Bird (and nature) News Archive # 18
July 1 to December 31, 2012
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

2012 - July 1 to Dec. 31 reverse chronological order, unless you scroll to end and read from the bottom up.
2012 Bird and Nature News

The 2012 butterfly list was 88.5 species seen. The .5 is
for a sight ID of Rawson's Metalmark, which you can't be sure of,
but I have gotten them right before.  So, up over the last
extraordinary drought year, but a far cry from great. There
have been 90+- sps. months here, it took lots of effort to muster 88.
A couple new forms were added, the black Bordered Patch and the
black and white Phaon Crescent are both first-in-a-decade rare.
A Purple-washed Skipper (Panoquina sylvicola) sight record was the
best bug, but only a sighting so relegated to hypothetical status.
Several species that were common in the wet cycle of 2003-2007
are absent now, like Arizona Sister, Crimson Patch, Dusky-blue
Groundstreak, Carolina Satyr, Dotted Roadside-Skipper, and others.

December butterflies were off-the-charts good, with a record 42 species
found, average is 21 sps., prior record was 31 sps.  The new
deco gardens that were part of the beautification project are the
difference. If the butterflies get to vote, they are a landslide
success. The Purple-washed Skipper was the 5-star bell-ringer
for December, if only I could have gotten a photo.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Merry Vagrants and Happy New Birds ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dec. 31 ~ Confirmed two Orange-crowned Warbler here in the yard on
the hummer feeders, peanut feeder, and peanut butter on a branch
we provide. Had only seen one in yard at a time, but two were here
at once this morning. The adult and first winter Audubon's Oriole
were around alot today. Due to less than joyous conditions I am
going to do the winter bird count next weekend when it warms up a bit.
Was cool, foggy and misty much of the day.

Dec. 30 ~ Near a freeze, overcast, a few raindrops fell in the a.m.,
and supposed to get some rain today, tonight, or tomorrow morning, so it
is to the bone cold and wet. A Hutton's Vireo moved through the
junipers off the back porch getting closer and closer until it was only
4' away.  It was one branch from me needing my reading glasses.

Dec. 29 ~ Right about freezing here this a.m., maybe 30dF.  Here
is the morning bird list, the regular gang. one imm. Cooper's
Hawk, 6 Common Raven, Eur. Collared-Dove (heard), White-winged (100+),
Inca (4) and 4 Ground-, Doves, 8 West. Scrub-Jay, 3 Mockingbird, 4 Robin,
4 Hermit Thrush, 4+ Black-crested Titmouse, 2+ Carolina Chickadee,
2+ Carolina Wren, 2+ Bewick's Wren, 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 6 Cardinal,
1 male Spotted Towhee, 50+ Chipping and 3 Field Sparrow, 6 House Finch,
2 Audubon's Oriole (ad. and 1st winter), one orange-winged hybrid
Flicker that is a returnee that wintered in the area last year, 3+ Ladder-
backed Woodpecker, 1 Orange-crowned Warbler.  Two dozen species.
A couple Pine Siskin was the only different thing in the afternoon.

Dec. 28 ~ Front hit in the a.m., blew 15-20mph+ all day so hunkered
down at the computer..... Two Audubon's Oriole were about.
Black Vulture count was 24. A couple Variegated Fritillary were
different for lately, a few Snout, one Dainty Sulphur, and an American
Lady was it for butterflies, only got to mid-50's with cold wind on it.

Watching forecast trying to figure out what day to do the bird count,
as each year around New Year. Weather can make or break a count,
and since I can, if it is cold and or wet or windy this weekend, I'll
just do it the next, so very dependent on an accurate 10 day forecast.
The closer to the same day each year the better, but a week variation
is not a deal breaker for data analysis.

Dec. 27 ~ Was 23dF in KVL, 27 in JCT, and probably 28 or so here,
colder down in town on valley floor a couple dF.  Not as cold
as yesterday morning though, bird bath did not freeze solid a
half-inch+ thick like yesterday.  The birds sure hit it hard
and quick first thing.  A hundred White-winged Dove lifted
off from the roost in the draw when the sun hit, after 8 a.m.
Two first-winter Audubon's Oriole were about the yard mid-day.

Have to run to town so will hopefully be something to report.
Kathy heard the first Chickadee song (see you see me) of the year
this chilly morning. Nothing at the park, or in town, but
was later p.m. visit. Maybe heard one Golden-crowned Kinglet.
Couldn't find the Woodcock, for the second time I took scope
for digipix, an act which seems to be Timberdoodle kryptonite.

Dec. 26 ~ Happy Boxing Day!  Got up to no internet, one of
neat things here is that when the wind blows we can lose DSL.
Lucky we had it all day yesterday! I hope it wasn't my downloads.
That early 1970's music I like might have been too much for it here.
McKendree Spring's God Bless the Conspiricy, and Blodwin Pig's
Ahead Rings Out could have been too heavy and put it on the fritz.

Local lows were 24dF in JCT, 25 in KVL, 27 in Leakey, and so on.
Here it was about 26dF, a good 10 hour hard freeze, with chills in
the teens overnight as winds were still 20 mph, finally slowing to
10 mph around dawn. Heard an Audubon's Oriole, Chipping
Sparrow may number 50 now, but no Juncos. One Orange-crowned
Warbler, 10 Robin flew over low and fast about 10 a.m., 14 Sandhill
Crane were southbound about 3:45 p.m., couple Kinglet (Ruby-crowned),
a few Field Sparrow among the Chippies, some Hermit Thrush and a
SAGE THRASHER which got chased away by a Scrub-Jay (just like the
Solitaire a while back - for sitting teed up in the top of a tree).
At least a couple Mockingbird, but didn't see a hummingbird, again.
Three things could have happened: the cold got them, they got predated,
or someone is making sweeter sugar water than us. Been a couple
days without one. Struggled to get to about 49dF for a high.
Here we go back down to 25. Four Robin dropped in to roost in
the draw after sundown.

Dec. 25 ~ Merry Christmas!  Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays!
A strong cold front roared in just after sunup, sustained 25 mph winds
gusting to 40 mph! I was out back when one big gust came, you could
hear it a mile away for what it was doing to the trees, sounded like
a freight train coming.  As it hit the wall of dust and pollen
was so thick it was like fog, visibility dropped to 100' or less!
Lasted 20 seconds or so, and cleared nearly as quickly as it hit.
Sure was lucky to be out there for that, save the dust in my eyes.
After the fact I checked 3 different weather outlets and all the stations
within 50 miles recorded gusts at 47-51 MPH, so that was what it was.

The Ravens and Black Vultures could hardly be happier, they were
up for hours in it, pair bond display flights, the full monty,
they seem to really like flying when it is just directional control,
sans the work and labor part of it. This big blow will take
most of the remaining leaves off everything that loses them, and
it will look a lot more like winter now. The wind a week ago
took three-quarters of the last Buckley Oak leaves off, what's left
was down to a couple shades of rusty brown.

Dec. 24 ~ This a.m. on the front porch, first I heard the Mocker go
off with alarm notes, then the sound of accipiter wings in attack,
which was followed by the series of call notes given by a dying
Cardinal, while the Mocker continued giving alarm notes. I presume
the accipiter flew down the draw with the prey, as shortly a Golden-
fronted Woodpecker called alarm notes, of which I haven't had one in
or from the yard in a couple months. Flowers are essentially over,
so a Large Orange Sulphur came to a hummer feeder, but was chased
off by the darn bees.  Then a Gulf Fritillary came into the feeder
and the bees beat it off too.

Had to run to town so a quick look around, couldn't find a real flock
of birds around town, usually one is about. At the park there was a
pair of Red-shouldered Hawk doing some pair bond behavior, screaming
back and forth and diving at each other, quite a nice display.  Even
better was the bluebird pair selection display. This is when the
Eastern Bluebird choose mates, they can start nesting in a month or so.

It was a group of about 8 birds, the males all singing their great
song, they land near the female on the branch, open and slowly flap
their wings while they sing.  I had heard it first 5 minutes
before I worked up to where they were, and it went on for 15 minutes
as I watched at point blank in the cypresses right overhead.  Figures
I didn't have my mic and recorder on me for it.  Every time the female
moves a male or two would follow, land near, and began slow-mo flapping
and singing. Wow, very neat behavior to watch.  The audio
was astounding, four or more males singing at once, the females are
making calls back at them, the effect was ethereal. In actions it
recalls a similarity to lek behavior with multiple males competing
for selection simultaneously, though the event moved albeit slowly,
from tree to tree, so location transitory.  Birds are amazing
when you slow down enough to actually watch them.   :)

Otherwise several Myrtle Warbler, a couple Yellow-shafted Flicker,
the Downy Woodpecker, no Woodcock or Winter Wren, the dubyas were
nowhere to be found. Heard the Black-n-white Warbler, a few
Ruby-crowned but no Golden-crowned Kinglet, the Pied-billed Grebe
continues, still no Black Phoebe.

Butterflies were good in the 70+df heat, but all on the move, the
gardens are frozen dead.  Had one each Cloudless and Lyside
Sulphurs at park, a Large Orange in town, a couple Little Yellow
in woods where also Mestra, a few American Lady and Red Admiral,
some Gulf Fritillary, and best of all a female Black Swallowtail,
new for the month and sps. # 42 for December.  She was a fresh
mint beauty too. Some Dainty Sulphur, 50 Snout, one of which
I watched a Scrub-Jay sally up like a Pewee and gulp down.  Buckeye
and Dogface were in the yard in the p.m..  A few Orange Sulphur,
and two dozen Sleepy Orange. Fourteen sps. of butterflies today
is excellent for the late date. Half the diversity was Pierids
(sulphurs, yellows, etc.) as usual when the season wanes, the other
half brushfoots.  Absent and seemingly done and gone for the year
are skippers, blues, metalmarks, and hairstreaks, the swallowtail was
a miracle (mis-emergence due to warmth).

A fair showing of mayflies was over the river for noonish, at least
8 Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies, including two pairs ovipositing,
one Autumn Meadowhawk, and a Zygop, that looked like Violet Dancer
was seen, but not positive on the ID past an Argia damselfly. I
was pretty sure I got purple in the right places, but it left quickly.
A couple Cucumber (Chrysomelid) Beetles were seen.

There are only two open flowers in the front yard, a couple puny
Slender-stem Bitterweed, and the competition for them is steep among
the Sleepy Orange, Dainty Sulphur, and Gulf Fritillary.  Much of
the time a couple Sleepy Orange would share, but the Gulf Frit came
in and bulldogged the Dainty Sulphur away, and then mantled the flower
defensively not allowing the Sulphur to re-land.  Then after the
sulphur gave up another Sleepy Orange tried to land and again
the Gulf Frit mantled the flower like a falcon does prey, but moving
it's wings to prevent the other butterfly from landing, e.g.,
defending the food source.  Amazing what you can see in your
front yard, if one just give it a minute to watch nature.

Dec. 23 ~ Great Horned Owl calling outside at 7 a.m., the female, and
she was calling at 9 p.m. as well. Caracara again passed over.
Butterflies in yard were Mestra, Snout, Red Admiral, American Lady,
Sleepy Orange and Dainty Sulphur, a whopping 6 species.  Just the
regular gang of birds about the yard. Heard a Mourning Dove 'sing'.
Eight Scrub-Jay at once in a very small part of the back yard was a
high count for all together at once here.  When the old pair was
in charge here, no others were allowed when they were here, but now
it is a free-for-all, and a completely different social dynamic.

Dec. 22 ~ Up on SR here it didn't freeze, probably 36 or so, was 30 in KVL,
probably a near-freeze down in town.  Caracara made a pass over yard.
The Juniper pollen is really getting going so if you are sensitive to it,
and aren't sneezing yet, don't worry, you will be soon.  Late p.m.
the Coyote pack to the south went off, like they got something, and that
was met with the pack to the north going off, both carrying on full bore
for a couple minutes creating a spectacular stereo chorus of Coyotes.

Dec. 21 ~ HAPPY SOLSTICE!!  And my what a chilly start to winter.
It was 18 in Junction, 21 in Kerrville, and about 25 here on SR, colder
a couple dF down in town of course.  200' of altitude makes a world
of difference from the bottom of the valley floor on the cold nights.
That is why warblers, blackbirds, Robin, Waxwing, etc. roost up on the
ridges and divides, and commute to river corridor to feed in the day.
These animals live with the mobility to make a choice every night,
they sleep up on the ridges in the higher, warmer a few dF spots.

Heard Hutton's Vireo in the yard, saw the Broad-tailed Hummingbird.
Red Admiral, American Lady, and Snout were the only 3 butterflies
I saw in the 58dF peak heat. One Variegated Meadowhawk
dragonfly.  Saw a female Spotted Towhee too.

Dec. 20 ~ Front passing overnight, and cold air advection brought it
down from 80dF on afternoon of 19th (yesterday) to about 40dF with
20-30mph winds and chill factors below freezing this a.m.  Let's
call it invigorating.  Tonight the winds stops and it gets cold.
Another real hard freeze in store, low 20's dF.  Cooper's and
Sharp-shinned Hawks have been hanging about quite a bit, keeping the
seedeaters at bay and on edge.

A quick look at park saw the Pied-billed Grebe, I suppose it is in for
the winter, the ad. fem. Black-n-white Warbler (5th winter for this
bird here!), Downy Woodpecker (female nearing two years here), some
type of Sapsucker heard, and the Timberdoodle (American Woodcock)
continues, doodling about.  Still no Black Phoebe, an Eastern on the dam,
which doesn't happen when a Black is there, as most the time.

Dec. 19 ~ A balmy 55dF or so for a low, and near record heat today,
ahead of a front that hits after dark.  Wind will blow all
day from the south, all night and tomorrow from the north, and
watch out when it stops Thursday night, Friday morning will be
another hard freeze.  Front began passage about 10 p.m.

Less than 10 species of butterflies in yard today, but one of interest,
a Monarch.  Last one was about Dec. 5 or so, and unlike the last
migrants we see heading south this one was heading north.  It was
also mint fresh without a blemish, pristine condition, as in a new
emergence, so very unlike usually very worn tardy long-distance migrants.
It also was meandering low to the ground unlike migrants, so with
flight pattern, and direction, plus condition, I do not think it was
a tardy southbound migrant, but a mis-emergence, due to the two days
we just spent getting to 80dF for high temps. These ill-timed
emergences are regular with butterflies, a couple warm days and
something pops out, at the wrong time, no flowers or food plant, etc.,
they are genetic dead-ends.  In this case paying attention to the
details of behavior and condition (wear, marks) we can make an educated
guess that it is not a record-late by two weeks migrant.

Dec. 18 ~ Was 10dF colder than forecast, 32dF in KVL, barely over
that here, followed by near-record heat in the afternoon.  At
about 7:25 a.m. I heard and saw the Rusty Blackbird flying over,
and north into Bandera County.  There were an amazing 7 Starling
in town at about 8:20 a.m., a high count for winter here.  Fair
numbers of Eastern Bluebird are about town.  I saw at least
eight Raven (Common) on my quick early run through frozen town.

Fewer butterflies out today, even though it warmed to about 80dF,
which tells you they are really crashing fast, and, a front is
on the way in a day. One each of Common Mestra, Queen,
and Buckeye, 6 Gulf Frit, 4 Dainty Sulphur, 24 Sleepy Orange
2+ Orange Sulphur, 6+ Red Admiral, 10+ Lady with a few each
confirmed American and Painted, 20+ Snout.  Fadin' fast.

After dark I heard White-fronted Geese overhead, a tardy first
time this fall, they've been in the ag fields down around Hwy 90
for a month now. Great Horned and Screech-Owls called too.

Dec. 17 ~ Warming up quickly, some butterflies moving in yard,
actually quite a few all things considered. A fresh mint
Clouded Skipper was the best thing. Usually after freezes
all you see is pretty beat up, torn and frayed. By noon saw
1 Queen, 4 Snout, 1 Mexican Yellow (!) nearly landed on me and my coffee
cup, 6+ American and 2+ Painted Lady, 6+ Red Admiral, 2 Mestra, 12+ Sleepy
Orange, 3 Dainty and 2 Orange Sulphur, 2 Gulf Fritillary, 12 sps., and
over 40 individuals. Impressive for post- 2-day hard freeze.

Dec. 16 ~ About 10:15 a.m. an immature Broad-tailed Hummingbird
showed up at a feeder. This is new here, and to me an odd
date to have one show up. But I'll take it. Hope
it sticks, looked female from what I saw, but want it to settle
in before I press it for details.  A couple Dainty Sulphur
and a Mestra were new since the big chill (freeze) in the yard.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Dec. 15 header:

(last updates were Dec. 10, 2, and Nov. 15)
Hope you had a good fall!
We are quickly moving into winter.

A few quick news items..... the short version.....
Odes are down, birds are up, whilst butterflies
remain flat.  All this and more.....

November highlights were:

A SECOND TOWNSEND'S WARBLER at park Nov. 2 (female) on
island where also was Winter Wren, Red-naped Sapsucker
and Red-breasted Nuthatch.  On Nov. 8 what was surely
a VARIED THRUSH flew overhead while I was on porch.
Never saw it again.  Judy Bailey reports a Black-
throated Gray, and a Pine Warbler Thanksgiving weekend.

Early Nov. saw the peak of the season for butterflies
with up to 40+ species of butterflies in an hour
or so checking the three main butterfly gardens in
town.  The cold will have them fading fast now,
their peak season is over.

Rusty Blackbird Dec. 2 and 18 is likely a returning winterer.
Outstanding was WOODCOCK at the park on Dec. 9 and after.
Some Mountain Bluebird were reported on 355.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dec. 15 ~ A minor front to pass, mostly a drying effect on way,
which after sopping yesterday is pretty darn nice.  Second front
to pass on Sunday whence it will really clear out, but no rain.
Have to do a dump run so a park/garden check is in order of course.
Stayed overcast, but got to 70dF or so.

Ran into Little Creek Larry at the park and he said he saw a
Brown Creeper the other day at his place, and a week ago or so
a small flock of MOUNTAIN Bluebird out 355 on the straightaway.
Great birds, I've seen neither so far this fall, and of course
Mountain Bluebird is less than annual here so always a good find.

Well the flowers and butterflies are shot.  Deadsville.  Tuesday
and Wed. mornings in low 20's did 'em in.  There were a few
interesting birds though.  Three Ring-necked Duck were in the
park pond, a Song Sparrow was just above the 1050 bridge, a male
Green Kingfisher was above the island, a flock of 17 Cedar Waxwing
was the first flock I've seen this fall.  A Pine Warbler was
just above the island finally, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker still.

Best was refinding the WOODCOCK!  The only reason was the winds
blew most of the cypress leaves down. Actually first I flushed it
without seeing it again, nearly underfoot!*()&^#!  But I was
able to refind it sitting as the cypress leaves leave the whole
forest floor a nice rust color, patterned with a fine herringbone
texture, so anything else stands out. It was impossible to see in
the Mulberry leaf litter last week. I got one good shot (of 3)
as fast as the camera could go. The understory, flood debris,
and litter is so thick auto focus was goin' nuts and couldn't figure
out what to do.  Then it flew again and I didn't want
to press it or my luck, so persued it no more. But outstanding,
this means it is finding food, and might stick for the bird count.
I had to raise the camera so slowly as it was so close and it was
fidgeting, so I was hoping it wouldn't flush before I could
get the camera up, it in the frame, and pull the trigger.....
then the auto focus wouldn't lock on it.  Arrrghhh!
But got an ID docu shot by the skin of my teeth.  (above)

Butterflies were a Mexican Yellow (same one as a few days ago) at a
residence in town, five Sleepy Orange, a Gulf Fritillary, an American
Lady or three, one Red Admiral, a Snout.  Dismal.  I guess that is
it for the season here.  Sure was nice while it lasted.

The Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly are not a suprise though, they have
antifreeze in 'em, but the Green Darner is about the latest I've
seen one.  Usually 25dF kills them.

Dec. 14 ~ Warmed up a bit, low was low 50's dF, and a
foggy-misty-drizzly day, it was very drippy all day.
The 3 Rufous Hummers were about, and all the regular gang.
The accipiters are hounding the birds when they come in.
Heard Audubon's Oriole.

Dec. 13 ~ A toasty 35 or so this a.m., what a difference 10dF
makes between 25 and 35.  Immature Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks
kept the seed eaters at bay much of the day.

Dec. 12 ~ Another 25dF or so low this a.m., was 21 in KVL and JCT.
Had to run to town first thing early, Great Blue Heron was it at
the park, no Timberdoodle. Back here at SR as it warmed I
had a few butterflies. Red Admiral at 41dF, American Lady
and Snout at 45dF, Painted Lady at 50dF, Orange Sulphur at 54dF,
and Dainty Sulphur at 60dF. The white-winged Chipping Sparrow
is still around.  Two immature Cooper's Hawk went over low,
one not far behind the other.

We were up late watching the Sandy benefit concert stream so
at 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. I went out for short bursts of
meteor shower watching, the Geminids peak in a day, but
often the day before and after, or more, can be good.  At
those two 8 minute checks I was getting one meteor per minute,
and cold.  These were clearly Geminids, most were moving
NW-ish parallel and above the milky way, the other concentrated
area of repeat strikes was southward from Gemini.

Dec. 11 ~ Today was the first real freeze of the season.
Low in KVL was 23dF, Junction 19, Hondo 31, we were about
25dF or so up here on SR, surely a couple dF colder down in town.
It was about 10 hours of sub-freezing.  Definitely 3 different
Rufous Hummer still there, the adult female came in, besides the
adult and immature males. They were there at 7:11 a.m., less
than 5 minutes after I got the feeders out.  They were here late
last night too.  A male Harrier flew over SR in late afternoon.

Had to run to town, so a quick look around park and gardens.
A Song Sparrow below dam was my FOS, and I could not refind
the Timberdoodle (Woodcock).  Heard the Black-n-white.
Saw five Myrtle and 1 Audubon's Warbler.

Most of the flowers are shot, lots of purple (frozen) leaves,
but that yellow sunflower-ish composite is a tough thing
and that is what is left now for the most part.  It was
about 55dF peak afternoon heat, so some things might not have
been out, but a bit of variety made it through 23dF or so down
on the valley floor.

Here's the butterfly list.....
Common Checkered-Skipper, 2; Clouded Skipper 1; Orange Sulphur 6;
Cloudless Sulphur 1, Large Orange Sulphur 1; Sleepy Orange 4;
Dainty Sulphur 20+; Western Pygmy-Blue, 1; Calephelis sps. 1;
Fatal Metalmark 2; Snout 3; Gulf Fritillary 2; Vesta Crescent 2;
Red Admiral 3+; American Lady 8; Painted Lady 1; Buckeye, 1.
Sixteen species, 20 less than two days ago, and hundreds less
individuals.  The next warm-up (Sat.) will tell if they
were not out, or froze.  58 individuals (38 besides Dainty Sulphur).

Only odes were three male and one female Autumn Meadowhawk.

Dec. 10 ~ Front arrived 10 p.m. or so last night, wind blew
at 20+mph all night, finally started to lay down after noon.
Low was about 35dF, wind chill about 25, lovely.  This was
why I went out yesterday in the pre-frontal heat.  A few
of the Rufous Hummers seem to have left in the last few days.
I'm seeing Mr. green on back adult male, and cut-throat immature male,
that might be it.  About 30 some Black Vulture were up early.

Common Ravens are, well, common, daily, multiples, mostly paired
and a half dozen a day or more last couple months. I forget
to mention common daily stuff sometimes..... they sure didn't
used to be this common. Ten winters ago you could go a month
and not see one around town, easy.  Daily lately at the park
now too.  A pair or two were in pair-bond flight, as were a
couple pair of Black Vulture, and a pair of fuertesi Red-tailed Hawk.
The solstice is nearing and love is in the air.

In the smokin' 50dF peak heat it was interesting to note a few
butterflies moving. Some few Snout, Kathy had a Mestra, I saw
a Red Admiral, a couple American Ladies and one Orange Sulphur.
The birds of the day were a flock of ducks first thing at early
thirty.  I opted to step in off the porch for bins, and when
I came back out they were heading right at me, then turned perfectly
so I could ID them: 10 Gadwall, 4 Pintail, 1 Green-winged Teal.
Pretty good for here on the juniper slope.

Dec. 9 ~ foggy in a.m., then near record heat (upper 70's dF) in
front of the front, which is scheduled for after-dark passage.
Then three straight days of not likely many butterflies moving,
with two hard freezes (20's dF) Tuesday and Wednesday mornings
highs struggling to get to low 50's.  It will be a new world
out there for butterflies after this 3 day cold spell breaks,
called winter.  Watch those hummer feeders for freezing early
first thing.  After an hour, I'll swap them out with warm ones
from inside, repeat if needed.

Yellow-shafted Flicker was scoped on the snag 100 yards from porch.
The mccallii Screech-Owls were calling at dark.  Some Eastern Bluebird
went over, a couple Eastern Phoebe have been about, one was
giving display flight and singing.  Bewick's Wren and Cardinal
were singing this morning as well.  Usually it is around the
winter solstice when singing starts going again for the first few
most eager beavers.  A few Myrtle with one Audubon's Warbler
moved over SR (yard) in the p.m., all the regular gang was here.

There was a great bird at the park, a WOODCOCK!  It is not the
first I've had here, but it's been several years.  Actually I've
been looking hard lately thinking about them, it looks so perfect
for them in a couple spots.  It flushed when I had my back
turned, I had bare-eyed scanned right over it without seeing it.
When I heard it, I knew what that wing whistle was instantaneously and
hoped I could wheel around fast enough to see it, and sure enough
I got on it and watched it drop down into some very thick cover.
Made detailed mental map of which bushes and trees marked the spot.

In 20 mintues or so, I went sorta after it, but didn't want to
push it out, so left without spotting it in the thick brush and leaf
litter.  Perfect woodcock stuff. I went butterflying and came
back in over an hour. There are flood debris logs and sticks
all over, all covered in a copious layer of freshly fallen fall leaves,
lots of mulberry, ginormous, yellow, green, and brown, marbled as
can be.  I moved in slowly running my woodcock detection
scanner program (v.10.8) at full tilt.  I had it set on
patent pending. A single feather should set it off.

I thought I saw something move in the leaf litter at one point, so
binoc'd the spot, nothing, I looked three times, because I have
experience with these most invisible of little flying bowling balls.
Dropped bins, re-bare-eyed scan, raised bins to rescan again.
I thought, gawd I swear I saw movement there has to be something
right there, I had it narrowed down to about a square foot.
I looked 7 ways from Sunday, nada, nothing. So I took two
steps up the path, and the dang thing exploded from right
where I was looking!  It was in my bins and I couldn't see it!

I've spotted Mountain Plover at 150 yards in a dirt field the same
color, while at 60 MPH, more than once.  I can spot an underwing on a
tree from 20', and I could not see this bird at 12 FEET, IN my bins,
knowing exactly where to look and what to look for, I examined every leaf,
stick, line, color field, in that spot. Unbelieveable!
But not the first time the Timberdoodle has done this to me! I watched
where it landed and then got some great binoc views of it walking around
in the leaf litter on forest floor, nervously doodling away from me.
I didn't push it because I'd like it to stay. What a fantastic
amazing bird. BTW, doodle is the best possible description of the manner
in which they move about. This is one of the toughest birds to get
real good looks at, so a major coup today.

