Bird (and nature) News Archive # 35
January 1 to June 30, 2021
Old Bird News XXXV

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 XXXV (#35) ~ January 1 - June 30, 2021

.... in reverse chronological order, unless you scroll to end and read from the bottom up.

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!

January through June 2021

Read from bottom up to view in chronological order.

~ ~ ~ June summary ~ ~ ~

It was a much-needed wet month. I think many locally had 4-6" of rain, which is spectacular. We were just under 6" here. It is nice and green at the end of the month, and the river is at normal full bank. They don't always end that way. So we should have a good July flower bloom and bug hatches from it. Some birds will continue breeding another round as well.

Odes were great, finally. After a real slow start to spring, some diversity out there at last now. I saw about 32 species, and surely if one worked at it all month they could have mustered about 40. So a relief in itself just to see a variety stuff flying finally. Individual numbers are not high, but it is a start. Best was a COMET Darner in late June at the golf course pond at Waresville, presumably the one we saw in late May, still flying. There were a couple or few there last year. Thornbush Dasher seems resident at that same pond. A few Orange-striped Threadtail finally showed at the park late in month, as did a few Rubyspots (both species) along the river.

Butterflies were better than they have been and a decent uptick from the poor spring. Just made one trip to Lost Maples, but no Satyrs, Sister, or big yellow Swallowtails, but a few Spicebush, and a few Red-spotted Purple. A probable Ornythion Swallowtail got away here at the house. Late in month some immigrants started showing from the south, small stuff, like crescents, hairstreaks, some skippers. They were mostly all worn, not fresh local emergences. But finally some stuff on the Frogfruit. Did see one So. Pearl Crescent, a Marine Blue, a couple Elada Checkerspot, Whirlabout, Celia's Roadside-Skipper finally showed, still waiting for Julia's though. I count 45 species of butterflies for the month, on the low side of the averages. Very little at the porch light, so didn't even set up a brighter one. Saw one Ctenucha one day. A couple Eyed Elaterid were nice.

Birds were mostly as expected. Numbers of many common breeders are obviously down, and some are just plain absent, especially insectivores. No nighthawks, Dickcissel, Eastern Wood-Pewee way down as are Scissor-tails, Chimney Swift, Barn, Cliff, and Cave Swallow, and so on. The TROPICAL Parula north of town along the river in BanCo, and at Lost Maples were the highlight for rare bird status, and having FIVE at once locally. A couple Northern Parula singing on territory north of town is great too. A record breaking spring for Parulas here. A singing American Robin at end of month is a very rare bird here in June. At Lost Maples at least Golden-cheeked Warbler seemed to have a fair season with lots of young out the day we visited. I count about 85 species of birds for the month, obviously all breeding species. Surely another dozen or fifteen are around. It is decent breeding bird diversity.

~ ~ ~ end June summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ June update header archive copy ~ ~

June! Rain on the 1st and 3rd is a good sign and start. It is high breeding season here now, the next month everything will try to go again. Dawn chorus is early, starting before 6:30 a.m. if you want to hear it. Fireflies are finally starting to show well and my FOS Katydids were on June 4. Two Tropical Parula were at Lost Maples June 6 on the ponds trail. Lots of Golden-cheeked Warbler families are showing well now too. All sorts of stuff with babies out now which can make finding things easy. Skeeters and heat are out in force now too. Early a.m. the 22nd we got 1.5" of rain, and some probably over 60 mph winds! Odes and butterflies are picking up a little bit, if you can take the afternoon heat. A summering Am. Robin on June 25 is a rare bird here. A Comet Darner June 27 was likely the same one as May 30 at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cemetery. Over a couple inches of rain on the 27th-29th put us just under 6" for the month!

~ ~ end June update header ~ ~

~ ~ back to the dairly drivel ~ ~

June 30 ~ About 71F for a low is nice. Lots of clouds so temps below normal. About 3 p.m. local WU stations were reading 85-91F for a spread. Before noon I saw a Red-spotted Purple butterfly glide across the yard, have only seen a very few in the yard. Four Queen and a Monarch on the Blue Mistflower. Saw a Skipperling on it too, but no species ID. Probably Orange since they are more common. Early evening there was an Eastern Wood-Pewee singing out in yard for a while. Great to hear, but it is supposed to be somewhere nesting right now, not here. Did not hear the cuckoo for second day in a row. Which usually means they got the young out of the nest and are gone. They do not hang around after the fledging. Chucks are really getting quiet. I am up to 5 chiggers now, not that I am trying to put some numbers up on the board... but they finally are coming alive this year.

June 29 ~ Low was 70F and felt great. There were some showerlets and sprinkles in the overnight, a couple tenths more. Then starting in the morning to the early afternoon at least .75" more! Amazing. We have really gotten lucky with this rain this month, and the half dozen days that were not burners due to it. The river has water and the people were happy. The juvie Red-tail was begging up in the big Pecan again several times today. Not as bad as a nest full of baby Ravens but glad it doesn't stay more than 10 minutes at a visit. Patio has lots of baby House Finch, some baby Lark Sparrow. Saw a FOY Ctenucha (moth) on the Blue Mist briefly, it was gone when I got back out with camera. Six-lined Racerunner right at the front door once when I walked out. Wow, another cell about 6 p.m. dropped a couple more tenths (.2). So we are a wee bit over an inch for the day, about 1.15 or so, and just under 6" for the month! It is staying green instead of turning brown, and, we should get a good summer flower bloom in July. Which translates to good bugs. The skeeters are bad, and I apparently collected a chigger today.

June 28 ~ About 70.5F for a low, not fully socked in with low stratus. Supposed to get more rain this afternoon when it all cooks to a boil. A Black-n-white Warbler sang out front early. The begging juvie Red-tailed Hawk was in the Pecan briefly early. Was the same gang around yard. More birdsong today, I think they liked the rain. Another couple hours of light rain in the afternoon cheated the heat again, a major win any day that happens in summer. We got .2" bringing the total for June up to a whopping 4.7"! Which is above average and gives us a bit of make-up water.

June 27 ~ Low of 72F was a couple dF better. I hear a Blue Grosbeak singing across the road again. So then, it likely did fledge young, and that is why it has been gone and quiet a bit, and now is back for another round. Weird we have not seen any juveniles here. Orchard Oriole still singing out in yard. A Great Blue Heron flew by going upriver early. We went for a couple hour putt-about to a couple close stops, surely the park and town are still overrun with rodeo people and the accompanying tourists. I will say the band for the dance, which we are just far enough away to not hear, was one that was played on the old Outlaw Radio and they guy was a great top of the line Texas troubadour.

At the 360 crossing the Red-eyed Vireo was singing in the usual spot, Yellow-throated and Bell's too. Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo and Painted Bunting, Yellow-throated Warbler, Summer Tanager, Chat, the usual bunch, all seem to be still underway nesting, so, good. Finally saw an American Rubyspot damselfly, my FOY, and had a Smoky Ruby as well. One Kiowa Dancer was on the crossing, saw a Gomphid I will have to study pix of to ID. Saw a couple Five-striped Leaftail, FOY finally. Widow Skimmer, Swift Setwing, and a few got away.

Then we went up on the 1450 (south) knoll for a peek. Heard no Black-capped Vireo, so they likely are done and gone if they bred here this year. We did hear Olive Sparrow singing, so they are going as usual. Great was hearing a singing Bobwhite. Had a couple Cuckoo (Yellow-bill), heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and a number of the usual common things. No Gnatcatcher or Ash-throat, both which usually nest there. More missing bug eaters. Saw single Juvenals and Horace's Duskywings, and an Elada Checkerspot. There was some type of a Yucca in bloom I will try to get an ID on.

Then we went over to the golf course pond by the Waresville Cemetery. What is likely the same Comet Darner we saw May 30 was still there. Also a Red-tailed Pennant, Red Saddlebags, a Checkered Setwing, Familiar Bluets, and my FOY Thornbush Dasher. A few Phaon Crescent on the Frogfruit, as well as some Vesta, and a couple Whirlabout. There were about 7-8 martins at the martin house, one adult male, the rest immatures or females. So at least a couple of the rooms are usable, House Sparrow took over one of them. We also saw some just fledged Red-winged Blackbird. And I do mean just. Maybe today was their first day up the cattail stalk, still not flight ready. On way home just before the 360 crossing at the last pasture there was a group of four just-fledged Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with an adult male giving great views on fenceline.

That juvenile Red-tailed Hawk is still begging over by the river. What is weird is that it is flight capable for a month now but not out watching and learning from the parents how to hunt. Here at the front porch there were now 7 Queen on the Blue Mistflower. About 4:30 the first rain cell found us from this easterly tropical wave we have coming in from the Gulf. We need the water and the cool down is awesome. By just after 5p it was 75F! OMG! As soon as it let up we had the first huge termite hatch of the year, thousands of them coming up out of the ground. And the birds feasted happily. Probably after a bunch of them. A Yellow-throated Warbler sat on a bare branch in the big Pecan, during light drizzle preening for 10 minutes, which photos later showed to be a first fall juvenile male. My guess it is the one hatched here, or the adult would chase it away. It was a perfect shower. Checked and looks like .95 or so, just under an inch of precious holy rain!

June 26 ~ Low of 74F is nice and balmy. Peak heat the local WU stations were reading 92-97F. Which is a good take on the spread here locally, if you are in a cool shady spot versus if you are in the open in the sun. Down at river on the water might only be 90F, jump in it to get below 80F. There are some cool water springs that feed into the river above the park, and town, but so, these groundwater feeds keep the water cooler at the park. A couple miles downriver from there it has warmed up a few dF. Someone told me it is all underground I think just south of Whitetail crossing ponds, which is the first crossing on Hwy. 187 north of the 470 intersection until just above the county line bridge crossing a ways.

I hear that Orchard Oriole singing out by the wellhouse again. Great to hear in the yard. Otherwise it was the same gang o' breeders. I had desk biz work to do . Did count 5 Queen today on the Blue Mist Eup., no Monarch. At dusk as the male Indigo Bunting was leaving the millet out back and going across the yard, then road, to the draw, it burst into flight song the whole way, thank you very much. The Chucks are really going quiet, barely calling at dusk, maybe a little bit a little later, but fading fast. Sure missed the Nighthawks this year. Counted four Racoon out there after dark, a herd of bird nest predators.


This is a female Eastern Pondhawk (males are uniform blue).

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 25 ~ Low of 74F, the Gulf low stratus is just getting here thick enough to block the sun shortly after sunup. Couple days of real hot and sticky from the summer sub-tropical ridge, then a tropical wave is supposed to come in from the Gulf and drop temps and rain next week. I hope it is not false hope they are giving me. This weekend is a rodeo, dance with band, and EMS fund-raiser BBQ at the park, so it is packed there and in town. Of course next week will be too for the annual big firework show. The park people said it was booked solid most of the month with campers.

Weaved my way into the woods for a quick peek before it was totally overrun. A couple good odes were there. In the swampy area by the island I saw an old worn Springtime Darner, likely the last of that for the year, I don't think I have a July date ever for them, this is late as you can get one, they hold up to their name well as a rule. Great was finally a few Orange-striped Threadtail flying, my FOY. Was getting worried about them. Another FOY was a Rubyspot finally, but it was a Smoky! At the top of the island. Good bug at the park. Saw Blue-ringed and Violet Dancer, couple male Widow Skimmer, 10 Blue Dasher, female Eastern Pondhawk. Heard Black-and-white Warbler call notes. Not much for birds though. The buttonbush is blooming which should get good for butterflies and crab spiders quickly, besides smelling great. Caught a rusty-orange flash zooming off one flower that was surely a Southern Broken-Dash but it got away.

Here at the hovelita the Blue Mistflower had 4 Queen and a Monarch. Don't know what to think about these Monarch, we never have them in summer here. For the last 18 years they have been absent June through August. Also saw the first Bordered Patch I have seen in a couple months. It was very worn, as in an immigrant. A Whirlabout was on the Frogfruit. The bird of the day, week, and maybe month, was at 8:15 p.m. on 360 on the east side of the river between that and Hwy 187, a singing male American Robin. One summered behind the general store a decade ago, it is quite a rare thing here. Wonder if there is a female around? Amazing.

June 24 ~ A balmy 74F for a low with the Gulf low stratus for the morn. Just a few bits of birdsong early. Some martins again diving low right over the martin house. I presume the same first-summer male Orchard Oriole was singing out in the pecans out front. Later in day when about 94F in the sun, the butterflies were good. On the Frogfruit which is going well I saw besides the half-dozen Vesta Crescent, my FOY Phaon and Southern Pearl Crescent! Plus a FOY worn Marine Blue. One fresh Olive Juniper Hairstreak was just first for the month maybe, one fresh Variegated Fritillary, a few Giant Swallowtail went by, and one male Black Swallowtail, couple Queen, Red Admiral, my FOY Sachem was on the Blue Mist Eupatorium, as was a Celia's Roadside-Skipper and a couple Dun Skipper. A H-J Duskywing was over by the fading Germander. That is, Horace's or Juvenals, one or the other, a H-J D-W. Did not see it well enough to get past that on the ID.

June 23 ~ Back to balmy at 72F for a low. Have to get used to this big hole in the yard where the huge Hackberry canopy was. One broken branch is leaning against the power pole over in corral so waiting for electric company to show up and remove it. Low 90's F and real sticky so it feels worse. I see the U.S. Drought Monitor has us listed for no drought now. We must have caught up over some line that last rain. We are still a foot or two short in the aquifer. Saw a Hackberry Emperor today in the dying Hackberry. It flew out and chased off a Giant Swallowtail as it went by as defending its territory. The rest was the same gang. I was busy at the desk as Wednesdays are. Still cannot believe the dialback of birdsong. Cardinal still going, some black-billed juveniles are out there fledged already so they are going again. Hear the bluebirds out at far end of yard so they must be going again as well. Maybe some other stuff will kick in with the rain. Plenty of skeeters!

June 22 ~ Low was 68F. The very rare late June cold front got here around 2 a.m., it poured, we have about 1.5" of rain showing. Which is fantastic. It is a mess out there though. There must have been over 60 mph winds. I presume a downdraft, micro-burst, or major outflow boundry. The front door is dirty, it was raining sideways! There are some big broken branches, the garden is all messed up, there are stripped green leaves all over the ground, power was out almost four hours. There is a bunch of cleanup to do. There was a severe weather event here. But it is a little cooler and we got some water. Wow.

The male Indigo hit the patio early, which it has not been doing, but after last night, it needed a shot of millet. The Great Crest was whistling around the yard quite a bit, surveying the damage. It was a major blow to the biggest Hackberry we had, which was dying, but now is half gone. Five years ago I estimated 50,000 hackberries on it one good winter. And a yard full of waxwing and Robin. Kathy spotted a Northern Cloudywing (lep) out there late in day. It got warm and sticky in the afternoon, 89F in the shade. At dusk I saw my FOY Spot-winged Glider dragonfly, at least a dozen of them hawking over the yard in the lee of some Pecans. The little fast gray Treehole mosquitoes are thick, and should get worse now. But hardly any chiggers still. Fireflies seem past peak already and which was a weak one.

June 21 ~ The first full day of summer is here! It is hot and sticky. The low was 75F! Yech! But lots of cloud cover held it down to 90F still at 3 p.m., a drippy 90. A cold front is supposed to arrive tonight and bring a brief bit of rain. Believe it when I see it but hoping forecast pans out. A cold front making it down here on the first day of summer is fairly odd and does not happen 5 years out of a hundred. Heard a Blue Grosbeak sing over by the airstrip this morning. Have not heard the usuals across the road in a week. The Eastern Bluebirds were going to each box, so looks like they will try again. I was surprised to see them fly up to the martin house for a minute! Was a Funereal Duskywing (lep) outside. Later a Dun Skipper and one ea. Monarch and Queen were on the Blue Mistflower.

June 20 ~ Happy Solstice! The longest daylight day. We made it to another! At my age they are all milestones. Low was a balmy 73F, Gulf flow and low clouds kept the heat in. But will keep the solar heat from hitting so early in a.m. too. Gnatcatcher was out there at first light. There was an Emperor butterfly on the back porch screen door. Again, its wings tucked so I could not see the bars on leading underside of forewing. It looked like another Tawny to me. There was a family of Purple Martin, adults with young, making lots of noise low over the yard in the later morning.

Had a quick look at a swallowtail butterfly out the office window that looked like an Ornythion, but it bolted as they always seem to do. A few Giants are around, see at least one nearly daily lately. Lots of Vesta Crescent. Some clouds kept the solar heating at bay to a degree, it was 88F on the cool shady front porch at 4 p.m. Gotta hand it to the Chat for singing all day, nothing keeps up with it. One Indigo Bunting still going well, heard the Bell's Vireo too. A Yellow-throated Vireo went through yard quickly, not likely our local bird, but one done breeding and moving out. Hear the Great Crested and the pair of Ash-throated Flycatcher around. Not seeing any Brown-crested this year.

Saw a couple Scissor-tails alarming, the male does a twitter-flight, like a Vermilion display where the wings are flapped at double or triple normal speed, but the bird slowly floats along, whilst giving alarm calls. It circled over a big Mesquite across road I couldn't see into, doing this scolding and flutter flight intensely. All of a sudden a Mourning Dove bolted and a Cooper's Hawk came out right after it. I lost them at 100 yards going away, but kinda think the hawk got the dove. So Mr. Scissor was warning everyone about that threat in the tree with that display flight. Which I am sure all the other birds know.

June 19 ~ Another 66F low is fantastic. These will not last long. Gnatcatcher out front early. A Black-n-white Warbler was singing out there too. Mid-morn Kathy spotted the FOY Goatweed Leafwing butterfly when it came into water on the patio. One indicator of the overall reduced number of nesting birds present this year which I think is a good barometer, is the numbers of Brown-headed Cowbird around. We feed white millet because we like buntings, but it means you will have cowbirds too. The flock of cowbirds using the seed now has been far far less than half of what it was in May, and what it usually is. My guess is that they left because there are not enough nesting birds around. Incidently I have never seen a Painted Bunting feeding a cowbird here. Surely it must happen, but they seem quite adept at avoiding them for some reason. Cardinal, Chipping and Lark Sparrow, and vireos, seem to be the most regular victims here. A Barn Swallow family was overhead in afternoon, adults feeding young in flight. Late in day the male Vermilion was up in top of the big Pecan and then doing flight display right overhead. So it seems to be either underway again, or wanting to be.


This is the Zone-tailed Hawk that wintered at the park the
last couple years, the first year as an imm., taken Dec. 4, 2020.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 18 ~ Wow a 66F low! KERV hit 65. They had a rain yesterday. Forecast shows a low of 75F for next Monday morning, to give an idea of how nice this is. Birdsong has really died back. Dawn chorus is not what it was a month ago by a long shot. Maybe a quarter of the noise, if that. Night and day difference, and with the heat they are shutting up early. Lots of stuff must not be going another round. Some may be at a lull between attempts, but this is very noticably quiet for the date. A gnatcatcher was out there first light. The Black-chinned Hummingbird have another round of young fledging, lots of gray-headed juveniles, using lots of fluid. First ones are at the feeders at 6:30 a.m., last one I saw fly off tonight was at 8:45p.m.!

Town run. At the park there were two Black-n-white Warbler on the island, an ad. fem. and a first spring male which is likely the one I saw there recently, still trolling. She seemed not interested. Green Heron below spillway, Zone-tailed Hawk flew over high. Odd was a Chipping Sparrow singing there, they have never bred there in the 18 years I have been here. At Rosie's besides tacos, there was a Red-eyed Vireo singing, this on Main St., where there has not been one. At 4 p.m it was 90F on the cool shady front porch, local WU stations were showing 92-98F. Saw probably the same male Widow Skimmer dragonfly in the yard again today that I saw a few days ago. Also saw a Pale-faced Clubskimmer. Does not look like a strong year for Firefly, a couple dozen, maybe three tops out in yard at dusk. Good years it is 50, great years 100. Two add-ons I forgot. On the Blue Mistflower at the porch was my FOY Celia's Roadside-Skipper. Kathy found a dead just-fledged Eastern Phoebe so a second batch got out, but at least one did not last a day or two.

June 17 ~ A wonderful 67F for a low is great. I do not hear the Blue Grosbeak singing across the road, for the second morning in a row. Had to confirm I didn't just miss it. It is not out there now. Which means either it fledged the young and left, or they got nest-predated. Usually when they fledge young, like Painted Bunting, they bring them here first for the easy pickins for teaching seed eating. They did not show up here as usual so am a bit nervous. Just gone and silence. Makes me worry that they were not successful. Late in the afternoon a Red-eyed Vireo went through the yard north to south, sang a few times, otherwise I likely would not have detected it. Moving down river habitat corridor, another breeder done and on the way out.

Usually Red-eyed Vireo keep nesting through July. They are not one of the usual June departers as several of the March arriving species are. There are very few bugs out there. No Common Nighthawk which feed on aerial plankton, insects up higher, and no Eastern Wood-Pewee which feeds on canopy level flying insects. Totally different niches with no overlap, both insect eaters, and not here, both formerly common. There is no food. Very few Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Barn Swallow, and Chimney Swift, fewer Purple Martin, across the board the insectivores are missing. Way fewer White-eyed Vireo around. We presume things just moved elsewhere to where there was food. You hope.

June 16 ~ Briefly hit 69F for a low this morn. Mostly all I saw was the same set of breeding birds. Lots of desk work on Wed. and Thurs. so mostly hoping it shows up in the Hackberry outside the office window. Late afternoon I heard an Orchard Oriole out in front yard. I think likely that first spring troller I have had a couple times in last few weeks. On Chat sounds, which will never cease to amaze if you listen to them... the hard ack ack ack ack ack they make can really sound not too far from a Ringed Kingfisher. Then the gee gee gee gee can seem surprisingly close to a Green Jay. The single whistled 'few' note really is not all that far from the Audubon's Oriole single note call. There is also a slow uprising querelous two-note qwa-yul soft-vowel sound that is very similar to that type of Long-billed Thrasher call. Alas, it is all just the vocalise of the rather very well-named chat. Did see some just fledged begging young Lesser Goldfinch, FOY for me.

June 15 ~ Low from the rain-cooled air was 67F! World of difference to trap a house of cooler air. Bell's Vireo singing in yard early. I was out back moving a cover in the garden and a male Widow Skimmer flushed off the 'maters! Nice in the yard. What a beauty, maybe my favorite dragon. A couple males patrolling and fussin' with each other looks awesome. Wished I would have seen it before I flushed it. At least one of the male Painted Bunting really likes hitting the bath for a splash. Cuckoo around lots, likely feeding a young now. I think they are nesting over in the draw or maybe live-oaks on other side of it this year. That is the area they keep coming from and going to. Much as I would love to have pair or feeding young shots, I don't want to bug them. So I just stay away. Same for digging a Painted Bunting nest out. Maybe it is since I grew up with the western Cuckoos, but they seem fairly sensitive to disturbance to me. The babies are ugly anyway. :) A few more thundercells popped up around, one hit Garner to Leakey along the Frio. Missed us though.

June 14 ~ A low of 69F felt great. Pretty stiff today after the workout yesterday. It was the trail clearing that was brutal. Good thing I had to be back here at the desk. Only hurts when I move. At 6:40 a.m. there was a Red-eyed Vireo singing in the yard, I think the bird that has been over in the corral since right over the fence. Mid-morn a juvenile Yellow-throated Warbler was on the clothesline 15' from me. On its own, can't be a month out of the nest, and likely progeny of the male that sings here daily. We had a bit of cumulus cover today so maybe a dF or two of relief, but still in mid-90's F and sticky, heat indices in low hundreds locally. About 4:30p we had a sun shower, really helps with the sauna effect. A little later Kathy spotted a warbler at the bath, which turned out to be an ad. female Black-and-white. Which means it is a post-breeding bird, done with that for the year. They can get a set out by early May, and a second set out in early June. She wasn't interested in a third go.

A fairly unpredicted outflow boundry sprouted a bunch of thundercells at peak heat along the southern edge of the plateau. One north of town up W. Sabinal Rd. looked like it gave them some real rain. The cell was going west, then turned around and went SE to town, then hooked a west on 1050 and went SW. I was watching it from the driveway at last twilight and a Chuck flew right by me, out the driveway over the gate and must have landed in the big Mesquites across the road and went into song. We caught the edge of a cell about 9:30p finally and got a tenth of an inch and a quick drop to 74F! Lots of areas got a little, a few got a lot, there were cells for 80 miles east to west right above the escarpment. The SE trade winds hitting that 1000 feet of altitude increase provides just enough lift to make rain.

June 13 ~ Wow a chilly 67F for a low was astounding! KERV only showed a 72F low, the heat island effect from all that pavement got them. What a difference 5dF makes in that low compared to yesterday morning. Add on to that it was dry air with no Gulf flow and it was fantastic. But it didn't last long. It was pushin' 90 by 1 p.m. I did a bunch of work on the trail to the river. Saw a Texan Crescent on Zexmenia over there. Late afternoon at peak heat we went over to the river to open swim season here. The water is already warm in the sun, shady spots nice. In birds had Great Crested and Vermilion Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, a couple Yellow-throated Warbler, heard a Black-n-white, Chats, Titmice, Chickadees, Bewick's Wren, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, a Caracara, some Cardinals, but no Kingfishers. Most is singing on territory or feeding young. Just a few butterflies but an Elada Checkerspot was nice. Some new odes for me this year though since we hadn't been in the water working the banks yet this year. For dragons several Swift Setwing, one Gomphid with yellow got away, a few Dot-winged Baskettail, and in damselflies one Dusky Dancer, several Stream Bluet, a bunch of Double-striped Bluet, and a Violet Dancer. No Rubyspots.

In fish saw a couple probably intergrade Guadalupe x Largemouth Bass, besides some Largemouth, one a three pounder. The Guads did not look clean of genes, but were mostly Guad. They looked more like Spotted Bass than Largemouth. Two Channel Cats, one of which was about 1.5 lbs. and looked worth catching. Lots of Long-eared Sunfish, the predominant type in this section of river. No native minnows were seen. Finally found a couple of the big Dolomedes fishing spiders, which looked like a pair (as in male and female) of the usual type, D. scriptus. After going downriver a quarter mile we waded a half mile upriver from start point, which gets to be against a good current so feels like two miles by time you get back. But no people on a mile stretch of river is great. On porch later saw my FOY Bold Jumping Spider, a small one.

June 12 ~ Low of 72F a couple dF better than yesterday. A bit of Gulf flow and low stratus but not a thick solid layer and it did not last long. Worked on things here all day. Hot and sticky from late morning to after dark. Saw a Questionmark butterfly zipping around. A few Six-lined Racerunner around, what a beautiful lizard. Birds were all the same gang, the juvie Red-tailed Hawk still begging over at the river. There was a dead Pompilid (spider wasp) on the front porch, which likely lost the battle. The American Germander patch all around the NE corner of house is nearing the end of its month-long run. Just the top flowers of the blooms are left now. Sure has smelled great, and made one type of native bee in particular very happy. Probably about three hundred stalks with flowers. I think it was 6 of them I transplanted here maybe four or five years ago. The one pet Frostweed is looking robust this year too, after being destroyed by hail last year. Sure neat to see the female Painted Bunting in it hunting bugs to take the young multiple times daily.


Here is a long distance high ISO grainy docushot of one of the
Tropical Parula warblers at Lost Maples June 6. We had
better closer looks at the second one but could not get a shot.
Five in a spring is more than double the most prior for me.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 11 ~ Low of 74F, some morning stratus trying to keep the sun at bay for a bit. Black Rock Squirrel surveying from up on cottage chimney early. Thought I heard a Black-and-white Warbler singing in yard but was unable to run out for it at the time. Town run day fer grub and stuff. Nothing new at the park. Little Creek Larry says near a hundred Black-bellied Whistling-Duck over at Little Creek. There is a big game ranch where they feed things over there. He also said he has heard Poor-will, across the creek (where a rocky slope). They are just not on the flat valley floor, it is all Chucks down here unless you get a rocky slope on a knoll maybe. At 4 p.m. KERV NOAA was reading 87F, our front porch a hair under 88F. The 5 local Utopia WU stations showed 90-95F with 50-65% humidity. The highest humidity was at the same station as highest temp, and showing 115 for a heat index! It is wonderful out, come on down. I will be whacking the trail to the river later today. Soon as it starts to break peak heat, skeeters show up if you are in the shade. Big crop of Treeholers from all the recent rains. Fireflies are picking up and showing well, if you can stand the skeeters.

June 10 ~ Low about 73F, and only a little bit of low stratus, sun out early, and a cooker of a day. Birds were the same gang. To mention a few, Blue Grosbeak, Painted and Indigo Bunting, Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, Bell's and White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Cardinal, Chipping and Lark Sparrow, lots of House Finch, Chickadee (Carolina) and Titmouse (Black-crested), Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Ash-throated and Vermilion Flycatcher, and some other things. Trying to get used to the idea that we have arrived at the three months of hot and sticky part again. It is by far the slowest 3 months of the year to go by. Chucks are going well but no nighthawks.

June 9 ~ Low of 74F and low stratus from the Gulf. Mid-morn misted enough to be dripping off roof. Had an early town errand. Heard a Green Heron at the island at north end of park, so nesting again this year. A singing first-summer male Black-n-white Warbler is new and likely an unmated troller working up and down river habitat corridor. Chimney Swifts, Purple Martin overhead, Bell's Vireo at the P.O. Back here the trolling Great Crested Flycatcher was very noisy for a half hour. Really weird it does not have a mate here this year. Heard a Red-eyed Vireo singing over in corral, which also seems an unmated troller. A Cooper's Hawk was last seen just about to grab a House Finch out of the sky, which for 300' dodged every grab attempt but had gotten itself out in open airspace as they went behind trees blocking my view. Never saw the Coop come up and soar away so think it got it. Around 3 p.m. it was about 85F and 75% humidity. Kathy spotted an Emperor butterfly out back, FOY no matter what type, it looked a Tawny to me. Was perched with hindwing up over most of the forewing including the two bars at leading edge. Didn't want to flush it just for the ID. It may have been still pumping up and drying out from emergence as abdomen seemed somewhat enlarged, so best not to bother.

The bird event of the day, and week, since Lost Maples, was at dusk when a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was moving around the perimeter of the yard calling bik notes. It took off towards the golf course from behind the house in the big live-oaks. It went into song so I figured it was going to do the display loop and flip and luckily was out on driveway. Right when it got over me, maybe 60' above me it did two full 360 loops with somersault flips at the top, screaming its head off the whole way. The mind-blowing stunning part is the mechanical sound made during the fast tight loop. Which I was just in the right place to hear exquisitely. I presume it is the tail which is quite bent and likely pulling a few G's as it makes the high speed tight circle and flip. Obviously it is a mechanical and not vocal sound, the bird is screaming its head off coming to a vocal crescendo at the same time simultaneously. By doing two loops consecutive it kept the sound going for a long time with just a brief lull in the middle - at bottom of first loop.

It is a quavering trill not unlike a Snipe winnowing, which is probably close to what is actually happening. The tail being very rapidly bent and stressed to the quivering point, whence it generates noise. The speed of the actual flip seems to create the whip that creates the feather tension that creates the sound. The bird seems to be trying to hold the rectrices as stiff as it can against the forces of bending from the loop and flip. They too quiver at peak when the sound is being generated. It is spectacular. It is an occillating wo wo wo wo wo series, with somewhat of a humming reverb aspect to the notes. Maybe 5-6 notes per loop. You can hear the wind going through it, the sound and the feathers. Sorta like you are shaking a big piece of sheet metal or a saw blade. But it is the bird's tail! To me this is another one of those 'why wasn't I ever told about this?' things. Number ten thousand seven hundred and eighty six. It is every bit the amazing mechanics of snipe or nighthawk mechanical feather sounds, and everyone knows about those. You probably have to be right under this to hear it very well and due to the low frequency surely it does not travel well.

