Bird (and nature) News Archive # 34
July 1 to Dec. 31, 2020
Old Bird News XXXIV

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 XXXIV (#34) ~ 2020: July 1 - Dec. 31

.... in reverse chronological order, unless you scroll to end and read from the bottom up.
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2020

Notes without location cited are in or from yard which is a couple miles south of town at edge of the river habitat corridor. If it doesn't say where it was, it was in or from the yard. Often a few daily yard notes is all the drivel you get. Ready, steady, go!




July through December 2020

Read from bottom up to view in chronological order.

Here is a long detailed annual 2020 summary...

Well that was a weird year. There was not the usual out and about birding due to the virus. There were Lost Maples closures, there was a hail carpet-bombing in spring, and the drought got real bad. Summer ran 5-7 dF or more above normal average temps as it has been the last several years. We had some rain in the spring but the tap went dry early in summer. We went from D1 to D3 (extreme) drought in the last half of the year. Many long-time locals say they have never seen it this bad. Much of the river north of town is dry above ground.

Insects in particular seemed depressed from the drought. Which affects lots of bird nesting. Many seemed to only have two broods instead of three, with two young fledging instead of three or four. Everything is connected. There was almost no fall flower bloom, and then a subsequent lack of all that seed crop. Fruit crops were very poor, there was very little of the Pecan, Hackberry, Juniper, or Texas Persimmon crop in most areas, some areas a near wipeout due to the devastating 1" hail carpet-bombing in May.

Butterflies were weak overall but a few good things were seen. I saw 88 species over the year locally, which is typical of drought condition periods. Thirty species were skippers. I saw 20 sps. of skippers just in August. Doesn't that sound exciting? The misses always stand out most to me though. No Viceroy, Mourning Cloak, or Great Purple Hairstreak. Still many years without a Carolina Satyr, Common Wood-Nymph, or Silvery Checkerspot, all absent since the last epic drought we never recovered from before this one started. There was a wave of small stuff in July and August, Skippers, Blues, and Hairstreaks, but it faded and a fall flight from southward did not materialize. The Monarchs also missed us this year, never did I see a hundred in a day. Only a few days had double digits. Only saw a very few Arizona Sister and Red-spotted Purple.

Only saw two White-striped Longtail, and no other of the long-tailed Skippers, again. The better butterflies were... a Clytie Ministreak was likely best, my first documented here (ph.) though had seen a couple here. A Zebra Longwing spent over a week around our place (ph.). Three or four White-patched Skipper (ph.) is my best total for a year, a Coyote Cloudywing (ph.) was the first in several years, most years you will not see one here. Outstanding and second best was my third Purple-washed Skipper photographed here, all three UvCo records, this one at the front porch. There were two Ocola Skipper this year. An Ornythion Swallowtail July 3 is about my 5th sighting here, only have pix of one a long time ago. In Nov. a big black swallowtail with color on the hindwing got away that surely was a Ruby-spotted Swallowtail. That one hurt the most, still stings and will for a while. I'd be dyin' if I did not have a prior local photo of one. A couple Laviana White-Skipper were good, they are less than annual. A few Texas Wasp Moth were seen, no White-tipped Black, one Obscure Sphinx, one Imperial Moth.

Odes were worse than butterflies. The drought really puts the hurt on them. Besides half the habitat being absent from there being no above ground water in much of the river, the remaining fish are concentrated at levels that it is a miracle any dragon or damselfly larvae can get out of the water to successfully emerge. The numbers of the local populations were very depressed, you had to scrape for a Widow Skimmer and Prince Baskettail at Utopia Park. Repeat on all sorts of stuff. Did not see an Amberwing here this year. Best was three male Comet Darner on a pond on the golf course. Two at once at one point. This is about the third year I have recorded it locally. They showed up after a hurricane went north into Louisiana, again, like at least one of the prior occurrences. There were a few Twelve-spotted Skimmer and Band-winged Dragonlet this year, a couple Four-spotted Skimmer went over one day in a migrant herd of dragons southbound in fall. Saw one Great Spreadwing, one River-cruiser sps. (prob. Bronze), a Cyrano Darner at Lost Maples, and a Pin-tailed Pondhawk (ph.) there might be a Bandera Co. first. The small Orange-striped Threadtail population at Utopia Pk. is down in numbers, but still going. Some Flame and Commanche Skimmer at Lost Maples but no Neon. I saw 49 species locally this year, lowest in last 3 years at least for sure, but probably more.

Birds were great, for the reduced level of birding, and seeing so few species. I count 203 species I saw locally this year, which is actually great if you ask me. That is an USRD (upper Sabinal River drainage) total. I saw more down on a couple trips down into the brush country. But only a couple Lost Maples trips. Canyon Wren is probably the only bird added there. Everything else is within 4 miles of Utopia. Here is a recap of the highlights.

Last winter the female Rusty Blackbird that was on maybe its 7th winter here was last seen Feb. 15. It is back again in December 2020. A hybrid Sabsucker that was partly Red-breasted was here Feb. 21. A pure one would draw a huge crowd. In spring best bird was a calling nocturnal migrant Black-bellied Plover Apr. 20. Great was a Common Pauraque March 1-10 around our place. The first known nesting along Sabinal River of Downy Woodpecker was also a great find. It was a good thrush spring as besides Swainson's it is easy not to see any others. A Gray-cheeked Thrush in our birdbath on May 11 was awesome, but better was a nice calling rusty Veery May 9 in a Mulberry just south of town.

In summer a Least Grebe June 27 - Aug. 30 on the golf course pond by the Waresville Cemetery was a first local record so a great bit of excitement. A female Anhinga at the park was my second local record so very good. Begging juvenile Audubon's Oriole were in our yard. It was a good hummingbird fall, perhaps the fires out west pushed more our way. We had at our feeders at least three each minimum Calliope and Broad-tailed Hummingbird, and about 10 different Rufous go through here. Warblers were weak as usual in fall, one female MacGillivrays Sept. 4 was maybe my third fall sighting locally. Great was my latest ever Golden-cheek Aug. 31, an adult male as was my prior latest (Aug. 25). Outstanding was a calling Cordilleran Flycatcher Oct. 14 at the park, also about my third one here locally, but got a pic.
br /> A major highlight of the year was a group of at least four Green Jay seen along the river habitat corridor from 4 mile bridge to Utopia Park, from Oct. 19 to at least mid-Dec. so far. Including in our yard a bunch of times. But never for long. This is only their second incursion up onto the Edwards Plateau, so significant. Also outstanding was a Cactus Wren Nov. 1 at the golf course pond by Wareseville providing my first local documentation. Less than annual so of note was a Western Tanager, and less than annual in fall were 2 separate Lazuli Bunting, both males.

It always seems a slow slog when you are doing it, and especially so this year livin' la vida quarantina. We again drove less than a thousand miles all year, all driving. If I just counted a THREE mile circle centered in Utopia it was 200 species of birds. When you add it all up, there were lots of great birds and some good butterflies and odes too. My BOB total - bird, ode, and butterfly species - for the year was 340. Last year was 331 and two years ago 350. About average for being in a drought regimen lately. Two local site lists (the most important lists) hit milestones, with one of the best birds of the year this year. The Green Jay were number 230 on our yard list (2 acres - 8 years), and number 270 on the Utopia Park (15 acres - 17.5 years) list.

~ ~ ~ end of 2020 annual summary ~ ~ ~

OMG not another summary !!

~ ~ ~ December summary ~ ~ ~

We went out with a bang, a cold wet one, with 1.75+" of rain on the 31st, and some local snowflakes! Lost Maples had snow that stuck! With the prior .25 made for just a hair over 2" of precip for the month, which is great for a drought December. In odes all I saw was Variegated and Autumn Meadowhawk, as usual, and just a very few of each. Butterflies were pretty shot too with the cold wiping them out in Nov. for the most part. A dozen species is at the low end of my (n~18) Dec. totals, second worst ever, but an improvement over last years worst ever December. It was the expected hardy dozen. Did I mention how bad the drought is? D3 per U.S. Drought Monitor. Did see Striped Skunk, Ringtail, and a Gray Fox in a Juniper getting berries.

Birds were good though, you can always count on them. The four Green Jay were in the yard 5 days in a row mid-month. A Rusty Blackbird is likely a returnee back for about its 8th winter. A flock of about 40 Pintail is more than anyone has ever seen here locally at once. One nice obviously wild Mallard is a rare find here. A ad. Harris's Hawk was seen. A Zone-tailed Hawk often at the park is likely a returnee that wintered as an imm. last year. A female Downy Woodpecker was in our yard a few times. A few Golden-crowned Kinglet are around. Only saw one Green Kingfisher one time all month, but Ringed are around. A couple Audubon's Orioles. Finally on the 30th I got a FOS Pine Warbler. It was about 88 species for me locally (which is more than the miles I drove), and I know others saw a few others. Things I missed this fall or arriving for winter so far include Swamp or White-throated Sparrow, any Junco again, Sprague's Pipit, and Say's Phoebe, off the top of my head.

~ ~ ~ end December summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

December! At Utopia Park on the 4th there were Ringed and Green Kingfisher at the pond. A likely returnee Zone-tailed Hawk is wintering in the area, often hunting just south of town, and roosting in the park. My FOS Wilson's Snipe was at UP on Dec. 4, saw it again Dec. 11. My FOS Song Sparrow was Dec. 7 at the 360 crossing. There were four GREEN JAY in our yard again on the 7th through 12th, so they are still in the area, but at best completely unpredictable. Besides at our place, four have been seen at Utopia Park, and then south to the 4-mile bridge area, mostly along the river habitat corridor. I saw one in town fly across Cypress St.! The 13th a FOS Rusty Blackbird was in the corral next door. I suspect it is the individual (an adult female) that has wintered for about 7 or 8 years now. A flock of about 40 Pintail were on Little Creek Dec. 17-20 at least, a record high count here. A drake Mallard was at Bear Creek Pond Dec. 20, a very rare bird here. Dec. 26 an adult Harris's Hawk soared over our place, one had been reported east of town a couple weeks prior. Saw a Turkey Vulture Dec. 28, they are rare here in winter. Finally added a Pine Warbler for the season at the park on the 30th.

~ ~ ~ end archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Dec. 31 ~ A little more rain overnight, the low was about 36F, and a soggy one. In morn was a little over 1.5" of rain since it started last night, which is wonderful, and amazing. There were a few brief bouts of heavy, but for the most part it was a slow-soaker, just what we needed. For the morning we are on the warm side of the system so the nearest snow is about 30-40 miles west in Northern Kinney and So. Edwards Cos., with ice to the northwest in Real Co. Sometimes a cold rain is OK. Noonish I saw radar showing snow just west of Camp Wood, and ice up on top of the plateau above Lost Maples but in Bandera Co., we dropped to 35F. By 3 p.m. we were 33F, and there were snow flurries over much of the western half of BanCo starting just north of town, and all of Real Co.! Per radar, Lost Maples was getting it! KERV was 33 in light snow. Between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. we were 32F and saw some snowflakes fall here. Amazing. Over the whole day we added ca. .25 of precip to the morning total so about 1.80" the event total here.

Birds were voracious on the seed today. I have too much to do to hang out there in the wet cold and look, fortunately. Wouldn't ya know I am stuck at the desk by a heater. We put out more than double rations today and it all disappeared remarkably quickly. At least a half-dozen Field, about 50 Chipping, and one ad. White-crowned Sparrow. Cold brought some Chippies out of the woodwork. Saw the male Golden-fronted Woodpecker grab sunflower seeds off the ground and take them up into a tree to crack and eat. One Robin and a few waxwing were around briefly. Eastern Phoebe must be eating Hackberries.

And that brings the infamous 2020 to a close. Sure didn't see that in any of the predictions! Totally unrelated, not seeing much for predictions this year as usual. It wasn't anything like the pics they showed, or like they told me when I was a kid. Almost feel like I am owed a refund. Does anyone have the phone number for customer service? Actually we were lucky, having prior gone sedentary and remote, so we were already livin' la vida quarantina. I just kept observing, photographing, and note-taking, carrying-on as usual as possible, save no Lost Maples or brush country birding. Hope y'll had as great of a year as could be had, and wishing you a better one ahead! Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy Utopia nature notes.

Dec. 30 ~ Was in the low 60's dF all night, cloudy, humid, a few misty spots. The front hit about noon-thirty. Went from 64 to 54F in about 5 minutes or less. I went to town to do supplies today since tomorrow looks to be a bad weather day. Here on 360 there were two pig kills (the caballeros) covered in Black Vulture, 135 at least. Then at the park in town there were at least 50-60. So I would put the wintering number at 175 minimum, and probably over 200 which is higher than ever. Wonder why the carcass eaters are increasing? On the way to town on 360 there were some Eastern Meadowlark along the road. Also about 50 Brewer's Blackbird by the corrals on west side of river, one Starling, and one female Brown-headed Cowbird with them. At the park there was finally a Pine Warbler, at last. It was in the flock of Titmice and Chickadee in the main park live-oaks. There were also 3 Golden-crowned Kinglet, which is a high count at once for here. Plus one Belted Kingfisher, and one Great Blue Heron. It dropped to about 45F by 3 p.m., with 15-25 mph northerlies on it. First spit of rain about 5 p.m., about 10 p.m. a thunderstormlet moved over with some close lightning strikes, one interupting power long enough to mess clocks up. Worth it as it dumped a quick half-inch of rain we badly need.

Dec. 29 ~ Low was about 63F! Strong southerly (Gulf) flow ahead of the next front tomorrow. Cloudy and humid with a 15-20 mph breeze on it. The high on Thursday is progged for the 30's with a chance of snow! A kinglet seemed to scold me when I freshened the bird bath first thing. The small group of Waxwing came by, and at least one Robin, the one male Myrtle Warbler, a Caracara circled. It was the same gang. Saw a female Ladder-back on the sunflower seed feeder, which they have not been using whatsoever. Could not tell if it took seeds with it when it left.

Dec. 28 ~ It was clear and 42F at midnight, 59F in fog and drizzle at dawn. A flushing of the Siskins gave a count of 22 at once. In the later afternoon a Turkey Vulture was out there a bit. First one I have seen in at least 6 weeks. They have been very very rare here in winter, but last year a few did so, maybe this is a returnee. This is our 18th winter here and the first 15 or so, I don't think I saw a TV in winter but once. Sharpy was diving on the seedeaters. At dusk all I could see was the silhouette but the giant squirrel about two squirrels long was obviously the Ringtail, in the Mulberry right over the cottage. It ran along a branch and to main trunk, head sticking out one side and tail the other. I think it is living in the attic of the cottage, I hear something up there occasionally when working in it. Bet there are no rodents in that attic! Have wondered if I should make a way for it to hunt the rooms?

Dec. 27 ~ Low was about 48F, toasty warm after the last couple mornings. Saw one White-crowned Sparrow, the adult, is still here. It was the same gang here. Three dozen Am. Goldfinch, over a dozen Siskin, about 15 Waxwing for a bit. The male Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler was around. It got up to about 74F in the afternoon, wow. In the heat butterflies were a So. Dogface, an Orange Sulphur, and a few Snout. A couple Robin in the afternoon. An Armadillo drank from the birdbath in the afternoon. Have another short holiday week ahead so we worked on stuff here. At last sun a Ringed Kingfisher flew upriver calling, saw it from the patio.

Dec. 26 ~ Another freeze, about 30F here, but maybe colder, did not look, got back under elect. blanket for the first cup of coffee. Three dozen Am. Goldfinch out there early. Just before noon overhead with some soaring Black Vultures was an adult Harris's Hawk that wasn't up there for a minute. Probably came over to see if the vultures had a kill. A few days ago Little Creek Larry said he has not been seeing the one he had a couple weeks ago just east of town a bit. Could be the same bird, or like other things south of us in the brush-country, could be some are moving up into the hills looking for food. Heard a distant Collared-Dove sing, first of that in months, not that it is a good thing. Also heard Chickadee doing the sneezy garble, which I have not heard in a couple months or more. Photoperiod is now increasing almost 15 seconds a day, and the birds can tell. Might have gained a minute in the last 5 days. At least 25 Waxwing hit the bath for a nice show.

Green Jay

One of the Green Jay at our place in mid-December.
Some are more yellow below than others. Certainly
one of the highlights of the year here.

and a bonus pic, since you probably need some red for that green...
vermilionflycatcher

This is the male Vermilion Flycatcher that seems to be
wintering by the pond on the golf course adjacent to the
Waresville Cemetery.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 25 ~ Merry Christmas! Hope everyone had a good one! A Friday off the normal work really seems like a holiday. It was a chilly one here, with 24F for a low. Mostly sunny until later afternoon, warming to 72F! Just missed 50dF diurnals. In the a.m. heard a couple things, one surely was a Red-breasted Nuthatch. The other called its chip note a few times. I thought sure was a Pine Warbler but the light was bad and it flew off before I could see it. Pine Warbler is about the only regular winter bird that I have not seen yet this season. I was suprised to hear a Bewick's Wren give a nice full song. The Am. Goldfinch flock was more like 35 birds today. In the late afternoon the Merlin shot by like a bullet again. Saw a Little Yellow (butterfly) and a couple Snout.

Dec. 24 ~ The wind blew most of the night at 20 mph with gusts to about 40! It froze here, probably about 30F but felt like 20. I'm sure at some point (when I was under electric blanket) the chills were in teens overnight. First thing early a gaggle of goldfinch (Am.) was over two dozen. A couple males have a bit of color. Town run today since closed tomorrow. At the park saw the Zone-tailed Hawk and the Wilson's Snipe, the Pied-billed Grebe and Great Blue Heron, and the five Myrtle Warbler there are all males, as usual. The air out there was cold all day, sources showed 54F for a high but it never felt like it. I heard in town area virus totals of 7 and 9 currently infected, double last week. This does not bode well.

Dec. 23 ~ Heavy gulf flow with a low of 60F in fog-mist. Getting sucked up in front of the next frontal passage. The Black Vultures are using a new trough for some Longhorns that are now up behind us. Seemed like a hundred or more must have come and gone. At the last flush I counted 80 at once, and many had departed over the hour prior. So now we are at the 'the vultures are circling' part.

I ran into Lou Waters yesterday and he said he has (stock) tanks that have never been dry, that are dry, and that he has never seen it this dry in 48 years here! When I mentioned it he said he too had a flock of Pintail on one of his little lakelets recently too! Could be the same ones that are at Little Creek, moving around.

After noon the female Downy Woodpecker was in the yard again. Kathy got to see it this time. About 3 p.m. I saw KERV was 77F with some local WU stations were reporting 78, and one at 81F! The SAT record highs for yesterday and today's dates were 82 and 83F, and they run hotter than us, so we are at or about record heat here today. Later afternoon, the Downy, a male Ladder-backed, and two Golden-fronted Woodpecker were all in the big pecan at the same time. The wind blew like, the wind, at 20 mph gusting to 35 or 40 starting after dark.

Dec. 22 ~ Warmed up overnight again, was in upper 30's F around midnight, and about 44F at dawn. By 8:30 four local Utopia WU stations were showing 50-55F, whilst KERV had 38F! The warm moist gulf air had gotten here, but not there yet. At least 20 Am. Goldfinch and a dozen Siskin out there early, but an accipiter kept things quiet much of morn. Saw the Black Rock Squirrel out on the patio filling up throat and cheek pouches with sunflower seeds. Stayed overcast all day, and breezy, got up to about 66F but felt cooler with the humidity and wind. Had to run to P.O. late in p.m., checked the park quickly. One Pied-billed Grebe on the pond, heard a Flicker and 3 Myrtle Warbler across the river. The Zone-tailed Hawk was coming in to roost in the trees as I was leaving the woods, hanging right overhead at treetop level for a couple minutes giving great looks. Try about 4 p.m. when it comes in to roost in the woods.

Dec. 21 ~ Happy Solstice! It was a chilly morn here at 26F. Birdbath iced over, so a hotwater drip for it. Maybe 2 dozen Chipping Sparrow on the white millet early. Saw one White-crowned and a few Field Sparrow. Seems like 4 Carolina Chickadee and 8 Black-crested Titmouse using the sunflower feeder. Warmed up in the afternoon, must have been 74F or so, nearly 50dF diurnals. Saw Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Mourning and White-winged Dove, Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch, a few House Finch, Black Vulture. Cardinal numbers are not very high compared to some years. A couple Mockingbird, couple Eastern Phoebe, one or two Bewick's and a pair of Carolina Wren, a Myrtle Warbler and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Not hearing the Ground-Doves lately. Most days I see Sharp-shinned and or Cooper's Hawk. Barely scraping up 20 species in the yard these days. Lots of days there will be a few Robin or Waxwing, a Red-tailed Hawk, so might hit 25 sps. on the better days. Overall numbers are way down though.

Dec. 20 ~ Low was 27F here, ice on birdbath. A Sharpy, an imm., perched up in the sun watching over everything here in the morning. I was surprised how close the Titmice and Cardinals would get scolding it to make sure all knew of its presence. Less than ten feet away, in the adjacent crown of very dense thick (leafless now) Hackberry that I am sure they knew it could not negotiate through. Heard a White-crowned Sparrow.

We took a couple-and-a-half-hour spinabout noonish. First we went out the west end of 360 and checked the caliche quarry area (private) where I had a glimpse of a bird working the vertical rock face that looked like a Rock Wren. But which disappeared. About three each of Field and Chipping Sparrow were in the area, but driving all the way around the 1500' knoll, there were no birds. We went a few miles west of town to the 1050 pass, which still has a bit of color on the Buckley (Spanish) Oaks, mostly yellow and maroon now, an interesting combo actually. The red is over. Great was at Bear Creek Pond there were a dozen Gadwall with a few Ring-necked Duck and one nice drake Mallard. Mallard are very scarce locally, far less than annual, so grabbed a long-range ID shot of it. A couple Killdeer were there too. I can't believe how low the water is. Saw one Kestrel in an oak but there is a dearth of birds along the roads. We slow-cruised around town and saw nothing except at Judy and Jerry Schaefer's place. One Rufous Hummingbird, and a half dozen Lesser Goldfinch at their feeders, as usual for them. The only ones of either of those I know of around, and they always have them in winter.

Then we slow-rolled out to Little Creek a couple miles east of town. Sure enough just like Larry said, a for here huge flock of Pintail was there. It was probably 40 or so, got a long-distance docu-shot. More than I have seen locally here in total for 18 winters. Amazing. You can get some down at the Uvalde waterholes, but rare up here. There were Gadwall (20), Am. Wigeon (10), and Green-winged Teal (8), plus a few more Ring-necked Duck. So it was a waterfowl bonanza for this area. Some Gadwall and Wigeon were close to the road, but the Pintail and teal were in the bigger pond a quarter mile south of where road (UvCo 355) meets the creek. Had the scope though so no problemo. Thought I heard a Pyrrhuloxia and looked up to glimpse it as it shot by to never be seen again. We checked a corn feeder on Larry's ranch, there were some Cardinal, Field Sparrow, Titmouse, a Carolina Wren, a flyby Caracara, and at creek a few Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly, a few Mexican Tetra and probably Sand Shiner (Notropis sps.) were in the tricklet left.

Lastly we checked the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. on the way home. One male Vermilion Flycatcher there still, which is undoubtedly the one that wintered last year. The $64k question is, is it the same bird as the one that breeds there? I doubt it. Less than ten Red-winged Blackbird there in the reedbeds. A few Mockingbird along way, at golf course one Loggerhead Shrike, and a Black-tailed Jackrabbit, which Kathy said took off like a jackrabbit. So you know what I am up against and dealing with here.   ;)   Saw two Red-tailed Hawk total. The roadsides are parched and seemingly fairly devoid of much life compared to wet years. It is dead out there. The Pintail and Mallard were new for my local year list though, so quite nice to see. I do not persue birds for it, however it turns out, it is what it is, bycatch of recording data. I do not keep it in a way that I know what it is for the year. But will soon.

Dec. 19 ~ Was in the 50's all night last night, maybe 58F or so at dawn this morning. Showers just before and after dawn, and just before a frontal passage. We got about .2 of precip, anything is great at this point. Keeps the dust down too. Then the afternoon was the post-frontal blowout. Did not see anything different in birds around the yard. Still surprised how few Chippies stuck, smallest group we have had in winter in 18 winters here. Peaked at 40-50 but haven't seen that many in a month now, even on a 20F morning. They moved on since the wild seed crop so poor. Will try to sneak out for a look about tomorrow.

myrtlewarbler

This is a Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped) at the birdbath.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 18 ~ Low was about 35F, no freeze, but overcast and chilly. Counted 30+ American Goldfinch at once on the ground under the Mulberry and on the patio. Was probably 34, and a high count so far this winter. A dozen Siskin in with them. A flock of 60+ Waxwing came into the bath and the junipers over the north fence. The Hermit Thrush and ad. White-crowned Sparrow hit the bath early too. No light and too cold to open window and take pics but a great show. Town run fer shtuff. Park was dead save for one Hutton's Vireo. The water came up an inch or so from that last rain. Little Creek Larry said a flock of a few dozen Pintail is over on Little Creek. Which is more than I have seen here in 17 years, he said he had never seen a flock like this here. One or two is usually all we get at once, and not even close to annually. While I was waiting for tacos at Rosie's the Zone-tailed Hawk soared over, nice of it to oblige. Heard a Ring King over at the river just before dark.

The bad news is after dodging the bullets for months, we have some community transmission of Covid. I heard 3 and 5 for numbers infected currently. We have had none for months and months. The primary case was a pastor-teacher here, so it is presumed many were exposed and it is still too soon to tell what will happen. The county has had a hundred new cases per week the last two weeks. There are only about 25,000 in the whole county, 200-250 in town and vicinity. Yesterday the Uvalde Co. Health Dept. web page showed all cases were down in Uvalde, with none in Sabinal, Concan, Knippa, or Utopia zip codes.

Dec. 17 ~ It was a cold one, 20F for a low here, I saw 22 at KERV and Junction. The cold air really sinks into the bottom of these valleys. They had KERV progged for 29F as a low, so most of a category off, for the nth time. Birdbath was iced, had to put hot water in the jug over it. A few Robin and Waxwing early. But who am I to stand around outside in that? Mid-morn the female Downy Woodpecker was in the big Pecan again. It was last here on Dec. 6, eleven days ago. No Green Jay again today. Kathy saw an ad. White-crowned Sparrow at the bath. I have been seeing both Carolina and Bewick's Wren eating white millet seed. Which is not a regular thing, and likely reflects the overall dearth of food out there now. About 15 each of Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch. Not many Chippies, they must have moved elsewhere. With no fall bloom, the fall seed crop is weak to shot. Got up to about 62F at peak heat.

Dec. 16 ~ Wind stopped and the low was about 27F, bird bath was iced over. Must have been an accipiter out there as it was quiet much of first couple hours. Warmed up t about 60F. Kathy saw the Black Rock Squirrel out, which we hadn't seen in a couple weeks at least. They do not like the cold, they go underground. It seems they can stay underground a couple or few months in winter. Do they just sleep, or go into a type of torpor? Have to hook it up to a motion detector. Did not see or hear any Green Jay today. It was the most days straight we had them, five days in a row, up until today. It had been two or three days consecutive tops, then gone for a week or more, so 5 days straight of detection was nice. Saw 8 Cedar Waxwing and a few Robin. The rest was the same gang. Too busy at the desk. Late late afternoon I heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river.

Dec. 15 ~ After midnight it was about 37F or so but before dawn it warmed to 41 and got foggy. Some moisture being sucked up in front of another frontal passage today. Dry again, no rain, just more wind. But warming up well in afternoon. Mid-morn I heard a Hutton's Vireo out back, first one in a month or so. Better, my FOS N. Harrier flew over, finally. The Hilbigs had them in October NW of town in BanCo but I had not seen one yet. Though have not been cruising the roads and pastures as much as usual. At least a couple Green Jay were around a bit getting sunflower seeds, one went to the tub pond and drank a bunch. So Catbird is now the second best bird that came in to the tub pond. A flocklet of Robin numbered 7 birds. Saw both Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawk out there. Kathy saw the Gray Fox over the north fence by the Junipers. The post-frontal blow started in the afternoon and was still bringing cold air at midnight.

Dec. 14 ~ Wind blew until late last night, but finally stopped and got cold, low was about 30F. Shortly after 8 the four Green Jays showed up for sunflower seeds to start their day, and mine. Awesome. At the same time two Ringed Kingfisher were arguing over at the river, I saw one from the porch. Amazing. Over a dozen, about 15 of each Siskin and Am. Goldfinch were on the patio. Later in day a couple times I saw just one Green Jay silently getting sunflower seeds. Got up to about 60F in the afternoon, which, dry with no wind is pretty nice.

Dec. 13 ~ It was clear and about 48F around midnight last night, 58 and foggy at dawn. The warm moist southerly flow is being sucked up in front of a frontal passage today, it will be a blower of a day. Outstanding in the morn was a FOS Rusty Blackbird that flew right over me in yard calling and dropped down somewhere south at the other end of the corral. I suspect it is the adult female that has wintered locally the last 7-8 years, back for another. Kathy saw one Green Jay come into bath and get a drink. I did not hear or see any outside at the time. Mid-morn I finally saw a FOS Merlin shoot by at about 80 mph in level flight. Earlier I heard and then later saw a Golden-crowned Kinglet as it moved across yard from the big live-oaks upslope behind us into the corral junipers. Couple Robin, few waxwing, a Myrtle Warbler and a (Ruby-c) Kinglet. So a decent morning for not going anywhere. By 11 a.m. the northerlies from the front were arriving and it began to clear. The afternoon was a blowout. It was 15-25 mph gusting to 35 a few times. Gusts at Uvalde were at 45 and at Del Rio at 48 mph.

Dec. 12 ~ Cooler after the front, about 39F for a low. Got up to lowest 70's, pretty nice, and dry. Supposed to be another one pass with another small chance of rain overnight tonight into the morn tomorrow. I had stuff to do at the desk so didn't get out. Heard a few waxwings in afternoon. Am. Goldfinches were over a dozen. At least two White-crowned Sparrow continue. I heard Green Jays around 2 p.m. out in back. Then before 4 p.m. they came onto the patio. I was in the cottage with door open so had to hide down the hall so as to not scare them. I saw two come down onto patio and take sunflower seeds. Kathy saw three from the house. So went the great bird moment of the day. Maybe 5 minutes they were around, seeming to fill gular pouch with sunflower seeds. They eat a couple on a branch in the tree, and then grab some for the gular and go. Wouldn't it be neat to follow them all day? If you could? See how far they go, what they do, what they eat, where else they are going. Property and fence lines generally make that far more difficult nowadays. Interesting was a Dun Skipper, perhaps the only skipper I have seen this month.

Warning! There are two pix in the photo break this week.
The second one shows a hawk eating a dove, so do not scroll
down after the cute butterfly if you find that distressing.

chiomara

This is a White-patched Skipper (Chiomara georgina) which is less than annual here. This year I saw 3 or 4 from July to November, this one Nov. 23 was a late date.



This is your chance to bail...

Do not scroll down further if squeamish or easy-queasy type...

Some red meat follows...

last chance, here it comes...

sharpy-dove

This is a Sharp-shinned Hawk with a White-winged Dove. Both clock in at 5 oz. The Sharpy ate an ounce or two, and then could fly off with the rest for tomorrow. It is a second fall or second winter Sharpy, just over a year old in a tweenage plumage. It shows the horizontal red bars coming in on underparts but still has an immature tail. Eye color has changed to adult-like, upperparts were admixed gray and brown, more gray overall.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 11 ~ A balmy 60F low with almost fog, looks like a sprinkle or two fell. Another spit or two over the morning but a tracelet at best. A little sun late in the afternoon whence got up into the lowest 70's F for a couple hours. Town run day and a check of the park, which remains fairly dead. There are no seeds or bugs to hold the birds. It is eerily quiet. The only thing of interest was the Snipe again at the little puddle in the woods. This time knowing about it, I didn't accidently flush it, snuck up and got some shots. One Orange-crowned Warbler was over by Rosie's taco trailer, good thing I stopped there to detect that. After 4 p.m. Kathy spotted two Green Jay at the bath, briefly. But not fast enough to keep me from getting a few more shots. One was much yellower below than most of the ones I have pix of so far. Wonder what that indicates? Older male?

Dec. 10 ~ Somewhere around a freeze, 33F maybe. Too busy on desk duty to see much, and nothing different jumped out at me during my hourly lookabouts in the yard. One Kinglet (Ruby) and one Myrtle Warbler went through. No jays. Saw an American Lady (lep), a few Snout, and a couple Anole basking in the sun. Again warmed to about 75F, and dry, what a treat C of C weather is in December. Supposed to be slightly below average next week, so enjoying this week of wonderful. The days are losing less than a half-minute of daylight per day now, so with the solstice only 11 days away, the photoperiod will not decrease by 6 minutes between now and then.

Dec. 9 ~ Maybe 31F for a low so chilly early. Warmed to upper 70's F in the afternoon! Local WU stations showed 76, 77, and 79F! It was over a 45dF diurnal temp range. Amazing. I talked to someone (a Tepke methinks) that had 4 Green Jays near the 4 mile bridge (some call it 3 mile - I suppose just to show how hard it is to get people together on something, anything, even a distance from town). He saw them a couple weeks ago, and is a couple miles south of our place, but also along the river habitat corridor. Four is my peak simultaneous number here, and a couple miles north in town at the park. It is beginning to look like there is a flock of four moving up and down the river habitat corridor. Ranging over at least four miles that we know so far. Mapping every bird and (deer) corn feeder no doubt. They have not visited our yard more than a couple days in a row, then they are gone a week, or more. They are moving around. If you seen them please let me know! There is plenty of corn feeding going on out there for them. What a treat to have them around without having to drive down to the flatlands. I can't believe I added it to my cumulative (entire life) yard list. It was a desk slog day so didn't see much and the jays did not show today. Several Field Sparrow were out there, sure would love a Tree. Hey a birder can dream. Just don't let that have anything to do with your bird identifications.

Dec. 8 ~ Another barely freeze, 31F for a low. Heard a White-crowned Sparrow out there in the darkish while tossing seed at dawn. Mid-morn the Green Jays were out there a bit hunting sunflower seeds, a couple went to the bath. Like seemingly many jays, for how loud they can be, they can sure be quiet. They were making a guttaral rrrrrr like a Bewick' Wren scold sorta, that was not the clicking series, much softer, quieter. It had something to do with the sunflower seeds (food). Heard a Cooper's Hawk call over the fence toward draw. In the heat of the day, which was a flamin' 75-78F depending where you were locally, there were a few butterflies. One Little Yellow and one Vareigated Fritillary were new. The rest was the same as it ever was.

