Bird (and nature) News Archive # 36
July 1 to December 31, 2021
Old Bird News XXXVI

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 XXXVI (#36) ~ July 1 - December 31, 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!

July through December 2021

Read from bottom up to view in chronological order.

~ ~ ~ 2021 Summary ~ ~ ~

Well that was somethin', eh? A good one to be behind us. There were a few good rains over the year, but mostly it was none. Summer ran 5-10 dF above average temps, again. USDA says hydrologically we are out of drought. We remain biologically un-recovered from the exceptional drought of about 2008-2016 or so. The water table never got back to where it was. From mid-summer to late fall water was not going over the spillway at the park. The big weather event of the year was the record cold in Feb. at 5dF here with 10" of snow over two events a few days apart, accompanied by a loss of power. There was a week or more when foraging was not possible for many species. It is possible and likely that many birds perished. This has been suggested as a reason why there are comparatively no birds this 2021-22 winter. We lost many of our winterers last February. Fruit, seed, and nut crops, as well as flower blooms were down to way down this year. Even ticks, chiggers, and skeeters were down. But no one complained about that.

Butterflies were fair considering the biologically dry cycle we remain in. And that there was again no big southern ivasion from Mexico in the fall. Been five years since the last one of those and that was not a full-blown great one, but a decent one. The 84 sps. total locally for the year is about average for drought regimen periods. Bottom quarter percentile for sps. diversity. Best butterfly was one of those southerly origin (prob. Mexico) vagrants. A TELEUS Longtail on Dec. 25. Which was seconds from becoming the first UvCo record when it was snatched by an Anole.

Other goodies are the LTA - less than annual - species. They were: the first Tailed Orange in a decade, an Empress Leila, and one Ancyloxypha skipper that was probably a Least. Good but about or very near annual, were one Mimosa and three Mexican Yellow. Not seen were Crimson Patch, Arizona Sister, hardly any Viceroy, one Dusky-blue Groundstreak. For years since the mega-drought no Common Wood-Nymph, Carolina Satyr, Silvery Checkerspot, Eastern Tailed-Blue, Zilpa Longtail or Longtailed Skipper. Lots of stuff that was regular 2003-08, remains missing. No big flights of Monarch hit us this fall.

At least two Aellopos sphinx moths were likely clavipes. A dead male IO MOTH at the gas station is my first local record. A couple Texas Wasp Moth were seen in fall, no White-tipped Black, a very few Ctenucha. No big fancy moths this year. Night lighting for moths and other insects was frighteningly terrible, the worst response I have ever seen. Where are the bugs? A Cuban Green Cockroach is noteworthy, new introduced exotic species are never good news though. Eyed Elaterid were their usual regular, single Banded Hickory Borer and Lesser Ivory-marked Cerambycid were seen.

Odes were ok, considering the general drought regime we are in. Species diversity and the individual numbers remain far below what they were in the 2003-2008 wet cycle period. Some things never recovered just like butterflies. Also the years of trout stocking at Lost Maples and Utopia Park I think has taken a toll as well. Looks like 48 sps. for a total this year locally. A Turquoise-tipped Darner at Utopia Park for a couple months in summer was the highlight. I got poor but ID'able photos, finally. I have poor photos of one at Lost Maples recently, maybe last year. The other big thing was at least two more male Comet Darner at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. One in early summer, one in late summer. A small invasion of Halloween Pennant was nice, saw pairs in copu. A few male Twelve-spotted Skimmer were seen. The Orange-striped Threadtail population at Utopia Park continues, but is much reduced, and only a few to several were seen this year.

Birds were good spring to fall. Breeding season was fair, nothing great but not a disaster like the year prior when a late May one-inch hailstorm shredded many nests. Lesser Goldfinch have yet to recover numbers here since that hail event. House Finch too are down. Many things seemed to be unmated trollers unable to find mates. Such as a local Great Crested Flycatcher and Red-eyed Vireo we had near our place. Common Nighthawk arrived, counted bugs, and left to nest elsewhere this year. A first in my experience over the last 18 summers. Fewer of everything though overall. Roadrunner are all but gone, not seeing them all year. Black Vulture were wiped out in the big 5dF freeze, they remain a fraction of their pre-freeze numbers. Lots of things seemed to have two successful nestings but only fledged two young each time. Lack of food. Both migration periods were on the weak side with no big waves or fallouts of birds. But a few outstanding raries were eventually found by keeping at it, in spring in particular. It is a matter of how many days you go look here where it is a constant sparse trickle.

The new-to-the-local-list species would have to be the best birds. This year I added several. A (formerly known as) McCown's (now called Thick-billed) Longspur Nov. 28 was one of the best. It seemed to come up off the airstrip by our place, calling fortunately, and flew right over our place. The other three best birds were spring vagrant warblers. A SWAINSON'S Warbler May 5 at Utopia Park would be a first for the county had I gotten a photo. Bexar Co. is the nearest record I think. Then a male CERULEAN Warbler sang right out the window here April 27, and quickly left the yard northbound. There are a couple UvCo and Lost Maples records. It was my first ever here. A male GOLDEN-WINGED Warbler Apr. 30 at Utopia Pk. (a Chestnut-sided same day), was also my first here. The Hilbigs had Golden-winged once and there are a couple Lost Maples and Concan records. A KENTUCKY Warbler May 16 in the yard was my first in about a decade. One Magnolia Warbler in the yard was nice April 28. They are less than annual. The other great thing was finally getting a local record for WHITE-RUMPED Sandpiper (3) at a flood pond May 14, on W. Sabinal Rd. in Bandera Co. There were some Wilson's Phalarope (peak 17), one Pectoral and some Baird's Sandpipers (peak 22) on a couple days. For the second time I saw two BLACK SWIFT here right on the heels of a big rain system that came out of the Mexican mountains in spring, these May 1. I saw them very well and very close low overhead. I have seen many hundreds of them before.

In other highlights... A flock of 9 MOUNTAIN Bluebird was great Jan. 29. The (4) GREEN JAY that were present from October 2020 were last seen (2) after the big snow and freeze in February. During one of those snow days a PRAIRIE Falcon was in our Pecan briefly, and my first winter period Yellow-headed Blackbird hit the seed on the patio! An ANNA'S Hummingbird spent all of February here at our feeders, every couple hour feeder swaps kept it alive through 5 and 9dF mornings! After the spring vagrants above... An invasion of summering territorial TROPICAL Parula Warbler numbered about 5 individuals at least, and the Northern Parula count was 4 at least, both unprecedented. Northern appeared to have nested at Utopia Park, Tropical was trying near Jones Cmty. area in BanCo. A singing Robin in late June was my second summer singer record. Fall migration was very weak tea... a few Red-breasted Nuthatch were here briefly in early fall, counted bugs in the bark, and left. A Western Kingbird Oct. 2 is my first Oct. sighting here. Two White-fronted Geese in Oct. were also my first Oct. records. One was dead on road, in town (!), and banded, in the Yukon area of Alaska! The last highlight of the year was my fourth Am. Woodcock at the park, on Dec. 17. There were three Broad-tailed and one Calliope Hummingbird over the fall. The present winter so far seems a great dearth of birds. Never seen anything like it here. There are very few birds out there compared to what was normal. Some are suggesting it was a great wipeout of our winterers in the super-freeze of February.

It was slow goin' and a grind the whole year. But if you keep at it, keep looking, the blind squirrel finds an acorn every month, and with luck and lottsa work, a few in spring migration. It was a great year for things I had not seen in 17 prior years here. There were at least five of those! It looks about 186 species of birds that I saw locally this year. I am sure more than another dozen more sps. were seen by others. Safe to say a couple hundred surely occurred in the upper Sabinal River drainage over the year. A quarter of all the species in all of America. Not bad for having to struggle for water birds.

Personally our birding remains very much reduced and highly localized, as 2021 was. Second year of the pandemic, no guiding gigs, park closures, etc. Now I am not so sure about guiding whatsoever. We drove total less than a thousand miles, again. Tenth year now. Only once in last ten (maybe last year or year before) did we tally 1200 or so miles total. But a couple of those other years we were a couple hundred under the thousand. More fun with less gas, that's my motto. With the pandemic we have been laying low, and we were already out of the flow. Certainly having great interest in butterflies and odes fills in the slower bird times. Especially when a perfect storm of drought and freeze synergize to put the squeeze on things avian. When you are myopic you see a lot less. As when chasing after a super rare thing you have to see, you don't see lots you go by on the way. The rewards, excitement, new records-data-knowledge, observations of interest, etc., are much harder to come by when myopic. When you instead are looking for anything, you see everything. OK, not everything, but, certainly lots more anyway. The broader your horizon, or field of view, the more you see. One last nature note. The only herp highlight of the year was in November when a Coral Snake slithered onto our yard list, which I really appreciated.

~ ~ end 2021 Summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ OMG another summary ~ ~

~ ~ ~ December summary ~ ~ ~

The abnormally mild conditions continue with temps way above averages, often 10dF or more. We barely froze thrice over the whole month. We lucked into one good hour of a rain event that saved the month for precip, dropping a good 1-1.5" pending where you were locally. There was lots of fog-mist, which helps some plants but not the aquifer. Food crops are weak and poor overall.

In odes there were only the three expected species of dragonfly: Variegated and Autumnal Meadowhawk, and Green Darner. Only a few of each. Butterflies were 24 species, and all but one the most expected types. That one though was the butterfly of the year here, a TELEUS Longtail, on Dec. 25. Unfortunately it was eaten by an Anole before we could get a photo of what would have been a first Uvalde Co. record!

In birds it might have been as poor a month as we have ever had here for sps. diversity. We have been very busy and were not able to get out much, but the lack of birds hardly inspires. The only rare bird was an American Woodcock at the park Dec. 17. Finally some tardy winter types that had not showed up yet did, a few Robin, a few Waxwing, a Hermit Thrush, a Pipit. Dismal. I saw only 48 species. Larry on Little Creek had some ducks and so probably 5 sps. I did not see. Still, about as weak as it gets here. The biological drought is killin' us.

~ ~ ~ end December summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ Dec. update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

December ~ My FOS Robin was on the 6th, finally. A few ducks are starting to show up on Little Creek said Larry, Gadwall and Am. Wigeon. On Dec. 10 my FOS Hermit Thrush was at the park. On the 11th my FOS Cedar Waxwing (8) showed up. On the 12th we saw our first real freeze of the season, tardy like the thrush and waxwing. An American Woodcock was on the island at the park Dec. 17th. We hope everyone has happy holidays! A TELEUS LONGTAIL butterfly was on the Basil on our front porch Dec. 25! There is no UvCo record, it was promptly eaten by an Anole! Merry Vagrants and Happy New Birds!

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

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Dec. 31 ~ Aaaaaand there goes another one! Glad to see it go as I was the one before it. So far this 202 series does not seem to be a very good edition. Zero stars so far. Can I see the manager? Hope someone can get this thing off the hard spin cycle soon. I do want to thank folks for following along, whoever you are. Dog and cat died some time ago, and there are still visitors, which I am at loss to explain. I am glad you too find it interesting. Hope we all have a great 2022! Merry Vagrants and Happy New Birds!

Just about nuthin' for birds out there today. Save that big ad. female Cooper's Hawk. Saw a few butterflies: a Queen, a Red Admiral, couple Sleepy Orange, a Dainty Sulphur, a Gulf Frit, and one got away that may well have been a Mexican Fritillary. Saw 75F on the shady front porch. This was the warmest last ten days of the year from pre-Christmas to New Year, in the last 19 we have been here. I wonder if it could be a sign of something?

Dec. 30 ~ First morning without fog in a week. Some low stratus and overcast, but some sun peeking through as well. Low was about 55F. I saw 81F on the cool shady front porch, so it had to be 82F or higher in the sun. One local WU station showed over 82. Very near record heat for the date. Should be about 65F for a high. Phoebe seemed to be almost singing this morning. Did town run today since store closes early and runs out of stuff on the eves of big holidays. They were already out of half-and-half and whipping cream, and I got the last of our usual bread. Front in a few days, probably dry, but a freeze on the way, Sunday morn, and a long hard freeze on Monday morning in low 20's F, or lower.

At the park saw 3 Autumnal Meadowhawk and 2 Green Darner dragonflies. Heard a small group of Chickadee and Titmouse, coming from which seemed to be a Pine Warbler chip but it was over fence in adjacent property so I could not get a look. Have not had one all fall yet this year. They can be absent when we are in drought cycles. Water is barely going over the spillway. Jerry Schrader said they have no wintering hummingbird this year. Larry said people traffic over the holidays down Little Creek from his place at the pond with the ducks has flushed them elsewhere.

I should have asked Larry, but it seems early for the Cypress to have thrown out flowers isn't it? I have to dig through notes the long hard way as I never would have put that on an excel file line like FOS spring and fall files for birds. I do have things like bat, Monarch, firefly, and others, but the botanical phenology is all recorded in long-form notes only, so far, except the local and yard plant lists. Here at the house there was a new different winter form Mexican Yellow, which are all yellow and smaller. One-hoot was calling after dark.

Dec. 29 ~ Nothing changed. Clear at midnight in 50's F, about 62F and socked in with fog at dawn. A little mist, maybe a hundred yards visibility. One Robin. Carolina Wren making the first louder song type noises, Bewick's is singing a bit too. That big female Cooper's Hawk seems fairly camped out here now, flushing her every time I go out. Keeps the birds away. In butterflies saw a couple Gulf Fritillary, a couple Sleepy Orange, an Orange Sulphur and a Queen. Was real busy all day, giving up on a bunch of things I wanted to have done by the end of the year.  ;) I saw 77F on the cool shady front porch. One local WU station was reading 80F. Amazing. Heard one-hoot after dark.

Dec. 28 ~ More of same. Clear and coolish with nice stars at midnight, warmer with fog and mist at dawn. Big ad. fem. Cooper's Hawk terrorizing things out there. The highlight was a flyover calling American (Water) Pipit. Thought I heard one a couple times in Nov. but did not get a good record this fall. A whopping two Robin were in the big Pecan about 1 p.m. Sun came out early today, about 2:p.m., nice to see it. Couple Sleepy Orange (butterfly) and one male Little Yellow. Couple Caracara flew over. Was busy at the desk. We are already gaining a whole 18 seconds a day of daylight now.

Dec. 27 ~ Fog and mist again, about 60F for a low. Heard one-hoot again just before 7 a.m. Stayed overcast until about 4 p.m. again, briefly bumping it over 70F and granting maybe an hour of sun. I got a hundred count on the Chipping Sparrows, first time this season to reach triple digits on the seed we toss. Only two Field in with them that I could pick out. One other Spiz(ella) did look interesting, but I lost it in a flush. They are ginchy with the accipters about. The ad. White-crowned is still around. Couple dozen White-winged Dove. A handful of Waxwing. Saw a few leaves of the first few Anemone (the flower) have broken ground, which is usually in January methinks. Heard one-hoot late, just after midnight.

Dec. 26 ~ Happy Boxing Day! Stars were great at midnight, it was pea soup fog at dawn. It might have hit mid-50's F overnight, but was about 60F at dawn. Before 7 a.m. I heard 'one-hoot' slightly north upriver. NOAA said mostly sunny and mid to upper 70's F. It was very foggy until after noon, thick overcast until 3 p.m. whence still in the 60's F. Finally about 4 p.m. some sun peaked out and it momentarily broke 70F by a couple dF. Not much like what the forecast would have had you expect. Worked on things here since was drippy out there. Didn't see anything different, but for a few things getting done.

Dec. 25 ~ Merry Christmas! Merry vagrants and Happy new birds! Low was about 60F and local WU stations were reporting 78-82F in the afternoon! Not a record, but very near one, among top few warmest probably. Incredible. Saw a Caracara go over, a few Raven, the blackbird flock stopped by, but the same gang. Looks like winter out there, but doesn't feel like it, and there are hardly any winter birds around. A half-dozen Waxwing were around briefly.

The beast of the day was a butterfly, which became a sagalet. In a lucky break for y'all. This could make up for the last few boring weeks. Just yesterday I wrote that only once had I ever added a new butterfly species for the year list after Nov., and that was in early December. Today, a whole day later, I added a new species not just new for the year list, but for the all-time list of everything I have ever seen here! A TELEUS LONGTAIL! On the Basil on front porch table! Kathy spotted it from the nook as we sat down for lunch. At a glance I jumped up and ran out for a closer look. They are a big brown longtail group skipper with a snow white vertical bar across forewing, and a short partial half-bar outside that near apex. Nothing like it. I called for Kathy and camera. Best Kathy and I could ascertain it was fairly promptly eaten by a Green Anole. A new county record, eaten before we could get a pic of it. How was your Christmas? I got a NCR - new county record - gift, and then it was taken away. By a lizard. This is my life.

Teleus are common along the lower Rio Grande where I saw them many years ago, but I do not think there is a Uvalde Co. record. It flew as Kathy moved up for a photo, but before one was obtained. As it went toward a Lantana flower an Anole dove after it, it dodged it, made a loop through the lantana and seemed to disappear as a second Anole made off back under porch too quickly for us to see if it had it. I walked around to get another angle and a third Anole ran off. We never saw it fly away, so it seems likely Anole number 2 got it. The end of Teleus Longtail observation in the county was not a minute after it began. I wondered, if I caught it, how long I had to dissect the Anole and get an identifiable forewing out for the new county record? It was just a thought folks, of a mad amateur biologist. New county records for any insect require a photo or specimen to be believed or officially published, a wing would do. So it was great, and a great heartbreak, in less than a minute. It will go on the local list as a sight record only, and better to have one of those, than none. At least we know they really can get here. I had long wondered. Did they have to be so 'here ya go, nevermind' about it?. It took years to see one here, and now I have to find another. Hardly seems fair?

There was another good butterfly today, a worn Monarch flew southwest across the yard. An amazingly tardy migrant. We get these very rarely in December. But not ususally in a year in which there was not a single November sighting of one. Been two months since I saw one. By time it gets to the winter grounds it will have to turn right around and come back. Other leps in the yard were a So. Dogface, a Gulf Fritillary, a few Sleepy Orange, and one nice male Cloudless Sulphur.

~ ~ ~
This is not a current photo.

This is a Loggerhead Shrike. If you find a cache of prey
remains impaled on thorns or barbed wire this is likely
what put it there. Taken at Garner S.P. Oct. 27, 2019.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 24 ~ Temp range today was about 60-73F. The amazing mild continues. And no one complained. Birds were the same gang in the yard. Flushed a Sharp-shinned Hawk a couple times, so activity was being supressed. Counted 26 White-winged Dove at one flushing. Saw a nice male Cloudless Sulphur butterfly. Gulf Fritillary and Sleepy Orange might have been the only other two species today. I have not checked to see what kind of species totals we have for this year yet. You can add the butterflies up at the end of November, only once did I add a new species in December. For odes you can add them up at the end of October. I don't think I have ever added a new dragon species for the year after October here. For birds you best wait for the last day to end. And for them best not to count before its over. Otherwise you will spend an inordinate amount of time looking for things that are not there, because you have an odd number total, or somesuch sillyness.

Dec. 23 ~ Low overcast bordering on fog early. Was clear and about 40F after midnight, but in the mid-50' at sunup. The Gulf flow arrived. Cardinal giving some snippets of song. Went to town today since tomorrow everything closes early, it is real busy, and the store runs out of things. Park was dead. In the woods a few Cardinal, Chickadee (Carolina), and Titmouse (Black-crested). Did not see the Woodcock. Does not appear to be a Zone-tailed Hawk wintering there this year, unlike last two. Not enough easy prey around. One male Autumnal Meadowhawk dragonfly. Little Creek Larry said he had a couple Pintail in the duck flock over on his creek. He also saw his first flock of Bluebirds, Yellow-rumps, and Chippies of the season, finally, moving around town.

Dec. 22 ~ Low about 38F, might have been colder just after midnight, was rising from about 4 a.m. Birds were the same as it ever was (lately) here. Nothing different. Saw a couple Sharpy missed attempts flushing everything. A few butterflies were out in the warm afternoon (upper 60's F). A Gulf Fritillary, a Queen, few Sleepy Orange, a Little Yellow, an American Lady. Not much left flying now. Looking to be a somewhat dismal winter for birds so far. The lack of food crops I presume is why nothing is sticking. Based on the 10-day forecast, after tomorrow morn, we are not going to see anything below 50F until next year!

Dec. 21 ~ Happy Solstice! Well there it is and here we are. Remember, wherever you go there you are. It was 30F at 7 a.m., so a chilly freeze to start winter. No freeze on the ten-day through the end of the year now. Did get up into the 60's, so nice in the afternoon. Be nice if there were crowds of birds around. The pair of Canyon Towhee are neat to have about. But I bet if there was someone here that needed to see one, they would be nowhere to be found. Shortly after dark I heard ol' one-hoot, the mystery owl. But not again all evening after a brief bout of calls.

Dec. 20 ~ I saw 32F on the front porch at 7 a.m., pretty chilly. Sunny though, and progged to be so all week, with warming temps. Got up to about 60F, so nice in the afternoon. Nothing different for birds. Same gang. Trying to get things done here before we are out of year. Last day of fall today, tomorrow is the solstice. Days will start getting longer now, wow. It's that time again, already. Tomorrow is the last cold morn on the 10-day. It has been an amazingly warm December. Which nice as it has been, probably is not a sign of good times ahead friends. I had 20 White-winged Dove flush at once. A few Am. Goldfinch and a couple House Finch visited the sunflower tube.

Dec. 19 ~ A chilly 34F for a low. A rain cell found us about 2:30 a.m. and we got about another quarter inch to start the day. It was a cold one, cloudy, breezy, maybe hit 60F for a few seconds late afternoon, a showerlet or two went by over the day. Was not a good one for being out there in it. Fortunately my perpetual mountain of things to do inside keeps me busy enough. Can you believe some of my old bird notes look like sanskrit? Some of the pocket notepads I used to record notes on pelagic trips (out to sea) look like I had untapped potential to have been a doctor. Heard a few waxwings out there, a Kinglet (Ruby), not hearing the Myrtle Warbler, maybe it moved on. The pair of Canyon Towhee and ad. White-crowned Sparrow still out there. Maybe 75 Chipping Sparrow, a couple Field. Sure would love a Tree Sparrow, seems cold enough today.

Dec. 18 ~ Was about 69F at midnight, maybe 65F at dawn, overcast, front not here yet. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher flying upriver early morn. As the cold air was arriving just before 10 a.m. a disturbance was moving over so. cent. Texas west to east which kicked off some serious thunderstorms. One of which found us, and we got about 1.5" of rain! An inch fell in 15-20 minutes. A great downpour, especially for a normally dryish December. Still overcast at noon and temps were low 50's F, a few of the first gusts of the blow-to-come had arrived. The standard post-frontal sunny blowout for the afternoon. Some gusts were 30 mph. At one point I heard a couple Robin and a few Waxwing. Might have hit 60F later in day.

~ ~ ~
These are not current photos.


Not sure what or if we have anything up here for these.
They are Bell's Vireo. Probably first fall immatures of
an eastern type, not the much duller western flavors.
They can be quite bright, and often might make you think
'warbler' at first glance of all the yellow below, green back,
and wingbars. Note the bigger thicker vireo shaped bill and
lack of tail spots. For wingbars, they can have one or two, and
one-and-a-half is common. They can look pale eye-ringed, or
eye-lined, or both. They are very variable, and will be a great
source of consternation until you learn them.  ;)
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 17 ~ Another balmy 66F or so low with the standard fog, mist, and overcast. Front is inbound by dawn tomorrow. Nothing different for birds around the yard. But the blackbird flock was over 300 birds today. Town run day, so a park check. Got the bird of the fall there with an American Woodcock on the island. I have been specifically checking for them for a couple months by this point in the fall (my early date is late September). This time I got in place to scan the island edge, said to myself 'commence woodcock scanning'. Started at far south end of island fairly nearish, not 50' away. Did not pan 4' and there was a WOODCOCK in my bins! Whaddabird! I love 'em. What a goofy shorebird, it seems to barely know it is one. It only takes one good bird to make your day. I scanned the rest of the shore, nothing, and when I returned to ground zero, the bird was gone. There were a bunch of big Sycamore leaves and such right there, I think it just crouched under some. In town at Rosie's a Bewick's Wren went off singing for five minutes as if it were spring, making waiting for tacos better.

Dec. 16 ~ Was about 70F at midnight, dropped to 66F by dawn. Low overcast, almost fog, some mist. The local winter blackbird flock was over in the corral and flew into the big pecan. They preened and fussed for a half-hour. It was about 150 birds, over 100 were Brewer's, a couple dozen Red-winged of both sexes, and a maybe 10 Brown-headed Cowbird. Could not pick out a Rusty. Light was bad against a white sky though. Looking for the female that wintered here the last 8 years, that we know of. After noon a bigger flock showed up that was 250 birds or more. I was able to go through them better. Same three species, just more of each, over a couple hundred Brewer's. Saw 72 on cool shady front porch.

Dec. 15 ~ Balmy with a low about 65F, humid, low overcast. Breezy Gulf flow out of south as usual. Got up to about 76-78F locally in the afternoon. Hardly seems like winter is bearing down on us in a week. A few leps, saw single Little Yellow, a Queen, a Gulf Fritillary, and a couple Sleepy Orange. Butterflies are winding down to nuthin'. At least a dozen White-winged Dove on the seed. Cardinal numbers maybe 15-20 or so. Black-crested Titmouse 6 or more, Carolina Chickadee seem like four. I got a chigger probably at my dawn seed toss, and Kathy said she just got one too. That is how warm it has been, we each found chiggers, just walking around the house outside, in December.

Dec. 14 ~ About 58F for a low, fog and mist. Wet ground means no dust. No dust is good. Not seeing anything different in birds in the yard, registered guests it seems. Though I would say it was well over 60 Chipping Sparrow, maybe 70+, this morning. The ad. White-crowned Sparrow is still here, looking big and fancy amongst the winter Chippies. Had a kettle of 35 Black Vulture, as many as I have seen at once here since the big freeze last February. Heard a couple notes of Cardinal song. Not a full song, but some of the elemental notes. The Black Rock Squirrel is still collecting sunflower seeds.

There is an amazing report (with photo) of a BAT Falcon from Santa Ana NWR down in the lower Rio Grande valley. Which would be a first U.S. record of this small tropical falcon. Helps to keep your mind open. Anything can happen. The Texas Bird Record Committee has accepted the Steller's Sea Eagle photo'd over Brazos way somewhere nearish Houston in SE Texas this spring. Texas will soon be bragging about how it also has the biggest... uh, size range in raptors, of any state.

Dec. 13 ~ It froze again, we had 32F here, and that was at 7a.m. before the last little dip. Might have hit 64F briefly but never felt it, overcast all day. Birds were the same gang. Except our Robin numbers tripled, to three. Did see an Am. Goldfinch on the sunflower feeder, and a Field Sparrow went to the tub pond. The rest was the registered guests. No butterflies today. Again, I don't see a freeze on the 10-day forecast. Not complaining, amazing how we have been skating on the cold so far. I expect we will pay for it yet.

Dec. 12 ~ Well there it is, finally, a real hard freeze. I saw 28F before that last quick final dip. It was freezing by midnight, and until past 8 a.m., finally. KERV had 25F and 26F readings briefly, mostly a couple dF warmer though. Might finish off the last few Blue Mistflower and Lantana flowers left though. It did get up to about 63F or so and a very few butterflies came out. A Sachem was different, an American Lady, single Gulf and Variegated Fritillary and a Sleepy Orange. Pretty soon we won't being seeing any. Birds were the same gang.

Dec. 11 ~ The winds turned north around midnight, and the front was here before dawn. Blew hard almost all day. Low was in upper 40's F, high in low 50's F, but did not feel like it. Was 10-20 mph, gusts 20-30 mph, some higher. No need to go out in that. Kathy saw Variegated Meadowhawk dragonfly in the yard. With one exception the birds were all the same around the yard. In the afternoon a small flock of 8 FOS Cedar Waxwing showed up looking for Hackberries. They didn't stay long. Nice to see them again. Might be my record late arrivals this year for Robin, Hermit Thrush, and Cedar Waxwing, have not checked that log yet. Once the wind stops, tomorrow morn will be the first freeze of the fall-winter season this year.

~ ~ ~
This is not a current photo.
This is the American Woodcock I saw at the park a couple years ago.
Another one was there today, Dec. 17, 2021, on the island again.
It is my fourth or fifth record at the park. Whaddabird!
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 10 ~ Foggy and about 60F for a low. Today is the hot day before the front arrives. I saw 80-82F outside, and at a few local WU stations, NOAA had 82 for KERV. Record highs at SAT and Del Rio for today are 85F, Del Rio had 86F today. At least it is dry, so very bearable. No birds out there. Town run day and park check, finally heard a FOS Hermit Thrush out on the island. Otherwise dead, nothing there. Little Creek Larry said a few ducks over on his creek, that was it. Here at the front porch in butterflies a No. Mestra flew by, the first one of the month. The rest was just of few of the usual.

In sky news, the Geminid meteor shower peaks in a few days, I saw a nice one last night. There is a comet, Leonard, low in the east an hour before first light. This weekend is peak brightness, and you will need binocs. We have not had a clear morning to look all week so far. Sunday, which looks to be the first freezing morning, it will only be 10 deg. above the horizon (Saturday about 20 deg. above, much higher up).