My prior records here were Dec. 27, 2005 at the park (photos of that
are on the rarities page at bird photos index page), and March '06
at the low water crossing and draw on 1050 3-4 miles west of town
(where the county dirt road takes off southward), one flew over road
at dusk right in front of Kathy and I as we were driving by.  Talk
about timing being everything..... to be crossing that draw at 50 mph
at the same time a Woodcock is flying over the road is the
quintessential serendipity of birding.

Other things about were a flock of Eastern Bluebird and Yellow-
rumped Warbler, mostly Myrtle, couple Audubon's, Belted Kingfisher
upriver from park, male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, the Winter Wren
continues, no Black Phoebe or Red-breasted Nuthatch, the female
Downy Woodpecker continues, which with a Flicker, the sapsucker,
and the two resident woodpeckers (Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted)
there were 5 species of woodys at the park.  Heard the GF do
the jacob jacob call.  Heard the Black-and-white Warbler.

One Starling still at north end of town, 50 House Sparrow still
eating butterflies at that garden.  A bummer was at the
senior center I checked the Lantanas, and the Salvia patch at
the place next door.  There was a Cardinal I didn't pay
attention to giving alarm notes I now realize.  It was in one
of the little pecans by the storage space place fence.  My approach
flushed the male Cardinal out of the little pecan.

What I hadn't seen was an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk, which was
probably chasing the Cardinal around the tree that still had just
enough leafage that the unskilled immature could not catch it.
My flushing it made the Card fly across the parking lot, 30', of
bare empty open space to one of the clumps of bushes by the building.
The Cardinal did not make it across the lot.

The butterflies were great, 36 species in a couple hours at the
two main gardens, park entrance and north end of town.  The
only new for month species was Marine Blue, of which there were
two, and I haven't seen one in months.  #41 for the month,
which is amazing considering the average is 21 sps., pre- deco gardens.
Also different was a Mexican Yellow at a residential yellow lantana,
and Mimosa Yellow is always great when you can pick one out.  If
I'd have stayed out longer 40 might have been possible, it was a
couple hours working the flowers.  A few of the Meloids are still
on the sunflowerish composite that is the great nectar source now at
the two gardens.  Also a different Chrysomelid was neat (ph.).

Here's the butterfly list.....
Common Checkered-Skipper, 4; Tropical Checkered-Skipper 3; Desert
Checkered-Skipper 1; Checkered-Skipper sps. 5, Fiery Skipper 2;
Clouded Skipper 2-3; Eufala Skipper 2; Pipevine Swallowtail 10;
Orange Sulphur 20+ couple pale form female; Southern Dogface 1;
Cloudless Sulphur 4, Large Orange Sulphur 3; Lyside Sulphur 1;
Little Yellow 6; Mimosa Yellow, 1; Mexican Yellow 1; Sleepy Orange 100+;
Dainty Sulphur 150+; Gray Hairstreak 2, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak 3;
Western Pygmy-Blue, 3; Ceraunus Blue 5; Reakirt's Blue 5; Marine Blue 2 - ph.;
Blue sps. 5; four species of blues in a day here hasn't been done in a while;
Calephelis sps. 15, Fatal Metalmark 4; Rounded Metalmark 8+; Snout 100;
Queen 5; Gulf Fritillary 16; Variegated Fritillary 4; Vesta Crescent 12;
Phaon Crescent 20+; Red Admiral 10+; American Lady 10+; Painted Lady 2;
Northern Mestra 30+; Buckeye, 1.  Missing was Monarch, Bordered Patch,
Theona, Sachem, Questionmark, Pearl Crescent, a Skipperling, all of which,
have been seen in the last week.

I saw a couple Autumn Meadowhawk, a couple Green Darner, and what
was likely the same Prince Baskettail, now upstream a hundred yards,
and now getting blue eyes (male), that I got a couple shots of five
days ago (on the 4th).  The last neat thing was a nice-sized
Indigo Snake sunning at the tip of the island, which was 4'+ long.
This one had the orange-red belly.  What an awesome snake!

Dec. 8 ~ more fog and drizzle, ahead of an inbound front to hit
tomorrow night.  Two interesting butterflies in the yard,
one new and #40 for December, a female Orange-barred sulphur.
The other the small all yellow (no white) winter form of the
Mexican Yellow, perhaps the third I've ever seen here.  Unless
seen closely most would overlook it as a Little Yellow from a
casual glance.

The bird excitement was late p.m., about 5:25 when I got a new
yard bird, a WHITE-TAILED KITE flew right over while I happened
to be out on the porch!  Had 10 seconds to get it.  Kathy
even got out in time to watch it flying away in binocs.  It had
moments before left Bandera County, as it was moving north to south.

Left the porch light on a while since the last warm evening for a bit.
Got pix of a nice little white with black polka-dots moth, and a
brown Cerambycid (Long-horned Beetle) of some sort, plus a few pix of
what I call miscellaneous assorted moths.

Still hundreds of Snout going north, still hundreds of Snout going south.
Ya gotta laugh, these two populations doing exactly the opposite thing,
at the same time, crossing paths.  I wonder if any ever have
second thoughts and change direction, or is it strictly 'mindless'
innate behavior?

Dec. 7 ~ Foggy drizzly a.m. in 50's, didn't see a butterfly until 1 p.m.
A town run got quick looks through the park and main two still
producing gardens, at park entrance, and north end of town curve.
When I parked at the park up near the office, unknowingly I pulled
up directly under the Barred Owl, which flew when I got out.
That will never happen on winter bird count day, guaranteed.
Great Blue Heron at island, and heard what sounded like a Rusty
Blackbird but it disappeared on approach (which supports that ID).
Otherwise a couple Green Darner (odes), the birds were gone or asleep
in afternoon peak heat of day.

From the two gardens, the butterfly list of 35 species is a single
day record for me in December.  It's the new gardens.....
Interestingly the library garden is done and over, all but dead
for butterflies now.  With the forecast for next week,
near-freeze Monday and too cold, followed by two mornings of hard
freeze next Tuesday and Wed., this is the last few days of this
type of party for the year.  The Ocola was #39 for December.

Common Checkered-Skipper, 6; Tropical Checkered-Skipper 1; Desert
Checkered-Skipper 1; Fiery Skipper 2; Sachem, 1; Clouded Skipper 2-3;
Ocola Skipper 1 (prob. my first Dec. record - ph.); Eufala Skipper 2;
Pipevine Swallowtail 10; Orange Sulphur 35+ couple pale form female;
Southern Dogface 1; Cloudless Sulphur 1, Large Orange Sulphur 1 -
smallest I've ever seen, pale morph female; Lyside Sulphur 1;
Little Yellow 4; Sleepy Orange 100+; Dainty Sulph. 150+;
Gray Hairstreak 1-2, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, 4; Western Pygmy-Blue, 5 - ph.;
Ceraunus Blue 5; Reakirt's Blue 5; 20 Calephelis sps.,
Fatal Metalmark 5; Rounded Metalmark 10+; Snout 100; Queen 2;
Gulf Fritillary 6; Variegated Fritillary 5; Vesta Crescent 10;
Phaon Crescent 10+; Red Admiral 10+; American Lady 5+; Painted Lady 2;
Northern Mestra 20+; Buckeye, 1; 1 probable Questionmark in park woods.

Dec. 6 ~ 10 Robin flew over early, a couple Myrtle Warbler with them,
15-16 Pine Siskin hitting the sunflower tube. American Goldfinch,
Hermit Thrushes, Mockers, a few Lesser Goldfinch, dozen House finch,
Inca, Ground-, and White-winged Dove. Incidently now is the time
to check your Ground-Dove and see the purple iridescent dots on the
wings that usually just look black. Now the feathers are fresh and
it shows best, when 5 came to the bath today I saw it well on 3 of them
that got at the right angle.

Dec. 5 ~ The cold front took us down to upper 30's or so, KVL was 36.
Warmed to low 70's, a nice spread.  Hutton's Vireo was calling,
at least 18 Pine Siskin, and good numbers of butterflies moving.
I saw a thousand Snout, split, half going north, the other half
going south.  Saw about 18 sps. of butterflies in the yard
first half of day, added Dogface in afternoon.  A Monarch
landed on me about 9 a.m., when it was barely 55 dF still.

The highlight was a bigger brown skipper of a species I have never
seen here before. Saw it in binocs on a Slender-stem Bitterweed
flower.  It looked like a Purple-washed (Panoquina lucas) Skipper
to me, but it flushed on approach, and I never saw it again.
It will get on the hypothetical list now though. It is also
new for the month, regardless of what it was, #38.

Dec. 4 ~ A couple each Lesser and American Goldfinch, 16 Pine Siskin
and a dozen plus House Finch now here at the sunflower seed.  The
couple or few Mockingbird and Hermit Thrush continue hitting bath.
Luckily I had to run to town for errands so got to check the park
and gardens quickly.  A Monarch lifted off out of the yard
first thing early as quick as the fog thinned.

The park had an FOS Pied-billed Grebe, a Merlin flew over Main St.,
and 4 Killdeer were between the old water co. building and the
storage spaces in that mowed field.  I thought I heard the
Black-n-white Warbler and saw a Barred Owl at the park. Also
good there was a Prince Baskettail dragonfly, the first I've ever
seen in December.  Also a Green Darner was about, and a few
damselflies, mostly un-ID'able to me, but one Violet Dancer,
and one Blue-ringed Dancer were seen.

Butterflies were still good at the park entrance and county-line
curve gardens, otherwise not much, library garden is dead now.
There were 30 species in an hour, and four were new for the
already record-breaking month, and all four skippers.  One
Clouded, one Orange Skipperling, two Fiery, and at least 2
Desert Checkered-Skipper.  Makes 37 for the month so far.
Never had 31 in a whole December before. Also there were
two Eufala, a couple Sachem, 40 Metalmark, mostly Rounded, some
Fatal, 10 Pipevine, a heavilly freckled female Large Orange
Sulphur, a couple Cloudless, 35 Sleepy Orange, still lots (100+)
of Dainty Sulphur, 2-3 Southern Skipperling, 1 Bordered Patch,
1 Reakirt's and 5 Ceraunus Blue, 20 Phaon and 6 Vesta Crescent,
35 Mestra, 25 Red Admiral, and more of the expected species.
One House Wren in park garden, no doubt eating butterflies.

Dec. 3 ~ After day before yesterday's 33 species of butterflies
in town, today's less than 10 sps. in the yard seemed dismal,
and a sign of things to come to soon.  Was cool and foggy
much of the day though.

Dec. 2 ~ Early this a.m. the fog wasn't as thick as yesterday but
still wet skies.  Sure enough about 7:10 a.m. I was out on
back porch and there is that darn blackbird calling again. I ran
out to clearing to get some sky and there it was straight up, a
blackbird giving a NON- Brewer's or Red-wing flight call note.
RUSTY BLACKBIRD!  Heading towards the river NE in Bandera Co.
Money back guarantee: this is the same bird as last year. Now if I
could just get it count day, or find where it goes to feed all day.

Duelling (countersinging not duetting) male Great Horned Owl were
going at it about 11 p.m., one very close, that was great.

Dec. 1 ~ A quick trip to town in p.m. after fog cleared and it warmed up,
mostly to get a head start on a December butterfly list, as it fades sooo
fast, it is normal to see things the first few days of the month, and
not again until next year.  So the gardens were the focus of an
hour and change of trying to go through everything, still hundreds of
butterflies, but of greatly diminishing variety. Late in the season is
often when odd things show up as well, so good not to quit early.

The park flock of birds was heading south downriver over 1050 as I got
there so there was about zip for birds in park, and the White Peacock that
was there the last week plus I didn't see either.  There was a male
Autumn Meadowhawk, and a couple small dragons that got away that looked
like baskettails or setwings, that got away.

That flock of 60 House Sparrow were at the county-line curve garden,
again, scarfing butterflies, probably where all the rare ones end up,
eaten before I can get there to see them. As usual the non-native
(bird) is eating the natives (butterflies).

In less than an hour and a half there, the library garden, and the
garden at park entrance, I managed to muster 33 species of butterflies.
In the prior 8 Decembers, I have not mustered 33 species the whole month,
31 sps. the highest December diversity total I have, that back in 2008.
Over prior 8 years, the December average is 21 sps.

Partly due to not freezing yet, and more, due to the new deco native
plant gardens. These were part of the beautification project, I don't
think much of the plan was for expressly for butterflies, it was mostly
for visual (beautification) aspects, and then for drought tolerance
(hill country native) maintenence free flower garden aspects.

To me, and them, they are butterfly gardens. The county-line curve
and park entrance gardens is where most of them are, concentrated at the
nectar source, which shows what would be passing by, but we get to see
a portion of it, because of the butterfly magnet (trap) we put out.
Without the planted gardens the stuff would be so dispersed, detections
would be so much lower, we'd have a fraction of the info and idea of
what is going on that we do.  Obviously the stuff is getting here,
but most would keep on going looking for few last remaining nectar sources.

It is clear they are desparate for nectar by the magnitude of concentration.
These two new gardens have sustained many thousands of butterflies this year.
For most it is a matter of refueling, a day or few, and moving on.

Offhand none of the 33 species today were what I would call rarities.
But while Phaon Crescent is common I did find one of a type I did
not know existed.  What is apparently a very rare winter form, can
be without color.  Black and white.  No colored pigment, all the orange
is missing.  Thanks to Charles Bordelon for the information, and the
identification of this oddity.  In my defense I did ask when I sent the
pix, before I knew what it was, could this be an un-pigmented phaon?

Here is the pic, since I've never seen an image of it myself before.
Now should you see one, you'll know what it is. Its existence I
don't see even mentioned in a few of the major butterfly guides. Perhaps
some rare recessive genes that are only rarely expressed.
And you get to see it here!   :)

rare winter form Phaon
A rare winter form of the Phaon Crescent, lacking pigment
where it is normally orange, at Utopia Dec. 1, 2012.
It looked black and white overall, but the pale areas
are an ivory off white, not snow white.

In the fog early a.m. I heard an Icterid fly over calling.  It was
a blackbird, not Brewer's or Red-winged, nor grackle or oriole.
I ran out from under porch to have view of some sky and never saw it.
It sounded like a Rusty Blackbird to me.  Last year one wintered
locally commuting from Bear Creek Pond (?) to the river forest corridor
somewhere, and flew over the hovel here on SR repeatedly, going to river
in a.m., to pond in late p.m., e.g., both directions multiple times.
I bet it is the very same bird returning to winter again.  Outstanding!.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

December 2012 above
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

November totalled 56 species of butterflies, very good for November,
and one of the better months in last few years.  Highlights were
the couple White Peacock, and the Mexican Fritillary was great.
The Pearl Crescents were good to see, as was the Western Pygmy-Blue
invasion (5 in a day is record abundance). Best birds were the
female Townsend's Warbler and the fly-over Varied Thrush.  Also
noteworthy was Judy Bailey's Black-throated Gray Warbler, and having
a Red-breasted Nuthatch around the park for a bit is nice. Also
nice is that we made it through November without a real freeze.   :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Nov. 30 ~ The Buckley (Spanish) Oaks seem to be nearing peak color, and
as last year seem to be more in the brown, rust and orange flavors
so far, not the brilliant reds and maroons of wetter unstressed years.
The ridges on the hills show decent color where Buckley Oaks are.
The Escarpment Cherry have been good and yellow for a week plus now.

Nov. 29 ~ Three American Goldfinch flew over early, first I've seen
this year, but have heard them a couple times in the last week.
They are another serious sign of winter here. A Mocker or two
hit the bird bath for water.  Dang deer drain it every night,
first light I have to refill it for the birds, hope the Screech-Owls
are getting to it before the deer do.  Maybe that is why they
are often here first thing after dark.

Nov. 28 ~ It was 32dF in Kerrville, the first freeze of the year there,
will have to see what they say down in town here, up on SR it was
at least 34 or 35. It was cold enough that the flowers left at
gardens will take a beating I'm sure.  A couple Audubon's Oriole
were both first winter birds.  In a 10 minute period before noon
I had three Monarchs move by southward, clearly migrants. We are
now 6 weeks past peak wave (Oct. 15) and obvious light flow continues.
A fourth Monarch at 1 p.m. stopped to attempt nectaring on a Paralena,
and a toasted past prime Slender-stem Bitterweed flower, a rare sight.
A kettle of 25 Black Vulture out over valley north of SR.
It was a wintry 12 sps. of butterflies in the yard today.

Nov. 27 ~ Front passing, breezy at 15+mph gusting 20+ at 40dF had
the chill below 35, but above freezing.  Did not break 70 dF.
Heard a flock of Cedar Waxwing, FOS for them, saw a White-crowned
Sparrow the FOS live one I've seen (roadkill one a month ago).  A
few Siskin on the sunflower tube, heard Audubon's Oriole, and all the
yard regulars.  The local Red-tailed Hawk and Kestrel were
thermalling over knoll.  A few Lesser Goldfinch are around.

A town run in the p.m. netted a quick look at the gardens before
it chilled off too much for leps (by shortly after 4 p.m. today).
The White Peacock continues at UP, but mostly gardens are declining
numbers of the same that remain this time of year as normal, the
expected 22 species. The beast of the day was a Mexican
Fritillary that circled around yard a couple times before departing.
First and only one I've seen this year, or in a couple years.
It is a fancy southern version of the common Variegated Frit, that
irrupts northward in low numbers a few years per decade.  Saw
one Phyrgionis moth at the county-line curve garden.  One Pearl
Crescent, one Sachem, lots of metalmarks still, mostly Rounded,
1 Theona, 1 Tropical Checkered-Skipper, 1 Monarch, and the regular
gang, still at least 150+ Dainty Sulphur, 3 Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak.

For birds at the park I again heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch
across the river at the pond, and saw the immature Red-naped Sap
on the island. Myrtle and Audubon's were only warblers, a
Golden-crowned Kinglet, but was late, which is dicey pending if
you can find a passerine flock.  A flock of 19 Sandhill Crane
were over park, not always an easy bird to get there.

Nov. 26 ~ Nearly zero visibility in dense fog this a.m.  Single
Robin and Myrtle were the first two things I heard.  Later a
Hutton's Vireo and Common Ground-Doves.  In the p.m. there was
some spotty drizzle or light showers, a few hundredths was it, ahead
of the incoming front.  The real passage was early next a.m.
After 11 p.m. I heard the pair of Great Horned Owl duetting.

Nov. 25 ~ Nice crisp 40dF or so for a low, and the first few species
at 7 a.m. had 'winter' written all over them.  First
birds were a Junco, a Robin, then a Myrtle Warbler (which lifted off,
and has done so at dawn for a couple or few weeks now, roosting up here
on the warmer ridge), then a Hermit Thrush at the bath, followed by
a Ruby-crowned Kinglet calling.  All 5 are what I would call
quintessential winter birds here.  Biologically, it is winter.

Nov. 24 ~ The post-frontal low was about 40dF, very nice actually.
Saw a dozen Pine Siskin lift off at first light (7 a.m.).  Odd
how they roost here, but leave first thing, despite the sunflower
tube.  Must be a good wild food supply available they are
hot for.  Still four Rufous Hummingbird here.  Mockingbird
was back at bath early (might be a couple coming in) along with a
Hermit Thrush.  Chipping Sparrow number about 40, the one with
white-primaries is still present.  Mid-day a small group of maybe
a half-dozen Bushtit were in the yard, so transient always nice to see.

Went to town, park, and gardens for a couple hours in afternoon.
Best was an adult female Black-and-white Warbler in the woods at
Park.  This is surely the same female returning for her fifth
year sorta.  Last year, her fourth year, she stayed a few weeks and
left, no pond at the park, no bugs in trees, hopefully she'll stay
this whole winter like the first two. It was with the typical
little winter flock of titmice, chickadees, and both types of kinglets.
At least 3 Golden-crowned King, one a male displaying crown in spectacular
fashion.  That is some fancy eye-candy I just can't get over,
every time I see it for 40 years, I think WOW, look at that jewel!
Two Audubon's, 4+ Myrtle, and one Orange-crowned Warbler, some heard birds
were a Green Kingfisher, a sapsucker, a Downy Woodpecker, and Blue Jay.

I keep forgetting to mention I haven't seen a Black Phoebe at park all
month, and really since late mid-October.  Usually we have at
least one wintering, but again, it seems like the breeders depart,
and after a period without any, winterers move in.  That is, it seems
they are not there all the time, they are not resident, even though they
are seeable much of the year, likely two unrelated populations use site,
one to winter, another to breed.

The other thing I forgot to mention from the park was last week or
before that, and today, I have seen a few Silver-Puff in 'bloom',
if you can call it that.  They open up looking like a Dandelion
ready to make a wish and blow.  They open up done and over.
A November bloomer that is easy to miss. Otherwise almost the only
flowers blooming are the planted gardens around town, which are
attracting most of the butterflies now. Driving around I see close
to no native flowers blooming, but lots of people have gardens with flowers
still.  And butterflies.  One other odditiy blooming now is
two Yucca between the two loops of 357 on SR, both put a full 4' stalk of
buds out after the last big rain, the first of which are opening now.
They have 50 flower bells just like spring or summer stalks, but I've
never seen one do this in late November (n~10).  Hope it makes some
seeds before the first freeze.

Butterflies continue their fall fade-away, good was the White Peacock
still at the park, a Mexican Yellow, and a Clouded Skipper there too.
Interesting only Hairstreak was Mallow Scrub-, still a W. Pygmy-Blue
was at park entrance garden.  Still one Pearl Crescent is nice.
Mustered 35 species total in an hour and change, no Monarch.

Common Checkered-Skipper, 4; Tropical Checkered-Skipper 1;
Chkrd-Skpr sps. 4; Fiery Skipper 4; Clouded Skipper 1 park;
Pipevine Swallowtail 15; Orange Sulphur 15+; Southern Dogface 5;
Cloudless Sulphur 3, Large Orange Sulphur 1, Lyside Sulphur 1;
Little Yellow 7; Sleepy Orange 30; Dainty Sulph. 200+; Mexican
Yellow, 1; NO Gray, 4 Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak; 1 Western Pygmy-Blue
Ceraunus Blue 4+; Reakirt's Blue 3; 2 Blue sps.; 10 Calephelis sps.,
Fatal Metalmark 3; Rounded Metalmark 10+; Snout 300; Queen 2;
Gulf Fritillary 4; Variegated Fritillary 10; Bordered Patch 1;
Vesta Crescent 10+; Phaon Crescent 25; Pearl Crescent 1
Red Adm. 16+; American Lady 2+; Painted Lady 1; Northern Mestra 40+;
Buckeye, 2; and best was the WHITE PEACOCK at the park (ph.)

Nov. 23 ~ The front rolled through in the morning, was nice at 7 a.m.,
but cool north winds and dropping temps arrived shortly thereafter.
And of course the wind blew all day until after dark.....
One Andromena moth in peak afternoon heat of 65dF.  The best
thing today was an e-mail from Judy Bailey with a couple good birds.
She saw the FOS Pine Warbler, and better a BLACK-THROATED GRAY Warbler.
The former is annual here in winter, the latter less than annual.
I presume around her place south of county-line road along river.
She also has a Rufous and what is likely a male Broad-tailed Hummer.

Nov. 22 ~ Happy bird day turkeys!  Another toasty day in the mid-70's.
A cold front is to hit tomorrow a.m. so last warm day for a few.
Heard an (heard FOS yesterday) American Goldfinch, saw 4 Pine Siskin,
otherwise the regulars in the yard.  Some butterflies out in the
heat.  One Monarch passed through, a thousand Snout, at least.
One Large Orange and a couple Cloudless Sulphur, a Lyside, seemingly
the same Bordered Patch and Vesta Crescent, couple Queen, few Red
Admiral, 10 Mestra, few Dainty Sulphur, a Little Yellow, dozen plus
Sleepy Orange and Variegated Fritillary, a few Gulf Frit, couple
American Lady, 4+ Dogface.

Nov. 20 ~ Great was a FOS Pyrrhuloxia from the front porch early
in a.m., which shortly came into the bird bath and drank!  Very
cool, I don't get many up here in the junipers on the ridge, it is
generally a valley-floor bird, which seems to come in for the winter,
some years more than others when scarce, and from where I don't know.
For all we know these could be Pyrrhuloxia from Mexico that come to
the upper Sabinal drainage to winter.

Was the warmest day of the week (predicted) so did my town errands
and checked the park, and the butterfly gardens at peak heat (80dF!).
Birds were Red-breasted Nuthatch on other side of pond at park (calling),
and heard a sapsucker on the island, presume the imm. Red-naped that
has been there nearly 6 weeks now, heard one Golden-crowned Kinglet,
heard Winter Wren, otherwise the regulars, and no Pine Warbler yet.
I did hear a FOS American Goldfinch, but didn't see it.

The hills are turning red with the first tinges of the Buckley (Spanish)
Oaks turning, THE great leaf show of fall here in the hills.  Will
peak in a couple weeks.  The river is a ribbon of rust running down
the valley floor now, as most of the big Cypress that line it are turning.
  A nice warm orangey rufous, it is our rust belt.  Soon the
forest floor will be quiet again once they drop leaves (leaflets) and
cover the crispy leaves with a nice quiet cushioning layer.  Walking
is so noisy now, it's impossible to sneak around in the woods.....
until those cypress leaflets fall.....

At 80dF only ode (dragonfly) was a single male Autumn Meadowhawk.
Besides some more of them, and a few Variegated Meadowhawk, odes
are about over for the year.  Oh sure there'll be a few strays
here and there the next week or few, but you have to look hard
to find them now.  There have been a few Variegated Meadowhawk
about the park pond, yard, and gardens, the last week, and last
week that Great Spreadwing was great, and a few days ago I saw
a couple baskettail (c.f. Dot-winged), but odes are fading fast.

Since it was probably the last day with this diversity and
individual numbers this year for butterflies, here's the list:
Common Checkered-Skipper, 6+; Tropical Checkered-Skipper 2+;
Chkrd-Skpr sps. 5; Southern Skipperling 4; Fiery Skipper 4; Sachem 1;
Pipevine Swallowtail 15; Black Swallowtail 1; Orange Sulphur 10;
Southern Dogface 4; Cloudless Sulphur 2, Large Orange Sulphur 1,
Lyside Sulph. 2; Little Yellow 8; Sleepy Orange 60+; Dainty Sulph. 200+;
NO Gray, but 4 Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak; 1 Western Pygmy-Blue
Ceraunus Blue 5+; Reakirt's Blue 1; 1 Blue sps.; loads of Celephelis:
Fatal Metalmark 10+; Rounded Metalmark 15+; Metalmark sps. 20+;
Snout 400; Monarch 1 worn mig; Queen 4; Gulf Fritillary 10;
Variegated Fritillary 10+; Theona Checkerspot 3; Bordered Patch 10+;
Vesta Crescent 20+; Phaon Crescent 50; Pearl Crescent 2
Red Adm. 6+; American Lady 2+; Northern Mestra 50+; Buckeye, 2;
and best was a WHITE PEACOCK at the park (ph.), the third
White Peacock this fall, very nice, at least half of years
we get zero.

Also still Phrygionis moth, metallic green Halichtids as well as
several other native bees, and bombyliads, on that sunflowerish
composite at north end of town (county-line curve garden) where
also those Meloids (blister beetle) continue as well.