Dec. 7 ~ A chilly 30F for a low, clear and sunny and supposed to be a toasty week in the 70's F. At quarter-to-ten four silent Green Jay showed up and were eating and filling throats with sunflower seeds. We hadn't seen them in two weeks. Clearly our food and water source is on their map as they wander about the area. Now there is a fourth bird as well. Whaddabird! This makes seven weeks that they have been in the area so far, so it appears as though they are 'sticking'. Though their wandering daily habits make them all but impossible to nail down. So far anyway. Every couple weeks they are around a couple days. But only briefly in the yard, 5 minutes at a time. The only calls they made in five minutes this time were the quiet clicking trill and that just a few times. If you didn't know what that sound was, you may well not think it was a bird. About 4 p.m. they stopped back by to hit the bird bath for a drink.

A quick town run and park check before noon. Under a mile south of town near the hysterical marker, a Zone-tailed Hawk soared low over 187. One Belted Kingfisher, one Myrtle Warbler, and one Ruby-crowned Kinglet was it, save the wintering flock of Black Vulture. No Green Jays there. A lady in town said she had Green Jays just south of 1050 and the park recently, as well as 'Black-headed' (Audubon's) Oriole. Most non-birding folks here learned names from Texas Petersen. This is what almost all the locals know them as, which was a great name. She is along the river habitat corridor. Which is a bird freeway.

At the 360 crossing I heard a FOS Song Sparrow, finally. Sure takes them a long time to get here in fall. Obviously the cold is not an issue for them at the south end of their winter range. We broke 70F in the afternoon, some local WU stations were 71, 72, 73F, etc., awesome! Great to open up and air out.

A few butterflies were about in the heat. A pale morph female Orange Sulphur was new. A worn Dogface Kathy saw yesterday came by again, one Sleepy Orange, a dozen Snout, and three Ladies. Two were American, one was Painted, the latter just stopping briefly for me to ID it on the stepping stones, and then continuing south as if a regular migrant. Saw the Striped Skunk after dark along with four Racoon out there scavenging sunflower seeds. At one point the skunk and a coon were side by side, as if they were the same thing. If I was that skunk I'd have cleared that coon outta there with just a little side squirt. And then said 'whoops, I thought it was a fart'.

Dec, 6 ~ Low was 31F, barely a freeze. Kathy saw the Gray Fox in the Juniper again, and I got a glimpse of it 12' off the ground working up in the tree, presumedly for berries. In morn heard a Scrub-Jay and Audubon's Oriole. A dry frontal boundry went through and by 10 a.m. it was breezy, about 10-15 mph with higher gusts, and stayed that way all day. But clear and sunny, and it warmed up to 65F or so! Saw an imm. Sharpy diving on things a few times, not the dove-taker of yesterday. Best bird was a female Downy Woodpecker in the big pecan again. Been well over a month since I last saw it. Saw a few waxwing, a Robin, some Field Sparrow, and the rest of the usual gang. Wind finally laid down late in day, so prolly a freeze in the morn.

Dec. 5 ~ About 35F for a low, sprinkled a little overnight, a trace. Cold and cloudy all day, may have hit 52F for a high. So worked on stuff inside. The only thing I saw of interest was a bunch of white feathers floating down through the Mulberry. Then I spotted the Sharp-shinned Hawk plucking on the ground in the corral just 15' over the fence. Snuck back in to grab camera and back out and using said trunk for cover, got close enough to get some shots of it eating a White-winged Dove (!). Which is huge prey for a Sharpy. It must be a female. They both weigh 5 ounces! It was a sub-adult, a year old type in second fall or winter plumage. In between immature and adult plumage, great to get some shots of that. The rest was the usual gang. Good thing it only takes one good bird encounter to make your day.

snipe

This is the Wilson's Snipe at Utopia Park. It was called Common Snipe recently but it has changed back to the original name. It was lumped during the lumping craze with the Eurasian species, Common Snipe, so had to take that name. Now they realize the lump was not justified (was bs), so it was recently re-split and the old name then revived.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 4 ~ A chilly 27F to start the day. At least the wind finally laid down. Can tell there is a Sharpy or two out there early by the dearth of birds on the seed. Eventually most of the regulars came in. Town run and a park check. Kingfishers showed well around the pond, Ringed, Belted, and Green (male) were all present. First Green I have seen in a month. The Zone-tailed Hawk was circling around too. It briefly landed right at edge of pond in a big Cypress. The best bird was a Wilson's Snipe, which is very hard to get at the park, I have only seen a couple or few. It was at a wet spot up by the island, in habitat any would say is better for Woodcock with trees all around. Alas, it was a snipe. I have seen fewer Snipe at the park than Timberdoodle. Hardly any birds in the woods, they are bare for bugs and such. We hit a toasty 60F in the afternoon, pretty nice. A pairacara flew by at last sun.

Dec. 3 ~ It was 29F just before 7 a.m., so might have dropped another dF. Thin layer of ice on the birdbath. The wind blew much of the night, was calmish early in the moring but picked up again fairly soon and was 10-15mph gusting 20-25 much of the day. A blower of a day. Just as well to be inside working. The temp may have broken 50F but it never felt like it. Birds are the same gang. About 20 each of Am. Goldfinch and Pine Siskin today. Seems cold enough to see a Junco but still looking. The aquatic plants in the tub pond are not liking the chill. I expect most to die off, hopefully some will come back, but collecting more is easy. The river water temp generally does not get much below 60F, save at surface during prolonged freezes. The tub is below that now.

Dec. 2 ~ A toasty 37F low, 20F warmer than yesterday! Another front passed after noon, dry, but more wind. Was 15-20 gusting to 25 mph, pretty blown out. Too much work to do but see the same gang around the yard. Before it was light when I went to spread seed, there was an unseen Turkey gobbling right across the road from the gate, real close. Whaddabird! Was nice to open and warm up, air out with some dry. In plants, the tender-leafed stuff is shot after that hard freeze. Wilted leaves with that purple tinge of death on the Lantana and Frostweed. And of course the tomatoes, though we had grabbed the last few the day before. Saw nothing different in yard, but was at desk all day. It was the same there too. Typing, writing, phone calls, emails, spreadsheets, you know the drill.

Dec. 1 ~ The new month arrived from the North Pole apparently, it was 17F here this morning. I saw KERV showed 20. Cold air sinks into the bottom half of the valley here, so we are in a cold spot. It is warmer up at Vanderpool a few hundred feet higher. Bird bath was frozen rock solid. I hang a gallon jug of warmed water over it to drip on it which seems to work well enough that the birds can get sips quickly, until it thaws. The record low at SAT this date is 28F, so I can't imagine that this was not record cold. Nothing different for birds. About 15 each of Pine Siskin and Am. Goldfinch spent much of the day sucking seed down here. The rest was the same gang of repeat offenders. One imm. Golden-fronted Woodpecker is visiting the sunflower seed feeder, so you know the pecan crop is over and out. Did finally warm up late in afternoon, to 58F or so. I missed the highlight of the day. Kathy saw a Gray Fox up in a Juniper eating berries! They are great climbers. TPWD published a pic about 15 years ago of one once 15' up in the top of a Century Plant (the Agave with the tall spike of yellow flowers) eating pollen and nectar off the flowers.

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ November summary ~ ~ ~

We got an inch of rain at the end of the month, finally. The river is more than a couple feet below going over the spillway, closer to three. We are at about D3 for drought level, extreme. It is bad out there. Generally it was mild with only a couple barely freezes, more often it was slightly above average temperatures. The weak pecan crop seemed exhausted by the end of the month at least around our place. Hackberries are few now too. There are no bugs save Cucumber Beetles, the insectivores and frugivores will not stick around long is my guess.

Butterflies were low in overall numbers, but ok for diversity. Due to the mild temps, we got a slightly extended season. It was 42 species, which is in the bottom half of November diversity totals, though thrilling after last years' worst ever Nov. at 20 species. Most was at the last of the Blue Mist Eupatorium bloom at our front porch which kept going all month. Best was a White-patched Skipper which allowed photos. It is the 3rd or 4th I have seen this year, of this LTA - less-than-annual, species. Mimosa Yellow and Ocola Skipper were the next best. The best one got away. I saw a very large black swalowtail with color only on the hindwing, which was surely a Ruby-spotted Swallowtail. The photo record I have here that is the only UvCo record was in November. I watched it fly away across the yard, having just departed the Blue Mistflower and Tropical Sage area. That will sting awhile.

Odes were mostly done for the month early. Just a few strays left flying in November. A few Variegated and Autumn Meadowhawk showed up as expected, some late straggler Red Saddlebags and Green Darner, and that was about it. A couple days there were some Bluets out over the pond at the park, Familiar or Stream, probably the former. The ode of the month was a Great Spreadwing in yard on Nov. 1. Six species for the month, and it won't get any better until March at the earliest, if lucky.

Birds were great for only seeing 79 species for the month. Didn't get out much. Several scarcer things were seen, and of course lots of the winter birds show up in November. The 3 Green Jays which appeared Oct. 19 continued through the month off and on around our place. More were at the park in town, I saw one in town itself fly across Cypress St. The other mega rary was a Cactus Wren on Nov. 1, my first local photo record, it is accidental here. Also on the 1st, a Sage Thrasher on UvCo 361 was good (LTA). A Red-breasted Nuthatch was here Nov. 1-6. A Calliope Hummingbird from Oct. 31 made it to Nov. 2. It was followed by a Broad-tailed Nov. 4-6, and a Rufous Nov. 8-16. Great was a Winter Wren (LTA) at the park Nov. 2. A couple Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow were in our yard. So a handful of LTA species provided a little bit of interesting data spice.

~ ~ ~ end November summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ update header Nov. archive copy ~ ~ ~

November! On the 1st, a CACTUS WREN was at the golf course pond by W'vl, providing my first photo record locally. I have only seen a couple poorly in 17 years here. Then on UvCo361 the 1st, a SAGE THRASHER was great, far less than annual here for me. Kathy spotted the FOS Red-breasted Nuthatch at the bath the 1st, which continued to Nov. 6. A CALLIOPE Hummingbird from Oct. 31 continued to Nov. 2. Also Nov. 2 there was a WINTER WREN at the park in town, first in a few years here for me. An imm. Broad-tailed Hummingbird was at our feeders Nov. 4-6. A FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet was at the park Nov. 6, two were there on Nov. 13. American Goldfinch FOS was heard on Nov. 6, seen Nov. 7. At least 4 (and probably 6) GREEN JAY were at Utopia Park Nov. 8, two were across the river from park Nov. 11, and I heard at least one there on Nov. 13. A Zone-tailed Hawk has been at the park lately, and Ringed Kingfisher has been regular, often upriver a bit by island. A pair of Wood Duck were on the river a couple miles south of town Nov. 15, they have been absent locally lately. A couple Verdin were south of town, also the 15th. An imm. or female Rufous or Allen's Hummingbird was at our feeders Nov. 8-16. My FOS Cedar Waxwing were 25 on Nov. 17. Saw a Green Jay in town Nov. 20, and three again in our yard Nov. 21 and 22. A White-patched Skipper Nov. 22-25 was great. The 22nd a Pine Siskin flock numbered 25. Some Red-naped Sapsucker have been around, have seen a few this fall so far. On the 26th I was thankful for a single flock of waxwings of a hundred plus birds, with Robins at 80+, which all seemed to visit the birdbath for a great show.

~ ~ ~ end update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Nov. 30 ~ And there went another one, just one to go. It was a chilly start at 36F with 10-15 mph winds on it, so chills in upper 20's F. Feels like winter. In the afternoon the winds laid down and it warmed to near 60F and was quite nice. As soon as the sun went down you could tell it is going to be a cold one. Hard freeze predicted tomorrow morn. Was the same gang here, nothing different to report. Statewide however, it is red hot for rare birds. There are all sorts of spectacular bird reports around the state. A Clark's Nutcracker out in Alpine, TX, and a flocklet of Common Redpoll at Smith Pt. on the east side of Galveston Bay. There are Pacific-slope Flycatchers at San Antonio, and I think Karnes City. The Rio Grande Valley way down south has Elegant Trogon and Rose-throated Becards, and Del Rio a Rufous-capped Warbler. It is pretty hoppin' out there for rare birds if you are in the right place, a vagrant magnet. I wish we were.

Nov. 29 ~ A sunny chilly 36F here at dawn. Amazing to see the ground wet, that inch of rain yesterday was awesome. After a quiet couple hours, around 10 a.m. the northerlies began arriving, let the blowout commence. I bet there are some new birds out there behind this frontal passage though. In the afternoon it really got going at 20 mph with gusts at 25-30. A good day to hunker down. The Cardinals number a couple dozen now. At least a couple Field Sparrow still here, Chipping Sparrow are about 30 today, a couple White-crowned and a Lincoln's sneaking are around the edges of cover. Half-dozen House Finch, 3 Am. Goldfinch, 8 Pine Siskin, some Robin and Waxwing, but not a lot. Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

Nov. 28 ~ Temps dropped from about 56F at midnight to 52 or so at sunup, with rain beginning prior to dawn. It was a cold slow soaker all day. About 11 a.m. I had my FOS Brewer's Blackbirds, a dozen were over the yard. They were late to get here this fall. By 4 p.m. we had an inch of the precious holy wet stuff. I checked the park noonish in the light showers, saw Ringed and Belted Kingfisher but that was it. As usual in drought times, it will be a winter of fewer passerines. Little Creek Larry said the (park) pond came up over an inch though. We needed this worse than badly. Stayed in the low 50's all day, it was a cold wet one. Should clear and get cold before tomorrow morning, with a strong northerly post-frontal blow. So a washout followed by a blowout for the weekend.

rednapedsapsucker

This is a first fall Red-naped Sapsucker. Of the Yellow-bellied and Red-naped, adults have a big black chest crescent not present here yet, and clean unmuddied underparts. So it is a young bird of the year. Young Yellow-bellied do not get adult type black and white head until the first spring, staying muddy brown washed of head through the first fall and winter until spring. So far it has been an above average year for Red-naped here, I have seen a few, and do not get one every fall or winter.


~ ~ ~ last prior udate below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 27 ~ Was in the low 50's around midnight, about 60F at daybreak. With some mist and drizzle, which is supposed to become actual rain tonight. Saw the Texan Crescent (butterfly) on the Blue Mist again today, and the tiny Sleepy Orange as well. First bird I heard whilst tossing seed as it gets light was a White-crowned Sparrow. Saw a Lincoln's Sparrow out back, so one still here. Town run day and a look at the park. One Red-shouldered Hawk out front of park. Ringed and Belted Kingfisher were at the pond. Heard one and saw another (at same time) sapsucker, presumedly Yellow-bellied, but the one I saw was too far across river to tell. Heard Blue Jay. At least 5 Mestra (butterfly) in the woods. One Red-tailed Hawk. The rest was the regulars. Back here at the hovelita in the afternoon there were about 3 dozen Robin that came in for a drink, a few Waxwing with them. Another Red-shouldered Hawk was calling toward river here. Saw three Am. Goldfinch. The skunk (Striped) was scavenging sunflower seeds at dusk, so neat to see.

Nov. 26 ~ Happy big bird day Turkeys! Hope all had a stuffed day! A chilly start here at 37F. A small flock of Robin (20+) and Waxwing (20+) were around a bit in the Hackberry and Juniper for berries before 9 a.m., which grew over the morning to the most of each I have seen together all at once so far this fall. They all seemed to hit the birdbath to wash down (juniper or hack-) berries. Had to refill the bath, which is a manual, not an automatic. After 10 it was over 100 waxwing in the single flock that flushed and returned to the big pecan. Robins were 80+. At least a few White-crowned Sparrow still around, they seem to be sticking, which is nice. Saw the Scrub-Jay move through yard silently. Misted a bit before noon. Didn't get sunny until later afternoon, but then finally did get to about 72F or so. Did not see the White-patched Skipper today, maybe 37F was too cold for its sub-tropical blood. Did have a Texan Crescent and an Elada Checkerspot though. Both are new for the month. We took an hour walk over to river and checked the wet spot with some flowers at peak heat but they were mostly toast. One Little Yellow and a Mestra was it. Saw maybe a dozen Cardinal, and over at river an Eastern Phoebe, four Titmouse (B-c), Carolina Chickadee, Field Sparrow, one probable Lincoln's Sparrow got away.

Nov. 25 ~ About 54F for a low, light northeast flow, dry and sunny, wonderful. Heard Audubon's Oriole and Ringed Kingfisher out there early. Maybe 20 Robin mid-morn, a few Waxwing, a few Siskin, two American Goldfinch, a couple White-crowned Sparrow, a Myrtle Warbler and a Kinglet (Ruby). In the afternoon saw the White-patched Skipper, now at day 4 here. Other butterflies were an Orange Sulphur, a few So. Dogface, a Queen, a Sleepy Orange, and a few dozen Snout, single Gulf and a Variegated Frits. Still Cucumber Beetle flying. Too work busy.

Nov. 24 ~ It was about 64F at dawn, but was lower at midnight. Lots of low stratus with strong southerlies 10-20 mph. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at river early in morning. Heard a Flicker out there too, nice to hear, a sound of winter here. The deer are eating sunflower seeds off the patio and where we toss them. I saw one nose the feeder. We have never had this before. There are a thousand acres of browse in any direction. There was a great spring and summer flower bloom, so it looks like there is a good browse crop despite the fall failure. Saw the White-patched Skipper on the Blue Mist Eup again today, day 3. It got up to 80F in the afternoon here. Saw a few Robin and Waxwing in morn, one Hermit Thrush over in Junipers. Kathy saw an adult White-crowned Sparrow at the bath. After dark saw a Firefly larvae glowing in the grass, and the (Striped) skunk.

Nov. 23 ~ A bit of a front passed overnight, dry northerlies briefly. Low was about 52F or so, but winds had turned back to south quickly and low stratus is here. There were a couple dozen Robin and nearly as many Cedar Waxwing feeding in the Junipers just over the north fence. The Hermit Thrush that is hanging out in them is probably not thrilled to see the berry raiders. Kathy spotted a flicker at the bath, but it flew before I got there with camera. It had a gray face and a red moustache but Kathy said wings were orangish when it flew, so it was likely an intergrade. Which are regular here. Sure would love a flicker pic at the bath. Then Kathy spotted an Orange-crowned Warbler at the bath. It went in for the full monty spa treatment, allowing my best-ever shots of the orange crown as it bathed (below). In the afternoon it was about 70F when I saw the White-patched Skipper again. It was only there briefly, but I got a shot or two in focus to make up for yesterday. Not super sharp, but good enough for ID and illustration. Only had some low-res Mavica shots of them prior. Late in the afternoon saw an ad. male Sharp-shinned Hawk get a small bird but I couldn't tell what for sure, it seemed a Titmouse maybe.

Nov. 22 ~ Was a repeat of the 52F or so, clear and cool at midnight, and 60F, and misting at dawn. A flock of Pine Siskin here in the a.m. was 25 birds, the most I have seen so far this fall. Seems a bit slow out there. In the afternoon there was a White-patched Skipper on the few Blue Mist flowers left. Have I mentioned lately how the Canon autofocus on the SX40 blows. Maybe the 3rd or 4th of this LTA - less-than-annual, species this year. There was a Kestrel and an imm. Sharp-shinned Hawk in a full blown fight right over the house in the afternoon. Kestrel was screaming, they went after each other several times as they circled. The Green Jays came in for a drink in the afternoon, I had heard them over in draw earlier. Got a couple better shots at the bath. We did an hour walk to crossing and back. Figured might be some sun for pix in the afternoon. About 3:30 as we were leaving it showered, the advertised sunny afternoon did not materialize. There was one area with some birds, where there were some Hackberry with berries. A couple dozen Cardinal, a handful of Robin, couple Kinglet (Ruby), couple Myrtle Warbler, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, some Titmouse (Black-crested), and a sapsucker. Which looked like the same first-fall Red-naped I had in the yard and photo'd in corral ten days ago.

Nov. 21 ~ Low was just after midnight, about 50F, I saw KERV was 48F! By 7 a.m. it was 62 or more. The gulf flow is back with its low stratus, e.g., humidity. Pretty slow over the morning until around 10 when 3 Green Jay showed up. I got a couple pics that show a very distended gular pouch, so they are cacheing sunflower seeds. Whaddabird! After a half hour of them in and out of yard, it fairly promptly went back to mundane. So it went: dead, dead, nothing, dead, followed by a brief flurry of WOW, OMG, Cheeses!, Holy smokes!, and epic, and then I was returned to the regular programming. This is birding in a nutshell. After all day of nothing, about 4 p.m. Kathy saw them at the bath, they flew north toward the draw after drinks. I got one shot of the last one at the bath. Sure seems weird to watch three Green Jay fly out of the pecan over to the junipers on their way to the draw. I still cannot get over we are seeing them in our yard! For me, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Heard a couple Pyrrhuloxia over in the corral late in afternoon.

For the photo break this week you get what is often considered one of the most dull and unimpressive of warblers, that hides a secret. Seeing the common bird in an uncommon way is every bit as rewarding as any super-mega rarity.
orangecrownedwarbler

The Orange-crowned Warbler was named after the part you are least likely to see. Normally the orange feathers are concealed under an outer layer of olive crown feathers. Your best chance to see it is when they bathe. This is the full monty of orange, and crown. The BurgerKing style crown effect is a fluke of bathing. The wet head feathers when seperated to wash, buff and polish the orange fuzz ball of a pileum, turned into an actual crownish type affair. This photo shows maximum orange, and crown. You can see hundreds over years and not see this much orange, or crown. This is apparently the king of Orange-crowned Warblers.


and because one is not enough...
orangecrownedwarbler


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 20 ~ Low was about 60F, some low stratus, breezy southerlies. Saw the skunk go into a burrow under the old unused well at dawn. After 10 a.m. I heard both Green Jay and Audubon's Oriole upslope behind us in the live-oaks and juniper. They went silent after a Sharpy dove and missed on the sunflower feeder. Town run, so a park check. Four Myrtle Warbler, a couple Kinglet (Ruby) and one Hutton's Vireo was it for the park. In town on Cypress St. a Green Jay flew across the street in front of me, just north of Jackson. So they are in town! Weewow! Little Creek Larry said out on 355 (Lee St.) he has had a Harris's Hawk, and a couple Pyrrhuloxia.

Nov. 19 ~ It was mid-50's at midnight, and almost 60 at dawn with some low stratus. Last step outside at midnight last night the Striped Skunk was scavenging sunflower seeds under the Mulberry by the cottage. I love seeing them. What a beautiful animal. I heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river first thing early. Looked like 4 White-crowned Sparrow out back. A couple Robin, a half-dozen Pine Siskin, a Myrtle Warbler, the regulars. In the afternoon a Hermit Thrush was eating the Lantana berries at the front porch. First of that I have seen. Seems a bit quiet out there. Maybe some accipters around again.

Nov. 18 ~ Wow it froze! Low was 30F here! NOAA progged KERV for 40, off by a category again! I told Kathy last night at 9 p.m. it was going to get way colder than they said. Bummer was finding a dead imm. White-crowned Sparrow out back by the fenceline. Especially since it was an orange-billed, gray-lored, Gambell's (western) type. Thought I saw an orange bill on one of the immatures the other day but it flew off quickly. This is not the way I wanted to photograph it. Then in the afternoon Kathy saw an orange-billed gray-lored adult White-crowned Sparrow at the bath. So there were probably two Gambell's here at once. On the orange-billed birds, the bill is much deeper at the base, so more of an equilateral triangle. The usual and more common here pink-billed black-lored eastern type (leucophrys) has a much longer thinner-based bill. The Gambell's seems fairly regular here (most years I see a few) in low numbers. More as you go south and westward into the brush country. Scarce in the hills.

Nov. 17 ~ Low of 38F, dry, clear and crisp, great. Kathy spotted a Striped Skunk out back right before I went to toss seed before 7 a.m. Sure would like a good pic of one. What a beautiful animal. At least a dozen Pine Siskin on the sunflower seed. Heard one of the White-crowned Sparrow giving a couple intro notes of song. Four ought to be enough for a chorus. Mid-morn a flock of 25 Cedar Waxwing were my FOS, though thought I might have heard a single a couple times in last week. A dozen Robin were with them. Not much for Hackberries here for them. Some Junipers have decent berry crops, but many around us do not, presumedly from that hail storm in May that wiped out the Pecan and Hackberry crops locally. In the afternoon an American Pipit flew low over the house calling, looking like it was going to go down on the grass airstrip maybe. Saw 3 imm. White-crowned Sparrow at once, so with the two adults, there are 5 here. It's a flocklet! We did not see any hummingbird today. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby). Kathy killed a record-late I think Scorpion tonight.

Nov. 16 ~ I saw 34F at 7 a.m., KERV hit 31 at 7:30 so it may have been colder than what I saw here. Sunny and clear, without the stiff breeze and so pretty nice. Got up to about 74F. White-crowned Sparrows still out there. The Pine Siskin flock was 11 birds in the afternoon. A few Robin around. Heard a Verdin about 3 p.m., saw two American Goldfinch. Mostly too busy at the desk. Saw a Reakirt's Blue and a Mimosa Yellow on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. Still a couple Lesser Goldfinch around, several House Finch are about as well. Saw an Anole take a Cucumber Beetle.

Nov. 15 ~ Front hit after midnight sometime. Low was about 55F, with 10-15 mph northerlies, gusting 20-30. Shoulda run out yesterday, too much work. It is rough birding when all the trees are shaking. I know I have said it before but the two things we tend to use and key in most on for avian detection are sound and motion. Lots of wind kills both. Toss in falling leaves in fall to add to the confusion, and the birds themselves hunkering down in it, and detection can become a challenge. You have to reset your filter for avian motion only, and work the lees.

We had 4 White-crowned Sparrow at once at the bath, 2 ad. and 2 imm., so it seems they are kinda sorta sticking. It is the stick piles we have around the yard since no understory for most of it. Just enough cover. Did not detect the Ruf-All Hummer again today. We walked over to and around the river from here and at least moved for a mile. There is a low spot that always has water in an overflow channel we checked. There was a patch of still-blooming Aster and Bluehearts there that had butterflies. At least 5 Mestra, an Orange Skipperling, a False Duskywing, several each Vesta and Phaon Crescent, Sleepy Orange and Little Yellow, Lyside Sulphur, Vareigated Frit, one Ceraunus Blue, numbers of Snout, a Queen. A nice little patch of action.

Then over on the river a pair of Wood Duck flushed before I saw them durnit. Watched them fly away upriver, where they went down around the corner. They have been absent, as usual when we are in drought. These surely are migrants from northward and not local birds. A great FOS date for them. In wet times when we have some locally, you can't easily tell when the wintering birds from northward arrive. We also had a sapsucker that was an immature Red-naped. It may have been the one that was in the corral Friday. A Golden-fronted Woodpecker kept displacing it, not too happy about its presence.

Late afternoon I heard Verdin out front, which I have not been seeing lately. Grabbed binocs, it was TWO Verdin! Twice as many as I have ever seen together here. One was flitting its wings at the other, as they called lots, while on either side of an old Lesser Goldfinch nest. I'd love if they made a roost nest here. A couple Caracara flew by. Just before last sun a Gray Fox worked across the yard, haven't seen one in a while. Now that it is cooler in the day, they can be active before dark.

Nov. 14 ~ Low was 68F with some fog-mist early. Did not cool off last night. Was busy with biz work in the office so no out and about. Saw those 6 big bearded Toms (Turkey) over in the corral. They walk around like it is not November. Kathy saw the Lincoln's Sparrow at the bath. I heard Kinglet (Ruby) and Myrtle Warbler. Butterflies were good in the 80F afternoon heat. First of month was an Orange Skipperling on the Blue Mist Eupatorium which still has a few flowers, and Anoles hunting them. Also saw a Fiery Skipper, a Sachem, a Mestra, great was a late Soldier, even if the smallest one I have ever seen. Saw Gulf, and Variegated Frits, Large Orange and Lyside Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, So. Dogface, Snout, and a big Swallowtail that got away which looked like a Ruby-spotted. That one sorta stings. The mccallii screech-owls were calling after dark. I did not see or hear the Ruf-All Hummer today.

this week you get a couple moths ...

ObscureSphinx

This is an Obscure Sphinx (Erinnyis obscura) moth.
The orange-red is the hindwing, only a bit of the base shows.
In normal perched posture the wings are closed over them,
imagine trying to spot that on a tree trunk.


TexasWaspMoth

This is a Texas Wasp Moth (Horama panthalon texana), a moth that
mimics a wasp. Most would be hesitant to grab this harmless moth.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 13 ~ Happy Friday the 13th! In 2020, what could go wrong? Low about 54F, some clear in skies at first, but only for an hour or so, whence clouded up. Saw the hummer this morning, but not well enough to tell anything new about its identity. Saw a couple Jays fly from the big live-oaks behind us towards the draw. Was bad light but they looked like Green Jays, and seems like if they were Scrub-Jay one would have called when they flew. Edit update: flight was level and entirely powered, not undulating with close-winged glides, so they were Green Jays. Then had a sapsucker which flew over the house and into the Mulberry, then into corral. Where I found it mining sap wells in a Hackberry. It is another (!) first-fall (hatch-year) Red-naped Sapsucker. It is not the one I had earlier which was more advanced of pluamge. It is likely that other sap I have seen zip around a few times but not gotten a look at yet.

Town run so a park check. There was a great chorus of Red-winged Blackbird out front of the park on Cypress St. in the big XXL Mulberry tree. At park in the woods there were a couple Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Ringed Kingfisher upriver of the island, a Zone-tailed Hawk circled over the woods when I was in them, and a sapsucker got away that looked like another (!) first-fall Red-naped. An Audubon's Oriole called from the willows across the river just above spillway. I heard a Green Jay up on the island right when I got out of the car, then as I was leaving I heard a Green Jay across the river. Also heard Blue Jay as usual. Nice list of birds for a quick stop. There were at least 4 Myrtle Warbler in the trees around Rosie's taco trailer, recorded as part of my ongoing research at that site.

Nov. 12 ~ Low was about 57F, low clouds, some mist. Heard the hummer again, only. Saw 15 or so Robin, heard an Am. Goldfinch, I presume the one here several days now. Heard Siskin squeak over. Still raining leaves. A couple White-crowned Sparrow are an ad. and an immature. Saw the Texas Powdered-Skipper again, a couple Monarch went through, one Orange Sulphur, a couple Sleepy Orange, a couple Queen, probably the same Vesta Crescent and Comm. Checkered-Skipper as the last couple days. Not much left flying out there now. It got up to about 80F, but nice since dry, in the afternoon. One accipiter-induced flushing of the Chipping Sparrow flock seemed like 50 birds now. At least a half-dozen Field here, one Lincoln's and no Lark Sparrow. Time for a White-throated and a Swamp.

Nov. 11 ~ Low was about 48f! I saw KERV was in upper 40's from midnight to 7:30 a.m. Refreshing. Heard the hummer fly off early but did not see it, again. Had to run to town early, which is great, it means a couple of Rosie's egg, chorizo and cheese breakfast tacos to bring home, and a quick look at the park. Saw a Belted and heard a Ringed Kingfisher upriver. Couple Myrtle Warbler. Nearing leaving time I heard two Green Jay across the river in the Cypresses. I saw branches moving but could not spot them. Anyway at least two are still there, and great to get another date for them. Heard Blue Jays in the woods. A couple dozen Robin scattered along the way. Was too busy here to look much all day. Had a Monarch at the park, and one here. Kathy saw a White-crowned Sparrow come into bath, so at least one of them still here. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby), at least one Myrtle Warbler here too. At times it was raining leaves pretty seriously. The Hackberry and Pecan trees in particular are shedding heavy now.

Nov. 10 ~ Was clear and dry at midnight, low clouds and mist at dawn. Low about 64F. Front due in by noon whence northerlies. Heard a hummer fly away again, still have not seen it. As the front was approaching, about 11 a.m. I saw NOAA readings for Del Rio were 22 percent humidity behind the front, whilst in Uvalde it was 100 percent in fog. We cleared about noon. Finally about 3:p I saw the hummer just enough to say it is a Rufous or Allen's type of Selasphorus. Nice Selasphorus wave here lately after the last Ruby-throated left. First a Calliope Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, then a Broad-tailed Nov. 4-6, and now a Ruf-All Nov. 8-10 so far.

In the afternoon there were 6 Turkey in the corral. A Texas Powdered-Skipper was on the few Blue Mist flowers left. Saw a Vesta Crescent, a Checkered-Skipper (Common), Sleepy Orange, Variegated Fritillary, a Monarch, a Mestra, it is fading fast folks. Watched the 3 hummer feeders at last sun and saw nothing. Two imm. Sharp-shinned Hawk were in yard. One Cooper's soared over high, likely a migrant. Late 7 Sandhill Crane flew over silently southbound.

Nov. 9 ~ Low of 66F is a bit balmy for November. A few specks of mist in the low stratus, and a bit breezy. The front yard pecans are yellow now, they were green last Monday. In one week. Of course lots of wild (natural) ones are already fairly leafless. The Hackberry are really dropping leaves now, and what leaves are still on the Mulberry are at peak yellow. Some of the Cypress along the river are in full flaming rust, but not dropping needles (leaflets) yet, so look great. It looks like winter is coming with all the bare trees. We remain on the mild side for temps though, still in mid-to-upper 70's to 80F or so lately, and for this week again per forecast. Benign is fine. Heard a hummingbird and did not see it, again. A Kestrel was across road over in river habitat corridor. Otherwise it was the same gang. Contra the forecast, it stayed cloudy all day, just a few peeks of sun late in day.

Nov. 8 ~ Again was clear and 55F at midnight, and nearly foggy and 62F at dawn. The gulf flow. It actually misted a few times early. Second day without a hummer or nuthatch sighting here. The Broad-tail did 3 days, just like the Calliope a couple days before it. Enough time to pack some pounds, er, nanograms, on for the next flight leg. Which BTW, why do they call flight segments, legs? Kathy has some hay fever or something bothering an eye, so I went to park myself, dirty thankless job and all that.