June 8 ~ Some drizzle early from the outflow of a rain cluster now far NW of us along I-35. Low about 74F here, worse at Del Rio, theirs was about 80F and a record high low for the date. We are having a warm sticky week, highs in low 90'sF with the heat indices near a hundred, and over that if not up here in the hills. It is the first week here that really feels like summer. Drizzle keeps the dust down anyway, and makes for a nice sauna in the afternoon heat. Saw 85F for a high on the front porch, and you could cut the air. Saw a Monarch, a Funereal Duskywing, a quick look at a FOY Orange Skipperling, a Red Admiral, a few butterflies out in the afternoon heat. Sun barely burnt through a little bit. Really bummed to not be hearing the nightly nighthawk booms and calls. It has been a soundtrack of summer evenings the last 17 years we have been here. Has to be a lack of sufficient bugs to raise young. They came in, counted bugs for a couple weeks, and they left. It might look largely the same out there but it is not. The nighthawks did not stay and breed this year.

June 7 ~ Well the cool of spring is over. Low was 74F or so. Summer is here, 3 months to go. Most of which will run low 70's to the mid-90's F for a temp spread. We are both suprisingly not stiff at all this morning from the 4 miles yesterday. Which is a good sign of course. Except it means we must run our keisters off here on a daily basis. Mid-morn we had some mist here, I saw 82F on cool shady front porch at 2:30 p.m., and very humid with Gulf flow. About 5 p.m. NOAA was showing 85F for KERV. Birds seemed the same as far as I could tell. The Black Rock Squirrel was again sitting perched up on top of the sealed chimney on the cottage. Surveying its territory. Stone chimney looks like a rock stack. Funny, once a Canyon Wren landed on the one for the house. A or the, Gnatcatcher was in the yard late, kinda acting like it knew the territory. Heard the Bell's Vireo still singing.

June 6 ~ It was about 66F at midnight, and 72F by 6 a.m., the low clouds and warm moist Gulf air arrived. We got up an hour early for a trip to Lost Maples after missing it all spring due to work and weather. Dawn chorus here at the house peaks about 6:20-6:40. Chucks are still going to around 6:15, hummers at feeders by 6:30 and change. We went north from town via Jones Cmty. Rd. and had two singing Parula warblers along it, one where a Tropical has been, one where a Northern has been. A wee bit o' water at the W. Sabinal Rd. wet spot but no birds or odes. One Orchard Oriole singing in the trees along road there. One pair of Scissor-tails there, but none northward going upvalley.

Lost Maples looks pretty lushly green now due to recent rains, but is in a flower bloom lull. I suspect it will burst forth in bloom in a couple weeks. Looks like some gully-washers finally took out most of the cattails in the ponds, which is great, they were clogging them. Maybe the nesting Green Kingfisher will be a regular thing again. It was misty early with sun barely showing later, so mostly very overcast with bad photo light. Lots of breeding activity in birds though is great to see. We saw two TROPICAL Parula along the Can Creek trail to the ponds, both singing males. Which looked and sounded different to me. Both looked pure and clean of genes. One was just before and downstream of the second crossing up from trailhead parking lot. The other a quarter mile above that crossing toward the pond past the rangers house with big CB antenna. There had been a couple reported in May.

We encountered at least 4, probably 5, family groups of Golden-cheeked Warbler, each with a bunch of just fledged nestlings they were feeding. A couple groups had at least 3 young, two looked like they had four! Fairly tame and gave lots of great views feeding their ugly babies. ;)  Which are great to see, but geez they are on the motley side, eh? Only a little bit of song was heard from the males though. Of Yellow-throated Warbler we heard a handful, saw a couple, and one family group with a few just-fledged young. Saw begging just-fledged Louisiana Waterthrush at the pond. Heard a half-dozen (LAWA) of them, including singing. Heard as many Black-and-white Warbler, only saw a couple and saw no juvies. Five species of warbler in June is great there, four is the usual limit, and that only since Yellow-throated colonized in the last decade or so.

Heard a few Black-capped Vireo but didn't see one. Heard a Chat, several Canyon Wren, only one Ash-throated Flycatcher was heard, heard a Scott's Oriole, heard a half-dozen Acadian Flycatcher, saw a couple. A few each of Indigo and Painted Bunting singing, as some Blue Grosbeak. Great was hearing a couple Yellow-billed Cuckoo a half-mile apart, so surely two birds. They have not been a summering bird there the last two decades. They must be nesting this year. Will be watching to see if there is a tent cat outbreak there this year as can happen. A couple Inca Dove were at the HQ feeder. Had a few Gnatcacher, but not as many as usual.

Always of great interest are the misses. Did not hear or see Olive Sparrow, White-tipped Dove, or Scrub-Jay, all of which used trailhead feeders heavily and which are not being filled now. Did not hear a single Eastern Wood-Pewee, which do not use the seed feeders. Something else is missing for them not to be there in numbers. Only might have heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Only had one Chipping Sparrow! No Zone-tailed Hawk or Green Kingfisher. Keep in mind we are in and out in 6 excitement-packed fun-filled hours on one trail, so our coverage is more a nick in the surface than comprehensive.

By time we were leaving (2 p.m.) a few odes and butterflies were just starting to show. Have to go in the afternoons to see them when mornings are heavy with mist or overcast. We did see a couple old worn Spicebush Swallowtail, one Monarch missing much of a forewing, a Gulf Fritillary, 5 Dun Skipper, a couple Pipevine Swallowtail, and best, a couple Red-spotted Purple. What a beauty. No AZ Sister, no Satyrs, no big yellow swallowtails. Kathy spotted an Underwing (Catacola sps.) forewing on the ground from a dismembered bird breakfast no doubt (ph. in case ID is possible). Saw an adult Two-lined Spittlebug (family Cercopidae) which I essentially never see, only the spittle nests of the larvae on wildflowers like Mexican Hat.

In dragons and damsels there was not a lot but a few new so far this year for me types flying. One Pale-faced Clubskimmer was overdue, a male Widow Skimmer on upper pond, one Prince and a few Dot-winged Baskettail, male and female Eastern Pondhawk, and a couple Damsels got away, the only one ID'd was an Aztec Dancer. Do afternoons for insects. Insects of all sorts seem low in numbers, but for skeeters, from about the pond and upcreek from there there were always a few around us.

In flowers Indian Blanket is getting going well, Some Snapdragon Vine showing, a bit of Green (aka Pearl) Milkweed Vine - an awesome sleeper of a flower, a few Prairie Larkspur - what a beauty, one Limestone Guara, a few smaller Mountain Pink, and a few of the more common things were, common. Only a few Scarlet Clematis and Texas Milkweed. I saw no Cherries taking on any cherry tree, almost no Maple seeds, only a very few green Persimmons developing, seems like production is down. Certainly some of the birds are far fewer than they were before, such as Carolina Wren and White-eyed Vireo. Only had one or two Yellow-throated Vireo. Red-eyed were numerous though. Titmouse seemed down too, did have a couple Chickadee family groups, Cardinal was numerous, a few Ladder-backed Woodpecker, a couple Common Raven, no hawks.

We went the mile past the ponds to the end of the permanent water at the Can Creek headwater springs. Saw the Mexican Tetra, Notropis Shiner sps. (Sand?), and some Long-nosed Dace, three nice natives. Only herps were a couple Red-eared Sliders. Too cool for them on misty mornings. It was pleasantly empty of people, just a few here and there but very nice as expected the weekend after a big holiday weekend. All the people we saw seemed as though they have never heard of a pandemic though. We had to step out into the grassy several times for small groups to pass. Luckily found no chiggers.

June 5 ~ A low of 61F felt great, only a few dF above a record low for the date. It might have hit 80F at peak heat. I could take that all summer. They are already raising temps for next week, so the coolish is not going to be here after today probably. Worked on biz and other stuff here at the hovelita, hoping to sneak away to Lost Maples tomorrow for a morn. Here it was the same gang. A Funereal Duskywing butterfly was different, one Monarch and one Queen were on the Blue Mist Eupatorium. Great Crested Flyctcher trolled by, as did the pair of Ash-throats. Vermilion too. The Eastern Bluebird pair, and the E. Phoebe pair both seem to be getting another round underway. Not hearing the Nighthawks at dusk. I wonder if there were not enough bugs and they left? Usually both knolls have a pair and we hear booming besides calls as they go by. Nothing for almost a week now it seems. I think the bugs are very very depressed of populations. We have hardly had any chiggers all spring (not complaining - it is not like missing say warblers), though after these rains I do expect them and the skeeters to make a show.


This is a tasty green morsel being prepared for feeding
to a juvenile Golden-cheeked Warbler by the adult male.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 4 ~ About 64F for a low, overcast, a lull in precip activity since yesterday afternoon. Some spots around AUS and SAT had over 4" yesterday over in that more humid air to the east. By afternoon today they are backing off a bit on the forecast for more rain today, maybe overnight. Got up to about 80F out there, warmest day all week, which is amazing, no one complained. Town run day, lots of standing water around. Checked the park, nothing new, nice to see all the people gone. The Red-eyed Vireo is still on territory there. Ran out to the wet spot on W. Sabinal Rd., water yes, birds and odes no. Great look at a male Bobwhite on way back though. Heard a Parula singing near Jones Cmty. where a Northern has been on territory. Didn't have time to go run it down. Otherwise the same as it ever was. Best dusk so far for Fireflies, at least a couple dozen, finally. Great to see. My FOY Katydids were making noise after dark. Oops, forgot... in the morning the Black Rock Squirrel was up on top of the sealed chimney of the cottage as if he owns it. It does live under it, along with Armadillo and Striped Skunk. But I think they have separate rooms. Though I can't verify that they are not down there playing cards.

June 3 ~ Sprinkling at dawn, actual rain a couple hours later. Bring it on. Cool and wet is just how you want to do June. At 1 p.m. it was still drizzling and 62F! The rain ended in early afternoon, we got about 3 cm, or 1.20". Outstanding. At just a hair under 2" for the new month. Another round progged to come tomorrow and Saturday. Many birds will renest again when a wet May and early June. This is exactly the signal they are looking for. Heard the Gnatcatcher out there, and a Scissor-tail. The one Red-tailed Hawk fledgling is still begging and flying around a bit, I presume the parents are still dropping by with food occasionally. That will end very soon. Heard a Red-shouldered Hawk uphill behind us a ways. Martins dove low over yard calling a bit. Finally a chance and checked my two docushot attempts at a pic of the Comet Darner Sunday, got nothing but air. Unless you count out of focus water reflection as something. The half-second delay for the shutter to fire after pressing button is a killer when trying to shoot a dragon that does not hover in place or perch. Gotta spend a grand to get something workable for that, probably two. A few hun did it in the old days.

June 2 ~ Low about 65F, overcast. In flower news, saw a few White Rock Lettuce flowers out front, the Blue-eyed Grass has some flowers, saw a Blue Gilia out back, some Hedge Parsley in bloom (yech), the Mexican Hat is going real well now but short and thin from the lack of rain earlier. The one single yard Prickly Poppy has a single flower, for two days. If you break a stem on one of those the gooey sap is a weird bright cadmium orange color. I don't see any Musk or Malta Star Thistle coming up, yet, after a several years heavy battle against them. Surely some will sprout yet, but obviously have made good headway. Out back I see a couple FOY Pincushion Daisy and some Three-seeded Mercury in bloom (which does not have much of a flower - just seeds). Zexmenia is going well. Lots of Skeleton-Plant in bloom along the road out front. Like the birds, the flowers will be the same tomorrow as yesterday. I thought I heard some begging baby warblers over in corral early. Could have been either Yellow-throated or Golden-cheeked.

June 1 ~ Off to a great start with some rain just after midnight, I think we got about .75" and the low was 64F! Sure would be nice to have a cool wet June too. It probably hit 82F or so, but only saw 79 on front porch. A Gnatcatcher was around yard a bit, it was here a few days ago too, sorta seems like maybe one of the failed nesters still visiting. The male Bluebird was making a lot of noise, hopefully talking her into going again. Yellow-throated Warbler singing uphill behind us in the big live-oaks. Lots of ball moss on them, their favorite foraging habitat here. Not hearing a Roadrunner this spring. Usually every year we have one uphill behind us calling all the time, have not heard it this year. Means there is not one nesting very close as usual. Heard an Orchard Oriole out in the Pecans out front for a bit in the afternoon. A Turkey is still gobbling a bit at dusk, whence also a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over.

~ ~ ~ May summary ~ ~ ~

Well it was a wet one, finally, a wet month. About 6" of rain, more for some locally, bumps us into D1, and out of D2 level drought. A big collective sigh of relief was heard up and down the valley. The temps were below average only seeing a few days of 90F temps, mostly highs were in the 80'sF, some rainy days in the 70's. Quite a nice May actually. The Huisache trees all around took a bad hit from the single-digit mega-freeze event in Feb. They are barely leafing out. They look mostly dead. Some palms look rough too, as do the Figs.

The insects generally remain much reduced. Presume it is the drought and then the big hard freeze, but numbers are way down and species diversity is down too. Will have to watch as summer unfolds to get a better idea whaddup. Butterflies and dragonflies were both very low in numbers for May. Past surprisingly low almost to alarmingly low. In butterflies a Cassius Blue was maybe one of the better beasties. I do not ID one every year (probably overlook them every year though), and early May might be my early date for them here. Amazing was not seeing a single Black Swallowtail this year until May 30. I often see one in Feb.! March at the latest. April for sure. It was a dismal 33 species for the month, tying my worst ever May total, which was just last May. Fresh emerged Monarchs showed well though, from eggs laid by the returning Mexican winterers. The new ones are always much smaller.

The main, ok almost only, actual ode excitement was at the W. Sabinal Rd. flood pond by Haby's place. The usual customary Band-winged Dragonlets were there in low numbers much of the month besides the other few usual common early spring fliers. Some Plateau Spreadwing and one Prince Baskettail was there one day. One good rare dragon was seen in May. A male COMET DARNER was at the golf course pond by Waresville Cmty. on May 30, where there were at least a couple last year. Amazing. It is a very rare bug in Uvalde County. I count 17 ode species for the month, low.

Birds were fantastic. Lots of nights were clear until wee hours before dawn, whence Gulf overcast arrives with low clouds, often with mist, by sunup. And a few migrants a couple hours later. There were not high numbers of most of the usual common things in general save two species that showed well. Clay-colored and Lincoln's Sparrow were the standouts in that regard, best springs ever for them here. There was good species diversity though, and a great bunch of the eastern migrants (warblers!) we barely get here. By about the half-way point, mid-May, it is 99% over for passage transients here. Last new species I saw for the spring was the 16th. Often we get more flycachers later than that but not this year. No Alder, only one Willow. The 23 species of warbler ties second best spring total for me here in 18 and so was outstanding.

There were three mega-raries this month. A SWAINSON'S WARBLER at the park May 5, where I had a a prior hypothetical sighting was karmaic birding justice. Two BLACK SWIFT were a re-affirmation, at the 360 xing May 1, makes my second sighting locally at the same time of year, in same exact weather pattern (first clear air behind major system coming out of Mexican mountains). Three WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER in BanCo at the W. Sabinal Rd. floodpond are likely the first ever reported in the upper Sabinal River drainage, and very rare in BanCo or UvCo, and on the Edwards Plateau. Then two not quite mega but high-end raries showed. A BLACK-BILLED Cuckoo was outstanding, so was a KENTUCKY Warbler, both were in our yard, both about my 5th local records.

The four male American Redstart and three male Rose-breasted Grosbeak were personal bests for a single spring passage here. Just one Swainson's for thrushes this spring though, paying for last year. The BanCo floodpond also had Wilson's Phalaropes (17 peak) and Baird's Sandpipers (22 peak) on a couple days, single Pectoral Sandpiper on two days, and a couple White-faced Ibis, all are good birds here. The other big show was 7 territorial locally Parula warblers. The pair of Northern nesting at the park finished, but I do not know if they were successful. Two more singing male Northern and three Tropical have been along Jones Cmty. Rd. NW of town in BanCo. Two of the Tropical are acting like a pair looking for a place to nest. There are a couple more Tropical being reported at Lost Maples! That is nine Parulas, the usual tally is zero!

I would say it was an outstanding month. Had to work nearly every day though, surely there was a lot more going by unseen. Mostly I am just watching one observation station with one eye. Locally here I saw about 128 species in May, just around Utopia, no Lost Maples trip again this month, which is painful. Surely if one was retired and birding daily, 150 would be possible in a May of local birding. Mid-April to mid-May is the peak month for spring migrant birds here.

~ ~ ~ end May summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ archive copy May update header ~ ~

OMG it is May! On the first there was 3" of rain, and 2 BLACK SWIFT to get the month going. Also saw my FOS Cattle Egret the 1st. The 2nd was my FOS Cliff Swallow and Olive-sided Flycatcher. The FOS Common Nighthawk was May 3, another male Am. Redstart that day as well. On May 4 a FOS male Rose-breasted Grosbeak sang in our yard, another here on May 6. Astounding was a SWAINSON'S WARBLER at Utopia Pk. on May 5. Also May 5, 22 Baird's Sandpiper and 17 Wilson's Phalarope at the W. Sabinal Rd. ponds were great. My FOS Green Heron was May 7. There was a Green-tailed Towhee and a couple Tropical Parula reported recently at Lost Maples. The Northern Parula continue nesting at Utopia Park May 7. Another Northern and a pair of TROPICAL Parula are near Jones Cmty. on that road May 9, as was a FOS Mourning Warbler. A female Merlin was tardy on May 11. May 14 there were FOS Swainson's Thrush, Eastern Kingbird, and Pectoral Sandpiper locally. UPDATE: There were 3 peeps with the Pectoral which after studying the pixels were WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, as I thought at the time. May 16 there was a KENTUCKY Warbler in our yard briefly, a couple Harris's Hawk on Jones Cmty. Rd., where Northern and Tropical Parula continue. The wet spot by Haby's on W. Sabinal Rd. had two White-faced Ibis and a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was in our yard, both also the 16th as well. Another Tropical Parula (third different) was at the county line bridge crossing just NW of town May 21. OMG you can buy beer and wine in town now! A COMET Darner dragonfly at the Waresville golf course pond May 30 is very rare bug here.

~ ~ end archive copy update header ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

May 31 ~ Aaaaand there goes the fifth month of the year. Cool and overcast, a bit breezy today, but a temp spread of about 67-77F is spectacular for the date. We totally dodged the heat bullet in May this year. Had work to attend to here, no holidays in the fish biz, save the King of Tongas birthday, Chinese New Year, Ramadan, and such like that. Supposed to be getting some rain again this week and the cooler than average continuing. It is strictly the breeders now, we are in the heat of nesting season. Many things have gotten a brood out and now is the time they decide if they can do another. With the recent rain, I think lots will go again, which makes for a much better season. It is nice and lushly green finally. A new set of flowers will be popping in a week or two.

May 30 ~ Was mostly clear with no moon much of the early evening last night, and great stars. Overcast this morning and it must have sprinkled a little bit. Low about 67F or so. Comfortable. Some martins were diving low over yard and calling first thing early at 7 a.m., seeing if anyone is home at the empty house methinks. A bit of mist and a showerlet in the a.m., at noon we went up to the W. Sabinal Rd. pond, which still had some water but no birds save a Lark Sparrow. There were some odes including a Band-winged Dragonlet, a couple Wandering Glider, Red Saddlebags, and Green Darner. The trees that got stripped by hail are resprouting leaves, it looks like March or early April up there now. On Jones Cmty. Rd. we heard two singing Parula Warbler, each right where Northerns have been on territory. I watched one quite a bit but light was so bad I could not ID it. We did not have any other Parulas. All the usual river habitat corridor breeders were singing though. Kathy spotted a group of begging fledgling Yellow-throated Warblers way up in a Cypress. We went to the golf course pond by Waresville Cmty. and were shocked to see a Comet Darner! A rare ode here, there were at least two here last year. Amazing. Did it emerge from the pond? I think my first May record here. There were a couple martins at the delapitated house that used to have 10 pairs. Some Red-winged Blackbird are nesting in the cattails. One Questionmark, and Kathy spotted the FOY Black Swallowtail, finally. A few Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were on the golf course.

May 29 ~ Finally some rain! Low about 62F. Around dusk last night some big cells just missed us to our north and east, we had a great outflow boundry cool-off though. After midnight some cells marched east from Del Rio area, it rained here about 4-8 a.m., a whopping TWO inches! Outstanding! All the good totals the last couple weeks have missed us here. We will have a good June bloom for sure now, and birds will be far more inclined to go another round for nesting. Likely bumped us from the edge of D2 drought well into D1, so a major improvement. It has been a wet May. Love hearing Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting singing in the front yard. From a song volume standpoint, Painted Bunting are low key and subdued, Indigo are between boisterous and raucous. There is some Western Horse Nettle and Silver-leaf Nightshade blooming, I don't mention them like I don't mention Eurasian Collared-Dove, because I don't like invasives. Saw a nice male Dun Skipper, which pretty sure is FOY for me, and the latest ever for that.


These are the White-faced Ibis at the W. Sabinal Rd. floodpond May 16.
Unfortunately it was very overcast so none of the beautiful colors of
the maroonish chestnut and oily green plumage show.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 28 ~ About 72F and overcast, was a showerlet overnight, some mist over the morn. A trace keeps some dust down and the leaves clean. Since the birds are the same gang... here is some local news. In case of interest for visitors, there was a new law passed recently that allows some sort of (light) alcohol sales here in Utopia. I hear the gas station is going to carry beer, to make up lost beer run gas sales. There is also a new place in town now that has some takeout beer and wine, as well as some craft drafts. This will require a full investigation obviously. The last year or two the Vanderpool store has been carrying beer and some wine. So, it is no longer totally 'dry' in Utopia, as of 2021. Cutting edge progress. Some of the residents seem pretty slap-happy about this. It will save a lot gas, and I do mean a LOT. Tons of CO2 per year. It just keeps getting more and more like utopia here. Town run day for supplies and tacos. I can't believe it, I bought beer in Utopia. Just a test run to make sure this was really legal. A sixer of Shiner Brewery Tour. Has 6 different examples of their short run stuff. Some of which are really great, a Black Lager, one with Poteet strawberries, the Texas peach wheat, and others. The place is in the old brick post office building. It has short hours, closing early in afternoons I think all but Friday. There were no migrants at the park save people in all manner of large colorful floaty things in the water. Town was still quiet, the hominids haven't gotten here yet. I got the store stuff we needed, Rosie's tacos, and out of Dodge, with beer!

May 27 ~ Low about 72F, some overcast and breezy SE winds from the Gulf. Same gang for birds. Sure love hearing Bell's Vireo out there still, I suspect he has a mate and nest near the front of the adjacent corral. Awesome voice. I think the Bluebirds are between cycles. I did not see the young fledge, but they got some out, and now are around without them, so likely deciding on the next round. Been pretty dry, not many bugs. A good bug was an Eyed Elaterid (the big 2" click beetle with the fake eyes on thorax) on the table on front porch, FOY. Such a neat beetle. I cannot believe how often I see them here. Ran to town late in afternoon for a quick P.O. errand. Did gas and bird seed to get some of tomorrow's stops off the list. Town was awesomely dead quiet, before the storm that starts tomorrow and lasts through Monday. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk right over the entrance to Utopia Golf, a mile and change south of town on 187. Have not been seeing them this spring. I think the prey base is way down due to drought and not as many are around. Got warm, surely was 90F in the sun since I saw 89 on the cool shady front porch. At least a dozen Firefly is the first double-digit count I have had so far this year. They are late and low in numbers so far.

May 26 ~ Maybe 71F for a low. Overcast and humid. Dawn chorus going well at 6:30 a.m., some few voices earlier of course, but the all-to-brief concert is quieting down by 7. I hate to say it but you are going to have to find something exciting to do for a couple months. It is going to be the same gang every day for the next two months here. Save maybe some insects will get flying. This weekend there is a rodeo here in town as always on this big holiday opening weekend of summer. The park, town, and area becomes a hominid zoo. We will mostly check some private local spots real closeby, hiding from it the best we can. The small worn Monarch was still here today. The Germander patch is in full roar, looks and smells awesome. All the little white flowers look like a big patch of living lace. Hummers and bees love it too. Didn't see anything different in birds or beasties today. A quick run out the back of 360 at dusk to feed animal scraps away from here, there was some White Milkwort in bloom at the one spot I know for it here. A bit of Coreopsis opening now too.

May 25 ~ Low was 71F, humid, overcast, a spit of mist a couple times. It is breeding season. The migration party is north of us now. Way north. Sure was great while it lasted, it is over way too quickly. We get a great month from mid-April to mid-May here. Now it is back to watching a chat take a bath every day. Leslie Calvert a few miles south of town has a Golden-cheeked Warbler at her bath every day! She also had some Yellow-headed Blackbird about the 21st, which is when I saw a couple up on W. Sab. Rd. The first spring male Blue Grosbeak with hardly any blue on the face is still around. Unless you look close it looks like a first winter young or a female. Lots of Painted Bunting around. Saw a small very worn Monarch, not sure what to make of that. Cuckoo must be nesting nearby, it goes through yard multiple times daily. The average hi-lo spread for SAT this date is 70-90F.

May 24 ~ Low was about 70F and quite sticky. Just four months to go. It was the same gang here, no migrants but there were 10 Cedar Waxwing. More interesting was perusing ebird for unusual area reports from the spring passage and influx of touring birders. Here are a few of the best finds that I saw...   A Cerulean Warbler was photographed in Concan in late April, a Scarlet Tanager was at Garner S.P., a Canada Warbler was reported at Utopia Park, a Wood Thrush was seen in Uvalde, a Blackburnian Warbler at Lost Maples, an Eastern Whip-poor-will was reported at Concan, and a Least Tern at Cook's Slough in Uvalde. Having eyes out there makes all the difference in the world. Those are all very good birds here. Nothing of major interest here in yard today.

May 23 ~ We might have had a quick kiss with 68F for a low but it was fast. A little mist overnight but no real precip. Still more rain east of us, they got a good slug of tropical moisture from this low that came ashore Friday night, it just did not make it inland to us. We did get the humidity. No transients seen today, it is over and out here. I had work to do with a bunch of shipments of Kenya fish so couldn't get out until late. We rolled up to the W. Sabinal Rd. pond hoping for a shorebird, nothing there but cows. Did not hear any Parula singing along Jones Cmty. Rd. but it was 4:30 p.m., not a good time for that. Quite a few of the regular breeders at the county line crossing, but we heard no Parula there either. The park woods were also quiet, save a few Yellow-throated Warbler, and one Red-eyed Vireo sang. Amazing was a pile of feathers on the trail in the woods. Remains from a plucking. It was an Eastern Screech-Owl! Gadzooks! I can't see a live one in the park (heard it only) but find a pile of feathers. Ouch. That hurts as much as it is a great data point. The pile was not there two days ago on Friday. Late p.m. Kathy spotted a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bath, has not been one around in a while. Saw a FOY of one of those beautiful Harlequin Flower Beetle (Gymnetis thula now), the black and cream inch long big scarab. It came into to my pipe tobacco smoke whilst I was on front porch in observation chair, working of course.

May 22 ~ Low was 70F or so. Pretty balmy. There was a low in the western Gulf that was thought to have a 50% of becoming something last night, about the same as me. It moved ashore overnight and rained a bunch down on the coast and to our east. So we have very wet tropical airmass and are just hoping for rain. No migrants through yard, that party is over. Sure was a great spring here though. Very low individual numbers overall, so weak where it should be strong, but a good number of very rare (here) birds showing up wins the passage for most birders. If one could bird 7 days a week I bet it would have been fantastic. I only get the tip of the iceberg having to be at desk and computer 7 days a week.

Turned out to be dry here, maybe a spit of mist at one point, mostly just very sticky. Birds were the same breeders. It is going to be really boring here the next couple months with just the same little set of breeders present. Hopefully the butterflies and dragons will kick in and there will be bugs to look at. Odes (dragons and damsels) can really save a hot summer day. Seems at least four different adult female Painted Bunting hitting the millet tube. Which matches my best estimation of males present. Maybe one or two green first spring males around too. At least a couple singing male Blue Grosbeak have stuck, so likely have mates and nests. I think only one male Indigo is sticking (nesting). Seems a couple or few Chat pairs pretty close, one at draw, one across road at other corner of yard. A few Chucks calling lots nightly, one very close, two close.


Here is one of the pair of Martin that were at the house.
They didn't take it but at least landed to inspect it.
I think a first spring male.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 21 ~ Low of 68F, some overcast. Had a warbler go through yard about 9 a.m. quickly, just got a glimpse as it landed in top of Mulberry but was binocless, got a couple flight notes enough to be real interested and it flew north. It was not a Yellow. Great was a late Lincoln's Sparrow in the bath later morning. Town run day, so checked a few spots. The 354 Pecans had no migrants, neither did the park and woods there. Went out to W. Sabinal Rd. to check the wet spot, there was one Cattle Egret and one Pectoral Sandpiper. Oops, forgot, there were 2 Yellow-headed Blackbird too. Slow-rolled the road where the Parulas were but didn't hear any. Until I got to the county line bridge just NW of town, where a Parula was singing. Nice clean male Tropical! Not either of the pair a mile up river, a new different male with nice orange wash on breast. We are having a good year for Parulas here this spring. We have had two single singing male and a nesting pair of Northern, and this singing male plus a pair of Tropical. Plus two Tropical and I think at least one Northern were reported at Lost Maples. I have personally seen 7 Parula of both types, and have had springs where my total was zero. I talked to a guy in town that owns one of the double-wides in Sabinal that got hit by the hail a couple weeks ago. His and his neighbors each took 20 through the roof, which stopped at the floor. Biggest piece of ice he measured was 6" x 12"! Photos of some cars in D'Hanis looked like a war zone, they were totalled.

May 20 ~ An awesome 54F for a low feels great. Might be the last of that we see until fall. Not as many male Indigo Bunting singing across the road now, there were 3 at least, maybe one left now, perhaps one that got a mate. The others then move up or down river habitat corridor to troll elsewhere. Forgot to mention the other day I saw a first spring male Blue Grosbeak (nearing a year old) with just a wee bit of blue on front half of head, the rest of the bird was still all brown like a female or juvenile. Just before noon Kathy spotted a warbler at the bath, it was a first spring male Wilson's. First year birds is a lot of what might be left to go by yet.

In the afternoon heat of the low 80's some butterflies were out. Three Queen is a high count so far this spring. Two mint-fresh Monarch surprised me by doing tight spirals around each other, flopping onto ground, and hooking up into copulation. These are new emergences that just got out of the box, which we virtually never see hooked up. They hatch and blast north. Also had an Elada Checkerspot and a couple Vesta Crescent. Still no Black Swallowtail this year. What the heck happened? They were common to abundant, and often a first butterfly of the year in February. Usually fair numbers out by March. None yet. Drought? Mega-freeze? The patch of American Germander is really roaring now with a hundred flower spikes (inflorescence) with open blooms. Smells heavenly, sort of a cross between rose and sweet pea. Hummers love it, so do Pipevine Swallowtail and a native bee or two.

May 19 ~ A great low at 64F was from rain-cooled outflow of thundercells that missed us but at least we got cooled off. We have been totally shorted all week on the rain so far. We were supposed to have our best two chances the last three days and were progged to get a couple inches if not more. It looks about .4 here, tops, so far and the low is moving away this evening. We were supposed to get a couple inches or more. Lots of areas around central Texas did get some good totals, we got a dry slot. Will take the cool air and continued break from arriving at the summer heat part of the year yet. It has been very comfortable so far this May, a lucky break ahead of the long bake. No migrants through yard, we are about over and out for that here. Will just be some strays here and there now for a week if we are lucky.

Surely there were some good things grounded this week if you could get out and check all the best patches of vegetation every day. I gotta work, until a peek on Friday. Did not see the Bewick's Wren today which is good, means they got the young out and to somewhere safe. The martin house must wobble too much for the Carolina Wren female, it seems like they are not taking it after all, just put a bunch of nest material in it. The key prime item, the most common item by far I see used in Carolina Wren nest here is peeled pieces of Ashe Juniper bark, just like what a Golden-cheeked Warbler nest is made of. They make a cedar chest. I hear they keep bugs away. It is what most of the nest is made of. Thought I saw a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Heard some Comm. Nighthawk booming at dusk.

