Bird (and nature) News Archive # 37
January 1 to June 30, 2022
Old Bird News XXXVII

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 XXXVII (#37) ~ January 1 - June 30, 2022

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

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

January through June 2022

Read from bottom up to view in chronological order.

~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ the old news ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ March summary ~ ~ ~

Well it was a dry one. We are at D2 per the USGS drought monitor. I presume that means 'in real bad shape, send rain' or somesuch. There was no significant rain. A tenth of an inch of mist and showerlets maybe. Almost no early wildflowers are blooming. Very cold early in month followed by some record cold mid-month with a couple mornings at 19F kicked spring back a couple weeks. By late in month the first bit of leafage breaking stems on trees. Slow to get going with spring this year. Agarita and Redbud both barely going, weak showings so far.

Odes were easy to keep track of. Two species of dragons and none of damsels. Dot-winged Baskettail (low numbers) and a Springtime Darner (one on 27th) were it. The butterflies were mostly the same but a few new emerging things. Henry's Elfin were few once the Redbud and Agarita put out some flowers. The rest was the expected cast of regulars. Save one immaculate mint-fresh WINTER form Questionmark. Which popped after 3 mornings around 20F mid-month. The summer forms are already showing, whilst winter forms generally are at least worn and frayed, if not torn and shredded by now. I count 23 species of butterfly for the month, at the very low end of the spread. Expected for the cold and drought.

Birds continued slow overall, spring is running a bit behind. It was great for what March really is, the first returns of some migratory breeding species. Generally, bug eaters. Insectivores. Martins and swallows, flycatchers, warblers and vireos, etc. The earliest returnees of many species show in March, so it is great fun seeing all your old friends, and recording those return dates annually. Twenty years goes by and you have some real data. The most anomolous sighting of the month was a lone PINE SISKIN that was a one-minute wonder here at our place on the 24th. There were none around this winter, so quite odd to have one. The other great and even rarer detection was only a hearing. A very large movement of AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER calling overhead northbound at 12:30 a.m. on the 30th was likely the most detected at once in the county ever. By the end of the month Black-chinned Hummingbird were reaching swarm levels after starting it at zero. I count 78 species I saw for the month locally, and several others were reported. A great bump in diversity from those 50 and 53 species months in Jan. and February.

~ ~ ~ end March summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ March update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

March ~ The FOS Sandhill Crane went over northbound on the 1st. They have been regular the first 10 days of the month, mostly mid-day. A great FOS on the 2nd was a singing Roadrunner. On the 3rd the FOS Vermilion Flycatcher was back at our place. March 5 just after midnight my FOS Barn Owl called as it flew high over northbound. In the morning the 5th our first returnee Black-chinned Hummingbird showed up. By afternoon it was displaying to a female. Strong cold fronts on 7th, another on 11th, are not speeding the arrival of spring. On the 9th a FOS White-eyed Vireo announced itself back. There was a local report of a Rough-winged Swallow on the 9th. I had a FOS Lincoln's Sparrow on the 10th. My FOS Ash-throated Flycatcher was the 14th. The 15th was my FOS Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and my FOS Lark Sparrow. On the 16th was my FOS Barn Swallow. The 17th the FOS Yellow-throated Warbler was at birdbath, probably the local breeder. Also the 17th was the first pair of Lesser Goldfinch this spring since the anomolous early Feb. winter sighting. On the 18th there was a local report of Purple Martins back. Our first Henry's Elfin (butterfly) was on the 19th. Spring on the 20th brought FOS Yellow-throated Vireo and Black-and-white Warbler. I heard a FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher early on the 22nd. The only PINE SISKIN all winter, and since spring of 2021, was one lone bird on March 24(!). Also the 24th I saw my FOS Monarch butterfly. The 25th a Yellow-throated Vireo was putting finishing touches on a nest at Utopia Park. Kathy spotted our FOS Golden-cheeked Warbler on the 27th, at the birdbath. Saw my FOS Clay-colored Sparrow late on the 28th, two on the 29th, there were 3 on the 30th. On the 29th finally I heard Purple Martin overhead, my FOS. On the 30th, about 30 minutes into it just after midnight, a large mass of AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER flew over calling, bearing due north.

~ ~ ~ end March update header copy ~ ~ ~

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

March 31 ~ Aaaand there goes another one. Seemed kinda quick for a long month, eh? Low about 40F, dry, sunny, very nice. The Pecans are showing the first green breaking stem. The male Mulberry has flowers coming out. Saw one FOY Tube-tongue flower. A Henry's Elfin (butterfly) came in to water. Can't believe how the Racoons remodeled a bit of fence so they could use the tub pond. Hopefully I fixed it, dang things. There is an unfenced birdbath on ground in the open 100' away. I saw that old historical foreign aircraft again today. What a bird it is. Wish I knew what kind. Looked around web a bit, could not find anything so far.

March 30 ~ Low about 60F. Big change today, instead of 20+ mph southerlies, it will be 20+ northerlies. We got a spit and spritzlet of precip as the front passed. Wind blew all day, 15-20 gusting to 30 mph. Got up to 80F or so, but nice and dry. Kathy spotted a Duskywing butterfly which looked a Horace's, as it did not have the two spots on underwing of a Juvenals. Brown fringed, so not Funereal or Mournful.

I think the day peaked last night just after midnight, about 30 minutes into it. A Texas sized, ergo bodacious, mass of American Golden-Plover passed overhead calling, bearing Polaris. I heard several to many dozens. It took a full minute for the waves to pass over. It was likely hundreds of birds or more. I heard more in a minute than I have seen in the county in 19.5 years. It was astounding. The sky was full of those beautiful pure clear high tinkly silver-bell whistles, like ringing chimes. Though actually they were on a front, or in a river, less than 200 yards wide. What a passage. If only I could have seen it to get a number. It was off the charts. The only times I have heard that many, there were many hundreds of birds involved.

Hackberries have flowers, Persimmons are leafing out, saw Mesquite leaflets starting. The great greening is beginning. The Black Rock Squirrel is up eating Hackberry flowers as every year during the three days they are open. First fresh greens in months, it does this with religous zeal every year. Doesn't touch Pecan or male Mulberry flowers, too much pollen I presume. Nor is it interested in the Texas Persimmon flowers, too wonderfully pungent. Never saw it eat a Laurel flower and they are sweeter than sweet peas, and with nectar. No interest.  ... must have Hackberry flowers ...  Which are to flowers, what that fruit is to berries. A sad excuse. They have no smell. I had to take macro photos to see what was there. There is some Gnat I see around them. And Gnatcatchers.

March 29 ~ Low of about 63F is getting balmy fast. Last night late I heard the Vermilion Flycatcher singing up high in the night. That is how you can tell the female is back. He does not do that until she gets here. Power went out for about four hours last night. If you humm or whistle the theme song melody to Green Acres it really helps here. Was glad to not see many Am. Goldfinch here today. After noon saw a couple rare birds, an F-7 Tigercat and an A-20 Havoc, circling around a few miles south of town. Very rare birds. A P-51 was out later. Wind was blowing pretty good from south much of day, Hondo and Junction had 30 mph gusts, it was 15-20 mph sustained gusting higher here. Corpus Christi had a gust at 48 mph! A front is inbound tonight, hoping we get some rain from it. Late afternoon finally I heard Purple Martin up high overhead, my FOS, at last. Later after 6 p.m. there were two Clay-colored Sparrow together at the seed just off corner of patio. Saw a Field Sparrow bathe today at the bath. Canyon Towhee still here.

The Texas Persimmon in flower bed at front of house has broken stem with first leaves. The Wooly Ironweed has new stalks coming up, as does the Frostweed. Watered some trees and the flower beds. Lots of American Germander and the Blue Mistflower Eupatorium are coming up. Two of the native Plums the Schaeffers gave us are with new leaves, so making it. I have to go mining some gro-fast over in the corral. That snow shovel works great for, uh, other, er, shat, too, and here certainly is more useful as such. Just can't ever find any volunteers to do it.

March 28 ~ Low was in the mid-50's F, got up to mid-80's later in day, very breezy much of day. Yellow-throated Vireo singing out there daily again is nice. Late in day tried to get a sparrow count coming in to last seed. There are at least 8 White-crowned Sparrow, it may be ten! Most are western Gambell's type! Amazing. There are at least 8 Lincoln's Sparrow too. Sparrowpalooza. Finally one FOS Clay-colored Sparrow last half-hour of sun. Some Field, Lark, and Chipping, so 6 sps. of sparrows.

Got a dozen count on the Am. Goldfinch. Wish they would go though. They are tossing hundreds of sunflower seeds on ground daily, for being a few hundredths of a gram too light. The chickadees, cardinals, titmice, house finches, lesser goldfinch, etc. are all fine with all of the seeds. Some of these goldfinch are tossing out 20 to eat one. It appears piggish wastefulness. You could be the prettiest bird in the world, and I would hate you for wasting good food. I checked the seeds, there is nothing wrong with them, as all the other birds concluded that never toss any aside. We had to put down bags under the feeder area to salvage the good seed being wasted, nearing a pound per day. I would remove the feeder were it not for the residents that depend on it. No other birds are being wastefull with any food.

March 27 ~ Low about 55F or so, clear and dry, quite nice. Nice to have bird seed here and not have to go expedition for some. Just remembered, yesterday the 26th, was our first day here at this place, nine years ago. A singing male Golden-cheeked Warbler went through the yard that morning, so I figured it was OK here. I wrote that at 9:30 a.m. or so, an hour later Kathy says 'look at the bath!' There is a male Golden-cheeked Warbler which proceeded to waddle in and take a bath! Outstanding FOS view. It flew up into Pecan and preened for a minute when soaked. Pure awesomeness. Were a couple waxwings out there early, Roadrunner is singing uphill. Heard a Hermit Thrush, a passage bird since none have been here in a month or more.

We took a spin over into the live-oak-juniper habitat behind us. Heard a singing Black-and-white Warbler, and glimpsed flying off after hearing it sing a couple minutes, a Golden-cheeked Warbler. Three Hutton's Vireo singing, an Ash-throated Flycatcher, heard a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a few Lark Sparrow, male Vermilion Flycatcher, some Titmouse and Bewick's Wren. No Black-capped Vireo heard yet, and still pretty brown and winter. A few Mountain Laurel flowers were open for business, and smelling. Great was a FOS Springtime Darner dragonfly, and a FOS Goatweed Leafwing butterfly. A couple small Paralena flowers were open, as was one small Dutchman's Breeches, a couple Agarita had more open flowers than last week.

Saw two Monarch go by over the day, rest of the butterflies were the usual same ones being seen. We saw an old foreign historical aircraft of some sort I have no idea what it was. Open cockpit, round nose, high wing, with twin engines mounted on the wing in a pusher configuration! French or British insignia and markings. I get them confused. Apologies for not knowing how to tell those apart. Which is how to anger both sides at one fell swoop. Wish I could have gotten a picture of it. Big rounded tail.

Mar. 26 ~ Low about 42F or so, KERV had a 38F. Breezy most of day. About 5 p.m. local WU stations were showing 89-91F! I saw 87F in the shade on the front porch. So had to be 90 in the sun. A chunk of my day was spent driving to Bandera for bird seed. Our feed store is out here and they said two weeks, at least. So 35 miles each way for bird seed. What lately has been a month of driving. On a windy road that takes at least 45 minutes each way. Went via Little Creek and at the pond below where road turns left at it, there were 8 Green-winged Teal, 3 Am. Wigeon, and 25 or so Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. All of which Larry has mentioned recently. They feed grain at the game ranch on other side downriver there, so it is the Whistling-Duck magnet spot here.