Nov. 19 ~ Still one Junco and 4 Rufous Hummingbird about the yard.
Butterflies were good considering how few flowers are left, and
just once an hour checking a few minutes, I saw one Pipevine
Swallowtail, a Vesta Crescent, a Bordered Patch, a Little Yellow,
Sulphurs were a Lyside, a few Dainty, a Large Orange, and 4 Orange,
2 So. Dogface, 4+ Red Admiral, a Buckeye, a Question Mark, about
6 No. Mestra, 2 Queen, a couple hundred Snout, a dozen Sleepy
Orange, 3 Gulf and 8 Variegated Fritillary.  18 species.
The only flowers I can find are the last few leftovers of
Slender-stem Bitterweed (the main attractant), some Paralena,
and Prairie Fleabane, a very few Bur-clover, a few stems
of Dakota Verbena, maybe one small head of Eupatorium flowers
left.  Everything else native and natural is done in yard now.
A Mocker was at the bird bath.

Nov. 18 ~ The Chipping Sparrow flock is up to about 40 now.  One
Monarch passed by southbound.  eight Common Raven for the day,
heard Audubon's Orioles.  A couple dozen Red Admiral moved by
southbound.  An obviously new bird in the yard was a Lincoln's
Sparrow at the bird bath.

Nov. 17 ~ This morning's first three species were why I so like
Petersen's description of the Edwards Plateau being an avian
twilight zone.  Rufous Hummingbird (makes me think the west),
Audubon's Oriole (makes me think of Mexico), and Slate-colored Junco
(which makes one think north), all at once while putting the hummer
and sunflower feeders, and seed out about 7 a.m.

Then at 7:10 a.m. a flock of 13 that I saw, FOS Robin flew over.
I knew I heard them yesterday at park!  I hate having heard-
only for anything anytime, no matter how minor (a Robin!?!).
But heard is always better than nothing.  Always remember,
'Tis better to have heard and not seen, than to not have detected at all.
When I hear a bird and have an instantaneous visceral 'Robin'
reaction, that is what it is, for 50 years now.  So will put
the heard birds on 16th as the FOS this year.

Some butterflies about in the near 70dF peak heat.  Lots of
Red Admiral were moving south, American Lady heading more WSW.
A couple Bordered Patch, and both male and female Black Swallowtail.
Some Painted Lady moving by, a Buckeye, hundred plus Snouth, a few
Dainty Sulphur, dozen Sleepy Orange, half as many Mestra.

Nov. 16 ~ Male and female Spotted Towhee in yard on the seed.
Thought there were two, finally saw them both at once together.
Lucky to get a few good Raven croaks on audio tape this morning.
I think it was complaining there wasn't anything new in mulch pile.
Still at least four Rufous Hummingbird here at the feeders.
Not surprisingly, they are still fighting.  Spectacular was
a damselfly, Great Spreadwing, in the front yard, wonder if it is
the same one I saw a month ago?  This is the not the
first November I have had one about the yard, and weird after
not seeing the species locally all year.

Had to hit town in the p.m., checked the 3 main butterfly gardens
and the park.  As I was pulling into park a bird flew over
the 1050 bridge and up (dry) river channel into park, first thought
was Turkey Vulture, but quickly realized it was mid-November, there
aren't any here now, grabbed bins, and sure enough a Zone-tailed
Hawk it was, in heavy primary molt (mulitple missing feathers
on both outer wings.  If you think you see a Turkey Vulture
here from November to Valentines Day, take a good look, it is
probably a Zone-tailed Hawk, TV's do not winter here.

A male Green Kingfisher was at pond, the one a few days ago was
a female, so at least a couple around.  The Winter Wren is
still at the top of the island, and the first fall Red-naped
Sapsucker is still up there too.  One Golden-crowned Kinglet,
a Caracara flew by, and the rest was the regulars.  Saw my first
(big pale, not small gray) Mayflies of the fall.  I saw two
of what looked like Dot-winged Baskettail (dragons), a bit odd,
and for odes that was it.

While at the garden at the park entrance on 1050 I swore I heard
a couple Robin, which would be FOS, but I didn't see them.
The bird of interest today was Eastern Phoebe, one of which
was on the clothesline out back and flew up to tip of juniper
branch, returning with a juniper berry it promptly swallowed.
I had not seen them eat those before.  Then at the park
there was an Eastern Phoebe which had flown in the open door of
the screened shelter, and was trapped, freaking out, hyper-
ventilating, etc..  I caught it, took a couple quick in-hand
photos, and returned its freedom to it.  The screen shelter
doors need to be kept closed when the people depart them.
All they are doing is trapping bugs inside the shelter, which
then traps birds.

For butterflies, they continue to dwindle, but the peak heat at
about 68dF had them out, what is left anyway.  Dainty Sulphur
were less than 150, was 600 a week ago, everything else down further
than that.  Each garden had one Western Pygmy-Blue, 3 a good
total, but were 5 a week ago.  Still 40+ Metalmarks, Fatal or
Rounded all, and about equal in abundance.  No Clouded Skipper,
or Sachem, 3 Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak outnumbered the one Gray.
A couple Ceraunus Blue, 3 Monarch, 5 Queen, 40+ Mestra, 7 American
Lady, one Cloudless Sulphur, one Buckeye, 6 Vesta, 2 Pearl, and a
dozen Phaon Crescent, no Bordered Patch (!), only Fiery and Common
Checkered Skippers, 8 Orange Sulphur, only 25 species total in an
hour and change, no raries, their season is fading fast now.

Some Meloids and Yellow-margined Flower-Buprestids still on flowers.
Halictids and other native bees still out too.
Nov. 15 ~ low 40's, so barely into 30's for two lows this week,
highs remain about 60dF or so, 10dF below normal all week.  Early
a Caracara flew by, and a Myrtle Warbler, late p.m. a couple
single flicker flew over going due south, one yellow winged,
one red winged, and a Merlin passed as well.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Nov. 15 update header

A few quick news items..... the short version.....
Odes are down, birds are up, whilst butterflies
remain flat.  All this and more.....

Fall avian rarity sizzle has come in the form of
an APLOMADO FALCON Aug. 8, a Prairie Falcon Sep. 8,
WORM-EATING WARBLER was in the park woods Sept. 28.
Red-naped Sapsucker was record early here on Oct. 4.
TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE on Oct. 8 was my first locally.
Cinnamon Teal was at the park on Oct. 10, and best
was a RING-BILLED GULL over the yard on Oct. 14, my
first in the upper Sabinal drainage here, and my best
Ring-billed Gull ever!   :)   A real treat was a
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER at our bird bath on Oct. 24, and
even better, a male TOWNSEND'S WARBLER was at the
park October 27, probably the first Uvalde Co. record.
A SECOND TOWNSEND'S WARBLER at park Nov. 2 (female) on
island where also was Winter Wren, Red-naped Sapsucker
and Red-breasted Nuthatch.  On Nov. 8 what was surely
a VARIED THRUSH flew overhead while I was on porch.
Never saw it again.  Judy Bailey reports a Black-
throated Gray, and a Pine Warbler Thanksgiving weekend.

Early Nov. saw the peak of the season for butterflies
with up to 40+ species of butterflies in an hour
or so checking the three main butterfly gardens in
town.  The cold will have them fading fast now,
their peak season is over.

~ ~ end update header

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Nov. 14 ~ More cloud cover again, kept it warmer than predicted,
probably 39dF, and a little cooler down in town, was 36 in KVL,
but low was at midnight, it warmed up a few dF by 2 a.m.
At 7 a.m. a male Great Horned Owl was calling in dawn light.
Had a quick early errand in town, so a brief look at the park.

New was a first fall male Ring-necked Duck (FOS).  The female
Downy Woodpecker continues, a Yellow-shafted and a hybrid Flicker,
one Winter Wren, a Green (female) and continuing Belted Kingfisher,
most of the birds were across the river coming to drink, a dozen
each of Eastern Bluebird, Myrtle Warbler and Chipping Sparrow.
One Red-breasted Nuthatch was among them.  Some Blue Jay
and Golden-fronted Woodpecker, a couple Common Raven and the
regular residents, Cardinal, Carolina Chick and Wren, Titmouse,
Eastern Phoebe (though many more now with winterers present).

Nov. 13 ~ I think we hit 38 or 39 dF this a.m., a bit warmer than
forecast, but the first 30's in over 6 months.  Tomorrow is
supposed to be the coldest morning, another near-freeze on tap.
Had to run to town in afternoon, too cold for butterflies with
a high in the 50's, and a few sprinkles.  At the park there
was one of those stinkin' Egyptian Geese.  In the woods
there was a Hermit Thrush with black spots on breast (the last 4
have clearly been lighter brown).  Wish I'd have had my mic,
as there were TWO Winter Wren at top of island, one chasing the
other, vocalizing, I presume the one that has been present, making
it clear that territory is taken.  It was a long drawn out
staccato series, much like Carolina Wren makes, but thinner and
higher of course.  As I was leaving for town about 3 p.m.,
a flock of 35 Sandhill Crane circled on a thermal over the yard
(and e.g., Seco Ridge), I'll never tire of hearing their calls.
The Hermit Thrush hanging around here has brown breast spots.

Nov. 12 ~ Low was in lower 40's, stayed pretty windy all night,
but chill factor was in mid-upper 30's in the morning.  Will
have cold air advection all day, winds decouple tonight and the
first frost of fall tomorrow morning, they say.  Two Audubon's Oriole
were about early, one a first winter bird, surely a locally
raised bird, nice to see at least one new young.  Snout
butterfly were out by or before 50dF.  At least 7 Comm. Raven
were overhead mid-morning, a couple pairs in tandem flights,
touching wingtips while in tight circles, some barrel rolls, etc.

Nov. 11 ~ Advertised frontal passage this afternoon was dry,
about 4 p.m.  Nice NW flow, and predicted for a low
in 30's, which would be first of fall if it happens.  Saw
14 sps. of butterflies in yard over day, down 5 from the 1st.  It
is starting the fall fadeaway, and with a freeze or nearly so
for Tuesday a.m. there will be a bigger drop in a couple days.
Two southbound Monarch, couple dozen each of Mestra, Dainty
Sulphur, and Sleepy Orange, 1 Rounded Metalmark, 1 Ceraunus Blue,
6 Queen, 1 American Lady, couple hundred northbound Snout,
dozen Variegated and a few Gulf Fritillary, plus a few others,
one male Black Swallowtail.

A couple Audubon's Oriole were about early to mid-morning,
as if they know it is going to get cold and wanted to make
sure the hummer feeders were operational.  A few House
Sparrow flew over 150' up commuting from Goat Farm to eastward
somewhere, calling all the way, I watched them cover nearly a
half-mile in fairly straight-line flight.  You would never
a city House Sparrow do this.  Five Common Ground-Dove
came in to the bath and drank.

Nov. 10 ~ A white-winged Chipping Sparrow is in the flock of about
30 Chippies now, amazing since last winter we had a white-winged
Chippy here for a while (besides the long-term white-winged Field).
One southbound Monarch.

A quick look around town during errands found only 30 or so sps.
of butterflies, and way fewer individuals than it has been the
last 10 days, though it was quite windy, 20+ from the south
ahead of the front.  Nothing unusual I could pick out.
Few Kestrel around, some Eastern Bluebird and Myrtle Warbler.

Nov. 9 ~ yard: the Junco, Monarch, 2-3 Myrtle, Ruby-cr. Kinglet,
the four Rufous Hummingbird, Hutton's Vireo, Spotted Towhee,
Hermit Thrush, Rufous-crowned, Field, and Chipping Sparrow,
Ladder-backed Woodpecker (4), White-winged (200), Inca (4+),
and Ground- (2+) Dove, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina and
Bewick's Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Cardinal, Scrub-Jay,
Roadrunner, Eastern Screech-Owl (after dark), Orange-crowned
Warbler, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Phoebe, Cooper's Hawk,
Common Raven, all daily regulars now.

Nov. 8 ~ The White-winged Dove flock roosting in the draw right
out front has grown tremendously.  Is it migrants from
elsewhere?  I counted as the groups left the roost this
morning, in groups of 10's, 20's, and even 40 or more, ending
up with at least 200 birds here now!  That is a record for
me here, highest count I've had locally for them.  Ever try
to feed 200 White-winged Dove?

Late in p.m. as the Doves were coming in to the draw to roost,
a single large thrush flew over.  I didn't have time to
grab binocs and only got a bare-eyed look of it approaching and
flying right overhead 40' up.  It looked like a VARIED THRUSH
to me, since it had what appeared a big bold buffy wingbar on
dark underwing, and seemed to have a dark bar across upper breast.
Shape and structure never struck me as a Robin, nor did wingstroke.
Being a CA kid, I grew up with Varied Thrush, and they just aren't
the same structure as a Robin.  Interestingly, I have yet to see my
FOS Robin this fall.  The bird of the day always gets away.

Nov. 7 ~ Low in low-mid 40's (41dF in KVL) feels great.  After
about 3 days of thinking I might be hearing a Junco, I finally saw
an FOS Slate-colored Junco today, a nice pearly gray male.  That
is a sign of winter coming if I ever saw one.

Nov. 6 ~ The first real flock (12) of Pine Siskin hit the sunflower
tube today, it has been just singles.  Still four Rufous
Hummer at the four feeders.  In town was a lone female
Great-tailed Grackle, and at north end of island at park the
Winter Wren continues.  A small flock of Eastern Bluebird
Chipping Sparrow and Myrtle Warbler was out front of park
and in the Cypress St. hackberries.  A Caracara flew by the
pond at the park.

A quick check of the gardens in town saw 42 species of butterflies
in little over an hour.  Only new one for month (#55) was a
Texas Powdered-Skipper, one of my favorties, and first in a couple
months.  Still a couple Elada, and an amazing 5 Western Pygmy-Blue.
At least 500-600 Dainty Sulphur!

At the junction of the back loop on SR there is a wild natural
Thoroughwort Eupatorium in full bloom, which had at once on it
25 Variegated Fritillary, plus some Queens, a Monarch, Buckeye,
Gulf Fritillary, Red Admiral, American Lady, and some small stuff.
It was amazing on one bush, literaly covered in butterflies.

Nov. 5 ~ Non-daily items in/over yard today were Golden-crowned Kinglet
and Sandhill Crane.

Nov. 4 ~ around yard, Hutton's Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet (a few
daily now), the 4 Rufous Hummers, a nice fresh male Black Swallowtail.

Nov. 3 ~ Found a reason to go to town this afternoon, so birds
were slow but butterflies were hoppin'.  In 3 hours
I saw 49 species of butterflies, probably saw 40 in 40 minutes
at the library garden.  Between the three gardens I saw
a thousand butterflies, at least.  Ya kinda have to like
bending over flowers with reading glasses on looking at
veritble clouds of common things, some small and brown like
metalmarks and skippers, checking for some miniscule mark,
over and over usually to find, yes, it is the common expected
thing.  But there is daily turnover, of the 49 sps. I saw
today, 5 of the 42 sps. yesterday were not reseen today, and about
10 seen today were not seen yesterday!  So now 54 sps. for
November on the 3rd.  Last year during the drought, November
was the high diversity month of the year, at 39 species.

For birds there was a Loggerhead Shrike out front of the
park, a Lincoln's Sparrow at the Methodist Church garden,
a flock of Myrtle Warblers was moving from below 1050 at
bridge to Cypress St. hackberry row late in p.m., explaining
why nothing in woods but a few residents.  Heard three
Flicker, saw none, and heard Downy Woodpecker at 1050 bridge.

Since butterflies were off the charts, here's the list:
Common Checkered-Skipper, 40+; Tropical Checkered-Skipper 5+;
Desert Checkered-Skipper, 4; Julia's Skipper 3; Clouded Skipper 12+;
Orange Skipperling 1; Southern Skipperling 4; Fiery Skipper 35+;
Sachem 10+; Whirlabout, 5+; got new camera battery, so did not
refind to photo the mystery Broken-Dash Wallengrenia sps. !^%&!
(appeared to be Tropical B-D); Celia's Roadside-Skipper 1;
Ocola Skipper 3+; Eufala Skipper 2; Skipper sps. 20+;
Pipevine Swallowtail 30; Black Swallowtail 1; Orange Sulphur 10;
Southern Dogface 8; Cloudless Sulphur 4, Large Orange Sulphur 1,
Orange-barred Sulphur, 1 (FOYear); Lyside Sulph. 6+; Mexican
Yellow, 1: Little Yellow 8 (2 palemorph fem.)+; Sleepy Orange 30+;
Dainty Sulph. 350+; Great Purple Hairstreak 1 female (not yest's!)
Gray Hairstreak, 60+; ; Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak 7+; Blue sps. unID'd 10;
Ceraunus Blue 12; Reakirt's Blue 1; (prob. Marine Blue 1);
Fatal Metalmark 15+; Rounded Metalmark 15+; Metalmark sps. 20+;
Snout 50; Monarch 10 worn migs; Queen 10; Gulf Fritillary 10;
Variegated Fritillary 20+; Theona Checkerspot 8; Bordered Patch 40+;
Vesta Crescent 10+; Phaon Crescent 250; Pearl Crescent 10 (none
yesterday!); Elada Checkerspot 2 (ph.- FOY); Red Adm. 6+;
Painted Lady 4+; American Lady 2+; Northern Mestra 150+;
Buckeye, 2; Empress Leilia 1 (ph.); Butterfly sps. 300+.
possible Rawson's Metalmark; awesome odd Cerambycid (ph.);
Ailanthus, Andromena, and Phrygionis, for moths.

Nov. 2 ~ Had to go to town so got a look at the park and the
butterfly gardens.  The butterflies are going off, if you
get a chance just stop and walk around the gardens at the
north end of town (county-line curve), the park entrance,
or the library garden.  I saw hundreds and hundreds of
butterflies, 42 or so species in 80 minutes at three gardens.
Great fun looking through them for something unusual.

But best was in a small group of warblers on the island at the
park.  Another TOWNSEND'S WARBLER, absolutely not the adult
male seen a week ago, a second individual!  I'd call it
an adult female in fall (fresh basic) plumage.  It was with a
group of mostly Myrtle Warblers, one Audubon's, 2+ Orange-crowned,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, etc.  A RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH loosely
associated with them was my first ever in the park.  A FOS
Winter Wren was on the island, and the first fall Red-Naped
Sapsucker continues there as well.  Fairly certain I heard
a FOS Brown Creeper too.  One male Spotted Towhee, a scarce
transient in the park.  Not bad for 3 p.m.  On Main St.
downtown there was a flattened (permanently) sparrow on the road
which appeared to be a (FOS) White-crowned Sparrow.

Here's the butterfly list from 80 mintues at three gardens:
Common Checkered-Skipper, 50; Tropical Checkered-Skipper 2;
Desert Checkered-Skipper, 2; Julia's Skipper 2; Clouded Skipper 10;
Orange Skipperling 1; Southern Skipperling 2; Fiery Skipper 30+;
Sachem 5+; Whirlabout, 4; Broken-Dash Wallengrenia sps. 1 -
(appears to be Tropical B-D); Dun Skipper 1; Ocola Skipper 1 -
(first of year); Eufala Skipper 3; Skipper sps. 20+;
Pipevine Swallowtail 30; Orange Sulphur 5; Southern Dogface 6;
Cloudless Sulphur 2, Large Orange Sulph. 1, Lyside Sulph. 2; Little
Yellow 4+; Sleepy Orange 20; Dainty Sulph. 250; Great Purple
Hairstreak 2 male and female !; Gray Hairstreak, 35; ; Mallow
Scrub-Hairstreak 3+; Blue sps. unID'd 10; Ceraunus Blue 6;
Western Pygmy-Blue 1 big female (looked like one from park 3 days ago!
was at lib. garden); Fatal Metalmark 10+; Rounded Metalmark 12+;
Metalmark sps. 20+; Snout 50; Queen 15; Gulf Fritillary 12;
Variegated Fritillary 20+; Theona Checkerspot 15+; Bordered Patch 30+;
Vesta Crescent 15+; Phaon Crescent 200; Texan Crescent, 1; Red Adm. 5;
Painted Lady 6+; American Lady 4+; Northern Mestra 100+; continuing
White Peacock, 1 (same one on Broadway yellow lantana since Oct. 23);
Butterfly sps. 300+.  Plus Buckeye in yard.  I saw 42 species
in 80 minutes at the gardens.  Ocala skipper and Great Purple
Hairstreak were the two good new ones first for the fall, and
missed in September and October.  The Broken Dash has to be
a Tropical, but camera battery dead, hoping beast stays until the
new one gets here, or else I'll have to net it.  Did have
a couple very possible to probable, Rawson's Metalmarks.

Nov. 1 ~ Only checks of the yard today, totalled 19 species of
butterflies over the day here.  Get the new monthly species
diversity list off the ground anyway.  Same regulars about,
Hutton's Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 4 Rufous Hummingbird,
and the rest of the gang.  White-winged Dove flock is
back up to 125 birds, I think a new winter flock has formed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

October was very good for birds and butterflies this year.
Ended up with 54 species of butterflies around Utopia for
the month, great considering how bad the last two years
were.  Several GREAT birds showed in the way of
Townsend's Warbler, Ring-billed Gull, and Townsend's Solitaire.
That is some tasty stuff here, all three were my first local
sightings in 9 years now.

The adult male Townsend's Warbler Oct. 27 was the 17th species
of warbler for this fall season, a good total actually, and Pine
will likely show up yet in November.  That counts only
Yellow-rumped, not Myrtle and Audubon's.  Not one single
Common Yellowthroat besides 2 heard birds.  So if we broke
out the list stretcher and counted the heard only Common
Yellowthroat, and Myrtle and Audubon's as seperate, it would
19 species, 20 sps. when a Pine arrives.  I heard a couple
different species that got away over the fall too, so not bad.
The Townsend's Warbler was also the 35th species of warbler,
and #240, on my (the) Utopia Park list.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Oct. 31 ~ Holy cow we're 80dF and change today!  Amazing.
Rufous Hummingbirds here are the adult male, the cuthroat
(pattern of partial gorget) imm. male, an adult female and
an immature female, at least four, maybe more.

Oct. 30 ~ KVL in upper 30's dF again, cooler than they said.
I'm not complaining, it beats the heat, except that bird species
diversity is lower than nesting season.  We were probably
40dF up here on SR.  At 7:30 a.m. as it was getting
light a female Great Horned Owl was calling.

A p.m. town errand or two, the park had nothing as usual for
birds late p.m, except a Belted Kingfisher.  On the way
down SR on the first loop near mudhole there was a flock of
a dozen Vesper Sparrow adn one Merlin.  One Red Saddlebags
at 357 x 1050, a dozen Black Saddlebags around, Green Darners
and Variegated Meadowhawk, a few Checkered Setwing still.

So checked the butterfly gardens and it was aflutter.  Probably
the most butterflies I've seen in a day here in a couple or
more years.  Nothing rare, but five new for the month.
Best concentration is at the new deco gardens at the park
entrance and county line curve, and the library garden.
Five were new for the month (!) making for 54 species now.
Here's the list....

Common Checkered-Skipper, 50; Tropical Checkered-Skipper (1 new
for month/year); Julia's Skipper 2; Clouded Skipper 12+; Orange
Skipperling 1; Southern Skipperling 2; Fiery Skipper 20;
Sachem 5+; Whirlabout, 1; Broken-Dash Wallengrenia sps. 1 -
(could have been Tropical); Dun Skipper 1; Celia's Roadside-
Skipper (new for Oct.) 1; Eufala Skipper 3; Skipper sps. 20+;
Pipevine Swallowtail 45; Orange Sulphur 6+; Southern Dogface 5;
Cloudless Sulphur 3, Large Orange Sulph. 2, Lyside Sulph. 4; Little
Yellow 8+; Sleepy Orange 20; Dainty Sulph. 100; 40 Gray
Hairstreak; Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak 1 first of month; Blue sps.
unID'd 15; Ceraunus Blue 15; Western Pygmy-Blue 1 first of month/year;
Fatal Metalmark 10+; Rounded Metalmark 6+; Metalmark sps. 10;
Snout 20; Monarch 1; Queen 25; Gulf Fritillary 7; Variegated
Fritillary 35+; Theona Checkerspot 18; Bordered Patch 30+;
Vesta Crescent 4; Phaon Crescent 100; Buckeye 9; Red Adm. 7;
Painted Lady 4+; American Lady 3; Northern Mestra 100+;
Hackberry Emperor 1; Butterfly sps. 200+. 43 species, 90 minutes.
Ailanthus, Andromena, Heterusia and Phrygionis, moths.

There were 10 to 20+ butterflies on every blooming bush, you
just moved in slowly and looked at as many as you could, but
you couldn't begin to see them all.  It was outstanding.
You could just spin around in a circle of bushes as see a
hundred butterflies of 15 or more species, as fast as you
could ID them and move on, checking every Gray Hairstreak or
Metalmark, etc., every skipper, looking for the oddball....
No true rarities, unless the Wallengrenia was a Tropical.
Kind of surprising actually, not a Sickle-wing or White-patched
Skipper, no White-stripe or Zilpa, nothing really good yet
besides the Black Bordered Patch from westward back on 19th.
But a major major invasion taking place, likely sourced from
the south, so goodies should yet be expected to arrive.

Oct. 29 ~ Upper 30's dF again, maybe 38, was mostly 36 at KVL,
but briefly dropped to 34 for a low there.  Seems fewer
Rufous Hummingbird around now, 3-4 maybe, so a few bugged out.
That last Ruby-throat has been gone a few days.  Saw a
woodpecker fly over SR southbound (from the porch) that was
likely a sapsucker.

The amazing thing was a 2.5" ginormous Pepsis Wasp that first
buzzed me, and then landed adjacent to the porch.  Kathy
first said it was attracted to my shirt - a burnt orange (nearly
Aggie colored) T-shirt.  I backed inside the door and had
had to slam it shut as it came after me inside the threshold.
So if you want to attract Pepsis Wasp I'd suggest moving about
in the Fruit-of-the-Loom pocketed T-shirt in what is nearly a
perfect Texas A & M Aggie burnt orange shade.

Oct. 28 ~ Upper 30's dF for a low, barely broke 60dF at peak heat.
Yard had Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hutton's Vireo.
One lone calling Sandhill Crane looking for the flock it must
have fallen out of, was flying north.  Perhaps a young,
which seemed mighty lost without its flock.  A big imm.
female Sharp-shinned Hawk dove on the doves out back.  One
Spotted Towhee was about, and two Lark Sparrow were the first
I've seen in a couple or few weeks since local breeders left.
The best thing today was Whirlabout on Thoroughwort Eupatorium.
I think that is butterfly species #49 for the month, so if I can
get out before month ends one of the last couple 70+dF days,
maybe can muster another species or two for the month.

Oct. 27 ~ A chilly low about 40dF or so, but warmed to a good
solid 60dF, briefly warmer when the sun popped out for an hour.
Glad I was at the butterfly gardens when that happened, it
went from dead as a doornail to couldn't keep up with it,
for an hour, when clouds moved back in and it died again.
The only new thing was a winter form Question Mark, a mint fresh
beauty; a Southern Skipperling was good, the White Peacock was
still at the yellow Lantana on Broadway.  Mostly it was
the expected 30 and change species.  Lots of Theona (15+)
and Bordered Patch (20+).

