
bk bk bk series running into nearly a trill, quite distinctive.

Aug. 19 ~ Before sunup on the front porch, I had yesterday's
late-afternoon 4-second immature Calliope Hummer fly to the
feeder and call from 5' away.  Eureka!  Don't you love
those moments?  Finding out you weren't wrong, you saw and
heard it right, and called it right.  It WAS a Calliope!
So yesterday and today four species of hummingbirds in yard.

I knew it, but hate calling, claiming, considering as data, quickly
seen birds, so tend to be extremely cautious when I don't get an
extended enough study, unless a one-of-a-kind ID.  I'd rather let
something good go, than push, stretch, or otherwise try to play with
or ply the fabric of an ID, which rather should be fixed like concrete.
And which is the better way to err in the ID game, as opposed to the
loose-cannon approach some use.  My not seeing it the rest of the
evening made me question my ID, which was irrelevant, pointless
and meaningless, obviously now.  Funny how we do that though.
Better to question yourself when correct, than not, when not.

Aug. 18 ~ At SR yard still juv. Dickcissel, ad. male Painted
Bunting, 3 ad. male Indigo in heavy molt (half brown now),
8 Field, 6 Chipping, 9 Lark, and 3 Rufous-crowned Sparrow.
Saw the weirdest looking most advanced first summer (sub.-ad.)
male Hooded Oriole I've seen yet, with big adult type orange
patches on either side of breast which centrally remains yellow,
and some new black median and greater coverts and rectrices.
Oh man I want a picture of this one.

In the p.m. a female Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus showed up,
#3 R/A this season so far.  About 3 each adult male
Ruby-throated and Black-chinned, a half-dozen immature Rubys,
35-45 imm/fem. Black-chinned.  Low numbers, good diversity.

About 5 p.m. or so on the front porch a hummer flew up I
thought sure was a female or immature Calliope.  When it
flew off I thought sure I got a good enough bare-eyed look
at the tail to confirm, a little rufous in the base, and
it called several times, so I was totally convinced.  Then
all evening all I could find was the Ruf/All.  Grrrrrr.

Yearling dillo tearin' it up out front at 11 p.m..

Aug. 17 ~ 8 Field Sparrow, one adult male Painted bunting
continues, and one juv. (HY), 2 first summer male Blue Grosbeak
still here, few Indigos, juv. Dickcissel on day 10 here. 
NO Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus seen all day, Ruby-throats
increasing.  6 Barn Swallow going N. over SR late p.m..

Scott's Orioles are really becoming scarce now, I'm hardly
seeing them ,probably done nesting.  They'll wander the
area popping in and out irregularly the next month while they
molt.  One of the first-summer (SY) pairs of Hooded seem
to still be with young, all visits paired (male guarding)
and molt essentially not begun yet in either bird.

Aug. 16 ~ 2 ad. male ruby-throat, 2 immature Ruby-throat,
2-3 ad. ma. Black-chin, 35 imm/fe.. Black-chin, one Ruf/All
in a.m. only, juv. Dickcissel day 9 at seed stand.  Some
Barn Swallow still under eaves in town early a.m. so maybe
some still with nests.

Aug. 15 ~ Went to UP to look for a small gray buteo, but
saw nothing in that category.  A friend whom is a very
very good birder (excellent) told me over by Evan's Creek
(off 337) about 4 years ago, his wife saw an adult Gray Hawk.
So I'm not the first one to think they saw one in the area.

Did have my local record sized flock of 25 Black-bellied
Whistling-Duck, plus the ad. pair with 8 chicks, and 'orange sauce'.
The imm. Little Blue Heron was out on the flats, no stilts,
one-day wonders.  Ad.fem. Black-n-white Warbler in woods.

Juvenile Dickcissel on day 8 here at the free millet stand.
FOS adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird finally, maybe 2,
and maybe an immature or two as well.  One or two Rufous/
Allen's type in the a.m., 4-5 ad. male Black-chinned still,
45 imm./fem. Black-chinned.

Aug. 14 ~ UTOPIA PARK BIRD #225 for me this a.m., and why
you have to get there before the crowds flush things. 
That goes for anywhere.  6 Black-necked Stilt were out
on one of the exposed islands (ph.)!  Also new for my
Sabinal Valley List!  WEEWOW!!  First ever for me
up here in the hills.  Habitat is everything, while
stilts may be annual in small numbers at the fish hatchery
in Uvalde where there is regular mudflat shore-edge, seeing
one 30 air miles away in the hill country is a real feat.
Nowhere to stop, they keep going.  Have a little shore
edge when they pass over, they'll stop and rest a bit.

I could have turned around and went home to the AC and it
would have been a great success.  Except Kathy would
have wondered why I was back in 15 minutes.  It is not
really right to drive to your local patch park, get a
new park bird on the way in, turn around and leave without
getting out and having a look around.  You'd probably
miss a whole bunch of good stuff, besides not knowing what
is going on at your local patch.

An adult Snowy Egret was there, but I didn't see the Little
Blue Heron, or the Whistling-Ducks besides the pair of adults
with the 8 babies and the Frankenroaster, Orange Sauce.
At the far north end of park and island was a beautiful
fresh basic/winter adult Louisiana Waterthrush, which is
amazingly hard to find at the park, methinks only my second
ever in fall.  Two chat were in the woods, but I didn't
hear either Yellow-throated Warbler, or Vireo, which is mighty
odd if the breeders are still there. Both were still there
Friday the 12th.

Then came the bird of the day, over-shadowing hitting 225
at the park with shorebirds.  A small hawk flew out
of the cypresses directly across the river/pond, at what
that about 125', and crossed flying toward my side, but at
a 45 to shore, and roughly perpendicular to me.  My first
thought bare-eyed was small buteo, but I did not think 'Red-
shouldered' because it looked too small, and I saw no color,
nor bold black and white spotting, so then I thought Cooper's?