Dec. 9 ~ A nearly foggy low at about 64F. A couple local WU stations hit 80F again today. More winter. Heard a Turkey gobble this morn. Here is a list of the daily stuff in or over the yard: Black Vulture, Common Raven, Mourning and White-winged Dove, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee and Wren, Black-crested Titmouse, Chipping, Field, and a White-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Towhee, Eastern Phoebe, Am. Goldfinch, No. Cardinal Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Myrtle Warbler, either Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk if not both, and Bewick's Wren. About 20 sps. daily. Then not quite daily but usually a few times a week a Caracara goes over, the pair of Great Horned Owls call, a few House Finch are around and some Eastern Bluebird fly over. Maybe once a week, Turkey, Hutton's Vireo, Red-tailed Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, and the E. Screech-Owls call. Every couple weeks or less I hear a Red-shouldered Hawk. Pretty slow out there. If I get almost everything in one day it might be 25 species. Pretty weak tea. Reminds me of pelagic birding: long periods of boredom interspersed with brief flurries of incredible excitement.

Dec. 8 ~ Another 36F low today feels great. Had a quick run to town early. Blue Jay in town, nothing at the park. Little Creek Larry said he had some ducks finally this weekend on Little Creek, Gadwall and Wigeon. Finally. Must have been an accipiter or two around here, it was quiet much of the day. Heard a few Am. Goldfinch, saw the pair of Canyon Towhee, the one White-crowned and a couple Field Sparrow, continuing with the small Chippy flock. Saw a few butterflies, but they are fadin' fast. Singles of Pipevine Swallowtail, Red Admiral, Queen, Gulf Fritillary, Sleepy Orange, Cloudless Sulphur, So. Dogface, a Common Checkered-Skipper (which was not any of the ones I have been seeing), and new for the month, a very worn Gray Hairstreak. Too busy at the desk to kick bushes. I saw 76F in the cool shady of the front porch in the afternoon. It may well have hit 80F here today, several local WU stations did, and KERV had 79F. Just like winter. I sprayed some water on the patio and a pair of Variegated Meadowhawk in tandem went to ovipositing on it, with an additional male interloper making trouble. There is a 2' x 4' 50 gallon tub pond with cattails and other aquatic vegetation just 10 feet away they will not go to and use. Instead wasting eggs on the wet patio.

Dec. 7 ~ Some cooler air after the front and blow all day yesterday, was 36F for a low. A lot less leaves on the trees, looking more like winter. Not any action out there but the registered guests. And they are down in numbers. The Cypress are past the orange rusty phase and have moved into brown. Pecans and Hackberries are mostly leafless now, the Mesquites are yellow where they still have leaves. Only a few Tropical Sage and Blue Mistflower blooms still open. A few Straggler Daisy flowers here and there. A few butterflies. Saw two American Lady, a Red Admiral, Sleepy Orange, a colorful female 'marcellina' Speckled Cloudless Sulphur, a pale morph female Orange Sulphur, Gulf Fritillary, and a skipper that got away. We just barely kissed 70F briefly on the cheek at peak heat. A few Anole out hunting. Still no freeze on the 10 day. Nice planetary conjuction right after sundown. Venus is lowest, then Saturn, and Jupiter up higher. The moon was near Saturn when I looked. Now showing well.

Dec. 6 ~ It was about 61F midnight to about 8 a.m. whence the front hit and dropped it 10dF in 10 minutes or so. Looks a dry passage but going to be a big blower. Should be a big de-leafer, it will look like winter by time it is done. About 8:30 I finally had a single FOS Robin, in the formerly famous with Robins and Waxwings, now dying, Hackberry. Wonder if it is one that has been here before, when it had thousands of berries and a ginormous fifth-of-an-acre canopy. Or the one that hung out last winter when all the others left? Nice to hear one anyway. Stayed in the 50's F with winds on it all day. Going to be near a freeze in the morning. Mostly covered the tub pond at dusk.

Dec. 5 ~ Low about 64F with fog-mist. It is dripping. Dripped all day. There was an hour or so when I saw a spot of blue or two, but it never cleared. It maybe briefly kissed 70F at peak heat. A front is due in towmorrow at dawn, after flat-lining in upper 60's all night. Probably dry, but windy and cold Tuesday morning. Hardly any birds around. Saw the Kinglet, the pair of Canyon Towhee, heard the White-crowned Sparrow, maybe over 50 Chipping Sparrow now, a couple Field still here. Heard some Brewer's Blackbird go over up in the fog in the morning. Too cool and wet for butterflies, or to go out unless you like soppy in short order. Buried with stuff to work on here anyway.

Dec. 4 ~ Pretty dense fog at dawn, temp spread was 58-78F. Just like winter. Got the call and had to run up to town to get tamales. It is that or drive to Durango to get this type. OMG. To die for. Rosie didn't make them last year, so been too long. Drove a little around north end of town Hackberry and hedgerows and had nothing save 2 Vesper Sparrow. Checked golf course pond at Waresville and a bit on the course. At pond some Red-winged Blackbird in the reeds was it, but a few dragonflies. Variegated and Autumnal Meadowhawk, Green Darner, and something that got away probably would have been good for December here. One row of Hackberries on the golf course had a flock of Eastern Bluebird and Chipping Sparrow (dozen each) and a couple Myrtle Warbler. That was it. Some Orange and a Dainty Sulphur. Here the Clouded Skipper continued, but not much moving. Nothing different in birds.

~ ~ ~
This is not a current photo.
This is a Red-eyed Vireo. Poor photo I know, sorry.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Dec. 3 ~ Low was 59F at midnight, was foggy and 65F at dawn. Got up to 80F! Gadzooks! Nothin' different in birds out there. Town run day. Park was pretty dead, save a few of the residents in the woods. It was so warm a Cardinal sang there! First Cardinal song I have heard in months. Certainly the earliest I have ever heard one. Usually the first ones start in early-to-mid January, on rare exception in latest December. This is weeks ahead of normal. Do they know something we don't? Rhetorical of course, they lots we don't. Saw a couple teneral damselflies I could not ID, but heat-popped genetic dead-ends. One Questionmark butterfly was in the woods. Saw the Clouded Skipper on Kathy's Basil again. Better was seeing the Mimosa Yellow again! Their flight progression or pattern seems so very different to me from that of Little Yellow. I always first take notice them because of their flight pattern. Slow, weak, floppish, threading carefully amongst dense vegetation.

Dec. 2 ~ About 45F for a low, with the low stratus deck from the Gulf. Heard a or the Hutton's Vireo again, saw the ad. White-crowned Sparrow, the rest was all the same gang. The Southern Skipperling was on the Blue Mistflower again today, as was the Clouded Skipper. Mostly the same gang of butterflies, but less of them. Buried at the desk, so no matter anyway. Still no freeze on the 10-day forecast. Afternoon was 75F or so here. Pretty nice, except the scary part about this being December.

December 1 ~ Starting out warm, it was 59F at dawn, 10dF higher than midnight whence 49F. The low Gulf stratus got here from the south and is nearly fog. After the last winds the trees are much more de-leafed. It is getting bare out there. Too busy at the desk. The ad. White-crowned Sparrow seems to be sticking, would be nice. Butterflies were the action. Beastlet of the day was a Southern Skipperling. I saw no Skipperlings in November, so it didn't take a day to see something not seen last month. Saw Large Orange, Orange, and Cloudless Sulphurs, Sleepy Orange, So. Dogface, Clouded Skipper, Common Checkered-Skipper, a few Queen, a Pipevine Swallowtail. Hit 72F or so at peak afternoon heat, felt great.

~ ~ ~ November summary ~ ~ ~

It was mild and dry. Barely lucked into a half-inch of rain, but the October rains percolated down and for a couple weeks water was going over spillway at park again. Very little blooming in native flowers in natural habitats, Tropical Sage might be the most important November bloomer. A little bit of cultivated bloom at gardens. Our Blue Mist Eupatorium saved the fall for bringing some butterflies to the porch. Most of the Cowpen Daisy had almost nothing on it, Frostweed and Red Turkscap fade away early in the month.

Butterflies were about 35 species, not bad considering there was no big invasion from the south again this year. Probably all from the front porch at either the Blue Mist Eup. or at Tropical Sage. The mild temps surely helped keeping it going later into month. Nothing rare though, just the usual end-of-season flyers. The only LTA - less than annual - species was the Mexican Yellow from late Oct. which showed daily to the 19th at least, staying three weeks, which was great. A Julia's Skipper was present the last two weeks of the month. One Mimosa Yellow was seen on the Blue Mist one day. No November Monarch is odd, usually we get some stragglers after the big October push. We did not have a big Oct. push either.

Dragonflies were only a handful of species, the usual last types flying in November. Autumnal and Variegated Meadowhawk were the only ones seen in multiple places and low numbers. Otherwise it was just the last couple Green Darner or Swift Setwing and so on.

One of the best things seen in Nov. was one of the best all year, since I miss them more years than see them, a Coral Snake at the back porch the 21st. What an amazingly beautiful beastlet! Did have a plain vanila W. Ribbonsnake mid-month as well. One lateish Rose-bellied Lizard was nice too.

Birds were fairly slow overall. The mild temps have not pushed many winter birds down yet. Saw a Selasphorus (probably Rufous) Hummingbird, the first day of the month and not again. After a few in Oct. only once early in month was a Red-breasted Nuthatch seen. They came in, counted bugs in the bark and seeds in the trees for a week and left. A White-throated Sparrow on the 7th was good, as were a couple Golden-crowned Kinglet on the 20th. The Kinglet is almost surely annual, the sparrow is surprisingly easy to not see in fall here. Best bird is a bird-of-the-year candidate, the calling flyover McCown's Longspur on the 28th. I only saw about 62 sps. myself this month. I know of at least 7-8 sps. others reported locally, so it wasn't quite as bad as it sounds. When you get just one new yard and county bird, the rest does not matter.

~ ~ ~ end November summary ~ ~ ~

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

November ~ The 1st I heard my FOS Myrtle Warbler, and saw a hummingbird that was likely a Rufous. The 2nd there was a FOS Orange-crowned Warbler and I saw my FOS Sapsucker sps., presumed Yell-bell. There were some Killdeer across the river in a pasture the 3rd, new arrivals. About 1.5" of rain fell on a cold front passage Nov. 3-4. The 5th saw a FOS flock of Meadowlark, but did not ID to type. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was in the yard briefly mid-day on the 6th. On the 7th we saw our FOS White-throated Sparrow. Heard my FOS Sandhill Cranes high overhead on the 11th, and more on the 12th. The FOS Brewer's Blackbird were on the 14th. A Junco was reported at a deer feeder mid-month. The 19th I heard my FOS American Goldfinch, one here at the house, and a second at the park, on the 25th I had six. Two FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet went through yard the 20th, my FOS Merlin blasted by calling the 21st. A Coral Snake, also on the 21st, was great. New for the local list was a McCown's Longspur on Nov. 28 which flew over calling. Leslie Calvert reported a Selasphorus (prob. Rufous) Hummingbird and a Say's Phoebe around Thanksgiving.

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

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Nov. 30 ~ Wow another 34F low, at least at 7 a.m., it probably dropped another dF before it bottomed out. NOAA and WU had it progged for a 43F low. At midnight it was already lower than that. Maybe up on high points on the hills and ridges or top of the plateau it was closer, but in cold low spots there can be a 10 dF difference in this terrain. Saw the ad. White-crowned Sparrow on the patio, and a Hutton's Vireo was making noises.

Nov. 29 ~ I saw 34F at 7 a.m., and it probably dropped a dF, maybe two at that peak cold flash a little later. KERV had a couple 32F readings but was mostly 33. It was cold, probably the coldest one so far this fall, will likely see some freeze burn purple on some soft plants. Nothing cold on the ten-day forecast currently, so I would say we made it *through* November without a real freeze. Incredible. Way warmer than average normal. Last year we froze the 31st of October. Sure do not mind not having to use heat! Saw a Cooper's Hawk chasing things around. A few Am. Goldfinch, heard House Finches, but overall it was the same gang of guests. Fewer butterflies, I suspect that low got some of them. The Julia's Skipper and the Whirlabout were both still on the Blue Mistflower though. Great late dates.

Nov. 28 ~ Low about 40F, but dry and sunny. By 9 a.m. it was warmer than yesterday at 56F. The best bird of the fall flew over calling about 8 a.m., the bird formerly known as a MCCOWN'S LONGSPUR! The new name is now Thick-billed Longspur, I think since last year. Which does not strike me as a good name. One of their diagnostic calls is a unique ringing somewhat metallic 'boik' note. Boiking Longspur would have been fine with me. Because Big Fat Short-tailed Gray Boiking Longspur would have admittedly been unwieldy. This one will go down as my first in UvCo, though I have had a couple flyovers call before that I left as hypothetical probables. This one called several times as it flew over giving great long rattles, not very high up, so it gets to go on my county list. New for the 'Upper Sabinal River Drainage' list as well of course. The day will now be downhill from 8 a.m., unless you consider driving around looking for barren fields or ploughed fallow pastures exciting, as I think some of that just got put on the to do list for today. If we get lucky we might find a bare dirt freshly ploughed pasture with nothing in it, you never know.

A few butterflies on the Blue Mist as it warmed, new was a Desert Checkered-Skipper. A Dainty Sulphur was around, some Queen and Pipevine, Dogface and Sleepy Orange, Gulf and Variegated Frit, Red Admiral, the usual. Hit at least 70F in the toasty afternoon. Had a few Eastern Bluebird and a Myrtle Warbler go through yard with a few Chipping Sparrow as a flocklet. A couple times in the afternoon I heard Sandhill Cranes southbound overhead. The Cowpen Daisy in the corrals had very few butterflies, but a Phaon Crescent was nice and fresh. Nothing different though. Miraculously Kathy found stuff to do here but I spent a couple hours in the afternoon looking in empty fields for birds.

Went to UvCo 361 south of us a couple miles and slow-rolled it. A couple each Vesper and Field Sparrow, a few Chipping, a small flocklet of House Finch, and that was it. No hawks, no blackbird flock, no Say's, nothing in all the pastures or along a few miles of road. One big Rose-bellied Lizard. One Loggerhead Shrike by the 4-mile bridge. A mile south of the bridge, a half-mile south of 361 I did finally find two Eastern Meadowlark. Then up at the pond by the Waresville Cmty. there were about 65 Red-winged Blackbird, maybe ten female, the rest male, and nothing else in with them. No other birds at the pond, only one Variegated Meadowhawk dragonfly. One small group of birds in a treeline on the golf course was a few each Eastern Bluebird and Chipping Sparrow, two Ladder-backed and a Golden-fronted Woodpecker, two Myrtle and one female Audubon's Warbler. Plus three Eurasian Starling. Lovely. Passage migrants I am guessing or hoping. Nothing at the 360 crossing.

Sure is weird how dead it is out there for birds. I am guessing it is long term cumulative effects of the recent current drought, couple with not ever recovering biologically from the exceptional one that allegedly 'ended' a few years ago. Then add the repeated recent rather large failures of fruit, nut, and seed crops, as well as wildflowers, and the concurrent decrease in the insect population. When you think it seems like the habitat is there, but the birds are not, there is probably something in the habitat you can not see that is indeed missing.

Nov. 27 ~ Low about 42F, and we got a half-inch of rain overnight from the low as it passed. Chilly wet day, got up to about 55F in the peak afternoon heat. Saw the ad. White-crowned Sparrow, I presume the one Kathy saw yesterday at bath, with pink bill. Heard a 'lookout accipiter' alarm call and saw some big pale feathers floating down, one must have hit a dove. Some days it is good to have plenty to do inside, like when it is cold and wet. We are supposed to get some warmth and sun tomorrow so maybe will take a spinabout. Had two Mockingbird in a fit, one obviously defending a big tangle of Pepper Vine with berries.

Lost Maples was booked weekends all month, a month ago or so. I think Nov. is their busiest month there. Due to lots of people noise it is very hard to bird weekend days in Oct. and Nov., unless you are there at dawn. And frankly due to the canyons staying cold and taking time to get sun and warm up, the bird activity is often 'up on top' early first thing, whilst you are stuck down on the trails in the cold shady. So first thing is often not as good as a couple hours later when sun hits lower parts of canyon in later fall and winter. The big leaf-change color show this year was far from great. The usual few spots and splashes of color, but it was not one of those two-in-ten-year events whence it is outstanding.

~ ~ ~
This is not a current photo.
This is a male Red-breasted Sunfish (Lepomis auritis) in
breeding colors. Quite the beauty, tasty too. All the
sunfish (aka perch) here are introduced and non-native.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 26 ~ Wind stopped at some point overnight and clouds came in. Low was 42F or so. Heard some Brewer's Blackbird, Kathy saw a White-crowned Sparrow at the bath, pink-billed, so the usual eastern leucophrys. I thought I heard a Junco but did not see it. There were at least 50 Chipping Sparrow on the seed, so their numbers are building. The park is dead, no bugs, no birds, as it has been all fall. It is scary slow out there. The deco Maples around town and on 187 are past peak, but some still with some decent color. The water is just barely going over spillway at park pond in one little spot. The Cypresses are nice and rusty though.

Nov. 25 ~ Was about 60F midnight to 6 a.m. when the front got here. It was about 50F with 10-20 mph northerlies at 8 a.m.! We only saw a wee bit of mist while it was still warm. Don't have to worry about seeing any reptiles or butterflies today. Good for that Thanksgiving ambiance to have that slight wintry feel to the day though. Normally it is a big grind day at the desk, so any Thursday evening without looming order cutoffs is a 5-star bell-ringing fireworks and alcohol holiday if you are in the fish biz. This is the one sure one per year. I am thankful when I get one. Saw 6-7 Am. Goldfinch a couple times over the day. Later afternoon 5 big Tom Turkey walked around over in the corral. You could tell by how nonchalant they were that they did not know what day it was, or what was cooking in here. Worked its way back up to about 60F at peak heat. Wind blew all day and is supposed to go much of the night.

Nov. 24 ~ Low of 61F or so, warmed since midnight. Southerly flow and overcast ahead of the next inbound front tonight and tomorrow morning. This one might have a shower with it, if we are lucky. Got up to about 70F or so. The birds were the same and me too busy with work. Heard a, or the, White-crowned Sparrow, maybe 35 Chipping and a couple Field on the seed. Some Raven and a couple Black Vulture. The pair of Canyon Towhee, Myrtle Warbler and the Ruby-crowned Kinglet still here. Butterflies were all the same ones. November is a great time for a super-mega rarity, my photos of Band-celled Sister and Ruby-spotted Swallowtail here are both from November.

Nov. 23 ~ Wow it was a near-freeze, or maybe a flash-freeze briefly. One thermometer said 30F (cold north side of porch), the other 38F (warm south side), the low one is usually better than the old aquarium thermometer I took out for 7-8 a.m. when I couldn't believe the 30F reading. The steel roof dripped when it warmed, so there was frost on it at minimum. I did not see any frost on the grass, and the birdbath and tub pond did not have ice. So it was very close around the freeze-line, and maybe briefly froze, but overall probably just frosted. It did not feel freezing to me, but it was junco cold. KERV grabbed a 31F for one reading.

The butterflies seemed dialed back today, I suspect cold got some. Saw the first Giant Swallowtail in a couple weeks though. The male Whirlabout was still here, as was the Julia's Skipper. Heard an American Goldfinch a couple times, saw the pair of Canyon Towhee, a Kinglet (Ruby), but geez it is slow out there. A flock of at least a dozen Eastern Bluebird flew over highish commuting. Later afternoon saw a male Autumnal Meadowhawk (dragonfly) hawking out back.

Nov. 22 ~ The front passed yesterday evening and last night. Low about 48F, KERV had a 45F. Warmed up to about 70F in the sun. Good bit of butterfly action for a bit at peak heat. Several were new for the month. A Checkered White flew by, a Tropical Checkered-Skipper stopped on the Blue Mistflower, as did a Whirlabout (male), and a Mimosa Yellow did too. FOUR new for the month species, in an hour. Amazing. The Mimosa was the first one I have seen all year. Pierids are the bulk of activity now though. Besides the Mimosa and the White, saw a Large Orange, two Cloudless, and an Orange Sulphur, a couple So. Dogface, a Little Yellow, and a few Sleepy Orange. Did not see the Mexican Yellow or Soldier today though. Nothing different for birds, and no Coral Snake.

Nov. 21 ~ Another warm low, about 64F or so, the front is set to arrive this afternoon. Worked on things here again, carport getting better. In the morning I saw (and heard call) my FOS Merlin. Usually we do not hear them down here. That was nice. That was it for different birds though, the rest was registered guests. Saw the Soldier still here, as is the Julia's Skipper, a Sachem, plus the usual few that have been around. Different was a Catacola underwing moth, one of the brown-winged types as cf. obscurus. One Wooly Bear caterpillar was on wall at back porch. The beast of the day went down a crack where the back porch meets the ground, late in afternoon, an Eastern Coral Snake! New yard snake! Saw one once down the road at the crossing. What an amazingly beautiful snake. Made my day. Only one I have seen this year. The front is arriving around dark.

Nov. 20 ~ Low about 65F (!), with low stratus, afternoon cleared a bit and hit 75F or so. The warmup before the front arriving tomorrow. Best thing today was two FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet that went through the yard together in the morning. Nice to see and hear them again. Most of the same butterflies continued around the porch, including the Soldier and Mexican Yellow. Saw an Elada Checkerspot which is new for the month. Glad we still have some few flowers blooming. Got some more work done outside in the carport. Something, I think the Spotted Skunk, made a nestish area with a bunch of rubbish odds and ends. It is a mess, but getting better.

~ ~ ~
This is not a current photo.
This is a prior photo of a Coral Snake, but since I added
it to the yard list this week you get to see it again.
Makes 8 sps. of snakes in the yard, and have had a couple
Rough Green Snake just down the road a bit. No rattlers (pigs).
Surely there are (Baird's) Rat Snake and some Racers around.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 19 ~ The clouds and southerly flow won. Low was 50F! Looks like we are getting past Thanksgiving next week before we get a freeze. Fine on the electric bill. Though still hardly any 'winter' birds here yet. Eerily quiet out there is a regular thing here now. As I was getting ready to head to town I heard a FOS American Goldfinch fly over. Nothing at the park woods or pond. Right as I was getting in the car an American Goldfinch flew over calling. Two this FOS day. Little Creek Larry said he saw a Pied-billed Grebe one day this week, and at one of his deer feeders on Little Creek he had a Junco most of the week. Also said he might have had a Flicker last week, glimpsed a big woodpecker with spots on underparts, but only seen briefly.

All that is more than I have seen, except some butterflies. Here saw a couple each Variegated and Gulf Fritillary, a couple So. Dogface, a couple Queen, the Soldier is still here (day 3), a So. Pearl Crescent, two Vesta Crescent, pale morph female Orange Sulphur, couple Cloudless and a Dainty Sulphur, few Sleepy Orange, the Mexican Yellow is still here, a Red Admiral and an Am. Lady, couple Pipevine Swallowtail, Sachem, Clouded, Fiery, and Julia's Skippers, and Common Checkered-Skipper. Twenty species! For the date, at the porch, pretty acceptable. I only saw about 67F here for a high.

Nov. 18 ~ Front got here after midnight, dry so far as of morn. Low about 54F with 10-15 mph northerlies gusting 20-30 mph. Some scattered showers but they all missed us. Lottsa leaves falling. Hit 60F at noon, but did not feel like it. Not much moving outside, presume a hawk is on watch. Too chilly for butterflies. Forecast for lows tomorrow a.m. range from low 40's to high 30's, but some coldest low spots could see frost or even a freeze they say. Pending if clouds hold or it clears.

Nov. 17 ~ Another 64F low, with low stratus from the Gulf. A cold front arrives tonight, likely dry, so the pre-frontal warmup today. We hit 78F. Tomorrow the high will be the low of today, with northerlies on it. So no butterflies tomorrow. Today they were out though. A Soldier was my first for the month. Saw the Mexican Yellow still here, a Dainty Sulphur, a few Cloudless and one Orange Sulphur, one So. Dogface female, a few Queen and Pipevine, one Variegated Frit, a Sachem and a Checkered-Skipper, some Sleepy Orange of course, a couple Vesta Crescent. Had a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Hutton's Vireo all but together in the Mulberry. Which is pretty bright yellow and dropping of leaves now. A few Field Sparrow still around amongst the Chippies. The pair of Canyon Towhee seem to be in for the winter. The record spread of low and high temps, for this date in SAT is 22F-88F!

Nov. 16 ~ Low about 64F, on the verge of mist. Sunny and warming into 70's by 11 a.m. The pair of Canyon Towhee still here, about 35 Chipping Sparrow flushed in a couple waves. Otherwise it was the same gang. Too busy working on things anyway, trying to get cottage, carport, and outside things done before it gets too cold. Did see the Mexican Yellow again, the Celia's Roadside-Skipper was nectaring at Kathy's Giant Basil. Clouded Skipper is still here. One Little Yellow went across yard. Amazing how mild it has been, the ten day forecast still without a freeze showing through Thanksgiving! Late a Belted Kingfisher flew upriver high over the Cypress that line the river. A Kinglet (Ruby) and a Myrtle Warbler seem to be sticking close by.

Have to figure out how to cover the 50 gal. tub pond before a freeze. Was easy when two isolated clumps of cattails, but now they stick up all over. It did pretty well over the summer, for being a no maintenence effort. Add water every couple days is the only item. There was a hair algae issue early in spring until the macros grew enough to out compete it, and poof, voila!, gone. Mostly a spindly Ceratophyllum, but a couple other things too. Likely 40 or more Gambusia, and now one dang Rio Grande Leopard Frog, which seems to have taken out the Barking Frogs, which I much preferred. Did get that one male Neon Skimmer on the cattails a few days this summer.

Nov. 15 ~ Low about 62F or so, low stratus was thick to the point of misting. Cleared by noon and warmed to 75F or so. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at the river in the morning. Other than that it was the same set. Only new different thing was a great late date for a Celia's Roadside-Skipper. Been over a week, maybe ten days since I saw one. Thought they were done and that was it. The Julia's Skipper is still out there too. We get to hear a Myrtle Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet daily now it seems, which is neat for a change. I suspect due to the drought conditions leading into it, this winter is going to be another one with very few birds around due to generally poor fruit, nut, berry (as in hack), seed and insect crops all year prior. Saw a Queen get picked off a Blue Mistflower by a Green Anole.

Nov. 14 ~ The moderate temp program continues. But not much moving out there. Seems a real lack of birds. Did have one White-crowned Sparrow early and late. The only thing new was a small flock of FOS Brewer's Blackbird that flew over. The rest was the same gang. Butterflies were hitting the Blue Mistflower and Tropical Sage in the afternoon mid-70's heat. There 5 Sleepy Orange at once, and 6 Queen at once. Two new for month species were a flyby Questionmark (winter form) and a Dainty Sulphur. In Skippers saw Julia's, Clouded, Sachem, and Comm. Checkered-. Large Orange, Orange, Cloudless, and the Dainty for Sulphurs, a Dogface, Gulf Fritillary, Pipevine Swallowtails, so at least something to look at. Had lots of work to do here so didn't get out. No owls called all evening. The moon probably too bright now with a waxing gibbous past first quarter.

Nov. 13 ~ Low about 42F or so, and clear. Birds were same gang in yard. Worked here on things and nothing new and different in birds. In butterflies did see two first of the month species: a fresh female Black Swallowtail, and a Dainty Sulphur. Julia's and Clouded Skipper both also still here, as is the Mexican Yellow, which is now present two weeks. Very cool. Got up to about 75F, pretty nice. Despite the bright moon the owl was calling earlier than I have ever heard it. So after dinner I went looking for most of an hour. Again, I was able to get a little over a hundred yards maybe from it and it shut up. I worked to right across river from the right trees and waited 20 minutes with no light, hidden in shadow from moonlight, it was gone or shut up and quietly snickering. Finally I spent 5 minutes lighting up the trees brightly with LED light, trying to see if I could spot it, no luck again. Came back and it did not call again for four hours until after midnight (I was ears-out every hour). Seems me looking for it really puts it off. It sounded maybe a bit closer. I went to bed. Seeming one can't sneak up on it and it seems very recalcitrant to contact. I did get two more single hoot calls recorded on the Powershot (MOV files). The E. Screech-Owl (mccallii) were calling lots and loud about midnight. Saw a yearling Opossum again later evening, forgot to mention it yesterday night. A dillo or two, and too many coons.

~ ~ ~
This is not a current photo.
This is a male Cardinal in which all the head feathers
have been molted, undergoing annual replacement.
This photo taken in June, it is generally late spring
to summer when it occurs (when it can't get cold).
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 12 ~ Low was 40F or lower, I didn't watch for the final drop. I get bird feeders up and a few pounds of seed spread in my sleep first thing at dawn thirty and jump back into bed with a cup of coffee. Beats watching the thermometer. KERV had a 37F! Almost cold enough for frost! Still none yet. Currently the ten-day forecast still shows no freeze. Last year we froze early, in mid-October. Not minding it being in the middle, not too hot, not too cold. Just right. Signed-Goldilocks.

Still dead as a doornail out there. Heard a Myrtle Warbler in the yard, another at the park, but none around town. Nothing in park woods, heard a Ringed Kingfisher upriver. Saw a Phaon Crescent and a Sachem for butterflies at the park. Couple odes there looked like Setwings but too far away, one Autumnal Meadowhawk male. Heard some cranes high overhead again today. Mentioned to Little Creek Larry I heard some yesterday and he said he heard his first this fall yesterday as well. About the same yard butterflies again. The Mexican Yellow was still about, four Queen, a Sachem, Clouded and Comm. Checkered- Skippers, Sleepy Orange, Cloudless Sulphur, some Pipevines, later afternoon a Red Admiral and a fresh American Lady. Did hear 'one-hoot' last night but only late after moon got very low just above the western horizon, after midnight.