At Bandera there was some biker thing going on so it seemed like Sturgis S.D. when I got there. The place was a hominid zoo on full dress Harleys. But they do have some supplies so I picked up a few things harder to get or more expensive in Utopia to make the gas burn worth it. If you need cookies or jelly, now is a good time to hit me up, have all kinds. Got at least a couple weeks of seed too. The feed store there (on 16 past (west of) the signal from hell downtown - which is the closest thing to being in L.A. around) seemed to have the best variety of supply. It still looks like winter the whole way there, everything remains sticks. Sure a lot of dead trees along 470. Had not been out it in years to see the drought damage. Barely any water in the crossings, none in motion. Saw no birds on way or return. Stopped at the high spot at the little passlet on 470 where there usually are Golden-cheeks but it was hot and afternoon, all I heard was a Rufous-crowned Sparrow. A blooming Redbud had two Funereal Duskywing, one Henry's Elfin, and bees. In Bandera I saw a Great-tailed Grackle in its natural habitat, a parking lot, so I quickly hooked a u-turn and headed back to the country before I caught any traits.

These are not current photos ...

This is a real virtual artificial simulated reality of our FOS Golden-cheeked Warbler that bathed and preened on the 27th. These are (unposted prior) photos of another male that did the same thing a couple of years ago.

A male Golden-cheeked Warbler puttin' some water up.


Soaked and preening in the Pecan over the bath.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

March 25 ~ In the mid-30's F again for a low. Chilly, but going up 50dF today! At 4 p.m. local WU station were reporting 85-89F! KERV was 87. Wow! Town run and park check. On 360 west of the river at corral about 35 Brewer's Blackbird continue, a tenth of the winter flock still here. No Scissor-tails along road on way and back. At the park it still looks winter, just a few willows with the first leaves breaking out. Heard a Belted Kingfisher. An Orange-crowned Warbler is a migrant, as was a Kinglet (Ruby) and a Gnatcatcher. Yellow-throated Warbler singing on territory in woods. Best though was my earliest ever date for a nearly completed being finished up nest of Yellow-throated Vireo. It is in a big live-oak. One singing Hutton's Vireo in the woods. Red-shouldered Hawk pair noisy enough to indicate another nesting attempt at park is in works. No damselflies yet, one Dot-winged Baskettail was it for dragons. One Monarch was in the woods. Very unusual was a mint fresh winter form Questionmark. They should be done and over now, summer forms are already emerging. Any winter form left flying now is typically very worn and frayed at this point. I can't help but wonder if the near-freezing cold the last three mornings got one to pop out of cycle. Will it mate with summer forms? Then what do you get? Little Creek Larry said one night this week he heard some White-fronted Geese northbound overhead, otherwise 'it still looks like winter'. The first returning Barn Swallow at the P.O. was today.

Mar. 24 ~ Another near-freeze, maybe 34F again very briefly. Incredible was a single PINE SISKIN here 8:30 or so. First and only one I have seen since spring of 2021 when the last wintering ones left. This fall and winter there were none. Usually that means there were good food crops up north or in the mountains out west, and they did not need to go looking for food. Just like the waxwings or Robins, many species in winter are irruptive, or not, pending food sources. About 3 p.m. local WU stations reading 75-78F, and TEN PERCENT humidity. Bone dry for here. Winds blowing 15-20 gusting to 30 mph from north. A bit breezy. One male Am. Goldfinch is mostly yellow now, pretty fancy. Sharp-shinned Hawk still terrorizing things out there. White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrow herd continues. About 4:15 p.m. my FOS Monarch butterfly drifted by heading NNE. A big female, worn, but in fair condition, for having made it to and through winter in Mexico and back to the states. Also saw one Dot-winged Baskettail dragonfly. Thought I had an Elfin go by as well. Also thought I had a Rufous-crowned Sparrow at the bath but it was bare-eyed, and gone before I got back with bins.

Mar. 23 ~ A chilly morn just over freezing, maybe 34 or so. KERV had a quick 29F! Dusty, that tenth of an inch holds it down for about a day. Was calm in morning, but was 5-15 mph northerlies most of day from later morn, and clouded up in afternoon. Maybe 66F or so. Did not detect any different new migrants, northerlies generally shut that down in spring. The flock of White-crowns is still 7 at least, with 5 orange-billed gray-lored Gambell's, three are adults. Two pink-billed black-lored adult leucophrys. Over a handfull of Lincoln's still, a Lark was singing by the cottage, still at least 50 Chipping Sparrow, and a few Field. Caracara and Zone-tailed Hawk went over, besides the usual Turkey and Black Vultures. Later in day I saw my FOS FEMALE Vermilion Flycatcher here, had not seen a female yet this year. If you are up before dawn, a nice planetary conjuction is in the SE sky. The bright object is Venus. The slightly yellowish one below and to left this week, below dead center to slightly right of that next week is Saturn. Below to right and reddish is Mars, next week about even with Venus to right. All pretty close together.

Mar. 22 ~ Wind blowing again 15-20 mph at dawn, from north, gusting higher, low about 52F, sunny. Heard a FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher which was over at edge of airstrip. Behind the shelter of corral trees no doubt. Five months since the fall-staging ones left. But which are not likely our local breeders which seem to depart at least a month or more before the fall staging thing happens. So which are likely sourced elsewhere. Great to hear one again! I see a couple Hackberry have broken stem with their barely flowers just showing their first green. Around 3 p.m. I saw 66F at local WU stations, and still blowing. Gusts at Hondo to 35 mph, at Del Rio to 40 mph! We were more like 15-20 gusting 25 mph. Still a herd of White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrow hitting the seed from the big brush pile. Canyon Towhee still here.

Mar. 21 ~ A low is moving in and over, a bit of drizzle and streamer showerlets, please let it rain. Low was 60-62F locally. Maybe a tenth of an inch by 9 a.m., maybe. A front is on the way later. We hit 80F in the afternoon, I saw 85F at Hondo! Didn't see any different birds out there. Heard a Lark Sparrow singing a bit, and a wee bit of some quiet song from a Lincoln's Sparrow, which I heard here in a prior spring maybe once. Canyon Towhee is still here. Red Harvester ants back out in force with the warmth. That big pile of dead Hackberry branches saves the sparrows, the first-winter male Sharp-shinned Hawk was sitting on it looking intently down into it. Was calm for a while early evening, but we missed the rain, or it missed us. The .09 or so was it. We got dry-slotted. Kathy saw a wet Yellow-throated Vireo at the birdbath, a very rare sighting here. They very nearly never use the birdbath. I only have a pic of a juvie doing that, once.

Mar. 20 ~ Happy equinox! Welcome spring! We are happy to see you again! Started at about 37F for a low this morning. Sunny, calm early, but wind is on the way. Started before noon. About 10:30 a.m. heard my FOS Yellow-throated Vireo singing. About 11: we went down to the crossing for a look, heard a singing Yellow-throated Warbler on the way but nothing else there at crossing. Still looks winter. Slow-rolled around the knoll and some of the conservation easement behind us through the live-oak-juniper-grassland habitat. Did not hear any Golden-cheeked Warbler but did have a FOS singing Black-and-white Warbler. Three Hutton's Vireo were singing as well. But little else. Some Bewick's Wren and Titmouse, saw one Ash-throat, a Cardinal or two, a Caracara. Back here after noon there was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in yard. Lots of Spanish Oak up there, maybe one barely starting to break stem barely, many will probably blow this week. Not one early wildflower. That is how dry it is. Parched. Good thing we went out earlyish, it was too windy all afternoon, gusting 25-30 mph. Saw a couple very small reduced Anemone flowers (white) in yard, in an area that gets watered. Might have hit about 76F in the afternoon in the winds.

Mar. 19 ~ Last day of winter, tomorrow is spring! We just about froze, maybe 33 or 34F for a low. KERV had a 32F. We were still at 34 at 8:30 a.m., so it was right on the cusp here. Average date of last freeze here is March 20, the first day of spring. We wish and hope, and dance, for a couple months of mildish weather before the burn returns. Current long-range predicts continued dry cycle in spring as La Nina finally begins to fade. Second winter in a row. We need rain in the worst way. It is parched out there. A pro cowboy I talked to today said it is as bad as they have ever seen it here. I saw local WU stations reading 75-77F in the afternoon.

At last hour or so of light looked at the sparrows a bit. Now SEVEN White-crowned Sparrow here, a yard high count. It is the big branch piles from the big dying Hackberry which I have left perfectly messily, creating the habitat that is now snagging passersby Zons. Bad enough we had to lose a climax Hackberry, at least we can get some sparrow habitat out of it. When the power compnay had to take out some major branches over the wires, they could not believe I said, no mulcher, just make a big pile on my side of the fence, TYVM. They looked at me like it was the first time they ever heard that. So I then asked them if while they up there with the bucket, if they could put a martin house up on the power pole for me. Apparently they never heard that either. Anyway, FIVE are western Gambell's type White-crowns. That is why that chorus was seeming to keep filling in more and more. Obviously they are on the move now. Then there were SIX Lincoln's Sparrow at once. So they too are piling in and through now. Sparrow migration is underway. The Canyon Towhee was out there too.

Late afternoon we took a mile walk uphill behind us into the live-oak-Juniper habitat. Thought I heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler but could not find it and since a non-A-type song letting it go, no FOS point. But had to be one. Otherwise just a Chippy, a couple Bewick's Wren, a few Black-crested Titmouse, and a Cooper's Hawk. Not even a Hutton's Vireo. It is parched. Many Agarita are leafless, a few had flowers but not thickly, more had buds, but they are generally in bad shape. We did see at least two Henry's Elfin, our FOY. A few Dainty Sulphur, but no Dutchman's Breeches or other early wildflowers. The Spanish (Buckley) Oaks are not yet even breaking stem! This is behind schedule. When they unfurl new leaves with their pink fuzzy, Golden-cheeks magically appear in them. Like the Hackberries I can see bumps on the stem where they are about to bust out. But not yet. Had a FOS White-lined Sphinx today, which reminds me I saw a sphinx several days ago, but it was not White-lined, being faster, smaller and darker, like maybe an Erinnyis obscura.

This is not a current photo,

Soldier Fly of the genus Odontomyia on blooming Antelope Horn.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 18 ~ Low was about 47F, the front arrived overnight, winds at 10-15 mph gusting 20 and more from the north. A bit blustery. Sunny and dry anyway. Town run day. No birds at the park, though might have heard a Yellow-throated Warbler chip a few times. Nothing else. Little Creek Larry said he had some Purple Martin this morning on the wire over the creek, and N. Rough-winged Swallow around the banks. Aerial insectivores! He said he has Ash-throats back as well. Still looks like winter here, all brown sticks save the Junipers as the live-oaks are yellowing and dropping leaves. I did see the Redbuds at the library are in bloom now though. That is a big sign of spring being around the corner. Best thing in town was Rosie was back finally, so TACOS! Real deal Durango tacos, OMG food of the gods. I can't believe we eat these here. No wonder they call it Utopia. One of Rosie's sons has a t-shirt that says 'I am only here for the tacos'. Saw local WU station temps of 73-75F in the afternoon. Dry, wind dialed back a little later afternoon too. Heard Screech-Owl over at the draw.

Mar. 17 ~ A low of 54F, clouds early but cleared. Back up to 80F in the afternoon, third day straight. Yard is still brown overall, some greens sprouting, but brown. I see some Mexican Hat sprouting and the Blue Mist Eupatorium at front porch is too. A pair of Lesser Goldfinch were on the patio. These are the first I have seen this spring. Normally they arrive around Feb. 22, none did this year. Three weeks late. There was that few-day winter sighting in earliest Feb. of a first year male. It was never seen again. Saw the Canyon Towhee still out there eating seed.

