Bird (and nature) News Archive # 20
July 1 to December 31, 2013
Old Bird News XX

Some commonly used abbreviations used are:
"in town" - means in Utopia
sps. - species
(ph.) = photo obtained
ad.=adult; imm.=immature; ma.=male; fem.=female; juv.=juvenile
odes=Odonata = dragonflies and damselflies; leps=Lepidoptera (butterflies)
FOS - "First of Season" (usually used for 1st spring or fall migrant to show up locally)
FOY - First of year - 1st one seen this year
FOF - First of fall
LTA - Less than Annual
UP - Utopia Park on 1050 just west of 187
UR - Utopia on the River
LM - Lost Maples SNA; GSP - Garner St. Pk.
SRV - Sabinal River Valley
SR - Seco Ridge a couple miles west of Utopia in Uvalde County
 (our yard March 2005 to Mar. 2013)
BanCo - Bandera County
UvCo - Uvalde County
WU = Weather Underground (sometimes local station readings referenced)

Bird News Archives Index

Bird News Archive XX (#20) ~ 2013 - July 1 - Dec. 31 reverse chronological order, unless you scroll to end and read from the bottom up.
~ ~ ~ 2013 in review ~ ~ ~

To summarize the year a little, we drove less than 500 miles total all year, 98% of that was weekly runs to town for store, P.O., etc. Due to our move and biz we have been too busy to do much else. Though I mustered 170 species of birds in 9 months in the new yard, and another 10 species along the road, so what is called a green year list - no fuel used - of 180 species. Actually pretty darn good, with a bike or a lot more time for walking, with good spring and fall migrations, and some waterfowl, 200 is doable here afoot.

Odes (dragonflies) were nearly depressing they were so weak, surely largely drought related. Butterflies remain down as well, about 86 sps. for the year, outstanding was the one new to the Uvalde Co. list, November 19, a Purple-washed Skipper (Panoquina lucas). Great was a Sept. Ruddy Daggerwing, and in spring the largest numbers of Mourning Cloak I have seen here, in fall, Cassius Blue and White-patched Skipper were also a scarce finds. The big gigas Cerambycid (Long-horned Beetle) that is a Pepsis Wasp mimic was pretty cool, as was Texas Blind Snake.

Birds were good as usual, always something of interest to see here. January there was a pale morph Harlan's Hawk and Woodcock. Then February a Clay-colored Thrush wintering at park. March had nocturnal calling migrant American Golden-Plover overhead. April and May had multiple sightings of both Red-breasted Nuthatch and White-tipped Dove. Mid-April male Scarlet Tanager and Rose-breasted Grosbeak were in yard. In May a Black-billed Cuckoo and a Black Tern were outstanding. Over the spring I saw 23 sps. of warblers, including Worm-eating, Blackburnian, and Chestnut-sided. Other less than annual migrants in spring were Gray- cheeked Thrush, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Ovenbird, Magnolia Warbler, and Franklin's Gull.

In June, still White-tipped Doves, a Green Kingfisher flew across yard, while Ringed Kingfisher surely is nesting along Sabinal River now. July saw a Peregrine Falcon on 13th, my earliest fall sighting. August had an ad. male Calliope Hummingbird and a Dusky flycatcher, plus a Canyon Wren on the stone house! Sept. had a Little Blue Heron, Townsend's Warbler (warbler sps. #24 for year), an American Redstart, and at least 3 Mourning Warbler, plus record early Cedar Waxwings (2 on 23rd). Oct. saw a Long-billed Curlew, a Chestnut-collared Longspur, and some yankee migrant Blue Jays showed up. Nov. had a Snow Goose fly-over calling in the dark, and the first of the wintering Pine Warblers arrived. Dec. had Townsend's Solitaire and Rusty Blackbird, a winter passerine flock with 9 Pine Warbler, best, a Baird's Sparrow, and a black hawk that now (Jan) after more research I'm sure was a Harlan's, as I initially called it.

Pretty darn good for not going anywhere, and lots of great data acquired. The best bird that got away was a seabird of some sort Morris Killough saw.

~ ~ ~ December summary ~ ~ ~

By Dec. 4 I had seen 24 species of butterflies for the month, and nothing new was added later, due to cold the diversity crashed faster than a positive good idea in congress. Only two species of odes (dragons) were seen; Autumnal and Variegated Meadowhawk. Birds were great however, despite being too busy too get out much. Somewhere between astounding and incredible was the Baird's Sparrow, fantastic was the un-ID'd black hawk whatever it was, as was the Townsend's Solitaire, the Rusty Blackbird was great, and all the Pine Warblers are amazing.

There was very little rain, maybe an inch, botanically critical and useful, nothing for the aquifer though. It was below normal temperatures much of the month, continuing from November. Some numbers of Robin and Waxwing are in, using the decent Hackberry crop. The yankee Blue Jays that arrived in Oct. continued through the month. Little to no waterfowl around. We're just nine weeks from Golden- cheeked Warblers, and about 10-11 from the average last freeze.

~ ~ ~ end December summary ~ ~ ~

bdbdbdat's all folks!

Dec. 31 ~ Happy New Years Eve!  We've all but made it another year!
I wish everyone a happy, healthy, prosperous, and nature-filled 2014!

Low was about 30dF and high in mid-50's, nice in sun with no wind. Some Eastern Bluebirds were at the bath in the sun, wow, what a blue! Heard the Ground-Doves, Kathy saw a Pine Warbler out the kitchen window, the Blue Jays still about, as are the Robins and Waxwings. About a dozen each House Finch and American Goldfinch were taking turns on the sunflower tube with the Titmice and Chickadees. About 30 Eastern Meadowlark were across the corral over in pasture, plus a dozen Killdeer.

The last vestiges of color still visible mostly as maroons now on the Buckley (Spanish) Oaks, though most are just brown. When they put out leaf buds the first and second week of March is when the Golden- cheeked Warblers return. They are the last thing to show color and one of the first deciduous trees to put out new leaves, perhaps only behind Redbud which blooms first, but doesn't leaf out until later.

Dec. 30 ~ Post-frontal blow lasted most of the night, cold northerlies, and we were a chilly 27dF this a.m., KVL showed 29. Junction was colder than us though as always, at 24dF. We'll be lucky to see 50dF today. The Robins and Waxwings were coming into bird bath but I assume it was an accipter that flushed them before too long. The Killdeer and Eastern Meadowlarks were over in pasture, at least a dozen of each. Kathy saw the Hermit Thrush coming into the bath. The Eastern Screech-Owl was calling for the first time in a few weeks.

Dec. 29 ~ Front supposed to hit later in afternoon so the warmer low was nice, we will pay for that shortly, and it was a bit foggy with dense low overcast. The same gang in the yard, for something different we took a walk north up the road about a mile and half through some juniper and live-oak grasslands, nicest where juniper-cleared (removed). This was noon so was higher overcast by then and a toasty mid50's dF. Front finally just started to arrive around dusk, 5:30-6 p.m., by 10 p.m. it was freezing with 15-20 mph winds on it, chills in low 20's.

On our walk, a third-mile up the road I spotted a raptor in the top of the tallest dead Cypress snag. It didn't like us looking at it and flushed fairly shortly down the river corridor. After a month of research, I am sure it was a big female Harlan's Hawk, what I called it at the time. I kept an eye out for it downrange and it appeared again, commencing to fly right over our house! That is a great yard bird that doesn't count.

I thought it was a Black Vulture at bare-eyed first, it was closest to that at a glance, I think because the wings stuck out way past the tail. But when I got it in bins I saw it was a black Buteo. In general it was black, with some white on the upper breast. It had a mostly dirty white tail with a broad not crisply delineated but distinct dark band at tip. I could not discern any markings on tail despite looking. At the time I thought Harlan's, and called it such. But I didn't properly consider an immature White-tailed at the time. I have studied much material on them both in the last month and am comfortable with my original Harlan's ID made at the time. Incidently, there is only one UvCo White-tailed record, Harlan's I see almost annually in winter, despite what the range maps say, kind of like Pine Warbler (but which are more common).

As often the case walking through lots of mixed juniper habitat there are stretches of nothing, like pelagic (ocean) birding, though there was a pair of Common Ground-Dove, and a flock of Chipping Sparrow in which I heard Spotted Towhee. At about 3/4 of a mile, the road turns west away from the river corridor and then goes through some nice live-oak grassland. In that we found a flock of 28 (!) Field Sparrow, homogenous save a Spotted Towhee with them. Later another 4 (at least) Spotted Towhee were seen and or heard (3 at once together) for a total of at least 6! A high number for here in my experience in such close proximity. There must be a boatload of them out there this winter.

A few small groups of Titmouse, seemingly each with an attendant Kinglet, and a Bewick's Wren, but fairly quiet, no Bushtit. We turned around at the gate, ca. 1.5 mi., so walking back, past where we walked 20 min. earlier, when a close sparrow flushed which clearly had white on inner webs of outer tail feathers. In high-alert I persued, and flushed it again, of course nearly underfoot, and again it drops back down into 18" tall grass you can not begin to see into. Three point-blank flushes, three times I saw the white inner webs to outer tail feathers. The fourth flush it flew up into some scraggly small live-oaks, probably Shin/Bastard Oak.

Then I got views of its head (big, ochre colored, big bill, two dark spots on auricular (cheek), one at rear), throat (lateral streak down to large blackish dark area where lower corners meet uppermost breast), and underparts (breast light buffy with thick black (but sparse) streaks in band across it, the underparts were white rearward, streaks from chest-band running down sides became reddish brown on flanks). What I could see of back was very dark.  It was clearly a BAIRD'S SPARROW! It sat for over 30 seconds before it flew out the back side of the oaks and over a fenceline, so I did not persue it further of course.

Weewow, a super-mega rary thing generally not believed when out of range without photos. In Texas, its winter range is considered soley west of the Pecos River. Normally the thing to do is notify others so you have corroborating observers, and especially photographers are a good idea. If this were a public road and property I would notify the public as surely some would be interested in it, but since all the property here is private and not mine, and the road gated, the location can't be broadcast publicly. Anyway, chances of refinding it seem slim to none and slim just left town, though that won't keep me from trying a few times no doubt, and will likely get me to walk more 'empty' grassland here.

On the way back we heard a Sapsucker tapping we couldn't find, and we heard a Canyon Towhee 'yelp'. We also had a pair of (texana) Scrub-Jay, less than a half-mile from the house on the upslope juniper side of the road. I thought I heard one here at the house yesterday, but went out and didn't see anything. This pair was silent. A great couple hours, probably about 3 miles roundtrip. Not lots of birds, but the quality was very high, bordering astronomical. We also harvested some seeds of Wafer Ash and Kidneywood.

Both Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks cruised yard for victims today.

Dec. 28 ~ A quick town run saw a Zone-tailed Hawk at park entrance and just south of 1050 along river. Otherwise nothing. Little Creek Larry said he had a small flock of Slate-colored Junco at the park recently, and just about no waterfowl as is my experience so far this winter. Here at the house this morning besides the hackberry gang, from along the river I heard Ringed and Belted Kingfisher. Squirrel #12 has gone to the great nut farm in the sky. A Caracara had just come down to it and a car went by flushing it, never saw it come back. Caracara on the ground in the yard is neat.

Dec. 27 ~ Light drizzle to showers, cool and damp, the birds I can see from in the house or from porches will be just fine, thank you. It really is amazing being in the middle of this flock of feathered hackberry hogs every day. Today it must have been 150 Robin and 75 Waxwing in the yard for hours going back and forth into hackberries and then to sit and spread seeds in pecans. At one point a couple of the Blue Jays flew into a pecan they have been in daily for a couple months and some male Robins went right after them and chased them out! Blue Jays are nest predators, apparently some of the Robins can't or won't sit and digest with one sitting there. The Jays looked pretty befuddled about not being able to pick pecans, because of some birds that aren't even eating them, as if since it was not nesting season there was no need for this level of aggression. Late p.m. the Robin flock went over on the way to roost, it was 175-200 birds.

Dec. 26 ~ Happy Boxing Day! A cool moist one, about a 35-48dF spread, with drizzle. The yard was full of Robin and Waxwing all day as they gorge on the hackberries here. A few Bluebird were around for a bit, several Raven kept flying over.Some Axis Deer were out there, they sure are delicious, that Axis meatloaf last night was great!  We ate Rudolph for Christmas. Just kidding kiddies!  ;)   Around dark the drizzle mist became more like heavy drizzle, and then light rain showers much of the night.

~ ~ ~ ~ Dec. 25 update header ~ ~ ~ ~

(last updates: Dec. 19, 11, 4, Nov. 27, 20, 15, 7)

Merry Vagrants and Happy New Birds!

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll/read UP day to day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way.

A few quick news items..... the short version.....
Winter officially started Saturday the 21st, though it has felt like winter for a month! Butterflies were great in November, they and odes have all but crashed since the first freeze, along with fall wildflowers. Winter bird species are in. All this and more....

The river is mostly not running, the drought remains severe. At the park the former river is 5+' below normal bank, and from going over the spillway as it used to. Water is not running below 1050, 360, or at Cypress Hollow, etc.

Some migrant yankee Blue Jays have moved in, perhaps they know something about the coming winter that we don't? After dark on Nov. 24 a SNOW GOOSE flew over calling! Then Nov. 28 and 30 a Fox Sparrow was in yard, not seen annually. A TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE flew over calling Dec. 3, which could have been the one reported at Lost Maples Dec. 1, or, there is going to be a movement of them this year. On Dec. 7 a winter passerine flock with 9 PINE Warbler was seen. A RUSTY BLACKBIRD was ID'ably photo'd from porch Dec. 9.

Fall highlights were a female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER Sept. 25 at our bird bath, a CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR flew over calling Oct. 7. Locally there are Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Olive Sparrow, Zone-tailed Hawk, and some Audubon's Oriole around, if yer lucky.

~ ~ ~ ~ end Dec. 25 update header ~ ~ ~ ~

Dec. 25 ~ Merry Christmas! Hope y'all had a good one! Heard the Ringed Kingfisher this a.m. moving up the river, and a Belted. The local winter flock (Robins, Waxwings, Bluebirds, Chipping Sparrow, some Yellow- rumped and Pine Warbler) was in the yard for some time, a couple dull imm. Pine Warbler and one nice bright adult. The Chippy flock is over 80 now. About 10 American Goldfinch, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, some Caracara.

Took a walk along river after lunch, which was about the same cast. Near water in tall grass were Lincoln's, Song, and my FOS Swamp Sparrow. One flock had at least 3 imm. ma. Pine Warbler, and an adult, so I would say at least 7 about today. At least 6 Field Sparrow were in the flock too. We checked the Brewer's Blackbird flock at the pasture and corrals just east of the 360 crossing, there are at least 500 birds in the flock now. We picked out a few Brown-headed Cowbird, 3-4 Eurasian Starling, a couple dozen Red-winged Blackbird. Also in the field were 29 Eastern Meadowlark, the largest flock I've seen here, undoubtedly winterers from northward. At least 200 Robin bathed in a section of river where shallow and rocky.

The only ode was one male Variegated Meadowhawk (in the nearly 60dF heat) having made it through some 25dF mornings. A couple Dainty Sulphur and a Red Admiral were it for butterflies. Did hear a Field Sparrow do a wee bit of song.

Dec. 24 ~ Merry Christmas Eve! A chilly 24dF this a.m., slowly got up to about 57dF for a high in afternoon. Was the same expected cast of players about the yard, and will be for the most part the next couple months. Titmouse is singing more now, Cardinal is doing full blown displaying, bowing upper body 90 degrees left and right while fluttering wings and singing at female, a pretty impressive action.

Dec. 23 ~ Porch thermometer said 25dF, same as official Kerrville (KVL) low. Saw two Common Ground-Dove in yard, been hearing them daily. The ad.fem. Rufous/Allen's was about but no Broad-tailed Hummer today. Otherwise the regular cast, a couple Caracara were perched in the big mesquites across the road, perhaps waiting to see if I was going to toss another squirrel out? This could get fun and interesting.

For butterflies the last few days have been: a few Snout, a couple Sleepy Orange, a Dainty Sulphur or two, maybe a Red Admiral. Kathy saw one of the Eastern Phoebe pair take one a couple days ago, I think it was our Mexican Yellow, which was seen shortly before she saw the Phoebe grab a butterfly, and never again.

Dec. 22 ~ A chillier than expected or forecast 33dF, we're in a low spot. The colder front is entering the area, another blow today, bringing cold air in for some real cold lows the next couple days in the 20's. The winter flock was about yard again, got some tape of the Robins chorusing, as well as the Waxwings. There were at least 150 Robin and 60 Waxwing. Both the Broad-tailed and ad.fem. Rufous/Allen's Hummers were at feeders. Early, thought I had the Rusty Blackbird call and glimpsed it heading west back over river to pastures. Mostly the same cast, finally got a usable Pine Warbler digiscope when one landed to eat some seed on patio. The can really light up in the right sun, which the pic above is not.

Dec. 21 ~ HAPPY SOLSTICE!! It is officially winter! Finally after all that cold. A Canadian front is sagging over us, being pushed out by a warmer Pacific front, which brought a half-inch or so of rain in the a.m., much appreciated. From 10-11 a.m., the birds really came out in the hour of calm from when we came out the back side of the band of rain and clouds (got sunny) until the winds picked up and the post-frontal blow began.

The local winter flock was in the yard and corral adjacent, at least 75 Robin, a dozen ea. Cedar Waxwing and Eastern Bluebird, some Myrtle and Audubon's Warbler. At least 4 (at once) Pine Warbler were in the driveway, grass, and on the pecans, a couple were fresh bright males, one real dull imm. female, one tweener. Over 15 (chorusing) Lark and at least 75 Chipping Sparrow, a few American Goldfinch.

Sure would like to see a Purple Finch, seems like all this cold maybe could get us some this year. It has probably been five years since I had one here, they were regular, almost numerous winter of 03-04 when we had 6 at once on our feeder at the hay house on N.Thunder Creek Rd. All across Texas birders have commented how as many no longer get as far south as it regularly used to. They were expected annually here throughout the 1900's.

It was a real gaggle of birds when the regulars were factored in: a dozen Cardinal, half-dozen+ each of Titmouse and Chickadee, ten House Finch, pairs of Carolina and Bewick's Wren, a few Ruby-crowned Kinglet, some Blue Jay, couple dozen White-winged Dove, a few Mockingbird, the Ladder- backed and Golden-fronted Woodpeckers... all at once. Great action. Also the pair of phoebe, the Broad-tailed Hummer, a Caracara flew over, and I heard the Killdeer. Over 250 birds of a couple dozen species, essentially at once, from the front porch.

Chickadees are really getting interested in the mate selection or pair-bond (for existing pairs) thing, singing, displaying, etc. Cards have been singing a bit for over a week, nearly two now, and with days getting longer a lot of birds will soon start singing lots more.

About 5:23 p.m. a single calling Rusty Blackbird flew over, followed about a minute later by a couple dozen Brewer's Blackbird in a flock, the Rusty alone, again, as usual.

Dec. 20 ~ A little drizzle, about a 55-65dF spread, cloudy and overcast. The most interesting thing was a note on Texbirds about the first ever Love-Creek - Lost Maples Christmas Bird Count that has been started this year. It is an official count, unlike my mock pretend one I've been doing ten years. A group of nearly four dozen people found about a hundred species up thataway for the day. Birds they reported of interest were: Bald Eagle, Townsend Solitaire, Olive Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, Wilson's Snipe, Audubon's Oriole, LeConte's Sparrow, and Least Flycatcher. Besides Lost Maples and roadsides, much of their coverage is on properties not usually accessible to the public. These birds were yesterday, Thursday, Dec. 19, I presume all BanCo - Bandera County.

Heard Kestrel and Belted Kingfisher from porch today.

Dec. 19 ~ Gulf flow back, drizzle with a low of about 50dF. The Broad-tailed and Rufous/Allen's Hummers were both about early. Squirrel #11 went to the great nut farm in the sky. At UP there was a female Green Kingfisher, but that was it. At least two Audubon's Warbler were here in yard, and the 35 strong flock of Cedar Waxwing were about. Just before dark a dozen Wild Turkey moved down a fenceline out in pasture.

A reminder that for a surer color show than the over-hyped maple show, not to mention a bigger more expansive show too, early-to-mid December is usually the peak for some pretty nicely colored Buckley (Spanish) Oaks, on virtually all the upland slopes. They are still showing some very nice reds and maroons on the slopes, not much yellow or orange this year.

They are the last blaze of glory for the last few weeks of fall each year, you can count on them in early December. It is an interesting contrast now as the male junipers are now budding, which is in essence the first flower of spring. Also remarkable since it is still fall, and not yet winter. The junipers will soon be generating sniffles and sneezing. Lots of the females have good berry crops it seems, and the males are now obvious with their rusty tips.

Dec. 18 ~ Finally no freeze this morning, a welcome break at this point. The ad.fem. Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird is out there this a.m., and after being MIA a couple days the Broad-tailed was here in the p.m. A near-miss for a new yard bird in the morning when I had a couple ducks fly by which looked like Ring-necked Ducks bare-eyed to me, but was too far for a sure ID. Whatever they were was not any species currently on yard list. I heard their wing-whistle, but missed the ID, that just kills me. Hit mid-60's dF in p.m.

Dec. 17 ~ We must be in a cold spot where the cold air sinks, 3rd a.m. in a row colder than forecasts locally. Thermometer read ca. 25dF at 7 a.m., on the brisk side. Was the same cast in the yard, a decent Robin flock moved through, dispersing hackberries, at least 35 Waxwings, some Bluebirds and a few Pine Warbler, the dozen American Goldfinch, etc. In late afternoon at least 75 Robin were feeding on ground in corral and pasture, some in yard and trees. Hit mid-60's dF in p.m.

Dec. 16 ~ Again forecast for about 30dF for low, we had 23dF on the porch. Very chilly. Was all the regular birds, a couple Pine Warbler moved through at one point, the Sharp-shinned Hawk dove on the Chippy flock, a few Robins and Waxwings, Myrtle and Audubon's Warbler. Finally in p.m. saw the ad. fem. Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird, didn't see the Broad-tailed today. Warmed to low 60's dF, a veritible heat wave. Hermit Thrush took a long bath in the late afternoon warmth.

Dec. 15 ~ Wow another 24dF low, NOAA forecast 28 in KVL (was 24), and Weather Underground forecast 34 at Vanderpool, so was WAY colder than expected, bird bath frozen, but hummer feeders not. At least 30 Cedar Waxwing out front early, mostly demonstrating hackberry seed dispersal techniques from the pecan. The Killdeer flew over the fence from the pasture into the corral, a dozen or so. Neat to see them from the porch, as was Eastern Meadowlark in the pasture.

A female Mexican Yellow butterfly that has been about for 2 weeks or more now was still going strong, and moving about at 44dF! We took a walk on the road but very little moving, likely due to the Shrike and Kestrel on the wires hunting along it. We found one mixed flock with a few Pine Warbler in it, and had a couple more Pine back here in yard later that were unrelated to the group down the road. One Song Sparrow at crossing, one Fuertes' Red-tailed Hawk (local resident with pale nearly unmarked cream white underparts), one Great Blue Heron.

A chickadee took a full-blown spin in the bird bath in the afternoon, perhaps even exceeding the wake limit, they can really motorboat across the pond, had to be doin' a foot per second. Three times, it looked like fun, wings going full speed and I'd guess feet too, kicking up the most horrible tiny chickadee of a rooster tail you can imagine as it motored about the pondlet.

Dec. 14 ~ Front hitting at 9 a.m., was fairly still, but much cooler than forecast, about 33dF, not 43! Cold air was already here. Winds by 10-11 were 15-20mph with some higher gusts, chills in 30's. A blustery day in store. First bird was a bright Pine Warbler in the big pecan when I went to toss seed at 7. The books just don't do them justice, the yellow is soooo bright, and the olive back in the right light glows too.

At least 5 American Goldfinch were at the sunflower tube and the seed on the ground, later in the afternoon it was 7 of them. The Zone- tailed Hawk that seems to be wintering came over very low, at tree-top level, hunting the corral and likely the birds here. It had to gain altitude to make the mulbetrry and big pecan. It stalled directly overhead hanging motionless on the northerlies, it could not have been 35' straight up., It must have seen I didn't have camera, as it just stayed there, looking down at me, not for the first time, but 4th maybe, we locked eyes and I knew if I made a move for the camera, it would be over, so I looked as hard as I could while it lasted. I could see every bar on every feather in the underwing, though there were far to many to count, the broad but distinct black frame along trailing edge of underwing, the yellow bill, white bands on the undertail. It would never do this if I were pointing a camera at it, finally after what seemed 10 seconds, it broke off continuing northward into the wind in hunting mode. What a look at each other we had.

Dec. 13 ~ Broad-tailed and ad.fem probable Rufous Hummers now slugging it out over which feeders are going to belong to whom. Of course the smaller meaner Rufous will have its way with the more laid-back Broad-tail. I'll have to spread feeders apart so it can't defend all 3. She moves in and takes over, whooda thunk? ;) The immature Cooper's Hawk continues diving on everything and seeming to always miss, its got a lot to learn still. A Great Blue Heron flew downriver at dawn.

Dec. 12 ~ Eastern Bluebird flock was in the yard, at one point a couple each adult males and females were on the ground and patio, seeming to be picking seed up with the Chipping Sparrows. Hummer #2 showed up and is an ad. fem. Rufous/Allen's type Selasphorus Hummingbird. Probably an ad.fem. Rufous. Broad-tailed here too, some disputes seem to be in the making. Upslope behind us a Hutton's Vireo was in the live-oaks and junipers, and I heard a hssssss note that could have been Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Olive Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee, etc., but could not find it.

I have forgotten to mention the Spanish (Buckley) Oaks which are in pretty good color now, some quite red, maybe not the brightest year for them, but some nice color on the slopes of uplands. Cypress have turned more brown than orange now, and dropping leaflets heavy now.
Mesquites are just starting to turn.

~ ~ ~ ~Dec. 11 update header ~ ~ ~

(last updates: Dec. 11, 4, Nov. 27, 20, 15, 7, Oct. 31, 24)

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll/read UP day to day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way.

A few quick news items..... the short version.....
Might be fall but it feels like winter!  Butterflies were great in November, they and odes have all but crashed now, since first freeze, along with fall wildflowers. Planted gardens best bet for the last few butterflies now. Winter bird species are in. All this and more....

Mid-Nov. we saw our "first freeze" followed a week later by a 3 day run wholly in the 30's dF, pre-Thanksgiving. A bit on the early side for that methinks. The river is mostly not running, the drought remains severe. At the park the former river is 5+' below normal bank, and from going over the spillway as it used to. Water is not running below 1050, 360, or at Cypress Hollow, etc.

Some migrant yankee Blue Jays have moved in, perhaps they know something about the coming winter that we don't? Nov. 10 saw my first of fall Song Sparrow, Winter Wren, Spotted Towhee, and American Robin. A pretty wintry selection. On 11/12/13, 60 Robin were in yard, as was a COUCH'S Kingbird. The week prior to Thanksgiving winter arrivals included Merlin, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Pine Warbler.

After dark on Nov. 24 a SNOW GOOSE flew over calling! Then Nov. 28 and 30 a Fox Sparrow was in yard, not seen annually here. A TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE flew over our yard calling Dec. 3, which could have been the one reported at Lost Maples Dec. 1, or, maybe there is going to be a movement of them this year. On Dec. 7 a single passerine flock with 9 PINE Warbler was seen. Dec. 9 a RUSTY BLACKBIRD was photo'd from our porch.

Some fall highlights: Sept. 25 a female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER used our bird bath (ph.), a CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR flew over calling on Oct. 7, a Long-billed Curlew on Oct. 21 and 27. Locally there are Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Olive Sparrow, Zone-tailed Hawk, and some Audubon's Oriole around, if yer lucky.

~ ~ ~ end Dec. 11 update header ~ ~ ~

Dec. 11 ~ Sheeezzz was 24dF this a.m.! Windshield iced up for early ride to town made it fun. The line from the wiper fluid was frozen up! At least I could roll down windows and see it was clear to get on highway. Good thing nothing got in my way. Got to town and the gas pumps weren't working, too cold. I hope this company doesn't use or sell these pumps anywhere north of here! The only birds I saw were 5 Eurasian Starling on the star tree-topper of the decorated tree in town square.

The Yellow-rumped (Audubon's and Myrtle) Warbler flock was in the yard, I heard a Pine. Very neat to have in the yard daily now..... Broad-tailed Hummer continues. There were 8 Carolina Chickadee in the big pecan at once together, chashing around, like maybe preliminary mate-selection behavior, going bonkers with calls, so I taped some. A lone Cedar Waxwing was in the tree later in early afternoon, and later a lone Robin. Got up to 58dF briefly in the afternoon.

Dec. 10 ~ A very cold 25dF this a.m., at least the wind died down. Bird bath frozen solid. At about 6:50 a.m. before sunup at the crack of dawn the first bird calls were, in order, Killdeer, Mockingbird, Cardinal, Common Raven, and Carolina Wren. The seed was tossed and I was back inside. By 9 a.m. it was only 32, even under the clear sunny skies. Supposed to be colder tomorrow morning, oh boy, I can't wait. We slowly got up to a blistering 50dF for a high today. Same usual birds in yard. About 20 Cedar Waxwing sunned for a while in a Pecan early.

