Bird (and nature) News Archive # 40
July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023
Old Bird News XXXX

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 XXXX (#40) ~ July 1 - Dec. 31, 2023

.... in reverse chronological order, unless you scroll to end and read from the bottom up.
BIRD & NATURE NEWS 2023

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. Usually a few daily yard notes is all the drivel you get. Ready, steady, go!




July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023


Read from bottom up to view in chronological order.

~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ the old news ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ 2023 summary ~ ~ ~

That was some year eh? As far as the animals and plants are concerned it was a brutal one. The third year in a row spent mostly in extreme or exceptional drought. Much of summer was spent at or above record high temperatures, again. Third year in a row with little to no wild food crops. And it shows. Trees are still dropping, very reduced wildflower blooms (and seed crops), little to no fruit or nut crops, reduced numbers of fledged juvenile birds, and so on. Ecologically the environment is taking a beating. How long is it sustainable?

I am coming up with 38+" of rain at our place for the year. Which is a wet year. We used to average 30", but lately have been nearer 20" at best, often much less. The issue is that being in exceptional drought for most of a couple prior years so water table so low, it did not bring us back up to snuff. We're still in trouble. But it was enough to break the extreme dry cycle. Probably kept a lot of trees from dying, despite all the ones that did. It would have been much worse. Fifty year old Cypress and Sycamores along riveredge were lost, too far gone.

Odes, e.g. dragonflies and damselflies were pitiful. Their numbers are so low I can hardly believe it. I used to see 15-20 species in a good walk. Now I am lucky to get 15-20 in a month. In both May and August I saw only 6 species (!?!) and in June I saw 8 species. There used to be big fall flights of Gliders and Saddlebags, just a few this year. I did not see a number of formerly regular species, as for instance Rubyspot damselflies, were NONE! On June 30 a Turquoise-tipped Darner at the park was good as less than annual here. A Comet Darner on July 30 was maybe the ode of the year, though it was at the Waresville golf course pond where a very few have been seen repeatedly the last several years seeming to indicate locally hatched individuals. Only a very few Orange-striped Threadtail were seen at the park, they seem to be fading away, they were still numerous 10 years ago, and common 20 years ago. I count 9 species of Zygops (ddamsels), and 23 sps. of Anisops (dragons), for a 32 sps. total for the year. Very poor. Lots were MIA. Around half of my best year here, maybe.

Butterflies were weak at best. Numbers way down, and the potential annual highlight of a fall invasion from the south did not materialize, again, so fall was particularly slow, when it should be a riot out there. Only one Zebra Longwing was seen, in June. A Coyote Cloudywing July 30 on Bluehearts at the Waresville golf course pond was the first in a few years so a good find. Only very low numbers of N. Mestra this year. A Tailed Orange Nov. 15-16 was my first in several years and great in the yard. A Great Purple Hairstreak Nov. 24-Dec. 1 provided my first December record. Just one Ocola Skipper this year, in November. Hardly any Clouded Skipper this year. A Great Southern White Dec. 19 is up there with Tailed Orange as butterfly of the year. Both are far less than anuual here. Many things were MIA. No Viceroy or Sister! No Crimson Patch, Theona, or Soldier. No type of any of the long-tailed Skippers. I count 75 species for the year, way at the bottom end of totals, only matched by the worst of drought times. And so it was.

Birds were way off too, of course, still, also surely due to years of exceptional drought. I think migrants just overfly areas that look like we do from the sky. Dessicated. They know there are no fruit, seeds or bugs. A Hooded Warbler April 30 was great, as far less than annual. Some were also seen at other area birding hotspots (Concan, Lost Maples, Junction) as well. Also in April great was Sylvia Hilbig saw a male Varied Bunting a few miles NW of town. A GRAY HAWK was photographed at Lost Maples in April (ebird). A Tricolored Heron at the park July 28 was nice, only my 3rd one here in 20 years (and the other two were together). All juvs. Peregrine Falcon and Long-eared Owl were the August highlights. The Owl back for its third winter here, and ridiculously early (nesting failure?). It had been last recorded March 24 in spring. It continued to be heard monthly through end of year. A fall migrant Swainson's Thrush is very rare here so a good find Sept. 30. Four Mourning Warbler is about average for lately, but can be better. Brown Creeper at park in March, and another in Dec. was good as LTA - less than annual here. Worst thing was finding out about a Painted Redstart at Utopia Pk on Jan. 29, long after that. With friends like that...    I count 165 sps. of birds I saw locally, essentially without going anywhere. Only the slightest amount of extremely local looking a few times on a few roads, mostly in yard or at weekly (more in spring) park checks.

In odds and ends... A Javelina (Collared Peccary) and a Coral Snake in the yard were a couple highlight yard beasties. Maybe the bug of the year was a Giant Cicada (Quesada gigas) which used to be only found down along Rio Grande in far south Texas. It was heard in late July and late August. South continues its march north. I heard one in Uvalde about five years ago, now one made it here. They sound like a fighter jet idling on the runway.

The pickens were slim, but as always some interesting discoveries to be made. The army of birders at Concan and Lost Maples in spring turned up a number of great finds too, especially some eastern type warblers like Blue-winged and Cerulean. See ebird for reports at those areas.

~ ~ ~ end 2023 sumary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ oh no, not another one! ~ ~

~ ~ ~ December summary ~ ~ ~

I would call it mildish, though there were freezes, they were mostly just barely. Rain was 3.25" at our place, a great total for December. We show at D2 drought level, severe, but which is improved over most of the last three years. The river is 3-4' below normal levels. The water table is wayyyy low. No wild food crops to speak of, for the third winter straight.

Insects of course are generally few here in winter. I saw one species of dragonfly, a pair of tandem Variegated Meadowhawk. Did not see an Autumnal Meadowhawk. The butterflies were fair though very few individuals. I count 25 species for the month, most the first week or so. Great was a very rare here Great Southern White om Dec. 19 in yard. Hadn't seen one in several years, and maybe the best butterfly of the year. A Great Purple Hairstreak from late Nov. was still at the library garden Dec. 1 for my first December record. Fatal and Rounded Metalmarks the same day there were also good for being so late here.

Birds are fewer than I have seen in 20 winters here. The park woods which in fair to good times has birds in them have been devoid of birds, reflecting the dire situation here. Hardly any Ruby-crowned Kinglet or Myrtle Warbler around, Chipping Sparrows fewest ever, even Cardinal are way down. There is no food here. A FOS Say's Phoebe was likely my only new YARD bird the whole year, on Dec. 21-22. The only Pine Siskin noted this fall was one Dec. 1.

~ ~ ~ end December summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ December update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

December ~ A Pine Siskin on morn of first is the FOS, though surely heard one a week earlier. Dec. 6 my FOS Song Sparrow was at the 360 x-ing, and 45+ Ring-necked Duck were on the park pond. Finally heard some FOS Brewer's Blackbird on Dec. 7. My FOS American Wigeon was a single bird at the park Dec. 8. FOS Gadwall and Brown Creeper were at UP on Dec. 14. A Great Southern White butterfly the 19th is a far less than annual rarity here. Afternoon of 19th ca. 20 Cedar Waxwing were my FOS. My FOS Say's Phoebe was at the 360 airstrip the 21st-22nd.

~ ~ ~ end December update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Dec. 31 ~ It barely froze, 31F for a low. Six morns straight now we froze. At 7 a.m. there was a Turkey gobbling. The Eastern Bluebirds were out front at the box early, singing a lot, great to hear. Flushed the Lincoln's Sparrow out of the (fenced) garden out back. Another Sharpy diving on things out back, also an immature. Can't imagine it is the one that took a bird yesterday. Got up to a wonderful 70F, so got to open and air it all out. Still only about 3 dozen Chipping Sparrow here. Fewest ever. And so we close the books on another year, and open a new one tomorrow. Hope everyone had, and will have, good ones!

Dec. 30 ~ Low about 29F, pretty chilly. Fifth morning in a row we froze. Sunny, and warmed to an amazing 68F or so. Great to warm and open up. Just after midnight last night (e.g. early this a.m.) a pack of Coyote must have made a kill a hundred yards uphill behind us. They went off howling in celebration as they do, and three more packs within about a half-mile then went off in response so about 40-50 were going off at once. It was absolutely fantastic.

Early I saw an imm. male Sharp-shinned Hawk grab a bird I think was a Cardinal but not sure. They are so fast, neither the victim nor I saw it coming. The rest was the same stuff. Nice to have that Lincoln's Sparrow stick so far for the winter. Big fan of them here. In butterflies there was a Red Admiral, a Little Yellow, and the worn Variegated Fritillary all still continuing. Saw a couple female Eastern Fence (Prairie) Lizard in the heat.

monarch

This is a tardy Monarch on Nov. 24, 2023. We hardly had any this fall. They missed us this year. Passage peaks in our area a month before late November. Some few also occur a month (and more!) before the peak. There is a nice bell-curve of dates, but longer on the front end, and overwhelmingly mostly the peak week or two mid-late October. I have seen them in December though. Next ones will be in March when they head back north.



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Dec. 29 ~ Froze again, about 30F for a low. Nothing different for birds. The same sparse selection. Did hear the first Cardinal singing kinda sorta of the new season. In between the series of loud 'boik' notes, as often when they are starting to sing especially, they give that other sound they make, which sounds like it is inhaling for the next series but with a video game quality to it. Town run and a park check. Not one passerine in the woods. No Cardinal, Titmouse, Chickadee, Kinglet, not even a Carolina Wren, nuthin'! Incredible. It is a morgue out there folks. The only bird I saw was a Belted Kingfisher on the other side of the pond.

Town was fairly devoid of people too, seemed exceptionally quiet for a holiday weekend Friday. We park at the general store perpendicular to the street. Then big trucks or suv's pull in on either side and block your view. You just have to say a prayer and back out into Main St. blind. It's great fun. Not a problem today, no cars on road at 1 p.m., just one on each side blocking view to see if safe. I would say it is not really dangerous as long as there are no tourists around.

Dec. 28 ~ Another freeze, about 31F for a low, and sunny. Got up to about 63F for a high. Pretty nice out. Heard the Flicker nearby, and one American Goldfinch. The same gang continues. Perhaps some more fronts will push some other things down as winter progresses. Did things not arrive yet, or, did they simply pass by as the drought is so obviously bad? What has showed up, mostly moved on in fairly short order, like the waxwings or Robins we briefly saw. I am not seeing a single Orange-crowned Warbler, and hardly any Myrtle (Yellow-rumped). So few Kinglets it is weird.

Dec. 27 ~ Froze, about 30F for a low. Was 8:30 before the frost or condensation ice on roof started to melt off. We are at 10 hours, 15 min. for daylength now, a full minute longer than the solstice a week ago. Early near a couple dozen White-winged Dove flushed (accipiter) from the seed out back. Same few birds. Got up at least to 66F which was great. Saw Little Yellow, Sleepy Orange, and Red Admiral for butterflies. Kathy heard the first Carolina Chickadee song of the new season today, four very high thin notes, 'see you see me'. A week after the shortest day, and some birds are starting to sing a bit.

Dec. 26 ~ Happy Boxing Day! It froze, with 30-31F for a low. Got up to a smokin' 57F or so. Heard the Lincoln's Sparrow again sneaking around out there still. About three dozen Chipping Sparrow, and a couple Field. Around 6 or 8 House Finch. Sounded like more than one American Goldfinch but did not see them. The Ladder-backed and Golden-fronted Woodpecker are around a lot lately due to all the dying pecans, which are likely all full of grubs. Several smaller ones out back essentially in limestone, have died the last two years. More shade lost, and hotter environs.

Dec. 25 ~ Merry Christmas! Hope all had a great holiday! Weird to wake up on a Monday morn and not care about biz email. A bit of breeze overnight, low was about 39F, a bit chilly and brisk with the breeze. Near 3 p.m. I heard a Robin, sounded like just one. I think we hit 55F for a high, fairly wintry for here. The birds were the same cast of characters. The record hi-lo temps for this day here are 15 and 82F. Heard some Bluebirds out front making noise near the box they use annually, so likely 'our' pair.

Dec. 24 ~ Still hovering around 60F all night. About 7 a.m. whence still pretty dark due to the heavy cloud cover, I heard both Great Horned and Long-eared Owl calling from just up road (GH) and river habitat corridor (LE) a bit. I must have slept through it as we got an inch of rain in middle of night. Kathy said about 3 a.m. she heard it. Outstanding. That will be it for December precip, but we got a good bit for a normally fairly dry month. Winter is usually the dryest season here.

Nothing different in birds all day. Still one American Goldfinch here. In butterflies, here I saw the worn Variegated Fritillary, a Red Admiral, and a Sleepy Orange. Kathy walked up the road to neighbor's place and saw Dainty Sulphur, So. Dogface, Snout, and heard a Hutton's Vireo. Sure is great getting butterfly reports from Kathy now.   :)

Dec. 23 ~ Still flatlining, maybe was 62F overnight. Front due in tonight. Some drizzle and overcast. All the same birds, nothing different. Kathy saw the Black Rock Squirrel. Looked about .2 of an inch of precip over day. Too soppy out there. Now they are talking overnight and into morning for the best chances for more. Heard a Lincoln's Sparrow.

ducktail

This is a Ring-necked Duck diving for food. I thought it interesting how they fan the tail as they dive. It is not fanned until the dive going underwater. I presume stability and steering? They were eating Ceratophyllum (Hornwort), which must be the tastiest aquatic plant of a dozen types there.



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Dec. 22 ~ Flatlined at 60F overnight again. A little mist and overcast, but no more real precip after late yesterday evening, so far. Over the day yesterday to last night totalled 17mm, about eleven-sixteenths, or just under three-quarters of an inch. Pretty good. A cold front is due in with rain on Sat. eve and Sunday. Day length yesterday and today is 10 hours and 14 minutes, tomorrow will be one whole entire second longer. Don't spend it all in one place! About 10:30 a.m. I heard the Say's Phoebe over at the airstrip again. Town run and park check. About 30 Ring-necked Duck on the pond is nice. A couple Myrtle Warbler was it for landbirds. Not even a Kinglet there this winter!?!

Dec. 21 ~ Happy Solstice! Tomorrow will not be shorter of daylength than today. We made it again! :) Flatlined about 60F all night, some mist, drizzle, showerlets and such in the morning, some showers over the day. Was out on the back porch after 1 p.m. and heard a FOS Say's Phoebe calling from the airstrip. Which is a YARD bird! Called over a half-dozen times in a couple minutes. I think it is the only NEW yard bird I have recorded this year. As such it is outstanding! Actually long before the ten-year mark, you will plateau out on any given site's list. If lucky you get a good five years, by whence only truly casual, irregular, or accidental species will be added.

Dec. 20 ~ Was about 53F all night. Some sun in a.m. but clouded up in afternoon. Got up to about 66F or so. Several days of clouds and rain chances lie ahead. But with mild temps anyway. Nothing changing on the dearth of birds front. As good as winters can be for birds when we have great food crops, they are poor beyond my imagination when there are no food crops several years consecutively. Which is where we are now. At least the last three years have been scant at best for Pecans, Junipers, and Hackberries, which I would call the big three winter forage items. About 6:30 when barely detectable light in sky a flock of ducks flew over low southbound. They were not Athya as the local flock of Ring-necked Duck, or teal. They were larger and much slower of wingbeat, perhaps Wigeon or Shoveller.

Dec. 19 ~ Low about 40F and clear. Finally something exciting about noon, and maybe 62F. A Great Southern White butterfly! Have not seen one in years, they are far less than annual here. Unless it comes back I did not get a pic. The WHITES butterfly photo page has a pic of one in hand. Then a pair of Variegated Meadowhawk dragonfly in tandem came in to where I sprayed water hoping to draw the butterfly in. Near 3 p.m. finally some FOS Cedar Waxwing in the big Pecan. About 20 or so, and great to hear. I suspect disappointed at the lack of hackberry and juniper crops, their usual winter sustenence. Might be some ligustrum in town? They mostly only hit that after every hack- and juniper berry is eaten. We are about there now, before winter(!).

Dec. 18 ~ Low about 36F, and sunny. Looked about three dozen Chipping Sparrow now, and close to a couple dozen White-winged Dove flushed at an accipiter visit early. Did not see anything but the same cast. Pretty slow out there. These notes won't be taking much time this winter from the looks of things.

Dec. 17 ~ A barely freeze, I saw 30F at 7 a.m.. It is NOAA for the win on the low. Proceeded to hit 70F today! Sunny, the wind stopped, great out. Besides there being hardly any birds around. Did hear American Goldfinch. Ground cover in much of yard is actually pretty green due to recent rains. Most of the last Tropical Sage and Lantana froze so burnt purple. It's done until next May. Saw a couple Sleepy Orange and a Little Yellow for butterflies.

Dec. 16 ~ Cleared late yesterday and last night, low about 42F, and breezy in a.m., calming in afternoon. It is scraping for birds out there. Had to make a dump and recycle run so went out back (west) end of 360. Did not see or hear a bird, doing it twice coming and going. Some Buckley Oaks are still great with red, many past peak though. They are the sure fire guaranteed red show here every fall, almost regardless of conditions, peaking late Nov. to mid-December. They lack the fickle character of Maple colors. Which this year as so often were weak at best, again, as usual and most of the time. Lucky if it is a great show two years of ten. Got up to about a toasty 66F in the afternoon. NOAA is calling for 30 tomorrow morning, WU is at 40F. I am expecting the lower end of that.

indigobunting

This is an immature or female Indigo Bunting. Sept. 30 was date. A quintessential little brown bird. Non-descript uniform brown above, paler below with diffuse streaks on sides and often breast. The black on neck is just some mis-aligned feathers, not a field mark.