In the morning I thought sure I was hearing the sweet chip of a Yellow-throated Warbler. Mentioned it to Kathy sure. Then after noon, again in the big Pecan I heard it, but neither time could I spot it. Then mid-afternoon Kathy saw it at the bath, FOS! Surely the one that visits the yard and bath daily all breeding season. I knew that was what I was hearing. I saw one local WU station reading 88F! It wasn't that hot here, probably have thermometer in a hot spot like our patio is. A front is on the way and this the final big warmup before it arrives tonight.

Mar. 16 ~ It was about 33F this morning, KERV had 32F. NOAA had KERV progged for 41, and WU had us for warmer than that. I wondered why they were not seeing any cold after the frontal passage and those strong northerlies all day yesterday. It blows my mind how consistently they are off by a category, very often wayyy too high on the lows after fronts here. There were two dozen Red-winged Blackbird out there braying first thing. What a great racket. The rest was the same gang. Am. Goldfinches are tossing more seed on the ground than eating. Pigs. With the recent increase in costs, this is not good.

It was about 80F at 3 p.m., pretty springy. Very low humidity is nice too. Still looks like winter though. It is all brown sticks except the junipers and live-oaks. Lots of the live-oaks are underway somewhere in the annual cycle of going yellow, dropping leaves, soon will be flowering, and then finally leaf replacement. Over a month or so. They have tomorrow progged for upper 80's! According to the astronomical data at WU, today is exactly 12 hours of daylength, with sunrise and sunset both at 7:48.

Late afternoon I heard and saw briefly my FOS Barn Swallow! Finally. Two chasing males low over the yard and road for a few seconds. At least they called to get my attention. In butterflies, there was one FOY, a Funereal Duskywing which shot by fairly quickly. Also saw the male Black Swallowtail still out there, as is the Vesta Crescent, now about six weeks flying here, couple leftover Sleepy Orange, an old Dogface, an American Lady, and a Common Checkered-Skipper. New was a pale morph female Orange Sulphur in mint condition. Eight species.

Mar. 15 ~ Low at about 50F is fine with me. Sunny, a springy week will hopefully bring some of that forth. There was a dry frontal passage, so winds will again be too much, but from north today instead of south. Such a big change. It was gusting 20-25 mph. Around 80F again in the afternoon. Wow! Spring is coming. Mid-morn I heard then got to watch for a minute my FOS Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. You won't believe this but it was gnat-catching. Neat bird. In now 19 springs here all my FOS dates for them are between March 11 and 20, a neat and rather narrow 10 day window. Which the 15th-16th is the middle of. Whereas Barn Swallow arrivals fluctuate over a three week plus window (last week of Feb. to 3rd week of March). I am hearing quiet singing from American Goldfinch increasing intensity, they will be leaving soon.

Late morning I heard then saw my FOS Lark Sparrow. I thought I heard one a week ago, but didn't see it, and did not count it as a FOS. That was the 9th. Some few winter in the vicinity, but we get none from fall to spring around the house and mile or so adjacent environs where they are a common breeders. I suspect the few that winter locally are from somewhere else and have nothing to do with the local breeders which totally vacate the area in winter. Sparrows in yard today were Lark, Field, Chipping, Lincoln's and White-crowned.

Mar. 14 ~ Low about 50F and overcast. A bit of a chill but at least not freezing after those last two record breaking mornings in the teens. Mid-morn heard my FOS Ash-throated Flycatcher calling a few times. Smack dab dead-center in the middle of average arrival dates. Third time on the 14th. Had a 16 count on Red-winged Blackbird. One female is new, been all males. In afternoon heard two White-eyed Vireo calling at once outside. Got up to 78F on the cool shady front porch at 4 p.m., had to be 80F in the sun. Wonderful after that 19F the last two mornings. Have to get busy with garden and yard stuff quickly. I heard a few muffled boiks of Canyon Towhee song, which means it will be going soon. Saw it out there a couple times today. Too bad we lost one of them over the winter again.

Mar. 13 ~ I saw 19F as the sun broke horizon. KERV had a 21, SAT record this date is 27F. So record cold second morning in a row, in mid-March. I knew that mild December would bite us on the other end of winter. Wind blew hard from south all day 15-20 mph, gusting 25 and higher. Got up to about 64F, but the breeze stayed chilly. Too windy. Did not see anything different out there today. Same gang o' seed theives. The six White-crowned Sparrow continue as does the Lincoln's. Bluebirds are nice and noisy. Great sounds. Ten Am. Goldfinch still. A couple toss more sunflower seeds on the ground than they eat, looking for a fatter seed. Worse than a Titmouse or Chickadee. Messy wasteful eaters here.

Mar. 12 ~ Record low temps this morning. The record for SAT this date is 23F, it was 17F in KERV. I saw it dropping below 20F here before the final dip, surely it hit 19 and maybe 18F. The first Black-chinned Hummer showed up at the feeders about 6:45, sunup was at 6:55. Whence after seed toss I was back under electric blanket with a hot coffee. Was slow to warm up out there. Saw 55-58F at local WU stations about 3 p.m. Birds were voracious at the seed all day. In afternoon I saw the Lincoln's Sparrow leave the tub pond where it just bathed. Birds use a 2" branch that goes down into the water (per OSHA tub pond emergency animalian egress requirements) and hold on to it do their thing. I see some Lily leaves sprouting, and a some new Cattail leaves are as well. During my lizard-in-sun imitation later in afternoon, I got a SIX count on White-crowned Sparrow. A yard record. FOUR are gray-lored orange-billed western Gambell's types (2 ea. ad. and imm.), and two are pink-billed black-lored (ad.) eastern leucophrys. Neat. Love me some Zons!

This is not a current photo,

This is an Anemone. They should be sprouting soon in your
yard. But most are white. Some are purple, and rarely
I see one of these pink ones.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 11 ~ It was about 60F at midnight. At dawn in the 30's with chills in the 20's, and strong northerlies. We got a couple tenths of an inch of rain first thing on the main arrival and passage. Much of which seemed to fall directly on me when I was doing the dawn seed toss. Which I wish you could see, the panache and flourish is most impressive I assure you. It alleged to get up to about 45F but with the cold northerlies at 25 mph gusting to 35, it felt freezing out there all day. Even the sun coming out did not help. I mostly just saw the stuff coming into the seed and it was all the same. One round of tossing I flushed an imm. male Sharp-shinned Hawk right over where I toss. Tomorrow morn set for low 20's F, at or very near record cold for the date. Sure glad I did the town run yesterday in that 70F, and didn't have to go out in this.

Mar. 10 ~ Low about 32F. The warmup day before the cold front tomorrow. Sun is sure up early, before 7 a.m. now! Did the town run today since tomorrow is not going to be a good day to be out there. It is also the start of spring break here so wanted to hit the store before the college critters did. Still a few Brewer's Blackbird at corrals. Little Creek Larry said he had a couple Cave Swallow at his place this week, and a N. Rough-winged Swallow at the park yesterday (9th). He said his pair of Vermilion Flycatcher are back. He also saw a Monarch today, which is the FOS report. Nothing in the woods except 3 Questionmark butterfly. Two FOS mint-fresh summer form, one old worn winter form. So the answer to the question as to whether or not you can see both forms of Questionmark at the same time is, without question. Also heard and saw a couple Blanchard's Cricket-Frog, also the FOS for them. When I got back from town I heard, and then late afternoon saw over by the seed, my FOS Lincoln's Sparrow. More cranes way high up northbound. Late afternoon heard a White-eyed Vireo. Got up to about 72F today, not as warm as they said. Male Black Swallowtail floating around yard.

Mar. 9 ~ Low was about 34F or so, chilly. About 9 a.m. heard my FOS White-eyed Vireo! Another bug eater is back! Had to run to town early, a quick spin through park saw about 15 Ring-necked Duck, and on spillway, one Frankenduck, an Egyptian Goose, and a Great Blue Heron, which is now acquiring some nice breeding plumage and bill color. The non-natives outnumbered the natives. A Caracara flew over town. Looked the same gang here at the hovelita. saw five White-crowned Sparrow again, quite nice. In the afternoon local WU stations were showing 65-68F. Agarita getting a few flowers on fenceline out back. Saw those four C-130 Herkybirds heading back to Laughlin AFB after noon, not as close, low, and fast as when they went over the other day. The first Queen (butterfly) I have seen this year flew by, but it was an old worn one, not a fresh new one.

Mar. 8 ~ Overcast and 42F or so for a low. Just a very light breeze fortunately. It got up to about 64F in later afternoon, and quite nice. A dozen Red-winged Blackbird out there mid-morn, I love that braying. I keep forgetting to mention, today is the third day straight now, of seeing a Turkey Vulture soaring over low. Surely one of our nearby breeders that is a daily fixture now until September or October. In the later afternoon I got a FIVE count on White-crowned Sparrow as the moved from the big stick piles in front yard down fenceline toward road where live brush (a few big XL Agarita). Two adults, two imm.s, and one was unknown. Twice today I heard call notes of birds heading over northbound that I never saw. The first one in the morning surely was a Sprague's Pipit, probably coming up off the grass airstrip. The other one in afternoon sounded like a Barn Swallow. A couple got away today.

Mar. 7 ~ Just before midnight last night it was about 68F, the front hit shortly after, and it was about 42F by dawn. We got about a quarter-inch of precip so that was nice. Bit of a leaf-washin' dust-buster, and a sip for all the green tyring to sprout. Winds are north at 15 mph gusting to 25, so chills are in 30's. A far cry from that 80 or so yesterday afternoon. They are talking another front, with a freeze, for next weekend. Good the swallows aren't back yet. The two White-crowned Sparrow adults are still here, only saw one of the immatures. Some Anemone leaves breaking the ground.

Mar. 6 ~ About 65F for a low, is getting too balmy too quickly. Some mist mid-morn. Saw two adult White-crowned Sparrow, which I presume are the continuing birds, one eastern and one western type. Great to see male Vermilion Fycatcher in the yard again. Amazing to see male and female hummingbirds after about 5 months without them! And six months since most Black-chinned departed. The rest was all the same gang still. A few Chipping Sparrow starting to trill a bit. Kathy saw a Black Swallowtail late in day. Afternoon blew 15 mph gusting to 25 so we did stuff here since too windy. We had about 78F but one local WU station had 80F. The warmup in front of the front, inbound tonight.

Mar. 5 ~ We might have hit 61F for a low. Later afternoon I saw local WU readings of 76-77F. Mostly cloudy all day. The first FOS of the day was just after midnight when a calling Barn Owl flew over northbound high up. A spring migrant. Then a real big but little FOS was HUMMINGBIRDS! As in plural! First mid-morn a male showed up, and a few hours later it was displaying to a female! Both sexes arrived the same day! That has never happened for me in 19 springs now here. Males are always a few days to a week or more ahead of females. The rest of the feathers out there all looked the same. Had too much biz work and was stuck at desk most of day.

Then put on a new (neg) battery terminal. The one on there was replaced with battery 3 years ago, completely disolved away the cheap pot metal alloy where the bolt holds it tight to stud. And I wire brush the fluff off routinely. It was just lose. I had to McGyver a scrounged nut, bolt and washers to clamp it tight enough to go to town yesterday. I bought two terminals so I have a spare on hand next time. Living semi-remotely in the country is like living on a sailboat. If you have two, you have one. If you have one, you have none.

And now for something completely different.

This is a satellite pic of the yard and vicinity to give a better idea of the immediate environs for much of what is being reported here. This is the observation station. Pic in winter however so fairly leafless and devoid of vegetation compared to lush spring and summer. Only the Live-oaks and Junipers have foliage. As you can see the traffic gets pretty backed up. The other day I saw 8 pigs, 6 deer, a coyote, and two rabbits had to wait for a dillo to cross the road.