May 18 ~ At least we cooled down into the upper 60's F this morning. Last night there was a big thundercell to our south around Hwy. 90 but we just got some mist. This morning more cells in the area but none finding us yet. Heard a warbler singing early in front yard, but not any typical proper song, so likely a first spring something, maybe Black-and-white or Restart, was high and thin. Later morn Kathy had a Nashville Warbler at the bath. Been at least a week since I have seen one, they are mostly past us now. We caught a little shower about 1:30 p.m. and temps went from 76F to a wonderful 63F. Awesome. We got another .2 out of it. The Bewick's Wrens must have fledged, there is no activity at the nest box. They were feeding the young still this morning, but apparently the time came. Ya gotta go when ya gotta go. Missed a tail count though. At least I will get to finish my knothole nestbox now though. I had to stop work on it while they did this. Too much work to go bird unfortunately.

May 17 ~ A low of 72F is not very. KERV station showed 72 from 9 p.m. to past 8 a.m.! Dawn chorus is in full roar at 6:30 a.m. and by 7 it can be amazingly quiet by comparison. About 8 on the side patio porch I heard some werid screaming noise, got up and went toward it and saw a Gray Fox moving up the slope behind us with an Eastern Cottontail in its jaws. Enjoy your wild America. That silly rabbit was eating lots of bird seed, in a yard full of grasses and forbs. One Yellow Warbler was it for migrants in the yard. Misted a little bit, just a trace. Supposed to be a rain event shaping up for a couple days. We got .2 today in some showerlets. I guess the big avian event of the day is the first wave of fledging juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbird has begun to appear. Lots of gray-headed birds today for the first time, and a corresponding jump in fluid consumption to go with them. Here we go again. A Red Satyr butterfly flopped aroud the house in the afternoon and the worn Queen was still here.

May 16 ~ Low about 68F, a little drizzle must have fallen, it is pretty wet out there, but just a tracelet. Whaddaday it was here! Incredible was at 7 a.m. after the first early seed toss I was on the side porch by patio and heard a close weird chip I did not immediately place. This sends me into a five-alarm all-senses-on-deck highest level of alert of course. I love that first thing in the morning. Gazing toward the sound a bird moved inside the fenced-in gardenlet with the tub pond maybe a dozen feet away. It jumped into the fence whence I see it is a KENTUCKY Warbler! OMG! It chipped a couple times and flew over into the lowest part of the big Mulberry which is just over an area that looks great for a ground warbler. Chipped a bit more but then moved away without dropping down. I came in a drank a precious holy first cup of coffee. When I went back out the big female Cooper's Hawk flushed and no birds were to be seen or heard. Thought I might have heard it uphill behind us which has a good thick Laurel and Agarita understory below a huge live-oak canopy. Need to check the draw in a while, it might catch it. Only the off-the-charts spring of 2011 did I record them here, maybe 3 that spring, and I have one fall (August) Utopia Pk. 10-day record (ph.), but none in a decade, it borders on mega-rary here. New yard warbler. Went over to the draw after breakfast and nothing there.

We went and checked a few of the tree patches to see if migrants. The 360 xing had two Yellow Warbler, which were the only two we saw. One Eastern Wood-Pewee there, a first spring male Summer Tanager, several of which have just shown up the last week. The 354 Pecans had only the breeders, no migrants. At Utopia Pk. the Northern Parula are gone, I presume done nesting. Wish I could say if successful or not. The pair was there a little over four weeks, which is all they need really. At least we know they attempted, as at Utopia on the River several years ago. Nothing in the Mulberries but Squirrel and Waxwing. Thought I heard a Green Kingfisher, heard a Pewee (E.). We did see a Barred Owl and two cooter. Then up to W. Sabinal Rd. and the wet spot. No grasspipers or ducks, but two White-faced Ibis in breeding plumage. Always good birds here, easy to miss any given year. Beautiful but was bad light for photos, unless you like silohuettes like I do. Size, shape, and structure rule. The three S's. On the way up there at another muddy spot we flushed a pair of Harris's Hawk, none of which we have seen locally in months. Looked like full adults. Probably pushed north out of south Texas by the drought.

Nothing left to do but work on the Parulas near Jones Cmty., so we did. To reiterate, you can only bird from the road there, note purple paint, NO TRESPASSING. Do not walk off road toward river unless you have permission, and you don't. It is all private property. I presume the singing bird at the corner by the Hill Ranch entrance gate is the Northern we had there last week. We did not stop to re-see that one. We refound the presumed pair of Tropical, and another male Northern Parula. Generally in the area just west of the Jones Cmty. entrance road. Mostly down by the river but at one point on the south side of road again in the same big ballmossy live-oaks just east of the Cemetery entrance. We had a few minutes of spectacular viewing when the pair was low in a pecan very close. Though I was on bad light side of tree at the time and trying to get docushots more than studying views.

They were so bonkers active though I only managed one usable grainy docushot of one Tropical. The situation is somewhat confusing as for sexing the birds. One Tropical is amazingly orange across the breast, sings, and is certainly a male. It shadows the other bird I would say protectively, like a male oriole does to its mate in breeding season. The other barely has a wisp of color on the yellow breast, does not sing, but has a fairly well-defined black mask - see photo below. If they would just slow down a little. It was as stellar of an encounter with Tropicals as I ever had. Which was more complex than at first apparent. A singing bird overhead we were looking for stopped singing while we were watching the two Tropicals low in a small Pecan.

Later at home going through the photos mostly just trying to find a bird, any bird, I got one with eye crescents. A Northern! That other singer was a male Northern and had shut up and snuck into the tree with them! That is why they were zinging around so fast all over the tree. I was trying to get shots so not seeing all the details as well as you do if just watching the birds. Mr. T was trying to eject that yankee Parula. I saw something get chased out that looked Parula but quickly saw the two Tropical were still in the tree so did not follow it. Weewow. The literature mostly seems to say only males have a black mask. Both of these have black masks. So then why does it not have an orange blaze on breast, or sing, and is hanging out in the same place with a singing male for a week? Maybe older females can get blacker masks? Why would a singing male Northern sneak into the tree and persue the one without the orange breast if it were not a female? Why would a male Tropical chase it out of the tree? Wouldn't it let another male fight its own fight?

Then back here at 5 p.m. I was minding my own business on the front porch when a cuckoo flew out of the pecans out front into open airspace across the yard, the driveway, and more open airspace. It had no rufous in the upperwing, and no color on the bill. It was a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO! It was on the compact side to boot. I saw a whole bunch of full downstrokes and the entire outer upperwing was the same color as the back and innerwing. All brown. No rufuos. Yellow-bills are everywhere now of course, I see them multiple times daily in the pecans as they nest adjacent somewhere. This bird was obviously not one. I have seen a few here but never got a photo of one locally yet. It is a near-mega here. Over the day I saw five mint-fresh Monarch. These are new emergences from eggs laid in March probably as the Mexican winterers return on their way north. They are popping now.

Late p.m. I saw Carolina Wrens taking nesting material INTO one of the holes in the martin house! The young were due to fledge any day. I went out back to carport and found the nest ransacked. They got predated a day or two before fledging, probably last night. Coon or Spotted Skunk most likely. Dang it. Nest was in a bad place though, apparently why they have now chosen the highest hole around. Hey didja see my martins? They don't soar very well, these have a poor glide ratio (like a helicopter) and need to go on a diet. Nearing last sun I saw a fledgling Red-tailed Hawk flying around begging.

May 15 ~ Low about 66F or so, heavy overcast, over the morning by about noon it showered off and on for a half-inch or so of the wet stuff. Every bit counts. Not much migrant motion in the yard though being on the backside of the big bubble of birds. One Eastern Wood-Pewee sang early. Two Yellow Warbler over the day. Late in day was a getting tardy Lincoln's Sparrow. The rest was the territorial breeders, but a fine set I might say. Painted and Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-throated, White-eyed, and Bell's Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ash-throated and Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Crested Flyc. heard, Summer Tanager, Lark, Chipping and Field Sparrow, hear Yellow-throated Warbler singing, and then of course all the resident non-migratory species. The Carolina Wren (in back) and Bewick's Wren (in box on big pecan out front) both are working overtime feeding begging babies that will soon be fledging. So will a screaming Red-tailed Hawk juvie over at the river soon fledge. The Queen butterfly was still here on the Blue Mist Eupatorium.


This is a Tropical Parula. Note black mask, no broken
white eye-crescents, yellow malar, and no black or rusty
band across upper breast.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 14 ~ Low was about 58F again, though likely was colder a dF or two, it was warming at 6 a.m. KERV had a 54F earlier. This has been a great treat to be dodging the heat so far in May. The forecast looks for it to continue another week to ten days (!) with chances of rain daily and a 60-80F or so temp spread all the way to the last week of May. With overcast and easterlies it means we should continue to get somewhere between a trickle and a dribble of migrants too. A couple Orchard Oriole were in yard early. Better and weirder, was a singing Canyon Towhee up in the big Pecan for a bit. Have not seen one in months. An unmated troller no doubt, it wasn't here for 15 minutes.

Town run day so a peekabout for birds, finally. The 354 pecans had two Yellow Warbler and a tardy Clay-colored Sparrow, besides the usual breeders. Utopia Park had a FOS Swainson's Thrush in the Mulberries on the island, but heard no Northern Parula, or any migrant warblers. The Parula might be done nesting and gone. Went up to the wet spot by Haby's on W. Sabinal Rd. via Jones Cmty Rd. Near the Spring Branch cutoff had my FOS Eastern Kingbirds (2). At the wet spot the teal and Pintail were gone, there were single Spotted and Pectoral Sandpiper, and 3 distant peeps I couldn't ID for sure, they were Baird's or White-rumped. Got some distant pixels to study. Heavy on the distant, and pixels. Have to go back tomorrow when not time constrained. UPDATE: The three peeps were WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, my first ever locally. Back in the yard there was a FOY Queen (butterfly) on some open Blue Mist Eupatorium. Some of the Am. Germander (aka Wood Sage but is not a sage) is opening flowers, hummers are right on it.

May 13 ~ Another 58F low, overcast and humid, but cool. Sun breaking out by noon. Quite nice if I could only go birding. Maybe hit 72F in the peak afternoon heat. Wow. Seems like one pair each of Chipping and Field Sparrow nesting adjacent to yard. Lots of Lark Sparrow around. The only Siskin left doesn't look well. Fading to breeders fast here. One Yellow Warbler was in the bath. There for a minute and gone. Who knows what we miss there. The Chat(s?) love the bath and visit often, getting very wet. The Great Crest is trolling for a mate moving up and down river habitat corridor calling, which it doesn't do when it has a mate and nest at this time. Too busy at the desk. Too many hummers, a half-gallon of juice today means a couple hundred Black-chinned here. At least a couple Ruby-throated still present. Really would like a Buff-bellied or Broad-billed but would settle for a Violetear (already have seen that in UvCo).

May 12 ~ Rootin' for that record low max today, wish us luck. Low of 58F, the cold front passed, but with little precip on it for us, they got more eastward. Very breezy northerlies and cold air advection, a big win for the date. Not seeing any migrants over the morning, the northerlies got over 10mph around 2 a.m. or so, whence likely shut any migrant progress down. At least one male Ruby-throated Hummingbird still here, and saw at least one, maybe two females yesterday, with nest bands. That wear or pressure mark incubating females get across the breast from the nest. At 5 p.m. it was about 68F and the sky was clearing, wind calm. Not a record low max, but only a few dF from it. Kathy spotted a few things coming into the birdbath late p.m.: a female Orchard Oriole, and single Yellow and Wilson's Warbler. Three migrants. There were 2 male Indigo Bunting on the patio late, with a third singing across road at same time, likely all are territorial here now. At last sun one leaving the patio did a nice flight song right overhead as I was out on driveway. I think he likes it here.

May 11 ~ Low about 65F feels great, and only to go up 10F or less today! We are dodging a heat bullet now. Last night it cleared after the big thundercells, stars were out at midnight, so I suspect migrant birds here moved out. We were socked in with Gulf overcast at dawn. Supposed to get another round of rain. This is saving spring. We should get flowers and butterflies yet. Did not have any passage passerine migrants through the yard over the day. Though one good migrant was viewable a few seconds. A pale female Prairie Merlin flushed everything as it dove by, right over my head, quite a late date. Some minor showerlets, a tenth of an inch plus over the day, might have gotten up to 72F for a high! Lower than yesterday's low! Did have a Great Crested Flycatcher troll through yard. It must be moving around trying to attract a mate. Neat seeing Blue Grosbeak on the seed out back. A last seed call at patio there were 4 ad. male Painted Bunting at once, plus a few greenies.

May 10 ~ A balmy 73F for a low, better get used to it. Scattered overcast filled in to solid by 9 or so. Have a cold front on way arriving tonight maybe. My THIRD Rose-breasted Grosbeak of the spring was singing across road from gate in the big Mesquites. I miss them lots of springs, and three is as many as I ever saw in a spring here, so a good showing for them. At least two Yellow Warbler around yard. No Clay-colored Sparrow, it was clear until way after midnight. Glad I got to hear it singing yesterday, that was probably it until next March since they don't sing in the fall. A couple times a Chimney Swift buzzed the sadly sealed chimneys here. At last light three silent Common Nighthawk flew over yard lowish. After dark a group of severe thundercells made it here from the Rio Grande, we got about .75" of rain, was constant lightning but not scary close. Along Hwy. 90 to our south there was a couple inches of precip. They needed it badly down there too.

May 9 ~ Low of about 72F is not very, get ready for about 4 months of that now. Here we go again. Overcast, gulf flow, but at least the howlin' winds stopped for the morning. Seems like there should be a migrant or two out there. First few hours in the yard had one new different Clay-colored Sparrow (after none present yesterday), a trolling Orchard Oriole singing a minute or two in the Pecans, and really weird, an American Robin, the first one in about 8 weeks. One lone bird, besides seeing it, it gave 3 different calls, the here I am call, the alarm call, and then the flight call as it flew across yard departing.

We checked a few local patches for migrants 11-1. The 354 Pecans had 4 Yellow and a Wilson's Warbler besides the breeders. Heard Orchard Oriole singing, saw a pair of Red-eyed Vireo there, several Bell's across the road. At Utopia Pk. there was a Yellow or two, we did not hear the Northern Parula but folks were camped in the area and a bit noisy. Then we checked the wet spot on W. Sabinal Rd. There was one drake Blue-winged Teal and the female Pintail continues, no shorebirds. Lots of odes though including rare in May Red-tailed Pennant, plus Roseate Skimmer and Wandering Glider. Figured we best check the ID on the singing Parula by the Hill Ranch entrance on Jones Cmty. Rd. It is a good male Northern. I went down by the river there (which is private, note purple paint, enter with permission only - you can only bird from road here) and flushed a FOS Mourning Warbler out of the Frostweed.

Moving toward a big patch where it went I heard another Parula singing. Both singing at the same time in each ear, sounded virtually identical. I ran it down anyway. Ended catching up with it right on the road just east of the Cmty. entrance turn. It was a male TROPICAL! Then a female flew into the tree with it! It was also a Tropical! A PAIR of Tropical Parula! Both for all intents and purposes appearing wholly pure good clean birds. Whilst trying to get a pic a pecan there with some flowers had a Yellow, a Wilson's, and a Black-throated Green Warbler. Just missed a Tropical pic though. Will have to go back and see if they are nesting, it looked like it. We intended on checking the 360 xing Pecans but it was being mowed when we passed it, so just came home. Some migrants were out there, and some newly territorial things are just being found. Here at dusk I had my FOY BOOM from a Common Nighthawk, right overhead. I also had TWO looks at Chuck-will's-widow in front yard at last light. Only a couple Firefly still.

May 8 ~ A balmy low of about 65F, summer is coming. Breezy SE winds most of day 10-15 mph gusting 20-25. A bit of a blower. Only migrants in the yard were one male Yellow Warbler and a Lincoln's Sparrow Kathy saw at the bath. Tomorrow is supposed to be less windy so will try a lookabout then. Both the Bewick's and Carolina Wren are feeding young fast and furiously, at opposite ends of the house. No wonder I don't see any bugs out there. There was a Vesta Crescent floating around the yard, and Kathy said she pulled something out of the tomato 'greenhouse' that looked a Crescent. Still low on leps. The Cuckoo was in yard off and on all day so surely our local nester, love 'em. I am not hearing Great Crested Flycatcher, of which a pair has nested just south of us in earshot all prior 8 springs and summers. One was there calling a couple weeks, and it seems as if it has departed. Kind of a drag (Buckinghams, 1967). Did not see a Clay-colored Sparrow today for the first time in many weeks. Yesterday two were left, but it blew hard from the south all night, and methinks they rode it out of Dodge. I think it was four Pine Siskin left, finally. They were persistent this spring. Three seems to be the high simultaneous ad. ma. Painted Bunting count, which are all likely territorial here.

another big migration special break...

Here are a few shorebirds, often called sandpipers.
Besides Killdeer, Snipe, and Spotted Sandpiper they are scarce here.
Mostly seen when it rains during migration at flood ponds.


Wilson's Phalarope, May 2 in BanCo. Phalaropes float and swim well.
Had to improve on that dark docushot a couple weeks ago. They peaked on
May 5 at 17 birds.


One of 22 Baird's Sandpiper May 5 in BanCo. A generic small sandpiper,
between its Argentina wintering grounds and arctic Canada breeding grounds.


This is a Pectoral Sandpiper, photo May 2018 on W. Sab. Rd., one
at the same spot May 14, 2021, but pics today were just docushots.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 7 ~ Low about 54F, clear and dryish, wonderful. I could take that every morning all year and never complain. No migrant motion the first four hours in the yard. The bulk of the flood is past us already. The couple weeks of fade-away on the backside often sees some great birds though. Perserverance is omnipotent. Be indefatigable. Until it gets too hot. Town run so a park check. Nothing in the way of migrant motion. Not a Yellow, Nashville, or anything else, there or at the 354 Pecans. 354 had a Giant Swallowtail. The No. Parula continues singing and surely nesting at the park, and I heard what surely was begging baby Yellow-throated Warblers out on the island high in the Cypresses. Only thing new was a FOS Green Heron. Little Creek Larry said he saw a couple Snowy Egret there this week one day. I ran up to W. Sabinal Rd. to check see the wet spot. There were 5 Baird's and one Spotted Sandpiper, no Phalaropes. The Pintail is still there, and now 2 drake Blue-winged Teal, the 2 female teal were nowhere to be seen. One late Savannah Sparrow was at the eastmost water. No Kingbirds on any fencelines, checked a few miles worth. Two Clay-colored Sparrow were still here today. A Tropical Sage in front flower bed is opening flowers. Nearing 10 open heads of the Blue Mist Eupatorium now, with another mint fresh Monarch on it today. Saw a small probably male Pepsis Wasp go by porch. A Cloudless Sulphur was my FOY for them.

May 6 ~ More clear, cool, and dryish is great, low was about 50F! I saw KERV grabbed a quick 49F. Wow. No migrants in yard in morning. What was here left, and nothing new the first couple hours. Desk day for me though, can't lookabout until tomorrow. Nice to see those Siskin numbers going down, maybe a dozen left now. Kathy had one Yellow Warbler and near noon I saw a Nashville. One Least Flycatcher after noon. Pretty soon it will just be breeding season here. But we get a week or two more when there is an ever-slimming chance to see some fancy spring migrants. Most likely if we get some inclement weather to knock them down. Noon-thirty Kathy spotted the migrant of the day in the yard, a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the bath! I got the window open without flushing it and got a shot before it was done drinking and left. First time we have seen one at the bath. Second one in three days, and I often miss it in spring. Then she spotted it again, eating sunflower seeds on the patio about 6 p.m.! OMG! Whaddabird! It was sneaking around out there all day, unseen. Kathy was on the side porch by the patio when a Gray Fox sauntered across the patio in the heat of the afternoon. They must be feeding young too to be out in the heat of the day.

On the premature fledging of the four Eastern Phoebe young day before yesterday, of which two made sundown yesterday. It looked like two made the night here at first early. One tried to fly and flew into the gas tank of our big truck parked out back. It has been in the grass all day, getting fed. Finally about 5 I saw a second baby in the pecan. So two have almost made it through their second full day. Of four. At least one was lost to Mrs. Cooper's yesterday. They still can't really fly and have no biz being out of the nest. They always follow that first premature jumper, the oldest one, by days for half the clutch. The parents should ignore it at first and teach the babies with food to stay in the nest still. Instead they go over to it, and then the others think they need to be down there. Days before they are flight capable. We keep watching this over and over. Fairly frustrating to watch I must say. And I didn't even lay the eggs or catch all the bugs for a month.

May 5 ~ The cool air from the front got here and the low was a wonderful 52F or so. Sunny, dryish, nice. Some of our Blue Mist Eupatorium (maybe greggii) has open flowers and one of those mint-fresh just-emerged Monarch landed on it for nectar and photos. Also see the first couple Dayflower flowers open. And the first couple Mexican Hat. What a little water and heat can do. Got up to about 82F or so at peak heat. There were 4 baby Phoebe still first thing early in the morn. We only saw 2 at dusk. One was taken by the ad. fem. Cooper's Hawk late in the afternoon.

Had to run to town early so a couple quick spot checks. First at the park there was a singing male Am. Redstart, number 4 for me this spring. Mind-boggling was a SWAINSON'S WARBLER in the woods! It came up off the trail onto a big low horizontal branch, I got it in bins and wondered what weird sort of wren that was at first. Brownish above, warmer darker cap, dark line through eye with long pale supercilium, pale dirty underparts. But was shaped all wrong for a wren. Too long and horizontal, not rotund whatsoever. It took a few seconds of not being able to make any wren out of it for me to realize what that pointy beak and square ground-warbler tail meant. Not the first time I did that with one of these. I had a few more seconds on it reconfirming all the characters after I ID'd it, Whence it disappeared. Probably out to the island. Where I once thought I had one a few years ago. There were a couple Yellow, a Nashville, and the N. Parula continues singing. Combed the understory in the woods well and it had to have gone out on the island where you cannot see much.

Then I ran out to Haby's wet spot on W. Sabinal Rd. in BanCo. There were about 22 Baird's Sandpiper, and 17 Wilson's Phalarope. I only had my bins with me so was sorta hobbled at 8x. Took some pix to blow up of some distant birds. Update: all I see in the pixels are Baird's. The Pintail was still there, grabbed a docushot this time. The N. Parula was still singing between Jones Cmty. and the Hill Ranch entrance at the curve. Drive-by singing Orchard Oriole were at north and south ends of town. The 354 Pecans had 3 Yellow and a Nashville Warbler. I got a ton of work at the desk and can't steal more than the hour I did. Was a Least Flycatcher out by gate late afternoon. A couple Yellow Warbler spent all day in the yard, and Kathy heard Common Nighthawk again just before dusk.

May 4 ~ Front came in after midnight with northerlies 10-15 gusting 20-25. Was about 72F at midnight, finally dropping to 64F or so around 8 a.m., and very dry. At 8 a.m. there was a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the dying hackberry, calling and singing. Ran in for camera, it flew out to pecans, sang more, then flew across the road and sang more from the Mesquites, then flew toward the draw so I gave up. Easy to miss in spring so great to see. Wish I could have gotten some pixels. A Baltimore Oriole and three Yellow Warbler went through yard at the same time, and then it was empty. Save the local breeders. One male Red-winged Blackbird still visits, which I suspect is a bird nesting across the river at the golf course ponds. Nearest ones anyway. Siskin numbers seemed to have dropped, hope it stays that way. Maybe 20 or so, or less. Which is way better than 75 if you are buying the seed! Heard a good warbler sing that got away.

The nesting pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher are gone. I have not heard them in four days since the big 3" at once finale rain event. I presume the nest was wiped out and they are gone. Two years in a row a pair tried here, failed, and moved elsewhere. Last year the hail got them. Kathy saw fledged baby Eastern Phoebes out of the nest today, at least four. The oldest one jumps and the others follow despite just getting to the day the oldest one thought it was ready. The others are too young. They do this all the time, I don't know how any make it. I saw the Bewick's Wren carrying a fecal sac, so they have hatched young. I had to stop work on my knothole nestbox due to them (and my stupidity of not moving a nearby box before I got work underway). Now I get scolded if I go over there. Two Yellow Warbler were in the pecans all day, male and female. Couple Chucks and Firefly at dusk.

May 3 ~ Low about 60F feels great. Partly sunny early, calm wind, nice. Some migrant motion as I had a Baltimore Oriole and a Yellow Warbler got through yard early. At least some stuff moved. But it is Monday at the salt mine. A Cuckoo (Y-b) was calling out in the yard, hoping it is our local breeder back to hang around a couple months. They are in and out fast, fast as Golden-cheeks. A couple Yellow Warbler around yard. Kathy spotted a male Am. Redstart at the birdbath noonish. Third one for me this spring so far, and though I usually get one in spring, not always, I have missed it. Three is about peak here for a spring for me. The highlight of the day was after 1 p.m. when two Purple Martin landed at the martin house! The thrill of it all. I am guessing it was a female and an first-spring male. There was lots of noise, they were on the roof and the porches, so will be hoping they choose it. It was a big first step past it just getting buzzed. I presume some of the probably new pairs are still out looking for a site then. Saw 88F on the cool shady front porch at 4 p.m., surely was 92 in the sun, which is what KERV showed at NOAA. Del Rio was 101, Castroville 96F. It is the heat ahead of the front inbound tonight with a slight chance of a shower as it passes. Tomorrow should be good for birds. How come so many Yellow or Nashville Warbler will spend the whole day in the yard circling the pecans and the rarer warblers NEVER do? Late nearing dusk Kathy heard the FOS Common Nighthawk! She also hears begging baby Phoebes in the nest.

Of interest was another mint fresh right out of the paint shop Monarch. As in just emerged. Heading NNE. These have to be individuals that just hatched from eggs laid by the ones on their way North that just passed by. Our passage window here starts around March 10. So that means eggs are surely being laid south of us before that, probably in northern Mexico a couple weeks before that would not surprise me. I am not sure how far south they lay eggs, or what those earliest egg dates are. Or if it is really solidly known for that matter. We know they are laying when they pass by here though. These fresh ones we see now are from eggs laid 6-8 weeks ago maybe and the first of the new generation heading north that did not winter in Mexico.

May 2 ~ Foggy at dawn and first couple hours from all that ground moisture, low about 54F, was sunny by 9, and wonderful. Still hear the river but it has dropped quite a bit from last night by the sounds of it. Just after midnight last night I again heard the Long-eared Owl over in the corral. Now it is 6 weeks of detections. Is it nesting? Just singles of each Yellow and Nashville Warbler, and a Least Flycatcher in the yard over the morning. Seems like stuff blew out. Also a male Hooded Oriole, which I inadvertently flushed when I came out of the cottage. Went out for a few hours mid-day. First the 360 xing Pecan patch, which had a few each Nashville and Yellow Warbler, a few Clay-colored, Chipping, and a Lincoln's Sparrow, and the rest was breeding stuff. Of note though was the first fledged juvenile bird I have seen this year, a nice streaky begging juvenile Chipping Sparrow. Water was below top of crossing bridge so the foot-deep bubble of runoff has passed. Bet they were happy to see that down in Sabinal.

We went south down to UvCo 363 as surely the pond there has water now. There were a few Cliff Swallow at the 4-mile bridge, but very few. The 363 low spot was with water, but no birds at it. A few Bell's Vireo singing along road. Some Englemann's Daisy is open. Then up to the 354 Pecans where about 4 Nashville and a couple Yellow Warbler was it for migrants. Then the park woods. First Tropical Sage flowers open. Great was a heard FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher, love that call. There were a Chat, a few Nashville and a couple Yellow Warbler, heard Comm. Yellowthroat and a couple No. Waterthrush, plus the singing territorial No. Parula, and usual Yellow-throated Warbler. Great was hearing a Catbird singing from the Mulberries on the island, got a glimpse of it finally. Third one I have heard this spring, first one I saw. But hearing it sing was better, very rare to hear sing down here. Might suggest a Long-billed Thrasher but obviously not a Mockingbird. Got an out of focus docushot of a blue (butterfly). UPDATE: Subsequent study of the images shows it to have been a Cassius Blue, always a good find here. Semi-regular in very low numbers, but can easily go a year without seeing one.

Then we went to the ponds on W. Sabinal Rd. at Haby's place. On the way just west of Jones Cmty. there was a No. Parula singing along the road. At the ponds each had 5 Wilson's Phalarope, for a total of ten. Got better shots in the sun. One Spotted Sandpiper, the three teal were still there, a pair of Blue-wing and maybe a Green-wing, but they have been joined by a very tardy female Pintail. There were also two tardy Savannah Sparrow on fenceline. Great was some odes. Several Band-winged Dragonlet which are always a treat, some Green Darner, both Red, and Black, Saddlebags, E. Pondhawk, a Prince Baskettail, probably Variegated Meadowhawks, and some damsels I didn't ID, but looked Plateau Spreadwing. We cruised west of Haby's past the Heideman's and Hilbigs, and we were gobsmacked by the denuded trees from the hail. OMG! It looks a moonscape. Looks like February, not May. Did not hear a bird along the road for over a mile through it. A few Swainson's Hawk were in the area. Got up to the mid-80's F in the afternoon here at hovelita. Kathy got the maters in the ground in the garden.

May 1 ~ At midnight (and a couple checks right before April ended) it was clear with stars, and no wind. I bet the grounded birds moved. More rain starting before dawn and then for much of the day. Lots of it. I would say THREE INCHES MORE here! We are at SIX INCHES now for the event over the last 3 days. It is flooded in any low spots, the river is roaring, first time I have heard it since last June probably. I am looking for a No. Waterthrush here in yard. Was in the 60's F all day. A few Yellow and a couple Nashville were the only warblers I saw here in the yard, nothing different. Save the ponds, and the stream over in the corral.

There was a break about 2-4 p.m. maybe so I went out for a look. Down at the 360 x-ing there were 7 Yellow, a few Nashville Warbler, and a couple warblers got away. Two Eastern Wood-Pewee, a dozen each of Lark, Chipping, and Clay-colored Sparrow. I was out of the trees at south end of patch (in the lee) and saw a couple swifts overhead. They struck me as off right away and had them in bins in two seconds. They had well-forked tails, were big, and black, had long thin scythe-like wings with wrist near body, and were clearly swifts. They were BLACK SWIFTS! I had perfect sun on them the last half of view, over-the-shoulder, and they were coal jet black. I had them in bins 20 seconds maybe before they went behind the treeline of the Cypresses along river. They were big black swifts with forked tails. This low just came out of northern Mexico, they were in a clear slot behind what here was the main event. This is the second time I have seen them here. The prior was two from the yard on April 26, 2018, right in the first clear air behind a big low that came out of northern Mexico and west Texas.

I headed to town to check the park woods. When I went over the crossing the water was about 3" deep. There was a FOS Cattle Egret with the horses on the east side of the river on 360. Utopia Park had way fewer birds, and no raries. A few Yellow and Nashville Warbler, a Black-throated Green, a couple Common Yellowthroat, seemed like three Northern Waterthrush, one of which was singing. Which I have never heard here that I recall. A few warblers got away. Couple Least and a Great Crested Flycatcher. River was raging nearly a foot over the spillway, and is over bankfull. Headed home and as I neared the crossing Big Ern of B-B-Q fame, and the J.P., was coming from it, flagged me down, he just barricaded the crossing, it was over a foot deep now! In an hour, from three inches. So I went the two miles back to town, west out 1050 a mile and change, and then came in the back way mile and half. I was a mile from home and it took 5 to get there.  LOL.   Another Least Flycatcher here. After dinner I was out in driveway at 7 p.m. and heard a Catbird calling over in the draw. Then heard a FOY Couch's Spadefoot Toad. Goes great with Clay-colored Sparrow. Sounds like a factory out there. Six inches of rain will get the spadefoots out every time. The Leopard Frogs are in full roar now too. Saw a few open Scarlet Pea flowers.

~ ~ ~ April summary ~ ~ ~

Wow what a month! After spending most it bone dry we got 3" of rain the last couple or few days. And 3 more the first day of May to end the event. Saving spring here no doubt. There will be May flowers now. Lots of the ground was pretty parched with grasses turning brown already and hardly any flowers coming up.

Odes (dragonflies and damselflies) were nearly pitiful. There was barely anything flying. I presume it was the drought and extreme freeze that set things back. One species of damselfly and a few sps. of dragons, it was about 5 species for the month, surely the worst April I have seen here for them. They are MIA so far this year. Hopefully May will see them.