As I raised my bins I saw no long Cooper's tail so was
quite perplexed, until I got it in my bins.  It was
evenly medium gray above and below.  GRAY HAWK!
That explains it!  I could see the underparts were
paler appearing than the upperparts, and finely barred
with white in detail.  When it got out of view on
my side of river but downriver a hundred yards, I moved
thataway to bottom of park and never saw it again.  It
must have turned and continued downriver, in the gallery
forest corridor.

I am not aware of a Uvalde Co. record, but there are rare
records along the Rio Grande to Eagle Pass and Del Rio.
I don't think there is an accepted Edwards Plateau record,
unless at Devil's River or some such out west, which is
another planet biologically.  It is regular along the
lower Rio Grande, and found at Big Bend and SE Arizona.
All I can do is write it up and turn it in.

Probably 75 Wandering and 50 Spot-winged Glider at the park,
one Four-spotted Pennant continues, Checkered Setwings,
few Red Saddlebags, Double-striped Bluet, no Threadtails,
Eastern Phoebe seemed to be cleaning out that area for a

The SR yard has two Rufous/Allen's type Selasphorus hummers
(one is a Rufous for sure, the other I'm not so sure of),
the adult male Painted Bunny, the immature Dickcissel, one
each ad. male Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting, two greenie
Painted, a half dozen each Scott's and Hooded Oriole, maybe
4 Audubon's Oriole.

Aug. 13 ~ At dawn while getting ready for a Uvalde run there
was a male Lesser Nighthawk feeding the area for 15 minutes.
You know it is fall when the nighthawk outside is Lesser and
there are no Common left around.  After we got back from
Uvalde in the p.m. there were two Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus
hummingbirds here, the Dickcissel and ad. ma. Painted Bunny

Got a flat just as we entered outskirts of Uvalde which turned
out to be a BONE shard fragment!?!?!?  The roadkill here
keeps on killin'.  That might be a first for me.  Always
the new tires too, didn't have 1000 miles on it.  Garza
Radiator on Hwy. 90, ca. a mile west of downtown fixes flats
in case you need to know, even on a Saturday.  As I put
the spare on in the city hall parking lot by Memorial Park,
a Kiskadee called quite a lot from the creek area.

At the fish hatchery was an adult Snowy Egret and Great Egret,
a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and most exciting the
pair of Pied-billed Grebe were back in their original nest
pond with THREE MORE young!  They nested again!  No
shorebirds despite some OK looking shore edge makes me think
a hawk is hunting it.  This time of year there should
be shorebirds.  Still two Coot summering but no nest.
Common Gallinule appeared to have departed after having the
nests ransacked.  Olive Sparrow and Bell's Vireo both
sang still.  The odes are picking up and there was a
fair bit of activity, the neat thing being a male Pin-tailed
Pondhawk (ph.), which is a scarce bug hereabouts. 
Some few ea. Four-spotted, Red-tailed and Halloween Pennant.
6 Green Darner at least, maybe 8, numbers of Blue Dasher,
E. Pondhawk, and Enallagma Bluets were out over the water in
decent numbers (been nearly absent).

A Scout Troop was at the pavillion at the slough and looked
to have been roughing the trails up so we skipped it, but
did a quick check of the upper ponds for odes.  There
was a FOS STRAW-COLORED SYLPH patrolling there, a dependable
spot for them in late summer and early fall.  Outstanding
was a Western Ribbon Snake, a garter type with a thick red
stripe down dorsal keel, black and white stripes on sides,
white jaws, a stunningly beautiful animal, and fast.  A
large flock of Chimney Swift were leaving the ponds when we
first got there, at least 60 at one moment at the tail end
of departure.

Along the road (Old Sabinal and 187) to and fro were the
fewest Scissor-tails ever for the date, only a couple Western
Kingbird, maybe a Couch's or two over by Uvalde, onesies of
drive-by Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Harris's Hawk,
Yellow-billed Cuckoo, lots of singing Olive Sparrow, lots of
Common Ground-Dove, very few Painted Bunting, Loggerhead
Shrike were 1 N. of Sabinal, and 1 near Knippa, 5 Fuertes'
Red-tailed Hawk, 12 Caracara (7 at once) lots of Red-winged
Blackbird and migrant Dickcissel and Orchard Oriole were
seen on the move, and Dickcissel were everywhere you stopped.
A few Petro. swallows (Cliff/Cave) were at 7 mile bridge.

Aug. 12 ~ I suspect most of town was shook outta bed about
2 a.m. when the big thunder cell got here, fairly well
un-predicted as at 11 p.m. they said it was all going North,
which meant we weren't getting any, but the big cell over
Del Rio seemed to split in two and half took off like a
rocket eastward along the escarpment.  Del Rio set their
all time 24 hour rain record with about 4.5" of rain, and
here on Seco Ridge we got 2.75" of the wet stuff!!! Biggest
rain event in a year.  Power went out here from a strike
125' away for 1.5+ hrs..  Too much ran off it was so fast
and furious, and at the park you couldn't tell anything from
the water levels.  It often takes a day or two to soak
and percolate in.  Talking to others around town, in
town it was about 1.2", and Ed Straight saw less than an
inch over Thunder Creek way NE of town a couple miles.

I'd been hearing about others all over the state seemingly
getting those harbingers of fall, Least Flycatcher, Upland
Sandpiper, and Yellow Warbler for weeks it seems without
seeing one locally.  All three species were my FOS
at the golf course about 9:30 a.m., thank you rain. 
Quite a few Barn Swallows were about (75+), a few seem to
still be nesting in town, a group of 6 Cliff Swallows were
at the golf course, a couple Chimney Swift still around too.
I saw about 8 Vermilion Flycs this a.m., 6 at the golf course,
where there were also 25+ Eastern Bluebird.  There were a
couple Scissor-tailed Flycs south of town.