The left-pointing triangle at center is the two acre hog-fenced plot we live on. The bare dirt treed area to south of house (toward bottom) is the corral, then the tip of the grass airstrip is bottom center. Yes, you can fly in. Left of house the greenery is huge ancient Live-Oaks on a slope with Mountain Laurel and Agarita, the hill country. North half of north fenceline is Junipers and Mesquite. Across from the gate are big climax Mesquites (brush country), those are Junipers towards river from them. The yard has 7 big Pecan trees, more smaller, and lots of what is leafless in corral is Pecans (deciduous woodland). There are many dozens of Hackberry trees throughout. River is Cypress lined, nearest one just over 100 yards from gate. So it is a remarkable confluence of habitats in one place. This is what a 230 species yard list yard looks like in winter. Would love a summer shot.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Mar. 4 ~ Low of about 62F! Overcast. A Myrtle Warbler went north through yard in morn, which may well have been a migrant. Park pond had 4 Ring-necked Duck. I had a bad battery terminal had to jerry-rig so didn't stop to walk woods. Got a new terminal to install. Little Creek Larry said he also still has not seen a hummingbird, Barn Swallow, or Purple Martin yet. His Vermilion Flycatcher is not back yet either. About 3 p.m. I saw local WU station readings at 77-79F, despite remaining mostly overcast. Heard the Vermilion Flyc. displaying up high over the corral at last light.

Mar. 3 ~ We might have hit 52F overnight, but was about 55 by dawn. Overcast. Sun poking out mid-morn. Great was hearing and then seeing way way up high until it dove back down to the ground, a displaying male Vermilion Flycatcher! Talk about a spot of light. And all that exuberance. I mentioned to Kathy yesterday it was time. Later it was in the front yard, it surely is our breeder back. Wonder where he goes for six months? About 1 p.m. I finally heard some distant cranes northbound. About 3 p.m. I saw local WU stations reading 73-75F! So nice to not be cold.

Mar. 2 ~ I saw it hit 32 at KERV, but I am not sure we did, maybe 34F here. By 3 p.m. local WU readings were 72-74F! Weewow! Birds were the same gang still. One Kinglet (Ruby). Come on migration. I see lots of little green matter breaking ground barely now. In butterflies, saw the Am. Lady, Red Admiral, a Pipevine, the worn female Dogface that has been around, and a Sleepy Orange. Kathy heard more Cranes distantly. The big FOS for me was a singing Roadrunner! Have not seen one in months. Hardly saw any last year after early summer. Singing from the same area as always where nesting is presumed. Just upslope behind us in the live-oaks. Where the heck do they migrate, er, walk to? The brush country? Mexico? Hondo? Oh to have a pinger on one. Had a flock of four C-130 Herkybirds fly over the house not 500' overhead, and each not 30 seconds apart.

March 1 ~ About 28F for a low, a chilly start of the month. Got up to about 72F in the afternoon, felt great to thaw. I was out there doing my lizard impression in the sun. Kathy had the big FOS of the day, cranes! She heard a flock go over northbound noonish. The rest was the same as it ever was the last three months. Waiting for migration and Golden-cheeks in a week or so. Should be Martin and Barn Swallow any day now, and a Black-chinned Hummer too. Saw a worn Variegated Fritillary, a Red Admiral, and an Orange Sulphur for butterflies.

~ ~ ~ Feburary summary ~ ~ ~

Cold and dry like January. There was one rain event, we got 1.5", some others got one inch. At least something though. It was a very cold Feb., though not record and power system breaking as last Feb., there were lots of freezes and freezing days, it was below normal of temps. The temperature pattern recently is below normal winters and hotter that normal summers. It is almost as if the climate is changing.

Odes were absent as expected. Some Februarys you get some early ones, but not a cold one like this was. Butterflies were few too, but a few were new fresh emergences. Just the common expected stuff of course, mostly leftovers still alive from last season, and looking worse for the wear and tear now. I count 14 species for the month. If just of average warmth, it will comparitively explode in March.

Birds continue to be dismal. Weakest winter we have seen here. Nary a Flicker or Junco, no Siskin this year, maybe one Sapsucker, hardly any Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, and so on, it borders on bizarre nearing eerie. Hardly a Kestrel or Shrike, even the Chipping Sparrow flock never got near as big as usual. Half to two-thirds at best. Best bird was the female EASTERN TOWHEE Little Creek Larry has over by his place this month. There was a Lesser Goldfinch here a few days early in month, only one of winter we saw, and an Am. Pipit on the 7th was the only one of them. Three Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow is a good number of them to be in one spot here (our yard). The first long-distance migrant to return was Turkey Vulture (12) on the 20th. I count about 53 species seen this month, and Little Creek Larry saw about 7-8 sps. I did not, over on his creek.

~ ~ ~ end Feb. summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ Feb. update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

February ~ Starting the month with a major hard freeze and ice event Feb. 3-4. On the 3rd there was a Lesser Goldfinch here, first one in a couple months or more. A couple orange-billed gray-lored western type Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow showed up Feb.7+ after the extended freeze event. Some of the early-nesting residents are starting to sing a bit now, like N. Cardinal, Bewick's and Carolina Wren, E. Bluebird, Black-crested Titmouse, and Carolina Chickadee. Some few dozen N. Pintail were on Little Creek at the pond during the big cold early in month. Better was a female EASTERN TOWHEE on Little Creek. The back half of February means only two or three weeks to Golden-cheeked Warblers! There were 33 Ring-necked Duck on the park pond on the 18th, and still there the 25th. A big FOS was on the 20th, Turkey Vulture, a dozen of them! A big fat FOS on the 21st was a Bumblebee. Ended month with more hard freezes, will be a late spring.

~ ~ ~ end Feb. update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

Feb. 28 ~ Wow that was fast. A mighty chilly last morn of the month at 22 dF. Man it was a cold one. Also our 6th straight a.m. freezing, which is a long cold spell here. Three straight is usually it, four only occasionally, five is pretty rare. But warming up today and for the week, so some spring should start to show. I see at 3 p.m. 64F on the cool shady front porch, and local WU station readings at 67-71F! Probably 70 on the sunny south side of house. We are adding 1 min. 45 sec. to daylength daily now!

Saw an adult White-crowned Sparrow with gray lores and an orange bill. Gambell's number three here this winter, the other two that were here are immatures. The adult that has been around is a pink-billed black-lored leucophrys. Some of the local residents are really getting the singing going. Titmouse, Cardinal, and Carolina Wren in particular, and Eastern Bluebird early out by the box as well. Helps you get through the cold. Kathy saw a Pipevine Swallowtail coming into puddle. I saw a Dogface and that wearing Vesta Crescent.

Best thing all day was when I heard that sound of a bullet which is air going through feathers. It fell from above. By time I wheeled around there were birds scattering in every direction but I saw nothing. Walked back and a Sharpy flushed, empty fisted. It came from up above the house and pecan treetops. It was a nearing vertical stoop. It was fast as lightning to make that bullet sound. A Sharp-shinned Hawk. Due to their typical surprise attack M.O. this is not something you typically hear out of an accipiter.

Feb. 27 ~ Oh my the sky is blue and there is a large bright object in it low to east. Maybe 33F for a low, KERV had a 31F, but didn't seem to freeze here. About 3 p.m. I saw local WU stations at 63-66F! Finally! What a treat! Twenty dF over anything in the prior four days. By the end of Feb. I have had it with the cold, as if you could not tell. I can only take it if the birding is fantastic. Then it hardly bothers me at all. Here we mostly just get the cold without the good coldweather birds. Quite the short end of the Short-tailed Shearwater. I have not seen a single Flicker or Junco all winter, yet froze my fern. It should be against the law. It was all the same gang here in yard. One male Red-winged Blackbird was on the sunflower feeder for a while in the afternoon. Saw what looked that same Vesta Crescent butterfly that has been around all month, getting a bit more worn.

Feb. 26 ~ Maybe 34F for a low, misting most of morning, pretty chilly out there. About 3 p.m. maybe 42F, the average LOW temp for this date is 48F at SAT, and we can't even get there for now the fourth day of this cold event. Most of which was spent in the 30's F, with mist, again. Lots of extra seed, they were sucking it all down fast as you would shovel it. Got a hundred count on the Chipping Sparrow again. They all show up when it is real cold. Couple Field Sparrow still here. Twenty White-winged Dove were on the seed at one point too. Heard a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, but did not spend much time out there looking today besides seed tossing for some reason.

This is not a current photo, but a big bonus break.
While we are talking tinkering ...
I will be putting a separate page up for this.
Meanwhile, here is my blindowscreen™.
I replaced a standard window screen with this
so I could photo birds at the bath from inside
the house without shooting through screen.

It is screen above and below the solid part below center,
which has the window in it to poke the lens out. The little
box is a rain, sun glare, and hide-lens-movement shade.
With house window open, we can access the shootin' hole.
This is why so many bird bath photos litter the pages.
You might recognize the big rock at 11 o'clock to the
bath, it has the biggest list of all the rocks. Always have
good cover next to any bath, note big stick pile for safety.

This is what the view looks like from the inside.
Have better pics, will replace this with one someday.
The white at left edge is the slat that opens window up.
It slides on two tracks (one visible at bottom of frame).
The tracks and slat are cut at matching 45 deg. angles
to keep slat tight against hole so no bugs can get in.
No spigot on that side of house so we have to slum it
with a milk jug for a drip. The birds don't care.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Feb. 25 ~ About 33F for a low again, still overcast and damp, so cold. Only getting to low or mid-40's F today and tomorrow still. Day 3 of 4. Town run. Got the same 33 count on Ring-necked Duck as I did last week on the park pond. The Hermit Thrush was in the woods, it ate two Greenbriar Vine berries. Heard a Belted Kingfisher. A couple Turkey Vulture were in the big mostly dead roost tree in the river by the island. Little Creek Larry said the Eastern Towhee was still over there, and a couple Gadwall. Maybe Sunday when it warms up we will take a spin over thataway. Town was loaded with cops, apparently someone cuffed, ran! This would be a bad place to run into a house, perhaps not survivable in a fair percentage. Haven't seen anything like this since we left L.A. Saw a fresh roadkill deer at which there were 2 Black Vulture and one Red-tailed Hawk. The BV seemed to be steering as far clear as they could of the Red-tail. Which was interesting because of the way they dominate Turkey Vulture at a carcass. Talons matter.

Feb. 24 ~ About 33F for a low, with mist on it, pretty chilly. The wind stopped though, so not as bad as yesterday was. Staying cold until Sunday though. Another four-day major chill event as this winter allegedly nears exit, staving spring off another week. More extra seed, and Kathy made bird bread. Was the same gang of seed-suckers out there. Love hearing those Red-winged Blackbirds. Did not see the Cowbird flock, am in no way complaining. Saw a few waxwings going to the Junipers. Got up to a smokin' 44F in the afternoon under thick overcast. So at least not frozen. Just NE at KERV they did not break 35F all day, so we lucked out with some warm western influence.

Feb. 23 ~ High temp for today was the first minute at midnight, in the low 50's. The front arrived. Was 40F and falling with 15-20 mph northerlies advecting colder air by 7 a.m. It was below freezing with chills in the 20's by 10 a.m., and heavy mist. Winter. Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow singing early, oblivious to it all. Five Common Raven flew over in a tight group first thing. Around noon KERV NOAA reading was 27F with a wind chill of 13F, felt that here too. Yesterday afternoon we were in upper 80's F! A big ugly flock of Brown-headed Cowbird showed up, about 45 of them. A dozen or so Red-winged Blackbird, probably more will arrive as it gets colder. An extra seed and grits day. Never broke freezing all day. But holding in upper 20's F and not going down so at least there is that.