Got about the best new park bird I could ask for. GREEN JAYS! With poor docushots, but a GJ pic in the park. First I heard some across the river near top of the island. I took a long distance shot of one in a pecan across river, whence it promptly took off, flew over river straight at me and landed in a Cypress right over my head. At least two more quickly followed into the northmost end of the natural area in the woods. All kinds of calling, the full monty of vocalizations as they foraged in the trees kibbutzing. I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing. Standing in a spot I stood a couple thousand times, without any Green Jays except in my dreams. And there they were calling seemingly every call type including the hawk imitation call. As they moved away I counted four birds. They went north into the (private prop.) big live-oak motte adjacent north of park. I went south through woods to main park area, where there were two more Green Jay in the live-oaks there in main park area. But only two. So it seems like there were six total. I don't see how they would have split up, and two got that far that fast, without me hearing them on the way. While I was trying to get a docushot of those two, an adult Zone-tailed Hawk flew over. Can't help but wonder if it is the immature that wintered often roosting in the park last year. When I first got to the park, I watched an 5.5 foot Indigo Snake swim across the river from the island to the other side. It was amazing how fast it was in the water.

The golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. had nothing but 20 Red-winged Blackbird and a couple Dainty Sulphur. A distant flock of Meadowlark was on the driving range area. Heard a couple Audubon's Oriole at the 360 xing. At last light I heard a hummingbird fly off a feeder here, but did not see it. Is the Broad-tailed still here or is there something else? Stay tuned, don't touch that dial!

Nov. 7 ~ Low was about 52F for a few hours after midnight, but was near 60 by sunup, the Gulf flow return of low stratus. I did not see any hummer early, nor did we detect the Nuthatch today. There was a FOS American Goldfinch at the sunflower tube, so I am beyond sure that is indeed what I heard across the road yesterday. Some Robin around for a bit, the two Scrub-Jay showed, a couple Kinglet (Ruby). Best bird though Kathy saw at the bath, a Nashville Warbler. A great late date, only a very few early Nov. sightings. Had work biz to do so didn't get out. Otherwise was just the repeat offenders in the yard. Will make sure to sneak out tomorrow.

Green Jay

This is a Green Jay at Utopia Park Nov. 8, in bad light.
Surprisingly easy to overlook, especially when silent.
It is species #270 for the park list, in 15 acres. There
were at least four, probably six that day. Two were heard
across the river from park on Nov. 11. The yellow is
the underside of the tail.


a bonus pic...
Green Jay

This one was at our birdbath Oct. 21. Green Jay is a bird worth seeing.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 6 ~ Low about 55F, some low stratus from the Gulf. Saw the hummer early, and it finally called, but not until after I could see it is absolutely a Broad-tailed, now on day 3. A kinglet (Ruby) was on the edge of birdbath a few times briefly. It looked three White-crowned Sparrow out back, so, still, for about 4 days now, as with the half-dozen Pine Siskin. Kathy heard the Nuthatch. Afternoon one (2nd winter) Audubon's Oriole came in for a quick drink. Town run so a stop at the park. Only new item was a FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet, always great to hear. Barred Owl was there and called a bit for ambiance. Little Creek Larry said he had some Gadwall there last weekend one morning. He also said he has never seen a Cactus Wren locally here, to put that rarity in perspective, and he has been here forever. Thought sure I heard an American Goldfinch across the road in the draw a few times. Thought I might have heard one yesterday too but blew it off since distant.

Nov. 5 ~ It was about 51F at midnight last night, and was 62F at sunup this morning. The south Gulf flow and low stratus is back. Saw the hummer early, before good light, but it is a Broad-tailed. Big as an Anna's, bright green, peach wash on sides, big tail extends past wings. Had another brief look in afternoon, still looks Broad-tailed in better light, and still has not called. About 6 Pine Siskin came in to sunflower seed feeder spillage. A Robin was in the pecan squawking, the Red-breasted Nuthatch was around a couple times at least. Still White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrows to go with the Chipping and Field. The slow fall defoliation continues. Got up to 80F at some WU local stations, was 76 in shade on front porch. Monarch was on the Blue Mist, plus a couple Queen. Caught the Lincoln's Sparrow inside the cottage and let it out. How does one come about to repeatedly flying into a (an admittedly rustic) building with a door open? Distance from bird: in hand. Which I wish to report was distincly better than two poor looks in the bush.

Nov. 4 ~ Low was 38F, still nice and dry and sunny, but we need rain. Kathy saw the Nuthatch come in to the bath a couple times between 9 and 10. Not seeing any hummingbird though. Still at least a couple white-crowned Sparrow. At least four (big bearded toms) Turkey over in the corral. In the afternoon I was in the cottage with door open getting birdseed to toss and a Linclon's Sparrow flew in the doorway into the room, circled around me and flew back out, landing on the patio just off the step, which was when ID was made. ?A Hermit Thrush was at the bath, which is likely one hanging around, some junipers right over the fence have berries. Later Kathy spotted a hummer at the feeders a couple times late in afternoon. It must have just showed up, we were 48 hours of hummer free since the Calliope left Monday afternoon. The light was bad but it looked like a Broad-tailed. Was an imm. male. I silently begged for it to call as it flew off, but noooooo.

Nov. 3 ~ Low was 33F, sunny and dry, wonderful. Early saw the Red-breasted Nuthatch but not the Calliope Hummingbird. I think it left yesterday but as quick-of-visit as it was, it will take a couple days to be sure. There were two Scrub-Jay at the bath, we haven't seen or heard more than one in about a month. Kathy saw a couple White-crowned Sparrow come into the bath too. Couple Turkey in the corral. Nearing noon and over 70F, I saw a Julia's Skipper and a Mimosa Yellow on the Blue Mist Eup at front porch. Then an Ocola Skipper came in! A couple Queen, a Gulf Frit, Large Orange Sulphur, Dogface, Sleepy Orange, but leps are fading fast.

Nov. 2 ~ I saw 36F but 30 min. before peak low, when KERV hit 32 briefly, it probably hit 34 here. Dry and sunny, great. Saw about 35 Robin go by early. The Red-breasted Nuthatch is still here, as is the Calliope Hummingbird and 2 Pine Siskin. Two Audubon's Oriole came in to the bath. These are 2nd winter birds, which superficially look like adults, but the black head is not complete and the underparts are very worn pale year-old feathers, not the yellow of adults. Missed a shot though since cold, window was closed. These are the same two that have been visiting the bath every few weeks for the last three plus months, so watching them change is great. When I first got here 17 years ago I thought these were first winter birds, they are not, they are second winter. The standard field guide's coverage of the plumages besides adults, has been weak at best. I had to learn them myself by watching them, lots, closely, and taking photos to study, for years. But which is about the funnest thing you can do birding. Discovery.

A quick run to town before noon and a check of the park. The woods had a couple Lincoln's Sparrow, and heard at least one Sapsucker from the island, neither were detected yesterday. Even better was the first WINTER WREN I have seen in a few years. Calling to get my attention, feeding amongst big water lily leaves that are on bare mud now. Staying in the shade of course so only barely an ID docushot. Heard a Belted Kingfisher and a couple Myrtle Warbler, saw at least 5 White-crowned Sparrow at the entrance deco garden. A couple Autumnal Meadowhawk were at top end of island, after a probable FOS yesterday.

Back here there were at least 3 White-crowned and 2 Lincoln's Sparrow besides the usual Chippy and Field Sparrows. One local Red-tailed Hawk in the afternoon. A Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak came into the Blue Mist Eup., fresh and mint, as was a Funereal Duskywing that stopped by briefly. Sachem and Fiery Skipper, Little Yellow and Sleepy Orange were there too.

November 1 ~ Ten down and two to go. Low was 42F. Nice sunny morning, but nothing different for birds first few hours. Save some Robin going over, a dozen or two, one came down to the bath like it knew it was there. Heard a few Siskin. We did a couple and a half hour spinabout to see how it looks post front. Yesterday was the annual parade and dinner at the school, and Halloween, so this morning the annual town TP job was evident. There were a few Robin everywhere, we saw over 50 total. Saw a couple Flicker near the 360 xing, one was a good Red-shafted, the other we leave as Northern Flicker. Water flow at the 360 xing looks about 100 gallons per minute, tops. A rivulet.

We checked the park, the woods were dead. A flock of about 15 Common Grackle flew south on other side of river. One Ringed Kingfisher flew by at north end of island, that was it. Maybe it had been accipitered recently. I heard a pipit fly over town that sounded a Sprague's. Will let it go but it probably was. Then we checked the pond by the W'vl Cmty. On UvCo363 on way there was an orange-billed gray-lored Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow, a western type. At the pond still a few dozen Red-winged Blackbird, 3 Savannah Sparrow, one male Vermilion Flycatcher continues, a couple Mockingbird, 6 Robin, a White-crowned Sparrow, and the bird of the day. Kathy spotted it inside one of the two little Hackberry adjacent to pond, a CACTUS WREN. They are very rare here, I have had a couple poor looks in 17 years, despite being common just south of us down in the flatlands of the brush country. Got a couple docushots. There are lots of extensive patches of Prickly Pear here, that do not have any Cactus Wren. Also at the pond had a quick look at what surely was an Autumnal Meadowhawk dragonfly. Very few odes left out there after the last week of cold mornings. One, first-year (a foot-long) W. Ribbonsnake was in the pond.

Then we went down to UvCo 361 and cruised the first mile-and-a-half. Kathy saw a Vesper Sparrow, and we saw one lone Chipping Sparrow. There were a hundred Meadowlark, they looked Western to me but none ever called, they are in fresh plumage when hard to tell and I wasn't in a meadowlark mood. Best was after a couple Mockers seeing a SAGE THRASHER along the road, my first in a few years locally. Got a poor docushot. Didn't see anything in the pastures though, and no hawks or Say's Phoebe.

Then back here at the hovelita in the afternoon. After lunch Kathy had a glimpse of a what she thought sure was a Red-breasted Nuthatch at the birdbath. A couple hours later it returned and drank. FOS. We did not record one last winter, they are less than annual here. About 2:30 I saw a Great Spreadwing damselfly, I think the only one of the year, they are less than annual here for me. It kept moving and so no pho(to). Just before 4 p.m. I was near the front porch when the Calliope Hummingbird flew in and tanked up! Where is it spending all but one minute of the day? Two days in a row. About 4:30 a Zone-tailed Hawk flew low over the yard and worked upriver, only hawk of the day. A couple Pine Siskin were on the patio. Half-dozen Field Sparrow still here. Saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk later in day. At last sun about 5:30 (!) the Calliope Hummer came back.

What a selection of birds here today. The male Cardinal are bright as heck again. Fair numbers of Eastern Bluebird are around, it seems some winterers from elsewhere have added to numbers. Saw a few Golden-fronted and a couple Ladder-backed Woodpecker, lots of Black-crested Titmouse, a few Carolina Chickadee, lots of Carolina Wren, a Caracara, and Turkey were in the corral late. The goodies list today was amazing: Cactus Wren, Sage Thrasher, Calliope Hummingbird, Zone-tailed Hawk, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Ringed Kingfisher, Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow, a Common Grackle flock, and a male Vermilion Flycatcher.

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~ ~ ~ October summary ~ ~ ~

It was a dry one, the .65 of an inch late in month was it. Was a little on the warmish side to go with it. Fall flower bloom was very weak due to the drought conditions. The river is at least three feet below the spillway overflow. Trees are drought stressed, we lose some every big wind now. Saw a Ringtail here this month.

Butterflies were few on the grand scale, but there were some great things seen. There was a little bit of movement from the south. A Purple-washed Skipper was probably best, on the 1st. My third here, the only 3 UvCo records. I likely saw it again subsequently a day or two later. A Coyote Cloudywing was first in 4 years, and a White-patched Skipper was one of only a few in the last five years. The Zebra Longwing from late Sept. stayed 9 days to Oct. 6, it was first in 4 years too. Anything less than annual (LTA) is always great to record. Soldier showed well, over a half-dozen stopped on our Blue Mist Eupatorium.

The Blue Mist saved our butterfly fall here. It's the Blue Mist man. When I was a kid it was the Purple Haze. Now I am all grown up, and it is the Blue Mist. It was awesome, whilst the local deco gardens and even the library butterfly garden were all but dead. We have one big Lantana, some Red Turkscap, a Frostweed, the Frogfruit finished first week of month. So not much, but there was so little blooming out there it was a major magnet. Some days had 25 species at the front porch, and it was where all the rare stuff was seen. The visual net cast is of course a big factor, I check it once or twice an hour all day, every day. I count 50 species, essentially all were seen from the front porch! Up 4 from Sept., but making August at 57 sps. the best lep month this year. A couple Texas Wasp Moth showed well, and an Obscure Sphinx (moth) was photographed.

Odes were weak. They were shot for the year early this year. The drought is killin' 'em here literally and figuratively. Much of the river is dry. It was only the most common regular species, and in general very few of them. Did get an October Thornbush Dasher at the Waresville golf course pond. The rest was very unremarkable. It was a dismal 13-14 species for the month. Last Pepsis Wasp was early in month. A Hister Beetle was nice to see, came into a night light. Firefly flamed out early, it was a poor fall flight, a few larvae seen late in month, last few adults were early in the month.

Birds were great, they always are in fall, especially in Sept. and Oct. when everything is on the move. There were two outstanding finds this month. Three GREEN JAY visited our yard for a week Oct. 19-26. First locally since the only area other record, winter of 2008-09. Then at the park, a calling CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER on the 14th is my first photo record locally, have seen a couple prior but no pix. An imm. male Red-NAPED Sapsucker tied my early date Oct. 4. A CATBIRD was in our yard Oct. 24-26, and tardy Calliope Hummingbird showed up Oct. 31. A Western type Yellow-breasted Chat, late, on Oct. 23 is noteworthy. Might be the first ever of that type I have postively seen here. I count a hundred species I saw very locally around Utopia. Others saw a few I didn't.

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~ ~ ~ October update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

October! The first good bird of the month is a butterfly. On Oct. 1 a PURPLE-WASHED Skipper was at our Blue Mist Eup for photos. Very rare this far north, with only a few county records. My FOS House Wren were two on Oct. 2. A bunch of FOS birds on Oct. 4: Black-throated Green Warbler, a record early Red-naped Sapsucker, a Kestrel, and a Marsh Wren. Oct. 5 brought my FOS Orange-crowned Warbler and a heard southbound Greater Yellowlegs. In the last week the Hilbigs had Sandhill Crane, Northern Harrier, and a female American Redstart at their fountain the 7th, out W. Sabinal Rd. A White-patched Skipper on the 8th on our Blue Mist is a rary here. The Zebra from late Sept. was last seen Oct. 6th. Lots of Monarch in the park woods. My FOS Sharp-shinned Hawk was Oct. 11. Oct. 12 we had Sandhill Cranes southbound on the northerlies. A Coyote Cloudywing (butterfly) on Oct. 13 is the first I have seen in four years. A CORDILLERAN Flycatcher at Utopia Pk. Oct. 14 is a very rare find. Oct. 16 the day after a big frontal passage brought several FOS sightings of winter type birds: Northern Flicker, Hermit Thrush, White-crowned Sparrow, and American Pipit. Oct. 17 two FOS Spotted Towhee were in our yard. Oct. 18 we saw FOS Vesper and Savannah Sparrow, and Eastern Meadowlark. A Ringtail (Cacomistle) on Oct. 20 was nice, as were a couple FOS Pyrrhuloxia that day. Three GREEN JAY went through our yard most days Oct. 19-26 so far! Mostly just 5 minute visits, but we'll take it. My FOS Pine Siskin were 6 in the big Pecan the 23rd, an hour later a dozen flew by. Later on the 23rd there was a FOS female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the front yard, a male Yellow-bellied Sap was in the yard the next day. My first and only Catbird of fall was Oct. 24-26 in yard. The first sub-freezing chill factors were Oct. 27, the whole day spent in the mid-30's F, with chills in upper 20's. Weewow! Oct. 29 there was a FOS Robin. Closed the month out with a one-minute-wonder Calliope Hummer on the 31st.

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~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Oct. 31 ~ Another month blasted past. I can't believe how much longer summer months are. It was peak cold this morning from this last pool of arctic air. We did get below 32 this morning, it was 31.5 before sunup. Very paved KERV only hit 33, but was progged for 38F. Heard Pine Siskin out there early, a Myrtle Warbler. Before 10 an imm. Sharp-shinned Hawk took a male Cardinal. I got a pic through a window and screen. A bit later I was sunning on the back porch when a hummer blazed up and perched on the feeder, first one since last Monday. It was an imm. or fem. Calliope! It tanked for over a full minute, just 6' from me. It did not show again the rest of the day. Seemingly a one minute wonder. If I had not been standing there by the feeder, would it have ever happened?

Afternoon got up to about 75F here, C of C weather and just wonderful. Had a bunch of biz to do so in office working all day. Heard the Scrub-Jay, have not heard the Green Jays since last Monday, the morning before the front hit. Heard a Flicker over at the river, first one from the yard this fall, only saw one fly over the road so far. Kathy spotted a Myrtle Warbler at the bath which I got a couple shots of, a first for that, I had never caught one there. Saw the Orange-crowned Warbler early in the morning. We both an hour apart saw the Black Rock Squirrel by the tub pond, presumedly coming in for a drink.

CactusWren

This is the Cactus Wren that was at the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. Nov. 1. Bad light, I know, but my first local Cactus Wren photo. Rare bird here.


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Oct. 30 ~ We just about kissed freezing this morning. KERV was progged for a low of 38F, but per their NOAA station it danced between 32 and 33 for a few hours this morning. I saw 34F here but wasn't watching, though I don't see any effects of a freeze. Got up to about 70F in the afternoon, sunny, wonderful. In the first couple hours of morning I saw an Audubon's Warbler and about 10 Pine Siskin fly over southbound. Thought I heard a Robin again up the hill, maybe it roosted there. Town run so a peek at the park. There were a few Myrtle and an Orange-crowned Warbler, and a Hermit Thrush up in the woods, but that was it. Pied-billed Grebe upriver of the island. A little Chipping Sparrow flock out at the entrance area. One Monarch on the blooming Maxmillian Sunflower at riversedge. The river of Monarchs missed us this year. After Rosie's tacos and a siesta there were about 5-6 Audubon's Oriole calling mostly from adjacent to the yard over in corral, but up hill behind us and across the road as well. We were surrounded with no way out.

Oct. 29 ~ The low was around midnight in the high 30's F, but by sunup it was 49F. Wind blew much of the night and will blow all day 15-25 mph with gusts to 35+. Heard a single FOS Robin out there in the morning but didn't see it. Still a few (saw 3) Lesser Goldfinch around, but not for long though. The Catbird, Green Jays, and Hummer have all been absent since the front hit Monday afternoon. I suspect the Jays are around somewhere, but the hummer and Catbird are probably in Mexico by now. Got up to about 65F or so, pretty nice late afternoon, the wind finally eased up to 10-15 mph about 4 p.m. or so. Counted four White-winged Dove, down from 40 in September before they left.

Oct. 28 ~ Low was 36F, where it has flatlined for the last 36 hours or so. With 15+ mph winds on it, chills were in upper 20's. Although we might get this cold this time of year, it is usually for a few hours one morning. Not 36 hours straight at sub-freezing chill factors. This is rather remarkable. No hummer out there again this morn, that last Ruby must have left with the front Monday afternoon. Smart bird, knew when to go. There were two Lincoln's Sparrow on the seed out back. About noon it hit 50dF, felt great! Thought I heard a White-throated Sparrow out back. A Mockingbird came into tub pond a couple times. Got up to 60F late in afternoon! So we thawed out. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby), the Chipping Sparrow flock is a couple dozen birds now, at least.

Oct. 27 ~ Winter arrived overnight, the low was 36F, KERV had chills showing at 27! Rocksprings was in fog at 32F with chills at 22 from the wind! The SAT record low for the date is 35F, so we are very near it. Sure glad I didn't sign up for a bird count there today.  ;)   Here it drizzled about a half-inch from just before midnight to 8 a.m., which is outstanding, we need it more than badly. At noon it was still about the same as daybreak, 36F and drizzle with a lighter now though breeze. The birds will have to tap on the windows today if they want me to see them. At 3 p.m. it was 35F in Junction, 36 in KERV, and on front porch here 34F! Surely going to be a record for low max temps today. It might have hit 37F. We did not see the one Ruby-throated Hummingbird that was still here in the morning yesterday. It probably left on the strong northerlies with the front yesterday afternoon. That extra free 20 mph push means it could cover double the ground for the effort. It certainly would have been glued to the feeders today. Everything here seemed to be hunkered down, including us. I did see a couple Lark Sparrow, which are new, there have not been any here for a few weeks now. During an accipiter flushing event it seemed more than 20 Chipping Sparrow here now. Otherwise it was mostly Cardinals, Titmice, Chickadees, Chipping and Field Sparrow. Did not see the Catbird or the Green Jays. At the end of the day the rain total was about .65, two-thirds of an inch. After a cold night it warms up tomorrow.

Oct. 26 ~ Low of about 70F, a bit of mist, a showerlet, the warm moist Gulf flow being sucked up right ahead of an inbound front. Got up to about 75 before noon, despite some northerly flow already arriving in fits and spurts. After 10 a.m. I saw the Catbird, it almost came into the tub pond again and would have were I not standing on back porch. At the same time I heard the Green Jays up the hill behind us in the live oaks, but nearly a hundred yards away. The Ruby-throated Hummer was out there still. So the interesting stuff is still here, now for something new to show up. It is the nature of the birder to want another, no matter how many they have, they are like kids with candy. In the afternoon Kathy saw the Catbird at the bath with some Eastern Bluebird. Later she saw it leaving the tub pond. She also saw some Turkey over the fence. I saw a Lincoln's Sparrow late at last supper. In temps as the front moved in, about noon-thirty I saw NOAA reports of 45F at Rocksprings and 81 at Uvalde, barely over 50 miles apart as the Common Raven flies. By about 7 p.m. KRVL was 42 with wind chills at 34F! Felt about the same here. Was over 80 yesterday! Fall is when you can complain about the heat and humidity, and the cold, within 24 hours.

Oct. 25 ~ Overcast and 62F for a low. Saw the Ruby-throat out there early. Today is a warmup day before the next front inbound tomorrow. Might get some precip out of this one. Saw 80F after 4 p.m. on shady front porch. Must have been an accipiter outside early, the first couple hours of light it was dead quiet. The Catbird was at the bath about 9 a.m. Around noon we took a spinabout. No migrants at the park. We went up-valley into Bandera Co., and checked a couple crossings. Sure has been a lot of vegetation clearing of the understory. We saw three separate areas where the understory had been bulldozed, as in scraped. It is like there is a war against it. Aquatic plants are water weeds and understory is brush, both generally perceived to be better if removed. They are generally not seen as the integral part of the environment and ecosystems that they are.

There was a nice flock of birds at the Foster crossing. About 15 or 20 Eastern Bluebird there were hitting the sumac fruit. A male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was in that too. A number of Field and Chipping Sparrow, a couple Lark Sparrow, a Hutton's Vireo, some Mockingbirds, and one high soaring Zone-tailed Hawk. A couple Kestrel were along the road, no Red-tails. In the spirit of the fall season I harvested some hops, in the form of some Shiner Black Lager at Vanderpool.

Oct. 24 ~ A low of 48F felt outstanding, and a bit more like fall temps should be. Northerlies blew all night into the morning, finally laid down in the afternoon. Worked on stuff here since cold and windy. Saw the Ruby-throated Hummer still here in the a.m. Bird of the day was a CATBIRD that came into the birdbath! This is the 5th fall out of the last 17 I recorded one here. So not one of three falls do I see one. It let me get the window open so I got a docushot but it was early, overcast and in the shade so very dark (high ISO). Later in the afternoon I was working on biz in office and right out window watched it go down to the aquatic garden tub pond and drink! Whaddabird! I love 'em. Kathy saw it at the bath again just before last sun. Noonish I saw a sapsucker scuffle. The one I finally got on was a male Yellow-bellied. I presume the FOS female I had out front yesterday was the other bird. Couple Kinglet (Ruby) went through, couple Turkey over in corral, heard a Belted King over at river. Late afternoon a half-dozen Turkey Vulture thermalled up and broke south, migrants. Two Caracara were with them and did the same. A single swallow sps. flew by southbound, it looked Cave. Later, an hour before sundown the Green Jays were around, some getting sunflower seeds out back and Kathy saw one at the bath.

Catbird

This is the Catbird we had here. It was overcast and the bath is in shade, so dark, sorry. They are in the family of mimics, with Mockingbird and Thrashers. All gray with a black cap, some color under tail is not visible here.


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Oct. 23 ~ A low of 72F is not very autumnal frankly. Low stratus from the Gulf, front is supposed to be here about 2 p.m. At least the wind won't be howling yet when I check the park. At least one of the White-crowned Sparrow is still here. Saw the one Ruby-throated Hummingbird early. Heard Audubon's Oriole early, and a Green Jay about 9 a.m. Quick threw some corn out (now you know why I didn't eat all my corn last night). Hope they find it. After 10:a.m. there were a half-dozen FOS Pine Siskin up in the big Pecan. About 11:a.m. a flocklet of a dozen Pine Siskin flew by out front. Town run day. Made sure to note the Blue Jays in town, so as to have a jay trifecta today with the Texas Scrub-Jay, and Green Jay at the house.

At the park there were a few birds in the woods. Two each of Nashville, Myrtle, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat is great variety this late in season. Best was a Yellow-breasted Chat which was an adult Western type Chat with orange on breast and a long white whisker. It is a very late date for one here. Ringed and Belted Kingfisher were there, but no Green. Also thought sure I heard a Wilson's Warbler. Were a few spinkles of a seemingly wettish substance. Brought home Rosie's tacos for lunch and to get the full experience, took a siesta. In the afternoon just before 4:p.m. in the pecans out front I spotted a FOS Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (female), and the fem. Downy Woodpecker was out there again too. The Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted do not seem thrilled about other woodpeckers being here. One Fatal Metalmark on the Blue Mistflower, but which is fading fast with few butterflies now. Sure was great for most of Sept. and October. Got up to at least 82F in the afternoon before the northerlies got here about 4 p.m., whence it finally dried out and cooled off. Was 62F by 7 p.m, supposed to be going down to upper 40's!

Oct. 22 ~ Low of about 71F, humid, southerly Gulf flow and low stratus, ahead of a front inbound tomorrow. It is the warmup day ahead of the front. I saw 85F in the shade about 3 p.m. There were a few migrants through the yard early. Two Orange-crowned Warbler, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Myrtle Warbler, also what sounded maybe an Audubon's Warbler, plus a glimpse at what looked a Nashville Warbler. There was a wee bit of migrant motion last night. Heard distant Green Jay and Audubon's Oriole in the morning, and the White-crowned Sparrows out back. After 11 a.m. three Green Jay were out back picking up sunflower seeds off the ground. Not around for long but they found food. Counted 8 male Cardinal at once at dusk out back. Saw the trifecta of Milkweed butterflies: Monarch, Queen, and Soldier. It was a nice conjunction of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn tonight.

Oct. 21 ~ Low was 69F briefly. Low stratus from the gulf early. Humid, and got up to about 85F. One Ruby-throated Hummer continues. A Kinglet (Ruby) went through. First and last thing I had White-crowned Sparrow under a Laurel where we toss seed by the cottage. In the a.m. at dawn I heard the metallic boik boik boik and mentioned it to Kathy. At dusk there were two there, both immatures. About 11:30 Kathy whispered Green Jay! I bolted for camera, two were around the bath and stick pile adjacent. Did not see them go in, or even drink, it was just an inspection, but they came down to the rocks around it, and watched as other birds drank and bathed in it. So they know now. I think they missed it the other day. We did not see them yesterday. Only saw two for sure. They looked like first-timers at the water, in discovery. Got a couple shots in a bit better light through the magic screen, but they didn't stay long. Got to hear one gee gee gee as it flew away. A half-hour later heard them out back again but did not see them. Whaddabird! Sure hope they move in for the winter. Gotta get some corn.

Oct. 20 ~ The gulf flow is here, with a barely low of 72F. There were a couple brief showerlets the low stratus dropped. Orographic lifting as the gulf flow hits the plateau thickens it up enough to wring it out a bit. One imm. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird still. Saw a flock of medium passerines fly over that could well have been Robins. Heard a distant Audubon's Oriole. Kathy had 3 Mockingbird at the bath, and Turkeys in the corral. The highlight of the day though was last night just after midnight when I went to see what was dropping pecan shells on the steel roof. It was a RINGTAIL! Right off the front porch in the big Pecan. What an animal! We haven't seen one in a couple years, but they are so secretive and shy that detection is always a surprise and treat. Noonish there were a couple Pyrrhuloxia calling over in the corral. I will call these FOS, though surely that was one I driveby heard on Sunday, calling it out to Kathy. This is when they show up. They didn't tell me about seasonal Pyrrhuloxia movements. Just a big purple (found all year) blob on the range map.

Oct. 19 ~ Low clouds and gulf flow moved in late and kept the heat in, low was 72F! Getting late in the year for that still. Got up to about 86-88F, warmish and humid. No migrant motion per se but there was a good record. Just before 4 p.m. I was working on these notes, with nothing of interest to note, when a GREEN JAY popped up just outside the office window! And then another! And probably third! OMG! Yard bird! I heard a bird this morning I thought might have been a Green Jay, over in the draw. Now I am sure it was. Actually I might have heard it yesterday too. One came down out back where I could shoot through a hole in the office screen so got a docushot. One almost went down on the patio. They moved to the Mulberry over the cottage and as they moved out of it into the corral I counted three for sure, and there may have been four. Wished I had corn out, they love it. Keep an eye on deer feeders. Only takes one good bird to make your day! Surely this is drought induced movement, the brush country to our south is at least one stage worse than us per the U.S. Drought Monitor. There is nothing to eat down there, the bushes and trees are bare. Last time I was down there I nearly starved to death. At dusk a Ringed Kingfisher flew down the river chakking away. Nice to have the 'what photo will I use for the break?' question handled on Monday.

Oct. 18 ~ Stars were great at midnight last night, low clouds moved in from south overnight. Low was about 66F. One Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still around. Saw an ad. fem. Sharp-shinned Hawk which flushed everything outside. Noonish we took a couple hour spin around. Nothing at the park in the woods but one House Wren, and a couple heard Myrtle Warbler. Checked a private Frostweed patch in a Pecan bottom out Jones Cmty. Rd. and it was also dead for migrants. Further out at W. Sabinal Rd. we saw a FOS Vesper Sparrow, and a FOS flock of Meadowlark. The one that called was an Eastern. Along the road heard what surely was a Pyrrhuloxia. The library garden had one Fatal Metalmark. Then checked the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. There was another Vesper and a FOS Savannah Sparrow, about 45 Red-winged Blackbird in a flock in the cattails. One Vareigated Meadowhawk dragonfly is the first one I have seen this fall. Great was a big Robberfly, as in a Beezlebub Bee-eater type (genus Mallophora). May have been two of them there. Neat beast. Saw 88F on the cool shady front porch about 4:p.m.

Oct. 17 ~ Low was in 50's F but was one of those nights whence for example in Kerrville it was 49F at 2 a.m., and by 7 at daybreak it was 59F! The Gulf low stratus and flow got here. No migrant motion through yard. About noonish Kathy spotted the FOS Spotted Towhee, a female at the birdbath! Only got a shot through the windowscreen though. An hour later when I was tossing afternoon seed, a male popped up out back! Sure would like a decent pic for the website. Was a House Wren in the front porch flower bed, no doubt hunting the butterflies in the Blue Mist. In the afternoon before 3 p.m. there was a Downy Woodpecker in the big Pecan just off the front porch. A Ladder-back was chasing it around. Downy is scarce here, it has been a couple or few months since I have seen one. Later about 5:p at least one Audubon's Oriole moved through yard calling. One Ruby-throated Hummingbird was still around, but did not seee the Rufous. Scrub-Jay was out there. Near last light I saw the female Spotted Towhee scratching under the Laurel where I toss seed. Sure hope it sticks a bit.

Green Jay

Here is one of the 3 Green Jay that visited our yard on Oct. 19, 21, 22, and 23 so far. Whaddabird! Winter '08-09 some small flocks invaded north into the plateau getting up to Leakey and Bandera, at least. That was the winter Syd and Jackie Chaney had a few coming in to their corn feeder a mile south of town.

Green Jay

One pic just isn't enough. Don't worry, if I get them in the sun, you will get to see more ...


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Oct. 16 ~ Northerlies blew all night, and have veered to northeasterly for today. Low was 59F and felt great. Saw two hummers early, presumedly the Ruby and Rufous of yesterday. Town run day. At the post office I heard a FOS American (Water) Pipit fly over calling. Then over at the park I heard one again, could have been the same bird. At park no Cordilleran Flycatcher. Bummer. There were 5 FOS White-crowned Sparrow at the entrance garden, 2 ad. and 3 imm. In the woods there was a FOS Hermit Thrush, a couple House Wren, a gray-headed Orange-crowned Warbler was likely the Rocky Mtn. orestera subspecies, a Ringed Kingfisher, Myrtle Warbler, a Kinglet (Ruby), and at least 4 Nashville Warbler. Heard a sweet soft chip that got away. Heard a Gnatcatcher. On the way home on 187 just north of 360 a FOS Northern Flicker flew over the road. It was orangeish of underwing. Saw four FOS species, all wintering type birds, on the day after the front. Winds calmed down in the afternoon finally. Lots of the Cypresses are turning rusty, lots of Pecans dropping leaves, the Maxmillian Sunflowers exploded into bloom and the river in a few sections is lined yellow, with lots of butterflies on them. Our Blue Mist Eupatorium bloom is fading as the lower number of butterflies here shows. High temp peaked about 76F or so, and dry, great.

Oct. 15 ~ We have a front progged to arrive today, so the low stratus from the Gulf is being sucked up in front of it. Some fog-mist and a low of about 70F. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be 15F cooler. One Ruby-throated Hummingbird remains this morning. Mid-morn a Rufous (probably, or Allen's) showed up, a new one, not the imm. male that was last here over a week ago. Probably an imm. female. So we have three feeders out, each on a different side of the house, two hummingbirds, and one knock-down drag-out hummer fight. Ridiculous! It must be sport to these Rufous Hummers. It is at least the 8th Rufous type we have had here this fall. None looked or sounded Allen's to me. Just getting one Scrub-Jay out there the last week or so. At least one stuck. Heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The front got here about 1:30 to 2:p.m. with 10-20 mph northerlies, warmed to 87F or so before it did. Still no Lark Sparrow, they are outta here. Been about six days at least, maybe a week, since they were here. Our local breeders depart. New birds from somewhere else move in, in the winter.

