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.
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2022

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 ~ ~ ~



~ ~ ~ June summary ~ ~ ~

We had just over 1.5" of rain, less than half average, D4 exceptional drought continues. The river is way way down, nearly 4' below spillway overflow at park pond. River is too low of flow to swim in. Wells are going dry. There was no late spring flower bloom either, very little is blooming.

Butterflies were fairly vanila. Numbers of most things remain very reduced, especially the small stuff is scarce. Everything is way dialed back. Did see one Fatal Metalmark, a Mournful Duskywing, a Tawny Emperor or two, but nothing unusual. A couple days there were fair numbers of Large Orange Sulphur passing by, and on a few days there were several to many dozens of Lyside Sulphur. Looks about 34 species total, makes for a bad June.

Odes picked up a bit, but are really reduced in the drought. The numbers are a fraction of normal. I think in drought times when water is much reduced predation on larvae goes up as fish become more concentrated. Amongst many factors. Still a few Orange-striped Threadtail at Utopia Park, Orange Bluet there also. Single Thornbush Dasher and Halloween Pennnant were at the Waresville golf course pond. A few Widow Skimmer, some Banded and one Red-tailed Pennant , but very low numbers of the most common things. I count about 18 species of odes total, a very weak showing. Maybe 5 of the sps. were Zygops (damselflies).

Birds were about a bunch of baby birds, and one super mega rary, a LIMPKIN. Likely my bird of the year, and surely one of the most bizzare things I have ever found here. Kathy and I heard it calling for nearly 10 minutes over at the river, from the house at dawn on June 16. A search that evening along river and the next day and beyond at the park turned up nothing. Two other good birds of note. Best was a continuing pair of Couch's Kingbird from April into June. They may well be nesting. The other was a heard Verdin at the P.O. June 24, which continues on July 1. Most of the baby bird clutches I saw were two birds max. It has not been a particularly productive reproductive cycle this year. Or last. For the month, I saw about 73 species, Larry saw a couple more. But a Limpkin so it was fantastic!

~ ~ ~ end June summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ June update header copy ~ ~ ~

June ~ A continuing pair of Couch's Kingbirds through the 10th so far, a couple miles south of town, present since late April, might well be nesting locally. An inch in an hour (rain) late on the 3rd was great, and a bit more pre-dawn on the 4th. Then a second so far this season (since middle two weeks of May), record or near-record heat wave began. June 10 there was a Black Witch (moth) in town. June 13 saw lots of Saharan dust. A LIMPKIN calling for 10 min. at dawn, south of town a couple miles on June 16, is spectacular, the furthest west record was one in Travis County. There are not 10 state records. About the 21st, one was photo'd near Amarillo! Weather tip: if you are headed out this way nowadays, be prepared to bake. Around a half-inch of rain on the 27th was a rarity here lately. A Verdin was at the post office June 24 and July 1, on north side.

~ ~ ~ end June update header copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

June 30 ~ Wow, there goes another one. Low was about 71F, nice. Prepare for heat. One down, two to go for climatological summer. I bet we lost a whole minute of daylight in the last week. Heard a, or the, Black-and-white Warbler singing early, sounded like that 1st summer male that nested and raised young very nearby. Mid-day Kathy saw a female or imm. at the birdbath. One of the male Indigo Bunting seems quite fond of flight song as it departs from feeding here. Saw a couple Reakirt's Blue butterflies coming into water, some Snout and Lyside. One Dot-winged Baskettail dragonfly.

June 29 ~ A low of 68F was thrilling. A wee bit of that cold front washout air. We'll take it. It was nice while it lasted. Got up to upper 90's again, so back to the above average heat. Climate forecast is continued hotter and dryer than average. Lots of birds singing, they seemed to like the cool and rain, almost as much as we do. They were the same gang mostly, but yesterday's Hutton's Vireo was still singing nearby. Lots of begging baby buntings, Painted, dull greenies. Great Crested Flycatcher was out there early. Ash-throated later. Vermilion Flyc. still doing display flights so still nesting. Heard a Gnatcatcher go through. Forgot to mention a few days ago Kathy found a dead Reduviad, or Blood-sucking Conenose - the Chaga's carrier, in the house. Likely a spider or scorpion victim? Common Nighthawk and Chuck-will's-widow both still going at dusk.

June 28 ~ Low about 71F, and wet ground. Weewow! And the birds were singing. You can see greeness to the yard that was not there yesterday. Literally overnight. And no dust. But the male Cardinal are sure getting dull. Yellow-throated Vireo may be nesting over in corral, it is still visiting almost daily in the mornings mostly. Kathy saw the adult male Orchard Oriole in the bath again today! I got a quick glimpse before it left. The male Vermilion Flycatcher was in the front yard, it is the best red. Yellow-throated Warbler singing in the Pecans. Heard a Hutton's Vireo sing uphill behind us. It was a great break for it to be cooler today, about 88F at 3 p.m. is a treat here nowadays. A couple hours later a rain cell popped up to our east and there was thunder, maybe Seco Creek or eastward got some rain, we just had some spits and a nice cooling outflow which dropped us to 74F! So we beat peak heat again, two whole days in a row. It is the little victories sometimes. Heard Common Nighthawk calling and booming a few times. A couple Chucks are still going off at last sliver of light.

June 27 ~ A low of 71F felt great. Must be that cold front. I see 3 juv. Brown-headed Cowbird now, none ever begged or was attended by our breeders so far this breeding season here. These young are from further afield than our immediate vicinity breeding birds. I heard an Orchard Oriole singing in the big Pecan, but it was not singing like the first-summer male we have around that is with a female. An hour later Kathy sees an adult male Orchard Orio in the birdbath! I saw a Celia's Roadside-Skipper on the Blue Mistflower. Its bloom is fading, I think the 100F daily temps are too much for it. Heard that kip note call again, either a Kingbird (Couch's) or a Scissor-tail.

Just before 4 p.m. I saw 101F on the cool shady front porch! Hot air being sucked up in front of the inbound rain cells. By 4:15 we were getting a shower and it was dropping just below 90F. It must be that cold front. By 4:30 some local WU stations where rain were showing lower 70's F, and we had 74F! Looks like maybe just over a HALF-inch of the precious holy wet stuff so far. The first-summer Hooded Oriole gave a long bout of song in the rain right out office window (where his favorite feeder). Must have been its first bath in a while. About 6 p.m. the last of this bout of rain moved off. Looked 1.7 cm, or about five-eighths of an inch. Little over a half-inch of pure awesomeness. We had an inch early in month, almost four weeks ago.

June 26 ~ Low about 73F and some low Gulf clouds, to thwart any planetary alignment view seekers. Another begging juvie Painted Bunting, still unable to eat, only knows how to beg yet so far. Sure great to see all these begging babies. Kathy keeps seeing a juvenile Ladder-backed Woodpecker at the birdbath. Late in day there was a Gnatcatcher in yard. It must have been a hun in the sun, was mighty toasty out there.

Before it got too hot, about 11-12 noon we went over to the pond on the golf course by the Waresville Cmty. to have a look for dragonflies before June is done. There were a very few, incredibly few, it was astounding how few. It should be covered in them, there is nothing out flying over the water, and hardly anything along the edges. We saw a few Banded and one FOY Halloween Pennant, and one FOY Thornbush Dasher. A female Red Saddlebags, a male Eastern Pondhawk, and no damselflies (!?!). One tiny blue flowered thing was blooming, I am not sure what it is, the bushes are big, flowers tiny, might be Bluehearts. The miniscule flower must have a drop of nectar though as it had all the bees and most of the butterflies. One Reakirt's Blue, one Gray Harstreak, five Funereal Duskywing, 10 Snout, 25 Lyside Sulphur, a couple Queen and a Pipevine, and on some Frog-fruit was one Sachem.

The three male Purple Martin were still around the nest box, with what appeared some juveniles. At times some landed in the top of a short Hackberry at the edge of the pond. I never see them sitting in trees here. Some Barn Swallow included some juveniles, and the Red-winged Blackbirds are still nesting, and with juveniles. Bell's Vireo singing along 363, Waresville Rd., just west of 187 as usual. Only Vermilion Flycatcher we saw was one juvenile on a green. No Scissor-tails, usually a couple pair, at least, there.

The 360 crossing had some blooming Alamo Vine, a native morning glory family species. No Rubyspot damselflies still is amazing. No damsels period. One Banded Pennant, one Blue Dasher up by the drying Water Lillies, and one dragon got away. Singing birds were Yellow-throated Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, and Yellow-throated Vireo. Saw one blooming stalk of Venus' Looking Glass, a few Sneezeweed flowers, and the Dodder wiped out the Justicia.

June 25 ~ Low 73F, no clouds, go straight to sun. All the same stuff here. Lots of babies of everything being fed. Saw a Chickadee following a parent today. Saw an Ash-throated Flycatcher ride a juvenile House Finch to the ground. What tyrants. Saw a couple different butterflies. A Mournful Duskywing was great, a Funereal was also around, and a Dun Skipper was good since have not been seeing any. Probably the same as before Texas Powdered-Skipper was here too. Couple dozen each Lyside Sulphur and Snout, a few Queen. In the afternoon I heard a kip note that was either Scissor-tailed Flycatcher or Couch's Kingbird, heard it a few times across the road. I heard it a few days ago as well over in corral.

<"coot"

This is a Coot, taken at Utopia Park March 24, 2018.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 24 ~ Low about 73F, clear, should have woken to see the planetary alignment but slept through it. I like them better when in the evening. Here it seemed the same gang. Town run so a park check. Lots of exposed dying aquatic vegetation has a nice scent. Two begging juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk still around. One seemed to be eating a crayfish. Up by the former island an ad. fem. Black-and-white Warbler was foraging on the mats of dying aquatic veg where flies and bugs. Above the island at top of park were a few dragonflies. A pair of ovipositing Orange-striped Threadtail are always good to see. One male Widow Skimmer, an Eastern Pondhawk and two Blue Dasher, plus a FOY Leaftail, which looked a Four-striped to me. There is a rodeo this weekend so the park and town will be a bit of a zoo methinks. The water is amazingly low. Most of the river is likely subterranean. Pretty near four feet below spillway, so not safe really to swim in. Except for tourists.  ;)   More reports of wells going dry in the valley. At the afternoon seed toss I saw a chilly 98F on the cool shady front porch about 4:30 p.m., so over a hun in the sun. I would say about five of last six weeks, daily highs have been about 100F or within a couple dF. Adding on: I heard a Verdin at the Post Office, just gave a few calls, but since I did not go run it down I did not write it down, but saw it July 1, so noting first heard date...

June 23 ~ A 70F low is delightful. No Gulf clouds so we had good radiational cooling, but then, it is straight to the sun. I see two different first-summer male Hooded Oriole here now. One is more orange. Saw a female and at least one juvenile as well. Interesting how they never came in while nesting but as soon as the young fledged, here they are. Still hearing the Orchard Oriole singing, so they are still going. The Vermilion Flycacher is around but not in yard a lot. It got so used to being chased out by the Eastern Phoebe for years, the Phoebes died months ago, before spring, and it is still hesitant about the yard. As if it expects one to come bolting out after it at any time. Saw a juvie Painted Bunting chasing after an adult male a couple times. The males might pay attention to the juvies a day or few at most after fledging. Kathy saw a Mockingbird at the birdbath, first one around in a month or so.

June 22 ~ Low about 74F, some Gulf stratus so humid. Great to see all the baby birds considering the conditions. Today a couple Field Sparrow were begging, a much buzzier more insect-like beg note than a Chipping Sparrow. Another common cowbird victim too, so nice not to see any of that. I have seen a couple juvenile Painted Bunting around. Still no young Indigo yet though. The cowbirds are starting to post-breeding flock up. We had about double the number we have been having. They will depart in a couple or few weeks. Can't wait. Saw a Julia's Skipper on the Blue Mist Eup., first one this month.

June 21 ~ Happy Solstice! We made it. The sun is at its furthest north. Daylight is a full second longer than yesterday. It is a big hump to get over when you live in the heat. Earlier sundown means sooner cooler. We also have a major planetary alignment eastward an hour before dawn, five of 'em lined up, if you can see Mercury on the horizon. Remarkable since they are in the order of orbits. Mercury, Venus, then Mars, Jupiter, and way to the right Saturn. Some days the moon will even be in between Venus and Mars.

Low was 72F, which is great at this point. Did not see anything different, it seemed the same set of birds from my angle. Heard the Orchard Oriole singing, juvenile Summer Tanager (two) and juv. Black-and-white Warbler begging. Saw two juvenile Bluebird chasing adults for food, so they got a couple more young out in a second nesting this year. Always great to see. Heard Nighthawk at dusk, so at least one pair stuck to nest here this year, I think on the 1500' knoll just north of us a bit.

June 20 ~ A nice 71F low felt great. Also great was the Black-and-white Warbler singing in the big Pecan before sunrise. I hear a baby begging out there too. Hear a begging juvie Summer Tanager at sunrise as well. Juv. and first-summer male Hooded Oriole also out there. Lots of juvie House Finch and Lark Sparrow, and the hummer feeders are being flooded with another wave of juveniles as well. Saw a Dot-winged Baskettail dragonfly uphill on the slope behind us. One Northern Cloudywing butterfly was new for the month. The cool shady front porch was 95F from 3-6 p.m., a bit toasty. Almost forgot, there was a Gnatcatcher out there first thing at daybreak. Heard a Cicada after dark, which reminds me I forgot to write one down doing the same a few days ago. Still have not heard a Katydid. The Firefly show was a bust this year. Hope they come back next year.

June 19 ~ About 74F for a low, clouds, but which held heat in since they were here hours before dawn. We are at baby bird prime time now. I heard at least one begging juvenile Summer Tanager over north fence towards the draw. And did not see the pair around yard much today, so suspect they are over there attending it. Great no cowbird juv., since a common victim. Nesting success in the yard! A few times I had to walk 150 feet out to the wellhouse and the male would be following right overhead in the Pecans calling at me, pick-up, or pick-it-up, ushering me on out of his area. All the way out, and back. At last light the begging baby was in the yard. Saw the first-summer male Hooded Oriole hitting a feeder a few times. Later afternoon saw a juvenile chasing it begging. So, it nested nearish and the two juvies I saw are likely its young.

The first-summer male Black-and-white Warbler was around a couple times including at the bath twice today. Throat is still with much white but auriculars are black. Then at last light a begging Black-and-white was being fed in the north Pecan in yard! It looked to me there were two young as it was three together in a Hackberry out front. I saw it feed one young, the other bird flew over begging trying to get in on it, which if the other adult, it would not do. So, it was not just trolling, it was mated and fledged young here! I was not hearing it every day, so it wasn't right over the fence, but it was very close as evey couple or few days it was in yard for the last 5 or 6 weeks. Very cool. Late afternoon saw 94F on the cool shady front porch. A FOY butterfly is always good, so a Fatal Metalmark is exciting despite being rather dull and brown. A Gnatcatcher was about the Pecans at sundown.

June 18 ~ Low about 73F, just an hour or two of low stratus from the Gulf. It all looked and sounded the same out there. Except the biggest best Lanata got topped by a deer. And a fairly guilty looking doe, that just dropped a fawn. Anything watered, they are eating. I will be putting some more fencing around the front porch and flower beds. Vultures are circling down the road a piece, right where I hit that pig on the way back from the park at dark last night. Was glad for the tubular steel grill guard - Hill Country ready they call it here.