Feb. 22 ~ Low of about 60F and foggy. Today is the last hot day prior to front arrival tonight. The next four days showing no 60F for high temps. About 4 p.m. I saw 86F on the cool shady front porch, and local WU stations were showing 84-88F! Toasty. Saw a couple So. Dogface, an Orange Sulphur, the Red Admiral. Great was two FOY Pipevine Swallowtail, fresh emergences. I probably saw one 10 days ago at Utopia Park, but it got away. These both seemed to be on first flight. Couple days hit 80F and pop goes the butterfly. Just seeing one Canyon Towhee, must have lost one of them.

Feb. 21 ~ A muggy low of 60, ground damp, heavy overcast, another couple warmup days ahead of the next front. The temps are a rolly-coaster here. Afternoon got up to low 80's F, local WU stations showing 83 to 85F, KERV at NOAA had 83F. Toasty. The record for this date at SAT is 100F! Which must be the earliest ever date for triple digits hereabouts. An imm. male Sharp-shinned Hawk dove on everything, man they are so fast. It made three different attempts on three different targets as the Chippy flock flushed, and had acquired its fourth target when it left my view. Heard a Kestrel across road in river habitat corridor. A couple Acridid grasshoppers displaying, the pale yellow-lime winged common ones, like last week. Bugs! Then about 3 p.m. I saw my FOY Bumblebee! Been around four months since the last one.

Feb. 20 ~ About 35F for a low, chilly but no freeze. Slow to warm, barely any sun, but got up to 65F later in afternoon. After spraying some water, maybe 20 seconds tops, a fresh male Fiery Skipper came in. First one this year, and clearly a new bug that just popped out. In the later afternoon I was working outside and a flock of a dozen FOY Turkey Vulture drifted over low following river north. These are surely our returning breeders. Typical return dates are in 3rd week of February, so right on time. It is the first returning breeder that is migratory and does not winter here. Listened for Martins out there but did not hear any yet. Any day now for them to return as well. The rest was the same gang. Got the knothole nestbox™ in, still have to do a couple things to it, but almost done.

Feb. 19 ~ About 27F for a low was a chilly start. Saw about 67F at peak heat in the afternoon which was nice. The Savannah Sparrow is still here visiting edge of patio for white millet. Great was seeing it go to the tub pond for a drink, and to get on our (50 gal.) tub pond list now. Goes great with Green Jay, Catbird, Painted Bunting and Audubon's Oriole. The White-crowned Sparrow are still here too. A few Red-winged and Brewer's Blackbird around. Biggest new thing was a couple now open yellow Agarita flowers! Elfin will be flying in short order. Olive Juniper Hairstreak shows about as early. The 80F temps progged for Mon.-Tues. will likely pop some of both.

This is not a current photo, but a big bonus break.
I will be putting a separate page up for this.
This is the knothole nestbox™ I made, before it
was sanded, burnt and varnished, when being fitted.
The broken stub is a foot deep, which I had to chisel,
grind, cut, saw, stab, bust knuckles, etc., to
make a good nestbox sized cavity in. Probably not
coon-safe to use one any shorter. The interior of
an old stub like this is roughly the same strength
as zircon encrusted titanium over the best tempered


This is the coonscluder™ I made for it. This
could be used on any nest box. It deflects the coons
grab wasting half the arm reach, leaving too little
to reach the nest. Also using a thicker piece for front
helps waste some reach, forcing a straighter approach angle,
and directing that reach straight into the deflector.
Leave enough space for the bird to get around it easily.
This seems to be only coonscluder™ in the world.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Feb. 18 ~ The wind finally stopped late last night, low was 28F this morning. Same gang around the yard. Town run fer stuff. Park check being the most important part, and what was that other minor thing? Oh yeah, groceries. There were 33 Ring-necked Duck in a flock on the park pond. Great to see since this winter has not had much for ducks. A pair of Red-shouldered Hawk were prospecting noisily. A few Eastern Bluebird were singing a lot too. A surprise was the FOY Orange-crowned Warbler. Only one I have encountered all winter. Put out a rare bird alert. About 3 p.m. I saw 64F here and at a couple local WU stations, whilst KERV was showing 58F. Later I saw a 67F at a local station. Saw a Variegated Fritillary, an old worn one.

Feb. 17 ~ Another balmy low at 58F, just ahead of the front arrival after dawn. That will be tomorrow's high temp. By 9 a.m. winds were blowing 15-20 mph and gusting higher. Saw all three of the White-crowned Sparrow this a.m., the two imm.s and the adult. The Savannah Sparrow was also in the brush pile still. Peak heat was about 1 p.m. and 68F, after which it started dropping. About 2:30 I saw a small falcon shoot over close and low over patio, a Merlin. Then about 15 seconds later a Kestrel was screaming and shot over northward right in its tracks. Clearly much longer of tail and thinner of wing, totally different shape and structure. But a Kestrel chasing a Merlin? Must know it is more agile. At least 20 Am. Goldfinch flushed at one accipiter flushing event. At 11 p.m. I saw KERV was 34F with 20 mph gusting higher winds and 23F for a chill factor.

Feb. 16 ~ Low of 60F is pretty balmy, breezy out of south, and overcast. The pre-frontal warm-up and blow until the wind turns tomorrow. Saw local WU stations reading 74-77F (!) at 3-4 p.m., wow. Probably that same Vesta Crescent was out there that has been around a couple weeks. The male Red-tailed Hawk of the pair stooped on a displaying Red-shouldered Hawk that was calling. This is why the Red-shouldered do not nest as close as the Red-tails do. A big no no in what they consider their territory apparently. Saw two of the White-crowned Sparrow and one of the Canyon Towhee. Nervous about just seeing one towhee for a few days as we saw a couple new feral cats recently, besides the accipiters. A year or two ago we lost one of the pair that was here wintering to an accipiter. Saw a male Black Swallowtail that was likely the one a couple weeks ago. There were a couple Acridids, that is short-horned grasshopper, displaying. These the common ones with pale yellow-lime wings.

Feb. 15 ~ About 42F at dawn was much better, nice to not be freezing. Carolina Wren is sure getting going early in morns now. Saw one Canyon Towhee. At least a couple dozen Red-winged Blackbird hit the patio for white millet. The White-crowns are still here. The local breeding pair of Red-tailed Hawk are flying around tightly, nesting season is getting underway for them. Couple accipiter flushings over the day, never saw which caused it. In butterflies a fresh male So. Dogface was likely a new emergence, the Gulf Fritillary looked old and a leftover, as did the Sleepy Orange. Saw the Red Admiral and new was a fresh Common Checkered-Skipper.

Feb. 14 ~ We had another 20F at dawn, a category colder than progged. Amazing how they cannot get a handle on the cold temps here very well. Consistently off the same way. Saw two White-crowns and the Savannah Sparrow, a couple Field sang a wee bit, maybe 75 or so Chipping Sparrow. Nothing different. Cooper's Hawk flushed it all a couple times at least. Had about 68F in the afternoon heat, felt great. Saw the Red Admiral.

Feb. 13 ~ I knew it was going to get colder than they said (27F) after that wind stopped. We had 20F before the final dip this a.m., and saw KERV had a 19F. It was cold. There were maybe three dozen Red-winged Blackbird braying up in the big Pecan early when still freezing. At least a couple dozen American Goldfinch. Saw one ad. and one of the imm. White-crowned Sparrow. Great was seeing what is surely the same Savannah Sparrow, still here, now a week. I was cutting stuff in the yard and threw stuff on a stick pile and it flew out and to another pile. Yard work to do now before it sprouts again. Have to go road apple mining in the corral. Heard my first White-winged Dove song for the year in the peak afternoon heat. Sounded like it hadn't done it for a long time and was a bit rusty. Did a few attempts and gave up. Couldn't remember it methinks.

Feb. 12 ~ Front arriving just before dawn. Was mid-50's much of night, maybe dipped to 48F and stayed between that and 52 all day. Blew all day With 15-20 mph northerlies, gusting to 30 mph. Had a Zone-tailed Hawk fly right over low early, looked like it was headed to land in the big Pecan when I walked out and it flared off. Later had the pair of Red-tailed Hawk, our local breeders over at the river. Did a dump run today and on way on 360 other side of river saw a male Kestrel in a pasture. At the park there were 5 Ring-necked Duck, half of Larry's flock yesterday. Slow-rolled the west mile plus of 360 off 359 in the juniper-live-oak grassland. Did not see or hear anything avian, or in fact animalia.

This is not a current photo.

Sorry about the fuzzy photo. It was across the pond at
the park a couple years ago. There were 33 of these
at the park today, half were males like this, females
are brown. This is a Ring-necked Duck. Named after
the part that is hardest to see. The ring is at the
base of neck and requires good light to see. Ring-billed
Duck would have been better. In good light the head
is iridescent purple. The white side is blown out
due to over-exposure, actually they just have a white
veritical bar at front of that white area, which is
otherwise pale gray in reality.

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Feb. 11 ~ A toasty 48F or so for a low was great. Nice not to be cold. Will be tomorrow with a frontal passage, northerlies, and cold air advection. Today is the pre-frontal warmup day. Canyon Towhee out there early. The rest was the same gang. Little Creek Larry said during the big freeze a week ago about 50 N. Pintail were on the pond at Little Creek just below his place. Better, he saw a female EASTERN TOWHEE, which is a rare bird here. It is easy to go 5 years without seeing one locally. Spotted is our default towhee with rufous on the sides, they are low density winter residents, though somewhat scarce this year. Eastern is a great find. Before they were split into two species some years ago the species was called Rufous-sided Towhee. The park had the one Hermit Thrush on the island in the woods, one Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and heard both Belted and Green Kingfisher, both on other side of island so did not see them. Little Creek Larry had about ten Ring-necked Duck here early in the morning. A dark black with blue iridescence swallowtail shot by me at the park that looked a Pipevine, but was too fast to claim it for a FOY.

Feb. 10 ~ Froze again contra predictions, but just barely, maybe 30F. Afternoon warmed to about 72F though, what a delight. There was a Red Admiral out flying in the warmth. Birds were the same gang of winter residents. With a few added Red-winged Blackbird braying for ambience. Nice to hear. Heard the first hesitant intro bits of Field Sparrow song, first of that this year. Tuning up. Saw the Black Rock Squirrel out there. Neat beast. At last sun on the patio a Myrtle Warbler went down to the smashed pecans and appeared to get a few bits. Looked the same male that we have seen every couple or few days since December.

Feb. 9 ~ So much for yesterday's comment about it being the last freeze for a week. NOAA had KERV progged for 34F and they and us had 25F! Amazing how far off they are how often. It was a hard freeze for 8 hrs., and they had it for NO freeze. The three White-crowned Sparrow still here but did not see the Savannah. The rest was the same. Golden-fronted Woodpecker starting to call more, it has been very quiet. Afternoon warmed up to a fantastic 70F. Best beast of the day was at midnight, a Striped Skunk was scrounging the broken pecans Kathy crushed on patio. The nuts were not good enough for human use, over a year ago. We save them for cold spells in winter. Very cool beautiful animal. Was a close Coyote barking from just across the road towards the river late as well.

Feb. 8 ~ Supposed to be the last freeze for a week. Was 25F this morning. An adult White-crowned Sparrow has joined the two immature orange-billed pale-lored western Gambell's types here. The new ad. is the usual standard default type here, the eastern pink-billed black-lored leucophrys type. It could be the one that was around in November and December. Three constitutes a flocklet, legally speaking, according to the Bird Law of Zonitrichia. Look it up. Sure love hearing those Gambell's sing their minor keyed and noted song. The Eastern Bluebird are really yukkin' it up a lot now too. Great to hear, what a voice. Red-winged Blackbird too is going off. They do not nest within earshot so very nice to hear. Outstanding hearing some birdsong after that long dry spell of fall and winter. Also great to see that thermometer pass the 60dF mark shortly after noon.