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Dec. 15 ~ Low about 58F where it flatlined all night. Drizzle and light showers in morn. Stopped a few hours mid-day, then another hour or so late afternoon. A cold front is inbound this evening. Meanwhile mighty soppy out there. Not seeing anything different for birds. Same gang still at the seed party here. Kathy says more Chippies here now. Heard a branch crack but nothing fell, so there is one getting ready to go. With this big dead Pecan right out front we have to be very aware of it. At end of day the total is about .6 of an inch, or five-eighths of an inch. So a bit over 1.25" for the two day total, which is great.

Dec. 14 ~ Got down to about 48F or so, and light drizzle and rain started up again around dawn. As of the afternoon when it stopped, we are at about 21mm now since it started yesterday morn. Just over an eighth, under an inch. Supposed to lighten up until this evening whence another precip event of about 24 hours starts. Tomorrow is a rain day. So went to town today to miss as much of it as possible. At UP there were two FOS: a Brown Creeper (which I do not see every year here), and a pair of Gadwall. Also had a Song Sparrow and a Belted Kingfisher, a few Myrtle Warbler. Not much but a little something. Nothing different here at the hovelita.

Dec. 13 ~ Was in the low half of the 50's all night. Mist and drizzle by morn. Rain day today, but looks light. Friday is a frontal passage with maybe real rain. We have three days in the 50's F on tap. Did not see anything different in birds, though only looked on seed tosses. By late afternoon it was about 12mm, just under a half-inch, of precip over the day. It was chilly and wet out. Later in day the precip stopped through the evening.

Dec. 12 ~ Low about 36F, KERV had 34. Overcast and humid, so chilly. Now that we are seeming fairly settled in of winter birds, here is what is around the yard. N. Cardinal, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Eastern Bluebird, Chipping and Field Sparrow, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Hermit Thrush, White-winged and Mourning Dove, and Common Raven. Most days I at least hear Yellow-shafted Flicker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Myrtle Warbler, Red-tailed and-or Red-shouldered Hawk, and Great Horned Owl. Brewer's Blackbird are now visiting corral next door daily. Once or twice a week I see a Caracara and hear a Kestrel at airstrip, a Red-winged Blackbird (or few) come in, and I hear E. Screech-Owl. The Robins seem gone, as do Lesser Goldfinch. Individual numbers are way down across the board. Fewest Chippies and Cardinal we have ever had in early December. There is little to no food out there. The birds just fly on by. They know a drought from 5000' when they see one.

Dec. 11 ~ A chilly 26F for a low here, KERV had 25F. I looked at 7 a.m., so it might have dipped another dF here. The birdbath still had a thin piece of ice in it at 10:30. This should turn some leaves purple. Lots of the Lantana and Tropical Sage were already purple. But still with open flowers for the few remaining butterflies. The big blow with the front blew much of the leafage off the trees and it is getting close to looking like winter now. Still some yellow Hackberry leaves, and the Cypresses are now more brown than rusty orange, but are also losing leafage fast. The Mesquites are still with some yellow leaves, which will likely not last a week longer. Must be accipiters hiding in the trees keeping birds quiet. The Lantana flowers themselves froze. Saw a Comm. Checkered-Skipper and the very well-worn Variegated Fritillary.

Dec. 10 ~ Winds blew 15-20 mph much of the night until pre-dawn. Low was about 36F, KERV had a 34. Crisp and brisk. At least it is sunny. Alleged to freeze tomorrow morning, and my guess is colder than they are saying. This morn NOAA has KERV for 31F tomorrow, yesterday they had it at 26F. Half a category difference. About 15+ White-winged Dove blasted off the seed when I went out about 9 a.m., a few Mourning. Which you can tell by the higher pitched wing whistle. Don't have to see them. Not seeing anything different here. At least one accipiter is keeping things ginchy. In the 60F afternoon hear I saw one Orange Sulphur on the Tropical Sage. The rest was the same stuff.

Dec. 9 ~ Was in the low 50's F most of the night. Just after midnight I heard the Long-eared Owl over by the river. Winds from the front got here in the afternoon. Warmed to about 75F before it turned around. Did not see any different birds. An accipiter was hunting out back. Most of the same butterflies still visiting the flowers out front. Thought I may have seen a Dogface but it got away. No Monarch, it hit it and split yesterday afternoon. Only losing 30 seconds of daylight tomorrow, and about two weeks to go until that turns around.

bluehearts

These are Bluehearts. Which seem decidely lavender to my eye. The flowers are about an eighth of an inch across, and butterflies love them, even large species use them. The roots are thought to be parasitic on other plants(!). They are found growing at water's edge.



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Dec. 8 ~ Warm gulf flow got here before midnight so spent the night about 63F! The pre-frontal southerly soppy stuff getting sucked up ahead of it. The front and winds get here tomorrow, Sat. noonish, Sun. morn chilly, Mon. morn a freeze. I do not see any high temps next week as high as the low this morning. Not seeing rain on this passage, but it is forecast for the one next week. Town run fer shtuff. At the park the woods were dead, one Kinglet (Ruby) was it. On the pond there was my FOS American Wigeon, a single female. It hit 71F here in the afternoon, wonderful out. A Monarch stopped by for nectar, the first this month, and a good 6 weeks behind the peak of the bell curve of passage dates. Saw both American and Painted Lady, the Variegated and 3 Gulf Fritillary, plus Sleepy Orange, and Sachem. Some groups of Brewer's Blackbird going over as sun started getting low.

Dec. 7 ~ It was clear and 45F at midnight, rising to 55F by dawn with cloudy overcast. Great hearing those two Hermit Thrushes chucking back and forth. Since we usually only get one at a time here. Finally heard a FOS flock of Brewer's Blackbird. They get here late too. Heard a Hutton's Vireo, the N. Flicker, and a Kinglet (Ruby). Might have hit 65F, but barely. Saw the male Sachem on the Lantana, as well as a Syrphid fly. Quiet out there in the cool and very humid. An accipiter was diving on stuff again too. Seems maybe a few more Chippies showed up.

Dec. 6 ~ Low about 39F or so, KERV had a 36. Had to make a quick town run early. There were 45-50 Ring-necked Duck on the park pond. These are the first I have seen since the one early bird was here two weeks in October. At the 360 x-ing was my FOS Song Sparrow. They sure get here late, and leave early. About a hundred days, maybe. Duration of presence is as brief as Golden-cheeked Warbler is here for breeding. Heard the Am. Goldfinch and Hermit Thrush, a Field Sparrow or two, still just a couple dozen Chipping Sparrow, no Lark for a few weeks now. Heard a Red-tailed Hawk high overhead. Might have gotten up to 70F or so again. Saw a male Sachem, er, Huron Sachem now. We sure seem far from anything Huron here.

Dec. 5 ~ NOAA was closer than the WU but both missed the low by half a category. We had about 35-36F here, KERV had a 33! Sunny at first but clouded up at mid-morn, clearing in a few hours. Single American Goldfinch and Hermit Thrush about. Nowhere near the usual numbers of Cardinal around. One Orange Sulphur was new, and Kathy spotted a Variegated Fritillary. but otherwise it was the same butterflies still around. The Tropical Sage patch still has around a couple hundred flowers open, and the big Lantana is still blooming with about 50 flowers open presently. At least we are broadcasting some color and scent.

Dec. 4 ~ Low about 42F, KERV had 39F. Clear and sunny. Glimpsed one of the accipiters that is hunting here. There are a few making the rounds. One American Goldfinch came by briefly in the morn. Heard one Hermit Thrush. Not much happening despite the seed and water. At least some butterflies still on the last Tropical Sage and Lantana. Saw two Pipevine Swallowtail, single Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur, a Little Yellow, a couple Sleepy Orange, a Comm. Checkered-Skipper, a couple Red Admiral, single Gulf Fritillary, American and Painted Lady. A whopping ten species in a burning 72F heat. I savor these last flyers every year. Saw a small dragonfly which was a meadowhawk sps., Variegated or Autumnal, methinks Variegated. Sorry, was a quick look with bad light angle, uh, and the wind blew dust in my eyes.

Dec. 3 ~ A bit chilly, about 36F for a low. Several dF lower than forecast. And that wraps up the days news. It was like a morgue out there today. The fewest of birds. Year after year of severe, extreme, and exceptional drought seem to add up biologically. We are in an extreme drought deficit in avian, botanical, and entomological terms. Did see two Dun Skipper. Got up to about 72F in afternoon heat, great with the low humidity.

Dec. 2 ~ Low about 44F, probably hit 70F in afternoon. Cloudy in morn, mostly sunny in afternoon. Kathy saw a small group of Lesser Goldfinch at the bird bath, was at least three. Otherwise the usual same suspects. Three different butterflies for the new month were a Little Yellow, a Fiery Skipper and a N. Mestra. The Am. Lady and Red Admiral, Large Orange Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, and two Pipevine Swallowtail all continue. Gotta rack 'em up early in month as it could collapse for the year and season any day. Great salmon sky at sunset.

northerncloudywing

Northern Cloudywing. Not sure we have a half-decent shot of one up, so there. :) This is almost half-decent. The wing with lots of white dots is the dorsal front left wing. The darker velvet brown is how they start out and as they wear through the season they turn that nice umber brown as scales wear off. This is our only regular Cloudywing here, never very common but small numbers present. The Coyote Cloudywing is a LTA (less than annual) vagrant. Cloudywings are larger than the Duskywings, whose wings are always patterend with marbling, not uniform above. Note the pollen on proboscis. Pollenator at work. These are big skippers with a couple inch wingspan.



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December 1 ~ First day of climatological winter, which runs Dec.-February. Low about 46F or so, was foggy most of the night, but the clear dry air behind the frontal passage got here first thing early, so sunny and great out, heading for mid-70's. About 11 a.m. Just after midnight the Long-eared Owl was still calling. Late morning I flushed a FOS Pine Siskin out back, which seemed a single bird. Heard what surely was one several days ago. Confirmed there are two Hermit Thrush seeming to be picking up white millet seed where we toss it.

Town run and park check to no avail. Actually was a very loud generator and music at north end so I passed on woods. At the library garden the male Great Purple Hairstreak was still on the Thoroughwort Eupatorium! An 8-day stay, and record. A stakeout butterfly. Saw it jump a few times so got some flashes of the blue upperwings, OMG! Also there were single Fatal and Rounded Metalmark, a Phaon Crescent, Comm. Checkered-Skipper, Sleepy Orange and Red Admiral. Here in the flowers out front we had Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, Gulf and Variegated Fritillary, Red Admiral, American Lady, and a Pipevine Swallowtail. That dry 75F felt great in the afternoon.

~ ~ ~ November monthly summary ~ ~ ~


It was cool, but mildish with only a couple barely freezing mornings. A little bit of rain was about 2.6" here for us. The river is four feet below normal bank at the park pond and spillway. Most years in Oct. or Nov. when all the trees stop uptake, the water comes up in the river. Not this year the water table is so low. Drought stage has improved to D1, which is the best it has been here in a long time. Hopefully it is not a peak, and instead a new trend.

Insects generally continued around poor at best as they flame out for the year anyway. For odes (dragonflies and damselflies) there may have been five species seen in November. Just a very few of the most expected lingerers. Butterflies were a little bit better, but individual numbers continued very depressed. Highlights were a male Great Purple Hairstreak at the Library Garden Nov. 24 - Dec. 1. Then here at the hovelita, a far less than annual Tailed Orange Nov. 15-16, and an Ocola Skipper Nov. 3 which are not quite annual. A total of 31 species is good for a bad year. All four months of fall totalled either 30 or 31 species, very poor, well-reflecting the drought and lack of any decent southern invasion. Which seem so far to me to be fairly tied to wet cycle periods (ecologically good times).

Birds also continued fairly lackluster. Though rain has been falling recently, it was all after most of the growing season. This is the third winter consecutive without the normal standard average good food crops like Pecans, Hackberries, and Junipers. Most of the usual November arriving winter species showed up as expected, in very small numbers so far. After a look around at food supplies, they move on. Hearing Sandhill Crane overhead southbound is a great part of Nov. here. Saw a very few Am. Robin, one Am. Goldfinch, one N. Flicker, couple Hermit Thrush, one Am. Pipit, and so on. The only rare bird was the continuing Long-eared Owl which I heard at beginning, middle, and end of the month, between which I heard nothing. This is its third winter back here. Only saw or heard 50 species this month. Mighty weak bird tea here lately. Shows what a great set of migratory breeding species we have here.

~ ~ ~ end Nov. monthly summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ November update header ~ ~ ~

November ~ The FOS freeze was on Nov. 1. Just after midnight barely on the 2nd I heard the Long-eared Owl along river habitat corridor, heard it again the 3rd. At the park the 3rd was my FOS Hermit Thrush. Heard my FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet on the 7th. We heard FOS Sandhill Cranes southbound on the 11th. A FOS Am. Robin was here on the 12th. A FOS Am. Pipit called overhead on the 13th. A FOS White-throated Sparrow was here the 14th. A Tailed Orange butterfly was here Nov. 15-16, they are rare here, less than annual. A FOS American Goldfinch flew over the park entrance garden on the 17th. TEN Robin were here the 22nd. Finally saw a Great Purple Hairstreak this year, a male on the 24th at the library garden. Cranes overhead southbound on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. ~ ~ ~ end November update header ~ ~ ~

~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

Nov. 30 ~ About 58F overnight and did not stop the drizzle-mist light showers yet. About 17.5-18mm of precip total so far as of 9 a.m., or just under three-quarters of an inch if you prefer. Which is outstanding. Every bit helps. Sun finally came out in the afternoon and about 3 p.m. I saw 65F, toasty! Heard an American Pipit dropping in over towards the airstrip in the afternoon. Saw a Red Admiral. A few Chickadee, a dozen White-winged and half-dozen Mourning Dove, Field Sparrow. Did not have any Lesser Goldfinch. Around Thanksgiving is when the last of them usually depart, except those few at thistle socks. The Long-eared Owl was calling about 10 p.m., as was the Great Horned but not near each other.

Nov. 29 ~ Low about 45F, cloudy, humid. A trough is getting ready to go over or by and rain is forecast tonight to the morning tomorrow. Hear Red-winged Blackbird up in the Pecan. More than a dozen White-winged Dove and half as many Mourning. Might have gotten up to about 53F, drizzle and mist started before 3 p.m., and continued throughout the evening. At times could be called light showers. In the mid-50's F so not cold, just wet.

Nov. 28 ~ A low about 45F, cloudy in morn. Got up to about 60F in the sunny afternoon. This morn had a flock of what seemed 10 Robin fly over. Which is the first I have seen of them since the 22nd when they first showed up. Wandering around looking for a good Hackberry? Later morn there were four male Red-winged Blackbird out back picking up white millet. In the afternoon I saw a few butterflies. A Red Admiral, a Sachem, and a Sleepy Orange. That party is about over. At least they don't flame out as fast as the odes. In about 3 years of 20 here I have added a new butterfly species for the year in December. The SAT hi-lo temp records for this day are 91 and 21F. What a spread!

Nov. 27 ~ Low about 44F or so, cloudy and overcast. Might have reached 55F but never felt it, cool and humid. Nothing different in the yard, very quiet. Probably accipiters. Heard the Hermit Thrush and a Field Sparrow. A Kinglet (R-c) and a Kestrel were about. The lack of birds will sure make this part go faster. Early in evening, before 8 p.m., I heard the Long-eared Owl calling. I worry about it when I hear it near the Great Horned, but this has gone on for three years now. That is how stealthy they can be. You would think that GH would really be getting pretty darn irked by now about this poaching winter visitor. It has to be on high alert for it. And still can't find it. So I guess I should not feel too bad myself.

Nov. 26 ~ Cold front arriving at dawn. Was 52F or so much of night, dropping to about 48F when the northerly winds got here around dawn. Blowing 10-20 mph, gusting higher, felt the 30's. Still cloudy, but no more precip since the evening yesterday. We got about a quarter-inch overall. Looks like another day best spent working inside. The Hermit Thrush seems to be sticking, I think it is eating birdseed (white millet). Seems to work around the three spots where we toss. About 10: to 10:30 p.m. I heard the Long-eared and Great Horned Owl again, seemingly calling from not that far apart, as usual. The Long-eared seemed to be moving around a bit.