Oct. 14 ~ Low about 64F, the low stratus and southerly gulf flow is back. Saw one imm. male Ruby-throated Hummer at a feeder in the a.m. Heard a Kinglet. Had to run to town early so a park check. Heard a few Myrtle Warbler chips. I am certain I heard a Townsend's Warbler on the island, but got distracted with a flycatcher, and then could not find or hear it again before I had to go.

Up in the woods, near the south end of the island there was a calling CORDILLERAN Flycatcher. Older books might just show it as Western Flycatcher. It is very very rare here, I have only encountered a couple locally prior and was never able to get any documentation. Fortunately it was giving the diagnostic obviously two-syllable broken call note, so I could confirm it was not a Pacific-slope Flycatcher. Tried to get a docushot, but it was too far away on the island, I was late and had to go. Got one crummy one. Reminds me though, it only takes one good bird to make your day! It is a new addition to the Utopia Park bird list. I looked at ebird to see if any area records listed there. NONE are listed for Uvalde County, or for the entire Edwards Plateau (1900-2020). Gadzooks! That's a good bird! Mark Lockwood's Birds of the Edwards Plateau says some reports from the plateau, but none ever documented.

Brought a couple of Rosie's egg, chorizo, and cheese breakfast tacos back. It is the little things, oh, and good birds. Was too busy at the desk and did not see anything in the yard, save at the flowers. On the butterfly front there was a Desert Checkered-Skipper, and a FOY Ocola Skipper for new things on the Blue Mist. A small odd hairstreak got away, a few Grays around, this was not that. A Julia's Skipper was still out there, a male Whirlabout, Southern Broken-Dash, but the Coyote Cloudywing was a no-show today, a one hour wonder. Got good shots anyway. One Ailanthus Webworm moth, been seeing a few around.

Oct. 13 ~ Low of 56F was very nice, sunny, still getting to upper 80's, almost 10F above normal. Just getting one Scrub-Jay out there. Did not see a hummingbird the first couple hours of the morning. The last couple Rubies probably took off on that north wind yesterday, as they like to do. Oops, Kathy saw one in the afternoon, but which was not here all day prior. In the morning I saw what I would call my first group of winter Chipping Sparrow. A dozen moved into the big pecan from over towards river, then out along back fence where I toss seed. We saw a couple yesterday, but this is a flock that just moved in. Wintering Chippies, that are migrants from elsewhere. Sharpy was out there too. Heard Kestrel, Kinglet, and Crane. In woodpeckers, a Golden-front was chasing the Ladder-back all around the tree with the best Pecans. So, a woodpecker, being bugged, by a woodpecker. If only Woody could see! Pass the popcorn please.

Best bird was a butterfly, the first Coyote Cloudywing I have seen in a few years, since fall of 2016. Most years we do not get one. Maybe 4 years of 16 I recorded it, a couple of those years just one or two, one year several, and one year they were everywhere in a huge invasion. A hundred if not two or more. This one was tame (or hungry) enough to allow shots on the Blue Mist Eup. Saw an Anole take a Dun Skipper. Saw a fresh winter form Questionmark, my FOY. Screech-Owl going off after dark.

Oct. 12 ~ Low was about 62F, and humidity is back. Frontal passage around noon, but with no rain and barely any temp change. Just a wind change to north. Still nearly 10F over average for the date, but 10F less than yesterday. Just ahead of the front in the a.m. a couple Myrtle Warbler went through yard. The first since the exceptional early bird Sept. 30. A Kinglet (Ruby) and a Gnatcatcher (Blue-gray) went through as well. Otherwise slowish. The Sharp-shinned Hawk is out there though. Mid-afternoon I thought I heard cranes going over. Just before dark Kathy heard a flock going south. In leps there was a Funereal Duskywing on the front porch flowers, I think it hit each type, one Julia's Skipper still out there, a Vesta Crescent, and a couple Gray Hairstreak, among the more common stuff. One of the Gray HS was so worn you could have made it into anything.

After dark the Barred Owl was going off. In case I haven't mentioned it, though unlikely, these, our, Barred Owl never add any superfluous 'and you', much less another 'and you all' at the end of the call. Who cooks for you, who cooks for you. That is it here. Never have I heard any additional 'and you alls' here. Fascinating that there can however be more than one intro 'who' note. Sometimes it can be two or rarely three of them.

Oct. 11 ~ A low of 54F was great, especially since the forecast is to break heat records today. Saw a Hutton's Vireo coming into the birdbath, but that was the only thing different all morning. Seems just a couple Ruby-throated Hummingbird left. Saw a FOS Sharp-shinned Hawk in the big Pecan in the morning. The little terrors are back. Heard a Lincoln's Sparrow. Kathy saw an Orange-crowned Warbler. A few Field Sparrow around but the Lark seem to be gone. Saw a Southern Pearl Crescent butterfly which is new, also a Mimosa Yellow was great and an LTA (less than annual) sure thing. After dark there were lots of moths at the porch light, more than I have seen all year. Took some pix, don't know what all but one of them were. A Texas Wasp Moth I recognized. Neat was a Hister Beetle that came in. A scarcely seen bug, despite them being around. I just counted and have seen 45 species of butterflies from the porch this month so far. Bet a few have slipped through undetected too. Wish we had more flowers. Late afternoon I saw 94F on the cool shady front porch. Had to be near a hun in the sun. A few local sites were 98-99F, Del Rio was over 100F. I think the high temp records for the date were tied or broken at many area stations. After breaking all time heat records in mid-July and mid-Aug., it seems we should not be doing that again, still, in mid-October.

Oct. 10 ~ Low was 58F or lower, I saw a 56 at KRVL. Good thing, we can trap enough cold air in the house to last all day through the heatup. I saw 92 on the cool shady front porch, local WU stations were in the upper 90's F! An Orange-crowned Warbler was at the bath early. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through the yard, this time of year here, each might well be the last of them until March. They winter in the brush country, but not here in the upper Sabinal drainage.

Mid-morn I saw the White-patched Skipper on the Blue Mist Eup. and when I got back out with camera it was gone, again. Dang thang. A Phaon Crescent was new, and hungry, it spent all day on the flowers. After the burner tomorrow there is supposed to be a front and wind-change, which hopefully will bring birds. It seems kinda slow out there right now. Except for squirrels in our Pecans. That Black Rock Squirrel goes up into the tops of the trees, puts one nut in each cheek pouch, one in the mouth, and heads off. The Screech-Owl was going off in the yard over the bath late evening. Was a hot day.

Cordilleran Flycatcher

This is a bad pic of a good bird, so which is allowable. It was a long-distance accidently high ISO docushot grab. Canon autofocus grabbed the background on 9 of 10 shots. Miracle there is this one bad one. This is the Cordilleran Flycatcher at Utopia Park Oct. 14. It does not show how green above and yellowish below the bird was. Note the big white teardrop shape behind the eye typical of the two 'Western' Flycatcher complex species. Luckily it was giving diagnostic calls so I knew what I was looking for before I laid eyes on it.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 9 ~ Low was about 62F. We are progged for a smokin' hot weekend with subsidence, records will probably fall on peak heat Sunday. I saw 88F on the cool shady front porch in the afternoon. Birds were dismal today. Nothing here, or at the park woods. About 50 Monarch in the park woods was it. Heard something good at the library garden but it moved away before I could find or ID it. The Rufous Hummer was still here this morning. Butterflies are the main action at the moment. At the library garden which barely has any flowers, but a few, there was a Fatal Metalmark. What a sad highlight. Here on the Blue Mist Eup. besides the usual which included over 2 dozen Large Orange Sulphur, 5 Queen, 2 Soldier, a Monarch, lots of Dun Skipper still, but the Southern Broken-Dash are decreasing, there was a False Duskywing, a Texas Powdered-Skipper, and maybe the same Orange Skipperling. The White-patched never came back. The water in the river is 3 FEET below normal level at the park. Send rain.

Oct. 8 ~ Low was 53F, and maybe got a dF cooler than that. Love a cool morning. Two Audubon's Oriole came in, one to the bath, which was the first summer bird in the photo break a month ago. Now it is a second fall bird. The head is entirely black now. Not all clean and neat, but in general head appears adult-like, fully black. Quite the change in a month or so. Molt is fast, it has to be. I missed getting a shot of it though, durnit. The Rufous Hummer remains, it is an immature male.

As far as migration motion goes, it is about over here for lots of stuff. As far as the migrants that are just in the U.S. to breed and spend most of the year in Mexico or further south, the insectivores, most are gone. There is just a trickle of them left now. The first wave or half of fall migration is them departing, and that train has left the station. The second half of fall migration is the birds showing up, some of which winter here. That is just barely getting underway with some of them as FOS recently. We are now in the tween time.

There was a White-patched Skipper (Chiomara) on the Blue Mist Eup. briefly. When I came back out with camera it was gone, and it did not return. I got an email from Sylvia Hilbig out West Sabinal Rd. in BanCo, she and Steve had a female American Redstart at their water feature yesterday the 7th. Always a great bird here in fall. She said there has been a White-tailed Kite out there, and has had Northern Harrier, and a flock of Sandhill Crane earlier this week. Some great stuff, and great to hear about it!

Oct. 7 ~ Bottomed out at 54F again, 3rd day now. Sunny, no rain in sight. The river is a rivulet. A Rufous Hummingbird is at the front porch feeder before sunup, so must have been here late yesterday but I missed it. First one in a couple weeks at least. A couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet were trying to go the the birdbath. I never saw either get down in it, one got on a rock adjacent a couple times. They mostly seemed to be attempting a splash-bathe as a vireo does. We did not see the Zebra Heliconian butterfly today, so it thrilled us for 9 days here. Sure great to get to watch one again after a four year absence. Did have 2 Soldier at once, an Orange Skipperling was new. Snouts dialing back thankfully.

Had to make a quick town run late in afternoon, checked park woods but no birds. There were at least 75 Monarch floating around and hanging up, which was awesome. The big peak is still a couple weeks ahead. These will likely clear out on the next notherlies. Some Cypresses are really rusty orange below the spillway where no water flow, they turned early. The Mulberries are starting to go yellow too. Saw my first Maxmillian Sunflower bloom at riversedge. Those look about to bloom well. Lots of yellowing Pecans and the Sycamores are going as well.

Oct. 6 ~ Another 54F low is great, sunny and clear is nice, but we need some rain, it is parched out there. Kathy spotted the Zebra about 11:15 during its morning visit. You can see it has worn, and is less black, getting browner than it was when it showed up 9 days ago. Still awesome to watch though. A Panoquina skipper was out there off and on a bit, I think it was the P. lucas - Purple-washed Skipper again. Could not get a good shot, but think the dings in the wings were the same wingdings. There was a Texas Wasp Moth out there briefly too, which took 50 tries over a couple hours waiting for it to return, but got a usable shot, barely. They are so ginchy I can't believe it. The three Danaus milkweed butterflies continued (Monarch, Queen, and Soldier). At least a couple dozen Large Orange Sulphur around, 1-2 Cloudless passing by, half-dozen Lyside. An Orange-crowned Warbler was hunting in the blooming Frostweed. Feeders are quiet, the Titmice and Chickadees stopping by to gather sunflowers for hiding, but they are eating somewhere else mostly now, as are most of the local seedeaters.

Oct. 5 ~ Low of 54F, sunny, awesome. Across the river some Scissor-tails are singing before sunup when still dark and just cracking light. They will be gone soon. Anyway, it's Monday, to the desk! Sounded 3 Audubon's Oriole early, only saw two. Heard a Greater Yellowlegs flying downriver about 9, probably flushed off of park mudflats at first visitor. A FOS Orange-crowned Warbler came into the tub pond and used the emergency animal egress branch to get to the water and splashed a bit. One Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through. Did not see the Sapsucker. Seems like the Lark Sparrow are thinning. I think there is a lot of seed crop from the foot of rain in late spring (whence the tap shut off) which caused a good flower bloom, and lots of good (wild natural) seed sources are available now. In case you are using less seed now, or seeing fewer birds around, this is likely a factor, quite normal in early fall.

The Zebra showed about 11:15, and after nectaring on the Lantana (it blows off the Blue Mist Eup.) it landed on patio to imbibe water for 5 minutes. Amongst a bunch of Snout it looked quite the oddball. Must be 10 Large Orange Sulphur out there, females in every variation of color in the book, some pretty nice looking, lots of males. Kathy thought she might have had a Black Swallowtail. One Clouded Skipper. The Soldier was back, a Monarch and some Queen rounded out the milkweed butterflies. One Celia's Roadside-Skipper is getting late here. One fresh Common Checkered-Skipper, a Julia's still, a Mestra. The flowers are great fun right now. But the Lantana are fading this cycle of flowering, right at prime time. I saw the Zebra on the Blue Mist for the first time after ignroing it for 8 days.

Oct. 4 ~ Low was about 57F, some scattered clouds and partly sunny. Got up to upper 80's, so warm still. About 9 a.m. or so I had a Black-throated Green Warbler in the big pecan right off front porch. FOS, only one so far this fall. Then a FOS Sapsucker was in the pecan off north side of house. It was a first fall male Red-naped. Record early. It looked adult-like, but without the black chest crescent. One Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Nashville out there as well, Scrub-Jay and the Indigo Bunting continue.

Before noon we went for a spin about. First checked the park woods. A few warblers were a couple Nashville, a Wilson's, and likely the last Black-and-white of the fall here. One White-eyed Vireo, a Belted Kingfisher, and nearly two dozen Monarch floating around the woods. Heard an Indigo Bunnie from across the river. Then we checked a private prop. (permissioned) in BanCo out Jones Cmty Rd., where a Frostweed patch in a pecan bottom. On the way along the county line before the crossing there was a FOS Kestrel on the power line. The Frostweed patch had another Wilson's and two more Nashville Warbler, one Indigo Bunting, and a gaggle of chorusing Lesser Goldfinch, the usual Titmice and Carolina Wrens, another Kinglet (Ruby). A nice patch of Pigeonberry there, but which is mostly depleted already.

Then we checked the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. No Least Grebe. A couple Thornbush Dasher dragonfly. About 5 male Red-winged Blackbird, one male Vermilion Flycatcher is the first I have seen in weeks locally (wonder where it is from), one Linclon's Sparrow, which led to the FOS Marsh Wren when it scolded and chased the Linc out of the cattails where it had landed. A Common Yellowthroat was also in the cattails, making 5 species of warblers today, which is a good day here in fall, with none of either Yellow, Orange-crowned or Yellow-rumped Warbler.

The Zebra (butterfly) was still around the yard. Five plus Large Orange Sulphur at once, a Julia's Skipper, a Clouded Skipper, lots of Dun and Southern Broken-Dash, a Mestra, new was a Soldier in mint condition. One Monarch and a few Queen. One Large Orange Sulphur visited later that was smaller than a big Lyside. Amazing. Squirrels are going ummm, nuts, on the Pecans. We have a very poor crop again this year, and between them in the day and the coons at night, there will be nothing for the birds in winter in no time, and we can forget getting any ourselves. I'll have to find a good roadside or riveredge tree somewhere. The hail storm took ours out in late May as they were just starting to take and form. Due to that, and the drought, the Hackberry crop is pretty weak here too.

Oct. 3 ~ Low was 54F, sunny, then clouded up for a couple hours mid-morn, then cleared before noon. Heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Kathy heard an Audubon's Oriole, I saw a House Wren in the flower bed, perhaps the same as yesterday's here. One Nashville Warbler working the Pecans. The Zebra was around briefly in the late morning. Seems more Turkey Vulture yesterday and today, I suspect the first migrants are starting to pass through. Yesterday a number were up higher and proceeding directly south over the river, looking like migrants. This morning seemed like a dozen in a lift off from the ridge behind us promptly disappeared. Might be 10 Ruby-throats here this a.m., lots of fighting at the feeders. The Indigo Bunnie is still out there.

Cooper's Hawk

This is an adult Cooper's Hawk at our birdbath.
Always have a thick bush or stick pile next to the
bath so birds have a place to dive into just in case.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

October 2 ~ Low was 51F, clear, dry, and beautiful. Got up to the low 80's, chamber of commerce weather. Early there were 3 Nashville Warbler together in the yard, which eventually came down to the bath. Heard a Hutton's Vireo out there too. About a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird still here. Town run day. As I got to the crossing just down the road a flock of sparrows flushed out of the weedy seedy stuff, at least 20 of them. The dozen that I then got in bins were all Clay-colored, I presume the whole flock was. Good numbers here. One Blue Grosbeak imm. was in with them. A female Green Kingfisher at the crossing too.

At the park in town there were 2-3 Nashville Warbler, a FOS House Wren, 2 white-eyed Vireo, 9 Blue-winged Teal, 3 Pied-billed Grebe, a couple Blue Jay, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and at least a dozen Monarch butterfly were floating around the woods. Two Belted Kingfisher were fighting over a section of river. Once they chased upriver, and shortly came haulin' donkey back down, both of them, with a Ringed King right on their rears. That is his part of the river.

Kathy spotted the Zebra before 11 this morning, and I saw it again about 2 p.m. The Purple-washed Skipper was a no-show though. Did not see it again. One Gray Hairstreak was new. One Monarch came by the yard late afternoon. The rest was the same gang as all week. Still lots of Snout but they seem to have relented a little bit. Heard Turkey at dawn, been seeing 2-3 around. A second House Wren was in the yard in the afternoon.

The behavior of interest today was an Indigo Bunting, which burst into song, the first of that I have heard in a month. Would a migrant passage bird sing? Then the bird did a full flight song. It seems to me it is likely one of the local breeders, still here on its territory.

October 1 ~ Another 42F low is again surely in record territory if not one. Only 10dF above a freeze on the date is incredible. No migrant motion again. It has been surprisng to me that after such a big strong frontal passage a couple days ago, in late September, there was so little (almost no) bird movement on it here. One Myrtle Warbler. I must be in the wrong place, for that. Oh to be on a coast where it floods with birds after a fall front like that.

About 11:45, and again at 3:p.m. the Zebra came by the Lantanas. Now day 4 for it here. So neat to see, maybe some better pix. What an awesome butterfly. Saw a Nysa Roadside-Skipper, and the False Duskywing was out there again today too. More Large Orange Sulphur, still clouds of Snout and lots of skippers. Just after 5:p.m. I spotted a Panoquina skipper on the Blue Mist. Thought it was an Ocola at first, took a few pix, it disappeared, brought them up on the computer and saw it was a Panoquina lucas - a PURPLE-WASHED Skipper! A mega-rary in UvCo! Went back out and refound it, and got better shots. I have seen it now in 3 falls including the first time in 2013 when I found the first UvCo record at the library garden. One showed up in 2016, and now this one is the third. The first 10 years here I saw none. It is a Mexican species that barely wanders north to the LRGV (lower Rio Grande Valley) some years. And note I saw a species on Oct. 1 that I did not see all month in September. Didn't even get through the first day of the new month.

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~ ~ ~ September summary ~ ~ ~

The great transitional month from summer to fall. We really beat the heat from the very start of the month with northerly flow from the first big cyclone that plowed north through Louisiana. We were cooler than the last bunch of Septembers, as additional systems repeated and kept the northerly flow going here much of the month. Precip was on the dry side, below avg., at 2.3 inches. The river is two FEET below normal, we are in D1, near D2 drought.

Butterflies were down from August, so diversity likely peaked for the year already. But there was a Zebra! As in Heliconian, or Longwing. My first locally since 2016! Frostweed is just getting going, some Tropical Sage is doing well, but most areas are fairly devoid of flowers due to the drought. It was 46 species for the month, down (20%) from the 57 in August.

Odes were way down from August, they seemed to crash fast and early this year. Most of the month you could hardly find any. There was ANOTHER male COMET Darner at the Waresville golf course pond, for a couple weeks mid-month. It is a great rarity in UvCo. This is the third one this summer here. A couple Twelve-spotted Skimmer and a few Band-winged Dragonlet first week of month were great since both can be missed in fall. Most of the individual numbers though were the migrants passing by, from somewhere else, going somewhere else: Red, and Black, Saddlebags, and then Wandering, and Spot-winged, Gliders, plus Green Darner. The local populations mostly seemed dismal. Drought is not helping. I did not see a Rubyspot, and only a couple Thornbush Dasher at the Waresville pond. It is all but over for the ode year here. I count 20 species for the month, down from 25 in both July and August.

Birds were great, there was lots of migrant motion lots of days from the dozen or so species of regular common passage migrants. The Least Grebe from late June was last seen Sept. 11. Some of the LTA - less-than-annual, fall migrants seen were single Yellow-bellied and Alder Flycatcher, a Western Tanager, a MacGillivray's Warbler, TWO male Lazuli Bunting, a Peregrine, a couple Calliope Hummingbird, and an American Redstart. Also my first ever here September Myrtle Warbler on the 30th. No stellar rarities, but very interesting. It was about 103 species for the month for me locally, with no Lost Maples visit.

~ ~ ~ end Sept. summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ this was the update header for September ~ ~ ~

September! Finally! One of the biggest months of the year here for passage migration. Prime time for raries. A FOS Baltimore Oriole sang outside on Sept. 1. At least one Calliope and a few Rufous Hummingbird continued at our feeders that day as well. Sept. 4 had FOS Willow Flycatcher and a rare here in fall MacGillivray's Warbler. Sept. 3 we had 1.25" and the 5th saw .2 of rain. Sept 5 was my FOS Monarch butterfly, a second on 6th, third and fourth on 7th. Sept. 6 on the heels of a couple days of rain all around there were FOS Mourning Warbler (3+) and American Redstart amongst a fair bit of movement (for here), as well as FOS Pied-billed Grebe at UP, and my FOS (Larry had some already) Blue-winged Teal before sunup blasting downriver. A White-tailed Kite near the golf course entrance also on Sept. 6 is a scarce bird here. A 54F temp was seen on the morning of Sept. 10th, none had been noted in 4 months. Three Yellow-headed Blackbird on Sept. 11 were my FOS. An FOS Common Yellowthroat was seen Sept. 13, my FOS Belted Kingfisher was the 14th. A Solitary Sandpiper flew over southbound early on the 16th. My FOS Clay-colored Sparrow was on the 19th. The 20th saw 3 great FOS: a Peregrine Falcon stooped over the 360 x-ing, a Western Tanager and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher were in our yard. Three more FOS were on Sept. 25: a Long-billed Curlew flew over calling in the mist in the morning, followed by a major sign of fall, TWO Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the yard, and then a calling Alder Flycatcher was a great find at the park entrance garden. My FOS Lincoln's Sparrow was the 28th, thought I had one earlier though. A Zebra Longwing butterfly was in yard Sept. 28 ++, is my first since 2016. A FOS Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped) was record early on Sept. 30.

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~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ Holy cow I can't believe how fast the month shot by. Low was 42F! Almost surely a record, which in SAT is 47 for the date. So just 10F over freezing here this morning! KRVL hit 41, and we may have too. I wasn't watching it. Amazing. Heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet early. Then a record earliest ever Myrtle Warbler was up in the big Pecan. My first September date, prior I could say all Sept. Yellow-rumps here were Audubon's. Now, except one. In the watch what you wish for department, there were THREE Scrub-Jay out back at once for a bit, collecting sunflower seeds it seemed.

The Zebra (butterfly) came back about 11:30, got a few shots, and never saw it again the rest of the day. Did see a False Duskywing, which is new for the month on the last day, so great. It was a fresh beauty too. The Snouts were not as bad as yesterday, but still hundreds around the house, thousands going by. At least one Monarch, about a half-dozen Queen. A few Fiery Skipper, maybe 8 Dun, at least 5 Southern Broken-Dash, nice to see skippers. One yellow morph Lyside Sulphur. Heard but did not see an Indigo Bunting out back. The three hummer feeders seem to be guarded by three birds, with occasional others sneaking in here and there, so maybe a half-dozen birds still here, all imm. male Rubies.

Sept. 29 ~ Low was 44F! OMG! My that is refreshing. Last recorded temp in 40's here was a late late 43F low on April 30. And this one is on the early side. Has to be within a couple dF of record cold. But so figure five months at 50F or (and mostly way) above. Only heard one migrant mid-morn when either a flatulent Dickcissel or maybe a few flew over. Let's hope it was three birds. Saw one Scrub-Jay out back. Only got up to about 76F or so, and dry! Outstanding.

The Two-tailed Swallowtail is still here. Thousands of Snout are going by and hundreds coming into water or nectar. Finally about 10:40 the Zebra was back at the Lantana. Saw it from my chair at the monitor. Bolted out and grabbed a few docu shots. What an awesome butterfly. That shallow-stroke flight pattern presents such a neat twittering effect. I got a pic with it and the Two-tailed Swallowtail in the same frame. Butterflies were busy on the Blue Mist too, at least a half-dozen Dun Skipper, at least 4 Southern Broken-Dash, a Texas Powdered-Skipper, a Giant Swallowtail, a Celia's Roadside-Skipper, Sachem, Fiery, and Whirlabout, amongst others, and pounds of Snout. No hairstreaks or blues, crescents or patches. The Zebra came back at 1: and 2:45 and after over 60 frames since the morning there are a few bearable ones. A Fatal Metalmark was on the Frostweed later p.m., my first individual metalmark of the month. So looked great despite being beat and worn. At least it was still ID'able.

Sept. 28 ~ The front arrived pre-dawn with some wind but no precip. It was still in the upper 70'sF at 3 a.m. and by 4 it had dropped 10dF and was blowing 15-25 mph out of the north. Low was about 64F. Morning was mostly 10-20 mph but regular gusts at 25-35 mph. It is a fall front, no rain, lots of wind. Got up to 75F or so. No bird movement. There were 6 Field Sparrow at once at the bird bath. Saw a vireo make a couple attempts at a splash-bathe, but bath was busy and it departed without bathing or being ID'd. Heard two Scrub-Jay. Great was a FOS Lincoln's Sparrow at the bath. After seeing what surely was one shoot away a few days ago, got this one in bins. Late afternoon the wind finally laid down a bit.

The bird of the day was a butterfly. A Zebra Longwing (Heliconian) was briefly on a Lantana out the office window by the tub pond. I grabbed camera and Kathy but did not get a shot before it left, at least Kathy got a glimpse of it. Been a while since I have seen one, they have been very scarce the last 5 years. Just checked, last year I saw a Zebra was 2016, four years ago, a couple or few seen that year. None since. I have seen more actual Zebra here more recently. During wet periods they can get numerous, e.g., five on one walk through the park woods for instance, then during droughts they can be absent for years, or maybe one or two over a whole year if lucky. They are as erratic as the hydrologic cycle. But my what a beautiful fancy butterfly! They are deceptively fast with that weak-appearing twittery shallow-stroke flight pattern. Then a Two-tailed Swallowtail showed up on the Lantana at front porch. It stayed for a few pix but was worn very pale, and missing much of one hindwing, so two-tailess, and not the looker you want for pix. Same bunch of skippers and Snout on the Blue Mistflower.

Sept. 27 ~ Today is the warmup day before the front which arrives after midnight, and will be dry, but with lots of wind. So we have the gulf low stratus getting sucked up ahead of it, and a 72F low. With strong southerlies we usually see very little to no southbound migrant motion. Worked on stuff here, will save my time for whence better more migrant conducive conditions exist. Saw nothing go through the yard all day. Got hot too, was 92F on the cool shady front porch. Dryer than summer though. Local WU stations had 95, 96, and 98F readings at 4 p.m. Summer doesn't want to let go. There were a couple hundred Snout around, at least. The Blue Mist Eup. and Frostweed were covered with them. Many were the smallest I have ever seen, almost hairstreak sized, barely over a half-inch long. A fair number of skippers were on the Blue Mist too: Celia's Roadside-, a Clouded, 2 Sachem, 3+ Southern Broken-Dash, a Fiery, and several Dun. Peak Queen count was 7, a few Large Orange Sulphur, one Little Yellow, a Lyside, so a few things to look at anyway besides tiny Snouts. Maybe a half-dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbird remain, all seemingly immature males. Can't wait for the front.

Sept. 26 ~ The low was 62 or so at midnight, and warmed to 72 by dawn. It was clear with northerly flow at midnight, cloudy with gulf clouds and fog-mist in the morning. Only migrants in yard were a Gnatcatcher and a Nashville Warbler. Checked park before noon, no migrants there, or at the pond by the Waresville Cmty., or at the Frostweed patch at the 360 x-ing. Did see a few leps: a Hackberry Emperor at Waresville, a Clouded Skipper at the park, a Monarch at the Frostweed patch. On our Blue Mist were a few Southern Broken-Dash, a Celia's Roadside-Skipper, a Fiery Skipper, and a Julia's Skipper. There were dozens of Snout coming in every time Kathy sprayed water around. Green Darner and Black Saddlebags were about it for odes. The bugs are weak, no doubt drought related. We are in D1 on the edge of D2 per the Drought Monitor. The riverlet is down a couple feet below normal and not flowing above ground in many areas. Hit the upper 80's F in the afternoon. Did I mention there are tadpoles in the tub pond now? Will have to watch and see what type, but do not care for them really if Leopard Frog. They will take the Mosquitofish so will have to remove them. Still small and black right now. If Cricket-Frog or Barking Frog, then great!

Zebra Heliconian

Here is the Zebra Heliconian (or Longwing) that has been
around the yard all week, 5 days now. First one we have
had locally since 2016, for me at least.


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Sept. 25 ~ An even cooler 56F this morning, weewow. About 9:30 it was drizzling in the fogmist and I heard a FOS Long-billed Curlew fly over up there in the gray haze somewhere. Later morn there was a Nashville Warbler and TWO FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet! To me a major sign of fall, a kinglet. Then a town run fer errands. Park stop of course. No migrants in the woods. Deadsville. One Belted, one Ringed, and two or three Green Kingfisher around the pond and island. Leaving I stopped at the deco garden at the entrance. An ALDER Flycatcher popped up and proceeded to begin calling at me. I got a couple docu shots before I lost it. Then leaving I saw it across the road but it shot back into the big row of dense shrubbery by the water co. and I was late by then so had to go. Great to hear one in the fall so as to get a positive ID! Pwip! Pwip! Sort of similar to a Pewee (Eastern) chip note. Most falls I do not get a positive ID on one. Heard an Indigo Bunnie here late in the p.m. Saw 82F on the front porch, dry, wonderful. A Monarch was on the Blue Mistflower late p.m. Saw a Least Flycatcher out front at last sun. Keep forgetting to mention the Lindheimer's Senna has been blooming great for a couple weeks now.

Sept. 24 ~ I saw 58F on the front porch early, at first crack of light, probably dropped another dF or two though, wasn't watching it. Awesome. Sure seems quiet out there in the mornings now. The place has emptied out, barely any hummers, did not see any migrant motion early, and all the breeders that migrate away are gone except Lark Sparrow. Kathy saw two Scrub-Jay today, so after a two day absence either the missing bird is back, or another showed up. Did not hear a White-eyed Vireo, but did hear one Indigo Bunting bzzz in the morning. One Orchard Oriole was on clothesline and dropped down to seed on patio where other birds were eating. One Yellow Warbler in afternoon. Saw 85F on the cool shady front porch, so near 90 in the sun. A few Southern Broken-Dash (skipper - butterfly) were on the Blue Mistflower.

Sept. 23 ~ A low of 62F was awesome. Scissor-tails are the only thing singing as light just breaks. Just one Scrub-Jay here, but at least it is one Scrub-Jay here. There is a White-eyed Vireo across road but it is not our local nesting bird which was absolutely gone yesterday if not the day before. As Kathy noticed, this bird's call, we never heard from ours. I presume an immature, certainly a passage migrant White-eyed Vireo. Because they arrive early and stay late, it is hard to get passage dates on them, until you know your local birds are gone. Which you can tell by listening to them every day. I bet this one can't even do perfect Ash-throat and Summer Tanager calls. I am sure there have been migrants passing by, as their numbers have been higher than the local baseline numbers. Ran to town late afternoon in peak heat, looked at the park woods anyway, seemed everything was sleeping save one Ringed Kingfisher. Not a White-eyed Vireo there either. Heard a Wilson's Warbler here at the casita at last sun. Kathy had a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bath.

Sept. 22 ~ Low of 66F, brisk northerlies, and it feels like the first day of fall. No morning migrant motion in yard though. Sure is getting yellow of leaves out there. Being in the 70's sure is great. Certainly less than a dozen hummers, maybe less than a half-dozen remain present. A week from peak of a couple hundred, and they are almost all gone. No Indigo or Painted Bunting, and did not hear any White-eyed Vireo around today. They too have departed. One Yellow Warbler went through yard today. Maybe the strong northerlies are causing much to overfly us? It is clearing out here fast. There was only one Scrub-Jay around a little bit today. We had one for a several days, then two for a few days which hung out together all the time. Kathy heard what sounded a Scrub-Jay being predated after dark last night, and now we only have one again. What takes a Scrub-Jay at roost? A Ringtail is my number one guess.

Sept. 21 ~ Low about 66, with some light sprinkles and showers, maybe .1 or so in pre-dawn hour or so. Looks like was a band from Beta off the Texas coast. No migrant motion first few hours. Nice northerly flow though. Heard Scissor-tails at dawn over at golf course across river. No greenie Painted Bunting today, the Chats are gone, the Vermilion Flycatchers are gone, only a few hummers left too. Two Scrub-Jay still. In afternoon one each Yellow and Nashville Warbler, one mostly brown ad. ma. Indigo Bunting. Still a White-eyed Vireo or two. Again flushed a small bird as I walked by the tub pond. This a LBJ, little brown job, that looked like a Lincoln's Sparrow. Which would be FOS, but it shot off, gettin' smaller as it flew away, and looking like a Lincoln's all the way. Kathy heard a bird being taken by a predator after dark, said it sounded like a Scrub-Jay.

Sept. 20 ~ Got down to at least 56F, maybe lower, wow. Soooo good. Still dry northerly flow aloft, and no migration motion early in morn again. The Scrub-Jay was gathering sunflower seeds out back, so has discovered the food supply, and appears to have designs on hanging around. And there is the second one, still here too. So we have a pair it seems. Before 10 I was out in driveway when a male Scissor-tail flew by low going north and right as it got over the gate it burst into song climbing straight up and flipped at the crescendo, twice! Full display flightsong right in front of me. Almost OD'd on awesomeness.

About 11-1 we went and checked park and golf course. Heard a couple Yellow Warbler along 360. No Least Grebe on the pond, it may be gone. A sparrow got away there that looked a White-crowned, which would have been an early FOS. Saw the male Comet Darner dragonfly, and a couple Thornbush Dasher.