Feb. 7 ~ Was 32F overnight, but a dF or two warmer at sunup. Breezy from south but air is cold still. Maybe got up to 58F or so. A week of sun and average temps on tap sounds great after last week's big freeze. The Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow are singing a bit. I love hearing that song of my youth and west coast years. Saw the Savannah Sparrow again. Great was an American Pipit that called as it flew over early in morning. Only one I have seen all winter. Day before yesterday Kathy had a Chipping Sparrow with a bunch of white feathers on the head, partially albinistic, which is called leucistic when not pure white. Interesting is that I have been fine-sifting the Chippies for something else, anything else, and had not seen it prior. As of two days later, it had not been seen again! It might look like the same flock of Chippies all the time, but it is not. And so I keep looking at them. At dusk Kathy spotted the pair of Gray Fox working the fenceline between us and the corral not 20' from the patio. I just caught them going away. Very neat beasts.

Feb. 6 ~ Our thermometer read 18F this morn. None of the local stations I saw were that cold, but we are in a cold hole. We often run colder than many other nearby spots. Nice to hear the Eastern Bluebirds singing a lot in the morning out front. Surely our nesting pair. Neat to hear Red-winged Blackbirds as well. The two imm. Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow continue, now joined by a Savannah Sparrow! Which are pretty scarce in the yard. Clearly also something that obviously has not been here and is a new arrival. About 2:30 it was 58F or so outside, probably hit 60F a bit later, wonderful. At last sun I went over to river and looked around briefly. Saw one Great Horned Owl with a prey item that looked probably a big Cotton Rat (Sigmodon). Some Cardinal were the only other thing I saw. Almost forgot, Kathy flushed what looked a Kestrel off one of the clothesline poles at edge of patio. She saw the rufous tail. Hunting Chippies in the cold no doubt. Pretty good to get one down in the yard. Sometimes you walk outside and flush things before you see them. I did it last year in the snow with a Prairie Falcon sitting up in the big Pecan. I did it on Seco Ridge with a Green (now Mexican) Violetear! A lot of times I peek a few seconds before I open the door to go outside. But often you are in a hurry doing chores and don't look.

Feb. 5 ~ Peak cold morn at 16F or lower. OMG. Record low for SAT for the date is 21, so we were at or about it here in the teens. That was cold. Afternoon got up to about 50F and felt great. We probably did about 60 hours straight with only five or so over freezing yesterday afternoon. Very cold for here. We are gaining 1.5 minutes of daylight per day now. Feb. 2 was the half-way point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. By the end of the month days will be about an hour longer than when it started. Saw something new and different in the yard, so, a big change. Two immature White-crowned Sparrow with bright orange bills and pale lores, which are the western Gambell's type. Not the usual default here pink-billed dark-lored eastern leucophrys that is our primary type. We get small numbers of gambelli semi-regularly. One of these is missing a tail, probably lost in the ice event the other day.

This is not a current photo.

This is an Eastern Phoebe, one of our nesting pair.

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Feb. 4 ~ The thermometer is encased in ice so I could not see the temp. I think around 20F, with winds 15-20 mph gusting higher, some chills were likely in single digits at times, but mostly lower double digits. Not quite as cold as they forecast, not complaining. Think I will jump in the refrigerator to warm up. Second day of double seed rations. Did not see anything different in birds. The icicles did melt in the afternoon. It got up to about 40F so we got a few hours above freezing. A much needed break, going way down low again tomorrow morn. But at least it won't be a 60 hours straight hard freeze. Wind blew all day so never felt as warm as it was unless sheltered and in sun.

Feb. 3 ~ Some rain overnight, turning to ice and what I think was actually graupel by dawn when about 26F. It did not look like, nor was the texture, of any snow, sleet, frozen rain, ice pellets, or ice I have ever seen. Chills in low to mid-teens with the northerlies. By 8-9 a.m. the ground was white looking like a light snow. But it was not snow. It looked maybe over an inch of rain had fallen into a bowl but can't get a measure into it now that it is frozen. So we got some much needed precip before it turned over to ice. What was falling was changing over the day. The white graupel in the a.m. got half to three-quarters of an inch thick in spots. Other times and places sleet got a tenth to quarter inch thick. A Laurel, some juniper branches, and other things, are bent way over with ice weight. In the afternoon I see 6-7" icicles hanging off the eaves in spots, and about 29F for a high temp. Chills in teens.

Lots of extra seed rations the next few days. It got soooo cold that the Brewer's Blackbirds came down onto the patio! They never do that here. Kathy had thrown out some old cereal, and grits, which is a best use of on the latter. Way too many Brown-headed Cowbird, seemed like nearing a hundred. There were more Brewer's though, a few Starling, and a few dozen Red-winged Blackbird. Seed vacuums. Saw nothing but 80 plus Chipping and a couple Field for sparrows. Kathy had the Canyon Towhee pair. Bird of the day was a first spring male Lesser Goldfinch. Presuming first spring male of our Black-backed type, rather than a vagrant western green-backed bird. Which I don't know how one would tell. I presume it is the one we each heard in the last week. Historical spring return dates here are around Washington's birthday. Lately running a week or sometimes more, earlier. All early returning birds are fully black backed adult males. This is not, and at weeks early, then worth a ponder.

Feb. 2 ~ Low about 50F with mist. Front gets here late this afternoon, long duration freeze event on tap starting tonight. Hope the power grid holds this February. Warmed to about 64F right before the cold air started arriving. Had one Robin out there in the afternoon. The Robin this winter. I wonder if or when the birds can tell how bad the next front is going to be? Did lots of covering and insulating things to get ready. Extra stuff on the windows here and in the cottage, etc. Covered the tub pond, put outside things away lest they get iced up. Here we go again.

February 1 ~ A balmy 52F low, some mist. We have a mega-cold event on the way in a couple days. Hoping the power stays on this year. Ran to town today whilst sunny and warm out, to get things before the big freeze event in a couple days. Nothing at the park. One Myrtle Warbler in town. Little Creek Larry has a Great Egret over on his creek a couple or few weeks now. Best thing was Rosie was back, so real deal tacos! Not the gringo fare we produce here. In the afternoon I saw local WU station readings at 72-75F. That was great. Five sps. of likely the same individual butterflies got on the Feb. list: single Vesta Crescent, Gulf & Variegated Fritillary, the American Lady, and a couple Sleepy Orange.

~ ~ ~ January summary ~ ~ ~

It was cold and dry. Seemingly near half of the mornings were freezing, several in the 20's, a couple or few in the teens. I would say colder than we have been running in recent Januarys. Looks a mere tenth of an inch of rain plus some traces, almost nothing, for precip over the month. Food crops are nil.

I did have Autumnal Meadowhawk just after the new year, so one ode for the month. Butterflies were surprisingly good for all the freezing we did. Nothing rare but a fair number of last years leftovers made it into, and some through, January. A few were obviously mint fresh mis-timed emergences due to a few consecutive warm days between fronts. A few of those were: a female Black Swallowtail, a Texan Crescent, a Vesta Crescent, and a Common Checkered-Skipper. It was 18 species for the month, a high for January total. Third highest total is 18, and this is the third time for that. Only twice was it better and over twenty, at 23, and 26 species.

Birds were dismal. Can hardly find any out there. There is nearly nothing in the pastures, along the roads, in hedgerows, in town except where feeders, and even riverside woodlots and live-oak mottes are essentially empty. Was it the big freeze last year? That and the drought? In any case there is not a lot to look at out there. I saw one Pine Warbler, heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and saw a Zone-tailed Hawk. That was about it. A quintessential southeastern species, a quitessential southwestern species, and a quintessential coniferous species. None of which we are. A couple Robin, a handful of Waxwing, one Hermit Thrush, one White-crowned Sparrow. Pitiful out there. The usual wintering Kestrels and Shrikes did not stick around, there is nothing in the pastures. Hoping for spring to bring some change in the avian situation here. I saw about 50 species for the month, and I know Little Creek Larry had about 5 I did not see.

~ ~ ~ end January summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

Happy New Year! January. Well finally on the 7th a bird to report: one Pine Warbler in town. We froze 6 mornings straight from Jan. 2-7. So a chilly bit of a run, kinda like winter. The annual summary for 2021 has been added below the first weeks photo break now. A Harris's Hawk lazily soared low over our place Jan. 13th. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was calling just across and upriver of the park on Jan. 14. The Cedar (Juniper) pollen season is now open. A Zone-tailed Hawk was perched in willows across the pond at the park Jan. 18. We have been getting lots of freezing lows this year, be prepared for cold. There are not many birds around though, presumedly the drought and lack of wild food crops.

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Jan. 31 ~ An overcast balmy low of about 52F is great. Nice after that 21F yesterday morning. Of course which means we are at the couple days of warmup in front of the next cold front in a few days. A little bit of mist and sprinkles overnight, ground is wet. Warmed up to the middle 60's F briefly in the afternoon. Kathy saw a Mockingbird take a bath. The rest all looked the same. A little bit of song sounds from Eastern Bluebird, No. Cardinal, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, and Carolina Chickadee. Titmouse are getting testy with each other. Likely a long-time yard resident thinking it is nearing time the others find other places to live. Have been 6 here all winter.

Jan. 30 ~ Another hard freeze at 21F for a low here. NOAA had KERV progged for 35 and it was 23F. Over a category off! Not freezing was the prediction, was freezing before midnight! I undid hoses and covered spigots late when I saw they were going to be wayyyy off, again. Before midnight last night I heard one-hoot a couple times over at river. Birds remain the same here. That dang House Sparrow is hanging around. Not for long. Heard a few Waxwings. Didn't see the blackbirds but for a few Red-wings that came in. Couple accipiter flushings over the day. Warmed up into the low 60's F and felt great. Saw the Buckeye butterfly again, a fresh appearing American Lady, the very worn Cloudless Sulphur, and a worn Sleepy Orange. After a 21F morning. Have a warmish night in store, a nice change.

Jan. 29 ~ My that was a chilly morn. I saw 22F before the final dip, KERV had a 21F. Some few Cedar Waxwing were out there early. A few Red-winged Blackbird were also in and out over the day. Chipping Sparrow have been about 75 or so. Less than a dozen Am. Goldfinch is fine since sunflower seed went up. A dozen House Finch was the most in months, some making minor song noises (not of key but perhaps a few notes were). A few days ago Kathy thought she might have heard a Lesser Goldfinch. Today I thought I did. She heard a whistle, I heard the three or four flight notes, g g g. Neither of us has seen one yet. It is early for them, mid to late Feb. is when the breeders here start showing up. Did finally have a Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler for the year, in the yard 10 minutes. What a treat.

It was a smokin' 64F or so in the afternoon. The Vesta Crescent came into the water I sprayed. About 3 p.m. a FOY Black Swallowtail came in! A female, fresh, and a small one. I see the first red starts of the buds that will become flower buds on the Agarita, just breaking stem. Be nice to have a good bloom, no good berry crop for the last two years at least. Need rains throughout spring but not too hard. Miss the jelly. First blooms are in early to mid-Feb., and is where the first butterflies are (along with the first Redbud trees to bloom). We are probably less than two weeks from Agarita flowers and Elfins!

This is not a current photo.

This was Feb. 15, 2021, last year. No snow, not quite as cold
in the event this week, and the power grid held. We had ice
and probably graupel this time, and some single digit chills,
mornings in 20's dF with howling winds on it, and not
breaking freezing all day.