Butterflies were pretty weak as well, I presume the lack of flowers, drought, and extreme freeze set them back too. I count 26 species, average is near 45, worst ever April prior in last 18 was 36 species, so we blew that away. Did see Henry's Elfin and Falcate Orangetip, our spring-only specialties. But still not a single Black Swallowtail yet this year. Monarch passage from mid-March to mid-April was fair.

What the bugs lacked the birds made up for, they were great, once the rain hit. We had a good grounding the last few days of the month as a low was parked out west of us and gave us proper conditions to put the migrants overhead on the ground where we mortals can find them if we are lucky. Most of the excitement was in the form of warblers for me. We get about a month window when the migratory types might be seen if we are lucky. This April two of my most-wanted locally warblers showed, albeit briefly. A male CERULEAN sang while in our yard on the 27th, and a male GOLDEN-WINGED was at Utopia Park the 30th. Both are accidental this far west, I had not seen either here in 18 springs. Bexar Co. is as far west as they are semi-regular in very very low numbers (one or two per spring, maybe). Less than annual so always good was a Magnolia in our yard the 28th. Also LTA, two Chestnut-sided is good, one at and by the Hilbig's on the 27th, another at Utopia Pk. the 30th. There is a pair of Northern Parula attempting to nest at Utopia Pk., for which there is only one prior Sabinal River drainage nesting attempt known for the species. The other rare bird was a shorebird, there were 7 Wilson's Phalarope a few miles NW of town in Bandera Co. April 30. There are only a very few BanCo records. Looks like about 125 species for me for the month. Others saw additional species in the area of course. Considering we how little we got out, that it was mostly the yard and a couple checks a week of the park and other very local patches, with no Lost Maples visit, it is pretty good methinks. Two new Uvalde County warblers for me is off-the-charts and over the moon phenomenal.

~ ~ ~ end April summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ archive copy April update header ~ ~ ~

April!?! My first FOS was just after midnight on April 1st, a Barn Owl. Later in the daylight the 1st another FOS for me was a Hooded Oriole (the Hilbigs had one Mar. 13). On the 2nd my FOS was a Chimney Swift at dusk. My FOS adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was the 4th (but had that imm. male record early in March). Also on the 4th were FOS Swainson's Hawk and a record-early Wilson's Warbler. April 7 a few FOS were at the park: Northern Parula, Summer Tanager, and Bell's Vireo. April 8 there was our FOS Indigo Bunting on the patio. April 9 my FOS Red-eyed Vireo was singing at Utopia Park, and the Northern Parula continued singing. April 10 heard FOS Yellow-breasted Chat on territory. April 11 confirmed a female Northern Parula with the male. Also April 11, FOS local Black-capped Vireo a couple miles south of town, and at first dark, a distant FOS Chuck-will's-widow gave a few weak calls. The 13th my FOS Orchard Oriole sang from the big pecan out front in the morning, in the afternoon a FOS male Black-throated Green Warbler was in it. Just after midnight on the 14th I heard a LONG-EARED OWL again over in the corral, and a FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo. That morning the FOS Blue Grosbeak sang. The 15th I heard FOS Yellow Warbler singing through the yard. The 16th a FOS Northern Waterthrush was at the park, and the N. Parula continue, on territory. Also my FOS Great-tailed Grackle was by the gas station, though Larry had a couple a couple weeks ago. The 22nd we had FOS Lazuli and Painted Bunting on the patio, both males of course. On the 23rd there were FOS Common Yellowthroat at the park, plus No. Waterthrush and continuing No. Parula. First thing in a.m. the 24th, 2 FOS Western Kingbird and a FOS Bullock's Oriole went through yard. The 25th we had a FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee. My FOS Blue-headed Vireo was April 26. On April 27 I saw likely the bird of the spring, a male CERULEAN Warbler, bare-eyed 12' out the bathroom window, which sang! The same drizzly day Sylvia Hilbig had a Chestnut-sided Warbler at their place. My FOS Least Flycatcher were two that same grounding day as well. The 28th the drizzle and grounding continued to produce birds, that day FOS for me were: Baltimore Oriole, Mississippi Kite (18-20), Tennessee Warbler, and Magnolia Warbler. Sylvia Hilbig also had 3 Miss. Kites that day. The rarest thing of all this spring, RAIN (!) showed up April 28-29, 2" and up for many locally, WOW! April 29 there was a FOS singing American Redstart at our place, which continued morning of the 30th. A FOS Willow Flycatcher was along 360 the 30th. Utopia Park had lots of migrants the 30th, at least 11 sps. of warblers including a male Chestnut-sided, and a male GOLDEN-WINGED! Plus 3-4 No. Waterthrush, male Am. Redstart, and others. Heard a FOS Catbird. Also the 30th there were 7 Wilson's Phalarope, plus single Solitary and Spotted Sandpiper on W. Sabinal Rd. at and by Haby's wet spot. Another FOS the 30th was Bronzed Cowbird. This week with the weather birds have been great, we are at peak primetime for spring passage.

~ ~ end archive copy April update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

April 30 ~ Northerlies still blowing since yesterday, overcast and about 62F for a low, but no additional rain yet. More is forecast. Winds are 10-15 gusting 20 and higher, tough bird finding conditions. At least a couple Yellow Warbler in the yard first thing, and seemingly about 20 Clay-colored Sparrow. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher must be nesting over by the old well, singing there at dawn and dusk every day. Mid-morn after thinking sure I heard the chip note, I heard a measure of song from the American Redstart, so it is still here. So is the bright yellow American Goldfinch, a good late date. Heard only my second Cuckoo of the spring, two weeks after the first. Right before I left for a town a Black-throated Green Warbler came down a couple feet over the patio to see what all the birds were doing.

On the way down 360 heard a few Least Flycatcher and one FOS Willow Flycatcher. I looked at the 354 pecans on the way into town but they were blown out with the northerlies. So I just checked the Mulberry from the car. Felt like a cheap tramp, willing to settle for a 10-second stand with a rary. One female Summer Tanager. In town I heard tales of hail. It was bad down by Sabinal to D'Hanis and Hondo along Hwy. 90. And up here out W. Sabinal Rd. I heard an area had hail a FOOT deep! They say there is an area where all the trees are denuded, including junipers. Another carpet bombing, but worse than the one last May. Most locals got 2-3" of rain but some got 3-4". Little Creek Larry said he got 1.5" and has been seeing an Osprey a few days over there. I went out there and the SLC ponds are still dry. There were 40 or so Black-bellied Whistling-Duck downcreek, Larry said a guy feeding stuff on the ranch downstream says there are a hundred.

I went out W. Sabinal but only to Haby's wet spot. There was lots of water, it should be good for weeks. Great were FOS Solitary and Spotted Sandpiper there, and better, 7 WILSON'S PHALAROPE. Very rare in Bandera Co.! Also a pair of Blue-winged and one other Teal I got grainy pics of to study. A Great-tailed Grackle was at the gas station, a Swainson's Hawk was over the pasture just to the west of that. Then to Utopia Park. Warblers! In the woods was a male GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, the first one I have ever seen here. OMG! Had it at 12' just above eye level. Behind the house there was a male Chestnut-sided. There may have been a second Parula singing besides the male of the nesting pair of Northern. Other warblers included a singing Black-and-white, singing American Redstart, singing Black-throated Green (of 2 there), at least 3 each and probably 4 each of Northern Waterthrush and Common Yellowthroat, about eight Yellow, a few Nashville, an Orange-crowned Warbler, and a probable Ovenbird got away to the island. Heard a FOS Catbird. Also a Kinglet (Ruby), a Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireo, male Baltimore Oriole. I was pressed for time and had to go too soon. Saw one Western Kingbird on a fenceline, another I was sure enough was an Eastern that I stopped and turned around, went back less than a hundred yards and they were both gone. Migration.

There were Yellow Warbler, Least Flycatcher and Clay-colored Sparrow everywhere along the roads today. Watching radar for a break to head back out this afternoon. Just a few Yellow and a Nashville in the yard pecans. Was a bit rainy the first hour but went back out 4-6. At the 360 crossing pecans there were a dozen Yellow, an Orange-crowned, and a couple Nashville, plus heard a Black-throated Green, number four today. Also a singing Blue-headed Vireo, and over a dozen Clay-colored and 2 Lincoln's Sparrow. Then checked the 354 pecans. At least 8 Yellow and a couple Nashville Warbler, Least Flycatcher, Bell's Vireo. Back to the park. None of the good stuff showed, some yellow, Nashville, Northern Waterthrush and Com. Yellowthroat, Wilson's Warbler, singing Parula, but the stuff either had moved north into the live-oaks north of the park or had gone to sleep. On the way back checking the fenceline just south of town, it had 2 Western Kingbird on my way into town, 12 were on it on the way back less than an hour later. When I pulled back into our driveway and started walking back to close the gate, a sparrow flew up from the side of the driveway and landed IN the gate. Had bins on luckily, it was a Grasshopper! Whaddaday! One of the great fallout days here, I can only imagine if one got to bird all day, surely more goodies would have been turned up.

I would guestimate 50-60 Clay-colored Sparrow today, probably 35 Yellow Warbler at minimum, at least 10 Least Flycatcher. I think it was 11 species of warbler, which is a 5-star grade A day here. And oh yeah, I didn't do a bunch of work I was supposed to do. Late in day there was finally (though not as though I was wanting it) a FOS Bronzed Cowbird. This morning I mentioned to Kathy how they are late this year. Interestingly Sylvia Hilbig mentioned they still have White-crowned Sparrows there! By the end of the day I see we got another inch of rain, so we are at 3" for this event so far. Amazing how some rain gives a glimpse into what is going by normally undetected. Add-on forgot to mention... a Field Sparrow here has a snow white crown, and much snowy whiteness about the sides of face, neck and on nape.

April 29 ~ Just after midnight a big cell hit with scattered hail, I saw some .75 to 1" rocks, and we got another 1.5" of rain! There were some 3-4" monster hailstones in Sabinal 20 miles south. We had at least 2" for a rain total here, looked like northward some may have gotten more. Spectacular, amazing, the first rain in April, finally. We were dessicated. It was beyond desparately needed, lots of the front yard was looking more like August or Sept., not April. It came up green in March and promptly turned brown. That is how dry it has been. Maybe we will get a wildflower bloom in May now. Temp dropped to about 63F as some cold air came in with the front behind the rain. Never did make 70F. Average Lo-Hi spread for SAT now is about 64-84F.

Saw the yellow-orange Painted Bunting with the yellow orbital ring again this morning. Pine Siskins just blew off the chart with about 75 on the patio after 10 a.m. Twice as many as any count all winter. Late April is not usually peak Pine Siskin time here. Several Yellow and at least one Nashville Warbler in the yard Pecans. About 20 Clay-colored Sparrow is great. They love the fallow aspect of the yard, especially along the fencelines. A Dickcissel was by the patio and sang a dozen times! Lots of calls, but we never hear them sing in the yard. One Least Flycatcher on fence at NE corner of yard. Be a good day to spend birding locally! I am stuck at the desk.

The winds behind the front were pretty gusty all day, making spotting birds in the trees very difficult. It was 10-15 mph gusting 20 plus. About 5 p.m. there was a singing American Redstart behind the shed out back in the lee of the ridgelet that terminates there. Also one Least Flycatcher there. Always bird the lees in the wind. It is where the stuff is hiding. Kathy spotted the one ad. orange-billed White-crowned Sparrow still here, which later gave some snippets of quiet song. Sings like the California birds I grew up with. Presume it is the same continuing Gambell's since November. Late in day I saw what would seem to be the same all super yellow male American Goldfinch, for the first time in a couple days. Visting other feeders no doubt. What a stunning beauty.

April 28 ~ A balmy 72F for a low is starting to feel summerish. But it stayed coolish under the overcast, with a bit of mist off and on. Supposed to have rain this evening. First thing early there was a FOS Baltimore Oriole in the yard. There were 4 Yellow Warbler at once in the pecans in front yard, and a Nashville with them. But no blue and white warblers. The only blue and white was the male Lazuli Bunting which showed again, looking like the same one as two days ago. A FOS female Blue Grosbeak was at the bath. One generally adult appearing Painted Bunting is rather oddly colored below, surely the one that looked an orange flash the other day, with much yellow. Under heavy overcast with max ISO I got a few (no doubt granular) shots that will show some of it. At least a couple Audubon's Oriole were up the hill behind us late morning. Have not heard any here recently so nice, but they seemed to just move by northward.

Noonish a flock of warblers went through the yard. There were at least 6 Yellow, maybe 5 Nashville, two Black-throated Green, an Orange-crowned, and a male MAGNOLIA Warbler! Maggies are less than annual here so always a big treat. Whaddabird! Walked over to draw as it moved north out of yard, but could not refind it. Did have a male Wilson's, and one of the Black-throated Green was singing. A Common Yellowthroat was across the road from our fence near the gate. After lunch I rolled down to the crossing pecan patch. Before I left the driveway I saw FOS Mississippi Kites! There were about 20 of them in the drizzle, no doubt which drove them down to ground level where seeable. At the crossing pecans there were about 8 each of Nashville and Yellow Warbler, and one female Black-and-white. A couple more warblers got away. One Kinglet (Ruby). Also two FOS Dickcissel flew off calling from there. Of course Yellow-throated are singing up and down river, hearable anywhere you stop. One Least Flycatcher was down the road. Eight migrant species of warbler plus the Yellow-throated makes a good warbler day here.

In the early evening a couple rain cells went over, we probably got a half-inch or so for a total. Not much but something and at this point anything is more than welcome. Heard a few hail stones hit the roof and there was lots of lightning. There was a big cell headed in right after midnight whence I shut down and unplugged.

April 27 ~ Balmy, overcast, a little mist, low was about 67F. Some migrant motion though. Another or the, Blue-headed Vireo sang outside early, got a look today. Two Nashville and a late Orange-crowned Warbler. Incredible was a CERULEAN WARBLER that sang right out the bathroom window in the pecan over the bath. I saw it bare-eyed in the low branches 12' from the window! It was blue above, 2 big white wingbars, and essentially all white below, there was no yellow. By time I got outside with bins and camera it was gone. Looked around quite a bit and it must have kept moving. Two miles upriver and it will be at the park. Awesome and frustrating at the same time as only seeing a rare bird briefly and not getting a pic can do to you.

Checked the pecans in the draw, 2 FOS Least Flycatcher. Walked a half mile of the road out front checking the blooming pecans, a couple Common Yellowthroat, Nashvilles, heard Yellow and Black-throated Green Warbler and a couple warblers got away. One looked good. Back here then the first migrant Black-and-white Warbler I have seen in the yard this spring went through. There is a grounding, obvious from the light sprinkle of migrants and megarary. All afternoon was too busy to go look further than the yard pecans, which only had Nashville and Orange-crowned Warbler.

Sylvia Hilbig sent an email, they had a CHESTNUT-SIDED Warbler at their place this morning. Wish I could go birding, but had a ton of work. Sylvia also reported they had a Barn Owl in their woods last Saturday (24th). I have yet to see one 'on the ground' here, only getting them calling as flyovers in the dark. So there are good birds all over the place. It is that time of year, here. We are at peak prime time for migration the last 10 days of April and first 10 of May. Near the middle of that is usually the best day. After dark I saw a Firefly, number two now this year.

April 26 ~ Overcast, low about 62F. Stayed cloudy most of the day. Barely 80F at 4 p.m. Heard a different vireo sing, surely was a Blue-headed but it shut up when I went out. Was a Red-eyed singing out there too, besides the Yellow-throated, White-eyed, and Bell's. So, five species of vireo in the yard this morning, four with ID. Also saw my FOS female Indigo Bunting. Great was another male Lazuli Bunting, clearly not the one several days ago. Three in a few days is a good showing here. Got a better pic too. More than a half-dozen Clay-colored Sparrow singing at once is a funny sound. Noonish a male Wilson's Warbler came into the bath briefly. Did not seem to be much for migrant motion though. My first of the year Firefly was about 5 minutes into the 26th at 0005 hours.

April 25 ~ A cool dry 50F for a low is awesome. After 9 some breeze picking up. Those first couple hours of calm are always great, because they don't last long here. An Orchard Oriole and a Yellow Warbler or two went by early. Over at the draw I heard two Common Yellowthroat. So, a little bit of migrant motion. After breakfast we slow-rolled down to the 360 crossing and birded it for an hour and change. A FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee was nice. So were decent views of a Northern Waterthrush. An ad. male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is nearing lateish, have not seen one in over a month. These late April to early May birds must be ones that winter way far south in Mexico, and are going way north where still frozen. A couple Yellow and a few Nashville Warbler were the only other migrant warblers. A few singing Yellow-throated Warbler are territorial nesters. Had one Red-eyed Vireo, one Great Crested Flycatcher, a half-dozen each Clay-colored and Lark Sparrow, a Lesser Goldfinch, some Pine Siskin went over. From here to there it was at least 4 singing Bell's Vireo, 6 singing Indigo Bunting, a few each Chat and Yellow-throated Vireo. At crossing a pair of Vermilion Flycatcher on E. side of river, another pair downriver a bit on west side.

Kathy spotted the first damselfly of the year, a Kiowa Dancer, finally. Only ode we saw. One summer form Questionmark puddling at crossing, a Dainty Sulphur on way back. A couple Water-willow (Justicia) had flowers open, Mealy Sage is going but had no butterflies on it. Worked in the garden in the afternoon heat, local WU stations showing 85-90F. Weird was the last now all yellow male American Goldfinch showing up after being gone a few days. Cheatin' on me at some other feeders no doubt. The other weird thing was what I presume was a male Painted Bunting, but decidedly orange below. I just saw it for a flash when it dropped onto patio, saw me, and it flushed, but got mostly orange below off it. Waited for some time with camera and it did not drop back down. Over the day from here (8) to crossing (6) and along road (6) I would say 20 Clay-colored Sparrow minimum. One Lincoln's Sparrow at crossing and one here. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher still here in yard early and late.

April 24 ~ Low was about 42F or so, KERV had a 40 briefly. Feels great. Was calm first thing, the cold air was here but not the wind yet for the first couple hours. Then it blew 10-15 mph, gusting 20-25 most of the day. Afternoon got up to 86F on the cool shady front porch, and I saw 14% humidity for KERV! Bone dry for here. First thing before 7 a.m. a Ringed Kingfisher flew over the yard twice, chacking away. A Kinglet (Ruby) was out back early. About 8 a couple FOS Western Kingbird passed over yard, and a FOS Bullock's Oriole stopped to chatter and whistle in the big Pecan. A couple Nashville went through. Got a count of 8 Clay-colored Sparrow on the patio at once. The couple Vesper there too, as well as an ad. White-crowned. Just saw one Lincoln's, 4 Chipping, and over a dozen Lark. Two ad. male Painted Bunting at once on seed tube. Saw a greenie, Painted Bunting which was likely a first-spring male. Also saw my first, first-spring male Blue Grosbeak.

Went to town for some soil stuffs for the garden, didn't want wet bags in the back of the truck yesterday. I think we have all we need now for the space we have. The maters need to get in the ground. Going down 360 to the crossing from here, about .75 of a mile, there were 4 singing Bell's Vireo and 5 singing Indigo Bunting. A great soundtrack. Checked the park in town. Did not hear the Parula singing but it was noon and over 80 already, plus people camped there. In the woods there were several Nashville Warbler, two Common Yellowthroat presumably from yesterday by the island, no Waterthrushes though, one Kinglet (Ruby) makes two for the day, a pair of screaming Red-shouldered Hawk, several Martins over the pond, and one Great Crested Flycatcher went through the woods. A Red-eyed Vireo singing there is likely the one that was territorial there last spring to summer. A few warblers got away.

Mostly the same in afternoon at the hovelita, it got hot and things quieted down. At least there are on and off bouts of singing now though. Chat and Bell's Vireo are probably the most dedicated vociferous ones. Outstanding was late in day an adult female Lazuli Bunting dropped down onto the patio. Nice bright one, but only got a fuzzy docushot through window. Another 3 bunting day on the patio. Sure could use a Varied. Chuck-will's-widow seem fewer in number so far still, but a couple or few. Got all the soil and stuff out back in one of the garden enclosures, will try to finish it for Kathy's now foot-tall 'maters tomorrow.


This is two of the four females, of the seven Wilson's Phalarope
in Bandera Co. April 30 where hard to come by.

and here is a bonus bunting...

Some may have noticed I have an inordinate fondness for all
weirdos, oddballs, and abberations. Especially fascinating are
these Painted Buntings that are not all pure red below.
Didn't they read the books and look at the pictures?
Here yellow was dull but extensive, reddish areas often appeared
orange. Neat thing is the orbital ring is more yellow than red.
The rump too was not red but greenish yellow. Sorry about
the 3200 ISO (!) granularity, was under dark clouds in shade.
At least it's not just a description trying to convey what it was.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 23 ~ A misty muggy morning, it was around 59F at midnight, 65 by dawn. Drizzly first half of day, then cleared and warmed to the mid-80's F! Might have gotten a tenth of an inch of precip. Not much but a wee bit. Saw the male Painted Bunting here today, but as of 4 p.m. no Lazuli. Counted 31 Pine Siskin, did not see the bright Am. Goldfinch. Heard Martins overhead. Town run day so a look at the park. Light was bad with the bright overcast behind the dark canopy. About a half-dozen warblers got away zipping around in it. Had getting-lateish Myrtle and Orange-crowned, and a couple Nashville Warbler. Along the island there were 3 FOS Common Yellowthroat and 2 Northern Waterthrush. So clearly some grounding action. Two ad. Pied-billed Grebe on the pond are new, the two imm.s that wintered have been gone a month. Saw a Green Kingfisher on other side of the river. The 354 Pecans had a Nashville Warbler, an Orchard Oriole, and a warbler that got away. No Dickcissel there yet in pasture. Did see one female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at the corner of 354 and 187 where a pair often nests. Late afternoon a couple Vesper and one first spring Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow were out back behind office. A couple FOY butterflies in afternoon warmth were a Giant Swallowtail and a Gulf Fritillary. Saw some Prickly Poppy in bloom, first ones this year.

April 22 ~ Low was about 50F, drizzle and mist moved in, another damp cool gray day. Any precip helps. You can tell the forbs and wildflowers in particular are not coming up as in good wet times. I don't think we broke 60F today, about 20F under average. The first-summer Cooper's Hawk took a Eurasian Collared-Dove this morning, which it is welcome to. One down, two to go. I am surprised the adult pair of Coops has let this yearling remain in the territory this long, as I would think they would have begun the new nesting cycle by now. About 4 p.m. a FOS male Lazuli Bunting dropped onto the patio. One of the most beautiful birds in America. It only takes one good bird to make your day. Then just before 7 p.m. a FOS male Painted Bunting was on the patio! Two FOS male buntings on the patio today. Of course I saw the male Indigo a few times out there as well, so a bodacious three bunting day on the patio. If I could just get them all together for a field guide photo. Still haven't seen a female Indigo yet. With the cold and damp the hummers were out of control on the one communal feeder, three feeders are being guarded most of the time. It was near a couple quarts of consumption so surely over a couple hundred are here. Did see one male Lesser Goldfinch, they have been very scarce so far this spring. Another (or same?) Red Satyr (lep) flopped across the yard.

April 21 ~ Another low of about 42F is nice, but it is breezy from the north still and feels cooler. Not much for migrant motion this morn as expected with a night of northerlies. Temps never made 70F, maybe 66F tops, probably 15F below average for the date. And no one complained. A couple Nashville was it for migrant motion. There were at least 6-7 Clay-colored Sparrow together, often in front yard pecans. Which have blooms out now, but which don't look open yet. Live-oaks are done, Pecans are it, where to look for insectivore migrants, now for a couple weeks. Clay-colored now outnumber the Chipping Sparrow left, a pair or two maybe. Only a couple Lincoln's Sparrow left. Thought I heard a Brown-crested Flycatcher across the road in the big Mesquites. Had all that extra whhhh wind going through the whhhip call.

April 20 ~ A great brisk low of about 40F! We will soon be longing for this, so cherish these last cool mornings. Early a Nashville Warbler and an nice male Orchard Oriole sang through the yard. So movement happened. Today would be a good day to be out looking, of course I am stuck at the desk. Awesome to hear all the neotropical migrants singing on territory again. Singing out there were Bell's, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireos, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow-throated Warbler, Summer Tanager, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Indigo Bunting gave a quiet short bar or few, Vermilion Flyc. singing, Great Crested Flycatcher calling. Then add all the non-migratory residents which are going well now of course, and it makes for a great symphony. Probably the same FOY one I saw last week, a summer form Questionmark butterfly is zipping about. In the afternoon I saw a first spring orange-billed gray-lored White-crowned Sparrow, a Gambell's. As in like one of the immatures that wintered here maybe, but I have not seen in over a week? Again the lateral dark crown stripes were black, the dorsal were still brown. Kathy saw a male Blue Grosbeak at the birdbath. Got up to about 80F right before another frontal passage in the afternoon, dry again, but more cool air advection. Pretty windy from north prior to dusk so likely not a lot of movement is my guess for tomorrow.

April 19 ~ Low about 45F, little bit of morning low clouds from the south but overall still with the post-frontal northerly flow and cool air. Feels great. It is exploding in green and birdsong out there. Kathy saw the ad. White-crowned Sparrow still coming into the bird bath. The Lincoln's are thinning out, not a half-dozen left now, the peak of their bubble has passed. One Nashville was about it for transient passage. The northerly flow from the front still has progress shut down. Heard a Scissor-tail, there were 3 Waxwing here in afternoon, one male Indigo Bunting is likely our local breeder, still waiting on Painted to show. Lots of hummers, 95+% Black-chinned, a dozen or so Ruby-throated at least, but not really checking the females thoroughly. I go for the bright shiny objects. Saw more of what looked to be migrant passage Turkey Vultures northbound. Our locally nesting birds are dropping lots of wing feathers already since nesting underway. The migrants are not missing any feathers. Our nesting Black Vulture are underway and dropping wing feathers too.

April 18 ~ A bit breezy still, 10-15 mph NNE, low was a wonderful 46F. A few warblers went through yard going northbound in the morn, one was a Myrtle, two got away. The one Am. Goldfinch left here is getting nicely yellow but still a bit splotchy. The only FOS was a male Four-lined Skink showing nice breeding colors. Worked on a bunch of garden and yard things today since pretty breezy to windy. Two days of strong northerlies have surely mostly shut down much progress from the south. As soon as it turns there will be a wave. Whence I will be stuck at the desk. It got nice late in the afternoon, mighta hit 70F. I saw that one waxwing that has still been hanging around. Kathy saw the adult Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow, amazingly still here, since November. We have the nicest stick-brush-branch piles, made them ourselves. Guess I need to put up pics of a couple of 'em.

April 17 ~ Wind blew all night behind the front, low about 50F, 10-15 mph gusting 20-25, feels like lower 40's. A few off and on mists and spits. Sure glad I didn't have to be out finding birds in it. Since the front and winds arrived before dark last night, there obviously wasn't going to be movement into the area from above. What you can get is stuff moving 'on the ground' up the river habitat corridor, still making northward progress, faculative movement is I think the correct term. Things may stack up at particularly juicy habitats. Nothing that was here was taking off north for a flight last night. As of nearing noon, no new migrants detected in yard yet. The couple Clay-colored Sparrow still on patio and singing. One American Goldfinch left among a couple dozen Siskin.

Ran to town noonish quickly, checked the park again since no pressing stack of errands. N. Parula singing away, there seems to be a couple trees that might be the nesting area. Most of the rest was the same, some Orange-crowned and Nashville, and a Yellow Warbler. New was a singing first spring Golden-cheeked Warbler! Very very rare to get one in the park in spring where clearly a transient moving up the river habitat corridor. Almost all my park sightings are post-breeders in June and July, and those are far less than annual. The big Hermit Thrush was still there but out on island, no way to get any pixels. Was pretty windy. A male Great-tailed Grackle was at the Ranch Outpost. Big Ern's B-B-Q is up and running in the new building next door, so acquired some finger lickin' good stuff and Kathy doesn't have to cook today, uh, or tomorrow. Winds laid down a bit near evening for a while, but picked back up after dark.


This is the male Lazuli Bunting on patio the 22nd.
Pretty enticing patio, eh? The back half of head
and upper back are still brownish-gray winter color.
They light up to glowing in the sun, was very overcast.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 16 ~ Mist and drizzle overnight, low about 62F, soupy. Might have totalled .2 for precip by the afternoon. At least it is something. We got up to about 77F or so in afternoon ahead of the inbound front. The record high and low for SAT this date is 100F and 37F. You could freeze or boil. Town run day. Still no Scissor-tails along the road, including at a few trees that always have them. Nice to hear some Chimney Swift over town again. My FOS Great-tailed Grackle was across from the gas station and P.O. at the usual spot. The park had some migrants. I heard a FOS Northern Waterthrush, and a Black-throated Green Warbler. The male Northern Parula continues singing around the dance floor area and should be considered on territory now at the 10 day point. There were a couple Orange-crowned, a Wilson's, 6 Nashville, and one singing Yellow Warbler. Plus the nesting Yellow-throated made seven species of warblers.

Great was a Hermit Thrush that was much larger than the ones we have that winter here. I see one or two of these seemingly every spring in April long after ours leave. Of course our winterers have been gone over a month now. One Great Crested Flycatcher went through the park. A pair of Vermilion Flyc. are nesting in the Mesquite between the ball diamond and rodeo ring. About a dozen Vesper and half as many each Lark and Clay-colored Sparrow were in the rodeo ring and ball diamond, more of all were in a pasture along 360 too. Another half-dozen Clay-colored were in the park live-oaks. The Red-eyed Vireo singing by the 360 crossing is likely the one that has been territorial there the last couple summers. An Indigo Bunting was singing on 360 just this side of that nested there the last few years as well. At the water company spot by park there was lots of blooming Missouri Primrose and Prairie Fleabane looking most excellent. Heard at least four Bell's Vireo whilst driving around town. The northerlies and cool air got here around 7 p.m., took 10 dF off the top. A cool blustery weekend in store now.

April 15 ~ Low overcast and a balmy 70F or so for a low! It is way too soon for that. At least it only got a dF or two warmer at peak heat. Dawn chorus is really rippin' now. By quarter to 7 it is an outstanding mild roar. The addition in the last week of Chat, Blue Grosbeak, and Summer Tanager really put some sizzle and spice in it. In the first couple hours this morn a FOS Yellow Warbler sang through the yard, a Wilson's Warbler sang out back, a couple Nashville went through, the Yellow-throated Warbler breeder singing around too. Before 11 a.m. a Golden-cheeked Warbler sang, which appeared to be just leaving the bath, dang it. So movement and probably a real good day to hit patches of trees with flowers. I am stuck at the desk on Thursdays, hoping to catch something going through the yard. Five species of warbler in the yard in the morning is great any time here. Bell's Vireo is singing across road from gate in the big Mesquites. Heard the Great Crested Flycatcher again over in the corral. The day was then pretty quiet for birds, save the 30 some Siskin. Scrub-Jay out back again, ad. Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow still here. Some mist in late afternoon.

April 14 ~ Low was maybe 65F or so, overcast and balmy. The birds for the day started just after midnight last night though. The (I presume same) Long-eared Owl was calling again over in the corral from 0010 to 0015 hours. Moving around it a bit. I had not heard it in two weeks. Seems more likely the same bird rather than another considering their scarcity here. Then at the end of that my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo called. I thought I heard one a few hours earlier (on 13th) but only caught a wisp of it. This was the full monty call. Often as not my FOS cuckoo is a nocturnal vocal detection. Saw my FOY summer form Questionmark butterfly.

There was a FOS Blue Grosbeak singing across the road where they nest. Thought I had one on Monday (2 days ago) but was a distant silohuette and buzz. There were at least 30 Pine Siskin which sure sounds neat when they are all buzzing at once. Only a few Am. Goldfinch left though. Heard a waxwing. Late in afternoon I saw two male Indigo Bunting at once out back where seed tossed. Seemed like some migrant passage Turkey Vulture going over intent on making ground northbound. Saw one getting late Sharp-shinned Hawk, one Cooper's was the local resident. At last light a Chuck-w-w called close from the draw, probably that breeder is back. After dark a FOS spring mosquito was buzzing my ear. Still no Firefly yet. No Long-eared Owl at last check at late-thirty.