Nov. 25 ~ Clouds, fog, mist, and drizzle to light showers all day. Temp spread was about 52-54F, and around .25, a quarter-inch of precip. Ranged from drizzly to soppy, we opted for work inside, hunkered down like the birds. And so nothing to report. The usual hangers-on were present and accounted for. We have seen any Robin the last couple days after the flocklet showed up. Seems the one that was here a few weeks before they got here, left with them. Hope they find some berries. Even though we have had some rain, the fruit and seed crops are very poor to nil. For at least the third winter in a row. We can again expect things to show up, do a food supply survey, and split for more fruitful pastures.

greatpurplehairstreak

Great Purple Hairstreak, male. Note blue band on ventral forewing which females lack. And which is the color of the entire dorsal surface, the alleged great purple, which is actually a great blue. Cruelly, it is only seen in flight as it perches with wings closed together. It is about twice as big as all our other local Hairstreaks, and its larval foodplant is Mistletoe, where you might catch one emerging.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 24 ~ Low was maybe 36F middle of night, about 38F at sunup. Chilly and sunny. Heard the Kestrel over by airstrip. Also Flicker and Hermit Thrush called. Before noon another large group of Sandhill Crane overhead southbound. Saw nothing at the park. The entrance garden Pecos Daisies had two Orange Sulphur (one a pale morph female), a Monarch, Sachem and Fiery Skippers, C. Checkered-Skipper, Gulf and Variegated Fritillary, Sleepy Orange, and a Vesta Crescent. Then over at the library garden was the first and only Great Purple Hairstreak I have seen this year! Also more Sachem, Fiery Skipper, C. Checkered-Skipper, Red Admiral, Gulf Frit, Sleepy Orange, another Monarch, another Vesta, and one Rounded Metalmark was ten species there and great. Got up to about 65F in afternoon heat. A Little Yellow was on Tropical Sage here.

Nov. 23 ~ Happy Thanksgiving, hope y'all have great Turkeys! Middle of night was mid-30's F and a few dF warmer by sunup, maybe 38 or so. Got up to about 60F in the afternoon. Not much moving outside. Heard another flock of cranes overhead southbound. Saw one Red Admiral butterfly, and a couple female Eastern Fence (Prairie) Lizard.

Wow, the new update at the U.S. Drought Monitor has us in only D1 here in the Sabinal River Valley all the way up past Lost Maples. First time in a long time for the drought level to be that low here. Just east of town a few miles, before the Medina Co. line, so at Little, Thunder and Seco Creeks, it goes back to D2, severe levels. A great overall improvement to see, which hopefully holds. D4 is gone from those counties to our east that have been in for seemingly a couple years. The winter forecasts seem to be leaning towards colder and wetter than average for us.

Nov. 22 ~ I saw 34F at 7 a.m., before the usual final dip so likely hit 33. KERV had 32F. We have only hit freezing once so far this fall, which is simply an observation, not a complaint. The Robin was squawking from top of the big Pecan early in morn. Still here, and still the only one so far. Oops! Spoke too soon. Only one until today. About 10 a.m. Kathy spotted 3 at the bath. Around noon she counted 10 at least. So, the lone bird is not anymore. Great to hear them outside. Bet they were disappointed after surveying the Hackberry and Juniper crops, which are near nil this fall. About 3 p.m. I heard Sandhill Cranes high overhead southbound. Got up to about 66F, only a few butterflies about. But, two Sachem (which got a new name and is now Huron Sachem), one Fiery Skipper, a Sleepy Orange and a Cloudless Sulphur.

Nov. 21 ~ Low about 52F, it blew northerly 10-20 mph all night, some gusts higher, especially in morning to afternoon. Everything is hunkered down until this blows over. It may have hit 58F but never felt like it. A little more insulating for windows as the next three morns are to be in the 30's F. Just a few of the regulars and they were hard to come by today. I followed the birds example and hunkered down as well. Too much biz desk work to do anyway. Did see a few Yellow Wood-Sorrel flowers open, and a few of the small peachy thing I don't know and haven't figured out.

Nov. 20 ~ About 65F for a low, and dripping with fog and mist, very muggy. A front is passing over the day. The dry weterlies got here before noon, and warmed about 10F before it started to cool back down later afternoon. At KERV as an example on the dryline arrival, from 10 a.m. to noon, humidity went from over 80 to under 30 percent. All the same winter birds are still here. Only thing different was that I thought sure out in front yard I heard Pine Siskin several times, the three-note rapid-fire with no spaces between them cutcutcut. But did not see it or them. It was just one explosive jeeee! from being my FOS. Leps were a Pipevine, Gulf Frit, Sleepy Orange, and a Vesta Crescent. Still a few Blue Mistflower open, as well as some Tropical Sage and Lantana. Even a couple new Red Turkscap flowers opened today.

Nov. 19 ~ Low about 60F with fog and mist. Might have climbed 5dF over the day. Not cold, but sopping wet out. Still foggy at 3 p.m.! All the same birds continue, saw nothing new. Hermit Thrush and Lincoln's Sparrow still sneaking around. The last week the Mulberry has been at peak yellow and beautiful. It will soon be bare. No hummingbirds for a couple weeks now. We keep just two feeders out with a little bit in them in case one, or an oriole, shows up. Since cool the fluid lasts wayyyy longer of course.

Nov. 18 ~ Was fog-mist in the morning, about 58F. Got up to maybe 66F peak heat with some brief sun, but mostly cloudy. Fairly dead for birds save the residents. The only thing was I saw the Lincoln's Sparrow that has been sneaking around, and I heard a hissy note as in White-throated Sparrow. The rest was the same. Still a few Lesser Goldfinch around. A few butterflies were out in the sun briefly, but the few common ones was all I saw. Guessing we will be clouded out for the Leonid meteor shower peak overnight tonight. If you want to schedule which days will have clear nights out here, first make sure there is no astronomical skywatching feature of interest to observe. If not, you might have some clear skies. Otherwise, forget it.    :)

wildturkey

These are Wild Turkey poults, young of the year. A couple months ago, the flock of them was vacuuming up birdseed here. And boy can they!



~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 17 ~ Low about 54F, some foggish stuff out there. Got warm today. Heard a Belted Kingfisher over at the river. Maybe a dozen plus White-winged Dove visiting now, which are likely winterers, most of our breeding population departs for winter. Town run and park check. Nothing at the park, water level is 4 FEET below spillway. Note we recently had the 6" of rain in Oct., and the 2" the past week, and the Cypresses, Sycamores and all have stopping sucking water for the year. Still water level has nothing but gone down the last 6 weeks. With 8"!?! Oops! An add-on I forgot as of the update upload... A FOS Amercian Goldfinch flew over calling at the park entrance garden when I was looking at butterflies.

There were some buterflies at the library garden, finally. FIVE (at least) Monarch is a high count here this fall. One Queen, some Sachem and C. Checkered-Skipper, one Fiery Skipper, Pipevine Swallowtail and Sleepy Orange, a Cloudless Sulphur. Best though was two Rounded Metalmark (C. perditalis). At the daisies out front of the park (Little Creek Larry said these were Pecos Daisy) there were butterflies as well, including a couple Phaon Crescent, an Orange Skipperling, more C. Checkered-Skipper. and another Fiery Skipper. Back here at house we had a new for month Buckeye and American Lady. Plus Large Orange and Cloudless Sulphurs, Gulf Frit, Pipevine, Sleepy O., and another quick look at the Tailed Orange.

Nov. 16 ~ About 45F for a low, KERV had a quick 43. Sunny in a.m., thin clouds in afternoon. Nothing different in birds. Only got up to about 70F. In butterflies saw the Tailed Orange come in to the Tropical Sage briefly. Boy is it ginchy, wish I could get a pic of it. Saw a Julia's Skipper that looked very fresh. A Queen hit the Tropical Sage. The Painted Lady was back on Lantana. A Gulf Frit and a couple Pipevine Swallowtail still. Something to look at anyway. Heard the Robin again, in the afternoon, so likely roosting nearishby. Also heard the Hermit Thrush, N. Flicker, R-c Kinglet, and Myrtle Warbler, which all seem to be daily now, and seemingly the same birds. As in, in-for-the-winter individuals.

Nov. 15 ~ Low about 47F, maybe hit a quick 46, KERV had one 43F reading. Clear is nice. At about 6:40 a.m. I heard the Long-eared Owl. I did not hear it during the five-day wet gray spell we just had. About 9 a.m. the N. Flicker was calling whilst warming in top of the big dying Pecan. At least one Hermit Thrush around. Otherwise just the regulars. A few butterflies were out in the 72F heat in the afternoon. Outstanding as LTA - less than annual, was a Tailed Orange on the Tropical Sage. I had one either last year or year before, but it had been a long dry spell before that one, maybe 7 years or so. Late fall is usually when for them. The other good one was an Ocola Skipper. Second one this fall, and also can be missed any given drought year. A few Pipevine Swallowtail, an American Lady, Gulf Fritillary, a Vesta Crescent, and a Comm. Checkered-Skipper. Later in day we heard a Ringed Kingfisher rattling over at the river.

Nov. 14 ~ Still flatlining at about 55F here. Overcast but no more rain, supposed to clear and hit the 60's this afternoon. Rain total is around 31mm, or about 1.25" for the three days, and 2.35 for the last five days. At the dawn seedtoss about 7 a.m. I heard a FOS White-throated Sparrow. Not an absolutely guaranteed-to-see bird here every year, so great. Never saw it all day. Other things heard out there were the same few winter type species. A Myrtle Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Hermit Thrush, an Am. Kestrel, and a N. Flicker. A few more Chipping Sparrow have showed up, probably 20 or so now. Here they come. Warmed to about 68F and a few butterflies were out. No skippers or small stuff after the five days in the fifties. Three Pipevine Swallowtail, two Gulf Fritillary, a Painted Lady and a Large Orange Sulphur.

Nov. 13 ~ Light rain pre-dawn to early morn and a low about 52F or so. Now at about 28mm or 1.1" for this second low system event. Which means since Saturday, the last three days with measureable precip from this low. The initial first cold front arrived last Thursday and we have not been out of the 50's F since Friday, today is day four of that. That first event was 1.1" of precip right on and after the frontal passage. So now we are at 2.2" since last Thursday with this second round and event.

A big branch fell last night from the big dying Pecan. Which wiped out a bunch of the Tropical Sage right out front. Will need to borrow a chain saw to get it out. Moved enough debris to get from porch to car and over to birdbath anyway. Just have to step over one 8" branch on stepping stones to driveway. What a mess. Be lucky if any of the flowers out there survive the falling of branches by time it is all done. Heard a Hermit Thrush out front over at draw whilst working. Earlier a bit of a scold scene out back had one. So at least one, maybe two here now. The only other thing of interest today was a heard flyover FOS American Pipit. Probably two of them.

Nov. 12 ~ Low about 55F, or, whatever it has been the last 48 hours or so. Flatlinin'. At 7 a.m. there was a Ringed Kingfisher flying over house high up, chakking all the way. Early in the mist after 8 a.m. there was a FOS Am. Robin calling from the thicket across the road from the gate. Another winter friend returns. Other than that it was pretty quiet out there today. Very drippy, some more mist and drizzle, a few light showers. Temps got up to maybe 59F or so. A big 4dF spread. Now a bigger rain is predicted for overnight. And temps the same through tomorrow. So a three day run in mid-50's F mostly. Cypresses are getting rusty orange along the river. Mulberry is going yellow and dropping leaves now. Many Pecans and Mesquites already looking pretty thin of foilage. At dark about 13mm of rain so far, which means 5mm over day as was 8mm at dark yesterday. Just letting it add up to get an event total. Anyway we are just over a half-inch so far.

Nov. 11 ~ Low about 54F, still overcast and cool from the front. Cloudy all day, might have climbed 4F to 58F or so. Were some light showers off and on. Looks about a third of an inch, or 8mm as of dark. Said to be getting more tonight. Kathy thought she might have had an Orange-crowned Warbler leaving the bath. Besides one I only heard chipping mid-Oct., I have not seen one this fall. What the heck? In the afternoon we did hear our FOS Sandhill Cranes somewhere up in or above the clouds, heading south. No hummingbird again, re-confirming their departure. Heard N. Flicker over in the corral. In the afternoon I thought sure I heard an American Goldfinch. Actually I have thought I heard one a few times in the last week, but only one not close quick call series each time. Been holding off on a FOS date until it pushes over into the absolute level. Still holding.

halichtid

This is a Halichtid sps., which are commonly called sweat bees. There are many species, some are black, or look like honey bees. They are about a half-inch long and you can see them on flowers gathering pollen. That is a Frostweed flower head it is on.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 10 ~ Wind blew and it lightly rained much of night bringing cold air in, the low was 50F and it had some wind on it. Total rain since yesterday morn when it started is now 27.5mm, or about 1.1". Which is great, we need it. Did not rain all day, and hit about 58F tops. Heard a Kestrel over by airstrip this morn. Town run, and park check to no avail. One Great Blue Heron on the spillway was it. The woods remain lifeless. Didn't see anything along the roads. Heard a Flicker over in the corral. Quiet here otherwise, just us church mice. We did not see or hear a hummingbird here today. First day of that since earliest March. So methinks Ruby left sometime yesterday between rains, only saw it early in morning. Or it left after a dawn tankup here.

Nov. 9 ~ Low about 69F, showers starting just after dawn, progged for a rain event. Cold front arriving. Early a step out to front porch heard a hummer fly away, so Ruby is still here. Heard some Lesser Goldfinch, a small flock of Chipping Sparrow continue. But due to off and on sprinkles and light showers I was not out there much. Temps slowly dropped all day to about 60F around 5:p.m., should lose 10F more overnight as the colder air arrives. Looks about just one CM over the day, as of dark.

The update today at the U.S. Drought Monitor has us in D2 now, just only severe. What a great improvement. That huge D4 exceptional drought area that has plagued the southeast parts of the plateau is now reduced to a tenth of its former size and the west half of Bexas and NE 20 percent or less of Medina Co. are what remains. The rest is now improved to D3, extreme drought. Keep the rain comin'! Late in day there was a big buck eating fallen pecans in the yard.

Nov. 8 ~ Low about 64F, with fog-mist, so wet and gray. Dead quiet out there at 6:30 a.m. if you wondered. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still here. Gettin' late for them. Today is the last day with sun predicted for a week, it better go. Saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk flush everything in the morn. They are keeping the birds away. There is also likely a fair bit of natural wild food crop available in the way of now ripe seeds from all the forbs, wildflowers, and so on. The Pecan crop seems nearly harvested by the squirrels and coons. I may have mustered a half-pound for us, which is great on the micro scale as it is pitiful on the macro. About 8:30 the Long-eared Owl was calling upriver a bit, couple hundred yards maybe, just the other side of the draw.

Nov. 7 ~ Low about 57F, just a few clouds early, mostly sunny. Got up to about 82F in the afternoon. Great was in the morn a FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet called several times as it went south through yard. We did not hear or see the Rufous Hummingbird today. The last imm. male Ruby-throated continues. Otherwise it was dead for birds out there. Very little, even the Cardinal seem much fewer in number than they were a month ago. Still a few Lesser Goldfinch. Butterflies were mostly the same stuff. Two male Large Orange Sulphur were new. One female Cloudless Sulphur continues. Three each of Bordered Patch and Pipevine Swallowtail. Seems most of the skippers departed, only a few here today. An Orange Skipperling was here, not sure if a new one. Lots of it seems to tank up a few days and head out on that journey of the short rest of their lives at this point, at least with plenty of gas.

Nov. 6 ~ Low about 61F, some thin low stratus for a bit. Had the Rufous and Ruby-throated Hummers in morning. It is very quiet out there still. I think we have a case of the accipiters. One new butterfly was a Southern Broken-Dash, first one I have seen this year. Which is nearly ridiculous. Saw the Mestra, the two Bordered Patch, the Queen, and many of the same skippers continuing. Was a pair of Vesta Crescent now.

Nov. 5 ~ About 50F for a low is fine, we're back to fall it seems. Very quiet in the yard for birds in the morn. Prolly those pesky accipiters. Sounded like a morgue out there all day. Afternoon had some cloudcover so partial sun, and about 75F. The two hummers continue. Why is that after all but a few leave, the remaining last ones get more ginchy than any other hummers all year. Every year it is the same thing. They will barely come in if you are outside, fly at the sight of you, and if on inbound approach, turn around when they see you. They are never like this all year. They are always like this when it gets down to the last few.

Nov. 4 ~ Low about 54F, overcast. Not seeing any bird movement to speak of. More butterfly action lately than birds. Single Rufous and Ruby-throated Hummingbird continue. Still just a small flock of about 10 Chipping Sparrow around. Heard a Kinglet (R-c). Most of the same butterflies were around today again. Saw 2 Bordered Patch though. Also one new one showed up, a Little Yellow. Saw a new different Phaon Crescent. Cloudless Sulphur and Queen were here briefly. Saw a female Whirlabout confirming one that got away yesterday, when only positive on the male. Got up to about 76F at peak heat. Last day of DST, daylight stupid time. Sunrise at reasonable hour again. finally.

Kathy found a dead Cerambycid (Longhorn) Beetle in a plastic tub in the carport. Why don't they just fly out? Tub was over a foot by two feet, open, and a shallow 6" deep. It is another Elytramitatrix undata. Seems scarce but regular here. Have to compile a Cerambycid page with all the pics I have so the most usual ones here are handy in one place for reference. It is from this year is my best guess about when, since this spring when I last moved the tub.

greatblueheron

This Great Blue Heron was on the spillway at the park pond today (Nov. 10, 2023). Seems a bit late in year to still have all those breeding plumes? Or is it an eager beaver ahead of schedule ready for next cycle to get going?