The birds were better though, spectacular actually.  Saw my
first ever local TOWNSEND'S WARBLER at the park. It
appeared a fall adult male to me.  It is a nice even #240
for my Utopia Park list, and the 35th species of warbler there.
It was up on the island, mostly high in the cypress (dropped low
once) and was with a small warbler flock.  Which consisted
of several Orange-crowned (one surely orestera), a Nashville,
and a Black-throated Green.  Likely the first ever Townsend's
Warbler in Uvalde County (no response to a Texbirds query for
prior UvCo records).  Thought I heard a Black-and-white as well.
No doubt the last great mixed species warbler flock of the fall.
A couple Raven flew over the park fast that looked small and
Chihuahuan to my eye, I see multiple Common Raven daily over yard.

There was also a first-fall Red-naped Sapsucker on the island.
A Double-crested Cormorant was on the pond and flying around,
my FOS.  A few Golden-crowned Kinglet were about, and
some Ruby-crowned, a Hermit Thrush, some Blue Jay.  A
Spotted Towhee was here on SR, and the Chipping Sparrows
now number at least 10, winterers are arriving.  I heard
a White-eyed Vireo in town, first in a couple or more weeks.
Almost forgot to mention at park, a single Blue-winged Teal.

Oct. 26 ~ Low was upper 40's to 50dF, chills in low-mid 40's dF,
with 10-15mph winds gusting over 20mph, get ready for winter.
It's time to pack the shorts and sandals up for a few months.
Too breezy for birds, too cold for butterflies or odes.  Maybe
tomorrow when it warms up to 60 with less wind I'll stick my head out.
Yard had one Ruby-throated and 4 Rufous Hummingbird, Hutton's Vireo,
what seems a returnee winterer Orange-crowned Warbler, here for the
third or fourth day now.  It went to the hummer feeder which
a passing through migrant I just don't think would do, and it also
hunted the branches we put peanut butter on.  Gotta be one of
the winterers returning.  A flock of 8 Raven flew over just
before dusk.

Oct. 25 ~ An all peach-colored moth (small) was on the Eupatorium
this a.m. (ph.).  I had a male Leafwing (Anaea) butterfly in
the front yard this a.m., new for the month.  It actually
looked more Tropical than Goatweed but am only positive to genus.
Species # 48 for the month, and with the cold front tonight,
today will be the last warm day of October, if I could just
get out from behind this dang ol' box o'bolts.   :)
The only new bird today was a flock of 50+ FOS Sandhill Crane,
a couple hours ahead of the front at 6:15 p.m. or so.
Darn if that doesn't say it's going to get cold.  About average
arrival date.  Warmed up to the low 80's ahead of the front.
The front hit around 8:30 with winds turning to the north.

Oct. 24 ~ Orange-crowned Warbler working the nearly done Agalinis
picking off Buckeye and Variegated Frit caterpillars.  Just a
few pink flowers left on them.  Sure was nice for three weeks.
The highlight for the day was at 1 p.m. when I went out on the front
porch and saw in the bird bath bush, a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER!
It and a Hutton's Vireo were coming in, I got an ID digiscope
of the warbler, but the Vireo kinda bullied and hogged and so
I only got good pix of it.  The warbler is my first fall record,
though several years ago the Hilbigs had one in BanCo in fall
at their place on the West Sabinal River.  The Blankenship
Uvalde Co. checklist (2000) had no fall records listed for UvCo.

We only detect a miniscule portion of what goes through.  I bet
if one checked the park and a few other spots in the area, every
day, at the end of fall, a good list would be tallied.  It is
a slow trickle so harder to see or watch than fallouts.  It
requires constant attention.  Most days have little but
another Nashville, Yellow or Wilson's.  But, if I can get
a Chestnut-sided out here at a bird bath on Seco Ridge, what is
moving down the river habitat corridor?  Late September had
a Worm-eating Warbler.

Two Red Admiral spent the day on the Thoroughwort Eupatorium.
Yard had Dogface, Lyside, Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur,
Little Yellow, a dozen Mestra, both Frits, bunch of Pipevines,
American Lady, Buckeyes, Gray Hairstreak, Queen, the regulars.
I am pretty sure there were two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds,
at once, fighting, besides the 5-6 Rufous here.

Oct. 23 ~ Five or 6 Rufous Hummingbird here, got some audio tape
of them today.  One Ruby-throated continues.  While I was taping
the Rufous, I picked up a couple Audubon's Orioles calling I
probably would not have heard without the mic and headphones on.

A quick check during errands in town saw 18 Starling and 20 Collared-
Dove at the north end of town, I tried not to look at the House
(English) Sparrows as I drove around.  One Audubon's Warbler
at the park, a Song Sparrow at the Library Garden, but was late
p.m. so quiet.  Belted Kingfisher at park, and a Ruby-throated
Hummer at garden at park entrance.

Butterflies were great, with two new ones for the month, best was
the second this year White Peacock, at some yellow lantana in
town (on Broadway), I think about '09 was the last time we had
them here, so a very good find.  The other new for Oct.
was a Southern Skipperling at the library garden.  There was
a major influx obvious with much larger numbers of many species.

Clouded Skipper, over a dozen, we had been scraping for one or two.
No raries.  50 Bordered Patch (no black one), 15+ Theona, 50 Phaon,
15 Gray Hairstreak, etc..  Checkered White, Large Orange,
Cloudless, Lyside, Orange, and lots of Dainty Sulphurs, dozens of
Sleepy Orange, 25 Little Yellow, S. Dogface, lots of Gulf and
Varieg. Frits, Red Admiral, Painted and American Lady, Tawny
Emperor, 5 Rounded, 3 Fatal, 4 unk. Metalmark, and even some
skippers. 1 Eufala, 5 Sachem, 8 Fiery, 4 Com. checkered-, 2 Dun,
1 Julia's, the above mentioned 12+ Clouded, so good to see some
of that happening, could get a few low-end rarer things now like
Sickle-winged, White-patched, Zilpa, etc.

There were a few nectaring Monarchs at the Library Garden,
and over a dozen at the park woods.  The Blue Mist Eupatorium
at the libray has a dozen Queen.  The Thoroughwort Eup at the
library is just about to open, but nothing on it yet.

Common Poorwill was calling late at 11+p.m.

Oct. 22 ~ 5+ Rufous, 1 imm. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird,
A Cloudless Sulphur nectared at the few Agalinis flowers.
Cooper's Hawk diving on the doves every time they come in.

Oct. 21 ~ Our wild natural but watered Thoroughwort Eupatorium is
really going well now, with a number of bees, flies, diurnal moths,
the stray American Lady, Gulf Frit and Dun Skipper is visiting,
as they are the potted Blue Mist Eup out front, where Queens
detour as well.  Giant Swallowtail was on the few Agalinis flowers.

Oct. 20 ~ It was 7-8 Chipping Sparrow, so surely some new arrivals,
of winterers I presume.  Late in the p.m., after all week
not seeing one, a newly arrived imm. male Ruby-throated Hummer
showed up.  Update: as of Oct. 24 it has stayed 5 days slugging
it out with Rufous when need be.  Hutton's Vireo and Ruby-
crowned Kinglet.

Oct. 19 ~ The forecast low in K'vl was 51, it was 39dF there!
We were low 40's, they only missed by a category, 10+dF!  New
were about a half-dozen Chipping Sparrow around early which must
be newly arrived migrants, or actually winterers arriving on their
winter territory.  Hutton's Vireo was out there too.

Lucked into a town run in the p.m.  Only bird at the park
was a FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet.  Which actually I thought
I had one here at the house two days ago, but this one called.
No Scissor-tails at the north end of town, or anywhere, methinks
they are gone until late next March.  There was the 2nd this
fall Hermit Thrush at the Library garden, and at county-line curve
garden, a FOS Lincoln's Sparrow .  A Ruby-throated Hummingbird
was still at the library garden.

The real action was the leps, butterfly activity was very good
in 80dF afternoon heat.  A number of good things were seen
among 39 (!) species in an hour and a half at park and gardens,
county-line, library, and park entrance.  At library was
the first Dorantes Skipper I've seen all year, or in two I think.
New for the month was Checkered White (2), Orange Skipperling,
At least two and maybe three Mexican Yellow is an invasion,
recall I had a fly-by at the house last week...   There
was a Texan Crescent in park woods, also first in the month.

The best find was a dark form (morph?) Bordered Patch that had
no color band on dorsal surface of fore and hindwing.  It
was essentially pure black above, save the white spots, and
yes I got photos.  It was a large female in mint condition.
She's a beauty.  I'd been looking for this one...... only
took nine years and 50-100,000 Bordered Patches.  One must
really love looking at Bordered Patch to find one.  I have
hundreds of Bordered Patch photos as I try to get all the variation.

Black Bordered Patch
The black morph of the western subspecies of Bordered Patch,
Chlosyne lacinia crocale, at Utopia Oct. 19, 2012.

Otherwise there were Common and Desert Checkered-Skipper, Fiery,
Julia's, Clouded, Dun, and first of month Eufala Skipper, Sachem,
which was first of month, Pipevine Swallowtail, Southern Dogface,
Large Orange (3), Cloudless (1), Lyside (6) and Dainty (75+) Sulphur,
Little Yellow (10), Sleepy Orange (18), Orange sulphur (1),
Gray Hairstreak (25), Ceraunus (4) and Reakirt's (1) Blues,
Rounded (2), Fatal (2), and unID'd (2) Metalmarks, a few thousand
Snout, Gulf (5) and Variegated (12) Fritillary, Phaon (25), and
Vesta (7) Crescent, Theona checkerspot (10), Buckeye (yard),
Painted Lady (1), Tawny emperor (10), 8 queen and at least a
dozen Monarch, most in woods at park, a few nectaring at library.

Oct. 18 ~ The front came through overnight, was about 60dF for
the low, which sure felt good after the 92 dF high yesterday.
The (?) Pine Siskin was still around, and Kathy spotted 6 big
Tom Turkeys walking up the road before they got away undetected.
Of Rufous Hummingbird that continue, there is the adult male,
an adult female, an immature female, and at least one, probably
two immature males, so at least four, probably 5, a record here.
White-winged Dove flock is about 65, half of what it was Sept. 1,
at the start of dove season.  The unknown is how many migrated
versus how many were taken.  More migrant Turkey Vulture
passed by, 25 or so, one migrant Eastern Red-tailed Hawk.

One migrant Monarch heading due south just before dusk.
A Southern Dogface (male) was new for the monthly butterfly list.
A male Black Swallowtail cruised by, probably a dozen Mestra
a day in yard now, the stray Queen, Gulf and Varigated Fritillary,
lots of Sleepy Orange, numbers of Little Yellow, still Buckeyes.

Oct. 17 ~ This morning had another earliest ever FOS, calling
around the yard, a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, the first I've seen
in a few years locally, they don't make it here every winter.
Then a FOS Hermit Thrush showed up, will have to check my
prior arrival dates for them, surely this is at the leading
edge of normal winter returns.  Hutton's Vireo was calling
out there as well, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. In the later
afternoon I caught a group of 20 migrating Turkey Vulture
thermalling, and near them, a male N. Harrier, a Kestrel, and
a migrant Red-tailed Hawk.  Four Rufous Hummer still.

The Black Dalea is blooming out back, what a beauty, and since
it is a late bloomer few know it.  Forgot to mention, that
I saw a couple have come up at the library butterfly garden, where
there were none the last 5 years, and are in good bloom too.
The Thoroughwort Eupatorium is just opening its first few
flowers, and the Brickel-bush is just about to, though it
seems to attract nothing (unless moths at night?).

Oct. 16 ~ Cool and some light spittin' drizzle until mid-afternoon.
About 2 p.m. at park there were no migrants in the woods, but
near spillway a small group of birds was feeding on the ground
mostly.  It was 8 (!) Yellow-rumped Warbler (the first real
flock of them for the fall season here), 2+ Chipping Sparrow,
and 4+ Eastern Bluebird.  Interesting was only one Myrtle (FOS)
Warbler, the rest all Audubon's but one I didn't see well enough.
They weren't here two days ago, and the dozen Nashville and four
Orange-crowned that were, were nowhere to be found.  Amazing
that thing called migration.  I think the Chipping Sparrow
were newly arrived migrants as well, not local resident birds.
There haven't been any there, and they were with the flock
of newly arrived migrants.

Heard a Green and saw a Belted Kingfisher.  Best bird was
probably the Northern Rough-winged Swallow that blasted by.
There was one imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the new garden
at park entrance.  I saw none at the house feeders today.
I think the four Rufous left have chased them off here.

Back here later in afternoon when skies broke up a bit a
small group of a dozen migrant Turkey Vulture and 8 light morph
Swainson's Hawk streamed over, stopping to kettle over the knoll.
At dusk a Cooper's Hawk was scolding (got distant audio) and diving
on a Great Horned Owl while we scoped from the porch.  Didn't
get much past a trace from the widely advertised rain from this past
weekend to today.  There is some White Boneset Eupatorium going
well along river in park woods, Frostweed fading, Wood-Sorrel done.
Eastern Screech-Owl calling at dark (before 8 p.m. now).

PSA - Public Service Announcent - for immediate release -
Beware of chiggers! The recent rains have caused an minor explosion
of them exceeding anything in the last couple years (few to none)
during drought times.  If you wander through knee high stuff, you
will get them now.  I can't tell you where all I have them,
but spraying shoes, socks, pant legs if wandering into grassy
areas is prudent and advisable presently.  That is all.

Oct. 15 ~ Obvious post-frontal movement, second day after passage.
First sign was my FOS Northern Harrier, a male, going due south
about 8 a.m., then shortly after a Cooper's Hawk and a Kestrel,
and then a nice adult light morph Swainson's Hawk which seemed
to have lifted off from the knoll.  There were also a couple
kettles of migrant Turkey and Black Vulture.  That was in the
a.m., around 1:30 p.m. were at least 30 (again) migrant Turkey
Vulture with 6 migrant Black, at least 3 more Swainson's Hawks, a
Red-tailed Hawk, and best, a Harris's Hawk high up southbound,
the first I've had here in a couple years.  Rounding out
the new raptors to show up, a FOS adult female Sharp-shinned Hawk
dove on the yard birds.  Seven species of hawks from the porch
over a few hours is a good day and major movement.

Then 3 other FOS's were a Northern Flicker in flight, which later
called a few times, a Pine Siskin at 3-4 p.m., and a Vesper Sparrow,
which I saw one fly over calling in the a.m., and in the p.m.
had one sitting on the defunct TV antenna (bird nest box holder).
Maybe had one Ruby-throated Hummingbird early, the 6 seem to have
departed yesterday afternoon, still 4 Rufous fighting here though.
A dozen Barn Swallow were seen southbound while scanning skies.

There was the best Monarch movement of the season so far, with
many passing over SR due southbound.  I was getting one
hundred per hour from 10 a.m. to noon, through binocs and
scope, scattered, light numbers, but clear and obvious movement.
Sometimes I had 5 in a binoc, or scope, view at once, and often
5 in 15 seconds panning 30 degrees of horizon.  They would
have been nearly invisible bare-eyed from valley floor.
Thousands of Snout were northbound, one Orange type Sulphur
was southbound high up.

Oct. 14 ~ Just after 9 a.m. luckily I was out on front porch
to spot one of the best birds of the year locally as it
headed south over SR, a RING-BILLED GULL!  It is the
first one I've seen here in 9 years, the nearest I've had
them is at the fish hatchery in Uvalde.  This one was
a first year immature, and one of the most exciting Ring-bills
I've ever seen.  There was a whopping 5 second window
to see the bird in time to grab binocs and make an ID.
Any gull besides a Franklin's in spring is accidental here.

Had a couple warbler seet flight notes and saw them drop
out of sky but couldn't get ID's, one seemed Yellow-rumped.
Of course this means I better check the park.....

At UP a dozen Nashville and 4 Orange-crowned Warbler, but
the Orange-crowned I saw poorly yesterday will be the FOS.
I heard a zzzeet note, but couldn't see the bird, maybe
a Yellow, and I heard a tik note that sounded like Palm
on the back side of island and I never saw it either.
So only two species of warblers for sure, but 16 individuals,
twenty with the unknowns, so some serious movement.

One each Green and Belted Kingfisher.  No Gulls.
One Blue-headed Vireo, one Ruby-crowned Kinglet, one
immature Indigo Bunting in weeds below the spillway.
A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher late p.m. in the yard.
No Summer Tanager left at park now..... for maybe 10 days
now, the place seems empty without them.

A House Wren or two were about, a Ruby-throated Hummer
at the library garden, a dozen Scissor-tails at north
end of town.  At UP an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly
was the first of them so far this year, also at UP there
were 100 Checkered Setwing, 20 Green Darner, single
Red, and Black Saddlebags were at SR.  At UP there
were hundreds of bluet (damselflies) out over the water.
Also Dusky and Blue-ringed Dancer.  Yellow-margined
Flower-Buprested I keep forgetting to mention, have been
on flowers at the gardens two weeks now in small numbers.

Butterflies were good with a few new for the YEAR species,
and reflective of how depressed things have been that I
hadn't seen them: Long-tailed Skipper, and False Duskywing,
both in Audrey's wildflowers across spillway at park.
She has an incredible wildflower bloom going on, but note
this area is not open to the public, with permission only.

Also saw a WEST COAST LADY but didn't get pictures, that
at the north end of town.  Below dam was a worn Northern
Cloudywing.  Other things seen were a Giant Swallowtail,
Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur, 15 (!) Little Yellow at once
in 4 square inches on a mud covered rock below spillway (!),
and a least a couple dozen of them was a good total.

There were several thousands of Snout, all moving east still,
4-5 Monarch, as many Queen, migrant Red Admiral, still dozens
of small dark well-marked Tawny Emperor, 2 Fatal and 2 Rounded
Metalmark (+sps.), 8 Ceraunus Blue, 2 Desert, and 6 Common
Checkered-Skipper, 4+ Fiery, 4 Clouded and 2 Dun Skipper,
12 Gray Hairstreak, six American and 4 Painted Lady besides
the very rare stray West Coast Lady, 2 dozen each of
Sleepy Orange and Dainty Sulphur, 6 Gulf and 4 Variegated
Fritillary, 1 Viceroy, Buckeyes, 2 doz. Dainty Sulphur, 3 doz.
Pipevine Swallowtail, 6 Mestra, 2 Theona, 30 Phaon, 4 Vesta,
30 Bordered Patch, a good show overall, skippers down, but
the Long-tailed (beat and worn) and False Duskywing were great!
It was about 35 species total, but took a couple hours at that.
During multi-year wet cycles, 35 species can be had in 35 minutes.

There were Povertyweed with hundreds of Snout on a single bush
and clumps of Goldenrod with hundreds as well.  The mud
puddling action in later afternoon below dam was outstanding.
The Monarchs like the Maxmillian Sunflower.

After I posted the updated news on the 14th (this always happens)
another FOS occurred, at 10 p.m., a southbound Barn Owl called.
I think a pair of copulating insects I photo'd at the library
garden were net-winged beetles (Lycidae) of the genus Lycus.

The Oct. 14 update header for archives.

MOST RECENT UPDATE: October 14, 2012

HAPPY EQUINOX!!  It's autumn!

A few quick items.....

October!?!  It is a whole new world in October!

The river is not in many areas again, but we had
4" of rain in September so a good fall bloom
underway. Odes are way down, birds are up, whilst
butterflies remain flat.  All this and more.....

Fall migrants are moving, most neotropical migrants have
mostly passed by already, the last of them, whence there
are always a few goodies will be next, coinciding with
the arrival of winterers which will be the next big
phase of fall migration.  A few Ruby-throated
and some Rufous Hummingbird remain, but most hummers
have departed now.  We had 3 Calliope, 8+ Rufous, and
at least one Broad-tailed Hummingbird for paying attention.

Butterflies have picked up from the doldrums of the
drought with 59 species seen around town in July,
the best month since Oct. 2010.  Managed to muster
53 sps. in August, and 52 in September.  We
should get another wave in October, often with the
best stuff of the year, from down south.

For rarity sizzle I saw an APLOMADO FALCON Aug. 8,
a Prairie Falcon ploughed southbound on Sep. 8, a
WORM-EATING WARBLER was in the woods at UP Sept. 28.
Red-naped Sapsucker was record early here on Oct. 4, a
TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE on Oct. 8 was my first locally,
and a Cinnamon Teal was at the park on Oct. 10, and
best was a RING-BILLED GULL over yard on Oct. 14, my
first in the upper Sabinal drainage here (I've seen
more Aplomados here - 3 now).  Outstanding!
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER at our bird bath Oct. 24.

So far there have been record early dates of arrival
this fall (for me in 9 years here) of Audubon's Warbler,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Prairie Falcon, Spotted Towhee,
Red-naped Sapsucker, Pine Siskin, Hermit Thrush, and
Red-breasted Nuthatch.  For what does this bode,
a cold winter?  You expect a few in any given year,
this a way high number.  Seems too broad spectrum and
accros-the-board to think food supply.  Or is
it that it takes a decade to establish the real true
possible arrival windows?

end Oct. 14 update heaader

Oct. 13 ~ A quick late p.m. run to town netted a few things of
interest.  A FOS Say's Phoebe was on SR, a FOS Song
Sparrow was at the garden at the county line curve, and what
was seemed a (FOS) Orange-crowned Warbler was the only migrant
in the woods at the park.  At the north end of town was
the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flock, I had at least 17 birds.
At the park I heard the Downy Woodpecker.  House Wren at
county-line curve garden.

There were some butterflies at the gardens, at least 4 dozen
Tawny Emperor that look just like Hackberry Emp., or Empress
Leila, nothing like the spring Tawny Emperor we have.  They
are the second most numerous butterfly around now, behind
Snout of which there must be thousands going by, eastward.
Three migrant Monarch were in the woods at the park.
One of the brown hind-winged underwing moths (cf. C. obscurus)
was on live-oaks and cypress at park.

Two dozen plus Bordered Patch at the park and county-line
curve gardens.  A half dozen Vesta Crescent, a dozen
Phaon, 5 Theona Checkerspot, 2 Fatal Metalmark, 4 Gulf and
2 Variegated Frit, Buckeye, Red Admiral, Painted Lady,
Pipevine Swallowtail, 10 Dainty Sulphur, 15 Sleepy Orange,
4 Gray Hairstreak, 2 Ceraunus Blue, a couple Checkered-Skipper,
one Clouded Skipper, 4 Queen, couple Lyside.

A few of the Mesquite Borer Cerambycids were on the
Kidneywood as usual.  Late, one Red Satyr was in yard.
Still 4 Rufous, probably 6+ Ruby-throated Hummer here.
No orioles for a few days now, methinks they're gone
till next March.  Eastern Screech-Owl calling.

The Maxmilian Sunflower is blooming along river-edge,
migrant Monarch nectaring on it.  Saw one Sneezeweed
in bloom sticking out of spillway (no water going over).
Frostweed passing peak, as is Agalinis, Broomweed and
Paralena going good, Evergreen Sumac all but over and
gone to seed, Povertyweed in full rip, Kidneywood fading,
Goldenrod going well, sparse as it is, Tropical and Mealy Sage
showing well too, Thoroughwort Eupatorium has buds, always
one of the best attractants in fall, we need it to open.
The 40 plus stalks of Gay-Feather along 357 way out back,
are just awesome, hope no one mows them before they seed.
What a beauty.  Some Narrow-leaved Thyrallis is now
blooming right off the back porch, showing only the yellow
flowers, none of the orange-red ones of spring.

Oct. 12 ~ A surprise early in the morning overcast was the first
Great Spreadwing damselfly I've seen locally in a few years,
right off the back porch in the Plateau Agalinis.  This
species has shown up late-season in some prior years (pre-drought).
The Agalinis is just past peak now, so will be fading fast.
Sure is nice while it lasts, a great bloom show this year
due to the September rains.  Later in the morning a
Mexican Yellow flew right by me, new for the month.

Oct. 11 ~ A Scissor-tailed flycatcher was out front early.
A warbler was likely a Nashville, but not certain, it just
moved by quickly.  Light streamer showers (sprinkles)
were off and on all morning, and Snouts are still moving
eastbound.  Four Rufous and 6 Ruby-throated Hummer still.

Oct. 10 ~ A quick run to town so a run through the park, which
had a flock of 6 teal: 1 CINNAMON, 1 Green-winged, and 4 Blue-
winged.  Maybe the 3rd Cinnamon I've seen here, good bird.
A Belted Kingfisher flew over, and the only passerine migrant
was a single Nashville Warbler.  There were 20 Collared-Dove
at the north end of town, 10 Starling in front of park, where
there also was a nice male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  Couple
Barn Swallow were over the post office.

A bit of Goldenrod is blooming along river channel, but only
a sprig or two of Fireweed, the great patches were buried
by that weapon of mass destruction, the bulldozer.  Some
Crow-Poison is open, and better, along the back of 357 a bit
of stunning Gay-feather which doesn't come up every year.
Povertyweed is really going well now, Evergreen Sumac about
done, Zexmenia is showing well, and the Kidneywood by the
dump is in full roar.  Was too cool for leps or I'd have
stopped to check it.

Hundreds of Snout (butterfly) were moving due east.
A few Barn Swallow went over SR late p.m., southbound.
One Checkered Setwing was the only ode at the park, and
a couple Green Darner were around the house.

Oct. 9 ~ About 4 Rufous and 4 or more Ruby-throated Hummingbird
continue, as does the second-fall female Scott's Oriole.  One
of the immature male Rufous is doing a dive display, but it is
a muffled sound, not the adult sound, at the bottom of dive.
An Orange Sulphur was #35 for the month, the rest was regulars.
A pair of Great Horned Owl were duetting very nearby at 11:30 p.m.

Oct. 8 ~ Kathy got the FOS Spotted Towhee early this a.m.,
which was a female, our earliest ever arrival date here.
Even better was a TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE I spotted in the
snag 100 yards from the front porch. It stayed for scope
views for us until the Scrub-Jay chased it off, darn them.
It is the first one I've seen in the area locally, and my
first in Uvalde County.  Lost Maples gets a few, once
or twice every decade or so it seems, there have been all but
no reports from Uvalde Co. in 9 years we've been here.
A few migrant Monarch were thermalling up high, and some
more were down low crossing the yard.

Oct. 7 ~ What a chill this morning, was in the 40's with winds
on it, the coolest temps since March.  The high only made
it to the mid-50's, 20 to 25 dF below normal for the date.
Where the heck did I put my socks and long pants?

The second-fall female Scott's Oriole was at a hummer feeder
early, so at least one still around.  Thought I heard
a Calliope Hummer, saw maybe 6 Ruby-throated, and still the
4 Rufous here.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet early. I wonder if
there are migrants on this front, or will the big push be the
day after as so often is the case in fall.

Oct. 6 ~ Much cooler this a.m., low 60's dF as front approaches.
A Mockingbird, and a Yellow Warbler were new migrants in the
yard first thing.  A Great Blue Heron just cleared the ridge
at 7:15 a.m.  Maybe 6 Ruby-throated and 4 Rufous Hummers.

Oct. 5 ~ A FOS Merlin dove on the morning crowd here first
thing early, after missing, it landed in the snag 100 yards
north for scope views from the porch.  Interesting were
a half dozen or more Barn Swallows about when it was dashing
after things.  RC Kinglet and BG Gnatcatcher out there too.
At least 4 Ruby-throated and a couple plus Rufous Hummingbird
continue, including the adult male.  A second fall
female Scott's Oriole was on one of the feeders early,
likely the bird I heard yesterday.  They have dull black
in throat and on breast but crown and nape are pure olive.
Second fall males have black in crown and nape by now.