April 13 ~ A cold front is arriving, dropped temps to about 62 right around dawn, a little bit of mist and a very light shower. ANY moisture now is welcome, it is very dusty out there. A few Nashville Warbler went through yard, a couple warbler sps. as well. Great was a FOS Orchard Oriole, a male that spent a couple minutes singing from the big pecan right off the front porch. Awesomeness. There must have been 35 or so Pine Siskin. One is a green (often called yellow) morph with more yellow in wings and tail, and greenish back and rump. In the afternoon a FOS male Black-throated Green Warbler was in the big pecan right off porch a few minutes. Last seen over the draw going north at 3:30 p.m. or so. Kathy saw a female Summer Tanager at the bath, and a Chat. The Scrub-Jay was out back. At last sliver of light we heard a distant Chuck-will's-widow calling.

April 12 ~ Low about 63F, overcast and humid, last hot day before a cooler week with precip chances every day. I saw 86 on the cool shady front porch about 3 p.m., a bit warm. In the morning Kathy saw a Golden-cheeked Warbler in the pecan over the bath, but was gone when I got out there, so it was likely done and leaving already when she saw it. A couple Nashville Warbler went through yard. Thought I heard a Red-eyed Vireo, a Summer Tanager was singing, as is a Clay-colored Sparrow still. The ad. orange-billed White-crowned Sparrow is still here too. Thought I heard the heavy buzz of a Blue Grosbeak, saw a silhouette of something that could have passed for one distantly, need more for a FOS date but was probably it. Saw a Pepsis Wasp go by.

April 11 ~ Low was briefly around 44F, maybe colder, KERV had 41. Afternoon was about 86F or so, was 83 on our cool shady front porch. Not much for movement apparent in yard in morning. One worn Monarch that was not yesterday's. Martins were soaring overhead low for a couple minutes, calling too. Went to the park for a look. At least two Chat were singing along the river habitat corridor here on 360. At the park, great was finally getting a decent look at that pesky shy female Parula warbler. It is a good Northern. So, there is a pair of Northern Parula at the park, now for 5 days at least. Sure be great if they stuck and nested. There were a few Nashville but nothing else for migrants. At the NW corner of town in the Hackberry rows we heard about three Bell's Vireo, saw a male Common Grackle, and one first spring Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow (orange bill, gray lores). The lateral crown stripes had molted to black, the dorsal two were still brown. A pattern I have seen before in first springs.

We went over to the 1450 (south) knoll maybe a mile from our place. One male Golden-cheeked Warbler was trolling around it. At least four Orange-crowned Warbler indicates passage. A FOS Black-capped Vireo was trolling the usual territory area with song. Had a couple decent but distant views. We heard an Olive Sparrow sing at the usual territory area for them. Heard a Hutton's Vireo, saw Lark Sparrow, Vermilion and Ash-throated Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, several Turkey Vulture. But was getting hot by time we were there (1-2 p.m.) so a bit quiet. Flowers were about the same as last week but the Mimosa were mostly cooked, more Paralena was going, and lots of Slender-stem Bitterweed which in one spot could be called a carpet, over an acre of solid yellow a foot off the ground.

Later afternoon here I saw a pile of plucked dove breast feathers. Presume a Cooper's got one while we were gone. A pairacara shot over low ejecting a third from the area, the pair nests very nearby. At last seed feeding there was a Vesper Sparrow, which is surely a new passage migrant as I haven't seen the last one that stopped a few days in over a week. There were 4 Lincoln's at once at the birdbath brushpile at dusk, maybe 8-10 still around yard. Still Clay-colored singing, as is at least one White-crowned. Toss in Field, Chipping, and Lark to round out sparrows. Eight species of them today with the Olive, 7 sps. in the yard. Shoulda gone for Rufous-crowned and Black-throated. There are 10 species of sparrow in the vicinity now. At first dark a distant Chuck-will's-widow gave a few half-hearted calls, and so then a FOS date.

April 10 ~ Front got here before dawn with some stiff northerlies, but a dry passage as predicted. Low was about 56F. To windy for birding for me. Not like I am not a couple years behind on stuff here. Around noon I heard my FOS Yellow-breasted Chat across the road right where they breed every year, so I presume the returning bird back on territory. At least a handfull of male Ruby-throated Hummingbird now, probably a couple. Heard some Scissor-tails across the road in the afternoon. Still very few around. Wind finally laid down late in afternoon. I saw 80F on the cool shady front porch, about 15F cooler than yesterday (for which NOAA said was just below record highs for most areas in central Texas). One very worn Monarch went by.

Golden-cheeked Warbler

This one was a couple weeks ago, a couple were in the yard this week.
Bad light, overcast, in shade, but you get the idea, spiffy bird, eh.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 9 ~ Overcast, low about 65F, it was still 75F at midnight last night! Peak heat is today. Hottest day of year so far. Dry front coming in overnight tonight, so cooler tomorrow. We need water. About 3 p.m. I saw 92F on the cool shady front porch. Local WU stations reading 95-100F. Del Rio was 103 with light rain, winds 29 mph gusting to 38! Sounds great! Batesville about 50 miles south of us was 105 today. Heard a warbler seet through yard but missed the bird. One of the Eastern Phoebe attacked one of the Carolina Wren when it got too close to the nest area. Martins over the box again.

Town run so check of the park. The male Northern Parula was still singing in area near and north of dance floor mostly, in the blooming live-oaks. The female was nowhere to be found. Lending credence to my belief it was a Tropical. An early FOS was a singing Red-eyed Vireo, very nice. At least a half-dozen Nashville Warbler were zipping around the live-oaks. Saw my FOS female Summer Tanager. Some Texas Onion in bloom, but deer at the flower heads off the big one that was open last week. Little Creek Larry said a woman in town that has a lot of Red-winged Blackbirds asked him what the black birds with them were with the yellow heads, she had two of them. Larry said he heard a Parula type warbler song at his place but never could see the bird, as often the case here. He also just got Indigo Bunting in like we did.

April 8 ~ OK, it was a cold front after all. It got down into the mid-40's in the wee hours for a bit, but was back near 52F by dawn. Mid-morn the southwest winds (at least they are dry) picked up and we are in for the hottest days so far, today and tomorrow. I saw 88F on the cool shady front porch, was low 90's F in the sun. Del Rio hit 101 with 7 percent humidity! Our humidty was in teens here, so very dry too. It is said will be hotter tomorrow, then cooling slightly.

There were two disputing male and a female Yellow-throated Warbler in the big pecan early. First female I have seen this year. After 10 I presume the same two pair of Purple Martin buzzed the martin house for a couple minutes, great to see them back checking it out. Send friends. Saw the ad. orange-billed White-crowned Sparrow. Still 8 or so Lincoln's Sparrow around yard, a couple Field, a couple dozen Chipping, two singing Clay-colored, and a few Lark Sparrow. Heard a Summer Tanager singing its way up the river habitat corridor, first one from the yard for me here this spring, but it kept going, a transient.

Great was after 7 p.m. I looked out on the patio and there was a FOS male Indigo Bunting eating seed! Now that is some color! Wonder if it is our returning breeder of last two years? Or just a passerby? Near last sun the four martin were soaring high overhead calling. Neat to see them. Saw a FOS bat at dusk, but not sure what type. Might have been the Red that winter, rather than a returning migrant Braz. Free-tail, it looked a little biggish. A FOS June Bug was at a couple of the window screens late. Before 11 p.m. heard a Barn Owl call four times as it passed over.

April 7 ~ Overcast and 64F for a low, the gulf flow thing. Early here I saw all four White-crowned Sparrow at the bath at once! The two adults and two immatures, 3 Gambell's and 1 ad. leucophrys. All still here. Gnatcatcher singing in the same trees as the last few days almost has to be last years' nesting attempter. A dry front came through after noon, blustery northwest winds and dry air. They are calling it a cold front but it is 85F out there in the afternoon.

Had to run to town quick early so a look at the park. A FOS Bell's Vireo was singing at the entrance. A FOS Summer Tanager was singing in the live-oaks. A better FOS was TWO Parula warblers. The singing male was a Northern, the female was not seen well enough to absolutely positively ID, but it looked like a Tropical Parula to me. I was pressed for time and they were being their treetop selves and very hard to see. The blooming live-oaks are where the action is now. There were also a couple Kinglet (Ruby), a couple Orange-crowned Warbler, a few Nashville, one Myrtle Warbler, and singing Yellow-throated too of course. Also singing Yellow-throated Vireo. Late at the midnight at last sound check here I heard three Great Horned and two Barred Owl, plus one E. Screech-Owl.

April 6 ~ Low about 63F, overcast, but clearing by late morning. Temps heading up, the first heat spell of the year is this week. By 3 p.m. I saw 84-89F readings at local WU stations. Birds were the same stuff, no real migrant movement. Put the last (3rd) coat of varnish on the knothole nestbox front, so in a couple days will be able to drill the mounting holes. Gotta pick up an extra long bit for pilot holes into the inside of the knot. Still have some more chisling, grinding, gnashing, and some things best left undescribed, to get the hollow in the knot as deep as I can. Main concern is coon or Ringtail reaching in, so besides my coonscluder ™ deflector on inside of entrance hole, making it deep enough that nest can be placed out of reach would also help. A Gnatcatcher kinda seems to be hanging around, perhaps one that attempted nesting last year, until being wiped out by the hail storm. Lots of female Hummingbirds, all looking Black-chinned, at least a couple male Ruby-throated, dozens of male Black-chinned. The ad. Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow still singing, expect departure any day now.

April 5 ~ Low was about 59F, low overcast but no precip. Heard a couple Gnatcatcher and a Kinglet go through, saw a small group of at least 3 Nashville Warbler and a couple un-ID'd probables go by. Heard a couple martin low overhead, saw the male at treetop level so they came back by to see Chez Martin Chalet again. At least it didn't scare them away. Sure is neat hearing that Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow singing over in a stick pile. What a blast from the past, was the common one I first learned as a winterer in socal. Still two Clay-colored Sparrow in with the Chipping. Saw two ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at once. Heard a Red-tailed Hawk screaming, saw the big ad. fem. Cooper's that is the local breeder. Still one Ash-throat coming around, but not seeming paired yet. There are a half-dozen available boxes around the yard.

April 4 ~ Looks like the precip from the disturbance passing over is all east of us. Very humid, but no rain, low about 56F, might have creeped back up to 60 about noon. I got a 60 count on the Chipping Sparrow, and 2 Clay-colored. A Scrub-Jay was on the patio, not a usual thing. Amazing was hearing some quiet-singing, that under-the-breath singing many songbirds do early in their singing cycle when they are just getting warmed up for the season. It was gibberish, somewhat House Wrenish, scanned the guilty stick pile it was a Lincoln's Sparrow! I do not think I have ever heard one sing, even quiet-sing, down here before. Very neat.

The highlight of the morning was just before noon when a pair of Purple Martin buzzed the martin house a half-dozen times, calling a lot, for two minutes. It is one thing for me to think it looks like it ought to work, it's a whole 'nother animal for a male martin to be buzzing it with a female soaring overhead. About 15-20 minutes later they came back with another pair! So four know about it now. I'll be out back praying to the martin Gods...   There is a female bluebird going in and out of the gate box they have used before, but they often waffle between it and the other one down the fenceline early in the season.

About 1:30 I saw my FOS adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The record early imm. male that was the actual FOS has been gone a few days now, but was here about 10 days. We went over to the south 1450' knoll for an hour walk later afternoon. No Black-capped Vireo were heard but about 6 Hutton's were. We saw 3 Golden-cheeked Warbler, 2 males and my FOS female. Kathy saw a FOS male Wilson's Warbler, which is our earliest ever in 18 springs. A FOS Swainson's Hawk flew over. The couple small groups of feeding birds we found were largely in blooming live-oaks. Heard a couple singing Black-and-white Warbler, saw at least a couple Nashville, and an Orange-crowned. Five species of warblers is good here. Also two Ruby-crowned Kinglet, two Gnatcatcher, Ash-throated and a male Vermilion Flycatcher, heard an Olive Sparrow call (not song) right where they nest sometimes, heard a Hermit Thrush, and probably a Spotted Towhee. A few flowers in bloom, but overall it still looks more like winter from that standpoint, lots is just barely getting going. Saw the first Dakota Verbena open, a little Blackfoot Daisy, Dutchman's Breeches, Slender-stem Bitterweed, the one thing blooming well was the Pink Mimosa, it was roaring. The Mesquite and Texas Persimmon are putting out some leafage now and a couple Persimmon had flowers. Sniff one if you see it, same for Mountain Laurel. Heavenly scents.

April 3 ~ Low about 55F, cloudy, some drizzle and occasional light showers, cool and wet. Might have gotten up to 65F, maybe. Worked on stuff inside. Saw the orange-billed adult White-crowned, which has really cleaned up nicely over the last month or so of molt and no longer looks way darker than usual. Still 50 Chippy, two Clay-colored were on the patio with them. Field Sparrow seems to have thinned out though. A few still here, but nowhere near the dozen it was. Mid-day a Ruby-crowned Kinglet went through, later afternoon a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher went over singing on its way, notifying all of how glad it is to be back no doubt.


Another bad pic, I figure you are used to them by now.
This male Northern Parula (warbler) was singing at Utopia Park.
April 7, interacting with an un-ID'd female parula sps.
A beautiful little warbler, bluish above with a lime green back,
yellow throat and breast crossed by chestut and black below throat,
white broken eye-crescents, a zippy buzz of a song, whaddabird.
It jumped when I snapped, so that is all we got.

a bonus pic...

This is the martin chalet, Chez Martin'.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 2 ~ Low of 50F and overcast, it might have hit 70F briefly but the wind was blowing strongly enough that it never felt like it. Great to hear some dawn chorus though. Cardinals are really going well. Heard a Gnatcatcher out there first thing. Otherwise yard was the same stuff, with fewer Am. Goldfinches. Town run day so a park check. A couple or few Common Grackle in the willows on the island was all I heard up in the woods. One Great Blue Heron in nice breeding plumage was below the spillway. Little Creek Larry said last weekend he saw a couple Great-tailed Grackle in a big Red-winged Blackbird flock on the east side of town. He said he might have had a male Summer Tanager yesterday but it got away in treetops. Judy Schaeffer said she had Hooded Oriole a few times, but seemingly not their regular daily feeder addict.

I saw my FOS female Vermilion Flycatcher on 360 on the way home, and then a Turkey in the road a couple hundred yards from the gate. Pretty to too breezy all day, 15 mph gusting to 25, southeasterly. Park looks to be crowding up, for Easter weekend I suppose. At dusk I heard my FOS Chimney Swift zip overhead. The hummers blew out today on the strong southeasterlies. There were wayyyyyy fewer this afternoon than the last week or two. The feeders were not packed at last call, and did not need refilling all day. So they had been stacking up over the last couple dry fronts with northerlies, and poof! They are gone on their way. If they fly 20 mph they were going to be making 40! In 2.5 hours they can make a hundred miles! Which is faster than me if there are any birds along the road.

April 1 ~ Wow, a quarter of the year is over already. The low was about 38F or so, nice and brisk, with a little northerly breeze on it. The first FOS of the month was at about 10 minutes after midnight last night, when a Barn Owl called a couple times as it flew NW. I get none all winter every winter, despite large rodent populations here. At the same time there were two Mockingbird singing, the first nocturnal song I have heard from them this year. At 7 a.m. there were two Scrub-Jay out back as I arrived with seed. Another FOS was about 9 a.m., a Hooded Oriole, always great to see, what a bunch of color. Both ad. White-crowned Sparrow still here, still hear a Clay-colored grinding, I mean singing. Two worn Monarch went by. Later in the afternoon a FOY Red Satyr flopped around the yard a bit, always a treat to see.

~ ~ ~ March summary ~ ~ ~

After that February March seemed pretty tame and benign, no one complained. It was on the dry side of average for precip, about 1.35". But all the snow melt has percolated and filled the river back up so it is flowing over spillway at park again. The big greening finally gets underway but due to the extreme cold much seems a bit retarded of schedule this spring.

Butterflies were weak, seemingly a bit delayed from the super cold event in February. Monarchs did show in fair numbers and fairly on time per usual. A few Elfin were seen (Henry's here), love that hindwing shape. Several Eastern Tiger Swallowtail at Lost Maples were nice. Not much for nectar out there, just some Redbuds going for the most part. The normal Agarita and Laurel bloom did not happen yet, usually a big draw for butterflies in earliest spring. I count about 22 sps. for March, just missing my worst ever 20 sps. in 2010. The March average is 30 sps., and I have had up to 40 and 50 sps. in the month. Not to worry, was the cold and so a natural normal delay of emergence.

The cold kept the odes in the water as larvae still. Unlike many a March I did not see any damselflies. Was too cold in Feb., they wisely delayed emergence. There were lots of Dot-winged Baskettail flying by the last third of the month, which is typically the first new thing out. A couple bigger odes at Lost Maples got away but looked like Springtime Darner, and one Green Darner was seen at Utopia Park at end of month. A whopping three species. April is really the first month with any real activity here, and it is often May before it really gets going.

Birds were fair, great if you like seeing all your old friends show back up. The big rary of the month was a LONG-EARED OWL calling on the 20th, 24th, 26th and 30th. Was just after midnight the first two dates, and very close by, extended calling, as great a 'hear' as you could ask for. The Anna's Hummingbird that was here from Feb. 5, was last seen the morn of March 1. Mostly March is getting FOS dates for all the passage migrants or returning breeders. The record early Ruby-throated Hummingbird on the 19th was odd for being an immature male. I missed the geese (White-fronted) this spring though. Often they all go over at night whence if you aren't out there at the right 5 minutes, they go undetected. Most springs you get them a few nights at least. I count 90 sps. seen myself, and I know others saw a few others. Surely there were over a hundred species around. The winter doldrums are over and birds are singing.

~ ~ ~ end of March summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy March update header ~ ~ ~

March! Meteorological spring is here, which means Golden-cheeked Warblers in a week. On March 1 a Clay-colored Sparrow is 3 weeks early. March 1 was the last day the Anna's Hummer was here. Sylvia Hilbig had a FOS returning male Vermilion Flycatcher March 3 at their place. Our FOS yard breeder was March 9. My FOS Black-chinned Hummingbird showed up March 5 about 2 p.m. Lincoln's Sparrow are thick the first week of March. My FOS Barn Swallow was Mar. 10, as was my FOS Monarch. Some FOS Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were seen at Little Creek around Mar. 8 or 9. Sylvia Hilbig reported the FOS Hooded Oriole at their place the 13th, and then a FOS Yellow-throated Warbler the 14th. Nine Green-winged Teal at the park on the 16th were probably passage spring migrants. I heard my FOS White-eyed Vireo on the 18th. A boatload of FOS species (for me) showed on the 19th. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, both in yard, and more later at Lost Maples. Then at Lost Maples Golden-cheeked, Black-and-white, and my 2nd earliest ever Nashville Warbler here, one Ash-throated Flycatcher, one Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, No. Rough-winged Swallow and Scott's Oriole. A few White-tipped Dove there as well. Late in day on 19th a FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird was at our feeders, another earliest ever for me here. A LONG-EARED OWL was calling just after midnight, on Mar. 20 and the 24th, and at 10 p.m. on the 26th and midnight on 30th. My FOS Grasshopper Sparrow was the 24th, FOS Cave Swallow was the 26th. FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were 5 males together right across from the gate on March 30.

~ ~ ~ end of archive copy March update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Mar. 31 ~ The front finally got here just after daybreak, was calm at dawn, northerlies blowing with dropping temps by 8 a.m. Temps dropped to upper 50's and slowly climbed back to lower 60's over the day, but didn't stop blowing until late afternoon. Saw both ad. White-crowned Sparrow still here, not seeing the two immatures though. Nothing new or different today, but was stuck at the desk for the most part. That grass sure grows fast though. Maybe a dozen or so American Goldfinch left, at least that many Pine Siskin still here. Dozen Lincoln's Sparrow, heard Clay-colored singing. Saw two male Vermilion trying to decide who gets the corral. Still have not seen a female but did see a first spring male besides these two adults. Kathy saw a Turkey right over the north fence. Saw a Ribbonsnake go under the front porch.

Mar. 30 ~ Maybe 58F for a low, on and off drizzle most of the morning. Great was finally my FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Five males calling and fussin' around in the Mesquites right across from the gate. Great to see them again! My what a fancy bird. Whaddabird! I love 'em. I got a count of 50 Chipping Sparrow in the drizzle. Gets wet and they all show up. Couple Gnatcatcher went by. Glimpsed a Zone-tailed Hawk. Saw an imm. fem. Sharpy depart empty-fisted after a dive and a miss. Late in day there were two adult White-crowned Sparrow at once on the patio. A pink-billed black-lored bird that showed up yesterday, and the orange-billed gray-lored bird that has been here 4 months or so now. East meets west. Heard a few hoots out of the Long-eared Owl at about 12:10 a.m., just after midnight last night. It has been here 10 days now!

Mar. 29 ~ A nice brisk 40F or so for a low. I saw KERV had brief 38 and 39 between some 40 readings, we may have but I was not watching. Lovely out though. Dry is sure nice. Kathy got a count of 35 Chipping Sparrow. Only a handful are breeders here. Most of the adults that had fully rusty crowns already departed in the last week to two. These remaining are almost all first spring birds. Lots fewer Goldfinch and Siskin, they are thinning out, and the Lincoln's Sparrow wave is subsiding as well. But the Black-chinned Hummingbirds are picking up fast. Saw two male Vermilion Flycatcher jockeying about, a corral area is a prime territory. Barn and Rough-winged Swallow were about, a Zone-tailed Hawk passed over quickly. Yellow-throated Warbler about the yard is surely the local breeder. As are the Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo singing daily again.

Mar. 28 ~ Front came in overnight. Was northerly but still warm, 70F, at midnight. Then 60F by 5 a.m. and in 50's at 8. An hour or two as it hit wind was 20 mph sustained gusting to 30. No rain as of 10 a.m., doubt we will see any. One Gnatcatcher out there first thing early. Too windy. Good thing I spray-painted yesterday. The lawn gator looks great in swamp green. Blew all day, worked on stuff here. Saw a couple Monarch go by. Generally it was a wind-suppresed quiet today, and the same yard gang. A few more skimpy Laurel flowers open. More Tube-tongue, Anemone, and Yellow Wood-Sorrel opening. Must say the martin house sure takes the wind great, barely moving. Now if a martin would just agree with my assessment of how spiffy it is...   A Zone-tailed Hawk dove on stuff in the afternoon, was that same first spring bird I saw a week or so ago. A couple N. Rough-winged Swallow dove on and scolded it, and gave alarm calls.

Winds finally laid down late in afternoon, was a blower of a day. Amongst things, worked on a knothole bird house. Wait until you see this. Taking a big long ago broken branch stub (still on tree), hollowing it out (old weathered pecan is hard as steel) and cutting a front to fit into the opening. So the box itself will be the foot of stump at base of the broken off branch. It is going to be very cool. For something small like Wren, Chickadee or Titmouse, and right off the front porch. About 10:15 p.m. the LONG-EARED OWL was calling over in the corral. Got Kathy out in time to hear one hoot. It was really moving around though. For the first time I hooted back, it did not call again the next 10 minutes. We won't be trying that again. I will be the first to admit whilst my Western Screech-Owl and Flammulated Owl imitations are deadly, I never spent enough time talking to Long-ears to become a whisperer with them. Note to self: need more work.

Mar. 27 ~ Overcast, misty and 62F for a low. Mid-day southwest flow cleared and dried it out, it got up to about 84F in the afternoon. Wow. There is a front inbound arriving before midnight tonight and tomorrow will be a blowout. Gonna be a dry passage though, we just get the wind. Here on the patio in the morning the usual gang of Goldfinch, Siskin, and Chipping Sparrow were here. Great was FIVE Clay-colored Sparrow at once on the patio amongst the melee. The imm. male Ruby-throat continues, as do the White-crowned Sparrows (3) and a gaggle of Lincoln's. Heard a northbound group of Crane but could not spot them, they were high. Caracara came by low. An Ash-throated Flycatcher went to three of the nest boxes, so I suspect one that has been here before, and probably the male. Only one back here so far. Some more Laurel flowers open but instead of the big racemes with a dozen or two flowers on it, they have 2, or 4 flowers, dinky pitiful things. At least the metallic turquoise bees will get a little bit of something. Maybe that inch of rain we just got will inspire the flowers yet a bit. An unblemished immaculate mint-fresh Monarch late in month defies explanation. A FOY orange skipper got away that was likely a Fiery. Saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk grab something, presumably a Chipping Sparrow. Keep forgetting to mention the Turkey are gobbling at dawn the last couple or few days.


These are Black-bellied Whistling-Duck ducklings.
July 16, 2019 at Uvalde Nat. Fish Hatchery.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 26 ~ Sunny, dry, and 42F is wonderful. Heard a Gnatcatcher at first sun that must have slept here. Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo both singing uphill behind us in the live-oaks. Town run, no Scissor-tails along fence or power lines yet. A dozen Barn Swallow at north end of town, finally, especially at the bank. Where there was also my first pair of Cave Swallow back. Bob at the post office said the Barn Swallow pair that nests on their dock out back got back three days ago, Tuesday. Little Creek Larry said this morning he saw his male Hooded Oriole back. He also saw some groups of Gnatcatchers going through. At the park there was a male Common Grackle, surely the one that breeds on the island every year. Larry said he had one Pied-billed Grebe there still. He also said the Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks number 40 now at Little Creek. There was one FOY, a freshly emerged Green Darner dragonfly flying at the park.

Back here at the hovelita I saw a Grasshopper Sparrow on the fence line under the Mulberry by the cottage. Only the second that would qualify as being in the yard. Botanic FOY today were a few puny Mountain Laurel flowers, and a Tube-tongue was open. Got up to 80F in the afternoon. The imm. male Ruby-throat continues, often guarding the side-porch feeder. Now on day 8 since his arrival. Got here early and stuck, still have not seen an adult male. We are doing a quart per day of fluid now and Little Creek Larry said the same at his three feeders. So we each probably have over a hundred birds.

Mar. 25 ~ The front passed overnight, it rained briefly but well, we got about .65 or five-eigths, so now have an outstanding inch for the last couple days. Great timing for flowers. Low was about 49F, northerlies but not a hard blow this time. It was pretty windy all night and no owls were calling on any of my hourly checks outside up to midnight last night. It was still southerly then, but does not appear any migrants got knocked down by the turn to northerlies. The yard was all the same stuff. Nothing new or different. No movement. The Texas Persimmon have leaves breaking stem now. Gonna be real green real soon. Saw a couple Monarch, an Orange Sulphur, a Vesta Crescent. One FOY Yellow Wood-Sorrel flower. Did see the adult and both immature White-crowned Sparrow at last seed.

Mar. 24 ~ Overcast and fog-mist at dawn. It was briefly in mid-40's F about 3 a.m., but low 50's by dawn. Likely a highlight of the day was actually just after midnight last night, on my last listenabout. Besides two Great Horned, the LONG-EARED OWL was calling again. This time from right over in the corral where a patch of big thick junipers. Will check them today. It was not 200' away. But where pigs, and I didn't feel like putting gun on to go look for it. Have seen and heard lots of them, but would sure like a docu-shot of one here, in a XL way. Probably mentioned this before, but...  I have pics of one at Bentsen St. Pk. on the Rio Grande by Mission from the later 80's. My pix there are Long-eared, and not Stygian, as a Long-eared reported there once turned out to be. Yes I did recheck my slides and ID when I heard, almost hoping I had blown my ID.  ;)   No such luck. Update: of the two prior heard records from this yard, one was Apr. 9, the other in October.

White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo singing much of day might be our returning breeders. Mid-morn went over into corral and checked the patch of big thick Junipers, no owl there. Looks lots like patches of Tamarisk I have had them in. Plenty of rodents here for it. At the near corner of the grass airstrip at least one, maybe two FOS Grasshopper Sparrow were on fenceline (at different times and places but I did not keep track of bird 1). A Vesper Sparrow was searching the hay, which maybe was the one I had in afternoon in the yard. Heard a couple bars of White-crowned Sparrow song from a yard stickpile. Chipping, Lark, Field, lots of Lincoln's and a Clay-colored rounded out sparrows here. One male Am. Goldfinch is getting especially attractive now. Had a quick town run in afternoon, did not even check park. Nice to see town empty after the spring break crowds this past week plus. No Scissor-tails yet along the roads. I saw one big Cypress that has broken stems with greenery. Our big native Pecan has also broken stem with green stuff. At last sun a loose train of six Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through the yard, there were 3 at once in one Hackberry. Great to see and hear them psssssssing around again!

Mar. 23 ~ Front passed just after midnight last night. A narrow band of rain with it, we got a bit of precip for 20 minutes or so, about .35 of an inch. No big post-frontal blow though is nice for a change. Just light northerlies. Was 40F for a low and got up to 80F in the afternoon! Our average date for last freeze is about the spring equinox. Was not an average winter, so I would not be surprised to see more freezes. Average means lots of years it still freezes later than the equinox, but that is the median.

Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo singing out there early. One Clay-colored Sparrow grinding out song, and in with the Chipping and Field on patio. Lots of Monarch going by today, we saw at least 10 or 12. That is a big day for them in spring, it must have been major movement day hereabouts. Saw both ad. and imm. White-crowned Sparrow, both with orange bills and so surely the winterers that have been here, and just evaded me most of last week. Still 15+ Lincoln's, and only a couple Lark Sparrow. The Eastern Phoebe looks like it acquired a new mate and they are using the old nest. The Carolina Wren still seems single and is not singing much, maybe it is the female?

Mar. 22 ~ Low about 56F, overcast and drizzle-mist. Heard a Clay-colored Sparrow singing, a sound of spring here, for a month of it anyway. The cool wet brought all the Chipping Sparrow out of the woodwork, there were 75 at once, more than twice as many as I saw the last several nice days. Still lots of Lincoln's, and a couple Lark Sparrow. At least 30 Am. Goldfinch still here, 25 or so Pine Siskin, over a dozen House Finch of which the males are wearing to their reddest now and looking good. The imm. male Ruby-throat is still here and guarding a feeder. More Anemone and Straggler Daisy flowers opening. White-eyed Vireo calling over in the draw. A Ringed Kingfisher flew upriver over the Cypresses just before dusk. Front supposed to pass overnight tonight.

Mar. 21 ~ Was in low 40's F in earliest a.m. but upper 40's by dawn. Sunny, but a bit breezy from south now. At least a couple dozen Pine Siskin here still, and maybe about 30 Am. Goldfinch, some of which are giving snippets of song. When they give snippets of song, their departure won't be long. Saw ad. and imm. White-crowned Sparrow in the yard, the ad. was the darker orange-billed bird, the imm. I missed a positive on. Saw a fresh FOY Northern Cloudywing butterfly in yard as it warmed.

Late afternoon we went over to the south (1450') knoll to collect a few large rocks. We heard a Golden-cheeked and a Black-and-white Warbler sing. Heard 3 Hutton's Vireo, no Black-capped Vireo yet. Heard an Ash-throated Flycatcher. It is just barely spring. A few Lark Sparrow, a male Vermilion Flycatcher, Mockingbird, and a few Robin, was the rest besides a few heard residents like Titmouse, Bewick's Wren, and Chickadee. Only flowers were a couple FOY: two Dutchman's Breeches and one Slender-stem Bitterweed. Got the martin house put in place, now all there is left to do is sit, drink, and watch. Kathy heard a Great Horned Owl right at dark, but all I got on my hourly checks outside was silence.

Mar. 20 ~ And so we have equinox. Happy spring. Official spring begins today, astronomical spring, let it rip. It started on a high note, well actually a low, single note, lots of them in sequence, spaced out well measured, at 12:05 a.m. last night. Whence at my last listenabout, besides the usual Great Horned (3) and Barred (1) Owl calling, a LONG-EARED OWL was calling from right across the road. For well over five minutes it went on. I was too tired to put a gun on (pigs) and go look for it. Have to check but March might be when I heard one once before. Have heard a few here over a couple decades, never saw one yet but have not chased after them either.

Saw the first spring imm. male Ruby-throated Hummer still here this morning, got pics. I have seen them with more ruby feathers in fall than this one has now. So retarded of molt whilst advanced of migration timing. Hear White-eyed Vireo singing. Great was a couple very scarce lately BUSHTIT moving down the Juniper row on other side of the north fence, and toward the draw. In the afternoon got up to about 72F, dry, wonderful. Ran to town for a couple o-rings I needed. On way along river habitat corridor a Yellow-throated Vireo was singing, and on return a Yellow-throated Warbler was singing at the crossing. No Scissor-tails yet, any day now. Did have a couple Barn Swallow in town finally. Park was a bit spring break busy so I skipped it.