Dec. 9 ~ Foggy and 40dF this a.m., I tried to audio tape some of the 8 (!) Blue Jays in the yard but fog dripping off trees too loudly on the roof. All was not lost, as a RUSTY BLACKBIRD was in the pecans! It flew to the ground in the corral and was flipping over leaves in typical fashion. I grabbed scope and camera and got a couple ID shots before the ranch hands feeding the horses flushed it. Always a great find here, note 400 Brewer's Blackbirds are across the river and the Rusty goes it alone, as typical. A couple hours later it was about again and we got decent scope views. This is my FIFTH local early-Dec. record for them, always singles, thus it seems a clear arrival window exists in early December.

There were at least 75 Chipping Sparrow in the morning flock, joined by a dozen Lark, a couple each Field and White-crowned. Over at the pasture I could see Killdeer again from the porch so scoped them. There were at least 4 Eastern Meadowlark amongst them, the first seen on the ground with optics here. Part of the local warbler flock went through yard before noon, at least 3-4 Pine Warbler in the pecans this time, none of the adult males or imm. females, plus a couple Audubon's and ten+ Myrtle.

One of the yard male Golden-fronted Woodpeckers flew right at, as if it were going to land on it, the male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, displacing it. I have seen up to 3 Golden-fronts at once in the big pecan, still hanging upside-down collecting pecans. It must be clear to them the Sapsucker is not eating pecans, yet still the woodpecker shape incites territorial response and what was really an attack. The Sap bolted at the last second. Whilst the Golden-front is amazingly deft and acrobatic in getting pecans the Sap has it whipped in quickness on the trunk and in the air.

Dec. 8 ~ Well they blew the low, was supposed to be colder than yesterday and was warmer, no complaints heard. Was 32dF instead of low 20's forecast, and was 48dF by 11 a.m., spectacular. Me and the cat were fine just sunning. It was a searing 52dF for a high. The Killdeer flock in the pasture seeable from back porch grew 5 birds overnight, to 15. Always amazing are the birds detected in the yard that were not seen the day before, today it was five species in an hour this morning.

First, a SECOND hummingbird I did not ID but has a partial gorget so not the female Broad-tailed present weeks now. I spent a couple hours out there with scope and camera to no avail, save a chilling of fingers. Then the Hermit Thrush, the Orange-crowned Warbler, and Hutton's Vireo all showed, plus my second of fall Golden-crowned Kinglet. Only saw one Pine Warbler (audio taped chip note) in the part of the flock that went through yard, but besides two Audubon's Warbler amongst the Myrtles, there was one Myrtubon's (hybrid), which I see annually here if I work the flocks well.

Both ad. and juv. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker were about, the ad. male gave a decent head shot digiscope, what a stunning beauty! Heard it call a few times in the afternoon, a catlike meow. There were 6 each of Carolina Chickadee and Black-crested Titmouse working the trees and the sunflower tube.

A short walk down the road along the corral found 3 White-crowned, 4 Lark, a Savannah, a Song, 5 Lincoln's, and 3 Field Sparrow, plus more Chipping. Seven species of sparrows in a hundred yards. The flock of 400+- Brewer's Blackbirds went over with the Starling in with them as last week. Glad I was down the road, to make it another day without Starling on the yard list, dodged the introduced non-native vermin bullet again.

Dec. 7 ~ BRRRRRRR! KVL was 24 with chill of 13dF, HDO was 34 with chill of 24, we were 27 with chill of about 18 in the early morning, bird bath frozen solid, hummer feeders not frozen. The higher specific gravity (density) the sugar creates lowers freeze temperature, as with saltwater. If you like this weather you could be a duck hunter. It heated up to 31dF in KVL, 39 in HDO, and we burned up to 37, which when the wind died down, was at least over freezing anyway. It is not even winter yet!

At least 50 Chipping Sparrow in the yard, and 35 White-winged Dove, all on the seed. I saw a flock of birds in the corral adjacent and over at pasture, so went and had a look in the low 20&pos;s dF chill factor. Felt like I was winter birding in Mass. or Jersey! There were over a dozen Eastern Bluebird, 50+ Chipping Sparrow, 12 House Finch, a few American Goldfinch, four Killdeer, a couple each of Titmouse, Chickadee and Kinglet, at least 15 Myrtle and 2 Audubon's Warbler, and best, at least NINE PINE Warbler!

Among the nine+ Pine were multiples of each age and sex class, ad. male and female, imm. male and female. It is the largest group I have encountered here. Spectacular extended scope views were had at close range of them feeding on the ground, from a fence, around the trunks and on big branches, with much calling. I'd have looked longer, but was half frozen in an hour so headed back in to the fire. The cold goes away, but the encounter and mental images of that herd of Pine Warblers won't. It is quite westerly for such a large single assemblage of them. My biggest prior flock here was 4.

Later in p.m. I saw both the adult and the imm. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, some Blue Jay, Robins, a dozen Cedar Waxwing to add to the day's variety. Some more Killdeer moved into pasture, by 4 p.m. there were 10 there. Did have some Common Raven and Black Vulture, the Broad-tailed Hummer, a few Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, about a dozen Cardinal, Carolina and Bewicks Wren, the pair of Eastern Phoebe, Mourning Doves, Mockingbird and Lark Sparrow. All told, in the freezing cold, in or adjacent to yard was maybe 29 species today, with a few good ones.

Dec. 6 ~ Cold and windy, we stayed hunkered down. What maybe the same imm. White-crowned Sparrow seen a month ago is with the Chipping Sparrow flock hitting the seed we toss. Thought I saw the Fox Sparrow once. Broad- tailed Hummer about. May have briefly hit 38-40dF for a high.

Dec. 5 ~ The front hit around sunup first with light winds, then up to 20mph+. It was 52dF or so at dawn, 42dF by 11 a.m., and 39 at 3 p.m., and falling (recall 20 mph wind) so chills below freezing. Around 70 Robin were about the yard and corral (got a bit of tape) and an imm. Cooper's Hawk dove on them, missing. Broad-tailed Hummingbird still here, and sticking close to feeders. Watch the feeders for freezing now, easiest to keep one in the house warm to swap if need be, during the peak cold of these events.

Dec. 4 ~ Last warm day before the arctic air hits. Had a town run and couldn't believe how wiped out the butterflies got from the last freeze. Very low species diversity overall, one freeze is all it takes. Best thing actually was here at the house, a Monarch thermalling SW, a tardy migrant, not in too bad a shape for the fronts it has obviously been through. Also of interest was a Reakirt's Blue feeding at one of our hummer feeders, maybe the first blue I have seen at one (ph.)?

At library garden and park entrance garden were a hundred+ Dainty Sulphur, 50 Sleepy Orange, a couple Cloudless Sulphur, 4 Orange Sulphur, a Little Yellow, 4 Dogface, 2 Phaon Crescent, 2 Reakirt's Blue, an American and a Painted Lady, a few Queen, 6 Common Checkered-Skipper, 1 Desert Checkered Skipper, 3 Clouded Skipper, 1 Fatal Metalmark, 6 Gulf a couple Variegated Frit, and 50 Snout. The female Mexican Yellow continues at the house. No Mestra. So about 18 species and two more in the yard. Flowers are pretty shot from the freeze, only a few with nectar, and I expect this inbound arctic shot will finish them off. Also makes for 24 species for the month, pre-freeze.

Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies were again ovipositing in the bird bath, genetic dead-ends they are. There is a whole river 200 yards away. Pine, Audubon's and Myrtle Warblers in yard in a.m., 5+ Blue Jay, a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, thought I might have heard a White-throated Sparrow, lots of Chipping and Lark Sparrow, heard Ground-Dove, Caracara thermalled over. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird continues.

Dec. 3 ~ A low of 42dF was lower than expected, and will climb about 40dF to low 80's today! Which means cold is coming. There were 7 Blue Jay getting pecans in the yard this morning, and a Pine Warbler was about. Remarkable was a TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE that flew over calling just after 10 a.m., on the heels of one being reported at Lost Maples on Sunday, maybe even the same bird. Only the second I've seen around Utopia, and a great yard bird. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird continues.

Lots of butterfly movement on the warm southwesterly flow, a couple thousand Snout, 3 soaring Variegated Fritillary in 3 minutes was impressive, and as many Orange Sulphur, all drifting north to north-east. A female Mexican Yellow was on the Salvia, yesterday's was a male. a Queen, some Red Admiral and Gulf Fritillary, a few Cloudless and one Large Orange Sulphur.

Dec. 2 ~ Enjoy the heat, NOAA says when the arctic front hits Thursday, we will have a 10 day cold spell of below normal temps! Butterflies were out in the 80dF heat. I saw 1-2 Orange Sulphur, a Buckeye, 4-5 Gulf Fritillary, 8+ Sleepy Orange, 5 Dogface, 4 Dainty Sulphur, a Little Yellow, a couple Cloudless Sulphur, a Queen, 2-3 Common Checkered-Skipper, one Pipevine Swallowtail, a couple Red Admiral, a Mexican Yellow came to Salvia, and many Snout moving west to east, a couple hundred easy. Fourteen species in the yard today. Wednesday will be the last sunny warm day so I'll do my town run then to hope for some last action of the year. A ten day cold spell will wipe everything out.

December 1 ~ December!?!?!? The whole year has almost gone by! A low of 60dF was nice, the high was about 66, bearable, though humid. It was just the regular cast today. Only thing different was in the flock of blackbirds just east of the crossing one female Brown-headed Cowbird, among 400+ Brewer's and ca. 20 Red-winged Blackbird. One Killdeer flew over calling, moving around the pastures.

A post to Texbirds reported from Lost Maples, I presume from a visit today, reported one Townsend's Solitaire, which is LTA - less than annual, and a tardy Black-throated Green Warbler, about a month later than my latest here (early Nov.).

~ ~ ~ November highlights ~ ~ ~

That is it for November. A total of 56 species of butterflies were recorded, same as last year. Best was the one new for the local list which was also a first Uvalde County record, Purple-washed Skipper (Panoquina lucas) on Nov. 19.  A Great Southern White was second best, far less than annual here.

Best birds were a nocturnal fly-over calling Snow Goose, a Red Fox Sparrow, and a Couch's Kingbird which has been scarce lately. Two different Broad-tailed Hummingbird were at our feeders, the latter of which seems to be sticking and might winter. Mostly it was arriving winterers, like a couple Pine Warbler, 250+ Robins, some Cedar Waxwing, a Merlin, and sparrows of various flavors.

The first freeze was by mid-November, and before Thanksgiving we had a nearly week-long spell of very cold weather with more freezes. Seems early in the season for that. A little bit of rain, but not much, the river is wayyyy down and mostly not running.

~ ~ ~ end November summary ~ ~ ~

Nov. 30 ~ A nice mid-40's dF for a low was pleasant after a week of low 30's. Heard a Flicker, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was in the pecans, and with the Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed makes four species of woodpeckers in yard this morning. Finally saw the Fox Sparrow again, so it is still here, and might stick. The Black Vulture flock numbered 35.

After dark I found and photographed a larval Firefly, which I have been seeing a few of in the grass, they have a duller but still glowing on and off (slow blinking) tip to the abdomen, a greenish tinted glow. Also a nice orange-red and black millipede got immortalized in digibits (ph.) too.

Nov. 29 ~ Another freeze, maybe 30-31dF this a.m., bird bath froze up. Heard a Turkey gobbling this morning, so I guess at least one made it through yesterday. The dozen or so Lark Sparrow gathered in the top of the big pecan at first sun for a chorusing session, which really sounds amazing no matter how much I hear it. Saw the two Pine Warbler early in the same tree. An immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was around, the first imm. I've seen here, and this fall.

A quick town run this afternoon yielded nothing but the mail and food. Butterflies are all but over, the week-long 30's dF took its toll. A Queen, a few Dainty Sulphur and Sleepy Orange, a couple Common Checkered-Skipper, a Snout, it almost hurt it was so weak, after a week ago having almost 40 species in an hour. With the warmup in the next week we should see some incursion from the south repopulate a little bit, and sometimes bring one last rarity for the year.

I may have heard a Black-and-white Warbler at the park, which is of great interest as an ad. female has wintered there for the last five years, so have been looking and hoping for its return again.

Nov. 28 ~ Happy Thanksgiving! A freezing start at 32dF, or slightly lower, many areas locally were in 20's. Not sure the cheapie porch thermometer is accurate in the cold, will check it against another soon. The bird bath was completely iced up and frost on the grass. Besides the one I ate, there were some fun birds about.

An adult Zone-tailed Hawk soared right over the house, and out on the fence line on road out front there were a Savannah and a Song Sparrow. Heard a Junco, Lark Sparrow are chorusing a bit, lots of Chipping and some Field Sparrow, plus a few Lincoln's along road was a decent sparrow showing. Heard a Green Kingfisher along river, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was working the biggest hackberry. Heard the Hutton's Vireo up-slope in the live-oaks behind us.

About 75 or so Robins were about, and after 10 or so Cedar Waxwing in the yard, down the road I had a flock of over 20. One bird flew out of the big hackberry that looked interesting, which was why I walked the road, but I couldn't refind it. At the 360 crossing there was a flock of at least 400 Brewer's Blackbird that went over, with one Starling among them. Two Red-tailed Hawk were over the pasture, one with a belly- band, an eastern type which winters here, not the local resident Fuertes variety.

Then there were the regulars: Cardinal, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren and Chickadee, Bewick's Wren, Myrtle and Audubon's Warbler, White-winged and Morning Dove, Raven, Eastern Bluebird, Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Mockingbird, Lesser and American Goldfinch, House Finch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue Jay, Hermit Thrush, Ground-Dove, and Sharp-shinned Hawk.

A few butterflies were out in the afternoon, onesies of Sleepy Orange, Dogface, Queen, Gulf and Variegated Fritillary, Snout, a couple Dainty Sulphur. Saw Autumnal and Variegated Meadowhawk (odes) at river.

A female House Sparrow was a bummer to see, probably that imm. male of a few days ago brought it. It won't last long if it sticks. In later afternoon picked up a Pine Warbler in yard. Did not have a Caracara today, and haven't heard the Ringed Kingfisher in a few. After 5 p.m. as the sun was going down I found the bird of the day out back, a FOX Sparrow scratching in the leaf litter, new for the yard list and a FOF. Made for 8 species of sparrows today with the Junco, and missed Vesper.

~ ~ ~ Nov. 27 header ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATE: November 27, 2013
(last updates: Nov. 20, 15, 7, Oct. 31, 24, 16, 7.5)

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll/read UP day to day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way.

A few quick news items..... the short version..... Might be fall but it feels like winter! Butterflies were great in November, odes all but crashed, fall wildflowers are over and out. The planted gardens are best bets for butterflies now. Winter bird species are in. All this and more....

Winter is seemingly here, with a mid-Nov. "first freeze" followed a week later by a 3 day run wholly in the 30's dF, before Thanksgiving, whence on the early side for that. The river is mostly not running, the drought remains severe. At the park the river is 5+' below normal bank, and from going over the spillway as formerly usual, and water is not running below 1050, 360, or Cypress Hollow, etc.

Some migrant yankee Blue Jays have moved in, perhaps they know something about the coming winter that we don't? Nov. 10 saw my first of fall Song Sparrow, Winter Wren, Spotted Towhee, and American Robin. Pretty wintry selection. On 11/12/13, 60 Robin were in yard, as was a COUCH'S Kingbird. The week prior to Thanksgiving wintry arrivals included Merlin, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Pine Warbler. After dark on Nov. 24 a SNOW GOOSE flew over calling! Then

Recent highlights: Sept. 25 a female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER used our bird bath (ph.), a CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR flew over calling on Oct. 7, and a Long-billed Curlew on Oct. 21 and 27. Locally there are Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Olive Sparrow, and some Audubon's Oriole around, if yer lucky.

Nov. 19 I saw 38 species of butterflies in an hour, including a first Uvalde Co. record of Purple-washed Skipper (Panoquina lucas) photographed at the library garden (pic below on that date).

~ ~ ~ end Nov. 27 header ~ ~ ~

Nov. 27 ~ Mid 30's for a low and a smokin' hot 55dF for a high was great! Heard a waxwing amongst 40+ Robin, the male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was in pecans (ph.) which was flycatching, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird was about, Blue Jays were doing Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawk imitations, heard a couple Killdeer again, 10 American Goldfinch were in the big pecan briefly. Right at dark I heard American Wigeon call in flight, from toward the river, another new yard bird.

Interesting were a couple Anole (the lizard than can change colors and is usually green or brown) that came out in the sun at about 40dF which were charcol black, undoubtedly to maximize heat absorbtion from the sun. One male Autumnal Meadowhawk (dragonfly) came into the bucket I was filtering water into, at 52dF.

Nov. 26 ~ Another mid-upper 30's dF morning, front blowing through with winds 15-20+ so chills in 20's. Chipping Sparrow flock is at least 40 birds, the Broad-tailed Hummer still here, some Robins are about, but not the huge flock of yesterday afternoon. Heard Pine Warbler and Blue Jays, saw an Audubon's Warbler. A whopping four squirrels in one pecan out front, this after removing ten. A Pine Siskin was my FOF. After 2 p.m. the clouds passed, sun came out and it bolted up to a searing 50dF for the first time in four days. Chills were still about 40dF, but if you got out of wind, quite nice. After dark I heard Great Horned and Barred Owl, later a Barn Owl called as it flew over, and after I went to bed a Screech-Owl called outside the window for some time. FOUR species of owls here today!

Nov. 25 ~ more light rain overnight, a brief couple bits of moderate, perhaps a quarter to a third of an inch, low in upper 30's F. Around 10 a.m. I saw the sun and blue skies briefly, they are still there, wow! In the afternoon we actually broke into the low 40's dF for a couple hours, and some blue sky and sun peeked out again, briefly. We must be about an inch of precipitation for this several day event.

First thing at 7 a.m. heard an Audubon's Oriole over in the draw, at about 8 the Blue Jays were in the pecans, and about 9 had Pine Warbler and Broad-tailed Hummingbird, an interesting species selection. In the afternoon 250-300 American Robin were about, with a couple Cedar Waxwing amongst them. Better yet, a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker finally found the yard, my first of fall, and new to yard list.

I saw Del Rio had a record low high temp yesterday the 24th, that is the lowest high for the date, 43dF, breaking the 1972 record. Hopefully history won't repeat itself, 1972-3 was a seriously cold snowy winter. Also interesting is that less than a week ago Del Rio set a record for their highest low temp one night or morning, at 68dF. So within a week they broke records for both the highest low, and the lowest high. Extreme weather anyone?

Nov. 24 ~ The drizzle continues, another tenth or two overnight, we are surely over 1/2" the last couple days, maybe about 3/4". Staying in the 30's, for the third day now, with a couple more to go per the forecast. This is the longest stretch of that, the earliest in the year, in the 10 years I've been here.

Great was two PINE Warbler finally showing up, a nice bright adult female, and an dull immature looked female as well. They were moving around yard together and interacting on the trunks of the pecans. A couple Myrtle, an Audubon's Warbler, and a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet made the flock they were in. Hope they stick for the winter here.

Later in the a.m. my FOF Golden-crowned Kinglet was in the yard. It and the Pine Warbler were both new for the yard list. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird continues, must be living on just sugar water now, there are no gnats out. Wonder what the Eastern Phoebe pair are eating, hackberries? A Raven snatched a pecan out of one of the trees in the yard.

Mid-day the Broad-tailed Hummer chased a Pine Warbler! I finally get a Pine in the yard and the darn hummer is giving it grief. In late p.m. there were 7 Myrtle, an Audubon's, an Orange-crowned, and the 2 Pine Warblers in the yard. Heard Killdeer calling from towards the pasture soutward. A few Robin were about, and I heard an Audubon's Oriole in the afternoon up the slope behind us.

In the "sure wished I saw it" department, at 8 p.m., in the dark, I heard honking outside, ran out to hear a single goose flying over and away at low altitude! A SNOW GOOSE!!! Any goose besides White-fronted is a rarity here, though one November I had a small group of Snow with one Ross's flying south high over Seco Ridge. A single Snow Goose was seen in Junction a week or two ago.

Nov. 23 ~ Low about 36dF, day two in the 30's all day. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird continues, in a very puffed-out state. Some Robins around in a.m., and thought I had a White-crowned Sparrow fly by and call, it shot up the hill behind us. At least 20 White-winged Dove hit the seed, about 30 Chipping Sparrow, maybe 8 Cardinal, perhaps 8 House Finch. A bit slow, though I am not out in the cold much. It did hit 40dF, barely for an hour, at peak heat, if you can call it that, maybe chills broke freezing for a bit. Saw a Caracara go by in the bluster.

Nov. 22 ~ The front arrived ahead of all but last updated forecasts, the first wind and rain about midnight, only a couple tenths overnight but temps plummeted to 40 by 8 a.m., and dropping. Winds were 10-20 mph gusting to 25, so chill factor at or below freezing. The next few days will likely be more weather reports than anything else as there won't be much about in this, certainly not me! A bit of intermittent frozen rain was falling mid-morning.

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird is still here, it is not going anywhere in this except the feeders. An American Goldfinch used the tube of sunflower seed, the first of that I've seen from them. The Blue Jays were about, some eating hackberries, I would have thought they would be on the sunflower tube by now, but have yet to use it.

Nov. 21 ~ Last warm day for several per the forecasts. Did a town run in late p.m. hoping for butterflies, which were good but no stellar find like two days ago. A number were new for the monthly list though: Texas Powdered-Skipper, both Orange, and Southern, Skipperlings, and Reakirt's Blue were four for sure. May have had a couple more, will have to wait until I can examine photos. Again I saw what appeared to be a Violet-clouded Skipper, might have gotten a shot of it again. Also had a possible West Coast Lady, and what was likely a Theona Checkerspot got away before I could confirm. A couple Elada Checkerspot were seen, and a Pearl Crescent, besides many Phaon and Vesta Crescent. A White Peacock was in the yard. It was 35 sps. in less than an hour I had to look, pretty good for late November. Surely another hour would have turned up a few more species.

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird was still about the yard and feeders. Between UR and the 360 crossing in the pasture were over 250 Brewer's Blackbird, and at least 50 Red-winged Blackbird amongst them. At the crossing a flock of 35+ House Finch flushed, must be something good to eat there for seed. The park was empty of birds, as afternoons can be. Were at least 3, maybe 4 Great Horned Owl I can hear hooting around the 'hood, and the Barred Owl still calls, apparently no fear. Not sure how that will play for longevity. I saw a Great Horned go after a Barn Owl once, you shoulda heard the noises that Barn made, it scared me.

~ ~ ~ update header for Nov. 20 ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATE: November 20, 2013
(last updates: Nov. 15, 7, Oct. 31, 24, 16, 7.5, Sept. 27, 23)

A few quick news items..... the short version..... Might be fall but it feels like winter! Butterflies were great in November, odes all but crashed, fall wildflowers are over and out. The planted gardens are best bets for butterflies now. All this and more....

Winter is seemingly here, with a mid-Nov. "first freeze" followed a week later by a 4 day run in the 30's dF, all before Thanksgiving, whence on the early side for that. The river is mostly not running, the drought remains severe. At the park the river is 5+' below normal bank, and from going over the spillway as formerly usual, and water is not running below 1050, 360, or Cypress Hollow, etc.

The first half of fall is about departing migratory breeders. The second half of fall is arriving winterers and that is underway in earnest now. A remarkable 7 Blue Jay with some call notes very different than the locals are obviously migrants. Sandhill Cranes have been passing over southbound, and on Oct. 21 the peak of Monarch migration passed, I saw 500 in a half hour.

Nov. 10 saw my first of fall Song Sparrow, Winter Wren, Spotted Towhee, and American Robin. Pretty wintry selection. On 11/12/13, 60 Robin were in yard, as was a COUCH'S Kingbird.

Other recent highlights: Sept. 25 a female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER used our bird bath (ph.), a CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR flew over calling on Oct. 7, and a Long-billed Curlew on Oct. 21. Locally there are Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Olive Sparrow, and some Audubon's Oriole around, if yer lucky.

On Nov. 19 I saw 38 species of butterflies in an hour, including a first Uvalde Co. record of Purple-washed Skipper (Panoquina lucas) photographed at the library garden (pic below on that date).

~ ~ ~ end update header ~ ~ ~

Nov. 20 ~ A bit of fog, mist, drizzle in the a.m., glad I went for butterflies yesterday, supposed to get wet and cold ahead, save Thursday when the warm ahead of the front hits. I heard a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds up on the ridge behind us, some males braying. A dozen Robin flew over, and the female Broad-tailed Hummer was about early. Heard a Flicker, and just after noon my FOF and first yard Merlin flew down the river corridor. It hit the gas going after something, their acceleration is incredible.

Nov. 19 ~ The ground was pretty wet from the rain last night, it cooled to mid-50's. Warmed up to low 70's and I planned my town run to hit the flowers near peak heat for butterflies. That turned out to be the best idea I had all day. It was pretty active at the gardens, the library and park entrance best.

Outstanding was a new species photographed for the local list, the first proven record in 10 years here for Purple-washed Skipper (Panoquina lucas). Got a few good photos, they are rare along the Rio Grande in far south Texas, north to the Falcon Dam area, though a few strays north to Austin are known. I have thought I have seen them a couple times, including one last year in Dec., but never got almighty proof. This is the first-ever record for Uvalde County, it was on Thoroughwort Eupatorium at the library garden.

Purple-washed Skipper

Panoquina lucas - Purple-washed Skipper at Utopia Nov. 19, 2013
First Uvalde Co. record. I couldn't get the full monty
of purple iridesence to show well but you get a hint of it.
The band of white dots crossing ventral hind-wing is definitive.

Then I also photographed a Great Southern White (Ascia monuste), at the park entrance garden. Only documented one prior here in a decade (photo'd in hand after netting) and have seen fly-bys a couple times, though not since the drought, about 5 years now.

A number of things were the first of the month: 1 Texan Crescent, Checkered White (5), Fatal (4) and Rounded (1) Metalmark, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak (3), Tropical Checkered-Skipper (1+), 2-3 Painted Lady, and a Goatweed Leafwing flew over house so at least 10 new for the monthly species list.

My FOY (1st of year) Texas Wasp Moth and Ailanthus Webworm moth were nice. There were 5 Monarch total, a dozen Queen, about 10 American Lady, 15 Mestra, 25 Phaon and 15 Vesta Crescent, 4 Bordered Patch, 10 Gulf and 8 Variegated Fritillary, 100 Snout, a couple Ceraunus Blue, over a dozen Cloudless Sulphur, 20 Dogface, 5 Orange Sulphur, 200 Dainty Sulphur, 50 Sleepy Orange, a couple Large Orange Sulphur, 10 Little Yellow, 15 Pipevine Swallowtail. Skippers were Eufala, 10 Sachem, 5 Fiery, 5 Clouded, 50 Common Checkered-Skipper, 2-3 Desert Checkered-, a Celia's Roadside-, a Dun, and the above mentioned Tropical Checkered-, plus the 5-star bell-ringer Purple-washed.

May have had an additional good skipper, will have to wait until I can process the photos to study...... At any rate it was about the best hour of butterfly watching of the year, at least 38 species seen, including a new one photographed for the local Utopia area list.

This a.m. an Archilochus (Ruby-throated or Black-chinned) Hummingbird was about, which seemed to have a longer droopy bill, and be duller above like a Black-chinned. Yesterday a close view seemed to be a Ruby-throated, the first day was indeterminate. There may well be two Archilochus here and that is hopefully my confusion. While looking for it in p.m., I found a BROAD-TAILED Hummingbird, the fourth one this fall, an imm. female methinks, well photo'd.

A large flock of Yellow-rumped Warbler that was mostly Myrtle and numbered 20 or more moved down the draw in the a.m., I thought I heard a Pine in with them, but I couldn't catch up with them. In town another fair flock of nearly 20 yellow-rumps (mostly Myrtle) was on Cypress St. bathing at the wet spot, with some Eastern Bluebird and Chipping Sparrow. Had a few Robin here at house. The park was dead, afternoons can be tough there.

Thought I heard Couch's Kingbird in town, and on the way home on 187 just south of town on the fenceline I saw what looked to be a Cassin's Sparrow. It quickly dove into grass and I had refrigerator stuff so couldn't fuss for it. About 25 Starling were at the north end of town.

Nov. 18 ~ low 50's was nice, and quickly we shot up to mid-80's, about 10dF above what was predicted for high. Late afternoon I saw 88dF! The hummer is still here, and looks Ruby-throated to me. Any of the Archilochus species pair I think would be my first Nov. record. Bill looked fairly short and straight, bird is fairly bright white of underparts (not dingy dirty gray-white), and overall color above is bright dark emerald or forest green, not dull gray-green. The wings looked fairly straightly and narrowly pointed of tip, not blunt and curved. It all points to Ruby-throated.

Kathy spotted the FOF (and first yard) Slate-colored Junco in a.m., and mid-day a FOF American Goldfinch flew over calling. There was a big Snout (butterfly) flight today, mostly heading NW-ish on average, a hundred a minute at times, many very high up, besides them being thick at ground level, thousands were moving past. A little something for the motorcyclists.......