Nov. 11 ~ Low about 62F, the first puffs of northerlies from the cold front were not until after 8:30 a.m., a bit behind schedule. Last night just after midnight when the moon got low and sky dark, ol' one-hoot was calling. It did not call all evening when moon out, now at first quarter or so. The highlight of the day was my FOS Sandhill Cranes calling high overhead as they progressed southward. Riding those northerlies. The rest was the same gang. Nice to hear a Myrtle Warbler chip, and the chid-it of Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Did hear a Kestrel too. In butterflies there was a nice mint fresh Buckeye for a bit. A couple Cloudless Sulphur, couple Sleepy Orange, a female So. Dogface, an Orange Sulphur, a Lyside Sulphur which might be my first for the month. Skippers were Comm. Checkered-, Sachem, and Clouded. Few Pipevine Swallowtail, a Queen, Gulf and a Variegated Fritillary, a Vesta Crescent.

Nov. 10 ~ Low about 62F or so, low clouds in a.m., some sun in afternoon, the usual. Did not see anything different in birds or butterflies. Did see a W. Ribbonsnake which is always nice. Also a Four-lined Skink, besides the still daily Anole and E. Fence (Prairie) Lizard. Add the Rio Grande Leopard Frog that moved into the tub pond and it was 5 sps. of Herps today. My policy has always been to enjoy what ever kind of nature you can get. Herps are nice too. Did not hear any owls in the evening. Moon getting bright and was clear. Stars were nice once the moon got low later. Front is inbound tonight overnight, but looks a dry passage. Winds will be northerly by the morn.

Nov. 9 ~ Low was about 60F with the Gulf flow and low overcast. Heard a Ringed Kingfisher over at river early in morn. Just the usual in the yard. Too busy with work. Did see the same batch of butterflies as yesterday in the afternoon heat, about 75F. Did hear ol' one-hoot way down the river. But just a few times, very intermittently, and not on last few checks outside. We have a nice fall bloom going on the one Mealy Sage, which the Cloudless Skipper favors. The Mexican Yellow is only on the Tropical Sage. And never the twain shall meet, here now anyway.

Nov. 8 ~ It was about 50F at midnight, and at dawn about 58F. The zonal southerly Gulf flow returned, with its low stratus and humidity. Warmed to mid-70's in the afternoon, nice. Nothing different for birds, heard a Kinglet (Ruby) and a Myrtle Warbler, few Field Sparrow, a couple dozen plus Chipping. The usual. A few butterflies on the Blue Mist and Tropical Sage. Large Orange, Orange, and Cloudless Sulphur, Mexican Yellow and Sleepy Orange, a Pipevine, a Gulf Frit, and some skippers: Clouded, Fiery, Julia's, Sachem, and Common Checkered-. No Owl calling last night. Might have been some big lights on at the ranch across the river, the main big trees it has been calling from had some light on them. Hoping that was it. A couple kindly Texpert birders have helped with some editing of the .MOV file I got with Canon and so now have a smaller file with the cricket filtered out to work with and see if we can get a confirmed ID out of it.

Nov 7 ~ Low about 39F, so broke 40 two morns in a row. Beats the dickens out of 70F lows! Later last night (on 6th) I did not hear the owl until after 10 p.m., but it got going at times with just 12-15 seconds between calls, whereas when I recorded the two hoots night before they were over a minute apart. After noon we went over to river and walked over a half-mile of it slowly carefully scanning all the big Cypresses hoping to find a roosting owl, whitewash, something. Nothing on that front. Heard a Downy Woodpecker, pished up a FOS White-throated Sparrow, which is easy to miss here and not ever a sure thing, so way better than it sounds. Had a Kinglet (Ruby), heard a Myrtle Warbler or two, some Titmouse, Cards, saw a couple Ladder-backed Woodpecker, heard a Golden-fronted. On way back kicked up a Long-billed Thrasher along the corral a quarter mile south of us. In leps saw a Red Admiral, Gulf Frit, 0range Sulphur, So. Dogface, an un-ID'd skipper or two that looked Fiery, a Pipevine Swallowtail. Here at casita in leps saw a Sachem, the Julia's Skipper, a big dark one was surely a Clouded Skipper, the Mexican Yellow, a Queen and a Pipevine, a Sleepy Orange, and one big pale Giant Swallowtail went by. Hoping it was not something rarer. It sure got dark early!

Nov. 6 ~ A chilly low of 37.5F was the first below 40 of the season. What a treat. The birds were all the same, except mid-day a Red-breasted Nuthatch was in the yard briefly. Only did the quiet foraging mumbling, never gave a yank, and neither do I. Well sometimes I do, like when I hear a Red-breasted Nuthatch. It was to no avail though and if I had not have been out there it would have been undetected. A few butterflies were out for the first time in a few days. Singles of Pipevine Swallowtail, Orange Sulphur, the Mexican Yellow, a Queen, a Sachem, and a Julia's Skipper. Best was a worn Phaon Crescent in driveway. Kathy saw a Red Admiral.

The best thing today was waking up knowing I got a call from ol' one-hoot last night recorded. Actually got two calls about an hour apart, just a single hoot each time. Problem is that it is an MOV (movie) file taken with the broken (for photography) Canon. But it got a hoot anyway, two of 'em. I do not know anything about editing movie files. Both bits have a loud cricket of some odd sort (Tree type) drowning it out a bit. Which I could not hear myself but it recorded well. No visual, just black, but the shorter bit at about 24 seconds is 15MB file, with no visual! I am sure the file could be chopped down to five seconds and MB. I presume the audio part can be editied to filter out the cricket (high frequencies) and it would be fine and usable. The 1.25 minute long bit is 55MB! So I have to figure out a way to process them, but at least have two hoots an hour apart, files on the hard drive now. The calls were recorded before midnight actually so will be dated Nov. 5 for the record.

Was sure glad I had the gun on when I got the first recording because I jumped some big pigs at less than 20'! Didn't need to reach for it, but dang glad to know it was there. You could be in trouble if one baby was on the other side of you from them. Walking in the dark you can't see. But really good for your heart hearing large animals jump, grunt, snort, explode, crashing branches in the dark, real close, and for a few seconds you can't tell whether they are comin' or goin''. Really increases alertness.

~ ~ ~
This is not a current photo.
This is a male Barn Swallow, getting grass muddy for the nest.
In Europe it is generally considered good luck if swallows
nest at your house. Here more resent their feces. I suspect
the idea of good fortune came from their bug eating capacities.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 5 ~ Might have hit about 45F overnight but was more like 48 by daybreak. When I went to spread seed at 7 a.m. first crack of light, I heard one-hoot over by river straight across road from us. I do not do anything before coffee though, so did not chase after it. After lighting trees it was in last night, I did not hear it again until after midnight but by then was in crash mode so did not go back out after it. I would describe the call as sounding like a thermonuclear irradiated steroidal two foot Flammulated Owl. Tonight I will see if the video function on the lens-broken camera will record the low frequency note. It is poor quality sound but if it picks it up, which I frankly doubt, it would be something at least.

Town run day fer shtuff. Nice to hear a Myrtle Warbler along the road on way. On 360 there was a big flock of FOS Meadowlark, but none called when they flushed so I don't know what type. Suspect Western but just sps. for now. Still waiting for the water to filter down and bring the park pond back up to the spillway, 5-6" down from top still. One Belted Kingfisher, one Lincoln's Sparrow, a Myrtle Warbler, few Titmouse and Cardinal, a couple Ladder-backed Woodpecker. After 3 p.m. the sun finally showed again, saw one Pipevine Swallowtail, a female Sachem, and a very small skipper of some sort.

Nov. 4 ~ Still some drizzle this morn, low was 47F. Looks like about 4 cm, or 1.5" for a total now. A great event! Chilly day might have hit 56F or so, cool, damp, with a breeze. The birds were all the same registered guests. Except ol' one-hoot, who was back who-ing about 8:45. So I suited up, shoes, jacket, flashlight, gun, Mavica camera in case a docu shot possible, and went huntin'. From here I thought maybe a little over 100 yards away. It was about 4-500 yards I would guess. I hate walking through hip high dry grass here, it is how to collect chiggers. Much less in the dark along the river where the pigs roam. Anyway I used the light as little as possible, just quick flashes to sorta see in the dark. Do not walk in a straight line toward a calling owl with the light on. Unless you do not want to see it. Zig-zag back and forth closing the distance so it does not feel directly threatened. No worries about rattlers here with the pigs at least. I course corrected three times when it called and got right across the river from three xxl cypresses it seemed to be calling from. Once I hit the trees with light it never called again, and I could not spot it. It was a half-hour I put in, at least I tried. Came home and took hot soapy shower. Went back out and still no more calling a half hour later. It would be easy to record, if I had something to record with. My handheld Sony broke and the little mini dish I used does not pick up low frequency sounds anyway. Have just about maxed out and pegged the dial on frustration. Though, will try for more later or tomorrow evening if I hear it. Did flush a Lincoln's Sparrow when walking in the tall grass. It flushed into a juniper where I got it in bins and light. It was roosting on the ground seemingly in or under a clump of grass.

Nov. 3 ~ Was about 70F at midnight, and about 66F at daybreak, in upper 50's by noon. Light showers started at daybreak, off and on mostly. The last couple hours of light we had a real shower, I see we are at .75 of an inch. Wow on a cold wet afternoon in the 50's F though. Caught a glimpse of the Sapsucker again. I think an ad. fem. Yellow-bellied from what I saw bare-eyed. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby). Slow, likely a hidden hawk on watch as often. You see some Fox Squirrel out getting a little wet in the rain. You would never see the Black Rock Squirrel out there in it. They act like they are allergic to water falling on that black pelt. They won't even come out of the ground until they are sure all the drops have fallen off the leaves. I see at 11 p.m. we are at about 3 cm of precip, and still light showers.

Nov. 2 ~ Low was 62F here, a tongue of cold air must have hit KERV, they were low 50's F! Heard about three Myrtle Warbler out there, did not see one. Heard a FOS Orange-crowned Warbler, finally. Heard a Kestrel just down the road. The rest was the same gang. Did not see any hummingbird today. Kathy saw a Mockingbird take a bath, have not had one around in a bit. Maybe a winterer showing up? Saw the Mexican Yellow again though. One Gray Hairstreak was the only small item. Still more flowers than butterflies this fall. A cold front is due in tomorrow, thought maybe some more butterflies in the afternoon heat, but no. One Common Checkered-Skipper, put out the 5 alarm alert! The funny thing of the day was hearing hissy fit notes from one of the Canyon Towhee under the pickup trucklet. Next thing a Mockingbird shoots out and away! The Towhee displaced it from its natural habitat and territory, the trucklet. Late in day there was a Lincoln's Sparrow on seed. No owl last night. Last three nights now, nothing. The Great Horned pair probably chases it away.

November 1 ~ OMG, only 60 days left in the year! There is so much I haven't gotten done yet! Kathy spotted a hummingbird at the front porch feeder but light first thing facing east is the worst so I could not ID it. It looked probably a Selasphorus. Saw a Sapsucker sps. fly out of the Mulberry over the cottage. My FOS, and Yellow-bellied is default here until proven otherwise. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby). Heard a FOS Myrtle Warbler, the earlier Yellow-rumps were Audubon's. Canyon Towhee were out there. Field and Chipping Sparrow, no Lark left. Heard a Hutton's Vireo across the road. Went out every hour last night and again tonight, listening for ol' one-hoot and never heard it as of after midnight when I gave up. Seeing a fair number of Acridids still, the Short-horned Grasshopper. Both the orange-winged, and the light yellowish-lime-green winged types are still flying. But still no Roadrunner in months. Amazing how they have disappeared here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ October summary ~ ~ ~

Ended up with a great rain total for October, about 6-7 (!) inches. Great since we needed it so badly. Kept the few flowers going through the month. No early freeze, not even a frost yet, 40F was the lowest temp so far. Water not going over spillway, was still down 6" on the 29th.

Butterflies were good diversity considering there was again no southern invasion of excitement. The last good one of those was 2016, five years ago. It was 54 species this month, plus a couple that got away. Highest monthly total for the year, just nosing out the 53 sps. in July. Many though were only one individual seen. Flowers were sparse, butterflies were thinner. I did not see any good Monarch passage days, just small numbers. Best was a TAILED ORANGE, the first in a decade or so for me here. An Empress Leila was also great, as also very scarce and LTA lately. One worn Zebra flyby. Hardly any of the small stuff around.

Dragonflies crashed early in the month, fast and hard it seemed. Did get the Comet Darner at Waresville pond first thing in month though. The usual Autumnal Meadowhawks showed up but no rare stuff save the Comet. It was 20 species and lots were just one or a couple seen early in month. A Black Setwing was nice since scarce this year. Makes ya appreciate those 30 sps. months June through September.

Birds were pretty weak. I saw about 73 species. Fall migration here is weak in a good year. This year October was terrible. Worst ever. I hardly saw any migrants after the first week of the month. I wonder if they just are flying over or around the area due to the lack of bugs and general drought conditions. Better hope so, otherwise we are in trouble. A Western Kingbird was a great find in early October whence accidental. Two Broad-tailed Hummingbird was nice. Great was TWO separate White-fronted Goose about the 15th in town, my earliest ever local fall dates. A good bird got away that looked like a big Martin. A better bird was heard only so will remain unamed for now.

~ ~ ~ end October summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ archive copy Oct. update header ~ ~

October ~ The 2nd I saw 3 FOS: Common Yellowthroat, Kestrel, and Olive-sided Flycatcher around the golf course pond by Waresville Cmty. Rarer there was a Western Kingbird, nearing accidental here in Oct. Still on the 2nd a Harris's Hawk was at the 360 x-ing. Also at the g.c. pond was a still flying male COMET Darner. One cm of rain the 2nd too. The 4th there was a Black-throated Green Warbler and 3 Clay-colored Sparrow at our birdbath and later 5 Clays out back. The 5th was my FOS Sharp-shinned Hawk. Oct. 9 first thing in a.m. was an imm. male Broad-tailed Hummingbird, number 3 of the fall here. Almost an inch of rain the 13th from former Hurricane Pamela. Nearly another inch fell the 15th whence a cold front. Which also dumped a lone White-fronted Goose into the Killough's yard! A low of 44F on the 17th and 18th is a five-alarm event, coldest temps in six months! A Selasphorus (Ruf-All type) Hummingbird was seen the 22nd. FOS Yellow-rumped Warbler was on Oct. 22 as well. A tardy Ruby-throated was here the 23-25. FOS Vesper Sparrow was on the 24th as were the FOS migrant Chipping Sparrow from elsewhere. Another cold front hit early a.m. Oct. 27 bringing 1.5-1.75" of rain. A second White-fronted Goose was found about the same time as the first, flat on a street in town. It was banded, info below on Oct. 26 entry. Oct. 29 we counted 45 Chipping Sparrow here, wintering arrivals. Also the 29th was the first TAILED ORANGE (butterfly) I have seen in a decade or more.

~ ~ ~ end archive copy Oct. update header ~ ~ ~

Oct. 31 ~ And there goes another month. I saw 42F this morning, an outstanding run we have going. Clear, dry, very nice. After midnight last night I heard the owl but unlike night before, I had already changed and didn't want to be rummaging around for attire and wake Kathy. I will try tonight. Saw the FOS White-crowned Sparrow in the birdbath this morn, an immature. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby). Not much over the day, the pair of Canyon Towhee and the rest of the same gang. In butterflies saw the Mexican Yellow again, but no Tailed Orange. The Queen count was 8 at once. Another late Julia's Skipper was nice, the male Whirlabout and female Sachem both showed again. Cloudless and Lyside Sulphur, a pale morph female Orange Sulphur, couple So. Dogface, couple Gulf Frits, several Pipevine but no Giant Swallowtail.

I never should have looked at the Butterfly List page, which had not been updated in almost 10 years, save a few records added maybe. Took most of the day but it got a long overdue going-over. Back to ignoring that right away! We are at 143 sps. of butterflies locally. Probably 150 with subspecies and forms! Now will be working on updating the family group butterfly photo pages with new pics for all of them. Also wayyyy overdue. Did a bunch of bird pages last two years. Got the dragon photos updated this year. Have some all new pages about 98 percent done. One on Painted Bunting, one with the fish list and photos, are two I would like to get up before the end of the year. Also have a moth photos page in the works. If I did not have to spend all my time doing things to make money, there would be a bunch of spiffy pages.

Oct. 30 ~ I saw 40F for a low! That felt great! Got up to about 78F on the cool shady front porch. Pretty nice, and dry. Worked on things here and was rewarded with a new yard butterfly. Likely the only one of those I will get this year. Only had one new one last year. TAILED ORANGE! First I have seen in at least a decade. I saw some those first five wet cycle years we were here, but they have been absent since the '08-16 exceptional drought we never recovered from. It was a fresh winter form in great condition with long unbroken tails, much longer than many book photos indicate. By time I got Kathy out with the Mavica she just watched it fly south into the corral. It spent a minute visiting Tropical Sage flowers. Awesome! I think species number 97 for the yard list. Also saw a male Whirlabout, Giant Swallowtail, two Vesta Crescent, some Queens. Late in the afternoon Kathy said she had a bunch of Chippies on the patio and under Mulberry. I worked on a count a bit and got 45! All in winter plumage, these are the migrants from elsewhere that spend the winter here. Wonder how many of these have been here before?

~ ~ ~
This is a Longhorn Beetle. Cerambycidae is the family. The beetle people call them bycids. The extremely long antennae (the horns) are fairly impressive. There are about 400 types in Texas! I have seen maybe a couple dozen types locally in 18 years, which is likely a small percent of what is found here. This one looks a Banded Hickory Borer (Knulliana cincta). The pic is from a couple months ago at front porch. I have seen a few, and presume they use Pecans here. Some types are fancy metallic green and red colors, most are more camo for not being seen on bark. There are some that are ant mimics that look like a big ant. Cool beetles.
~ ~ ~ last prior udpate below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 29 ~ I saw 42F for a low. I see at WU they show this date as the first 32F record low of the year. We have frozen in mid-Oct. here. This is great. Stayed calm overnight but wind supposed to get blustery again this afternoon. And it did too, was 10-15 mph gusting to 25-30 mph. But dry. Maybe got up to 75F or so, quite nice actually except the wind. Town run and park check. One Ringed and one Belted Kingfisher, 3 Cardinal, 1 Carolina Wren, and a Black-crested Titmouse. For odes, singles of Autumnal Meadowhawk, Swift Setwing, and Green Darner. In butterflies one Mexican Yellow and one No. Mestra. Water at the spillway now down 6" below overflow, was 4" last week. The rain has not filtered down yet. Little Creek Larry said he has recently has had a Sapsucker (Yell-bell here), a Hermit Thrush, and this morning a Merlin, all over at Little Creek. So the first few of winter birds showing up. Here at the hovelita I saw the Giant Swallowtail on Lantana, and two Clouded Skipper at once fighting over the Mealy Sage. Had to break down and buy a pricey LED flashlight at the Ranch Outpost here. They have one I left there for you that is barely over 2" long and $50! I camped for 30 years on less than $50 of flashlights! Which totalled about 8 feet of flashlights, not two inches! I would hate to need one of those a foot long. Checked every hour from dark until after midnight and did not hear the bird last night. But there were two Great Horned calling nearby, and at last listen a loud diesel truck went down the road.

Oct. 28 ~ I saw 41F for a low! Lowest temp in 6 months, NOAA had it progged for 49 at KERV. I knew it was going to get colder when the wind stopped early, shortly after dark. Morn was clear, cool, and dry, pretty fallish, and very nice. Did not see any migrant motion in the morning though. About noonish the winds returned and supposed to blow stiff to strong all afternoon until dark. Should be some new birds in the aftermath. One odd thing I have meant to mention is that usually in fall I get a few species as nocturnal calling migrants. Sometimes several species. Especially in August, September, and October. This fall besides less than 10 Upland Sandpiper, I have heard nothing go over save the wingbeats of one flock of ducks. It has been scarily quiet for overhead migrants out there at night this fall. Just after midnight at last soundcheck outside, it was quiet, something spooked some horses which then made noises. Then ol' 'one toot' gave some hoots. I have a good idea what it is, but of course can't say without visual confirmation. The private property situation here makes it not possible for it to be public anyway. There is no legal public access here. Thankfully. Was a big sellin' point for us.

Oct. 27 ~ The front arrived between 3 and 4 a.m. with wind, rain, and lightning. Late morn the post-frontal blow is starting. I saw 52F for a low! Rain was 1.75" here. Weewow! We need it. The only sign of migrant motion was a small group of Chipping Sparrow on the seed out back, at least 10, maybe 12 birds, but so, a winter migrant flock arriving, not the couple local birds here. There were a couple Field and one Clay-colored Sparrow with them. A nice if small, Spizella selection. I noted no other migrants. Kathy thought she heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch across the road toward the draw. I saw the So. Pearl Crescent again, on the Blue Mistflower. A fresh Clouded Skipper was on the one Mealy Sage blooming, only the second Clouded I have seen this month and fall! Monarch and Queen but no Soldier.

The last few nights I have been hearing my mystery call again. Heard it a few times in the last week or two, but last night it was going off in an extended bout around midnight. Wind had stopped. It is a very low single note, actually two versions of it. One louder with barely the slightest upward infliction, the other shorter of duration, lower of pitch, softer, and a flatline-to-downward infliction. Have a box of broken flashlights, need to get a good one for distance, put the gun on, and go look for it. In the crapification of America department, those squarish 6 volt lantern batteries made now, generic or Duracell, are total junk now. Bring your own good flashlight, there are none to be had here, except pricey. Do have a million candle power light that runs off a car cigarette lighter (and a trucklet it works in), but so can't walk around with it. Though I can fry an egg at a hundred feet.

Oct. 26 ~ A low of 72 is getting near balmy. Gulf flow, low stratus, front arrives tonight. Not supposed to be as hot today as yesterday thankfully. I saw 86F on the cool shady front porch in the afternoon. Toasty for the date. No bird action. Best beast was a So. Pearl Crescent on the Blue Mist, new for the month. In White-fronted Goose news, Sydney Killough has done yeomans work keeping me informed on that front, THANKS Sydney! There was a second (!) one about the same time as the one in the Killough's yard. One was found dead on the street in town about the same time. Incredibly, eagle-eyed Patrick Killough saw the band on the leg when he stopped to ID the roadkill. Since many of us can ID at flatjack at 100 yards and the slightest remains of fur and bones in tall grass at 60 mph, something different really catches our attention.

So then Sydney reported the band number to the USF&W band reporting system on line and got a result back already. The bird was banded in 2011, in a Yukon study area in Alaska! It was a female at least two years old when banded. So was at least 13 years old! I would presume it would be one of the birds that winter in the ag fields along Hwy. 90, which some years number in the thousands. It is an interesting sub-population as it is a somewhat isolated population away from other ones. Maybe the area where this bird was banded is a clue as the source of the UvCo wintering White-fronts. Most excellent data! Sydney said she reviewed the video footage she took of the bird in their yard and it had no band. I did not see one on her pix. Thanks so much to Sydney and Patrick Killough for having the presence of mind to note and report the band. Outstanding data! Amazing what you can learn from one little piece of the puzzle.

Oct. 25 ~ Another misty morning, at 68F or so. A front arrives between Tuesday overnight and daybreak on Wednesday, today is the peak heat prior to it day. I saw 90F on the cool shady front porch in the afternoon. Way above average normal for late October, but a few dF shy of a record. Thought I heard distant Yellow-rumped, and Orange-crowned Warbler, but too far to say for sure in an absolute way. Did hear a or the Hutton's Vireo across road in the Mesquite. Couple Caracara, few Turkey Vulture, I think the local breeding birds have departed. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird imm. or fem. is still here. So is the Celia's Roadside-Skipper, Giant Swallowtail, and the Orange Sulphur. Kathy asked me if I had any extra spare wood. I asked if she thought it grew on trees.   ;)

Oct. 24 ~ Low of 69F is not very. Planned to go to Lost Maples but it was heavy mist much of the morning so didn't make it. It was wet out, had to have wipers on all the time. We checked a few spots locally. Birds were few. At the park heard and glimpsed a Belted Kingfisher. Below the spillway was the most furtive Lincoln's Sparrow in all the land. I watched it run 12 FEET on the ground under 6" emergent vegetation instead of flushing. So fast that if you did not know, you likely would not have guessed 'bird'. It took 20 minutes to confirm it! For a Lincoln's Sparrow! Also there was one Blue-ringed Dancer, and one Black Setwing which I have not been seeing so actually good.

Could not find a passerine flock along river north of town in BanCo, nothing at Jones Cmty., we finally checked the golf course pond by Waresville. Looking around at the season, lots of Mesquite, Persimmon, and Pecans are leafless or nearly so. Cypress going yellow to brownish, wow. Just a few Goldenrod and Fireweed flowers going along river, a few Boneset Eupatorium, and the last few Frostweed flowers still out. But no butterflies save a few Monarchs in the woods at the park.

At golf course there was a flock of Eastern Bluebird and Chipping Sparrow, as in one of those winter type flocks, which surely is migrants from elsewhere. One FOS Vesper Sparrow was amongst them. One Red-winged Blackbird at the pond. Thornbush Dasher was the only dragon in numbers, about eight. Back here at the hovelita there was a Julia's Skipper on the Blue Mistflower, obviously worn and maybe the only one I have seen so far this month. The couple Canyon Towhee were about as was the Ruby-throat.

Oct. 23 ~ About 66F for a low and I saw 83F on the cool shady front porch in the afternoon. I saw a hummer early first thing flycatching distantly that looked a or the Selasphorus. In the afternoon Kathy glimpsed and heard what she thought was a Ruby-throated. A bit later I saw it, an imm. or female Ruby! Often a late one will show up, sometimes staying a bit to late October. Not sure I had a Lark Sparrow today. Some Field and Chippy though. Saw one Mexican Yellow, a couple Cloudless Sulphur, an Orange Sulphur was new, a So. Dogface, the Celia's Roadside-Skipper still flies, as does a Sachem. No Monarch or Soldier today. Worked on stuff here all day. At least it is a lot dryer out there than it was for April to September. Heard a Kestrel working around the river habitat corridor.

~ ~ ~
This is not a current photo.
This was Feb. 25, 2020 in Uvalde. Not a good pic, but
not sure what we have up for Black Phoebe pics. The
camera settings got bumped off proper. Eastern Phoebe
is what nests under our eaves. Black Phoebe is jet black
including throat and breast. Belly is snow white, no yellow
tint below, or olive-gray tones above. Several pairs were
breeding here 2003-2008, but when the big drought set in,
they departed. There was a pair at the spillway or 1050 bridge,
a pair at Lost Maples, pairs at Concan and Garner, etc.
Still a few to the west of us, this pic was on Nueces River,
but they have been absent here as breeders a decade now.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 22 ~ Low about 58F, KERV had a quick 56F! A bit toasty, mid-80's F again in the afternoon. Town run day, check of the park. The only thing there was two heard only Yellow-rumped Warbler, my FOS. Nothing in the woods, or at pond, save a Mexican Yellow that flew across the water. Third one this fall. A couple Autumnal Meadowhawk up in the swampy area in woods. Little Creek Larry said he hit 90F yesterday! He is in a bit of a hot spot over in the Thunder Creek finger of the valley. I think this fall is vying for worst ever for migrants. In the afternoon here I heard a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, nice late date. I saw an imm. male Selasphorus hummer, of the Rufous-Allen's type. I am guessing the hummer Kathy saw a couple days ago, and that it is also using the Barham's feeders. Kathy thought she heard a Hutton's Vireo. In butterflies the Celia's Roadside-Skipper was still about, a couple Cloudless Sulphur were on Tropical Sage, some Pipevine and a Giant Swallowtail, Sleepy Oranges, Queens, it is fadin' fast. There were about 8 of those big yellow ground burrowing Mayfly at the 360 crossing.

Oct. 21 ~ Low of 59F was nice. Did hear one Ruby-crowned Kinglet mid-morn. Still waiting for a Myrtle or Orange-crowned Warbler, have seen neither so far this fall. No hummers, no Scissor-tails. The Mexican Yellow is still around, sure is nice to see one again here. About 3 p.m. there were TWO Mexican Yellow! I have not seen two together here in over a decade. It is very rare to get more than one at a time here. They were doing the climbing spiral flight together, very neat. At 4 p.m. on the Blue Mistflower there were 2 Queen, 2 Monarch, and one new Soldier. The Tropical Sage had a Gray Hairstreak and a Giant Swallowtail. One Comm. Checkered-Skipper was out there, only skipper I saw all day. Saw 82F in the shade, but much dryer than summer humidity levels, so bearable if not digging holes in the sun. Late about 11 p.m. I heard a flock of ducks fly over southbound.

Oct. 20 ~ Low of 66F is inching back up, but as long as it is below 70 at least it is not balmy. The two Canyon Towhee are still around. Be nice if some winter birds were arriving. Not much yet. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby) today, and a Hutton's Vireo. Kathy saw a hummingbird through a curtain at a feeder which was never seen again. Did not hear the Blue Jay, or any Scissor-tails. Saw a getting tardy Celia's Roadside-Skipper today, a pretty worn one. The Black Rock Squirrel is back to gathering sunflower seeds off the patio to store. I cannot believe how many it fits in his cheeks. My what big jowels you have! Saw a few Wood-Sorrel flowers about the yard, what a beautiful magenta they are. The Blue Mistflower and Tropical Sage are both going very well, way more flowers than butterflies. Lantana are in bloom too. The Red Turkscap is fading away though.