Saw another Texas Powdered-Skipper, third at least, maybe fourth this month. In the afternoon I heard a bunch of things scolding outside, primarily the Bewick's Wrens, but couldn't find anything. An hour later still going, was looking around, a bluebird had joined in, Carolina Wrens, and an adult Red-shouldered Hawk flew out of a Pecan on north side of house. The Pecan with Bewick's Wren using a nestbox. The 1st summer male Orchard Oriole blurted out a bar of song right when the hawk bolted, then some chattered chucks. So it had joined the scold too. They are nesting very close by. Like the Summer Tanager in the yard, I try to stay away from the trees they are in so as to not disturb them.

<"matingmoths"

Kathy took this pic of a pair of mating moths.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 17 ~ A low of 70F was thrilling. Must have been radiational cooling last night. It used to be the usual low in the late 1980's here, heck it would be 68F at Lost Maples. Besides the birds it was the 2nd reason Kathy and I used to come camping out here back then. LOL No screaming Limpkin this morn. I will be up at park in a few hours. Larry is there early, so maybe he will see it. Best place around for one, as Purple Galinule and Anhinga records indicate. There was a juvenile Black-and-white Warbler at the birdbath early, first time, you could tell. Same for the juv. Chipping Sparrow there too. Kathy saw an Oriole on the front hummer feeder that did not look like the lanky long-tailed Hooded that has been on the back feeder.

Town run so a park look. Water is THREE FEET below the spillway! So maybe 3' of water left out in the pond? The island is not anymore, lillies are baking in the mud. The big annual Fourth of July fireworks show has been cancelled. The county burn ban is back in effect. Saw two new FOY odes, a couple Banded Pennant, and an Orange Bluet. One Orange-striped Threadtail and a Blue-ringed Dancer were seen as well. One juv. Great Crested Flycatcher was across the river flycatching. Always great to see one of those.

I heard one loud squawk of a sort I did not recognize that may well have been the Limpkin. It was across the river and inaccessible, in the big willow patch above spillway. It only called once, so I can't claim it, but I do not know what else might have made the noise. Maybe I can get back up there at dusk.

Gas was $5 per gallon in town! Between the lack of water and price of gas there are no tourists, or barely so, compared to normal. Next canyon over westward is the Frio River, which moves more than twice the water that the Sabinal River does and gets five times the tourists. At Concan which is a rental town for the tourists, they are in severe water restrictions. As in none between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.! No lawn watering, car washing, etc. Five of their eight wells are dry, and they turn off the water system at night now. Unbelieveable! Our place here is on a deepwater well, so we're fine but lots of surface water wells locally are going dry too. It will take that great Texas drought buster, the hurricane, to fix this.

Later afternoon I saw two juvenile Hooded Oriole in the big pecan, looking like they were headed for the feeders. That would be great. I went back to park at dusk, but saw heard nothing in the way of screaming wailers. The Chimney Swift show however remains spectacular at dusk. After sundown. The swallows and martins come in for last drink at last sun. The swifts wait for it to go down. There were 20 or so, at least, hitting the water, I was out on the dry spillway and they were often blazing by at a few feet distance. You could hear their wings, and they were mostly adults, all in heavy secondary molt. It is quite the experience to have them at point blank for 20 minutes. Whaddabird!

June 16 ~ About 75F for a low again, and not much for morning low clouds. A great start to the day though. After the seed toss and birdbath refill and refresh, before 7 a.m. sitting at front porch station waiting for coffee, a LIMPKIN broke out into wailing, screaming its cries for 10 minutes at least. Nearest record is Travis Co., and then Brazos Bend S.P. over near the coast I think where a few have been for a while. They only first occurred in Texas maybe two years ago. This has long been a FL only specialty species, which is a Apple Snail specialist. They are in a major expansion with recent records in OK, MO, KS, TN, AR, and near Houston, I think nesting in LA, and a few other states in SE have been getting them. Currently this would be the westmost record in the U.S. So, a spectacular occurrence here. No big snails here, so not likely to stick long. Now if I could just get it up at the park for that list. Can't say I ever expected to get this as a yard bird!

Second thing early, Kathy had an oriole bigger than Orchard on the back hummer feeder. A bit later we heard a Hooded call out back, so surely that was it. Then I saw it later, it is a first summer male Hooded Oriole. Nice since we have not had any around this spring as usual. I heard a Hutton's Vireo singing over in the Mesquites (!) across the road. In butterflies other than the common stuff, Kathy saw a Questionmark and I saw a Tawny Emperor. At dusk I went over to the river and walked a half-mile up it, to no avail. I can't believe how low, and how low of flow, it is. On the water surface it appears nearly stagnant, though I know some water is moving below surface. It is not much, maybe 5 gallons per minute? I did see some Cynanchum just about to open its tiny flowers. Some Buttonbush is also in bloom.

June 15 ~ Low about 74F, with Gulf low stratus, so a break. We made it to 10:30 before we hit 80F. A big win here lately. Kathy spotted the female Orchard Oriole at the bath. First time I got a good study, it is a very worn first summer female. The male is a first summer too, so a good pair. I heard him yesterday singing over in the corral. Nice to see the female at the bath. Great to have them around! The male was singing a bit late afternoon again. Nesting very nearby. I heard a Red-eyed Vireo and Bell's Vireo in the corral, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo here in yard. Yellow-throated Warbler was in yard a couple times singing too.

The Summer Tanager pair hardly leaves yard. The best thing I saw today was watching the FEMALE Summer Tanager sing. It wasn't all great like the male, some was the same phrases though, somewhat subdued, and some was different gibberish song too. I have never seen a female sing before. Lots of female songbirds sing a little and fairly recently it has been discovered many more than thought. Most knew just of a few obvious ones like N. Cardinal. Always more new things to see, especially in behavior. Heard a Gnatcatcher late in day near dusk.

June 14 ~ Low about 73F, a wee bit of low stratus from the Gulf an hour or two maybe. And then back to sun. I just saw the long range GFS graph for June high temps in Texas. They show this heat dome from hell holding until the end of the month, about the 27th or so. Below the spillway at the park the Cypresses are turning rust, as if it is November. Some Sycamores are curling and browning leaves too. This is brutal on the environment here.

Late morn heard a chip that was certainly a Golden-cheeked Warbler over in the junipers along north fence. A juv. or two Ash-throated Flycatcher still tagging along with an adult through the front yard. Lots of juvie Lark Sparrow. Dang deer ate a bunch of the Red Turkscap. Anything we water they are eating just for moisture. I had to cage a Lantana and the Wooly Ironweed to keep them from being eaten. There are thousands more deer here than would be without hundreds of corn feeders. They are horribly over-populated, which then takes an additional toll on all the plants.

June 13 ~ Low about 74F, a couple better than yesterday. The high pressure kills the low stratus from the Gulf before it gets here in the mornings, so it is straight to the sun. The birds head straight for the seed and water. Heard a Black-and-white Warbler sing first thing. Still a female Bronzed Cowbird coming around a bit, and a couple males. Saw one juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird but it was not being attended or begging, so was from somewhere else and not from our local birds. It is very hazy today, which is Saharan dust again. It was noticeable a couple days a week or so ago but is thicker today.

June 12 ~ Low was 76F, which is usually a July-August heatwave low. I saw 99F on the cool shady front porch in the late afternoon. Local WU stations were showing 102-103F. Ten over norm. Once it gets past mid-90's, the humidity cooks out and it goes dry out there. It is still no fun. We have not been swimming yet this year. The river is a bit dicey when in low-flow mode, as now down here a couple miles south of town. It goes underground at the spillway at park, comes back up to surface a half mile or more south of there. So surely cleaned very well from the underground part. When so hot though it really gets warm, 75-80F, in slow moving spots. The fast moving areas are shallow of course, but likely safe. You just have to roll over to get both sides wet.

The birds were the same gang of seed and water users. One Red-winged Blackbird still visits. Bug supplies out there have to be very low. In butterflies saw a female Black Swallowtail, as well as a Giant or two, a few Large Orange Sulphur, the ratty Texas Powdered-Skipper was back on the Blue Mistflower, one Reakirt's Blue. Kathy got a pic of some mating moths on the stone walkway. Hear begging baby Black-chinned Hummingbird still. It was a cooker today, everything was panting and hitting the birdbath.

June 11 ~ Low about 73F, no low stratus, prepare to be baked. Birds were the same gang of breeders. Going to be fairly stagnant on that front for a while now. Save the new batches of babies as they appear. Heard begging baby hummingbirds today out front. Later afternoon there were 3 male Indigo Bunting at once on the seed out back, likely the three adjacent-to-yard territory holders. Love hearing that song all day, Blue Grosbeak too, but they stay further from house for a territory.

In butterflies, saw a Texas Powdered-Skipper but which was not the one seen a few days ago. A couple Giant Swallowtail, several Large Orange Sulphur, appropriate for the heat was a FOY Desert Checkered-Skipper, lots of Lyside Sulphur going by, a few Gulf Fritillary, couple Sleepy Orange, a Reakirt's Blue, a Southern Broken-Dash, several Queen on the Blue Mistflower Eupatorium.

Local temps were 102F at KERV, 104 at Uvalde, 105 at Hondo, and 106 at Junction and Del Rio. We had 99F on the cool shady front porch, the local WU stations were reporting 101-102F mostly. Ten F over average and normal. The Chucks are already quieting down, nowhere near as vocal as a few weeks ago. They will go silent in about a month.

Filling in with some older photos...
<"DottedRoadsideSkipper"

Dotted Roadside-Skipper, June 28, 2009.


<"GhostMoth"

One of the Ghost Moths methinks.


<"ScottsOriole"

Male Scott's Oriole


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 10 ~ Low was 74-75F, no low stratus early, some got here about 9:30 or so finally. Lots of baby Lark Sparrow, and several juvie Cardinal. Great to see a bunch with no juvie cowbirds. Both are common victims, so far we are doing great on that count. Kathy saw a juvenile Chat. Little Creek Larry reported one last week. So first week of June for first young out for them here. Town run and park check. Little Creek Larry said he had 4 Zone-tailed Hawk together, which must be a pair with two fledged young. Not often seen. Also great was Rosie being there, so, tacos!

At the park a Red-eyed Vireo continues trolling in woods at north end, and I heard presumably the pair of Common Grackle around the island area. Best were a few FOY odes flying. A few Checkered Setwing, several Blue Dasher, one Red-tailed Pennant, and a Violet Dancer. All were FOY sightings. Also both Red, and Black, Saddlebags were seen. Best though was at the Boyce's place, sure glad I stopped to see Kathryn today. There was a BLACK WITCH (moth) flopping around her back patio, that landed on the cedar wood wall. We had great close looks. They are LTA - less than annual here, and I have not seen one in a few years. Always a great sighting this far from the coast where they are semi-regular.

Back here at the hovelita after the tacos, about 2 p.m. I heard the Couch's Kingbird calling from the Pecan. About 6 p.m. the Orchard Oriole was singing in the Pecans out front. Saw 96F on cool shady front porch, had to be a hun in the sun. At last sun a couple Common Nighthawk were lazily floating over the driveway in perfect light. They must have stuck to nest this year. Also late a Gnatcatcher went through yard. Litte Creek Larry also mentioned he has not been hearing his Screech-Owl pair lately, for months, and is wondering what happened. They have been there for years.

Did leave the porch light on a few hours after dark and there was a bit of a moth response. Most were micros, and nothing unusual to my eye, but some response at all is great to see. It was more than 50 or 60 individuals, but mostly micros. Ten of a neat satiny white one. I have a new step-ladder that will make taking photos up at the light easier.

June 9 ~ Some low Gulf stratus got here right as the sun was coming up. Low about 72F. No changes on the ten day currently, highs up to low hundreds and no rain. Sat.- Mon. looking to be peak heat. The (first-summer) Orchard Oriole singing here at sunup in the trees along the fence between us and corral. It is nesting in there somewhere. Only a couple female Cowbirds left here, what a shame.

A Chat was at the tubpond early in the morn. Opposite side of house of the birdbath, and likely the Chat from over in the corral, not the ones in the draw or across the road. At least three pair are around us. Yes it is noisy and there are all kinds of sounds. Yesterday I heard one sounding like it was trying to imitate a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher call. It sounded like a nuclear radiated steroidial Gnatcatcher. I have never heard the sound before. After years of living with them all spring and summer. Surely then they are continuing their vocal education. Is mimicry involved? Do they get ideas from other species?

June 8 ~ Low about 71F, and just a little bit of low stratus from the Gulf, mostly sunny. Was 98F at 5 p.m., when the Couch's Kingbird was again up in the big Pecan calling. Just one, I think the female is probably on eggs now. We must be on his trap line. Fine by me. In butterflies Kathy saw a Snout, I saw Giant Swallowtail and Little Yellow, at the same time, providing a good size contrast in butterflies. There was a Texas Spiny Lizard out back, which I am sure is new for the yard list. Like Greater Earless Lizard, I have seen it nearby, but not in yard. Many birds are hitting the birdbath hard all day. We have to refill it and the pin-holed dripping milkjug over it two or three times daily. Water is critical for birds in this heat folks. Keep your birdbath water clean. Right after the dawn seed toss, I have to rinse the mud out of ours every morning due to coon and dillo. So it starts clean and fresh.

June 7 ~ At least we are getting down to 72F for a low so a brief respite from the burn anyway. A bit of morning low clouds. In the morn heard a, probably the, Black-and-white Warbler sing upslope in the live-oaks out back. Seems an unmated first-summer male, been around off and on for a month now trolling the area, hear it every few days. The first-summer male Orchard Oriole was singing quite a bit mid-morn, a 15 minute bout was great. Saw a FOY Texas Powdered-Skipper on the Blue Mistflower. About 3 p.m. saw 92F on the cool shady front porch, and a Couch's Kingbird was calling from the big Pecan. When I freshened up the birdbath late afternoon I lifted it to spill the morning water out, a W. Ribbonsnake was under it. I am afraid of finding my first Copperhead here that way.

At 7 p.m. it was 99F on the front porch! Junction, Hondo, and Uvalde all hit 105F, but Del Rio was cooler than yesterday's 110. Pretty sure SAT broke their daily high temp record. Again we are running 5-10dF over average for highs. Seeming like 10 years in a row now in summer, maybe 12 or 14 years in a row. Highs in high 90's F instead of low 90's F that it was a couple decades ago and prior. Desertification. Note the dessication.

June 6 ~ Maybe 72F for a low, we'll take it. Today is supposed to be peak heat of this wave, in low huns today and tomorrow. At or near the high temp records area wide. But when it is set to be around a hun for the next 10 days, a dF or two this way or that hardly matters. We saw 98F in the cool shady, so over a hun in the sun. Some local stations showed 101-2F. What was singing most out in that? Summer Tanager. A few things made noises but even the never stops talking Chats were nearly quiet. I heard the Orchard Oriole sing one bar, Kathy saw it at the bath. They must be nesting over in the corral somewhere. Close enough to be using the bath regularly. Last couple times he was alone so I think the female is on eggs now. Hope they are hers. Heard Cuckoo, Lark Sparrow, and Indigo Bunting sang a little. In butterflies the Southern Broken-Dash and Orange Skipperling were on the Blue Mist Eup. again. But holy heat, SAT was 104F, Hondo and Uvalde had 105F, Junction had a 107F, and Del Rio 110F! Latest afternoon a Red-eyed Vireo sang from the far Pecans out in front yard.