A town run in the later p.m. so mostly looked at the butterfly
gardens, as passerines are hard to come by in park in the p.m.
The north end of town, and at UP each had one Scissor-tailed
Flycatcher, and UP had 15 Blue-winged Teal but that was it for
birds, unless you count the 15 Starling at the north end of town.
In the woods at the north end of park were at least forty
migrant Monarch, communal roosting, soaring through woods,
some nectaring on Frostweed.  Migrants.  Very cool.
Was warm in upper 80's, ahead of next minor front.

Also there was one Viceroy nectaring on White Boneset Eupatorium.
One Dun but no Clouded Skipper.  Tawny Emperor were numerous,
three dozen at least seen, a remarkable explosion, and they are
not the big Tawny ones of spring, but small dark ones.  Common
Checkered-Skipper was the only other skipper.  At the UP
entrance garden was a Stenaspis Cerambycid (ph.) mostly on an
Evergreen Sumac, but flew up to the top of a 11' Sycamore for
a while.  Phaon (6) and Vesta (2) Crescent, Theona (8) Checkerspot,
Bordered Patch (12), a Cloudless Sulphur, a Lyside Sulphur,
Painted Lady, Gray Hairstreak and Ceraunus Blue, many Pipevine
Swallowtail, Variegated Fritillary, Empress Leila, Fatal
Metalmark, Snout, enough to be interesting.... probably better

The library garden had 6 Queen, a migrant Monarch, Rounded Metalmark,
a Bordered Patch, but not much for flowers.  North end of
town had Fatal Metalmark, numbers of Bordered Patch, Variegated
Fritillary, Pipevine Swallowtail, and Dainty Sulphur, a couple
Ceraunus Blue, a Mestra, more dark Tawny Emperor, a Queen, more of the
same regulars. Assorted along the way variously there was a couple
Little Yellow and Sleepy Orange everywhere, Buckeye along road and
in yard, a couple Red Admiral, one a torn migrant, one Hackberry
Emperor, some Gulf Frits. Olive-Juniper Hairstreak was on Kidneywood
by the dump which is in full roar.  About 29 species of butterflies
for an hour and change isn't bad really, could be better,
but considering we're in drought recovery mode, sorta, it is
just fine.  At least we have some bloom and butterflies!

Right on or behind this next front could be a big wave of Monarchs.
What is odd though is the Evergreen Sumac is about done blooming,
whereas it is usally at peak when they arrive, so it bloomed early,
as the Monarchs are not late.  Most is over and done and has
gone to seed already, a week ahead of normal, if not more.

Down SR were some more migrating Barn Swallows, and a stream of
migrating Turkey Vulture flew over town southbound high up.
Most remarkable was a late season Firefly at 11 p.m.

Oct. 4 ~ A record early for me Red-naped Sapsucker was in
the live-oak out kitchen window this a.m., a first-fall or
hatch-year (HY) bird.  A couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet moved
through.  There were perhaps 4 Ruby-throated and 3 Rufous
Hummingbird about the feeders, now each feeder seems to be
being defended.  I heard a Scott's Oriole, but did not
see it to age it.  A real treat was a new type of beetle
for me here, a 1" all black Tiger Beetle (Cicindellid)
which I got a couple pix of.  A very cool beast.  For
leps I saw Black, and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and a Desert
Checkered-Skipper, besides the regulars.  Been for a week
Variegated Meadowhawk (ode) about the yard, including a pair in
tandem.  That normal this time of year, but a Pale-faced
Clubskimmer was a surprise.  Poor-will again calling late.

Oct. 3 ~ Wow, not a single oriole seen today, maybe they are
all gone?  A bit early for that, but possible.  The
first day since late March without orioles on feeders.  A few
things have been early arrivals this fall making me wonder
what winter has in store.  There were 4 Rufous Hummer,
and 6 or less Ruby-throated, all imm. males as typical of the
last Rubys.  For leps, a Little Yellow and a few Mestra.
Ground-Dove are still singing a bit, the pair still about.
Thought I heard a male Broad-tailed Hummer wing-whistle.

Oct. 2 ~ A couple Clay-colored Sparrow were about early a.m.,
and very few Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a dozen at most, they
will soon be outnumbered by Rufous of which 3 or 4 remain.
A real surprise was a mid-morning MOURNING CLOAK butterfly
that flew across the opening out back, I think my first fall
record here, typically not seen every year, virtually all
sightings are in late April and early May.  A Dun Skipper
was on the Plateau Agalinis which is about at peak bloom.
A fly-by hairstreak looked like a Gray, the most likely.
Still a couple second-fall Scott's but no Hooded Orioles here.
'Nother Ruby-crowned Kinglet passed by.

October 1 ~ In the a.m. there were a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet
and a Hutton's Vireo through the yard.  A bird flew off
the wire and gave flight notes as it flew right over me, but
bare-eyed only, I'd guess it was a Vesper Sparrow, though not
sure enough to call it, which requires 1000% certainty.  At
noon a nice rain cell hit, thunder and all.  We got perhaps
a quarter inch out here, I think town got more.  A couple second
fall male Scott's were about the feeders, which seem pretty empty.
Did not see Hooded yesterday, or today.  A Bunting sps.
called from one of the brush piles with seed, but I couldn't
see it, was probably an Indigo (was not Painted).

There has been the last two days a great post-frontal blow-out of
hummingbirds, leaving only a few Ruby-throated here besides the
3-4 Rufous.  I won't mind the decrease in sugar usage.
The biggest hogs now are the Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and
they aren't going away.

Shortly after 3 p.m. there was a small stream of migrant Turkey
Vulture overhead that kettled over the (back) knoll on SR, about
30 birds, they gained some altitude and broke due South. While
scanning them I spotted distantly behind them two hawks I had to
get scope for, FOS Swainson's Hawks, and one Cooper's Hawk blasted
through, high, southbound, my FOS migrant this fall.  Then
about 4:30 another Cooper's Hawk, and TWO Peregrine Falcon (FOS)
moved over southbound, up high.  If migrant hawks doesn't make
it seem like fall, nothing does.

One Giant Swallowtail went through yard.  A Clay-colored Sparrow
was about in the p.m.  Screech-Owl and Poor-will after dark.

October 2012 above, September below.

~ ~ ~ ~

September totalled 52 species of butterflies, -1 from August,
and besides July (59 sps.) one of the better months in last
couple years.  Mostly waning numbers from an earlier influx.
White Peacock on 28th the highlight, first in a couple years.
Other highlights were the Worm-eating Warbler at the park on
the 28th, Prairie Falcon on the 8th, and the orange-red and
metallic Green 1.5" Stenaspis verticalis insignus Cerambycids.
Of tremendous import, we got 4" plus of rain in September.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ A Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Blue-gray Gnatcat were
about early in the a.m.  A few Turkey Vulture still here,
but the locals seem to have mostly departed, overall numbers
way down.  Maybe 50 Ruby-throat in a.m., but seemed many
fewer in p.m., likely having departed on the northerly flow.
Common Buckeye emerged from its chrysalis today on some of the
Plateau Agalinis; 10,000 pink flowers out the office window.
A few other things blooming now from the last rain are Yellow
Ground-Cherry, Prairie Fleabane, Parallena, Bur-clover, Zexmenia,
Rock Flax and Slender-stemmed Bitterweed.  Poor-will was
calling at 9 p.m. under a full moon.  A few year+ old
Scott's Orioles were about but I saw no Hooded.

Sept. 29 ~ FIVE Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through the yard,
a high count.  A couple adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
still here, and 50 or so immatures, plus still 3-4 Rufous.

~ ~ ~ ~

The Sept. 28 header for the archives.....

Fall migrants are moving, some have mostly passed by
already, like Orchard Oriole and Upland Sandpiper.
Black-chinned Hummingbird are mostly gone, while
good numbers of Ruby-throated are in, and we have
had 3 Calliope, 7+ Rufous, and at least one
Broad-tailed Hummingbird for paying attention.

Some migrants passing though have been Yellow Warbler,
Dickcissel, a wave of Baltimore Oriole, some Mourning
Warblers, a few Least Flycatcher, a few Northern
Waterthrush, some Nashville and Wilson's Warblers,
a Black-throated Green, 2 bright colorful fresh
Eastern Bell's Vireo, plus the first flock of
Blue-winged Teal.

Butterflies have picked up, with 59 species seen
around town in July, the best month since Oct. 2010.
A Brown Longtail at the park July 17 was new (#140!)
for the local area list (and even for Uvalde County!).
Managed to muster 52 sps. of butterflies in August,
and 52 again in September.  Should get another
wave in October, often with the best stuff of the year
from down south.

For rarity sizzle I saw an APLOMADO FALCON Aug. 8,
a Prairie Falcon ploughed southbound on Sep. 8, riding
the first front of the fall to an early arrival date.
A WORM-EATING WARBLER was in the woods at UP Sept. 28.

end Sept. 28 header

~ ~ ~ ~

Sept. 28 ~ A much-advertised major rain event is bearing down on
us, a little spotty stuff first half of day, supposed to be heavy
later.  Had to hit town so a quick look at the park to see if
any migrants were about.  Three warblers and 2 butterflies.
The Nashville and Wilson's were expected but my first ever fall
record for WORM-EATING WARBLER was not.  A very good find
(near accidental) in the hill country or on on the plateau in fall.
Heard a warbler I didn't see that sounded like No. Parula.
Early a.m. Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in yard.
Calliope here in a.m.  Rain finally arriving, nearly moderate,
around 6 p.m.' Perhaps 2 adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
still here, 60+ immature Ruby-thrt, 3 Rufous (incl., maybe
saw an imm. Black-chinned, bill too long and decurved for Ruby.

A Clay-colored Sparrow was about late p.m. in the yard, so with
the breeder Lark, Chipping, Field and Rufous-crowned, 5 species
of sparrow.  Some of the Chippy are now in basic plumage.
Streaky juveniles are present too.

On the wires around the fields at the north end of town the annual
late fall gathering of a small number of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers
is at 7 birds at least now.  Two months after most of our local
breeders depart, these show up, seemingly annually, I think these
are more northerly breeders.  Some years it gets to be a couple
dozen birds or more.  Once they leave in early October, they'll
be gone until the last week of next March.  They show up earlier,
and stay a little later, down in the flatlands brush-country, so
seeming very temperature sensitive, probably related to food.

A migrant Monarch was roosting in the woods.  Better was the
first in a few years White Peacock (#52 in Sept.) below the dam, an
immigrant from southward.  Had a Zone-tailed Hawk over town, and
another on 357 at east end of SR.  Lots of Lindheimer Senna
blooming now, Kidneywood getting going from the last rain, still
some Snow-on-the-Mountain and Erynnis going too, some Goldenrod
opening along river-edge, lots of Mealy and Tropical Sage, one sprig
of Fireweed, Poverty Weed is opening now, Evergreen Sumac is in
full roar, some Stenaspis Cerambycids on some of that of course.
Broomweed going well, and thousands of Plateau Agalinis flowers
out the office window, out kitchen window, out front, a great show
of lavender-pink.  Down a clearing I can see 200' and it
is solid pink flowers.

Sept. 27 ~ Another Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and two Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
passed through southbound in the a.m.  The white-winged Field Sparrow
has dropped outer tail feathers so as to reveal albinism in the middle
rectrices usually covered up by inners when on ground.  Now when it
jumps it looks like a longspur almost for the pattern.  An imm.
male Calliope Hummingbird was a treat out the office window 5' away,
tiny next to a Rufous, the third one I've noticed this fall.
Another Blue-gray passed through in the p.m.  Poor-will calling
again at 11 p.m.  A worn brown Olive-Juniper Hairstreak was a
new butterfly for the month (#51) on the Agalinis out back.

Sept. 26 ~ One Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through with a gruff
dry hard buzzier deflating psssss note, sounding like a Western one.
About 75 Ruby-throated Hummer, perhaps 5 ad. males remain, and the
four Rufous continue, incl. Mr. ad. male at his feeder out front.
Fewer orioles, some, but fewer, perhaps 4 Hooded, maybe 6 Scott's,
a second fall male still practicing singing.  Some of them just
getting their first solid black throat and breast now.  Late,
11-11:30 p.m. Poor-will were calling, it is going to rain.

Sept. 25 ~ Had a quick run to town so a look at the park but was
late p.m. so no passerines apparent.  Some ducks were nice
though.  A small group of 4 Blue-winged Teal in eclipse
held one eclipse male Green-winged Teal, my FOS locally.
Then there were 15 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, two adults, the
rest hatch years, probably a family group.  And so a second
group, as the last flock I saw was all adults.  One male
Belted Kingfish male.  Saw some (drive-by) Stenaspis Cerambycids
on an Evergreen Sumac.  There were two Kestrel along 357 on SR,
one stooped on a flock of 30 Lesser Goldfinch but missed.  Glad
the goldfinches have native seeds to eat instead of just our feeders.

Sept. 24 ~ A great FOS in the a.m. was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
my earliest fall arrival here in 9 years, more surprising was
that it was singing.  Though they sing in spring on the way
northward to breed, I virtually never hear them sing in fall.
Musta been a male that still had some hormones left over to burn.

Probably less than a hundred Ruby-throated Hummingbird here,
and only a few adult males left, most seem immatures.  At
least four Rufous Hummers are still here, including the adult
male.  Seems like maybe some of the orioles are departing
as well, fewer of them around today.

Sept. 23 ~ Stenaspis flies again!  The big metallic green
and orange-red Cerambycids are out, I found three on a blooming
Evergreen Sumac down SR near Morris' place.  Two
bolted at the sight of me and my camera, man they are ginchy.
Checked over a dozen of the sumac before I found the magic one.
There are prior pix on the bugs page.

Otherwise for birds, butterflies, and dragonflies it is really
crashing fast out there.  Especially the insects are down.
There was one Northern Waterthrush (yellow) at UP, and better,
two Couch's Kingbird at the pond, one took a dragonfly.  The
first of them I've seen here in some time.  There was not
even a White-eyed Vireo, showing how they are past us now too.
They've been pretty common the last month plus.

For leps a half-dozen each Bordered Patch and Theona Checkerspot
and as many Ceraunus Blue, one Southern Skipperling, a couple
each Rounded and Fatal Metalmark, but way way fewer Pipevine
Swallowtail, barely a dozen.

Sept. 22 ~ Happy Equinox!  The official first day of fall!
Kinda funny in bird terms since so many fall migrant species
are already long gone and past us.  The low this a.m. was
nice in the upper 50's!  What a treat!  A Dickcissel
out there early was new, as was a Summer Tanager calling at
sunup.  A new juvenile (first fall) Scott's Oriole was
trying to figure out what the other orioles were doing at the
feeders but couldn't seem to get it.  Interesting newbies
are showing up, fall migrants.  A House Wren was the 2nd
one so far this fall.  Sure glad I built a brush pile
15' out the office window.  Yesterday's female
Indigo Bunting was on the seed still today.

The butterflies are hitting the Plateau Agalinis, a nectaring
Monarch was likely a migrant.  Dun Skipper and Horace's Duskywing
were also on it.  The Agalinis is really getting going,
out the office window I see hundreds of pink flowers.  The
native bees quite like it as well.  A few Mestra are about.

Sept. 21 ~ Hutton's Vireo out back, and one female Indigo Bunting
was on the seed.  Lark Sparrow numbers about 10, Field 4 or so.
A Two-tailed Swallowtail came to the hummer feeders but as
always they don't land, unlike Gulf Frits which seem to take
to them easily and well in times of no flowers.  Early eve
nearing sundown a FOS Kestrel showed up, a female, which landed
in the snags the winterers use regularly.

Sept. 20 ~ A new Hooded Oriole showed up today, ID'able as a new
migrant by the fact that it didn't know how to use the hummer
feeders.  The local regulars have that down.  At least
a half-dozen Hooded are still around, and 10 or so Scott's.
In the afternoon I had two Zone-tailed Hawks right overhead,
low enough to get a picture with the point and shoot camera.
The FOS of the day was Clay-colored Sparrow out the office
window, next to an ad. Chippy that is the local breeder which
still has a rufous crown, though that is starting to fade now.
Lark, Field, and Rufous-crowned were out there as well.

A quick check of the park found one Wilson's Warbler, the only
passerine migrant, but a flock of 9 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
was nice to see too.  One Belted Kingfisher was there.
There is a fair bit of Evergreen Sumac opening flowers so the
awesome metallic-green and orange-red Stenaspis Cerambycids
will be on it any day now.  Later in the p.m. I saw a big
Cermabycid in flight that was probably one of the Stenaspis.
Unlike on a bird count day, I saw a couple Roadrunner down SR.
An American Lady was at the park garden, butterfly #50 this month.
(I found Dun Skipper and Painted Lady forgotten in prior tally)
I estimate a hundred Ruby-throated Hummer here now, and 4 Rufous.

Sept. 19 ~ Still four Rufous Hummingbird here including the adult
male, but better was an imm. Black-chinned Hummer that showed up.
Heard a couple warbler flight notes overhead early but didn't
see them.  In the parasite department I got a mosquito bite,
a chigger, and a real surprise was a tick today, but I caught
him walking around before it dug in.  There was a Dun Skipper
about the Plateau Agalinis which is finally starting to get going.

Sept. 18 ~ A nice crop of fall Rain Lily has opened up from the
rain last Thursday.  Two new for the month butterflies were
in the yard, male Southern Dogface and Nysa Roadside-Skipper (= 47).
The Red Satyr flopped around, and a Julia's Skipper was about.
A small troop of Bushtit moved through, the first in a while,
and a warbler giving a zzzeet call was out there early but I
didn't see it, presumed Yellow until proven otherwise.  In
the late p.m. Kathy found a female Indigo Bunting on the seed.
The white-winged Field Sparrow was out there too.

Sept. 17 ~ A great FOS at 1 p.m. was an Audubon's Warbler going
south over the yard and SR.  I think surely my earliest ever
first-of-fall date for them here.  Also great was an Eastern
Tiger-Swallowtail that came up to an office window hummer feeder,
the first one for the month (sps. #45).  A Dusky Dancer (damselfly)
was in the yard too.  Some serious Snout numbers passing by.
Hundreds.  A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through the yard.

Sept. 16 ~ Light drizzle and mist all day amounted to barely
over a quarter inch or so.  Enough to make being out wet,
so hummers and orioles on the feeders from inside it was.

Sept. 15 ~ Had to go to town so a park stop.  A bit on the
slow side, I think the frontal boundry to the north as it passed
mostly kept a departure from occuring from source areas.
What was here had departed ahead of it, and new things from most
areas northward were unable to liftoff, except a bit westward.
Fall fronts that are aligned more east to west as they cross our area,
bring many more migrants than ones where the trough axis is aligned
north-south because that shuts down departures from source areas.
Those are sometimes very good in the post frontal push, first good
clear-air migration conditions afterward, but often not on the
frontal passage itself.

The FOS House Wren was good.  Warblers were two Nashville
two Wilson's, a Northern Waterthrush (Y), and an imm. or fem.
American Redstart, and a Yellow.  One of the Wilson's was orange
in forehead and lores, so likely a western chryseola supspecies.
Interesting since I photo'd one here last fall here, also in
September.  The low down I got was there were no known
occurrences though the Texperts believe they must occur.
One first fall male Indigo Bunting was on the island.

Another thing of interest was two tardy Purple Martin, the
first I've seen in 6 weeks or so, and probably from points
far north.  They were on the powerline out front with
25-30 Cave Swallow.  Hadn't seen more than a few Caves
around in a while either!  The north end of town had a
couple dozen Barn Swallow.  The park also had one Spotted
Sandpiper and one Green Heron.

One Red Admiral in the park was the first of month, as was
a Julia's Skipper in the garden out front.  = 44 for
butterfly species in September.  The good rain should
make for a better fall bloom, and hopefully some good leps.
The yellow 3/4"meloids (blister beetles) are still all over
some type of sunflower at the county line curve garden.

The river did not come up, 2"+ wasn't enough to make a
difference in river level, still dry just upriver from park a bit.
The ground is so dry, and is so porus, that a couple inches
of downpour soaked in.  That is how bad we needed it.
River is still 18" from going over spillway, riverbed
is dry below the pond below spillway.  Looks like the
rain really hit the odes, hardly anything out there.
Did see a pair of ovipositing Variegated Meadowhawk below
the dam, a few Green Darner and some Checkered Setwing.

Cloudy, cooler in a.m., warmed a bit in p.m., but supposed
to have some more rain action overnight or early tomorrow.

Sept. 14 ~ Ad male Rufous is still here, as is ad. fem. and imm.
male and imm. female, four of the testy little tykes.  One
immature male Black-chinned Hummer was here in the p.m.
Was cool and cloudy, a little drizzle early, in wake of the front.

Sept. 13 ~ Nose to computer all day.... did not see the ad. male
Rufous Hummer today, may have heard its wing whistle early, (or
else there is a male Broad-tail around), but the ad. fem. took
over the front juniper feeder, a no spotted throat (imm.) female
took over the back feeder, and an imm. male and another (4 total
Rufous) were on the office window feeders.  Did not see any
Black-chinned for sure, and Ruby-throats number about 50 or so.

The advertised front began to move in late in the p.m., the rain
began about 4:30 p.m. and by 6:30 we'd gotten over 1.75"! When
it rains it pours.  Hopefully it is falling up on top of the
plateau and recharging aquifer, it should be enough to bring the
river up.  Actual passage will be overnight, wished I could
check park tomorrow, but might be too wet still.  Didn't have
any migrant action here this a.m., was nothing going over or by.

Did catch a herd of those orange Texas Persimmon thieves in that
tree though, and found the pierced persimmons to prove it, the nice
almost black one I was eyeing as a matter of fact.  I came
around the corner and about 4 Baltimore Oriole exploded out of it,
looked like a ball of fire.

Sept. 12 ~ SE Gulf flow back so low in low 70's and humid.  It
was nice while it lasted, another front is supposed to hit
later this week.  There was clearly some migrant movement at
the park (yup, had to run to town, bummer huh?).  FOUR Mourning
Warbler was outstanding, 3 immatures, 1 ad female, I had two in
bins at point blank at once, and got a pic of one with the point
and shoot Mavica.

There were 5 Wilson's, 2 Yellow, a Northern Waterthrush (yellow,
as was the prior seen one).  I heard a FOS Common Yellowthroat,
and I heard what surely was a Northern Parula but didn't see it.
Half-dozen White-eyed, one Yellow-throated Vireo, one Least and
one Olive-sided Flycatcher, few Summer Tanager, a greenie Painted,
and an imm. male Indigo Bunting.

I saw a cuckoo fly from tree to tree (willows) on the other side
of the river on which I saw no rufous in the wing nor could I see
any color in the bill.  It looked Black-billed to me.

Seems to have been some hummer departure.  Should be a big
wave of Ruby-throats on this next mid-Sept. frontal passage.
The ad.male Rufous was still here as was the ad. fem, one imm.
male, and an imm. female too methinks.

Sept. 11 ~ Low 60's dF this a.m. was nice, not as mind-blowing
as yesterday, but better than low 70's of summer.  Just my
luck that I had to run into a town run so a park check.  The fancy
Cerambycid beetle was nowhere to be found on the lantana at the
garden out front.  Was an imm. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher out
there though.

? I'd give a full dollar to know if the warblers at the
park were the same ones as two days ago, or, are new and
different ones.  About 6 Nashville, 3 Wilson's,
and 2-3 Yellow looked the same, as did one of the 3 Mourning
Warblers, but two were different.  A juvenile Blue Grosbeak
was a migrant.  There was one Least Flycatcher in the park.
A couple Orange-striped Threadtail (odes) were feeding in vegetation
10' from the river, or more, a few feet off ground.

Sept. 10 ~ An outstanding low of about 54 dF this a.m.
was outstanding, coolest low probably since April.
Might have to start looking for my long pants next month.
Mid-morning the FOS Warbling Vireo was in the live-oak
out back hunting Snouts just like the Bell's yesterday.
It looked an Eastern Warbling to me, our default type.
I heard a Greater Yellowlegs calling is it dropped out
of the sky and headed towards Bear Creek Pond.  At
least a half dozen Hooded, and 10 maybe 12 Scott's Orioles.
A gaggle of 'em can really put away the sugar water,
they make the hummers seem like misers.  At least four
Baltimore Oriole were here based on different plumages.

Adult male and ad. fem. Rufous Hummers are still here.
A hundred or so Ruby-throats around, maybe a Broad-tail.
About 5 p.m. an adult male Black-chinned showed up,
the first one to show up in a week or more.
The white-winged Field Sparrow was about, I first saw it
a year ago in Sept. '11.  The pair of Ground-
Dove still here and might still be nesting.  Had
another Monarch today, so that is three days in a row,
starting with the first front of fall, that Monarch all
of a sudden mysteriously and magically has appeared out
of nowhere, all acting like migrants act.  Migrants
is what two Mockingbirds in the yard was too.

Almost forgot, a Celia's Roadside-Skipper was a highlight,
first I've seen in a few months, at the park.

Sept. 9 ~ It was in the low 60's dF at sunup, the
coolest low since sometime in May, about four months!
Need I say how good that felt?  Warmed to the
low 90's, but nice and dry (11%!) so fine.  Went
to the park and some of the migrants were probably
holdovers from yesterday, and clearly many new ones
were about as well, so the day of, and day after the
(dry) front were both great for fall migrants here.

There were 6-8 Nashville, 3 Wilson's, and 4+ Yellow
Warbler (one was a real nice winter male with fine
crisp breast streaks), all probably holdovers.  There were
three different plumaged Mourning Warblers, up from
one yesterday.  They were ad. female, imm. male
and imm. female.  Four FOS's were Blue-headed Vireo,
an Olive-sided, and better, a YELLOW-BELLIED Flycatcher,
and an immature or female American Redstart was good.
The Yell-bell I heard calling and decided that is what it
was, so went and chased it down to verify, and sure enough.
A Yellow-throated Warbler was the first in a couple
weeks, and likely a migrant.  With the Redstart
it made for 10 sps. of warblers at UP in the last 2 days.
Great for an early September weekend warbler tally.

There was one Least and one Traill's (probably Alder)
Flycatcher.  A male Summer Tanager sang (and was
likely a migrant too), heard the Green Kingfisher on
the other side of island, a Scissor-tail was out front.
I had a glimpse of a bird I thought was a Painted
Redstart but lost it and 2 hours didn't get another
view.  Ruby-throated Hummers are in the woods now.
A couple greenie Painted Bunting were along the river.
One Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through woods, an imm.
Dickcissel was in the garden out front by the sign.
On the island was one Common Grackle, and 4+ Blue Jay.

Two or three Monarchs were in the woods where the
migrants roost, one very pale and worn, they were
looking to nectar, hitting frostweed, and so like
yesterday's thermalling one, these act like migrants,
so more than likely they are.

The bird of the day (that didn't get away) was a beetle,
a Cerambycid, (Long-horned Beetle) perhaps my favorties, with
big long curved antennae usually longer than their bodies.
This type I'd never seen before, 1.5+" and glossy
black all over with one red dot on each elytra. 
Stunning!  See pic below.  Was eating Lantana.
It flew off right after I got the lucky few docu shots.
I shoulda bagged it, but just don't have proper good
curatorial facilities so go for doc shots that hopefully
are enough for a) expert ID, and b) proof of occurrence.