Oct. 19 ~ Low about 55F, so nice and coolish. No migrant motion. The dearth of birds continues. The hummingbirds and Scissor-tails are all gone. Until next March. Had five hummer feeders out, will bring a couple in now. Like to have a few red flags out there for anything flying by. You might catch a stray if you get lucky, if you have a feeder out. Seems pretty dead out there now for birds. The October lull here is pretty big major thing. It goes against everything I have ever learned or experienced anywhere in the country for October birding. For weeks now it has sounded like a morgue out there with hardly a migrant to be found. Saw a female Black and a Giant Swallowtail, besides the Pipevines. The Mexican Yellow is still here, a bigger grass Skipper was probably a Sachem. No Soldier today though so it seems it left. In dragons, Black, and Red, Saddlebags, and a Spot-winged Glider were it. Heard one noisy Cicada still grinding away. One American Lady butterfly stopped briefly.

Oct. 18 ~ Another low of 44F felt fantastic. I did not see or hear a hummingbird this morn. One was still here in later afternoon yesterday. First day since early March without one. Did hear the Blue Jay in the big live-oaks on the slope out back early. Monarch, Queen, and Soldier all on the Blue Mistflower as soon as it warmed past 60F. Saw the Mexican Yellow again, Gray Hairstreak, Giant Swallowtail, Large Orange Sulphur, no skippers, but at least some butterflies going by since there are just about no birds moving. The pair of Canyon Towhee are around. Kathy heard what was either a Spotted Towhee or Hutton's Vireo, but thought towhee. I had nuthin' out there. It is prime-time for a FOS Spotted Towhee. No Scissor-tails today.

Oct. 17 ~ Wow, a low of about 44F or so! KERV pegged a 41! I wasn't watching it so it may have dipped lower briefly. Colder than it has been in 6 months. I saw one Ruby-throated Hummer here first thing early, which seemed to stick into the early afternoon. No migrant motion detected in morn, so worked on stuff here. Butterflies were the action. I saw the Mexican Yellow around that was out there a few days ago. Then a Texan Crescent. Then a Zebra blasted by, I only saw it going away. Can't believe it didn't stop at the flowers but maybe it did and was leaving when I spotted it. The Vesta Crescent of yesterday was still here. In afternoon a Whirlabout, a Dun Skipper, a Southern Broken-Dash. The Soldier made day 4. Bummer of the day was a XXL dark skipper that got away. I saw it on a Lantana flower right out the office window, and when I got out there it was gone never to be seen again. It had a white bar across forewing. It may well have been a Two-barred Flasher.

A great bird happened in the afternoon when Kathy caught a quick look and I heard it do a few Red-shouldered Hawk calls, but only saw it fly away through the pecan over the birdbath, a Blue Jay. Which is the first in the yard in some time. Big question is, is it a local dispersant or from further afield? Usually in fall invasion years they are in flocks and groups. So I would guess a local origin dispersant. There are only a couple pairs around town that don't get seen very far from there. Great bird here in the yard though. Don't think I heard a Scissor-tail today.

As of 3 p.m. it still had not broken 70F! Did some overdue yard work, time to cut all the shaggy stuff I let go to seed. Found where the pigs are getting through the fence after pecans. Found a little Chili Pequin plant out back, with a whopping four pequins on it. Now to hope they get ripen without being eaten so I can harvest the seeds. Turkeys love them. Saw a heavilly streaked juvie Chipping Sparrow with two adults at the bath that sure seemed like they were together. Which would mean it had to have fledged after Oct. 1 to still be getting attended.

Oct. 16 ~ A much nicer low of about 56F this morning, post-frontal winds blew much of night slowly relaxing over the day. No bird movement. Except the maybe 5 Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the morn was two at the end of the day. Three departed. Heard a couple Scissor-tails first thing, and then not all day. They left on the northerly free ride express as well. Both are diurnal migrants that jump passing fronts. Since no new arrival migrant motion apparent. I worked on things here. Only saw a couple each Lark, Field and Chipping Sparrow, couple Canyon Towhee. Heard probably an Indigo Bunting but only saw it fly off distantly after being harrassed by a Ruby-throat! The Soldier made day 3, and saw a Vesta Crescent. Got up to about 74F or so briefly.
~ ~ ~
This is not a current photo.
This was taken Oct. 19, 2019. Lincoln's Sparrow at upper right, Nashville Warbler center, and a Hermit Thrush at front left. The Thrush was bathing and stopped to uh, hack up a hackberry.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 15 ~ Low about 70F with Gulf low overcast and humid. A front is on the way today. No action in the yard in the morn, heard a few Scissor-tails. Town run day. Saw no Scissor-tails along 360 on the way. Park had no migrants but a couple dozen Monarch in the woods. Just a few odes. Good was a FOS Autumnal Meadowhawk, a nice male. A few Green Darner and a Blue Dasher was it. No damsels flying and was over 80F. Great was Rosie is back so real deal tacos! Got warm and very humid in front of the front, 83F just before 2 p.m. when it arrived. Then by 3 p.m. it was 74F and we had gotten about seven-eighths of an inch of rain! Wow! The Soldier of yesterday was on the Blue Mistflower much of the day, and at one point after the rain, with a few Queen and a Monarch for the Danaus trifecta. One Reakirt's Blue was around as well. Some Goldenrod is going well along the river banks, a bit of the Boneset Eupatorium, the skimpy white one, Maximillian Sunflower is blooming well as is Cowpen Daisy but I see nothing on either of those for butterflies. This rain put us at about 3.75" so far for the month! Amazing!

Pecans are dropping leaves as are Mesquites. The water at the park was an inch from going over the spillway, which was after the inch the other day, but before today's near-inch. The bird of the day, and week locally, maybe two, was in the Killough's yard! After the heavy rain and frontal passage Sydney found an adult White-fronted Goose in their yard! She kindly sent a pic to share so all could see it (below). It is over two weeks earlier than my earliest fall date, which is Nov. 4. Being outside the normal window of dates makes the record of import and interest. It must have gotten separated from its flock and caught on the wrong side of the wall of water and wind. I think she was going put it in the park pond where it can find food and roost safely. So if you see one down there tomorrow... GREAT find Sydney and THANKS for sharing it! It seemed about 5 Ruby-throated Hummingbird still here in the morning, maybe 3 late in day. I suspect some may have made the jump on the wind, and others will tomorrow.

Oct. 14 ~ A rain-cooled low of 64F is great, 10F lower than yesterday. Much better. Looks like about fifteen sixteenths of an inch of rain total. Outstanding, we could have used a couple more inches, but take anything you get with glee here. Lots of dragons once the morning fog lifted. Mostly Black Saddlebags, some Red too, and Green Darner, a hundred total. No bird movement here. There was one Soldier (Eresimus - butterfly) on the Blue Mistflower a few hours in the afternoon. One Monarch passed. More dragons at dusk, mostly Black Saddlebags. Heard Screech-, and Great Horned Owl at dark. Keep forgetting to mention, there is one nice little patch of Broomweed blooming out back. Not seeing any Barn Swallow go over all week. The fall staging flock has probably departed.

Oct. 13 ~ A drippy 74F for a low temp! Another tenth of an inch over early morn. Southerly Gulf moisture ahead of the main event tonight which is remnants of Hurricane Pamela which made landfall near Mazatlan in Sinaloa Mexico this morning. We need the rain, river was not going over the spillway at park last Friday, the easy way benchmark to see when we are low here. The remnants of Hurricane Pamela sped across Mexico making it here from this morning in Mazatlan, in the later day! Latest afternoon to early evening we got almost an inch of rain out of it. Shear was tearing it apart as it made landfall, then the dry central Mexico plateau ate a bunch of it. They moved the heavy rain band east of us fairly early in day. Looked like it got caught in a sub-tropical jet stream. Some areas between here and Sabinal (per Little Creek Larry) and around SAT and to N. and NE of that got the 3-5". We got almost an inch, something anyway. There was no movement of birds around the yard, and only the same butterflies. A minor Pacific frontish thing passed barely detectably behind the system. A real fall cold front is arriving mid-day Friday, day after tomorrow. Interestingly the 13th, today, is the date of the first record low below 40F for SAT. The first earliest 39F low.

Oct. 12 ~ The cold front that went by a day ago came back as a warm front overnight. It was 65F at midnight last night and 72F at 7 a.m. this morning. Some streamer showers over the morn dropped a tenth of an inch or so. Another round of warm moist being sucked up in front of the next system in a day or two. A big hurricane is supposed to make landfall near Mazatlan and then track across N. Mexico to here in a day to two. Twice I have personally seen this exact scenario result in major rain events with Mexican species being seen here after it cleared. It has to break up the right way though when it loses core circulation. Hey a guy can dream... 

The only action was a few butterflies. Two were the first I have seen all year. A female Mexican Yellow was my first in a couple years, they are LTA - less than annual here. The other was a big fresh female Clouded Skipper, which are usually common and have been completely absent this year. Also saw one Monarch and a Northern Cloudywing, Southern Broken-Dash and Celia's Roadside still flying, and Dun of course.

Oct. 11 ~ An outstanding rain-cooled low of 56F, you can tell the front passed. Actually it hit just before midnight, whence it went from 80F to 60's in rain in a half-hour. Fair bit of lightning, had to uplug. We got about .6 of an inch (!) real quick, stars were visible at midnight, it blasted past. Maybe 3 or 4 Ruby-throated Hummers left here now. Weird how the last few get all ginchy about people, yet are guarding feeders. No migrant motion as of noon. Maybe tomorrow. Has not been a post-frontal blow yet. Just light northerly flow. Mid-day Kathy had a Clay-colored Sparrow at the bath. Only new transient all day. Only a few Lark Sparrow left now, most seem to have departed. Saw a Texas Powdered-Skipper on the Blue Mistflower. One Celia's Roadside-Skipper still, a couple Southern Broken-Dash and a few Dun Skipper.

Oct. 10 ~ It was 65F at midnight and by 7 a.m. was 70F, and roof dripping from the return of the low Gulf stratus. No migrant motion early. Or late. Got hot, about 90F is toasty for the date. It was still 80F at 11 p.m.! Wind all day was 10-20 mph from south gusting higher. A front is supposed to pass tonight, which should have birds on the wind change this time of year. We will see. They have a wet later-week progged, which usually knocks things down, if it happens. We could use the water, and some birds. No Broad-tailed Hummer, it was a one-day wonder. Canyon Towhee still out there. Lark Sparrow are fewer, methinks on way out. Best thing was a Eufala Skipper on the Blue Mist as have not been seeing them as usual this fall.

Some folks did a fall butterfly survey at Lost Maples in latest September, organized by Laurel Rhodes. She kindly sent a tally and they had a few things of interest. In skippers, Eufala, Green, and Ocola, a Rounded Metalmark, Two-tailed and Spicebush Swallowtail. Nice to have an idea what might still be flying in late September. They had 43 species, which is fantastic considering how little is blooming (Frostweed is the big thing), and that there is no invasion from the south this fall. They had a lot of eyes cover a lot of miles of the trails and got some great results.

Oct. 9 ~ Low about 57F, anything below 60 is thrilling at this point. We can keep the house cool all day if we start out near 60F. Did not matter that it hit 88F out there. It was hot, but at least not real humid. Great was first thing at 7 a.m. after the seed toss I was on front porch and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird flew into one of the feeders. Third one this fall, was an imm. male. To be here at first light pre-dawn means it was here at last light last night. And I missed it. At least 5 Ruby-throated still here. No other migrant motion though, otherwise dead. Still hear a Cicada or two. Early in morn an ad. Red-shouldered Hawk flew out of the pecans out front from a low branch, must have been watching for Cotton Rats. Nothing went by all day except Scissor-tails. Worked on things here at the hovelita.

~ ~ ~

Thank you very much to Sydney Killough for sharing her photo of the odd bird in their yard!

This is not a cage bird...
Here is the White-fronted Goose Sydney Killough found in their yard after the rain and frontal passage today (Oct. 15). You might see it at the park.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Oct. 8 ~ About 56.5F, still clear without low morning (Gulf) stratus, pretty nice. No migrant motion first few hours of day. Heard the Canyon Towhee, saw a few Ruby-throated Hummers, maybe five. The Scissor-tails are about the only breeding neotopical migrant passerines left now, and these are not our local nesters. There are far more than nest here, every fall. From a couple to a few to several dozen stage until the first real actually cold, cold front around mid-October. Town run day so a park check, to no avail. Water is not going over the spillway now. Heard one White-eyed Vireo. A few odes though: a Red-tailed Pennant is good, Black, and Red, Saddlebags, Checkered and Swift Setwing, lots of Bluets. Couple dozen Monarch were floating around in the woods to nice effect. Rosie is still gone, whole town having taco withdrawal symptoms. Little Creek Larry said he has been seeing small numbers of Monarch daily, and a couple times had some Blue-winged Teal. But overall, very slow he says. I think yesterday and today are the first two days of fall that the record lows for SAT are in the upper 30's dF. In other words, the earliest below 40F temps. We might see something below 50F next week. One great butterfly late in day landed in the Blue Mistflower for a bit, an Empress Leila, of which I have not seen one in a couple years at least, if not a few.

Oct. 7 ~ Low was 55F, clear and dry still, wonderful. A Sharp-shinned Hawk made a dive on things early. So back to that again. Just a few Ruby-throated Hummingbird left here now. Maybe a half-dozen, all seemingly immature males. Did not see a flit or hear a seet or chip of migrant movement through yard over the morning. Winds have finally turned to the south (Gulf influence) again, so the humidity will be back soon. Three species of odes around: Black Saddlebags, Swift Setwing, and a female Roseate Skimmer which tried to oviposit in a wet spot on stone steps at front porch. Dang tub pond is right around the corner! No White-eyed Vireo today and no greenie Painted Bunting. Still Scissor-tails though.

Oct. 6 ~ A low of 54F was great. Clear and dry with northwest flow. One Kinglet (Ruby) out there early, the Scissor-tail parade went by, a female was among a few that stopped in the big Pecan briefly. Later morn Kathy saw two Clay-colored and two Chipping Sparrow at the bath. The Lark and Field are still here. Saw a White-lined Sphinxmoth hitting the Tropical Sage flowers which is the first in quite a while so nice to see. Celia's Roadside-Skipper, and So. Broken-Dash still here.

The neat thing of the day was Wiley Coyote. All of a sudden 3 deer (doe White-tails) ran into the yard tails flagging, and intently looking back toward the draw from where they came. They seemed scared to death, on the highest alert I have ever seen any here. Then came a Coyote loping up the road, they ran over to the corral fence and made ready to jump if it came into yard. They never took their eyes off it, tails at high alert. Wiley got past the gate and meandered across other side of road. When a fox shows up, the deer could not care less. You would have thought a mountain lion was coming they way they acted. Then at last light, Kathy saw four smallish pigs, couple few months old size, running fast back for the hills, and then two Coyote appeared. Coyote is the number one predator that takes young pigs here. Nothing makes a dent in annual pig production compared to Coyote. Yet most ranchers shoot them most of the time.

Oct. 5 ~ Some cool air behind the front finally got here providing a low of 54F! Wonderful. Heard a Kinglet out there early. One White-eyed Vireo is still present. An imm. female Sharp-shinned Hawk was my FOS this fall. Maybe heard a Nashville, but saw no migrants go through yard over the day. The Scissor-tails staging flock is going back and forth overhead daily, maybe a dozen around here. Sometimes one or two stop in the big Pecan right off porch. Whaddabird! The Black Rock Squirrel is getting more tame, which means just less ginchy and no longer scared to death at the sight of a human. A couple times we have seen it on stuff on a shelf, a foot out the back office window. Had one Monarch blast by. Celia's Roadside still here with some So. Broken-Dash. Ran to town late afternoon to pick up stuff at the P.O., nothing at the park, except a Green Kingfisher flew by.

Oct. 4 ~ About 64F for a low felt great. Wouldn't ya know it, migration motion since it is a gotta-be-at-the-desk day. Over the morning a Gnatcatcher a couple hours after sunup, FIVE at once Nashville Warbler at the bath, followed a bit later by a Black-throated Green Warbler, and then 10 min. later three at once Clay-colored Sparrow were at the bath. Ten migrants means motion! We take what little dribs we get and be happy for them here. That was a good morning. Some northerly flow from behind the alleged cold front (we are above avg. high temps for the date) finally blew the clouds and moisture out in the afternoon, drying the air out nicely. Winter form Questionmark butterfly out front amongst the usual stuff. Late in day at last seed frenzy there were 5 Clay-colored Sparrow at once out back, along with a couple each Chippy and Field, and a few Lark.

Oct. 3 ~ A rain cooled low of about 64F is nice. No migration movement early, or late. Worked on stuff here. One greenie Painted Bunnie, two Canyon Towhee and the ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird are still here. At least a dozen imm. male Rubies here too. Scissor-tails are still passing over a couple times daily in their local movements as they stage locally before departing with the next major front around mid-October. Seems mostly males. One Gnatcatcher late in day was it for transient passage birds today. One Monarch around Blue Mistflower for a bit, 8 Queen, one Cloudless Sulphur. Amazing no Clouded or Eufala Skipper. They say a cold front is pushing through south Texas, but you wouldn't know it out there.

Oct. 2 ~ Was about 65F just after midnight, about 68F at sunup. No rain overnight. The first migrants to show up in the yard were 4 Nashville Warbler at the bath about 10 a.m., followed a half-hour later by a Wilson's Warbler. Heard a Lincoln's Sparrow out front. So migrant motion. Went and checked park woods, nothing, no warblers, dead. But a Viceroy butterfly was nice for October. In odes a couple Checkered Setwing, and a couple Red-tailed Pennant were good for October dates here. Then checked the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty. Where there was a warbler! A FOS Common Yellowthroat in the cattails. Just north of pond where some Scissor-tails on wires, was a Western Kingbird. They are accidental here in fall, it is actually quite a rary here this time of year and most likely a vagrant from elsewhere. Also saw a distant Olive-sided Flycatcher (FOS) on a snag. A FOS Kestrel was a male on wires adjacent to historical Waresville buildings. One ad. ma. and an imm. Vermilion Flycatcher were on the golf course. The Comet Darner was still on patrol at the pond, and several Thornbush Dasher still flying.

On way home at the 360 x-ing was an adult Harris's Hawk. Some Black Vulture had flown up from what must be a carcass hidden in grass when I was on my way out, this came up out of the same exact spot. Flew up to a Cypress and landed there for views. Nice bird. Over a dozen Scissor-tails around golf course, on UvCo 360, and going over house. One greenie imm. Painted Bunnie still here around yard. Had a Cooper's Hawk go over highish straightlining due south, so which I think was likely my FOS fall migrant Coop. We lucked into a rain cell before 6 p.m. which dropped temps from 84F to 72 in a half hour, and dropped about 1cm (.36, or three-eighths of an inch) of precious holy precip.

~ ~

These are not current photos, but there were a few Baltimore Oriole going through in Sept. as usual. Not sure if we have decent images of the immature first fall plumages up, so here ya go...

Baltimore Oriole, first fall female (Aug. 30, 2019).
Baltimore Oriole, first fall male (Sept. 14, 2020)
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

October 1 ~ The advertised low made it here about midnight finally. The outflow in front of the line of thundercells had gusts around 40 mph (KERV had 39 mph) when it hit. Rained off and on much of night, was very hard when the main band went over. Lots of lightning. We got 1.25" for the morning total. Outstanding! Low was about 64F. Atmosphere looks pretty worked over now, by 9 we were coming out the back side of the rain sheild in sunny blue skies. Did cloud back up later. Now they are backing off on rain today, and even tonight. Front on Sunday I think. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird was at the side porch feeder early, day 3 now. Heard a Gnatcatcher late in day, first passage transient today. About 5 p.m. an adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird came in, first adult male I have seen 6 days since the front hit. Did have a greenie Painted Bunnie, and another example flight song by an Indigo. I saw it better this time and think it is a first fall male that has been around and fledged here. Did see a Celia's Roadside-Skipper today.

~ ~ ~ September summary ~ ~ ~

Overall it was dry, river is low, water is barely going over the spillway at park pond, the great local measure. I think we got about 1.4" of rain. Stayed mostly hot through third week of the month. Flower bloom is on the weak side, but a fair showing of Frostweed. Lots of trees showing yellow and dropping leaves by late in month. For the times they are a changin'.

Butterflies were 50 species. Weak for a September. Individual numbers were very low as well. I presume drought related? Though drought monitor may not show us in drought, many long term effects remain obvious. We never did finish recovering from the 2008-2015 exceptional event. Two of the best butterflies were a male Great Purple Hairstreak, and an Ancyloxypha (Least or Tropical Least) Skipper, both on 19th. Looked like a Least to me. Sept. saw the first few migrant Monarch, the only 3 Mestra all year, a few Soldier, finally a Viceroy, one Red-spotted Purple, no Two-tailed Swallowtail, no Clouded Skipper (!), no Metalmark. There was no indication of some movement happening, as in the great fall invasions from the south that can happen some (generally wet cycle) years.

Odes were 29 species. Diversity still up, but many were just a single or a few individuals. Most populations crash for the season over the month. We are lucky to get four months around or above the 30 species mark. Another Comet Darner at the Waresville golf course pond was best bug. They just keep showing up, shortly after hurricanes landfall in Louisiana. The four Twelve-spotted Skimmer at Lost Maples was great too. Otherwise nothing but the usual expected.

Birds were 85 flavors of vanila. The usual migrants that can be common like Yellow and Nashville Warbler, Least Flycatcher and Orchard Oriole were all way down in numbers this passage. So were Upland Sandpiper (under 10) and Mourning Warbler (3). Two Broad-tailed Hummingbird over the month was nice. Best birds were the Red-breasted Nuthatch last few days of month, since LTA - less than annual - here. Heard three at once, we saw a couple visits to the birdbath. Overall there were just a couple or few days that seemed to have good migration movement happening, always on work days.

~ ~ ~ end September summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ September update header archive copy ~ ~

September ~ Lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird here now, some Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler going through daily, the odd Least Flycatcher here and there. Some migrants are moving now. A Broad-tailed Hummingbird was here Sept. 5-6. Five Baltimore Oriole were my FOS on Sept. 7. A low of 60F on the 10th was spectacular. Also the 10th, very nice was a FOS male Mourning Warbler at Utopia Pk., not quite as nice, three Cattle Egret were there too. Late late in day the 10th at 360 x-ing there was a second Mourning Warbler. On the 17th at the park I saw FOS Belted Kingfisher, and the FOS fall migrant Monarch butterfly. The second Monarch was the 19th. The first real fall front arrived Sept. 21, the day before fall. On the 22nd I heard in the yard FOS House Wren, and Lincoln's Sparrow. Saw them both the next day. The morning of the 23rd it was about 45F, the lowest temp since April and probably a record! On the 24th we saw our FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The big wave of Ruby-throated Hummers here mostly departed on the front and northerlies the 21st and 22nd. Some are still present. A FOS Red-breasted Nuthatch was on Sept. 26! On Sept. 27 there was an imm. American Redstart at our birdbath. Also the 27th, I heard THREE Red-breasted Nuthatch at once, one used the birdbath later afternoon. Afternoon of the 29th the second Broad-tailed Hummingbird of the fall and month showed up here, also seen the 30th. One of the Nuthatch went through yard quickly on 30th as well.

~ ~ end September update header archive copy ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the regularly scheduled drivel ~ ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ Low about 68F, anything under 70 is great at this point. Overcast and said to be a rain event on way for overnight and through Friday and Saturday. We need it. The Broad-tailed Hummer was out there early on the side porch feeder. About 9 a.m. a Red-breasted Nuthatch called a few times as it quickly moved across yard, south to north. An hour later an imm. male Wilson's Warbler came into the bath. Did the town run today since next two days are predicted rain days. Couple birds got away in the woods at the park, one was probably a Northern Waterthrush. Saw a Nashville Warbler, heard Belted and Ringed Kingfisher. A very few odes, just the usual. Rosie is gone doing something and closed for a bit, so no tacos now, hope we survive. Our tacos gringos just aren't the same.

Was smoking my pipe out front when as often an insect responds and comes in, usually a sphinx moth after dark, Swallowtail in the day, and sometimes a beetle responds. A beetle came in circling my head a couple times before smacking me in the cheek attempting to land. Mmmmm beetle claws in the cheek. That is how good that stuff in my pipe smells. Was pitch black, so ran to porch and flipped the light on, puffed pipe vigorously to spread scent. In less than a minute a nice sized (over 1.5") Cerambycid flew in and landed under the porch covering. I think it is a Banded Hickory Borer (Knulliana cincta). Got Kathy to take a Mavica flash photo of it, so hoping to be able to ID. Do have a pic of one confirmed by crack top Texas entomologist Mike Quinn over a decade ago, from out on Seco Ridge. Cerambycids of Texas is one of his web pages.

Sept. 29 ~ Low about 67F was nice, at least it got below 70. Ground wet, and no dust for a day or two. Supposed to have a rain event Friday and Saturday now they say. We need it. The two Canyon Towhee hanging out together is neat. Counted 12 Lark and 2 Field Sparrow on seed out back. Still one each greenie and brownie (imm. Painted and Indigo Bunting), one White-eyed Vireo. No migrant motion. Late afternoon nearing 6 p.m. a migrant finally showed up, an imm. Broad-tailed Hummingbird. Second one here so far this fall. What a great bird. Love that soft chip note. Big too after looking at so many Rubies lately, they have some size to them. Maybe the weather event inbound in a couple days will drop some birds with it. Celia's still on porch, and a few So. Broken-Dash, 2 Sachem.

In the things not being seen department I have been seeing so few spiders it is nearly alarming. The last few years since I have paid a little more attention to them, their numbers have just been going down and down. This summer I have seen astonishingly few. They eat bugs, the bugs are gone, the spiders go with them. We used to take big wolf spiders outside weekly, have not removed one all summer. Hardly any jumping spiders. The pale rock runner ones that live in the rocks in the driveway, all but gone. Very few Dolomedes on the Cypress roots this year. Not complaining but only one Widow web, and nary a Recluse. Scorpions too are much reduced. Just more canaries in the coal mine screaming that there is a problem, that no one pays any attention to.

Sept. 28 ~ Low of 71 is not, back to balmy, it won't let go. Today is supposed to be last 90F day before a series of disturbances brings us rain chances for several days, and drops the temps a bit. With luck some birds will come with it. I saw 92F on the cool shady front porch in the afternoon, it was hot, and very humid. Finally a rain cell got near enough to spit on us and send an 74F outflow about 9 p.m., after all said and done maybe .2 of an inch here. Just east of us they got inches and rain all night. It mostly missed us. Did have one unworn Monarch here nectaring briefly.

Nearing 6 p.m. Kathy spotted an imm. American Redstart at the bath! If the same bird and not a second, that means it was around all day yesterday and today, without being seen or heard. Which seems fairly unlikely to me. I suspect it was a second bird. I just saw it flush so not well enough to tell. A female Indigo Bunting came in to the bath at the same time. There was one greenie Painted out there today still too. Kathy heard a Bell's Vireo which I have not had in a few days, so suspect is a passage transient, not the local bird that was here. Hear one White-eyed Vireo still. Summer Tans are gone. The female Hooded Oriole was here, and at least a dozen Ruby-throated Hummer are still around, as well as the two Canyon Towhee. Did not hear a nuthatch today.

Sept. 27 ~ Low of 61F was around midnight, it was 67F at dawn. Gulf flow with its warmer, moist air and low clouds got here. That dry was sure nice most of the last week. A greenie is still here. Still a dozen or so Ruby-throated Hummer. There was a Turkey Vulture lift-off event of migrant passage TV's after 9 a.m. There were at least 50, more than I have seen locally in the last 5 months. They rose on a thermal and cut south. Great to get an obvious migrant flock and date. When we are innundated with them locally as usual, it can be hard to tell, but now that there are hardly any here, it is obvious.

After 10:15 a.m. there was a great bird bath show for twenty minutes. There were even migrant warblers involved! Best was an imm. prob. male American Redstart, which we do not see every fall. There were two Wilson's, two Nashville, and two Yellow-throated Warbler! The Yellow-throated are likely our local resident male and his young male that has stuck around since fledging in May or June. At the same time there was a Kinglet (second one this fall) and a Gnatcatcher overhead in the big Pecan, neither came to the water event of course. But so, migrants! Passage transients! A flocklet of them! The warblers were wedging in between a dozen each of Cardinal and Lesser Goldfinch, a couple White-winged Dove, a couple Titmouse and Chickadee, and single Chipping and Field Sparrow. There were more birds at the bath in 20 minutes than we saw walking two miles each way up and back in the Can Creek canyon yesterday at Lost Maples. That is not counting a Phoebe, the few Scissor-tails that flew over and the White-eyed Vireo all at the same time. And Canyon Towhee. After the bath melee was done the greenie imm. Painted Bunting came in and took a bath. It was watching and waiting for peace and quiet.

About 11:30 I heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch in the pecan over the birdbath, on north side of house. Then another called back, from uphill behind us to west. Then another called from either corral or across the road, further away. There were three calling at once! Amazing since one yesterday was tie-the-record early. Later afternoon Kathy spotted one coming into the birdbath! Too cool. No warblers in yard all day after the morning show. Some Scissor-tails going over. Had one dull worn Monarch for a bit, one Celia's Roadside-Skipper, and a few Southern Broken-Dash and Dun Skipper.