Squirrel #10 removed from local gene pool. That tail hair will make some fine muddler minnows..... guaranteed to get ya bit at any season. It is clear the bowl of pecans we have to work with for a month or two would not be there without doing something about their artificially over-inflated (man's removal of most predators) population. That is a lot of bird nests that won't be raided for eggs or young next year.

As if the high 10+ degrees over predictions was not enough, after dark a borderline severe thunderstorm cell hit the Utopia area, completely un- predicted, drenching much of the area with an inch to 1.5" of rain! We got about an inch here in the yard from the slow soaker.

Had a quick fly-by of what appeared a Coyote Cloudywing, a butterfly I haven't seen in a few years here, so will let the ID go, but sure looked like one. Only one year in 10 were they common here.

Nov. 17 ~ A low in the low 60's overnight, and a high at about 87dF, nearing records locally! Got mighty quiet out there in the heat of the day, birdwise. Kathy spotted the bird of the day, a hummingbird, the first since the Broad-tailed left two weeks ago. I got a couple poor digiscopes at a distant feeder, and it looked like the least likely thing, an Archilochus type (Ruby-throated or Black-chinned) Hummingbird. I'm not sure I have a sighting of either in Nov., and since it is an immature/female type, ID is no cinch at distance, will study photos..... and try for better tomorrow if I have time.

Did have a Sachem and Fiery Skipper in yard, Desert and Common Checkered- Skipper, a couple Questionmark. We walked over to river to enjoy the burnt sienna to bright rust orange of the cypress trees turning. One adult female N. Harrier (Marsh Hawk) moved south down river corridor. There were a couple dozen Autumnal Meadowhawk dragonflies, the most I have ever seen at once, the river was covered in them, and no other dragons seen. There were a good number of Bluets (Enallagma sps.) of some flavor.

Several pairs of Autumnal Meadowhawk were hooked up in tandem where both animals were red of abdomen like the male. I presume it means there are red females? I saw another red pair hooked up years ago too (ph.). My book doesn't show red females.

And every puff of wind, it rains leaves. Pecans the most now, but hackberries too, and the awesome yellow mulberry leaves are dropping fast. Really makes it seem like fall, when the leaves are.

Nov. 16 ~ Another balmy day, and the SOS - same ol' stuff, yeah, stuff, for birds and butterflies in the yard. Thought I heard a hummer fly off in the p.m. but didn't see anything. At least 4 male and 3 female Cardinal in the yard flock. Still a small flock of Common Ground-Dove about, several Mockingbird around, one defending a couple of the hackberry trees here, which are pretty loaded with fruit, they seem to have gotten just the right amount of rain at just the right time.

Nov. 15 ~ A balmy 48dF for a low, and under sunny skies got 75dF in afternoon. The same ol' stuff for birds. Butterflies were active after a couple days too cool and windy for them, I saw 25 species just in yard without trying. Three were new for the month: Whirlabout, Hackberry Emperor, and Mexican Yellow. Still a Julia' Skipper out, a male Black Swallowtail, a couple Orange Sulphur including a pale morph female, a couple Large Orange Sulphur, a Lyside, lots of Cloudless and Dainty Sulphur, many Sleepy Orange. A fresh winter form Questionmark was nice, numbers of Mestra still, lots of Snout and Gulf Fritillary, a couple Variegated Frit, some Vesta Crescents, Desert Checkered-Skipper, surely more was about. At least one male Autumnal Meadowhawk dragonfly continues in yard.

Nov. 14 ~ Our first freeze of the fall, or winter, it was 30-31dF on the front porch at 7 a.m., colder on north side of house where bird bath just about frozen solid, so we must have been freezing a while. KVL had a 31dF too, so we were about the same as them this a.m., and 4 dF colder than yesterday morning here. Will hit low 60's dF for a high.

At least a half-dozen Blue Jay in the yard early, plus all the regulars, which includes daily Orange-crowned, Audubon's and Myrtle Warbler, some Kinglets (Rubies), and the sparrow flock of Vesper, Chipping, Field, Lark, and Lincoln's, plus any floaters.

Nov. 13 ~ The winds died down overnight and good radiational cooling dropped us to almost freezing. We had 34dF on the porch, I heard others had the same, one said they had a 32. KVL hit 29dF. First real chill of the fall, and near-freeze. And no one complained. It struggled to 60dF at peak afternoon heat.

Saw 5 Blue Jay leave the big pecan at once, and had 5 Ruby-crowned Kinglet at once as well. Had Audubon's, Myrtle, and Orange-crowned Warblers. It's about time for a Pine Warbler to show up, and Golden-crowned Kinglet. Again thought I heard a Common Grackle flying over, could not see it, and is about the 3rd time in a week I have looked up expecting to see one.

A quick run through the park when it was early and cold yielded nothing. At early-thirty first thing, the birds are in more open areas that get first sun and warm up more quickly. Usually a flock or two can be found somewhere about town, a little cruising slow with windows down will often locate them quickly. But I didn't have any time today.

Nov. 12 ~ First wisps of northerlies ahead of the imminent frontal passage were around 7 a.m., which became fits and spurts by 8 a.m. and shortly after that, full frontal passage. About 8 a.m. there was a calling COUCH'S KINGBIRD in a hackberry behind house! First I've seen in the yard, though thought sure I heard them in spring when we first moved here, never laid eyes on it to confirm and didn't add to yard list, it's there now.

Then later in morning two dozen Robin showed up! That lone one the last couple days must be happy! They were eating hackberries and drinking from the cat dish on the front porch. Poor pix through the window and screen. Later in p.m. they continued to gorge on hackberries, and it seemed near 30 as they left the yard. I spoke too soon, they came back, with reinforcements apparently. They gorged on hackberries, and kept going to the cat water dish, and 28 of them defecated on the porch. Mostly hackberry, the ligustrum appears to be evacuated with some force, probably gaseous in nature, and some seeds I could not ID, sorry.

Just before 5 p.m., the flock gathered in the top of the big pecan calling the gather-up-to-go call, and even ones that joined from the north, turned around to face the north wind as soon as they landed. Then the boss blew the whistle and off they went, in the low 50's, perhaps 52-54 birds! About 8-10 remained several minutes and went in a second wave, in the first flocks tracks, due west. So there were 60 Robin here! After the last two days a lone bird clucked and such, probably thinks it's real good at it.

The little ridgelet adjacent to our north side puts us in a slight wind shadow during these events, taking us out of taking a direct hit, so these hackberries were easier to eat in. A Desert Checkered-Skipper was out on lee side of house. Winds were mostly around 15mph, gusting to 20+. No rain, a dry passage, and the first freeze warning of the winter.

Nov. 11 ~ Happy Veteran's Day, and THANKS vets! I audio taped some distant Ringed Kingfisher this a.m., and two were going off in the p.m. The lone Robin was still about, and another White Peacock butterfly flew into the yard, clearly not the one 3 days ago.

A fair bit of butterfly activity, got up to mid-70'sdF ahead of a front. Again saw Elada Checkerspot, and a Ceraunus Blue was new for the month. The rest was regulars, a dozen plus Dogface, as many Cloudless Sulphur, more Dainty Sulphur, a dozen Sleepy Orange and Gulf Fritillary, a Variegated Frit, a dozen Pipevine Swallowtail and Snout, some Little Yellow, a few Queen, a Red Admiral and American Lady, Common Checkered-Skipper.

I finally put together 15 feet of PVC so I could whack that squirrel nest out of the pecan. I sent the squirrel to heaven, and don't want to advertise any attractant, like a hip squirrel pad. It took wayyyyy more force than I thought to get it out of the fork it was woven into, and finally out of the tree. Obviously it was designed to withstand hurricanes. From the ground outside it appeared a globular structure of old dried pecan leaves. When it hit the ground, and bounced I was duly impressed with the construction.

The main bulk of it is ball moss. Dozens and dozens of clumps of ball moss crammed together endlessly into a large globular orb. This is what the dried leaves are on, a several inch thick solid wall of ball moss clumps woven into each other, with each other. The big pecan leaves outside of this of course would deflect water quite well, and they seemed to have been placed for this effect. The ball moss clumps would be an incredible insulator of course, inches thick. Finally the entire internal chamber was lined with the shredded bark of the Ashe Juniper, the same material the Golden-cheeked Warbler uses, but in bigger pieces often. It looked like a Golden-cheek nest inside. Pure Ashe Juniper bark peelings. Probably good bug repellant. There was no cache of stores whatsoever. Must have just been the sleeping unit. Just in case you hadn't ever considered the squirrel nest, there you are. That will conclude the squirrel housing portion of the program.

Nov. 10 ~ Quite a day for FOF's, perhaps because I finally got to look around an hour or two..... First of fall American Robin was in the big pecan early about 8 a.m., a couple hours later a Spotted Towhee called from up the slope behind us, both new to yard. In the afternoon I walked to crossing and back, there were a dozen Lincoln's Sparrow, and FOF Song Sparrow and Winter Wren, both right about on time, and a close Barred Owl was nice.

Later I heard another Song Sparrow, across road, from the front porch. Heard the Ringed Kingfisher too, a few Caracara flew over cackling, Ground-Dove called, and the regulars moved through, some Myrtle and Audubon's Warbler, Orange-crowned Warb., a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, the sparrows (Chipping, Field, Lark, Vesper), a few Blue Jays.

A couple Dusky Dancer and one Bluet that was likely Neotropical were the only odes I saw. One Julia's Skipper was near crossing. Still blooming are Straggler Daisy, just a few scraggly Frogfruit left, some Cowpen Daisy, Skeleton Flower, Mealy, Tropical, and Cedar Sage (Salvias), a few Mexican Hat and Huisache Daisy, a couple Goldenrod, one Fireweed (Lobelia card.), a Prairie Fleabane, and some Thoroughwort was a nice find, plus the bit of White Boneset, and some new different one I haven't seen before (photos) was incredibly sweet smelling.

It never ceases to amaze me how in nature, there is always something new and interesting to see, and converse to what might seem intuitive, the more you know the more you see that is new and interesting.

Nov. 9 ~ Saw Elada Checkerspot and Southern Pearl Crescent (butterflies) in yard today, both good ones locally. A small dragonfly was likely another Autumnal Meadowhawk. Photos of a Limestone Guara flower, which reminds me there were a couple Coreopsis flowers out the first couple days of November.

Nov. 8 ~ Best was a White Peacock (lep) in yard, had seen one a hundred yards down road, this one stopped on the Straggler Daisy to nectar, and was pretty fresh and mint. A Monarch went by, as did a Buckeye. After dark had what I think was the glowing click-beetle (Elatarid). Like a firefly, not as bright, but a click-beetle.

Nov. 7 ~ Low was about 46dF, with a little breeze on it. First thing at 7 a.m. I was out front seeing if the army of nocturnal pecan theifs left any, not a one I could find. Need a moat to keep them out. Later morn a flock of at least 15 Eastern Bluebird flew over up high going south, migrants, not locals. The sparrow flock was out front, this time 4 Vesper Sparrow in the yard, plus the 30+ Chipping, dozen Lark, a few Field, and an Orange-crowned Warbler. Heard the Ringed Kingfisher and Blue Jays. A single flock of 30 White-winged Dove was the biggest I've seen here so far.

Nov. 6 ~ At 8 a.m. it was 72dF, that was the low for the overnight, and the high for the day. At 9 a.m. the front hit and by 10 it was 62dF. Climbed a little into the upper 60's, and breezy. Overnight and by noon we got a couple tenths of an inch of rain, that was it. Male Black Swallowtail (lep).

Early ahead of the front 3 Medowlark flew by, one called giving a diagnostic Eastern call, so we can add that to the yard list. Right as the front hit an Osprey (FOF), and a Red-tailed Hawk were right in front of the rain. Later in afternoon a FOF Northern Harrier which appeared an immature went by, also new for the yard. We did not see the Broad-tailed Hummingbird today, so it might have left in the late p.m. yesterday.

Nov. 5 ~ Warmish and muggy ahead of the front, saw at least 5 Queens (butterfly), and a Monarch went by. The imm. male Broad-tailed Hummer continues. A few Audubon's and Myrtle Warblers, and the regulars, and a noisy Ringed Kingfisher over at river. A Swift Setwing dragonfly was a late date for them here.

Nov. 4 ~ Light drizzle overnight and in the a.m., supposed to have some heavier stuff on the way, perhaps Tuesday night here. Got another sqirrel, termination #9, and they still just keep coming. Two Ringed Kingfisher were calling along the river quite a bit. A half-dozen+ Blue Jay moved through early in the morning. A few Audubon's and Myrtle Warblers were about.

After 11 a.m. I saw a sparrow flock out front and along the road so went and checked it out. Best was the first yard Vesper Sparrow, though I thought I'd heard a few the last couple weeks. Other sparrows were 15 Lark, 30 Chipping, 7 Lincoln's, 5 Field, and my FOF White-crowned (imm. leucophrys). Six species of sparrows. Amongst them were 6 Cardinal, an Orange-crowned Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and some Chickadees and Titmice. Nice flock of birds, with a strong winter flavor to it. Heard something different I'd have liked to have seen, but couldn't dig it out of the tall weedy stuff.

Bummer of the day was finding the distal 5" of a hatch-year snake, I took pix and will try to ID. Was new for the yard whatever it was, the cat apparently killed it. Dang cat. They are hell on local small wildlife, from snakes and lizards to birds and mice. Unfortunately their killer instinct renders them untrainable against such behavior. It was an abused rescue, has used 12 lives up, and some things about it I won't miss when the old gal goes.

Nov. 3 ~ WeeWow 38dF for a low, surely April was the last time we were below 40dF. Some Yellow-rumped Warblers (Myrtle and Audubon's), a couple Kinglets, Hutton's Vireo, plus the regulars. One good pure Yellow-shafted Flicker was in a pecan out front briefly. The imm. male Broad-tailed Hummingbird continues. A small flock of 6 Common Ground-Dove was nice in the yard. So was squirrel #8 being removed from the genepool of pecan theives. The pair of Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies were ovipositing in the bird bath.

There were 6 Queen (butterfly) at once on the Blue Mist Flower (which is purple) Eupatorium, and one Soldier was about for a bit. Also an Orange Sulphur flew through, and a couple American Lady and Red Admiral. One Desert Checkered-Skipper was out in the ruderal part of the yard.

Nov. 2 ~ These cooler mornings with dry air are a treat after summer. A few Myrtle and an Audubon's Warbler again, couple Kinglet (R-c), heard the Hermit Thrush upslope out back. A few Blue Jays around. After no hummingbirds yesterday since the last two Ruby-throats left on Oct. 31st, today an immature male BROAD-TAILED showed up (photos) in the afternoon and was still around late in day, maybe it will stick for a bit. This one has some red gorget feathers along bottom edge of throat. Last one I saw was Sept. 24-25, so surely a new bird, and I think the third for this fall here. Quite a few Turkey gobbling at dawn in the distance.

A few butterflies about, including Red Admiral, American Lady, a Desert Checkered-Skipper, numerous Snout and Sleepy Orange, over a dozen Gulf Fritillary all going south, a couple Queen, a Vesta and some Mestra.

Nov. 1 ~ A little passerine (landbird) flock was about in the morning, with a few each Audubon's and Myrtle, and an Orange-crowned Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a Hutton's Vireo, plus the local Titmice and Chickadees with them. Heard the Hermit Thrush up the hill out back, and the Ringed Kingfisher along river. No Hummingbirds today for the first time since March, WOW! An eerie quiet.

The weirdest sighting was another female Black Swallowtail at 40' AGL - above ground level, beating tracks south west. That makes two of these in the last 10 days or so, both late in the afternoon. I don't think they are considered or known to be migratory, so two at altitude on the move is pretty interesting to me. Maybe we don't know it all yet? Later a male was seen doing the normal thing, hunting flowers from two feet off the ground.

Other butterflies seen were Mestra, Vesta Crescent, lots of Cloudless Sulphur, a Lyside, one worn pale Monarch heading SW, lots of Snouts heading ENE, a Clouded Skipper, Celia's Roadside-Skipper, and the regulars.

One ode of note, a male Autumnal Meadowhawk was in yard, new for yard list, usually I see them strictly at water's edge.

The guy in Leakey that reported his first dozen Blue Jays at his cabin in 37 years yesterday, today had those plus 50 (!) heading down the Frio River corridor. There is a major Blue Jay flight movement this year reaching much further south than normal or average.

~ ~ ~ October summary ~ ~ ~

Best bird was the Chestnut-collared Longspur that flew over the house calling as it dropped down to a pasture 100 yards away. The same pasture had a calling Long-billed Curlew, which I then saw a few days later. Mostly it is arriving winterers, like Cranes passing over southbound, and Myrtle Warblers to Flickers showing up. We remain too busy to spend any time goofing off birding so much of it is simply what we manage to muster in or from the yard. Did see the Cedar Waxwing pair that arrived in Sept. once in early October, way ahead of schedule. The arrival of migrant Blue Jays is the first of that I've seen of that phenomenon in now 10 years here as of the end of October.

Butterflies were good, with about 55 species seen in the month in the local area, mostly on UvCo 360 and in town at the flower patches and gardens. White Peacock was probably the rarest thing, but a nice male Great Purple Hairstreak was photogenic. Thought I had a Tiny Checkerspot, but photos proved it to be an Elada, good, but no cigar.

Odes are fading fast, though Autumnal Meadowhawk showed up late Oct. Nothing out of the ordinary expected suspects was seen save a couple male Twelve-spotted Skimmer which I don't record every year here.

and now back to our regularly scheduled drivel.....

~ ~ ~ Oct 31 update header (part.) ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATE: October 31, 2013
(last updates: Oct. 24, 16, 7.5, Sept. 27, 23)

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll/read UP day to day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way.

A few quick news items..... the short version..... Fall is here! Butterflies are showing very well. Fall wildflowers are fading, the planted gardens are still good. Fall migrant birds are moving. All this and more....

Fall is roaring upon us, fronts, rain, northerly winds, and somedays, cool morning temps. The river is mostly not running and lots of plants and trees very drought stressed. Many are turning yellow and are dropping leaves now. At the park the river is 5' below normal bank, and from going over the spillway as formerly usual.

The first half of fall is about departing migratory breeders. The second half of fall is arriving winterers and that is underway in earnest now. A remarkable 7 Blue Jay with some call notes very different than the locals are obviously migrants. Sandhill Cranes have been passing over southbound, and on Oct. 21 the peak of Monarch migration passed, I saw 500 in a half hour.

~ ~ ~ end Oct. 31 update header ~ ~ ~

Oct. 31 ~ The front came through after mid-night last night, we got about a quarter inch of rain, that was it. Still two Ruby-throated Hummingbird here though I suspect with the northerlies they will depart. One wouldn't let a Swift Setwing dragonfly perch where it wanted to. when the post-frontal blow hit it was raining yellow leaves, from pecans and hackberries, and the mulberry which is really a beauty now. About 5 p.m. an adult Zone-tailed Hawk soared overhead for 10 minutes. The two Ruby-throated Hummer here in the a.m., though I saw none in the p.m., they probably rode those 20 mph+ northerlies south.

I reported to the Texbirds birding list yesterday the migrant Blue Jays here, and this a.m. a post from a birder with a cabin near Leakey said he had a dozen there, and had never had one in 37 years there. So clearly there is a major Blue Jay movement southward this year. As a rule these irruptions are preciptated by food crop failure in their regular haunts.

Oct. 30 ~ Another warm muggy one about 80dF or more, as a front bears down. The heavy rain was east of us from near SAT to AUS, where in later p.m. they got 3-5 inches! Ringed Kingfisher called all day from river, a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet moved through, the only new migrants I saw were two Lincoln's Sparrow in the weedy grass area. Best was in the evening the flock of Blue Jay was 7 in the big pecan!

After dark I saw the Striped Skunk out front under a pecan so went up to it for some pictures. Talk about mighty dangerous duty! There were an Armadillo and a Racoon under the same tree with it. It is a nut producing tree this year and seemed to have a party going on under it. I got a couple poor pix of the skunk, but at least something, and came away unscented, good thing as we didn't have a couple gallons of tomatoe juice here. Heard a Barn Owl go over while I was stalking the skunk, Great Horned Owl are very vociferous now, and heard a Barred Owl too, Screech-Owl here but not calling now.

Oct. 29 ~ Warm, windy and muggy like yesterday, 15-20mph, gusting higher, causing leaves to fall like rain from the Pecans and Hackberries. Pushing 80dF for high again, supposed to have some rain coming. The 5 Blue Jay continue to hit the bird bath, the Ringed Kingfisher rattling like a 50 caliber over at river, a Kinglet or two moved past. The highlight was a Loggerhead Shrike for the yard list on the fence out near the road. It chased off after something which from what I saw appeared to be another shrike!

Saw a hatch-year Anole (the green lizard). All work and no play, save gathering pecans and keeping squirrels away. There were the remains of a Cotton Rat (Sigmodon sps.) out front, a partial voucher provided by the cat, a new-to-the-yard mammal record for that list.

Oct. 28 ~ An Audubon's Warbler and an Orange-crowned Warbler were about early, a Myrtle later, couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and thought I heard Pipit again. Have thought I've heard them three times in the last week, but never laid eyes on anything. The Ringed Kingfisher was noisy along the river this morning, and a Four-lined Skink was in the front yard.

Blue Jay

Blue Jays at our bath. Note white wing-bars and spots,
(they also have white spots on tail that don't show here),
black bars on the wings and tail, crest, black chinstrap
and white face. Blue Jay is a scarce bird of the valley floor,
mostly around pecans and live-oaks. Sorry for the fuzzy photo,
it was taken through an old window screen) Scrub-Jay is the
crestless blue-colored Jay of the junipers and hills here.
I've heard some locals call them Mexican Jay, but that is only
foundat Big Bend in the Chisos Mountains as far as Texas
is concerned.

Oct. 27 ~ No rain, and the tail end of the front washed out above us, we have low stratus overcast and gulf flow in the 60's dF. Maybe this week when a second front comes through we'll get a drop. The Blue Jays were in the yard again this morning, a couple Kinglets went through, an Orange-crowned Warbler, and mid-morning another or the same Long-billed Curlew flew by calling, heading towards pastures across river. A very few Turkey Vulture were about.

Did a walk to 360 crossing, a dozen Lark Sparrow were by the horse corral, and about 3 Lincoln's Sparrow were along river, but that was it, very slow. There was a Green Kingfisher, female or imm. type. The FOY Autumnal Meadowhawk dragonflies were nice to see, several males and a pair in tandem (hooked up). Saw one each Checkered and Swift Setwing, several Green Darner (incl. ovipositing), and male Variegated Meadowhawk. For damselflies there were a male American Rubyspot, Blue-ringed, Dusky, and Kiowa Dancer, and lots (100+) of Bluets, I presume Familiar Bluet. Some migrant Red, and Black, Saddlebags were in the air too. Odes will be winding down fast now, it might be the last dozen-species day of the year.

Oct. 26 ~ We're in a cycle of lows in 60's high in 70's, a bit bland but better than hot or cold. Had some off and on sprinkles and supposed to maybe get some wet with a front tonight. Maybe it will drop some birds. Heard the 5 Blue Jays again this a.m., saw one at the bath, which grabbed a pecan on the way out of yard. On way to town saw the Shrike again on 360 near UR. They are one of those 'the seasons are changing' birds since they don't nest here.

The park had a nice male Ringed Kingfisher, and a plain ol' Belted. The first flock of Yellow-rumped Warbler of the fall were there, complete with Chipping Sparrows, and Eastern Bluebird, you'd think it was winter. There were 20 Yellow-rumps, half un-ID'd to type, a high 5 Audubon's type, most seemed Myrtle. One FOF Vesper Sparrow was at the rodeo ring, and a lone Orange-crowned Warbler in the live-oaks, a (Ruby-c) Kinglet was with the big flock. The woods were dead, nothing there.

While around the gardens when I was in town it was just sprinkly enough to keep the butterfly activity to zero, save a Pipevine and a Monarch.

The Barred Owl was calling last night, that alternate call, which begins on one pitch quiet then getting louder through a series of who, who, who, who, who, whos, with an ending that sounds like 'cooks AT aaaalllll'.

Oct. 25 ~ Heard the first yard Northern Flicker this a.m., and when you don't have it for the yard list, it hardly matters whether it was a Red-, or Yellow-, shafted, or even if it was a 'pure' bird. Then, Northern Flicker is just fine. Still heavy bluebird traffic nearly daily, counted 10 going over this morning, heard a Killdeer from across river, and at least 4 Mockingbird were in the yard, migrant and/or wintering birds are showing up and increasing.

~ ~ ~ the Oct. 24 update header ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATE: October 24, 2013
(last updates: Oct. 16, 7.5, Sept. 27, 23, 10)

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll/read UP day to day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way.

A few quick news items..... the short version..... Fall is here! Butterflies are showing very well. Fall wildflowers are fading, planted gardens still good. Fall migrant birds are moving. All this and more....

Fall is roaring upon us, fronts, rain, northerly winds, and somedays cool morning temps. The river is mostly not running and lots of plants and trees very drought stressed. Many are starting to turn yellow and are dropping leaves now. At the park the river is 5' below normal bank, and from going over the spillway as normal.

Fall bird migration peaked at a mild roar with its steady trickle of movement. The regular September passers-by Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, Least Flycatcher, Upland Sandpiper (overhead calling at dusk and dawn mid-Aug. to early-Sept.), Nashville, Wilson's and Yellow Warblers, are now mostly through and gone. Ruby-throated Hummingbird were quite thick until Sept. 21st when most left, a few remain. Most of the neotropical migrant songbirds are gone.

The first half of fall is departing migratory breeders. The second half of fall is arriving winterers and that is underway in ernest now. A remarkable 5 Blue Jay with some call notes very different than the locals are obviously migrants. Sandhill Cranes have been passing over southbound, and on Oct. 21 the peak of Monarch migration passed, I saw 500 in a half hour.

Recent highlights include Sept. 25 a female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER used our bird bath (ph.), a CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR flew over calling on Oct. 7, and a Long-billed Curlew on Oct. 21. Locally there are Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Olive Sparrow, and some Audubon's Oriole around, if yer lucky.

Around the passage of the first real cold front of the fall, the 20-25 of Sept., first of fall 'winter' species like Shoveler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Lincoln's Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing (2), and Audubon's Warbler showed up. There is nothing like watching birds to bring focus to and enhance appreciation for the seasonal changes. The Kinglet and Lincoln's Sparrow are right on time for the earlier return dates, the Waxwings are my earliest in fall in the last 10 years!

Some less-than-annual butterflies, invaders from southward are showing up in the annual fall invasion, likely mostly from Mexico. Rarer stuff seen are Mexican Fritillary, Yellow, and White Angled-Sulphurs, Soldier (Eresimus), White Peacock, and White-patched Skipper. No Zebra Longwings though.

The deco gardens around town are as good a bet as any. A RUDDY DAGGERWING was at Utopia on the River on Sept. 22 (ph.).

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Oct. 24 ~ The 5 Blue Jays are still here, and making many vocalizations in a tonal quality I have never heard from the local Blue Jays, so these definitely are not from here, and migrants from northward somewhere, likely way north. Yes they still call 'beetle' but it sounds very different than the locals, as does about everything save the primary "thief, thief, thief" call.' The guttaral click series does not sound the same, nor the Red-shouldered Hawk imitation. Fascinating. I gotta get some audio tape of these things.... ' Maybe one could narrow down their origins with such, and a feather wouldn't be bad either.... Yeah man gimmie some isotopes baby.

There were 15 Chipping Sparrow, winterers are arriving. A Hutton's Vireo was about yard, a R-c Kinglet, and one Nashville Warbler moved through. On the way to town on 360 just west of UR I saw my FOF Loggerhead Shrike. Dead female Black Widow was on porch, on our anniversary.' Wonder if that means anything? It probably bit the wife, and died. You will be able to tell if she reads this, if all of a sudden there is no more news.

For butterflies, the Mexican Yellow came by the Salvia for another sip. Around town butterflies were fair at the various gardens, the library and in front of the park seemed best. Besides the 25 or so regulars, a few migrant Monarchs were around, one Soldier at the library garden where there was also Tropical Checkered-Skipper. A Pearl Crescent was on Maxmillian Sunflower at the park, and at park entrance deco garden, a nice fresh White Peacock and a Theona Checkerspot were highlights. It was about 35 species in less than an hour of looking about town.

Heard Caracara do their namsesake call, a cackle of four syllables sounding somewhat like kakakaka sometimes with a break and extra note in middle. Don't hear it often, were four at once over yard.

Oct. 23 ~ Low was a crisp 46dF, absolutely fantastic. There were at least 7 Chipping Sparrow this morning, surely migrants showing up. Outstanding was a flock of 5 (!) Blue Jay which came in to our bath for a party. I suspect this is a migrant flock from further north not a local group. A couple pair nest in town, but I have only ever seen one in yard, only a few times in 6 months. Birders on the Texas coast have seen some migrants this fall. Some years lots of them move south from the north, like in 1977 when a huge invasion occurred that resulted in some staying and colonizing the Edwards Plateau. That flight was the source of the current limited population (Tony Gallucci personal communication) in the hill country. Look at any old range map and they were not found here. Might mean a long cold winter?