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Nov. 3 ~ Low about 47F or so, clouds kept some heat in. Just after midnight the Long-eared Owl was calling again. At dawn the Ringed Kingfisher was waking everything up. Town run and park check. Water is a few feet below normal pondfull. Nothing in the woods but near the start of them was a FOS Hermit Thrush. Another winter friend is back. Here, Rufous and Ruby-throated Hummingbird both still present. Heard a Kinglet (R-c) in yard. Lark Sparrows seem gone now, been several days without one. Got to about 72F in the afternoon.

Here at the house most of yesterday's butterflies were around still. Four MORE new ones showed up though. Best was a FOY Ocola Skipper, which are LTA - less than annual, here. The other new ones were at least one Whirlabout, a Painted Lady, and a Pearl Crescent! Wow! Saw the skipperling and Julia's Skipper again. The Blue Mistflower is pulling skippers in like magic. The lady and crescent were both on the Frostweed. Can hardly believe I have seen 21 sps. of butterflies at the front porch flowers the last 3 days.

Nov. 2 ~ Low about 40F, maybe hit 39 briefly. Some clouds held the heat in. Last night after midnight the Long-eared Owl was calling over in the river habitat corridor. Must move around a lot, it had been since Oct. 8 when I last heard it. Is it the Great Horneds, or maybe poor food availability? Wouldn't think food shortages if you have an idea of the Cotton Rat and White-footed Mouse populations around our place. There ought to be tons of food out there. Still a few Lesser Goldfinch coming to the Tropical Sage. Not for long. Not getting anything different for birds today.

Saw the Eufala, Dun, and Fiery Skippers again on the Blue Mistflower, the Common Checkered-Skipper, as well as the Phaon Crescent and Bordered Patch. Also saw the Mestra and Red Admiral again. And again, several new things showed up today. A Queen, a Julia's Skipper, an Orange Skipperling, and a Vesta Crescent. On the Frostweed late in day in 64F peak heat there were a few metallic green Halichtids, and a Sphecid (Thread-waisted) Wasp, the usual one with brick red distal abdomen. Saw the XL, and a small type, of Bumblebees.

November 1 ~ Thar she blows! The first freeze of the season. We had 31F here this morn. Crisp. Heard Ringed King over at the river. Thought I heard a couple Nashville and did have one Myrtle Warbler in yard. The Rufous Hummingbird continues, as does at least one imm. male Ruby-throated. Broke 60F in the sunny afternoon. A few butterflies were around the flowers. At about 55F a Red Admiral hit a sunny stone wall to warm up. On the Blue Mistflower little bits we have blooming, a Bordered Patch and a Phaon Crescent were both new, as was an Am. Lady on the Lantana. Hangers-on were a N. Mestra, a couple each Sachem and Dun Skipper, single Pipevine Swallowtail, Gulf Fritillary, and Sleepy Orange. One big yeller bumblebee on the Tropical Sage. Later in afternoon about 4 p.m. there were a Fiery Skipper, a Eufala Skipper, of which I did not see any in October, and a Monarch, which nectared on some Tropical Sage. Thirteen species of butterflies and it might have hit 62F.

~ ~ ~ October summary ~ ~ ~

Over SIX inches of rain (about 6.2") is nearly mind-blowing. Sure would have been nice in the growing season which was mostly bone dry. I would say a few dF warmer than average for the month, and only saw about 40F for lowest low. Water not going over spillway, river 3 FEET or more below normal bank at park pond. Drought shows us on line of D2 and D3, still.

Was not much to see for insects this month. Slow is being generous. No fall invasion of butterflies from the south, and hardly any dragonflies left out there. In odes a Red-tailed Pennant was the only less than always expected type. About nine species of odes, only one was a damselfly. Butterflies were strictly the expected species, and very few of them. Despite lots of blooming Frostweed, Turkscap, and Tropical Sage, plus Lantana. A Mestra or two were about. Single Cloudless, Orange, and Large Orange Sulphur show how few there were. Almost no skippers, hairstreaks, crescents, and so on, for everything. Looks like 30 species for the month. Have had over 90 sps. in the best October, and over 60 is average! Half of the 30 sps. seen were just a single individual or two. For odes and butterflies for several years now I keep asking myself if it is too soon to panic? One night the porch light had a fair for these days reaction with lots (100?) of small (micros mostly) moths coming in.

Oct. birds are neat for seeing the return of fall transients and wintering species, so different things to see. Old cold-weather friends like Flicker, Myrtle Warbler, Kinglet, House Wren, Lincoln's Sparrow, and so on. But it was a lacklusterj passage generally. Very weak, with very low numbers of birds. The Long-eared Owl was heard Oct. 8, the only rare bird I detected. A couple Olive-sided Flycatcher were great since not a sure thing to see every fall, especially liked the one that called 'quick! three beers!'. Hardly any warblers, four Mourning is average, and Wilson's was the most numerous type. Yellow and Nashville were fewest ever by far in twenty falls. One Catbird is about average. The rest of the fun is just recording the FOS fall arrival dates for everything, for the 20th year here. I count 76 species for the month.

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~ ~ ~ update header archive copy October ~ ~ ~

October ~ the first FOS was morning of the first, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. At about 00:15 on the 4th a FOS Barn Owl flew over. At a more reasonable hour the 4th, there was an FOS Great Egret. A 2.5" rain event with the first real fall cold front arrived morning of the 5th. Add the 1.5" on the 1st and 2nd, four inches of rain to start Oct. is outstanding. The Ruby-throats largely vacated and rode the post-frontal blow southward. On the 6th were FOS Kestrel and Lincoln's Sparrow. The Long-eared Owl was heard just after midnight on the 8th. On the 9th was a FOS House Wren. A FOS Catbird showed the 11th. Saw my FOS ducks finally on the 13th, at the park pond. Blue-winged, Green-winged, and Cinnamon Teal, at least two Shoveler, and a single Ring-necked Duck. Five FOS in a flock. A FOS N. Flicker called on the 19th. The FOS fall migrant Chipping Sparrow flock was on the 20th. My FOS Yellow-shafted Flicker was on the 23rd. Our FOS Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler was the 24th, finally. At dark on the 27th Kathy and I separately both heard FOS White-fronted Geese. The FOS major cold front of fall arrived late on 29th, it felt like winter on the 30th (and first freeze was Nov. 1).

~ ~ ~ end update header archive copy October ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the drivel ~ ~ ~

Oct. 31 ~ Low about 42F, still flatlined since yesterday. Clouds overnight kept heat in, supposed to clear and get cold tonight and tomorrow morning, our first freeze is forecast. Will warm back up quickly, just a one day deal. A thundercell boomed a bit just a few miles south at midnight, we just got light sprinkles. The Rufous type Selasphorus hummingbird continues in the morn. I thought it might leave on the northerlies. Got up to a toasty 60F which felt great. Some few butterflies at peak heat. A male Sachem, a male Dun Skipper, a C. Checkered-Skipper, and a Pipevine Swallowtail. Too much to do to look around much and just the usual stuff in the yard. And there goes another month. Ten down and two to go.

Oct. 30 ~ Low maybe 40F with 10-20 mph winds on it, feels like it is freezing. We had very little precip from the passage though, most missed us, others got lucky. Less than a quarter inch fell here. Three horses made the break over the fence from the corral to our yard late yesterday. The corral is trampled so bare dirt, our unmown wilder mess was irresistable, much having gone green again from the six inches of rain in October. By this morning lots of the two fenced acres has now been mowed, fully aerated (running hooves), and fertilized. It looks like an army of dillos (what a herd of armadillos would be called, if they herded) came through. Plus a bonus broken PVC standpipe. Making a floodlet, but over into corral, away from the cottage. Fortunately a line that we can shut down without taking house water offline, only part of the corral. And I got to spend a half hour more than I wanted out in the howling freezing chills with various ranch hands. One was questionable for he was in short sleeves, and had neither a jacket on nor goosebumps. It was like he was dressed for yesterday. At 3 p.m. it was maybe 42F tops, winds still 10-20 mph so still feels in lower 30's F.

Oct. 29 ~ Low about 72F again, last of that for a bit. First major fall actual cold front inbound this afternoon to evening. Battoning down hatches. Kathy heard a Hutton's Vireo uphill in the liveoaks behind us. I had a late Blue-gray Gnatcatcher go through. Some butterflies were a Cloudless Sulphur, 4 Pipevine Swallowtail, a Gulf Fritillary, a N. Mestra, three Dun Skipper and a first of month Orange Sulphur. Noonish it was 72F with south wind in KERV, while Junction was 58F and northerly, we had at least 75F here. About 3:30 I saw 80F on the front porch winds still south! About 4 the winds turned northerly and by 4:30 it was 70F and dropping, by 4:30 light sprinkles had begun. Tomorrow morn it will feel like winter with chills around freezing.

Oct. 28 ~ Another muggy morn, low was 71F. Monday morn will be in 30's with wind and rain on it. Gotta get some things done for winterizing now. Like battoning down some things outside and finding thermals. Was some mistish early. Over half of a tenth of an inch from spritzes and spits yesterday and last night. Heard another (second of fall) Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler go through front yard. That is how slow it is out there. Except for squirrels stealing Pecans, which seems in overdrive. There was a Rufous type Hummingbird out there today. It showed up late yesterday evening. One of the next couple days, I think the 29th, but maybe pre-dawn the 30th, was when we got here in the big truck, TWENTY years ago. Weewow! So we are passing a milestone of sorts, 20 years in Utopia now.

carolinawren

Just making sure you are seeing enough Carolina Wren. This one had no tail at the time, you shoulda seen the side view. If we measured all the bird sound here, every day all year, this would probably be 'the noisiest species in Utopia'. Or anywhere else one is. Pairs duet, I suppose because one thinks it is not loud enough. A wren box in the garden will be the best pest control you ever had.


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Oct. 27 ~ Another low of 73F. Is it not a bit late for this? Third morn in a row, in late October, humidity at 80-100 percent. Some mist and sprinkles early but no real rain overnight. Same stuff around yard it seems. Town run and a park check. The woods are still devoid of birds. There were a whopping TEN Monarch up near the Frostweed patch in Pecans. Which has a fraction of the flowers our patch does. First multiple numbers count of them all fall for me. They seemed to have missed us this year. One Belted Kingfisher was upriver and on pond the continuing female Ring-necked Duck present since Oct. 13. Odes were Green Darner, Checkered and Swift Setwing. Some Maxmillian Sunflower is going but saw nothing on it. Back here in the afternoon there were three Monarch, a Queen, a Gulf Fritillary, a Sleepy Orange, and three Pipevine Swallowtail. On the river the Goldenrod is done blooming, and the first rusty orange color is now showing on some Cypress trees. At dark we both thought we heard distant geese high overhead southbound.

Oct. 26 ~ Low of 73F, some sprinkles, but the rain missed us overnight. There were a few hundredths over the day, the real rain missed us. We are just over 2.25" for the two-days, and still might get more before it all clears. Or with the first major actual cold front of the fall on Sunday the 29th. Four days to winterize anything that needs it, chill factors Monday will be in 30's F ALL DAY! Our new climate program with an extended summer, is at the expense of fall. If you recall, I was strongly against this...

Ringed Kingfisher flew right over house chaking early. A Kinglet (Ruby) was around. Hearing more Eastern Bluebird lately, including seemingly larger groups than the usual family groups we see. I suspect some of these are winterers from northward and not local birds. The squirrels have been taking all the Pecans off the one tree with a half-crop for a month now. They start when they are still wayyyy to green. And then it is a platoon of coons all night. They are messy enough that White-winged Dove walk the large branches pulling pecan bits out of the bark every day. Any producing tree over a road is always good for birds hunting crushed nuts. They learn the sound of nuts getting crushed by cars quickly.

Oct. 25 ~ Low was 73F, very humid and muggy. Mostly the same stuff around. Heard Kinglet (Ruby), and a Kingfisher (Ringed) over at the river. Flicker uphill behind us. In the afternoon around 2 p.m. we had a big rain cell dump an INCH of rain! Wow! Later I heard what sounded like the hissy note of a Green-tailed Towhee but did not see it. Had the same thing happen last year. Might have gotten to 75F here today.

After dark Kathy spotted then caught a moth came in the house as I did, which turned out to be the first adult Tiger Moth I have ever seen here. A stunning beauty of a beastie. Only docushot I could get was in a glass jar, but got something anyway, and it was repatriated with the great outdoors. Their caterpillars are known as wooly bears, and I see them occasionally, so knew these had to be here. Wonder why I never encountered a flying adult for twenty years here? I have seen Luna, Polyphemus, Cecropia, Io, lots of Imperial, at least four types of Underwing, Lassaux's Sphinx, but had never seen an adult Tiger Moth here yet.

Oct. 24 ~ Low about 71F or so, and a rain-cooled one. Rained middle-of-the-night to dawn, hardish at times. I see 34mm or about one and five-sixteenths of an inch! Just over 1.25". Amazing, and boy do we need it badly. Heard the flicker out there mid-morn and again late afternoon. Just after 10:30 finally my FOS Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler announced its arrival from top of the big dead Pecan, incessantly chipping to make sure I noticed. In afternoon saw the N. Mestra again, and one of the big Scoliid wasps with pale yellow bands on abdomen, two full ones anteriorly and two half-bands distally. Regular here, I see a few annually. Late afternoon about 5 p.m. there was a Tawny Emperor on the Lantana, Kathy saw one a week ago or so. There was another Rufous type Selasphorus Hummingbird around for a few hours tops, and gone. Fourth one this fall.

Oct. 23 ~ Low of 72F, overcast, a sprinkle or two in morning, supposed to get some precip this week. Earlyish heard the Long-billed Thrasher right over north fence in big Juniper row that goes to the draw. Kathy saw a Nashville Warbler at the bath. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby). Just a few hummers left, all Rubies. Later in afternoon there was a FOS Yellow-shafted Flicker up in the big dead Pecan, always great to hear that call. Still waiting for that first Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler of the fall. Amazing how late they get here. I heard a chip note out back I thought pretty sure was a Black-throated Green Warbler but could not spot it. Was in the big live-oaks on the hill behind us. They are huge old ones.

Oct. 22 ~ Low about 70F, overcast, a bit balmy for the date. Did not get to back hummer feeder early, so presume the Rufous type of yesterday late must have tanked and split this morning, as we did not detect it all day. A few Ruby-throated was it. Birds are quiet around yard. Those dang accipiters. Did hear Ringed and Belted Kingfisher over at river. Red-shouldered Hawk still in earshot. Kathy saw a Kinglet quickly hit the birdbath. Heard a few Barn Swallow go over, northbound, so those local birds we get staging in Oct. no doubt. Heard Scissor-tails still, at least a couple. A decent showing of Broomweed flowers out back. Saw a N. Mestra late in day.

Oct. 21 ~ Low about 53F, totally bearable. In the morning a flock of Chipping Sparrow hit the birdbath. A dozen or so, one looked a Clay-colored in a quick view. No doubt also new fall arrivals of winterers from the north, as yesterday's FOS flocklet at the park. After 3 p.m. a Selasphorus hummingbird showed up which seems a Rufous so far. Is an imm. or female plumage. Not much for butterflies considring how hot it got, about 87F or so. Saw one each Pipevine Swallowtail, Sleepy Orange, and Gulf Fritillary. Later afternoon Kathy saw two Monarch, and I had 3 Pipevine at once. Some Blue Mistflower Eupatorium is opening flowers, maybe a dozen-plus heads open now. Nice to see any after the great caterpillar massacre of spring 2023. Lots of Lantana, Frostweed, Tropical Sage, and some Red Turkscap flowers, with no butterflies on them.

tigermoth

This is the Tiger Moth we took back outside. Sorry about the docushot through glass. Wooly Bear caterpillars turn into this beauty, or another very similar species. Oct. 25, 2023. Family Arctiidae, genus either Grammia or Apentesis. Will try to get an ID. They are a couple inches across.


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Oct. 20 ~ Low about 51F, KERV hit the upper 40's F. Accipiters must be hanging around watching. Too quiet out there. The White-winged Dove have been many fewer. They do largely depart southward for the winter to warmer climes. That may have just occurred? To a degree though everything else been sorta staying away. As when accipiter pressure has been high. The one pair of local Cooper's is bearable, but when the winterers show up, and the Sharpies, there can be a handfull hunting here daily. Kathy had a Kinglet. Town run and park check. Not a bird in the woods. Around pond there were two Ringed Kingfisher having a loud discussion about pond ownership I think. There were some Chipping Sparrow moving through the live-oaks and I heard some in willows on island, as well as across the pond. Surely these are new arrival fall migrant (FOS) Chipping Sparrow, and not the local breeders. Lots of bluet damselflies out over the water, probably Familiar. A Red-tailed Pennant was good, Saddlebags were both Red and Black, some Green Darner, Checkered Setwing, and some too far to tell. Last hurrah for a lot of them. Cypresses are turning yellow, Goldenrod is past peak. Some Maxmillian Sunflower open in wettest spots along river. What looked possibly the same small worn Monarch was around in the afternoon again. If it is the same one it is on day 5 (!).

Oct. 19 ~ Low was about 52F, KERV had a 49F but we did not get that cold. Sunny and saw 82F in the shade in afternoon, so likely 86F or higher in the sun. About noon I heard a FOS N. Flicker call from over toward the river. In general it seemed dead for birds out there today. Accipiters. Very few hummingbirds left, maybe 4 or so? Saw the Dun Skipper again on the Lantana.