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Jan. 28 ~ There was a front arriving last night. We had maybe a tenth of an inch of precip, holds the dust down. Low was about 37F and in morning northerlies are arriving for another blower of a day. As of the afternoon we did not get it that bad this time and it is laying down a bit. Good freeze for the a.m. tomorrow. Some Covid is going around town, a few got it. Hope we don't get a blowup. Still no Rosie so no taco love. Saw a Hermit Thrush on the island in the woods at the park. First one I have seen this year, which is ridiculous. It was a dull somber brown, and very exciting. Just seeing something flick its wings was great. Larry said a few ducks were on Little Creek. I cruised the brushy hedgerows at north end of town and out county-line road down to river. One Mockingbird was it. Cruised around town a little, could not find a flock of birds. I saw the upper 50's F in the afternoon, which felt downright hot at this point. Great to be back in a T-shirt, for three hours.

Jan. 27 ~ Some warmish air came in and the low was about 47F here, per 4 local WU stations and our reading, whilst for KERV NOAA was showing 37F! Ten dF difference! Usually it is just a couple, maybe a few, if. Birds are the same, what few there are. Fewest birds in winter in now our 19th winter here. I hope it is just a bad blip of a signal we are getting due to the drought. But it is frankly a bit scary to look around and not see birds like usual.

Jan. 26 ~ It was about 36F for a low, and overcast, humid, little breeze, chilly. Same gang. A little after midnight last night I heard one-hoot. Today, fewer goldfinch, hopefully they found a rich person with thistle seed to feed them. One of the Field Sparrow came into the tub pond for a drink. Birdbath remains unused except for things like coons, dillo or deer that drain it overnight. KERV had a high of 50F, we might have been a couple dF higher.

Jan. 25 ~ Sunny and about 35F in the morn. We get a slight warmup today in front of another chill. Less goldfinches, which is fine. Heard some song and saw a pair of Eastern Bluebird out around the box the pair uses every year way out at far corner of yard by road. I suspect it was the pair, and this was the first box inspection of the season. Time to make sure all your bird houses have been cleaned if the type. Lots of the residents get started with pairing and nest site selection in February. I think it hit about 65F at peak heat, so opened up and aired out. Felt great in the sun. Oops forgot, a SNOUT butterfly was my first of year today, it came into water I sprayed. Also saw that Vesta Crescent again.

Jan. 24 ~ A sprinkle and trace around midnight last night, but nothing yet in the a.m., looks like we were in a dry slot again as the low moved over and to the east. Was some light rain to north and south. Low was about 45F so took the chill off things. A few brief bouts of sun and warmed to 62F or so in the afternoon TYVM. Couple dozen Red-wings came by, the Brewer's stayed over in the corral. Heard a dang House Sparrow starting to make song type noises. Only a couple have even attempted to use a box here in 8 years, but longevity is not a thing with them here. Saw the female Golden-fronted Woodpecker in the big dying Hackberry poking around the bark where peeling.

Jan. 23 ~ A low of 44F was a treat. Only going up to low 50's, but not freezing anyway. I saw 53F at 3 p.m., so a bit on chilly side. There were 40 Red-winged Blackbird at once on the patio this morn. Poof, there goes the white millet. The first 10-15 years we were here I did not see 40 Red-wings in winter locally over the entire period. This is only half of the flock wintering here this year. Looked about the same 40 American Goldfinch. Canyon Towhee pair still here in carport and under the big box truck daily. Heard one-hoot after dark, and the Great Horned pair.

Jan. 22 ~ About 19F for a low is just a couple above all time record. Crispy out there. Kathy flipped a big thick round disk of ice out of the birdbath which remained intact for a few hours. Got up to about 50F for a quick peak heat in afternoon. A brutally cold day mostly. Lots of extra seed rations. The blackbirds visited, still no Rusty, and I can't believe this year a few Starling keep showing up with them. It had been so nice and mostly Starling free here in winter until very recently. Last few years it started with a few in town, and now, here some are, there goes the neighborhood. Also Brown-headed Cowbird and Red-winged Blackbird have both increased tremendously here in winter in the same last few years. Heard one-hoot at last hint of light in sky, and at midnight.

This is not a current photo.

This is an adult Common Ground-Dove. They have become scarce here lately.
The black spots on the wing iridesce neon purple with sun at just right angle.

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Jan. 21 ~ Was just below freezing, maybe 28F, and not as cold as they forecast. Glad to have gotten some supplies a few days ago, in a short-sleeve shirt, as now I don't have to go to town today. I would go just for tacos but Rosie is not back yet. Birds were the same, hungry. They went through some seed. Saw nothing but registered guests. I think the American Goldfinch number 40 now. That sun was great in the afternoon though. About 3 p.m. it was hitting 50dF and felt like heaven. The coldest post-frontal morning is tomorrow. This has been one of the colder Januarys in recent times. Heard one-hoot upriver after dark, Great Horned pair calling too.

Jan. 20 ~ Was about 40F at midnight and 30F at dawn, with 20 mph northerlies gusting to 30 mph. Wind chills in 20's at best. At noon KERV was 30F with a 18F wind chill. Felt about that here. Birds are pillaging the seed. Extra rations all day. Over 100 Chipping Sparrow. At least 35 Am. Goldfinch plowing through sunflower seed like the price didn't just go up 50%.. It was freezing all day, wind finally got below 10 mph about 8 p.m. Some freezing sleet or rain scattered, very light, a bit went over us, a trace. Late at last chance for seed two Field Sparrow were on the millet tube, which I have never seen before. I was within 8' and they did not flush. That is how cold it is.

Jan. 19 ~ Ran about 50-80F for a temp spread today. The big warmup ahead of the front. A few butterflies in the heat. New was a FOY Vesta Crescent, which was fresh and tricked by 3 consecutive warm days into emerging. Don't know what it will do tomorrow. The rest looked like worn leftovers from last year: a female So. Dogface, a Gulf Frit, a Sleepy Orange or two, an Am. Lady, and a Little Yellow. The birds were the same gang. The blackbirds were around, a couple hundred plus Brewer's and 50 or so Red-winged, and some Brown-headed Cowbird. The chip note of Field Sparrow sure has a lot of variation. Sometimes it sounds like an Orange-crowned Warbler, thin, dry, and sharp, and other times much fuller and more musical but softish, more like a Pine or Yellow-throated Warbler. Opened everything up to get as warm as we can, won't see much above freezing tomorrow. At last crack of light about 15 Cardinal quickly paraded to the tub pond for a drink.

Jan. 18 ~ It was about 40F at midnight, near 50F at dawn. I saw 72F in the late afternoon sun! Nice to warm up and air out. We have a couple-or-few day shut-in coming soon. Went to town today so as to not be going out Friday. Thursday looks the coldest day, and with chances of wintry precip, but will be unpleasant through Saturday. Now won't have to be out in it whatsoever. Checked park and across the pond perched in a bare willow on other side was an adult Zone-tailed Hawk. Only one I have seen all winter. Is it the one that spent the last two winters roosting at park most days? Which was an imm. two years ago. The last couple years it arrived in November, and there has not been one there or anywhere around that I have seen so far this winter. So very nice to see. One Kinglet in the woods, couple each Titmouse, Chickadee, and Cardinal. So weird to not have any Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler wintering there. One Red-shouldered Hawk was loud. Saw one Dainty Sulphur there, another at the house. No water going over spillway. No Rosie so no tacos. Life is rough.

Jan. 17 ~ Another hard freeze with 23F for a low. Will warm a few days but a cold cold front arrives later in week. Got up to about 70F for some more near-50dF diurnals. We are getting a lot of frozen mornings this January. And no rain. Birds were the same gang. Four Red-winged Blackbird came down to the seed. A Starling, some Brown-headed Cowbird in with the Brewer's Blackbirds up in the big Pecan. Great to hear the Red-tailed Hawk piercing the quiet with its whistles. Heard a Carolina Chickadee whistled a good round of loud four-note song: see you see me. After dark heard one-hoot upriver.

Jan. 16 ~ I saw 18F on the front porch this morn! Shiver me timbers and freeze me ferns! Birdbath frozen solid. One flushing I think it was 35 American Goldfinch. This is no time for more of them, right when seed prices go up. And probably why. It was the same gang out there otherwise. With the lack of a Pecan crop we do not have the usual near-daily foraging of Golden-fronted Woodpecker in the yard. Saw likely the same 6 Eastern Bluebird go through yard and corral. Some of the adult Chipping Sparrow are getting nice and rufous of crown now. Heard one-hoot right after dark but not later. The Great Horned pair was also out there.

Jan. 15 ~ Front blew in about midnight last night and blew all day. And a good blower it was, 15-25 mph gusting 30-40 mph! Low was only 44F or so but felt a lot colder. A little ridgelet with big junipers to our north provides a wee bit of wind-shelter so we don't get the full force of these events directly on the house. But we can hear the trees getting it, wowsers. After noon I got a 30 count on American Goldfinch! Probably other folks passed on the suflower seed when they saw the new ridiculous price. Wind stops tonight so a freeze in the morn tomorrow. Lotta dust blowin' by out there. Clouds come up out of the corral where pulverized by hooves. Good thing wind is out of north and corral is to the south.

This is not a current photo.

Black-crested Titmouse, adult

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Jan. 14 ~ A chilly 28F for a low! NOAA had KERV for 39 and WU had us for 41, both off by a category. In the afternoon I saw 76-77F temps at local WU stations. More 50dF diurnals. Start the day in thermals and end it in sandals. The SAT and AUS record highs for today are 79F, so we are just below that. Town run day. Rosie was gone so no tacos. Little Creek Larry said there are a few ducks back on the pond downstream from him at his creek. He has one White-crowned Sparrow. At the park the only thing was a heard bird, a Red-breasted Nuthatch. It was across the river and at the far north upstream end above island calling loudly. There were at least 6 Autumnal Meadowhawk dragonflies, and one So. Dogface butterfly. Here at the hovelita a couple Sleepy Orange and one or two Gulf Fritillary. A Red Admiral was at a puddle behind the store. I may have seen a Pipevine Swallowtail, it looked big and dark but blasted by too fast. Sunflower seed has skyrocketed in price. Here anyway, nearing a 50 percent increase! Certainly that much in less than a year since the big freeze last Feb. when they ran out and it came back, way higher. The Cedar (Juniper) pollen season is now open, the male trees are getting pretty orange or rusty, and dusty, with pollen. If you have cedar fever as they call it, a rough couple months are ahead.

Jan. 13 ~ Despite being progged not to freeze, we did. Probably hit 29F or so. Nice layer of ice on the birdbath so it was cold for a while. A chilly seed toss at dawn. Bird of the day, recall it only takes one, was nearing 11 a.m. I was at the back porch observation station. Which is a chair that until afternoon has your body up to head in the sun, with head in shade, to have no-glare visibility. The very pinnacle of success.

I saw a hawk soaring and ran in for bins. It was low as if it were coming up out of the far end of the corral a few hundred yards away. It was an adult Harris's Hawk! It very slowly circled and soared lazily gaining altitude in no hurry, and was nicking the corner of the yard in its circles eventually. Full adult, primaries browned, paled, and very worn. Kathy had time to get her bins and watch it too. Finally it broke off and headed over towards the river and golf course. Nice hawk. Beautiful. Never get tired of seeing them. That 70F at noon felt pretty good too. Local WU stations were reporting 76-78F at peak heat. Humidity was 16%! The record high at SAT this date is 79F, so we were very close to it. We were also within a dF or two of 50dF diurnals again! Amazing. The warm up before the next front which arrives about midnight tomorrow evening. One more nice day Friday, then another dry cold northerly blowout at 20mph on Saturday. One Variegated Fritillary butterfly.