Back here in the afternoon I saw the Vesper Sparrow again, and Kathy saw 2 White-crowned Sparrow at the bath. So maybe I just missed them the last week? Heard another (I think) Yellow-throated Vireo over in corral. At various times a couple White-eyed Vireo were calling nearby. Sounding springy. Vermilion Flyc. was up in the big Pecan singing. A few Red-winged Blackbird were down on the seed. A number of groups of Sandhill Crane went over, over the course of the day. One flock was 85, another bigger flock (by vocalizations) I could not pickup to count. Surely a couple hundred went over. Makes over 500 in two days. Kathy thought she heard Green Jay over in the corral.

Did the silicone and o-ring thing on the martin house and dug the hole to the drop anchor in. Tomorrow when silicone dry I will see about dropping it in and finding some big rocks to lean up all around the base to finish installation. Saw my FOY Crow Poison flowers while out in yard. At last seed I saw Kathy's two White-crowned Sparrow on the patio, the adult had an orange bill, and was darkish, like the one that has been here. So I think it is the same bird continuing. The imm. I did not get a positive on. There were also two Vesper Sparrow on the patio (!), a couple Lark Sparrow (two back now!), a dozen each of Field and Lincoln's, and two dozen Chipping Sparrow. I sure love seeing Vesper in the yard since I never thought of them as that sort of thing. Dead silence outside at 9, 10, 11, and midnight. No wind, moon higher and bigger, no owls calling. Was a large owl racket at midnight last night.


This is a female Golden-fronted Woodpecker.


Male Golden-fronted Woodpecker has red patch on crown,
and more extensive brighter nape patch, often infused
with orange or red feathers.

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Mar. 19 ~ A brisk morning at 36F felt great. Early my FOS Yellow-throated Warbler was 8' away on a little pecan by the back porch. A bit later I heard a FOS Yellow-throated Vireo. We played hooky today and noonish went up to Lost Maples to meet a great friend we hadn't seen in years, Dr. Barney Schlinger and his wife Lori from California. It is soooo good to see old friends. We had a great walk up Can Creek to the pond, despite it being afternoon. Before they got there Kathy and I had 300 plus Sandhill Crane northbound over the HQ building. Impressive flock size here. Couple Inca Dove calling there at HQ as usual. At the trailhead parking feeding station there was at least one male Scott's Oriole, and we saw one White-tipped Dove while hearing another (and up the trail we had a third calling). At the seed was one Clay-colored Sparrow was amongst a dozen Chipping and as many Lincoln's, and a couple Rufous-crowned Sparrow, plus a FOS Ash-throated Flycatcher.

On the trail up to pond we had a FOS Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (just 1), a Yellow-throated Vireo was at pond, Kathy spotted a FOS N. Rough-winged Swallow, and Barney spotted an early FOS Nashville Warbler (my earliest ever) and a male No. Harrier over the pond. We saw the bird hosts Les and Jane, Les said others just reported a couple Townsend's Solitaire at the pond this morning I think. We had good looks at a couple Golden-cheeked Warbler, and heard a couple others. Whaddabird! Have I told you how awesome these things are lately? Every time I see them, I can't believe it. It's a magic warbler. Heard several Black-and-white and Yellow-throated Warbler singing, saw a couple Orange-crowned and a Myrtle Warbler, but no Louisiana Waterthrush yet. Had a few White-eyed Vireo, a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, heard a couple Canyon Wren. It is just barely spring up there. The Redbud trees were blooming, as were the Maples, but nothing else. Buckley (Spanish) Oaks were barely breaking stem, and many live-oaks are in full leaf-drop mode presently.

We saw over a dozen, maybe near 20 Dot-winged Baskettail dragonfly, and a couple bigger dragons got away, one looked like a Springtime Darner. We also saw several Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, quite a few Pipevines, but no Spicebush yet. A couple Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, one Elfin, a Checkered-Skipper, and a FOS Juvenal's Duskywing. Was on the chilly side so no herptiles. No Mountain Laurel or Agarita in bloom yet. Hopefully they will still go off and it is just that cold that set everything back a couple or few weeks.

Some sad news was that several months ago Bill Bailey whom was a long long term ranger at the park passed away. He goes back decades at Lost Maples and was a great great ranger. Best one the park ever had. He loved the park and it showed. Coming from the Roy Heideman school of what a State Natural Area was originally intended to be, he really had a fantastic understanding regarding the natural history values of the park, not to mention he knew how everything worked. It is a great loss for the park, and its users. He is not easily replaced. R.I.P. Bill. We're gonna miss you buddy.

Late in day, after 7 p.m. I saw a hummer I thought sure was a Ruby-throated, but it was an imm. male. So went for binocs, luckily it hung around defending a 3rd feeder we just put out. I confirmed its short straight bill and very dark forehead and lores, super white throat, the tail was longer and more deeply forked than a Black-chinned, and finally after I decided the primary shape was good for a Ruby, only then, it turned just right and I saw the few dark gorget feathers just coming in were red! Pretty sure this is my earliest ever date for one here, and twice as good as it appears for it being an imm. and not an adult.

Mar. 18 ~ A nice crisp dry 42F for a low after the frontal passage. Sunny, still some cool breeze (cold air advection) ongoing. Finally heard a FOS White-eyed Vireo go by out back this morning. They held back on their return this year compared to a mild winter when they can show in February. Later in the afternoon I heard a second distant one. Saw the Lark Sparrow out back, just one here so far. Should have Gnatcatcher and Black-n-white Warbler pretty soon. Three Red-winged Blackbird males came in for some white millet at last sun.

Saw an Anemone flower today, then Kathy said she saw a couple a day or two ago. Mulberry flowers have popped out of our male tree. Also saw some Straggler Daisy flowers. Just about got the martin house done. One last ditty to silicone, house is on pole and standing on patio for the moment. After some silicone dabs, then it is placing it out in the yard. For which I have to dig a shallow scrape a couple or few inches deep for it to settle in to, and get a few big XL rocks to lean up all around the anchor. Should be up maybe Sunday, finally.

Mar. 17 ~ It was upper 60's from about midnight to 4 a.m. or so when the front got here. Promptly dropped almost 20 dF, but we only got a spit of rain, a few hundredths. The wind was ferocious at passage, and is a blower of a day with red flag warnings. Dry and sunny anyway. The yard is green with grass, getting too tall too fast. I hardly recongize it after 4 months of mostly brown. But the ground sure looks great, save the 'you will soon have to be mowing me' aspect. Mid-morn I saw a White-tipped Dove flying away from patio area. Hope it was down at the seed, as opposed to it flushing before it learned what a great spot this is. Also had a first-spring Zone-tailed Hawk come by low and close enough to flush the seedeaters.

Had an armfull of last years' stems I cut, Lantana, Frostweed, Wooly Ironweed, etc., took it over to a stick pile and tossed on top. As I did counted 8 Lincoln's Sparrow that flew out of one of the two stick piles in front yard! Went to back porch and two more flew into the just vacated pile from a smaller pile by the patio. So the SE quadrant of the yard has ten at once, minimum, which then does not count any in back or on north side where bath and more stick piles. Bet there are over 20 in the yard. Amazing. Always loved 'em anyway. Lots of great fine details in their overall somewhat somber presentation. Seems like almost every time I look at the birdbath there is one at it, for a couple weeks now. Having a great passage of them here this year.

In the afternoon I finally saw my FOY new fresh dragonfly, a Dot-winged Baskettail, as is usual. We typically get a couple leftover Variegated or Autumn Meadowhawk in earliest January, and then as soon as they perish there is nothing until the first of these pop out usually. Not unusual for them to be out in late Feb., but this year was too cold. Male Vermilion was out on the fenceline in afternoon, still have not seen a female. The winds finally relaxed a bit around dark, there were lots of gusts over 30 mph, and lots of sustained at 20 plus much of the day.

Mar. 16 ~ Was in the upper 50's F around midnight but about 64F by dawn. A little mist. Still a bunch of Lincoln's Sparrow here, well over a dozen. Had to run to town quickly as they got some B grade bird seed and I was down to a couple days tops left. Also needed more ant poison as the Red Harvester or Leaf-cutter ants whichever they are, are walking off with what little seed I spread. They are a nightmare here if you spread white millet. Just a quick drive through at the park, there were 9 Green-winged Teal (5 drake, 4 hen) and one Ring-necked Duck still here. The teal are likely transient passage migrants. The water going over spillway is now making it all the way to 1050, a couple hundred yards, for the first time since last July or so. Great to see a stream there again.

In the afternoon I saw my FOY Lark Sparrow IN the yard, which is likely a local breeder back. Also saw my FOY fresh Red Admiral in the afternoon. Our neighbor Hattie Barham brought back some birdseed for us from a 'big city' visit when she was picking hers up. Word is Wal-Mart is out, Tractor Supply was the ticket. So we can breathe a sigh of relief on the seed front for the time being. About 10:30 p.m. I heard a Screech-Owl finally, and a Blanchard's Cricket-Frog calling from over at the river. Have not yet heard a Chorus Frog this spring.

Mar. 15 ~ Low of 36F was nice and crisp. Sunny and dry, beautiful. Some birdsong. But dang, what is it with the time? The clocks were set around midnight, the middle of the night, and high noon, for good reasons. Scientific reasons. The photoperiod. It worked for hundreds of years. Whatever happened to don't fix it if it ain't broke, and leave well enough alone?

There was a Vesper Sparrow behind office on the seed. Which is neat because we know this is a transient passage migrant that just found the place. Due to the flock of sparrows going in and out. After not seeing one for almost two weeks it seems, a Sharp-shinned Hawk broke up the party removing a Chipping Sparrow I think it was. A couple female Black-chinned Hummingbird are here now, probably a dozen males. A Caracara landed in the big Hackberry briefly, until it saw me. The male Vermilion singing a bit, waiting for that female.

One of the small stunted Pecans a few feet tall in a flower bed had leaflets break stem, way early for a Pecan. Lots of sprouts in the Blue Mist Eupatorium patch, the Wooly Ironweed and Frostweed have sent up new stems, American Germander is coming up nicely, and a couple Tropical Sage are showing their first leaves. It is starting...

Mar. 14 ~ Front came through last night, but we got zip for precip. Low about 50, winds 15-20 mph gusting to 25. Will continue to work on things here whilst waiting for spring and birds to show up. Saw my FOS female Black-chinned Hummingbird get chased from the feeder. Still lots of Lincoln's and Field Sparrow, maybe 50 Chipping, and not seeing the White-crowned, I think they left. They spent 3-4 months here. Maybe 35 Am. Goldfinch, a dozen Siskin, a few Waxwing briefly, an Orange-crowned Warbler down on the millet seed is likely the one that wintered doing same on cold days. Winds finally laid down in the afternoon late. First calm in nearly a week.

Now working on the pole assembly for the martin house. Thought I would have it up by now, guess again. Think I got it and final attachment of box to top of pole will be next. Have to wait until the cement inside the PVC pipe dries in a few days. Did put the box on once to make sure all fit properly, but removed it to connect pole to anchor. About 6 p.m. I saw the humidity at KERV was reading 7 percent! That is nearing bone dry. Great Horned and Barred Owl hooting it up after dark. Wonder why I am not hearing the Screech? I have to go back and check notes for start of singing dates here for them. Seems like they ought to be going too.

Mar. 13 ~ Same thang. Low 60's F for a low, misted a bit early, humid, overcast and blew like heck all day from south, ahead of next inbound front. Was too busy on projects to see much. A couple Pipevine Swallowtail went by. Saw my first Hackberry flowers of the year out. Flowers first, leaves follow. About five days now of southerly winds at 10-20 mph gusting 20-30 mph. A few brief periods on the calmer end, but brief. Birds are thinning out with the reduced rations. The Chipping Sparrow in particular are seeming to bail. Front supposed to pass tonight with a band of rain and a turn of wind to north with dry air.


Eastern Meadowlark

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Mar. 12 ~ More of same. Overcast, gulf flow, humid low 60's for a low, wind has not stopped blowing well out of the south in about 4 days. Blew all day again. Had a migrant Ruby-crowned Kinglet through the yard in the morning. Still a gaggle of Lincoln's Sparrow, but less Chipping and Field, and maybe the White-crowned have departed. There are probably at least a half-dozen Black-chinned Hummers here now. Was town run fun. Have a couple folks there going to nearby bigger city national chain type places that will hopefully have some birdseed they will pickup. At the park did not see the Pied-billed Grebe, only a few Ring-necked Duck left, maybe 4. One Kinglet in the woods. Heard a Green Kingfisher. Little Creek Larry said he had a small group of 8-9 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at Little Creek a couple days ago. Those are FOY new returnees.

There was a small spot at the park they messed up IMHO (and the previous park managers opinion), destroying some understory over-dozing last year. The had dozer dude back and finished the patch off. It had Red Turkscap, False Dayflower, and other wildflowers, a few Hackberry trees with vines, Virginia Creeper, it was a great little spot of habitat. It is all dozed and scraped. I had seen a couple dozen Mourning Warbler, Ovenbird, Wood and Gray-cheeked Thrush, Kentucky Warbler, amongst a few hundred small birds in this little patch of habitat, won't have to worry about that happening again. I have never seen so many people so obsessed with dozing understory, and so little understanding or appreciation of what habitat is, or what habitat values are, as I have here. When you live life as a bulldozer, everything needs scraping, and chainsaw man thinks more trees need cutting. They call it improvements. It was a beautiful patch of streamside (river-edge) habitat (you are not supposed to touch) full of life, now it is a bare scrape of ugly, devoid of any life. It was just a thousand square feet or so, but they are chiseling away at the little tiny bit of natural streamside riveredge habitat left, which is not a good sign. My guess is to add another screen shelter, e.g., for money.

Late in day at last seed call I went around looking out windows with bins counting Lincoln's Sparrow. Holy Melospiza sparrowman, there were 18 at once! I bet there were more and I did not see them all. It is the biggest concentration of them I have seen in modern memory. Though once as a kid I saw a big fallout of them, was in March too, 1970 maybe. A place called Agua Calientes in the Borrego Desert in socal. One morning after a rain there were many many dozens, probably over a hundred of them a short strip of a desert wash, as well as a dozen Sora (the rail!). In a bone dry (but lush) desert wash, running around under the Mesquites.

Mar. 11 ~ Low of about 62F, breezy gulf flow and low clouds. The usual. Having to dial back on the seed to make what we have last a few days. Now we have an actual XL existential crisis. You can tell the birds are thinning out already, just from a couple days of a slight reduction in amount spread. Saw another worn pale Monarch, a Pipevine Swallowtai, an Orange Sulphur, and the Elfin. Was too busy at the desk, did not see anything different in birds.

Mar. 10 ~ Low was about 60F, still heavy with the gulf flow and humidity, overcast. Supposed to be another blower gusting up to 30 mph again today. At dawn when tossing seed I heard the male Vermilion Flycatcher sing again over in the corral, this time several times. It has not been in the yard yet best I can tell. On 360 just east of the river I saw my FOS Barn Swallow, two of them. The ripples from the big freeze of Feb. 2021 just keep landing like hot new hits. Now there is a feed supply problem. This includes horse and cow feed, and mixed bird seed! Six weeks maybe they say!?!?!?! I don't have a week of mixed (mostly holy white millet) on hand. OMG! Gets cold for a week and everything goes to prairie pastries.

Out the back west end of 360 there was no Agarita in bloom yet. I see other Mountain Laurels that have dropped leaves (which I have never seen them do here) and no buds or blooms in sight. Sorta looks like the single digits cost us a laurel bloom this year. A couple Redbuds in town have some flowers, don't see any wild ones going yet. In the afternoon Kathy thought she saw a Pepsis Wasp (Tarantula Hawk). I thought I saw a Monarch go by and an hour later a very worn pale one did, which looked much paler than the one I thought I saw earlier, but got a FOY date anyway. Also saw presumably the same Elfin again over by the wet spot. Saw the little orange and black job that has been buzzing by a few days now, it is a Vesta Crescent. A second Eastern Phoebe just showed up, one has been here a few days, singing a little. Like maybe one of the pair survived and is back. It has gone up to the nest. Late in day I finally saw the male Vermilion Flycatcher in the Pecans out front. Great to see that red again. Wish the wind would stop blowing so hard.

Mar. 9 ~ Low in mid-50's F, overcast and humid. Waiting for spring. Besides the ground where green in many places now, everything else still looks like winter. Brown sticks everywhere still for all the Cypress, Mesquite, Hackberry, Pecan, and Persimmon, and all of last years wildflower stems. At dawn I heard just one measure of song from my FOS Vermilion Flycatcher over in the corral. Did not see or hear it again all day. Saw a couple each Black and Turkey Vulture soaring around. Other birds seemed the same in the yard, lots of sparrows and Am. Goldfinch, fair numbers of Siskin, a few Waxwing. Heard the Scrub-Jay. Kathy had 2 Black-chinned Hummingbird at once. A Henry's Elfin came in to a muddy wet spot I made whilst doing other things.

Mostly working on the bracket on the bottom of the martin house to attach it to the pole. I think the box refurbish itself is about done and its ready to go. Need a couple bigger hose clamps for attaching bracketts to the pole it will sit on (going to town tomorrow). Then to get that !^@%*&%! cement anchor with pipe stub out of the 5 gal. bucket I poured it in. Of course it does not want to leave. I have done many 30 pounders (a half-sack of cement) and they popped out fairly easily. Wish I had a walk in freezer to put this in for a few hours. Maybe I should have vegetable-oiled, or hefty-bagged the bucket? If I have to leave the bucket until next winter I will - LOL. Had to collect a handfull of 40 lb. rocks to lean all around it anyway, but then also to hide the dang bucket. Next is goggles, gloves and muriatic acid. Come on down, having blast.

Mar. 8 ~ Overcast, low in mid-40's F, springy. Might have hit 70F in the afternoon, stayed pretty breezy out of SE, with its attendant gulf moisture and clouds. Saw the Clay-colored Sparrow. I would say at least a dozen Lincoln's Sparrow around the yard now. Kathy counted five at once in a brush pile, whilst there were three at the bath at the same time. That was just on north side of house. Still about 60 American Goldfinch, a couple males getting color. Just a few waxwing, and what has to be that same one Robin up top of the big Pecan first thing early. Kathy had the Scrub-Jay at the bath. Another bird we have not seen since the big freeze is Hermit Thrush. We had one at least coming to the bath daily. Neither of us have seen any in a couple weeks at least, since the snow. We presume hopefully that it left. Adult White-crowned was at the bath again, was great to have an adult stick around the yard all winter. Only because of the half dozen big brush-stick piles we make from the constantly shedding Pecan tree branches. The Lincoln's love them too of course.

Mar. 7 ~ We ran about 38-68F for a temp spread, mostly sunny, dry, very nice but too breezy in the morning. Working on things here, have just a bit of time to get too many things done before birds start getting very distracting in the very near future. The Clay-colored Sparrow is still here, nice for it to have stuck, we are at a week now. Best FOY (first of year) was the first snake, a Western Ribbonsnake, about 20" long, a real beauty they are. The rest was the same gang. Nice to hear some birdsong even if in fits and spurts still. The Field Sparrow are going fairly well. Wish the White-crowned Sparrows would sing. A Red-tail is calling as it circles over the nest tree area, have not gone to look to see if mate in tree or whaddup. Did have a Turkey Vulture today. I would guess with that Polar system making it well into Mexico a couple weeks ago that lots of stuff held up on the rush for northbound progress. Late afternoon a flock of a dozen Brown-headed Cowbird dropped down on patio. Spring migrants.

Mar. 6 ~ We ran 50 to 64F or so for a temp spread, but with breezy chilly northerlies. A Lesser Goldfinch is singing quietly now, first of that I have heard. Kathy saw the Savannah and I saw the Clay-colored Sparrow, so both continue at the milletfest, as do 10 Lincoln's, 3 Gambell's White-crowned, a dozen Field, and a hundred plus Chipping. Some Robin and Waxwing. Only seeing one each of Carolina Wren and Eastern Phoebe, both of which troll around and are not pinned down here. Worked on things here including more on the martin house, last (3rd) coat of urethane on now. Went over to golf course pond and there was absolutely nothing there. Or going to and fro. Too windy I guess. Great Horned Owl pair is duetting all around us, and the Barred Owl is calling over at the river. Screech not going right now yet, should be any day.


This is a female Red-winged Blackbird. I suppose you
could say they look sparrowish, but they are twice as
large, and no sparrow is this streaky of underparts. They
are obviously named after the male plumage. That is also
one blurry facing viewer in lower left corner.

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Mar. 5 ~ Dropped to low 50's F briefly just before sunup whence it promptly fogged up real good. But which blew out quickly as a front arrived with northerlies. Blew 10-15 mph gusting 20-30 most of the day. Looked the same birds around yard. Saw the Savannah Sparrow still visiting the patio. Loads of Lincoln's. Town run day. Went the back way out the west end of 360 to see if Agarita was blooming yet, a big negative on that. Many live-oaks are in full drop mode and yellow. Biggest thing in town was water going over spillway at the park for the first time in over six months! We are up to normal bankfull. All that snowmelt percolating up-drainage finally pushed us over. The island is an island again. Wow! Lot of new leaves coming up from the Water Lillies already. Mine in the tub pond has some too.

Still 10 or so Ring-necked Duck on the pond, one male American Wigeon was new. The two Pied-billed Grebe continue. One Myrtle Warbler and one Kinglet (Ruby) in the woods was it there. Did have a Turkey Vulture over town, but saw no Blacks coming or going. One Agarita in the garden at park entrance had a few flowers open, but not a natural native situation. The same for a couple Redbud trees at the Library, a few flowers open, but a groomed (watered) non-natural tree. Shirley at the store said a week or two ago she had an Audubon's Oriole at their place between Vanderpool and Lost Maples. She also said someone on the Utopia Facebook Community page posted they had a hummingbird this week. Then about 2 p.m. a FOS (for me) male Black-chinned Hummingbird showed up at our feeder. No Barn Swallow in town yet.

A few Purple Martin were calling high over the park. Think I got the rest of the parts (screws and clamps for mounting) for the martin house. Second coat of urethane on it today, so now after it dries, mount it to the pole. Still have not popped the 70 lb. cement anchor with pipe stub out of the 5 gal. bucket. Been 5 days so the cement should be set, but maybe tomorrow will take it out. Later afternoon I saw 72F on the cool shady front porch. Down in the flatlands Castroville and Del Rio had 80F!

Mar. 4 ~ It was mid-40's F at midnight but 50F by dawn. Almost foggy. The American Goldfinch number I would put at 60 now. They are plowing through some sunflower seed. Pine Siskin were at least 30. The Savannah and the Clay-colored Sparrows were on the patio eating white millet. It has to be 10 Lincoln's Sparrow now around the yard. Every time I looked at the birdbath today there were one or more there. Three at once was great. Still a few Red-wings coming in for millet, 3-4 each males and females. A passing conga line of 7 Black Vulture is the most I have seen in almost two weeks. Heard the Red-tailed Hawk over the nest tree area. Imm. fem. Sharpy flushed everything a time or two. The 3 White-crowned Sparrow continue. A flock of 18 Sandhill Crane was northbound at noon. Saw the little orange and black either Vesta Crescent or Elada Checkerspot again today. Leaning Elada based on flight pattern. Lottsa green sprouty sprouts sprouting. Our best Laurel continues dropping leaves and does not look good. I wonder if something underground got the roots? Saw my FOS spider in the garden, but no ID idea past that.

Mar. 3 ~ Was right about freezing this morning, but I saw 72 on the cool front porch in the afternoon, might have been 75F in the sun. It was great, dry. But had to work at desk all day. Still checking the feeder but no hummer. The Clay-colored Sparrow continued. Kathy saw the Savannah Sparrow at the bath again. There were 8 Lincoln's Sparrow, and a dozen Field Sparrow, a couple White-crowned. 20 Siskin, 50 Am. Goldfinch, some Robin and Waxwing, one Caracara, one Eastern Phoebe and one Carolina Wren, no vultures. Noonish a flock of 30 Sandhill Crane flew over northbound on strong tailwinds. The ground is sure getting green fast. Saw a pale morph female Orange Sulphur butterfly. One other butterfly got away, it was either a Vesta Crescent or an Elada Checkerspot, which apparently had somewhere else to be. Sylvia Hilbig reported her FOS Vermilion Flycatcher today, a male, presumably their local breeder there arriving back on territory.

Mar. 2 ~ Low about 35F or so, sunny and dry. Nice. The big news was that neither Kathy nor I saw or heard the Anna's Hummingbird today. She must have left yesterday afternoon, was here in the morn yesterday. So Feb. 5 to March 1 were her stay dates. Three and a half weeks. Amazing. She is heading west, with tales of snow, sub-zero chills, and single digit cold. And a dummy with a snow shovel in south Texas, that would come out and change the feeder every hour for days on end no matter how cold. It was great to have her here. What a first winter she had! Bon voyage!

The Clay-colored Sparrow continued, as did a gaggle of Lincoln's Sparrow (at least 6). Late afternoon I was in the cottage working on the martin house and the Clay-colored hopped on the patio right outside the door about 6' away! In the morning Kathy spotted a Savannah Sparrow at the birdbath. Might be a first there. Clearly a passage transient here in the yard. Sparrows are on the move. With the White-crowned, Field and Chippy, it made for six species of sparrow in the yard today. Not bad. Saw a first year male Lesser Goldfinch at the bath, it is a new arrival. A couple butterflies came out in the 63F heat, one a fresh male So. Dogface. Way better was the first Henry's Elfin of the year! A real harbinger of spring so always great to see.

March 1 ~ Well even if this month comes in like a lion, it will be more tranquil than last month. Was just a baby lion this morning. A front came through yesterday late afternoon and evening, but the rain, wind, and colder air came in overnight. Low was 45F, 15-20 mph northerlies gusting 25, and we got about a third of an inch of precip. Was one good downpour of a cell pre-dawn. Today marks the beginning of meteorological spring, which is March through May. Of course astronomical spring starts March 20 on the equinox.

Kathy saw the hummer. I heard the Scrub-Jay. At least 50 Am. Goldfinch, but found one dead, first of that I have seen. It was not long after an accipiter flushing event, whence everything explodes outta here, it may have struck something. Great was in the late afternoon going through the Chippies as if I haven't yet seen them all, after months of doing this, and BAM! A Clay-colored Sparrow! I have never seen one in winter up here on the plateau, only down in the brush country. My early dates are typically March 21 or 22, so this is three weeks earlier than the earliest, or it wintered locally undetected until now. Got a fuzzy through-the-window pic, looked like a first spring bird. I would bet on it being an extremely (record) early migrant. There were a couple nights of strong southerlies. During snow week I thoroughly scrutinized the Spizella here since their numbers exploded and they were often confined to small snow-shovel cleared strips. It was not present, nor was a Tree or Brewer's.

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What a month it was. Record cold, and most snow since 1985, probably 10" of snow in two events a few days apart. Sub-zero chill factors and single digit temps. Power outages, DSL outages, gas and food supply disruptions, we got it all. I would estimate about 2.25" of precip for the month converting the snow to rain, roughly. Which is great for normally dryer February.

Butterflies were all but absent most of the month, as expected when cold and wet. Might have been 5 species total, and just a few more individuals. No odes, many years we get the first fresh new emergences in later Feb., this year it was too cold. Were some Anole and E. Fence Lizard out on warm days. The non-avian highlight of the month was the Spotted Skunk in the shed again.

Birds were good despite being cooped up most of the month. Three new yard birds in a month at this point is between amazing and incredible. First was the Anna's Hummingbird which was here Feb. 5 through March 1. Then a Prairie Falcon which was IN the big pecan on the 13th was past outstanding and near mind-blowing. Finally during the snow on the 18th a male Yellow-headed Blackbird on patio is my first local winter record. In the snow. A couple Lincoln's Sparrow at the end of month give a new early date for spring arrivals. The wintering Vermilion Flycatcher was seen at the park dam in the freeze, and prior at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. The flock of Pintail continued on Little Creek, and fair numbers of Ring-necked Duck showed up. At least two Green Jay continued, being heard near the park early in month, and seen in our yard late in month so they made it through the snow and single digits! It was few things in quantity, but extremely high in quality. Looks 80 sps. for me this month, which is mostly from the yard, a few at the park, and one look at Little Creek. Of course another dozen and more were around if you were trying to cover it.

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February! Only a month to Golden-cheeks! Saw a WHITE-THROATED Sparrow Feb. 2, which I had heard earlier, they are scarce here. On Feb. 5 there was a FOS migrant hummingbird (female) at a feeder but it is un-ID'd, so far. There were at least a couple calling GREEN JAY up and across river from the park the 5th. There is a report of CINNAMON Teal on Little Creek, the Pintail continue there too. A Verdin was noted on Feb. 5, another on the 7th was a second one. Update: the hummingbird is an ANNA'S, which is a rary here, and still present on the 26th. A FOS spring returning Turkey Vulture showed Feb. 9, two were together on the 10th. A major severe cold event began Feb. 11 and will last most of a week. Amazing was a PRAIRIE FALCON in our big Pecan on the 13th. Overnight on the 14-15th we got about 4-5" of SNOW (!) and record-breaking cold (5F!) in the morning. Southbound Sandhill Cranes were noted Feb. 15. On Feb. 18 we got 4-5" or more snow, and a male Yellow-headed Blackbird! Looking around after the big freeze of Feb. 2021, a 10 day event, there seems to be a great dearth of Carolina Wren, Black Vulture, and Eastern Phoebe. Two or three GREEN JAY were in our yard Feb. 23. Right on historical returnee time was a male Lesser Goldfinch on Feb. 25. A FOS Lincoln's Sparrow was in yard Feb. 26, there were two on the 28th. Also heard FOS northbound Sandhill Crane the 26th. A FOS Purple Martin called northbound high up on Feb. 28.

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Feb. 28 ~ Was about 65F all night, drizzle, mist-fog, you know the thing. Might have hit 72F peak heat, but barely any sun. Got about .10 of precip to add to the total. I would say the last few days have totalled a half-inch. Which is great. One of the best Mountain Laurels we have is shedding green leaves like I have never seen. It looked like they froze, and now are falling. Hope it is OK. Saw Anna the hummer and Scrub the Jay, Robin and Waxwing, Siskin, lots of Am. Goldfinch, White-crowned Sparrow, and now there are two Linclon's Sparrow in yard. Spring migrants! Passage transients. Even better in late afternoon was a FOS Purple Martin calling high overhead moving north upvalley. While I was working on rehabilitating an old martin house...

Running late on it, but been too cold to do it. It has never been up here, is 35 years old, wood, small four-holer, needs new varnish, screws, silicone, sanding, added a new bottom for strength in the wind, some perches, all of sorts of little things. Marble floors and granite counter tops. Worked on it hours yesterday and today, hoping it might be ready in a week or so. It was up for one year in 1986, over near SAT, neighbor said I was trying to steal his martins. I am not kidding, it was suggested I was a martin rustler. They never went to the house. Might not here either, but I never was the type to give up easily. Poured the 70 lb. concrete anchor and set the vertical pipe stub in it, besides work on the box itself. That snow and freeze set me back a week on some of this spring stuff. Supposed to be in the garden too. Heard the Barred Owl late.

Feb. 27 ~ Low was about 58, more drizzle and mist, even light shower briefly, and another .15-.20 of precip. Great for the green sprouty things on the ground. Overcast and in the 60's most of the day, but hit 70F in the afternoon when the sun sorta poked out for a few moments. Anna the hummer and Scrub the Jay were both here. Saw two Black Vulture and 1 Turkey Vulture. The rest was the same gang. neither Carolina Wrens or Eastern Phoebe was around supporting the idea they are not the local residents that briefly left and came back. Saw an Orange Sulphur butterfly in the heat of the day.