OK here's a pic......

Tragidion coquus is the species.
Thanks "ento" Mike Quinn for the ID!

Mike says the only pic of it from Texas at
(which you should bookmark for bug ID) is of a specimen
collected in the 1950's, at Del Rio, a half-century ago!
A fall flyer over a large part of the lower 48.

At dawn here at the hovel there was a Western Kingbird
out on the powerline, clearly a migrant, an Orchard
Oriole or two were with the oriole flock.  When that
flock first came in to the feeder juniper out front there
were on the same 3' sprig of branch tip, Scott's,
Hooded, and Baltimore all at once!  It looked like
one of those field guide fantasy paintings.  There
were also Orchard and Baltimore Oriole down at the park.

For 3rd day there were many hundreds of Snout everywhere.
I checked two gardens briefly, the new one at the county-line
curve at the north end of town had a couple Streaky
Skipper, a Fatal Metalmark, a few Rounded, dozens of Pipevine
Swallowtail, a few Theona Checkerspot and Bordered Patch,
Ceraunus Blues, Gray Hairstreaks, Fiery Skippers, Phaon
Crescents, Dainty Sulphurs, mostly the regulars.  The
water company/park garden had the fancy Cerambycid beetle,
and mostly more of the same, must have been 50 Pipevine
there, and one Giant Swallowtail, but single Southern,
and Orange Skipperling, a Northern Cloudywing, a new
Mournful Duskywing, as well as a Funereal, a Whirlabout,
some Fiery, Sachem, Eufala, more Theona Checkerspot and
Bordered Patch, Gulf and Variegated Frits, Large Orange
Sulphur, a few Queen, one Reakirt's Blue, lots of Common
Checkered-Skipper.  Both gardens had lots of damsels,
Bluets, and a few Argia hunting the flowers.  The park
had Dun Skipper, several Clouded Skipper, 5 Viceroy,
35 Phaon Crescent, and a few Mestra.

In mid-afternoon back here at the hovel there was an
intermediate Buckeye.  A hybrid or intergrade.
Dorsal Hind Wing was good Dark (Tropical) Buckeye, but
forewing band was far far too pale (buff cream like a
Common) for pure Dark.  Would like a Dark for
the month, but this beast obviously not countably pure.
I've only seen about 3 of these intermediates here.
I just counted, was about 35 species of butterflies today.
Three hours out,
At the heat of the day at 4:30 p.m. there was another
of those gorgeous bright colorful Eastern Bell's Vireo,
in the live-oak out back.  Gadzooks I had one in
it last fall!  The live-oak has a couple hundred
Snout in it the last few days.  A few less now,
they must be better without the wings, though likely
since you can fit more of them in, without wings of
no nutritional value.  It was scarfing them up.

Sept. 8 ~ Well the (dry) first front of fall hit just
before dawn bringing gusty winds for the day.  As
often happens the good bird is an early bird, for the
early birdwatcher.  Just after 7 a.m. I was on the
front porch marvelling in the cool dry northerly flow,
and watching the Black Vultures play on the uplift from
the knoll when a southbound raptor appeared.  I was
having trouble with it bare-eyed which is quite odd for
a raptor (this close) here.  Got it in bins quickly
and still was befuddled for a moment as I tried to pound
the square peg into some various shaped holes, until I
found one that fit.  It was a PRAIRIE FALCON!  No
wonder it didn't fit any of the local or regular species.
Off the top of my head, I recall only one or two fall
records here, and this surely is the earliest date.

A Yellow Warbler was out back, probably 2 of them, and
the ad. male and ad. fem. Rufous Hummer continue, as
well as a few imm. Black-chined Hummer, but it is
overwhelmingly Ruby-throats now, ca. 50 or 75 probably.
At least a couple Baltimore Oriole were around the yard
with a bunch of Scott's and Hooded, and one Orchard.
Will have to check the wind-sheltered spot at the park
for migrants.

OK, back from the park, wow it was great, a wave of
migrants clearly rode the front down.  There were
2 Least, one Willow (heard too) Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird
which I don't get every fall here.  A Yellow-throated
Vireo was a migrant, as were some White-eyed.  The
warblers were good with 6+ Nashville, 3+ Yellow, 2-3
Wilson's, single Chat, Black-n-white, Mourning, and a
Black-throated Green (FOS), plus heard a Waterthrush!
So a whopping 8 species of warblers!  Surely more
are around.  At least one greenie Painted Bunting.

I presume the Downy Woodpecker female on the island
is the same continuing bird, seeming nearly a year now.
The first in a while, a female or imm. Green Kingfisher
was hunting the fast receeding water up by the island.
Water level is 2.5 to 3' below normal bank level.
The island is not anymore, you can walk to it.  There
were some Mexican Tetra (Astyanax) out in the main pond,
first I've seen since the dozing, probably washed down
in the last flood.

Zone-tailed Hawk over town.  At the park for leps
were a few Clouded Skipper, 3 Viceroy, 10 Phaon Crescent,
and a fresh winter form Question Mark, which I also saw
on the 4th or 6th.  The summer form (orange hindwing
ground color instead of velvety black of winter form) ones
still flying are now beat and worn, torn and frayed.

The best butterfly was a Monarch, that was thermalling
(rising up in tight circles to gain altitude), and clearly
on a WSW heading as all MIGRANT Monarchs are here.
Based on behavior, it was a migrant, not a local beast
which do not thermal, heading WSW.  It too came in
on the first front of fall.  There are always a few
early ones a month or so before peak.  The big main wave
is rather well-defined, around the big mid-October front.
However, the front end of the arrival dates bell-curve
does not seem to be very well understood.  We know they
go from few to none to truckloads overnight when the big
wave arrives, and that they drop fast after peak, but with
small numbers regular a month and a few regular 6 weeks or
more after peak.  Why wouldn't some migrants be
possible 6 weeks before peak?

For UP odes, few Green Darner, a Black Setwing, 50 Checkered
and a dozen Swift Setwing, 6 Blue Dasher, 4 Eastern Pondhawk,
I couldn't tell what kind the Eastern Kingbird got.
Familiar and Double-striped Bluet, Blue-ringed, Dusky and
Violet Dancer, 1 Orange-striped Threadtail was in Ragweed.
Black, and Red Saddlebags were at house (SR).

Neat to see was six male Cardinal at once in a flock in
the back yard, which is another sign of fall coming, as
they're done fighting for the year and back to flocking.
Cardinal (and House Finch) had a very good breeding season
here this year, as did Lark and Field Sparrow, less so
for Chipping and Rufous-crowned, which got a few young out.

The interesting behavior of the day was from an immature
(juvenile - hatch-year) Baltimore Oriole, a migrant that
just showed up, about 90 days old at best, which began
defending a hummer feeder, chasing away several sub-ad.
(first summer) and some immature Scott's and Hooded Orioles
that have been coming in daily for months all summer.
They don't seem too impressed with orangey.  They
were willing to come in with me nearby (ready to digiscope)
while it wasn't, but wouldn't let them on the feeder.
What a rotten attitude the ingrate.

I see the first two Plateau Agalinis flowers have opened.
There are literally hundreds of them, with tens of thousands
of buds ready to go around the "yard." After
dark the mccallii Screech-Owls were going off, apparently
it is not just us that is thrilled about the cooler temps.

Sept. 7 ~ A few migrants outside at dawn, a male Orchard
Oriole, a Dickcissel, and a Yellow Warbler, so was some
migrant motion last nite.  The first front of fall
is supposed to hit tomorrow, maybe we'll get a good
wave of birds today, tomorrow, or the next day.  Now
they changed it to a dry frontal passage, I think to hit
pre-dawn Saturday (tomorrow) morning.  Meanwhile in
front of the front we have record heat, over 100dF today.

Last evenings Red Satyr was about in the a.m., as was the
Northern Cloudywing of Tuesday.  The adult male and
adult female Rufous Hummers are still here, along with
a couple imm. Black-chinned, and a bunch of Ruby-throated
of all flavors, perhaps 75 total.

Sept. 6 ~ Even fewer hummers left, a big departure wave
is ongoing.  At least two Rufuous still here including
the adult male.  Only a few imm. Black-chinned here,
otherwise all Ruby-throats (50-75).  I had to run to town,
saw a Zone-tailed Hawk there, and came home to find Kathy
had one here only 10 feet overhead while I was out.

Four migrant warblers of four species at the park was good.
One each of Yellow, and Black-and-white, the other two were
FOS this fall, a Nashville, and Wilson's Warbler.  Several
White-eyed Vireo, imm. Summer Tanager, Barred Owl hunting the
receding water on island, one greenie Painted Bunting, and
on power lines out front (some drinking) were 25 Barn Swallow.
Best beast at UP was a Two-tailed Swallowtail, methinks first
one all year!  A huge animal it is.  The river is
nearly 18" below going over the spillway now.

The best bird today was at the Hackberry row at park
entrance at Cypress St., one of those bright fresh fall
Eastern Bell's Vireo, an absolutle beauty.  Our
nesting subspecies is on the dull side, these things knock
you out when you see them, subtle, but awesome for a Bell's.

About 6 p.m. Kathy spotted a Titmouse scolding the ground out
the kitchen window, which led to a Western Ribbon Snake!
Outstanding!  Very cool snake I don't see many of.
Then at 7:45 p.m., just before the last sun rays up on the
knoll, already gone here, a Red Satyr flopped by the porch.

Sept. 5 ~ Ruby-throated Hummers are the predominant hummer
now, the pile of mostly immature Black-chinned that were
left, have left.  A few of the Rufous have left as well.
Stuck here with work to do, as always when I get migrants
outside early it seems, I can't get out.  There was a
Yellow Warbler, an imm. male Bullock's Oriole, and a White-
eyed Vireo (which did a perfect ch-brrrrr of an Ash-throated
Flycatcher) and a singing Summer Tanager, all undoubtedly
migrants, passing through the yard this a.m., as was the
Mockingbird I heard.

Sept. 4 ~ Hummers have blown out, musta been yesterday, a
major departure took place, used more than a quart less
of fluid than two days ago.  Zone-tail over town, two
greenie Painted Bunting at park.  At UP the great Black
Willows and a couple nice Buttonbush along the river side
have been removed to make it nice and city like I guess.
Was one of the great spots and groups of trees for birds.
Black Willow is a key riparian component tree, a half dozen or
more trunks were well over a foot in diameter, e.g., twenty
years old or more are all that is left.  Sure the birds
will just go somewhere else, where the public can't see them.

Northern Cloudywing was out front, missed among 52 sps. in Aug.

Sept. 3 ~ Still lotta hummers but not like last two mornings.
Departures occurring, mostly the Black-chinneds it seems.
Three or four Rufous continue, incl. ad. male out front,
he is on day 15.

Sept. 2 ~ Quite the hummer swarm this morning, it's like a
beehive out the office window.  Seems 100+ each of
Black-chinned and Ruby-throated, 4-5 Rufous, and saw the
imm. male Calliope.  No ad. male Black-chinned left.
Had 50 hummers in view at once.  Saw a Lyside today
which somehow I missed yesterday while I was out and about.

September 1 ~ September!?!  I hope it cools down soon.
At Utopia Park (UP) there were a couple new FOS fall migrants,
a Least Flycatcher, and a Northern Waterthrush.  White-
eyed Vireo numbered 5, so some migrants passing through of
them as well.  Heard a bunting, sounded wet and slurry,
so likely another greenie Painted.  The bird of the day was
at the north end of town just over the line in Bandera County,
in the big mesquite patch at county-line curve, a Verdin.

Surely my first in Bandera Co.  In the same mesquite
patch of brush country Where the Ani was on July 1.
Since I just updated the list for the first time in a year
I know it was #251 in this corner (5%) of Bandera County for me.
There sure isn't any further south big 'ol mesquite patch
in Bandera Co., the south edge of it is on the line.  :)
These birds aren't fifty yards into Bandera Co.  :)  Both
found the same way, heard first while checking the new garden
at the curve for butterflies.

A Streaky Skipper there was best of about 23 species.  Nice
female Black Swallowtail, several Theona Checkerspot and Bordered
Patch, 5 Rounded Metalmark, a couple Large Orange Sulphur, the
regulars.  All the Cenizo (The mugwort they call Purple Sage-
that is not a sage, nor purple) around town was covered in
beautiful pink flowers from the last rain.  Here at SR you
can tell it is September as the Plateau Agalinis finally has
popped little bitty green flower buds just barely starting
to show.  It is just about sure to bloom now.  A little
bit of rain would to a long way to help the fall bloom.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

August totalled 53 species of butterflies around Utopia,
a good total considering the drought, but down 6 from July.
Second best month of the year.  Usually September and
October are the peak months, so it should get better quickly.
As long as we get some more rain.

Aug. 31 ~ August is going out in a blaze, surely over 100 dF
here today, glad to see it go.  An Orchard Oriole was
about first thing at early thirty.  The hummer and oriole
shows continue, over-the-top by most folks standards, I'd bet.
Adult male Rufous on day 12, I think four others at minimum.
The imm. male Calliope, and the Broad-tailed were about still
so another 5 species day out the office window.  One greenie
Painted Bunting showed late in the p.m.

Aug. 30 ~ First thing after putting out hummer feeders, millet,
and sunflower tube, an adult male Baltimore Oriole came in, a
couple non-adults with it.  Took lots of pics of Scott's
Orioles today and close examination shows there are 5-6 different
first summer birds here, besides a few juveniles and adults.
A half-dozen plus Hooded Oriole too.  Orioletopia it is.

Hummertopia as well, with FIVE species here today, a great
species diversity total.  A new imm. male Calliope showed
and the (?) imm. or fem. Broad-tailed put in an appearance too.
About 75-100 Black-chinned, one adult male, and probably nearly
75 Ruby-throats.  Rufous numbers are 5 or so, the adult
male continues.  One Blue-gray Gnatcatcher moved through.

Aug. 29 ~ Adult male Rufous still present, now day 10 for it.
I only saw one adult male Black-chinned in the a.m., but still
50-75 immatures or females, mostly likely the former.  For
Ruby-throats there are a dozen or two adult males, and likely
3 dozen or more immatures and females.  Photo'd an imm.
Northern Oriole (Baltimore or Bullock's) which I'll have to
wait to see pix to ID, as I went for the pic instead of the ID.
Lots of times that is the best choice, at least you get evidence
to study and examine as long as you want.  Especially if
it might be something rare, it is the best choice.  At 8:30 p.m.,
twilight, an Upland Sandpiper called as it headed south overhead,
and another my last check outside at 11:30 p.m., when Poor-will
was calling as well, while the Coyotes were howling, and a
nice shooting star capped it off.  A Black Swallowtail in
the afternoon was the first for the month, sps. #52 in August.

Aug. 28 ~ Here at the yard I had a new different immature male
Rufous Hummer, at least the 7th in the last two weeks.  Seems
four or five Rufous still here, including the adult male.  The
Broad-tailed Hummingbird was still here too, day 3 though I
missed it yesterday.  The Red Satyr butterfly was around
still as well.  Kathy pointed out all the lower branches
of the Texas Persimmon have been stripped of fruit by something.
Still green with just barely a hint of color yet, it's pretty
hard to beat the wildlife to them since they eat them before
they are ripe.  Two new begging juv. Field Sparrow in yard.

I had to run to town so got a quick stop at the park in.
The best bird was a FOS immature Mourning Warbler I almost
overlooked as it popped out of some river-edge weedy stuff
with 2 greenie Painted Bunting, always check every bird.
One imm. or female Indigo Bunting was with them as well.
The Mourning Warbler showed off quite well coming within
10' of me in the skimpy little cypresses, and after
birding the woodlot by the island, on my way out it came back
out for a second view, providing awesome views at point blank.

Another FOS was a Belted Kingfisher I saw flying away down
the river.  Up at the island there was a second-one-of-fall
Louisiana Waterthrush, this one so fresh, the peachy color was
all the way up at high sides of breast.  It also showed a
very strong malar, and almost grayish side of cheek.  We
don't get long to study them here in fresh basic plumage.
One Black-n-white, a Wide-eyed Vireo, and a Green Heron was
about it otherwise.

For the last week the adult Scrub-Jays have turned on the young
to fledge them from their territory.  They produced at least
6 young, maybe 8, this year, so it's taken them a week to clear
the yard.  They then immediately commence stashing sunflower
seeds once they get the young out, which doesn't work as long
as the young are still here.  They let all the young of the
year stay, every clutch, until one day nearing fall, and then
they all must go.  In California the pairs I lived around
chased each set of young out of the territory before they
started to work on another set.

Saw for sure two adult male Black-chinned Hummer today.
What seemed a different first-summer male Hooded Oriole about.

Aug. 27 ~ At 7 a.m. before sunup the FOS flock (20 or so) of
Blue-winged Teal shot southbound over SR.  Heard a Blue-
gray Gnatcatcher, but no other migrants.  Ad. male Rufous
Hummer still here, and about 4 other Rufous.  Black-chins
thinning out, but still at least a couple adult males, while
Ruby-throats are increasing quickly.  No albino House Finch
for about the 5th day.  White-winged Field Sparrow still here.
Four Ladder-backed Woodpecker at once during the shower, looked
the adult pair and two juveniles.  A Juvenal's Duskywing
(butterfly) came into wet caliche in the heat of day, new
for the month.  The Texas Persimmon out front is so loaded
with still very unripe fruit that it is bent over, requiring support.
Deer will eat them before they are all the way ripe unless you
have them fenced in.

The adult male Hooded Oriole is really getting into molt now,
as all the older orioles are.  The first-summer male Scott's
has a big solid black patch on breast, half moon shaped, flat
side on top, and now black pepper coming in on head, plus it
just got a thin black line narrowly up center of throat only,
still with old worn juvenile tail feathers (but not for long),
though wing coverts are new now.  He is real ginchy about
coming in when I'm out there with scope and camera.

About 6:30 p.m. we got a little rain shower, .10" or so,
enough to beat the late afternoon heat.  I see the first
starts of flower buds on the Agalinis finally, a fair bit
made it around us as we spray water in the hot dry periods when
much of it locally cooked.  We're gonna have a sea of pink.

Dragonflies going east, as for last few (and next few) days.
Mostly Spot-winged Glider but some Wandering, Black, and Red Saddlebags,
and a few Green Darner, all of which virtually are never eastbound
over Seco Ridge.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Aug. 26, header....
~ ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATE: August 26, 2012

A few quick recent tidbits.....

It's been very hot, about 100dF daily, and
very dry, the river is dropping fast again.
Golden-cheeked Warblers are gone, as are
Purple Martin and Painted Bunting; most of
the migratory local breeders are over and out.

Some migrants are moving, like Orchard Oriole,
and I'm hearing Upland Sandpipers at sunup or
dusk some days now.  Also have good numbers
of Ruby-throated coming in, a Calliope, 6 Rufous,
and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird so far for hummers.
Seeing a few Yellow Warbler and Dickcissel, and
a couple Baltimore Oriole so far.  Fall
migration is really getting underway.

Butterflies are picking up, with 59 species seen
around town in July the best month in nearly
two years.  A Brown Longtail at the park July 17
was new (#140!) for the local area list (and even
for Uvalde County!).  Have 50 sps. for August
on the 25th.

For rarity sizzle I saw an APLOMADO FALCON Aug. 8.
I'm sure there are more goodies around, I just
cant get out and goof off to find them.

I'm too busy with work now so many daily reports
are just an item or two from the yard.  You
never know what that might generate.  :)

Please holler if you see something good locally!
THANKS!  :)  (local Utopia # 2349)

end of Aug. 26 header

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Aug. 26 ~ A Broad-tailed Hummingbird was about, my FOS
for sure, was an imm. or female.  The same gaggle
of Rufous Hummers (4-5+) incl. the ad. male, 2-3 dozen
Ruby-throats, and a hundred plus Black-chinned still here,
though only a couple ad. males amongst them.  A couple
Mestra were in the yard.  No a.m. migrant movement at SR.

At twilight at least four Upland Sandpipers called as
they passed over, must have spent the day at the north
end of the valley.  Then, first two together, and one
right after them, just over treetops (junipers, 15' AGL)
all flying the same pattern, Chuck-wills-widow, first
I've detected in weeks, I presume young-of-the year that
are still here.

Aug. 25 ~ Remember to make it so you always are running
out of something so you have to run to town, and get
to check the park or gardens.  :)   There
was one new for the month (#51) butterfly species, a fresh
golden-yellow headed Dun Skipper, at UP.  A Dusky
Dancer was there too, which reminded me I forgot to note
Powdered Dancer there a week ago or so.  An adult
Green Heron, a Spotted Sandpiper, and a Black-n-white
Warbler were the only birds besides residents, but it
was heat of the day.

Here at SR about 5 Rufous Hummer, 2 Black-chinned,
100 imm. or fem. BC, 6 ad. ma. Ruby-throat and nearing a
couple dozen imm. or fem. types.  Kathy spotted a
female Roseate Skimmer (ode) on clothesline outside,
they've been quite scarce here this year, even at the
park pond they are generally absent now.  All along
357 and I expect elsewhere, the Broomweed has opened up.
A second female Sachem was at the county-line curve garden.

Aug. 24 ~ still the same herd of Rufous Hummers about,
new was a greenie Painted Bunting, first in 5 days or so,
clearly a migrant.  At minimum 2 ad. male Black-chinned
Hummer still here.  Sure quiet out there at dark with
no goatsuckers (nightjars) at dusk, just Screech-Owl.

Aug. 23 ~ At least 4-5 Rufous Hummer in the a.m., a couple
of the feeders they now own.  No Blue Grosbeaks here
for the third day in a row, they're gone.  We might
still get migrants into Sep., but local breeders have left.
Heard a bunting, sounded Indigo.  Four Raven went over
early in a hurry.  A couple adult male Black-chinned
Hummingbird remain, one owns one of the feeders, only 2 of
the 5 feeders we have out are communal now, three being
guarded by little guys with big attitudes.

Had to run to dump so a quick run through park, found a
LOUISIANA Waterthrush in bright fresh plumage heavilly
washed peachy on sides to lower rear underparts.  They
are very scarce as fall migrants here, last year I saw 2
at the park (on Aug. 14 and Sept. 2), most years I see none.
Two imm. Green Heron were fishing west bank of pond, twenty+
Barn Swallow were about, and I heard a Yellow Warbler in
the willows.  An Orange Skipperling (butterfly) was
the first one of them this month (sps. #50 locally in Aug.).
Several Viceroy were about the willows as well, a (Banded?)
water snake was out in the pond.  Up in one of the dead
Cypress was 7 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, which have been
nearly absent this year.

Aug. 22 ~ Heard a few Upland Sandpiper 7 a.m. before actual
sunrise.  Of Rufous Hummers, adult male, no spot, 1-spot,
and 2-spot all still here.  As is Avocet-bill, an immature
Black-chinned with upturned tip of bill, also half-white tail,
another Black-chin.  Probably 6+ adult male Ruby-throated
and 3-4 ad.male Black chinned, perhaps a dozen immature Ruby-
throats, and at least 100 Black-chinned of types.
Later abt. 3 p.m. I had FIVE Rufous at once (!) outside, two
not the ones in the a.m., so there are still at least 6 here.
Four spot and ad. fem. were the other two.

New just-fledged Common Ground-Dove with adult pair on seed.
The Baltimore Oriole is still here, an Orchard was with it,
and lots of Scott's and Hooded.  Got pix of a first-summer
Scott's just with a little tiny bit of black on chest now.
Another year-old here has a big black patch on breast,
but throat still all olive, no black on crown or head.

Another low 90's dF for a high, but heat on way back,
forecast is to sizzle our way out of August.  Did get
a gorget shot or two maybe of the ad. male Rufous Hummer,
and some audio tape of them calling.

Aug. 21 ~ The Rufous hummer festival continues, got pix of
the adult male showing green flecks in the back, very cool.
A small percentage of them show these, it has nothing to
with current (hybrid) Allen's genes (though perhaps something
to do with ancient ones!).  Also here was no spot, and
one and two spot both as well.  I couldn't keep track
had too much work to do.  Al Bino was here.

A quick look during the post-office drop-off run saw a
Spotted Sandpiper and Clouded Skipper at UP, and a Golden-
fronted Woodpecker doing the Acorn type jacob jacob call.
The garden out front of park had 4 Painted Lady and a
first of month Sachem, butterfly sps. #49 for month.
Thought I heard a Bushtit here at SR.  High in low 90's is
quite bearable.  Water at spillway is now 7-8" shy of
overflowing, the river is dropping an inch a day or more.

Aug. 20 ~ Well the front really came through, clear skies,
dry air, northerly flow, WOW!  Low was about 70 dF.  I
watched the early hummer show a bit, since it's out the office
window, and heard and glimpsed the Calliope.  More amazing
was more (!) new Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus!  First an new
imm. male showed up with a gorget pattern (stray left spot)
quite unlike the four R/A Selasph. here yesterday late afternoon,
so a FIFTH bird, then an adult male (FOS) Rufous showed up,
with full rufous back.  SIX different Rufous/Allen's
Selasphorus here in 12 hours!  Gadzooks, the four different
late yesterday afternoon (to early evening) was a record!
All six of them seem to be Rufous to me judging by their tail
feathers bare-eyed at very close range, and calls I'm hearing.
Double the prior record high count of individuals here at once.
I glimpsed a hummer in p.m. I thought was imm. or fem. Broad-tailed.
Tail was right, and it was big and real metallic grassy green.
If I see it tomorrow, I'll count this as the first date.

The imm. male Baltimore Oriole was back at the hummer feeder,
now seeming to be running with the local gang of sub-ad. and
juvenile (but out of nest 60 days) Scott's and Hooded.
In a.m. didn't have any migrants going over, surprising even
with full frontal passage.

Aug. 19 ~ Just before midnight on 18th light drizzle started
and shortly after a heavy cell dumped 2.5 to 4" of rain
down-valley south of town!  The biggest cell here on SR
was about 3:30, and we got about 1.3+" out of it.  Fantastic!
A nice slow soaker.  Of course this makes for a great
hummingbird morning.  I saw 3 Rufous and a Calliope early,
besides 150-200 Black-chinned and a half-dozen Ruby-throat.
The Rufous are: ad. fem., 1 spot, and four spot (so as to keep
track of stays I try to differentiate individuals with pattern
of metallic spots on throat (gorget) to get a better idea of
real numbers.  Calliope was an immature or female.  Just
before 6 p.m. I saw the Calliope out the office window, and
had four Rufous in 2-3 minutes (3 at once!), finally no spots
came in.  Four different Rufous at once is a record here
in the yard.  There might have been a dozen adult male
Black-chinned, and it seemed 6-12 immature Ruby-throats now,
and probably 5-6 adult males if not more.

I did a quick afternoon look at the park and gardens, it looked
like maybe 1.5" of rain in town.  I guess I was more
confident of seeing a good bug than bird.  Water level at
spillway didn't appear to rise a bit, still 5" shy of overflow, I
can't believe how fast it drops.  There was an Ancyloxypha
skipper at the park, of course in the emergent vegatation along
bank, which I think was Least (not Tropical Least), but will
update when I see the poor pic I got.  Very good bug either
way here.  Heard a Black-n-white Wobbler, saw Green Heron,
and a Spotted Sandpiper was on west bank of river.  Was
late afternoon so birds quiet.  One Hackberry Emperor was
the first one of the month for me here, and what appeared a
Red-tailed Pennant (dragonfly) was out over the river, and
I hadn't seen the one of a couple weeks ago since then.