Jan. 12 ~ About 36F and overcast early. Chilly. Got a 15 count on the American Goldfinch, they found a few more friends since yesterday. A male Cardinal was boik boik boik boikin', no whistles yet, but we are getting close, soon. Saw a toasty 65F in the afternoon. Those goldfinch can really eat some sunflower seeds. I go out once an hour and have a look and listen. Sometimes the drop in level of sunflower feeder is amazing now, since more than just a few Am. Goldfinch showed up. The rest was the same gang. Still a couple Field Sparrow in with the Chippies. Is it is the local breeding pair and they are resident? Oh for bands, so we could know. Heard one-hoot.

Jan. 11 ~ A lovely spread today at about 38-48F, a bit breezy, overcast, some drizzle in morning so very humid, and fairly chilly. Glad to be busy inside. Finally noticed it, the male Cardinal are wearing to bright again. After a few months of duller plumage you get used to it. But now they are really getting (wearing to) bright again, obviously so. Timed to meet singing and territorial mate selection season perfectly. Got a 12 count on American Goldfinch today, highest so far this winter, again. They found a couple more friends. Nary a Pine Siskin. We hear the Red-tailed Hawk calling, which means the pair is back around the nest over at the river. I will go look when it warms in a couple days. Some years the nest is scopeable from the front yard. But they move.

Jan. 10 ~ Maybe about 38F at dawn, overcast, still blowing out of north. KERV had 28F for a chill factor at 9 a.m., chilly out there. Mostly about 10 mph but gusting 15-20, enough to find the chinks in yer armor. The local WU statons were 56-60F in afternoon, but still breezy until late. Maybe a freeze or near one tomorrow a.m. after the wind stops. A small group of 6 Eastern Bluebird was around a bit, which was nice since we have not had the usual winter flock visiting the yard every few days or more this year.

One great obvious indicators of how dead it is out there for birds is the birdbath. We have lived now over 18 years around Utopia in 3 places, almost 9 years here at this one. The birdbaths have always been very busy and active, and great attractants. Generally there is a near-constant parade of birds at them. You have to keep checking them or you are missing stuff. Not any more. Our bird bath has been dead since about October. Since the insectivorus neotropical migrants departed. The whole second half of fall, and so far this winter, it has been dead. Hardly anything coming in to it. It is not like they are all going to the tub pond, as that is right out the office window and they are not visiting save the usual few Cardinal.

Jan. 9 ~ No freeze, some fog, about 45F, yet another dry cold front is inbound, this morn, so a northerly blower of a day. And more work on things inside. Blackbirds were around a bit in the morn. Not seeing the ad. fem. Rusty that was here with them the last 8 winters. I am afraid she expired. There were too many Starling in the flock, 10 or so, the most I have seen at once from the yard. One sat up in the big Pecan doing an dang House Sparrow. A Starling in my yard doing a House Sparrow! Totally against the rules here. What did I do to deserve this? I am as far as I could get from introduced birds for a reason. It was not an accident. I am listening to a perfect House Sparrow, watching it eminate from a Starling. Leaving me unsure how this year is going to go. Otherwise is was the same gang here today, but with wind. Gray Fox was out there again after dark, scavenging uneaten sunflower seeds, slummin' with the 'coons.

Jan. 8 ~ No freeze. Was about 42F at midnight, drizzling, and 48F at dawn, still drizzling. Drippy to afternoon, when cleared a bit and probably hit 60F briefly. Maybe got a tenth of an inch of precip, a dust buster for a couple days. Got a ten count on American Goldfinch, most so far this winter. The blackbirds were back, about 300 Brewer's, and maybe a couple dozen Red-winged. The Red-wings were down on the patio briefly. They take the white millet and leave the red hard stuff. Like everything else without a gizzard. Too wet out there, worked on things here. Heard one-hoot after dark downriver a bit. At midnight the Gray Fox was scavenging sunflower seeds at the edge of the patio. Which means there is not much for food out there. There was not the usual Pecan or Hackberry crops this fall.

This is not a current photo.

This is an Ash-throated Flycatcher. Not sure we have a
pic of one up on the site, so here ya go. Trying to fill in
some holes and gaps. Of the three Myiarchus flycatchers
that nest here, this is the common one. The tail is mostly
rufous like that bit (primary edges) in the wing.
~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Jan. 7 ~ Sixth straight freezing morning, which is a long run here, three in a row is usually it. It was 29F here at dawn. I saw at KERV it was 25F in middle of night and had warmed to 29F at 7-8 a.m. It likely had done the same here. Overcast, bit of breeze, chilly. Winter. It got up to about 48F but never felt it. Might get rain overnight or early a.m. tomorrow. Back to the Friday town run program. I heard there is a bit of Covid around, one of the churches and school seem to be hot spots. Where lots of folk gather indoors to share air. A bunch in Uvalde some said.

On the way to town there was a large number of black birds at the corrals on the east side of the river on 360. It was about 500 Brewer's Blackbird, 75 Red-winged Blackbird, about 150 Brown-headed Cowbird, and 50 Starling. This is the most Starling or Cowbird I have ever had at once here in winter (n~18). When I got back from town there were 300 Brewer's in our big Pecan tree. Later afternoon after tacos and siesta (for a full immersive cultural experience) I had one Robin in the big Pecan. The Robin.

Nothing in the park woods again and still. Never saw the Woodcock again. Little Creek Larry said a few ducks have come back to his creek, a couple looked like Pintail, mostly Gads. I have to get over there with the scope and check the pond. Sometimes they are close to road, but often not, and the good pond is a quarter mile from the road. The bird of the year so far was my first warbler of the year. And my first Pine Warbler of the winter, finally. To see the bird, order some tacos from Rosie, and while waiting walk around the treed property behind adjacent Big Ern's B-B-Q, and be sure to check the permanent wet spotlet from the ice vending machine drain. There were a couple Titmouse, a couple Chickadee, a Kinglet (Ruby), and the Pine Warbler. Made my day.

Jan. 6 ~ Another freeze, 5th morn in a row. I saw 32 at 7 a.m. before the final dip. Some WU stations and KERV had 30 or 31F, we probably did too. Almost like a winter. I see the state climatologist at A & M said the avg. temps made this the warmest December in over 130 years in Texas. By 5-9dF. As our last several summers been. The temperature is rising. A dry front passed in the morning, winds blew hard for a bit, but low humidity and not cold, yet. Will be another hard freeze in the morn though.

Carolina Wren is kicking the singing up a notch in the mornings now. Actual territorial sessions of loud song. The Bewick's are singing more to, but not with the vim and vigor of the Caros yet. Cardinal too are making the first inklings of some song noises. In butterflies I saw that Buckeye again, 3rd morn in a row. Also saw an Orange Sulphur butterfly. Species number 11 for the new year. Amazing and a testament to how mild it has been overall.

Jan. 5 ~ Looked like another 29F low this morn. NOAA had KERV for 37, and WU had us for 39F! I saw 35 at midnight so knew it was going to be way off then. Four days straight with a freeze, two of them long and hard ones. The Lantana and Eupatorium are purpling up real good. Weird the Frostweed did not blowout stems with ribbon ice on the 16F morn. It was the first one really cold enough to do that, and it did not happen. There must not be enough moisture content in the stems and ground. It got up to 78-80F locally today! For some 50 dF diurnals. There were some butterflies out. It must have been the same Buckeye that flew by yesterday. Different and new for the year were a Variegated Fritillary and a female So. Dogface. Now at ten species. Not much for bird action though. Saw some feathers indicating there is one less White-winged Dove out there, and a fat happy accipiter.

Jan. 4 ~ A barely freeze, on my sleepy glance during daily dawn seed toss it looked below 30F. That 64F in the afternoon sure felt great! Saw a couple good butterflies, a Buckeye, and a Texan Crescent. Nothing out there to eat or mate with now. The Texan Crescent was clearly mint-fresh. Also a couple old Sleepy Orange, the Dainty Sulphur, and a Gulf Frit are all leftovers. Birds were the same gang. A few blackbirds in corral late were Red-winged. Kathy saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk, I saw a Cooper's. We both immediately invoked the two bird theory. Sure a lot less Cardinal around than last year. Less than half as many.

Jan. 3 ~ Well this is some chilly Arctic air. I saw 16F on the front porch. KERV had a 18F. We are in the lower bottom half of the valleylet here, where the cold air sinks to and pools. It is very near record cold for the date. Within a dF or two. Got up to about 55F in the later afternoon, felt great. Fairly dead out there for birds. Saw a Golden-fronted Woodpecker still hanging upside-down picking some Pecans off. Seemed 5 Am. Goldfinch and a few House Finch coming in. Both Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks making far too regular visits. They are lightning fast when making an attack.

Jan. 2 ~ OMG again! I saw 25F at 7 a.m. before the final dip, KERV pulled a 22F. The winds were 15-25 mph from midnight gusting 25-35 mph! The chill factor at dawn was in the single digits! It was over 80F yesterday afternoon! It will never cease to amaze me how in winter I have to have sandals and thermal long johns, handy. If you need anything, you can find me inside. Some extra pounds of seed rations today. Wind finally got below 15 mph about 3 p.m., it might have hit 48F for a moment, but didn't feel like it. No wind tonight means very cold tomorrow morning. Saw two Robin, at least one of which took ripe Pepper Vine berries. Saw 5 or 6 Am. Goldfinch, a few House Finch. One Red-winged Blackbird came down to the seed under the Mulberry slummin' with the Chippies.

January 1 ~ OMG! At midnight as the new year began it was 70F! Incredible. A cold front is inbound this evening with a freeze tomorrow morning. So the big pre-frontal warmup is today. I saw 81F on the shady front porch, local WU stations were showing 80-84F which is very near record heat. Front started arriving in evening, winds out of north by 8 p.m. and at midnight it was freezing with lower chill factors.

Cooper's Hawk showing well, so nothing else is. Six butterfly sps. out: a Dainty Sulphur, a Little Yellow, 2 Sleepy orange, a Gulf Fritillary, a Queen, and a mint fresh Comm. Checkered-Skipper. Nice jump start right out of the gate on the new butterfly year list. Last year I only had 5 sps. in each Jan., and February. Six of 18 prior Januarys I only saw 4 to 6 species of butterflies here. But it is a dataset whence if you had a big number, that means you have a big problem.

An Anole was hunting the Basil flowers on the table on front porch. When they make a flying jump after a butterfly on a flower they can be faster than your eye can clearly follow. They can jump-dive-fly 6-8" or more in a very small fraction of a second. Maybe a tenth of a second. Anyway, I caught it. Showed it to Kathy so she could ID the guilty party. Asked 'em if it was the one that ate my NCR Teleus Longtail. It wouldn't answer. I know a guilty lizard when I see one. It was released on its own recognizance, with a stern warning, and is now on probation. I was going to dig out my old biology textbook and show it the picture of the lizard being dissected.... if you eat one more New County Record...

This is not a current photo.

These are blackbirds. The two on left with bright eyes are adult male
Brewer's. The front right bird is a female Brewer's. Note how the males
can appear black or iridesce oily green and purple, pending light angle.
The other three in center are winter Red-winged Blackbird. The one facing
us is an adult male, the one facing right maybe second winter male,
and the one facing away probably first winter male. The black
scapulars often hide the red shoulders, save a small bit.

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~ ~ ~ above is 2022 ~ ~ ~

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Bird News Archive XXXVII
January 1, 2022 - June 30, 2022

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July 1, 2021 - Dec. 31, 2021

Bird News Archive XXXV
January 1, 2021 - June 30, 2021

Bird News Archive XXXIV
July 1, 2020 - Dec. 31, 2020

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January 1, 2020 - June 30, 2020

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July 1, 2019 - Dec. 31, 2019

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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

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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

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Go, look, see, take notes and pictures, boldly nature nerd where no one has before. Few things rival the thrill of discovery. Besides having fun and learning, you will probably see some things people won't believe without photos.  ;)
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