Best bird was a skunk. I was in the shed out back looking for wood screws. It is 8' x 12', steel, plywood floor with a couple holes in that which might be 2" and change. I try to keep them blocked mostly to no avail. I heard something behind me that sounded larger than the usual Cotton Rat (Sigmodon) or White-footed Mouse. Turned around and a three feet away looking at me, surprised as I, was a Spotted Skunk! After seeing Striped somewhat regularly, these seem like they would fit in your hand. What a stunningly beautiful animal! Of course I was doing some calculus about how far the door was, what part of a second would be needed to jump throuh it, and how jumpy and what kind of spray hair-trigger do these Spotties have? How much tomato juice and apple cider vinegar do we have on hand? I slowly backed away toward the door, as if it were a Mountain Lion, like John Belushi in the movie Continental Divide. It was yes sir Mr. Skunk take anything you want, to me. I don't care how small it is, I know they have a different kind of stink, unique to only them among our 4 skunks, and I did not want that much of a life experience, right then anyway, I was busy. Ran for camera. Got back and heard it still moving around all the boxes which are stacked and line all the walls and shelves. It is a mess o'boxes. It was in a near corner with a bunch of junk and out runs a Cotton Rat. That is what it is hunting in there! He is welcome as can be! When he came out of the pile I got a pic or two before he disappeared, on the trail of Sigmodon. It is not the first time I found it in there, and have never smelled a thing. I sometimes smell the Striped Skunk that lives under the cottage, after it had to spray something. I can't believe the little hole this Spotted is getting through, or how awesome it is to be three feet from it in daylight.


This has to be my best looking dependent, a Spotted Skunk.
It was in shed hunting a Cotton Rat (Sigmodon) I saw sneak
away as it closed in. It lives here somewhere, we never
smell it, only ever smell the Striped Skunk, and that rarely.


Look at those long claws. That is how it grabs prey
and climbs trees. I suspect it is what we hear climbing
around boxes on a shelf unit in the carport, hunting vermin.

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Feb. 26 ~ Drizzled all night and flatlined at 60F. By dawn it was about .2 of precip. Stayed the same all day but without the drizzle or mist. Town run, they had food and I got a little gas. As if that wasn't enough, Rosie was there so some tacos made the return trip with me. Some Killdeer were in the pasture just east of the river on 360. On county line road (UvCo 356) there was a flock of about 35 Eastern Meadowlark, and one Audubon's Warbler in the Hackberry row. At the park there were 9 Ring-necked Duck, and a Pied-billed Grebe on the pond. In the woods the large dark soaring objects had just lifted off, there were now 3 Turkey Vulture and the one Zone-tailed Hawk just over treetops circling to gain altitude. The Zoney DOVE at one of the TV's which had to take evasive maneuvers to avoid being struck! I do not recall ever seeing such an interaction. No small stuff in the woods, and NO Black Vulture. Incredible. After thinking I might have heard one yesterday afternoon, this afternoon late I heard then saw, my FOS Lincoln's Sparrow. A passage spring migrant! Yesterday's FOS Lesser Goldfinch is a returning breeder, not a passage transient. Saw Mocker and Anna the hummer, Kathy had a Scrub-Jay. Heard only FOS northbound Sandhill Crane today.

Feb. 25 ~ Flatlined at 60 all night, overcast and humid. Springish, but no warmup today. Sure nice to not be fighting the cold, with water, electricity and the intertubes. Benign is fine. Soared up to about 64F in the overcast afternoon. Heard one Carolina Wren trolling about briefly in the morn, and then late afternoon a second bird was around. They did not seem to be acting like the house pair. It all seems like it is new to them. Later heard the Scrub-Jay, saw Anna the hummer, a few Red-winged and Brewer's Blackbird still coming in, a couple Brown-headed Cowbird. Maybe a hundred Chipping Sparrow, still 50 American Goldfinch, 8 or more Field Sparrow. Saw the Orange-crowned Warbler at the birdbath, and maybe my first ever Red-winged Blackbird at it.

New was an adult male Lesser Goldfinch. This is exactly on time for the first spring returnees historically. Last week of February was usually when the first ones return. Rarely earlier, but the biggest cluster of arrival dates is last week of Feb. We don't know that the few that winter at thistle socks locally are the local breeders, they may well be from elsewhere. Even IF they are local birds, then still about 99.999 percent of our breeders depart for the winter. Great to see them back. I just love it when a data dot or duck falls right in the row perfectly.

Feb. 24 ~ We flatlined at 60F all night. Overcast, the gulf flow is back. Today is the big warmup before the next frontal passage (dry) this afternoon. It got to 84F, at least, in the afternoon! Anna the hummer was out there before 7 a.m., and later. A few Red-winged and Brewer's Blackbird around. Mid-morn a Scrub-Jay was quietly gathering a gullet of sunflower seeds along the back fence where I toss. Later Kathy spotted it at the birdbath. Finally heard single Eastern Phoebe and Carolina Wren! I doubt they are the ones that were resident here. Both are trolling around the yard acting like they have never been here before, not long-term residents that know the place. Neither stuck too long. Saw the male Eastern Bluebird on the gate nestbox, presume a female was around or inside it. They are scouting boxes already. So are Titmouse and Chickadee. Saw two Black Vulture finally, but the skies are for the most part, essentially vulture free here now. What are we going to do with all the roadkill? Todd's Roadkill Cafe in Leakey closed a long time ago. Best guess is that name was scientifically formulated after much focus-group research which determined it to be what would most effectively keep the tourists away, and attract the locals, in one word.

Feb. 23 ~ Low maybe 35F or so briefly, chilly but no freeze. The Anna's Hummer was out there before 7 a.m. on the feeder. About 10:30-11: at least two (and maybe three) Green Jay were in the yard! One went to the sunflower feeder and got seeds! One was making a very loud cat meow call, much like the hawk alarm mimic call, but clearly different. One came back later for more sunflower seeds. Great to see at least a couple made it through the big freeze. Pretty tough for a semi-tropical species. Bet they never saw anything like that snow and cold before. There were a couple days with sub-zero chill factors and single digit temps, and a few days with snow covered ground. Consider that it was possible if one were in the right place to have gotten photos of Green Jay in the snow. In the afternoon the Scrub-Jay came by briefly. Nearest Blue Jay I know of are in town and at park.

Feb. 22 ~ Low was about 34F or so, chilly but no freeze. Which is a big win, and none are on the ten-day forecast. Spring will spring now. It got up to 70F or so in the peak afternoon heat. Still no Vultures, Phoebe, or Carolina Wren. They were all lost in the event. Normally I can hear a few other pairs of Carolina Wren countersinging with our yard birds. Dead silence out there now, and I do mean dead. It is eerie. Holy longhorn. The Anna's Hummer is still here though. I ran to town late afternoon to pickup at the post office since a truck finally got here. The gas station is selling emergency rations of gas only still. Store still does not have milk or creamer. Went to the park to see how many Black Vultures were on the roost tree. NONE! At 5 p.m. this is unprecedented. They are gone folks. We lost 'em. There should be a hundred plus there. ZERO! One Turkey Vulture flew out of a Cypress, which is likely a new arrival in the last couple days as none wintered. Our just-arrived pair at the house is MIA. The Zone-tailed Hawk flew in looking to roost just before 5 p.m. so it made it. There was one Kinglet (Ruby), two Myrtle Warbler, and NOT ONE Phoebe. Should have been a handful. There was a good Mayfly hatch going, and NO Phoebe! I think a lot of them were lost. I did hear two Carolina Wren though which was nice since ours at the house are gone. A dozen Ring-necked Duck were on the pond. It is a different birdscape out there since the big freeze. Kathy mentioned here at the casita there are a lot less Cardinal out there than a week ago. After dark heard the Barred Owl for the first time in a while, over along the river.

Feb. 21 ~ Low was in the mid-40's F after midnight, but a couple hours before dawn it went up to 50F, about 30dF warmer than yesterday morn. Sure feels great to not be freezing. Have to peel the layers off the windows. The Red-wings are not around, just a few Brown-headed Cowbird. Still 50+ American Goldfinch though. Chippies have dialed back to half the freeze peak numbers. About a hundred each Robin and Waxwing in the morning and again in the afternoon, had to refill the bath a couple times. I saw the Anna's Hummingbird a couple times in the morning. It got up to 72F in the afternoon! First warm day, and warmest in 12 days at least. No Turkey Vulture, hardly a Black Vulture (1?), I am thinking they both took a major hit in this. Also we did not see or hear our Carolina Wren pair here today. Which is impossible. I saw them Friday for sure, but not sure about yesterday, and certainly not today. It appears we have lost them. Looking for the phoebe pair too, did not hear them either today. Did hear an Eastern Bluebird. I saw two reports in Texas of 6 and 7 dead male Eastern Bluebird all together in two seperate boxes. Too many days without food or being able to forage, in too much cold.

Feb 20 ~ Another hard freeze at 18F this morning, and all was covered in thick frost. I ran to town in that at 8 a.m., since a supply truck got here at dawn with bread, eggs, produce, and other stuff, but still no milk. Hopefully they will get another delivery later in the upcoming week. Scanned the park pond, about 20 Ring-necked Duck on it was it. Little Creek Larry said he forgot to mention this week for a couple days during the worst cold a male Vermilion Flycatcher was on the dam as Phoebe (Eastern) often is. I suspect it is the same male that was wintering at the pond on the golf course (a mile south), and had to move and work the river in the big freeze.

On the way home on 360 by the former Utopia on the River, there were a dozen Lark Sparrow. The only ones I have seen all winter. They could be returning spring migrants. Larry just recently mentioned he had a few. The Anna's Hummingbird made another night in the teens. We sweat it out every morning until we see it. There have been lots of stories on the intertubes of people across Texas that lost their wintering hummingbirds during this freeze event. Was nice to not have to be swapping out feeders in the snow or cold. Only a couple dozen Red-wings, half the peak number when the Yellow-headed was here, and no sign of it. It is with the other couple dozen. About 10 Brown-headed Cowbird. All 3 orange-billed gray-lored western type (probably Gambell's) White-crowned Sparrow continue. Great to hear Red-winged Blackbird singing out there much of the day. Sounds like spring!

I may have forgotten to mention (for obvious reasons) in the peak cold there was a Eurasian Collared-Dove out back on the seed briefly, on a couple days. Thanks for the condolences. Did have a Caracara today, but did not see the two Turkey Vulture that showed up the day before the major freeze, ice and snow event began. They had about 9 days they could not get up, out, and fly. Can they live that long without food when they are having to burn way more than the usual amount of energy trying to stay thermal? I doubt it, and expect they succumbed. It was 58F here in the afternoon with southerlies, they should have been up and out looking for roadkill, and hanging out overhead later in the afternoon, like they were the day before the big freeze hit. Way fewer Black Vulture out there too now, only saw one small group along road between here and town, only a couple over house all day.

So we made 10 days of this major cold and deep-freeze event. It appears we are headed back to more seasonal temps for the rest of the month. That was brutal. None can say it was a mild winter here this year. No one under 35 had ever seen snow or cold here like we had this week. Little Creek Larry said since 1985 for the snow. Which he estimated at 10" for the event. He is pretty good about that sort of thing. As he said it was melting all the time as it was snowing. His gauge had 1.25" of water in it after it all melted. So it surely could have been 10" of snow. This was a remarkable historic event. The likes of which hopefully we won't see again for some time, or ever.


Green Jay head crop. We had at least two in the yard
again this week, meaning they were in the snow last week!


We have not seen the Yellow-headed Blackbird again
since in the snow last Thursday Feb. 18.

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Feb 19 ~ A chilly 14F for a low. It was a cold morning, but finally it warmed up in the afternoon to about 50F! Most of the snow melted. Did not see the Red-wing flock, only a few, and no Yellow-headed. Saw the Anna's Hummingbird and Downy Woodpecker, the rest looked the same. But I saw both imm. White-crowned Sparrows well finally, and like the adult here, they are orange-billed and gray-lored. They too are probably Gambell's (western) type like the adult.

The internet remains down here if on DSL, they hope to have it back up 11 p.m. tonight! Went to town and got lots of horror stories but very few supplies. No mail truck has arrived this week, the gas station was just a station all week, they were getting some gas today. The store is out of most staples like milk, bread, eggs, butter, fresh vegetables, and so on. All this because it got cold in Texas. I heard some say not to bother trying at the nearest HEB stores, they too are out of most of the basics as well.

Looked at the park but I didn't walk the woods at the park as it was muddy with melting snow, but there were 62 Ring-necked Duck on the pond, most I have ever seen at once there. Open water must have frozen somewhere up north. Little Creek Larry said there were more than 60 Ring-necks out there yesterday. He also said the creek froze, and all the ducks there left for a couple days but mostly seem to be back. Hummer was tanking up late.

Feb. 18 ~ In the low 20's F, about 24, and shortly after dawn it started snowing again. By afternoon it looked like 3 inches but was probably more like four as it was melting quite a bit the first couple hours. Flatlined at 25F all day. Birds are thick on the seed. Astounding was my first winter record of a Yellow-headed Blackbird here, in with now 45 Red-winged Blackbird! They are accidental on the plateau in the winter. It was a beautiful male, and got shots, which I froze for. New for the yard list too! Got a count of 12 male Cardinal at once, 27 Mourning and 25 White-winged Dove. It is over 200 Chipping Sparrow here now, maybe 225. Anna's Hummer still here, we are swapping out the feeder every 90 minutes or so. Saw both the ad. and an imm. White-crowned Sparrow. The dark ad. is an orange-billed gray-lored type, probably a (western) Gambell's, not our default standard pink-billed black-lored (eastern) leucophrys. The Brewer's Blackbird flock was 45 and at least half of them came down to the patio edge for seed late in day, which they never do. Red-wings have no aversion to the patio, the Brewer's, never come down to it. Three species of blackbird in a day here is good. If only I could have seen the Rusty. They are really jumpy and hard to work.

The power was on all day though was off some overnight last night. Pipes didn't re-freeze, so we have heat and hot water. The DSL is down, the phone company is not answering, they are in Rocksprings. Welcome to Texastan. The energy state. We did not break freezing after briefly doing so in a big way yesterday. We are now at 7 days of the last 8, at or below freezing, which constitutes a major deep freeze a way down south here below 30N. Nearing 6 p.m. the snow has tapered off and I think it is about 4" for today. There are horizontal branches that were clear yesterday afternoon now with at least 3" on them. Yesterday when I saw Calvin he said he had 4" not far from here from the first event. I would say then probably 7-8" for two events, Monday and Thursday, at minimum. Lots melted each time as it began because the ground was warm. It is likely the most snow here since 1985, over 35 years. Now though, we can not tell what is supposed to happen next weatherwise without the DSL. Was to be very cold tomorrow morning again.

Feb. 17 ~ Stayed right around freezing all night, there were a couple 2 FOOT icicles! Almost all the snow melted in the afternoon when it warmed up to about 50F briefly! Finally some heat, outside the house at least! The water lines thawed finally. So there is hot tap water again, when power. Power was off and on all day here in the banana Republic of Texastan. The afternoon it was mostly on, but the constant improper shutdowns on the computer are not a good thing. Can barely work, answer emails, or do business. It is past ridiculous. Didn't see anything different in birds, all the same stuff, but more Chippies, and more Red-wings have collected. Downy Woodpecker and Anna's Hummingbird still here. Heard the Scrub-Jay out back a bit, thought I heard it yesterday too but was just once. Myrtle Warbler still eating seed. Another winter weather event inbound for tomorrow. More power outages in evening. There was a blown pipe (making a nice fountain behind the cottage) that feeds some troughs over in the corral so I had to call to get ranch maintenence to come out and fix it. They had more to do after fixing this one...

Feb. 16 ~ Day 6 of the big freeze. It was a smokin' 14F at 7 a.m., but was in single digits during the overnight. KERV had a 5F at 2:30 a.m., we were likely near that. Up to 22F here at 10 a.m., pipes (wellhouse?) still frozen, at least we have stored emergency water and snow for more, plus power and heat. Lots of Texas is in a big hurt this morning with none of the above. At noon I saw 27F on the front porch, and some bodacious icicles. Heard the pair of Eastern Bluebird out by their usual box. Hummer here of course, nothing moving in this. Saw the dark ad. White-crowned Sparrow and the Orange-crowned Warbler. White-winged Dove are getting the purple mauve on their necks now.

Spent the afternoon and night with rolling blackouts. Lovely. Begging the question as to why the Texas electricty distribution management org has the word *reliability* in their name. I don't think it means what they think it means. This same thing happened in the 1989 polar air event, AND on the 2011 (DFW) Super Bowl day. This is the third time, recently. Feds and others both prior times told the state they needed to winterize the power plants. Nothing happened but millions in exec pay and lobbying for their monopolies, and deregulation. Texas in order to be unregulated required them disconnecting from the federal Western Grid, so they could not get power from it now when we needed it. An oh yeah, this is the energy state, where when it gets real cold no one has any power or heat, and it is the windmills fault. Offline was 16 GW of renewable and 30 GW of thermal (nuke, coal, gas). About 75 of 675 power plants in the state were offline. During the polar freeze. Makes sense. About 10 percent of plants, roughly the amount of power the state was short. Despite having something called the electricity reliability council. Some are saying when the brownouts started Monday it was within minutes of a major meltdown that would have taken out the grid for months. Now there is some reliability.

Feb. 15 ~ Day 5 of the big freeze of Feb. 2021. We woke up to at least 3.5" (maybe 4) of SNOW (!) and a sizzling 5F! Blinking clocks and frozen pipes, which is probably out at the wellhouse. A drip was going, was being the key word. At least we have heat and electricity! It went out quickly a few times overnight. There has been nothing like this in 18 years we have been here. There was an Arctic cold event in 1989 but it was after we left San Antonio and Texas that year. Then there was a big snow in 1985 (SAT had a foot, 18" in Utopia). The SAT record low for today was 16F, they had 9F this morning, KERV was 5F like us here. Was a good bit of melt in the heat of the day in the upper 20's F.

Amazingly, I got to use my SNOW SHOVEL! It is from New Jersey, a 1982 vintage, it was made in America before the crapification and is real deal steel. I should be shoveling in town today for extra dough.  LOL   Probably the only one in the whole valley. Most of them have never seen such an implement, and they have almost every implement known to man here. Had to clear areas to toss seed on the patio, made a path to the back and cleared spots out there for seed, a path to the cottage, the stone step walkways, and out to the driveway. The job sure is easier with the right tool. We can get around the house, to cottage, and seeding, without tracking snow in now.

Hummer was out there at dawn when I was being a shoveler. The hummer feeder lasted about 90 minutes before the fluid was icing up. Doing the swap with one inside the house, all day. In the afternoon I saw 28F on the cool shady front porch, was probably 30F on the sunny south side. The wind was still over 10 mph so it didn't feel very warm. KERV was 22 and Hondo 30F. The Downy Woodpecker was going to ground getting sunflower seeds just like the Ladder-back and Golden-front have been. They also learn by watching. It was packed with birds on the seed all day here, and I shoveled lots of that too. About 3:30 we lost the sun and the melting slowed way down. Got a 200 count on the Chipping Sparrow late afternoon! At least 30 for the Red-winged Blackbird count. Saw the Orange-crowned Warbler grabbing some white millet. I have never seen so much snow and cold without a junco to be found. Two species of warbler are here, but no junco, in the snow. Saw both ad. and imm., female Cooper's Hawk make passes at the seedeaters.

I took a bunch of pics, just to have evidence to look at next July and August. I took a few generic shots to show all the birds in the cleared areas where seeded. Kathy was outside on the front porch about 5 p.m. and heard cranes, I got out there quickly enough to tell they were going south. Wonder where they left from this morning? Hummer was out there camped on feeder at 6 p.m. for last fill-up. Late p.m. saw the dark ad. White-crowned Sparrow.

Feb 14 ~ Day 4 of the big freeze of Feb. 2021. About 25F for a low, and some patches of ice on the ground from the mist which is freezing and then building up. The Hummer is on the feeder, which we brought in overnight. Did I say the low was 25F? Turns out it was the high. By afternoon it was 22 and dropping. Never did warm up. With the wind on it feels the teens. The birds were all the same gang. The historical cold event peaks the next two mornings in single digits and tonight we are supposed to get snow. It is brutal out there and getting worse before it gets better. Been shoveling seed all day. Three days had been the limit for freeze events for the last 18 years we have been here. This one is now looking like it will be 7 days where only once for a few hours was it over freezing (Friday the 12th). Had to quick thaw hummer feeders at 5 p.m. when it was 18F, they were slushy. At that time Winds were N 15- gusting to 25 mph, chills were in the single digits. Counted 10 male Cardinal at once, and got a 150 count on the Chipping Sparrow. Now with the cold they all show up. The Red-wings were around in the afternoon, heard a few Robin and Waxwing. Saw the Myrtle Warbler grabbing some white millet seed. Worked on cold-proofing some things better, expecially in the cottage where marine aquaria. Guess I got all my good birds for the weekend yesterday. Now I am just trying to keep a hummer alive, and pipes from bursting. At 8 p.m. I saw 14F on the front porch, and wind chills then had to be about zero. There was some frozen rain and sleet, which should turn to snow shortly. Junction and Rock Springs are sub-zero chill factors aleady this evening. By 10 p.m. there was 1.5" of snow on the ground and it was coming down moderately, local WU stations were reading 9-11F, wind was 10-15 gusting 20-25 mph..

Feb. 13 ~ Low was 25F, some mist, we won't see 32F today. Saw the hummer a few times in the morning. Best was before 10 a.m. when I went to put a second shovel of seed out. The birds had all just flushed so I figured a good chance. When I got out back tossing I heard a Titmouse alarm call, looked up and saw a PRAIRIE FALCON jumping out of the top of the big Pecan! That is what flushed the doves and all a couple minutes earlier! It lazily flew north low over the draw, and was likely going back down shortly. First one in the yard, and whaddabird for my Pecan tree list! Gotta say if I hadn't seen a couple hundred of them I would not have instantly recognized it. No substitute for experience with the animal.

Less than an hour later I walked out of the cottage and a Loggerhead Shrike was on a (original juniper) clothesline pole (that the wire the birdfeeders hang on is connected to). Right at the corner of the patio! Looking for a Chippy. First Shrike on the patio. Only had one IN the yard once before, have heard a few over toward the airstrip. It flew and landed in the lowest branches of the big Pecan. BAM! On my Pecan tree list. Two new ones in an hour! With almost 3000 days straight of watching this tree. Ten thousand hours looking in this tree, and now, leafless, I see two species in an hour that I have never seen in it. Amazing how fast one can go from "well I have been looking for ten thousand hours and never saw one of those here", to "oh yeah, sure, got it". It never did break freezing, was misting on and off, and getting colder and breezier.


This is the yard Feb. 15. Update: after melting the
17th, another round of same hit on the 18th. Each
event was about 5", biggest snow here since 1985.


This is the male Yellow-headed Blackbird in the snow on Feb. 18.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Feb. 12 ~ Low about 30F, briefly misted, feels like winter. A little more precip overnight, probably safe to say .75 (of an inch) for the event. The Red-winged Blackbird flock was down on the seed, 27 I counted, about 12 were male. Little Creek Larry said he got an inch of rain from the event. Also said there was a nice flock of Ring-necked Duck on Little Creek yesterday. He also heard there was a half inch of ice up on top of the plateau, just above Lost Maples yesterday. There was a pair of Ring-necked Duck on the pond at the park, and the one Pied-billed Grebe, which actually called, something I do not hear often here. I did not walk the woods though. Rosie was closed, presumably the bad weather, so no tacos today. Hope I survive. By 1 p.m. it was over freezing, maybe 35F or so, and misting lightly. Just after 4 p.m. finally I saw the Anna's Hummingbird today. Some Chipping Sparrow are getting very rusty of crown.

Feb. 11 ~ Low just over freezing, about 34F, with some mist and drizzle, winter rears its cold head again. We are in for nearly a week of very cold temps, for here, they say peak will be the coldest in at least several years here. Mon. and Tues. lows are forecast to be single digits! Arctic air. Four or five days straight of highs in the 30's F or lower. Three is the most I have seen in the last 18 years here, a few times. Looks like I will be shoveling bird seed for the next week, and hunkering down inside near the heaters. The drizzle was nearing a half-inch by about 1 p.m., and we were flat-lining at 33F, so, at least it is not ice. Just north of us up on top of the plateau above Lost Maples it is ice all over. From way west of Junction to KERV and Austin. The wind is off and on breezy, so feels below freezing out there in the wet. Was a bit of thunder occasionally as well. More weather for your money. I would love a nice thundersnow. At dark it was about 15mm of precip total over the day.

The blackbird flock was in the big Pecan first thing, a bunch of Red-wings singing, right out in the breeze in a cold rain. Thrilled. Lots of birds on the seed. Kathy said at least a hundred Chipping Sparrow. Remember, it is easier to trust the count of another than to count them yourself. It was about 40 some Siskin and 50 Am. Goldfinch, 20 each House Finch, and Cardinal. About 8 each of Field Sparrow and Black-crested Titmouse, and 4 Carolina Chickadee, a few each Bewick's and Carolina Wren, lots of White-winged and Mourning Dove. Saw the icterids down on the patio and under Mulberry in the afternoon. So did some counting myself. There were 11 Brown-headed Cowbird (3 male, 8 female), and 25 Red-winged Blackbird (12 male and 13 female). Highest count of either sps. all winter for me here. February is when we see their numbers go up and I suspect it is spring arrivals. Kathy saw the hummer on the back feeder, which is a bit more sheltered than the one on the front porch.

Feb. 10 ~ Flatlined in upper 50's F all night, and day. A cold front is just pushing in under the warm moist air aloft, and so winter is back. It was all springy yesterday afternoon. The blackbird flock (125+ Brewer's, some Red-wings) was over in the corral but I had too much work to do to work them. Nice to hear some Red-wings singing though. Saw the hummer in the morning, hope it is packing the pounds on for this next cold spell. Next Mon. and Tues. morns they are talking major cold with a couple lows in the 20's F prior to those Not good hummer weather. Caracara and Raven made passes. Heard the Ring King over at the river. In the later afternoon there were TWO Turkey Vulture together, working the area low like the local breeders. Very cool to see them back. Kathy spotted a very dark adult White-crowned Sparrow at the last seed eating feeding frenzy. Maybe it is dirty, the white stripes were not clean, the whole bird looked dirty. The pair of Eastern Phoebe were singing together in the treetops today.

Feb. 9 ~ Another fog-mist morning, balmy at 60F or so. We have a major blast of winter with some very serious cold heading down in a few days. Will enjoy the mild gray in the meanwhile. Must have been some accipiters lurking in the shadows, much of the day the birds were not out there. Kathy saw the hummer late in the day, about 5 p.m., finally, otherwise would have missed it today. At least it is getting to put some calories on before the big freeze hits. They are talking one of those 48 hr. spells without breaking freezing this coming Sunday to Tuesday, with lows in the teens. Got up to about 76F here in the afternoon. Tomorrow will be about 20F cooler. What looked the female Red-tailed Hawk was soaring over the nest tree area in the afternoon. Great was a FOS Turkey Vulture in the afternoon working low over the corral. Surely one of our local returning breeders. Most common arrival date the first 10-12 years I was here was Valentine's Day, but they have been returning earlier, as spring, the last few to several years. Methinks these will soon regret it this year.

Feb. 8 ~ Overcast, almost fog, low about 50F. Early saw the hummer perched in top of the Mulberry, as if on station, which is great to see. It has been flying way away across road so maybe it will become photogenic in good light yet. I am sure it is an ANNA'S Hummingbird. Which is a great bird here, far less than annual here, and the first one here at this place (8 years and ten thousand hummers here). We had at least 3 at Seco Ridge in 8 years. Judy Schaeffer in town had a couple one of those same invasion years, including one that stuck the winter. This fall and winter was a big year for them in the east half of Texas, maybe the fires out west pushed more thisaway. But most showed up a month or two ago. Showing up in early Feb. is not the usual program with them. I can't even guess which way it is going. But for now it is not going anywhere in this inclement mess...

There was a flock of 125 blackbirds in the corral, most were Brewer's but 10 Red-winged in with them were about half each male and female. Did not spot the Rusty before they bolted. They are ginchy too. I heard a Hutton's Vireo singing over along the north fence in the Junipers. Which are really spewing pollen now. Some male trees are orange. Kathy saw the Downy Woodpecker by the sunflower feeder, it must be watching the Ladder-back and Golden-fronts. Late about 6 p.m. I saw the hummer on the back (office) feeder for the first time. Which is great. Saw what looked a pair of Raven (Common) ejecting another pair of Raven from the area.

Feb. 7 ~ Low was 30F, maybe it got a dF colder, I wasn't hanging around watching it. After lots of looking, about 10:30 the hummer was at the feeder briefly. Got another bad light shot, but had only camera so no study, until I get pix off it. A bunch of waxwings hit the birdbath, making off with a half-gallon of water in short order. We went for a spinabout for a couple hours noonish. First we slow-rolled over to Little Creek and scoped the pond with the ducks. The light is bad mid-day and the wind was blowing over 20 mph. We did not see the Cinnamon Teal but you can not surely see everything due to vegetation. We did see the 40+ Pintail continuing, a dozen Green-winged Teal, probably 40 Gadwall and around 30 Am. Wigeon, one Ring-necked Duck, and a Great Egret. Nothing along the roads, save on 355 in the jog section we had a look at a Verdin. Checked the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. and saw nothing. In the pasture on 360 just east of the river the ground has just gone green and there were 9 Killdeer and about 40 American (Water) Pipit, neither of which have been around. Make it green and they will come. Warmed up to about 70F, but too dang windy until nearing sundown. The hummer showed briefly about 5 p.m. but I did not get a binoc look or another photo either one. The front porch feeder is in the best high-vis place to snag a passing bird, but it is horrible for viewing light most of the time. If there were a plug out there I would have an LED spot on it, with a switch I could throw from inside as needed.

Feb. 6 ~ Was about 44 around 3 a.m., but 48F by dawn. With fog and mist, heavy overcast ahead of the front due in later this morning. The hummingbird came in one time that I saw in the morning, when it was still gray and overcast, in very low light. But I got a few shots. Pretty sure it is an ANNA'S. I can see gray in the underparts I could not see yesterday (whence also in bad light), and a fair bit of green on the sides. It has just a few dark gorget feathers in lower center throat, so probably a first-spring female. I heard it call a couple thin sharp hard chips again, which as I said to Kathy when it did that yesterday, is Anna's call. The front cleared the clouds out before noon and every hour all day I spent 10 minutes watching the feeder camera in hand, and as of 5 p.m. had not seen it again all day, when there would have been great light. At least we know it tanked up good last night and this morning, and we got some pixels to argue about.


This is the Anna's Hummingbird, present Feb. 5-12 so far.
Update: she made it through the freeze and snow, and low temps
of 5F and 10F! Last seen the morning of March 1.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Feb. 5 ~ We ran about 48-68F for a temp spread today. Sunny and nice. The yard was the same seedeaters. More birdsong every day now. Town run fer shtuff. Best was hearing a couple Green Jay across the river from the park, just above the top end of the island in that live-oak motte on other side. So they are still around. Just probably hanging on some corn feeders up thataway. Heard Belted Kingfisher up the river. Little Creek Larry said there were a couple CINNAMON Teal over at Little Creek in the duck flock, and the Pintail are still there. Rosie was there so real deal tacos for lunch here at the hovelita.

After lunch a female hummingbird showed up at the front porch. After it departed I checked and both feeders had gone syrupy, hope it got something. Refreshed both again. Been doing it all winter for nothing. Then one finally shows up when it's shot. Dang it. It was not a Selasphorus, there was no rufous or rusty. It generally looked like a female Black-chinned for the most part, but had a small group of dark gorget feathers in center of lower throat. The underparts were fairly white without buffy sides, and not gray whatsoever. I heard a couple thin chips which were hard and sharp. Since none of that adds up, it will remain a hummingbird sps., which is about as big a bummer as one hummer could be. Whilst I was standing around hoping for it to return I heard the Verdin go off over in the Mesquites across the road. Saw one Orange Sulphur and a couple Snout for butterflies. Heard the Ringed Kingfisher over at the river.

About 5:45 p.m. the hummer came back. It gassed up good this time with fresh fluid. On the other side of the feeder of course. It remains un-ID'd but importantly, I am unable to rule out a Costa's on it yet. It seems not Anna's, and is not a Selasphorus. The hard sharp thin chip does not sound like the soft Black-chinned or Ruby-throated. Since it is here this late in day, I presume I will get chances to see and study it tomorrow. I had a very early spring female Costa's up on Seco Ridge, March 4-5, 2006, which called alot but wasn't there 24 hours, and I did not get a tape of it. So, no score! After dark I was slow-rolling on the back west end of 360 and saw a Gray Fox on the road. They can be remarkably fast.