June 5 ~ A low of 68F was great! Let the burn begin. Heard the cuckoo (Y-b) out there this morn, so they are nesting around somewhere closeby again. Summer Tanager must be nesting in the yard, this is where it is at dawn and dark. Heard a Black-and-white Warbler uphill in the live-oaks behind us. Otherwise the same gang. Lots of baby Lark Sparrow and House Finch are good to see. About 96F in the shade at 4 p.m. is toasty, prolly a hun in the sun. Saw a FOY Orange Skipperling on the Blue Mistflower, and Kathy had a Questionmark nearing dusk.

June 4 ~ I saw stars at midnight but overnight there was more rain, mostly pre-dawn. I think it was another third to half-inch or so. Rained pretty good from a band that moved over the area west to east. This northwest flow from the front to north has baffled the forecasters and models. It was a hair under 64F this morning! Astounding. So we hit the jackpot with another shot of water and cool air overnight. I would say 1.4" for an event total. And the birds were singing way more this morning. Clearly they were thrilled too. Incredible was at 3 p.m. we were still not 90F. What a treat to mostly beat the heat for a day. It was like a great late-spring day out there. Just the breeding birds here now of course, but at least a neat selection to be had and heard.

<"tropicalcheckeredskipper"

Tropical Checkered-Skipper, taken July 16, 2019.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

June 3 ~ Low 73F, no morning low stratus from the Gulf. A washed out frontal boundry was in the area, not sure any precip was nearer than Rocksprings. Low-end chances for rain as we start this next heat wave. Progged for near to above three digits for next 4-5 days with peak and possible record highs Mon. and Tuesday. Some of the cloud cover kept it in check today in lower mid-90's F. Saw a just fledged Cardinal, first one I have seen here this year.

Town run so a park check. Saw my first Sneezeweed flowers at the 360 x-ing. The Dodder (orange stringy parasitic plant) is ravaging the Justicia (Am. Water-willow) which seems to be its primary prey here. The water level is falling fast. It is 16" or more below the spillway now, the island is not, a couple feet of mud is exposed along the river banks, it is looking bad folks. Some Cypresses below the spillway are turning rust, done with the green cycle for the year already.

Did not see or hear the 2 juv. or the ad. pair of Red-shouldered Hawks, so presume they fledged their young and are out and about. Saw another just-fledged juvie Eastern Phoebe there. The juvie Ravens are still begging in the live-oaks north of the park. In dragonflies saw a couple each of Red Saddlebags and male Widow Skimmer, and one male Eastern Pondhawk over the pond. Nice hearing Chimney Swifts over town. Rosie was gone though, so no tacos. Little Creek Larry said he saw just-fledged Golden-cheeked Warbler juvies from the pair around his place.

Amazingly a lone thunder cell popped up after 5 p.m. just east of town. Nothing else within over 60 miles. Looks like it hit Little Creek, Seco Creek, then moved west over 187 and town, and even hit us. An astounding INCH of the precious holy fluid fell. Took 15F off the steamer we were in. Then the termite hatch began. So all the baby birds are going to get bugs! The ground is so dry the wet just dematerializes into it. No dust for a couple days! By 7 p.m. skies were blue, and there was no sign of it on the radar, it rained itself out.

June 2 ~ Low about 73F and balmy. Dawn chorus continues to dial back daily. Kathy found a Reduviad (Blood-sucking Conenose) in the house this morning, which I duly dispatched outside. I have it on good authority some dogs here have tested positive for Chaga's. We see one or two a year usually, mostly outside, only very rarely in the house. We have a zero tolerance policy for them here. I see the new drought monitor map today still has us at D4 exceptional stage. So the rain did not make a dent in that yet. That is how far behind we are. Heard a Couch's Kingbird calling from over on the powerline in the corral.

Saw an Ash-throated Flycatcher feed a young in yard, so they must have nested nearby somewhere. Maybe in that box faced the other way out at NE corner of yard that I cannot see the front of? Also saw a female Painted Bunting drop a fecal sac nearish the front porch. She is hunting frantically in yard for bugs. I cannot believe how long it takes her between finding things. There is next to nothing out there. Walk across the yard and nothing flushes for bugs, or spiders. No grasshoppers either, usually a big big food item for feeding young.

June 1 ~ OMG its June! About 73F and balmy to start. We are only gaining 40 seconds a day of daylight now, which decreases daily over the next three weeks until the solstice. So they won't get a whole lot longer, ten minutes maybe. In the morn I heard Gnatcatcher and Black-and-white Warbler in yard. In the afternoon I heard a or the Orchard Oriole sing again. Saw a just-fledged Lark Sparrow being fed. Always nice to see since a very common cowbird victim. There was a family group of N. Rough-winged Swallow (begging juvies) overhead briefly. Not hearing the juvie Red-tailed Hawk, it must have finally left. I saw a whopping three skippers on the Blue Mist Eupatorium today. The Celia's Roadside-Skipper and Southern Broken-Dash continue, new was a Fiery Skipper.

~ ~ ~ May summary ~ ~ ~

It was a weird one. We finally got some rain, two events totalling 3.5" plus, where we were anyway, others got more and less. Those were in the first and fourth weeks of May. It did not move us up out of D4 level exceptional drought. First month of near-average rainful in at least six. The second and third weeks of May much of Texas spent breaking daily high temp records. Wildflowers continue to be fairly to very supressed, much of what little does come up is severely stunted.

Butterflies saw a few new different species flying as expected in May, but overall they remain very depressed in numbers. Immigrants from elsewhere were the only things in quantity, primarily Lyside (hundreds) and Large Orange (dozens) Sulphurs started showing well late in month. Hardly any small stuff flying yet, still. End of the month saw my first Southern Broken-Dash and Celia's Roadside-Skipper. Total was 28 species, amongst the worst May diversity totals here in my 19 Mays of paying attention. Some folks did a butterfly count at Lost Maples and got a good one day diversity snapshot, in a rough year.

Odes finally showed a few signlets of activity, but are just barely getting going. Did see an Orange-striped Threadtail and a Widow Skimmer at end of month, but not very much moving yet. These drought periods seem very hard on dragons and damselflies. We keep having exceptional droughts without recovery periods between (also why we are losing so many trees). I count 10 species of odes in May, a woefully low diversity total.

Odds and ends were one neat Cerambycid (Longhorn Beetle) photographed, a Zopherus Ironclad Beetle was seen on front porch. An Eyed Elaterid was seen a few times. Lots of Six-lined Racerunner lizards out and about, and a couple Western Ribbonsnake.

Birds were ok for how little there was in the way of migrants. There is usually a nice last hurrah the 2nd or 3rd weeks of May, but which this year apparently melted on the way. Overall it was fairly dismal for migrants, but a few were seen. Some highlights were a Philadelphia Vireo in yard May 3, a N. PARAQUE in our yard May 13, on May 15 a (white) Little Blue Heron was at the park which was reported a few days prior, a male Mourning Warbler bathed in our birdbath May 16, a Cassin's Kingbird was here the 20th. Calling Empidonax are always nice, yard had an Alder Flycatcher the 21st, a Willow the 24th, and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher the 25th. Well illustrating when to look for their passage, late. The pair of Couch's Kingbirds from April 29-30 were here again May 22 and 31.

What is not there is always half of the big story. Only one Dickcissel briefly in the usual 354 nesting pasture. Missed Eastern and Western Kingbird, and Olive-sided Flycatcher. Scissor-tails seem to come in, count bugs, and move out. Nothing for the scarcer warblers after the late April Chestnut-sided. I missed both Rose-breasted and Black-headed Grosbeaks but heard others saw some. Lots of seemingly unmated trolling birds singing up and down river habitat corridor. Things are rough out there when D4 level drought. I count about 103 species I saw this month just around our place and town (no Lost Maples trip), and probably a half-dozen more were reported by others.

~ ~ ~ end May summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ archive copy May update header ~ ~ ~

May!?! ~ On the first I heard my FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo, finally. FOS for me here on the 2nd were a Baltimore Oriole, a Broad-winged Hawk, and a Swainson's Hawk. May 3 there was a FOS Philadelphia Vireo in our yard Pecans. May 4 a FOS Warbling Vireo was at the park, and a FOS Dickcissel off 354 just south of town. Astounding was 2" of RAIN in an hour late on the 4th. On the 5th was my FOS American Redstart (male) in yard. A female and an imm. male were there May 10 and 11. On the 6th there was a FOS Catbird at our birdbath, and a second Swainson's Thrush at the park. May 8 at the park I saw my FOS Mourning Warbler, and about 10 p.m. I saw my FOS Firefly finally. May 13 at 10:30 p.m. a N. PARAQUE belted out the office window for five minutes. May 15 we saw a Little Blue Heron (white) at the park, which had been reported earlier in week. May 16 a male Mourning Warbler bathed in our birdbath. Finally my FOS Scott's Oriole here this year, singing on May 17 and 18. May 20 my FOS Green Heron flew over the house, and right out front of our yard was a Cassin's Kingbird. May 21 a calling Alder Flycatcher was in the front yard. A late season cold front arriving the 22nd was a surprise. The pair of Couch's Kingbird were in our big Pecan again on the 22nd (first here April 29). My FOS Willow Flycatcher was in the yard May 24. Very rare was a RAIN overnight the 24-25th with a cold front! On the 25th a FOS Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was sneezing in the yard. Which as of the 31st is seeming the last new migrant of the spring.

~ ~ ~ end archive copy May update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

May 31 ~ Low of 73F, looks like we will burn our way out of May. Got past the big opening weekend of summer. We did not so much as peek our heads out to look and see how it was out there. Too much to do here. I think due to things like the economy, no water flow in the river, and the tragedy in Uvalde, it was a bit subdued and dialed back this year. Saw 92F in the cool shady in the afternoon. In leps saw five Queen at once on the Blue Mist Eupatorium, and again a Southern Broken-Dash and a Celia's Roadside-Skipper on it in the afternoon.

Same gang o'breeders here. But a great gang it is. Love hearing that Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting and Summer Tanager going off early. Add Chat, Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Painted Buntings, and Yellow-throated Warbler more distantly. Plus of course the residents like Cardinal, Chickadee (Caro), Titmouse (B-c), Caro and Bewick's Wren, Chipping and Field Sparrow, all are still going. Makes for a nice symphony even though reduced by the day now. Heard Orchard Oriole out there noonish. About 1 p.m. and again at 5 p.m., there were calling Couch's Kingbird in the big Pecan again! They are about five weeks in the area now presuming the same pair. Settle down and nest already!

The adult pair of Carolina Wren are gathering material for another nesting, in a different spot. The young are out in a back corner of the yard, maybe the adults are still helping them a bit. The young made it about 8-9 days before the parents started showing more interest in another nest, than them. It's a hard world out there. Go get 'em tigers! Now I wonder how long they will hang semi-together? Interesting was seeing a juvenile Eastern Phoebe in the yard today, first juvie this year for me. Sure is weird not having our nesting pair here over the bathroom window after nine years of that.

May 30 ~ Low about 72F or so, the low stratus from the Gulf made it for the morn. When those clouds, we are just hitting 80F at 11, which gives a few hours to get some things done before it is dripping out there. Without the clouds it is 90F by 11. Then it drops back below 90F about 8 p.m. Mmmmm toasty. It is just the breeding birds here now. They are nowhere near as vociferous as they were a month ago. Some are already duller too, like the male Cardinals. Wondering how many second cycles of nesting there will be. If we get some more rains soon, everything will go again right away. I heard baby Chickadee. Heard a or the Black-and-white Warbler out back upslope in the live-oaks noonish.

May 29 ~ Maybe 70F for a low, some low Gulf stratus giving a few hours of a break (sub-80F) in the mornings. The chances of seeing any more spring migrants are crashing like a rock by the hour now. Great to have all these Painted and Indigo Buntings, and Blue Grosbeaks around to keep yer color receptors and ears happy. I missed both Rose-breasted and Black-headed this spring, nary a big grosbeak. I heard of others locally seeing them. This pair of Summer Tanager must be nesting in the yard or adjacent. They are here all day. I do not like to press to find nests right when they are setting up as it can cause abandonment. Letting them think all those Pecans are theirs. Had biz work at desk so didn't get out. Didn't feel up to melting for some dragons in afternoon. Did see a FOY Celia's Roadside-Skipper on a Blue Mistflower (Eup.) flower. Saw a half-dozen Firefly after dark, the first instance of a handful so far, finally!

May 28 ~ Low about 72F, warmer than forecast. Some low Gulf stratus early. Upper 90's F in afternoon. And so the three plus month bake begins. Saw the ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird again, surely here because there is a female. Heard the Orchard Oriole singing early, love that song. The Summer Tanager pair might be setting up in the yard. Lots of Chats visit the bath over the day. Heard the Great Crested Flycatcher and a pair of Ash-throat are around. The usual singing White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, and Yellow-throated Warbler. Had biz work keeping me busy at desk. The 3 baby Caro Wrens made it a week now so far, doing well, starting to act like wrens. Saw my FOY Southern Broken-Dash, a skipper (butterfly), on one of the Blue Mistflower Eupatorium flowers. A few Queens stopping by daily for them of course.

<"cerambycid"

This is the Cerambycid (Longhorn) Beetle from a
couple weeks ago (May 21). Elytrimitatrix undata is
what it looks like to me. Based on Mike Quinn's
most excellent Cerambycids of Texas webpage.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 27 ~ Low about 65F, the last of the cool mornings for most of four months. Great Crested Flycatcher out there early, and a Bell's Vireo. The rest was the same. On way to town saw my FOY Widow Skimmer dragonfly (male), at the 360 crossing. Town run so a park look. I cannot believe how low the water is at the park. It is still dropping fast, the rain did nothing for that, we were too dry and behind. Now over a foot below the spillway at park, the island at north end (not park property) is no longer an island. I heard an Orchard Oriole and a Hutton's Vireo singing in the woods but that was it for anything besides the expected. Great was one of the orange hind-winged Underwing moths (Catocala sps.). They are smaller than the obscurus or the big red and pink ones, and more mottled or marbled of camo above. Rosie was there so tacos! In the afternoon here I saw 93F on the cool shady front porch, so over 95 in the sun. Let the summer blaze begin. Here it comes.

May 26 ~ A near-record low of 53F was great! Last of that until fall is my guess. The SAT record for the date is 52F, so we were right on the edge of it. KERV had a quick 49F reading pre-dawn! Got up to about 90F locally in the afternoon. The hummer feeders were swarmed at first crack of light. Second wave of just-fledged juvies is out and they are thick. Two to three hundred here is my guess but maybe more. Did not see or hear anything different, as in a passage transient bird today. It is about time to turn the lights out, the spring migration party is over. A Gnatcatcher was in yard this morning again. Got a mosquito bite, that didn't take long. It has become obvious the male Cardinal are past peak red and really fading with wear now. Heard the Roadrunner cooing uphill of the corral. Saw a baby foot-long Western Ribbonsnake.

May 25 ~ Wow, a low of 57F is incredible! Post-frontal cool northerlies on this date is too. The record low at SAT this date is 54F, yesterdays is 58F, so we were near the line. The rain total here looks over 1.5, maybe 1.6-7" or so. Incredible. So 3.5-6" for May, near an average total, for the first month in 6 or more. Probably pushed us up out of D4 stage drought anyway for the present.