Sept. 26 ~ A low of 51F was fantastic! This is great after the oppresive summer. We got up earlyish to get out for a hike at Lost Maples. Whilst dark an Eastern Screech-Owl with a yapping young was right out office window. Right before 8 a.m. and departure, Kathy heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch! I got out on porch soon enough to hear a good long series of yanks. Awesome FOS. What a great bird! We do not get them every year so always a treat. Was the only FOS and best bird of the day, before we left. It ties my early date from 2007, next earliest are Oct. 15 and 17. One imm. male Vermilion Flycatcher still on corral fence here, and a greenie Painted Bunnie. Saw 4 Caracara in a pasture together on way up valley, and a few Raven. Virtually no birds flushed from edge of road the whole way.

At LM HQ the obligatory Inca Dove flew from the feeders there, which have seed now. At that crossing there was a bunting in bad light I called Indigo based on calls. There was also seed at the trailhead parking feeding station, but no birds, I presume they just restarted it. Not even a hummer on the feeder there. We did the couple miles roughly to the high water springs on Can Creek. A mile past the pond. The birds are gone. All of them. Not quite, but close. Probably the fewest I have ever seen there. Heard a couple Titmouse, did not see one. Did not hear a Chickadee or Ladder-backed Woodpecker, no Eastern Phoebe. Maybe 6-8 or so Cardinal most heard only. One White-eyed Vireo. A couple Lesser Goldfinch, 4 Raven, 8 Turkey Vulture, heard 3 Scrub-Jay, heard 2 Canyon Wren, heard a few Carolina and one Bewick's Wren. Then there were a few warbler chips or zzzeets that got away, one sounded Yellow, another Orange-crowned, only saw two Nashville Warbler. Water is low, it looks like extensive extended recent severe drought, lots of trees down. Desertification is winning the battle here.

Odes were OK for the late date. None going up as was still too cool, all were on way back down. Great was FOUR male Twelve-spotted Skimmer! An excellent single-site or even day, total here. There was no BanCo record when we moved here in '03. A male Neon Skimmer was nice too. A few Green Darner, several Eastern Pondhawk, a Blue Dasher, a female Common Whitetail, some Red, and Black, Saddlebags, probably most common was Dot-winged Baskettail. In damselflies, one male Springwater Dancer at the highwater spring. About 6 Kiowa Dancer. A dozen damsels got away, mostly probably also Kiowa.

Butterflies were OK, nothing great but some out. Frostweed is where it all was. At least two maybe three Monarch, a dozen Queen, one Painted Lady, male and female Black Swallowtail, at least one Giant and a few Pipevine Swallowtail, two or three black form female and one yellow Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. No Spicebush or Two-tailed. No Sister (all year). Saw one Red-spotted Purple, 2-3 Buckeye, a couple dozen Gulf and 8 or so Variegated Fritillary, one Bordered Patch, a Marine and a Ceraunus Blue, a few Dogface, dozen Sleepy Orange, 2 Orange Sulphur, a few Little Yellow, one Lyside, and 5 Gray Hairstreak. In skippers two dozen Southern Broken-Dash made them the most common one, ten or so Sachem, 7 Dun, 3 Fiery, a Whirlabout, one Checkered-Skipper, one Horace's Duskywing. Some Lindheimer's Senna was blooming but nothing on it, or the wee bits of Dakota Verbena still going. A good bit of Snapdragon Vine was still blooming and the Broomweed is going. Saw one of the false underwing Noctuid moths.

Great was a couple dozen small Cicindellids, Tiger Beetles. A little bit of iridescent green and bronze on them, but no camera to get a docu shot to work with. They were out in force, and lately have not been seeing many so very nice. Saw one big female Pepsis Wasp. One baby Six-lined Racerunner was only lizard I saw, heard one get away in leaf litter that was likely a (4-lined) skink. After a couple months without a long hike, I can feel the 4 miles in my legs. Even with few birds, it was a great walk. Lots of great bugs anyway. Also of interest was this date in 2003 I woke up at Lost Maples, and later morn signed the lease for the hay house on N. Thunder Creek. Eighteen years ago today. I had driven from L.A., left the Ranger here, and went back to LA to move here, which took a month and change.

Sept. 25 ~ I saw 54F before the last quick drop as the sun comes up. KERV hit 51F. Sure feels great! Maybe a dozen Ruby-throats still here, one greenie Bunting, one Wide-eyed Vireo, the two Canyon Towhee. Not sure I heard the Summer Tanager today though. Seemed no migrant motion, and I did not go look for any. Worked on stuff here. Saw TWO Monarch. One just blasted past bearing SW. The other one stopped to nectar on the Blue Mist Eup and the Frostweed. It was really flighty, so was also on the move. Saw a Gray Hairstreak, Southern Broken-Dash, Orange Skipperling, a few Dun Skipper. The one Pecan that had nuts in July, grew them and they molded green on the tree and are dropping. Nutless nuts. Usually it is the one tree sure to have nuts as it taps into the septic drain field. There seems no crop in our yard this year, and very little on wild trees elsewhere in the area. We are taking a chance on Lost Maples tomorrow, since been two months whilst too hot to hike. Want to make a couple checks before the leaf peepers take over later Oct. to December.

Crop of a male Common Grackle, taken April 13, 2019.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 24 ~ I saw 50F before the last peak drop so probably hit 48 or 49F. Feels outstanding. Twice I saw a Nashville Warbler go down to the tub pond. The two Canyon Towhee are out there. Neat to have a pair of them around again. One went to the tub pond. Since one was clearly a juv. when it arrived, they are not the prior pair we had. Before 10 a.m. Kathy spotted the FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet out her kitchen window. I went out front with bins and saw it go down to the birdbath, which we only rarely see here. A greenie imm. Painted Bunting was there too. When the Kinglet left it flew up into the big Pecan off front porch, and after giving a brief close view, bolted south last seen flying over corral and continuing on. It was here a minute and never called. Few things scream fall as loud as a little teeny Kinglet, even when silent! The female Hooded Oriole hit the feeder this morn. Town run so park check. One Green Kingfisher, as soon as the crowds go they show back up. Shows how all the people pressure is just too much all summer, as they are a bit shy. The only passage transient was an imm. Chat. Two good butterflies were there though. An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and a mint fresh Viceroy. Odes are nearing seasonal collapse, just a few of the common things. Orange Skipperling was on the Blue Mist at the porch. One Gnatcatcher nearing last sun, these late ones are likely birds that are from the northern parts of their breeding range. Amazing it is dark at 8 p.m. now. Oops forgot, saw a migrant Buckeye fly over above treetop height, going due South.

Sept. 23 ~ OMG it was 45F! Actually likely got a dF or two colder, we felt it drop with a burst of chill when it was 46F, it probably hit 44F like KERV. Coldest temp in 5 months, since April. Record for SAT this day is 51, so this likely is or ties a record here, though no such records really exist for Utopia. No migrant motion early though. Dead. Weird. Was fairly calm overnight but northerly flow. Kathy had two Canyon Towhee on the big truck out back. After noon I saw both House Wren and Lincoln's Sparrow in the front yard. Both in the brush pile I heard them in yesterday afternoon. Will use yesterday's heard ID's for the FOS dates. Big hummer blowout. By yesterday evening it was only a couple dozen left, from over a hundred the day before. Was about two dozen this morning early. But maybe only a dozen at end of day. Amazing how they ride that front outta here en masse. Celia's Roadside-Skipper still here on the Blue Mist. Heard a greenie late, didn't see it.

Sept. 22 ~ Northerlies 10-15 mph gusting higher all night, and continuing in morning. I saw 65F at 7 a.m. but it got a couple dF colder between then and 8, KERV went down 3dF to 61F in that hour. I didn't recheck, but it probably hit 62F briefly here. Hummers are blowing out on the northerlies. Heard a Canyon Towhee, later afternoon heard two interacting. Nothing for passage transients moving through yard though. The male Summer Tanager and one White-eyed Vireo are probably the last couple migratory breeders still around. There are Scissor-tails still, but not sure if our local nesters or birds from elsewhere. One imm. male Vermilion Flyc. is still over in corral. Saw a Gray Fox go down the north fence line. First cool day and it is out hunting in the light. A high temp in the low 80's is great, and dry too, humidity is below 20 percent! Feels like fall this first day of it. I suspect there was a hawk flight today on the post-frontal blow, but most that go over us here are too high to see except when inclement weather drives them lower. Most use the ridges for updrafts too, so down here at central valley floor is not the spot. At last sun in the top of the big Pecan all the Lark Sparrow met for some kibbutzing and gibberish for a few minutes until one blew the whistle and they all shot out at once as if they saw a hawk, but went down to the seed out back. Sure I heard both a Lincoln's Sparrow zzzzz and a House Wren jeee calls, both a few times each from a big brush pile.

Sept. 21 ~ Low of 74F was not very. Overcast and humid, a balmy start to the last day of summer. Fall arrives tomorrow, but today the first real fall front arrives, finally. Heard a Yellow Warbler zzeet. Ruby-throated Hummingbird are swarming at the feeders. Saw one adult male, must be a hundred immatures around. The ad. fem. Hooded Oriole was back on the office feeder again. Supports the local bird theory, as does a couple new outer rex coming in. In post-breeding molt. Kathy saw two Canyon Towhee fussing, I saw one later. At 1:30 it was 90F, at 2:30 82F with northerlies. The broken line of rain has missed us, but cooler air is here. Cooper's Hawk was out there hunting. Seems like there were hummer departures on the front. The winds did not really pick up strong though until after dark. About 10 p.m. I heard one Upland Sandpiper high overhead southbound.

Sept. 20 ~ We won the local low contest with 65F, KERV was only 72. Slow here though still. Saw a bird fly into big Pecan that seemed a Clay-colored Sparrow, but it quickly moved on. Canyon Towhee was out there early first thing. Kathy had a Nashville Warbler at the bath. I heard a Great Crested Flycatcher over in corral. Only a couple adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird here, all are female or immature. Chats are gone, three days now without a sound. I saw 93F on the cool shady front porch in the afternoon for a few hours! Which means 96-7F in the sun as local WU stations were reporting, some higher. The date record in SAT is 100, so figure a few dF cooler here, which means were at or above a record high today. Whilst wishing for summer heat to end. First real fall front to arrive tomorrow before it hits 90F. Heard a Belted Kingfisher over at the river. One greenie Painted Bunting still. One Checkered Setwing dragon in the driveway, mostly it is Swift Setwing here.

Sept. 19 ~ Low of 64F was great, but today and tomorrow are scorchers. Supposed to be the last two. Nice cool morn though. I heard what sounded a Nashville Warbler seet. Kathy spotted an oriole at the office hummer feeder, it was an ad. fem. Hooded. Nice as not seeing many lately. Maybe one on the feeder once in the last month. Are they transients from elsewhere, or local females after breeding season? When we had a herd up on Seco Ridge the breeders stayed this late. At last sun there was one greenie and one brownie, imm. Painted and Indigo Buntings, on the seed out back. Ten Lark Sparrow.

Noonish I went for a look for some migrant birds, Kathy worked on her stuff here. Checked the park, the pond at the Waresville Cmty., the 360 xing, the library garden, and the frostweed patch in BanCo a mile north of town on private property. The sum total of migrant birds I saw was ZERO! The Belted Kingfisher continued at the park as does at least one Green Heron, and one imm. ma. Vermilion Flycatcher at pond. The Ode crash continues, only Blue Dasher in numbers at the park, a few Green Darner. The pond by W'vl Cmty. had mostly Black Saddlebags, but 10 Thornbush Dasher and the Comet Darner still flying. A few Green Darner and Red Saddlebags. The 360 x-ing had 3 Kiowa Dancers and 1 Am. Rubyspot.

The fun was a few good butterflies. Right after I left, just across the river on a big roadside Snow-on-the-Mountain was a male Great Purple Hairstreak, first one I have seen this year. Whaddabug! The Frostweed patch in BanCo with the Pigeonberry had besides the second Monarch of the fall, a few Mestra, which are the first of those I have seen this year. It had the most stuff flying around, numbers of Large Orange, Clouded, and Lyside Sulphur, and Bordered Patch, some Variegated and Gulf Frits, and other regular stuff. The butterfly garden behind library was dead, it has been over-butchered repeatedly, to death, R.I.P. The rarest thing I saw all day was only ID&'d to genus. Ancyloxypha. But just look at that spelling, say it, beautiful isn't it? I have not seen one here in maybe 8 years, maybe more. I have only seen a half-dozen here, fairly evenly split between Least Skipper and Tropical Least Skipper. Only about 4 years out of 18 has either occurred. It was in the marshy area below the spillway at the park. Perfect textbook habitat. Back about 2007 I photo'd the first UvCo record (per C. Bordelon) of Least (A. numitor) up on Seco Ridge.

Sept. 18 ~ Only saw 70F for a low, and the few clouds early then filled in a bit over the morn. North flow aloft, and no migrants. Again and still. Except more Ruby-throats arriving. One greenie. No Bell's or Yellow-throated Vireo, methinks they have flown the coup. Two White-eyed still here. One of the Tropical Sage out front, the one I water special, must have 75 flowers open on it now. Hummers and Pipevine Swallowtails are all over it. Sure looks great, over 3' tall, 4 main stems. When I was freshening up the birdbath and refilling the drip jug, a bird shot out of the stickpile that looked like the south end of a northbound White-crowned Sparrow. It went through the fence into the junipers and that was that. Thought I heard one the other day. Later in afternoon saw something sparrowish with white outer tail feathers come up off the ground out back not sure what it was. I hate when that happens. Maybe an early Vesper?

Just as we were passing 90F after 2 p.m., rain! There was only a slight small chance so we hit the jackpot. An upper level low is over by HOU, we are on the backside, humid, and the cooler dry air sucked down from the north hit the 90dF humid and bam! Rain! We got an INCH! OMG. Went down to 71F! At peak heat. Incredible. An inch keeps the dust down for days. We have been running 5-10F OVER average for the dates lately. After the rain a male Summer Tanager was in the big Pecan quietly singing with his last hormones. Then a male Indigo Bunting flew over giving a measure of flight song! How could this not be a local bird on territory? Passage transients do not do flight song. I have not seen our local ad. males in weeks. Did it go somewhere local and molt? Was amazing to spend the whole afternoon and evening in the low 70's! That is how I spell relief!

A female (hen) Pintail on May 5, 2021 at W. Sabinal Rd.
Their trademark double-length neck not overly visible here.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 17 ~ Low of 63F was very nice. Allows us to get enough cold air inside to keep it cool all day. No migrant motion. Weird. Late in morn one Wilson's Warbler went through. One greenie imm. Painted Bunting still here. Town run and park check. A FOS Belted Kingfisher was at the park. Two White-eyed and one Yellow-throated Vireo in the woods was it. No typical migrants. Green Darner and Blue Dasher were the only numerous dragonflies. A couple Blue-ringed Dancer were the only damsels. Great was a FOS Monarch butterfly! Clearly a FOS fall migrant. Ruby-throated Hummers seem up today after several days of low numbers, another wave is arriving is my guess. They will peak and blow out with the first real fall cold front next week, only smaller numbers remain by a couple days after frontal passage. Turned on the porch light, a couple dozen moths came in, nothing different, one Emerald Moth was nice.

Sept. 16 ~ Low of 63F or better felt great. KERV had 61. Still way too hot days though, mid-90's on tap for near-term continues. No migration motion in the morning. Seems very slow to dead overall so far this fall here. The regular usual things are lower in numbers, and there has not been much of anything else. Here's to hoping it gets better! Can migrating birds at night tell by the lack of aerial plankton, there is no food below? Or when in a good area? I bet they can and do. Could it be part of why we are seemingly being overflown? I heard something with a metallic boik note, that is, it was boikin', just like a White-crowned Sparrow, but as I approached the area it moved off. Gnatcatcher and Yellow Warbler later morn. Western Ribbonsnake out in Blue Mistflower around front porch. Kathy spotted a Cooper's Hawk in the birdbath, explaining why the yard was so quiet. Southern Broken-Dash and Celia's Roadside-Skipper still here. Bell's Vireo sang but I did not hear either Yellow-throated, vireo or warbler. I saw 90F on the front porch in shade in afternoon, so 4-5F hotter in the sun. Dang, it won't relent. I had a big rusty colored butterfly blast by me out in the yard I thought was a Ruddy Daggerwing, but too fast, it got away.

Sept. 15 ~ Low about 65F or so, N-NE flow overnight, but still no migrant show in the morning. Weird. Thought maybe the second day after some deflection would show. Nada. Nada darn thing. Ran to town about 10 a.m., maybe 20 Lark Sparrow in a flock on 360. Did a park check. One Great Crested Flycatcher on the island, a good fall date, and heard a Ringed Kingfisher. Great look at a Barred Owl. That was it. Except for the zzzz calls that sounded like a Lincoln's Sparrow but which I did not see. Maybe it was a stressed greenie Painted Bunting. Had a quick glimpse of a Red-spotted Purple (the butterfly) in the swampy area, great local date. Kathy had a Yellow Warbler at the bath, only migrant here as of 1 p.m. We need a front. The one lone Clammy Weed is still blooming on the stone walkway out front of the porch. Southern Broken-Dash and Celia's Roadside-Skipper both still out there. Only one Swift Setwing (ode) left though, whereas have been an easy half-dozen around the yard all summer. They are by far the predominant yard dragon. Noonish saw a Soldier butterfly, a different one from the other day, so number two for the fall and year. One greenie imm. Painted Bunting still. There has been a big hummer departure as the last couple days many fewer and much less feeder refilling. Gnatcatcher late in evening.

Sept. 14 ~ Low was 63F on the NE flow from Nicholas making landfall overnight spinning nearish Houston. Surprisingly nothing for migrants on it though. One Yellow Warbler at the bath, a male, maybe an Orchard Orio or two. Later in day a Mockingbird at the tub pond was clearly a transient. Still hear the Bell's and Yellow-throated Vireo. Some Scissor-tails going over. Over a couple dozen White-winged Dove. Pair or so each of Field and Chipping Sparrow still here, a dozen Lark Sparrow. Might have been near a half-dozen Firefly at dusk. Not looking like much for a fall flight this year. Not hearing Upland Sandpipers out there nightly as usual. Or in the mornings. This is by far the poorest showing of them so far I have seen (n~18 falls). Not seeing the ad. male Vermilion Flycatcher, only an imm. male.

Sept. 13 ~ Low was 72F with some mid-level clouds from Tropical Storm Nicholas off the south Texas coast moving north. We are too far west to expect much if anything out of it though per the noon prognastications. Clouds keep the heat down but will be humid. Not much for movement in the yard this morn. It all must have gone through quickly when I was not out there. One male Yellow Warbler was at the bath. Heard an Orchard Orio. The Canyon Towhee was out there. The fall flocklets of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher are building, I had 10 fly north over the yard in a minute about 9:30 a.m. as they commute between wherever they roost and feed. Bell's, Yellow-throated, and a couple Wide-eyed Vireo continue. Saw one of the gold-bronze iridescence over camo salt and pepper mottling Dicerca sps. Buprestid beetles. Seems like lots less Ruby-throated Hummingbird here today, must be departures happening.

Sept. 12 ~ The low was just after midnight, whence about 62F, it slowly rose all night to 70F at dawn. A flock of 6 Orchard Oriole went through early. Canyon Towhee out there. No other migrants here besides the early Orioles. Bell's Vireo still singing, was in the Hackberry right over office, what a great soundscape. Noonish I went to check a few spots close by, Kathy had stuff to do here. I can't believe how yellow the pecan leaves are on many trees now. The whole tone has turned from green to yellow-green.

At the park in town there was a male Green Kingfisher, a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and at least one Baltimore Oriole. I checked the big Frostweed patch with the Pigeonberry (which has berries) on private prop. along the dry there riverbed in BanCo out Jones Cmty.Rd. It was dead for birds, save one Nashville Warbler and the basic residents. A few butterflies, several Bordered Patch and Queen, Large Orange Sulphur, a male Black Swallowtail. The Red Turkscap there did not do well this year, usually there is a bunch, hardly any now.

Checked the pond by the Waresville Cmty. on the golf course, it was dead for birds too. But one fresh mint condition Comet Darner is great. It is clearly not the one here in early summer, the wings are pristine. Did it emerge here, or did it get deposited by the NE winds after Hurrican Ida went through Louisiana? A couple prior Comets were right after LA 'canes and the NE winds. A few Thornbush Dasher still out. One Texas Spiny Lizard was on the stone wall around the Waresville Cemetery. Overall the odes are crashing though, the numbers were way way down. No damsels were anywhere but for a couple American Rubyspot in copu at the UvCo 360 x-ing. Widow Skimmer are done for the season. June, July, and August was the big hurrah here for odes this year it seems. We had a late start and seeming an early finish to the season. There will still be some stuff, but the crash has begun. The golf course pond had about 5 Sachem (butterfly - skipper) on some blooming Bluehearts, plus one ea. male Whirlabout, and female Fiery Skipper. Saw a few Fireweed in bloom, and my FOY Goldenrod blooms at the 360 x-ing, which are a real sign of fall.

In the afternoon here at the hovelita, a couple times over an hour apart Scissor-tailed Flycatcher stopped in the big Pecan and called. A couple went by without stopping too. One male Summer Tanager still around, a female and couple juveniles as well. Had a Southern Broken-Dash on the Blue Mistflower, and dispatched 3 of those cats that eat it. A section of the patch being destroyed by them. Yesterday's Soldier was here in the a.m. but not in the afternoon. After dark a big sphinxmoth came into my pipe tobacco smoke as often. Turned on the porch light but it did not come in. A couple days ago a small type came in to the pipe real well. The porch light after a couple hours might have had 10 moths. Need I say what a poor score that is?

Sept. 11 ~ About 65F for a low is great. Hope we can keep it up. Couple each Yellow Warbler and Orchard Oriole went through early, which about it for transients. Still here are Bell's, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed, Vireos, couple Chats, the Canyon Towhee, only one greenie seen today, saw a Scissor-tail go by. Bunch of Rubies, and no Black-chinned Hummingbird. Interesting the Davis Mtns. hummer cam shows lots of Black-chins still present there, at much higher altitude. Best beast of the day here was a Soldier, finally, the first one I have seen this year. Late on the Blue Mistflower. I had been checking the Queens thoroughly to no avail. A male Large Orange Sulphur spent a couple hours visiting all the Turkscap and Tropical Sage flowers, three times each. Saw a Sachem, a Northern Cloudywing, a Celia's Roadside-Skipper, some Vesta Crescent, one Phaon. I saw 88F on the cool shady front porch, so maybe 93 in sun. But not as bad as it was, and much dryer.

The hummingbirds at your feeders here now are Ruby-throated.
Our breeder here, Black-chinned, are gone for the year, mostly
by late August, until next March. They thin out to only a few
immatures left late August. Rubies meanwhile fill in during
August as the Black-chins depart. After the first week of Sept.
it is usually all Rubies here (but for the odd Rufous or rary).
Rubies peak third week or so of Sept. with most leaving on and
the day or two after the first real fall cold front in September.
Some few immatures will stay until the first freeze in October.

This is an immature, the color in throat is likely some
reflection from the red feeder, throats are fairly white.
I know it is soft and blurred, I still really like it.
At times such may effectively convey essence.

This is an adult male Ruby-throated of course.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept. 10 ~ An incredible 60F low was fantastic! Weewow! Coolest air in months. KERV had a 56F! We may well have dipped below 60. Record low for SAT this date is 56F. No morning stratus, dryer air too compared to usual. It has been great lately with over a hundred Tropical Sage flowers on the various specimens around the front porch, and at least 50 Red Turkscap blooms. So lots of little red dots. A Yellow Warbler or two was it for migrants in the yard in the morning. Canyon Towhee is still around as were the Yellow-throateds, Vireo and Warbler.

Town run and park check. My FOS Cattle Egret (3) were on the spillway. The Green Heron are still at the island. Saw the first Green Kingfisher I have seen there in a couple months. Now that Labor Day is past and the park is back to its quiet self. A begging fledgling Bronzed Cowbird was the sole young being fed by a pair of Cardinal. Any September begging baby cowbird here is Bronzed. Very few odes, one Eastern Amberwing still there. Best was a FOS male Mourning Warbler in the woods. September is THE month to see them here.

A Southern Broken-Dash was on the Blue Mistflower at the front porch here. Saw 91F in the shade in the afternoon, and still some smoke haze. After 5 p.m. saw an ad. fem. Baltimore Oriole on the office hummer feeder. Do not see them on the feeders very often here. Nearing 7 p.m. I looked at the 360 x-ing briefly. Another Mourning Warbler for the day just above bridge. Also a greenie Painted Bunting. Kathy had a greenie at our birdbath too.

Sept. 9 ~ OMG, it was 64F, or lower! That was what I saw at 6:45 and didn't look again until 8 so the last minute dip it takes I missed. It may well have gotten to 63 or 62F. KERV had a 61F low. Amazing. About time. First thing early had a couple ea. Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, and Yellow Warbler go through yard, heard a Dickcissel go over. A Cooper's Hawk was looking for breakfast. Only saw 2 greenies in the morn. In afternoon was a bit weird for easterly winds, and it to be low 22-4 percent for humidity. So though 92F in shade, felt 90 maybe. Dry. Some smoke in the air from the fires way out west, fairly orange tinted sky, you can see the plume on the satellite. A Cloudless Sulphur was on the Tropical Sage and Red Turkscap much of the day. No Black-chin Hummers for a few days now.

Sept. 8 ~ Another 66F low was outstanding. Just the slightest bit of relief is great at this point. That 6 extra hours of 80F or lower from the outflow yesterday evening makes a huge difference in how baked you are. Starting cooler makes a big difference too. The two greenies and juv. Canyon Towhee were on the patio early. Yellow-throated Warbler was 2' out office window on the garden fence. Then it went to the tub pond! A bit later the Canyon Towhee did the same!

The two cattail clumps are mini of seed heads, half proper diameter or less. The water lily leaf size is about a quarter or less of normal. They are all in too-small pots. The spindly Ceratophyllum has taken off so well as to eliminate the hair algae. There is 50 gallons of it now, and lots of Gambusia (mosquitofish). It is a genetic sink for skeeters. The birds are nuts about it though, despite no drip, just stagnant. I think they know cattails are in water. Lots of White-winged Dove and Cardinal use it daily, as do Lesser Goldfinch and the male Painted Buntings did until they left. It loses a gallon to two per day to evap when hot as all summer, so regular top-ups.

Late at last seed frenzy on the patio I counted SIX greenie immature Painted Bunting! I have only seen 2 for several days. Plus there was an imm. male Indigo Bunting too. Some Lesser Goldfinch have some new just-fledged begging young, getting late for that. Like that Chippy the other day. Sept. fledges are of interest since most of their breathen have stopped already. Very few cowbirds to contend with after mid-July here, save the odd Bronzed here and there some years.

Sept. 7 ~ Wow it was cool this morning! I think about 65-66F here, KERV had a quick 64F! Did that ever feel outstanding! But we are in for another burner of a week before it is progged to relent. It seems to me the last two weeks of August and first two of September are often the hottest month here. Except when there are early first-of-fall fronts. Which seem much rarer lately. Just after 6:30 a.m. when light first washing sky but Orion still visible, the Eastern Screech-Owl was calling from the Junipers along north fence. About 6:40 a young was yapping! So they got at least one out this year. First one I have heard this year. Did not detect the Broad-tailed Hummer today.

Saw the two greenies early on the patio. A couple or few Yellow Warbler went through over the morn. One thinner sweeter chip sounded very Parula to me but it went through and kept going south. It was 92F in the cool shade about 3 p.m., upper 90's in the sun. Again a few rain cells fired off around central Edw. Plateau. One coming near enough to spit on us and give us an 80F outflow cool off at peak heat! Saved the day again. Makes a world of difference. But those five Eur. Collared-Dove on the patio I could do without. It is dove season, maybe I should give them a warning shot? That or buy jalapenos.

After the cool off late a great flocklet of birds was around the yard. Best was at least five FOS Baltimore Oriole, including one stonking male. They were in the big Pecan when I walked out there, but moved to a big native Texas Persimmon with ripe fruit and pigged out for a bit giving great views. A few Orchard were with them. It was at least 8 orioles. Then there was a Nashville, 2-3 Yellow, and a first-fall male Wilson's Warbler. The ad. ma. Yellow-throated Warbler chasing them apparently not ready for his trees to host migrant warblers, even if they don't have wingbars and tailspots. A Bell's and a White-eyed Vireo were amongst them too. Not sure if the locals or passage transients. So that was fun for 15 minutes.

Sept. 6 ~ Saw 70F at 7 and 8 a.m., it likely hit a quick 69F between, as KERV did. No morning clouds. They have this high dome progged to be parked over us for another week. The record lows for current dates are low 50's from 'first fall cold fronts' that arrived early. A couple Yellow Warbler and a few Orchard Oriole early. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird was at front porch early. It stood up to and rebuffed an ad. ma. Ruby-throat twice! The Broad-tail looks like an imm. male. Looked like 3 rex with rufous. I love seeing them and Calliope essentially annually here, mostly since I would not have guessed that be their status here. There was a Nashville Warbler in the bath, and a Least Flycatcher in yard pecans in the morn. Still hear a Yellow-throated Vireo. Surprised at how few shotgun blasts I have heard since dove season opened on Sept. 1. After noon saw the Least Flyc. chase another Empi. sps. away which I never got a look at. About 4 p.m. some rain cells went by nearish, we just got spit on, but a cool outflow which took us from 94 to 79F. Totally beat the heat at peak. Awesomeness. After one tracelet two greenies, imm. Painted Bunting were on the patio. A just-fledged Chipping Sparrow was begging and being fed.