Oct. 18 ~ Low was 44F, I could get used to that. Another Ruby-crowned Kinglet around. Did not see the Blue Grosbeak. Still a couple each Chipping, Field, and Lark Sparrow. Ringed Kingfisher calling from the river. In butterflies Kathy saw a Dainty Sulphur, Checkered-Skipper, and what was likely a Large Orange Sulphur. I saw a Pipevine Swallowtail and Sleepy Orange. Comparatively, this is a fall without butterflies. After the summer without dragonflies. What is next? Silent Spring?

Oct. 17 ~ I saw 42F maybe before the final dip. KERV had a 38F! Coldest in 6 months! The cheap thrill of a chill. Heard a Kinglet (Ruby) in the morning. Kathy saw the imm. Blue Grosbeak on seed out back again today. I flushed a sparrow out of the back garden that looked a Clay-colored. Also thought I had a couple on way to town a few days ago. Can't remember if I mentioned the Cardinal are eating the Lantana berries. Every time I go out front they flush out of the big one. Which is blooming again, so maybe a butterfly will show up. Ten Turkey late in day over in the corral. Those poults are still growing.

Oct. 16 ~ Low may have hit 42F. Local WU stations and KERV per NOAA did as well. I didn't look until too late, after the big dip and it had warmed a few dF. Coldest temp here in six months is welcome. Heard the Long-billed Thrasher across the road again, early this morn. There was an imm. Blue Grosbeak on seed out back before noon. Our local breeders have been gone five weeks or so, some more. These late-season birds are transient migrants, likely from far afield. One or a few in mid-Oct. is not unusual, but always nice to see. Also always bright buffy first-fall immatures. Heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the morn. In butterflies besides a Gray Hairstreak, saw an Olive-Juniper Hairstreak on the Frostweed. Late date. Late in day a worn small Monarch showing some wear showed up and was nectaring on the Lantana.

Oct. 15 ~ Low of 58F, cloudy and overcast. A kinglet (Ruby) first thing early in morn. No migration motion. Maybe a half dozen or so Ruby-throated Hummingbird left. Saw a Zone-tailed Hawk go over in the afternoon. A couple Gray Hairstreak were on the Frostweed. Also a different wasp from the one yesterday, with back half of adbomen a brick red color, these are regular here. Forgot to mention the other day one of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds took great offense to the Pipevine Swallowtail that was trying to nectar on a Tropical Sage. The hummer went after it. The swallowtail dodged very well a few times but the hummer was relentless and the swallowtail moved 15' to the other end of the flowers. Usually the hummers just chase each other here. This one was not having anything get any of its nectar.

Oct. 14 ~ Low about 64F, KERV had a 61F. Cloudy though early. There were lower stratus and mid-level cirrus both. First thing in morn there were two Ringed and a Belted Kingfisher calling over at the river. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet around yard much of day. As eclipse showtime arrived it was still partly cloudy, blue skies to the north not yet here. Was thin enough of mid-level clouds that we had shadows still, but not clear skies. We did get a good projection show on the ground under the leafy Pecan and Mulberry trees. Was in 70's F until later afternoon when it might have hit 80F. In butterflies saw a Mestra and a Dun Skipper, and a wasp, likely a Scoliid type, on the Frostweed. Late in day I heard a Long-billed Thrasher across the road.

eclipse

This is what the eclipse looks like on the ground under a leafy tree, whence each pinhole of a lightbeam projects an image of it for 5 minutes or so at peak.


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Oct. 13 ~ Flatlined at 71F all night. Was clear at midnight, cloudy and some mist in morn. Hutton's Vireo out in Pecans early. Town run and park check, nice to have a car battery so I can goof off a wee bit. No passerine migrants in the woods, but a nice flock of ducks on the far shoreline. Over 30 birds total. Five species, all FOS. Two Cinnamon Teal were best, about 25 Blue-winged Teal, at least 3 Green-winged Teal, and 2 Shoveler. Then out in the water a single female type Ring-necked Duck. A veritible duck jackpot, quite the ducky day. My first local Cinnamon Teal in several years, maybe ten. Late in afternoon a Belted Kingfisher flew high over house and a Ringed called from the river. A Monarch seemed to be looking for a place to roost as dusk arrived. Remember to look on the ground under leafy trees for little eclipses tomorrow. The tree acts as a giant open shoebox and each pinhole beam of light makes an eclipse projection. Didn't mention it above but thought sure I heard an Orange-crowned Warbler at the 360 x-ing, which would be a FOS.

Oct. 12 ~ Was clear in middle of night but cloudy and a bit of mist in the morning. Low 67F. Sure is quiet out there for birds in the morning now. Indigo Bunting still around, thought I heard a Dickcissel too. Must be at least 40 White-winged Dove coming in now. Seems maybe a dozen max for Ruby-throated Hummingbird left, maybe less than 10. Probably all imm. male. Saw the House Wren in the flowers around the front porch. A Queen was on the Frostweed flowers. Which look great, they are having a good bloom, if only some Monarchs would show up. The lack of butterflies this fall is mind-blowing. We have got to get to another multi-year wet cycle, quickly.

Oct. 11 ~ Low about 64F, a little bit of mist from the thick overcast. Kathy saw the House Wren at the stickpile by the bath. Later she had a Lincoln's Sparrow at the bath. I heard both out there. One imm. or fem. Indigo Bunting continues. Great was a FOS Catbird in the Tropical Sage patch out front about 4 p.m.! A wee little bit of understory and BAM!, understory birds. After 7 p.m. there was an Olive-sided Flycatcher calling triple pips from the corral. Second one this fall is good.

Oct. 10 ~ Clouds moved in, low about 66F. Chance of rain and only going up to 72! Feels like fall! Something kept diving on and flushing the doves, an accipiter no doubt. Did not detect any migrant motion. Hovered around 70F most of the day. One Pipevine Swallowtail on the Tropical Sage. Open Frostweed is still waiting for Monarchs. Heard a Belted Kingfisher over at the river. Did not hear a White-eyed Vireo today. That last one may have left last night. It was here yesterday still. First day not hearing one here since mid-March, seven months. Was an Eastern Phoebe out around yard and still hearing an Indigo Bunting.

Oct. 9 ~ Low of 52F, clear, sunny and dry. Wonderful. Feels like fall. Mid-morn a male Wilson's Warbler took a bath, and a Dickcissel was out in front yard. Heard one White-eyed Vireo which seems a continuing imm. that fledged here. Last week there were still two. Almost all the local breeding White-eyes are departed by mid to late September if not earlier. I see a couple Blue Mistflower Eupatorium flowers opening up, small late ones. Had a FOS House Wren in the afternoon. Thought I heard one a couple days ago, this one wouldn't shut up.

Let's hear it for stick piles made of all the fallen Pecan branches. Of which they shed copius amounts, and which I presume is at very high levels due to the drought. Now there are enough around yard and perimeter that we get White-crowned and Lincoln's Sparrow in them. And House Wrens. No stick piles, no House Wrens. It is also where the Carolina and Bewick's Wren usually are. We have 7-8 nice big stick piles now. The wrens hopscotch around the yard pile to pile. In lieu of mostly not having good proper understory. Something for things to dive into when the Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks visit.

Oct. 8 ~ I saw 50F for a low, but KERV had a 47F! Lowest temp since April I think, so in last six months. The 75F or so high was equally great. Just after midnight I heard the Long-eared Owl over in river habitat corridor. In morn did not detect any migration motion. Save a dearth of Ruby-throated Hummingbird compared to last week up to Friday when departures started in ernest. Maybe a dozen or so still here, were several dozens up to Thursday. The Selasphorus hummer that was an ad. fem. also departed, it was not here all day. The adult female Hooded Oriole remains absent so certainly also departed. Last day was the 6th. Was great it hung around its last couple weeks here this season. Only a few Red-winged Blackbird, not the big flock, which is the same as yesterday, no big flock, just a few. They eat too much seed anyway. Glimpsed what was likely a Lincoln's Sparrow at the birdbath.

Later afternoon one of the male Red-wings came down for a drink at the tub pond. First one at the pond. The cattails are 5-6' tall, with pint-sized seed pods (the water lily leaves are small too). Great to see a Red-wing on a cattail out the office window in the 50 gal. tub pond. Have seen C. Yellowthroat at it, still hoping for Marsh Wren and Sora. It is a micro-patch of reeds, about 3' x 4', maybe 75 stalks, 20 with seedheads. Sure I have Green Jay, Audubon's Oriole, and Golden-cheeked Warbler at it, but a Common Yellowthroat and now a Red-winged Blackbird!

Oct. 7 ~ A low of 63F was great, could get used to that. Cloudy and cool, the high was only about 72F or so. Incredible. Had to run to town to get a battery cable terminal, turned out both were bad, I couldn't tell, only had one new spare here. The small C-clamp held the bad terminal tight for the ride to town and back. Not sure if that is a Homer or McGyver move though. Vise-Grips will work but you have to be careful to not arc them against underside of hood (ask me how I know - leared that decades ago), hence my opt for the C-clamp. Later morn a Rufous-Allen's type Selasphorus sps. hummingbird showed up to take over a feeder. Have been very few this fall, this the third I think. Got a binoc look in afternoon, is an adult female, and appears a Rufous. Heard that Kestrel again in afternoon, yesterday's FOS. Did not see the Hooded Oriole today, so think it left last night. It has been here LOTS the last week, especially the last couple days.

lessergoldfinch

Lesser Goldfinch, male, ours are the nice fancy black-backed type. They are nuts about the Tropical Sage.



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Oct. 6 ~ A low of 64F was mighty refreshing, and downright crisp air here. The car battery died so had to get a lift to town and back to pickup groceries, and amazingly they had a battery in town at the ranch outpost so might be back up running shortly. Though missed checking the park since not in my ride. Female Hooded Oriole here seems to be tanking up on sugar water. Heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Seems like a lot fewer hummingbirds here today. A bunch rode those northerlies south. The communal feeder was packed all week. A couple Scissor-tails were dashing around the big pecan being noisy. Late afternoon a FOS Lincoln's Sparrow was in the yard. Oops, forgot, also heard a FOS Kestrel while working on battery.

Some very sad news I heard upon asking where Little Creek Larry has been. 'Sport' as he was known locally, passed away a bit ago. He had health troubles last spring, hospital, and never got back to snuff after all the ordeal. A great loss for the community. He had worked (ret.) for TPWD at all the area state parks from Lost Maples to Kickapoo and Seminole Cyn. He was the most knowledgeable about birds person I ever met that was not a birder. Many in town said he was the smartest guy here. He was an encyclopedia. You would have never known to see him. His gardening skills were off the charts. I will sure miss his bird reports. The Bonaparte's Gull and Eared Grebe on the Utopia Park list were his finds. R.I.P. Little Creek Larry.

Oct. 5 ~ The first real cold front of the fall arrived just after 7 a.m., and by about 8:30 we had 2.5" of rain! Most fell in an hour downpour. A couple weeks late but at least an actual fall cold front got here finally! Just over four inches for the month (Oct.) already! Which is the most since May, and the yard is already greener than it has been since about June. A high temp about 75F was amazing. In the afternoon two Nashville Warbler came to the bath, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through yard. Female Hooded Oriole still visiting a hummer feeder. There were some northerlies in the afternoon too, would not be surprised if a bunch of hummingbirds ride them out of Dodge. Some Monarchs should be inbound soon behind the front.

Oct. 4 ~ A low of 74F and very humid. An actual cold front is said to be inbound in a day with rain tonight ahead of it. Could be good for birds. Shortly after midnight a FOS Barn Owl called several times as it passed over. In morn a drive-by at the park in town saw a FOS Great Egret. Saw the Hooded Oriole female still here, a White-eyed Vireo, Ground-Dove calling, but no migrant motion apparent. Should get something either ahead of, in, or after, the first real fall front. Usually they happen about mid-September, or just after in the the third week sometime. The Barred Owl was calling over at the river. So with the usual Great Horned and Screech, there were four species of owls today. Have not heard the Long-eared in a week or more. I always worry about that Great Horned taking it, as they would, and have seen a pic of such.

Oct. 3 ~ Was clear much of night, low of 71F. More rain in forecast next few days. A bit late for growing season. It appears the sub-tropical high from hell is finally moving south after its nearly five month residency. Good riddance if there ever was one. Seemed like nearly rain in the morning, then got sunny in afternoon and into upper 80's. The White-winged Dove flock is about three dozen now when a Cooper's Hawk flushed them all. The Red-winged Blackbird flock is about 20 and still here too. Love hearing them chorus. Kathy saw a Chat at the bath that looked an immature. Have not had one in a few days and suspect it may well be a transient migrant rather than one of our local birds. Female Summer Tanager and Hooded Oriole came into the bath as well. Both will not be here for much longer. The three Lark Sparrow continuing all looked like first winter birds. Two White-eyed Vireo and an Indigo Bunting still here.

Oct. 2 ~ A rain-cooled low of 70F was nice. Heard the White-eyed Vireo and Lark Sparrow. Later morn I heard what sounded a Nashville and a Yellow Warbler, but saw neither. Not much avian action. The female Hooded Oriole was back on a feeder. The flock of Red-winged Blackbirds visited again in the afternoon. First in the morning we did get a couple more rain showers totalling about 16mm more of rain! Then another 4mm in the afternoon, .8 of an inch again! So 40mm over the last 24 hours!, about 1.6", of pure liquid awesome! Equalled the whole September total first two days of Oct.! Kathy saw a young small Opossum out back, which seems like it is what we hear climbing around on the shelf unit out in the carport.

October 1 ~ A low of 74F here was for the third morn in a row 5F over predictions at NOAA and WU. I also saw at WU stats, SAT was 1dF under record high temps the last three days of September. I hear the Ringed Kingfisher over at the river early, great since there were none around all spring and summer. A FOS Ruby-crowned Kinglet for its small size, is a big sign of winter at least being on the way. A few spotty showers, on and off sprinkles. Clouds keeping it a bit cooler. Saw one Sleepy Orange butterfly. Saw one Pompilid spider wasp, which used to be abundant here and have crashed with the spiders (and insects). Had a couple Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, still Lark Sparrow and White-eyed Vireo, the female Hooded Oriole, but no Chat again, they are gone. About 3 p.m. a real rain cell found us and delivered 2cm of precip! Or, .8 of an inch. Outstanding! No small buteo was heard today besides the Red-shouldered Hawk.

~ ~ ~ September summary ~ ~ ~

It was on the dry side at about 41mm of rain, or one and nine-sixteenths inches. Half or so of normal. Most of the month was at or adjacent to record high temps, again. There was no real cold front, only some washed out tail-ends of a couple, which chilled us to 90F. River not running over spillway at park, drought stage on the line of D2 and D3.

Had to be the worst September for either dragonflies or butterflies, the insects are in a drought hurt. Very few flowers in bloom where not watered. Snow-on-the-Mountain and at end of month Goldenrod, showed well, but very little else. Our Tropical Sage and Red Turkscap was great, but irrigated. I saw about 9 species of odes (dragons and damselflies) this month. Pitiful as it is depressing. The 31 species of butterflies for the month is not much better. The individual numbers were down as much as the diversity. Without our flowers it would have been much worse. The pair of Two-tailed Swallowtails that spent a couple weeks visiting the Tropical Sage flowers was the highlight.

Birds were good for all the transients showing up as they pass through on their way south for the winter. So lots of things we don't always get to see. Overall the passage has been weak with numbers of everything down. The Long-eared Owl returning for the 3rd year in latest August continued in early September and is probably the best bird. Though I never saw it, hearing one is good enough for me. Second best was the Swainson's Thrush Sept. 30. The park without understory in the woods just does not get the birds like it does with it. Huge difference. I saw 80 species locally this month.

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September ~ On the 1st saw my FOS Monarch butterfly, the first fall migrant of the season, leading the bell-curve of arrivals. Though no public access, the Long-eared Owl that wintered here the last two years is back calling, at a ridiculously early date. My FOS Mourning Warbler was in the flower bed at front porch Sept. 10. A second one was here the 14th, a third at the park the 15th. A FOS Wilson's Warbler was in yard Sept. 11-12, and a FOS Nashville Warbler was here the 13th. At least a couple FOS Belted Kingfisher were at park the 13th. A fall migrant Scott's Oriole sang in yard the 19th. A FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher called a couple times on the 21st. A FOS Sharp-shinned Hawk was here the 25th. On Sept. 30 at our place was a rare in fall Swainson's Thrush (ph.).

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~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~

Sept. 30 ~ I saw only 73F for a low here, again 5F over advertised rates. Some low stratus and humid too. Ringed Kingfisher was calling from over at the river early and in late afternoon. Turned out to be quite a day. A few things of interest were noted. A flock of Red-winged Blackbird is new. There were around twenty, and all but two females that I saw were males in fresh winter (basic) plumage. Are they the local birds, or migrants from further afield? At last light I heard my first Summer Tanager of the day.

After I heard one in morning, after 1 p.m. Kathy saw a female Hooded Oriole at the back hummer feeder. A few things showed up after noon at the birdbath. First Kathy saw a Wilson's Warbler. While I was there at the blindoscreen in case of photo-op three different birds came in. First an imm. or female Indigo Bunting, followed by a female Brown-headed Cowbird. Followed by a SWAINSON'S Thrush! Which are very rare on the plateau in fall, I have only seen one or two in 20 years. A couple docu-shots were obtained. In spring they are rare but regular in Mulberries mostly, I see one or two at least most springs.