A couple interesting mammal reports have floated around locally. One is a Black Bear that was photo'd at a feeder by a game cam just below Clayton Grade, so 10-12 miles south of town. Other sightings have occurred above Vanderpool. It maybe sounds like more than one is around. Amazing. There was also a report of a Mountain Lion locally a few months ago. Incredible. Generally the only large mammals here are domestic sorts, except for the deer. And compared to some wild west Texas Mule Deer, these are half-domesticated.

In the afternoon a few birds were around. Best was a FOS Yellow-bellied Flycatcher which called a few times to make it even better. They are LTA - less than annual, so always a great find. The Orchard Oriole was singing loudly again, same first spring male. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was about. There were two different first-spring male Blue Grosbeak at once. At least two maybe three adult males hit the white millet daily. As well as several females. Great was TWO Firefly at dark. Second and third of the year here. Should have been hundreds already. Heard two Barking Frog after dark.

May 24 ~ Low about 70F, low clouds, still rain in forecast. A spit of mist. Some rain in area over day but not ours, the clouds kept it in lower 80's F. Last night just after midnight Chat and Cuckoo called. If it were a big day those would have been first two species. Before Chuck. In the morning there was finally a FOS Willow Flycatcher in the yard. Maybe I can still get an Olive-sided this spring. Otherwise it was the breeders. Dawn chorus is going at 6:15, you need to be out there by 6: at the latest to really get the full monty. The three juvie Carolina Wren have made day four fine so far. Hundreds of Lyside Sulphur are passing SW to NE generally. A cluster of thunder cells finally found us about 11 p.m., I think the whole area got some this time, finally.

May 23 ~ Low about 69F, heavy overcast, rain in forecast. There was some misty briefly. A group of rain cells moved across the area in the afternoon, missing us again of course. Some got rain, not here though. Only got up to about 80F or so, a real treat. Second day of reprieve from the heat. The birds were the same gang. But a boatload of batch No.2 of juvenlie Black-chinned Hummingbirds are swarming the feeders. Lots of 'em! Seems like near a ton or so now. Saw the 3 just fledged juvenile Carolina Wrens, so they all made day three so far, great to see. Heard a (or likely that same first-spring male) Black-and-white Warbler sing in the afternoon. Lots of Lyside Sulphur blasting past, one Funereal Duskywing, couple Queen, couple Large Orange Sulphur, a Vesta Crescent.

May 22 ~ A late season cold front arrived after the rain event last night. Much of the hill country and central Texas got some needed rains yesterday evening and overnight. We got nuthin' here but the cool air. Which after two weeks of record or near-record high temps is more than welcome. Low was 61F! NOAA said first below average temp all month. Late afternoon sun came out and it hit 85F. Which at 10-15dF below what it has been, is great! The two week heat event broke. Too bad a front like this didn't happen when there were still good numbers of migrants passing. We are at the last trickle of drips stage now. That two weeks of high pressure and record heat killed spring migration early here this year. The second and third weeks of May are usually still good, we get a front or two. They were a wash. Surely there is still a good passage bird or two out there, if you can find it.

As every year some Chimney Swifts were diving low over the chimneys here which are unfortunately sealed. A couple passes were within a few feet of me, it was pure awesome. There was a begging baby Lark Sparrow here today. Late in day counted 6 ad. male Painted Bunting at once, so with territories around the yard which is the designated semi-neutral area at center of the territorial pie they carve up. Couple male Indigo, at least, probably three, plus a couple ad. ma., at least, and one first-spring male Blue Grosbeak. All these seeders are on the white millet daily. Lots of greenie Painted, and some fem. Indigo too. If there were normal bug populations, they would not all be here as much as they are daily. In a good bug year they eat very little seed during nesting.

Yellow-throated Vireo and Great Crested Flycatcher trolling around. Best was about 6 p.m., the pair of Couch's Kingbird showed back up, in the big pecan. They were first here April 29. One was singing, sallied out and brought a bug back showing or offering it, it appeared as nest site selection behavior. Great to hear that song, not just the two usual calls. Kind of a short version of Scissor-tail song with a short series with some build up and a quick crescendo that is squeaky.

Lots of Lyside Sulphur going by, a Queen or two. Best was a Gray Hairstreak, which I think is my FOY. The first Blue Mist Eupatorium flowers are starting to open. Also saw a couple first Frogfruit flowers, little stunted ones. A few Am. Germander (aka Wood Sage but not a sage) stalks have some open flowers today as well. They are also stunted small due to lack of water too, and we give them a fair bit of supplemental water.

May 21 ~ Low was 73F, some thin low stratus staved the heat off a couple hours. Day 14 of the exceptional heat event in Texas, though yesterday we saw a bit of a reprieve. Today we pay. I saw 96F on cool shady front porch in late afternoon, so a hun in the sun. And humid. It's wonderful, come on down! Some days you are glad to have a bunch of biz work at the desk to do. I was stuck all day in it. Heard a thin zzzeet that sounded way off for a Yellow Warbler, but could not see anything. In the afternoon Kathy spotted an adult female Black-and-white Warbler at the bath. Not too early for one to be done nesting at this point, especially in a drought year when often only one brood for everything.

A couple times over the afternoon there were some good bouts of calling from a FOS Alder Flycatcher in the front yard pecans. Have not seen a Willow or an Olive-sided yet this spring. And no Eastern or Western Kingbird either, but a Cassin's and a pair of Couch's Kingbird. Just to make a liar out of me, as soon as I posted about not seeing any Ruby-throated Hummingbird for a week and thinking none stuck for nesting this year, a male was at the feeders today. I was not paying close enough attention obviously. There probably is at least one nest going on nearby.

Kathy spotted a Cerambycid beetle trapped between a screen and window. I had to unscrew the screen to get it out. Kathy got a pic so hopefully we'll get an ID out of it. Update: perusual of Mike Quinn's great Texas Cerambycids webpage has me thinking it was Elytrimitatrix undata. When I get pic off camera will post and confirm. About 6:30 p.m. we got an outflow boundry from a thundercell north of us promptly taking 10dF off the top. Hope some rain makes it here!

<"couchskingbird"

This is a Couch's Kingbird from a few
winters ago. The pair that we first saw in late
April came through our yard again this week.
I would say nest-site prospecting in the valley.
They nested at very SW corner of town in 2006.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

May 20 ~ Low of 72F, but some good coverage from the Gulf flow and low stratus it sends. Humid but not hot in early a.m. at least. A great FOS early was a Green Heron that flew over the yard. Have only seen one or two over yard, heard several more. The Lincoln's Sparrow is still here. A Black-and-white Warbler sang out the office window, likely an unmated troller. The 3 baby Carolina Wren made their first night out of the box fine, so a small army of bug hunters were in the flower beds. I heard what sounded a small group of Bushtit moving across the slope behind us, probably a family group would be my guess this time of year, seemed 5-6 birds.

As I was leaving for a town run, on the power line in front of house was a Cassin's Kingbird! LTA - less than annual, so a good bird to see. In town and at the park I saw no migrants, just breeders. There were baby Yellow-throated Warbler in the woods at park. Second week now Rosie is gone, so no real deal tacos. Water is 10-12 inches below the spillway, so way way down. In afternoon here there was a begging baby Blue-gray Gnatcatcher which must have just fledged very nearby. Heard the cuckoo. A rain cell dropped a hundredth or two on us mid-afternoon. Skies cleared later and it got up to 90F or so, but which is a break from what it has been anyway. About 7 p.m. I heard a Scott's Oriole sing real close, right behind house, I was out front. I suspect it had just left the back feeder. Which would be great, awesome bird to have around to watch and hear. What a song. Little Creek Larry said he had lots of fledglings, the same types as what we have been seeing, but add Lark Sparrow.

May 19 ~ Low at 70F again, some low stratus from the Gulf a few hours early. The Carolina Wren are feeding young in the garden nestbox out back. I think they used it before, and I think Bewick's used it once. The box is on a pole out in open airspace 10' off the ground. Nearest vegetation is about 8 feet away, as is carport. Kathy saw three young out of the nestbox late afternoon today.

There is some type of small biting fly here pushing the limit of bothersome. Only a few, but that is all it takes. Little bigger than a moth fly (the ones in the sink), and they hurt when they bite. Wings are dark mottled held out at 45 deg. from body, and they are fast. Did I mention it really gets your attention when they drill? Pesky if you wear shorts. Was near a hun in the sun again, day 12 of this early-to-mid May record heatwave of 2022. We are supposed to be getting spring rains.

Mid-day the trolling first-spring male Golden-cheeked Warbler was in the pecans, it sang 8' over my head. Whaddabird! Later afternoon Kathy saw a female, and then a first-spring male Orchard Oriole at the bath. Five minutes later the male was singing a few bars in the big Pecan. It had just a few chestnut feathers on the breast below the black bib. I presume it is that one I have had troll through a few times in the last few weeks. Seems he got a mate, and now is at the nest-site prospecting stage. Please pick me, pick me, pretty please. Look at those leafy Pecans, it like an orchard out front. Got water. Probably sees all the cowbirds and doesn't want to be around here.

In the afternoon both a N. Rough-winged and 3-4 Barn Swallow hawked over the front yard Pecans. A couple of the Barns looked like juveniles. Later afternoon there was a Lincoln's Sparrow in the yard, which is getting late. A few butterflies today were a Funereal and a Horace's Duskywing, another male Large Orange Sulphur and 2 dozen more Lyside Sulphur. Saw my FOY Zopherus sps. (prob. haldemani) Ironclad Beetle, on the front porch late in afternoon. They are soooo neat looking, and seeming unique like fingerprints. Of six plus I have pix of, each is unique in the pattern and splatter of dots.

May 18 ~ Low about 70F, a couple hours with some low stratus from the Gulf early. About 8:30 the first-spring Golden-cheeked Warbler trolled singing through the yard again. Now over 3 weeks in the area. There was a first-spring Yellow Warbler out in the Pecans a bit noonish. In the afternoon I heard the Scott's Oriole sing upslope behind us in the live-oaks. Wish it would find our feeder out back. About 5 p.m. several WU stations were reporting 100F and higher. I saw 95F on cool shady front porch. Al Roker on the Today show weather this morn said ELEVENTH straight day of widespread record temperatures across Texas. We have been at or above that line here certainly. Summer started early, wayyyy earlier than it used to. Chats and Yellow-throated Warbler hitting the birdbath daily. Kathy saw an Ash-throated Flycatcher at it, so you know it is hot hot hot. At least 20 Lyside Sulphur flew by.

May 17 ~ Low of 69F, no Gulf stratus, go directly to the sun, do not pass the shade. About 10 a.m. I finally heard my FOS singing Scott's Oriole. They are very scarce on the flat valley floor. They return to breeding territories in mid-to-late March up in the hills and divides, as at Lost Maples, on Seco Ridge, etc., they need that terrestrial gradient. Like Poor-will, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Wren, Golden-cheeked Warbler, and others. In the afternoon I saw my FOY just-fledged juvenile Eastern Bluebird in front yard. So we got one out at least so far. Also begging baby Carolina Wren, and Carolina Chickadee here now, besides the House Finches. Kathy saw a Roadrunner over in the corral. First one here in quite a while, though heard it singing uphill earlier in spring. In bugs, a Juvenal's Duskywing came into water on patio. A Queen went by. Kathy saw a blue, usually Reakirt's here and now. I saw a male Large Orange Sulphur blast past, my FOY. A female Common Whitetail dragonfly came to inspect the water on the patio, my FOY.

May 16 ~ Low about 69F, supposed to be the peak heat day of this heat wave. Heard the cuckoo cooing for the first time this year in the morn. So likely going to be nesting again, nearish enough to be daily in the yard Pecans. Noonish Kathy spotted a male Mourning Warbler at the birdbath. It proceeded to go in for the full monty bath. Then it sat on top of the stick pile a minute or two providing the best MOWA preen scene I've ever seen. Awesome. Makes up for the poor ID only look on my FOS a week ago. Saw about 95F in the shade on front porch again today. Near record heat out in the sun. Used to peak at 92F in May and June here. We are again running 5dF over normal, or more. There was a Questionmark about the porch in afternoon. Saw a Lyside go by, a Vesta Crescent, but slow for butterflies. Keep forgetting to mention, it seems the Ruby-throated Hummers have not stuck this year. Too dry, no bugs. Often a pair or two nests here mid-late-April to mid-late May. Not this year. When they do breed, I would guess they are departing northward to catch another spring breeding cycle. I have not seen one in several days.

May 15 ~ Low of 67F was great. But no low stratus from the Gulf to block sun early. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be peak heat for the week. We went to the park earlyish, mid-morning. Just the breeders at the 354 Pecan patch, and no migrants in the woods. But saw the Little Blue Heron Little Creek Larry mentioned a few days ago. Saw him too, and I misunderstood, it was here at the park, not his creek, where he saw it. And his first sighting was earlier in the week last week, maybe the 10th or so. It is a nice white imm. just showing a wee bit of gray in a couple spots. It was catching some Gambusia at south end of the island. Have not seen one in a couple or maybe few years now. They are LTA here. Less than annual. Not a sure thing any given year. So always a good bird and fun to watch. A Black Saddlebags dragonfly was my first of the year. An ode got away that probably was a Checkered Setwing. No damselflies.

We checked a private spot south of town (with permission) where some water. Pewee, Cuckoo, a begging fledgling Yellow-throated Warbler. One Giant Swallowtail, no odes. There is one juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in a, or the, nest there this year. Two springs ago it fledged 3 in May. Showing how the reduced food supply is. It means many fewer young are generated. Our nest only had one young as well a mile downriver. In a decent year two nests generate SIX young here, not two. Which is surely far below replacement levels.

We did have a couple begging juvenile Carolina Chickadee at a couple stops. At least three Great Crested Flycatcher here and at least two of the stops. Red-eyed Vireo at park, 354 Pecans, 360 x-ing, etc. Begging House Finch here on the patio. About 4 p.m. I saw 95F on the cool shady front porch, so purt near a hun in the sun.

The eclipse was nice, eh? What was neat to me was how the Chuck-will's-widow were calling their heads off, at least four of them not counting anything distant. As the moon darkened they went silent. They remained silent until after totallity when a nice sized slice of white was shining light again, and they all broke back into song. Amazing. I have had the same thing happen with a solar eclipse in the daytime, everything shuts up and quits singing while it was dark. Ya gotta figure, for things nocturnal, the moon is their sun.

May 14 ~ Maybe 69F for a low, some morning clouds, but was a baker of a day. Heard a Yellow Warbler and an Orchard Oriole early, but no migrant motion in yard. I had desk biz work to do so did't get out. Saw a Snout come into water, only when I told Kathy did I find out she had one yesterday. It is soooo hard to remember everything you see, especially the less remarkable things. A Horace's Duskywing came in as well. A boatload of Six-lined Racerunner around the yard, at least ten methinks. What a beauty of a lizard. A couple of the males have nice metallic indigo undersides now. Male and female Summer Tanager were at the bath together. Lotta Chucks.

<"littleblueheron"

This is the Little Blue Heron that was at the park for several days.
Kathy chisled these pixels onto a floppy disk with the Mavica.

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May 13 ~ Another 67F low is a treat, feels great. At the bath early Kathy saw a first-spring male Wilson's Warbler, and a female Yellow Warbler. We should still get some trickles or last drips of migs for another week if lucky. As for breeders, you can already tell dawn chorus is dialed back from the April peak. The Gulf low stratus got here around sunup, so kept it mostly overcast and in 70's F most of the morning, and was still holding at 80F at 3 p.m., amazing. A much appreciated break from the afternoons in the 90's F, which are on their way back, another heat wave is ahead. NOAA et.al. blew the high temps by a category though! Rare for highs as it is regular for lows after fronts. Yard is actually green for a primary color now. Wow. Late afternoon the Red-winged Blackbird went to the 50 gal. tub pond and drank. Catails and a Red-wing, the pond is maturing. Still waiting for Marsh Wren and Sora. Gonna have to make a tub pond list. This spring got Am. Redstart and Golden-cheeked Warbler for it. Last year had Green Jay and Audubon's Oriole.