At the park woods there were a couple Wilson's Warbler, a Least Flycatcher, two Common Yellowthroat (one female type, one imm. male), one Hutton's Vireo, and heard a Yellow-throated Warbler. One Belted Kingfisher at the pond. Then checked the Frostweed by the 360 xing on way home. One Nashville Warbler was it there for small stuff. A third C. Yellowthroat was just upriver from the bridge where the FOS was a week ago. No odes at the crossing though, but the immigrant Green Darners. Season seems to be ending early here this year. Park didn't have squat for odes either.

We were on the 360 bridge walking back to trucklet, luckily my eyes were on the ground, and I saw a shadow of something going over. We get a lot of vulture shadows here and you get tired of looking up and into the sun for another dang vulture. This shadow however was highly suspicious, it was a suspect shadow. By all means a shadow of great interest. It was smaller, and a fast shadow. This shadow was not lollygagging around. My nose went up like an infield fly as I looked toward the sun for said shadowmaker. Instantly upon sighting it I said to Kathy 'falcon!', followed immediately by Peregrine! Just as she got on it, it stooped toward the pasture on the other side of the treeline and we lost it behind the trees. Never saw it again. Short and sweet, but a Peregrine! It gave a few flaps as it began the dive, you could see the acceleration, and when it closed its wings it was like turbo warp drive speed initiated. Whaddabird!

One of the times I went to birdbath to add water and flush it (fills with feathers all Aug. and Sept.) I lifted it up and a Ribbonsnake was under it! It bolted into brushpile. Very cool. They are too small to take a bird, but maybe a frog or bug coming in is another story. Later in afternoon I saw a bird bathing in bath that bare-eyed I kept going back and forth between oriole and tanager on, because it was greenish and yellowish, with a lower white wingbar, but the bill was short and stubby, with lots of yellow in it and tanager shaped. It was a Western Tanager! It flew off directly across fence out of yard. Then late near last sun there were TWO Empidonax flycatchers in the yard. One was a Least, the other disappeared quickly and was a Yellow-bellied, but which at least I got a good close view of for the ID.

Sept. 19 ~ A low of 62F, at least, might have hit 61, KRVL had a 59 briefly. I check it on the way to toss seed, but which is usually before the final dF or two drop. Not much migrant motion in the morn. A pair of imm. Baltimore Oriole seems the same two around all week. One Gnatcatcher might have been new, or not. In a gap between trees I saw a few flaps of what looked like a cormorant heading south, and which could only have been a Neotropic (size and tail). Have to let it go, and would be a yard bird. Ouch.

Did a dump and recycling run 11-1 or so. Which meant a park woods check. One Wilson's Warbler, a Chat, heard a Ringed King upriver, and one Catocala Underwing moth with orange hindwing. Later here at casita heard a Ringed as well. Went out Seco Ridge to check the Evergreen Sumacs for that fancy metallic green and orange-red Cerambycid and found none. There has been fiber optic cable being laid along the road and the one best magic bush where they met to select mates, which had to be 50 years old or more, is gone, no trace of it. They call it progress.

After a post office pickup I saw Big Ern was there so braked for BBQ chicken and a pound of pork ribs. Lunch and dinner to die for good. And Kathy is off the hook to cook. About 7 p.m. a FOS Clay-colored Sparrow was on the patio! Adult, awesome. A dozen Lark and a few Field there as well as two Indigo Bunting, one a continuing adult male. After dark heard a couple Barn Owl go over, and I presume that begging Screech-Owl of a week and more ago is the other noise out there.

Alder Flycatcher

This is the first pic of an Alder Flycatcher here. Sorry about the grainy and over-exposed, settings were for in the dark woods. It was much greener and yellower than these pics show. Fortunately it was in a calling mood unlike most that pass through. It makes a good generic Empidonax flycatcher pic. Oliveish above, some yellowish below, usually a messy breastband of olive, two wingbars and an eyering. Ya seen one you seen 'em all, just hope they call. Actually they are learnable, but are usually the last group of birds one learns well, which means well enough to ID most of them even when they are silent.


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Sept. 18 ~ A low of 64F is outstanding. Early saw two Nashville Warbler (still same ones?), a couple Baltimore Oriole, and heard a Dickcissel. Heard a Scrub-Jay out back. Saw the ad. ma. Painted Bunting with yellow on back early in morn. Town run errand day. A stop at the park woods found only two greenie Painted Bunting, besides a small buteo that got away. Hummers have blown out big time, there might be a dozen around by the end of the day. Late Kathy saw the two Nashville Warbler gleaning pecans still. I saw one Monarch pass by southbound. Heard an Audubon's Oriole early, and an Orchard Oriole late. A few Turkey were over in the corral. Topped out at about 84F, at least 10F cooler than a few weeks ago. Lots of Barn Swallow going north low from a roost to feed early in the morning. Water is at least two feet from going over the spillway at the park. It just keeps dropping. Heard an Upland Sandpiper at dusk. Sure wish I could find the magic pasture.

Sept. 17 ~ Low about 68F, still north or northeast flow. Seems like it should help us get migrants but no action early in yard save a Gnatcatcher and the two Nashville Warbler gleaning the leaves in the pecanlets, again right out the nook window whilst we had breakfast, just feet away. Probably the same birds, now on day 4 around the yard. Heard a Scrub-Jay mid-morn. Clouded up before noon. One Yellow Warbler was around. Some rain cells in the area in afternoon, finally one found us, we got about .2 of an inch of precip. Every bit counts. Took us from peak heat at 84 to 74F. Late I saw the ad. ma. Painted Bunting with yellow on back. Was a big hummer blowout yesterday, and which continues today. The Rufous was here early still. Maybe 50 or so Rubies left in the morning, and probably not two dozen in the evening. Heard an Upland Sandpiper at dusk, at midnight another. Probably a bunch went by in between? The ones right at dusk and just after are quite low, and are just getting in the air for a night of flight, and spent the day on the ground locally. The ones you hear late are very high up by comparison.

Sept. 16 ~ Another 65F low is wonderful. Just before 8 a.m. a Solitary Sandpiper flew south right over the yard, calling. I was at my observation station (chair on front porch) and heard it coming so got a decent look. Been a few years since I saw one from yard, and do not even see one every fall. Probably flushed off the mudflats at park pond when first visitor showed up. A half-hour later a couple very yellow below Kingbirds flew north up the river habitat corridor, almost certainly Couch's. Then three more birds flew north together which were long-winged, medium sized, fairly Larid appearing. Maybe Black Terns but I just saw them flying away. Wish I could run to the park. Too much to do. Heard Aububon's Oriole early.

The Rufous Hummer that showed up yesterday continues, it is missing much of the right half of its tail, so will be easy to track here. There are way fewer hummers (all but one Ruby-throated) this morning, and way fewer again in the evening. Might have had a hundred in the a.m., probably 50 at last call, at most. Big departure day, again. Yesterday started the big departure, today it continued. Were a couple hundred a couple days ago. The mid-Sept. blowout with first frontal passage is underway.

Orchard Oriole went through, one female Yellow Warbler, a Gnatcatcher, a little bit of movement. On a stuck-at-the-desk day. Will have to hope something shows up at the bath. Speaking of which Kathy spotted the Scrub-Jay at the bath, which is the first time one has been at it in 7+ years at this place. We had Blue Jays at it the last invasion year for them, but have never pulled a Scrub-Jay in. I think it might have found sunflower seeds out back, as it was out there the last couple days, and now at the water. It came back late in the day with a friend, TWO Scrub-Jay at the bath! Watch what you wish for.

At least a couple Baltimore Oriole came in to the birdbath, methinks imm. female and imm. male, maybe an ad. female too? Maybe pix of two of them. Chat was at bath too, still a couple of them across road in the thicket. Chitting. Do you know chit from chat? Or do you not know chit? Sometimes I digress... Late at last seed call on the patio the ad. male Painted Bunting was there, the one with the yellow lower edge of green back, the third day for it now. Just one or two greenies left, and a couple brownies, imm. Indigo, plus one ad. male Indigo continues as well. Lots of Field (8-10) and Lark (16-20) Sparrow, just a few Chippy. At last sun two Nashville Warbler were gleaning in a small yellowing pecan, as a couple days ago. Something attractive to them there. With the few Hooded Orio at the feeders there were four species of oriole here today.

Sept. 15 ~ Low of 65F was great, I could get used to this. What a world of difference a temp spread in the 60-80 range is from the 70-90's. Night and day. There seemed no migrant motion through the yard in the morning. Maybe over the day some things will pass through. There was north to northeasterly flow last night. Also seems there was some hummingbird departure yesterday afternoon. Which seems to be ongoing this morning on the still light north flow. Will be easy to see any big numbers change via fluid usage. It was likely barely a hundred hummers during last hour. Heard a Dickcissel in yard later morning, and one Scissor-tail flew over high going south.

It is great having about 4 dozen Red Turkscap flowers going at once for a couple weeks. If the deer hadn't repeatedly eaten the tops off all the stalks in the summer I am sure it would have been a very impressive show this year. It is still good, at least some made it, about a 8' strip of it, started from harvested seeds. Our one (transplanted from one small stalk a few years ago) Frostweed is now a dozen stalks with flower heads all just about to open up. A Southern Broken-Dash was on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. One Monarch came by and sniffed them but continued on.

About 11 a.m. heard a Rufous Hummingbird, the first in four days at least, so a new bird, and at least number 6 for the fall, here. One greenie and one ad. male Indigo on patio. Few Turkey over in corral. Black Rock Squirrel still around. Noonish flushed a warbler out of the Turkscap and Am. Germander that was probably a Common Yellowthroat. Tail was too long for a Mourning, but could have been a Mac. Just saw it well enough to say probably a Yellowthroat, absolutely not a Mourning. Later Kathy had a female Wilson's at the birdbath.

Sept. 14 ~ A 67F low was great, sunny, a light NE flow so clear and no clouds. Like utopia. Hear a chat still, Kathy saw one yesterday at the bath. A couple Baltimore Oriole went through yard early. Heard a Scrub-Jay out back about 9, I wish one would find the sunflower seed here. Perhaps a good time for a reminder to watch what you wish for. Ran to town early and a quick check of the park woods where there were no migrants. It seems to collect birds over the morning and is better later than earlier. The pond, much quieter of hominids than on the weekends, had two Ringed Kingfisher, and a FOS Belted Kingfisher. Up at top of island, which is not anymore due to the water level dropping near a couple feet, there were two Green Kingfisher. So a king trifecta today. Still busy with hummers but seemingly thinning slightly over the day. Like maybe a quarter or so left?

Then back here at the hovelita with a couple of Rosie's egg, chorizo and cheese breakfast tacos... There is a small pecanlet tree right outside the window at the nook where we sit to eat breakfast and lunch. There were two Nashville Warbler in it, two to four feet away, for minutes. Gleaning something off the yellowing pecan leaves. I think bugs come into the sap they exude and get stuck in it. It was a great show at point blank. They sure are small warblers. In the afternoon I got a few shots of an imm. male (first fall) Baltimore Oriole at the bath, but missed the ad. male that Kathy saw at it. Then after 6 p.m. Kathy spotted an adult male Painted Bunting on the patio! It was not the one with yellow across breast, last here a week or so ago. It is a new different one, perfectly red below. Great late date, for an ad. male. It has a band of yellow across back at lower edge of the lime green. Pure bright sun yellow. Awesome looking.

Sept. 13 ~ Low was 69F, cloudy and humid, a little breeze. No migrant motion through yard in a.m., shoulda gone out yesterday when stuff moving through yard. We went out for a couple hour check mid-day. The woods at the park had no migrants. One Great Egret still at pond. A half-mile south of town at a private spot with some Frostweed saw a Least Flycatcher, a Yellow Warbler, a greenie Painted Bunting, and over at river female Summer Tanager, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, an Indigo Bunting and two female Wilson's Warbler. Then at the golf course pond we missed the Least Grebe as a guy raced by the pond in a golf cart just as we got there, and we saw no blackbirds. At the 360 xing we walked a Frostweed patch and had one more Indigo Bunting, and an imm. Mourning Warbler. Number 7 of the fall, and in last 8 days. Then just above the crossing streamside was a FOS female or immature Common Yellowthroat. Heard two Yellow Warbler along the way, saw two Scissor-tails and a few Vermilion Flycatcher. Saw a half-dozen Fireweed in bloom in or along river, and one nice XL Goldenrod was open, what a beautiful plant.

A Gnatcatcher went through yard late afternoon. A sprinkle hit about 3:30 dropping temp from 85F to 80, then to 77 by 4:30 and 73F at 5:30! Amazing for the date. Wonderful. Over a couple hours we got about .15" of an inch. Late at last call for seed on the patio there were 3 greenie Painted and 4 brownie Indigo Buntings, one Indigo is an adult male. Late afternoon there was a Turkey tussle over in the corral, a couple males in partial display, maybe 7-8 big toms all trilling the warbled notes that almost sound like distant cranes (but rounder). Ruby-throated are the only hummer here now, making up for it in numbers, there are probably about 200 present.

Sept. 12 ~ Low of 65 F is fine, mostly cloudy, got up to about 90F. Was a little movement early but I was too busy to go play hooky and bird. Through the yard I had a few Orchard and at least 2 Baltimore Oriole, and a Yellow Warbler. Seems less buntings, might have been a flight out last night? Lots of Ruby-throated Hummers (150-200), but no Calliope or Rufous for the first time in a couple weeks. I last saw both yesterday in the morning, did not have either in the afternoon. Sure was great to have one, and often two Calliope, around for a couple weeks. The Hooded Orioles were around hitting the feeders, at least three. Had a count of 18 Lark Sparrow. Only a few of each Indigo and Painted bunnies today.

Audubon's Oriole

Another little seen, depicted, and known plumage. This is a first summer Audubon's Oriole, about a year old and just molting into its first adult type plumage. The black feathers are all new adult type plumage. Some new olive back feathers, and yellow throat feathers are also coming in, more adult plumage. Note this bird as a juvenile started out all green and greenish-yellow, before these feathers faded with a beating from a year of wear. As the birds in the break pics a few weeks ago. The yellow-green underparts are now very pale, nearly white in places. Some of the formerly green upperparts are worn to gray as upper tail coverts or rump, and scapulars. Keep in mind green can wear to gray in a year. You can see this in flycatchers (Empidonax, pewees), buntings (Painted), and even warblers among other things. The dirt stuck on the bill is Texas Persimmon, lots of birds here show this mid-Aug. to Sept.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 11 ~ Low was 57F, and fantastic. No more rain, but cloudy all day and did not hit 80F. Wonderful. Not much for migrant movement in the morning. Heard a Blue Grosbeak, presume the ad. male of yesterday. Also heard a Dickcissel and saw a bunch of buntings. A bzzzzz of buntings. One Calliope Hummer still here in a.m. Noonish did the town errand run. Drove through golf course on way, no grasspipers, saw the Least Grebe from the car, a driveby sighting, and there were 3 Yellow-headed Blackbird on the powerline over the pond, which departed in short order. Then at Utopia Park saw a Ringed King, and the Pied-billed Grebe continued, but that was about it. No migs. Did not hear the Yellow-throated Vireo in yard, or at park. Only one Summer Tanager at park, and Kathy had a red one here. They have thinned out too. After Rosie's tacos for lunch here I saw a (THIRD for the fall) male Lazuli Bunting at the bath but it flushed as I went for photos. An oriole came down for some consolation pix, it felt so bad for me. It was a juvenile (HY - hatch year) male Hooded. Heard a Gnatcatcher in yard. The fairly adult male looking Hooded at the office feeder is a first summer bird, but molting into second basic, so looking better than it did all summer. Saw a worn juv. Blue Grosbeak at the 360 xing on way out this a.m., and then another very similar bird here on patio at last call. They are on the move now.

Sept. 10 ~ A low of 54F is astounding. There hasn't been one of those seen around here in four months! The record low for SAT this date is 56F so we had to be right about there, here. Had to find pants with legs. We finally got a little rain, mostly right around and after dawn, was .6 of an inch. So we are about 2" for the month now. Saw one Callope and one Rufous, and a hundred or likely more Rubies. The 7 greenies continue, and saw 7 brownies, Indigo Bunting, at once. The patio is buntingtopia. Even the two adult male Indigos left are mostly brown now. A Dickcissel was out there farting away. Even better than a Dickcissel fart was an adult male Blue Grosbeak. Of which I have not seen one in a month, our local breeders have been long gone, and this is surely a transient from somewhere else. Kathy saw a male Hooded Oriole on a feeder. The high I saw was 63F, making me wonder what the record low high is for the date. This has to be very close, at or near one. Less than a 10dF spread on Sept. 10 is amazing. It will cause an early blowout of hummers is my guess.

Sept. 9 ~ Low about 73F again, very humid, the first fall cold front on way inbound, arriving in afternoon sometime. Had to run to town early so a quick look at park woods. At far north end in weedy patch, Indigo and Painted Bunting immatures, and another Mourning Warbler. Unlike the ones here Sunday it had no white around eye so a new different immature. The sixth one I have seen in the last 3 days. One Ringed King was on island, and finally I saw an immature Green Heron, no doubt from the pair that nests on the island. Two Yellow-throated Warbler at park woods, and one in yard.

Was about 80 before it started to cool just before noon whence a few sprinkles. About 74F at 1 p.m. was great. As of 3:30 p.m. all the rain has missed us, we have a tracelet. One Yellow Warbler was in the yard. There will be bird movement when the wind changes, maybe tomorrow. Last couple days had strong southerlies which shut down southward progression. Later afternoon heard a Dickcissel out in the pecans.

After 5 p.m. Kathy spotted an oriole at the office feeder but couldn't see it through the reflection. Hooded are in and out all day but usually chatter on way in and there had been none. I slowly moved my head to get eyes on it, and it flushed when it saw me. It was a male Scott's Oriole, of which I haven't seen one in the yard all year. We have had a pair nest nearby in prior years and be daily users, but they were not around this year. Actually lamented to Kathy in the summer about not hearing that beautiful awesome song. Now I hope it got a taste of that sweet sweet fluid and comes back. And wonder if was one that knew about the feeder as it is under the carport steel roof out back and not out in open view to regular passersby like a couple other feeders are.

A bit after 5 p.m. it had cooled down to 69F or so, which is hard to believe after the last three months of 5 p.m. temps. No one complained. Junction and Rocksprings were at 59F! At 7 p.m. we were 64F with northwest winds! Hummer feeders were backed up before dark. Still two Calliope and a couple Rufous Hummers at the feeders, lots of Rubies, my guess is about a hundred. Did not see a Black-chinned today. Had a last light count of 7 greenies, 5 on the patio and 2 out back, and 3 or 4 Indigo of which one is a continuing adult male.

The Soldier butterfly from yesterday was back on the Blue Mist Eup. today, new was a Texas Powdered-Skipper on it. But all we got was spit on for precipitation. A 100% chance and I could have counted the drops. A tracelet. Lots of folks north and east got it, some too much, but most of the Hwy. 90 strip of Medina, Uvalde, and Kinney Counties missed it so far.

Sept. 8 ~ Low was 73F, still struggling to cool off here. Highs in the mid-to-upper 80's F is still a big relief after a hundred days near a hundred dF. Rain is forecast all week and a cold front is progged to arrive tomorrow, Wednesday. The first real front of fall. Some sprinkles over morning, a hundredth or two.

Still two Calliope and at least two Rufous on the front feeder. No bird movement apparent early through yard. The Chat hit the bath. One female Yellow around yard after mid-day. A Dickcissel at the bath was an ad. female, not the usual immatures we get in fall. Monarch #5 was at the Blue Mistflower briefly. A Soldier was on it in the afternoon, so with the usual few Queens, hit the Danaus trifecta, all three of our 'milkweed' butterflies.

About 5 p.m. I found a just shed snakeskin right out front by the flowers and stepping stones. Wished I'd have seen the snake. It was not there a couple hours earlier. It was fresh enough to see the pattern, it was from a Western Ribbonsnake, the most-seen snake in the yard. The skin was 43" long with kinks in it! It had to be 45"! Snakeskin stretches as it molts so you cannot claim the snake was that big, but it was a biggun'. Maybe 10% or so for stretch during shed? Even at 20% it would be a 3 foot Ribbonsnake. The biggest I have seen is maybe 30" or so.

Sept. 7 ~ A low of 66F or so was outstanding. I saw KRVL hit 64, we might have, I wasn't watching, but saw 66F, 20 min. or so before that usual final dip of a dF or two. What a treat on what to many marks the end of summer, Labor Day. Not much for migration motion early. Three Indigo Bunting, 2 brown imm. or female, one male continuing. Five greenies in a.m. on patio. One Gnatcatcher, one Orchard Oriole. Still two Calliope, 2-3 Rufous, maybe 4 dozen Ruby-throated, and a couple imm. Black-chinned Hummingbird. Had a Monarch on the Blue Mistflower early.

Noonish I ran down to the crossing and checked the Frostweed patches up and down river a bit. Nothing going in either, save one Monarch, one Orchard Orio, one greenie Painted Bunting. Did see some Clammy-weed in bloom, a delicate beauty. Some Fireweed (Lobelia) is opening in the river. Out back of house I saw some Fall Rain Lily, first of those this fall. After lunch there was a Dickcissel at the bath briefly. Best was during my last seed toss at 3 p.m., as I walked by the little fenced-in garden area with the tub pond, a Mourning Warbler flushed out of it! It was right under the office window! It landed in the Lantana there 6' from me long enough for me to see it was not the expected greenie popping up, but a Mourning Warbler! An hour or so later Kathy thought she saw it at the bath, but a Cardinal flushed it away. There was a Southern Broken-Dash (skipper) on the Blue Mistflower.

Sept. 6 ~ Low of 68 was great. We are on the heels of the system that has caused rain all over the area for the last 3 days. There have been areas in central Texas that got 3, 5, and further north 10 inches of rain over the last few days. The low is fading away, after the last few spits late last night. Before sunup about 6:45 a small group of Blue-winged Teal shot by following the river habitat corridor. About 7 a second group went by. Was only a dozen total, but my FOS this fall so great to see, and hear those wings whistling. I haven't heard anything big flap that fast in months.

Early a couple Yellow Warbler, couple Orchard Oriole, a Gnatcatcher went through. About 10 we went looking for signs of migration motion. Pulled into the golf course entrance road and spotted an odd shaped raptor a couple hundred yards away in treetop snag. White-tailed Kite! Got a distant docushot for the hawk page. Never know when you will see one here. More often you don't.

At the golf course pond at Waresville I had a quick look at the Least Grebe but it disappeared. A few Red-winged Blackbird, one Yellow Warbler, a Least Flycatcher, a Gnatcatcher and an imm. Vermilion Flycatcher. Great was a COMET DARNER dragonfly. This is no doubt NOT the one here early in summer, but a new one, they don't live that long as flying adults. One has not been there for the last month prior. There seems to me to be a connection between hurricanes going north up the Mississippi and us getting Comet Darners a week later. There was also a male Twelve-spotted Skimmer there, the second one of the fall after the one Kathy trolled in with water in the yard. There were no grasspipers to be found. Heard the Shrike again.

At the park pond there was a FOS Pied-billed Grebe. Then we checked the park woods. They often seem a bit slow and you have to stand around and be still shortly so things come back out. More often than not I find the good birds on the way out after I have walked all the way in, been still ten minutes, and slowly work my way back. We saw three FOS Mourning Warbler, one ad. fem., two imms., which got pix of the latter two. After 30 plus minutes in there we saw a FOS American Redstart, an imm. male which proceeded to preen a bath out right overhead. Canon autofocus did not want me to have a nice pic to show you. There was also a Louisiana Waterthrush there, Kathy spotted a Black-n-white Warbler, there were a couple Yellow, a Nashville, a Yellow-throated Warbler, and a Wilson's. Eight species of warblers at once in the woods in early Sept. is nothing short of fantastic, nearing amazing. A dozen individual warblers! Also there was a Gnatcatcher, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed Vireo, a Green Kingfisher, and a Ringed King calling upriver. Saw some Orange Bluet in binocs near top of island.

We drove up to West Sabinal Road via Jones Cmty. Rd. and looked at a couple thousand acres of great looking pastures, with no grasspipers, saw one Monarch. At the low wet spot by Haby's there were dragonflies. At least 4-5 Band-winged Dragonlet, another male Twelve-spotted Skimmer, and ovipositing Wandering Glider. The water does not stay there all the time, what happens with the eggs or larvae? There were lots of Gliders, Saddlebags, and Green Darner, everywhere. On Jones Cmty Rd. by the second cattle guard leaving town down in the Frostweed and Turkscap there was another Mourning Warbler. So four of them today, and that last one in Bandera Co.

Back at the house just before 1 p.m. and there was a Nashville Warbler working the yard. Mid-afternoon a Nysa Roadside-Skipper was on the Blue Mistflower. Later about 7 p.m. there were two Calliope Hummingbird at once on the front porch feeder. Thought I saw two yesterday as well. At least a couple Rufous still, one imm. male Black-chinned, and a few dozen Ruby-throated are most of the hummers. Late I got a count of 7 greenies on the patio, all look immatures. Two imm. Indigo Bunting as well. The Black Rock Squirrel continues, as do Screech-Owls after dark.

Sept. 5 ~ Low was 73F with some clouds. Very little migrant motion. A Yellow Warbler, a couple Orchard Oriole, one Dickcissel, one Gnatcatcher. That was it the first few hours of morn. On the patio seed there were a dozen House Finch, mostly juveniles or immatures, a dozen Lesser Goldfinch, a half-dozen Lark Sparrow, couple Chipping and a few Field Sparrow. In buntings there were 6 Indigo, one a continuing mostly brown adult male, and 6 Painted, 5 greenies and the continuing ad. male with yellow on breast. Heard a Scrub-Jay uphill in the live-oaks. About 2-3 p.m. there was a quarter inch of rain, cooled it from 85 to 75F. Very nice. A Calliope, and at least 2, probably 3 Rufous Hummers continue. Only saw one imm. male Black-chinned, at least 3 dozen Ruby-throats. The Coyotes went off nuts after the rain, not waiting for dark to get going. It was over a dozen barely a hundred yards uphill behind us. Awesome sounds.

Least Grebe

Here is a better pic of the Least Grebe at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty., this pic taken Aug. 30, two months into its visit. Said to be 9" long, book measurements are often of a museum specimen with neck stretched out. You would swear if you saw this bird all 4 oz. would fit in the palm of your hand.


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Sept. 4 ~ A wonderful 69F low felt fantastic. Heard an Upland Sandpiper early this morning. A couple Orchard Oriole and a Yellow Warbler went through first thing. Counted 5 greenies on patio, two are new, way way grayer than the three that were left yesterday. Still a Calliope and at least a couple Rufous Hummers here. Town run so park check, where there was a sprinkling of migrants. Best was a female MacGillivray's Warbler, maybe my fourth fall record in 17 falls. Very scarce and LTA - less than annual, as a fall migrant here. One Wilson's, two Nashville, two Yellow and a Yellow-throated Warbler. Then there was a FOS Willow Flycatcher and two Least Flycatcher, plus one Empi that got away, which was likely an imm. Acadian. A Great Crested Flycatcher showed well, one Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, heard an Orchard Oriole or two, male Summer Tanager. So at least a dozen migrants in the acre woodlot at the north end of park, probably a few more if I had more time. Lots of dragons out there this morning. The two usual types of Saddlebags and Gliders, and lots more Green Darner.

About 3:30 p.m. we got some rain-cooled outflow in the afternoon to break the heat a bit, but no more rain, yet. Some nearby areas got some. It dropped us to about 79F for the heat of the day hours. Late late afternoon there were some swallows feeding low, saw one Chimney Swift in with them. Saw one adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird, which is new. Kathy spotted an ad. male painted Bunting on the patio, first in a week, and is the one last here, with the yellow crescent across breast. I have seen this bird about 4 times in four weeks. Got a docushot through the window, good late date for an ad. male. Out in yard was a Yellow Warbler, couple Orchard Oriole, Gnatcatcher, heard a Least Flycatcher across road from gate and a Dickcissel called from in the pecans. More migrant motion is great to see.

Sept. 3 ~ Low was 75F and still no rain here yet. Now they say this afternoon to early evening. By then they will be saying late evening. They are also talking about some sort of real actual fall front middle of next week. Should be lots of bird movement just ahead of it, then grounded during it, and a push right behind it. You get three free chances with every front. I saw last night NOAA called the missed rain forecast a "relatively large spatial error". Interesting way to explain how you totally blew where the rain was going to fall. Imma try that. Well you see officer it was a mere spatial error...

This morning just a trickle of movement. A couple each of imm. Orchard Oriole (hit the bath early), Yellow Warbler, and Gnatcats went through. A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher went over high at migration altitude, southbound. Chat took a bath as did female Summer Tanager, later the male Summer Tan took a dip. A dozen Lark Sparrow on the seed, half are juveniles. Three greenies still here. A male Hooded Oriole was with the female or imm. today, but it did not look like a full ad., probably a first summer getting first adult plumage. Kathy glimpsed it later at the bath. The super pale first-summer Audubon's Oriole was also at the bath late morning. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. At least two imm. male Black-chinned Hummingbird still here, one Calliope, at least two Rufous, and a couple or few dozen Rubies.

Finally about 4:20 an outflow boundry hit and dropped us from 94 to 82 in 15 minutes, by 5 the rain was here and it was 70F! I stood in the outflow as it arrived, until it got wet. Only saw four Turkey Vulture and a couple Barn Swallow on it. After it passed I see 1.25" for a total! WEEWOW! The Frostweed really needed it badly to bloom well. I see a couple spindly Broomweed with single flowers open. It is not making any brooms this year. Of course no Plateau Agalinis came up this summer in the drought. Heard an Upland Sandpiper go over about 10 p.m. as it was clearing behind the rain.

Sept. 2 ~ A low of 76F was a wee bit better, but not exactly refreshing. Some parts of the plateau got rain last night, not us. Supposed to today. We'll see. In the morning there was some migrant motion, I presume being pushed ahead of the rain sheild to our north and northeast. There were a half-dozen Orchard Oriole, about 4 Yellow Warbler, a couple Gnatcatcher and a Dickcissel. Movement. Wednesday is a too busy at the desk day so not able to look much all day. Did see a Calliope and at least a couple Rufous Hummingbird, but in afternoon it seemed there were fewer hummers. Maybe some headed out of town today. Heard Audubon's Oriole, saw the two ad. ma. Indigo Bunting which are nearly in all brown winter plumage now, one tailess. Three greenies on patio. Immature Hooded Oriole hit a feeder. The clouds kept it cooler, about 87F at 5 p.m. is a treat these days. Got spit on a few times over the day, but no real rain. Still looking for the actual advertised rain. Lots of Screech-Owl noise outside after dark.

September 1 ~ Gulf moisture and clouds came in to hold the heat, a 79F low is the highest low all summer so far. Rain chances begin this afternoon after this last day of peak heat from this brutal couple of weeks of the sub-tropical high. Thick clouds kept it cooler though. It was only 89F at 3 p.m., and just barely got 90 or 91F at peak heat, so dialed back quite a bit. The male Indigo without tail is still here, as is at least one ad. female, and at least a few greenies. Mid-morn a FOS Baltimore Oriole sang outside. Thought I heard one chatter last week, but that beautiful whistled song/call leaves no doubt. Otherwise single Gnatcatcher, Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler were the morning migs in the yard. Heard some Audubon's Oriole. One Calliope and at least three Rufous Hummingbird continue, a few imm. Black-chinned still here, and lots of Ruby-throated.



~ ~ ~ August summary ~ ~ ~

It was dry, the drought continues to get worse. A number of trees were lost in an outflow boundry that topped 40 mph mid-month. Same trees would have made it if not drought-stressed brittle. There was 2" of rain which was a botanical life-saver but nothing for the aquifer. By the end of the month the river is a foot below the spillway, water was still going over it at the start of the month. Many sections of the river are dry, it is strictly underground. Temps averaged 5-7F above normal for the period, with record high temps in mid-August. Daily highs were in the upper 90's F instead of lower, as in the good old days.

One little tiny butterfly made the month, a CLYTIE MINISTREAK! My first local photos, had glimpsed a couple prior. A White-patched Skipper was my first in a few years, they are far LTA - less than annual, so a very good find. A Soldier the last three days of month around yard was great since missed altogether last year, another LTA species here. It was 57 species of butterflies locally for the month, with no Lost Maples trip. Up four over July. Which is actually pretty good for the fairly flowerless drought conditions. Much was due to an invasion presumedly from southward, of lots of little stuff like blues, hairstreaks, skippers, and such. My first Metalmarks of the year were nice, finally.

For odes, a few good things were seen, in the yard passing through. A male Twelve-spotted Skimmer came into sprayed water one day. Two Four-spotted Pennants are even rarer here, they passed over one day in a big flight of the four usual migrant dragonflies (Gliders and Saddlebags). A Macromia sps. River-Cruiser also crossed the yard one day, probably Bronzed. Macromia have been very rare here lately. A couple Red-tailed Pennant were at local ponds, a few Thornbush Dasher at the Waresville golf course pond. Otherwise it was the regular expected types, and numbers seem way down over normal. No Widow Skimmers around. Flat with July, it was 25 species of odes for the month. A bit weak. A Lost Maples trip would have added a few, a least.

Birds were good, as there is lots of migration motion in August. Lots of FOS fall dates for birds on the move. Many local breeders are departing, and everything is in molt. The wonderful spring and summer daily chorus of birdsong is over. The best bird was the continuing LEAST GREBE at the golf course pond adjacent to the Waresville Cmty. Present since late June, that we know of, to Aug. 30 so far. An ANHINGA Aug. 18 at Utopia Pk. was the other best bird, only my second locally. A flock of 18 BUSHTIT in the yard a couple times were great, since they have been scarce lately. A latest ever for me GOLDEN-CHEEKED Warbler on Aug. 31 was fantastic. An earliest ever Blue-headed Vireo Aug. 29 was also outstanding. A male Lazuli Bunting the 27th was on our patio, a second male was at the park the 31st, they are rare here in fall. Numbers of Rufous Hummingbird were high by late August, four, with one Broad-tailed and 2 Calliope just at our feeders. It was 98 sps. of birds for me locally in August, and I know Little Creek Larry saw a couple I didn't. Way up from my 82 in July whence virtually strictly breeders. My BOB total (butterflies, odes, and birds) was 180, way up over the 160 last month, more bird diversity was the biggest difference. Fall migrants.