Butterflies were lots of Pipevine and one Giant Swallowtail, some Mestra, several Dogface, a few Cloudless Sulphur, Dainty Sulphur and Little Yellow, Celia's Roadside-, Fiery, Clouded, Eufala, and Julia's Skippers.

I saw my first ever local Opossum here about 11 p.m., eating pecans! Also spotted a bird roosting in the tree, I hardly ever find roosting birds; couldn't see the head but it looked like a Titmouse, didn't want to nuke it with light in the dark.

Oct. 22 ~ Before sunup Kathy spotted a Striped Skunk in the corral. I went out quickly and got a look at it before it moved away, what a neat animal! It was our first sighting and positive ID for a skunk here, had only smelled them before and I can't tell them apart that way, never had the inclination to learn either. These Striped Skunk can be nearly completely white of tail, and only have a narrow Black area along dorsum. If you can see it, note the thin white stripe between eyes from forehead down nose.

Heard a couple Chipping Sparrow this morn, thought I heard them the last day or two. A couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet moved through, one Orange-crowned Warbler, 1 probable Nashville. Nice to see the FOF Hermit Thrush about 1 p.m., it must have been thristy, judging by how long it drank when it came into the bath.

Oct. 21 ~ A great yard bird in early a.m., calling from the pasture just south, a LONG-BILLED CURLEW! Couldn't see it, but it called a couple times, I was too busy to go try to scan for it. Heard is good enough for unique one-of-a-kind vocalizations. It is just as positive an ID as seeing, if you know your bird calls. A Nashville and an Orange-crowned Warbler were about, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet or two. A group of 9 Sandhill Crane passed over calling mid-day, and later just ahead of front a group of 8, and at dusk a group of 4 that looked like they were looking to put down in one the pastures.

For butterflies a Soldier is on day 5 on the Purple Mist Eupatorium, a couple Celia's Roadside-Skipper continue on it as well, a female Black Swallowtail was on it briefly too. Gulf Fritillary were passing heading south, between 4 and 5 p.m. a dozen went by, a veritible wave. Also one Southern Skipperling was on Frogfruit out front.

The real action I noticed at 6 p.m., Monarchs overhead in numbers. In a half hour I counted 500+! It will likely be the high count for the fall for me, the big wave of the year. They were mostly 50-500' up, and I could see them a quarter mile in either direction (east or west) from the front yard. Ten in a binocular field of view at once was regular. A few were still going over at 7 p.m. (nearly dark out), and three were looking to roost in the pecans and hackberries. Interestingly the following morning I noted none, while I expected some passage, they were all ahead of the front apparently.

Amazing was one female Black Swallowtail 50' up heading SW with them! I've never seen one more than about 12' off the ground, nor one that seemed to be in migration mode beating tracks. I had a great view of it in binocs straight overhead noting the row of red spots at margin of VHW (ventral hind wing), and the median band of them as well.

The front hit just after 7 p.m. with northerly winds, though not strong, and no rain, though a cell passed just south of us.

Oct. 20 ~ A couple Nashville, an Orange-crowned, and one Audubon's Warbler went by early, plus a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet. A few Lark Sparrow, lots of Barn Swallow still here, my FOF Sharp-shinned Hawk, an imm. male was hunting low. An adult Zone-tailed Hawk circled low over house in the afternoon.

Lots of migrant Turkey Vultures southbound, two more were missing inner primaries (the outer wing feathers) so in molt. Our local birds do not do this, here adults at least molt while breeding, not in migration.

Butterflies were Soldier, 8+ Monarch went by in a.m., Eufala Skipper, Celia's Roadside-Skipper, Mestra, and the regular gang of Sulphurs, lots of Pipevine and a few Giant Swallowtail, Queens, Red Admiral. An interesting Buprestid (flat-headed tree-borer - a beetle) was on the front porch, fairly mottled black and light ashy gray, with a gold sheen, 3/4 of an inch long (ph.).

Oct. 19 ~ About 48dF this a.m., warmed to about 70dF, pretty nice. The FOF of the day was Sandhill Crane, a flock of 7 mid-day, and at dark I heard more going over southbound. A few warblers were zinging about, 2 Nashville, 1 Orange-crowned, 1 probable Yellow and 2 got away that were likely Nashville, a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Hutton's Vireo went through as well. Three or four Ruby-throated and the Rufous/Allen's Hummer continue.

In butterflies the couple Soldier were still around, as were Julia's Skipper and Celia's Roadside-Skipper, a few Monarch, several Queen, the female Mexican Yellow was on the Tropical Sage, best was a male Whirlabout that spent a couple hours on the Purple Mist Eupatorium.

The avian highlight was my FOF Sandhill Cranes, 7 of them at 3 p.m., another flock was heard at dark. They are a real harbinger of winter for me.

Oct. 18 ~ We had 49dF on the porch this dawn, the front hit after midnight, with only wind, no rain. That cool air feels great, the first 40's since April. It was 10-15 mph mostly, and in KVL it hit 45 or so with a chill factor in the uppermost 30's! At least two Nashville Warbler went through (2 warblers got away that were probables), thought I heard a Yellow (seen distantly in flight, it called), and saw one Orange-crowned Warbler. Still 3-4 Ruby-throated and 1 Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird here in a.m. The FOF flock of Brewer's Blackbirds (25) flew over. The Ringed Kingfisher was noisy all day, and a Red-shouldered Hawk went by.

For butterflies, the two Soldiers were about again today, as were still two Julia's Skipper, a dozen Dogface went by, a couple Mestra, three Monarch, a Vesta Crescent, and the regulars, the highlight was a nice male Whirlabout (skipper) that spent a couple hours on the Purple Mist Eupatorium, new for the monthly list. Sure glad we planted that. The female Mexican Yellow was still here too, hitting the Tropical Sage. The first winter-form Questionmark I've seen this fall was about briefly.

Oct. 17 ~ Today is the first day after the front. Passing through yard in a.m. were a Nashville Warbler, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, an Orange- crowned Warbler, and a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet. I heard what sounded like a Savanah Sparrow from the pasture just south, and a likely Vesper Sparrow called as it flew out of the top of the big Pecan out front. Heard one Sicssor-tailed Flycatcher in the a.m., the Barn Swallows are still around, a Cooper's Hawk passed over that was probably a migrant.

There were maybe 3-4 Ruby-throated Hummingbird around, plus the Rufous or Allen's ad. female, and the adult male Black-chinned came in again.

There was a Soldier (butterfly), at least a couple Clouded Skipper, one Celia's Roadside-Skipper, three Monarchs went by SSW-ward, a couple Mestra, Vesta Crescent, Giant Swallowtail, a dozen Queen, the regular Sulphurs. A couple Firefly were still out at dark.

Nearly 50 Barn Swallow went over, they seem to stage here much like the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers do (which seem gone now), fattening up for a time before undertaking the next leg of migration. I heard what I thought sure was a Verdin up the hill but didn't see it. A couple Caracara passed over again.

It was a nice cool 52dF in the a.m., I saw KVL dropped to 46dF! This is what they call Chamber of Commerce weather, blue skies, mid-70's for a high.

~ ~ ~ Oct. 16 header ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATE: October 16, 2013 (last updates: Oct. 7.5, Sept. 27, 23, 10, Aug. 28)

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll/read UP day to day to read in chronological sequence, an occasional reference might make more sense that way.

A few quick news items..... the short version..... Fall is here! Butterflies are showing very well. Fall flowers are putting on a great show due to rains. Fall migrant birds are moving. All this and more....

Fall is roaring upon us, fronts, rain, northerly winds, and somedays cool morning temps. There is a good fall still underway, butterflies are good on warm days. The river is mostly not running and lots of plants and trees very drought stressed. Many are starting to turn yellow and are dropping leaves already. At the park the river is 5' below normal bank, and from going over the spillway.

Fall bird migration peaked at a mild roar with its steady trickle of movement. The regular September passers-by Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, Least Flycatcher, Upland Sandpiper (overhead calling at dusk and dawn mid-Aug. to early-Sept.), Nashville, Wilson's and Yellow
Warblers, are now mostly through and gone. Ruby-throated Hummingbird were quite thick until Sept. 21st when most left, a few remain. Most of the neotropical migrant songbirds are gone.

Sept. 25 ~ a female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER used our bird bath (ph.). Locally there are Ringed and Green Kingfisher, Olive Sparrow, and some Audubon's Oriole around, if yer lucky. A CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR flew over calling on Oct. 7.

Around the passage of the first real cold front of the fall, the 20-25 of Sept., first of fall 'winter' species like Shoveler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Lincoln's Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing (2), and Audubon's Warbler showed up. There is nothing like watching birds to bring focus to and enhance appreciation for the seasonal changes. The Kinglet and Lincoln's Sparrow are right on time for the earlier return dates, the Waxwings are my earliest in fall in the last 10 years!

Some less-than-annual butterflies, invaders from southward are showing up in the annual fall invasion, likely mostly from Mexico. Rarer stuff seen are Mexican Fritillary, Yellow, and White Angled-Sulphurs, Soldier (Eresimus), White Peacock, and White-patched Skipper. No Zebra Longwings though.

The deco gardens around town are as good a bet as any, as well as any Frostweed or Frogfruit patches you can find or access. A RUDDY DAGGERWING was at Utopia on the River on Sept. 22 (ph.). A TINY CHECKERSPOT was at the library garden on Oct. 5 (ph.).

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back to our regularly scheduled diatribe.....

Oct. 16 ~ Over night we had over an inch of rain. The storm total radar at NOAA totally blew this one, it shows less than .2 (tenths) fell here from the Brackettville radar, and the SAT radar gives us under a half inch, about a quarter-inch. They seem to be good on hard rains, but on long steady slow soakers can be way off, such as today, by a factor or two, or more. The low 50's dF are nice for a low, and high was barely 60dF!

There must be a dozen Ruby-throats here, the 8 feeders each defended by a (different) single jerk. As soon as it clears, with the north winds, most will leave to take advantage of the tailwind and free extra 10 mph. Sure enough late in the day after I wrote that (before noon), there were hardly any hummers about. A half-dozen Firefly out at dark.

Oct. 15 ~ A few warblers ahead of the front, at least 2 probably 3 Nashville Warbler, an Orange-crowned and 2 Wilson's came to the bird bath in the a.m.! In town at the park had my FOF Myrtle Warbler, and the juv. Ringed Kingfisher was upriver a bit. I saw a Flicker that looked pretty good Yellow-shafted, but didn't see shafts or underwing color. At least 20 Monarch were in the woods. The frostweed is about done, but the Maxmillian Sunflower and White Boneset Eupatorium are now in bloom. A couple of the Monarchs hit the Sunflowers for nectar. Was too damp out for much. There was a worn summer form Questionmark in yard in p.m., and a couple Monarch looking to roost. One Celia's Roadside-Skipper was about, didn't see the torn up Queen or the Soldier. Interesting was a Queen with much reduced sub-marginal white spotting inside the band of speckles at margin. Normally there are three or four big white dots. This one had 2 pin dots, so as to resemble a Soldier at a glance of that particular mark.

I didn't see any Scissor-tails at north end of town, but they move around so hard to say if they are gone, or were just somewhere else. There were quite a few Bluebirds around, likely some migrants are showing up, and 6 Starling were there, the migrant flock seemed gone. Must have seen at least a hundred Barn Swallow, mostly over yard.

In the morning and afternoon I heard Cedar Waxwing out front, presuming the 2 I had in late September, or more are arriving. There are now 8 hummingbird feeders out, each guarded by a nimrod immature male (I know that does not narrow it down much) Ruby-throat and the Rufous/Allen's is still here too, whom just slugs its way in whenever it wants. It too has a choosen feeder, at which after a couple days of gettings it rear whooped, that imm. male Ruby- throated guarding that feeder gave up trying to defend against the smaller tyke, and nervously, begrudginly watches from its guard perch when it comes in now. It wants to go kick arse, but knows that little reddish one is meaner than a wet hen, and sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

We had overcast all day with tropical moisture from the south, the remnants of a system that was over Baja California. The cold front first arrived about dark, rain followed soon after, forecasts say it could be a heavy rain event. We can hope.

The bird of the day was an adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird. I haven't seen an since the beginning of September, they are long gone, so a surprise to have one in mid-October.

Oct. 14 ~ A little showery over night, just a tenth maybe if that. A post was made to the TX-Butterfly listserv about 100 Monarchs in Utopia Sat. the 13th. There were a few here in the a.m., including one that nectared on the Eupatorium, along with a torn up Queen now on day 9 here.

In the a.m. the Barn Swallow flock was about, I saw at least 50 and 1 Cave Swallow. A Dickcissel went over calling, the first in a couple weeks, they were mostly done passing a while ago. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a late Yellow Warbler also moved through yard. Six migrant Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew over high, southbound at 500', migrant altitude, not local movement. A couple more sang from the corral and pasture just south of us.

Oct. 13 ~ Some rain finally got here overnight just a few showers, but throughout day a nice slow steady soaker fell, nearly an inch south of town a bit. The divide between Conacan and Park Chalk Bluff got 3-5 inches, just southwest of us, near Austin got 4-6 inches, and south a bit around Crystal City, about 10" fell! The downpours were hit or miss as typical of Texas rain.

Too wet to go out, mostly defending pecans against squirrels, they send some in to one side of the yard, and while after them, more sneak in from the other side behind me. You'd need a moat if you wanted to farm pecans here. I removed 7, and 8 are attacking. Perhaps finding their nut stash house and stealing them back is next.

Heard Ringed Kingfisher, and thought I heard a Long-billed Thrasher (besides the Mockingbird) but didn't see anything. One Orange-crowned Warbler moved through yard, the Rufous/Allen's Hummer is still here, as are 8, 10, or 12 immature male Ruby-throated. A few Barn Swallows went over northbound. Barred Owl was calling about 1 p.m. during break in rain.

Oct. 12 ~ low clouds and drizzle, which is supposed to turn to rain as it warms up, low mid-70's, high was 88 dF (!). In leps the Soldier was here (day 6) as was the torn and frayed Queen (day 7) as well as a couple other Queens likely the same duration. All at once a Monarch, the Soldier, and 5 Queens were on the purple mist-flower. About 4 Monarchs went by in the a.m., a second Soldier passed as well, and 7 was peak single moment Queen count. A nice fresh Clouded Skipper stopped on the Mealy Sage briefly.

The Rufous/Allen's Hummer is still here, day 4 for it. A flight of Turkey Vulture went down-valley about 3 p.m. or so, over a hundred, and I picked out one adult light morph Swainson's Hawk among them, my FOF. A couple hundred Barn Swallow were mostly southbound the same time, though some were milling over country club. Among them I picked out 3-4 Cave and 1 late-ish Cliff Swallow.

We now have 7 hummer feeders out, just a little juice in each one, as each is being guarded by a jerk immature male Ruby-throated. Must be at least a dozen still around considering the dispute level and fluid consumption.

For odes, a few dozen each of Green Darner and Black Saddlebags were moving south, probably hundreds of each in the area, I'm just checking one spot (yard) once an hour. Among them were some Red Saddlebags, Wandering Glider and Spot-winged Glider. When I scanned skies for the swallows and vultures, lots of odes were out there too far to ID. On the ground in the yard were a few Checkered and one Swift Setwing.

As of dark we had not received any rain.......

Oct. 11 ~ Strong southerly flow, gulf moisture, and low clouds, with mid-60's dF lows. No migrants about in a.m., though the roosting Monarch did lift off into southerly headwinds about 10 a.m. A couple more Monarchs were looking to roost late in the day. The torn up Queen is on day 6, the Soldier on day 5 both at the Purple Mist-flower (Eupatorium). A Buckeye blasted past, as did a Red Admiral, clearly migrants. Small numbers of Large Orange, Cloudless, and Lyside Sulphurs, and Dogface, some Little Yellow and Dainty Sulphur too. One Gray Hairstreak, a Dun Skipper, a boatload of Pipevine Swallowtail.

A Nashville Warbler dropped into the bath late in p.m., but that was the only passerine migrant I saw all day here. Heard a Belted Kingfisher over at the river. A group of Turkey Vulture seemed to be migrants. Saw a couple of the ground/grass lizard in the yard I haven't ID'd yet. Heard a few Scissor- tails in the a.m. One lone non-Barn Swallow went by quickly with snow white posterior underparts. Around dark a half-dozen or so firefly continue to burn. Later a Barn Owl called as it headed south in the dark.

Oct. 10 ~ Heard what I thought sure was a Pyrrhuloxia, but since a female Cardinal can make a fairly notes, without seeing it I won't call it the FOF and new for the yard list. The Rufous/Allen's Hummer is still slugging it out with the 5-6 (or more) Ruby-throats here. Passers-by in or over the yard in the morning were one Nashville Warbler, one Ruby-crowned Kinglet, one Hutton's Vireo, 2 Caracara, a few Barn Swallow, and a small falcon (Kestrel or Merlin).

The Soldier (butterfly) is still here, day 4. One Monarch went by southbound, another showed up late evening and roosted in the pecans. Simultaneously there was Monarch, Queen, and Soldier all from porch. All three of the Danaus milkweed butterflies. The Mexican Yellow flew by again, Julia's, Dun, and Eufala Skippers on the flowers by porch still, Northern Cloudywing too. A Desert Checkered-Skipper was out along driveway. I had an ode out there that was likely an immature male Ivory-striped Sylph. Several years ago I saw a nice male at the crossing, so they are around the area.

Oct. 9 ~ A quick early run to town this a.m. Barred Owl at the park, and a FOF Northern Flicker I heard only so can't say if red- or yellow- type. At the north end of town the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flock is about 50 birds, very neat. A steady stream of Barn Swallow were moving NNW there, I saw over a hundred in 10 minutes. Morris Killough told me he saw some type of coastal seabird he'd never seen before, something I'd have died to see no doubt, and something likely not on our local lists either!

Here at the house there were a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird still, and one Rufous/Allen's Hummer showed up, looked an adult female, and looked Allen's but I couldn't make an absolutely positive ID. A couple Caracara flew over, no passerine migrants.

Monarch, Queen and Solider, all 3 "milkweed" butterflies were about today, 2 Monarchs were headed SSW, the Soldier was on the blooming Purple Mist-flower all day. Also coming in to flowers were Dun, Eufala, and Julia's Skippers, Northern Cloudywing, and Pipevine Swallowtail. Late in the evening I did catch one Draconid meteor, no real show this year.

The real sighting of the day, was in the dark, pre-dawn. We are in the middle of a couple week period of optimum viewing for zodiacal light, also known as "false dawn". Since we were up at 6 a.m. we went out and looked and were not dissappointed, it was really a spectacular show. It appears as though dawn is coming as the sky starts to light up (eastward towards sun), which is from the sun hitting cosmic dust out in space at just the right angle so that we can see a glow. Just when you think it must be getting light soon, it goes away and becomes black out again. It lasted 10 minutes maybe for the best part, then after going black again for a 15 minutes or so, the actual real dawn and first light get underway. A very neat phenomenon to watch, like most things, particularly so if and when you understand what you are seeing.

Late in the evening I did see one Draconid meteor, no real show this year.

Oct. 8 ~ Looked like about 47dF this a.m., absolutely wonderful. I had to find my warm fuzzy slippers and sweatpants first thing. The Monarch departed its roost site when the temp hit 55dF. It flapped for a bit warming up, and took off up, up, and away, southbound on its way to the wintering site in Mexico. A migrant Mockingbird was out front and sung a little bit. A few Ruby-throats are still here, maybe 5+? The still here Scissor-tails were chorusing a bit early.

Local resident Eastern Phoebe, Cardinal, and Carolina Wren were the only dawn birdsong this a.m., though yesterday Titmouse and Chickadee sang a bit. The dearth of passerine migrants continues. After 11 a.m. Kathy spotted an Indigo Bunting in the ground cover, with nice blue wings and tail. The Soldier butterfly that was on the Eupatorium for over an hour yesterday was back this a.m.. Noon a Monarch passed by southbound. A nice male Black Swallowtail passed by. A Nysa Roadside-Skipper hit the Eupatorium, and the Mexican Yellow I have been seeing off and on for a week was on the Salvia (Tropical Sage) again.

~ ~ ~ Oct. 7.5 update header ~ ~ ~

Happy Equinox! We have a new season upon us, with fall fronts and northerly winds, and some cool morning temps. From late August to late September about 3-4" of rain has fallen, producing a great fall bloom, though the river is mostly not running and lots of plants and trees are very drought stressed. Some dropping leaves already. The river is 5' below normal bank, and from going over the spillway at park.

Fall bird migration peaked at a mild roar with its steady trickle of movement. The regular September passers-by Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, Least Flycatcher, Upland Sandpiper (overhead calling at dusk and dawn mid-Aug. to early-Sept.), Nashville, Wilson's and Yellow Warblers, are now mostly through and gone. Ruby-throated Hummingbird were quite thick until Sept. 21st when most left, a few remain. Most of the neotropical migrant songbirds are gone.

Sept. 25 a female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER used our bird bath (ph.). Locally there are Ringed and Green Kingfisher, White-tipped Dove, Olive Sparrow, Zone-tailed Hawk and some Audubon's Oriole around, if yer lucky. A CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR flew over calling on Oct. 7.

Around the passage of the first real cold front of the fall, the 20-25 of Sept., first of fall 'winter' species like Shoveler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Lincoln's Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing (2), and Audubon's Warbler showed up. There is nothing like watching birds to bring focus to and enhance appreciation for the seasonal changes. The Kinglet and Lincoln's Sparrow are right on time for the earlier return dates, the Waxwings are my earliest in fall in the last 10 years!

Some less-than-annual butterflies, invaders from southward are showing up in the annual fall invasion, likely mostly from Mexico. Rarer stuff seen are Mexican Fritillary, Yellow, and White Angled-Sulphurs, Soldier (Eresimus), White Peacock, and White-patched Skipper. No Zebra Longwings though.

The deco gardens around town are as good a bet as any, as well as any Frostweed or Frogfruit patches you can find or access. A RUDDY DAGGERWING was at Utopia on the River on Sept. 22. A TINY CHECKERSPOT was at the library garden on Oct. 5.

~ ~ ~ end Oct. 7.5 update header ~ ~ ~

Oct. 7 ~ A coldest morning of fall so far, with 49dF here at 7 a.m. Before sunup this morning after throwing the seed about, I was outside and saw this greenish above plain below thing between the house and cottage in a little fenced off spot we tried to grow canteloupes in, the former gardenlet. It was jumping in and out of the rabbit-fence and chicken wire. Had to come in for binocs as it was early and my eyes weren't tuned up. It was an Olive Sparrow! Probably the one that has been in draw and across road. Must have been on the seed, it flushed and flew into an old no-door metal shed landing on a broomstick that lies at a 45 degree angle. Make note to check the shed for Olive Sparrow.

An Audubon's Warbler was the only thing that went by as of 10 a.m. Heard the Ringed Kingfisher over at the river. Outstanding was a CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR that flew over calling about 11:30 a.m., heading for the pasture just south of us. A great yard bird, which I also had as fly-over calling fall migrant at Seco Ridge, and have yet to see one on the ground here.

They few flowers we planted out front had some butterflies on them today, including Dun, Eufala, and Celia's Roadside-, Skippers, American Lady, Sleepy Orange, Queen, and a Soldier for two hours. Lots of Pipevine and Giant Swallowtail passing through, some Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphurs, Mestras and Snouts, a few Gulf Frits.

A Monarch roosted in the big pecan, right at the only little cluster of dead leaves, which most closely resembled its coloration. Heard a bat after dark, besides Barred, E. Screech-, and Great Horned Owl.

Oct. 6 ~ Overnight there was a trace of precip, maybe a tenth-inch, so much for that, by morning it was 54dF, the lowest low so far this fall. And the people rejoiced. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher called before sunup, must have roosted hereabouts. Heard a likely Orange-crowned Warbler go through yard, but otherwise not seeming much migration motion. Couple Barn Swallow flew over northbound. I had hoped an overnight rain would knock some things down, which Im sure it did, but it will take some scratching to find them, no big fallout. This whole month is primetime for good stuff, usually brought to you by the weather.

Kathy had a Nashville Warbler at the bath in the p.m., but only some Turkey and Black Vulture on the move, overhead. Around 4 we were at the 360 crossing and had one, maybe 2 White Peacock butterfly. A 3.5 foot Indigo Snake was nice too. Cedar Sage is blooming well in the patch near crossing, Tropical Sage is far more abundant, and roaring too. One Metalmark could have been Rawson's, and Fatal and Rounded were seen later at draw. An Orange Sulphur was on a Lantana, and another later out gate was on Tube-tongue. One False Duskywing was at the crossing still.

For odes a dozen Green Darner were there, a few Variegated Meadowhawk including a pair ovipositing, but no other dragons. Over a hundred bluets were active, looking like Familiar, and a fair number of Double- striped Bluet, but no Argia dancers save a single Dusky. Ode season will fade fast now, though often good stuff shows up late.

Thought sure I heard a Common Yellowthroat at the crossing, but it didn't pish up. Barred and Great Horned Owls calling after dark.

Oct. 5 ~ Front supposed to be hitting this afternoon, so warm overnight and got up to 86 or so on southerlies, the northerlies and temp drop arrived about 5:15 p.m. Had some rats to kill in town so made some mid-day stops around, little to no passerine (landbird) migrant activity. Though the bird of the day got away at the park, I saw a big ground warbler shoot away and could not refind it. It was good.

Also at the park was a duck flock, 10 FOF Blue-winged Teal and 8 Shoveller on the far shore. A Green Heron was still there, and a couple ad. Cooper's Hawk were discussing whose territory it was. At the north end of town there was the fall Scissor-tail congregation, about 3 dozen birds, males calling some song, soon gone till March. There was a possibly record-breaking flock of Starling, over 80 birds! Clearly migrants, we have a pair or two around in summer, and usually only a few if that in winter. One Clay-colored Sparrow was seen at north end of town, another in yard in late afternoon.

A nice little flock of birds was near the 359 x 360 junction, which had 8-10 Bushtit, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hutton's Vireo, Titmouse and Chickadee, plus THREE first-of-fall Orange-crowned Warbler. One of which was clearly orestera, the Rocky Mountains breeder known as "Gray-headed" Orange-crowned Warbler. One of the other was a typical standard Eastern celata, our normal one, and the other looked that as well. No other warblers were positively identified today, remarkable.

In that area were also good numbers of House Finch and Lesser Goldfinch, eating in some native shrubs, and why they haven't been at the feeders a couple weeks plus now, a good seed crop, finally. Though since I was trying to remember all my errands I was supposed to be doing, I failed to go check out what plants they were on, ooops. There was also Field Sparrow there, and best, a Canyon Towhee, right next to the 360 gate. Canyon Towhee is as or more enigmatic than Bushtit here. There were Chipping Sparrow there too.

In general butterflies were a bit slow at the gardens, but Giant Swallowtail were common (a few dozen in number) as was Cloudless Sulphur, with well over a dozen seen. Mostly paying attention since it is a new month, so we're back to zero. A male Great Purple Hairstreak was at the med. ctr. Lantana, as was a Tawny Emperor. At various stops had Ceraunus Blue, Bordered Patch, a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, lots of Gray Hairstreak, Gulf Fritilaries, one Variegated Frit, Fatal and Rounded Metalmark, mostly the regular expected suspects among 35 sps. total. One Elada Checkerspot was photographed at the library garden.

A couple Monarch were at the park, one very worn (ph.), both nectaring on Frostweed and appeared migrants. Tawny Emperor and a Painted Lady were at the Sab.Cyn. Museum Lantanas. The park garden had one of the sphinx moths that look like a ginormous White-lined, I forget type, Vine maybe, will check and amend. Checked some blooming Evergreen Sumac and did not see any Stenapses cerambycids (nor any last Wednesday). Surely they are on the magic bush on 357 out on back of Seco Ridge, they are very localized it seems. They are the big fancy metallic green and orange-red Longhorn beetles, pix on the critters page methinks. Now is the time.

A couple FOY Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonflies were seen (1 ph.), one at park entrance deco garden, and another at the country club pond. I would call them LTA - less than annual - here so always a good find. Also at the C.C. pond were several Desert Firetail damselflies (red males) and Green Darner, Black Saddlebags and Red Saddlebags were all ovipositing in the pond. Blue Dashers were dashing about, and Eastern Pondhawks were hawking the pond. At least two dozen Red-winged Blackbird were there.

At one of the stops today I heard a Mockingbird doing a perfect Olive-sided Flycatcher song. That is not a local, but a migrant Mocker. Then at the C.C. there was one doing perfectly, the begging of the juvenile Red-tailed Hawk that was raised here. I bet the adult Red-tails wish it would shut up. For a couple weeks now, at least, there have been some migrant Mockingbirds moving through. Sometimes vocalizations can tip off whether migrant or resident.

About 5:30 as the northerlies hit a Zone-tailed Hawk flew by on them. Pecans were raining leaves with just that little bit of wind, and many leaves are turning yellow already. Fireflys are tailing off (har har har), maybe a half-dozen or so this evening. Oh yeah, some Kidneywood is blooming from the recent rains.