At the new water co. garden was another fresh Painted Lady, second
in two days.  Library garden had a male S. Dogface, second
of the month.  At the new north end of town (county-line curve)
garden, there was an Orange Sulphur, first of the month.  Also
there was the darkest Bordered Patch I've ever seen (ph.), they
have a dark morph, this wasn't all black, but just a couple
small cells of color dorsally, will double-check ID when I get
the pictures off the camera to study.  Ceraunus Blues far far
outnumber Reakirts (20-1), they are the common blue now.  Rounded
far outnumber Fatal Metalmarks too (6-1).  At least a half-dozen+
each Theona and normal Bordered Patch, one Vesta and over a dozen
Phaon Crescent.  Half-dozen each of Variegated and Gulf
Fritillary, dozens of Pipevine Swallowtail and Lyside Sulphur,
and HUNDREDS of Snout.  A few Queen, more Mestra (6+),
one Desert and 6 or so Common/White Checkered-Skipper, one Eufala,
a few each Fiery and Whirlabout, (+a Clouded at the park), 8
Gray Hairstreak, a few each Cloudless and Large Orange Sulphur.
Overall decent numbers, mostly the regulars, nothing rare, but
with a few new for the month.

All the humidity and ground moisture kept the temps down,
to the low 90's for a high, which was quite a nice break.
Did not see the non-Rufous/Allen's Selasph. at the water co. garden
today in my stop.  White-winged Field Sparrow still here
in yard, as is Al Bino, the House Finch.  The first-summer
Northern Orioles I bare-eyed across the road late in the
afternoon yesterday came by in the a.m., the male using the
hummer feeder after a Hooded and Scott's, it was clearly
Baltimore, so that is what they will go down as, it was
obviously the same messy bib I saw yesterday.

Now they're saying the front will pass tomorrow, so I hope
that is when we could get a wave of migrant birds?  Almost
forgot, this a.m. there was a Red Satyr sunning out back,
confirming the one I thought I saw a few days ago.  At the
park along river the Boneset Eupatorium has opened blooms,
as some Frostweed is starting to, while along roads in spots
are some nice patches of Eryngo and Snow-on-the-mountain.

At the park was a flock of 25+ Barn Swallow, with about a
half-dozen Chimney Swift mixed in, almost wonder if the latter
weren't migrants, as I've not been seeing them around town.
Surface winds were easterly today, mid-level flow is N to NE.
No greenie Painted Bunting again, they are outta here (yard).
Also heard or saw no Common Nighthawk at dusk, they might be
gone now too.  Butterfly total for month now 48 species.

Aug. 18 ~ No migs going over in a.m., kinda surprised with
a front allegedly bearing down to strike tomorrow.  Maybe
tomorrow a.m. will have birds?  No greenie (imm. Painted
Bunting) for the second day, they appear to have departed.
About 5:30 p.m. there were two migrants, a pair of first-
summer Northern Oriole (Baltimore or Bullock's), which are
my FOS here this fall.  At least two Rufous Hummer.
There was a single fairly tight flock of 125 White-winged
Dove that flew over early, the first big flock of fall.

A brief look at the park found no passerine migrants there
either save a single Black-n-white Warbler.  There was a
juvenile Green Heron, as well as an adult up on the island,
juv. probably a local hatch.  A juvenile Common Grackle
was at the park too.  At the new garden at the park
entrance on 1050 there was a Selasphorus Hummer I heard but
only saw bare-eyed, it was either Broad-tailed or Calliope,
not Rufous/Allen's.  Also there was the first Southern
Dogface I've seen in two months, and the Mournful Duskywing
from the park last week, which is now beat, torn and frayed.
Good numbers of young Six-line Cnemidophorus (lizard) too.
Was a Great Blue Heron at the park too.

The new garden at the north end of town at county line road
had a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Whirlabout, some Theona,
lots of Bordered Patch, a few Mestra, a dozen Pipevene,
18 Lyside, 7 Gulf and 4 Variegated Fritillary, and one
MIMOSA Yellow which flew right as I clicked the pic,
got nuthin' but air, first I've seen in a few years here,
on the same flower as the last one, Rose Mallow (Pavonia).
A half dozen each of Gray Hairstreak and Ceraunus Blue,
4+ Rounded Metalmark (one Fatal at the park).  The
Barn Swallows scolding alerted me to a Zone-tailed Hawk
right overhead while I was on my knees doing the blues.
Heard a Scissor-tail just south of town.

The beast of the day was a damselfly, an Argia, which I
got good pix of, and I believe to be A. hinei, Lavender
Dancer, which would be my first photos of one here,
it was at the new garden at park entrance hunting in
a blooming composite (bushy sunflower-ish thing).

Aug. 17 ~ Did not see a greenie today in the yard here!
First day without a Painted Bunting in four months or so.
Did not see the male Indigo either.  There were though
TWO MORE NEW different Rufous/Allen's Hummingbirds, both
seemed young females, one with one gorget feather center
bottom, the other with no metallic gorget feathers, just
the standard basic issue finely speckled throat.  This
makes #'s 4 and 5 different individuals since the dam broke
a week ago.  I also had the two spotted female, so there
were three today.  A remarkable showing so far by standards.
A couple adult male and a couple immature Ruby-throated
Hummingbird, probably 125-150 Black-chins left, of which only
a half dozen or less are adult males.

No migrants at dawn, high pressure, nothing moving.  Was
one (local breeder) Common Nighthawk at dusk.  Al Bino
the white House Finch (HOFI) is still here.  A gaggle of
young Lark Sparrow now after about 4 sets.  For a sparrow
they can sure put some millet away.  There was a Golden-
fronted Woodpecker on the pole 20' away this a.m.

Aug. 16 ~ Hooded, Scott's and Orchard Oriole about, the latter
a migrant, the former 2 breeders and their young.  Al Bino
and one greenie Painted Bunting continued as did the two-spot
female Rufous Hummer.  No migrants going over in a.m. or
at dusk, but E. Screech-Owl (Tex-Mex mccallii) going at it.

Aug. 15 ~ Lucked into a run to town so a quick check of the
park.  The Green Heron continues, a Great Blue Heron
flew over, the first I've seen in months, a FOS Spotted
Sandpiper was on the spillway with a Black Phoebe.  For
landbird migrants 2 Yellow Warblers, 2 Black-and-white Warbler,
one of which sang (odd with fall migrant- a nearby breeder?),
but the Yellow-throated Warbler (ad. male) may have been one
of the park breeding birds.  Two Eastern Wood-Pewee (both of
which sang were migrants as were a couple Wide-eyed Vireo,
and a few greenie (imm.) Painted Bunting and Summer Tanager.
Three fresh Viceroy, the Clouded Skipper on the Buttonbush again.
A juvenile Bronzed Cowbird was about the seed for a bit.

Aug. 14 ~ Two Rufous at once the imm. male and imm. female
were fighting at the feeders.  A couple ad. male Ruby-
throated Hummer are present, and of 200 Black-chinned perhaps
only a half-dozen or so ad. males remain present.  Al
the Bino (HOFI) was about.  A couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
passed through the yard, and at least one Audubon's Oriole
did as well, might have been two.  Scott's (6?) and Hooded (4+)
Oriole are regulars daily.  One Greenie Painted and one ad.
male Indigo Bunting, a few Blue Grosbeak.  Rufous-crowned
Sparrow is "dear dear dear"-ing down the draw.
Had a satyr-ish thing fly through the back yard in p.m.,
so, Red, OR, that moth that flies just like a satyr.  You
can't tell at distance without a close view of actual details,
flight alone is too close to call until I run them down.

Aug. 13 ~ In the a.m. a couple Orchard Oriole, 2-3 Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher, and a Yellow Warbler all passed through yard.
Al Bino was here, 1 greenie, and 1 ad. ma. Indigo Bunting.
Two Rufous Hummer at once at 8 p.m. on the feeder was neat.
Still little dog-yapping begging young Eastern Screech-Owl
out front (O. a. mccallii). One Common Nighthawk was out
after the shower, maybe all that is left.

Best was a shower late in day that dropped about a quarter
inch of rain!  A great cool-down, about 20 dF in 20 minutes.
The river didn't come up a bit from it and up-valley some
areas got an inch.  All those people in San Antonio
insisting they have jungle-like yards, parks, and golf
courses, in what is really mesquite grassland are sucking
us dry.  I can't believe Uvalde voted to give them the
water rights to the Uvalde Pool!  Just wait for the
next 10 year drought and see how that works out as the SAT
population continues to explode.  It will be good for
the well diggers, but that's about it.

Aug. 12 ~ In Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus department, there was
the prob. imm. fem. of yesterday, and an imm. male, which
was not the imm. male here Aug. 9-10 (different gorget pattern)
so 3 diff. in last 3 days, and 2 today.  I was wondering where
they were, on the tardy side for the first ones this year.
At least one ad. ma. Ruby-throat coming in.

Aug. 11 ~ Wonderfully cool in a.m. due to rain in late p.m. yest.,
was probably 70dF or so, nice while it lasted, was another
hundred dF day, so worked on keyboard.  Another Selasphorus
(Rufous/Allen's) showed up, it has a different throat pattern,
so the second of the fall, and I didn't see the first
one for sure.  The ad. male Ruby-throat is about still,
maybe an immature too.  The Black-chinned numbers have
really dropped, probably only a couple hundred here, seems
about a dozen ad. male still.  The barely smudged with
any black on upper breast SY (first-summer) fem. Scott's Oriole
is here multiple times daily, I need to get pix of it to
show how in August year-old females can still barely show
any black in throat/breast (none in throat on this yet).  It
does have some new darker wing coverts coming in.

Only saw one greenie Painted Bunting for sure.  In a real
sign of fall migration getting underway, there were 3 Dickcissel
on the seed 10' out the office window at 7 p.m.!  All
were beautiful fresh immatures, 2 male, they really are flush
in great color and pattern, long one of my favorites.  At the
time I figured out there were two, the third hopped in, and all
within a square foot of each other at one point.  They made
pigs of themselves on the white millet, as did 4+ Blue Grosbeaks.
I went out to tape some of their calls and they flushed into
a live-oak.  When they flushed out of that 5 birds flew
that looked all the same, so there were likely more than the
3 we saw hidden in the now 18" to 2' Plateau Agalinis.
Did get some of their calls on tape.

Aug. 10 ~ Al the Bino HOFI still here, at least one, maybe
2 greenie Painted Bunting.  At the park was an Eastern
Wood-Pewee calling, a Yellow-throated Vireo, but that was
it for passage migrants besides 3 greenies.  The Orange-
barred Sulphur was still there, a new fresh Clouded Skipper,
and a Common Mestra, 2 ?.  A few Threadtails (ode) were out.
At the north-end of town garden was a Tropical Checkered-
skipper, the first I've seen this year, and a worn Common
Checkered-Skipper plus many of the same things continue there:
15 Reakirt's and 2 Ceraunus Blue, 5 Rounded Metalmark, 10
Bordered Patch, 4 Variegated and 7 Gulf Fritillary, 11 Pipevine
Swallowtail, 17 Lyside and 25 Dainty Sulphur, 8 Sleepy Orange,
couple Whirlabout and a few Fiery Skipper, 1 Eufala, a half-
-dozen Phaon Crescent, 7 Gray Hairstreak.  Library Garden
had zilch but a Fatal Metalmark, filled the birdbath, watered
a little again.  Ooops, forgot, park had 1 (ph.) Duskywing
and a couple Texan Crescent too.  The ad. male Ruby-throat
and the Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus were both still about in a.m.
Ooops forgot, a Green Heron (adult) was at UP too.

The best thing was about 5-7 p.m. a couple storm cells came by
and broke the 100+dF heat with outflow boundries.  Town
got more rain it seemed, but we got a tenth of an inch out
here on SR west a couple miles, a leaf-washer, and dropped it
to about 80dF a whole lotta hours sooner that it would have been.
The pair of Common Nighthawks were out before 8, and it felt
so good some full booms were in order, which have not been
daily lately as departure time nears.  The young seem gone.

Aug. 9 ~ Al Bino the House Finch was about, at least 1 greenie
(juv.) Painted Bunting still here.  Had no migrants go over
this a.m.  Field Sparrow and Blue Grosbeak still singing.
The ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was still about in a.m.
Finally at almost 6 p.m. the FOS fall migrant Rufous/Allen's
Hummingbird showed up, probably a first year male methinks.
Hutton's Vireo in p.m., maybe heard an Audubon's Oriole too.
A new fresh streaky juvenile Field Sparrow is on the seed pile.
A handfull of Scott's and few Hooded Oriole still daily.
THREE male Blue Grosbeak at once within 10' of each other
was an eyeful.  Never see that in June or July, they fight.
They're going into molt now, many wing coverts are missing.

The Chuck-wills-widow must be about to depart until next April,
as it called for 5 mins. around 9 p.m., after nary a peep in 2+ weeks.
While it was calling at least a dozen Upland Sandpipers called
passing overhead southbound.  These just took off to fly for the
night (you wouldn't get far in the 100dF daytime heat) so must
have spent the day up-valley a short ways in some ag fields.
High again 100dF, daily now for the 4th consecutive week,
with no rain in sight.  The dog days..... come on fall.
A storm cell just missed us to the west, but blocked the sun
and gave us a break from the late afternoon heat, thank you.
No ad. male Painted Bunting since Aug. 5.

Aug. 8 ~ Another sign of fall, a FOS Dickcissel flying overhead
calling, SSW-ish-bound at sunup.  Astounding though was
about quarter after 7 a.m., all the birds coming in to the seed
just thrown out, flushed explosively, so I look up as they all
fly away in a panic expecting the local Cooper's Hawk.  Instead
a FALCON shoots over!  There aren't any falcons around this time
of year!?!  It was obviously much larger than Kestrel or
Merlin, and as obviously much slimmer, sleeker, and slighter than
the smallest male Peregrine.  Much narrower wings, esp.
inner half (arm) but outer too, and an super long narrow tail.
Fast, light, bouyant, quick wingbeat with long sickle shaped wing.

After going right overhead, at perhaps 25' up at most, quickly
it was flying towards sun after the flushed flock so I couldn't
get any color or pattern off it.  At the draw (100') it
turned sharply left flapping and accellerating as it did, when
it went after one of the flushed birds (a House Finch I presume)
giving a perfect square-on shape and structure view from above.
All dark slate, it was an APLOMADO FALCON!!  So fast, sleek, so
graceful, there is nothing like them.  As unique as each U.S.
falcon is structurally (therefore all that comes from that, especially
actions) they can all be ID'd by silhouette alone, always.  There
is nothing like each one, once you learn size, shape, and structure.

So unique is the flight pattern, Aplomado can do things none of
the other falcons can do, because it is built so differently.
Relatively long thinner wings and long tail, built for speed, and
high-speed turns.  The high speed tight turn when it broke to
go after something was not just flapping and braking for a turn,
but clearly gaining speed during the 90 deg. turn when it made its move
after picking the prey item.  A Peregrine would be jealous as
incapable of this maneuver.  Mere Kestrels and Merlins are in
disbelief I'm sure.  This is the fanciest flyer of our falcons.

Aplomado Falcon is like a Ferrari Peregrine.  A Peregrine
is a Bugati next to one of these Lamborghinis, sure it can do 200,
but it can't turn as sharp, as fast, at 100 MPH.  It is not
as agile, light and bouyant, more the big bruiser.  Sheer speed
and brute force, whereas Aplomado is much lighter, has speed and
adds grace and flying skills like no other falcon.

It shot down the draw and I lost it below treeline as altitude decreases,
and did not see it come back up, so it probably won and flew off the
ridge with breakfast.  Incredibly this is the third one I have seen
up here (!) in nearly 9 years, methinks all in August or September.

At a certain point they're gonna have to let me count one as a good
wild tickable bird and put it on the Uvalde County list.  The
general idea from the powers that be about these things is probably
that if they granted me the ID, then, it was likely from the hacked birds
(nearest known source in extreme south Texas coast) and not truly wild.
Which may or may not be the case.  I'm not sure we know it all
about their status say in nearby Chihuahua and Coahuila, in No. Mexico.

Another amazing thing was the time lapse between when the birds
flushed and when it went over.  They saw it coming from a
long ways away.  Since I expected it to be one of the Coops,
I was wondering, well, where is it, three times (because they
jump them, sneaking up as much as possible).  The Coop would
they had gathered, and into the air, and then single one out for
attack.  Great technique, since it can outfly anything.

Almost 5 p.m. I got my first adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
of fall migration!  Musta just came in.  Took over the
two feeders outside the office window, so kind of a drag in that
those are the two usually communal ones my eyes are on most.
Hopefully he'll get tuckered out quickly in the 100dF heat and
one of the feeders will get overwhelmed shortly.  Interesting
as I thought I had an immature a couple days ago, but have been
too busy to work them, except out the office window.  Of course
I hear the hummers a dozen times daily as I go out for a bit each
hour, still have yet to hear a Selasphorus this fall.  After
last years' record-setting fall for hummers, I figured it would
be slower this year for them.

I finally saw a whopping two greenies, juvenile Painted Bunting.
Pair of Ground-Dove were about, male was singing the other day.
Hutton's Vireo was about but silent, a few hatch-year 5" juvenile
Six-line Cnemidophorus (Racerunner) lizards are about, good to see.
Not seeing the E. Fence lizards, I think the Roadrunners got them.
Finally saw Al Bino the HOFI (House Finch) at 6 p.m.

Aug. 7 ~ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was the only migrant I had
at sunup.  Maybe only 72dF this morning.  Al Bino
the House Finch was about.  Kathy pointed out how unlike
most of them, you know this is Al Bino when you see it.
The dinosaur (roadrunner) hides on a big live-oak branch
crouched down blending in with the bark in the tree near
the sunflower tube, where the House Finch come in to stage
before going to feeder.  Now that the Painted Bunting
are all but gone, it moves on to the next easy thing, just
fledged juveniles are not safe with them (or Scrub-Jay).
Hope he doesn't get Al.  'nother hundred dF day.

Aug. 6 ~ Some great radiational cooling took us down to
a low of 69-70dF or so, the coolest in months without
help of rain, and boy did that feel great!  KVL was 68,
UVLD was 73 showing well the normal average difference in
overnight cool down and lows between the hills and the flatlands
of the brush-country.  But a fond memory in short order,
SR was 100dF again.  Saw a possible imm. Ruby-throat.

At 7 a.m. I heard at least a half-dozen Upland Sandpiper
going over, and a couple Orchard Oriole passed by too.
If you are not out at sunup, you'd never know it happened.
Male Indigo Bunting still here, and at least three greenie
Painted, as is Hutton's Vireo and the albino House Finch,
couple and a juv. Blue Grosbeak still.

A quick run into town so checked the north end garden and
library, 2 doz. Lyside, a dozen Bordered Patch, 15 Reakirts
and 4 Ceraunus Blue, 3 Rounded Metalmark, 1 Fatal, the only
new thing for Aug. was a male Whirlabout; at all stops total,
at least 100 Snout, and a dozen Large Orange Sulphur.  A
couple Question Marks in the UP woods, Texan and Phaon Crescent.
Also at UP was a male Red-tailed Pennant dragonfly, the
first here in a couple years I think, have to check notes.
They're common in flatlands brush-country, scarce up here.

The river is not going over spillway now, so you know water
levels in the aquifer are seriously lowering.  When it quits
going over the dam we are in a serious drought.  Though
regular lately (the last 3 years), it didn't happen 2002-2008.

Aug. 5 ~ An adult male Painted Bunting was the first since
August 2.  Only a few greenies left here, though one
of the salmon underparted year-old males continues too.
The male Indigo Bunting was sneaking around the millet,
as the Blue Grosbeaks; amazing how ginchy those two blue
birds are, whereas Painted Bunting is tame by comparison.
Hutton's Vireo finally gave a couple whinny calls to my
tape recorder, not to mention the Warbling Vireo-like 'chick'
note which is only rarely heard.  The pair of Hooded Oriole
were on the feeder together (=still nesting).  No migrants
going over this a.m., and was about 100dF again.  A female
Flame Skimmer was in the yard, the first I've seen this year.

Interesting is a female Scott's Oriole with just a smudge of
black on upperbreast.  How old is it?  The oldest young
are from late May or early June, a couple months.  Since
young females return next April and ususally STILL don't have
black on throat or breast yet, this can't be a juvenile.  So it
is a year old, which is just now getting its first black
on breast.  The wings support this as the wingbars are
mostly missing, only a few of both of those tracts still
show white tips, and the primaries are very worn brown. 
The tips of many rectrices (tail feathers) are very worn as well.
So it is a first-summer, a year-old, or SY (second year) bird.

Aug. 4 ~ Right after sunup I heard at least 3 calling Upland
Sandpiper flying over but couldn't pick them up visually.
Hutton's Vireo, White-winged Field Sparrow, albino House
Finch, a couple greenie Painted Bunting, the regulars here.
A few hundred Black-chin Hummer, and nothing else yet.
A new fresh juvenile Blue Grosbeak showed up, and a couple
new juvenile Cardinal, another new juv. Lark Sparrow and
a juv. Summer Tanager was about as well.  Another
near 100dF day, so worked on the computer in AC.

Aug. 3 ~ Two male Blue Grosbeak on the millet at once was
nice, I still hear them singing.  The Painted Bunting
blowout is amazing, I didn't see 5 greenies in the yard
this morning, and no adult male.  They are about gone.
At the park (UP) the only landbird migrant was greenie
Painted Bunting of which I saw 5.  They are on the move.
The Eastern Pewee was still singing at north end, so likely
an adult off breeding grounds, molting at a good food stop.
Some juvenile White-eyed Vireo in woods, and another new
just-out-of-nest juvie Eastern Phoebe.

I lucked into a couple errands so had to run to town,
and check the park and gardens, lucky me.  At the park
was an Orange-barred Sulphur male on Buttonbush, the first
I've seen this year.  Five Viceory was a good count,
and below the dam the first school of any native minnow
I've seen since the river dried and was dredged, some
Texas Shiner (Nortropis amibilis).  They have an
iridescent turquoise top of head, and greener line half-way
down side if you're at the right angle to the sun, a very
beautiful native minnow.

At the library garden was a Mournful Duskywing, the first
I've seen in a few years (ph.) and a great find.  Also
there was an Empress Leilia.  The Duskywing and the
Orange-barred Sulphur were two sps. I did not see last month
among 59 species.  Large Orange Sulphur were everywhere,
over a dozen, half males and half pale form females, at least
a hundred Snout were seen.

The area around the garden at the north end of town curve
was mowed very low, taking out all the blooming frogfruit,
which had more butterflies than the planted garden, so it
was depressing.  I guess you have to be a planted flower
there, not something natural that sprouts up around it, or
you get mowed.  They left the buffalo burr, which they
didn't plant, but sorta looks like something they did.
I managed to muster 1 Ceraunus and 12 Reakirt's Blues,
3 fresh Rounded Metalmark, 1 Theona, the Desert Checkered-
Skipper, a Southern Skipperling and a Eufala and some of
the bigger junk was on the garden flowers proper, Pipevine,
Gulf Frit, etc.

No Martins around town, and many fewer Barn Swallow it seemed.
A bit of Snow-on-the-mountain is opening, as is some Eryngo
(the little purple pineapple looking thing along roads),
Lots of Low wild-Petunia at the park going well, some of
the Buttonbush is open, others over, some Frostweed is
starting to open, and the Prairie Flame Sumac is peaking
for some, others done blooming.  I did see a Ludwigia
in bloom (Yellow Water Primrose).  The water is not
running under the 1050 bridge anymore, and it is amazing
how since the dry period started the dodder moved in on
the Justicia, where it was safe when the water kept it
at bay.

The white-winged Field Sparrow is still here at SR, as is the
albino House Finch.  About the 3rd day if not 4th we've
been about 100 here on SR, it's the dog days of summer.
Mornings in low 70's are nice, but don't last long without
the low stratus layer from the gulf.

Aug. 2 ~ Wow it is really fall migration now, this morning
around 7 a.m. I had a Yellow Warbler, and shortly after
an Upland Sandpiper called as it flew over southbound!
There has been a major blowout of Painted Bunting with
far fewer, less than 8, only one adult male seen today.
Albino House Finch still here, Black-chinned Hummingbird
numbers on increase, but few adult males, perhaps a dozen
or so, whilst a couple hundred females and (mostly) immatures.

August 1 ~ Still had the male Indigo Bunting today on the
seed.  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through, not hearing
any Purple Martin, they might be gone now.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The 59 species of butterflies in July was the best monthly
species diversity total since Oct. 10.

July 31 ~ Albino House Finch here much of day, Poor-will
calling lots still, as Eastern Screech-Owl but not a peep
of Common Nighthawk or Chuck-wills-widow, which are still
here but have gone silent.  The Chuck will call once
more, the day the leave it seems to say goodbye till next
year.  And if you're not out there, you miss it.

July 30 ~ At 7 a.m. a Solitary Sandpiper flew over calling.
Migrant shorebirds are another sign of fall on the way.
Albino House Finch was back, after being gone last 3 days.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here was the header for the July 29 update,
since they change, and for the record:


A few quick tidbits.....

The first two weeks of July we got a great
lucky break with a low that gave us some much
needed rain, and kept it much cooler than the
record breaking 110 in late June.  Most areas
got 1.5" of rain, if not a good bit more.
But the river is dropping now, look below the dam.

Lots of birds have young out of the nest now, most
residents are on the third set if they are still
going at it, many seem to be, thank the rain gods.
Butterflies are picking up, with 59 species seen
around town in July the best showing in nearly
two years.  A Brown Longtail at the park was
new (#140!) for the local area list (and even for
Uvalde County!) on July 17.  Orange-striped
Threadtail (damselflies) are flying at the park.

Golden-cheeked Warbler are exceedingly rare on the
valley floor where three singles were at Utopia Park,
on June 18, June 29, and July 3.  Still getting
some through yard as usual in mid and late July.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ end of late July intro~

~ ~ ~ ~

July 29 ~ At least one male Golden-cheeked Warbler was
in the live-oak out back, but Kathy was still looking
at one after I saw one fly out, so I think it was two
birds.  The last ones each year are more precious.
Cooper's Hawk ( was buzzing the doves here.

Did a few mid-day hours of poking around the gardens
and the park 11-2 or so.  Butterflies were great with
FIVE new ones for the month bringing the July total to
59 species, the best month since October 2010, almost
two years.  New were Desert Checkered Skipper and
Streaky Skipper at the north end of town garden or on the
Frogfruit around it (another Streaky Skipper was at the
Library Garden!).  Also at the Library was a Soldier,
and at the park a Monarch, so two new 'milkweeds' today.
At the park the other new one was Clouded Skipper, which I
glimpsed there a couple weeks ago, but got a confirming
look today.  That was the five new for July.

At least 3 Viceroy were at the park, but still no Arizona
Sister (Adelpha) this year, wiped out by the drought.
Carolina Satyr and Dusky-blue Groundstreak both of which
were formerly common in the park woods are also unseen
this year or last, as Sister is.  It was 40 species
of butterflies in 3 hours around town though, not bad.