Then in the afternoon I heard a hawk calling from over in the draw across road. We get one or two Red-shouldered Hawk screaming in all manner every day and this was absolutely not that. I listened hard to it to imprint the sound. Then got distracted and did not remember to check xeno-canto until dark. OMG, it was a GRAY HAWK! I knew I knew the call, just could not place it, since been forever since I heard one. Too late to look for it at dark. Sure hope I hear it tomorrow. WOW! One of those times you would kick yourself if you could.

swainsonsthrush

This is the Swainson's Thrush that visited the birdbath Sept. 30. Note buffy spectacle (eyering and lores) and throat to upper breast.



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Sept. 29 ~ A low of 72F was 5F over predictions. I was so looking forward to that 67F promised by NOAA and WU. I see yesterday per WU stats SAT at 96F was 1dF below their record high. We were near ours too no doubt. It will not relent. How many days were we at or adjacent to record high temps the last four months? More than half of them by far I would say. No migrant motion in the morn that I saw. Or in town during my park check, where it was almost devoid of birds. I had one warbler zzzee call a few times high in Cypress but could not find it. It did not sound like a Yellow to me. The woods have virtually no understory due to years of drought. This has been another bad fall for migrants so far. I think birds can see how dry it is and keep going. The fall Firefly flight has been very poor. I never saw more than six at once in an evening, and usually only saw two or three. In the river the Goldenrod has opened up and looks great now. At the park there was a FOY Clouded Skipper on a bit of Purple Bindweed. Here early evening there was a Celia's Roadside-Skipper on Mealy Sage flowers.

Sept. 28 ~ A low of 66F was great. Ten-day shows upper 60's F to about 90F for a temp spread. No migrant motion detected in the morn. White-eyed Vireo heard but not a Chat yet. A greenie Painted Bunting was out on the fenceline near wellhouse (not out back on the seed) so likely a transient. I had not detected one the last couple days on the seed, so our last birds seem gone. You hear them all the time if they are around. Got a pic of the flowers open on the weird plant which I have no idea what it is. Sprouted out front, real thick stem with short spines (not Malta Star-Thistle which we have about eradicated), nice yellow flowers, leaves sorta nearish Alamo Vine shape. Never saw whatever it is in twenty years of bumbling around the area. Had that happen a few years ago with a purple flowering wildflower, a few came up in yard. Only to not do so again since. Hairstreak and skipper butterflies loved it, and likewise, I have not otherwise seen it in twenty years of looking around here. I tend to default to "a bird deposited it" as a hypothesis for how it got there.

Sept. 27 ~ A low of 67F is great. Happy Equilux! Today is the day for us here near 30 deg. N, with 12 hours even of day and night length. So, six days after the equinox here. Sunrise and sunset are both at 7:30 today. Two hours (and two minutes) shorter daylength than at solstice, with an hour later sunrise, and an hour earlier sunset. Did not detect any avian migrant motion over the morning. Save Ruby-throated Hummers in the Tropical Sage and on the front porch feeder, which was all very busy. Seems more than the last couple days. Not seeing any adult males for about a week now. Chat and White-eyed Vireo both still here calling at dawn. Heard Chipping Sparrow which is surely our breeders, as it is way too early for migrant Chippies here still. Still hearing Lark Sparrow song, barely. E. Screech-Owl and Great Horned Owl calling after dark.

Sept. 26 ~ Saw 70F before the final dip so likely hit 69F for a low. A little relief. Yesterday was a great break, the 10-day now showing us around 70-90F for a temp spread, and no rain of course. Some 100F heat relief anyway. Heard a Dickcissel out back early first thing after the pre-sunrise seed toss. Which then seems likely a stayover from yesterday to be waiting right where the seed goes at the first crack of light. Had a bunting calling up in the big dead Pecan that sounded an Indigo. Was absolutely not a Painted call.

Saw what I think is the same Wilson's Warbler again today. Seems like maybe five days here now. Comes over from the draw (where better vegetated) first thing, and 'chits' (the call note people) and feeds around yard a few circuits every day. Kathy sees it at the birdbath seemingly daily. It is a fresh winter male. Apparently finding enough here to stick and build up some bulk (fat) to burn for next flight. Great seeing it working the Tropical Sage and Frostweed patch we planted. It also uses the Red Turkscap patch we planted along one part of house.

Build the habitat and they will come. Understory is what is most missing in general here. Besides the great goat denuding of earlier times, which cost much of the great topsoil, now what is left is mostly perceived as merely brush to be cleared. Which somehow improves things.

Sept. 25 ~ Low was about 74 at 7 a.m., when a thundercell found us. Dropped it to about 68F in the next hour or so. Over a couple plus hours two cells hit, totalling about 11mm of precip! Just under a half-inch! The FOS for the day was a Sharp-shinned Hawk, which landed in the big dead Pecan. Kathy saw a Nashville Warbler at the birdbath. A Ringed Kingfisher called from over at the river. There were two Wilson's Warbler around early, one probably one of yesterday and maybe day before, feeding in Frostweed and Tropical Sage patch out front. Single Dickcissel and Orchard Oriole went through in morn. Seeing 80F at 3 p.m. is like a dream after yesterday's 95F in the shade at that time. Probably peaked about 85F a couple hours later. A Lydise Sulphur flew by southbound, Kathy said she thought she saw one a couple days ago.

Sept. 24 ~ Low of 73F and clear, another baker on the way today. Mid-morn heard a Wilson's Warbler. A couple Chat flushed out of the cool shady flower bed at front porch late in afternoon. Was 95F in shade, a hun in the sun today. A quiet day out there in the heat. I took a good count on Tropical Sage flowers open this morn, and it is a thousand. I would say the bloom is just over about half of what it was on peak days, so we had too many to count well before.

Several days ago I put out some fresh peach slices in a few places around house hoping to attract an interesting bug or two. NOTHING came in to them over five days as they ripened and retracted in dessication. Since when do no bugs come into fruit out there? If you recall a couple years ago I had the same experience with bananas, nothing came in. Meet the new fruit, it is not the same as the old fruit, which bugs came into. Ants didn't even go for it!

Sept. 23 ~ Low of 72F, some Gulf stratus around early a bit. Going up to upper 90's F again today. Per WU data SAT tied their record high at 99F yesterday. It is not normal to have four months of record or near-record breaking heat. Still no real cold front yet either. Great was having that Scrub-Jay around briefly this morning. At one point it went into the big dead Pecan, a new bird for that tree's list, as it dies. Now that it is snags, it seems to be getting some new different stuff, as the Aug. Peregrine Falcon. One Wilson's Warbler in the morn. Also one greenie Painted Bunting still here. One of the big metallic green Peach or Fig Beetles (Scarab) came into my pipe tobacco smoke. Kathy saw one about a week ago, forgot to mention. Late afternoon a hawk flew over quickly and low that was probably a Broad-winged but I missed a positive ID.

rubythroatedhummingbird

This is a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I think it an immature male before any red throat feathers molt in. In fall some show those, others (half or more) don't. Compared to Black-chinned (our abundant summering hummer, which are almost all gone by early September) note the snow white underparts (save a tinge of color on flanks), whereas B-c are dirty whitish below. Also note black lores and dark crown. The green upperparts are much darker and more emerald green than the dingy grayish ash-green of a Black-chin.



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Sept. 22 ~ A low of 76F with balmy Gulf air is not exactly comfortable. Gettin' late for this isn't it? Some low stratus around early. No foreign bird action early. A Nashville hit the bath after 9 a.m., and nearing noon a Wilson's Warbler showed up. The greenie Painted Bunting continues. Town run and park check. A Ringed Kingfisher still showing there. In woods one each Nashville and Wilson's Warbler was it. One Monarch around the Frostweed in woods was the second one seen so far this fall. Water is really getting low in the river bed. I forgot to mention last Friday, there are now some blooming Lindheimer's Senna at the 360 x-ing. They are where to look for Cloudless Sulphur caterpillars here. Our Frostweed out front is starting to open some flowers, presume any patches along river are too.

Sept. 21 ~ Happy Equinox! The sun passes over equator today. Will be a few days before we get to EQUILUX, when night and day length (photoperiod) are equal. Due to atmospheric refraction mostly. Low was only 73F, some low stratus early, no cooldown last night. Great was a FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher calling twice "Quick! three beeers" from the big dead Pecan. At 8 a.m. tis early for beer, so continued working on coffee. Also heard a Dickcissel then and again about 11 a.m. After 9 Kathy had a female Wilson's and a Nashville hit the bath quickly. The Willy was around all day. I heard an Orchard Oriole or two. The greenie (painted bunny) is still out there, as are Wide-eyed Vireo, Chat, and Lark Sparrows are still quietly singing a bit. Heard a Least Flycatcher in the afternoon. The big female Two-tailed Swallowtail continues. A small buteo flew by low quickly which I missed, but it looked like probably a Broad-winged Hawk. One Turkey Vulture overhead later afternoon. Heard some Scissor-tails over at river in the tall Cypresses calling lots while catching the last sun. This is the fall staging group we get for a month until mid-October when they depart southward for places with flying insects.

Sept. 20 ~ Low of 67F, we beat the local stations this morn. Low stratus early. A few migrants indicate there was movement last night. Singles of Wilson's and Nashville Warbler, Baltimore and Orchard Oriole all showed early, Kathy saw the Nash at the bath. I hear here at least two Chats and two White-eyed Vireo continuing. Lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a few dozen at least but perhaps lower than a couple days ago. They will be peeling out soon. It is almost all immatures here now. Saw only one adult male yesterday. About noon I flushed another Mourning Warbler out of the dense clump of understory veg around the front porch. It was out there again about 1:30. The Wilson's Warbler was around all morning to afternoon. A Least Flycatcher was along fencelines. The dang lizard eating Roadrunner was in the carport again. It was 95F or hotter in the sun, and we have five days of that on the slate now. Summer never wants to leave.

Sept. 19 ~ Low of 65F is nice. Low stratus from the Gulf moved in just after dawn. At least we got full radiational cooling before they got here. Heard the greenie out there first crack of light. Was slow around yard overall. Before noon I heard a singing Scott's Oriole out front that was either first-year male or female. It was not the refined song of an adult male. Quite scrambled and garbled, as imm. male. Always a great fall migrant to get away from, and departing, breeding areas on Edwards Plateau. They are very scarce on the flat valley floor.

Sept. 18 ~ Another 66F low, these are great! Saw that KERV hit 63F briefly! The greenie Painted Bunting continues. Did not hear any Dickcissel this morn. Still at least two each White-eyed Vireo and Chat here. Two Two-tailed Swallowtail still here, too. Pretty quiet day out there today. Still hitting 90F, but much dryer than summer humidity, so far more bearable. Great Horned Owl and E. Screech-Owl after dark. I still cannot get over how we lost all the big adult lizards from that Roadrunner being around a few days. Racerunners and E. Fence, all gone save a few tiny babies. Anole have been very scarce all year, their numbers are not half what they were.

Sept. 17 ~ A low of 66F post-cold front is great. Clear, no bird movement early. Later morn Kathy thought she saw an imm. Dickcissel, I went out and heard one call, and heard it again in afternoon. Only the third one so far this fall. Great was hearing two of the local species we do not normally get around house on flat valley floor near river. First a few Bushtit were just behind the cottage and uphill of us in the live-oaks. At least 3-4 were heard, have not had any around in months. Then a Scrub-Jay was calling from between us and the draw, been months since we had one here. Maybe 10 Lesser Goldfinch raiding the Tropical Sage, for seeds seemingly as quickly as the flowers fall. Still hardly any House Finch around. What native seed crop distracts them this time of year, every year? After 6 p.m. two Yellow-breasted Chat were at the birdbath, adult female and an immature, I presume the local nesting birds still here. About 6:15 TWO Dickcissel were at the bath at once! Was an adult female and an immature, the adult fem. with obvious big rusty shoulder that the immature lacks.

Had four sps. of swallowtail butterfliies again, Black, Giant, Pipevine, and Two-tailed. Looking around the yard at native wildflowers, from ONE spot standing in place, here is what I saw. Tropical and Mealy Sage, Wood-Sorrel, Straggler Daisy, Clammy-weed, Red Turkscap, Widow's Tears (Dayflower), Purple Bindweed, Frostweed, Snow-on-the-Mountain, Tube-tongue, and Indian Mallow. Doesn't count the non-native Lantanas. Out back add Broomweed, Zexmenia and Sida. Don't see any Blue Mistflower Eupatorium yet this fall. Those dang caterpillars. Went over to corral in afternoon to check those yellow flowers. I thought from a hundred yards it was Cowpen Daisy, and though there was a little of that it was mostly Buffalo Bur, which seems fairly useless to butterflies. If you stepped on one of those burrs barefoot, it would drop you to the ground. I have had them go through old tennis shoes! There was nothing on any of it. Might have glimpsed a Metalmark at a Cowpen Daisy but it got away. Was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at airstrip. Finished the day after dark with an Upland Sandpiper calling as it headed south for a night of flight.

Sept. 16 ~ Low about 70F, and only a few sprinkles here overnight. Some rain went by to our north, town might have gotten some. In the morn here there were at least a couple Baltimore and Orchard Oriole. One greenie Painted Bunting sneaking about. A surprise was the first Blue Grosbeak I have heard or seen in at least a couple weeks, an immature. The two Two-tailed Swallowtail continue on the Tropical Sage, only rarely testing the Lantana. There is enough Tropical Sage that if you walk in the patch you can smell them. Usually you get no scent off them.

dickcissel

These are female Dickcissel, seemingly at their first birdbath. Took them all day to come in to it. The front bird is an immature (first-fall) without the rufous or chestnut shoulder of the adult in rear.


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Sept. 15 ~ Low about 70F. Just after midnight last night, to about 1 a.m., we had a thundercell pass over, lots of lightning, some very close, and briefly rained hard. This morn I see about 22mm of rain fell, around seven-eighths of an inch. Outstanding and not too late to help fall flowers. Every bit counts as we are still TWO FEET behind, at minimum. Early morn there were two Ringed Kingfisher conversing loudly over at the river. It sounded like a dispute from here. Though admittedly it only takes one of those to sound like a dispute. Town run and park check where very little action. There was one Mourning Warbler at south end of the former island up at start of woods. Third one in six days. Heard some weak tired bars of song from a Yellow-throated Warbler, which would be a local breeder still on territory, sorta. One Baltimore Oriole at north end of the woods. Saw my FOY Wandering Glider dragonfly out over the pond. Kathy had a female Yellow Warbler here, and the two Two-tailed Swallowtails continued on the Tropical Sage. Afternoon a raincell passed to the north, so upvalley WU stations were 80F and south of town, 90F and humid from the rain last night. Drippy man.

Sept. 14 ~ Low was 70F. We got a shower overnight as a wave went over. Looks like 1cm here, or about .4". Enough to bust the dust, and water the flowers. A couple Baltimore and at least one Orchard Oriole were out there in the morning. Kathy glimpsed a warbler in flowers out front. A bit later I went out and a Mourning Warbler chipped as it flushed into Pecan. Hope it comes back. Second one in 5 days, it is the time for them. Saw a couple Giant Swallowtail around the Tropical Sage, the Northern Cloudywing on the Lantana. Heard E. Screech-Owl right after dark.

Sept. 13 ~ Low was 70F, overcast, might be some rain today. I had to run to town early. Park had my FOS Belted Kingfisher, either 2 or 3. There was also a Ringed Kingfisher there, first in a while. The Belted were chasing each other around and at one point the Ringed flew by with a Belted chasing it, both calling. Ringed was a female. In woods a Louisiana Waterthrush and a Least Flycatcher. Great Blue and Green Heron was at park too.

I heard the Green Heron making a ruckus and expected to see some situation as I scanned for it at other end of pond. As I caught sight of it, it went kerplunk splash, INTO the pond. I waited to see maybe a Cooper's Hawk or another Green Heron chasing it, and nothing. After what seemed a long time, it came up flapping and lifted itself out of the water, flying to a willow tree. Was it fishing? It was too far for me to see details. I have seen Snowy and Great Egrets take fish on the wing by flying into a stiff wind barely making forward progress, low over surface shoals and stabbing down and grabbing prey on the wing. I have no idea, save speculation as to what this was about, but certainly never saw a Green Heron dive into the water. Always something new to see out there, no matter how much you have seen. Just go birdwatching. You probably have not seen near as big a percentage of what goes on out there as you think. :)

While I was gone Kathy had a FOS Nashville Warbler here. Noonish there were two Two-tailed Swallowtail on the Tropical Sage out front, looked a male and a female. Afternoon there was a Least Flycatcher along fenceline. The last greenie Painted Bunting was still out there today. Couple each White-eyed Vireo and Chat still here, one Summer Tanager fem. or immature. A handful of Lark Sparrow, saw one Chipping.