Town run so a park check. At the 354 Pecan patch only one Yellow Warbler. Migrants in the woods at park were a Common Yellowthroat, a Black-and-white Warbler, and one Yellow Warbler. The Red-eyed Vireo continues on territory. The mystery of the day was a singer across the pond at the spillway in those willows you can't see into. I thought it was a Kentucky Warbler. No way to get to it, and no way to tape it for me now. Ya gotta let some go, easier when you already have it on your park list. Little Creek Larry said he had a Little Blue Heron on his creek yesterday or today, I forget which. Kathy saw a female Orchard Oriole at the bird bath in the afternoon, later I saw it in the front yard Pecans. Oh man, 10:30 p.m., from desk in office I hear a N. PARAQUE belting out, just on other side of cottage in the corral. Close. Loud. Went on for five minutes. Awesome! Bird of the week, had to re-up the bird news for it...   ;)     LOL

May 12 ~ A low of 67F was fantastic. What a difference 5dF can make. Did not note any migrant motion in yard. The bulk of our spring passage is past, the rest is fading fast. Still should see some flycatchers, and a few stragglers of other sorts. Nothing in the weather forecast to indicate any major action in store. Heard a or the cuckoo. The Golden-cheeked Warbler continues, it sang around the yard a couple hours, often in the big Pecan right off front porch. It also visited the birdbath again. This is the same first-spring male we have seen off and on since April 24. In two days it will be three weeks here trolling in the area. So neat to be able to watch and listen to it for extended periods of time. It does a much better song now than when it got here. They are incredibly fast and agile when sallying after something, as in Redstart or Wilson's Warbler level agile whence in one of those tight circular sallies. BTW I keep forgetting to mention our current drought level is D4, as in exceptional. That is how dry the year has been.

Late late afternoon I was sitting in my chair on front porch. A big bright green Anole returning from a day of bug-eating strolls across the porch towards me. Stopping a couple times to flash its pink throat pouch (dewlap). At times it comes within a foot or two, and knows it is safe. It worked over to my sandaled feet, which had a few small flies on them, we are in one of those breakouts right now, lots of little flies. It dove and picked one right off, sitting on my toes to gulp it down. Over the next 10 minutes it grabbed SIX off my feet! I called Kathy out so she could watch the show. City people ask us what we do in the country. So exciting watching a bright lime green lizard popping little flies off yer feet. No muss, no fuss.

May 11 ~ Low of 72F is a frog's hair better. The Golden-cheeked Warbler continued around the yard singing in morning, and late afternoon, and was at the birdbath. It is that same first-spring male that has been around, an unmated troller. Heard a Scissor-tail over in corral. One male Yellow Warbler was around much of day. Couple Caracara went over. Lots of begging from a juvie Red-tailed Hawk in that nest over at river. We are sure glad when they feed it! Still better than the three baby Ravens though. Have to put the scope on nest and see if I can get a count on the young. Only sounds like one. Last year in the drought they only raised one. Only got up to 90-92F so bearable compared to the last several days. Was too busy at desk. Saw a Malta Star Thistle sprig with bloom, will remove that. We have done fairly well getting rid of it and Musk Thistle here, have not seen one come up yet this year.

May 10 ~ Low of 74F is not very, and like July. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was whistling in yard early. A Cuckoo clucked a bit too, maybe our adjacent breeder is back. In the morning Kathy heard the Golden-cheeked over along north fence where it was singing yesterday, and I heard it late about 7 p.m. We have big Junipers and Live-Oaks, but no Lacy or Buckley Oaks, two of their key trees. A bit before noon an American Redstart came down to the tub pond right out office window. I thought it had some peachy tones on breast sides, unlike the bird yesterday which was pure yellow and a female. I think this was a first spring male. Any Redstart is a good start. There was a Yellow Warbler in the Pecans. The Great Crested Flycatcher is trolling up and down the river habitat corridor and seems unmated as last year. Same for the Yellow-throated Vireo here, trolling, unmated as last year. A pair of Indigo Bunting were on the millet tube early. This is the first year they or the Blue Grosbeak has used the tube feeder here. I suspect due to the lack of normal higher protein insect fare which is not available yet this year. Hopefully that 2" rain will change that soon. Saw one Texas Thistle with flowers down near the crossing.

May 9 ~ Low of 72F, some low Gulf stratus held the sun off a few hours early in morn. Saw a Turkey over in corral early. I heard a Hutton's Vireo go through yard. Heard a buzzy zzeet as in Yellow Warbler. Noonish Kathy spotted a female Black-throated Green Warbler coming into the birdbath. It just drank a bit. About 3 p.m. she spotted a female American Redstart coming down to it, which then got chased by a male Wilson's Warbler. First female Redstart of the year, great to see. After 4 p.m. I heard an offish warbler song in big Junipers along north fence. Finally figured it out, a Golden-cheeked! Came inside and told Kathy, just a few minutes later she saw it at the bath! It is a trolling un-mated first spring male. Suspect it is the same one we saw here in late April. About 7 p.m. Kathy spotted the female Redstart coming back into the bath. It got to splash a bit this time. So it was around 4 hours and never chipped once. A White-eyed Vireo decided to splash-bathe at the same time the Redstart was in the bath. Chat and male Summer Tanager were there over the day too, when it is hot everything comes in to it. Saw a few spindly Mexican Hat flowers, the first this year.

May 8 ~ Was still just over 80F at midnight, early morn finally dropped to 71F. The thick low Gulf cloud deck got here and kept it cooler (below 80F is cooler from now until September) until almost noonish. At least a few hours of relief. Saw no migrant motion in yard whatsoever. Except the last three Clay-colored Sparrow are gone. No mas. First day without them in over a month. We checked a few spots anyway. Saw some Mealy Sage in bloom, and the yellow rose of Texas, the Prickly Pear. The 354 Pecans had nothing but breeders. The park woods had at least two Common Yellowthroat, and I got a crummy but ID'able look at a FOS Mourning Warbler in that thickest stuff at the south end of the island. There is at least one young of size in the Red-shouldered Hawk nest above the screen shelters at the park. There were 8 teal over in the lillies across the pond. Six were Blue-winged, two drakes had dirty heads with reddish-brown, dare I say cinnamon, feathers admixed in at a level that made the white crescent hard to detect. I suspect they were intergrades, likely back-crosses, perhaps second generation (F2) or somesuch type hybrids. The fencelines were bare again. There should be Scissor-tailed Flycatchers around, and am not seeing any. I think they came in and they left since no bugs. Have not seen a single Western Kingbird this spring. Scary. I have driven to town and back three days consecutively (only in spring migration does that ever happen) and seen zero Scissors. Where annually there have been five pairs I know of. I saw none up Jones Cmty. Rd. to W. Sab. Rd. yesterday as well, where there should have been three more pairs. None. No bugs. Not enough for nesting anyway, so they left.

We did a full scientific analysis and assay of some Mulberries on one tree (yes the low-hanging fruit). The results were mmmmm tasty. I thought it would make great wine, Kathy said jam. In the afternoon I saw 95F on the cool shady front porch. Hondo and Uvalde were both reading 100F with a 105 heat index. The south side of SAT (Stinson Field) had 103F and a 111 heat index! Which must have been 115-120 at Mitchell Lake just west of that. That was our main birding patch (with Brackenridge Pk.) for three years in the late 80's. For now we are just hiding inside from the heat here, none too thrilled about near-record heat early in the season. In the afternoon Kathy heard a Cuckoo, I heard an Orchard Oriole sing later. Finally about 10 p.m. I saw my FOS Firefly. Has to be my latest FOS date for them.

May 7 ~ The low of 67F was nice. From 4-6 p.m. the cool shady front porch was showing 97F, so it had to be a hun in the sun. Our first scorcher of the long hot season. NOAA is calling it early and unseasonally early, There was no migration motion today, at least here on the ground. Went to town to get that dang item I forgot yesterday at the store, so another look at the park woods. Wasn't on purpose, but I sure don't mind. Other than what is likely a continuing Northern Waterthrush, there was nothing but the residents at the park. Also checked the 354 Pecan patch with about the same results. Did have a Yellow Warbler, and a pair of Orchard Orioles were around the trees where a pair usually nests. Saw in the little Mulberry on roadside, female Painted Bunting, Bell's Vireo, and Yellow-breasted Chat. Cruised out Jones Cmty Rd. listening for Parula Warblers, heard none but it was noon and hot, need to check early. Did a mile of the well fence-lined road north from Cemetery to W. Sabinal Rd. as it is good for E. Kingbird, there were none. I see a distinct green tint appearing in the brown front yard. Saw two Common Nighthawk fly over at dusk. They did not seem to be grabbing many bugs. I heard my first boom from a diving male of the year. And I see I picked up a chigger here today. There were still three Clay-colored Sparrow here today, singing of course. Late in day, probably the last Lincoln's Sparrow took a bath. Late in day Kathy spotted a bunch of Rain Lily had opened up. I roughly counted, at least a hundred blooms on north part of yard. Just add water.

Not a current photo, sorry for the repeat.
redearedslider

Red-eared or Pond Slider are probably the most used names for this turtle. Texas River Cooter is the other regular type found locally. It is less green without yellow marbling on carapace (top half of shell) and much darker, almost blackish, with only a little yellow on head. It is also not as domed of carapace, so a much flatter shape, better for speeding in the river.

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May 6 ~ A fantastic low of about 61F was a cheap thrill. We are set for a four-day scorcher now though. Mid-90's, hope you are ready to sweat. At least it waited until there were some leaves on the Pecans. Heard a Baltimore Oriole in yard early. Town run so got our Cinco de Mayo real deal tacos from Rosie today. First on the way into town I stopped at the 354 Pecan patch. The Dickcissel was gone, knew it would not stick. There was a pair of Brown-crested Flycatcher there, and a distant calling Great Crested at the other end of patch. Great Crest nests there some years. Heard a Cuckoo (Y-b), saw one Eastern Wood-Pewee, a Yellow Warbler or two, and one female Black-throated Green Warbler. At the park was a Swainson's Thrush, in Mulberries on the island. No Catbird though. There were a couple Yellow Warbler, a Northern Waterthrush, another female Black-throated Green Warbler, and a couple warblers got away. One sounded like an American Redstart. Seems last years territorial Red-eyed Vireo is back in the woods. Plus all the usual breeders like Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, etc. The Red-shouldered Hawks are seemingly nesting again. Little Creek Larry had a male Common Yellowthroat at his place this morn. No Eastern Kingbird on the fencelines, we are at the prime week for them now.

Here at the hovelita just a handful of Clay-colored Sparrow left, and not for long. A Yellow Warbler was in the yard all day, looked the same male on at least day 3 now. Heard a Gnatcat in yard. Saw 90F at 3:30 p.m., and it is humid. Welcome to Texas. Late afternoon before 6 p.m. Kathy spotted a FOS Catbird at the birdbath, which drank and took a quick splash in it. I actually did my Catbird call at the park Mulberries noonish, trying to elicit response from any unseen suspects. Hey I have had it work sometimes. Later in the afternoon I saw a female Lazuli Bunting, my first female Lazuli this year. There are 4-5 female Indigo here too for good comparisons. Finally saw a Common Nighthawk at dusk. Was out looking for that FOS Firely, no luck yet, but got four more mosquito bites. Just before 9 p.m. we had a Chuck-will's-widow calling right out the office window over the tub pond in a Hackberry. We went out and it kept belting it out, after a minute we got a look as it flew off. Bunch of Coyote real close too. I heard in town someone say they killed a Coral Snake this week fearing for their cats. Which of course are killing lizards and birds. I have heard some here say they kill any Porcupines because their dogs will get into them.

May 5 ~ Happy Cinco de Mayo! Mexican food, beer and shots for all! Amazing to see the ground re-arranged from the downpour. Since it hadn't changed in many months. Biggest rain in 5 months or so. Yard will turn green in a few days, and need mowing in two weeks. Maybe we will get some flowers yet this spring. A little mist still over the morn. I had a crummy look at a FOS American Redstart high in the big Pecan, it shot off and out of the yard quickly. A Least Flycatcher was around the gate all day. Might be a half-dozen Clay-colored Sparrow left. A Yellow Warbler spent the day in the Pecans, maybe the same one as yesterday, the red streaks were the same, maybe a bit over half-way in. The Barking Frogs were going at dark. Got a couple mosquito bites at dark, a whole day after the rain. There have not been any this spring so far due to the drought. One day, less than 24 hours after adding water, and poof, or bam!, is more like it. Skeeters. How does this work anyway? Do the larval treeholers just estivate in winter, ready to emerge as flying adult as soon as some fool adds water?

May 4 ~ Low about 72F, overcast and humid, almost some mist. Strong southerlies for the third day or so. Early there were three male Yellow Warbler at once in the birdbath. Looks like many fewer Clay-colored Sparrow and did not see the White-crowned Sparrow today. There were departures last night. Had to run to town to get a couple tires put on in the morn. So a look at park. Great was a FOS singing Warbling Vireo. Also one N. Waterthrush, a couple Yellow Warbler, a few seets and chips got away. There were a couple just-fledged begging Carolina Wren. Little Creek Larry said he had a male Shoveler in with a few teal at the park this morning. At the UvCo 354 Pecans just south of town another Yellow Warbler. Heard a very interesting chip that got away, the wind was making it hard. Heard one FOS Dickcissel north of 354 in the field they used to always nest in. Now being overgrown with Mesquite, and too dry this year anyway for them. It was singing rather forlornly, like where did you all go. When rains, there is a colony in this pasture annually. Along roads saw some blooming Prickly Poppy, and some Englemann's Daisy around the water plant. In town, nice to hear Blue Jay, and see Chimney Swifts.

In the afternoon here at hovelita Kathy saw a male Orchard Oriole right out the office window working down to the tub pond. I later heard it singing on north side of house. One Yellow Warbler spent all day in the Pecans. Five Red-winged Blackbird came in for white millet, the golf course breeders no doubt. About 10-11 p.m. a severe thundercell went over, we finally got actual precipitation! It was a whopping TWO INCHES here. More than the last four months total probably. Which means more than all year so far. We heard a big bubble of a roar go down the river after the cell passed. Two inches in less than an hour, there is runoff. River went from quiet to roaring and back to quiet in an hour and change. Got flushed anyway. About an hour after the rain stopped there were two Barking Frog, barking, outside.

May 3 ~ Low maybe 71F, overcast, breezy from south, the same. White-crowned Sparrow still here with 15 or so Clay-colored. Best was noonish in the yard Pecans, a Philadelphia Vireo. Great looks very close. As they often do, it struck me as more warbler-like due to the bright yellow on breast, greener upperparts, and it being far more active and high-energy than a Warbling Vireo. Which is usually fairly sedate like a Blue-headed. Later had a Least Flycatcher and a Brown-crested Flycatcher for a while. I could hear Ash-throated and Great Crested Flycatcher calling whilst the BC was doing same from our big Pecan.