At UP there were 20 adult Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, two
with the 8 babies and attendant 'you can't lose me now'
Frankenduck roaster named 'orange sauce' after the blush
on its head and neck.  Both the immature Little Blue
Heron and imm. Snowy Egret continue there.  One Common Grackle.

The immature male Selasphorus hummingbird continues here at SR.
I estimate the Black-chinned Hummingbird numbers at our feeders
now at about 10 adult males, 50+ immature or females.
Very interesting was the first adult male Painted Bunting seen
since July 23 or so here, in three weeks, clearly a migrant
from elsewhere.  Got some pix of the immature Dickcissel
still at our seed pile, day 5 at least.  A few Orchard
Oriole were about, two like some that have been here a couple days,
but one was a new juv. male with some shadowing of bib coming in.

Aug. 11 ~ An ad. male Orchard Oriole was about a bit, and the juv.
Dickcissel continues, still 2 juvenile Painted Bunting, one Indigo, White-winged Dove count about 45, many new juvies
just recently out of the nest.  Sparrow counts are 6 Field,
maybe 4-5 Chipping, 3-4 Rufous-crowned, 12 Lark in the yard.
4 Ground-Dove and 6+ Inca Dove.  The bird of the day was
a fresh male MONARCH butterfly going NW, probably a local hatch,
not of the migratory population, the first I've seen in months.
The big FOS of the day was our first Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird
of the fall, finally.  It is an immature male, and geeezz
I'd have to say it sounds Allen's to my ear.  Outer tail
feather looks pretty darn narrow too.  Just after dark a
yearling skunk came up to the front porch while I was on it.
Probably the one Kathy saw a week ago or so..... I ran for
camera and couldn't find it when I got back out there.

Aug. 10 ~ got docu shots of the imm. Dickcissel still here at
the seed, and a female Orchard Oriole at one of the feeders.
One male Indigo Bunting in heavy molt and one full adult male
Blue Grosbeak remain, 2 first summer (SY) Blue Grosbeak, one
with still just barely a blue face and now rump coming in.
Hutton's Vireo.

Down in town I ran into a couple that said they had a male
Ruby-throated Hummingbird yesterday the 9th, the FOS I've
heard of, and haven't had one yet at our feeders, a bit late.
At UP there were two white long-legged waders just like the
guy said the other day.  But scrutiny revealed one was
the imm. Little Blue Heron, the other an immature Snowy Egret.
One Black-n-white Warbler was in the woods.  Double-striped
Bluets in tandem out on dam.

Aug. 9 ~ Imm. Dickcissel still here in a.m., neat out the window
at point blank.  A male Orchard Oriole was singing out
front in the a.m. early.  Nothing else is singing any
more, takes a transient in the yard now.  One of the
first-summer female Hooded Orioles looks so ratty I can't
believe it, she has no greater coverts or tertials now, wings
so worn and brown I feel sorry for her.  That she dropped
all those feathers means new stuff growing in, she'll be good as
new soon.  Maybe 5 ad.male Black-chin, 25 immature type left.
Still no Rufous or Ruby-throated Hummer yet this fall.

Aug. 8 ~ Call it about 6-8 adult male Black-chin left, and ca.
35 female or immature.  An adult Zone-tailed Hawk flew over
huntingyard at treetop level that was missing a primary or two
on left wing, so perhaps molt has started for them = nesting done
if so.  The two greenie buntings continue.  Yapping
young mccallii Screech-Owl were out after dark.  One male
Indigo continues (at least) and 3 female types, a few Blue Grosbeak,
one first summer with just blue on the head still, body still brown.
Two migrants were a juvenile or female Orchard Oriole in the a.m.,
and an immature Dickcissel on the seed in the p.m., first of fall.

Aug. 7 ~ I guesstimate 5-10 adult male and 25-50 immature or female
Black-chinned Hummer left.  Two greenie Painted Bunting are
still here, one is a SY, or first summer bird.  Probably
heard an Upland Sandpiper at 10 p.m. but it only called once.
The most regular first-summer male Hooded and Scott's Orioles
both are getting new greater coverts, tertials, and rectrices
(tail feathers) now.

Aug. 6 ~ Have I complained about the heat lately?  This is
getting old fast.  At least we getting down to 72-74 at
dawn and get a few hours of bearable in the early part of the
day.  No rain in sight they say.  Great.  Only
two greenie Painted Bunting left here at the hovel on SR, a
few Indigo still and a few Blue Grosbeak, Hutton's Vireo still
about, some of the Hooded, Audubon's and Scott's Orioles still
making daily visits, but nothing like a month ago.  Often
I scan the feeders and see no orioles or hummers now!?!?!?!
No male Painted Buntings, what's a poor boy to do?

Checked the golf course for grasspipers, struck out swinging.
Some few odes at the pond, and lots of another new batch of
just fledged Red-winged Blackbirds from perhaps 6 pairs that
nest in the cattails there.  One female Vermilion Flyc.
was all I saw of them, and no Scissor-tails or Martins.

At UP the juv. Little Blue Heron was still eating Blanchard's
Cricket-Frogs, the 8 or so ducklings were with the pair of
adult Black-bellied Whistling Duck, and their unwanted
guest from hell, Frankenduck.  Obviously all the other
Whistling-Ducks don't want to associate with the domestic
roaster and move if it comes around.  But the pair with
the babies is anchored, and the Frankenduck thinks it found new
friends.  Bet the ads. can't wait till those juv's can fly.

Also at the park were Green Kingfisher, Blue Jay, Black Phoebe,
Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler, Black-n-white Warbler,
Indigo Bunting, Golden-front WP, the new E. Bluebird family by
the dam, and the regular Wrens, Chicks, Cards, Tits and Tans.