~ ~ end Aug. summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ the August update header ~ ~ ~

August. The last month of climatalogical summer is often a month of dog days. Peak heat, and actually a big month for bird migration movement that is properly considered fall migration. The morning of Aug. 2 before sunup I heard my FOS Upland Sandpiper going over. Late afternoon Aug. 2 we saw the LEAST GREBE at the golf course pond again, after missing it for a month of visits. It was still there Aug. 29, discovery date was June 27. Saw FOS Least Flycatcher and Rufous Hummingbird Aug. 7. FOS Ruby-throated Hummer showed on Aug. 10. An ANHINGA at Utopia Park Aug. 12 is accidental here. A Couch's Kingbird was also there that date. The heat broke records around central TX Aug. 14-16. Aug. 17 we had rain and 68F at 4 p.m.! A Verdin Aug. 16 is a post-breeding wanderer from the brush country. My FOS Barn Owl flew over at 11 p.m. Aug. 17. On Aug. 18 a CLYTIE MINISTREAK was photo'd, an accidental butterfly here from southward. A Loggerhead Shrike Aug. 23 was my FOS. Three Rufous Hummer at our feeders at once here Aug. 25-6 is a strong showing. The Shaffer's have a couple too. A Broad-tailed Hummer was here Aug. 25, a Calliope Aug. 27-31. Also Aug. 27 an adult male Lazuli Bunting is a rare fall record. FOS on Aug. 29 were a Dickcissel and a Blue-headed Vireo, the vireo is record early. Aug. 30 there were 2 Calliope and 4 Rufous Hummers here at our place. Also a FOS Wilson's Warbler was at Utopia Park. Also at the park, on Aug. 31, a second male Lazuli Bunting was seen, and best of all, my latest ever Golden-cheeked Warbler. That is goin' out of the month in a ball of flamin' glory!

~ ~ end Aug. update header copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Aug. 31 ~ A low of 77F might the highest low so far this summer. Some morning clouds, which is what held the heat in. Early saw a Calliope Hummer, heard a Yellow Warbler or two, and a Dickcissel. Had to go to town so a look at the park of course. Man am I glad I did. The Wilson's and Black-n-white Warbler of yesterday were gone, not suprisingly. The Great Egret, 2 Green Heron, Green and Ringed Kingfisher were there, now that no hominids shoutin' and splashing around the pond. A Least Flycatcher did not look like the bird of yesterday. Heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. One ad. fem. Indigo Bunting, one Orchard Oriole. New was a (second this fall!) male Lazuli Bunting, bluer than the one we had in our yard! Awesome fall record at the park. One or two Yellow Warbler and one Yellow-throated Warbler.

Then in the big live-oaks up in the woods was the bird of the day. I never did see the second bird though. A dispute between two birds means you have to pick one to get on first when they stop. I chose the right one this time, based on some white in tail and yellow on head. It was a GOLDEN-CHEEKED Warbler! It chipped several times too. My latest date ever (Aug. 25 was my prior) in 17 falls here! Not an ad. male, was a female or immature type, I think an imm. male. Pure snow white undertail coverts, vent area, flanks, thin dark dark eyeline with an uptick distally, darker forest green above with bright golden cheek. Whaddabird! A day maker. Just amazing what a 15 minute look in the woods can do. Just a quick look at the park. Later in afternoon in yard had an Orchard Orio and a couple Gnatcats. Brutal hot and humid out there.

Aug. 30 ~ Still 75F for a low. Heard an Upland Sandpiper go over first thing before 7 when I was tossing seed. An imm. or female Calliope Hummingbird came in and was tame allowing shots to be had. Seemed 3 Rufous at one feeder and I think another was at the front feeder at the same time. It was literally hummin' on the side (patio) porch in the morning. Lots of Rubies, only a few imm. Black-chinned, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird is still here too. I would say there are four Rufous here. A Bell's Vireo sang in the yard.

We took a spinabout 10-12 or so, starting with the Least Grebe at the golf course pond adjacent to the Waresville Cmty. Finally mighta gotta bit better pix of it. Were a few Red-winged Blackbird there, a Bell's Vireo sang over on the golf course. In dragons, fair numbers of Wandering Glider and Black Saddlebags, smaller numbers of Red Saddlebags, Spot-winged Glider and Green Darner. A couple skippers (butterflies) on some Frog-fruit were a Sachem and a female Whirlabout. At Utopia Park there was a FOS Wilson's Warbler, a female. Also a female Black-and-white Warbler was in the woods, as well as a Least Flycatcher.

Another Least Flycatcher was along 360 on the way home. Here at the hovelita there were Audubon's Oriole in the bath when we got back. Tragedy was while we were gone a deer ate the flowers off of a half-dozen of our Snow-on-the-Mountain plants. Destroyed them. That is what the Clytie Ministreak was on. Now they won't reseed besides losing a great bug attractant. Sure I can walk and drive around to lots of it, but this was in the yard right out the door and we had been nurturing it for months. Dozens of flower heads. Dang deer. There was a Yellow Warbler out there, Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, as is White-eyed.

Aug. 29 ~ We are stuck in it now, another low of 75F, and about a hun for a high. Brutal out there folks. Early there was a FOS Dickcissel in the yard. Noonish there was a Blue-headed Vireo at the bath! It is a record early date (Sept. 9 is my prior earliest FOS) for me here by nearly two weeks. I saw a week ago on Texbirds someone reported a Savannah Sparrow, and this week in Austin an Orange-crowned Warbler was photo'd, both are way early as well. Ssshhhh...   it happens. A couple Audubon's Oriole were around, got another pic of the odd first summer bird. A juvenile Chat also bathed. Saw one Yellow Warbler, a Gnatcatcher, an Orchard Oriole, so barely a slow drip of migrants. Heard the Verdin in the Mesquites across from the gate. Heard and glimpsed the Calliope Hummingbird again, still seems at least 3 Rufous Hummers. Lots of Ruby-throats, fewer Black-chins. Butterfly of the day was a Soldier (Eresimus), which is not just the first this year, I did not see one at all last year. So a nice sight. We need this high pressure regimen to break. They have it progged the heat wave to last through Tuesday which will make a week of this 75-100F yech.

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird, one of two at our feeders Aug. 30. Note wings extend past the very short tail, bill is short as the head, pale peachy sides. Has a nice soft chip note too. America's smallest bird at 3.25", and up close they don't seem that big. This is probably an immature male.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 28 ~ A low of 75F is great (coulda been worse) but a drag too. Looks like the month is going to go out flamin'. We have four days at a hun or so on deck. Heard a Bell's Vireo singing by the north fence from the couch when we were having coffee. Great start. Then a Scrub-Jay was in the live-oaks on the slope in back. Then I saw and heard the Calliope Hummingbird, surely the one I saw yesterday. One Orchard Oriole went through. Town run and a look at the park. One Great Crested Flycatcher and a Yellow Warbler was it for migrants in the woods. Water is a foot from going over the spillway. At least Rosie was there this Friday, after missing her last week. I am so stuffed I can hardly type. About 4 p.m. I saw 102F with a 109 heat index at Hondo, and over a hun at KRVL. Beeville was 102 with a heat index at 118. The dragonfly highlight of the day was in the morning when Kathy sprayed some water around the yard, a male Twelve-spotted Skimmer came in! FOY, and not a sure thing every year. Great bug! I would never have guessed one could literally chum in a dragon spraying water with a hose. Kathy also saw two Roadrunner chasing around behind the cottage.

Aug. 27 ~ Low of 72F and the cool streak is over. A gaggle of Rufous Hummers continues. Mid-morn I saw an imm. or female Calliope Hummingbird on the Tropical Sage and Red Turkscap. Like the Broad-tail I did not see it at the feeders, but of which two are presently Rufous guarded. Hard to get things to stick when that is the case. Hear the Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. Mid-morn a Zone-tailed Hawk circled over low a couple times, all the birds dive for cover. Late morning heard the Audubon's Oriole troop around. Kathy saw a Hutton's Vireo coming in to bath.

I watched a Field Sparrow give calls I have never heard. Never would have guessed that was what was making the noises I was watching be made from 10's away. It was deep throaty wrenish gibberish, sorta like a Lark or Rufous-crowned Sparrow might make. Or even that Yellow-throated Vireo gibberish talk thing. From a Field Sparrow at point blank. I gotta say, I live with them, and am an audio freak. So hearing something I have not ever heard reminds me of how little we actually know, and how little all our experience really is. I have been birding 65 of my 64.5 years, and I regularly hear new different sounds I have never heard. Like that thing begging out there at night now. All our experience is just not that much, and certainly a lot less than some think it is.

Kathy counted 7 greenies at once on the patio at last call for seed. One ad. ma. Indigo continues, now without tail. A number of immature and female Indigo still here. Outstanding was an adult male LAZULI Bunting on the patio just after 10 a.m.! Lazuli are very rare here in fall, most falls I do not see one here. Surely I have never seen a male still with blue breeding plumage here in fall. Great since I missed it this spring too. Not to mention a bunting trifecta on the patio. Only got a docushot through a window. Whaddabird! That incredible blue is unique in American birds.

Saw a nice 20" Western Ribbonsnake over at the cottage. Black Rock Squirrel went in the cottage when a door was open, I ended up chasing it out the back door. Seems like he is moving in. Nearing sunset the White-winged Doves departed the trees around the yard, was about 38 total. I know there are about a dozen juveniles around, so probably a couple dozen adults.

Aug. 26 ~ The low lows run continues, was 66F again, which is incredible. Ninth day consecutive with a low below 70F. Has not happened in all my now 17 Augusts here. We're gonna pay for it, I know. A Gnatcatcher must have slept in yard, it was calling way before sunup. I was trying to figure out how many Rufous Hummer are here and had three at once coming into the patio porch feeder, two is the usual limit here, and that is not often. Did not see the Broad-tailed today though. Nor an ad.ma. Black-chinned. Still good numbers of imm. or female (mostly the former methinks) here, but Ruby-throats are really increasing quickly. Later in day two Orchard Oriole in pecans, a Hooded coming in to feeders. Saw the ad. male Painted Bunting that was here this week with the yellow across lower breast. Saw a Painted Lady (butterfly). Another Gnatcat late a dusk. The weird begging after dark continues, must be a begging baby Tex-Mex Screech-Owl. Also heard a begging young Barred Owl across road toward river. Just west of the river crossing at 360 in that first small pasture there was a flock of at least 8, maybe 10 Common Ground-Dove. Surely some adults with some juveniles. It was a large group, for here.

Aug. 25 ~ I saw 66F before sunup, and KRVL had 64! About 3:30 I saw 94F on the cool shady front porch. Maybe one Yellow Warbler was it for morning movement. No ad.male buntings, and fewer juveniles here. Have not seen a Blue Grosbeak in several days, they are gone. More Ruby-throated Hummers though. Better was a FOS Broad-tailed Hummingbird (imm. or fem.) in the afternoon. It was feeding at the Tropical Sage and Red Turkscap, not the feeders, when I saw it. An imm. fem. Rufous is guarding one feeder, I hear another, and maybe another. I am losing track of all of them.

I see the Black Rock Squirrel has a new burrow entrance at corner of the cottage. Sure a neat beast. Locals mostly shoot them for undermining foundations. Seems if a squirrl can take it out, there should have been six or twelve more inches of concrete? Saw a Northern Cloudywing and Tropical Checkered-Skipper on the Frog-fruit, but which is fading. For the second night there has been some weird call I don't know, I presume a begging something. After dark, it moves around a lot. One is sorta like a mini-Barn Owl, not as loud or harsh and graty, but a jjjeeeeep about a second long. The other call is downslurred, a plaintive whistle, a second long. Most of the things I run down out there that I never heard before turn out to be mccallii Screech-Owls so presume that is the case. My tape recorder is shot so no good way to get a decent rendition. The camera when on video has poor sound quality.

Aug. 24 ~ Another 66F low is amazing. I can't believe this string of lows in the 60's we have had. This is the 7th in a row. Started by that weird mid-August front that dragged through. It far over-perfomred with the lows, followed by the MCS a couple days ago that was called an over-achiever, again, no weakness on the modeling. We sure needed the break from the heat. There are two begging baby Zone-tailed Hawks somewhere behind us, hanging high up. I thought I heard two a few times the last few days, but this morn the begging competition was more than obvious. Heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo this morning, the first in a month since the mid-July heat spell whence they bugged out. So this is a transient.

Lots of mid level cumulus kept us in low 90's. In the afternoon I heard a troop of Audubon's Orio over in the corral. Had a sick Lesser Goldfinch that died in the afternoon. In other avian maladies, there is a Field Sparrow here with a big round growth on one foot. Did not see any adult Indigo Bunting today, and the numbers of greenies (imm. Painted) are down. The north flow for the last few days may have inspired some departures. There is a Rufous Hummer guarding the front feeder, but it is not the one there a couple days ago. Looks like a young male maybe, but certainly not one of the last two here this weekend. So five here now so far this fall, just at our feeders. More Ruby-throats showing up and less Black-chins around, the latter are departing in numbers. Ran to town for P.O. quickly in late afternoon, a Great Egret was at the park, no time so I didn't walk the woods. No Scissor-tails along roads. Had a real harsh chatter I would swear was a Baltimore Oriole but could not find it over by the gate.

Aug. 23 ~ A lower than progged 66F low was outstanding! NOAA says the MCS yesterday to our east over-performed. How about the models not being very good? Temps are great though, afternoon in shade was 92F. Heard an Upland Sandpiper early. There were two Rufous Hummingbird here, the imm. male of yesterday, and a new adult female. Seems a good year for them so far. A juv. and an adult female Hooded Oriole were at feeders. Heard a couple Orchard Orio go by. The Bell's Vireo still singing over in corral.

We went for a couple hour spin-around 10-12 or so. First went to the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty., the LEAST GREBE continues, but my dozen pix were murdered in the first degree by Canon autofocus. Woulda been my best shots. It chose reflection of cattails way far behind the bird to focus on, despite giving me the holy sacred blue box on the bird. So if you need some upsidedown cattails... Only one Red-winged Blackbird left there, the breeding flock is gone. So are the martins and swallows. Best was a FOS Loggerhead Shrike. In Odes, several Thornbush Dasher, Wandering and Spot-winged Glider, Red, and Black, Saddlebags, Green Darner, just the usual stuff. A Sachem was on the Frog-fruit there, which is going great still.

Then we checked the park. My FOS Cattle Egret was along muddy bank where was water. Water is about 8" from going over spillway now. The trees below the spillway which are usually at waters edge are not and all the Cypresses and Sycamores have turned. As in rusty brown fall colors, done for the year. It was obvious a week ago, I have been forgetting to mention, but now it looks like October below dam. Many Pecan and Hackberry are also showing yellow now as well. Drought makes an early leaf change and drop.

At the muddy edge exposed along island in woods, I presume the same Louisiana Waterthrush continued since Friday. Got some docu shots, it is at maximum fresh brightness, an ad. that has just finished post-breeding molt. We had great views. Two Yellow Warbler, three singing Yellow-throated Vireo, heard a calling Great Crested Flycatcher, saw one Least Flycatcher, and one Hutton's Vireo. So some migrant motion, but nothing major. We stopped at the 360 x-ing on the way home, some Audubon's Oriole were leaving the river as we got there, perhaps the ones going through our yard over a half-mile away. Another Yellow Warbler, just about no odes, the water is way low. Also a Yellow Warbler at the golf course, and one in yard, so at least five total this morning.

Heard an Upland Sandpiper at twilight. Late heard a Barn Owl go over calling. Very neat were after dark three mccallii Screech-Owl doing all sorts of calling around the yard at once. At one point of silence one broke into the single note hoots that sound very similar to Pygmy-Owl toots. None of the others were calling at the time and it would give 4-5 single well-spaced hoots, stop a while, repeat. If one heard this alone without any other calls, I can not imagine someone thinking it was a Screech-Owl. I say that as an owl whisperer that has called Flammulated Owl into the branch over my hammock. A hard hard listen at the tone though and it is not the sharper musical Pygmy-Owl tone, but a flatter, slightly lower, deeper, version of it, barely with a distinct Screech-Owl tone or quality.

Aug. 22 ~ We lucked into another cool low at 69F. We cherish them here if you haven't noticed. There was a big area of rain to our east crossing the hill country and plateau from the north in the morning. Kept most of the sun from us and so had a great cool morning. Cool means it was still in the 70's until noon. Wonderful. Shoulda snuck in some birding. Here in yard early there was an imm. male Rufous Hummingbird with a row of gorget feathers at botttom of gorget, so different from any prior here so far. Third one here this August, fourth in area with the one at park yesterday, just that I have seen. Who knows how many others are at feeders around, surely Judy Schaffer has a couple. Great to be seeing Ruby-throats after months of only Black-chins. One ad. ma. Black-chinned is still here, the rest immatures or females.

Heard an Upland Sandpiper low about 9 a.m., dropping down for the day. A couple Yellow Warbler went through yard. I briefly got binocs on a FOS Nashville Warbler. The juv. Hooded Oriole was at the hummer feeders. A different ad. male Painted Bunting was on patio. Two ad. male Indigo continue, both barely blue now. Molting here before going, whilst most have left. Late morning Kathy spotted Audubon's Orioles coming into the birdbath. I got some shots through the magic screen while they bathed. She said it was five birds at once. I was too busy taking pix, but it was a oriole traffic jam. It is a flock of fledged juveniles banding together. No adults. Looking at pix later it may well have been 6 birds! Then heard a Bell's Vireo singing along fenceline with corral. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing out there too, and White-eyed is almost always going.

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For pix we are going to show some greenies this week. That is non-adult male Painted Bunting. They are green buntings, and can be a juvenile (this years young), an adult female, or a first spring male, so fairly tricky to sex and age at a glance. I will chip these off into a separate page one day, but for now here is some study material.

Painted Bunting

This is a nearly year-old first spring or summer (on left), and a fresh juvenile (right) Painted Bunting. While most first spring males are all green like females, some first spring/summer males show some reddish color on underparts, maybe 10% here. Those stay mostly like this one all spring and summer. Another color phase of first spring males has some blue flecks in head and is yellower below.


Painted Bunting

This is a worn female. I can't say if a one year old, or more. But I think a first summer. The worn tail tells us it is not a juvenile, and a female that has been nesting. Note the bright green back compared to the dull gray head. Either the back feathers are new and fresh, or, are unworn as is the rest of the bird. Most of the bird is year old worn grayed formerly green feathers. Green wears to gray in many birds, like Empidonax flycatchers which are often very green when fresh and gray when worn. That head was initially green.


Painted Bunting

This is a first spring male in May. The blueish area on shoulder is a tip off for a first spring male. Not all show it but if present, it is a young male.


Painted Bunting

Not sure on this one, taken Sept. 15, it is probably an adult female.


Painted Bunting

See the greenie?


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Aug. 21 ~ One last low in the 60's for a bit, at 68F. What a great break it has been this week with just the slightest northerly flow. Hear the Yellow-throated Vireo singing out there still. Two were singing at the park on my town run. Also at park was a Lousisiana Waterthrush, the FOS for those this fall. One Yellow Warbler at park as well, and at least one was in the yard too. The other good park bird was a Rufous Hummingbird at the Red Turkscap at the entrance sign. Always good to get away from feeders here. A juv. Hooded Oriole came by, haven't seen the one that was here in a week. Heard the Bushtits over in corral again. Heard the begging baby Zone-tailed Hawk high overhead behind us somewhere. They just hang up there at a thousand feet and beg. It often can sound similar to a Long-billed Curlew call. Little Creek Larry said he has seen a few Blue-winged Teal among nearly a hundred Black-bellied Whistling-Duck over on Little Creek. The BBWD must have had a good year breeding over there. Late in the afternoon there were three Yellow Warbler here in the yard, 2 males and a female. Looking west late you could see the brown and orange haze from the smoke from the fires way out west. Saw a male Painted Bunting last thing late on patio. It was the one with the yellow band across breast I saw a week ago, but not since. Counted 7 greenies at once on the patio late. Heard an Upland Sandpiper right as it got dark. Taking off to fly for the night.

Aug. 20 ~ Another 65F low is a dream. Third day at or about record lows for the dates. Outstanding. Not much for migrant motion in the morn though. A couple Orchard Oriole was about it, later a Gnatcatcher. The begging baby Zone-tailed Hawk continued high up behind us somewhere. Great was the flock of Bushtit went through the yard again, but it was quick this time. I missed the start and counted 14 going over the cottage. One male Indigo Bunting still here is getting to be barely blue. A couple young are still begging and flying over to draw and back. Only the female has attended them. A couple tame baby Field Sparrow around. The Titmice are already stashing sunflower seeds. Saw a Giant Swallowtail, which have been few, likely the one Kathy saw yesterday. Saw a Sachem on the Blue Mist Eupatorium.

A rain cell to the west blocked the sun for us about 3 p.m. in the afternoon keeping it in low 90's. About 4 p.m. a couple cells blew up and ran down the divides on either side of us, just spit a trace here, the Utopia rain kryptonite held, but dropped temps to 78F by 5 p.m.! Beat the heat again. Right as they cells got by I saw two Purple Martin low out front, they are largely gone now. Then I saw a Chuck-will's-widow flying barely over the trees going up the draw! Yeah it was darkish out, but way too light for Chucks. It was absolutely positively not a Nighthawk, which often come out in the day after rains. Hummer numbers went up after the cells went by, besides lots of imm. Black-chins, I saw two adult male and an immature or female Ruby-throated at one feeder. Firefly number a handful now. Lots of Barn Swallows after the rain as well, a few Chimney Swift too.

Aug. 19 ~ A low of 65F is surely at or near a record low for the date. It is a dream these dog days of summer. Gives hope for the fall. Heard a couple Upland Sandpiper low just after sunup. Hope to sneak over to scan airstrip later. About 9 a.m. there was an imm. or female type Rufous Hummingbird at the front porch feeder, and an ad. male Black-chinned chased it away. I presume a transient, as only immatures or female Black-chins here now. A male Painted Bunting was briefly on the seed tube early. Must be at least 10 immatures around. Several imm. Indigo as well. Just before 10 a.m. there was a begging baby Zone-tailed Hawk high over the house. One Yellow Warbler and a couple Orchard Oriole went through yard, heard the Yellow-throated Vireo singing.

In afternoon had to run to town for seed. At park heard a Green King up at island. In the thick stuff on island I heard what sounded like a Mourning Warbler, but there was no seeing it. At north end of island heard what sounded a Wilson's Warbler, which disappeared. There are mudflats along edge of river, it has dropped another couple inches. The rain was great for the immediate ground and plants, but nothing much for the aquifer. Did a spin around the airstrip and checked the big horse pasture on way back, no grasspipers. I keep forgetting to mention, every day the last few we have seen the Black Rock Squirrel around, often on the patio.

Aug. 18 ~ A low of 66F has to be at or near the record. The record low for the date at SAT is 67F. It was wonderful. Rain-cooled, but with fairly dry northerly flow behind it so quite nice. I see lots of big green pecans it knocked out of the trees before their time, and lots of dead branches finally fell out. Later in day down the road I saw a Hackberry over 40' tall split in two. A big old one. They are dry and drought stressed, and the 40+mph outflow yesterday took it and lots of branches down.

Before 7 and at 8 a.m. I heard single Upland Sandpiper fly over low calling, looking to go down for the day. Heard a Yellow Warbler mid-morn, then saw an ad. female about 3 p.m. in pecans. Saw a couple Orchard Oriole. Male Indigo still here, no male Painted. Saw an immature or female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Saw a Nysa Roadside-Skipper at Blue Mist Eup. at front porch. Between 3 and 4 p.m. there was a rain cell nearish, it spit on us a few times, and dropped it from 91 to 86F, and a half-hour later to 82! Went from getting icky to bearable.

I was out front after 4 p.m. and heard real close Upland Sandpipers! Three flew by right over the road at treetop level! I don't know if they came up from the area across the road where lots of dry flowers and grasses, or were looking to go down, but they were a couple feet over the tops of the Mesquites across from the gate! Calling as they flew by low and slow. Awesomeness. Grasspipers!

I heard them going toward airstrip so went over and cruised it and checked the pasture the horses are in all day, and did not see them. It seems ideal perfect habitat. There were a bunch of juvenile Vermilion Flycatcher a couple of which were just out of the nest and probably from the corral nesters. Also a number of juv. Eastern Phoebe, and a few Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Hundreds of dragonfly were hawking low over the pasture. Mostly Spot-winged Glider, some Wandering Glider, and Red, and Black, Saddlebags. But no Ups.

The biggest hit of the day though was a tiny tiny butterfly. Outstanding was finding a CLYTIE MINISTREAK on Snow-on-the-Mountain in the driveway! Ran for camera and Kathy, got 10 pix, all but one trash, way out of focus (from point blank). An hour later I found it again on the Frog-fruit, another set of out-of-focus throwaway pix obtained, one barely ok. Have I mentioned lately how poor the autofocus is on the Canon SX40? It is way beyond horrible. Barely usable for nature work. Everything you see here in focus is a miracle. I read once a optics guy called it quirky. That is the nicest way to say how badly it sucks. But I digress...    I have seen a couple of Clytie here in 16 years. This is the first time I got an ID shot to prove it. One at the library garden about 5 years ago was the last. They are a south Texas specialty whose range is fairly strictly in the brush country. They do not regularly or normally even get north to Hwy 90. It is one of the 10 or so butterfly species out of 145 or so that I have seen around Utopia, that I had not obtained a photo (holy irrefutable proof) of. So it was critical to get an ID docushot. Those are the ones you really really like to get. Now if I could get a Silver-spotted Skipper pic.

Aug. 17 ~ Saw 74F for a low before sunup. No migrants through yard though. Before 7 a.m. the Porcupine I saw last night climbed down out of a pecan in the corral, through the hog fence, walked across yard, then through the front hog fence, across road and headed over towards the draw. Once several years ago I found one roosting under some roots deep in a shady spot there. What an amazing animal. The way they saunter, that stride, if you can call it that, which is more of a waddle, is amazing. The result of eons of not giving a shat, from wearing your prickiness on your coat.

Was fairly icky but cooler than last bunch of days with 90F and sticky at 2:45 p.m. Whence the cooler dry air got here from the not cold whatsoever fairly unusual mid-August cold front. It kicked off a cell north of town and upvalley which blew up into a major one in 15 minutes, at 3 we unplugged everything as the outflow boundry hit with 40+mph winds and lots of lightning. Then it poured for a half hour, followed by a moderate rain for a half hour and looks like we got about 3.5 cm, or 1.35" of the holy wet stuff! Temps went down to 68F at several local WU stations, our wet thermometer actually showed 66F at 4 p.m.! Today, we beat the heat. Sometimes it is the little victories in life. A couple miles east of us they got 2.5" and a couple miles west up on the divide there was 4-5"! We were in a light slot. Had warmed up to 70F at 7 p.m., over 20 lower than it has been at that time.

Saw no ad. male Painted Bunting again today, one male Indigo, two of the begging baby Indigos must have fledged yesterday at most, they can hardly land and perch. At least 10 greenies, imm. and female Painted Bunting. After the rain I saw two Red-eyed Vireo in the hackberry by the gate, which then flew into the yard pecans. They never made a sound. Fall migrants moving south down the river habitat corridor. There were a bunch of dragons moving southward the last couple hours of light. Amongst all the usual stuff TWO Four-spotted Pennant went by! They are rare up here, but I have seen them a couple times in migrating flocks like this. Saw at least 3 maybe 4 Firefly at dusk. At 11 p.m. my FOS Barn Owl flew over heading SW. Have not heard one in months, they do not seem to summer locally.

Aug. 16 ~ It was 76F at quarter to seven, often it drops another dF right before sunup, but I have seed to toss and bird bath to refill, so didn't watch it. I heard a FOS Yellow Warbler first thing as I was reading temp, it zzzeeted several times up in the pecan, but I did not see it. Wasn't awake enough to persue. After breakfast there was a Verdin in the Mesquites across from the gate. Have had one the last four falls, this is the 3rd in mid-August here. Is it the same one? I presume they are post-breeding wanderers moving up from the very drought stricken (worse than us) brush country to the south of us. A couple Orchard Oriole went by. Hummers are way down, there has been a major departure the last few days. They can't handle the heat, and there are no flowers.

Last two days most local areas broke their heat records, today was at or near, for 3rd day straight. Worked inside. Saw 97F on the cool shady front porch in the late afternoon, searing in the sun. The action was at dusk as it cooled down. Kathy was watering whilst I was on patio facing her and she looked up and said 'whooaa'. I looked up and a Chuck-will's-widow was 10' over my head, and barely cleared the roof as it flew over the house. They are still around, but silent a month now.

Then I was out in driveway and a yearling Porcupine sashays on by, sweeping the road as it did. It went through the hog fence openings easypeasy. They must be all quill, those are 6" squares maybe. Then it crossed yard toward the water trough in the corral, I lost it behind the wellhouse. What a cool beast.

The fall Firefly flight doubled in size, I saw one in the yard, and a second one over in the corral. And then the one in the yard flew over into the corral toward that one. And then there were none. I lost my Firefly. Much later I did see another out by gate. Lots of bats at dusk lately. A, or the, Red, and a bunch of Brazillian Freetail.

Aug. 15 ~ A 74F low, a few morning low clouds went by, but nothing significant. Gonna be a burner. NOAA says should tie or break some area records today, as was done yesterday. Seems like about the tenth summer in a row that we are 5-10F above average temps, all summer long. Saw 98F in shade about 5 p.m. on front porch, whence was 102 at KRVL and SAT, 106 at Del Rio, 107 at Junction, Hondo was 104 and Uvalde 105F. Ughhh, working on stuff inside today.

Did not see any morning migrant passage, not even an Orchard Oriole or Gnatcatcher. Only different thing was a male Painted Bunting briefly at a feeder, but which did not look like the one briefly here yesterday with the yellow breastband. Another transient. It is that time of year. About 10 greenies out there. Some fem. and juvie Indigo as well, and the two shabby ad. male Indigo continue too. Around peak heat I flushed a Chat out of the Blue Mist Eup. at the front porch. Coolest spot around, Kathy sprays water on them. Saw a Black Rock Squirrel on the patio, have not seen one around in a few months, at least. It lives nearby but is very people shy. Decades of being shot at will do that. About 7 p.m. finally 3-4 Orchard Oriole went through yard.

Then at dusk I saw my FOS fall Firefly. The fall flight is seperated from the spring flight usually by 6 weeks or more. They are just about gone if not already by July 4. Then none are seen until mid-August or so, whence a fall flight will commence, peaking in September usually. I have no clue as to the biology, ergo, are these the progeny of the spring flight, or unrelated and on a different schedule? Are they the same species? They look it to me, as Lampyrid layfolk.

If you just have to have a new bird photo to see, check out the hawk photo page revamp... almost 20 new pics there. This week the bird of the week was a butterfly...

clytie ministreak

Here is a Clytie Ministreak (Ministrymon clytie), Aug. 18, 2020, on Snow-on-the-Mountain in our driveway. This plant has twice the flowers of the other specimens around because the hose squirt reaches it, and BAM! A Mexican species, generally in the U.S. a deep south Texas brush country specialty, extremely rare on the Edwards Plateau. This image is about 10 times life size.


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Aug. 14 ~ Low was a wee bit under 74F. No morning clouds. They are predicting Saturday, tomorrow, to be peak heat from this spell. It looked about 98F at peak heat in late afternoon on cool shady front porch. It is roughly 6:30 p.m. when peak temp starts to drop. A couple Orchard Oriole went through yard early. Town run day. Saw Little Creek Larry, he said he saw a Snowy Egret besides the Great Egret (which continues) at the park. He also saw a Spotted Sandpiper again. Over at Little Creek he saw a FOS Blue-winged Teal, I forgot to ask date. He said he has been 102-104F for high temps about 2 mi. ENE of town. I did not see the Anhinga today, but if in the water they are easy to miss. Or it may have been a one hour wonder. There were Ringed and Green Kingfisher up on the island, a Green Heron, and a few greenie imm. Painted Bunting were in the woods. Later here a Gnatcatcher in yard.

Aug. 13 ~ Low was 74F, no typical morning low clouds from the Gulf, the high pressure is too strong, in 99th percentile for that per NOAA. We have about four more days of it before it moves off somewhere and lightens up on us. It is brutal out there in the afternoons folks. In the morning here there were at least a half dozen Orchard Oriole that went through the yard, ended up with 7-8 minimum. Heard an Upland Sandpiper right before sunup, low, looking for a place to go down. Saw a female Black-n-white Warbler. Still two ratty male Indigo Buntings but new was a male Painted with yellow on underparts that makes it obviously not one of the local residents we have been seeing. Those have been absent the last couple days anyway, our yardish breeders have departed on schedule. This bird was not seen again later in day. Heard both the Red-eyed and the Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. Got pix of a skipper I am not sure of, looked an odd Roadside- type but not sure.

Saw 96F on the cool shady front porch about 3 p.m. Many hill country areas and along Hwy. 90 were at 100F. An adult Red-shouldered Hawk seemed to be making off with prey in the afternoon. About 7 p.m. I saw an ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird. Had not seen one all day, or the prior two. Monday the 10th was the last day the I saw the one that had been here guarding the office feeder in back. Heard Screech-Owl at dusk, waiting for dark to hit the bath as it will do on super hot days. Finally at 11 and midnight a couple more 10 minute skywatch sessions at each hour yielded a single Perseid meteor. Both very good ones, a greenie and and an orange one, both close and coming my direction with great trails. Very nice.

Aug. 12 ~ Low of 75F is at least a break from the heat. It was a baker in the afternoon, 95F in the shade on front porch. Surely a hun in the sun. Had to run to town early so a check of the park, which hit paydirt. Water is over an inch from going over the spillway. Up at the north end of woods and island, where I presume it flew up off one of the old logs the turtles sun on, was probably drying its wings, an ANHINGA flushed! Fortunately it landed in that big dead cypress with all the great snags. You could not see it from the main park, you had to take the trail through the woods all the way to the fence and then over to river to see it through a hole in the trees. I got a few distant docu shots anyway. It was a female. It is only the second Anhinga I have seen here, the other a male May 4, 2011. In other words I have seen more (each) of Tropical Parula, Rufous-capped Warbler, Short-tailed Hawk, and Clay-colored Thrush here than Anhinga. That first male flew off as I pulled into the park so I did not get any pix, this first local docs methinks. Whaddabird! They (1-2) are nearly annual at the waterholes around Uvalde, but accidental up here in hills of the Edwards Plateau. I see in ebird one was at Ft. Inge the first week of August this year. I have a photo of one there from over a decade ago. No Edwards Plateau sightings so far this year in ebird. The I-35 corridor (Ft. Worth, Waco, Austin, SAT, to Laredo) is the normal western edge of regular (scarce) occurrence. There was also a Couch's Kingbird at the main pond, my first post-breeding wanderer locally this summer. Also saw the imm. fem. Green Kingfisher.