Sept. 5 ~ A great low of 69F, the first below 75 this month! I saw KERV had 72F for a low, showing the heat island effect. A few warbirds flying around first thing. No morning low stratus, we remain under the typical summer sub-tropical high. In passage migrants had a couple Orchard Orio and a Yellow Warbler early. Hear Bell's, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed Vireo, and saw a Yellow-throated Warbler. We heard the Canyon Towhee in the carport whilst sitting up in bed with the first cup of coffee. Saw an ad. ma. Yellow Warbler bathe. About noonish I was poorly manning my station (in chair on front porch with pipe and coffee, like an old man, and ill-equiped with no binocs) when a female or imm. Broad-tailed Hummingbird flew up calling and sat on the feeder over my head about three feet away. First one this fall. Probably over 75 Ruby-throats, did not surely see a Black-chinned today. About 4 p.m. was 94F in the cool shady, so likely 99 in the sun.

Sept. 4 ~ Still 75F for a low and barely a few wisps of morning low stratus, so pretty much straight to the heat. Make it stop. Early a.m. a couple Orchard Oriole and a couple Yellow Warbler was it for passage transients. Otherwise it was the usual stuff still here. A couple juvie Bell's and a singing Yellow-throated Vireo, plus a couple White-eyed too. One Yellow-throated Warbler, no Blue Grosbeak, one greenie imm. Painted Bunting, one imm. brownie Indigo Bunnie. One imm Black-chinned Hummer, 60 or 70 Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Maybe more. Zone-tailed Hawk flushed all the White-winged Dove. I have seen them get 'em. Couple Common Raven, a Caracara. Lots of Cardinal, and Lesser Goldfinch numbers increasing. Hardly any vultures still.

Normally I do not repeat photos here, but cut me some slack, this one bears repeating. Still without a working camera too. As much as I look this pic, you can not have seen it enough anyway.   ;)
Mourning Warbler, male, September 12, 2019.
There was one at Utopia Park today the 10th,
and a second (also today) at the 360 x-ing.
Best bet here is to walk Frostweed patches for them.
Any esp. riverside dense understory will do though.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Sept 3 ~ Holding steady at 75F for a low, third day in a row. A little bit of low stratus from the Gulf early, briefly. A couple Yellow Warbler and Orchard Oriole around first thing. Least Flycatcher out there too. Still a couple juvie Bell's Vireo and singing Yellow-throated Vireo. Park woods were dead save one Least Flycatcher. Little Creek Larry said he had 3 Cattle Egret at the creek first couple days of the week, so last couple days of August. He said his highs have been 95-96F daily. So about the same as here. Our lows have been lower though. He had 80F one morning at 6:30 a.m.! Here at the house in afternoon a Zone-tailed Hawk was shadowing a Turkey Vulture as they circled over yard. Trying to hide its identity from potential prey below. Had a flock of 5 Orchard Oriole at last sun. The couple chats still around look like immatures, likely the local young from across the road and-or in draw. They are hitting the Lantana berries as well as the bath. I would say 50 Ruby-throated Hummingbird here now, and I saw only one Black-chinned for sure.

Sept. 2 ~ Still 75F for a low, any break from that sure would be nice, any time now. The hummers are swarming, Ruby-throated, just a couple imm. Black-chinned left that I see. Kathy had Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler at the bath. Saw them out in yard in afternoon. A Least Flycatcher was around the yard too, as was a Canyon Towhee. Still hear Bell's and Yellow-throated Vireo, and a couple White-eyed. Saw imm.s of Blue Grosbeak, Indigo and Painted Bunting. Kathy thought she had an imm. Rufous-crowned Sparrow. It was 92F on the cool shady front porch, so smokin' in the sun. Heat index had to be a hun, not fun. It is OK to send that first fall cold front any time now. Got good looks at the Least Fly out front in Pecans in afternoon. At a late in day departure flushing I counted over two dozen White-winged Dove. Yellow-throated Warbler was just a few feet from me in big Pecan late in day.

September 1 ~ So we start climatological fall at 75F for a low. The ten day has it holding steady with a low 70's to low 90's temp spread and no rain or fronts. So no signs of actual fall in that regard yet. We have the big holiday weekend coming up and likely will be a bit packed with people here. Will continue to hole up save the weekly town run. There are a lot of leaves falling from the big native Pecan. Many of the others showing much yellow. Some Mulberry leaves going yellow and dropping.

Two greenies, imm. or fem. Painted Bunting was all I saw. One male Indigo was barely with blue below but wings with much. Must be an adult getting basic plumage. Heard an Empidonax flycatcher but never saw it. Yellow Warbler or two around, a small group of Orchard Oriole hit the bird bath. Heard two Yellow-throated Vireo still singing. Kathy saw the Yellow-throated Warbler at bath. At lunch a chat was a couple feet out the window from our seats. A few Firefly but no big fall flight going yet.

~ ~ ~ August summary ~ ~ ~

Well it was a hot one! Though I do not think it was above average for a change as far as temps go. We got a surprising 4" of rain, early and late in month giving a little respite. Most of the month, the days were at a hundred dF heat index. It was brutal hot. We did not do Lost Maples this month so missed a couple species in each group no doubt. Too dang hot, and we were too busy. There were a few rain-cooled days when it would have been fine, but usually during the week on work days.

Butterflies were 47 species, and mostly the expected usual things. No Sisters or Satyrs. Only big yellow Swallowtail was one black form female Eastern Tiger. A White Angled-Sulphur was the best butterfly, seen at least twice around the yard, probably three times, and far less than annual here. One Viceroy finally on 27th is my only one of the year so far. One Dusky-blue Groundstreak is my only of year so far as well. A bit weak overall. Hoping we get rain and a fall invasion from the south. Frostweed looks poised for a good bloom though. Saw a couple Texas Wasp Moth and a Ctenucha. The lep of the month and maybe year, was my first ever here IO MOTH on Friday the 13th.

Odes were 30 species, so not as high as June (32) and July (35). But after none all winter, 30 species is dreamy. The Turquoise-tipped Darner at Utopia Park was seen to mid-month, and since late June. A great record. One was at Lost Maples last year or year before for a couple months. They are quite scarce here, far less than annual. Some Halloween Pennant and Eastern Amberwing were around in small numbers, both are less than annual here. The rest was the expected usual stuff. There were a few mornings with swarms of Spot-winged Glider with a few Wandering mixed in. Sometimes some Saddlebags in the swarms, but not major numbers. Swarms were a couple or few dozen tops, one was 50.

Birds were the usual expected. It was pure vanila. Maybe the hiding from the heat on my part helped. The only good bird was my earliest ever first of fall Clay-colored Sparrow the 27th, my first ever in August. Lots of young fledging, the last sets of the year generally. Lots of the breeders depart in August. Numbers of the few common migrants start to show like Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler. Had four Rufous Hummingbird and one Calliope here over the month. A few mornings with a few Upland Sandpiper calling overhead. August is when dawn chorus fades away, by the end of the month there is no morning birdsong. A FOS Black-throated Green Warbler on the 25th was a sign of fall to come.

~ ~ ~ end August summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ archive copy August update header ~ ~ ~

August ~ The 1st we had two Rufous type Hummers at our feeders, a juv. Canyon Towhee, and an FOS Empidonax Flycatcher! And almost 2" of rain which was a full 2 by morning of 2nd! Two FOS on the 3rd were a Least Flycatcher and a Dickcissel. First week of month territorial adult male Painted Bunting have left for the season. Second week of Aug. was hot with very little bird movement apparent, save departures. A Turquoise-tipped Darner (dragonfly) was at UP late June to early August. An Io Moth was found dead at the gas station Aug. 13. FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird was an imm. male on the 16th, tardy, though thought I had one a couple weeks ago. The first adult male I saw was the 19th. A FOS Yellow Warbler was on the 17th, thought I had one a week or more earlier as well. Kathy heard Common Nighthawk at dusk the 18th and 19th. Third week of August was very hot with just a little bird movement. The morning of the 23rd there were a number of Upland Sandpiper calling overhead at daybreak as they dropped down from a night of migration. Heard one on the 24th at dawn. On the 25th the FOS Black-throated Green Warbler was at the bath. On the 26th there was a second of fall Dickcissel in yard, and better, a Calliope Hummingbird (imm. fem.), which I actually heard the 25th. My earliest ever FOS fall Clay-colored Sparrow was on Aug. 27. Also the 27th was the first Viceroy butterfly of the year for me. The FOS flock of Blue-winged Teal shot downriver at dawn on the 28th. Kathy spotted the FOS Wilson's Warbler at the bath on the 29th. Late evening the 29th we got a sweet 1.2" of rain! Three Cattle Egret were seen on Little Creek last day or two of the month.

~ ~ end archive copy August update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

August 31 ~ Weewow, another month bites the dust. A big one, the last month of climatalogical summer (June-August). We made it through the worst of it probably by now. Will still be hot for a bit though, but are days getting shorter fast. We lose a half hour in the next two weeks. It got hot in afternoon, was 91F on front porch, so 95 in the sun. And humid. Early a.m. saw a couple Orchard Oriole. Singing Yellow-throated Vireo still around. At least one Yellow Warbler, a couple or three greenies. Saw a couple Yellows in the afternoon.

An adult female Blue Grosbeak came by with two just-fledged young. The males are gone. I have seen this same thing with Painted Bunting. The last set of just-fledged young that is brought to the seed here is by the female only long after the last males have departed. The males leave before the last set of young for the year have fledged. I have seen this repeatedly. After noon Kathy spotted a couple Bell's Vireo at the bath, both juveniles with good color. I bet since still together, then in the natal area. Which means they fledged very close to here. Maybe from the one we have had singing in corral adjacent all summer. Had a nice different Sphinxmoth in the cottage but no way to take a pic so caught it and released outside. Killin' me to not be able to docushot.

Aug. 30 ~ Low of 72F, humid from the rain last night, and feels great. It is 3 cm we got total. Rained to about 1 a.m. or so. About 1.2" total. Wow did we get lucky! It will surely help the fall bloom. Heard an Upland Sandpiper at dawn, a couple each Orchard Oriole and Yellow Warbler went by. A few imm. Black-chinned Hummingbird still here, but now is mostly Ruby-throated, and mostly imm. or female, but some males. The first signs of swarming, lots are showing up. A Texas Powdered-Skipper on the Frogfruit was new for the month, always great to add anything at the end. There were some more nearby rain cells which gave us cooling outflows but no precip. We will take 5dF off the top any day in hot season. Had 6 Orchard Oriole leave the top of the big pecan right before last sun did too. Did see the Indigo Bunting male fly off singing once early in a.m., and heard the Bell's Vireo once.

Aug. 29 ~ Low about 72F, barely any clouds at first but they built up over the morning. Over the morn saw at least 8 Orchard Oriole go throuh yard. A couple Yellow Warbler around. Heard the Bell's and Yellow-throated Vireo, and a couple White-eyed. In the afternoon Kathy spotted the FOS Wilson's Warbler at the bath with a Yellow. We had some nearish rain cells again and a bit of cooling outflow but very humid of course. With the scattered showers we worked on things here and passed on swimming too. Went from 90F to 84 at peak heat, some traces and spits of showerlets. Thought sure I heard the Calliope, but no Rufous. Late in day a couple more Orchard Oriole, couple more Yellow Warbler, a juv. Summer Tanager, and a Gnatcatcher went through yard, loosely together, all southbound. About 10:30 p.m. a rain cell found us, and it rained for a couple hours, at times hard. It was at least an inch!

Aug. 28 ~ Low was 72F, some low clouds in a.m., but not much. Humid and high ground moisture from the rain yesterday evening. No dust. Still can hardly believe we got an inch over the prior two evenings. Lots of leaves are turning yellow, especially on the Pecans, but also the Mulberry is dropping yellow leaves already. You can see the season is changing, but can't feel it enough yet. Late afternoon some more rain cells went by nearish, but we got no rain. It gave us some outflow though and dropped temps to 84F or so right at peak heat. Butterfly of the day was a FOY Southern Broken-Dash on the Blue Mist.

There was clearly migrant motion overnight. First thing at dawn I had at least four separate Upland Sandpiper call going over low southward, looking for a pasture to put down in for the day. Wish I could find the magic one they all go to. Then a FOS flock of Blue-winged Teal shot down river low and fast just over treetops. It was over a dozen. A few Orchard Oriole and a couple Yellow Warbler went through yard in first few hours of day. The male Indigo Bunting was again seen flying away from seed outback in flight song. So still here. The rain was so nice a Summer Tanager sang for 10 minutes, which I have not heard in a month here. Heard a Common Nighthawk at dusk.

Widow Skimmer

Widow Skimmer, male

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 27 ~ A low of 70F was a thrilling treat. No morning low clouds, sunny out of the gate but lots of ground moisture will keep it cooler than 95 today. Bell's and Yellow-throated Vireo singing, a couple White-eyed of course. An Eastern Wood-Pewee singing in pecans. Heard the first Common Ground-Dove in 5 months or more, since the Sharp-shinned Hawks wiped them out last winter. There have been none all spring and summer. Town run day. Park was pretty dead, save one bird of interest which got away on the island, it looked like a Black-billed Cuckoo. Odes were slow there too. Saw my FOY Viceroy butterfly out in the willows. Little Creek Larry said he had a flock of a couple thousand swallows earlier in the week, but couldn't ID them due to height and bad light, they were thermalling up and broke south. Impressive number. Here at the house the ad. ma. Rufous was here in the a.m., more Rubies, less Black-chins, only a few B-chin left. Saw an imm. Canyon Towhee on the patio. Again about 5 p.m. another rain cell found us right at peak heat dumping another half-inch or so (14mm) of rain and taking it from 90 to 75F. The thrill of it all! We got an inch in the last two days! Afterwards some Barn Swallow overhead and one Chimney Swift called from among them. I saw in bins in the big Pecan what is my earliest ever and first August ever, Clay-colored Sparrow, which is very weird. At dusk a Common Nighthawk called a few times and I heard it boom once! Saw Giant Swallowtail, Desert Checkered-Skipper, and Celia's Roadside-Skipper, today.

Aug. 26 ~ A low of 71F felt great, coolest in a week methinks. The low clouds from the Gulf did not make it here this a.m. so sunny out of the gate. First hummer at the feeders about 6:50 was the ad. ma. Rufous. Yellow Warbler at the bath and in yard early. Maybe three greenies, imm. Painted Bunting, left. Just seeing one Blue Grosbeak imm. left. About 10:30 a.m. I was in chair on front porch and a Bell's Vireo was across from the gate singing and making other noises. At the same time there was a Dickcissel calling out in front yard, second one this fall. Then a Calliope Hummingbird flew up to a Tropical Sage and began calling. So I did hear one yesterday. It is an imm. female. Will use yesterday as the FOS date, since I was sure I heard it then. I was willing to let it go, but then when you get a re-affirmation, you know you were correct. About 5 p.m. one of the rain cells scattered around found us and by 6 it was 75F and we got a half-inch of rain! We beat the heat, and it busts the dust.

Aug. 25 ~ Low of 74F, some low stratus for a couple hours, burning off mid-morn. The daily Yellow Warbler and couple Orchard Orio went through yard early. Before 11 Kathy spotted the FOS Black-throated Green Warbler coming into the bath with a male Yellow Warbler. The B-t Green looked like an imm. female to me, and great to see. Kathy also spotted the male Neon Skimmer dragonfly back on the cattails in our tub pond. I have reached the pinnacle of success, having brought one dragonfly to the pondlet. I thought Flame Skimmer was really something, and then I saw a Neon. I can't imagine anything being redder that was not plugged in. Did not see or hear a male Indigo Bunting today, and greenies are thinning out, only a few left now. In Yellow-throated Warbler, the adult male and a young male of his that is about 60 days fledged now got in a staring match mid-chase, in the fence around the tub pond right out the office window. The ad. has been chasing it around a bit lately. The ad. ma. Rufous Hummer is still here. More Rubies, less Black-chins again today. Thought sure I heard a Calliope Hummer call as a bird was being chased away. I saw 92F on the cool shady front porch, must have been 96 in the sun with heat index at a hun. These last two weeks have been brutal. Roughly, hundred dF heat indices every day.

Aug. 24 ~ I only saw 74F for a low, and no low clouds from the Gulf this a.m., so hot early. At 5 p.m. I saw 94F on the cool front porch, so was likely 99 in the sun. Broiling here. Looks like today is peak heat and supposed to dial back a little now. Early a.m. there was a Yellow Warbler, heard a couple Orchard Oriole, one Upland Sandpiper at daybreak. More imm. Ruby-throated and less imm. Black-chinned Hummers, and certainly an uptick in hummers here yesterday and today. The adult male Rufous continues. Saw a male Indigo in flight song as it was leaving (the seed out back) early in morn so it is still here but has gone all stealthy right before it leaves. About 1 p.m. I saw a male Neon Skimmer dragonfly sitting on a cattail in the tub pond! My first dragon to come in to it. After just a short year and change. I had told Kathy one would show the first day. Just barely off a wee bit. At 8 p.m. I saw probably the Common Nighthawk Kathy has heard a few nights lately. First one I have seen since they left in late May or so. Saw my FOY Broomweed flower, just one so far.

Aug. 23 ~ The 73F low felt better than the last few days. Only thing singing at dawn is Mourning Dove. Heard several Upland Sandpiper at first light, finally, they have been absent and are tardy to show. Saw a Yellow Warbler, couple Orchard Oriole, and Kathy saw a Black-n-white Warbler coming to bath. Some minor migrant motion. Did ya see our length of day is now at 13 hours? A full hour and few minutes shorter than at the solstice two months ago. Losing over 1.5 min. per day now too so we will be at 12 hour daylength in a month. The last few and next few days seem to be peak heat if it goes as predicted. It was 91F at least on the cool shady front porch, 95 in the sun, a hun heat index. Some butterflies on the waning Frogfruit were mostly about 10 Vesta Crescent. Besides a normal Phaon Crescent, there was one that looked like a winter form with no orange color. And which makes no sense now, but I don't know what else it could have been. Saw an Orange Skipperling, couple Bordered Patch, Gray Hairstreak, Reakirt's Blue, Dun Skipper. Earlier in morn a Celia's Roadside-Skipper was around.

Aug. 22 ~ Was 76F at daybreak but as gulf clouds got here it dropped to 75 an hour later. Thought I heard an Upland Sandpiper at the crack of light going south. Couple Orchard Oriole went by. Heard Bell's, Red-, and White-, eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireos. A Yellow-throated Warbler visited the bath that looked the imm. male that was fledged here and been around. A Yellow Warbler was around and hit the bath as well. Did not see a male Indigo Bunting or any male Blue Grosbeaks. About 2:30 p.m. I saw an adult male Rufous Hummingbird around, Rufous number four and ad. ma. number two for the fall so far. Had a quick look late at the FOY Dusky-blue Groundstreak. They used to be from common to abundant. Only one so far this year.

We went for a swim around peak heat. Saw some Texas Shiner, 70 or so, first school of them all year. The rest was non-native, bass and perch. Saw one Dolomedes fishing spider, looked a big female scriptus, the usual expected here. No birds, amazing quiet. As in dead. Kathy had a couple probable Chickadee. Odes were light too. A few Stream and Double-striped Bluet, Dusky and Violet Dancer, a few Swift Setwing, but slow. Maybe too hot. The cool water sure felt great. Came back to 92F on the cool shady front porch, so prolly 96F in the sun. Brutal. Early dusk when colors still visible, a Chuck-will's-widow flew across the yard low. There were a few Spot-winged Glider along driveway, one was hanging up in a Mexican Hat. Aaarrgghh! Never see them do that, and no doubt only because the camera is broken. More salt is that I do not have a pic of one from here worth diddly. Ouch.

Aug. 21 ~ Low of 75F is pretty balmy. This will not be over soon enough for us. Got up to about 95F peak heat and stayed humid, over 40 percent. So felt worse. Did not see or hear the male Indigo Bunting today. Also the male Blue Grosbeaks are AWOL. I think they all left. Sounds like maybe just a couple Chats out there now. Counted five greenies at once on patio. Heard a hummingbird that was a Selasphorus wing buzz but never saw it. Just a couple Ruby-throats, ad. and imm. males, and some imm. Black-chinned, probably males. A Field Sparrow gave some nice long trills of song at peak heat. Normally I would go out and find some dragonflies to photograph, but since camera broken, fairly un-inspired to face the heat. If you can get a butterfly or ode shot, it is worth it. Without a camera if you see something rare that needs documentation half of you will be dyin' inside.


This is a juvenile Field Sparrow.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 20 ~ Another 74F low. Just a couple hours of morning low stratus. The last third of August is almost always a brutal cooker here. In morning the ad. ma. Indigo Bunting sang. Half-dozen greenies (imm. and fem. Painted) on the seed. Male Summer Tanager in the bath, a Chat with an inch stub of a tail there too, and a Black-n-white Warbler came down close to the bath but I didn't see it go in. A Gnatcatcher flew over early (all Blue-gray here until you get to the desertish areas in SW Uvalde Co.). About 9:30 I was keyboard warrioring and right out the window at least 4 Orchard Oriole came down into the tub pond, a couple bathed, funny to see them on our Cattails! So clearly some bird movement this morn. Town run day. Park had single Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Summer Tanagers, Yellow-throated Warbler, and a Green Heron. That was it. No odes of note, the Turquoise-tipped Darner must have expired finally after being there a couple months. Two Green Darner instead. Little Creek Larry said he saw two Spotted Sandpiper on the spillway early this morn. Those would be fall migrants. Saw 91F on the cool shady front porch at 4 p.m., so 95F in the sun. I see about one Wooly Ironweed flower left. The Blue Mistflower seems to be going into a lull as well. The Tropical Sage is blooming great though, and hummers love it. Thought I heard a wing-whistle that sounded Broad-tailed as a male Ruby-throat chased it off. Heard both the male and female Eastern Screech-Owl at dusk.

Aug. 19 ~ Low of 74F, I see the KERV heat island had them only down to 76F. A couple Orchard Oriole early, heard two warblers, one sounded Black-n-white, the other not, and was not a Yellow. Later in morn Kathy spotted an ad. fem. Yellow Warbler at the bath. I had a Red-eyed Vireo go through the front yard, and a or the Yellow-throated was out there too. Finally saw an ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird after noon. Kathy heard a C. Nighthawk at dusk again tonight. There were over a half-dozen Firefly again as last night. So I would say the fall flight has begun. After July 4 they faded to just a couple quickly, and stayed that way all month, a couple. There may have been a week in early August without any. Now numbers are increasing, this is the fall brood now showing. Be nice to have a good fall flight.

Aug. 18 ~ A 73F low, and muggy. About 10 a.m. light showers came by, by noon we had a quarter inch! Keeping the heat out for the morn, and the dust down. The hummers seem few in number, somewhat oddly for the date. Most of the Black-chins have departed and the Ruby-throats have not yet arrived. No ad. male Black-chinned now, did not see one yesterday the 17th either, last saw it on Monday. Male Indigo still singing, did not see the male Painted. Yellow-throated Vireo singing, and not singing but visited was a Yellow-throated Warbler, it has not been around a week or so.

We had to go to Sabinal for a vehicle inspection so did the 20 mile drive in the afternoon. Just east of the river on 360 there was a big swarm of dragonflies, at least 50, mostly Spot-winged Glider. After the inspection we hit the Family Dollar store to get something else out of the miles and time. Didn't have time though to blow an hour or two birding or bugging. The most amazing thing was the thousands of dead or severely set back Huisache trees. The Feb. freeze victims. Bare sticks, bare trees. Hundreds right along the road, thousands if you look across the landscape. Some are starting to come back like a couple in Utopia, just a few green branches. Obviously the cold hit them very hard. This is what stops their northward range. Must be tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands, of dead Huisache trees. It is mind-blowing. We had not been down Hwy. 187 since the 5F freeze obviously.

Did not see the Harris's Hawks on their hill. The only good bird was a Loggerhead Shrike about 4 mi. N. of Sabinal. I have had what were probably nesting shrike just north of Sabinal before, but they are very rare in summer there, generally absent, and completely absent up here from spring to fall. A few Scissor-tails were in ag areas just north of Sabinal, and a few Mockingbird were seen, but just a very few. Usually the road is lined with Lark Sparrow, we saw none. There are no bugs down there either. Forty miles roundtrip in the afternoon and two bugs hit the windsheild. If you are a bird out looking for flying insects to eat, what are you going to do? Keep flying. Did see a Barn Swallow feeding a couple young on a wire at the car inspection place. Never stop birding. Kathy heard a Common Nighthawk at dusk. And oh yeah, one FOY blooming stalk of Fireweed at the 360 crossing.

Aug. 17 ~ Low was a balmy 74F. Saw what I will put down as the FOS Yellow Warbler in the pecans out front today. Surely had one earlier in the month but this one gave more than a zzeeting flyby. Clouds from nearish rain blocked the worst of the afternoon heat, so peaked at about 90F. One Orchard Oriole went by. Saw the male Painted Bunting again, same one by the dullness and pattern of pale areas on underparts. Male Indigo still giving snippets of song, including short bursts in flight. Several brownies, fem. and imm. Indigo, and a half-dozen greenies, fem. and imm. Painted. A half-dozen Blue Grosbeak, at least. There were two juv. Vermilion Flycs. hanging around the house and yard the last couple weeks from the last nesting in the corral, they seem gone now. They fledged in earliest August. The male was chasing one over the weekend. There were some rain cells near enough to send an outflow to us, so near peak heat we dropped 10F to about 80F. That sure helped. After dark we got a hundredth or two of spritz.

Aug. 16 ~ Today we pass the half-way point in the month! The August heat used to not be so bad, when I spent the dog days working through shorebirds. I saw a low of 70F here, but noted KERV pulled a 66F briefly before dawn. Probably in a rain. Quite refreshing to spend almost 18 hours in the 70's F. Saw an immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird which I will put down as the FOS, though thought I had one for a couple days, ten or so days ago. Still no ad. male, they are tardy. One ad. male Black-chinned here in morn. Did not see the male Painted but the male Indigo Bunting was present. Sometime between the pre-noon seed toss and 3 p.m. a White-winged Dove was taken out back, prolly the Cooper's Hawk. An outflow cooled us from high to low 80's F about 2:30 p.m., the rain all missed us though. Looked down-valley and toward Sabinal they got it.

Aug. 15 ~ Low of 71F was better, clear, no clouds, some outflow driven rain is to the north, some might make it down here today. Had an ad. fem. Blue Grosbeak feeding young on the seed out back in the morn. The first ad. male Painted Bunting I have seen in over 10 days dropped onto the patio amongst 7 green ones. It was duller of red below, almost brickish red due to pale areas interspersed, probably molted feathers, not like the even saturated red in the books, the blue head was duller too. The ad. male Blue Grosbeak are also much duller now, post-breeding molt ongoing. Several brownies - imm. and female Indigo Bunting - were about as well.

Clouds in the afternoon kept it just below 90F, but was very humid. Finally about 5:30 some outflows found us, and shortly after some light moderate rain around 6 p.m. was about 1 cm, or three-eighths of an inch, cooled it down to lower 70's! Weewow! Should keep the dust down a couple days. Beat the heat. Saw and heard sing the male Indigo Bunting late after the rain, the male Painted was out back too. Pretty dull he is. Lots of greenies and Blue Grosbeak. Saw an immature Chat in our pet Frostweed out front. An ad. Field Sparrow in the bath is now sans eyering, it is the time when they are replaced.

Aug. 14 ~ Another 74F low, but some low stratus this morn held the heat off a few hours anyway. One ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird continues, as does a male Indigo Bunting, still singing. There have been a couple juvenile Vermilion Flycatchers around from the last nesting in the corral. The ad. ma. is chasing them a bit now. Can't get over all the Snow-on-the-Mountain being eaten by the deer. Was sooo nice. Gone. Wish I could afford deer-fencing. It surely would be a massive improvement in the native habitat. I think it was the Bamberger ranch by Boerne (which is slated to become a state natural area) where when the deer went, saplings appeared everywhere.

Had to run to town just before noon. North end of park was empty save the dance floor area being setup for a reception. In the woods and by the island, had juvenile Red-eyed Vireo, a few White-eyed, and a Yellow-throated Vireo. A Ringed Kingfisher shot low right over me from behind not calling until later. Missed the Turquoise-tipped Darner but saw Eastern Amberwing, a male Halloween Pennant, a Five-striped Leaftail, and the usual common stuff. Checked the library garden and some things in bloom but very few butterflies, and only big ones, no small stuff but one Bordered Patch. Some Queens, a few Pipevine Swallowtail, and one pale morph fem. Large Orange Sulphur. Four species is weak. Then checked the gold course pond at Waresville for odes. No Comet Darner or Red-tailed Pennant, some Banded Pennant and Thornbush Dasher, Black, and Red, Saddlebags, Widow Skimmer and Blue Dasher of course. One fem. Summer Tanager flew out of the reeds. Single Marine Blue and Eufala Skipper were on the Bluehearts. No Martins, swallows, or swifts, anywhere.


Here is a male Painted Bunting right before it left a
few days later. Note as underparts molt the loss of red
feathers then reveals the white bases of those same red
feathers still there, making for a rather pock-marked look.
This is obviously normal and natural, I suspect it gets
even worse after they leave here.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 13 ~ Happy Friday the 13th! Good luck! Low was 74F. We seem stuck in the 74-94F August rut. Been the spread quite a few days lately. Hope it ends soon. Did see a nice bright Perseid to the east after midnight last night. First light a Gnatcatcher was in the big Pecan, it must have slept there. A Ctenucha moth was on the Blue Mistflower before sunup. Saw that fancy hopper from the photo break a few weeks ago again. A male Indigo out back early, first in three days, but which sang later in the usual trees so is the territorial bird still here, just getting shy. Heard the Blue Grosbeak singing across road early. It and Mrs. Blue were on patio late in day. One male Black-chinned Hummingbid in the morning.