For odes, still two Four-spotted and 1 Red-tailed Pennant over
the water above the spillway, both are less than annual here.
100 Wandering and 30 Spot-winged Glider, Red and Black Saddlebags,
a Fragile Forktail, a few Checkered Setwing, some misc. Argia
dancers, no Threadtails.  At the golf course pond 6 Blue Dasher,
a male E. Pondhawk 1 Green Darner, more gliders and saddlebags,
and no damsels.

At the park for leps there was a fresh Texan Crescent and a
mint fresh Systasea, or Powdered-Skipper (Texas - pulver.), which
allowed for perhaps my best ever pix.  Somethin' about
them is really very cool to me.

Aug. 5 ~ I'd estimate 50 max. imm.and/or fem. Black-chinned
Hummingbird, maybe 10-12 adult males tops left.  Been
a blowout all week, every day less, not filling feeders
all the way, and same goes for orioles, many seem to have
departed, and way early for them.  Probably know too
rough to breed again, so left.  Often they seem to
depart a while and return in a week or two after wandering
the area to see old friends.  Still no Rufous or other
hummers since the Lucifer and the albino, no Upland Sandpiper
yet either, should be calling overhead at dusk or dawn now.
But there was a good bird that moved through the yard this
a.m., a Black-capped Vireo, a male that sang quite a bit,
near incessantly for 15 mintues or so as it moved around.

Aug. 4 ~ A quick stop at UP found an immature Little Blue
Heron, eating Blanchard's Cricket-Frogs like candy.  A local
said there were two yesterday.  Saw the first Green Kingfisher
I've seen there in a while, juvenile Field Sparrow, a fresh
set of new juvenile Eastern Bluebirds.  A just fledged
set of 4 Barn Swallow juvies was at the park with parents.
For odes there were two Blue-ringed Dancer, Red-tailed and
Four-spotted Pennant, lots of gliders, most Wandering, one
Five-striped Leaftail, for odes.Here at SR there were
maybe 75 imm/fem. Black-chin Hummer and 15-20 ad. males.

Aug. 3 ~ No more than 100 imm/fem. Black-chinned Hummers,
and no more than 25 adult males left.  Still 3 male
Indigo Bunting, and 3 male Blue Grosbeak at once, but only
1-2 greenie Painted left.

Aug. 2 ~ Boy it is eerie out there....dead silent with no
dawn chorus whatsover, and many birds gone around town like
Martins, Scissor-tails, Barn Swallows, Swifts, wow it's quiet.
At UP the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck pair still have about
8 young, and there were 14 other adults, so 16 + babies.
For passerines there was Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern
Wood-Pewee, Black-and-white Warbler, White-eyed and
Yellow-throated Vireo and the juvenile Chat continues.  A
'Wide'-eyed Vireo at the park was doing it's three part song,
but the last part was perfect 'jiddlebit' of Black-capped Vireo.
No Common Nighthawks at dusk now either.

Today's big interesting observation event was the cat and the
(scrub-) jay.  You're going to love this.  You know I
am not cat people.  This cat we came by, on our doorstep,
was at death's doorstep, Kathy saved it, it's very very old, had
been mauled, anyway so there's another princess around now. I'll
probably be killed when the one that reads sees that.  Now the
scrub-jays quite like the cat, as it means there is often catfood
of several types to choose from on the back porch.

Sometimes the cat sleeps on the back porch and the jays come within
2' of sleeping princess feline to take cat food.  The cat is
very old, but can still get a hispid cotton rat, which apparently is
catnip to it, but not so good with birds, and it gets rocks tossed
nearby if it stalks birds..... so knows that doesn't fly here.

So today the cat is out front about 10' from the bird bath
sitting in the shade in 100 deg. heat.  The jay wants
to come down to drink or bathe but doesn't like the proximity
of the cat, which in this heat was no threat.  Now this cat
is silent, unless it wants out or in when it meows quietly
once, otherwise it is a mute cat.  Anyway, the jay loudly scolds,
harshly, and I guess with what one could call a somewhat mewing
quality to it.  I hear a cat meow back to the jay. 
This kitten-like meek timid meow.

I look around wondering where it's coming from, ignoring our
new princess, the mute one, and can't locate the meowing cat.
The jay scolds again zzsshhhaaaa, the cat meows back.
After like four of them I couldn't believe it when I saw
our cat's mouth open when the meow from cat happened.
It was the mute princess!  She can talk!  But
only to birds apparently.  The jay gave this one long
scold note over and over, and each time Tissy would meow
back.  It happened ten times consecutively.  Each
time the scrub-jay was more vehement in imploring kitty go.
Each time the same immediate I'm not moving till I want 'meow'.
I almost fell off the porch.  Oh for video with sound
of that!  So there you have my big highlight today.
Finally I called princess so the jay could get some water.

August 1 ~ AUGUST !?!?!? I'm soooo far behind!  This
extraordinary heat is not making anything easier.  So far
we've run about 10 deg.F OVER normal SINCE MARCH, for 5 months!!!
Gosh, it couldn't be climate change could it?

I'd have guessed 150 or so immature and female Black-chinned
Hummingbird and 50 adult males maybe on July 31.  Today
I'd say 125 imm.& fem./25  They're blowin' out.
The year old Audubon's Orioles are growing new rectrices
(tail feathers).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
July odds and ends wrapup...

Fantastic was ANOTHER report of a LUCIFER hummingbird in
Uvalde Co. this summer, from Rose Cooper with a fantastic
photograph.  It was there early July to the 12th.
So, one was in Junction, one at Lost Maples, one at
Utopia, and Rose's at Uvalde, so far for area reports.
And UvCo got two records out of it so far.  Wonder if
females will show up?  Lucifer are said to be common
now (still) at the Davis Mountains in west Texas so keep an
eye on the feeders as we enter hummer prime-time.
Thank you for the great rare bird news Rose!