Sept. 12 ~ Low of 68F, a few sprinkles helped cool it down. A washed out frontal boundry hanging around, which beats the sun and heat. The Wilson's Warbler spent the night and before sunup is back in the Tropical Sage and Frostweed. Early heard Upland Sandpiper and Baltimore Oriole. Saw one greenie after not seeing one for a day or two. Still hitting low 90's F, but which is a category better than we were for the last few months. Did not see a Black-chinned Hummingbird today, it is all Rubies now. Late in day a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew by singing.

Sept. 11 ~ All the rain-cooled air in the area brought a 67F low which felt great. Those planets to the east are Venus before dawn, and about 11 p.m. it is Jupiter, if you are wondering. The Tropical Sage patch again has well over a thousand flowers open. The first big Frostweed blooms are getting size and will soon be opening, followed by Monarchs on it. A couple stalks are 6' tall now, and we have sixteen stalks with flower heads. From one little 8" transplant several years ago. Northern Cloudywing on the Clammy-weed first thing. We have one good Snow-on-the-Mountain still going, some nice patches of it at edge of corrals on 360. Mid-morn a Yellow and a FOS Wilson's Warbler went through the yard. Heard the Wilson's again late in day. Kathy saw a female Yellow late in day as well. The Roadrunner was around again. Not seeing either the 6-line Racerunners, OR, the big male E. Fence Lizard that lived at corner of house and was on office window screen daily. That dang bird de-lizardized us here.

Sept. 10 ~ Low was 71F. Heard a Baltimore Oriole chattering again early. The usual crop of Texas Persimmon that orioles stop here to feed on is absent this year. Essentially none. It is a big food source for wildlife, and there ain't none. Much like Pecans, Escarpment Cherry, and Agarita the last several years. Wild food crops are not being produced year after year. This holds for many species of seed-bearing wilflowers and forbs as well. It's the drought folks. About 9:30 a.m. at least a couple Upland Sandpiper were calling as they dropped down to find a pasture for the day.

In the afternoon there was some rain to north and west mostly. We got a few sprinkles. About 5:30 I heard a Mourning Warbler in the flower bed around porch, seemingly in the Red Turkscap patch where they have been before. I did not want to bother or push it, so left it unseen. The pic of the male on the warblers page was taken in same place at porch, on Sept. 12 a few years ago. Now is the time. Was also a Least Flycatcher on north fenceline. That big female Sachem is still around, was on Lantana. A few more sprinkles before dark, we totalled about five hundredths of an inch (.05). A bit of a dust-buster anyway, some in area got rain. Saw a Firefly after dark, and another later.

Sept. 9 ~ A low of 68F was outstanding. Still back up in triple digits in afternoon. Day length now 90 minutes less than solstice. Kathy heard the Long-eared Owl before dawn. The imm. male Hooded Oriole came in early. Heard a Baltimore Oriole chattering early too. Did not see a greenie Painted Bunting today. The Roadrunner seems to be hanging around, probably hunting birds and our lizards. Kathy mentioned she has not been seeing the Six-lined Racerunners the last week or more. Which yes, I hadn't thought about it. They were at back porch daily. I bet the modern day velociraptor got them.

Swallowtails were good on the Tropical Sage. Besides the Two-tailed showing up in morn, there was also Giant, Black, and Pipevine, so four species. On Lantana saw a Northern Cloudywing, a Firey Skipper, and a Texas Powdered-Skipper. I see the FOY flowers of Sida out back. Some Zexmenia is blooming again too. Saw a Wood-Sorrel out front, love that magenta. Which reminds me there is a Purple Bindweed with a flower or two out front as well. Some rain to our east, but we did not get any. Late after dark I heard the Barred Owl over at river for the first time in a few months.

twotailedswallowtail

Two-tailed Swallowtail on Tropical Sage.



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Sept. 8 ~ Low was 71F. The Long-eared Owl called one last whoof about 6:45 a.m. Lots fewer House Finch and Lesser Goldfinch around, I presume due to the ripening of some favored local native seed crop. Still a few Lark Sparrow, but less of them. Heard Orchard Oriole and a Yellow Warbler early. Town run and park check. Heard a singing Yellow-throated Warbler. Other things were a Summer Tanager, couple E. Phoebe, B-c Titmouse and Carolina Wren. Some odes out over the water looked mostly Green Darner. Back here in the afternoon there was a big fresh Two-tailed Swallowtail on the Tropical Sage. What a spectacular beauty they are! Another triple digit broiler at or above record high temps in the late afternoon.

Sept. 7 ~ A low of 71F was a wee bit better than the last couple. Heard the Long-eared Owl before 7 a.m. at far end of the corral. Heard the Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireos early. One greenie Painted Bunting still. Heard the C. Ground-Dove, and a Roadrunner which Kathy saw. Still at least two Chat here. The riot of red that is the Tropical Sage patch out front is awesome. Must be a thousand open flowers in the morning now, most close in afternoon extreme heat. Lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird here now, only saw one imm. Black-chinned for sure today. After thinking I heard one in the morning, late afternoon I had a Dickcissel in the big Pecan. Second one this fall, had one in August, slow for them (and everything else) so far this fall.

Sept. 6 ~ Low of 75F again, a bit balmy. From pre- 6:50 to 7:05 I heard the Long-eared Owl woofing. Great Horned was going off too. First couple hours of day I heard one each White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, and Summer Tanager. One greenie (painted bunnie) continues. Heard C. Ground-Dove, saw the Cooper's Hawk. Must be over a couple dozen White-winged Dove here now. Not hearing much for shotguns so far this dove season. Not complaining, just noting. Tropical Sage remains a hummingbird riot in the front yard. The Lantana is kicking into gear for another round of blooming as well. Saw Giant Swallowtail visit both of those flowers, an Am. Lady on the Lantana. Kathy saw three Giant SwT at once in the late afternoon. The herd of Turkey poults returned to deseed the place again. At WU data shows yesterday broke high temp record at SAT, so, doing that still, and forecast for the same tomorrow.

Sept. 5 ~ Low of 75F and muggy with some low stratus from the Gulf. Sure is getting quiet out there. Carolina Wren and Black-crested Titmouse the only two really going off much still. Kathy saw an Olive-Juniper Hairstreak and a Bordered Patch. I saw that big female Sachem still hitting the Clammy-weed, the Am. Lady again, and a fresh Funereal Duskywing. Have to go check the Cowpen Daisy which is now blooming over in the corral. Heard Orchard Oriole later in day. Lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird, I would say at least a couple or few dozen. There was a Least Flycatcher on the fenceline by gate in the afternoon. Seems like some of the Chat have departed.

Sept. 4 ~ Low of 73F, we knew the coolness would not last. Lucky to have had the 6 day run under 70F, way more than we expected. Gives hope for what is to come, but not soon enough. Thought I heard one hoot from the Long-eared Owl before 7 a.m. when last of darkish out. Yellow-throated Vireo still making noise. Some low Gulf stratus for a change, for a couple hours. Heard an Orchard Oriole or two chucking early. As of noon only seeing one greenie Painted Bunting left. They are about all gone now too. A month after all the adult males are gone, the greenies are too. The rest looked the same gang. Saw the first couple Broomweed flowers open today. The Tropical Sage patch is roaring in red, and hummingbirds. Only a couple imm. Black-chinned left now. Back up to mid- to upper 90's in shade again, but dry. Kathy saw the Black Swallowtail again. I saw a Mestra.

Sept. 3 ~ I love these cooler lows, 67F again. Makes all the difference in the world from the mid-70's. Heard the Yellow-throated Vireo early morn. And distant shotgun blasts. Which reminds me, Sept. 1 is opening of dove season here. The birds are really thinning out with the departure of many of the migratory species that are only here for nesting season. Saw a worn male Black Swallowtail on the Tropical Sage. One of those sages that is 10 years old from the original planting, has flower stalks (inflorescence) now at almost SEVEN FEET tall! They die back to ground in winter. Still hitting 95F or so for highs, but a good 8F lower than it was for too long. Still too hot for any serious exertion if you ask me. Kathy saw the imm. male Hooded Oriole again. So it is sneaking in and out hitting a hummer feeder fattening up for departure. The herd of Turkey poults came by latest afternoon and cleared the patio of seed again. Ad. and imm. E. Screech-Owl right off edge of patio. I think maybe cotton rats or mice come out to scavenge for any missed seed there after dark.

Sept. 2 ~ Low of 67F, so five days straight we have been below 70F, hope it stays that way. Only saw one thing different today. A male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flew over calling this morning, first in 3 or more weeks. Saw 91F in the shade on front porch, so mid-90's in the sun. Only heard one White-eyed Vireo today, they are departing like everything else. Though we often get one to stick longer. Still a couple Chat, at least. I saw a couple (at least) imm. Black-chinned Hummer still here, but it is mostly Ruby-throated now. They will build up until the first real actual cold front of fall, usually about mid-September, during and the couple days after which they will blow out.

whitewingeddove

This is a closeup of a White-winged Dove head.


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Sept. 1 ~ A low of 66F for the third day in a row is fantastic. What a break and relief getting below 70F is. Still a few greenies, imm. or fem. Painted Bunting, but just a few. Heard Summer Tanager and Yellow-throated Vireo. Town run and park check. At the 360 x-ing heard a Yellow-throated Warbler chipping. At the park, over a half-dozen Green Darner dragonfly were new. In the woods single Summer Tanager, White-eyed Vireo, Carolina Chickadee and a couple Carolina Wren. That is all. Back here at hovelita in afternoon Kathy saw a Black Swallowtail, which I missed in August. Great was a FOS Monarch! As early as you can get the first ones. Looked a slightly worn smallish male. Around 7 p.m. a group of 17 Turkey poults (young of the year) that were about 80 percent grown raided the seed on the patio and adjacent. Don't think there is anything left out there now, but I love hearing their conversational sounds. Just a reminder, climatological, or meteorological summer, has ended and this is the first day of fall by climate or meteorology standards. Three weeks for astronomical schedule to catch up and the equinox.

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We had a wet month due to two two-inch events the 22nd and 28th. Total was about 4.5 inches! The 22nd event was from Tropical Storm Harold to south. The rest of the month prior was parched as June and July. Very little is in bloom where not irrigated. Pastures are brown, river not running, and the drought stage is D3.

Insects are as depressed as the bloom. Way down from July. Very few butterflies, even fewer dragonflies. Hardly anything coming into a night porch light, and so on. Hardly any beetles. The Cicadas and Katydids seemed to have a fair season though, and are winding down now, finally. I count 6 sps. of odes - dragonflies and damselflies - for the month, astonishingly few. Though I did not look much, there should be double that or more at the park, which I checked a half-dozen times. Butterflies were not much better at 30 species for the month. Nothing unusual, only the most expected suspects and very few of them. Later in the month Snow-on-the-Mountain was the one thing showing well, widely. Best bug was on the 30th when we again heard a Giant Cicada in yard.

Lots of birds start migrating in August. Many of our local breeders that are migratory are departing. More exciting, we get the first migrants that are strictly transients here. Such as Rufous and Ruby-throated Hummingbird (very rarely nests), Upland Sandpiper, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Least Flycatcher, and so on. A Peregrine Falcon was one of the better transients I saw. A Louisiana Waterthrush at the park is as likely a local breeder on its way out for the year. Probably heard the returning Long-eared Owl the last three nights of the month. I saw about 75 species over the month locally.

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~ ~ ~ August update header copy ~ ~ ~

August ~ So far August has been at or over record high temps in low hundreds daily, be careful out there folks! A Canyon Towhee was being noisy at our place on morning of Aug. 14. The morning of the 16th several Upland Sandpiper were heard at dawn heading south. Saw two FOS on Aug. 18: a Rufous Hummingbird was in yard in the morn, and a Yellow Warbler was in the woods at the park noonish. The Rufous Hummer continues the 25th. Afternoon of the 22nd Tropical Storm Harold dropped 2" of rain here! Also saw my FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird that day. A Peregrine Falcon on the 23rd was my FOS. At the park the 25th was my FOS Louisiana Waterthrush. Heard more Upland Sandpiper at dawn on the 27th. Another TWO inches of rain fell on the 28th! Also a migrant group of five Mockingbird that day. Afternoon of the 28th a washed out cold front boundry brought us 2 INCHES of rain! Afterwhich an imm. female Rufous-Allen's and 5 Ruby-throated Hummingbird were at a feeder. My FOS Baltimore Oriole was Aug. 29. Another good flight of Upland Sandpiper the morning of the 30th. Nearing dusk on the 30th, we had a Giant Cicada going off outside again.

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~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

Aug. 31 ~ A low of 65F was outstanding! Haven't felt that in way too long. Some Orchard Orioles around in the morn. Now with at least a few hundred Tropical Sage blooms open in the patch out front, it looks awesome. Hummingbirds and Pipevine Swallowtails agree. Saw both a female, and imm. male, Hooded Oriole at a hummer feeder. Only saw 91F on the cool front porch about 5 p.m. or so. Lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the feeders in the morning, only a few Black-chinned. One American Lady butterfly. For the third night in a row, around midnight I heard what sounded to me like the Long-eared Owl that has wintered here the last couple years. Screech-, and Great Horned were calling as usual. Late I saw one Firefly, the first one of the fall flight. Been since June with no sightings.

Aug. 30 ~ The cold front showed not in any lower high temps but lower lows. The 66F this morning was fantastic. KERV had a quick 63F! Ours probably was a dF lower than I saw, I did not watch the sunup drop. I toss the seed, refresh the bath and drip, and go back in for coffee IV. About 8 a.m. a small imm. buteo flew quickly very low overhead, seeming to come out of the big live-oaks on hill behind us so at treetop level. All I can say is that it was not a Red-shouldered, which leaves Broad-winged and Short-tailed as primary candidates. But too fast and it got away.

About 8:40 way more than a dozen, probably near 20 Upland Sandpipers went over calling, scattered, near-constatnt calling for over five minutes, all southbound in a wave. Just coming down from flying up high all night, looking for a pasture for the day. They came down later morn as it was cooler. In the afternoon we lucked into another rain cell and 7mm more of precip for the month. Dropped 10F in 5 minutes when it arrived. This was some inverted trough thingie, unrelated to prior precip. Beat the afternoon peak heat again. So much winning.

Aug. 29 ~ A low of 67.5F was incredible! Oh what a difference a few dF makes. Heard the Yellow-throated Vireo early. Mid morn I heard a hawk call that was different, ran in for bins and back out, an imm. Zone-tailed Hawk was right overhead. It gave a squeaky klee klee squeeeeeeeal. First immature I have seen this year. Later morn I heard a FOS Baltimore Oriole moving around yard. About 5 p.m. local WU stations showing 94-97F, so hot, but a few dF lower than it has been. Kathy saw a imm. male Oriole on the front hummer feeder, which was Hooded or Orchard. Did not have the imm. fem. Rufous-Allen's Hummer this afternoon and evening, so it was a one-day rest stop. Tanked up and split.

Aug. 28 ~ Low just a frog hair under 72F, a passing whiff or two of low stratus. The only migrant motion this morning was N. Mockingbird! Great to be somewhere they do not nest, so you can tell when you get transients. Just after 9 a.m. Kathy saw a group of FIVE Mockingbird come to bath quickly for a drink, and depart. I have not seen one here in a month. Migrant mockers. Did they just drop out? Were they flying together last night? Are they going to travel as a group today? So many questions, and few answers beyond the speculative.

Saw an ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. There was no Rufous Hummingbird here this morn. I did not hear it yesterday after early morning. So it bolted after a ten-day stay. Built back up from what it took to get here, probably a thousand miles northwestward, and onward! After 11 a.m. a male Yellow Warbler took a bath. In the afternoon about 2 p.m. a thundercell found us and we got a little rain, a bit over a quarter-inch, 7.5mm or so. This precip is from the tail end of a cold front that dropped across the eastern U.S., of which we got the tail end of some washout. But which when mixed with our level of daytime heating blew up real good. Between 5-6 p.m. we got a bit under two inches more (!), and so about 54mm for a total event this afternoon to early eve. Weewow! At 6 p.m. it was 71F as the big cell departed. Beat the heat today and got some water to boot!

It seemed noisy at the front porch hummer feeder so I watched it a bit and a new imm. female Rufous-Allen's Hummer has arrived. Also there were 3 ad. male and 2 imm. or female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Plus still Black-chinned here, all seemingly immatures, but I would say today was the day scales tipped and Rubies outnumbered Black-chins this fall. Did have 6 Lark Sparrow out back in a group later afternoon.

Aug. 27 ~ Low of 71F was good. Latish morn nearing 9 a.m. I heard a couple Upland Sandpiper fly over calling. Looking for that right pasture to go down in for the day no doubt. Also heard Orchard Oriole and Yellow-throated Vireo. At 3:30 local WU stations showing 101-104F. Which is very effective for making me not want to get out there and do anything. Mostly just waiting for it to be over. Three months of relentless above average normal temps and heat is a drag any way you slice it. Saw an ad. ma. Ruby-throated Hummingbird again. Still juvie Black-chins around, and the Rufous was here first thing in the morning, though I did not see it in afternoon. Kathy saw probably a vireo come into the bath quickly. Heat of day right when the birds need it a deer drained it. I swear they can lick the dang thing dry. There were some rain showers to our north, but nothing made it here.