Feb. 4 ~ It was about 59F all night. Balmy, south Gulf flow ahead of the next front, which is set to arrive this afternoon. Thick overcast bodering on fog early. Warming up above average ahead of the cold air on its way down from Canada. We saw the male Ladder-backed Woodpecker on the birdbath, which is a very very rare sight. Probably because he is eating all those sunflower seeds. The northerlies arrived around 3 p.m., whence I saw 82F on the cool shady front porch! The sunny south side of the house had to be a few dF warmer, likely 85F. Most of the local WU stations were reading 82-85F. The record for the date at SAT is 85, so our record would typically be a couple dF cooler than that. Which means we are right about or at a record high for the date. Remarkable. Saw several Snouth fly by. Kathy saw a Dogface.

Feb. 3 ~ Low was in upper 30's F, sunny and no wind, great out. I can't believe how fast how green the ground is turning with sprouts in some areas. Various grasses, and other green sprouty things are breaking ground. Go green. Got up to about 75F in the afternoon. Weewow! Had a glimpse of some Zons flushing from under the sprawling laurel out back. Looked like two White-crowns and a White-throated. Weird how some laurels grow sprawling like a bush, and others grow vertical like a tree, totally different growth forms.

The rest was all the same gang. Too busy at the desk. Heard the ack ack ack ack ack fire of a Ringed Kingfisher from over at the river. Heard the Eastern Phoebe singing for the first time this year. So it joins the sputtering chorus of residents that are delving into song as we pass the mid-winter point. Days are nearing 1.5 minutes longer, daily, now.

Feb. 2 ~ Another near-freeze, about 34F for a low. At least the wind laid down. Got up to upper 60's, so about average for the date. A Robin and waxwing flock that went over looked like a hundred of each. Some Robin were dropping to land in the top of the big pecan and getting to within 10' of an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk before they made the ID and changed course. It was really fidgeting as several did this, but knew it was a waste of energy trying to get one out in the open airspace. They would break off the landing maneuver at what seemed like way too late to me. I was surprised they got that close before seeing and-or recognizing it. I know it sits up there trying to look like a White-winged Dove, but eight or ten did this, separately, as the Robin stream went over. It was all the Sharpy could take, changing position a couple times, it wanted to go after one badly.

Kathy saw a big black butterfly today, which was surely a swallowtail of some flavor. Actually Black Swallowtail is more likely, often it can be seen in earlier Feb. when on a warm day the first emergences will pop. But she didn't see it well enough to say whether Black or Pipevine. First swallowtail of the year though. Maybe we will see it again in the next day or two.

February 1 ~ Low about 33F, sunny and nice out. Figures its a work day in the office, weekend was mostly blown-out. Same gang o' birds. Until after noon when I saw a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the birdbath. Have not seen one here in a couple or few months, so that was nice. Then in the afternoon I caught a look at a White-throated Sparrow when it stopped on a branch after it flushed out from under the laurel out back where I toss seed. Right where I heard it a few days ago. It is a white striped adult. Now if I could just get a pic, but it is ginchy as can be. BTW, ever notice how close ginchy is to gunshy? A good flock of Robin and waxwing went over late afternoon, about 75 of each, heading west towards a roost site.

~ ~ ~ January summary ~ ~ ~

This one will be short and easy. We had about 1.3 inches of rain for the month. Which is below average but made a big difference as reflected in how the river has come up to only a foot below going over spillway at park. Food crops are poor and gone, there is an amazing dearth of birds out there overall. Pastures, hedgerows, treelines, patches of woodlets, riverside, are all fairly devoid of birds, as bad as I have ever seen it here in 18 years now. There were 6 species of butterflies this month, and perhaps a dozen individuals total of which half were Snout. The Eufala Skipper was best for Jan. Three Variegated Meadowhawk were the only dragonfly, on one day early in month. Heard Leopard and Barking Frog on a warm day later in month.

Birds were very weak though. We have not seen the Green Jays this year, or since mid-December. Best bird locally was the Hilbig's Western Bluebird. Second best was a flock of 9 Mountain Bluebird I saw briefly on UvCo360. An ad. fem. Rusty Blackbird sometimes in the corral adjacent to us is on her 8th winter here. One Lark Bunting on UvCo354 was good. A female Downy Woodpecker has been around a bit. A male Vermilion Flycatcher is again wintering at the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. I saw about 68 sps. locally this month, with hardly any looking outside yard or park checks. I know of several more that others saw.

~ ~ ~ end Jan. summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ January update header copy ~ ~

January 2021 ~ A Lark Bunting on the 3rd was the first noteworthy bird of the year, scarce here, so always a treat. Sylvia Hilbig reports a WESTERN Bluebird at their place in mid-Jan. (priv. prop.), a few miles NW of town in BanCo.! A GREAT sighting! They also had a Merlin there. A flock of 9 MOUNTAIN Bluebird was briefly on UvCo 360 on Jan. 29. A Rusty Blackbird is irregular south of town, a female in her 8th winter hereabouts.

~ ~ end January update header copy ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the dairly drivel ~ ~ ~

Jan. 31 ~ It is appearing as though we may yet make it through the first month of the new year. Was in uppermost 30's F for a bit overnight but over 40 at dawn. Clear and sunny but a second front is moving in so wind picking up by 9 a.m., northerly cool air and a high 10F cooler than yesterday. Too windy until late afternoon so worked on stuff here. Birds were the same gang. Robin flock might have been a hundred though. There are some juniper berries, and mostly up in town some Ligustrum and Chinaberry. But the birds are sure not like when there are great food crops of Pecans, Hackberries, Junipers, or seed crops from a good fall bloom.

Jan. 30 ~ A balmy 59F for a low, overcast, nearing fog, some mist at one point in the morning. Southerly Gulf flow being sucked up in front of the next front. Noonish the front cleared it out and it was northerly breezy a few hours. It warmed up in the afternoon, at 4 p.m. the local WU station readings ran 75-79F! Amazing. The birds here looked all the same gang. After lunch we took a short quick spinabout checking the pastures along 360, no bluebirds. Nothing on the airstrip either. Went on top of the 1450 knoll as it has a big flat bareish top, nothing. Had to look around a little. There were very few birds out. The most action is in our yard. Even the river-edge is quiet. No bugs save the winter Mayfly hatches on warm days.


The Texas Scrub-Jay, texana, is our subspecies, of what is now called Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay, of which it is not. The far west Texas (and westward) Scrub-Jay are Woodhouse's, these Edwards Plateau birds are their own flavor. Ridgeway I think originally described this subspecies, in other words, before Oberholser, it was that obviously different.


This is in the shade under overcast. One day it should have full species status. But since west Texas has different (Woodhouse's) scrub-jays, Texas Scrub-Jay would not be a good name for it. Edwards Plateau Scrub-Jay would be suitably accurate and unwieldy methinks.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Jan. 29 ~ Low was around freezing about 4-5 a.m., but was 38-40F by dawn. Cool and overcast, a slight breeze, chilly. The yard birds were the same. Town run, was real quiet there, maybe the stock show in Uvalde? At the park there was a beautiful drake Ring-necked Duck on the pond. A few Myrtle Warbler and the male Audubon's continue, a Kinglet (Ruby) and a Hermit Thrush. Nice to hear Titmouse and Bewick's Wren singing in town. Rosie was not there today so missed our weekly taco fix. On the way home on 360 just west of Utopia on the River, a flock of 9 MOUNTAIN Bluebird flew right over me low. I jumped out and got fair binoc views (at least a couple were ad. males), as they flew over the pasture along road toward river, gaining altitude and disappearing. Have not seen one locally in a bunch of years. Saw them a few times the first few years here, and maybe once since. Only takes one good bird to make your week.

Jan. 28 ~ We were right on the freeze line this morning. KERV had a couple 29F readings, we might have been 31F briefly. Warmed up to about 60F. Was the same birds, nice to see about 50 Robin in a flock. Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers eating sunflower seeds. Another 36 count on White-winged Dove, couple dozen Cardinal, 50 American Goldfinch is great, 100 Chipping Sparrow. Too busy at the desk with work. Hearing some Chickadee song is great.

Jan. 27 ~ Low about 40F and the wind blew all night. Around midnight last night there were some 30 mph gusts, it was 15-20 mph sustained overnight and much of day. Sure is a crowd of birds out there first thing early after I toss seed and put feeders out and up. Weird that I have not seen that Chipping Sparrow with the white feathers on left wing again. Seems like it is likely one of the ones the accipiters have taken. For standing out. Let that be a lesson to you. Maybe hit 60F in the afternoon, whence wind laid down finally. Which means it will get cold.

Jan. 26 ~ Low was about 35F, about a category lower than progged. Great to hear Cardinal giving a decent burst of song. It warmed up quickly, by noon it was 70F and I was seeing butterflies. A Eufala Skipper has to be my first Jan. record (n~18). A Lyside Sulphur flew over, and a Snout came into water Kathy sprayed. There is nothing out there for them to eat, but for puddling. Then a Lady of some sort dashed off un-ID'd, most (all?) wintering Lady here are American. Painted generally continues through in fall and does not stick for the winter. Birds were the same gang, as expected in January. Another dry front is inbound, winds started late in the evening.

Jan. 25 ~ It was in the 60's until about 6 a.m. when the front started arriving, dropping to almost 50F by dawn. Looked as though there were a showerlet briefly as it went by, the ground was wet. Then clear and sunny, but the wind blew most of the day until late afternoon. At 15-20mph, gusting to 25. It warmed up to the low 70's in the afternoon. KERV was 72, and Hondo had a 77F! We were in between. Pretty amazing for the date. Nice and dry too. Kathy spotted the first Southern Dogface of the year, a mint fresh just-emerged male that the paint had not yet dried on. Just a little heat and pop goes the butterfly. Saw two imm. White-crowned Sparrow here. Had a quick town run late in afternoon and so a look at the park. Saw one Pied-billed Grebe. Better was hearing a (Rio Grande) Leopard Frog, and a Barking Frog. First amphibs, and of those calls this year, and way way early for them. Almost surely my earliest dates ever for both of them. Usually (Blanchard's) Cricket-Frog is the first early amphib on a warm day in Feb., if not our 'spring peeper' the (Strecker's) Chorus Frog. There was a fair bit of Mayfly emergence going on. A couple Myrtle Warbler, an Eastern Phoebe, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet were right on it. A female Ladder-backed Woodpecker was drumming on a dead Cypress knot making an interesting sound. Is it singing back to its mate, or trolling for one?

Jan. 24 ~ Foggy and 60F in the morning. Didn't cool down a bit. Had some drizzle and mist off and on over the day, stayed soppy and in the 60'sF. Plenty of work to do on things inside. That is the great part of trying to have a half-dozen projects going all the time. Chipping Sparrows were over a hundred, and nothing in with them save the Field Sparrows. Of which I finally heard one sing today, Kathy did several days ago. Heard some Cardinal and Carolina Wren song too. Saw Titmouse checking out nest holes. Time to do any annual nest box work or maintenance is now. The non-migratory residents get going very early. All I did was toss seed a few times via seemingly well worn paths, and yet I was still able to acquire my first chigger of the year.

Jan. 23 ~ A gray day in the 50's, foggy in the morning, overcast with occasional mist over the day. Heard a Golden-crowned Kinglet uphill in the live-oaks behind us. Counted 30 House Finch at once in top of the big Pecan, they are building in numbers now too. Great was a Savannah Sparrow on the patio in with the Chippies. It is a rare bird on the patio, have only seen a couple prior. The rest seemed about the same. Another 36 count on White-winged Dove. Sharpy was diving on the seedeaters in the afternoon. Warmed to about 60F and stayed there into the evening. Had too much biz work to do here to lookabout.


This is an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk. These bird eaters
take lots of birds all winter, sparrows, Cardinal, and even
dove. Especially the smaller males appear barely bigger than
a Robin. A handy book gives 10 inches for Robin, 11 for Sharpy.
Don't let their size fool you, they make up for it with attitude.
I watched one march on foot into thick brush after a rabbit (!)
once, which had to be over twice its weight.

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Jan. 22 ~ Was clear late last night at midnight, some clouds this morning but clearing out. Stayed around 50 all night again. Nice not to be cold. It was at least 36 White-winged Dove on the ground this morning. Warmed up to a toasty 77F here in the afternoon, local WU stations were reading 75-78F. And dry. Very nice. The birds were all the same gang here. Checked park in town, nothing new or different there either, except the water has really come up. I'd say a little over a foot below the spillway, it was nearing three feet below. So major headway with some water in the hole. Saw the male Audubon's Warbler at north end of the island.

Jan. 21 ~ Clouds, mist, fog, maybe was some light drizzle overnight, stayed about 50F and soupy all night. Lifted to just overcast for the afternoon, and hit the low 60's F. Still dozens of Pine Siskin and Am. Goldfinch going through pounds of sunflower seed. The White-winged Dove might be 32 now, it was at least 30. There are things about their movements we do not understand. We were down to about 4 or so a month-plus ago at peak absence. They have been building steadily the last couple or few weeks, the current number much higher than what was wintering locally (incl. town) in December. Saw the Downy Woodpecker female from the office desk, over in the Mulberry over the cottage. The Robin was squawkin' and about 45 Waxwing were around a bit. A pair of Eur. Collared-Dove was on the patio, which I would rather not see. In the afternoon warmth as it dried out the pair of Golden-fronted Woodpecker were preening extensively a couple feet apart in the top of the big Pecan. He has been chasing her around a bit lately.

Jan. 20 ~ A chilly wet one, low 40's F, drizzle, light showers, mist. Looks like about .75 or so total since yesterday. There were a couple tenths yesterday, so a half-inch or so overnight and in the morning. Will wait for it to end to get a total. After dark, I would say about .85 or .9, event so far. Saw a, the, Orange-crowned Warbler under a Laurel eating millet. I presume it is the same one that has done that the last four winters here. Nothing out there to eat in the cold drizzly. The rest was the same gang, but wet. It might have warmed up to 50F over the day, and I think is to stay about that overnight, in continued soppy. The cold frontish thing moved over southward in the morning, and has retreated as a warm front this evening. Don't like the weather, hang around a bit. Just as well to have work at the desk.

Jan. 19 ~ Overcast, mist, drizzle, and about 60F at dawn, with a warm moist Gulf flow. It was just over 50 before midnight. A Ringed Kingfisher flew up the river calling early in morning. Before noon the winds had turned to north and cold air was dropping temps back to mid-50's F. A front is said to be inbound, and 24 hours or more of rain chances. We might have had a tenth of an inch over the day, and another tenth after dark. Will just wait for the event to end to get a total. Didn't see anything different today, was the same gang o' seed-eaters. Too busy with work.

Jan. 18 ~ Another one of those backwards nights for temps. At midnight it was clear, stars were great, about 35F, at dawn it was fog and 50F. Keeps the dust down anyway. Sunny afternoon warmed to about 70F! Last of the sun in the forecast for a few days. I go out on the back porch and lizard up the last bit. The birds were the same gang. I was too busy to work on finding that White-throated Sparrow I heard yesterday. I figure if it sticks, I will get a look. A couple accipiter flushing events over the day, when five hundred bird wings explode into action. Kathy heard Field Sparrow sing today, first of that this year. House Finch was giving long bouts of extended song today, great to hear.

Jan. 17 ~ I saw 30F when tossing seed before sunup, KERV got colder, we probably did too. Thought sure I heard a White-throated Sparrow out back twice, saw a Zon fly uphill into cover. Saw an imm. White-crowned too, but this call was absolutely not that, was the harsh hissy strained seeeet note. Otherwise was the same gang. Heard Chickadee song, our Carolina do four notes, see you see me. Great Horned Owls calling more. We worked on things here. Got up to upper 60's F, maybe 68F or so in the afternoon, pretty nice out. Supposed to have some rain this week, and warmer temps.

Jan. 16 ~ Another hard freeze, I saw 25F at 7 a.m., so it likely got a dF or two colder. KERV had a couple 23F readings. It warmed up well in the afternoon though, hitting 67F or so. The 250+ assorted seedeaters were mighty busy the first half of the day. It was the same gang, did not see anything different. Some Black Vulture in pair bond flight is always nice to see though. They can show suprising precision in delicate manuevers. Never saw Bewick's Wren eat so much seed, it is eating the White Millet. Must be nothing else out there to eat. The Black Rock Squirrel was gathering sunflower seeds. The live-oaks are getting yellower, about to drop their leaves in the annual replacement. The Junipers are just starting to put out pollen. I see some green sprouts just breaking ground, which must be what the deer are eating now. That one Tropical Sage has another flower open, a little 2-3" specimen growing out of stone steps at front porch, only open flower around.


Green Heron, juvenile. This is the young the pair that nests on the island at Utopia Park produced this past summer (photo on Sept. 9, 2020). They usually do not arrive here until late April, sometimes early May, with young not seen until later August or early September.

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Jan. 15 ~ Another freeze, but barely, maybe 31F or so, though I did see KERV hit 28F. It is noteworthy methinks that we have only had two mornings so far this year that was above freezing, one of those barely so. That is a cold start to the year. Many winters we do not have a 15 day stretch of almost all freezing mornings. A bit breezy in the a.m. but calmed down nicely and got into the lowest 60's here, though most of the area looked like upper 50's. Nice with no wind, in the sun. Birds were the same here. I saw a poster in town about some Groundhog Day thing. I wonder what they use here, Armadillos?

Stopped at park and saw a new male Audubon's Warbler, which clearly was not the female I saw last week. Two new Audubon's warblers in the last two Fridays there. Nothing else though. In town I saw two flickers, ON a Purple Martin box. Both were females, one Red-shafted, one Yellow-shafted. Both had all appropriate marks to be considered good pure birds. Other than that it was just 3 fajita chicken tacos at Rosie's, the culinary highlight of the week. Kathy pointed out that I wouldn't appreciate them so much if it wasn't for her cooking.    ;)   Tomorrow will be one minute longer than today, the first time we added a full minute in a day this year, about 26 days from the solstice. We will add over a half-hour, nearing 40 minutes I think, to daylight length over the next month. And the birds will be singing in no time.

Jan. 14 ~ Got down to at least 28F an hour before the usual peak, KERV had a 26. It was cold. Looked like an imm. Sharp-shinned Hawk got a Chippy in flight. The way it quickly broke-off, turned, and skulked back to the shadows up the hill hoping the others would not notice what it just did, is what they do when they grab one. There were four Robin together briefly, then later afternoon a group of over a dozen flew over with 25 waxwing. Saw one White-crowned Sparrow still here. Otherwise the rest seemed the same gang. A front blew in before noon, for a few hours it blew hard, 15-20 mph gusting to 30 and 35 mph occasionally. The hot sunny back porch was showing upper 60's F in the afternoon. Got a count of 28 White-winged Dove today in a flush. Amazing how they have increased the last month.

Jan. 13 ~ A frosty 22F for a low this morning. That was before usual peak, and I saw KERV had a 21F. Birdbath was frozen solid, as was jug over it, luckily only half full, so hot water fixed that. The first few pounds of seed sure disappeared quickly. So did the second and third few pounds. There sure are a lot of dependents out there. Twenty four White-winged Dove now, 12-15 Mourning, not seeing or hearing the Ground-Dove for a couple months. Ninety Chipping and 8 Field Sparrow, 40+ each Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch, couple dozen Cardinal, a dozen House Finch, a dozen chickadee and titmice combined. Over 250 seed eaters. Kathy heard a Chickadee singing the high thin whistle 'see you see me'. They have not done so in about 5 months or so.

Jan. 12 ~ A chilly 24F low, might have been colder. I was not about to hang around out there and watch the thermometer. KERV had some 23's and briefly a 22F reading. In that, at first crack of light when I was tossing seed, several Turkey were gobbling less than a hundred yards away right across the road. There is an area just south of the treeline along the draw we follow to the river, that is a big open wildflower meadowish thing, which is where they were calling from. Sure would like a good pic of one in full display. Whaddabird! Was the same gang here otherwise. In the afternoon we broke 50, hit 54F briefly before a cloud shield blew it, a great warmup at this point.

Jan. 11 ~ About 34F for a low, cloudy and overcast. We are nearing 36 hours straight in mid-30's dF. It has been a cold January so far. The female Golden-fronted Woodpecker was picking sunflower seeds up off the patio, which says there is not a lot of food out there. White-winged Dove count hit 22, arrivals are occurring. Counted 11 male Cardinal at once, surely as many females out there. Pine Siskin numbered over 40, likely 45 plus, a high count so far this winter. Chipping Sparrow looked about 90, finally a real flock, Field Sparrow were 8. Got up to a smokin' hot 45F in the afternoon. Cleared after dark, and it is going to get cold.

Jan. 10 ~ It was a cold wet gray one. The temp was 38F first thing, that was the high. Most of the day was about 36F. Off and on drizzle, showers and mist, but only about .4 of precip here. Stayed in where warm and dry. Nearest snow flurries were 40 miles north or so. Got a high count of Chipping Sparrow for the winter so far though, 90 at once. One with some snow white primaries and one white tertial on left side is absolutely new. Seemed 3 dozen Pine Siskin, maybe 40 Am. Goldfinch now. About 15 each of Mourning and White-winged Dove. A couple accipiter flush events. Some waxwings, the one loyal Robin, about 20 Cardinal, a half-dozen each House Finch and Field Sparrow.

Jan. 9 ~ Another chilly one about 25F this morn. Seems like there ought to be Juncos at these temps. Sun lasted a couple hours and it clouded up. At 11 it was a chilly 44F, maybe hit 48 at peak heat. Gonna be an inside day tomorrow. There were lots of Goldfinch (35+) and Siskin (30+), a nice group of waxwing (30+), the one Robin, and the male Myrtle Warbler, half dozen Field Sparrow, the same gang. Worked at the desk where warmer. Had to run to town late afternoon so slow-rolled around a bit. Not much out there though. A couple Eastern Phoebe, a few Eastern Bluebird. Completed my annual wintering Starling count, got all both of them, again. Was some drizzle shortly after 7 p.m., supposed to deteriorate overnight and tomorrow.

How about our two small woodpeckers this week?
Besides the much larger Golden-fronted, these are the two
little woodpeckers here. From behind, Ladder-backed
appears lined, Downy appears spotted.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, male. Note back is evenly zebra- barred throughought upperparts and wings. The female crown is black without red. These are the most common woodpecker here and are widespread residents. They are what enlarges the holes of every birdbox they find, often roosting in them in winter. Note the black facial stripe makes a U on its side, doubling back from eye, and returning to bill without connecting to the black nape stripe, and is completely encircled with white.


Downy Woodpecker, female. Note big white stripe up back that otherwise appears mostly black. The spots are on the wings. Males have a small red patch at top rear of crown. These are very scarce here, but semi-regular. Only one known breeding record, April 2020. Might see one any month though, generally right along river habitat corridor. Note black facial (eye) stripe a thicker line narrowing rearward, but straight, connecting to nape stripe, breaking the white.

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Jan. 8 ~ It was a chilly one at about 25F for a low. Sunny with little to no breeze so nice in afternoon whence warmed to lowest 60's F. It was about 30 or more Cedar Waxwing hitting the bath to wash down juniper berries. Town run day, so a check of the park. Was a bit of a mayfly hatch going so some flycatching along the main pond edge. A couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 7 Myrtle Warbler, and new was one female Audubon's Warbler. At least 5 Eastern Phoebe too. The live-oaks in the main park area had a decent flocklet of Titmouse and Chickadee but nothing else. The woods were dead, most exciting was a Green Bottle Fly. It was my first one of the year. I keep forgetting to mention, lots of the live-oaks are turning yellow already. We noticed it first a couple weeks ago on some, but now a good number are going yellow. It is early for so many to be so yellow already, and surely drought related. I also see some male Junipers turning rusty of tips, just about to unleash the pollen Kraken. Shirley at the store showed me some awesome pix of the rest area above Lost Maples covered in 4-5 inches of snow. WEEWOW!

Jan. 7 ~ The wind stopped and it cooled to about 34F for a low. Sunny, and slowly warmed to about 65F for a high. Wonderful afternoon. Was too busy at the desk as usual. There was a good Robin flock, for this year, of nearing 3 dozen birds that came into the birdbath late afternoon. Nearly two dozen waxwing were there too, they were hitting the Junipers just over the north fence, and need water to wash them down. The one male Myrtle Warbler came in to the bath as well. The couple dozen Siskin and three dozen American Goldfinch were here until the afternoon. The Great Horned Owls are seriously duetting now, which is really a sign of the start of their breeding cycle. They start the process in January. I am seeing Black Vulture pairs flying around too. They are getting underway as well.

Jan. 6 ~ Finally the first morning without a freeze this year. It was about 50F at midnight, and was 60F in drizzle-fog-mist at dawn. A front is coming in, so the warm moist air being sucked up from the south and Gulf, hits the escarpment for some orographic magic and it might have squeezed a tenth of an inch out of it over the first 3 hours of light. A dust-buster for a day or two. Was clearing by 11, getting breezy by noon, and a full post-frontal blow by 1 p.m. As it got east near I-35 where more humid it kicked up a good squall line. Heard my first Carolina Wren song this year, giving a few series of 'we-yo we-yo we-yo we-yo'. Kathy said she might have heard some the other day. The one Robin continues up in the big Pecan every morning. All the other Robins came and left, it stayed. I am a sure as can be that it is the one that did this all winter last year too. Such loyalty is hard to find. Saw the female Downy Woodpecker, and saw the sapsucker fly out of the Mulberry by the cottage into the corral. Saw a bigger butterfly zipping about briefly that was either a winter Questionmark or a Red Admiral, but it disappeared quickly.

Jan. 5 ~ Low was 31F, sunny for a couple hours but after 10 a.m. was overcast and chilly. At least 25 Pine Siskin flushed at once. Sun came back out after 1 p.m., whence I heard Titmouse give the trilled lulululu song a few times, which I have not heard in many months, maybe six. Then a White-winged Dove belted a few bars of song, also the first of that in months. Saw a Sleepy Orange butterfly, species number 4, bfly individual number 5 for the year.

Jan. 4 ~ Still waiting for a morning above freezing this year. Was 28F here. In the afternoon more than one local WU station was reporting 78F! FIFTY dF diurnals! Amazing. Saw that ginchy adult sapsucker sneaking around again, but could not get bins on it. The female Downy was out there too. Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted, check. So, fairly certain there will not be a Flicker today. In the afternoon heat I saw my first butterflies of the year. One Snout, one Little Yellow, and a yellow morph Lyside Sulphur which looked like a fresh emergence, whereas the other two were worn leftovers. The heat can get them to pop. Today was the peak heat day of the week. Sure felt great. I totally get lizards, or at least my lizard-brain does. Later a second Snout came by. A couple accipiter flush events in the afternoon whence all the seedeaters explode in full alarm. Over a dozen each of Mourning and White-winged Dove, fifteen waxwing and the single Robin.

Jan. 3 ~ It was a cold one at 24F this morning. Birdbath was frozen solid. Frost was thick on everything. Great Horned Owl was calling at dawn, unfazed, likely thrilled. Kathy got a high count of 60 Chipping Sparrow, so more, but still just half or less of our usual winter flock size. About 9 a.m. besides the always present Ladder-backed Woodpecker, the female Downy was out there, and an adult Sapsucker which went through the yard stopping in a pecan, but too briefly for me to ID it. Yellow-bellied until proven otherwise here, but just sapsucker sps. when you don't see the key characters to ID it to that level. Of course we had Golden-fronted later, but could not buy a Flicker all day. An intergrade would have been fine. It was 15 White-winged Dove this morn, they are increasing now. The male Cardinal sure are getting bright red now.

We went for a slow-roll around noonish. We went onto a private prop. road and ranch and it mostly had no birds like all the other roads locally this winter. One sub-adult Caracara, one Kestrel, a couple Blackbuck, and around some big trucks and heavy equipment, a Canyon Towhee. The one or ones we have had love our big truck out back (a 5 ton Ford with an 18' box, lift gate, Big Red, she's a beauty), but this was more bigger trucks. This was probably ours, we lost it to the place with more bigger trucks. We used to see one at the Bandera County yard around the big trucks at the 187 x 470 intersection. County yards is a place to look for them, around the big trucks. They look like big rocks to them. But not to a Canyon Wren.

Then at Utopia Park there were lots of Black Vulture but little else. The water did come up a few inches from the rain on Dec. 31. Then we rolled out UvCo354 which often has birds along the roadsides. They were mostly devoid there too. The drought-induced lack of fall bloom and loss of subsequent seed crop is apparently critical to wintering sparrows and such here. We found one small group by a big brush pile. There were five Vesper and a Savannah Sparrow, one (a second one!) Canyon Towhee, and one Lark Bunting, all together around one brush pile. A veritible jackpot! Heard a Pyrrhuloxia or two, saw a few Western Meadowlark. The Lark Bunting is the first I have seen this fall or winter locally, they are always scarce here, so always a treat. There was a small pale male sub-ad. fuertesi Red-tailed Hawk at the 187 x 354 junction. A few Eastern Bluebird, a few Eastern Phoebe along the roads, but can't find a Say's Phoebe this winter. The fields are bare of bugs. Lastly we checked the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. The wintering male Vermilion Flycatcher continues, and just 3 male Red-winged Blackbird were there. There were 3 male Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies, which must have anti-freeze. These are last years leftovers that show up every late fall (Nov.) to early winter, often mate and ovipositing here, until they expire.

Talked to a local that said on New Years Eve when it snowed it was sticking from about B & R road northward, so starting up-valley a few miles north of town. He said lots of locals went up to the rest area north of Lost Maples a mile or so, up the grade and on top of the plateau (ca. 2100-2200' alt.) where there was FIVE INCHES of snow on the ground! In the afternoon here it warmed up to 70F for a couple hours which felt great. Opened up and got rid of the cold air in the house and cottage. Saw the Black Rock Squirrel, with jowels full of sunflower seeds. Some Anole and a female Eastern Fence (Prairie) Lizard were out soaking sun.

Jan. 2 ~ A bit chilly at 26F for a low, with a frozen birdbath. But the winds finally calmed down, sunny, and warmed up to a wonderful 62F in the afternoon. About 9 a.m. the Rusty Blackbird flew over calling and dropped into the far end of the corral again. Was 30 plus waxwing, and the one each Robin and Myrtle Warbler, but were two White-crowned Sparrow, an ad. and an imm., at least 35 Am. Goldfinch and 25 Pine Siskin, a dozen White-winged Dove is an increase. A Cardinal was giving the first vestiges of song. The tew notes in series but not yet clearly, not full blast, but not quiet singing either. It went on for several minutes. We are gaining 30 seconds of photo-period per day now. Lots of the non-migratory residents will start singing this month.


A few American Robin at the birdbath.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

January 1, 2021 ~ Happy New Year! Cheers for a better one! Merry Vagrants and Happy New Birds! Wishing everyone a healthy happy peaceful year ahead! It started cold here, 31F. The low system had moved north by midnight last night. Now we have the post-frontal blow on the backside, heavy on the cold-air advection. Chills this morning are in the 20's F. Around 11 a.m. it broke 40F, but winds are at 10-15 mph gusting to 20, so it still feels a freeze. After 11 the female Downy Woodpecker was in the yard again, always a treat to see here. I wonder if it is the one that nested last April in the 354 pecan patch? A mile and change from here. Or one of the young? Heard some Sandhill Crane going over southbound later in afternoon. Right at dusk the Striped Skunk was under the Mulberry scavenging sunflower seeds. At 15' away, it could not care less about your presence. I measured the tub water today, it was 44F! Holy cow that is cold. In Oct. I wrapped the entire tub sides in a layer of bubble wrap, and at night cover the surface with it, plus a tarp wrapped around and over the whole thing. The Gambusia are fine, the inch long Barking Frog tadpoles come up to surface to warm when sun hits it. The spindly Ceratophyllum is still doing well despite the cold water. Cattails are brown and bent over, still waiting for Marsh Wren. The Lost Maples Facebook page has pics of the place with an inch or two of snow on everything.

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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 ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ above is 2021 ~ ~ ~

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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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