I keep forgetting to mention the juvenile Turkey Vultures
are out of the nest, since mid-July, a few in early July.
The adult males are done molting, the juveniles aren't in
molt, so now it's only the females finishing up.  Pretty
soon they'll too be done and all the TV's will have nice
full sets of flight feathers to leave on.  Then Zone-tails
will finish nesting, and begin molt.  So by about late August
all TV's are done, and Zone-tails begin, (pending finishing
final nesting) so in September or October if its in flight
feather molt, I'd take a good look.

It looks like about 25+ species of butterfly locally for July.
June was 24 sps..  Not even good day totals a few years ago.
Tom Collins over in Centerpoint works with one of the annual
Kerrville butterfly counts sent a note about it this year.
Much of one count is at Love Creek Preserve just up the road
a piece west of Vanderpool, and their other hot spot is the
native plant nursery in Medina, again not too far from us.
Their couple groups out over a good half day got 24 species.
That's covering lots of ground with lots of eyes, and with a
butterfly magnet (the nursery) at work.  I think many were
just one individual too....things are rough out there for leps.

July 31 ~ bdbdbdbdat's all folks! July is over, we're in
the final stretch of summer.  Did a quick park check
noonish.  One Solitary Sandpiper was there, the third
this month.  Interesting and a neat plumage was a very
young fresh juvenile Yellow-breasted Chat that was yet to
acquire yellow throat, dark lores, and white line to bill
from eye.  Size, shape, structure, dark legs, bill shape
and call made for an ID despite lacking many characters
considered requisite for a Chat.  Another Great Crested
Flycatcher was there (2 in 3 days), the rest was regulars.
Kathy had an adult male Orchard Oriole here at the SR hovel,
which is clearly a migrant, hasn't been one in the yard in
2 months.  A couple Caracara were on SR.

A few odes were out in the warmth, best was a Great Pondhawk,
of which I saw one there a month ago, surely this is a 2nd,
and I got a distant ID shot.  A couple Orange-striped
Threadtail were out, one low over the water patrolling, and
another 12' AGL up in the cypress tips.  There were two
Eastern Amberwing below the dam/spillway, the first of them
I've seen here this year.  One each Four- and Five-
striped Leaftail, a few Common/Eastern Pondhawk, Checkered
and Swift Setwing, one Red Saddlebags, and numbers of Pantala
gliders, mostly Wandering (100+) and some Spot-winged (50+).
For damselflies, a couple Familiar Bluet, 2 tandem pairs of
Double-striped Bluet, 1 Kiowa Dancer, 1 Blue-ringed Dancer,
and a few that got away.

In butterflies there are only a few flowers at the library
garden, it seems no watering is being done again this year
and the stuff is in bad shape overall.  Three Queen
were there but that was it!  The Med.Ctr. lantana had
Gulf Fritillary and a couple Lyside Sulphur, the Sr. Center
lantana had 2 Variegated Fritillary, and at the park a
Phaon Crescent was below the dam, a Cloudless and a few
Large Orange Sulphurs blew past, a few Snout about.

July 30 ~ Tropical Storm Don came ashore yesterday down
in south Texas and we got easterly winds, a little mist,
and a leaf washing sprinkle or two from it, maybe a tenth
of an inch (.10) of rain.  Before noon I went to the park
just in case of the off chance something got knocked down
by the weather.  Hard to proceed through water when
you fly.  Nothing in the woods but breeders: some
Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Warbler, White-eyed Vireo,
Carolina Wrens, Cards, Chicks and Tits.  There were a
dozen Black-bellied Whistling Ducks out on the islands in
the former pond and river.  There was a Clouded Skipper
in the woods, the first of the year for me here so far.

I decided to go out on the spillway and take a pic to show
the pond about 50% gone again as at peak of last drought.
Going out I spotted two more of the Black-bellied Whistling-
Ducks in the drying water lillies on the other side of dam,
WITH YOUNG!  EIGHT little baby Whistling-DUCKLINGS!
In 8 years here this is the first successful Whistling-Duck
nesting I've seen locally.  OUTSTANDING!  AWESOME!!
It's nuthin' down in the brushlands, but something at the park!

So I am standing out on the spillway looking up river at
what now is more river bed than river, the water is 4' or
more below going over the spillway, just kind of spacing
out on it all when I hear the long drawn-out ascending
rolling trill krre-e-e-e-e-p of a LEAST SANDPIPER!
I pick it up in flight and it flew right over the spillway
right by me calling several times.  It circled around
making a couple low passes over the various exposed shore-
edges, calling off and on, head away, come back seeming to
check it out, call, and that was it.  You had to be
there or you missed it, as can so often be the case with
birds, and a part of what makes it so exciting.

I am now on cloud nine this is one of my most wanted birds
at the park, 8 years and a bunch of pretty darn good rare
things, 220+ species worth, and this is my first LEAST Sandpiper.
It was the best Least Sandpiper I ever saw. A fine specimen
it was, I could see that brown hood extending to breast,
the grating trill sounded sweeter than ever to my ears.
Hundreds of visits, I wished I'd hear that sound, of that
most common dumpy and dull of peeps.  I've wanted one so
badly I re-read all the books about their occurrence in migration,
they say could occur anywhere.  Yeah except the park,
until now!.  Took a band of moisture from a tropical storm
making landfall to the south to knock one down enough to
swing by and take a look, turns out it didn't even stop.

Now I think that is about as exciting as it gets when all
of sudden I hear WESTERN Sandpipers!  Tk-zzeet, tik-zzeet and
the laughing whinny trill as they glide on set wings discussing
whether or not to put down, scanning around I quickly spot
8-10 peeps in the air over the former pond/now half islets
just above the dam.  They fly right by me on the spillway
calling all the way, and proceed to circle about, when a
SEMIPALMATED Sandpiper calls from the group!!!  OMG steady
now, stay on the dam, careful, think balance..... normally you'd
fall into water, but now you'd hit rocks 10' below if you went
off to the low side.