May 2 ~ There was some rain late last night and the first couple hours of today, but a malfunction means I will have to ask others how much it was. Maybe a half-inch, but more than the last two months. Flatlined about 70F most of the night. Some precip anyway. Mid-morn I had a FOS Baltimore Oriole in the yard, gave some calls and song snippets. The White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrow continue. Noonish a Nashville Warbler or two, single male Yellow and Wilson's Warbler were in yard. In later afternoon 2 Least Flycatcher were working Pecans.

A showerlet between 2:30 and 3 p.m. dropped nearly a half-tenth of an inch of precip. The cell was real black though. As it moved east on the backside of it my FOS Broad-winged, and Swainson's Hawks moved north over river habitat coridor. Don't see Broad-wings every spring, so always nice. Looked for MS Kites but did not see any. The backsides of cells are great for migrating aerial species (as hawks, swifts, etc.) that detoured around them. Always worth a check if you can. At least 3 Lyside Sulphur went through yard over the day.

May 1 ~ About 70F much of the night, maybe dropped to 69F when a showerlet hit early first thing. Ground and trees are wet anyway. There is a stalled cold front just north of us since yesterday, boy I wish it would have made it through here. Was probably good northward somewhere where birds hit a wall of wind from the wrong direction to proceed. Was supposed to be lifting back north as a warm front today. Just after 3 p.m. Kathy saw the first migrant in yard today, a Nashville Warbler. The White-crowned and a Lincoln's Sparrow continue, Clay-colored Sparrow number 15. There were three male at once Lesser Goldfinch down with a few females, first flocklet I have seen here this year. Ten green Painted Bunting, some of which are first-spring males. A bit of drizzle and showers began the last hour or two of the day.

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We are pushing the April record for dryness I am sure, we had a quarter inch of precip maybe for the month. No freezes, no spring wildflowers as usual when rains. Several days were very near or at record heat.

The bugs were bad. But not in the usual sense, bad because there were hardly any to see. No Firefly yet might be the first April I have not seen one here (n~19). One Eyed Elaterid was the best bug. Odes were pitiful still, they are not going yet. I was able to ID only one species of damselfly all month, on the 30th (!), and only two species of dragonfly the whole month, for a whopping three total ode species. There have been Aprils that were great with odes. Butterflies were also poor, at 24 species one of the worst Aprils here. For the number of individuals seen it was likely the worst in a decade since the peak of the last exceptional drought. The only highlight was a Little Wood Satyr around the house a couple days. Maybe one or two Monarch was it, no spring wave of mention here. A few Elfin early in month, no Falcate Orangetip. Almost no flowers, barely a few.

Birds are always great in April, as like March there are waves of them passing by northbound, besides all the returning (migratory insectivore) breeding species. Mostly songbirds, like warblers, orioles, vireos, tanagers, flycatchers, the stuff of great bird sounds. Dawn chorus goes next-level in April with all the returns. Best birds were a record early Swainson's Thrush at UP on the 8th. Veery and Gray-cheeked Thrush both there on the 22nd. A 3-day Brewer's Sparrow was in our yard Spizella flock April 20-22. A male Chestnut-sided Warbler was in yard Apr. 24. Three male Lazuli Bunting were in our yard over the month. I think almost everyone saw Painted Bunting this spring, the arrival wave was tremendous, we had 16 ad. male at once in yard. An Ovenbird at UP on the 23rd was the first in a while. A male Bullock's Oriole on a hummer feeder April 10-11 was the first of that here for us, and a record early date for me here.

l count 111 species very locally this month, no Lost Maples trip. All from around our place to town. Little Creek Larry saw at least a half-dozen things I did not. Surely there were 120-125 sps. around over the month. Pretty big jump from the 78 in March, and double the diversity of the weak winter months in Jan. and February. Now if we would just get some rain and flowers.

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April ~ Brings a whole month of FOS dates! A returning pair of Hooded Oriole was seen this week at Little Creek. Better, a small flock of Black-throated Sparrow was seen there on April 1. My FOS Summer Tanager was singing at the park, also on the 1st. On the 2nd I saw my FOS Nashville Warbler, one here at house, and one at the park. Also the 2nd saw my FOS Common Grackle, the returning park breeders. The 3rd had a FOS Solitary Sandpiper. The 5th was our FOS Lazuli Bunting. The FOS Bell's Vireo went through the yard April 8. Also the 8th was my earliest ever by two weeks FOS Swainson's Thrush at the park. April 9 Osprey and Zone-tailed Hawk were at Little Creek (at 355), Poor-will was heard there a few days ago. April 10 had FOS Bullock's Oriole and Yellow-breasted Chat. April 11 FOS Nashville Warbler. April 12 FOS Blue Grosbeak. April 13 FOS Chuck-will's-widow and Painted Bunting. There are reports of Tropical and Northern Parula at Lost Maples SNA. A Spotted Sandpiper was reported at the park April 15. I saw a huge pile of FOS on April 15 at the park: a male Indigo Bunting, Great Crested Flycatcher, Black-throated Green Warbler, and rarest there, a (Long-billed) Marsh Wren! Also the 15th I saw my FOS Chimney Swift over town. Oops, also had a FOS House Wren in the yard the 15th. Four FOS Red-eyed Vireo singing Apr. 16th. A FOS Blue-headed Vireo was singing at the park the 17th, as was a first-year male Golden-cheeked Warbler. Thirty Clay-colored Sparrow at once in yard is peak clay on April 19, EIGHT Painted Bunting at once the same day is a lot of paint too. The second in yard this spring male Lazuli Bunting was here the 20th. Also on the 20th Kathy saw the FOS Yellow Warbler, a male at the bird bath. Rare here, a BREWER'S Sparrow was in our yard Apr. 20-22. Our FOS Orchard Oriole bathed on the 21st. Also FOS the 21st was female Blue Grosbeak (male was 12th). The 22nd had a pile of FOS birds at the park: Common Yellowthroat, Northern Waterthrush, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and a VEERY! An Ovenbird was at the park Apr. 23, my first in too many years. On the 24th there was a Chesnut-sided Warbler in our yard, at least 5 FOS Least Flycatcher, and 2 FOS Tennessee Warbler as well as an 11 warbler species day. At dusk I had my FOS Freetail Bats. On the 27th I saw my FOS Bronzed Cowbird, and FOS Brown-crested Flycatcher. The 28th at dark our FOS Common Nighthawk was heard. The FOS on the 29th were: some Cave Swallow in town finally, then late in day 4 male Yellow-headed Blackbird, and a pair of Couch's Kingbird, both at our casita. The Couch's KB continued on the 30th.

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~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

April 30 ~ And there goes another one! The low was 70F, and here we go with that again. Some mist and drizzle, ground wettish. Early in morn the Couch's Kingbirds were in the big Pecan! Mid-late morn they were over in the corral. Noonish they were down nearish the crossing. Looking for a place to nest. A pair of Orchard Oriole and a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher both went through yard seemingly nest site prospecting. Early a Least Flycatcher was working the Pecans. A couple Nashville and a Yellow Warbler were it for warblers in yard first half of day. Noonish we went down to the crossing to check the Pecan patch. Slow. Maybe 4 Nashville, one or two Yellow, and one Tennessee Warbler. No other migrants save a Lincoln's Sparrow down along the river. Territorial singing White-eyed, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated Warbler, Indigo and Painted Bunting, Chat, the regulars. Kathy spotted the first damselfly I have been able to ID to species this year, a Kiowa Dancer. Nice to see, but still no dragons though.

In the afternoon around the yard finally late in day I saw the White-crowned Sparrow on day 3 here now. About 10 Clay-colored Sparrow still here. Way too many Brown-headed Cowbird, heard the Bronzed. Heard the Couch's Kingbirds out front later in day. Would love having a pair of them around nearish. Four ad. male Indigo and 7 ad. male Painted Bunting, so the wave is subsiding and probaby trimming down to territorial birds. Lots of greenie Painted, some female Indigo. For warblers there were a couple Nashville, a Yellow, and Kathy spotted a male Wilson's at the bath. I saw the female Yellow-throated there. Did some yard-garden work, pretty sticky working out there.

Not a current photo, sorry for the repeat.
catbird

This is a Catbird at our birdbath 2 falls ago. The one at bath today looked the same.  ;)  In early May watch Mulberries for them, and thrushes, grosbeaks and orioles.

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Apr. 29 ~ Low about 68F, overcast, some mist, a showerlet to wet the ground. Stayed coolish all day, 80F at 3 p.m. is nice. Not much for bird movement. Fewer Clay-colored Sparrow, ten at most, they are departing on the southerlies. The White-crowned Sparrow of yesterday is here, as is the bright neon yellow male American Goldfinch. Later afternoon saw a female Black-and-white Warbler working the Pecans. Town run, so a peek at the park. In town I heard Blue Jay which I have not been, so good. Also saw some Cave Swallow gathering mud, also good, and my FOS this year. At the park was one Northern Waterthrush and two Common Yellowthroat, heard one or two Nashville and a Yellow. Slowish. Best was four Blue-winged Teal, three drakes and a hen hiding in the lillies.

But the poor hen teal could not rest like the drakes. Due to that dumped domestic Frankenduck. The domestic hybrid barnyard bastard bird would not stop harassing the female Teal. She was constantly having to fly to get away from it, it was relentless. So the wild migratory bird that needs a pond to rest in can't, because of an introduced non-native hybrid Frankenduck. That someone just had to have it at the park so they could say 'look at the wildlife, I love nature' whilst pointing at the hybrid domestic barnyard Frankenfowl.

After 6 p.m. when I was bringing the birdseed in from trucklet, I thought I heard a weird Fox Squirrel chuck notes up in the big Pecan. Figured it must be anemic or have Covid. But when I heard that rusty gate opening braying I knew before my eyes found them, Yellow-headed Blackbird! Four males were in the top of the tree, occasionally braying, what a call. I threw some more seed out quickly, the cowbirds came down, and one male Yellow-headed proceeded to slum it with them on the patio. That head is cadmium yellow. Then after 7 p.m. I heard a Couch's Kingbird out front, grabbed bins, went out gate and down road. Right there on the powerline were a pair of them! Calling! I have one nesting record here locally, many years ago, right after we got here. Do not get them every spring. They were singing, it was a pair. I went back to front porch and at least one of them landed and called from atop the big Pecan! The big Pecan rocked this late afternoon to early evening. At twilight I finally heard a Common Nighthawk, Kathy heard our FOS yesterday. Great to hear again, hope they stick to nest this year.

Oops forgot, had a FOS Eyed Elaterid (the giant click beetle with big false eyes on thorax) on the big Pecan. Actually was sure I saw one in flight 5-6 days ago or so, but couldn't find it when I jumped up and ran after it. This one landed and that awesome camo will only get it so far with those big giant fake eyes.

Apr. 28 ~ Low about 66F, overcast and humid, the usual. There were a few spritzes in the morning. Just enough to spot up the dust on the leaves. An ad. White-crowned Sparrow was a surprise after not seeing any for the last 3 days. I suspect it is a new passage transient. Another surprise was a neon yellow ad. male American Goldfinch on the sunflower feeder. We have not seen one in a week or more. One Lincoln's Sparrow still here, 12 Clay-colored, 6 Chipping and Lark, about 4 Field. Shortly before noon a small group of warblers worked the Pecan flowers. I got at least 7 Nashville, 3 Yellow, and 1 Wilson's Warbler out of the group. Thought I heard a Black-throated Green across the road. A very typical spring flock here. Though I was really looking for something in atypical. Since that goes so well with me. Bird of the day was a Savannah Sparrow that bathed! Surely my latest record? Have not seen one in weeks. After dark, an hour after I mentioned their tardiness this year, Kathy heard the FOS Common Nighthawk.

Apr. 27 ~ Low about 62F, overcast and humid, but calm. Yard was all the same in a.m., nothing went through. Had to run to town so a quick park check. A handful of Nashville and 2 Common Yellowthroat, but no time, and to work those trees properly you need time, especially when against a white sky. Definitely less Clay-colored Sparrow today, some left last night. Still a dozen plus male Painted and 7-8 male Indigo Bunting, saw the male Lazuli of yesterday again. More females of both Indigo and Painted. Had Painted, Indigo, and Lazuli males in one field of view, but with a male Blue Grosbeak instead of that elusive fourth bunting species. Heard a Least Flycatcher out along the fenceline and road. Oops, forgot a FOS... two, what seemed a pair, of Brown-crested Flycatcher were in yard 15 minutes in the afternoon. Calling most of the time. Nothing else through yard in afternoon.

Apr. 26 ~ The front passed and cool air got here, the low was 55F! That is great! Overcast and dampish, but we missed the rain many parts of central Texas got yesterday. Lots of places got an inch, or two. I am being generous at a tenth of an inch here. I got a 22 count on Clay-colored Sparrow this morn and 30 in the early evening. Also one Lincoln's, 6 Chipping, 4 Field, 6 Lark Sparrow. No White-crowned again today, they flew the coop. In the afternoon a 12-13 count on ad. ma. Painted Bunting, and 8 for ad. ma Indigo. We had our third this spring male Lazuli Bunting in the afternoon, always a treat. Where is that Varied? There are at least 30 buntings in the yard. There were a few Nashville Warbler, and in the afternoon I had a singing first-spring male Golden-cheeked Warbler, again. Maybe the one that was here a couple days ago trolling the area? We peaked at about 70F from 3-6 p.m., what a treat that was, I could stand that all year. Heard a Yellow Warbler zzeet. After dark about 10 p.m. I heard a Barn Owl fly over NE bound.

Apr. 25 ~ Stayed about 70F all night. The cooler air dropped it to 68F about 7 a.m., then lower by 8. A tenth of an inch maybe of precip as of noon, most missing us so far. No migrants through yard in a.m. Kathy thought sure she heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler sing. I saw my FOS first-spring male of Painted Bunting. Of the salmon underparted flavor, quite the beauty really. Just after noon a group of 4 Nashville and 1 Yellow Warbler were in the Pecans out front. Heard a Least Flycatcher out by the gate. A few spritzes but the precip missed us again, the Utopia rain kryptonite held.

Late about 7 p.m. counting buntings and sparrows as they have a last feeding frenzy. No White-crowned Sparrow today, finally they are gone. One Lincoln's Sparrow left. Still 18 or so Clay-colored, 10 Chipping and some breeder Lark and Field Sparrow. In buntings, 16 ad. male Painted at once is a new high mark. At least two salmon underparted first-spring males, a half-dozen greenies looked females. For Indigo, 8 ad. male at once, a few females. There is one first spring male Indigo around too. A few Blue Grosbeak, a female bathed, we virtually never see.them at the bath. A male Indigo bathed too. They never did that when I had a working camera.

Apr. 24 ~ Low about 68F, SSE winds blew all night, overcast and humid. Big passage day here. About 9:45 Kathy spotted a warbler out the kitchen window in the pecans over birdbath. It turned out to be a male Chestnut-sided Warbler! Whaddabird! The day is made right out of the gate. She spotted a second bird while we were trying to refind the first, which was a female Black-throated Green Warbler. Out front by the gate I heard a FOS Least Flycatcher, maybe two. Had a four count on greenies, female Painted Bunting.

We went down to crossing to check the bloomin' Pecan patch. A few warblers were in it, maybe 5 Nashville, a Wilson's, a couple Yellow, singing Black-n-white and Golden-cheeked, and a FOS Tennessee Warbler. Then we went to the park in town to check it. Little Creek Larry said he had a Spotted Sandpiper this morn on spillway. Which water is not going over presently. No O-bird, a Northern Waterthrush was still there, white type as all the early ones are. A male Common Yellowthroat was up high in the live-oak canopy, my FOS female C. Yellowthroat was down low where it belonged. Several Nashville Warbler, a couple each Wilson's and Yellow, one Black-throated Green singing, and another (!) singing Golden-cheeked Warbler, this out on the island.