Town run day, no Purple Martin, Chimney Swift or Barn Swallow in or over town. They are all gone. We will likely see some passage birds yet, but the local breeders are outta here for the year. Little Creek Larry said his swifts left earlier this week, none the last few days in his chimneys. But still lots of Whistling-Ducks on Little Creek. I mentioned my first Zone-tail in a while and he said he has not seen one all summer either. There is a prey base problem here. Our local Red-tail pair only raised one young, which is finally gone this week.

Park was sorta quiet for people, and birds. The Turquoise-tipped Darner continues though, patrolling the swampy area between island and woods at north end of park. Great bug, wish I could get a good pic of it. Camera still out of commission. At north end of island a couple Orange-striped Threadtail flying. One Catocala obscura underwing moth. Probably the same as a couple weeks ago black form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was departing a Buttonbush and flew out over pond just as I walked Up.

Best bird was a bug at the gas station, dead on the ground, which I almost stepped-on. A just expired male IO Moth. Automeris io, one of the Saturnidae silk moths. But not one of the big XL ones, just a couple inches across. But oh that hind wing! The first one I have seen here in now 18 years. Took the specimen for a voucher, showed it to Little Creek Larry and he said he has never seen one here so that covers 60 years and he would know if he saw such a beautiful beast. Made my day!

Later in the afternoon at the hovelita I heard then saw the Zone-tailed Hawk overhead. Between the long clear whistled keeee notes it often makes quick short single-note chirps, much like a ground squirrel or chipmunk alarm note but a clear whistle. Saw the White Angled-Sulphur fly across the yard again. It must be hitting the Red Turkscap flowers, they love them, a couple dozen have been open daily a couple weeks now. Snow-on-the-Mountain was going well, and I have seen them on that too. But last night I think deer ate them all. A couple dozen nice big stalks with flower heads, all gone. Sure wish the deer were not so overpopulated, largely due to over feeding with corn feeders artificially inflating populations. Why there are no young and adolescent trees anymore. The female Common Whitetail dragonfly is still on the stone steps leading to porch for a couple hours a day. Four days or so now. Haven't seen the male though he must be around.

Late in day out the back office window where I toss seed along fenceline at base of the hill with the big live-oaks, some Mountain Laurel and a stick pile, there were 8 Blue Grosbeak at once. Has to be my high count here for a single moment. Two adult male, one first summer male (blue face who now has some blue on belly), and 5 brownies, of which 2 looked ad. fem. and 3 juveniles, young of the year. That is a cool blue on the males. At dusk I heard the first Eastern Screech-Owl call I have heard in 3 months.

Aug. 12 ~ I was out after midnight for a bit hoping to see some Perseid meteors, the only one I saw was not a Perseid. Kathy went out about 4 a.m. and it was milky with thin clouds. So no show for us. I saw one a few days ago that was clearly a Perseid. Low was 74F, we are amidst the dog days, even the Chats are barely making any noise now. Bell's Vireo is still over in corral though. Noonish at the front porch Lantana a juv. or fem. Orchard Oriole was eating berries with a greenie (juv. or fem.) Painted Bunting. Maybe a half-dozen greenies around. No ad. male Painted or Indigo. Saw one adult male hummingbird that was either Black-chinned or Ruby-throated. The rest is all Black-chinned, seemingly mostly young of the year - immatures. The Rufous was not seen all day. So it must have tanked up and split either late yesterday or first thing this morning. I think about 94F for a high. Too hot to do anything out there. Had a 14 count of Queens on the Blue Mistflower. One Julia's Skipper out in grass. Still a Celia's and a few Dun visiting the last Wooly Ironweed flowers.

Aug. 11 ~ About 72.5F for a low, maybe a couple hours of low stratus. I was in town early and zipped through the park. Two Green Heron, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler, and one Great Crested Flycatcher. Was too early for odes apparently. Late afternoon the ad. male and fem. Blue Grosbeak were on patio for white millet. A couple times saw ad. male Black-chinned Hummingbird, but they are very few now. The imm. male Rufous is still here. Prolly hit 94F or so at peak heat. Too hot. Julia's Skipper late afternoon in front yard. Very few of them this year. The Wooly Ironweed is past peak bloom and fading. The Frostweed is putting out flower heads. Snow-on-the-Mountain is going well, Turkscap is fair, Frogfruit is fading but best patch still going a bit. Losing about a minute and a half of daylight daily now.

Aug. 10 ~ Another 74F low. Some low stratus for a couple hours and then bake. I saw 90F on the cool shady front porch at 3 p.m., likely was 94F in the sun. Nothing different for birds or bugs either one. The imm. male Rufous-Allen's Hummingbird is still boss of a feeder. Thought I saw a Yellow Warbler fly off but only 99.9 pct. on it.Not good enough to call it. I did get an email the other day saying Young Life has altered course and will not be acquiring a permit to discharge (treated*) effluent into the Sabinal River. *Treated by any definition does not mean any and all pharmaceuticals people are on have been removed. So this is excellent news presuming it proceeds as I understand it. They will irrigate on site with the treated water, as they should. A much better option for everyone downriver, and the animals that live in it. Later afternoon a Zone-tailed Hawk made a couple low hunting passes over the yard, first one I have seen in a while, was an adult.

Aug. 9 ~ Low of 74F is not very. Not much for low stratus, it is the dog days. Out back on the seed early there were two ad. ma. Indigo Bunting as well as two juveniles. Also the blue-headed first-summer Blue Grosbeak was there, now with a small patch of blue on belly, finally. But the formerly brown tone to the very dull worn un-molted upperparts are now more gray than brown. I do not get how this bird has not molted its body from first winter plumage yet. Too bad the camera is out of commission, I could have gotten shots. Heard a Gnatcatcher early. After noon a new Rufous-Allen's type Selasphorus hummer showed up. It is an imm. male, looks and sounds Rufous to me. This makes the third one of fall so far and we are just getting started. At least a half-dozen juv. Painted Bunting around yard and on feeder and patio. Saw 91F on the cool shady front porch, likely 95 in the sun.

Aug. 8 ~ Low of 73F, low stratus from the Gulf just arriving at daybreak. Holds the sun off a couple or few hours if lucky. Twice I thought I heard the zzzeeet of a Yellow Warbler, surely what I heard and saw yesteray was one. Worked on stuff here. Around peak heat we went for a swim in the river, have not been there in weeks. It was dead silent for birds. Nothing singing. Water was still cool enough to be no worries, no doubt due to the recent rains. A few odes were about. One Green Darner, a Widow Skimmer, a few Swift Setwing, a couple dozen Blue Dasher were the only common thing. In damsels, some Dusky, a Kiowa Dancer, a Blue-ringed and a Violet Dancer, Stream and Double-striped Bluet. So a few things. No native minnows, just bass and sunfish. Had either a juvenile (what it looked like) or a female Summer Tanager singing quietly. No kingfishers. Here in the yard no male Painted Bunting for me, day four, five days since one sang.

Aug. 7 ~ Low of 73F, and we are back to the standard summer sub-tropical high pressure ridge that bakes us. We cheated most of the first week of Aug. with 2.75" of rain so can't complain. Sounds like a morgue out there now for morning birdsong though. Not much left making noise. Heard a juvenile Bell' Vireo. No ad. ma. Rufous Hummer, it was not seen after first thing yesterday morning. No ad. ma. Painted Bunting, third day for me. The male Indigo was on patio and gave a measure of flight song leaving after a visit as he likes to do. Saw a couple Plateau Agalinis popping up out back, be nice to get a bloom of them this fall, hasn't been a good one in several years. I see some seeds of Old Man's Beard floating around on the breeze.

Best beast was a WHITE ANGLED-SULPHUR that flew by the front porch but did not stop. I thought it would turn around for the Red Turkscap. I have not seen one in several years. I would say it was a female, no yellow squares on forewing. But that wing shape! Oh my! They look quite different in flight than pale morph female Large Orange or Cloudless Sulphur, not even so much as striking you as even possibly one of either. The white is so bright and clean, almost satiny.

About 7 p.m. I heard a zzeet as in warbler flight note, and saw what looked every bit a female Yellow Warbler fly across the yard. One was reported near SAT a couple days ago. A few things at last sun as I was out on driveway. An Eastern Wood-Pewee whistled. At the north gate post there is a big Texas Persimmon with fruit. Out flew a Bell's Vireo, a Summer Tanager, and two Orchard Oriole. Then five Orchard Orio flew from the Mesquites southward across yard, two were adult males. They were probably all just in the Persimmon. For the second day I saw an imm. hummingbird that looked like a Ruby-throated to me.


Here is a pic of the Io Moth (Automeris io) that I picked up
at the gas station today, free with a fillup. Had to Mavica
(floppy disk LOL!) a docu shot of it for the meanwhile.
This is a male, females are browner of forewing, and of course you
do not see the amazing hindwing when wings closed as when on a wall.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 6 ~ Low of 72F, very little for morning low stratus deck. Nice to see that ground wet. Had the ad. ma. Rufous Hummer first thing early, but then not all day, so it split. So weird not seeing male Painted Bunting at the feeder, patio, or out back, in the morning. Heard brief songs from Bell's and Yellow-throated Vireo, and of course White-eyed still going. No Yellow-throated Warbler around though did hear one sing at park mid-day when there. Indigo Bunting singing a bit here and there. Park check day, I mean town run for errands. There were some Purple Martin over town and the park still, but not for much longer. In the woods there was one Black-n-white Warbler and a Green Heron. One Large Orange Sulphur. One Green Darner, five Eastern Amberwing, and the mystery darner is still there. It must have been hung up (perched in vegetation) last week when I missed it. I am slowly becoming confident it is a Turquoise-tipped Darner. It does have a green on thorax with no pale stripes. Camera is still out of commission though, major bummer. It is like walking around naked out there, with no way to document anything with a pic. Should make something good show up. An adult Red-shouldered Hawk flushed with prey in talons, out of a Pecan in front yard in afternoon. Was a Rain Lily out back, I presume a fall version at this time of year?

Aug. 5 ~ Clouds kept the heat in, low was 74F. There is a low in NE Mexico which will move over today, rain started shortly after sunup. Another day of cheatin' the heat is fine, as is more water. A nice slow soaker, we got .75" and it had dropped to 70F by 10 a.m. A couple Orchard Oriole went through as did a Gnatcatcher. Must be August. The ad. ma. Rufous Hummer is still bossing a feeder. Sun came out in afternoon, got up to 81F on the cool shady front porch. An amazingly low high for the date. It was wonderful. Saw another but different Monarch today, a bigger one, also fairly fresh in appearance. Like yesterday's smaller one, it fed a lot, and left shortly. I did not see an adult male Painted Bunting today but finally at 7:30 p.m. Kathy saw one on the patio. Been at least three daily at the white millet tube and out back on the seed up to yesterday. First day since mid-April that I have not seen one. Going, going, gone soon! An Eastern Wood-Pewee went southbound through yard in afternoon. Rarity of the day was a Downy Woodpecker which went through briefly, but at least called to get my attention. Have not seen one in a couple months, did not get to age or sex it. Forgot to mention a small tiny Sphinx moth of some sort before 7 a.m., which buzzed the Blue Mistflower.

Aug. 4 ~ Low of 71F and fairly pleasant out. The rain is all south and coastward now but we are under a cloud shield still. A couple more Orchard Oriole went through yard in the morning. They will be a near-daily thing for the next month. Heard a couple snippets of Painted Bunting song, no long strings anymore. Indigo still going better, as are Blue Grosbeak. Male and ad. fem. Blue Gros were on patio eating white millet. Best thing in morn was seeing a begging Yellow-throated Vireo being fed! From the office chair at computer doing work. Me not the vireos. They must have nested fairly close by. We have only been seeing one and not every day, but must have been on a far edge of a territory then. There were three Gnatcatcher loosely associated that moved south through the yard in late afternoon. A high count of 14 Queen butterfly on the Blue Mistflower, plus one fairly unexplainable Monarch. Which was small and fresh, and did not stick around long. One small Texas Wasp Moth was also on the Blue Mist. A few tiny baby Green Anole about as well.

Aug. 3 ~ Another 70F for a low, and no new rain. The ad. ma. Rufous Hummer is still out there, first bird at the feeders. Heard a Dickcissel go over southbound, a FOS fall migrant. A juv. Orchard Oriole went through yard as well. Late p.m. a couple more Orchard flew over calling. In the afternoon there was a FOS Least Flycatcher out on the fenceline. I doubt related the unknown Empi sps. I had two days ago. Northerly flow was a rare bird on the date, wow. It might have hit 82 or 84F briefly. What a treat, a category below average from an early August cold front. Had three ad. male Painted Bunting at once, and 8 or more greenies (females and juveniles or immatures) are out there.

Aug. 2 ~ Low of 70F and early some more sprinkles, some thunder cells passed nearish but missed us. A Barking Frog was thrilled last night late. By 8-9 a.m. when past, it was 2" total for the event since yesterday evening. Amazing. The ad. ma. Rufous type Hummer was here first thing. Heard a Pewee (E.), a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was in the big Pecan, the first in weeks. At 10:30a it was still under 72F, lower than many recent lows. Was about 82F at 4 p.m., incredible. Overcast kept the sun at bay and very humid. Saw the ad. fem. Blue Grosbeak on the patio getting white millet like the male has been, they are feeding young. Caracara flew over. Kathy saw the male Indigo Bunting on the patio, I saw an ad. fem. coming in to patio seed, been just seeing the male. Only one week left before adult male Painted Buntings start departing. By the end of second week in Aug. most local breeder adult males are gone. The adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird are in depart mode, ad.-ma. population is diminishing fast. Sylvia Hilbig reported their first Rufous Hummer of the fall today, an adult male. When they hit they hit.

August 1 ~ Last month of climatological summer, two down and one to go. Started at 80F at midnight, and a low of 74F. Another toaster of a day, but a rare Aug. cold front is in north Texas and supposed to make it down here cooling things off and bringing rain this week. The outflow driven precip in front of it might start by later this afternoon, after we boil. Saw the Selasphorus hummer this a.m., but not its back. Wing whistle in hover sounded Rufous to me. Looking later thought I saw some green in back, need a better look. Camera broke whilst trying to get a photo. A second Rufous-Allen's is also out front, a female or imm. type, so at least two are here now. There was a juvenile Canyon Towhee on the patio in the morning, a recently fledged bird, it was on the pickup trucklet later in afternoon. Talk about dullsville. They don't even have the barely noticeable marks of the adults.

In the afternoon I saw my FOS Empidonax Flycatcher, but missed a positive ID on it. Least is default. Sorta seemed like a lot of bright orange yellow on lower mandible, like maybe a Willow. Let it go if you did not get a good enough look to ID it. I see tail ends of birds every time I go out. It does not take an Empi. Also this time of year is great for one of the rare western types like Dusky or Gray, so you really need to study them to make a proper ID.

About 2:30 it was 95F and felt over a hun with the high humidity. An hour later the edge of a rain cell brushed us and outflows dropped it to 85F and bearable. More outflows took it to 80 by 7 p.m., and around 8 a cell blew up over Utopia and moved south over us. We got 1.75" of the holy wet stuff! Most of it in an hour. Temps dropped to 70F! The thrill of it all. Looked like it poured all the way up valley to Lost Maples, and all around. There were NOAA reports of 2 and 4 inches in south central Texas somewhere. Amazing an August 1 cold front with a couple inches!?!?!?! This summer we had cold fronts in June, and July as well! This has not been a thing since we've been here. Of course they are not actually cold, but cold enough to make rain out of the tepid soup we swim in.

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

It was a hot one the last third but earlier a third was a little below average with wee bits of rain and an odd July cold front that washed out in the area. The flower bloom really slowed down, much is turning brown now. We got 2.15" of rain for the month here, some got more others less. Send water. A night light session for bugs was scary for how little came in. Bugpocalypse is real, it is here and now. How many bats ya seein' so far this summer?

Butterflies were fair diversity for the low total individual numbers. The 53 species is the high month for the year so far. Some of the common small stuff from southward was present, mostly on the Frogfruit, skippers, hairstreaks, and crescents primarily. Very few bigger things were flying. No Sister or Viceroy. One Metalmark (Rounded) is my only of year so far. One worn Zebra late in month was great even if just a flyby. A couple other rare here insects were of interest. A Cuban Green Cockroach might be one of the most westward records. A Giant Cicada for two days might be one of the more northerly records. Both are my first records ever here (n~18 years).

Odes were actually decent and provided some of the best action and fun, if you can take dripping in the heat while looking for or at them. Most interesting was an un-ID'd Aeshna (mosaic) darner at UP almost all month. It was not any of the usual normal things here and something good of note. Probably a Turquoise-tipped Darner. My cheapie 'bridge' camera doesn't work well for flying odes though. Next best was a male Comet Darner at the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. where we had at least 2 last year. Then at end of month a wavelet of Halloween Pennant was nice, a pair in copulation at Utopia Park was a first for me. Usually we just get singles, and that less than annually. I saw 5 in one day! Eastern Amberwing is showing up this year, they don't show every year. Good showing of Widow Skimmer this year. Very few Orange-striped Threadtail at UP though. Total for the month was 35 species.

Birds were mostly the usual expected save all the things that were absent and MIA like both vultures, Common Nighthawk and lots of insectivores, most were way down in numbers. For rarity the best birds were the two Tropical Parula (warbler) at Lost Maples which were first reported in ebird back in May. They summered singing on territory there at the very least. First record of that there that I know of. Never saw or heard of a female being seen there this season though. The rest was all the expected stuff. I count 82 species I saw this month locally, so surely over 90 are breeding in the area. But way fewer birds across the board. Even Ravens are down, they had been exploding.

~ ~ ~ end July summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ archive copy July update header ~ ~

July! Hopefully we will find something for this part soon. A few showerlets (.7) and 10F cooler than avg. temps (85F highs) the first week of the month is as good as any rare bird, almost. Lots of post-breeding wanderers out floating around. Good time for good birds. At Lost Maples SNA on July 11, there were still two continuing singing Tropical Parula (warbler) and at least three Golden-cheeked Warbler, amongst a bunch of other cool stuff. Dragonflies and butterflies are picking up a bit in the heat as expected. July 23 was my FOS Upland Sandpiper early in morning, heard flying overhead. I heard my first ever Giant Cicada here evenings of the 24th and 25th. A worn ZEBRA (butterfly) flew by on the 28th. A FOS Rufous-Allen's type Selasphorus Hummingbird was an adult male on July 31.

~ ~ end archive copy July update header ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

July 31 ~ About 72F for a low, few morning low clouds and a scorcher. Later afternoon I saw 96F on the cool shady front porch so it was a hun in the sun, which ain't no fun. It was humid too, so much worse than it sounds. Saw juveniles of Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Lark Sparrows, and a juv. Field Sparrow today on the patio. Not hearing the Yellow-throated Warbler last couple days. Maybe it is done. About 7 p.m. I saw an ad. male Selasphorus Hummingbird with fully red throat, which is Rufous (more likely) or Allen's. I camped out with camera for 20 minutes and it did not return. Was still 80F at midnight.


Green Heron - from the front is not much for green.


This is a just-fledged nestling Red-winged Blackbird.
In case you wanted to see how they started out.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 30 ~ A frog hair under 70F for a low, not much for morning clouds. Another burner. Town run fer errands. At the park I saw a black form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on buttonbush, first Tiger this month. I am almost out of days to add butterflies to the monthly list. Also saw a pair of Halloween Pennant dragons in wheel (copulating) on a twig out in the pond. Fuzzy distant shots since first I have seen in wheel here. The mystery mosaic darner was not there this week. Lotta people there, and in town, pretty touristy busy. The bastards bought all the hot dog buns and half-and-half. Back here at the hovelita in the p.m. the Bell's Vireo was singing uphill behind us. The Yellow-throated Vireo trolled by in the morning. Ad. fem. Cooper's Hawk dove on stuff and missed. Not seeing Zone-tailed Hawk this summer, I think the prey base just is not enough here this year. They moved too. Besides the ad. male, saw a juvenile Blue Grosbeak out back again.

July 29 ~ We pecked 69F on the cheek just before 7 a.m., no clouds first thing but a few moved in mid-morn. Got one more caterpillar (6th) off the Blue Mist. The electric company finally got here to remove the big Hackberry branches leaning on the powerline since the big wind event a few weeks ago. A big hole in the sky where there used to be a 40-50 foot across canopy. OMG, we lost a ton of shade too. There is a new brush, big branch and stick pile for the sparrows next winter though. Heard a Hooded Oriole over in the Mulberry. So one is sneaking in to the feeders, but so far unseen. Widow Skimmer still out in yard taking gnats out. Haven't been hearing the Screech-Owls for a couple months. I wonder if they had to go hunting for food elsewhere. Not normal to not hear them.

July 28 ~ A great 69F for a low felt nice. Later morn there was a Louisiana Waterthrush in the yard. I probably missed it at the bath. Then I heard it over at the draw. My few prior in the yard are mostly Aug. after rains. It is a post-breeding wanderer, likely a local nester, on its way to becoming a fall migrant. Got two more of the Blue Mist cats this morning. A male Painted Bunting came into the tub pond, was perched just a couple feet outside the office window on its way in. The ad. ma. Blue Grosbeak is eating millet, which I think means it is now feeding young. Usually it is all about the sunflower seeds, seemingly except when it has young to feed, whence it takes white millet. Noonish a worn Zebra Longwing (butterfly) flew across the yard. It had probably just left the Lantana when I saw it. Always a treat to see. First one this year, and less than annual so great. It was another burner, 93F in the shade on the front porch, so probably 97-98F in the sun. Hotter on the patio. We have about six weeks of this ahead. Later in afternoon single Orchard Oriole and Gnatcatcher went through yard, and the male Widow Skimmer continues. A female Red Saddlebags was out there hunting from a perch as well.

July 27 ~ Low about 73F, some low stratus to block the sun the first couple hours anyway. Dispatched 3 of those caterpillars that destroy the Blue Mistflower Eupatorium, and one got away. I think they might be Celia's Roadside-Skipper. The most vociferous singers first thing at early thirty are Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Cardinal, and Chat. I saw a juvenile Blue Grosbeak on the patio today, first of those I have seen this year. Noonish on the front porch from the observation station (a chair) I saw the four most common species of lizard at once: E. Fence, Six-lined Racerunner, Green Anole, and Four-lined Skink. Later afternoon was 93F there in the cool shady, probably 97F in the sun. Brutal. The Widow Skimmer is still out in yard. I heard a Hooded Oriole chatter but did not see it.

July 26 ~ Might have been a frog's hair under 74F for the low, and no morning stratus. The summer sub-tropical high has set in, and we bake. Male Blue Grosbeak hitting the seeds I toss out back, likely the breeder from across the road. Whaddabird. Yellow-throated Vireo still singing around, Kathy said she had it at point blank in the pecan over the garden out back the other day. A first-fall (juv., imm., HY (hatch year)) female Golden-cheeked Warbler was briefly in the yard after 10 a.m., whence it caught and ate something. Any at this date could be the last one until next spring. So it made my day to get one more look this year. A Large Orange Sulphur blasted through, only been seeing Cloudless the last month. Counted a dozen Queen on the Blue Mistflower again. The first few Snow-on-the-Mountain are starting to open up. Forgot to mention the Old Man's Beard is also getting going now too. About 4 p.m. I saw 93F on the front porch, local WU stations were reading 95-100F, so we are a real cold spot. Must be 97F in the sun here. Of course at about 92 or so the humidity burns away to 30 percent or less. So... it is a dry burning scorching flaming heat.

July 25 ~ A quick 72F for a low and not much for morning low stratus from the gulf. Another dog day on the way. Noonish I went over to the golf course pond to check for dragonflies. Kathy didn't want to stand around in the sun for some reason. There was some action. A Green Heron was the first I have ever seen there. Four Martin were still at the house, and the Red-winged Blackbird are still nesting. There was a fair bit of ode activity though, so worth the sun and heat, for a bit. Later in afternoon here I saw the WU local stations all reading 95-100F with heat indexes over a hun. It was a brutal hot afternoon. We hid inside. Male Vermilion was in yard at peak heat, a couple dF cooler under the pecans.

The dragons at the pond made the day. The Comet Darner is still there. There were at least four Halloween Pennant (after the one at the park a couple days ago) with one pair ovipositing, maybe a dozen Banded Pennant, and at least one Red-tailed Pennant. Both Red, and Black, Saddlebags, Comanche, Widow and Roseate Skimmer, a big blacker darner flew off right away, ten Thornbush and a dozen Blue Dasher, couple of Checkered Setwing, so over a dozen species there. The main pond is about 75 x 150'. Familiar Bluet were the only damsel identified there. Checked the 360 xing on way back. A Neon Skimmer there is great, some Swift and Checkered Setwing, Widow Skimmer and Blue Dasher. Damsels were Dusky and Blue-ringed Dancer, Stream Bluet, and a dozen American Rubyspot. A few Texas Cichlid below crossing, some Long-eared and Red-breasted Sunfish. No Viceroy again this year it seems. They are usually at the crossing. A male Widow Skimmer in the yard late, about 7 p.m. Great hearing that Indigo Bunting sing all day. The Giant Cicada sounded off again at dusk.

July 24 ~ Low of 73F and not much for morning clouds. Gonna be a burner. Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting singing vigorously first thing so still likely underway nesting again. Chat too. Hear Bluebirds but not sure they are going again. Worked on stuff here, mostly inside. The cool shady front porch was 91F, surely in the sun it was 95F. Too hot. Gotta get out there and everything done early as by noon it is baking and stays that way until dark. Juvenile Summer Tanager or two around yard. Right at dusk I heard a Giant Cicada, my first ever here. They sound like a jet engine at idle. Kathy and I heard a couple at Cook's Slough in Uvalde July 2019 which were my first that far north ever. South continues to march North. They used to be just way down in deep south Texas as in the lower Rio Grande valley.


This is a Banded Pennant dragonfly.


This is an American Rubyspot damselfly. From above in flight when
wings open basal half is bright ruby red. Usually at waters edge.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 23 ~ Low of 73F is a far cry from yesterday. Only spotty low stratus, so sunny early means hot. Before 7 a.m. a Ringed Kingfisher flew upriver chakking high up right over yard. About 7 a.m. I heard my FOS Upland Sandpiper of the fall. Dropping down for the day after flying all night. A long-distance migrant! A shorebird! Woohoo! Yard was the same gang. Heard Bronzed Cowbird still, Brown-headed are decreasing in numbers. Hummers have lightened up the last batch of young must be moving on and out, adult male numbers are decreasing. Nearing last sun I finally saw my FOY Julia's Skipper, way late this year.

Town run fer shtuff. Little Creek Larry said he has 9 Chimney Swift at his place this year, and 3 chimneys, so probably one young for each of three pairs. Factors fewer over town this summer, just like the Barn Swallow count along Main St. He also had Long-billed Thrasher, and the Yellow-throated Warblers keep bringing young into his tomatoes and destroying them. He also said he has killed 5 Kissing Bugs, that is the blood-sucking conenose Reduviad. He said dogs here have gotten Chaga's from these here.

At the park I did not see any different birds, for them it was dullsville, but a bit heavy with people. There were a few dragons though. There is a darner I am not sure of what type, up in the slough or swampy area in woods. I got a couple bad shots but not sure it will be ID'able. It is mostly black, but seems a mosaic type with blue checks, and does have blue eyes, long slightly decurved abdomen. There were at least 4 or 5 Eastern Amberwing, which is neat, though common nearby (Uvalde) they are less than annual here. Better was a Halloween Pennant, which is another less than annual species here, so always great to see. At least two male Red-tailed Pennant were out over pond as well as several Banded Pennant. A few Widow Skimmer flying, one Red Saddlebags, lots of Blue Dashers. Odes save the day again, as many in the hot slowish periods of summer.

July 22 ~ A low of 66F was a major treat. Still some dry NE flow aloft from that weird summer front. The SAT record low for the date is 67F, so we were right on the line here. The low that spun off the tail of the front is supposed to move back up over us maybe overnight, and possibly give us more rain. Looks like last chance for at least a week. An adult Red-tail, probably one of the nesters, landed in the big dying Hackberry before 7 a.m., probably looking for little bunnies (E. Cottontail) in the yard. Its begging baby still begging, over two months flying now.

Heard the Bell's Vireo over in the corral. A Yellow-throated Vireo sang behind us but which is just trolling around, unmated. In butterflies saw a So. Pearl Crescent, a Desert Checkered-Skipper, a Cloudywing which are Northern here until proven otherwise, a Black Swallowtail, and the rest was the usual stuff. Only 85F at 4 p.m. is cheating the heat for the date. But it got better, after 5 p.m. a rain cell found us dropping it to 76F in short order, and depositing a quarter inch of precip! Weewow! BTW, we are now losing over one minute of daylight per day, about a month from the solstice. So far we have lost about 22 minutes of daylight since the solstice.