Oct. 4 ~ Essentially no passerine migrant movement, against strong southerlies. There was a Monarch roosted in a big Hackberry at dawn. Means 3 yesterday. Interestingly there were migrant Turkey and Black Vultures moving south high up. I have seen Turkey Vultures the last week I thought were migrants, two adults were missing primaries, something you would never see on our local birds this time of year. I'd guess they are second year birds besides not being from here.

I think 6-12 Ruby-throated Hummingbird are still here, each of the five feeders being defended by a jerk immature male. In the afternoon the FOF Blue-headed Vireo moved through yard. Wow a migrant landbird!

Oct. 3 ~ Quite a few butterflies about on the strong southerlies, and about 90dF temps. Especially Cloudless and Large Orange Sulphur, Lysides, Dogface, had 2 Monarchs pass southbound (SSW), A probable Orange-barred Sulphur was about the yard a couple times. A couple/few dozen Black Saddlebags in the a.m. was a good swarm, a few Red mixed in, some Spot-winged Glider and Green Darner, but Black Saddlebags far outnumbered everything else put together. Belted Kingfisher called as it flew over, I saw it out the office window.

Oct. 2 ~ One Gnatcatcher, 2 Nashville Warbler, 1 Hutton's Vireo over day, slow in yard. A Mexican Yellow butterfly landed on our Tropical Sage, new for the yard list, and glad we planted that! A Monarch went through southbound as was another in town. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher still giving dawn and dusk chorus.

October 1 ~ Over whole day passing through yard were two each of Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Nashville Warbler. One Hutton's Vireo about. Too busy to look much, but seeming very quiet for landbird movement.

~ ~ ~ October above ~ ~ ~ Sept. below ~ ~ ~

A brief September summary..... Butterflies were great with 61 species, the best month of the year, and in 3 years. Only one month in last five years since the drought started was better for diversity, Oct. 2010 with 69 sps., before that to be over 61 sps. you have to go back to Oct. 2008 with 83 species. So this month had the third highest species diversity since Oct. '08. Which says more about how bad it has been the last five years, than how good it was, as we have had 90+ sps. in a month. But 60+ is great given the situation and circumstances of the drought. There has been some botanical salvation, but nothing for the aquifer, the river continues to drop.

We had amazingly a near normal 3 or so inches of rain, and it is much greener than in July or August, a very good fall bloom is underway. A Ruddy Daggerwing at UR was the highlight, though Cassius Blue is a very good find here too. At least two Yellow Angled-Sulphur blasted by. Imperial Moth is always good to see too.

Best bird was an adult female Townsend's Warbler Kathy found at the bird bath (poor docu shots obtained through window/screen). She also spotted an American Redstart at the bath another day, a good bird here in fall. A tame juvenile Ringed Kingfisher at the park probably indicates local nesting, my first convincing evidence besides apparent (huge Kingfisher) holes high on some vertical river banks. One has been chasing another south of town, I suspect a begging young and an adult.

Returning winter species like Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Lincoln's Sparrow showed up late in Sept (on time), but the 2 Cedar Waxwings on the 23rd were the earliest I've seen in 10 falls here.

A great fall flower show going on, the Gayfeather at 1050 pass was spectacular, and along river stands of Tropical Sage and Frostweed are very impressive. Goldenrod along river quite nice too.

~ ~ ~ end September summary ~ ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ About 61 for a low with dense fog and about a quarter-mile of visibility. No passerine migrants this morning, again the first clear day after the front, nothing. Stuff was on its heels as it went through, but nothing this a.m. The fog might not have helped. Still trying to figure out what makes it tick here. On the east coast the first clear day after frontal passage in fall is usually tremendous.

A Soldier (Danaus eresimus) landed briefly on the flower cluster open on the (Eupatorium) Purple Mist-Flower we planted out front. About 3 dozen heads are nearing opening, it should be good all October. Was a new butterfly for the yard, #75, not bad for six months and no flower garden yet, but being worked on.....

Sept. 29 ~ Overnight there was a good shower, seeming another .2 or quarter-inch of rain, so with yesterday evening we're near a half inch for the event. Winds turned north late last night, this a.m. it was 67dF, compared to yesterday morning's 77dF. Heard the Ringed Kingfisher from bed with our first cup of coffee, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. The heavy machinery sound of the kingfisher, with the deflating air pressure relief of the gnatcatcher sounded like a natural version of the intro to "Welcome to the Machine" by Pink Floyd. Kakakakakak psssssss kakakakakak psssssss kakakakakak psssssss.

May have heard an Orange-crowned Warbler in a.m., still waiting for my first of fall. A couple nice male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher passed by heading south, they are diurnal migrants, and on the move behind the front with the northerly tail-winds helping today.

Mid-morning 4 Nashville and 2 Yellow Warbler moved through, and a couple that got away. Waiting for it to dry and warm I went for an afternoon walk down the road. Saw a Nashville and a Yellow Warbler, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, heard a Mourning Warbler, but no Summer Tanager. Saw two Monarch butterfly (ph. one nectaring on Frostweed), and better a Southern Pearl Crescent (ph.), a new butterfly for the month. Otherwise the expected suspects.

The flower bloom is going great from the rains, extensive stands of Tropical Sage have Ruby-throated Hummers guarding them, lots of Zexmenia, Skeleton-plant, Frostweed, Lindheimer's Senna, and Snow-on-the- Mountain, saw some Greenthread in the draw. At river the Goldenrod is going great, a little bit of Fireweed is showing, but the Dodder seemed to get most of it. Lazy Daisy, Paralena, and Broomweed all showing well too, as are Lantana and Mealy Sage, some Frogfruit is still going.

A fair number of Green Darner dragonfly, and some of the migrants passing by like Gliders and Saddlebags, but the locals seem very weak, the dragon season will fade fast now. The only thing of interest was a male Variegated Meadowhawk, the first I've seen since spring, mint fresh it was. There was one Dusky Dancer, and an un-ID'd female Argia dancer (ph.).

In p.m. here in yard when I got back were 2 Gnatcatcher, Nashville Warbler, and a Least Flycatcher. It only got to 77dF (yesterday's low!) in the afternoon when debris clouds behind the front finally moved south and sun came out. Some areas south and east of SAT got a couple and more inches of rain. They need it too.

Nearing last light an American Kestrel went off calling a long extended session, the FOF, and a new yard bird. A Hutton's Vireo was around late in afternoon. At dusk there was a bat out front (Mexican Free-tail), about 15-20 Firefly continue to show well.

I found a torn and frayed not flyable Tawny Emperor (lep) right before dark, a new species for the month! I'll take 'em any way I can get 'em, even a non-flyable butterfly is OK when it's the first of the month on the 29th. You could see a couple bird bill shaped cutouts in its wings, from near misses. I failed to take measurements to make a guess on the ID of the offending bird(s). There will be a happy toad tonight.

After dark we heard Barred, Great Horned, and Eastern Screech, Owls.

Sept. 28 ~ Low was only 77dF, and humidity higher, with strong southerly flow ahead of incoming front, still waiting for rain in late afternoon. Mid-day I spotted the presumedly same imm. American Redstart outside, which again came into bath. The strong southerlies and overcast skies couple to shutdown migration, keeping things in place. Heard the Olive Sparrow down the draw, heard the Ringed Kingfisher down at river, and a Monarch flew by going SSW. An Indigo Bunting was the only new different thing I saw go through. Thought I heard a couple Chipping Sparrow though, of which migrants/winterers should be showing any day. Cooper's Hawk late in p.m. was the locally hatched immature methinks.

Sept. 27 update header - in part

MOST RECENT UPDATE: September 27, 2013
(last updates:Sept.23, 10, Aug. 28, 16, 7, July 26, 10)

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll/read UP day to day to read in chronological sequence, an occasional reference might make more sense that way.

A few quick news items..... the short version..... Fall is here! Butterflies are showing very well. Fall flowers like (now fading) Frogfruit and Frostweed are good now, fall migrant birds are moving, particularly early in the a.m.   All this and more....

Happy Equinox! July and August were hot and mostly dry, September has had a little rain, but lots of plants and trees are drought stressed, some are dropping leaves already. Nearly two inches of rain late Aug. and early Sept. saved the fall flower bloom. An inch or two of rain the third week of Sept will keep the bloom going through October.

Fall bird migration is peaking at a mild roar with its steady trickle of movement. The regular passers-by have been Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, Least Flycatcher, Upland Sandpiper (overhead calling at dusk and dawn mid-Aug. to early-Sept.), Nashville, Wilson's and Yellow Warblers, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird were quite thick until Sept. 21st, Black-chinned are gone mostly in first week of Sept.

So far this fall our 3 feeders have had 5 Rufous Hummingbird, 3 Calliope ( photographed Aug. 8-9), and two Broad-tailed. A calling DUSKY Flycatcher was studied on Aug. 11. Sept. 25 a female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER used our bird bath (ph.). Locally there are Ringed and Green Kingfisher, White-tipped Dove, Olive Sparrow, and some Audubon's Oriole around, if yer lucky.

Around the passage of the first real cold front of the fall, the 20-25 of Sept., first of fall 'winter' species like Shoveler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Lincoln's Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing (2), and Audubon's Warbler showed up. There is nothing like watching birds to bring focus to and enhance appreciation for the seasonal changes. The Kinglet and Lincoln's Sparrow are right on time for the earlier return dates, the Waxwings are my earliest in fall in the last 10 years!

~ ~ ~ end update header ~ ~ ~

Sept. 27 ~ Gulf flow and moisture back with low clouds, and for southbound migrating birds, headwinds. Supposed to have a front go by tomorrow. Should be birds with it. I had little in the yard this a.m. to indicate anything yet, 1 Nashville Warbler. Heard a Blue Jay. Thought I heard an adult male Broad-tailed Hummingbird wing whistle, but didn't see it. There is a very similar sounding cricket here. Otherwise maybe a half-dozen imm. male Ruby-throated Hummers continue to slug it out around the 3 feeders.

Just after noon a Mexican Yellow (butterfly) landed on the Tropical Sage. It is a new species for the monthly list and new for yard as well. Around noon-thirty Kathy spotted an American Redstart at the bath. A couple days ago it was a Townsend's Warbler she spotted at the bath from the kitchen. I simply must figure out a way to keep her in the kitchen. :) Pretty sure she doesn't read this. LOL dear!

The imm. or female type Redstart was with 2 Nashville Warbler and a fidgety (Ruby-crowned) Kinglet. The Redstart took a good bath, and is not a sure thing every fall here. About 4 p.m. I saw what I guess was the same bird again, a female or imm. type American Redstart, though it was with a new bird, my FOF Warbling Vireo, a nice bright one too. Note a bright Warbling Vireo is still one of the plainest birds in America. In fall you can catch them in a particularly bright shades of pale nothing.

Sept. 26 ~ I keep forgetting to mention that for a week now the resident pair of Eastern Phoebe are both duetting, and, beating the dickens out of every migrant Eastern Phoebe from northward that shows up and thinks it looks habitable here. This territory is taken. I'd wondered if they would leave in fall and wintering birds would move in, that seems not the case, this pair owns this place, and is not fond of the Vermilions, or Empidonax either.

Migrants through the yard early were Nashville, Yellow, and Wilson's Warblers, Least Flycatcher, my FOF Olive-sided Flycatcher, an Orchard Oriole, White-eyed Vireo, and a Blue Grosbeak. A couple Monarch butterflies appeared migrants too, one was blasting SW-ish over treetop level. Late in afternoon the first Belted Kingfisher I've seen from yard flew by, calling to make sure I noticed. Turkey were gobbling in the morning. A Vermilion Flycatcher flew by southbound.

Still a good firefly show going on the half-hour as it gets dark, nearing about 20 or so (at least) in yard, it's no June, but still nice.

Sept. 25 ~ Had a 65-94dF spread today, still dry so bearable, and a nice cool start makes a world of difference. So does getting dark early. Kathy spotted the bird of the day at the bath about 11:30 a.m., an ad. female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER! I got a couple through-the-window - and screen - docu shots of it, probably the first pics of one in Uvalde Co.! I know of only two prior county records, both at Utopia Park (UP) last fall a male Oct. 27, and a female Nov. 2, but I didn't get pix of either. A request then for known prior UvCo records on Texbirds was met with the sound of crickets.

This is likely only the third in Uvalde County. Good thing it found us! Amazing a nearly hidden bath (without a drip) of about 14" across is found by a vagrant passing through, and what luck that it was when Kathy was in kitchen glancing out window every once in a while to notice. She spotted it and yelled for me, I got a couple docu shots, then quickly ran outside with binocs and could not find it. We had less than 60 seconds to detect and document. There is an old Lost Maples fall record too, but a rare bird here, this a month earlier than the last two here, and probably the first Sept. record locally.

Also the FOF Audubon's Warbler flew over southbound calling. I thought I heard one a couple mornings ago but couldn't pick it up overhead. A nice male Scissor-tail flew low over house early, and a Vermilion went over in the p.m. Had the second Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the fall, and a couple Nashville Warbler. Mid-morning the imm. ma. Broad-tailed Hummer was back around. 10-12 Ruby-throats continue. Still some dawn and dusk Scissor-tailed Flycatcher chorus going on near enough to hear. Ringed Kingfisher calling around 8 a.m., noon, and in the early evening. Had a bat (Mexican Freetail) at dawn.

A couple dozen Green Darner dragonfly swarmed at dusk over the pecans. Numbers were moving by all day, as were Black Saddlebags, with smaller numbers of Red Saddlebags, Wandering and Spot-winged Gliders.

Sept. 24 ~ An imm. male Broad-tailed Hummingbird showed up, at one point it was 12" from my face, too close to focus without reading glasses. A couple each Nashville, and Yellow Warblers went through as did an Orchard Oriole or two. My second yard Inca Dove was about, and calling. Three Monarch butterflies passed through yard, one stopping to puddle at the corral wet spot, another stopping to nectar on Tube Tongue, both actions behaviors more likely of a migrant, besides them being worn. A Barred Owl called a while at 11 p.m. It was about a dozen Ruby- throated Hummingbird here today.

In town late in afternoon, so park dead for birds, and the butterfly gardens are in a bloom lull, as then so are the butterflies at them... But there were at least 6 Southern Broken-Dash, the most I have seen in an hour (4 flower patch stops) here in 5 years or more.

Sept. 23 ~ A bit of movement this a.m., figures, I have work to do .... A second day with a 55dF low in the a.m. feels outstanding. There were four Nashville and two Wilson's Warblers in front yard early. The big surprise was two FOF Cedar Waxwing in the big pecan, which have to be the earliest recorded in my 10 falls here so far. A (the?) Canyon Towhee was in the driveway. Four Egyptian Goose steamed by. Heated up to a nice dry 85dF. Less than 10-12 Ruby-throats left, all imm. males, pissy ones too. Here we go again with the 'spread the feeders apart, cluster them together, over and over endlessly' game, trying to make it so one doesn't take over the (or each) feeder. An Orange Sulphur was a new butterfly for the month.

Sept. 22 ~ HAPPY AUTUMNAL EQUINOX! It feels like it, with a low about 56dF, the first 50's since early May if not late April. WOW! Like yesterday, stunning blue skies and dry from the post-frontal northerlies, much bluer than we get all summer due to humidity.

No big wave of migrants as I had hoped for, a couple Yellow, an Orchard Oriole, one blurred fly-by with heard flight note seemed like an Orange-crowned Warbler but it got away. Some more Scissor- tail chorus at dawn. Most amazing is not hearing a Summer Tanager this morning, they were still around yesterday, like the last 5.5 months, multiples daily in the yard..... they are gone. We'll still get a few migrants, but these local birds left.

Nailing down departure dates for migratory breeders is amongst the hardest of data to acquire. You just quit paying attention to the 'common daily thing' and by time you realize they are gone, you can't for sure remember the last day you saw one. It is hard to write down 'the cow ate the corn' every day for each cow.

I don't think there were a dozen hummingbirds this morning, all immature Ruby-throated. BdbdbdbdbDAT's all folks! The fall hummingbird migration has peaked, we are on the, er, tail-end now. Usually a good time for good ones, and fewer birds can make them easier to pick out, or make them stand out more. You can keep your feeders out until the first freeze or thereabouts in October. Might be the best time to get Rufous Hummingbird, the next month. I've had 5 Rufous so far this fall here, since August 7, at a new feeding station no birds had any prior knowledge of.

In the late afternoon I checked the Frostweed patch at UR and there were a very few migrants around; a Yellow Warbler, an Indigo Bunting, a Least, and a Willow, Flycatcher, one Mourning Warbler, one Blue- gray Gnatcatcher. The FOF of the walk was a Lincoln's Sparrow. I did finally manage one Summer Tanager on the way out. There were some nice 6' tall blooming Velvetleaf Mallow, Frostweed and Tropical Sage are in full roar, as is Huisache Daisy (but with little on it), Frogfruit is fading fast, Lindheimer's Senna is going great, but no butterflies on it either. An imm. ma. Vermilion Flycatcher was out front of UR.

Among a dozen Queens, was one nectaring worn pale (likely migrant) Monarch. The highlight, and butterfly of the year so far, worn as it was, was a RUDDY DAGGERWING butterfly, perhaps the 4th in Uvalde County, the first was just a few years ago, in 2008. It is big, about 4" across, a stunningly fancy tropical species with an odd shape, and a great find here. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I thought I saw one there but it disappeared. And now here one is. Coincidence? Watching this one bolt about and chasing after it for a couple docu shots it became clear how easily that could happen. They can be fast. There are a couple pix of the Lost Maples individual (also the invasion of 2008, and the first BanCo record) on the Butterfly News page, scroll down to 2008. This the 5th area record, the 4th in UvCo, the Lost Maples one was in BanCo. 1st and 3rd UvCo were at Concan, the 2nd at Utopia Library Garden, plus the LM BanCo individual were *all in one year*, the Great Ruddy Daggerwing invasion year of 2008, none before or since.

For reference here is the 2008 Utopia individual. An impressive beast, eh?
Ruddy Daggerwing

Ruddy Daggerwing (Marpesia petreus)
at the Utopia Library Butterfly Garden, 2008

Then at the 360 crossing there was another good butterfly, one CASSIUS Blue, which I see far less than annually here. One White Peacock continues there in the Frogfruit, a False Duskywing, and a Southern Broken-Dash were there too, as well as a few of the regulars like Ceraunus and Reakirt's Blue, Phaon Crescent. Around the crossing was a Belted Kingfisher, one Yellow Warbler and 2 Indigo Bunting, and mustered one more Summer Tanager there.

A great firefly show for fall at dusk, at least 15+ going off for a half-hour in yard. After 9 p.m. I heard my FOF Barn Owl call as it flew over southbound.

Sept. 21 ~ The front has passed, only debris cloudiness behind it in the a.m.,partly sunny before noon. Light dry northerlies all day. Wonderful. Low of 70-71dF, cool air inflow supposed to have us in 60's dF or lower for lows starting tomorrow a.m., for a few days.

Unlike the last five days which had thick clouds from first Ingrid making landfall in E. Mexico, then from Manuel in W. Mexico, there were virtually no migrant birds going by this a.m., astoundingly dead. Every day all week there were migrants passing through in good numbers, and I had no time to get out and look.

The birds are really pushing right in front of and with the front, behind it we got nuthin'. Without the weather, ya got nuthin'. Oh I'm sure there are things around, but it is not the waves of birds, Yellow Warblers with other stuff with them, going through yard like all week when I had other things to do and couldn't work them. I expected some bird movement this a.m., alas, maybe tomorrow will be a post-frontal push. Sometimes there is, sometimes not so much. A lot of stuff was likely socked-in at departure points northward and tonight will be the first clear night to our north (source), coupled with the northerly winds, so it should be a major movement night. Which doesn't mean we will see any or much of it, but sometimes we get lucky.

The 3rd or 4th annual Utopiafest is today.... so we stay out of Dodge, though the actual event is a few miles NW of town in Bandera County, up-valley a bit. I hear it is good, there are videos on youtube if you want to look it up. You can camp there on site, Fri.-Sun., and see a dozen bands of every flavor.

Finally about noon I mustered a Yellow Warbler, about 1:30 another, plus a Nashville, and my FOF Ruby-crowned Kinglet, which gave one chiddit. After 4p.m. Kathy spotted a first summer (actually second fall) male Bullock's Oriole at the birdbath, a scarce fall bird here, virtually unseen in that plumage. The Yellow, Nashville, and Kinglet were still around at 6 p.m., the Yellow until dark.

A little chorus of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at last sun, perhaps a half-dozen I can hear from the tops of the tall cypresses along river, as they catch the last sun. After dark E.Screech- and Great Horned Owl.

The big event of the day though was the hummingbird blowout. Today was the day. They were stacked up deep the last week, at least a hundred Ruby-throated, maybe one Black-chinned imm., a Rufous ..... This morning there were a boatload, the normal morning swarm, seeming a hundred birds, all Ruby-throats (but one Rufous), 10 adult males, and by 10 a.m. it was starting to thin, by noon getting downright sparse, and in the afternoon it was dead. All but none for an hour, three times.

There was no evening rush hour traffic jam as the last week, make that month, er, the last 6 months. Maybe a half-dozen came in. A complete and total major blowout today. Hummers are diurnal migrants, so tank up in the a.m. and blast, hoping to find a food spot to stop at before dark. With the northerlies they were getting a free 10mph bonus this day, and they knew it. It was just what they were waiting for, packing on the fat at the feeders, probably to burn most of it off in one flight of a hundred or two miles.

Sept. 20 ~ Showery to rainy much of day, by 4 p.m. we were about 3/4 of an inch! From 3 p.m. it was 72dF! Winds were north. Town may have gotten an inch and more north a bit in Bandera Co. It is really getting green and this event will seal the deal for a good bloom all fall. Much of the moisture is Manuel, the Pacific cyclone that made landfall two days ago in Sinaloa, western Mexico, getting compressed by the first real fall cold front dropping down. We are near 1.5-2" of precip for the week!

Lots of Yellow Warblers again southbound through river corridor habitat first couple/few hours of light. One Wilson's again, and the FOF Nashville Warbler I've picked up. Two imm. Baltimore Oriole, couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Least Flycatcher, and a silent White-eyed Vireo moving with the Yellow Warbler flock was likely a migrant, not the still noisy locals ID'able by their mimicry. Across road heard Olive Sparrow and Ringed Kingfisher, and saw my FOF Shoveler (first yard too), about 9 heading south over river, probably flushed from park. Ducks! It's fall!

A Rufous Hummingbird showed up in p.m., seemed imm. male. 100 Ruby-throats, 10 or so are adult male. One possible imm. Black-chinned. In leps, a Julia's Skipper was on the lantana at the gate, still Goatweed Leafwings in yard, lots of Pipevine and a few Giant Swallowtail. Due to rains Tube Tongue has bloomed again, and is attracting some butterflies.

Sept. 19 ~ Another 10 or so Yellow and 1 Wilson's Warbler went through yard early, all southbound of course. A couple Blue-gray Gnatcats, Baltimore Oriole, Dickcissel, more obvious good movement. Winds slightly E and NE, usually good for us for birds in migration. At UR there was a greenie (imm.) Painted Bunting, Yellow and Wilson's Warbler, on 360 were a couple Blue Grosbeak imm. or females, and an imm. male Vermilion Flycatcher. Late p.m., near dusk a Great Crested Flycatcher called a few times.

Along 1050 at the pass west of town, there is a boatload of blooming Gayfeather, the pinkish-purple long fuzzy spears, a real beauty that does not sprout every year, this as good a showing as I have seen. There was a white heron/egret at the Bear Creek Pond just east of the pass, either Snowy Egret or perhaps likely the Little Blue Heron I saw fly-by over a week ago. We got a couple tenths of inch of rain, maybe a quarter-inch, late in p.m.

Sept. 18 ~ Lots of Ingrid remnants here in south Texas, and Manuel remnants from the Pacific have got it quite tropical, whilst the first real fall front is bearing down on Texas and should be here in a couple days. So the off and on drizzle and showers continue.

About 8-10 Yellow Warbler moved through yard in first few hours of day, 1 Wilson's, and one or two that got away, some serious warbler movement. Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, heard Ringed Kingfisher. At least 100 Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a dozen or so adult males, no Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Sept. 17 ~ Temps were 70-88dF, maybe a couple more tenths of an inch of rain over day. At UP there was a juvenile Ringed Kingfisher, almost surely from a nest in the valley here. I've seen one chasing another south of town, which I thought was likely a begging immature chasing the adult. They've been here all year, and now a juvenile appears, constitutes probable breeding evidence to me. Also at park, a Great Egret, Yellow, Wilson's and a Mourning Warbler, and two Spotted Sandpiper.

About 20 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher around town, Chimney Swift or two, Julia's and Clouded Skipper at park, lots of Red-winged Blackbird at the country club pond by Waresville, but nothing else. One greenie Painted Bunting near UR. About 10 p.m. an Upland Sandpiper called as it headed southbound overhead.

Sept. 16 ~ Low about 72dF and surprisingly clear. Looking less like much rain from Ingrid. A couple Baltimore Oriole, one nice adult male, and a bright fresh juvenile that came to bath. A couple Yellow Warbler, a Dickcissel, heard singing Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, heard a Ringed Kingfisher.

A p.m. run to town netted a FOF Clay-colored Sparrow near UR. Fair number of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher around now, the fall buildup of migrants from elsewhere. A couple Chimney Swift were seen and heard. Later p.m. at house a Vermilion Flycatcher passed over southbound, as did a flock of Red-winged Blackbird.

Did get maybe .2 - two tenths of an inch of rain over day.

Sept. 15 ~ Balmy overnight and all day as tropical moisture is advected from Ingrid in Mexico into south Texas. The early a.m. had the same list of migrants go through yard, as seemingly every day for the last couple weeks or four. Dickcissel, Orchard Oriole, Least Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Wilson's Warbler and Baltimore Oriole, Yellow- throated Vireo, and Warbler, were both about, heard Ringed Kingfisher. Only thing different was an Indigo Bunting mid-morning.

Must be at least a hundred Ruby-throated Hummingbird here now.

Sept. 14 ~ About 68dF this morning felt great! It was 64 in KVL! Fall is coming! A Dickcissel or two flew over calling early, as did a few Yellow Warbler. Best was a new yard bird, an imm. Little Blue Heron, all white with dark wingtips flew over! The Yellow-throated Vireo did some half-hearted singing early.

Still a bunch of Common Raven about, and a few Caracara in the corral.

Sept. 13 ~ Friday the 13th, the same old expected daily fodder: A Yellow Warbler or two, a couple Orchard Oriole, a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a couple Least Flycatcher, a couple Dickcissel, a Wilson's Warbler, a Yellow-throated Warbler, a Zone-tailed Hawk, couple Caracara, heard a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, one imm. Black-chinned Hummingbird, perhaps 75 Ruby-throated, maybe 10 of them are adult males. A Calliope Hummer was at a feeder out front early in the a.m., but not seen later. Highlight of the day was the low of 69dF, and dry air! Weather forecast has the system Ingrid sending rain up here early next week. We'll see.

Sept. 12 ~ Just the same ol' daily trickle of fall migrants through the yard this a.m.. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (plus couple in p.m.), Orchard Oriole (nother couple in p.m.), Dickcissel (nother in p.m.), Yellow Warbler, a Baltimore Oriole that sang a few measures, a Least Flycatcher (another in p.m.). Did not surely see a Black-chinned Hummer today, and the adult Ruby-throats are thinning out, hummers now predominately imm. Ruby-throats, and mostly males.

The big news was a new yard bird, the first Texas Scrub-Jay I've detected here. Heard only, to the north, on other side of draw. It is odd after having 8 or so every day in the yard for 8 years, to not have them around at the new yard. Scrub-Jay are a juniper/live-oak bird, which the edge of just barely hits the river corridor habitat here. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I really really miss them.... just odd when you see something and hear something every day, and then suddenly it is not there.

Also across the draw calling was an Audubon's Oriole, many nice big live-oaks scattered thataway. An imm. ma. Vermilion Flycatcher was on the fenceline out front.

Sept. 11 ~ About 6:30 a.m. I heard a Killdeer across river at golf course, surely at one of the ponds there, and my FOF. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Yellow Warbler at dawn. Made an early town run, a few Scissor-tails on way, lots of Barn Swallow in town, mostly the remaining breeders and their last sets of young, 35-40 birds total, about 20+ Cave Swallow were on a wire by the Pico gas station. Best thing was on the gas pump, an Imperial Moth (FOY), and a 10-spotted Sphinx Moth (photo'd both).

Seemed a half dozen Blue Jay around town. Near storage spaces in hackberry row a Baltimore Oriole, and the bird of the day was there, a CACTUS Wren! The first I've seen up here in the hills, new for my Sabinal Valley list. I've looked at a lot of prickly pear patches where it seems they ought to or could be, to no avail for the last 10 years. Common on the other (low) side of the escarpment and into the brush country southward.

Back in the yard mid-morning, a Least Flycatcher, Orchard Oriole and a Dickcissel around, and likely the same Wilson's Warbler as yesterday. Yellow-throated Warbler in the mesquites in p.m., which after seeing daily for 5 months, still seems weird. Also in a.m. had a ad. ma. Vermilion Flycatcher at south end of corral on 360

~ ~ ~ Sept 10 Update Header ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATE: September 10, 2013
(last updates:Sept. 10, Aug. 28, 16, 7, July 26, 10)

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll/read UP to read in chronological sequence. In some cases some references might make more sense that way.