I lower binocs to bare eye the flock in the air and quickly spot
the shorter chunkier bird and get it in bins seeing the
short thick blunt tubular bill as it flies right by me, and
hearing it call 'jurk' or 'churk' a half dozen times among
the tk-zeeets of the Westerns!  It was like shorebirding!
Thought I was going to fall off the dam in excitement.  Then I
thought about explaining that to people, over common peeps, and
they wouldn't get it would they.... so I kept my balance.

The group seemed to make a few low fast passes, as if smelling
the site (for food) and after doing so, continued on southward.  Two
Westerns came back and made two more passes, and then left.
Most were still in decent alternate plumage with heavy streaking
on breast and black chevrons down sides.  I waited 10 minutes,
no more peeps showed up, my hopes of them circling back and landing
were dashed.

While I wonder if I flushed them without seeing them first,
it didn't seem like that, and was more as though they dropped
in checked it out circling several times, were interested
enough to make additional ground level passes, but then
headed on their way because they didn't detect the right smells.
THREE species of peeps at once at the park, the first peeps
I've ever seen there, three new birds for the park list at
once!?!  That will never happen again.  Amazing!
There was about two minutes to be there for the whole thing.

The Least and Semipalmated I saw *7 springs* ago or so over
at the Little Creek buffalo wallows, knocked down by rain.
So those two were not new for my Sabinal Valley list, but
the first of either I have ever seen in the fall here.
The Western Sandpipers were the first of those I've seen
in the whole valley ever.  I'm besides myself if you
can't tell.  I checked and the 3 make 224 for my UP
list, in about what, 3-4 acres?  Compare to say the 2002
official Lost Maples list which covers hundreds of acres, is
30 years and hundreds of reporters is 212.  So 224 in a
few acres at Utopia Park ain't too bad.  For the whole
Sabinal Valley the Western Sandpiper was #317 for me,
and I think about #337 for all records I know of locally.

The other thing of note today was good Pantala movement,
that is gliders, Wandering (200) and Spot-winged (100) in
the biggest numbers of the year so far going south over SR.

July 29 ~ Only saw 8 BB Whistling-Duck at the park today,
they must be moving around a bit.  One Frankenduck
domestic mutant is now hanging with them.  Talk about
an ugly relative ruining the picture.  Of interest were in
the woods a couple new passage landbird migrants.  Single
Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee are both
migrants at the site and are probably finished and done
hill country breeders draining off the plateau.  Both
called.  At the town square park flowers I saw single
male Fiery and female Whirlabout skippers, and one Checkered-
Skipper species was un-ID'd.

July 28 ~ At UP the Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks continue,
though I only saw 10.  A Solitary Sandpiper is always
nice there.  After dark I heard the little dog yapping
begging notes of juvenile mccallii Eastern Screech-Owl out
front and down the draw close.  Butterflies today were
Large Orange Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, Lyside Sulphur and Snout.

July 27 ~ A few greenie Painted Buntings about, very few,
and now Indigo (3 ad. ma., 3 fem., 3 jv.) and Blue Grosbeak
(4 ad. ma. (at once), 3 fem., 2 1st yr. ma., 3 jv.)
outnumber them.  Some Wandering Glider and Spot-winged
Glider dragonfly action picking up, a dozen or two of each
southbound over SR over the day.

July 26 ~ Adult male Painted Bunting still here and took
a couple nice long very satisfying looks.  Almost
wanted a cigarette afterwards, but I quit years ago.
Good thing too, was the last day for the last adult male
in the yard.  None the next four days.  So I
may get a migrant, but the local breeder ad. males that
are in yard daily from April 17 or 19 or so, are gone.
Always sad to see them go, and usually get to Aug. 5, 6,
9, or so.  Hope they found some bugs!  At least
the Common Nighthawk is still booming.

July 25 ~ Boy the back on the adult male Painted really
seems to get yellower, less green, this time of year.

July 24 ~ A new just fledged Indigo Bunting is about, and a
second new Painted is with the first, so surely why that one
ad. male remains.

July 23 ~ Took my kidney stones for a ride to Uvalde so didn't
walk around much, just looked quickly at the slough and the
hatchery.  At the pavillion at Cook's Slough we had a
MOTTLED DUCK fly right by us, barely over eye-level and only
30' away!  I am fairly sure there is no Uvalde Co. record.
An absolute beauty it was, though we got no photo docs.

The only shorebird we saw at the hatchery was one Spotted
Sandpiper!?!  A couple Gallinule and 5 Coots though no young
of either, the Gallinule nests were ransacked.  The Pied-
billed Grebes that nested are gone.  There were lots of
Bank Swallows including begging young being fed.

Along the roads via Sabinal there were 2 Loggerhead Shrike
where the pair was last year (still) so surely nested again
this year, 8 Fuertes' Red-tailed Hawk, Curve-billed Thrashers
still on nest at bassethound farm (probably living on dog food,
and good luck getting out of the car to tape them), singing
Olive Sparrows all along Old Sabinal Rd., lots of Caracara,
just a few Painted Buntings though some adult males that are
probably still tied to feeding young not yet out from late
nestings.  A couple dozen Purple Martin were at the
houses near 4M Ranch SE of Knippa, but most of the others
are gone, must've had some late nesting.  A female
Kestrel was SW of Knippa, and we did not see the one that
was at the hatchery in June to early July.

Overall the desert brush country looked greener than it has
in months from the last couple little rains.  The weird
Cliff/Cave swallows were fledged and gone from supermegamart,
as were the other Cave nests - fledged and empty, though
one set of Barns had a new set of young babies in a nest.