Most interesting was finally detecting a Yellow-rumped Warbler this month, a singing male. The only one I have seen this spring since the wintering birds left. It was an intergrade. Throat was admixed yelllow and white. From some angles it looked yellow, from others, white. It had wingbars, like a Myrtle, call was flattish like Myrtle too. No supra-loral white spot or post-occular white supercilliumlet of a Myrtle, but broken eye-crescents of an Audubon's. It was a tweener all the way. Another item of interest was a single Pine Siskin we heard. Maybe the lone bird we had a month ago at the house? There is one wandering around it seems. We also had Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee, a Blue-headed Vireo, and an ad. ma. Painted Bunting in the Mulberrys. The usual breeders were singing like Yellow-throated Warbler and Vireo, Summer Tanager, White-eyed Vireo, etc. At least two probably three Least Flycatcher were in the woods. Another was down by the crossing on way home, so at least 5, maybe 7 Least Flycs. on this FOS day for them. A couple Gnatcatchers were heard.

About 2 p.m. Kathy had a Tennessee Warbler in the Pecan over the birdbath, two in a day here is excellent. Then a couple Nashville Warbler. Later before 4 p.m. she spotted a male Golden-cheeked Warbler which came down to the bath. It was a first spring male. I suspect all three today along the river habitat corridor were just arriving first spring males There was also an ad. male Black-and-white in the tree then. Any day you get 10 or more species of warblers locally is a outstanding day. We had 11 with the breeding Yellow-throated, not counting the Orange-crowned I was sure I heard. Surely there were more out there, just amongst the seets and chips that got away. Late in day I got an 11 count on adult male Painted Bunting at once. Also two White-crowned Sparrow still here, both Gambell's, one ad. and one first-spring. At dusk saw a few of my FOS Brazillian Freetail (formerly called Mexican Freetail) Bats over the yard. Still no Firefly.

Apr. 23 ~ Low about 67F, stayed breezy from SSE all night but at least slacked off to 10-15 mph. We had a couple or few Nashville in the yard in the morning. Most amazing was White-crowned Sparrow, late in day I finally mustered three. There were 11-12 yesterday. Most then left last night! Some few had been here all winter, most a few weeks. Most of the Clay-colored Sparrow left as well. Their numbers crashed as well overnight. Maybe a dozen left. Incredible. They took that free ride on the south wind outta Dodge. Later morn a Black-throated Green Warbler sang out back.

Went to Utopia Park to look for thrushes. Saw none. One Northern Waterthrush and the male Common Yellowthroat were likely the birds from yesterday. An OVENBIRD was on the island! I got an ID look and then spent a half-hour trying to re-see it and did not. Still birds in the live-oak blooms but they are past peak now. I had a flock of warblers go through them northbound fast and furious, more than 25, but I barely saw half. Light was horrible against bright white sky. I saw at least a dozen Nashville, a Yellow, a Wilson's, a Black-throated Green, and a Black-and-white Warbler. Plus one Blue-headed Vireo singing, a Great Crested Flycatcher, and Chipping and Clay-colored Sparrows in the blooms. The treetop warblers went through quickly, you had 15 minutes maybe and that was it. 10-15 got away un-ID'd.

After 7 p.m. I was working on Bunting counts. There were 15 ad. male Painted and 7 ad. male Indigo at once. Two female Painted and one female Indigo. Twenty-five buntings. Five male Painted in one binoc field-of-view. I have to go rest my color receptors now. One of the Painted Buntings Kathy noticed was off color on the back. It was mostly yellow and red with the only proper lime green being narrowly around the edge of the usual back patch. Otherwise the rest was pretty bright yellow with a tint of lime, but half was red showing. And oh yeah, Little Creek Larry said he had a FOS Common Nighthawk on Thursday (the 21st).

Not a current photo, sorry for the repeat.
paintedbunting

A male Painted Bunting. You should be seeing some now. There has been a great wave of them moving through. We had 16 adult males at once (!) in the past week, likely more were around yard we missed in the moment count. They love white millet, and-or a birdbath, but keep it clean if you do that.

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Apr. 22 ~ Happy Earth Day! Low about 68F, overcast, humid, very breezy gulf flow all night. Was 15 mph gusting to 25 or so from S and SSE, KERV had gusts over 30! I saw the Brewer's Sparrow again this morning, so day 3 for it, and apparently my ID the other day was correct. It is still a Brewer's. Otherwise just a few Nashville through yard in a.m., and lots of buntings. In afternoon counted five male Indigo at once, a yard record methinks. Also 6 Painted at once, and likely more out there. A couple male Blue Grosbeak. Kathy saw the FOS greenie - a female Painted, here at the casita while I was in town.

Park had some birds hiding from wind in the woods. TWO great thrushes at once is unheard of here. First I saw a Gray-cheeked Thrush out on the island. Then I heard a VEERY singing! But could not see it One of the most beautiful and distinctive songs in the bird world. I can't believe I heard one sing here. Presently birding 'blind and naked' with no way to document. Two FOS warblers were a male Common Yellowthroat, and then Northern Waterthrush, of which there were seemingly two. A few Nashville Warbler, single Wilson's and Yellow Warbler. A few chips, seets, and zeets got away. Heard my FOS Eastern Wood-Pewee. The strong SSE winds in late April and early May make for hard birding conditions but also for good birds. The breeder pair of Common Grackle continue out on island. Zone-tailed Hawk was over Rosie's taco trailer, but actually I needed the tacos more.

Apr. 21 ~ Low of 68F and very humid. Stayed coolish all day, 80F at 3 p.m. is pleasant despite the humidity. A few Nashville Warbler went through yard over the morning. Before noon a couple FOS Orchard Oriole were in the male Mulberry over the cottage, ten minutes later Kathy spots a male bathing in the bath! Whaddabird! About 1 p.m. a male Black-throated Green sang and foraged in a Pecan. Gnatcatcher singing out there too. Three male Indigo Bunting together at once, and more than a handful of Painted. There are kilos of Clay-colored Sparrow, but was too busy at desk to work them. The hummingbirds were fewer this last week than the one before. Must have been a passage wave going through.

Late in day saw my FOS female Blue Grosbeak, my FOS male was on the 12th, nine days ago. Again, a very typical stagger, males arriving on territories a week to two before females, to prepare for battle. With Painted Bunting and Blue Grosbeak it is often a day or two the males are back before they even quiet sing (under the breath). And a few to several days before they really even start singing full songs at volume. It is still very reserved at first and takes a while, and females arriving, for them to really get wound up.

Apr. 20 ~ Low about 65F, and maybe spritzed a bit more, nothing consequential, but overcast and wettish out there. The huge gaggles of Clay-colored Sparrow and Painted Bunting continue. On the millet tube whilst tallying up male Painted Buntings, a male Lazuli Bunting landed! Second one here this spring. Whaddabird! It was around an hour or two at least. A couple Nashville Warbler went through, heard a Gnatcatcher. Kathy heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. In the afternoon she saw the FOS Yellow Warbler, a male at the bird bath. I got an eleven count on White-crowned Sparrow! May well have been twelve.

In the late afternoon I saw a House Wren at the bird bath! It took a full monty motorboat excursion across it. Do not have a pic of one on the website. Late p.m. after 7 the ground was crawling with Clay-colored Sparrow again. This time I pulled a BREWER'S out of the herd! Finely streaked brown crown and nape, and brown streaked rump, plain face compared to the Clays bold pattern and Chippies eye-line. GREAT bird, far less than annual for me here. It may well have been 35 Clay-colored, and a pretty obvious difference between adults and first spring birds, the latter being much duller of head pattern still, the adults looking very bright and contrasty, crisp and sharp. Some Field and a dozen Chippy were mixed in the herd. Four species makes Spizellatopia. After dark I heard some Black-bellied Whistling-Duck fly over, just few.

Apr. 19 ~ What they called a reinforcing shot of cold air came in behind the northeasterlies of yesterday. The low was about 58F! KERV had 54 and 55F readings. We may well have been colder than what I saw. At 11:30 a.m. it was still only 62F! Amazing. Did some garden work, translocating super-magic gro-fast from the corral to planting places, getting beds ready. Have to do the flower beds around house with it too.

A couple Nashville Warbler were around. The first Indigo Bunting in the yard this spring was one I heard singing right out back, which is likely the male that was territorial here last year doing that after eating. A little while later there were 2 males and a female on the millet out back. Add two male Painted Bunting and two male Blue Grosbeak, and it is looking much better out there now. A Great Crested Flycatcher went through trolling, hope it gets a mate this year. Kathy saw either a Golden-cheeked or Black-throated Green Warbler at the bath, but just for a bare-eyed second and did not get upperpart color. But it had a full black throat and sides. It was dark overcast so light was not good. Heard a Gnatcatcher out there late in day. Mid-afternoon there were spritzes of precip. We'll keep an eye on it in case it passes leaf-washer status and perhaps becomes a full blown dust buster for a day. As of dark it looks about a tenth of an inch of the wet stuff. I do not think it hit 70F today, which is astounding.

Neat was about 5 p.m. counting the Clay-colored Sparrows off the corner of the patio where I toss seed by the broken pile of branches from the big dying Hackberry. Must have counted six times, each time getting higher, finally got a THIRTY count! No Brewer's but a suspect got away. All at once on the ground eating white millet some dingbat puts out there. This is why the yard sounds like a machine shop of elves. Got another ten count on the White-crowned Sparrow, which is also amazing this late, and for being almost all Gambell's. What one good brushpile with seed can catch going by. There are several Lincoln's Sparrow continuing as well. The Chipping, Field, and Lark will feed in fairly open areas where seed, but these others all require good cover they can dive into immediately adjacent.

About 7 p.m. I had EIGHT male Painted Bunting at once, FIVE were ON the millet seed tube at once! If only the California Bird Record Committee could have seen it! They disparage any male at a feeder as if it indicates prior captivity. That is how dumb their bird record commitee is. They don't know this is what Painted Buntings do. This is the level at which they are attracted to feeders, just shy of hummingbirds and House Finch. No self-respecting Painted Bunting sees a feeder with white millet and goes away. Unfortunately there were 35 Brown-headed Cowbird.

Apr. 18 ~ An awesome low of 63F or so felt great. Heard a Barn Owl last night just after midnight. A Couple Chucks were going too. Heard a Black-n-white Warbler sing through yard early. Ad. male Blue Grosbeak back on the white millet tube, this is great. Saw an ad. female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Thought I have been seeing them the last couple days. I cannot believe how brown the yard and pastures are for the date. No rain this winter or early spring. Water is barely trickling over the spillway in two narrow spots. At least somehow the trees are leafing out, but lots are still just getting going.

There is a Mockingbird singing out front for a few days now. I wish one would get a mate, we get these trollers every spring, but none ever stick to nest. He is up there in the big Pecan now doing Couch's Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Long-billed Thrasher, Cactus Wren, House Sparrow, Green Jay, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and more. It is almost like I went somewhere. Don't laugh, our yard Kiskadee was one that came in to a Mocker doing its imitation so keep your eyes peeled.

Apr. 17 ~ Got down into the 60's F anyway, but barely. Dawn chorus is going great guns now. It is a wonderful symphony. Heard a couple Nashville Warbler go through yard early. One came to bath as well as a FOS Wilson's Warbler. A surprise was a male Blue Grosbeak on the white millet seed tube. I have never seen a Blue Grosbeak on it. We went to the park for a quick migrant check and walk before the Easter crowds took over. Initially in woods only heard the breeders, and three Nashville Warbler. Then on way out as we were almost out of the woods, at south end of island (where the bathing frenzy was Friday) there was a termite hatch going, and birds. There were probably 5 Nashville Warbler, at least one male Wilson's Warbler, heard an Orange-crowned Warbler, female Summer Tanager, male Indigo Bunting, female Blue Grosbeak, White-eyed Vireo, all seemingly going after the termites. We heard the Marsh Wren, so it is still here, now on day 3. It was in the water lillies. Heard a Great Crested Flycatcher. It was a beehive of activity and a great show.

Then as we were slowing rolling out of park, there is that patch of live-oaks right at entrance, which is roaring in bloom now. At the first tree (last if entering) I heard a warbler song, turned engine off rolling into shade and jumped out with bins. I said to Kathy Golden-cheek or Black-throated Green. It was quiet singing and took some time to find, but finally we got good looks. A first-year male Golden-cheeked Warbler! That explains the bit off songs. GREAT bird in the park as a spring migrant. My first, first-year (nearing a year old) Golden-cheek this year. All prior males this year were adults, as were the couple females I have seen. The age and sex arrival stagger is textbook. Adult males a few weeks ago, ad. females a week or more ago, now first-spring males, and in a week or so first-spring females. Textbook. There were a few Nashville Warbler and a Yellow-throated Warbler in the blooms too. A number of sparrows under them included Lark, Chipping, White-crowned, Lincoln's, and at least five Clay-colored Sparrow. Then I heard our FOS Blue-headed Vireo singing, which we found for good looks. Live-oaks in bloom are great bird magnets. Sometimes that patch is real good in April when those go off. It is hard to bird due to all the ball moss and how dense the canopy is, but that is also why there are birds in it.

We heard a Bell's Vireo out front of the park and two more rolling around town, plus yesterday I had the one back at the Post Office at NE corner of lot there, the usual one is out front singing here and a few along the road. Drive any road with Hackberries with window down, you will hear them now. It was over 90F in the afternoon. About 5 p.m. a big thunderstorm cell moved south to our east a couple or few miles. Some lucky folk got some rain. We had a few spits here, but the outflow hit us and took 10F off the top, which was fantastic.

Apr. 16 ~ Low about 69F, and balmy. A couple Nashville Warbler went through yard in a.m., and saw a male Painted Bunting on the white millet. Heard my FOS Red-eyed Vireo singing in the morning . Driving along 360 I heard FOUR of them counting this one. When I drove it twice yesterday I heard none. When they hit, they hit. The rest seemed the same, but the heat. Was about 90 on the cool shady front porch, hotter readings at many local WU stations. A thunderstorm cell was up-valley near Lost Maples and might have hit Little or Seco Creek a bit. Supposed to be a front inbound tomorrow, we are in the hot humid pre-frontal steam-bake..Keep forgetting to mention I have been seeing Silver Puff, the native Dandelion thingie, for a week now, I think the first were about April 7 or 8. Heard Bell's Vireo and Yellow-breasted Chat out in front of the park in the brushy entrance garden.