A few quick news items..... the short version..... Fall is coming soon! Butterflies are showing very well, flowers are fading fast, though late summer types like Frogfruit and Frostweed are good now; birds are quiet, but fall migrants are moving, early in the a.m. in particular. All this and more....

August was very hot and dry, lots of plants and trees are drought stressed, some are dropping leaves already. Though nearly two inches of rain late Aug. and early Sept. saved the fall flower bloom.

Fall migration is picking up steam with a steady trickle of movement. Some regulars now are Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Orchard Oriole, Black-and-white Warbler, Dickcissel, Least Flycatcher, Upland Sandpiper (overhead calling at dusk and dawn), Wilson's and Yellow Warbler, Ruby-throated Hummingbird are quite thick now, Black-chins about gone.

Some Rufous Hummingbird have been around, an adult male Calliope was photographed Aug. 8-9. Broad-tailed ph. late Aug. to early Sept. A calling DUSKY Flycatcher was studied on Aug. 11. Locally there are Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, White-tipped Dove, Olive Sparrow, and some Audubon's Oriole around.

Some less-than-annual butterflies, invaders from southward are showing up, like Mexican Fritillary, White Angled-Sulphur, Soldier (Eresimus), White Peacock, and White-patched Skipper. The deco gardens around town are as good a bet as any, as well as any Frostweed or Frogfruit patches you can find or access.

~ ~ ~ end Sept. 10 update header ~ ~ ~

Sept. 10 ~ Clear much of the night but clouds and another drizzle early. Migrants passing by were 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a fem. Baltimore Oriole, Dickcissel, a Wilson's and 2 Yellow Warbler, an imm. Mourning Warbler, my fifth this fall, first for yard list, an imm. Yellow-breasted Chat, couple Least Flycatcher, one Chimney Swift, a couple Orchard Oriole. One greenie Painted Bunting, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher sang a bit.

Zone-tailed Hawk circled for a few minutes, missing some outer primaries so an adult, the fresh young of the year have a brand new set so are not in molt. In afternoon an immature Zone-tailed was here. Another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in afternoon, and a Yellow-throated Warbler was about. Five warbler sps. today. A bit more drizzle and outflow in the p.m., we got a few tenths over the day & beat the heat, it didn't hit 90dF. Feels like fall is coming.

About a dozen firefly was neat, seems some are on a completely different schedule . The masses are in June, few to none by mid-July, none in August, and now seemingly a second season is starting.

Sept. 9 ~ A trace more of precip in the a.m., the low about 71dF was wonderful. Early a.m. migrants were 2 Yellow Warbler, a Least Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and a greenie Painted Bunting that hung around all day. Heard Bushtit again over in draw. One less pecan thievin' squirrel. Two Chimney Swift calling overhead at edge of an outflow are getting late for here, and may have been migrants.

In the p.m. had a good cooling outflow with a spritz or two, best was about 5 something a Monarch flew by going SW just like migrants do. The only other thing migrants do here is as yesterday's was, nectaring. These two surely are the first 'early-bird' migrants this fall, from northern populations now heading south. While the peak of their migration is obvious in mid-October here, the early and late dates of the bell curve of passage are much harder to get. Still bats at dusk.

The Black-chinned Hummingbirds have really vacated, I only saw a few immatures today, it is almost all Ruby-throated now. So here, now, 97% of the green and white hummers you see are immature Ruby-throats. A dozen or so adult males are among the 100 or so that are here. A Yellow-throated Warbler was around late in day. Another Firefly at dark.

A humongus Two-tailed Swallowtail floated around a bit outside, by far, the butterfly of the day, just the regulars at town gardens. Since I just updated my Sept. butterfly list, I know this is #50 for the month! Seems like 60 or more should be doable then, eh?

Sept. 8 ~ Another trace of precip hit at 6 a.m., making for two traces since yesterday. Probably a few hundredths total, keeping it cooler and more humid. Morning migrants were a couple Yellow Warbler, a greenie Painted Bunting, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Least Flycatcher, and a (the?) Blue Jay moved north up river habitat corridor, calling and stopping the big pecan out front for a minute. Heard a Wilson's Warbler, and heard Bushtit as well as a distant Audubon's Oriole. Saw one Field Sparrow as it moved down fenceline along road. Yellow- throated Vireo, Summer Tanager, Bewick's and Carolina Wren still singing in yard.

Took a long walk along river to UR, and mostly it was a butterfly walk as it turned out. Most of the few migrants were near UR in the areas of pecan bottoms with Frostweed understory. There were two Olive Sparrow, one in draw near house, but near river, another at UR, was my first there. Red-shouldered Hawk was heard from yard and at UR, maybe the same bird. One female/imm. type Green Kingfisher was seen, slightly buffy in throat so surely an immature from this year.

Migrants were a few Yellow Warbler, a couple Orchard Oriole, a couple Least Flycatcher, 3 Mourning and 4 Wilson's Warbler, 1 Black-n-white Warbler, a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. A group of 8 Indigo Bunting looked mostly young from on-site UR nesting. Yellow-throated Vireo, a couple Yellow-throated Warbler, and Summer Tanager all still present (breeders probably).

Notably absent are Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Crested, Brown-crested, and Ash-throated Flycatcher, as well as Eastern Wood-Pewee. Lots of the local breeders have departed. No Blue Grosbeak or Painted Bunting, did have Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. On the way back I saw the recently building-up flock of Common Raven, a whopping 19 of them, must be a few family groups, now in a fall aggregation, territoriality time is over.

The butterflies were good, as there is a fair fall flower bloom going on, at least in the river corridor/flood plain. I saw over 40 species along about a mile and half of river corridor habitat. A good showing of numbers too for several species. The beast of the day always gets away, and that happened when in a big Frostweed patch I thought sure I saw a Ruddy Daggerwing, but by time I got over in the area, it had dematerialized. I also had what I'm sure was a Yellow Angled-Sulphur, but it too got away. They just always blast past, by time you see the shape and think 'Angled-!' you just see the south end of a north-bound butterfly.

Here's the list with some numbers behind species:

Pipevine Swallowtail, 50+
Giant Swallowtail, 5
Black Swallowtail, 25 (5-6 male)
So. Dogface, 2
Cloudless Sulphur, 6
Large Orange Sulphur, 5
Dainty Sulphur, 7
Lyside Sulphur, 35
Gray Hairstreak, 4
Marine Blue, 1
Ceraunus Blue 2
Reakirt's Blue 1
Fatal Metalmark, 1
Rounded Metalmark, 1
Snout, 3
Monarch 1 (ph.! - looked worn and pale like a migrant, nectaring on Frostweed like migrant too)
Queen, 50
Soldier 3
Gulf Fritillary, 6
Variegated Fritillary, 5
Bordered Patch, 1
Vesta Crescent, 1
Phaon Crescent, 3
White Peacock, 2 (!)
Question Mark, 1
Red Admiral, 1
American Lady, 1
No. Mestra, 11
Goatweed Leafwing, 6
and now for skippers: Northern Cloudywing, 6
False Duskywing, 3
Funereal Duskywing, 1
Com/Whi Checkered-Skipper, 4
Com. Streaky-Skipper, 1
Orange Skipperling, 2
Fiery Skipper, 5
Sachem, 25
Whirlabout, 2
Southern Broken-Dash, 1
Dun Skipper 4
Nysa Roadside-Skipper, 2
Celia's Roadside- Skipper, 3
Eufala Skipper, 2

43 species plus a couple that got away. Not bad for a walk out the door, likely 3 miles roundtrip.

Frostweed and Frogfruit were best, but some wild patches of Lantana were good too. Other things blooming didn't have much on them, like extensive stands of Lindheimer's Senna, Palafoxia, Buffalo Burr, and Tropical Sage. These little rains have saved the fall bloom, critical to fall butterfly season, (key pollinators of fall flowers) and migrant birds feed in them as well.

Did have one stalk of blooming Fireweed (Lobelia cardinalis) in the river but that orange parasitic Dodder seems to be attacking the patch. Others in bloom were lots of Snow-on-the-Mountain with virtually nothing on it, some Broomweed, Scarlet Pea, Cowpen Daisy, Huisache Daisy (which had butterflies), Texas Verbena, a tall legume with small red flowers (ph.), Mealy and Cedar Sage, to name a few.

The native minnows with black spot on caudal peduncle are still at 360 crossing. A baby (12") Black-headed Garter Snake was seen in river corridor habitat. Odes were few, a couple Blue Dasher, and a few Green Darner, including a pair ovipositing at crossing, likely the migrants we've been seeing. Some Spot-winged and Wandering Glider, Black, and Red, Saddlebags, a few Checkered Setwing. Very slow for odes.

Speaking of rain a big cell formed just east of us about 3 p.m., by 4 it was here and growing, we got about a half inch a couple miles south of town, further south they got over an inch down-valley. Outstanding! Took us from a muggy low 90's dF to 75dF for the whole rest of day. Makes about two inches in about two weeks, and you can see it greening up out there.

Here at the casita at dusk the herd of about 20 black feral hogs that often goes through corral at dark went through. That is a lotta bacon and chops.

Sept. 7 ~ This a.m. very few migrants, singles of Yellow Warbler, the second Baltimore Oriole, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Least Flycatcher, a couple Orchard Oriole. Summer Tanager and Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, as was a Hutton's Vireo that moved through early. Heard a Blue Grosbeak. Neatest thing was a pair of Gray Fox in yard at 7 a.m., and again over fence at 8 a.m., very cool to watch them hunt in a team.

A little shower in p.m., maybe a half a tenth of precip, but cooled us off, and a couple outflows after helped beat the heat early today. A couple more Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through southbound in the p.m. A Roadrunner was about, been seeing it daily all week. Zone-tailed Hawk in p.m. too. Too many rats to kill, didn't get to look much. Twice I heard a Green Kingfisher from the porch, I presume it was over at the draw again, since it had water the other day. A flock of 9 Common Raven was the biggest group in a bit, perhaps a couple adult pairs and their young of the year.

I keep forgetting to mention the fall Rain Lily have been popping since the rains, they seem smaller than spring variety. The Buffalo Burr is really going, but little uses it. It has gotten quite a bit greener since the rains, very noticeably so. Highs are in lower half of 90'sdF instead of upper half, so a welcome slight bit of relief from the heat.

Streaky-Skipper and several Goatweed Leafwing were in yard.

Sept. 6 ~ A Blue Jay moved south along river corridor in the a.m., for a moment stopping in the big pecan out front, the first I've seen here since April, and likely an immature wandering about. Sept. is the time to get wandering young Scrub-Jay too as young are kicked out of the adult's territory so they can start building a nut cache for winter.

Not much migrant movement this morn though a warbler flight note was something good, not one of the standard calls we hear, but it got away unseen. A Yellow-breasted Chat took a bath, was the first in a couple weeks, so likely a migrant. Heard Yellow-throated Warbler, and the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was singing a bit again. One Least Flycatcher was about as was a Dickcissel. Summer Tanager is still singing a bit. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through too.

Had a town run so a quick look at park. One imm. Mourning Warbler was my FOF, a Wilson's Warbler was there too. Water is scary low, must be down 4-5 FEET below normal bankful levels. At park entrance right under a power pole with a bunch of lines I found a dead bird that wasn't there a couple weeks ago, an IBIS! It probably landed or tried to on the pole, and maybe wings bridged wires making contact, resulting in one fried Ibis, photo'd what was left, probably White-faced, though the head missing, can't eliminate Glossy. Don't have a DNA scanner to confirm that ID. Best practice is to always consider a birds correct ID is most likely the normal common expected species until clear evidence of something else is evident. So here any Plegadis Ibis is White-faced without compelling evidence to the contrary.

While waiting at Canyon Services a Julia's Skipper was at a Frogfruit patch there, besides a Rounded Metalmark, Ceraunus Blue, Variegated Frit, Eufala Skipper, Fiery Skipper, Phaon Crescent and Comm. Checkered-Skipper.

Sept. 5 ~ A little movement in a.m., a Baltimore Oriole, a couple Orchard Oriole, a juv. Painted Bunting, few Yellow Warbler, and about 20 Brown- headed Cowbird, one Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a singing Yellow-throated Vireo. No Vermilion Flycatchers in yard, they have departed. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher early. Zone-tailed Hawk in late p.m.

For leps, lots of Large Orange, Cloudless, and Lyside Sulphurs passing by, a couple Southern Dogface, while a Sachem and Orange Skipperling were new for the yard list.

Several (8+) Upland Sandpiper went over at dusk, one so low and close, and gaining altitude going north (with wind) it had to have just taken off from the pasture just to the south..... wished I'd have seen it on the ground during the day. For hummers, no Broad-tailed or Rufous, they left, no Black-chinned, and only a few (<12) imm. Black-chinned, while lots of Ruby-throats here now, I'd say nearly a hundred, at least a dozen ad. males.

Sept. 4 ~ Another low about 71dF was a treat. Several migrants passing by early; 2 Wilson's Warbler were my FOF, four+ Yellow Warbler, a Least Flycatcher, about 4 Orchard Oriole, all went through yard southbound. A Ringed Kingfisher flew over calling twice, and I heard an Olive Sparrow. One juvenile (greenie) Painted Bunting was about.

Broad-tailed Hummer still here. There was one big cloud 40 miles or so across, just east of us to SAT that kept sun from hitting the first few hours of the day keeping us much cooler longer. It was about the only big cloud in the otherwise clear state, saved the satellite pic it was so odd. Probably what kept the Great Horned Owl calling until after 11 a.m. A bit of Green Darner (dragonfly) movement today, a few gliders and saddlebags mixed in.

In the afternoon a rain cell went by just south of us, maybe the bottom of the valley got some along escarpment, but we got the outflow cooling us off at peak heat. There was a flock of swallows, most of which was Cliff, at least 40+ of them, a few Barn and a couple Chimney Swift mixed in. A few more Orchard Oriole passed in p.m., one Yellow Warbler spent all day feeding in the pecans. The Broad-tailed Hummer must have left in the a.m., didn't see it again after this morning. A flock of about 8 Brown-headed Cowbird were the first in 2 months= migrants. Great Horned Owl was calling in live-oaks just behind us at dusk. It moving in means Barred Owls will move out, and maybe why I haven't been hearing them.

Sept. 3 ~ Wow a 71dF low behind the frontal passage felt great. There was clear bird movement behind the front as usual, at least 6 Yellow Warbler went through the yard, so how many must be around? That is just one patch of trees being watched. Also had a Great Crested Flycatcher, an Orchard Oriole, and amazingly a flock of 4 Great Blue Heron were up high following river corridor south, first flock I've seen here, clearly migrants. About 11 a.m. saw the first yard Baltimore Oriole, a female. Also one Yellow-throated Warbler in the mesquites across road looked an immature, Kathy later had it in pecans in afternoon. A couple of the Yellow Warblers spent most of the day in the yard.

The imm. female Rufous Hummer is still here, the imm. male Broad-tailed still present, briefly saw a Calliope (imm./fem. type), 2 adult male Black- chinned were present in a.m. plus about 25 immatures and Ruby-throateds number at least 10 adults and 50 immatures.

Sept. 2 ~ Only 75dF for a low, 'nother hot one on the way, maybe that fall cold front to our north will sag down our way. At least three Orchard Oriole and 2 Yellow Warbler were in yard this a.m., and another Solitary Sandpiper flew over calling. The imm. Broad-tailed Hummer is still here, landing less than 2' from me and spreading tail so I could count white tipped outer tail feathers to see 3, so it's a male, imm. female Broad-tails have two. Did not see the Rufous this a.m., or all day. A Cave Swallow passed over in the a.m., only saw one. No Vermilion Flycatchers in yard, they appear to have departed.

A squirrel ran off with a big bunch of 3-4 big green pecans. There is nothing in them now, just a husk, there is no nut past an embryonic stage. They could wait a few months and have big fat nuts. And yet they can not cut enough of them fast enough off the trees. We're under attack from all directions by these overpopulated tree rats. We lost most of the crop to an ill-timed storm during flowering, then most of the remaining green nuts were dropped due to drought, and the few left are being pillaged and pilfered by the tree rats. Their population is only what it is because man removed most of their predators. They now are so overpopulated that most counties in Texas intelligently have no season and no limit. And they hunt bird nests and eggs like they do pecans. EAT MORE SQUIRREL!

The flock of Turkey hens and polts were over in the corral, perhaps a half- dozen or 7 of each. It was about 94dF just before 3 p.m. when a rain cell went over, dropping it to 76dF briefly, and dumping a half-inch to an inch of rain south of town mostly. WEEWOW! Awesome! while it was raining a Yellow-throated Warbler moved into pecans.

At dusk heard one Common Nighthawk, again a juvenile sounding bird. At 9:30 p.m. another cell dropped another little bit of rain on us. Probably .2 (tenths) more putting us at about 3/4 of an inch for the day. Kathy heard something calling after dark she didn't know, but which shut up so I never heard it.

September 1 ~ September!?!?!? Maybe the heat will leave soon. Cold fronts can't be too far away, though that heat seems to love to hang on as long as it can..... About 73dF this a.m. was nice, a few birds passed, not many though. A couple Yellow Warbler and Orchard Oriole, one Dickcissel and one Great Crested Flycatcher. One adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird was present, Kathy said she saw one a day or two ago, these are birds in passage, local breeder ad. ma. have been gone a week or two and more. The Broad-tailed and Rufous continue. High was 98dF. Caracara went by in the a.m. and over the day off and on are a few Barn Swallow that look on the move, as in migrants from elsewhere, not our local birds. Great Horned and Eastern (mccallii) Screech- Owls called after dark. Afternoon a flock of 12 White-winged Dove, biggest flock I've seen in a while, now that dove season has opened they'll gather and soon be flying high again.

~ ~ ~ Sept. above ~ ~ ~ August below ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ a few August highlights ~ ~ ~

August was hot and dry, we got about an inch of rain total, way below average. The river is nearly 4 feet below spillway (and normal). Many trees are dropping leaves, some cypress turning rust already. Many pecans are dropping green nuts, giving up on them for the year.

There were 55 species of butterflies locally in the month, the top month so far this year, just beating July by one species. Best were White-patched Skipper, White Angled-Sulphur, Soldier, Mexican Fritillary, Common Sootywing and White Peacock, all of which are less than annual here.

Odes faded a bit in August for the locals, though there were some big migration days for passers-through, like Gliders, Saddlebags, and one day for Green Darners.

Birds included Ringed Kingfisher, Audubon's Oriole and White-tipped Dove. The main different thing though being the regular fall migrants going through. Least and Great Crested Flycatcher, Upland Sandpiper, Dickcissel, Orchard Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Rufous Hummingbird (3 at our feeders), were all seen regularly, many mornings, typical fall migrants in passage here as normal in August. Two Calliope and one Broad-tailed Hummingbird rounded out five species of hummers in August. A Dusky Flycatcher was perhaps the best bird.

~ ~ ~ end August highlights ~ ~ ~

Aug. 31 ~ Two Ringed Kingfisher flew down river corridor just after 7 a.m. Passing by were a couple Yellow Warbler, a couple Orchard Oriole, one Least Flycatcher, a Black-and-white Warbler, and the Rufous and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were around in the a.m. Heard Audubon's Oriole over at the draw again. Scissor-tail in the corral.

Aug. 30 ~ A cool 72dF morning with some clear and obvious bird movement we can call fall migration. Early I heard a Solitary Sandpiper flying south over river corridor, then shortly an Upland Sandpiper called as it passed over, saw neither, which is why learning calls is crucial, especially fly-overs for your yard list. You can still have detection with a positive ID (data baby) without visual contact.

A Least Flycatcher was about, an Orchard Oriole, and the FOF (first of fall) Black-throated Green Warbler was in the big pecan. Then while on the back porch a female or imm. Broad-tailed Hummer flew in and landed 5' from me for great views. I'd heard it earlier. The imm. fem. Rufous was still about, 50+- Black-chinned (all imm.) and maybe four dozen Ruby-throated are now here (a few are ad. ma., mostly immatures). Almost a hundred hummers of four species in a few hours. Very nice.

Late in day, a hatch-year (HY) Yellow-throated Warbler was in the big pecan. I got photos of the Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummers, and some Ruby-throat shots. While I was watching the feeders a much smaller hummer came in twice, got chased off quickly both times, but it was undoubtedly a Calliope! Makes for FIVE hummingbird species on the day, which I've done here a few times in ten years, methinks always with the same five species, in Aug. and Sept. as major hummer movement peaks. Black-chinned, Ruby-throated, Rufous, Broad-tailed and Calliope are the five annual species here, sometimes you have them all at once late summer to early fall . Took a couple flash photos of the Broad-tailed, but missed getting spread tail.

One feeble sibilant Common Nighthawk call, sounded like an immature. Some Turkey went through the corral, perhaps 6+ each hens and polts (HY- hatch-year, young of the year).

Aug. 29 ~ Nice low of 72dF this a.m., makes all the difference getting below that 75dF, a few degrees is all it takes. Great was the first yard Audubon's Oriole, singing, which moved down the draw toward river. The one thing we miss about the old place is the herds of orioles (30 some days!). We haven't attracted them here yet, will take a while, that was an 8 year buildup. A Least Flycatcher was about yard in a.m.

A town run in afternoon. A couple Scissor-tails and a Dickcissel were along the road just south of town, a Black-bellied Whistling Duck was it at the park. The great Frogfruits at the county-line curve garden that was the best butterfly hotspot in town the last month are gone, flattened by the heavy equipment turning around as they work on the road through town. The library garden is in sad shape, due to there being no consistent watering.

Aug. 28 ~ Nothing for morning migrants passing southbound. The ad. Zone-tailed Hawk was overhead about 10 a.m. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are increasing as Black-chinned decrease. Many of the immature types at feeders now are Ruby-throats; note the darker brighter greener (lacking gray cast) back and crown, shorter straighter bill without droop, less dirty grayish more snowish white throat and underparts, usually black lores, and on males, longer more deeply notched tails.

A Caracara came into a horse trough in the corral and took a long drink. White-eyed Vireo is doing a perfect Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 'bik' note for it's intro first click. Ground moisture kept the high at about 93dF. The 10 day shows a long hot dry spell now.

At dusk from porch I saw a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was working from the top of a juniper across the road, TWO Common Nighthawk flew over, and best was a group of at least 8 Chimney Swift, biggest flock I've seen all year here, probably a couple young amongst them. They were working over the river corridor (gallery) forest.

Kathy and I each saw at different times a Firefly tonight, the first in over a month, probably nearly 6 weeks. Hope it finds one to mate with. Small numbers seem to appear in late summer, some are on a different schedule.

Aug. 27 ~ A few sprinkles overnight, the tropical depression still has us in its flow so hopefully another shower today, and a respite from the heat. In the a.m. there were a couple Orchard Oriole, heard one Hooded Oriole, saw female Yellow Warbler, and a Summer Tanager was so happy about the rain it was singing. The same juv. Painted Bunting and Canyon Towhee were about the scattered seed.

A rain cell passed over 11-noon, south of town we got a good half inch! Makes for 3/4" in last two days. Termites took to flight of course, all the birds were flycatching, no matter how un-aerodynamic, wrens, cardinals, etc.. They are also hitting the persimmon hard. A SY (2nd yr.) Hooded Oriole female (presume same as few days ago) was in persimmons. Right after the shower across road was a Willow Flycatcher and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Some kind of big spiny lizard (Sceloperus) on the big mesquite gate post I'll have to work an ID out for (ph.). Saw the Common Nighthawk again at dusk. We beat the heat again, didn't get 85dF, a two-day break with 3/4 inch of rain, makes all the difference in the world.

Aug. 26 ~ Lots of tropical moisture from depression Fernand making landfall in Mexico. There was a juvenile Painted Bunting that was nearly colorless, just barely some yellow down centerline of underparts, otherwise it was dirty whitish-gray below. A juvenlie Canyon Towhee was about the yard much of the day (ph.), a nice treat. The daytime heating was dashed by the rain cells it created, we got a quarter inch or so of the wet stuff, again, nothing for aquifer, a lifesaver for fall flowers. I'm not sure we hit 90dF for a high, what a treat. Good thing, due to adjacent work, we had no power for a couple hours in the afternoon. Common Raven and Caracara fly-byes, better was at dusk, the first in a few weeks, a single Common Nighthawk.

At dusk a large movement of Green Darner dragonflies was apparent, a steady light stream of southbounds, plus a swarm collected about the crown of the big 40' pecan where there were swarms of gnats. The darners were feasting on them, over a dozen in a tight group, and a couple dozen passed by over 15 minutes. It was the first big numbers of Green Darner of the year, and clearly migrants from elsewhere. There were only a very very few gliders about.

Aug. 25 ~ Easterly flow, sometimes good for birds, but usually bad for SAT smog that reaches us. A few birds in the a.m., singles of Orchard Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Yellow- throated and White-eyed Vireo, Mockingbird, Eastern Wood-Pewee, the regular expect suspects. Mid-morn a group of Black and Turkey Vulture were soaring overhead, Raven, Caracara, and an imm. Zone-tailed Hawk (ph.) all moved in to the kettle to see what was up, and then on.

Aug. 24 ~ Early morning passers-by were an Upland Sandpiper, an Orchard Oriole a Yellow Warbler and Eastern Wood-Pewee. Mid-a.m. a SY (second year) female Hooded Oriole was about, only the second I've seen in the yard. An Ash-throated Flyc. was about, heard Great Crested, still a few Vermilion.

Besides Frogfruit, Frostweed and Snow-on-the-Mountain are blooming now, and these three are commonly our best late summer early fall butterfly attractors, so keep your eyes on them. Saw a Broomweed flower open. In the afternoon, a rain cell grazed us with a trace, but cooled us down from 98 to 89dF briefly, mostly just raised the humidity. SAT had a record high (tied) of 103dF.

Took a quick p.m. look at UR; saw a Common Sootywing butterfly on Frogfruit out front along road, first in a couple years here for me, less than annual. Eastern Wood-Pewee, Indigo Bunting, and Yellow-throated Warbler were still there. The Frostweed is just getting going. At the 360 crossing there was a White-tipped Dove, still a handful of Vermilion Flycatcher along 360, and the best bird was a fish.

Some new-to-me type of native minnow, of which I got photos that hopefully will allow identification. There were a dozen or more, the brightest ones (males?) real beauties. Stem-to-stern bright green dorsally, a yellow band next, to about half-way down side, then a gray band on lower side of body-center, and a white belly, punctuated with a well defined black caudal peduncle spot. Whatever it is, they are the first Ive seen in ten years of minnow musing here. They might be Blackspot (venusta) in genus Cyprinella. Any new different species at this point is exciting, especially with photos to ponder and argue over.

Aug. 23 ~ A nice 71 or so this a.m., early passers-by were one Orchard Oriole, a Least Flycatcher, an Eastern Wood-Pewee calling, and a Red-eyed Vireo. In town around noon a stop at the park yielded only one second-year male Black-and-white Warbler. The local road construction is now redoing Hwy. 187 (Main St.) in town so expect delays getting through town, as they are doing the north half now, and will do south half next. Nothing to speak of in butterflies or dragonflies.

Aug. 22 ~ Ringed Kingfisher calling first thing at 7 a.m. Great Crested and Ash-throated Flycatcher (both calling). A few Ruby-throated and about 40-50 Black-chinned Hummingbird. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher again early in a.m., I keep forgetting to mention, since daily lately. The local juvenile Coopers Hawk dove through the yard again. Yellow- throated Warbler, and Vireo heard early too.

Aug. 21 ~ At least two male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a few immatures, and about 50 imm. Black-chinned Hummer still hitting the feeders. Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee calling, Red-eyed, White-eyed, Yellow-throated and Hutton's Vireo, and at dusk a Great Horned Owl was calling, probably thrilled about the quarter inch of rain we got from a passing cell. Best thing was a Great Plains Skink (Plestiodon obsoletus), the first of this lizard I have seen in just under 10 years here now. New for my 'confirmed' locally species seen lizard list. Range maps showed it being present here, I had not seen one.

Aug. 20 ~ Just over 70dF for a low felt great. A Mexican Fritillary (butterfly) flitted about the yard, new for the yard list and the second one in a week, after not seeing one for a couple years. One male Ruby-throated, a couple plus immatures, and maybe 75 Black-chinned Hummer. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through early, and a couple Orchard Oriole passed by in the afternoon.

Aug. 19 ~ An amazing 70.5dF for a low this morning was fantastic. Still easterly flow bringing SAT smog our way though. Easterly is the rarest wind direction here, fortunately. Did you notice the orange cast to the light? Especially as the sun went down it was very obvious, for the second day now... that was some serious smog from SAT. An Orchard Oriole and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in the a.m. was about it for migrants.

Kathy had the bird of the day, which was a butterfly. She had a WHITE ANGLED-SULPHUR come in to water when she was watering, it even landed next to her! This is an LTA -less than annual- species occurring about 4 of the last 10 years, and I haven't seen one in a few years. We had one once for over a month, so she knows the beast well. At the butterfly photos page, there is a pic on the 'Whites, Yellows, Sulphurs' page. It is truly a spectacular beauty, big, satiny white with yellow squares above and the oddly shaped wings, and sitting it looks just like a green leaf. It watered a mintue, and by time I got out there a minute later it was gone. New for the yard list, and great for the local area year list.