A couple new odes (dragons) showed at the park; Roseate Skimmer
below the dam, and a male Neon Skimmer at the far north
end of the woods at the hidden waterhole where they
always show up.  A handful of Orange-striped Threadtail
were at the north end of the island, and the first
Amberwing I've seen this year up here, presumedly Eastern
until proven otherwise.  Below the dam were multiple
Desert Firetail which I virtually never see here at Utopia,
though common down at Uvalde in the brush country flatlands.
One pair was ovipositing in the algal mats.  A Leaftail
looked like Five-striped, probably the one that's been
there a week or two.  Then out front of the park at
the gate was a Filigree Skimmer which crossed the road
right as I drove out.  The rest was the regulars:
lots of Checkered and a few Swift Setwing, lots of Blue
Dasher, a few Eastern Pondhawk, a few Red Saddlebags, a
few each of Double-striped Bluet, Kiowa, Violet, and
Blue-ringed Dancer.

For birds at the park there was a singing Eastern Wood-Pewee
which is a post-breeding (fall) migrant, as was the Black-
and-white Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  The
immature Summer Tanagers are likely some moving through
as well, they found the bee tree and were picking them
off like candy.  I wonder if they go for outbound
(empty) or inbound (loaded with pollen) bees?  I
couldn't tell but 5 were making a dent in the population.
A Yellow-throated Vireo though quietly singing seemed a
passage bird, I heard a Yellow-throated Warbler but no
song, only chip notes, they're likely done for the year.
One immature Scissor-tail was in the field in front of
the park still, probably one that hatched in the big pecan.
A few greenie imm. Painted Bunting were in the Ragweed.
Heard a couple good bursts of jacob jacob jacob calls
from a Golden-fronted Woodpecker, this an immature bird,
the call sounds very much (amazingly) like Acorn Woodpecker.

Some of the buttonbush is done, others going well, but seems
few butterflies on it (none today that I saw), quite odd.
The Wooly Ironweed and Green-eyes at the park are still going,
as is the Tropical Sage.  Frogfruit going great along the
roads, some Navajo Tea or Greenthread (I think the former)
is still going, as is a bit of Guara, the Kidneywood fading
from the last rain-induced bloom, as is Cenizo, much of the
Snow-on-the-mountain cooked before it could bloom.  Some
Scarlet Pea showing, and a bit of Sida.

July 28 ~ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Summer Tanager passed
through yard.  Female Scott's Oriole's black on throat
now has some pepper in jugulum area, and a little lower to
uppermost breast now, not just well-defined on throat.  A
Chuck-w-w flew close by at dusk, not a peep out of them
for a week plus now, and the Common Nighthawk were silent
tonight, last night I still heard booms.  The Poor-will
people are calling though (10:p.m.) so surely are re-nesting.
Heard a couple Purple Martin overhead early in the a.m.

July 27 ~ Rode along on a run to Uvalde for supplies, so
no birding time.  Some Cenizo (Purple Sage) in bloom
from the rains.  Best was just off the escarpment,
before it totally flattens out, a big Texas Gopher Tortoise!
Right at the edge of the road, it was getting ready to cross.
That is the closest to here I've seen it, and really on the
lowest edge of the escarpment.  Almost up in the hills.

Here at SR the white-winged Field Sparrow is still about.
In the a.m. we had a shower, with maybe two tenths of an inch
of rain.  Some of the Agalinis is dropping, mostly the
spindly ones, still a month to go to bloom, so even these little
showers are critical to keep it going.  Old Man's Beard
really peaking here around town.  It's that white stuff on
the fencelines that looks like, well, uh, an old man's beard.

July 26 ~ A group of orioles was 3 Scott's and 2 Hooded,
all young of the year.  Hutton's Vireo still perfecting
monotony out there.  Still the ASY male and his SY mate
Scott's are coming in all day, as does the pair of Hooded,
both are likely still nesting.  100dF continues, morning was
nice the low coastal stratus deck as so often reaching here
right about sunup, and holding for 4 hours or so.  Screech-
Owls at dusk, Common Nighthawk still booming a little, but
Chucks are dead-silent a week plus now.

July 25 ~ A Vermilion Flycatcher was about first thing early,
they never stay long.  Albino House Finch still here,
Hutton's Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Cooper's Hawk, all
passed through. Might have heard another Golden-cheek.
Dawn chorus has turned into dawn soloists.  Another 100dF day.
I saw a spectacular meteor at 11 p.m., it was huge, seemed very
close, burned in multiple colors, changing as it did, from
bright blue-white to then with orange and then green at the
head, it flamed out for a fraction of a second and then kept
going for a couple more.  Was ENE from us, surprised to not
see something on the news about it, it was very spectacular.

July 24 ~ Heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler and a Hutton's Vireo,
saw Cooper's Hawk and the albino House Finch, near 100dF.
Finally a juvenile Blue Grosbeak besides the adults, among
the nearly 20 Painted Buntings, a couple male Indigo.
Still a few Purple Martin about.

July 23 ~ A quick run to town saw a few Snow-on-the-Mountain
starting to open, and a giant one pulled as a weed at the
new north-end garden.  The Prairie Flame Sumac is in
bloom now, and a few Frostweed are opening up, early.
Mostly the same leps at the gardens, 10 Theona, 6 Ceraunus,
a dozen Bordered Patch were good counts.  At UP was a
Viceroy, and a Spot-winged Glider (ode) hung-up (perched)
in the understory that let me get a shot, first one I've
seen perched in 9 years.  One or two Zone-tailed Hawk
were buzzing town, one was less than 20' from me at the
NW corner.

July 22 ~ Heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler early in the a.m.,
and a flock of at least 5 Orchard Oriole was about for a bit
early in the morn.  Albino House Finch still here.
A Dark (Tropical) Buckeye came into wet caliche among
a dozen Common Buckeye.  The Roadrunner is perching
in the juniper the Hummingbirds use to stage in before
they hit the feeders.  It was getting them last year.
Black-chinned numbers have thinned a little since a week
ago, it is normal departure time, besides the dinosaur
waiting in the tree for them.  Now is the time for other
species to start showing up.

One of the full adult male Scott's Oriole (ASY) has now molted
its central rectrices (tail feathers) so the whole tail
appears yellow based and black tipped.  The black that
normally shows centrally between tip and base of tail is
not present.

July 21 ~ Another of the early fall migrant species is on
the move, an Orchard Oriole or two was out back this a.m.
Another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher moved through as well.
It's fall migration!  Well the low system that gave us
a cooling break (low 90's) for a couple weeks is gone and
we're back to around 100 dF daily here on SR.

July 20 ~ Two new just-fledged Chipping Sparrow begging to
an adult is good to see.  Kathy saw 2 male Indigo Bunting
at once, and I finally surely actually heard the albino
House Finch call a few times.  Great was another new
for the month butterfly, a Northern Cloudywing, #54 for July.
Others in yard included Queen, Mestra, Snout, lots of Buckeye.

July 19 ~ A couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through
one early, one mid-day, they are diurnal migrants.  The
albino House Finch was about.  And in the not singing
anymore department are Ash-throated Flycatcher and Summer
Tanager, plus Chuck-wills-widow, all have gone song silent.

July 18 ~ The male Blue Grosbeak is still singing (nesting)
and hitting the seed daily, the male Indigo Bunting is
still here, and I counted 5 adult male Painted Bunting
at once in the afternoon.  They can really color
a yard up.  There is a bald male Cardinal with a
featherless head showing blackish skin, perhaps a bit
on the unattractive end of Cardinals.  The real
surprise was the snow white albino House Finch showing
up spending much fo the day with the flock on the sunflower
tube.  Prior it was seen July 5-6 only.  Hooded
Oriole was singing a bit, and a juvenile was about so it
was likely showing it this is good territory.  Several
Scott's about, multiple ASY males, a flock of juvies, some
female, one sang, again, to show a juvenile this is the spot.

July 17 ~ A major find today was a new for the local area
species of butterfly for me, if I'd have gotten a photo
it might be a new first county record.  It was at the
park (UP), a BROWN LONGTAIL (Urbanus procne), which I know
from the LRGV, it is the only unmarked all brown Longtail.
It was on buttonbush at first, then landed in leaf litter,
where I had it in binocs as close as I could focus, as I was
pulling camera out it flew up into live-oak canopy where
I lost it.  Now nearing 9 years of looking, anything
so far unseen, is big.  It is species #140 for my Utopia
area local butterfly list (within 4 miles of town).

Two more new for the month species were at the north
end of town garden, an Eastern Tailed-Blue, and a
Julia's Skipper, both were my first of the year, the
Tailed-Blue is the first I've seen in a few years.
Actually both those were on wild Frogfruit at roadside
next to garden.  Many of the roadsides have this neat
flower blooming now, it is covered with butterflies, most
so small I have to kneel with my reading glasses to
make the ID's.  So if you see my keister at roadside,
and I appear to be looking for a lost contact lense maybe,
this is probably what I am doing.  :)  A small
hand towel to kneel on can come in handy to protect from
chiggers.  Another to keep sweat out of your eyes.

Others seen were single Theona, Fatal Metalmark, and Funereal
Duskywing, dozens of Pipevine and a couple Giant Swallowtail, a
dozen Gulf Frit, 1 Cloudless and 25 Dainty Sulphur, a dozen
worn Phaon Crescent, dozens of Reakirt's Blue, a few Ceraunus,
10 Gray and a couple Mallow Scrub-, Hairstreaks.  The three
new ones for month makes 53 species locally so far in July.

There was a flock of 5 juvenile Scott's Orioles about
early, I presume the results of a couple nestings
gathered up.  The male Indigo Bunting is still about
and out the office window I counted 10+ greenies at once,
a dozen it seemed, immature or female Painted Buntings that is.
At least four adult males, probably nearly 20 total in yard.

A pair of Red Saddlebags were ovipositing at the park.

July 16 ~ Roadrunner with juvenile, showing it how
to hunt juvenile Painted Buntings, missed on the diving
lunge I saw today, but last year or year before I saw
it get one.  After dark 5/16" to 3/8" Staphalinid
(Rove Beetle) was roving about my desk and lamp, I hardly
ever see them here.  A new for the year dragonfly up
here was Black Saddlebags of which there were 50 at least
heading WSW over a couple hours late in the p.m. over SR.
They were among 100+ Spot-winged and 25+ Wandering Glider.
A few Red Saddlebags were mixed in as well.

July 15 ~ Worked most the day but at 4 p.m. I ran to check
the flower gardens, the new one at the north end of town
continues to produce the most butterflies.  Numbers of
Pipevine Swallowtail, Gulf Fritillary (over a dozen each),
a few dozen Reakirt's and an amazing dozen Ceraunus Blues,
A half-dozen Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a dozen Gray Hairstreak.
couple Rounded Metalmark, 1 Pearl, 10 Phaon, and a Vesta Crescent,
another Southern Skipperling, and best were two new for the
species, Sachem and Whirlabout.  Most of the little stuff
is on the Frogfruit that grows wild at roadside.  Another new
for July species was a Dun Skipper at the library garden, and
one more new one for month was a Texas Powdered-Skipper
at the new park garden.  A quick count shows 38 sps.
of butterflies in less than 2 hours today.  WOW!

Four new sps. for the month today, all were skippers.
That makes 50 species for the month at the half-way point,
and the biggest month this year or last!  The park
had dozens of campers and no birds, lots of loud music,
and up by island a Green Darner and a Viceroy was about it.
Some Blue Dasher, Checkered and Swift Setwing.

A good cell poured south and east of town about 5 p.m.
for over an hour, when it finally got legs and moved, it
dropped a half-inch plus on us back of SR, I'm sure mostly
east of town got an inch, the NE corner of Medina Co. over
by Seco Creek got 2-4"!  A toad here sat at a
termite emergence just eating them as fast as he could,
musta ate 50 of 'em (ph.).  Right as the big cell
was approaching several hundred (400-500+) Spot-winged Glider
dragonfly passed over heading SSW, at times 30-40 or more were
in view at once.  This the first big big flight this year.
Black-chinned Hummer numbers are astronomical.  Heard a
Golden-cheeked Warbler in yard today, and a Hutton's Vireo.

July 14 ~ Another p.m. shower, maybe a tenth of an inch
out here at the back of SR, but town, and to the N. and E.
got it good.  There have been 5 of these little leaf-
washin' tenth inchers in the last 10 days, and
they all add up to happy plants that will bloom later
this summer and fall.  The adult male Hooded Oriole
was with it's mate, a first summer (year-old) female,
on the feeder together.  The first summer female Scott's
Oriole has dropped some central rectrices (tail feathers),
and still just has a small triangle of black on lower throat
to uppermost breast area.  The Scott's pair commuting
together still too, so also probably still nesting (again).

July 13 ~ Happy Friday the 13th!  A good shower crossed
the valley up in Bandera Co., missed us here though.
A Common Mestra was about the yard.  Head in work.
Yapping (begging) baby Eastern Screech-Owls at dusk.

July 12 ~ A quick stop at the butterfly garden at the
north end of town produced a Southern Skipperling, my
first this year.  At least 50 Reakirt's Blue were
mostly on Frogfruit.  The Pearl Crescent was still
there, among a half-dozen plus Phaon, and one odd one
got away I didn't ID.  A half-dozen metalmarks
were mostly Rounded (C. perditalis).  At the park
entrance garden was what I guess was just the biggest
Large Orange Sulphur I've ever seen, Orange-barred sized.
Another spritzin from a cell at 10 p.m. was maybe about
a tenth of an inch and change more of precip.  We're
about an inch+ out on the back of SR for the week.  Just
in time to keep the Plateau Agalinis going, it was starting
to look stressed.  The stuff is so delicate and fragile,
requiring bi-weekly rains through the summer to stay alive
to bloom in fall, I don't know how the strategy succeeded.
Pulled a live female Ox Beetle out of a friends pool.

July 11 ~ About 7:30 a.m. two Golden-cheeked Warbler were
out front, one landed on the powerline for 10 seconds.
Bare-eyed, they looked to be hatch-year juvies/immatures.
Usually the adults are solo post-breeding locally.
Two Purple Martin were overhead, one a nice male, they'll
be gone soon like the Golden-cheeks.  We finally
got a little bit lucky with some rain, perhaps a half to
3/4" over the day and several bands of cells.
Some areas west of San Antonio (Bastrop) had 5" yesterday
and down near the coast some areas in the last 3 days are
up to 10" total!  A great break from the heat!
It is methinks fairly spectacular for a cold front to
reach the plateau in July!  Hopefully it tells of
things to come.  The Screech-Owls were so thrilled
they were calling before it got dark.  The Nighthawks
are still booming, but not pulling as steeply out of the
dive, so a flatter boom as opposed to the hormone charged
sharp pullups early in the season when they're showing off.

July 10 ~ A tenth of an inch of rain and a cooldown from
outflow was the excitement of the day.  To our west
the Frio and Nueces Canyons got 2-4" and a couple feet
of water was over Hwy. 55 S. of Camp Wood, and 2' was
running down mainstreet at Hwys. 83 and 337 in downtown Leakey
after dark.  Hummers are swarming, too many Black-chins.
A couple new just-fledged Black-crested Titmouse fledglings
are out and begging.

July 9 ~ We got grazed by a storm cell, cooled us down,
maybe a couple hundredths was it for precip.  Had to
run to town so stopped briefly at the garden at the north
end of town and added three new butterflies for the month.
Significant because it puts me at 45 species for July,
a higher total than any month this year, on the 9th!
Last year my best month was November, a paltry 39 species.
It's gonna be a good month (& fall) for them here, finally.
The newbies for the month were Common Mestra, Dark
(Tropical) Buckeye, and best was the first Pearl Crescent
I've seen here in a few years (pre-drought).  They were
regular 5-8 years back, but scarce to absent since then.

At least 3 Chucks were going at it at dusk, a Poor-will
chimed in, and Common Nighthawk were calling and booming
overhead, so 3 sps. of nightjars simultaneously was neat.
A new fresh juvenile Hooded Oriole was on the feeders.
Two new fresh juvie Scott's Oriole were about as well.

July 8 ~ Another Black-and-white Warbler was out front
at 7 a.m., then about 8 a.m. I was on the back porch and
an ad. male Golden-cheeked Warbler jumped on a juniper
branch 10' from me, then moved into the live-oak for
a bit.  A juvenile Golden-fronted Woodpecker, not
the bird here a few days ago, this with no color on crown,
was watching the Ladder-backs, then went to sunflower tube
to see what they are getting there and failed to figure
it out.  Later it landed on a hummer feeder, and
also seemed not to figure that out either, but surely it
is learning from watching the Ladder-backs, doing what
they do.  Ooops, I wrote too soon, the Golden-front
returned to the hummer feeder after watching a Ladder-back
on it again, this time I saw its tongue enter the port a
few times, it got it.  Just what we need, a bigger
woodpecker sucking on the hummer feeders and addicted to sugar.

Well, still no return of the albino House Finch today.
One Chipping Sparrow was at the bath, another set of juvenile
Lark Sparrows are just out of the nest.  A male Indigo
Bunting was about the seed today, first in well over a
month, surely a finished and done breeder, and probably
one of the ones that nested here last year, so knew of
the good food supply here.  Looks nice next to a
male Painted.

July 7 ~ Was out listening to what is left of dawn chorus
at 6:30 a.m., and by 7 a.m. I'd had (not singing) a Black-
n-white Warbler and a Golden-cheeked Warbler in the juniper
out front, so went back to bed.  Just kidding about
the going back to bed.  The Black-n-white Warbler
seemingly had not read the section on behavior in the
species accounts as it was flitting in the tips of the
branches like the Golden-cheeked, not climbing the trunks
as the books say it is supposed to.

A Zone-tailed Hawk was circling over the dump at 11 a.m.
Then over at the park there was a nice fresh juvenile
Yellow-throated Vireo that ate some huge bug I couldn't ID
before it went down the hatch.  Otherwise slow for
birds, save a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the mesquite at the
park entrance.  At the north end of town mesquite patch
the Bell's Vireo continues singing (was last weekend too).

Butterflies are coming in, in waves now, immigrants from
the south I suspect.  I saw five new species for the
month today, one a rary, a Tropical Least Skipper, which is
far less than annual here, was in the Justicia in the
backwater slough by the island at north end of park.
Also there was a pale morph female Large Orange Sulphur
nectaring on the same (Water Willow) stuff.  The two new
gardens (north end of town, and in front of park) both had
Orange Skipperling, four total, the first I've seen this
year, and the Library garden had a Mexican Yellow.
I photo'd a mint fresh Olive Juniper Hairstreak below
the dam at the park.  Those were the 5 new for month,
bringing me to 42 species in 7 days.  Except for
last months 44 it ties or beats all prior monthly totals
this year, in 7 days, on about 3 of which I spent over an
hour looking at the gardens around town.  Excellent!

Other things were probably 25 Reakirt's, and 2 Ceraunus Blues,
a few Rounded Metalmark, one Fatal Metalmark, a couple Theona
Checkerspot, two Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a Black Swallowtail
posed for great ventral photos of that double line of red dots
on hindwing, and a dozen Fiery and 6+ Eufala Skipper were good
to see as well.

In odes, best was the first Leaftail I've seen this year,
methinks a 5-striped.  They were common before the drought.
1 male Widow Skimmer, two Eastern Pondhawk, lots of Checkered
Setwing and Blue Dasher, two Banded Pennant, and that is about
it for dragonfly diversity.  Horrendous compared to pre-
drought and trout.  For damselflies there were Orange-striped
Threadtail, Orange and Double-striped Bluet, one probable
Neotropical Bluet, Violet, Blue-ringed, and Kiowa Dancer,
Rambur's Forktail, and below dam, six American Rubyspot.

If you can get downwind of a buttonbush in bloom they
have a great herbal odor, obviously very attractive to
butterflies.  On some type of sunflower, a Bee Assassin
(bug - Hemiptera) was neat to watch as it tried to grab
bees as they flew up to its flower.

Did not see the albino House Finch today, but did see the
male Cooper's Hawk of the local breeder pair hunting here.
I don't expect the albino will last long, they stand out
like sore thumbs and give the predator something to key
in on beyond the normal.

A high flock of 3 Eastern Bluebird moved over late p.m.
going NE, and a while later another flock, of 4, did
the same.

July 6 ~ Got better pix of the albino House Finch today.

albino house finch
A nearly pure white albino House Finch which had red eyes!

July 5 ~ Stunning was a nearly pure white House Finch, with
RED eyes!  There were a few feathers with a little bit
of pigment, but for the most part it was snow white, with
red eyes!  GADZOOKS!  Yes I got some poor digiscopes.
I've had a partial albino (leucistic is the proper term for
that) Scrub-Jay (white-wings), a partial albino Field Sparrow
(with white-wings), a partial albino Chipping Sparrow, a mostly
albino Black-chinned Hummer, and now an essentially pure (true)
albino House Finch, (all ph.) in the same yard!  It's the water.
An immature Vermilion Flycatcher stopped on the wire out front.
This morning and the last few I've heard Eastern Bluebird
moving over high up.  At 9:35 p.m. with just a hint of
light left in the sky, Poor-will started calling, Chucks were
already quieted down, they'll soon be done singing.

July 4 ~ HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!  Now go birding.  Or
butterflying, or odeing, as the case may be.  :)
Town becomes a hominid zoo with revelers for the great big
annual firework show at the park at dark, so I generally
avoid it.  An imm. male Golden-fronted Woodpecker in the
yard seemingly wanting to find what the Ladder-backs were eating.
About three dozen Spot-winged Glider (dragon) were gliding
southwest in the later p.m., all singles.  I counted
three ad. male Painted Bunting simultaneously, so at least
that many are here, still more new begging juvies showing up.
About midnight a spritzing from a nearby shower grazed us,
but west a bit in Real Co. some areas got 2 inches and more!
At dusk to dark, Chuck-wills-widow, Poor-will, and Common
Nighthawk (still booming) all vocalizing.

July 3 ~ These last 5 mornings were great (the norm when
in wet cycles); when we get the gulf flow and low stratus
layer (clouds)..... and so it stays in the 70's dF the
first few hours, slowly works up to 80 mid-morning, and
is not 90 yet at noon.  Completely bearable if not nice.
Yeah it's humid, but it's not hot the first 5 hours of light.
During drought periods there are many fewer cooler mornings.

I had to run to town and checked the two new flower gardens,
at the north end of town, and in front of park entrance.
The composition was quite different than a couple days prior.
New were three Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, none 2 days ago,
Only 25 Reakirt's Blue, still a Ceraunus or two, only a
few Theona Checkerspot, but a dozen Gulf Fritillary, four
or more Rounded Metalmark, a few Fatal, one probable
Rawson's, which I saw the other day too. Skippers were
Fiery, Eufala, and Common Checkered-Skipper; Eufala most
common, oddly, but at least it's a start for skippers.
No Ani at the north end of town mesquite patch. Flushed
a Black-tailed Jack out of the garden at the north end,
which I think scared me for a second worse than I did it.

A Zone-tailed Hawk was at north and south ends of town in
5 minutes, or it was two.  At the north end all the
martins, swallows, and Scissor-tails ganged up on it and
it beat tracks quickly.  The real bird of the day was
at the park, a THIRD Golden-cheeked Warbler in the woods
at the north end, this in Cypress on the island, and a
first (hatch) year male getting some black in crown.
One Black-and-white Warbler, some juvie White-eyed Vireo.
Yellow-throated Warbler singing, and one Viceory (lep).

A couple Poor-will went at often over a couple hours after
dark, as if they are commencing another nesting attempt.
Some rain will incite that, a second spring of sorts.
Like Chucks, they will rotate as they call, to broadcast,
and you can sure tell when they are faced right at you.
Common Nighthawks still booming around the knoll.

July 2 ~ At 6:10 a.m. besides a few Chucks there was one of
the Poor-will people calling close, must have rained. A few
sprinkles still, day 4 of the sub-95dF highs and nearly
lovely weather.  Always a treat, a male Scissor-tailed
Flycatcher was calling on the wire out front, something special
about seeing them in the yard, what a great bird.
The Chucks were at it at 9 p.m., a Poor-will at 10 p.m..
Here on SR there were a few spritzes of showers, the two-plus
-day total was about a third of an inch, much needed after
the toasting everything had the week before.

July 1 ~ July!?!?!?!  First thing another Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher, 2 days in a row, they are on the way out.
A Black-n-white Warbler sang a bar outside early too.
Still have some showers forecast and a cooler than normal
day, what a great break, but we'll soon be melting again.
A couple leaf-washers might have totalled another tenth
of an inch or two, a better cell ran up the east side of
valley over Thunder Creek, Little Creek, maybe nicked B&R,
some got an inch over there.

At the park at 5:30 p.m. every bird there was asleep, or,
there were no birds there.  The hot spots were the two
new flower gardens, one at the north end of town at county
line road, and the one by the water company in front of park.
They were loaded with butterflies, whislt the library garden
was dead as a doornail.  Surprising were a few things in
numbers, such as combined at both patches, perhaps 50 Reakirt's
Blue, dozens on blooming bluets, which I think scores extra.
Perhaps 4 is the most Theona Checkerspot I've ever seen
in a day here so well over a dozen was amazing, most little males.
Three Rounded (C. perditalis), and four Fatal Metalmark were good,
3 Fiery, 5 Eufala, and 6 Checkered-, Skippers was a good skipper
showing for here lately.  There was one Ceraunus Blue, 10 Gray
Hairstreak, a couple each Phaon and Vesta Crescent, Checkered White,
Variegated and Gulf Fritillary, some Dainty Sulphur, Sleepy Orange,
couple Cloudless Sulphur, some Pipevine and Queens, Hackberry
Emperor, Bordered Patch, Little Yellow, Texan Crescent at the park,
totalled about 25 species in an hour, one of the better showings lately.

While at the park entrance garden I heard several sets of calls
from an Audubon's Oriole between there and spillway, along river.
In the bird of the day always gets away category, while at the
flower patch at the north end of town I heard a GROOVE-BILLED ANI
calling in the mesquite patch just north, in Bandera County!
I went out into it a bit, but couldn't come up with it, and it didn't
call again once I went in, after the few seperate bouts while
I was across the street with head in the flowers. Gawd I hate
having to count heard only birds, but there is no doubt about that
que-lick call it gave a few times. It is my first local
area record, though there is an accidental Lost Maples record.

Update:  As an aside a couple months later I updated my
Bandera County bird list, and found this was species #250 for
me in BanCo.  The list besides being all self-found,
is entirely from the upper Sabinal River drainage portion of
the county *only* which is about 5% of the County, and lacking
the few lakes the east end of the county has (Medina, etc.).
Even with them, it is a tough county to get 250 in.
But not as rough as 200 (or 150!) would be in Real Co.!  :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

June butterfly diversity was 44 species (Texas Powdered-Skipper on
June 27) so the high for the year so far, barely, with 42 in April
and 41 in May.  Individuals are way down, skippers amazingly
few and far between, other things very common, like Buckeye,
Question Mark, Tawny Emperor and Empress Leilia. At least four
Dark (Tropical) Buckeye is a good early season showing.  Then
three species that were the first I've seen locally in a few years
bodes well for a good summer to fall flight season. Those were a
Zebra Heliconian, a few Mestra, and a Black Witch (6" moth)
all of which have been MIA since before the drought. A few
Viceroy, but still no Adelpha (Arizona Sister). The highlight
I didn't see was Ken Cave's photo'd Banded Peacock in his Sabinal
yard, and I heard another was reported north of us in Bandera Co.
January through June 2012 are now on Old Bird News #17, link below.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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