This is not a current photo,
underwing

This is an Underwing (Catocala sps.) moth of some flavor.
Apologies if this is up and you have seen it before.
There are a bunch of types, I think a half-dozen or so,
at least, here. The hindwing on several types is bright red,
orange, or pink, but the most common one is brown.
They are all flavors of incredible camo above. In flight
the hindwing is stunning if a colored type, and the wingspan
is 2.5" so it is a good sized moth.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Apr. 15 ~ It's that day again. Not any motion in yard in the morning besides what has been here. About 30 Brewer's Blackbird at corral on east side of the river on 360 is getting late for the number. Town run day so check of the park. I heard a couple Nashville Warbler but could not get on them. Could not find anything in woods, until almost back out of them when a couple birds caught my eye across the water on island. Nashville Warblers, which began a bathing frenzy for 10-15 minutes. They were followed by more Nashville Warblers, at least 10 came down out of the trees. A male Indigo Bunting was my FOS. Two Orange-crowned Warbler are migrants. A FOS male Black-throated Green Warbler dropped down and bathed. Females of Yellow-throated Warbler and Summer Tanager did too, both likely local nesters. A FOS Great Crested Flycatcher whistled from the canopy. A couple White-eyed Vireo were there, it was bonkers with birds. Then I spotted a Marsh Wren (formerly Long-billed Marsh Wren)! Maybe my 4th park record or so. Very rare there. I thought I heard a Redstart but could not spot it. It was the best I have seen it there in ages. Over town there were my FOS Chimney Swift, Little Creek Larry said his were back a week or more. Thought sure I heard a Yellow Warbler but don't want a FOS on one zeet. Almost forgot. As I was leaving for town, a FOS House Wren flushed out of the little Junipers at driveway, over into stick pile. I let some grow along edges wherever the waxwings put them, and trimmed them into a short deco hedge so there is SOMETHING in the way of understory out there. Lincoln's Sparrow a lot lately now, but Bewick's and Carolina Wrens are in it all the time. The White-crowns use it too.

April 14 ~ Wonderful cool air with the northerly flow, about 50F for a low. No migrants in the morning, as expected after a northerly blow. Sometimes you might get some going through in afternoon on the ground. Still have 10 each White-crowned and Clay-colored Sparrow, at least 5-6 Lincoln's, and some breeder Lark, Field, and Chipping Sparrow. A tardy Sharp-shinned Hawk dove on things here today, looked an imm. male to me. Laura Levy sent a report of Tropical and Northern Parula at Lost Maples, so if you go there, keep your eyes and ears out for them. Thanks Laura for the tip! Check ebird for Lost Maples reports.

April 13 ~ A very humid low of about 71F is not welcome already. A front is inbound to pass today, dry of course, the torture continues. Just after midnight about 5 minutes into the day, I heard calling my FOS Chuck-will's-widow. About noon Kathy spotted the FOS Painted Bunting, a male at the bath. An hour later she saw TWO males together there! A real bright male American Goldfinch was here. We had a major malfunction with our main computer unit today. On a backup now but without access to lots of files. Of course everything was not backed up.

April 12 ~ Kathy spotted a FOS male Blue Grosbeak out back on the seed in the morning. What a blue! I had at least 6 male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. About 3 p.m. I saw another female Golden-cheeked Warbler, this one took a last drink and left the bird bath.

April 11 ~ The male Bullock's Oriole was on the feeder much of the day. Whaddabird! A few Ruby-throated Hummer here now. A female Golden-cheeked Warbler came down to the tub pond but stopped a foot short. Kathy had a FOS Nashville Warbler at the birdbath. A Black-and-white Warbler sang through the yard. In afternoon a Bell's Vireo sang over in the Mesquites, later yet, a Chat was making noise across from the gate. Maybe our breeder is back.

April 10 ~ We had a couple FOS in morning. First Kathy spotted a male Bullock's Oriole at the front porch hummer feeder. First male Bullock's we have had on a feeder. Then down toward the crossing we had a FOS Yellow-breasted Chat. We went up onto the 1445' knoll, and most of the same things: singing Golden-cheeked, Black-and-white, and Yellow-throated Warblers, Long-billed Thrasher. Still no Olive Sparrow or Black-capped Vireo. A.Turkey strolled down the road late in afternoon.

April 9 ~ Had to go to Bandera for bird seed again. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk at Little Creek on the way. Larry said he had an Osprey there earlier in morning. He also said he heard Poor-will this week, his FOY. After the Bandera run back here in the afternoon I saw my FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird. On the tardy side for them.

... sorry, no photo this week...

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Apr. 8 ~ Amazing lows this morning, briefly hit about 36F here. KERV had a quick 32F! It may have been colder here than what I saw, was not watching the dip. Nearing record territory for the date though. There were about 10 Brewer's Blackbird in the big Pecan along with a few Red-winged, and Brown-headed Cowbird early in the morn. The Brewer's will be gone very soon. When I cleaned the bath I could tell a female Summer Tanager had been there since yesterday by the feather she left. Mid-morn a FOS Bell's Vireo sang its way across the yard. Great to hear that again. Town run. Outstanding was my earliest ever by two weeks FOS Swainson's Thrush at the park. My prior early date was Apr. 23. Average arrival date about a week after that. So FIFTEEN days earlier than the prior earliest, three weeks earlier than average arrival date. Amazing. No other new migrants in the park woods, but on river at very top end of woods, were two Green-winged Teal. Still a gaggle of White-crowned, Clay-colored, and Lincoln's Sparrow in the yard. I see the first few Texas Persimmon flowers coming out. Take a few hits of that when ya see them, and then tell me there is no such thing as aroma therapy.   ;)   I cannot believe how parched it is out there. In town I heard of more folks whose wells are going dry the water table is dropping so much. I saw a county water tanker truck at the crossing pumping water out of the river into the truck tank. That is how you know water is way low. Kathy had an Eastern Phoebe outside late in day. It is the first sighting in a month.

Apr. 7 ~ A great low at about 48F or so. One local WU station showed 47F, KERV had a 49F. I could stand this all year. Heard a Scissor-tail over in the corral, only the second one this year. They have been slow to get here, how do they know it is a late spring? Those last couple fronts making it way down into Mexico? We have not made any effort (or had time really) to get to Lost Maples yet, largely because spring is about two weeks behind here. Much is not here yet so no hurry. Just missed some early FOS dates for some things. Can't get all of them all of the time. Not if you are a workin' stiff anyway. I saw 74F on the front porch in afternoon, dry, wonderful. Still a few Red-winged Blackbird around, did have one Am. Goldfinch. Twice I thought I heard a distant Scott's Oriole sing. Late, got a six-at-once count on Clay-colored Sparrow off the corner of patio by brushpile where I throw seed. Heard them singing, er, grinding, all day around yard, there might be 8-10 around. Chipping have mostly vacated. There are only a dozen and change left, tops.

Apr. 6 ~ Front arrived overnight, dry, but cool with northerlies, low about 60F is great. Was 15-20 mph gusting to 30 and higher, Hondo had a 41 mph gust. That will put everything down wherever it hit them. Afternoon highs were upper 70's F, a bit below average. No one complained. Did not see any migrants in yard. Canyon Towhee remains unseen now for third day, surely it left. As yesterday, again had three species of Spizella sparrows in one binocular field of view. Chipping, Field, and Clay-colored on the white millet. Methinks four sps. of Spiz is not likely doable in one binoc field-of-view. Three sps. of Spiz is all most will ever see in one field-of-view. Wind finally laid down at the end of the day. Very few uneaten sunflower seeds under the feeder, the Am. Goldfinch are all but gone. Couple Cooper's Hawk diving on stuff all day.

Apr. 5 ~ It got to about 65F or so the first couple hours after midnight, but then warmed to 69F until dawn. Gonna be a hot one today. Saw a Cooper's Hawk grab something early. Kathy started it off great with a FOS Lazuli Bunting male on the seed out back. What a blue that is! Nothing else like it in America. Only place to see that is on a male Lazuli in the sun. Mid-morn I heard and glimpsed a couple warblers chipping and chasing at each other up in the live-oaks behind us. I think they were Golden-cheeks from the glimpses I got. The live-oaks are yellow with flowers now so have to keep an eye on them for birds. Whatever is blooming is where you want to be. About 3 p.m. I saw 92F on the cool shady front porch. So add a couple or few for being in the sun. KERV was 94F, Hondo 95F. SAT record for the date is 93F, so we are right on the cusp of it. Less than 20 percent humidity is the bright side. Heard some waxwings. Nice not to see all the goldfinches taking turns tossing good seeds on the ground, except that one bright male. No Canyon Towhee again today, methinks it has left. Was here since late last summer. Off to the breeding grounds, wherever the heck that is.

Apr. 4 ~ Maybe 65 or 66F for a low, here we go with that again. This is a land of extremes. The 60's are bearable though, at least it is not a hot sticky start. There were some Purple Martin that came down low over yard buzzing the chalet and calling. First ones I have seen look at it this year. Come on martins! The overcast kept it cooler, which was nice, low chances of rain later and overnight. A couple singing warblers went through the big live-oaks uphill behind us. About 1:30 a Black-and-white was singing there, and at 2:45 a Golden-cheeked Warbler was singing. Not real close, bare-eyed views of it foraging, but good for not going anywhere on a work break. Kathy had a Turkey over along the north fenceline, and it wasn't me. She also had the first female Summer Tanager with the male. I got a count of 10 minimum at once, and it seemed 11 or 12, White-crowned Sparrow. We keep snagging more of them as they pass through. They hear that chorusing. Did not detect the Canyon Towhee today. Was an Am. Goldfinch departure as there were hundreds less uneaten sunflower seeds on the sacks under that feeder.

We seem to have lost our Eastern Phoebe that always nest under the eaves. None around. Been a couple weeks plus Kathy has been asking whaddup. I think maybe an accipter? Could be old age too. The eight prior springs, nesting was underway now and they were noisy in the yard. The silence of the Phoebes is a sad thing. It seemed to us they were resident, other than the worst couple single digit and teens days whence they might disappear I presume over to the river for a few days. Generally they stayed the winter and in fall vigorously chased away any yankee phoebe that showed up, they were very territorial year round. And now nothing. Wowsers. I saw my FOY of the nearly 2" big fat Scoliid wasp with the red bands on abdomen, which are quite the looker, but I wouldn't grab one.

Apr. 3 ~ Stars were nice at midnight, overcast at dawn, low about 60F. A Summer Tanager is singing this morning, first in the yard this year, after the FOS at park two days ago. Also singing I hear the two Yellow-throateds, vireo, and warbler. Those are all likely our local yard vicinity breeders. The singing Clay-colored Sparrow are strictly transients. This is fine. Got a NINE count on White-crowned Sparrows, and there was probably one or two more there. Had 5 ad. and 4 imm. at once though. Most are Western gray-lored orange-billed Gambell's. Which is quite odd compared to the last 18 years.

Great was after breakfast I was sitting on the back porch about 10:20 a.m. when a FOS Solitary Sandpiper flew right over the house calling. I could not stress enough how important it is to learn bird calls folks. This bird or the Golden-Plovers at night several days ago, would never have been identified if I did not know the calls. Knowing them, it is instant recognition, and you do not have to even see the bird to know absolutely positively beyond any shadow of doubt what the bird was. It's a dream. It is the difference between 'whazzat?' and data. Surely there are at least a dozen species on the yard list that are heard only nocturnal migrant flyovers (likely half are shorebirds). You couldn't have seen them if you wanted to, but there they were yelling what they are at you as they pass overhead in the dark.

We took an hour and a half spin around the conservation easement adjacent to us (actually technically we are part of it). At the crossing a FOY Giant Swallowtail and a FOY Six-lined Racerunner was it. Over at the south (1445') knoll there was a singing Golden-cheeked Warbler we got a glimpse of. Singing exuberantly was a Long-billed Thrasher which nests there annually. No Black-capped Vireo or Olive Sparrow yet, both of which usually nest on the densely brushed south side of knoll like the thrasher. A few Hutton's Vireo were singing, several White-eyed too, heard a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, saw Ash-throated Flycatcher, heard a couple singing Black-and-white Warbler and one Yellow-throated Warbler. Also Black-crested Titmouse and Bewick's Wren. Barely a few Mountain Laurel flowers, most look like they are passing on blooming this drought spring. Had a quick look at a Pronghorn Clubtail dragonfly. I see a few up on the knoll early every spring. Then mostly do not see them the rest of the year.

April 2 ~ Low about 60F, already. About 9 a.m. I had my FOS Nashville Warbler here in yard. About noon I had a second one singing at the park. Heard the Summer Tanager singing at park again, I suspect a local nesting returnee. Lots of Yellow-throated Warbler, half-dozen at least, and new were two apparent females. There were two FOS Common Grackle at park as well. These are likely the pair that nests on the island every year. Heard one in town too, there were none yesterday. A surprise was a male Kestrel on 360 east of the river, I have not seen one in those pastures for a month when the only local winterer I knew of seemed to have departed. Then this likely is a bird that wintered much further south and is on passage heading back north. Still a few Brewer's Blackbird at corrals. The Canyon Towhee is still here at the hovelita. About 3 p.m. local WU stations were reading from 88 to 94F! It was 87F in the shade on the front porch, so surely 90 or more in the sun. Heard a Turkey gobbling after dark.

This is not a current photo,
solitarysandpiper

This is a Solitary Sandpiper a couple springs ago.
At the small south pondlet on S. Little Creek Rd.
Just one, alone, solitary, as they usually are.
One flew over the house calling April 3 this week.
Only life bird I got from horseback (1973, Big Pine, CA).

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

April 1 ~ April!?!?!? OMG! Low was about 50F. Morning was calm but was blowing out of the south strong again before noon. Nothing different in yard this morn. The bird of the day was a butterfly. In the morning a LITTLE WOOD SATYR came in seemingly to my pipe tobacco smoke. Flitting, or more accurately flopping, all around me for a minute. I have just one yard record I think, late April 2014. April is the month to get them. Saw the Black Rock Squirrel 35' up in a Hackberry getting fresh flower sprouts. Then it came down to ground and ate a few fresh sprouting leaves of Greenbriar Vine. A chaser I guess.

Town run. Still a couple dozen Brewer's Blackbird at the corrals east of river on 360. Glad I have bird seed, they don't in town. But Rosie was there with tacos, which actually I prefer myself. Found out at the store it was 'thunder in the hills' last weekend at Bandera. Sure glad I didn't miss that. Bad name for something when you are in a D2 drought dyin' to hear thunder in the hills and smell rain. All I got was motorcycles. This weekend is some bicycle event here in the hills, with 1800 cyclists in the area. These damned Chambers of Commerce are doin' all they can to disturb the peace.

At the park there was a singing male Summer Tanager, my FOS. Saw two teneral damselflies, which were not ID'able, but my first Zygops of the year. At least 5 Yellow-throated Warbler along the river was nice. One Springtime Darner dragonfly. Heard one Orange-crowned Warbler. Little Creek Larry said he had also Orange-crowns this week. Better, this morning he had about 10 Black-throated Sparrow at his place. Which have been exceedingly scarce recently. I have not seen one in a year, maybe two. Interesting too since still flocked up. Usually by mid-April at latest, often earlier, they are paired and not in winter flocks any more. Larry also said his pair of Hooded Oriole are back this week. Saw about 82F at peak heat in afternoon.

~ ~ ~ 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.
goldencheekedwarbler

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

goldencheekedwarbler

Soaked and preening in the Pecan over the bath.

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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,
odontomyia

Soldier Fly of the genus Odontomyia on blooming Antelope Horn.

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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,
anemone

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.

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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.

yard

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.

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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.

blindoscreen
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.

blindoscreen
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.
knotholenestbox
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
steel.

knotholenestboxcoonscluder

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.
ringneckedduck

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.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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.
easternphoebe

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

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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.

~ ~ ~ end archive copy update header ~ ~ ~

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.
utopiasnow

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.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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.
commongrounddove

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.

~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

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.
blackcrestedtitmouse

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.
ashthroatedflycatcher

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.
blackbirds

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

Bird News Archives Index




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


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



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

Bird News Archive XXXVI
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bird News Archives Index

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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