Neat was seeing the same adult Zone-tailed Hawk of the other day (due to same missing primaries) dive on a Vermilion Flycatcher immature that was in some weeds at ground level. The Zone-tail hit the ground so hard a huge cloud of dust came up and I saw the Vermilion shoot off and away, barely making an escape. Later saw the Red-tailed Hawk juvenile that was hatched here, still around, but now once a week and on his own.

Aug. 18 ~ Easterly flow and ozone from San Antonio, they have an ozone alert, we are downwind 70 miles, and apparently not far enough, the haze and color in sky remind me of the L.A. I grew up in, and left. Often we can see from here the brown line of shat roughly running up I-10 NW from SAT most of the time due to SE tradewinds. Today we get some of it. 71-96dF was our hi-low spread.

A Ringed Kingfisher called at sunup, best time to hear one. A couple Orchard Oriole moved through, only migrants. A pairacara - that is two Caracara went over in the p.m. No Rufous Hummer today. A big imm. fem. Cooper's Hawk stooped on the crowd at the sunflower tube feeder, missing. They are hell on wings if you are a bird smaller than them, they have no problem with taking anything, House Finch to White-winged Dove.

A Leafwing butterfly that came in to water was too torn and frayed to ID, and could well have been Tropical. I put out some butterfly bait and seemed to get no results, unless you like ants and flies. I have had it work before. Banana, beer (an ale - something hopsy like Sierra Nevada Torpedo best), molasses, sugar, only had some old yeast, mix and let ferment. Gas off daily, do not succumb to temptation and drink, paint on tree trunks at edges of woodland. It was plenty aromatic, but got nuthin' this time.

Aug. 17 ~ The quasi-front is washing out here, we missed the rain, but are getting NE flow and dry air. Couple Orchard Orioles and Upland Sandpiper went through or over early. Yellow-throated Vireo and Summer Tanager sang a little. Haven't heard a Chat in over a week, maybe 10 days now. No Rufous Hummer, a couple imm. Ruby-throat, 1 and 50-75 immature Black-chinneds.

~ ~ ~ Update header Aug. 16 ~ ~ ~

MOST RECENT UPDATE: August 16, 2013
(last updates:Aug. 7, July 26, 10, June 29)

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll/read UP to read in chronological sequence. In some cases some references might make more sense that way.

A few quick news items..... the short version..... It's hot and dry. Butterflies are showing very well, flowers are fading fast, though summer types like Frogfruit are good, birds are getting quiet, odes are finally picking up. All this and more....

Besides some good rain, we had record heat in late June, a 105dF on our porch the 29th, some areas around town are hotter, like Seco Ridge, Thunder Crk., and B & R. Austin, Uvalde, Del Rio, and SE San Antonio had 108dF that day, followed 2 days later by record cold, in the mid-50's in coldest areas of hill country, we saw low 60's here at Utopia. And everyone was happy.... July was hot and dry save a few days of minor relief from an odd retro-low moving west-to-east.

Fall migrants now showing: near-daily Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Orchard Oriole, regular Black-and-white Warbler, July 23 my first of fall Dickcissel, regular since, Least Flycatcher every other day or so since late July. On an early date of July 13 a PEREGRINE FALCON was a treat. Rufous Hummingbird are back now, and an adult male Calliope showed up Aug. 8-9. Upland Sandpiper and DUSKY Flycatcher on Aug. 11, if you were not yet convinced it was fall migration. Locally there are Ringed Kingfisher, White-tipped Dove, Olive Sparrow, and Audubon's Oriole around.

~ ~ ~ End update header Aug. 16 ~ ~ ~

And now, back to our regularly scheduled drivel......

Aug. 16 ~ Not much movement this a.m., the rain to the north probably cut southward progress off. One Dickcissel, one Orchard Oriole was it. But a Canyon Towhee was about the yard in the a.m., only the second in the yard here so far, so nice to see and hear. Late in p.m. a male Roseate Skimmer (big plum and pink dragonfly) patrolled about yard, and a Caracara flew by.

Had to run to town for errands so a quick look around at the gardens and park. The 11-12 a.m. Zone-tailed Hawk was over town, and a Yellow Warbler was at the park, but otherwise residents, a family troop of Blue Jay was in park. Best was a couple butterflies, a Soldier (Eresimus) in the park (in between Monarch and Queen and likewise a 'milkweed' butterfly) was the first I have seen in a while, certainly none the two prior years, (ph.) nectaring on Frostweed.

The other good one was at the county-line-curve deco garden at the north end of town, a Mexican Fritillary. A few years since I've seen one, it is far less than annual, maybe only the 3rd or 4th year of 10 I have recorded it (ph.). The Frogfruit around the garden remains the most productive, it is covered in butterflies. At least a dozen Rounded Metalmark was impressive, as many or more Ceraunus Blue, and two or three dozen Reakirt's Blue and Lyside Sulphur. Nice to see some numbers. Orange and Southern Skipperling, Desert and Common Checkered-Skipper, Eufala and Fiery Skipper, 2 Sachem, several Gray Hairstreak, a couple Bordered Patch, a decent selection of the regular suspects.

At 11 p.m. there was a Great Horned Owl calling along the river.

Aug. 15 ~ A front is washing out just north of us, darn it, but may dry us out a day or two. A few of the regular migrants in a.m. early, two+ Orchard Oriole, a Dickcissel, a Yellow Warbler, same old stuff. About 4 p.m. an ad. Zone-tailed Hawk spent a couple minutes circling low for a couple grabshots showing primary molt has begun. Now if you see a large dark soaring bird missing primaries (outer flight feathers on wing) it is likely a Zone-tailed Hawk, not a Turkey Vulture which are done molting primaries now. In spring and early summer missing primaries means Vulture, not a Zone-tailed, reversing in late summer when the vultures are finished molting and the Zoneys begin, after nesting. There are a few TV's (Turkey Vultures) left that have some missing secondaries (inner trailing edge wing feathers) and rectrices (tail feathers), not quite all finished molting, but primaries are all new on all of them here now The young TV's with black heads can be confusing, but they have a full set of new feathers with no molt whatsoever showing now.

Still single ad. ma. Black-chinned and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, the fully tailed Rufous (only - tail-less seems gone), and 100 imm. Black-chins. About the same crowd at the Canteloupe flowers, but 3 Celia's, and 2 Nysa Roadside-Skipper, the Clouded and Julia's Skippers, and the Metalmarks. In the evening hundreds of gliders (dragonflies) milling southward.

Scorpion sting barely noticeable (much less so than the prior which was nowhere near as painful initially) the days after despite being factors more painful when it happened. Possibly due to the very very hot water I put it in immediately for 10+ minutes?

Aug. 14 ~ Was in town at early-thirty, at park was one adult Green Heron, I suspect a local nester, and two fledged begging juvenile Barred Owl. Lots (300+) of Pantala gliders (mostly Spot-winged, 50+ Wandering) at the dam (or spillway) in park. Fair numbers of young Barn Swallow were around town, but no Swifts or Martins. Out front of UR there were 3 just-fledged Scissor-tailed Flycatcher together.

In yard in morning was an Ash-throated Flycatcher, and another ragged adult Great Crested Flycatcher, a Yellow Warbler, and a Chipping Sparrow adult with two begging juveniles which must have nested very nearby. A fully tailed Rufous Hummer showed up, this appears an adult female with a nice solid concentrated roundish lower central throat gorget, and I didn't see the tail-less one that had been here a few days.

Cantaloupe flowers still had a Julia's Skipper, 2 Nysa and 1 Celia's Roadside-Skipper, and a Rounded Metalmark on them. For different dragons, one male Roseate Skimmer sat in the big Pecan.

The ode flight this morning was heavy again, though not quite as thick as yesterday. Today I crossed a half-mile of the valley floor west to east, and saw the river of odes is that wide at least. There were constant southbound dragonflies crossing my path the entire way, most 10-25 feet above ground level, some higher. Most Spot-winged and Wandering Glider, some Red and a few Black Saddlebags, a few Green Darner.

Aug. 13 ~ SOS, same old shtuff, in yard in a.m., Orchard Oriole, Least Flycatcher, one greenie Painted Bunting, adult male Black-chinned (1) and Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the tail-less Rufous Hummer still here, a calling Dickcissel flyby and the ode (dragonfly) flight was amazing.

There must have been thousands of dragonflies heading south, it was easy to see 6 to a dozen in a tight pack, an endless stream of that, for hours, was a couple hundred yards wide at least that I could see. Sometimes it was 50-100 per minute. It was a river going down the road, and over the house, and over the habitat between us and the river. Spot- winged Glider most numerous, but hundreds of Wandering Glider, dozens of Red, a few Black Saddlebags, and several Green Darner.

I checked the Canteloupe flowers at noon-thirty to see what was pollinating. One Julia's and one Clouded Skipper, 2 Nysa Roadside-Skipper, 1 Orange Skipperling, 1 Rounded Metalmark. Either its too hot for the pollination to stick (like tomatoes?) or something is eating the fruit as it forms.

I had a dragon fly by porch in late p.m. that looked like Banded Pennant. Scorpion sting on heel not too bothersome, noticable, a bit of numbness or slight light irratation, but not anything I'd call actual pain. I did see one Cygnid (not Perseid) meteor after 11 p.m.

Aug. 12 ~ We went out at 5:30 a.m. to see if the Perseid meteor shower was happening, just for a quick look. We had a fair number, most quick and small, but a few good bright ones and one with a great train. Kathy had a better one last night about 11 p.m., at 11:30 last night I saw a good green one with train (vaporized gas trail). It looked to be fairly active. When we came back out at 7 a.m. the gulf coast clouds were here with zero sky visibility, so lucky we went out. Often that happens when you get up early to see a shower here, clouds will have moved in and no viewing. So always check a while the night before in case that happens. Tonight and tomorrow a.m. should be good too.

The standard Orchard Oriole and Dickcissel pass-throughs early in a.m. At least one Least Flycatcher still here. Heard another Upland Sandpiper. A 30" Ribbon Snake on the porch was great, what a beauty. The Yellow-throateds, Vireo and Warbler, were about. It is two immature male Vermilion, two immature female, and adult male and female in yard. The mccallii Eastern (TexMex) Screech-Owls call nightly all around yard.

Scorpion sting not bad or even bothersome really today, noticeable, a bit of numbness, but not pain or discomfort, and barely an irritation. Very little swelling, will watch the next couple days and see what happens. Ground moisture kept it cooler, about 92-94dF today, but humid. Was past 1 before it hit 90dF.

Very good numbers of odes in the a.m. and later p.m., hundreds of them, all marching southbound, mostly Spot-winged Glider, but several dozens of Wandering Glider, a few dozen Red Saddlebags, some Black Saddlebags, and a couple Green Darner.

Aug. 11 ~ At 7 a.m. my first cup of coffee on the porch was productive. The wake of the easterly wave seemed to have some migrants. An Upland Sandpiper called as it flew over, my FOF (first of fall), then a Dickcissel did the same. In the yard several Orchard Oriole were about, a couple Least Flycatcher, a Chipping Sparrow, and TWO Yellow Warbler were my first of fall. The best bird though was from the west, a calling DUSKY Flycatcher. This is at least the 3rd I've seen locally in fall (plus another at Uvalde). And a good yard bird to boot. One Chimney Swift called.

Then had to trade coffee cup for mic and tape recorder to get some distant Ringed Kingfisher call, since it was really going off, there may have been two of them. One blast it gave lasted so long I couldnt believe it, must have been 20 seconds straight of what sounds like distant 50 cal. machine gun fire. I'd have thought it would have needed to come up for air sooner. Bird calls can sound quite different when very close to your ear, versus distant, so I like to have examples of each.

A definite immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was at the feeders this a.m., the tail-less Rufous, and lots of Black-chinned. The Dusky and Least Flycs were around all day. We did an 11-1p.m. walk to the crossing. Had a flocklet of 3 male Orchard Oriole, heard a Painted Bunting, Scissor-tail, but few birds since late, was around 90dF. For odes saw the or another male Comanche Skimmer at the 360 crossing, a Rubyspot, some Eastern Pondhawk and Blue Dasher, a few damsels (Kiowa, Blue-ringed, and Variable Dancer), but slow.

The frogfruit along the road is about toast, but a couple patches at the crossing are still good, as is the Wooly Ironweed patch. At least 3 False Duskywing on one patch, a few Northern Duskywing, 1 Southern and 3+ Orange Skipperling, 1 Julia's and a few Eufala Skipper, 1 Sachem, 1 Whirlabout, a Fiery Skipper, a dozen Dun Skipper, a few Common and 3 Desert Checkered- Skipper, Funeral and Horace's Duskywings, Bordered Patch, a couple each Phaon and Vesta Crescent, a Texan Crescent, Buckeye, Queens, Snouts, Lyside, Cloudless and Dainty Sulphur, Little Yellow and Sleepy Orange, Large Orange Sulphur, some Pipevine Swallowtail. The best one was a WHITE- PATCHED Skipper, the first I've seen locally in a couple years, one of the occasional invaders from the south I've seen about 5 of 10 years here. A bunch of Reakirt's and some Ceraunus Blue were on Frogfruit too. A couple Gulf Fritillary passed by. 30+ sps. of butterflies on walk.

Kathy came up with another (or day 2 for the same ?) Willow Flycatcher out the kitchen window this afternoon, for an incredible 3 sps. of Empidonax in the yard today. Still a handful of hatch-year Vermilon Flycs about and one ad. male. An adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird showed up in the p.m., the imm. male about as well. A couple more male Orchard Oriole went through the big pecan about 6 p.m., must be boatloads moving now. Had one Yellow-throated Warbler near the crossing, another in yard later.

We hit the jackpot in the late afternoon when a couple rain cells moved through. We got about a half inch, it looked like Seco Ridge to the divide and 1050 pass got an inch and more, B & R might have had a half inch as well, Thunder Creek got some too. Not enough for the aquifer, but enough to be all the difference in the world when it comes to say Frostweed having a good bloom now. Wow, that rain smelled good! Dropped temps down to 82dF or so and beat the heat!

I walked out onto the porch barefoot to look at the peak downpour just before 8 p.m. and apparently a Scorpion had come out for some water I presume, which I stepped near enough that it nailed me good on the foot. I mean it lit me up. The one a few weeks ago was love taps compared to this, this thing must have squeezed his venom sac out in my foot! Much much worse than bee sting initial pain. Probably about 15 minutes worth of very painful, the first 5 in particular were astonishingly painful, perhaps preciptating some colorful verbage.

I ran it under hot water, hot as you can stand it, and then a little hotter, keep it hot hot 10+ minutes. Most poisons are proteins, many break down or severly weaken, somewhere around scalding temperatures. In the 50's and 60's I was told by a tropical fish collector that they ALWAYS kept a pot of hot hot coffee on board the boat, in case they got hit by a lionfish. Might burn your hand a bit, but better than the venom experience and effects. I was a bit of a tenderfoot the rest of night.

Kathy found what was crawling around making noise in the service room, and put the Barking Frog out by the bird bath.

Aug. 10 ~ About 75dF for a low, got up to 101+ when some clouds came in from the easterly wave down south, gave us a good few dozen drops of precipitation, and dropped it to a cool 97 about 6 p.m. Oh for one of those cells. Then around 7 p.m. we got a good .05", cooling it down a bit more, and about 7:30 a big cell crossed the south end of valley, we just got the outflow 2 mi. S. of town, but it dropped us to 86dF!

Kathy spotted and ID'd a Willow Flycatcher out the kitchen window about 6 p.m., it was taking Snout (butterflies)! Early in the a.m. a male Orchard Oriole is always nice, another was about late p.m. I didn't see the Calliope, the Rufous is still here, now with no tail feathers left. One ad.male Black-chinned. Late p.m. at least one (seen point blank), probably two, Least Flycatcher about the yard calling.

A couple juvenile Blue Grosbeak were down by the river, I presume from the local nesting pair. Thought I heard an Olive Sparrow in a thicket down the draw. A Cicada Killer was down at the river.

The first Texas Persimmon are ripe, blackish purple and falling. The orioles really hit them as they pass through so keep an eye on them as they ripen, it looks nearly a bumper crop this year. Cardinal, Summer Tanager, and everything is hitting them already. All the wildlife really loves 'em. It's four big seeds in a thick bag of skin, not much meat, of an odd flavor, somewhat reminiscent of molasses, or shoo-fly pie, perhaps an interesting syrup or liqueur could be made from it says the wife. She's full of good ideas.

Aug. 9 ~ A bit cooler with a 74dF low was nice at 7a.m., got up to about 101dF again though. Heard the Calliope and saw the Rufous in morning, plus a several dozen Black-chinned, one of which is an adult male. Had a town run, and at garden at park entrance there was an imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the first of fall for sure. Thought I had one yesterday in yard. The adult male Painted Bunting posed for a picture out the nook window, getting to be a late date, the same dull one as yesterday. At least one greenie immature was around too. A few Scissor-tails around town, no Purple Martin, a dozen Barn Swallow still, a pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at park .

For butterflies there were a Viceroy, Questionmark, and Clouded Skipper at the park. The most butterflies though were at the county-line curve deco garden at the north end of town, and still most on the native Frogfruit growing around the garden. At least 3 Streaky Skippers was good, lots of Ceraunus and Reakirt's Blues, another probable Rawson's Metalmark, besides Rounded and Fatal Metalmark, Mournful Duskywing was at 360 xing, Funereal Duskywing in yard. One odd bigger skipper at park entrance garden, maybe got shots of it. A few Orange Skipperling, Bordered Patch, Texan Crescent, lots of Mestra, Lyside, Cloudless Sulphur, Desert Checkered-Skipper, good numbers of Whirlabout, several Eufala, one Julia's Skipper, some beat worn (from somewhere else) Buckeyes, and at library garden a few Large Orange Sulphur, but boy does it need water badly. We have lately, daily, at least a hundred Lyside Sulphur and 200 Snouts go through yard, lots come to water.

The cypress trees between dam and 1050 crossing are already rust brown, leaves are going to drop early, it looks like in November in a wet times when river is running as usual. This section is dry, and the cypress have given up for the year. All around you can see trees dropping leaves, particularly pecans and hackberries have yellowing falling leaves already. When a big gust of wind hits, it rains leaves like October or November. Trees are in drought mode, dropping leaves.

Aug. 8 ~ Holy cow another yard bird, four in five days, this one an adult male CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD! Adult males are very scarce here, 90%+ are immatures or females. Got a poor docu shot of the beauty through window and screen. The Rufous Hummer with one tail feather continues, and besides a several dozen immature Black-chins, I am pretty certain I saw an imm. Ruby-throated Hummer too.

Some migrants in the a.m. were Dickcissel and Least Flycatcher, two Blue- gray Gnatcatcher, a greenie immature Painted Bunting, one very dull adult male Painted Bunting (wonder if it is 'our' nesting bird) and a Mockingbird, which is about the 3rd one in a week, they are moving about. Heard Chat and Scissor-tail. The Screech-Owl pair was duetting after dark.

~ ~ ~ Last prior update was Aug. 7 next entry below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 7 ~ Wow another yard bird, three in four days, a Rufous Hummingbird! Since 9 of 10 banded Texas coastal Rufous/Allen's Selasphorus are Rufous we should consider them as such until proven otherwise. Anyway, great to see fall migrant hummingbird, a bit late, but we're in a new spot, so feeders are being found the first time. We would have had one earlier up on Seco Ridge where the birds knew our 8 year established feeder bank. I'd guess Judy Schaeffer had them already this fall (for them) for that reason. Seemingly one adult male Black-chinned is here. The Rufous Hummer is number 130 on the new yard list, just over 4 months along now (18 weeks).

Passage migrants early were Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, and Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher. Regulars about were Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Yellow- throated Warbler, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, Vermilion Flycatchers, We had 103dF on the porch, Austin, Del Rio and Junction hit 104, as did SAT where it was a record, Hondo was 105. Send rain, we don't care if it is a hurricane. Things like Frostweed and Snow-on-the-Mountain are poised to bloom, IF IF IF it rains. Meanwhile everything is really starting to look seriously stressed.

Twenty five years ago it was not this hot, this much, here. I remember highs in the low 90's regularly, they were the norm. Just in case you missed this special climatalogical notice from our local NOAA office, check this interesting heat data out:

Summary of 100 degree day information:
Location, then average number of 100dF days per year over all years prior, followed by the number of them in the record year, and which year that was (note all recent).

Austin Mabry........13.1... 90 in 2011 (7 times avg.)
Austin Bergstrom....13.9... 74 in 2011 (5 times avg.)
Del Rio... .........21.4... 85 in 2011 (4 times avg.)
San Antonio.........8.5.... 59 in 2009 (7 times avg.)

Number of 100 degree days in 2012:
Austin Mabry...... 35 (almost 3 times avg.)
Austin Bergstrom.. 22
Del Rio... ....... 65 (3 times avg.)
San Antonio....... 20 (2.5 times avg.)

Sky high above averages lately, by factors, so it doesn't just SEEM like it's hotter lately, it IS hotter, MUCH hotter, much more often. Certainly the last couple/few summers have been way hotter than normal here, with way more 100deg.F days just like the areas around us. Some locals reported 100dF a hundred days in a row around town in hot spots in the last couple summers. Welcome to your new climate. We made it ourselves.

If you weren't counting, there are in the last 20 years just under 14,000 peer reviewed published papers ascribing increased temperatures to man's activities. Scientists love few things more than to prove another wrong. None have done so on this issue. Frankly the (less than .5%) dissenters have dirty money in their hands. Unfortunately today many get what they think is science from what they think is news. Source (credibility) is everything.

One of the most common denier selling points that it is not us and our bad habits, is that a volcanic eruption puts out more CO2 than humans do in a year. Forever, the world was covered in forests which are our CO2 filter, forests eat CO2 up. In the last couple hundred years man has removed half the forests from the planet. That which absorbed CO2 is being taken out of the equation, by man. So regardless of what we cause ourselves, we are destroying the planet's capability to filter CO2 with our worldwide deforestation plan.

Aug. 6 ~ A couple Blue-gray Gnatcats went through, a Scissor-tail seems like 4-5 mornings in a row now, Hutton's Vireo, the regulars, not even a greenie (immature) Painted Bunting for a few days now, they seem gone, a couple calling Purple Martin, three Eastern Bluebird, and best, one calling Willow Flycatcher, the first of fall migrant. Also had Least Flycatcher and an Eastern Wood-Pewee. Saw the juv. Red-tail leave area early. Worst of all we had a 101dF on the porch in shade! SAT broke a record again, a 105dF high. Many dragonflies in yard early, several dozens, mostly Spot-winged Glider, some Wandering, good numbers of Red Saddlebags, fewer Black Saddlebags. Down in the draw at dusk I about stepped on a 12" baby Porcupine. Cute little buggers when they're tiny.

Aug. 5 ~ A great yard bird just before 11 a.m., a Canyon Wren! First heard it over in the draw, but I was on porch, so that counts. Went inside for bins, told Kathy, and by time I got outside headed to go to the draw, it was on the stone chimney! A calling Canyon Wren!A great bird for the house list. I didn't get a good enough look to age it, durnit, but would presume it a locally raised young wandering about. It was on the move and didn't stick. Two yard birds in two days with the Inca/Aztec Dove yesterday. Heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Orchard Oriole and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through, Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, and Summer Tanager offers a little song still too. One adult male Black-chinned Hummer, didn't see any the last couple days, so likely a transient. Might have hit 99-100dF briefly. Lovely. San Antonio (SAT) tied their 1964 record high at 104dF.

Aug. 4 ~ Only about 77 for a low, but it feels good! Everything is relative. The highlight early was an Owlfly, family Ascalaphidae, hovering about the back door almost alighting on some long stems near the water seep, but it departed, and no photos were obtained. I've only ever seen one locally, plus one over at Big Springs in Real Co., though possibly glimpsed a couple more. They look like a very small dragonfly in flight, and are likewise a serious aerial predator. The very long clubbed antennae are distinctive, a very cool beast to have at your back door.

The bird of the day was an Inca Dove, new for the yard list, took four months to get one. Later I heard it calling. I think there was an official name change last year, to Aztec Dove, as there were no Incas in the bird's range, said to be more like that of the Aztecs. As such it was correcting the common name to end the perpetuation of a mis-conception from an early mis-interpetation of whom lived with the bird. It was named after the wrong people. For now though you couldn't look it up as Aztec Dove in many places, so we will stick with Inca Dove for a bit so y'all know what I'm talking about.

Aug. 3 ~ About a 75-99dF spread today, got to past noon before 90dF. Early morn a couple greenie juvenile Painted Bunting, no adult males for days now. A few strays will occur but most are gone already. Scissor-tail out there again, heard Ringed Kingfisher, Yellow-throated Vireo and Summer Tanager still singing. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through.

Killer views were had of an adult Great Crested Flycatcher in heavy molt. The unmolted tertial had edges very ragged, worn and dull, I've seen brighter crisper examples on Brown-crested Flycatcher, so don't make much of that alleged mark. The distinctly olive green crown, nape, and back however is diagnostic. Note it continues all the way down the back to and including the rump. So you get green next to rufous/black where the tail connects. It's stonking awesome color contrast. Brown-crested has a brown crown, nape, and back ranging tawny to rufous on rump, there is no striking color contrast where back (actually all upperparts) color meets the base of the tail. Green upperparts (head to rump) = Great Crested, brown upperparts (head to warmer rump) = Brown-crested. It's not as hard as some folk making a living selling confusing field guides want to make it.

Then Kathy spotted a couple of juvenile Ash-throated Flycatcher out on one of the fences. Still a handful of juvenile and one ad. male Vermilion Flyc. in the yard. I did an 11-1 walk down road to crossing. Had an Orchard Oriole and a Least Flycatcher for migrants (later another Least Flyc. in yard), and a juvenile Chat. A pair of Blue Grosbeaks continue, the male a first summer with barely any blue, much like the one we lost that was a yard resident for 5+weeks (likely nest got predated) during May-June.

Some butterflies were a couple False Duskywing, a White Peacock, a Rounded and nearly surely a Rawson's Metalmark, which would be first of year. A couple Southern Skipperling, Eufala, Fiery, and Julia's Skipper, lots Reakirt's and Ceraunus Blue, one probably Cassius Blue got away right when I decided that is what it had to be, so no photo, another Elada Checkerspot in yard, lots of Lyside Sulphur, numbers of Snout and Queen, lots of Pipevine Swallowtail. Also good my first of year Tropical Checkered-Skipper, Comm./White, and Desert are more common, and one Texas Powdered-Skipper on Wooly Ironweed, which is a delicate purple beauty in bloom in areas along riversides now. About 34 sps. butterflies on walk.

Odes were weak, scraped for a few of the regulars, despite it being 85-90dF for the duration of the walk. Dusky, Kiowa, and Blue-ringed Dancer, Am. Rubyspot, Blue Dasher, Eastern Pondhawk, Checkered and Swift Setwing. Early a.m. are lots of migrant Gliders and Saddlebags still marching south. A dozen species all together.

A Roadrunner got a lizard in the front yard this afternoon. The (?) ad. male Yellow-throated Warbler came low in the big pecan for great views. It is in heavy molt now too, like most adults done with nesting, next on the agenda is eating all they can to support molting a new set of feathers in to replace the worn out year old ones, and for many, putting on fat for a migration.

August 2 ~ Low 73dF, high 99.5-100dF. Black-and-white Warbler in yard early in a.m., three Yellow-throated Vireo, one looked juvenile, a couple juvenile Summer Tanager begging, White-eyed Vireo still noisy, Cardinal giving a little half-hearted song, saw first flock (10) of Mourning Dove, they've been singles or pairs since spring. One Common Nighthawk at dusk. Two or three greenie juvenile Painted Bunting still here.

August 1 ~ AUGUST !?!?!?! No wonder it is so hot! We're pushin' a hundred the last week, and the next, flowers wilting as you watch them. Lower 70's in a.m. is nice, and if lucky you'll make it to noon or 1 p.m. before it hits 90dF. Nice male Common Whitetail (dragon) in the yard, also a probably Pale-faced Clubskimmer, a female Goatweed Leafwing (butterfly), Did have one Common Nighthawk go over at dusk, fair numbers of bats, the formerly known as Mexican, now officially Brazillian, Free-tailed Bat. We should file a formal complaint, explaining that when they are here, they are known as Texas Free-tailed Bats, just to give the name changers some grief. Obviously they don't have anything to do.

As predicted last week, the squirrel eating dozens of green pecans a day has expired perhaps prematurely. Another showed up a couple hours later. Wont last long, just a guess. I put the expired tree-rat out by the gate on the riverrock driveway where hopefully it could be seen by a local scavenger in need. Didn't have time to wait and watch, though in a little over an hour it was gone, not a trace of it, and no blood trail so the lucky recipient was avian, a bird. Maybe the Caracara? After I came back from town, later in the afternoon a few hours, the young Red-tailed Hawk that fledged from a nest 200 yards away a couple months ago, flew up out of the nearest tall Cypress, very low, and with a very full crop. That is who got it! It took an hour or more to eat it, and a couple to sleep it off.