For butterflies there was a bit of Snout and Lyside Sulphur
movement, over a hundred of each at least, and Mockingbird
were feeding on the hit ones on Old Sab. Rd..  A few
Large Orange Sulphur were seen.  At the hatchery there
was a Thornbush Dasher and Halloween Pennant for odes.

A male Vermilion Flycatcher passed over the SR yard near
dusk, stopped on the powerline briefly and continued north.
Common Nighthawk still booming.

July 22 ~ Seems only 1 ad. male Painted Bunting left, but a
new just fledged juvenile is probably why.  Maybe 5-6
other greenies still here, they are fading fast and early.
Some of the Indigo have departed as well.  Hutton's
Vireo stil about.  A Large Orange Sulphur briefly lighted
on a hummer feeder.  There was fog/mist/drizzle early in
the a.m., and then late at 10:45 p.m. or so a real cell moved
over dumping almost an inch or rather poorly predicted but much
needed rain on Utopia.  Kathy found the first Eufala Skipper
of the year here on her Calendula.

July 21 ~ Still only 1 male Painted Bunting left already.
At UP there were 15 Black-bellied Whistling Duck, all adults,
and a high count for locally the last few years.  There
was also one adult male Black-and-whtie Warbler, the first
adult male I've seen this 'fall', already in basic plumage.
Basic = 'winter' and why season related names for plumage
can be a bit off and hard to use.  It is not in summer
plumage any more, its throat is completely white, so it is
in 'winter' plumage, though it is July.  From that angle,
I like not calling things winter or summer plumage but at other
times it allows us better definition, such as with orioles or
gulls first spring or summer narrows it to a finer definition.

There were a couple Caracara in the early a.m., and another
in the late p.m. which diverted course to attack a Turkey
Vulture in mid-air, which it gave hell to for the better
part of a minute and finally gave up.  Land Skua. I
think they are trying to get them to regurgitate food as they
seem to hunt full crops.

July 20 ~ Only 1-2 adult male Painted Bunting remain in
yard, a few greenies.  Never saw this big, this early,
this thorough, of a bunting blowout.  Chasing monsoons
and insects.  They need rain and bugs and we have neither.

July 19 ~ Had a little disturbance moving over that caused
an incredible .10" of rain here on SR, a veritible
leaf-washer.  The plants and trees liked it, and
it smelled great.  It also caused a spontaneous
outburst of several male Indigo Bunting to go into full song.
Of which I have 5 males at once still here.  The
Blue Grosbeaks have a couple new fledges just out.

July 18 ~ Hummingbirds and Orioles are really blowing out
as well.  There are far fewer of both, and its not
just the killer Roadrunners.  The albino white hummer is
still here late this evening, but was the last date for it.
Four days total.  What a vision it is, I can't get
over it.  I'll get pix up but things slow due to the
computer problem.  Orioles have gone from 30 to 15.
Hummers from 500 to 250.  Painted Buntings from 30 to <10.

July 17 ~ There are A LOT fewer Painted Buntings around,
clearly they are departing, and this is way early, especially
for the greenies.  Adults usually stay the first week
of August, greenies longer and most of both here have left
already, and many did so a week ago.  They need some bugs,
subsisted the summer on white millet here.  It is sooooo
bad out there that it seemed they called a truce and did
not go into rage mode at the very sight of another adult
male in the yard at the seed this year as in all prior years.

The same can be said for Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting,
which also have adult males feeding just a couple feet apart
all summer, unheard of, but the food shortage has caused a truce.
Seemingly some winter type flocking behavior while foraging
became acceptable this season, instead of the knockdown-
dragout brawls typical when any two males see each other
during breeding season. The catastrophic climatalogical
conditions caused the birds to alter their behavior this
year during breeding season.  Remarkable.

We have two Roadrunners eating hummingbirds like candy.
Kathy suggests I get a coyote to get rid of them, from Acme.
Take the feathers off a Roadrunner, add teeth, and you
have velociraptor.  They surely have taken some of
the young Chipping, Rufuous-crowned, Lark, and Field
Sparrows, as well as Painted Bunting. Last year I saw
one take a juvenile Painted Bunting, and though I'm
just seeing stalking now, let's not kid ourselves here.
They live on Chipping Sparrows all winter.

July 16 ~ Couldn't get out so between things kept an eye
on the feeders for the snow white hummer.  Got a few
glimpses in the morning, and finally in the afternoon it
sat in a tree for a few digiscopes, and I got a couple
shots of it on the feeder.  There is a little gray
on the crown and face, and the primaries (the big long
main wing feathers) are pigmented dark, but otherwise it
is nearly pure white.  Not a pure albino, and though
I like the term partial albino or partially albinistic,
I'm told leucistic is the proper term for anything not
a pure albino (red eyes, no pigment whatsoever).  The
curved wingtips appear typical of Black-chinned to me.
Probably 400-500 Black-chins here now and nothing else.
Rufous could show any day now so keep your eyes peeled.

July 15 ~ This morning early I saw a hummingbird fly away that
I thought sure was white, snow white.  I figured it was
a trick of the light, and I just didn't get a good look.
Then late in the evening I saw it again, a WHITE Hummingbird!
Almost all but not totally, pure snow white hummer!  OMG!
I've dreamt about seeing one of these, drooled over the
pictures I've seen of them, and here it is, right in front
of me!  Talk about stunning!  It looks like a
Black-chinned, though I've only seen it bare-eyed so far.

There are two newly fledged Bewick's Wren, as well as a
couple newish Carolina Wren hanging about the yard.

July 14 ~ A juvenile Black-and-white Warbler was at UP in
the p.m. when I took a quick peek.  Interesting was a first-
summer Hooded Oriole that had acquired its first all black
adult type tail feathers, none in our yard have yet.  Two
Common Nighthhawk, the Chuck silence continues, they are done
singing, at least our close one is.  A Poorwill called
which as the full moon rose, it seemed like a good description
of the call: "full moon" it whistles mournfully.