Then back at the hovelita after we had couple of Rosie's egg, chorizo, and cheese breakfast tacos I was outside and heard Bushtits! I had mentioned several days ago I thought I heard them. This time I got the full monty whole flock. Ran in for camera (to just about no avail) and yelled Bushtits for Kathy. The flock worked from the junipers along north fenceline to the Mesquite and Hackberry by the gate, then right over my head into the yard pecans, then over to the corral pecans and then junipers. My best count-estimate as they flew over was 18 in the flock. Awesome! They have been quite scarce since that exceptional drought. This is a few family groups no doubt. I didn't get to see most of them well enough to check for black ears. A great flocklet of birds! All I got for pix is some Bushtit butts. Which ain't much! But can see one has new tail feathers growing in. Such big excitement for such a small bird.

Walking around tossing seed I heard a buzzzzz every several steps from hidden in the bushes. Maybe I mentioned this before, but it should be called a 'buzz of buntings'™. Two male Indigos here, in heavy body molt, they are ratty. No male Painted, but a bunch of greenies (fem. and imm.). Mid-afternoon I saw a White-patched Skipper (Chiomara asychis) on the Frog-fruit, which it looks remarkably like. First one I have seen in at least a few years. Ran inside for camera and it was gone when I got back out. Did have it in the yard once before, maybe five years ago. It is far less than annual, strictly a very scarce vagrant here. A great bug! Did another couple 10 minute watches at 11 and midnight, still no Perseids for me.

Aug. 11 ~ We are stuck in the doldrums running roughly 75-100F for a daily temp spread. These are the dog days. A first summer male Black-and-white Warbler came into the birdbath early in a.m., as did an adult Yellow-breasted Chat (molting tail) and the Summer Tanager (also in heavy molt molting tail). New begging baby Chipping Sparrow. The one ad. ma. Indigo Bunting left is in heavy molt, much of the body is gray. A couple juvie Indigo and one ad. fem. also present. Juv. Blue Grosbeak on patio again today. Lots of greenies (imm. or female Painted Bunting) but did not see an adult male Painted today. Couple Gnatcatchers went through. Great stars late but in two 10 minute observation periods after 11 and 12 I saw no Perseid meteors. Moon was coming up shortly so blew it off.

Aug. 10 ~ A 74F low, and not much for morning low clouds from the Gulf, just the humidity. Kathy had a male Orchard Oriole leaving the bath, wished I would have caught it there, bath was in sun at the time. No other migrant birds seen until 11:30 a.m. when I saw an ad. male hummer with a dark throat. Noticing a very long tail I knew it wasn't that last male Black-chinned here. Then it turned and showed me the color in throat. Sure enough, FOS ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Another fall migrant.

Most of the migrants in the yard in the morning were dragonflies. Several dozen, first good wave I have seen this fall (for them). At least a couple dozen were Spot-winged Glider, a dozen plus Wandering Glider, and about a dozen each of Black, and Red, Saddlebags. So some numbers, but not from here, passage transients. No one knows from where they come or where they go. A mystery like millions of things in nature, this is what makes nature observation fascinating and exciting.

The Frog-fruit was going well with butterflies. One Rounded Metalmark is still there, day 3. Two handfuls of Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, they are thick now. Lots of more common little stuff, a Vesta Crescent, etc. A female Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly was flycatching adjacent to the flowers, presumably picking off smaller stuff (like small flies) coming in. They sure are pretty. Male Blue Grosbeak hit the patio for seed late in day, one each male Painted, and Indigo Bunting continue.

Aug. 9 ~ Low of 74F with a bit of the low Gulf stratus off and on over the morning. Was 84F in shade of front porch at 11 a.m. Later in day about 7:30 p.m. I was checking local temps. We were 89F on the front porch, most local Utopia WU stations were reading 90 to 92F. From NOAA, SAT was at 96 and Austin 98F! So I guess everything is still relative, we are better off than others.

Heard Audubon's Oriole first thing in morn. We went over to the golf course pond about 9 a.m. hoping to check it before it was disturbed. An immature female Cooper's Hawk was hunting juvie Red-winged Blackbirds there so we were too late. Heard Purple Martins overhead. No grasspipers on the fairways. Went out Jones Cmty. Rd. to W. Sabinal Rd. checking another couple thousand acres of great looking pastures, nothing there. A couple Scissor-tails and some Lark Sparrow, a couple Mockers, an Eastern Bluebird.

Briefly stopped at the county-line crossing and grabbed an aquatic plant I had before in a tank here, but don't know what it is. Some in the tub now. It is an ammonia eating dream. There was a Red-eyed Vireo there, and an imm. male Green Kingfisher. An imm. fem. Green King was at the 360 crossing as we left home earlier, and another imm. fem. was at the island at the park. Three Green Kings this morn, all immatures. At Utopia Park, we heard a Ringed Kingfisher upriver. Best was a Great Egret, the first one of the fall. Also there were several White-eyed Vireo, a Summer Tanager, at least one ad. Blue Jay. Water is no longer going over spillway at park, it was still, barely, on Friday, down over an inch since then. We saw an Orchard Oriole along a road somewhere.

Driveway Frog-fruit patch had the bigger female Rounded Metalmark on it again later morning. Late afternoon 8 Olive Juniper Hairstreak at once were on it plus an Orange Skipperling and some assorted stuff. The Yellow-throated Vireo is still singing around yard. Juvenile Blue Grosbeak on patio is likely from the patio-using nesters just across the road. It was there in a.m. and again at last sun, a fresh beauty. Late p.m. on the patio were 5 juv. Painted and 2+ juv. Indigo besides single adult Painted and Indigo. The Indigo gave another flight song once as it was leaving after feeding. Nice to see more juvie Lesser Goldfinch after they got wiped out in the hail in late May.

Turned on the front porch light for a couple hours to see if anything was out there. Nope. Nothing. I am amazed at the dearth of bugs. The wall was empty. No micros, not a bunch of little stuff moving around, deader than a doornail. We are here in the river habitat corridor, how can there be no bugs at a light at night? Something ain't right out there...

Aug. 8 ~ Was 75F for a low, blech. Some morning clouds, nice and humid. First thing at quarter to seven the first hummingbird at the front porch feeder was the Rufous. Have not seen it again. Tanked and split methinks. No migrant movement in morning. One male Painted Bunting, lots of greenies. In late afternoon there was a Least Flycatcher out by the gate feeding in yard. One Gnatcatcher as well. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing, but is not mated. Ad. with a new juv. Field Sparrow on the seed.

Best action today were the butterflies on the Frog-fruit. The two patches we water are still going, one very well. Best was my FOY Metalmarks (Calephelis), there were two, both Rounded (perditalis). Great to see some finally! There were 10 Olive Juniper Hairstreak at once on the Frog-fruit! Fresh green ones through worn brown ones. One Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak. One Orange Skipperling, several Reakirt's and a Ceraunus Blue, Vesta Crescent, N. Mestra, a Lyside, one Nysa Roadside-Skipper, some Dun Skipper, a Common Checkered-Skipper. On Lantana and Blue Mistflower Gulf Frits, Pipevine, and a few Queen.

To catch up on the mystery birds ...

The birds in photo breaks the two prior weeks were juvenile (HY - hatch-year) Audubon's Oriole.

And here is the bird of the week ...
anhinga

This is a long-range docu shot of the female Anhinga at
Utopia Park Aug. 12. Yes those are orange webbed feet.
Males are all black of chest and neck. Water-Turkey and
Snakebird were understandable names for it. They often
swim with body underwater, just head and neck exposed.
The dagger of a bill is a fish spear.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 7 ~ Another week has flown by. Low was 74F. Some gulf low stratus. Heard some Upland Sandpipers in the a.m. early, low, maybe four, will have to go scan the airstrip. Heard Long-billed Thrasher over in the corral and Audubon's Oriole up the hill behind us. Town run fer shtuff. On on the front fence as I left a Least Flycatcher was working it. Though thought I heard one in late July, will count this seen bird as my FOS. Went over to the airstrip and punched gate code in, cruised the mile or so of it and saw no grasspipers, or in the nice pasture adjacent. Did see a nice ad. fem. Blue Grosbeak, and an ad. Scissor-tail with no tail, it is that time. Then cruised around the golf course, alas no grasspipers there either. But was a fair bit of traffic on it already. Did not see the Least Grebe, there was one female or juvenile Purple Martin on the wire over their house. Nice local late date for a bird that surely nested or was hatched here.

At the park there was one imm. fem. Green Kingfisher, heard a Ringed King upriver, a couple juv. Painted Bunting up in the woods. Couple new begging juvie Blue Jay were a late clutch. Saw Orange-striped Threadtail and Orange Bluet in damselflies. On the way home just south of town I hit a big yeller thing I am fairly certain was an Imperial Moth. Bummer. Some Cenizo is in bloom in response to the rain. The Purple Sage of fame, but not of true sages, it is a mugwort. New Riders of the Purple Mugwort didn't have a ring to it anyway. Kathy saw a Chat at the bath and male Blue Grosbeak on the patio. After 7 p.m. and watering I was watching the front porch hummer feeder. One ad. male Black-chinned Hummer was joined by an immature or female Selasphorus, either a Rufous or Allen's Hummingbird and a FOY. A long distance fall migrant. Rufous is the default here. At one point in the afternoon I thought I heard a couple Bushtit over in the corral. Also saw a planthopper that looked a Flatid, family Flatidae, this of the genus Ormenis, but my pix were all out of focus.

Aug. 6 ~ Low of 75F and the low stratus from the Gulf is back. Sure was a nice five day break while it lasted. Saw a different Gulf Coast Toad this a.m. before sunup on front steps. One male Indigo and two male Painted Bunting on seed early. Likely the same two Painted as last night, and the draw breeder Indigo. Only 84F or so at noon, still bearable, as long as you are not digging holes. Great was at last sun twice the male Indigo Bunting went into full flight song, and it was awesome. I was on driveway with sun at my back, each flight was 50 yards or so of singing. He must be leaving soon. Interestingly I have never seen a Painted do flight song. Do they? One Gnatcat late in day. After dark a big Ox Beetle came into a light in the cottage. Huge bug! Awesome beast. Almost forgot, saw a Macromia sps., River Cruiser dragonfly fly around the yard briefly in heat of afternoon.

Aug. 5 ~ A 70F low still feels great. Was in town earlyish and stopped at the park. One Ringed King calling from upriver, a Green Heron. A couple Black Vultures in the woods still with down makes me wonder if they hatched there. Heard some Purple Martin overhead, but no migrants there (or in yard). Did find a couple egg, cheese and chorizo breakfast tacos to go at Rosies. The one ad. ma. Indigo Bunting still here (the draw nester) is only giving the first few notes of song, not the full monty. Lots of juvie Lark Sparrow and House Finch. Did not see a Hooded Oriole on the feeder the last two days. It was too busy stuck at the desk Wednesdays for me. Late at last sun two ad. male Painted Bunting showed up, first ones all day, and saw none yesterday or the day before. They could be transients, or ads. that disappear to lose the begging and just show late to top the tank up. A couple Orchard Oriole and Gnatcats went through nearing last sun as well. At 11 p.m. an Upland Sandpiper called southbound overhead.

Aug. 4 ~ WeeWow a low of 66F! It's like heaven. For an hour or two. Saw a Gulf Coast Toad by cottage before sunup when tossing seed. No male Painted Bunting at the seed in the morning. One male Indigo. Two just-fledged juvie Painted being fed by ad. female. It is as if the males left before the last two were out of the nest. It has seemed that way to me many times over the years. Sometimes also it seems like they leave for a few days to shake the begging and then show up a day or two to top tank one last time before departing. Male Roseate Skimmer dragonfly around the wet patio in morning, ignoring my tub pond.

Mid-morn a flock of aerial insectivores were around a bit. A few dozen Barn Swallow, a couple each Cave and Cliff Swallow, maybe a dozen Chimney Swift and at least 4 Purple Martin included one ad. male. Nice showlet. On the Frog-fruit was a Mournful Duskywing, Buckeye, and an Orange Skipperling, a bit later a Julia's Skipper, Texas Powdered-Skipper and a Desert Checkered-Skipper were on it. One ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird continues, still guarding the back (office) feeder. A few Orchard Oriole went through, and a couple Gnatcatcher. Field Sparrow is still singing.

Aug. 3 ~ A low of 68F felt fantastic. I saw KRVL had a 66 for a moment. Forecast has us in a cooker for the next ten days plus. I can tell the yard is greener already from the rain a few days ago. I see a couple new baby Gambusia have been dropped in the tub pondlet from one of the females. No Sabine's Gull yet, but the birds are sure using it for drinks. Lots of baby House Finch and Lark Sparrow on the patio.

I do not hear the Red-eyed Vireo that has been singing around the last two months. The Great Crested Flycatcher has been gone a week or two. Do do not hear the Blue Grosbeak singing now either. It seems like some of the male Indigo Bunting left, I only saw one late in day. Maybe all the ad. ma. Painted Bunting have departed, I saw none today. First week of August is when they leave. You can still get some ad. males, but they are often not the birds that were the local territorial ones. There are near a dozen female and juvenile Painted around. A White-striped Longtail (skipper - butterfly) was the first since one in the spring and always great to see here. Took until the 3rd to see a butterfly sps. missed the month prior.

What they said were outlier forecasts a week ago that called for rain today, turned out to be the correct ones. A weak shortwave was the trigger. From 5 p.m. and shortly after it went from over 95F to 70F by 5:30 in over a half-inch of rain. Holy H2O! Which besides much happiness throughout the valley, initiated a termite hatch as often the case. After it stopped I measured .6". So about 2.35" Friday night to Monday late afternoon. A life-saver. Some Chimney Swift buzzing around at last sun.

Aug. 2 ~ Before 7 a.m. when I was tossing seed I heard an Upland Sandpiper call several times from not very high up, coming down for the day. Should go check some pastures. A few Orchard Oriole and a Gnatcat or two went by yard. Saw the male Blue Grosbeak on the patio here. It was pretty toasty out there, but between 5 & 6 there were a few sprinkles that took ten off the top and dropped it to upper 80's for a bit. We were over at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. Saw some FOY Snow-on-the-Mountain flowers open. No Comet Darner but we saw that rascal the LEAST GREBE! It is still there! After missing it 5 times (at least) in the last month! In a dinky pond. It hides in the cattails. There was also a juv. Western Kingbird feeding around the pond, and a juv. Vermilion Flycatcher. Red-wings still nesting, some juvies out and about.

August 1 ~ August!?!?!? OMG! It started on a great note, at 68F! Maybe the first reading in the 60's for a month. I see we ended up with 1.75" of rain from the event yesterday evening. Astounding! More rain than the last two months put together, most of it in barely over an hour. It was getting dire. We were in D1 drought, on the cusp of D2. Normal June and July is 6+" of precip, we had less than 1.5" this year. It is a lifesaver for some late summer bloom. There was a trough axis moving across the Great Plains which brought a front through, on July 31. Late last night after the rain I saw a yearling Red-spotted Toad on the patio. Also one of the small (round) native snails was out cruising around.

Several Orchard Oriole went through over the morning, over a half-dozen. A couple Gnatcats in the afternoon. In Leps saw a Texan Crescent, a Nysa Roadside-Skipper, among about 10 sps. for the new monthly list. Late p.m. a couple more Orchard Orios went through. At last sun, the ad. fem. Cooper's Hawk took a small passerine, I think a juvie Lesser Goldfinch. Late p.m. about 11 I thought sure I heard an Upland Sandpiper call a few times from high overhead.
audubonsoriole

This might be the same bird as last week, or another in same group.
What lovely plumage.



~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

It was dry until the last few hours of the month when we got 1.75" of rain finally. Flowers were shot and all but non-existent for most of the month. Frog-fruit was the one thing going well. A comet, NEOWISE, gave a great show mid-to-late-month. Twice this month I saw a Great Plains Skink at the house.

Butterflies were 53 species, so up a few from June and the high monthly total for the year so far. Ornythion Swallowtail was the best rarity seen, in the yard July 3. The only other LTA - less than annual species, was a Laviana White-skipper. Did see a Nysa Roadside-Skipper. Lots of little stuff was on the Frog-fruit, a clear invasion, mostly blues, hairstreaks, skippers, and some crescents. At least a couple Ctenucha moths were seen which have been missed the last several years. Mestra numbers are good with 5 at once on one little Frog-fruit patch.

Odes were 25 species, up a couple from June. But numbers are way down overall, they are hard to find and scarce in general. Best was the continuing male Comet Darner from late June at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. A couple Red-tailed Pennant were around which are barely annual, just a few per year. Only saw a couple Widow Skimmer.

Birds were 82 species that I saw, all locally breeding species. Little Creek Larry had a Spotted Sandpiper late in month which is likely a migrant from elsewhere. A duck sps. that flew over July 3 was something good that isn't supposed to be here. It was not a Wood Duck or Whistling-Duck. Saw Poor-will twice this month which is great. Four juvenile Audubon's Oriole together late in month was great, and more current breeding evidence.

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

July. I wouldn't expect a lot here the next month. A continuing male Comet Darner (first was one on 27th of June, two on 28th) at the Waresville golf course pond was seen July 5, 11, and 19. After the dry June lots of breeding birds seem to be winding it down now, and not going another round as in wet June years. Be prepared to melt if out and about after about 11 a.m. or so! There was record breaking heat here July 12, 13, & 14. Most days are mid-90's with higher heat index. A rare here Ornythion Swallowtail was seen July 3. A Great Plains Skink was in the yard July 15 and 17. A very nice comet in mid-July was a totally chaseable stake-out that showed very well. Late July four juvenile Audubon's Oriole together is interesting. The biggest rain in two months was the evening of July 31 (today!), at least 1.5" here. I saw in ebird in late July over toward Uvalde reports of a Gray Flycatcher which is most excellent, and a more expected but scarce Broad-tailed Hummingbird.

~ ~ ~ end update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 31 ~ Low was 75F, with some low gulf stratus for most of morning. But hot in the afternoon. A front is supposed to be inbound later afternoon or early evening. Just after 3 p.m. I saw KRVL in rain at 82F, those lucky bastards, we are bone dry in upper 90's. Water is barely going over the spillway at the park. Not sure how safe it is to swim when the water is stacking up and barely going over, but it doesn't seem to concern the visitors.

Another small group of Orchard Orio through yard early, which will be a near-daily phenom the next month plus. Like the odd Gnatcatcher or two. Daily. When I was in town on the errand run Kathy had a male Orchard at the bath, plus a Yellow-throated Warbler, and a Red-eyed Vireo was in the tree over it. I have never seen a Red-eye at a bath. They never go to it. Bunch of buntings around, at least 10 or 12, Indigo and Painted.

At the park on the island up in the woods there was a Blue Jay and an Audubon's Oriole. Great combo of birds in the same place and time. One juv. Painted Bunting up in woods. Two Green Heron were around the park pond. One Common Grackle in willows at south end of island looked like a juvenile just starting to molt into first basic (winter) plumage. No odes, whaddup with that?

The front got here, outflow boundry was about 7:15 and 30-35 mph. A bunch of Chimney Swift were on it, trapped for who knows how long. The band of storm cells is over 100 miles wide east to west and has been marching for a about a hundred miles. They were just steering. I presume it is an aerial plankton smorgasbord for them. By 7:30 the rain hit and in an hour we had 1.5" of sweet holy rain! OMG! That is more rain as we have seen in 2 months. The temps went from 92 to 72 in an hour. OMG! And the people danced and sang... But the lightning was bad so we have to unplug everything, hence the tardy update upload. It was a two hour event, still raining as I do this. The Barking Frogs are the only thing thrilled as me about it.

July 30 ~ A low of 71F felt great. The gulf stratus got here shortly after sunup and kept it bearable for the morning. A small group of Orchard Orio went through yard early, and one Gnatcatcher. Another coon climbed the fence and ransacked the tub-pond. I guess you have to wear a mask when you are always sneakin' around screwing other people's stuff up. A thickish mid-level layer of stratus parked over us for the afternoon and kept it cooler than planned, 87F much of afternoon on front porch. Supposed to be getting a weak front washing out in the area tomorrow and Saturday, some rain is predicted. Pray, dance, sing, drum, whatever it is you do for rain, now is the time to do it. Saw two ad. male Black-chinned Hummer still here.

July 29 ~ Low was 70.5F, and felt great. A Flock of at least 4 Orchard Oriole went over early, high and fast, passage migrants on the move. We played hooky at the office here until 2 p.m., going to Lost Maples SNA this morning, finally, for a get out and hike. I am about a dozen trips short for a normal spring and early summer this year. We had been unable to get weekend entry as they are only allowing half normal traffic, and so are booked weeks in advance, before we can tell if we can sneak away for half a day. So we did it during the week. There were very few people and it was great, like the old days. We saw no one once we were past the ponds.

Due to the lack of rain it is very dry, there are hardly any flowers, and very few bugs, including butterflies and odes. Most of the breeding season seems over for the birds. Lots of stuff is gone already. In 5 hours going up to the high-water spring on Can Creek a mile past the ponds (about 4 miles total), we did not see or hear any Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, Ash-throated and Acadian Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Indigo Bunting or Blue Grosbeak, Chat, White-tipped Dove, Green Kingfisher, or Audubon's Oriole. Lots of stuff is gone already. Feeding stations are closed down and un-serviced.

Only heard two E. Wood-Pewee and two Summer Tanager so those have mostly bugged out. Heard two Hutton's Vireo. Somewhere high up over the parking lot at the trailhead was a begging Zone-tailed Hawk. We saw two Olive Sparrow, and an ad. and juv. Rufous-crowned Sparrow. There were still numbers of Red-eyed (8+) and White-eyed (10+) Vireo, as well as Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Heard a few Canyon Wren but did not lay eyes on one, as fairly usual. Heard a few Ladder-backed Woodpecker, saw a few Common Raven, a Red-shouldered Hawk, lots of Titmouse (Black-crested), a few Carolina Chickadee, lots of Carolina Wren, a few Bewick's, good numbers of N. Cardinal, a very few E. Phoebe, some Barn Swallow, Turkey and Black Vulture.

In butterflies there was little. A few Sleepy Orange, a Gulf Fritillary, a Dun Skipper, four E. Tiger Swallowtail (3 dark-form female, and 1 yellow), three Spicebush Swallowtail, a few Snout, it was between dreary and dismal. No Sister or Red-spotted Purple, or Two-tailed Swallowtail, no Amblyscrites (Roadside-skippers), I did not even see a single Pipevine or Queen. The Buttonbush was the main blooming attractor. It had bumblebees on it wherever it was in bloom. Odes were not much better. Best were 4 or more Comanche Skimmer, but no Neon, Flame, or Widow Skimmer. Some E. Pondhawk and Blue Dasher, a Red-tailed Pennant, a Wandering Glider which bolted and left the main big pond heading into orbit, a few Swift Setwing, a Green Darner, and one Leaftail that was likely Five-striped. Seemed really weak for the date. Damsels were a few Kiowa Dancer. Pitiful.

In herps: saw 3 lizards, single Six-lined Racerunner, Four-lined Skink, and Texas Spiny Lizard. No snakes. A few turtles slid away in the ponds, which amazingly were Pond Sliders. Amphibs were one yearling Red-spotted Toad, some Blanchard's Cricket-frog and a Leopard Frog. Fish were Mexican Tetras and the Notropis shiner at high-water spot. I love those MexiTets, some were 3" long and fat! Below ponds a Bluegill is the first I have ever seen there, with dark in the soft dorsal. In a pondlet I check the sunfish at all the time. The usual Bantam and Red-breasted Sunfish, the latter in spectacular breeding colors presently.

Plants are stunted from lack of rain, the Frostweed save some in the creekbed is half the height it should be, same for lots of stuff, like the Senna. The flowers I saw a few of were Lindheimer's Senna, Cedar Sage, Mountain Pink, Snapdragon Vine, but Buttonbush was the only thing really going well. If you are up at dark-thirty, Venus is the 'morning star' in the east before dawn, whilst red Mars is near zenith almost straight up. Should have gone up on the hill behind us with scope and nabbed Mercury, which is in Gemini right now, low in East before dawn.

What is weird is how there are more Indigo and Painted Bunting in our yard than at Lost Maples now, and the same for Audubon's Oriole. Afternoon was warm back here at the casita, got up to mid-90's or better. Kathy spotted orioles at the bath, I got the bathroom window open, and heard them as I took some pix, it was the troop of juvenile Audubon's Orios! Only 2 can fit in the bath at once if you were wondering. Three could fit, IF they would stop fighting. Got a few shots but missed some great fighting action that was too fast. Three Hooded were at the hummer feeders here. A group of rain cells went by later in afternoon, all we got was the outflow, but which was great, for cooling us down to 84F or so before 6 p.m. when it was 94.

July 28 ~ A 72F low was great. Common Nighthawk went by about 6:40 a.m. or so. Just a bit of gulf stratus, warmed up fast, and got to the upper 90's F. Hear one Blue Grosbeak and one Indigo Bunting still singing, half-heartedly. Chat is calling but not really singing, Summer Tanagers around but just calling, they seem done. Vermilions seem to be working on another clutch the way the male chased a Phoebe out of an area in the corral. Did hear four vireo sps., the three regulars still singing, plus a Bell's, but no Hutton's. Heard a Scissor-tail which seem to be done for the most part too. Only passage bird was a Gnatcatcher late in the day. Still only Black-chins for hummers and almost all are immatures, only two adult male left at most.

July 27 ~ The gulf stratus got here and kept it balmy, 74F was the low. Dawn chorus is no longer. Just a few things singing, and not very much. It is remarkably quiet before sunrise already. A dry June means a very weak July breeding session. Most has given up. A troop of Audubon's Oriole went through early, a Martin or two overhead, one Gnatcatcher went by southbound. The cool shady front porch was 90F around 3 p.m., pretty toasty in the sun. Neat at last light was a migrant Great Blue Heron up at 1000' (obviously not local movement) dropping down looking for a place to roost.

Two great departures I have been forgetting to mention recently... first, the cowbirds are gone. Last week they bugged out. The daily flock of white millet eating ad. male and female Brown-headed and Bronzed Cowbirds, have not been around for most of a week now. Good riddance. The odd hatch-year juvie still around, but the ad. flock of nest parasites is gone. Surely they can tell stuff is not re-nesting. The other departure was that bastard Ash-throated Flycatcher that spent a week terrorizing everything in the yard, I presume after the female left, is finally gone. All the birds in the yard were glad to see it go.

July 26 ~ A spritz of rain from a band of Hanna went over right around sunup. We might have gotten about .15 of an inch. That was it, but which was great, at least something. The rain-cooled low was 71F which was also great. Deep far south Texas got lots of rain, some areas a foot! And it is flat down there. Will probably fill Falcon Lake. We got a couple day break from the oppressive heat and a couple dust-free days. High was about 90F again. A couple Orchard Oriole went through yard mid-morn but that was it for migration motion.

We went to the park noonish, everyone must have left due to the rain forecast, which then didn't happen. Great to see it soooo empty on a Sunday in summer. Had one Green Heron below the dam. Heard a Purple Martin overhead. Up in the woods there was one Black-and-white Warbler, a transient. One Common Grackle was in the willows at the island. Collected some Maxmillian Sunflower for the tub pondlet, and a few Gambusia (Mosquitofish), still need to get some Ludwigia and other things.

July 25 ~ 'Nother balmy 75F low. Now Hurricane Hanna is set to go much further south than original forecasts a couple days ago. Deep south Texas will get some much-needed rain, we will be lucky to get any. Winds were off and on E to ENE from the circulation, and lots of clouds, so we barely hit 90F, which is 10dF off the recent highs and a treat in itself. Be nice if one of the bands would throw a rain cell our way. Great being in 70's for the evening instead of the 80's. The little things...

The Audubon's Oriole juveniles went through yard and I counted 4 all-green and yellow hatch-year birds as they moved from the big Hackberry over the shed to the Mulberry over the cottage. The single note begging call is not unlike the chuck note of an Orchard Oriole. Deeper, not as sharp, longer of duration, and with perhaps a wee bit of a bleating aspect to it. Always great to see they had nesting success locally. Maybe it could be two sets of two young that joined up and not one clutch of four? I do not see any adults.

I have been looking at the male Indigo Buntings for molt the last few days. What could have easily seemed one bird at a glance is at least three different males based on different molts. One missing a patch on left side of head, another with sheathed feathers all over the head, another with a big gray area on one side. Then after all that hard work over a few days, about 8 p.m. there were FOUR males at once on the patio! I have only been seeing one at a time. Sure makes it easier when they all show at once.

Had a Zone-tailed Hawk fly by and over in afternoon. You can barely see the comet now, with the moon near first quarter the sky is washed out with too much light. It still looks good in binocs, but is fading fast, and nothing like it was a week ago when no moon. This cosmic show is all but over. Just catch it next time if you missed it. It's only 6800 years until it returns.

audubonsoriole
This appears to be... an excellent photo quiz picture.
Tail is spread, left wing spread, head shows well. It is
always great to get any shots of this little-seen plumage,
and acquire more breeding evidence as well. If only I
could see the brows, squirming, and page flippin'.  ;)
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 24 ~ 75F is as low as she goes presently apparently. No morning clouds and occasional easterly winds. Afternoon upper 90's F with low 00's heat index. We are hoping for some rain tomorrow or Sunday from the system (Hanna) in the Gulf and wish they would quit bending the forecast track south. Meanwhile here the drone of the cicadas do not make it feel any less like the dog days of summer when it is in the upper 90's. Some local WU stations showed over a hun here today.

There was a Hutton's Vireo which sat on edge of birdbath early this morning. Two or three Hooded Oriole visiting feeders but no ad. male. Great was the family group of Audubon's Oriole that was in yard a bit. Looked like at least two, probably 3 juveniles, and 2 adults. They were in most of the yard trees over 15 minutes or so. Lots of calling. A great show. Mighta got a shot of a juv.

Town run, Rosie was gone so no tacos today, Friday just isn't the same. Little Creek Larry said he had a Spotted Sandpiper on the dam at the park this morning. This is undoubtedly a fall migrant, right now is the time the first ones return from nesting. Fall migration for shorebirds is in full swing in July. Should have Upland Sandpipers going over any night, I have been listening just after dark but not heard one yet. There was one Hutton's Vireo up on the island at the park, but that was it. Otherwise slow, the park is packed with hominids.

July 23 ~ Low of 75F or so, you take what you can get. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was in yard early in the morning. A herdlet of Orchard Oriole went through yard early, a half-dozen or so, first morning with more than a single or two. A few Hooded Oriole were around as well, a pair consisting of first summer male and female were on a feeder together multiple times, indicating they are still nesting. A lone juvenile was also around. A, or the, Yellow-throated Vireo came close to going to bath, which they virtually never do. Once a juvenile came in to it a couple years ago. An adult White-eyed Vireo came in and besides splash-bathing several times, it actually sat on rim of the bath a few times. It was in very heavy molt, of head, body, and wings, and is the most disheveled WEVI I ever saw.

Later morning an Audubon's Oriole or two went through, so 3 sps. orioles this morn. I heard a FOS Least Flycatcher out on the fenceline but it was gone when I got out there with binocs. Hear the Bell's Vireo singing a bit over in the corral, so 4 vireos by noon since the Red-eyed is still singing. Heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. Nearing noon when looking for the Least Flyc. I saw a FOY Laviana White-Skipper at the Frog-fruit. In the afternoon I saw 8 Chimney Swift heading south down the river habitat corridor. Hope they weren't leaving already. Still heard a few Martins overhead, they will be gone soon. Couple Nighthawks at dusk, heard one boom. Eastern Screech-Owl calling. Heard some weird call about 11 p.m. that maybe was a cuckoo. Comet still showing well, but dimming fast. Still a great binocular view object.

July 22 ~ A 76.5F low, headed for mid-90's and again a slight chance of a shower, so good and humid. Saw a Questionmark butterfly early in morning. Bath was busy early too, everything comes in to fill up on water first thing. An oriole seen briefly looked an Orchard. Chat came in, a juv. Summer Tanager took a bath, the stream of Cardinals seems endless. Kathy saw the Yellow-throated Warbler on the portable shade gazebo we have on the patio. A juvenile Yellow-breasted Chat came into the birdbath in the morning. Only saw one ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird today, guarding the office feeder. Should be a Rufous around any day now. Bird of the day was nearing dusk, when a Poor-will flew by, whilst still light out! Nighthawks do so regularly, but this was tiny, round-winged with no white band. Either a juvenile or a parent with young to feed. Have only had a very few from yard in 7 years, though they a present within a mile on the rocky knolls.

July 21 ~ Low of only 76F is not very. Have a slight chance at showers they say, will believe that when I smell rain. In the morning had Gnatcat and Orchard Oriole go by. Dang coon climbed a garden fence and got in the new tub pond. On one side the fence is lowish (4'), so will have to raise that. Maybe run a hot wire to it, wait and watch with the switch in hand? Heard Audubon's Oriole out there in the morning. Some Chimney Swift went over in afternoon. There were some small scattered showers semi-nearish in afternoon. Not close enough to smell, was hot and sticky. More Gnatcats in afternoon. Comet still showing well, but still dimming fast, seems another magnitude less tonight. Still bare-eyeable if you know what to look for and where to look. No Chucks calling, they have fallen silent. If it would rain they would call, and so would I. Great to be losing a minute a day now, a month after the solstice.

July 20 ~ A 72F low was good. No low stratus from the gulf, so sun out of the gate and gonna be a hot one. First thing a Titmouse was over at the pond and went to the branch I stuck in it so anything can crawl out. Always the first bird to check anything new out, the titmouse. The Chickadee watched and went to fence noting it. Early morning had Gnatcatcher and an Orchard Oriole go through yard, and another gnatcat or two over the day. For both, their southbound passage should pick up steam the next few weeks. Saw a real rusty female Indigo Bunting on the patio, there has only been a male showing up, they probably have a nestful of young over in the draw near where he sings. The first few immature male Black-chinned Hummingbirds are showing dark feathers in the throat now. There were some off and on easterly winds over the day, due to a low in the NW Gulf of Mexico. Saw the comet from the driveway at dark. Looks great, and is seeable with the bare eye, barely. Interesting is that it obviously is not as bright as it was last night. Amazing to be able to see that difference in dimming in one day. No chucks called. The Texas Powdered-Skipper was on the Frog-fruit in the afternoon.