Town had 2 Chimney Swift, a begging juvenile Blue Jay, one Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a couple Cave Swallow, no Purple Martin, Bell's Vireo still singing at the county-line curve mesquite patch at the north end of town. Was just a quick look during errands.

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

July was a hot one..... a few cooler days from the odd retro low event, and about 3/4" of rain, but mostly hot and dry. Send rain. Butterflies picked up well with 54 species found in the month, admittedly with little but casual observation around yard and road, and a few checks of the gardens in town. April, May, and June were upper 40's for species diversity.

Small number of Elada Checkerspot are invading, which is a LTA (less than annual) species locally, a couple White Peacock were nice, also LTA. Lots of Cloudless Sulphur moving in and several Mournful Duskywing were about. The best two butterflies were a Giant White, which I've seen maybe 3 years of 10 here, and better a POLYDAMUS Swallowtail, my first in 10 years here, though there is a prior county record. It is the only "new to my local list of species" so far this year. After 10 years it gets hard to add new things save vagrants from elsewhere, so anything new at this point, you can just about call 'once in a decade' rare.

Odes (dragons and damselflies) were much better with lots more diversity about, though individual numbers are way down. The annual glider (Spot-winged and Wandering) and saddlebags (Red, and Black) southward migration started by later in July. I saw about 31 species over the month. A couple River-cruisers were nice, one surely Illinois, a Green Darner finally, a male Comanche Skimmer (LTA). Odes should get better the next few months just like the butterflies.

Most of bird nesting season is done and over, lots of local birds are gone or leaving, the yard breeder male Painted Bunting seems gone by the end of the month. Martins are mostly gone too. The daily yard Cuckoos must have been predated, they disappeared overnight early in the month. A few juvenile Cowbirds about, but not lots. Chimney Swifts way down in town, lucky to see 2, when it used to be 24. Adult male Black-chinned Hummers are about gone by the end of the month too.

The first fall migrants are showing in numbers by the end of the month, like Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Orchard Oriole, Dickcissel, Black-and-white Warbler, and I saw 2 Least Flycatcher in late July and more in early August. Real neat was an early Peregrine Falcon July 13. Ringed Kingfisher is still occasionally being seen along river south of town, presumedly it ranges to park and northward as well.

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~

July 31 ~ Another Elada Checkerspot down road a bit on Frogfruit. Third one in three days, all looked in different stages of wear. The ad.male. Black-chin still here. A few migrants went by early, a Dickcissel, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, heard an Orchard Oriole. Probable juvenile Chat down road a bit.

Amongst the many gliders and saddlebags (dragons) was a Prince Baskettail, new for the yard, though regular down on the river, usually at water. A male Common Whitetail was nice, and a probable Pale-faced Clubskimmer.

A pair of Six-lined Racerunner (the green-striped pink-tailed real fast lizards) was copulating right out the door, I got some great photos, I think. Dillo is digging out there every night all over front yard.

July 30 ~ Another Elada Checkerspot, this in yard was the first so new for yard butterfly list. A couple Purple Martin were overhead early, which was the last of them, as of Aug. 4 I hadn't heard them again. The big roosts in Austin and Houston are going on, tens of thousands, you can see them on the radar loop at dusk and dawn, an opening or closing donut much like bats.

A great vireo day in the yard, singing Red-eyed, White-eyed, Yellow-throated, Hutton's, and a juvenile Bell''s moved through. 5 sps. in the yard. The ad.male Black-chinned Hummer continues, and a Least Flycatcher was in the short pecans, the second this last few days of July.

Good numbers of southbound migrant dragonflies at dawn and for a few hours after, Red, and Black Saddlebags, and Wandering, and Spot-winged Gliders.

July 29 ~ Heard Ringed Kingfisher in the morning from porch, a Caracara flew over, Red-eyed Vireo singing, besides Yellow-throated and White-eyed. One adult male Painted Bunting on the birdseed in morning turned out to be the last time we saw it. A couple Common Nighthawk went over at dusk. A FOY Elada Checkerspot at the draw was good. some were reported at Love Creek Preserve a month ago. They are LTA - less than annual.

July 28 ~ A 75-98dF spread today. Mmmmmm toasty. One adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird continues, but that seems it for ad. males. A group of 5 Field Sparrow moved through yard.

July 27 ~ The front hit about dawn, low was only 77dF, and around 7 a.m. the winds turned to the NE behind the front. The rain missed us as usual (Utopia means rain kryptonite in some other language), a little spot above Vanderpool and LM might have gotten an inch. But the air dried out, and winds are NE, WOW! Not cold, but a front, which is a good sign maybe, hope we get some in August.

First thing around sunup at least 5 Orchard Oriole passed through yard, maybe 7 counting unseen heard birds. One adult male had no tail, talk about looking small for an oriole, take the tail off one and what have you got? The really smallest oriole.

Other migrants or transients were 2 Dickcissel, a Red-eyed Vireo, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Black-and-white Warbler, and probably a Least Flycatcher out on the fence. Heard Scissor-tail, a Hutton's Vireo was around again, wow it's like migration or something. The birds are moving, fall is coming. The most minor of frontal passage, and some birds are on it. Also had a Caracara go by.

Just before 10 a.m. the power went out, apparently for 10-40 homes south of town, took 2.5 hours for it to come back on. Lovely. Played acoustic guitar.

Thought I had a Least Flycatcher this a.m. 7-8 a.m. on fence but was bare-eyed from 60', then at 7 p.m. in a pecan at the same spot, there was a calling Least Flycatcher, the first of fall. At 8:30 p.m. the first of fall Belted Kingfisher flew down river. It is almost as if a front passed with all the passage birds today.

July 26 ~ Got up to about 98dF, same as yesterday, too dang hot. It will have to fly by the window behind the monitor for me to see it. After I posted the birdnews update I was on the porch when a mostly black swallowtail (butterfly) flew by close. We have a cagillion Pipevine here, it is probably the most common butterfly locally, the big black ones. This one was different and so caught my eye, I couldn't take it off the beast. As it went by I thought, not a Pipevine, because of yellow sub-marginal border, and as quickly determined, not a Black (the other regular 'blackish' swallowtail here). Fairly quickly I thought 'Polydamus!' and looked hard again. It flew over to a big Hackberry, I bolted off porch after it, scared birds off the feeder, and got within 10' as it moved around edges of lower canopy. Up closer, and a full dorsal view showed clearly it was indeed Polydamus! And then it disappeared.

I have seen many, a long time ago in east Texas, and there is at least one Uvalde County record, so it is not new for UvCo, but I have not seen or heard of one in almost 10 years of looking here. It is only a sight record unfortunately, however typically when there is a proven county record, sight records are then OK if the observer is OK. I will add it to the local butterfly list, as am sure it was a Polydamus. First new butterfly to local list for the year.

July 25 ~ Low of about 78dF is not very low. Gulf marine layer got here about 9 a.m. and though it was sunny and over 80dF by 8 a.m., it was back to 78 when it hit. Weird phenomenon here. At 7 a.m. there was Dickcissel and Orchard Oriole in the yard, the latter which sung a few bars. Then a RINGED Kingfisher flew down the river corridor calling, giving a brief view as it went by. Two Blue-gray Gnatcatcher moved through as well, so temps aside, it is starting to seem kinda like fall migration based on the birds moving through.

Four species of vireo were singing in yard early, Red-eyed which I hadn't detected in a month, a Hutton's, of which one was here a week ago, and the daily Yellow-throated and White-eyed continued. Then on my town run the mesquite patch at the north end of town still had singing Bell's Vireo so a 5 vireo day without trying.

In town there was a single Cave Swallow, one male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (was one out front of house this a.m. too), a Zone-tailed Hawk, no Chimney Swift or Purple Martin. Two Black-bellied Whistling-Duck were at park, and great looks were had of Barred Owl on the island.

At the deco garden at the county-line-curve at the north end of town there were lots of Cloudless Sulphur, and one Theona Checkerspot was my first this year. The rest was the regulars, most was on the Frogfruit that grows wild around the garden. A dozen Red Saddlebags (dragonflies) were there too. The library garden doesn't seem to be getting watered much, it was dry, with very few flowers, though the Red Turks-cap looks good. Another dozen Cloudless Sulphur were around town, they are in good numbers now, it is the big lemon yellow one. A few Large Orange Sulphur seen.

The park entrance garden was so noisy and dusty from the road-grader working there I didn't stop to check it, would've needed a dust mask and goggles. Hwy. 1050 going west from 187 is a construction mess, wait for a pilot car, etc., hopefully that will be over soon and we'll have a decent road out of it.

In a word, squirrels suck, they are eating all the green pecans, of which there is a limited crop since a big storm blew the flowers off at just the wrong time. They take a wee bit out of the center, spit the rest out and go ruin the next nut! They will ruin 5 in 3 minutes, at this pace there will be none for us or the birds in short order. I predict the squirrels will not survive much longer. They are doing the same thing to the still green hackberries. Man removed most of their predators, now they are un-naturally over-abundant, we must control their population. They are bird nest predators eating eggs or nestlings, whilst birds at least actually perform a great valuable service for us all summer by eating everything from grassphoppers and katydids, to flies, skeeters, bugs, caterpillars, and such.

July 24 ~ Didn't cool down much, low in upper 70'sdF, and got to 97dF at least for a high. Killed another Triatoma, Blood-sucking Conenose, this one at least didn't leave a big splot of blood, and was right near door, as if trying to get inside, just like the last. We don't need no stinkin' Blood-sucking Conenose here. No Chuck-wills-widow calling at dusk for second day, surprised they went this long.

July 23 ~ Another fall migrant called as it passed overhead southward this a.m., a Dickcissel. It is otherwise very quiet out there at 7 a.m., with little to no birdsong. The Painted Bunting are still singing, a squawk from a Chat, a little Summer Tanager song, but long moments of silence is the rule now. Field Sparrow in the yard again. Was a bit of a cooker with 98dF for a high on the porch here, and they say getting hotter for a few days, I guess we have to pay for last week when we cheated summer. A Nysa Roadside-Skipper was on the porch.

July 22 ~ Orchard Oriole and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in the yard this a.m., fall migrants heading south. Common Ground-Dove on the seed, which is heard daily, but not seen as often. Only one adult male Black-chinned Hummer still here, so that seems it for them. Male Painted Bunting still singing, Chat barely so, Summer Tanager still at it. Got frame-filler photos of an Eyed Elatarid (Giant Click Beetle with false eye-spots) I spotted from office window while working. Sometimes you just have to hit save and get out there with the camera quickly. And of course a dragonfly missed yesterday, in yard a Red Saddlebags.

July 21 ~ Took an 11-1 walk down to crossing looking for butterflies and dragonflies mostly. Frogfruit is blooming well and quite attractive to the leps now. I saw several butterflies I had not yet seen this year so far. Best was 2 White Peacock (does not occur here annually), 4 False Duskywing is a great high total, and as many Texas Powdered-Skipper (though had some earlier in year), one Mallow Scrub- Hairstreak was my first this year, as were 4-5 Ceraunus Blue (among a hundred Reakirt's Blue). At least 2 Mournful Duskywing was good, saw a couple Northern Cloudywing, and 4-5 Whirlabout a good total. The annual southern invasion seems to have begun whence butterflies from southward move north into the area bringing us our lep excitement. July through October and November is our peak period here.

Other species seen were Pipevine and Giant Swallowtail, Cloudless, Large Orange, Lyside and Dainty Sulphurs, Little Yellow, Sleepy Orange, Gray Hairstreak, Fatal and Rounded Metalmark, Snout, Queen, Gulf Fritillary, Variegated Frit, Bordered Patch, Vesta, Phaon and Texan Crescent, Buckeye, Red Admiral, and at least two dozen Common Mestra, another invader that does not occur annualy and is in very good numbers so far. Skippers were Celia's Roadside-, Fiery, 4 Julia's, 3 Eufala, Common/White Checkered-, Desert Checkered- (3), Orange and Southern Skipperling, Dun and the above mentioned Cloudywing, Duskywings and Powdered. An impressive (to me) total of 40 species of butterflies in a couple hours and a half mile.

Odes were decent as well. Damselflies were American Rubyspot, Violet, Kiowa, Powdered, Blue-ringed, Dusky Dancers, Rambur's Forktail, and a few un-ID'd. Dragons were 2 Eastern Ringtail, 2 Four-striped Leaftail, Prince Baskettail, 6+ Banded Pennant, Checkered and Swift Setwing, Eastern Pondhawk, Comanche Skimmer (first in a few years), Widow Skimmer (pair), and Blue Dasher. At least 17 species, surely I could pick up a few more if I went out to drip some more. Later had Wandering and Spot-winged Glider in yard, so 19 sps. of odes for the day. Should have gone looking for a Saddlebags I guess.

The same two Black-and-white Warbler were around after not being in yard the last several days, the male singing the same funny odd song confirms it is them. River corridor had still singing Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Eastern Wood-Pewee. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was in corral adjacent, another across road late in p.m., 3 juvenile Painted Bunting in yard. Not hearing any Cuckoo the last few days. Did hear an Orchard Oriole along river corridor.

Fish were some gorgeous Red-breasted Sunfish in full breeding colors, one of America's most beautiful native fishes (though likely not native here, like all the sunfish here), Long-eared Sunfish, Bantam Sunfish, Green Sunfish, Texas Cichlid (aka Rio Grande Perch), Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Gambusia (mosquitoefish), and native minnows were Mexican Tetra and a Notropis, methinks lidibundus, the Sand Shiner. Seeing ten species of fish is a good fish walk, though only the two minnows are certain to be native here. Further downriver I know a spot with some Texas Shiner, but didn't see any black lips in this section today.

The yearling Armadillo was out there around sunset, it worked towards a sitting Black-tailed Jackrabbit. When it got a few feet away, it charged, displacing the Jack, which jumped about 8' away in a hurry as the dillo charged. That was weird, could have had them in a single frame if set up to take a photo at the time.

July 20 ~ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher through yard early in a.m., otherwise the regulars for the most part. Only seeing one adult male Black-chinned Hummer here, though lots of immatures remain. Still a few Purple Martin calling overhead, and some around town. Heard one Chuck-wills-widow at dusk. Some feeble Yellow-throated Warbler song. A Field Sparrow sang around the yard for a while, first I've heard in a few weeks here though Kathy had a juvenile a few days ago.

A juvenile Great Crested Flycatcher was about the yard for a while, giving a constant subdued wheeep note, like a begging call, to no avail though.

July 19 ~ A nice 72dF for a low felt great, we beat a week of heat with that retro low system. At least one, probably two more Orchard Oriole this morn, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher also moved through, and an immature Cooper's Hawk came through as well. I haven't heard the yard Blue Grosbeak sing in 4 days now. Makes it oddly quiet out there after hearing it sing every day the last couple months. Two Painted Buntings still singing, as is Cardinal, Summer Tanager, Bewick's and Carolina Wren, White-eyed Vireo, but birdsong continues to quiet down as the breeding season winds down. In over an hour I saw only one adult male Black-chinned Hummer this a.m. Fall migrant Rufous Hummingbird should show up any time now.

July 18 ~ Wow fall migrants this morning at 7 a.m. in front yard, two Orchard Oriole! Always one of the earliest fall migrants. We got another quarter inch of rain today, one good heavy bit. Kept it at 80dF or below all day, the fourth cool one in a row. I'd say about three-quarters of an inch of precip for the four days the retro low affecting us. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, as is Chat but the latter getting much less frequent. Faintly heard two Chucks at last light.

July 17 ~ Still cool, and got a quarter inch of rain or so over the day, mostly just light drizzles and showers. Is at least one adult male Black-chinned Hummer still around. A few Wandering Glider dragonfly were about after the showers. Multiple Large Orange Sulphur (butterfly) about too. Did not see the Black-and-white Warblers today.

July 16 ~ Sprinkled a bit overnight, might be at about two tenths for the system, supposed to be some more today. Watching the hummer feeders I did not see one adult male Black-chinned Hummer in over an hour, and saw only one or two yesterday during the rain. The adult males are about gone, though we will get passage birds the next couple months, the breeding population locals are outta here.

What seem yesterday's Yellow-throated Vireo and Eastern Wood-Pewee are still noisy in the yard, 2 Great Crested Flycatcher were calling, and one ad.fem. Scissor-tail was in the short snaggy pecan by the gate.

July 15 ~ We got a bit of sprinkles off and on all day from the retro low heading west, maybe a tenth or two around town, the north side of the plateau got a couple inches, some areas more, we're still hoping for more. A high of 80dF in July is welcome relief! A Great Blue Heron flew by northbound.

Had a few definite Wandering Glider (dragonfly) this afternoon, first day with multiples, the first only a couple days ago. The Yellow- throated Warbler spent some time in yard again, and gave some weak song, after a week of silence. A Yellow-throated Vireo was in the pecan for hours singing. The same 2 Black-and-white Warbler were about, but new was a singing Eastern Wood-Pewee for an hour or so. Others still singing in yard are Painted Bunting, Blue Grosbeak and Summer Tanager.

July 14 ~ Cool 72dF again in the a.m., but got to 100dF in p.m. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher moved south through yard. After a weeklong absence what I presume is 'the' male Yellow-throated Warbler showed back up in yard for a couple hours. Some clouds from a most peculiar retro low arrived about 6 p.m. and took the worst of heat away. This low system has marched SW from the Ohio Valley for a couple days.

July 13 ~ Low of 72dF felt great, was in 60's in KVL, but got to at least 97dF today, a real baker. Best thing was a nice fall migrant, one of those long-distance birds that has already come a long way, and has a long way to go, that say, fall migration is underway, a PEREGRINE FALCON. Looked like it dove through a bunch of Barn Swallows, which were cautiously mobbing it as it gained altitude after a dive that brought it low over river corridor, and yard! It was a dark one, maybe a one year old, and a nice early fall date to get.

First thing early there were 3 Egyptian Geese that flew over yard, won't be counting that fowl fowl. Non-native introduced species upset the balance and web of life, we should strive not to do such. A Hutton's Vireo sang abuot the yard for a couple hours. In the afternoon I walked down draw and saw something move in some grass, as I approached a (mccallii) Screech-Owl flew out and up onto an open branch and stared at me for over a minute before leaving. Was about 100dF in peak afternoon heat.

A couple Tawny Emperor came into some rotten banana I put on pecan trunk. Had a glimpse of a Wandering Glider dragonfly, the first of the year, and photo'd a female Widow Skimmer down the draw (ph.). There was a distant Chuck-wills-widow calling at dark, most seem done now, it is all but over for them until next April.

July 12 ~ Just over 96dF again today, hotter at the hot spots, it is amazing how much the climate varies in a small local area. Micro-climes within the climate, along the river is another world from up on a ridge. What I learned from summer in Texas is that 90dF ain't so hot. When the sun goes down at dusk, it usually is 90 and dropping, and it feels great. I used to think 90 was hot.

The male and female Black-n-white Warblers were about, Chat at bath, Yellow-throated Vireo singing, but not Y-t Warbler, White-eyed Vireo still going strong, and a juvenile in yard. The three Myiarchus (GC, B-c, A-t) still calling, and a Scissor-tail was over in corral. Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, and Painted Bunting are still singing.

A female or young male Roseate Skimmer was a new dragonfly for the yard, had some at draw week ago. A few Swift Setwing still in yard. The pecans are dropping little green 3/4 inch partially formed nuts, giving up for the year due to lack of precipitation no doubt. Bummer. The trees decide it is not worth the resources to continue development and shed them when there is not enough rain happening.

July 11 ~ Today was about 96dF, we made it to about noon before we hit 90dF so mornings are fine if you don't mind a low of 75.An adult Cooper's Hawk was over in the corral, the first summer male Black-n-white Warbler is still about, Cuckoo are cooing. Couple more Large Orange Sulphur and Mestra (leps). Got heart tested when near dusk I felt claws on my arm and looked down in the dim light seeing a big walking stick on me, jump first, ask Q's later. A couple feeble un-interested far less than enthusiastic Chuck-wills- widow calls were heard at dusk, as well as some Coyote.

July 10 ~ Got up to 98dF on the porch, hotter at many areas around town no doubt. I was in town early and the Yellow-throated Warblers nesting at park are done singing, dead quiet, too, like those here at the house here. Didn't see or hear a Chimney Swift. This year the Western Kingbirds didn't stick to nest again, not enough flying bugs, while some Scissor-tails are around, they seem down this year. A juvenile White-eyed Vireo attended by two silent parents would not stop giving the typical call "pick! up a reeaal chick! Sorta slow, the bird activity even in the cool of morning is way down.

The breeding season is winding down for many things. Many birds then molt (the adults) as it is the first time in months they have been able to use resources for personal needs. And they are about to undertake a long migration in many cases. Had a juvenile Cooper's Hawk through yard today.

At least three Large Orange Sulphur (butterfly) flew through yard today, the first I have seen all year of them. Lots less Black- chinned Hummers around, and most are now juveniles, young of the year. Still some adult males, which you can hear from wing humm are molting, but far fewer of them than there were a few weeks ago.

July 9 ~ Another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through, better though was a first summer Scott's Oriole moving through. A Cardinal caught a small cicada and lost that battle. The male Black-n-white Warbler is still about. Today it was 3 juvenile Vermilion Flycatcher two females and one male just getting its first orange patches on breast. The male Golden-fronted Woodpecker with the half red nape patch took a messy bath, seeming to quite like splashing the water about. Had some more fish for dinner, we both liked the Spotted Sunfish better than the Green, but which is a prettier fish.

Just before dark one distant Chuck-wills-widow was calling, but they about done calling for the year. A dozen deer were in the adjacent horse corral looking for any stray oats when two dozen feral pigs showed up the deer bolted. Feral hogs are a major enviro problem, just like feral cats and any other introduced non-native species.

For non-daily butterflies, Common Mestra and Orange Sulphur were around. Low this a.m. was a balmy 76dF, and it got up to 95dF, summer is back. Had a couple drops of sprinkle overnight, but not even a whole trace. I'm not hearing the closest (yard daily) Yellow-throated Warbler singing anymore but the next one further down river is still going. Cooper's Hawk juvenile flew through yard.

July 8 ~ The two female juvenile Vermilion Flycatcher that have been around were flycatching together on the fence for hours this a.m. The male Black-n-white Warbler was about, not seeing the female, perhaps she got tired of the incessant hounding in the yard. Yellow-throated Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Painted Bunting, same ol' regulars..... some Spot-winged Glider (dragonflies). Was 76dF for a low, warm moist tropical air from the system to our south, be lucky to get any rain from it, high in low 90's. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through yard, more Bluebirds passing by.

July 7 ~ Back to above normal with a 75dF low, and hoping the system in the Gulf brings some rain, gettin' dusty out there. The juvenile Red-tailed Hawk is still begging from the adults. At least before it fledged the adults could leave, now it follows them around begging in the air near them, which can't make hunting any easier. Celia's Roadside-Skipper down draw. Roadrunner was about. A Summer Tanager grabbed one of the big types of Cicada, which went in to full roar apparently causing the Tanager to momentarily release it, the cicada then making a getaway. I caught a just under 2 lb. bass, on my magic gold spoon, mmmmmm good.

July 6 ~ About 71dF for a low, nice, and slightly below norm. I can't get over how the birdsong has quieted down though. The banana I put on the pecan bark last night is all gone. It attracted something besides what I was hoping for that ate it. The female Black-and-white Warbler continues, a week now, and seemingly often with the first summer male that has been here 5+ weeks. I can't believe they would get something going this late in the season..... will continue to watch.

I may have found the banana eater as I walked down the draw to the river in the afternoon. Under a mass of roots in a cut in the bank, a large Porcupine! After dinner went back to show Kathy and get a couple pix. Lots of scat (ph.) under the roost site, perhaps I have walked by it without noticing it before?

Best thing at the river was a dragonfly I believe was an Illinois River Cruiser. The thorax was black and yellow, not the dusty pruinose grayish of a Bronzed River Cruiser. I have seen a couple here, but none recently, and this one was just 4' away. A few other dragons went by to quickly to ID. A couple just-fledged Eastern Wood-Pewee were about along river.

July 5 ~ A barely below normal 70dF for a low felt great again. Didn't take long to get a few birds missed yesterday, this a.m. from the porch had Ringed Kingfisher calling as it flew upriver, a Roadrunner, and Kathy had a Field Sparrow. A juvenile Bronzed Cowbird is begging and being fed by a male Cardinal in the yard.

A Cloudless Sulphur buzzed across yard. Had to run to town, singing Chipping Sparrow in Live-Oak-grassland on way, group of Purple Martins soaring overhead too. In town a Zone-tailed Hawk circled as often. A few butterflies were at the museum Lantana patch, including at least one maybe two Mournful Duskywing, and a couple FOY Whirlabout, a Eufala Skipper, and several each nectaring Buckeye and Lyside Sulphur. Didn't have time to check all the gardens but it seems they are picking up. Park was packed with holiday crowd so I didn't stop to check it.

July 4 ~ Happy Independence Day! It's a great July day when the temp is 61dF at dawn. This was the coolest morn of last three here. A Scott's Oriole singing was nice early, and the male Black-n-white Warbler is still chasing the female around, she is now on her third day here. Great was a Golden-cheeked Warbler, and add the breeding Chat and Yellow-throated for four warbler species in the yard this a.m. We inched up to about 93dF for a high.

Here is a list of what I saw or heard in or from the yard today.

Black and Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
and Collared- Doves
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Eastern Screech-Owl
Common Nighthawk
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Great Crested
and Brown-crested Flycatcher
White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo
Purple Martin
Northern Rough- winged
and Barn Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Black-crested Titmouse
Carolina and Bewick's Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Northern Mockingbird
Golden-cheeked Warbler (migrant this a.m.)
Yellow-throated Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Summer Tanager
Lark Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Blue Grosbeak
Painted Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird (flyovers and hearable singing)
Bronzed and Brown-headed Cowbird
Scott's Oriole (singing this a.m.)
House Finch and Lesser Goldfinch.

A not bad 46 species with no carbon emissions. Haven't been hearing the Barred Owl or Field Sparrow lately, a few others are very nearby (Eastern Wood-Pewee, Indigo Bunting, etc.) up or down river a short distance, so about 50 species in the immediate area.

Now there are two juvenile Brown-headed Cowbirds begging an adult male Summer Tanager. Yech. The flowers are fading fast, many areas of acres of color a couple weeks ago are now mostly brown. One Spot-winged Glider in p.m. hunting lee side of trees. There were a couple female Roseate Skimmer (FOY) down the draw.

July 3 ~ Another record low temp morning, we had 62 again here, and I saw it was 56 in Kerrville and 53 in Junction! Unbelievable to have mid-50's dF in early July. 'Nother Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went
south through yard. Only inched up to 92dF for a high, and dry, so nice. Numbers of worn Giant Swallowtail and Queen have been passing through for a week, clearly immgrating from elsewhere. A dull worn Mestra (butterfly) continues about the yard too. There were two Black-and-white Warbler around, the summering bird chased another off, which I think was yesterday's female.

July 2 ~ Already!?! An amazing record low of 62dF here just south of town (Utopia). Kerrville spent 3 hours at 59dF! I think Austin tied their record low at 62, I'm sure other areas saw record lows around central Texas. Remarkable, especially in light of widespread record highs of 105-108dF on Saturday June 29! This Tuesday a.m. we are 43 dF cooler than Saturday afternoon was! And supports one of Texas' favorite sayings, "if you don't like the weather, just hang around awhile."

Record heat and record cold in 2 and half days. More extremes, this is what there will be more of in a warmer atmosphere and climate. Drier droughts, and wetter floods, oh boy. It is interesting that in the last 11 years the Utopia area had its worst flooding probably in a hundred years (the great flood of 2002 when town flooded), and has had a prolonged drought as bad as the worst in the last hundred years, all in the last 11 years. Man that is some action-packed climatology.

Besides the summering first year male Black-n-white Warbler, late p.m. there was a female that passed through the yard. Had a male Summer Tanager with a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird begging from it. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through the yard too. Late in p.m. a pair of Cardinal were duetting, the male singing loudly, the female quietly, both in snags of a dead tree about 10 feet apart. The Chuck-wills-widow are really getting quieter, much less calling now, only brief bouts shortly after dark, they'll soon be silent.

We barely briefly hit 90dF for a high today!

July 1 ~ July!?!?! Gadzooks time flies when you are having a blast. We have overcast and barely 84dF at noon, from a cold front sagging across the area, on July 1!?!?!?!? Wow! It got to 86dF briefly about 1 p.m., then the cold front passed with strong NE winds, dry air, and by 2:30 it was back down to barely 80dF! In JULY!?!?!?! Late in the afternoon about 4:30-5 p.m. there were some sprinkles, we got two traces of an inch. But what a cool day for July 1, I can't get over it after the record breaking 105dF two days ago.

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher moved through southbound, the summering first year Black-n-white is singing, and twice I thought I heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler chip. Down here on valley floor we get nothing of them in June like up on the ridges, where we'd often get a dozen over the month in the yard; here on valley floor we have zero post-breeding wanderers in June.

Had one Common Nighthawk at dusk, I think most lost young in the recent big storm events, as after that their numbers fell through floor. A Tawny Emperor butterfly flew by, missed the species in June.
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