July 21 ~ Some cooler air from the north filtered in behind the front bringing a low of 68F. Seemed the same gang of birds and butterflies for the most part. One male Black Swallowtail and a Funereal Duskywing. There is another low system over central Texas, spun off the tail of the front like the last one. It won't last long but there are rain cells all around and at 3 p.m. it was 84F from the cool outflows with NE low level flow. Hoping another cell finds us. Saw the blue-faced first summer Blue Grosbeak. Lots of pale and a bit of yellow showing on ad. ma. Painted Bunting underparts here now. Several juveniles out there. We never got any rain but it was so cool (80F) that at dusk the first Chuck-will's-widow I have heard in a couple weeks went off for a couple minutes. Great to hear that one more time this year. A, the, single lone Black-bellied Whistling-Duck flew over again, going on same track as always, but you have to be out there looking or you miss it.

July 20 ~ About 72F for a low is a wee bit better. Between 7 and 8 a.m. we finally got a decent shower as the front headed south, looks like .70 of an inch, in a half hour or so. At least one finally found us. Our Wooly Ironweed has some flowers open for a few days now. It was top-eaten three times by deer in the spring, so is half usual height, and the flower heads are smaller than usual. It got some flowers anyway. Was the same gang of birds outside.

As regular readers know I try to keep this space fairly free of politics, religion, and advertisements. I have to break from that to bring up something that is happening locally, here and now. A large pile of money (from out of state is my understanding) has bought one of the big ranches that is a Christian youth summer camp thingie upriver near Vanderpool. The former Lone Hollow, is now Young Life something. Their first act has been to apply for a 60 thousand gallon per day discharge permit for 'treated' sewage water INTO the Sabinal River. There has not been any such permit issued ever on any of the rivers draining the southern Edwards Plateau, the Nueces, Frio, Sabinal and Medina. These are the first people to think this is the right first thing to do here in this area economically dependent on being known for its pristine waters. Welcome to your nice new neighbors upriver.

I am writing a piece regarding it for a separate page. But for now...

Here are some links if you want to know more:

Bandera Canyonlands Alliance

Hill Country Alliance petition

The Op-Ed article linked in the second link above

~ ~ ~

July 19 ~ A low of 74F is not very. Barely any morning clouds, gonna be a hot one. Sure like seeing that male Indigo at the millet tube daily lately. Counted 12 Queen at once on the Blue Mistflower. They have continued blooming since spring. Usually they have a small bloom in spring, and a big one in fall. Local WU stations were reporting a sticky 90-95F at 5 p.m. Finally the clouds ahead of the July (!) front got here to block the sun about 5:30, the outflow about 6 p.m. dropped it into high 80'sF just in time. By 7 it was in the 70's F from the outflow! We just got spit on. A good cell poured just east, maybe along Seco Creek. Hopefully we will get a bit before the spinoff low from the front melts.

July 18 ~ About 72F for a low, some low stratus for a couple hours, clearing early, and will get hot. Heard a cuckoo out there cooing for a bit. Thought sure I heard a Green Jay over in corral as well. Heard ten calls. In morn I heard the Scissor-tail alarming as when chasing the Cooper's Hawk and saw it chasing something way smaller mostly through the trees but viewed through a couple openings. The bird it was chasing seemed like it must have been a Kestrel, it looked like a small falcon. Nearest I have ever seen one in summer is Uvalde, surely from the population that nests south of that, around Laredo area. Wish it would have called to confirm. They are absent here April to fall. Later in p.m. the Scissor was alarming and shadowing over the Cooper's Hawk again. Saw the blue-faced first summer Blue Grosbeak, now getting some blue on crown and nape better, but still mostly brown, at one year old. With the drone of the Cicadas and Katydids it is sounding like the dog days of summer out there. Saw 89F on the cool shady front porch, so low-mid 90's then in the sun. Some clouds around peak heat helped. Did have a Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak on the driveway Frogfruit amongst all the usual lately types. Male Indigo Bunnie hit the patio at last light for one more hit of white millet.

July 17 ~ Low about 72F with the low stratus to keep sun at bay a bit. Heard the Yellow-throated Warbler family go through yard again. Heard a Field Sparrow sing for the first time in a month, maybe they will nest again. Lots of baby Cardinal, Lark Sparrow, and House Finch, around the yard and on patio. Saw the male Red-winged Blackbird which again departed heading towards golf course. It must be flying a half-mile to get white millet. Fair number of small butterflies on the Frogfruit, did see an Elada Checkerspot among the Vesta Crescents, a Desert Checkered-Skipper, Reakirt's Blue, Olive-Juniper Hairstreak. Six Queen were on the Blue Mistflower.

At dark I set up a 4' shop light on a sheet hung on a clothesline for bugs. This is the newer type with LEDs, 3200 lumens, 5000 kelvin (nearing actual daylight - we use 6500k for corals, as is the sun at noon on the equator). But so a very bright light with the sheet to reflect it. It was again as last year, a response somewhere between depressing and scary. Bugpocalypse is here now. At midnight when I pulled the plug maybe a hundred bugs total, all types and orders combined, including micro stuff you could hardly see. Pitiful folks. Houston we have a problem. This is why there are no Common Nighthawk or Eastern Wood-Pewee nesting around this year. Hardly any Barn Swallow or Chimney Swift. Very few bats. No bugs. We are not in critical extreme exceptional drought, it has rained a fair bit the last couple years. A Coleman lantern did a thousand times better 40 years ago. A porch light did better 10 years ago. There has been a major wholesale level change in the biomass and balance of the ecosystem, no doubt in ways we cannot yet see. A lot of bugs are gone. Without insects the world as we know it would not exist. That includes here. Sometimes it seems like no one is looking, cares, or is even very much concerned.

As for what I did see... one neat thing was a new different cockroach. Except that it appears it was a Cuban Green Cockroach (Panchlora nivea). Introduced and non-native, found mostly in FL and along Gulf coast. Never saw one before. Had just one Cerambycid (Longhorn), Eburia mutica, the Lesser Ivory-marked Beetle, unfancy as it sounds. Have had them before here. A couple Emerald moths came in, another moth came in and a spider took it. A few June bug, couple small Scarabs, one Antlion, one Green Lacewing, one stocky leafhopper, some few Mirids, one of the common brown inch-long Elaterid, one Firefly, a thread-legged bug type of Hemiptera, a few micro moths, some little diptera, couple skeeters, and so on. If a field trip it would have been a bust, without fruit or grain-based refreshments.


Eastern Amberwing is a very small dragonfly, usually looking
more yellow than this oranger image due to angle and light.
There are a number around the park pond right now.


This is the Cuban Green Cockroach (Panchlora nivea) in case
you see one. They are very bright green in good light.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 16 ~ I think today is the halfway point of climatological summer (June-Aug.). We are half way through it now and on the backside, which is the peak heat hot side. Having dodged over a couple weeks of it with various rain events and temps below average so far, we can't complain. Before 7 a.m. a Ringed Kingfisher flew right over the house chaking along the way. Town run day so a look at park. Saw one ad. Green Heron, a group of begging baby Yellow-throated Warbler, begging baby Cardinal, heard Yellow-throated Vireo, pair of Summer Tanager with begging juvie Tanagers. Heard a Pewee. Saw an Eastern Amberwing dragonfly. Water is getting down to barely going over spillway. Little Creek Larry said often August is when it goes dry for going over spillway in dryer years. At the rate it is dropping, in a couple weeks or so it will not be going over. In a good wet year when aquifer topped up it keeps going over all year. After 6 p.m. I was at the 360 river crossing for ten minutes but nothing moving, saw 3 American Rubyspot damselflies. On the fenceline around the pasture just east of river there were the four just-fledged Scissor-tails, plus two adults, a juvenile Orchard Oriole, and a bunch of Lark Sparrow, including many juveniles.

July 15 ~ About 72F for a low, some morning clouds, but not thick and solid. I keep forgetting to mention, the Red Turkscap is now blooming, a dozen flowers open now. The first couple were late last week. Some insect eats the heck out of the leaves. But explains the Cloudless Sulphur in the yard, they love Turkscap. Day length is decreasing over 50 seconds a day now. Some far northerners are laughing at that. We wish they would get shorter faster too. Cardinal and House Finch are eating Lantana berries. Saw 88F on the cool shady front porch. Half a dozen Queen on the Blue Mistflower, a couple Lyside went by. This is often to many the dreaded period known as the summer doldrums. Lots of the breeders are done and gone, no migrants really yet. Hope for crossing paths with a post-breeding wanderer of which lots are about now. Often this is when herons and other long-legged waders show up inland from the coast. If you live northward in particular you can see migrant shorebirds now. Here, Rufous Hummer and Upland Sandpiper are usually the two first 'fall' migrants that show up in July that breed nowhere near us.

July 14 ~ Low about 72F, some sprinkles first hour or so, just a tracelet. On the driveway Frogfruit there were a dozen Vesta and 2 Phaon Crescent, a Southern Skipperling, a Buckeye, Whirlabout, Reakirt's Blue, Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, Bordered Patch, nice and mildly entertaining. Saw a seemingly different smaller Texas Wasp Moth from last week's sighting. Kathy pulled an Eleotes (stink beetle) out of the bathroom. Later afternoon a couple rain cells made it inland from the coast again today, one just missed us, might have hit town, and a second gave us a few hundredths of precip, others got actual rain, but here it dropped temps into upper 70's F just after 8 p.m. for a nice quick early cooldown. No Chucks calling, they are done.

July 13 ~ The usual summer low stratus from the Gulf in the a.m., very humid, 71.5F for a low briefly this morning. Late afternoon some fairly unpredicted rain cells made it this far inland which were the seabreeze type showers that usually don't get as far inland as I-37. We just got a cooling outflow but there was rain and thunder in town a couple miles away and heavy rain up the valley in BanCo. It dropped us from about 91F to 76F in fairly short order. We cheated the peak afternoon heat another day. Hear a Chipping Sparrow singing again, maybe they are going to go another round.

In the morn a male Indigo Bunting was on the white millet tube feeder, with a male Painted on other side. He was back at last light. Probably feeding young. Begging baby Yellow-throated Warbler are still going through yard daily. In the afternoon I heard what sounded like a Golden-cheek chip note, nice and metallic. Is the time to get post-breeding wanderers, both young of the year, and adults. Heard Martins low over the yard, no doubt diving over the house. Saw my FOY Metalmark butterfly, a Rounded (Calephelis perditalis). They are in their own family, so a whole new family for the year when you see a FOY metalmark. In swallowtails besides Pipevine, had Giant and Black. A few Lysides went by northbound.

July 12 ~ A balmy 74F low, overcast a few hours early to 11 or so. A Black-n-white Warbler was singing out front first thing before 7 a.m. Noonish as it warmed the driveway Frogfruit had butterflies. A fresh Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, a Reakirt's Blue, a FOY worn Southern Skipperling, a Phaon and several Vesta Crescent, a Desert Checkered-Skipper, 2 Celia's Roadside-Skipper, couple Whirlabout and a Fiery. Oh what fun, it is to check, several times a day, HEY! Did not hear a Chuck at dusk. Methinks they are spent for the season. If it rains yet we might get a burst or two before they go. The Fireflies are all but done as well, only a couple going at dusk. Signs of the season passing.

July 11 ~ The low that brought cool and rainy for a week has finally disapated west of us. We got up an hour early to get up to Lost Maples before it was too hot. At 5:30 a.m. there was nothing making any noise out there. Just before 6 some Chats started up, must have been a quiet hour or something. So guess what were the next two species sounding off with full song by 6:05 a.m.? Indigo Bunting and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. We went north from town via Jones Cmty. Rd. and slow-rolled by the area with the Parulas a month ago, did not hear any, but did not stop and give it time either. It is close, we can check it easy.

It was cloudy and misty early, humidity was about 200 percent, but felt higher. Sun came out after noon, whence some bugs (butter and dragon, flies) came out. The skeeters were as bad as I have ever seen them along the trail the whole visit. Spray your hat at the least. They were everywhere throughout, multiples at all times. Bug spray was safe in the car, since they are almost never an issue there. Only got a couple actual bites. None of the bird feeders are being maintained, seed or hummer, at HQ or trailhead feeding stations. As hoped for and expected the weekend after a big holiday weekend, there was hardly anybody there for day trippers, or in the back country overnight camping (which makes Sunday mornings noisy on trails sometimes as they all return to trailhead). The trail to the ponds and beyond was delightfully devoid of people most of the time.

First some of the misses: no Olive Sparrow, White-tipped Dove, Audubon's Oriole, Green King or Zone-tail. Worst miss: Eastern Wood-Pewee, but which we know were not present a month ago. Not enough flying bugs for them here this year. Like Common Nighthawk locally. The flowers were mostly in a blooming lull. Except Buttonbush, some Texas Milkweed, Musk Thistle, Cedar Sage, and the Snapdragon Vine was going great. Some other things were in smaller numbers, like Indian Blanket, Mountain Pink, Pearl Milkweed Vine, Coreopsis, etc. Maple seeds did well, turning brown now. No cherries but some ripening Texas Persimmons. No water in creek between the two ponds! That crossing is dry. One Greater Earless Lizard there as often, if you miss it there, it was you, not them.  ;) One Six-lined Racerunner up trail past second pond.

Birds were great though. We again had TWO TROPICAL Parula (warbler) along the trail to the ponds. The first one was singing less than a quarter mile past the first crossing leaving the trailhead parking, right where it flattens out after that first steepish bit. The second was just downstream of the next crossing, right where one was singing a month ago. In contrast, we had to go two miles to find a Golden-cheeked Warbler, but found three nearish together at that point including a begging young being fed by a female that was not full adult, a SY (second year) bird. The imm. male we saw was a first fall (or basic) plumaged bird in fairly complete plumage. So an older one from earlier in season. They were just below the high-water point on Can Creek, almost a mile past the ponds just before the service road switchback where it turns uphill. That 150 yards of woodland downhill from that is one of the best places to see them, they are always in the area, in season. Counting heard birds had three Black-n-white Warbler, at least four Yellow-throated Warbler, and probably five Louisiana Waterthrush. So, warblers! Five species! Great for mid-July here.

Heard lots of things and I don't bother chasing everything down at my age. Hearing it is good enough for me, when you have likely heard a thousand if not ten. A positively identfied detection is a detection and datapoint. Heard a couple Black-capped Vireo, and one Scrub-Jay. We had about 3 Acadian Flycatcher, a few Ash-throats which might be nesting now. At least two Yellow-billed Cuckoo which I think are likely nesting, and which they have not been doing there lately so of interest. Heard one Scott's Oriole sing, heard at least 4 maybe 5 Canyon Wren singing, worth it just for hearing them and the Scott's Oriole. Only one Yellow-throated Vireo heard, one Hutton's was seen, fair numbers of White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireo, including multiple fledged solo juveniles of both. Only heard a couple Gnatcatchers, they are mostly gone. Heard fair numbers of Summer Tanager, Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak singing, so they must all be going another round of nesting. At least one Painted Bunting still singing. June rains are magic for prolonging the breeding season here. A couple Chats, several families of Chickadee, and of Titmouse, heard Rufous-crowned Sparrow, saw two Raven, heard two Red-shouldered Hawk, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Cardinal, White-winged Dove, Chipping Sparrow, Lesser Goldfinch (black-backed), House Finch. Pretty birdy.

In bugs...  being misty and overcast all morning there was hardly anything out but skeeters until after noon. Finally as it cleared, some showed. A few each very worn Spicebush Swallowtail and Red-spotted Purple, but no AZ Sister again, still. Some Pipevine, but no yellow swallowtails, just one Black. One Queen, one Snout. A glimpse of a Roadside-Skipper where the Bronze always are but it got away before I could confirm. Several Dun Skipper, a Funereal Duskywing, a dozen Sleepy Orange, one Cloudless Sulphur, one each Variegated and Gulf Frit, a Checkered-Skipper. Later in day when warmer is better for them. It was just getting going as we were heading downtrail on the way out, a bit hot and beat after 6 hours and 4 miles on the trail. That is how slow you go when you are old. And brake for birds, butterflies, dragonflies, fungus and flower photos, and native minnow ID. Before 2 p.m. heat index was into 90's F. Great for bugs, for me not so much.

Odes were interesting. A couple skirmishing male Neon Skimmer at the highwater point as often, was great. At least a dozen each Widow and Comanche Skimmer were good totals. One Green Darner, one each Red, and Black, Saddlebags, one Prince Baskettail, one female Eastern Pondhawk was eating a large fly or bee. A few Leaftails, the close one was Five-striped as most there seem to be. Some Swift and 1 Checkered Setwing. Eight or so Banded Pennant, a dozen plus Blue Dasher. Missed ID on a some too. Any time you get over a dozen dragon species in a walk here is great by me. Missed Common Whitetail and Dot-winged Baskettail. Damsels were weakish though. Some American Rubyspot and Kiowa Dancer were about it. Could not find a Springwater Dancer in the usual places.

The three usual native minnows at the highwater spot on Can Creek: a Notropis shiner sps. (Sand?), Long-nosed Dace, and Mexican Tetra. Some of the tetras are about 3" long! Got a shot where all three sps. show in one frame. Still not a good picture. But docudata, so of value. Maybe the most exciting find was one of the little sphinx moths called hummingbird hawkmoth, probably the usual type here, the Clavipes Sphinx. Weird was only 2 each Black and Turkey Vulture, normally there are lots of each. Makes me wonder if most of the breeders there were the winterers here (Utopia Park roost) that over a hundred of were wiped out in the Feb. mega snow and freeze.

Anyway, as any time you do it, it was a great walk, so much to see, and we just did one canyon for six hours. About two miles each way up and back. There are at least 12 miles of trails in the park. I think Can Creek to the highwater spring is the juiciest two mile strip of habitat, so we usually just do that. We take probably about 3.5 hours getting uphill, we have a half hour break, sandwich and coffee, feed the fish, and a couple hours going back down, making a smokin' mile an hour going downhill. When peak zen nature nerding you are stopping to look at something all the time.

Late evening here over in the cottage turning out the last light, I killed a Reduviad, sometimes called kissing bug, aka blood-sucking conenose, which can potentially carry disease. I see about one a year and dispatch them. Thanks, no thanks. Congratulations, we thank you for your sacrifice, your datapoint has been duly recorded.

July 10 ~ Low was about 71F. There was still a bit left in the low and overnight we got another .75 of an inch of rain! Actually biggest single event of the last five days for us here. Then between 3-4 p.m. we got another .25 quarter of an inch! A solid inch since midnight. Awesome. The birds were pretty full of song pre-dawn, so they liked it. At least three probably four Chat territories in earshot. Several Cardinals going strong. I hear the Bluebirds too, so this rain is inducing another go-round for lots of stuff. Which is great. Indigo Bunnie going strong early, before 6:30 a.m., whereas it seems like Painted don't get up until after 7. I never hear them in that first-thing early-thirty chorus. The baby warblers I have heard begging around the last few days were in the yard Pecans this morning, another batch of Yellow-throated young. At least two, maybe 3 young.


This is one of the Hummingbird Hawkmoths of the genus
Aellopos, and probably the species A. clavipes, July 11.
There are a few similar, but clavipes is the usual one.
They use front legs (pale) to steady themselves while nectaring.


You can see why people insist the tail was feathers while
holding their fingers an inch apart asking what bird it was.
They are almost 2" long and wingspan is almost 3".

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 9 ~ Low about 72F, some clouds kept heat in. The nearly week-long low spinning in south Texas is moving this way and we are supposed to have more rain and cool today. Saw my FOY juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird, being fed by Lark Sparrow, which are a very common victim here. They nest all but out in the open like many vireos. Over the day there were some spotty showerlets, and temps were 80F and below, so no complaints. Only about a tenth of an inch by 3 p.m., the center of the low was just south of us. Town run and park check. One each Green Heron and Ringed Kingfisher was it at the park. The lone Springtime Darner is still flying though. One Celia's Roadside-Skipper up in the woods. Had young fledged Chimney Swift with adults over town, good to see. On my car mirror saw one of those bronzy Buprestid beetles, methinks in the genus Dicerca. After a pic I took it off into foliage along road. Neat beast.

Later afternoon male Red-winged Blackbird and a male Bronzed Cowbird were on the patio. Heard a cuckoo, and probably 'the' Eastern Wood-Pewee. A little shower at 5 p.m. or so dropped it to 73F! Looks like about .25 here for the day, so we mostly got missed, but got something. As the low headed west it mostly evaporated. At dusk Kathy had a nightjar fly low across the yard, which surely was a Chuck-will's-widow. They have just about gone silent for the year.

July 8 ~ Another 69F low is dreamy here in July. An odd low formed down in south Texas, it sorta spun off the tail of that last cold front last week. Coastal areas are getting lots of rain, we have easterly winds from the rotation. Mostly cloudy, enough to keep the temps below normal, hoping a band of that sweet precious rain hits us. Did a dump run so a quick check of the park. Saw a couple big Hackberry trees snapped in half on dump road, no doubt from the outflow or shear a couple weeks ago that snapped one of ours. At park the old worn Springtime Darner is still flying, record late date. Heard two cuckoos, one on either side of the river. There have not been any there in many weeks, since spring migration. So these are post-breeding wanderers (as in adults), or new young wandering around. Here in driveway on the Frogfruit there were some bright green fresh Olive-Juniper Hairstreaks, as well as a worn brown one. Fiery Skipper and Whirlabout, a couple Phaon among a dozen Vesta Crescent, one Marine Blue. Hear the Bell's Vireo out in front of corral again, maybe it was gone a few days with a new set of fledged young and is back now? Seems like that is what the Blue Grosbeak across the road must have done, as it is back singing again.

July 7 ~ A great rain-cooled low of 69F felt fantastic. Heard a Gnatcatcher out there early. Kathy heard a Pewee late, probably the continuing same bird. Heard a Blue Grosbeak singing across road, maybe it is going to go again. Vermilion Flyc. is acting like they are going another round. Scissor-tail went off alarming over the Cooper's Hawk again to make sure everyone knew it was there. Too much to do in the office. Heard some begging baby warblers early up hill behind us. Only a few choices: Golden-cheek, Yellow-throated, or Black-n-white. The baby begging notes are indistinguishable. The Chipping and Field Sparrow pairs that were here and nested seem to be gone now, not seeing them or hearing them sing, so they probably have called it quits for the year, or moved. More begging baby Painted Bunting out there, it is July, whence they start to pile up. Adult males are only here for one more month. The Black-chinned Hummers are off the charts again. Mostly gray-headed juveniles. I do see a few of the oldest ones showing the first dark feathers in the gorget indicating a male. These are probably 75 or so days old since fledging. The most popular feeder went through a quart in about 4 hours. So there are hundreds here. I saw a Mango was seen in Corpus Christi. Would sure love one here, but would settle for a Buff-bellied. Saw a Texas Powdered-Skipper, just about the opposite of a Mango for color.

July 6 ~ Low about 72F, some clouds just arriving first thing. Supposed to be more rain and cooler today, having a lucky weather break for early July. A Blue Grosbeak sang in the yard, but did not see it. I saw that blue-faced (only) first spring male last week, which still looks just like when it got here in May. Like a fall bird with blue on the head, but not even completely. It is quite retarded of molt, still. In afternoon there was a spritz, maybe a tenth of an inch of precip, but kept things cooler with outflow again, incredible really, below 90F the first week of July. Early in morn over on west side of San Antonio they had 6-7" of rain (!) and some flooding. Saw an ad. male Painted Bunting with some pale yellow coming in, in the undertail covert and lower belly area. It is one of the territorial males that has a spread right uphill behind us. Heard a cuckoo. Tons of Black-chinned Hummingbird, boatloads of juveniles. A couple Chucks giving some half-hearted calls at dark.

July 5 ~ Was starry at midnight, socked in with low stratus at 6:30 a.m. and 74F. A bit of birdsong early, but not a lot. About 9am heard a Black-n-white Warbler singing again, prolly the same one as yesterday. Supposed to get some more rain today, and the whole week is progged for it, and to stay in the 80'sF! Hope the forecast holds. Amazing to be 80F at noon though. Pewee still out there, day 6, nice. Hear a juvenile Painted Bunting begging. Was overcast most of the day, 85F in cool spot, warm and very muggy, rain in lots of areas around central Texas, some nearby, but we were in a dry slot all day. Saw the Texas Wasp Moth at the Blue Mistflower again, they sure are ginchy, and deceptively fast. An Elada Checkerspot was amongst a bunch of Vesta Crescent on the Frogfruit in driveway. Male Whirlabout still here, a nice Bordered Patch.

Interesting was a male Red-winged Blackbird on the patio picking up millet seeds. Has not been one here in a couple months. I was on driveway and watched it fly in from the direction of the golf course pond, and depart the same direction. So likely one of the breeders over there, and getting seed to feed those fledglings and other juveniles we saw and heard. Everyone around us got rain today but we were in a dry slot. In late afternoon a near enough cell sent an outflow boundry and temps down 10F to bearable in short order, but only maybe a couple hundredths, a trace, of precip.

July 4 ~ Low was 73F and balmy, fairly solid low stratus clouds this a.m., might rain. At first seed toss about 6:45 a.m. there was a Black-n-white Warbler singing in the big pecan. Later we heard the E. Pewee around, on day 5 now here. I heard a cuckoo 75 yards away in the corral, first one in a week or so. Got pretty warm in the afternoon until after 5 p.m. when another random rain cell dropped maybe a tenth of an inch, and the temp to 80F and bearable. Mid-day in the sun lots of butterflies were out. Best though was a FOY Texas Wasp Moth on the Blue Mistflower a couple times. On the Frogfruit were a dozen Vesta and a couple Phaon Crescent, one maybe Pearl Crescent, a couple Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, a Checkered-Skipper, an Orange Skipperling, nice male Whirlabout, couple each Dainty Sulphur and Variegated Fritillary, a Buckeye, a Marine Blue, and three types of native bees, two of which were very small sorts like Halichtids. We worked on things here since a people-zoo out there for the big Firework show at dark. Can hear traffic out on 187 heading into town. Update 10-11 p.m.: can hear traffic heading down 187 out of town, the show is over.

July 3 ~ Low of 72F, some clouds but sun out off and on. Got very hot and sticky in afternoon. Front porch showed 90F in the cool shady. The E. Pewee was out there for day four now. The rest was the same gang. Finally late in day we got a half-inch of rain from a lost rain cell. There was scattered precip all over central TX, mostly elsewhere. The fledged Red-tailed Hawk is still begging, probably over 6 weeks now it has been flying. Saw a juv. male Cardinal eating Lantana berries. Lots of small butterflies on the Frogfruit, but it is dripping, just squatting down to check them. Lots of Vesta Crescent. Saw the Black Rock Squirrel over in the corral. Hear a Great Crested Flycatcher but not closeby. Not hearing the Bell's Vireo sing for two days now, they must have finished, or he gave up trolling.

and now for something completely different...

This is a Buprestid beetle, I think of the genus Dicerca. They
are iridescent as you change viewing angle, this angle shows the
salt and pepper aspect instead of the metallic bronzy. Another
type here looks gold plated. Buprestids are often called jewel beetles.


I have no idea what type of hopper this is, but that it was a
stonking beauty. Black tipped lime spines on hindleg, lime starry
field on thorax, vertically striped eye and the antennae were
way more yellow-orange than the camera picked up. Awesome hopper.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 2 ~ Low of 71F, not much for Gulf stratus, high pressure is winning the battle today. The Eastern Pewee is still singing in the pecans, third day now, testament to how nicely green and leafy the front yard is. Some things are still breeding and singing, but it is factors dialed back from May and early June. This morning heard Scissor-tailed, Ash-throated and Vermilion Flycatcher, Indigo and Painted Bunting, Summer Tanager, Cardinal, Yellow-breasted Chat, Black-crested Titmouse, Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbler, Lark Sparrow, White-eyed Vireo, a distant Blue Grosbeak, a little Bewick's and Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, White-winged and Mourning Dove, and some Purple Martin overhead. Thought sure I heard a Bullock's Oriole out there in a.m. but did not see it in all the thick leafy stuff. July is when we get a very few, I presume departing local breeders of which there are only a very few.

Town is pretty busy, the big firework show at the park is Sunday, a thousand people will be here if not two. We will be hiding out here and in the river. Did a quick check in the park woods and found no birds of interest. Saw an Underwing moth (Catacola sps.) that got away but had salmon color on the hindwing. The lone Springtime Darner dragonfly was still patrolling, I suspect my first July date ever for one. Also saw a pair of Orange Bluet in tandem, a FOY species. Another first of year was an Eastern Amberwing, of which I did not see one at all last year. They do not occur here annually. A half-dozen male Widow Skimmer around the pond are nice, several Checkered Setwing too.

July 1 ~ And the second half of the year is off. A 71F low was good, it could be worse. The Eastern Wood-Pewee spent the night and is out front calling and flycatching the pecans all day. The juvie Red-tailed Hawk still stopping in the same tree to beg. A male Yellow-throated Warbler landed on the window screen in the office not 2' from me! Awesomeness. Too busy at work but hot out anyway, local WU stations were reading 88-94F mostly, we are on the low end of that on cool shady front porch. Supposed to have a break from the wet with a bit of heat today and tomorrow. Then Saturday eve starts a several day to week long bout of daily fair rain chances, and continuing a bit below average on the temps. We'll take it. OK, I am at 7 chiggers and 6 mosquito bites, but that is as high as I want to go.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ above is 2021 ~ ~ ~

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

Bird News Archives Index

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bird News Archive I
Winter 2003-04 Summary Notes
and Mar. 31 - May 30, 2004
Go, look, see, take notes and pictures, boldly nature nerd where no one has before. Few things rival the thrill of discovery. Besides having fun and learning, you will probably see some things people won't believe without photos.  ;)
~ ~ ~
Read UP from bottom to go in chronological sequence.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
All photographs within this site are copyrighted
and may not be used without permission.
All Rights Reserved.
© M. and K. Heindel 2004-2019