July 13 ~ Odd was at least 4 male Red-winged Blackbird on the
ground below the back yard junipers eating seed.  No bugs
out there.  While I was on the front porch lamenting the
arrival of the silence of the 'Chucks' at dusk, probably THE male
floated slowly across the yard at eye level, in silence.

July 12 ~ Four Audubon's Oriole for sure in the yard today.
A distant 'Chuck' called but not our draw bird right out front.
Painted Buntings getting thinner, some adult males have left,
and all the first summer (SY) birds are gone, far ahead of
normal deparature dates.  There's no bugs to eat here.

July 11 ~ in yard Hutton's Vireo, Golden-cheeked Warbler,
and at dusk Chuck-wills-widow and Common Nighthawk called.

July 10 ~ See Lost Maples Reports page for a full report
from a walk I took there.  Saw 5 Golden-cheeked Warbler
very well, and heard more.  Heard a few Black-capped Vireo
and a HOODED Warbler, which was only because I was given a
lead or I'd have missed it.  It only sang twice and
was I not in that spot for that reason, I'd never have
caught it.  Did have a Zone-tailed Hawk, no Green King.

The best thing though I didn't see, but a tour group was at
HQ in the morning and photo'd a male LUCIFER Hummingbird and
a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird.  The same two rarities
that were just here in our yard a week and two+ weeks ago.

July 9 ~ At UP another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and there
were begging young Yellow-throated Warbler being fed.

July 8 ~ Blue-gray Gnatcat passed through yard, and one
was at the park as well, they are on the move already.
Yellow-throated Vireo are still singing like they are
still nesting, so perhaps they'll pull another set off
before they split.  A juvenile White-eyed Vireo was
at UP too.  Chuck still calling but barely.

Most interesting are the Orange-striped Threadtail (odes)
gathering at 10-20 AGL, I finally got a pic of one
from below with blue sky and cypress in the background.

July 7 ~ Seemingly fewer hummingbirds and orioles.
Chuck-wills-widow still calling at dusk and a couple
Common Nighthawk continue as well, but both of them
are winding down fast.  Hutton's Vireo in yard.

July 6 ~ Check out the hummingbird photo page, it has
a lot of new stuff on it, especially text about them,
and some new pix too.  Hutton's Vireo in yard.

July 5 ~ At the yard on SR a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher moved
through, heading south, another finished breeder on the
way out.  Had to run to town so a quick look at the
park produced a fall migrant shorebird, one Solitary
Sandpiper, and a nice early date.  That mud edge
from the falling water is good for something.  The
Pied-billed Grebe remains.  A Brown-headed Cowbird
juvenile was fed by a Red-winged Blackbird, though they
have many of their own young out as well.  Another
set of baby Yellow-throated Warblers just fledged, this
from a pair at the south end of the park.

I saw my first male Widow Skimmer (ode) of the year,
finally, but weird was watching Orange-striped Threadtails
forage 10' off the ground in the tips of the cypress
branches.  Some came low enough for me to confirm
they were not Orange Bluet, and there were 5-6 above
my head height doing this.  I wondered where they
were when I didn't see them at 'their spot', but didn't
think to look overhead!

July 4 ~ 'nother Golden-cheeked passed through the yard.
The Audubon's Orioles are only coming in the morning now
it seems, probably just one pair, but maybe two.  The
Scott's and Hooded #'s remain off the charts, and now a pair
of Ladder-backed Woodpecker have taken to the sugar water
after watching the orioles I guess, and they now seem
addicted as well.  Great job Mitch.  And I thought
the orioles were messy?  They better not try to drill
the feeders!  But you ought to see them stab back and
forth in a sword fight beak-to-beak with an oriole trying to
use the same feeder at the same time.  I could see the
Ladder-back's tail shaking as it rattled a call directly at
an oriole from about 2", scaring the oriole away, probably
when it saw what it would consider a crazed look in the
woodpeckers eyes.

July 3 ~ I didn't see the Lucifer Hummingbird today, though
he was here so late last evening, surely it was in during
the morning to tank up before it departed, I just wasn't
guarding the feeders to get the extra date on the span.
June 28 to July 2 then is the known span for the record.
Another male Lucifer had been in Junction since about June
25 or so, and it was last seen this a.m. July 3 as well.
Did have a Golden-cheeked Warbler pass through the yard
while waiting and hoping for the hummer.

July 2 ~ I went to Uvalde to look for something I'd seen
earlier, but couldn't refind it, dangit.  At the fish
hatchery Eric Carpenter and I found a White Ibis, which is
only about the second county record.  We also saw 5
Western Sandpipers, fall migrant shorebirds from Canada!
A Yellowlegs flew off that I'm sure was a Lesser, and the
Black-necked Stilt continued.

Most of the regulars otherwise, along the road just north
of Sabinal I had a Loggerhead Shrike, right where the pair
nested last year, hopefully they're at it again.  Three
Harris's Hawk (family group) were along Old Sabinal Rd..  I
found a Curve-billed Thrasher sitting on a nest near Sabinal.

Overall the brush country flatlands looked greener than
they have in months from the last couple little bits of rain.
Some Cenizo (purple sage, which is neither a sage nor purple,
but in the figwort family, a beautiful pink blooming shortly
after rains) was in bloom.

The Lucifer Hummingbird came in late in the evening a few times
but it turned out to be the last time I saw it, fortunately I
got some last few more parting shots, probably my best gorget.

July 1 ~ JULY !?!?!?  Got some better pictures of the
LUCIFER Hummingbird today, check out the Hummingbird photos
page, all the way at the bottom.
Links to archived bird news pages below, broken into 6 month increments. Odd numbers = first half of year, even numbers second half.

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