July 19 ~ Low of 72F again is wonderful. But boy is it parched out there. We are over six weeks with just an inch of rain since the deluge the last two weeks of May. It's all or nuthin' here now for precip. Heard a couple Gnatcats go through yard, the Indigo Bunting was in a singing mood this morning, Painted are all but silent. Only a very few ad. male Black-chinned Hummers left here now.

Went over the the Waresville pondlet on the golf course. One male Comet Darner continues but again no Least Grebe. Seeming like a miracle I saw it at all. Red-winged Blackbirds still nesting. The Barn Swallows got out of the nest since last week. One female or imm. Purple Martin was on the wire over the pond. Then we checked the 1450 knoll, no Black-capped Vireo. It is so parched and toasted it is hard to believe how lush it was five weeks ago. Heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, heard one and saw another Roadrunner, heard a Field Sparrow and White-eyed Vireo, but it was quiet, though getting warmer at noon. No flowers, no butterflies, no bugs. We need rain.

We went to the crossing after dinner at last sun whence I aqua-mogged through the mud and collected a couple cattails and a water lily. We'll see if they make the transplant. But the tub-pond has a couple plants in it now. Saw a couple American Rubyspot damselfly. After dark we went over to the 1500 knoll to our north and had great views of the comet NEOWISE. It was fairly impressive, and much better than last week, higher up in darker skies. We could see it bare-eyed without binocs. That is a long tail it has! Kathy heard an Eastern Screech-Owl. No Chucks called at dusk.

July 18 ~ A low of 72F felt good. The low stratus from the gulf got here around sunup and kept the sun at bay a few hours. There is a disturbance over south Texas where a few scattered showers, some afternoon clouds kept the heat dialed back to 90F. Heard the Hutton's and the Bell's Vireo to go with the White-eyed, Red-eyed, and Yellow-throated, for five species of vireo from the porch today. It's vireotopia. If I could just get a stray Black-capped... at the bath with photos.

Some begging baby Lesser Goldfinch are nice to see since the first set since the hail storm in late May. They showed up yesterday actually. LEGO were wiped out by the hail. There were a few pairs around the house in late May, only one male for two weeks after the storm. Then a female so by mid-June they must have been underway with a nesting attempt, now we have a couple young. Normally there are too many and at least a couple sets fledged by now, instead of their first clutch.

Got the filter going and am filling the tub, soon to be a 50 gal. pondlet. Sure to soon have Marsh Wren, Sora, breeding Least Bittern, and maybe a Sabine's Gull. Have to put a hole in it for overflow prevention, grated so I don't lose Gambusia when it pours. The Wooly Ironweed is sure popular now. A couple nice male Large Orange Sulphur were on it quite a while, as was a Texas Powdered-Skipper, the first one of the month. There are Dun Skipper on it all day. Then a FOY Southern Skipperling was on the Frog-fruit. Saw the Turkeys over in the corral. Late p.m. there were a couple begging baby Yellow-throated Warbler getting fed in the pecans in front yard. These are another set.

One interesting botanical note I have been meaning to mention. Some Pecans have re-sprouted leaf clusters where they were lost in the hail event. There are many bright green fresh leaflets on a number of trees. Not all of them has done this but several have. No Chuck calling at dusk.

paintedbunting
It is that time of year again... July, when some
adult male Painted Bunting initiate some sort of
supplemental molt we do not seem to understand.
Some ad.ma. are perfectly fully red below now, others
mottled with light areas, sometimes yellowish. Here
is another variation you won't find well-described
in the literature. I noted this male getting pale a
week plus prior to this pic.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 17 ~ A 76F low does not bode well for the afternoon temps. In the morning I had another look, and a decent if brief one, of the Great Plains Skink I saw a couple days ago. This was a most wanted reptile here for me, so great to see, and better to have it around the house. Sure would love a pic, but they are not the type to sit out in the open and sun. It took 15 years to see a Tree Lizard here, and 16.5 for this skink (had one awful look once). If I was retired of course instead of working often 6 days a week, that time would have been reduced considerably no doubt. Still looking for a Copperhead to photo.

There was an Eastern Wood-Pewee in yard early, getting chased by the Ash-throated Flycatcher. The Pewee is way faster and more agile. It appears to think the Ash-throat is a big dumb lunk of a bully. Indigo Bunting still singing, as is Blue Grosbeak, but the Painted Bunting have nearly shut up. Heard a Hutton's Vireo in the yard again, if I would have heard it yesterday it would have been 5 species of vireo in the yard. Most of the ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird have bugged out of the last week to two. Very low numbers of them remain. It is overwhelmingly immatures now, but some ad. fem. still present. Roadrunner was in the Bluemist no doubt hunting the Green Anole lizards that hang around front porch (no doubt after my precious butterflies that come in to the flowers).

Did the town errand run and park check. Summer Tanager still singing, ours in yard has gone quiet. Saw the Red-eyed Vireo in the woods, a couple juv. White-eyed Vireo besides some adults. But quiet overall. Heard the RingKing way upriver. No odes. It has been busy and packed with people so is fairly highly disturbed Memorial to Labor Day. We're half way there. Not much mask wearing overall in town. But Rosie has tacos, and it is back to the hovelita and livin' la vida quarantina. Saw an Elada Checkerspot on the Frog-fruit in the driveway. Chuck still going off at dusk.

July 16 ~ A 73F low was as chilly as it got. Some low stratus kept it below 80 until after 11. Indigo Bunting singing briefly early, and then at seed out back later. Painted Bunting include a few males, a few females, and a few juveniles. They will build the next few weeks before the males depart at the end of the first week in August. Heard a Bell's Vireo sing over in Mesquite across from gate, to go with the Yellow-throated, Red-eyed, and White-eyed all still singing. Later it was in the corral along fenceline. Heard the Great Crested Flycatcher, Ash-throat still harassing everything in yard. Besides the ad. fem. Hooded Oriole at the feeders, an Audubon's Oriole went by yard, but none have caught on to the feeders here.

Did my final 50 gal. pond tub cleaning before I place it and start filtering and filling with water. Once you start filling you can't move it. It has to be fenced or deer, coons, and who knows what would ransack it endlessly. Birdbath is mud every morning due to the dang coons. Even with just 40 gallons of water in it, that weighs over 300 lbs., 50 is 400! Have to scrape a bit to make a level spot. The well water has iron in it, which grows algae, so I remove it (carbon). Generally enough macro plants will keep micros from taking hold but no sense in having any algae-grow from the git-go.

The Frog-fruit was active. Saw Tropical and Desert Checkered-Skipper, besides some Common, for the Pyrgus trifecta. A Dusky-blue Groundstreak was new. A Ctenucha (diurnal moth) finally didn't care and let me get pics, finally. Lots of all the regular stuff I have been mentioning. It could take 10-15 minutes to get away from the patches before you ID everything on it. Late afternoon there were 5 Mestra on it at once. The Olive-Juniper Hairstreak show up most at peak heat, 6 at once, at least. Heard one Chuck-will's-widow gave a fair session of calling at dusk. They will be done real soon. I am surprised he is still going.

July 15 ~ Low was about 72.5, a couple hours of low stratus before it gave way to the sun. Kathy heard a Nighthawk before 7 a.m. Ran to town early so a quick look in the woods at the park, nuthin' happening. Getting quiet out there folks. Back here I saw the Long-billed Thrasher sneakin' around where seed tossed. An adult female Hooded Oriole came in and took a bath. So mom and a juvie here now, sure wish the male would show. Still a few Martin overhead, Indigo Bunting barely still singing. A few male Painted around, one took a bath early. Late in day at least 2 juvenile Painted Bunting were on seed out back, besides a couple ad. fem. types. Heard a Hutton's Vireo.

After spraying water around a male Roseate Skimmer was out there a bit. Kathy saw a Smoky Rubyspot in the yard, but I couldn't find it. I have only seen one in the yard before. Usually the Rubyspots are fairly tied to waters edge here, a beast of the streamside vegetation. Spraying water around is magic though, for odes and for butterflies, it can get nearly instant results. During these hot dry spells it clearly is something they are looking for and needing. Late near last sun a male Common Whitetail was patrolling the Frog-fruit for a last meal. For being common, they are pretty spiffy with that bright snow white abdomen.

Besides the daily butterflies, there was a Nysa Roadside-Skipper on the Bluemist Eup late in day. The Celia's on the Wooly Ironweed is a fairly regular visitor. There was one Horace's Duskywing puddling on some wet mud. One Giant Swallowtail went by. Saw what surely was a Tropical Checkered-Skipper on the Frog-fruit. Common and Desert are regular. Saw my FOY baby Six-line Racerunner (lizard), just a few inches long, and wow are they neat looking. Had a quick look at what surely was a Great Plains Skink (Plestiodon (was Eumeces) obsoletus) out back. It is the first one I have seen in 16+ years here in Utopia. It has been high on my 'wanted' list as it is should be present here. They are diurnal but very secretive as I understand it. Also saw a FOY baby Anole (lizard) that was not 3" long yet, counting the tail.

July 14 ~ Low was 73F and felt great, a respite, if only brief. Several local area stations were at 102F in the afternoon. Uvalde hit 104 and Del Rio 109. I guess we are lucky it is not 128F like Death Valley was a few days ago. Which is actually a wonderful place I spent a fair bit of time exploring. Though generally avoided it early June until later September.

There was a Ribbonsnake in the house which ducked into a place where we couldn't chase. Hope it finds its way back out the way it came in! They are harmless, more or less our version of a Gartersnake here. Though we do have a Black-headed Garter found locally, scarcely.

Ringed Kingfisher flew right over house in a.m.. A few Black-bellied Whistling-Duck followed shortly after. Heard an Audubon's Oriole over in corral and uphill behind us in the big live-oaks. There was a female or imm. Hooded Oriole at the hummer feeders in the a.m., have not been seeing one around so nice. Saw it again later out office window, it is a juvenile Hooded. Heard the Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed Vireos all singing, the Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak still singing. Heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow out back, and later afternoon heard the Long-billed Thrasher smacking in the Mulberry.

A female Common Whitetail dragonfly was in yard a bit. Trying to decide where to put a 50 gal. tub for a dragon pond. Since easy access to some lillies and cattails, Myriophyllum, Gambusia, etc., what the heck with that presently unused heavy duty tub. Shoulda done it a long time ago. Maybe I could get a yard Sora? How many cattails would it take? Worked this a.m. trying to shade some tomatoes that are still trying to make it in this brutal heat. One Chuck was calling a bit at dusk.

At twilight we went over to the 1500' knoll just north of us for some altitude hoping to see the Comet NEOWISE. On the dirt road on way over a Poor-will flushed from the side of the road. Then Kathy saw something bigger, so either a Chuck or a Nighthawk, briefly as it flew off, habitat is Nighthawk. We did see the comet, which was neat, but no Hale-Bopp (the last 'great' comet, in '97). Great comets are those you can see with the bare eye. This you need binocs to spot. As it gets higher in darker sky over the next week viewing should improve. We could see it with 7 and 8x binocs, better in the 20x scope, but I forgot the 25-45x zoom eyepiece which I will dig out for next time.

July 13 ~ Low of 72F felt great, lowest temp in a week, which is a cryin' shame. It was record hot at SAT and Del Rio, presumedly here too. It hit 90 before noon, 97 by 1:30, several local stations were reporting 102-103F at 3 p.m., before peak heat. Humidity was down to 20 percent or so early afternoon. At 5 p.m. KRVL hit 105F and 11% humidity (!), DelRio hit a 112F (!), it was 101 in the shade on the front porch. So had to be 105 in the sun, a couple local stations had 107-8F, likely in sunny spots. We are about 10F over average highs. Junction, Castroville, Hondo, and Uvalde all hit 108F! Gadzooks! Holy thermality heat man! Who left the oven door open? At midnight it was still 85F.

Birds were at the bath all day trying to cool off. What I presume is the male Ash-throated Flycatcher is terrorizing everything for a week plus now. What seems to have happened is that the female left after their third failed attempt and abandon. He is left and pissed off, taking it out on everything in the yard smaller than himself. Constantly harrassing everything, being a mean tyrant of all things, this tyrant flycatcher. Mean as a California Bird Record Committee member.

Kathy spotted a Black-n-white Warbler out front mid-day, female or immature. Early evening after 7:30 Kathy spotted the Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the bath! They never come in, save very rarely when it is over a hundred. It is the first time I have seen it at the bath here. Only twice in 16 years have I seen one come into water, both times it was 104 or 105F. Luckily the bathroom window was open so through my magic screen I got a shot. I have a feeling you are going to see another cuckoo pic.

In butterflies saw a nice yellow morph Lyside Sulphur. Saw the Tawny Emperor cross the yard again, the Mournful and False Duskywing were both around again as well, besides the usual Funereal. Lots of the little stuff still on the Frog-fruit. Hairstreaks, skippers, and mostly Reakirt's Blues. Some Mestra, a few Queen and Sleepy Orange. The Dun Skippers love the Wooly Ironweed, which is in good bloom now, a great dark purple fuzzy flower.

July 12 ~ Low was 75F, not much for morning stratus from the gulf. Probably hit 102F or so as a few of the local WU stations reported. Was 97 in the shade on the front porch. Brutal. After about 95F the humidity is cooked out though, so no heat index on it when that hot. We were 25 percent or so this afternoon at peak heat. Saw (and heard) a Ringed Kingfisher flying north upriver in the morning. Later the Long-billed Thrasher was around out back a few times today. Neat since we normally don't have a thrasher out the window. An adult Zone-tailed Hawk soared low over trees and house late morning.

The rest was the usual gang. We went for a swim at peak heat later in afternoon. Water is getting warm in spots, and down a few inches too. Send rain. Wasn't much singing it was too hot. Damselflies way down after last weeks breeding frenzy, just a very few of the same types left. Swift and Checkered Setwings were it for dragons. A few Dolomedes fishing spiders, one bigger rustyish fuzzy one that looked different from the usual D. scriptus, with small pale-ringed dark eye-spots on abdomen. Late near last sun a yellow Swallowtail came into water which was likely an Eastern Tiger. Saw one False Duskywing here in yard which might be a FOY. Did not hear a Chuck at dark. Only a very few Firefly left flying now. It was a great second wave, now we wait to see if we get a good fall flight.

July 11 ~ Low was 75F, not much for morning clouds. Was a roaster, a hun in the sun in the afternoon. A female Black-n-white Warbler bathed in the morning. Too many cowbirds, at least they will depart soon. I have seen 4 juveniles around in the last month or so, none being attended by our yard birds. They all found the place, but were not raised by any of our regular users. About 10:30 a.m. I heard a Long-billed Thrasher over in the corral, about 11 it was outback thrashing all over the place. Got a few docushots. Was very dull on upperparts, perhaps a juvenile.

Quick spin to town, park was crowded so I skipped it. Noonish I checked the Waresville pond at the edge of the golf course. Did not see a Least Grebe, one male Comet Darner continues. Can't believe how much the baby Barn Swallows have grown in a week. One male Eastern Pondhawk was different. A couple male Purple Martin circled over pond and nest boxes. Lots of all the same butterflies on the driveway Frog-fruit here. Numbers continue to build well. One Goatweed Leafwing came in to water sprayed about, a nice male. Two Chucks called at dusk., one over in corral where it seemed to have nested.

yellowbilledcuckoo
How can you tell it is 104F here? That is what it takes
to get a cukcoo at the birdbath. Otherwise juicy worms
(caterpillars) and such provide enough moisture. Only the
third time in 16+ years to see one drink at the bath, all
three times it was 104 or more. Was at 3 diff. yards too.
Ya gotta love those zygodactyl feet! Two toes forward, 2 back.
Note yellow on upper mandible, not just the lower.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 10 ~ A 75F low was a frog hair better than the last couple days. The low stratus kept it bearable all morning, but the afternoon was a burner. Near a hun. The yard was the same stuff as expected now. Late p.m. there were 7 Turkey over in the corral. It was town run fun day. I should say taco run as that is the best part, that last 10 min. stop at Rosie's. No one wearing masks here in town, save a tourist I saw. Numbers of Large Orange Sulphur going by, fewer Cloudless. Still hearing a few Purple Martin.

Did a quick park check, lots of people for noonish. Summer crowds. Water still going over spillway but level is dropping fast. By the island was the ad. fem. and the imm. Green Kingfisher. Still singing in woods were Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee, all but the Red-eye likely nesting. The Red-eye I think is an unmated troller, been here 5 weeks or more, and have not seen a second bird. No leps or odes. Little Creek Larry said on his creek there, there are near 70 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, most are young of the year. So several pairs must have nested over there. I saw at least 3 pair at the S. Little Crk. bigger (N.) buffalo wallow where they sometimes nest, when it still had lots of water in early June.

Just in case you haven't heard, there is a comet visible to the NNE at about 5 a.m. right now, and from I think Monday it will be visible after sunset instead of before sunrise. Then it will be between WNW and NW I think. Check spaceweathercom or skyandtelescope.com, or space.com, any will have links with sky maps etc. The first site mentioned has a photo gallery with great pics of it.

July 9 ~ Looked like another 77F low here this morn. Morning stratus, so no immediate sun is a bit of a break in itself. We are progged for another heat wave this weekend into early next week. Birds were all the same. Male Indigo Bunting was on the patio. A male Painted has some major pale areas on underparts now, clearly body molt is going on. Ringed King calling from river last hour of sun. The fem. Ladder-backed Woodpecker is roosting in her hole regularly now. Comes in before last sun and enters. Barred Owl calling after dark.

Butterflies were about the same too, but lots of that fun little stuff on the Frog-fruit. At least a couple dozen butterflies at once, of well over a dozen species makes you momentarily forget the heat. Four Olive-Juniper Hairstreak at once, maybe 6 total, a few Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak at once, 3 Mestra together, a few Vesta Crescent, Bordered Patch, a bunch of Reakirt's Blue (near a dozen), and then Eufala, Julia's, Fiery, Dun, Whirlabout, and Desert Checkered-, for skippers. Lysides, Little Yellow, Dainty Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, and a few others, all on Frog-fruit. A Tawny Emperor flew by back porch in morning.

July 8 ~ Low was 77F, clouds stuck until noonish so still barely 82 then. At least a little break. A very warm afternoon, 94F in shade on front porch. So it was near a hun in the sun. Oh, but it is a dry hun. A hun stinks anyway you measure it. Thought I saw a juvenile Painted Bunting, very gray, barely green. The rest was the same gang.

Frog-fruit had a couple Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Funereal and a Mournful Duskywing, a few Vesta, lots of Reakirt's Blue, Fiery and Whirlabout Skipper, a couple each Mestra and Lyside. Low-end entertainment, but entertainment. Like hearing the Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting, Chat, Yellow-throated Warbler, and other stuff singing outside. At least it is something to look at or listen to. Field, Lark, and Chipping Sparrow all still singing.

July 7 ~ Low was 75F or so. Overcast and muggy. A few drops of rain fell at one point, perhaps when the humidity slipped below dripping for a second. But clouds generally kept the heat at bay for most of the day. Low 90's was it, which constitutes a break at this point. Blue Grosbeak is still going strong with song early. Many things are fading fast. The Indigo Bunting is losing steam for instance. Was a Gnatcatcher around in morning. They are so fast and agile it never ceases to amaze me. Saw a Desert Checkered-Skipper on the Frog-fruit among lots of Reakirt's Blue and Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, one Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, some Whirlabout and Dun Skipper, a few Fiery, a couple Vesta and a Phaon Crescent. At least it is something to look at without going anywhere.

Late in day saw a Cuckoo get a Katydid. The Katy dropped like a rock out of the tree when it realized it was spotted and in trouble. The cuckoo dropped right after it, both into tall grass under a smaller pecan. The cuckoo looked around for 10 seconds, spotted it. The end of Katy. Then during my dinner I saw out the side window at least a half-dozen Turkey over in the shade in the corral. A couple Chucks still barely going at dusk.

July 6 ~ The low was not very at 77F. The KRVL stats showed a whopping 6 hrs at or below 79F overnight, hitting 76 for a half-hour. These are some high lows. I looked to see what the scolding scene was about. The Roadrunner was drinking from some holes in the patio that hold water briefly, whilst all the birds around give scold calls and vacate said patio. I am sure they take lots of inexperienced just-fledged baby birds. A mid-morn sprayabout brought in a male Roseate Skimmer dragonfly to the wet shiny patio, and two Funereal Duskywings to a wet carpet remnant outside the cottage. A juv. female Black-and-white Warbler came into the bath mid-morn. About 2 p.m. a narrow band of rain went over, took 10dF off the top for an hour and change. Only a few hundredths here. The cloud debris though kept it from getting as hot as forecast, lowest 90's instead of upper. A couple Chucks half-heartedly singing at dusk. Was shooting some small butterfly pics on the Frog-fruit and later saw I got my FOY Ceraunus Blue.

July 5 ~ Low was 72F, a few local WU stations were showing a toasty 100 in the late afternoon. That was when we were in the river swimming. The water is warming up though. We need more rain. Was 96F on shady porch in the later afternoon, so surely we had a hun in the sun. Brutal heat.

The morning yard stuff was all the same. We putted around to a couple stops 11-1 or so. The pond by the Waresville Cmty. had maintenence work being done, so if the grebe was still there it was hiding. We did see one male Comet Darner still there though. Kathy saw a Widow Skimmer. A second set of baby Barn Swallow being fed are more than a week from fledging still. The Martins seem gone (early) from the house in disrepair.

At the 360 x-ing there were Rubyspot dragonflies, only American but at least 10, finally. Also a FOY Five-striped Leaftail. Neat was a Tawny Emperor which hit the river surface 3 times to get water no doubt. Had a glance at what was surely a Viceroy. Saw Longeared Sunfish and Texas Cichlid. Birds there were Indigo and Painted Bunting, Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Chat, and some more common stuff.

We checked the 1450 knoll. Thought I might have heard a dribble or two of Black-capped Vireo calls. Kathy saw a juv. vireo she wasn't sure of but there was an adult White-eyed in the near vicinity. A good number of Ash-throated Flycatcher, seemed over a half-dozen. Must be young out of nests now. But it was hot already hitting 90F so not prime time for birds. Just a few Zexmenia left blooming, one Mournful Duskywing on them. What was amazing was how the carpet of flowers two weeks ago is brown, dried, and cooked, in the last week plus of high 90's F on that hot SW facing slope. Baked. All of them. It went from a lush cornucopia of color to dry brown toast in two weeks. The June bloom has left the room. It was a good one, surely leaving a great seed crop behind.

From just after 4 to just after 5 we were in the water cooling off. I mostly do the banks for bugs, and listen for birds since can't carry binocs. Lots singing in the heat, which means still nesting. Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue Grosbeak, Chat, Yellow-throated Warbler, Painted Bunting, Black-crested Titmouse, Summer Tanager, were all very vocal as in territorial singing. Saw my FOY small fish, that is, native fish, which means one of the 'minnows' in our case. Black-tailed Shiners, several dozen, finally. Kathy spotted a nice male Red-breasted Sunfish in breeding colors. A few small Largemouth Bass. In dragonflies just a few Swift Setwings for anything big, the rest was damsels, and they were numerous. Saw my FOY Stream Bluet, dozens of Double-striped Bluet continue. Several each of Blue-ringed, Dusky, and Violet Dancer. A bunch I couldn't see close enough. Thought I saw a Powdered Dancer but it got away.

Saw A couple Dolomedes fishing spiders. One unseen one jumped on my arm as I reached for a baby sword fern on a cypress root, it quickly jumped off onto the tree. It was so fast I didn't know what it was until it stopped on the tree a few inches from my hand. I just knew something jumped on me but my eyes could not begin to catch up to it until it stopped, it was so fast. Nice that it wasn't attacking. It reminded me of how mis-informed our ideas are about so many things, like spiders, are. Most folks are amazingly scared of spiders, with snakes and sharks running close behind, just ahead of anything that buzzes in flight. Everything is not out to get you. Childhood cartoons did more to scare people of buzzy insects than anything else.

July 4 ~ Low was about 73F, and no clouds, high pressure has taken over. Was 95 in the shade on front porch in afternoon, a few local WU stations were showing 99F at peak heat. We do lose the humidity though when it gets that hot. It goes dry. It is the biggest day of the year in town, so we stay hidden and avoid it all. The first-summer Black-n-white Warbler came into the bath early in the morning. Providing good looks and finally a couple weak pix enough to study his state of molt. Otherwise was the about same gang of birds and butterflies. Kathy saw a male Widow Skimmer go over the house, after I saw the FOY just yesterday at the park.

blackbelliedwhistlingduck
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, formerly known as (B-b) 'Tree-Duck'
for their habit of perching in trees. They whistle well too.
A few nest locally, the immatures are duller and have dark bills.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 3 ~ The 73F low was better than 75 the last few days. KRVL had a 72. Perplexing was a duck that flew over the house in the morning. It was not a Whistling-Duck or a Wood Duck, the only two types normally possible in summer. Looked like one of the Aythya group of diving ducks. It was 'one that got away'. Wish I had my bins on when I spotted it. The Red-eyed Vireo was in the Mulberry over the cottage early in morn. The Black-and-white Warbler was singing right out the office window, adding those warbly trills for flourish at the end sometimes. Oh those first-summer singers.

Best thing in the morning was a swallowtail butterfly that was at least an Ornythion Swallowtail, though maybe it could have been something rarer. It was clearly not a Giant which we see daily. Flight pattern was obviously not a Giant, with shallow twittering flaps. It appeared to be almost without hind wings. The dark bar at posterior or trailing edge of forewing absolutely did not cross any other bars and was isolated inwardly by yellow its entire length. It was an Ornythion or better. Broad-banded being the long-shot outside chance and only other possbility, no record in UvCo. Late afternoon saw a Mournful Duskywing on the Frog-fruit.

Town run day. Nice to see masks being used. Still out of three-quarter PVC. Pretty busy, food store out of some items too. I hear the annual firework show at the park is ON, which is the biggest crowd of the year here, and can be seemingly near a couple thousand people. You won't find us amongst them. Up in the woods at the park there was the juv. Green Kingfisher, a juv. White-eyed Vireo, and a juv. Eastern Wood-Pewee. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo still singing (nesting). Finally saw a FOY Widow Skimmer (dragonfly) but the pond was pretty quiet for odes. A few Fragile Forktail were in the woods as was one Clouded Skipper.

July 2 ~ There was a trace of rain overnight, maybe a tenth, from a system that was said to be dissolving way north of us. Radar shows Lost Maples might have gotten a quarter inch. Low was 75F anyway, and plenty humid. Heard the Ring King flying high over river going north early in morning. In the afternoon an Inca Dove was on the patio. Haven't seen one here in yard in a bit. Male Blue Grosbeak was on the patio. Heard the Red-eyed Vireo over in corral. Saw the female Ladder-back go into the nest hole she dug to roost. This the hole the Ash-throats took over, built a nest in, and abandoned. Just a wee bit of Chuck calling at dark, they are already running out of steam.

A couple new butterflies showed up on the Frog-fruit which I missed last month. At least they waited until the 2nd to show up. A Marine Blue is my FOY, missed getting a pic though. Two Orange Skipperling were out there as well, I saw no skipperlings in June. Those flowers continue to be a hotbed of activity all day though, watch yer Frog-fruit. Lots of Reakirt's Blue, a few each Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, and Mallow Scrub-Hairtreak, several Whirlabout, plus more Dun and Fiery Skipper, a Julia's or two, Funereal Duskywing and Lyside Sulpur, some Snout. Great fun in the heat of the day, and it got hot, probably 95 or 96F. The second wave of Firefly is on the wane, it has peaked here in the yard, far fewer than a week ago. Saw an Eyed Elaterid.

July 1 ~ Hope the first half of the year was not an indicator of the second half. Low was 76F, with low stratus thick enough to mist a bit at one point. Yellow-throated and Black-n-white Warbler singing out front early. A Rufous-crowned Sparrow came in and used the bird bath in the morning. The rest was the same gang, and it is Wed., a busy desk day for me here. Saw 92F on the shady front porch, and it was very humid so felt worse. Always glad to get through the first day of the month without seeing any butterfly species I missed the prior month. A Ringed Kingfisher was calling quite a bit over at the river. Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos singing later afternoon, heard Cuckoo a few times.

~ ~ ~ June summary ~ ~ ~

It was a dry one, I don't think we had an inch of rain total at our place. Just some tenths here and there, a quarter and a third. But it was a slightly cooler one, we had many lows in the 60's F, and highs not in the 90's. So we kinda skated on the heat compared to recent drought regimen temps. The flower bloom was good due to the foot of rain in the last half of May, which kept things going well and made for a good June bloom.

Butterflies picked up after a poor May (worst ever in 16 prior Mays at 33 species). June found species 50 on the 30th. A couple got away, one I thought was a Metalmark, and another surely was a False Duskywing. The last few days of the month there was a significant influx of species that are irruptive here. Mostly little stuff, like skippers, blues, and hairstreaks, but which could indicate an invasion year is in the works. It has been a couple years since the last one, we are overdue, and have had rains. Finally saw an Arizona Sister for the year this month, but still missing a Crimson Patch. Lots of Elada Checkerspot on the 1450 knoll SW of the 360 x-ing. The end-of-the-month surge saw FOY for several species: Theona Checkerspot, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Desert Checkered-Skipper, Eufala Skipper, and Phaon Crescent. The highlight of the month was a Brazillian Skipper on June 23 on the Blue Mist Eup. at our front porch. First in the yard, and my first locally in several years. In moths saw a Virginia Ctenucha and two Texas Wasp Moth but generally night lighting is frighteningly dull and devoid of bugs. Saw a half-dozen Eyed Elaterid.

cometdarner
One of two Comet Darner (Anax longipes), at
pondlet by Waresville Cmty., Utopia, June 28, 2020.
Odes were about 23 species, a big uptick from the woeful May total of 13. Missed Lost Maples so, uh, lost, a few sps. there. A couple COMET Darner (Anax longipes) were highlights, June 27-28, at the golf course pondlet by the Waresville Cemetery. There are only a handful of UvCo records. Over a dozen Thornbush Dasher there, methinks they are breeding there now. I did not see a Rubyspot of any flavor this month, which is odd. Usually our crossing has lots of American with a few Smoky, there were none of either.

Birds were mostly the normal expected stuff, the breeding species are the story in June. The month with the fewest transient species. As in none besides local post-breeding wanderers usually. But this year there was one. A new bird for the local list at that. Likely the first ever reported in the upper Sabinal River drainage, a LEAST GREBE. This at the pondlet on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. on June 27. The other report of interest was Little Creek Larry seeing what he thought were 4 Spotted Sandpiper tightly together interacting in early June at the spillway in park. Which is far too late for migrants here, these birds likely nested locally, and it was likely two young with adults. A Cassin's Sparrow singing south of town a few miles June 4, is a far less than annual occurrence up here in the hills. Saw Eastern Wood-Pewee feeding a young again at Utopia Park.

Otherwise the big story was the loss of birds from the late May hail storm carpet bombing. There was obviously a huge lack of birds around our place, and a dearth at other spots locally we frequent. Many species were clobbered. Vultures and Lesser Goldfinch in particular. More than the usual number of single trolling unmated birds around. I tally 85 species I saw locally in June, just within 4 miles of Utopia. So maybe 95 are around, missed a few with no Lost Maples this month. All but the grebe are breeders here. This is very high breeding diversity for such a small area.

~ ~ ~ end June summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

June!?! It is time to dig up interesting breeding records. The Downy Woodpecker in May will be hard to top. A tantalizing report was of multiple Spotted Sandpiper at Utopia Park June 3, at least 3, probably 4 birds, which would seem to indicate local breeding, which is unknown. A TROPICAL Parula was reported in ebird at Lost Maples in early June. On June 23 a BRAZILLIAN Skipper butterfly here is a far less than annual rarity. A LEAST GREBE at the dinky golf course pondlet adjacent to the Waresville Cmty. on June 27 is likely the first known in the upper Sabinal River drainage. Two COMET Darner dragonflies at the same place are very rare odes in UvCo.

~ ~ ~ end archive copy update header ~ ~ ~



~ ~ ~ above is 2020 ~ ~ ~




Back to Top
Index page with links to all 'Old Bird News' pages ...

Bird News Archives Index




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


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



Bird News Archive XXXIII
January 1, 2020 - June 30, 2020

Bird News Archive XXXII
July 1, 2019 - Dec. 31, 2019

Bird News Archive XXXI
January 1, 2019 - June 30, 2019

Bird News Archive XXX
July 1, 2018 - Dec. 31, 2018

Bird News Archive XXIX
January 1, 2018 - June 30, 2018

Bird News Archive XXVIII
July 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017

Bird News Archive XXVII
January 1, 2017 - June 30, 2017

Bird News Archive XXVI
July 1, 2016 - December 31, 2016

Bird News Archive XXV
January 1, 2016 - June 30, 2016

Bird News Archive XXIV
July 1, 2015 - Dec. 31, 2015

Bird News Archive XXIII
January 1, 2015 - June 30, 2015

Bird News Archive XXII
July 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014

Bird News Archive XXI
January 1, 2014 - June 30, 2014

Bird News Archive XX
July 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013

Bird News Archive XIX
January 1, 2013 - June 30, 2013

Bird News Archive XVIII
July 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012

Bird News Archive XVII
January 1, 2012 - June 30, 2012

Bird News Archive XVI
July 1, 2011 - December 31, 2011

Bird News Archive XV
January 1, 2011 - June 30, 2011

Bird News Archive XIV
July 1, 2010 - December 31, 2010

Bird News Archive XIII
January 1, 2010 - June 30, 2010

Bird News Archive XII
June 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009

Bird News Archive XI
January 1, 2009 - May 31, 2009

Bird News Archive X
July 1, 2008 - Dec. 31, 2008

Bird News Archive IX
January 1, 2008 - June 30, 2008

Bird News Archive VIII
July 1, 2007 - Dec. 31, 2007

Bird News Archive VII
January 1, 2007 - June 30, 2007

Bird News Archive VI
July 1, 2006 - Dec. 31, 2006

Bird News Archive V
January 1, 2006 - June 30, 2006

Bird News Archive IV
July 1, 2005 - Dec. 31, 2005

Bird News Archive III
January 1, 2005 - June 30, 2005

Bird News Archive II
June 1, 2004 - Dec. 31, 2004

Bird News Archive I
Winter 2003-04 Summary Notes
and Mar. 31 - May 30, 2004
Go, look, see, take notes and pictures, boldly nature nerd where no one has before. Few things rival the thrill of discovery. Besides having fun and learning, you will probably see some things people won't believe without photos.  ;)
~ ~ ~
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