Aug. 26 ~ Low was 72F which felt nice. No migrant motion early. Did hear singles of Hutton's (which sounded a juvie) and Yellow-throated Vireo, besides the White-eyed, but did not hear the Bell's today, after a couple weeks here. I heard it yesterday, so think it left last night. Rufous Hummer is still in charge of front porch. A juvie Summer Tanager is around, but seems the only one. About 4 p.m. the local WU stations showed 98-101F. At least 5F over normal. Had biz work at the desk fortunately, just trying to stay out of the sun. Heard C. Ground-Dove out back. Greenie Painted Buntings are thinning out, there seems to only be a few left now. Lark Sparrow too are fewer. Lots of House Finch and Cardinal, especially juveniles. Kathy heard a yapping (juvenile) Screech-Owl again. At least they got one young out.

longbilledcurlew

The third pic on the site not taken locally, obvious by the green grass. Another pic of a slide so a bit degenerate. But you may see one in a pasture in fall or winter. More often I hear them overhead in the dark migrating. It is a Long-billed Curlew, a type of shorebird. Over a foot tall and one of the bigger types.


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Aug. 25 ~ Low of 71F and mostly clear. Did not hear any migrants early though. In fact pretty darn quiet out there for the locals too. The Rufous Hummingbird continues to guard front porch feeder. This is day 8 for his mean little immature male self. The Tropical Sage is getting another round of blooming going, just in time, a few hummers are often around it and the Red Turkscap which is going well too. The Blue Mistflower remains decimated from whatever ate it, was a small caterpillar. They wiped out huge patches of it at the library garden several years ago and it never seemed to recover.

Town run and a quick look at the park. Weird driving along the river and not hearing any birds singing. At the boat ramp in park there was my FOS Louisiana Waterthrush. Always great to see migrants here. It was the only thing there. Over town had some begging baby Barn Swallow with adults. They have been scarce this summer. Here at the hovelita there was a Large Orange Sulphur male on the Tropical Sage again. Some Clammy-weed has opened some flowers.

Aug. 24 ~ Low of 72 was nice. Spending near 48 hours below 90F is mind-blowingly nice. First thing early I heard a Ringed Kingfisher flying downriver chacking. It is the first one I have detected since about March. When we lose the river flow, we lose Ringed and Green Kingfisher. Had not seen either since latest winter or early spring, which I would have thought impossible here. Except for exceptional droughts. Three Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went south through yard in morn. Saw a metallic Scarab beetle that looked a Euphoria sps. type. In the afternoon there was an Inca Dove calling over in the corral. Been a couple or few weeks since I heard one.

I see at the U.S. Drought monitor things look much worse for central Texas this week. The whole south and eastern parts of the Edwards Plateau are in D4 exceptional level drought. We are just outside that in D3 extreme drought. The size of the D4 area about doubled the last week. Most of the rain from Harold was to the south of the worst areas, which mostly saw very little if any precip. Areas south of us should look better by the update next Thursday. Here, lots of leaves fell yesterday and day before in the wind and rain. Early for that.

Aug. 23 ~ Low of 74F and clouds still around from remnants of Harold. Was a thin line of showers north and east of us. The main bulk of rain passed over west Texas last night and now is in New Mexico this morning. We had clouds all day. Cannot overstate how badly we needed that two inches of precip. We did not hit 90F today here, due to the moisture in the air and continued cloud cover. Warm and humid, but not searing and broiling. Good for a fall bloom too, things like Frostweed and Tropical Sage that have a good fall run should show results. Speaking of which, Snow-on-the-Mountain is now showing well.

I suspect with the clouds and significant easterlies birds stayed down and held tight last night. There should be a push of movement right behind it when it clears though. Tonight maybe? Late in the day we got a light bit or precip from a shower, just over 4mm, so just under three-sixteenths of an inch. Some other areas got more. Also later in afternoon, about 6 p.m. a raptor landed in top of the big dying Pecan, which is seeming to attract them now that it has lost most of its foilage. I moved to get an angle on it since behind big branches and way at top. I heard a couple White-winged Dove flush, and it took off after them, right over my head, a small male Peregrine Falcon. Funny, a Cooper's Hawk would never take off after White-wings AFTER they flushed. And a FOS to boot. Interestingly if I were to guess which month I have seen the most Peregrines in, in Utopia, it would be August. Fall migrants, always adults. Already had a Prairie Falcon perched in the big Pecan during the mega freeze a few years ago, Peregrine is new for the tree list. With Caracara, the perch that is the big Pecan, now has positive reviews from five falcons. A bright juv. Summer Tanager was around alot.

Aug. 22 ~ A low of 76F, and cloudy. Which is debris from Tropical Storm Harold which got named overnight and is just about to make landfall nearish Brownsville. The big rain area will be up the Rio Grande to about Laredo, and into northern Mexico. NOAA at AUS-SAT HQ writes that for many areas it will be the first day below a hundred this month! Which is not normal friends. I see today our daylength is 13 hours and 2 minutes. That is ONE HOUR shorter than solstice, two months ago. We will lose another hour in the next month. We lost 20 minutes the first month after, 40 more minutes the second, and then will lose 60 minutes the third.

The Rufous Hummingbird is still bossing all around at the front porch. Seems to resent me being out there too. Otherwise all seemed the same. Except for the easterlies, which are a rare bird here. About 3 p.m. a band of rain from Tropical Storm Harold moved in. It rained off and on, at times moderately and by 7 p.m. we had TWO INCHES! Spent peak heat hours in the low 70's F! And the people were joyous. About 6 p.m. I saw my FOS Ruby-throated Hummingbird, an adult male. Probably had an imm. male a couple days ago, but need an absolute ID for such an important thing as a FOS date. So with some imm. Black-chinned Hummers around still, three species of hummers here today. Saw a Gulf Coast Toad heading for cover on the back porch in the heavy rain. It was great to hear Barking Frogs after dark for the first time in nearly a month.

Aug. 21 ~ Low of 73F. We get a couple nice bearable hours early. We need a front from the north to get some migration motion going. Rufous Hummer still in charge of front porch feeder, Bell's Vireo now over in corral. A Roadrunner was right at the back porch after noon. Maybe coming in for water, but probably hunting baby birds and lizards. Not much out there to eat if you walk around random habitat. No grasshoppers, hardly any insects, and not many lizards. Here we have some due to watering. The Roadrunner was out there again in afternoon looking like it was stalking birds where we toss seed out back. Chalk up another 100F plus day, and one where WU data show SAT breaking their high temp record.

Aug. 20 ~ Low was 75F. Rufous Hummingbird still guarding front porch feeder and flowers. At dawn a Red-shouldered Hawk flew in calling and landed in the big dying Pecan tree. Heard the Bell's Vireo out front toward the draw. About a hun F at 3 p.m., only bird action is everything hitting the birdbath repeatedly. We have to keep refilling and refreshing it. Saw the adult male Chat at the bath early. Heard a Great Crested Flycatcher whistle, which is the first one in a month and likely not our local bird. Reasonably slow out there otherwise. We need some other kind of weather besides a sub-tropical high complete with major heat dome. Data at WU shows SAT tied their record high temp of 104F today.

Aug. 19 ~ Low about 73F. A few passing low stratus. The Rufous Hummingbird is still here and has fairly taken over the front porch feeder since yesterday afternoon. After studying a couple grabdocushots I got later yesterday I see it is an imm. male which looks and sounds a Rufous to me. Which is the default here where Allen's is extremely rare. One Gnatcatcher and a couple Orchard Oriole early first thing at sunup. Only saw one male Indigo Bunting today, and did not hear any sing. Methinks they are vacating the premises for the season. Saw one Turkey Vulture up high going south. When Kathy sprays water around in afternoon heat, a couple Carolina Chickadee often will come in for a cooling shower in the trees.

pricklypear

The yellow rose of Texas, a Prickly Pear cactus flower. Which lost the race for state flower to the Lupine (Bluebonnet) by one vote in the Texas state legislature. And Uvalde Counties own John Nance Garner will always have the moniker Cactus Jack, for his campaign on its behalf. He was right though, half the state never saw a Bluebonnet.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 18 ~ Weewow, a low of 69F was amazing! It has been too many weeks since we last felt that. Data at WU for SAT shows a tie for high temp record yesterday. Today's record is 108 and only forecast for 107. Only. Before sunup I was on front porch and a FOS Rufous Hummingbird was visiting each Tropical Sage bloom. It had to be here at dark last night to be here before sunup. A few Orchard Oriole and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through yard early. Town run fer stuff. Heard a Summer Tanager at the 360 x-ing. At the park in the woods was my FOS Yellow Warbler. Over the pond was a Red-tailed Pennant dragonfly, a FOY. Best was Rosie being at her taco trailer. It has been too hot for her to work in it for a month. Late in the afternoon Kathy had 10 Turkey Vulture overhead. This is more than I have seen in the last month. Which is remarkable, so few TV's here.

Aug. 17 ~ A 72F low was a cheap thrill, that didn't last very long, but nice while it did. Heard the juv. Bell's Vireo still out there. A couple Orchard Oriole went through early. Otherwise it looked the same gang. Kathy saw an American Lady butterfly on a stone step, probably was getting some water. It flew and as it was cruising along low maybe 8 feet down the flightline, and barely over a foot above ground it flew over a Six-lined Racerunner which jumped up and took it out of the sky. I got out with cam and got one shot with a wing before it gulped it down.

In the afternoon Kathy saw a juv. Golden-fronted Woodpecker come in for some water. She also had a couple very dull Bluebirds at the bath which surely were young of the year. About 4 p.m. the five local WU stations were reporting temps from 104F to 106F, our shady front porch was 101F. This is about 10F over normal averages. It just won't give up. It is not a heat wave when it gets here in June and is still going in August. I fear it is the new normal.

Aug. 16 ~ Low of 74F was a little better. Great was at dawn the FOS Upland Sandpiper calling southbound fairly low, so looking for a place to go down for the day. Hope they find a pasture with bugs. It was a few around 7 a.m., and then at least a couple more about 8:30. There were likely many between. It was a flight night. They winter way south in South America and are a real sign of fall migration here. They are quite rare here in spring, but we get fair numbers in fall. Almost all as calling birds in flight southbound overhead from just after dusk to just after dawn. Only rarely have I seen them 'on the ground' here. Heard a couple Orchard Oriole go through yard early in morn. Otherwise the same stuff out there today. Still have not gotten a positive ID on a Ruby-throated Hummingbird yet this fall. Heard a Blue Grosbeak boink a few times. Screech- and Great Horned Owl calling after dark. WU data show SAT tying record high yesterday.

Aug. 15 ~ Low of 76F. Who set the controls for the heart of the sun? Yer welcome for that reference Pink Floyd fans. Heard a couple Orchard Oriole early. Thought I heard a single flight rattle of a Dickcissel. Heard some Indigo Bunting song still today. Mostly all seemed like the same gang. I saw an imm. or fem. hummingbird that looked like a Ruby-throated, short bill and very white below. Chats have mostly gone to just making the check call note. E. Screech-Owls calling right after dark. Great Horned Owl calling later. WU stats show SAT broke its daily high temp record again today.

Aug. 14 ~ Might have quickly touched 76F for a moment, lasted about as long as my first kiss. Great was first thing there being a very noisy Canyon Towhee around front yard. Lots of song bits, calls of a couple different types. Wonder if it is a returning bird that knows the place? Also early heard calling but not singing, Summer Tanager, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, an Orchard Oriole, Indigo and Painted Bunting, White-eyed Vireo, a couple each Chat and Bluebird. Still making somewhat songish noises were some Lark Sparrow and Kathy heard the juv. Bell's Vireo over fence toward draw still trying to figure the voice box thingie out. Heard that begging baby Black-chinned Hummer again. At last call on the patio Kathy spotted an ad. male Painted Bunting. She did not see either the Orchard Oriole or the Black-and-white Warbler come into the birdbath today. At WU data for SAT shows it tied or broke its high temp record again today. I saw 98F in the shade, so low huns in the sun here.

Aug. 13 ~ Low of 77.5F, some scattered bits of low stratus off and on for a few hours. We were 85F or below from 12 to 11 a.m., if wondering. What is this, the desert? Great was getting a FIVE at once count on adult male Indigo Bunting out back from the office window this morn. A bunch of fancy blue sparrows on the ground. Some are starting to molt now, one was pretty heavy into it already. They get pretty ratty fast when they initiate molt. Since I had almost an hour to spare, I mean waste, I spent it in the bathroom with camera poking out the hole in the blindoscreen, at the birdbath. Waiting for the daily male Orchard Oriole visit. There is a last hour the bath gets some sun, 5-6 p.m. It did not show up of course. At least four different greenie Painted Bunting visited (all ph.). All the usual common stuff came in. Lots of Cardinal, Lesser Goldfinch, White-winged Dove, and so on. Low huns dF in the sun. Still scorching hot. AT WU data for SAT shows it broke its high temp record again today.

Aug. 12 ~ A low of 78F is pretty balmy. There was a brief spate of some low stratus. Low huns at local WU stations in the afternoon. Another burner. It is parched out there. Dust is getting bad. Heard a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher early in morn. A, or the, Bell's Vireo juv. was making noises near the gate. Heard two Yellow-throated Vireo, one of which was a juvenile learning to make sounds. Still White-eyed Vireo around, at least one of them is a juvie too. Saw a Mestra again. At the WU page the SAT record for today showed 106, it was 107F there. Relentless record heat. It is a whole new world when it is not just a heat wave for a couple or few days and goes away. It is relentless record heat, and drought. First we had forever stamps, then forever wars, and now forever heat, all summer. Everything is fine.

indigobunting

You may see an adult male Indigo Bunting in heavy molt now. They can get a bit ratty looking mid-process.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

Aug. 11 ~ Low of 77F is not very comfortable. This past week has been the warmest week of lows this year. The high is so strong, nothing can break through it, all summer. Where is a hurricane when you need one? We did get a morning of Gulf low stratus which held back the burn for a few hours. Used to be like that all the time. Heard a Yellow-throated Vireo early. Have not been seeing any male Summer Tanager, a female is around still, and in heavy molt. I saw four male Indigo Bunting at once out back mid-morn. Town run and park check. Just to make sure there remains nothing of interest there. One ad. Green Heron in water lillies. In the woods one Summer Tanager called. That was it. Only bird. No odes. No swifts, martins, or swallows around town, no flycatchers on fencelines (should be both Scissor-tailed and Vermilion). Dismal I would call it. Mid-day when I got back to hovel a juv. Bell's Vireo was calling from just north of fence toward the draw. Bluebirds are still visiting the yard. About 6:45 p.m. there was a male Orchard Oriole a few feet out back porch door in closest Pecan branch. It is the one that taunts me trying to get a photo at the bath.

Aug. 10 ~ Low of 76F again, and still set at continue to broil on the ten-day forecast. Heard Orchard Oriole chucking early, Indigo Bunting gave a measure of song from across road in the usual area. Begging baby House Finch and Lark Sparrow still here. Saw a Mestra (butterfly). Kathy saw the male Orchard Oriole at the bath again in the 5-6 p.m. hour as daily the last week or so. I see it moving around yard in mornings. Likely feeding in the area while molting, like the Black-and-white Warblers. Then gonna bolt south. Lowest huns F for a high again. What does it mean when it is a record high every day? SAT record for today was 106F, now it is 107.

Aug. 9 ~ Low of 76F, was clear at 5 a.m. says Kathy, but low stratus got here from Gulf and saved us from the sun for a few hours early. Kathy again saw 3 male Indigo Bunting out the back office window where white millet tossed. Some Tropical Sage starting to bloom again, it hasn't gone off since the June spring blast. The Red Turkscap is going fairly well though. Late in day a male Indigo Bunting gave a bar of flight song as it departed with a belly full of white millet. Surely the male that has been here doing that since May. A surprise was Kathy spotting an adult male Painted Bunting on the patio, the first since Aug. 1, shortly after which I spotted one on the millet tube. So two at once, after a week with none. Are they local birds that move away from begging babies for a week and then come back for last fattenings? Or are they new passage birds? Kathy had the female B-n-w Warbler and male Orchard Oriole at the bath late in day again. I see SAT broke their record high of 105F today with a 107. Screech-Owls going off in yard after dark.

Aug. 8 ~ Low of 76F again. The current ten-day forecast shows no changes. Did hear a couple measures of Blue Grosbeak song. Otherwise Bewick's and Carolina Wren, and Black-crested Titmouse were the only things besides doves making song-like sounds. Also heard an Orchard Oriole chucking in the morning. Currently we are running 95F or higher from 3-8 p.m. or so. Just saw Corpus Christi at 2 p.m. showed 100F and a heat index of 119. Sounds lovely. I see SAT is showing tying their 106F record for today.

The most interesting thing that happened today was about 7 p.m., a begging baby Black-chinned Hummingbird out office window. I have only seen about one adult male in the last month. Which is about how long it takes to go from egg being laid to fledging. I think it is the latest date I have for a begging just-fledged juvenile here. Kathy caught both male Orchard Oriole and female Black-n-white Warbler going into the birdbath later in day.

Aug. 7 ~ Low of 76F, a few stray low stratus clouds, but mostly sunny, and another burner lined up for today. Kathy spotted male Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting on the seed out back in the morn. So still here, the grosbeak not for long though. Have not seen an ad. male Painted Bunting here since Aug. 1. They left a week early. Too hot. There are yellow Mulberry leaves falling, about two months early. Kathy thought she had a Bell's Vireo, it is the time for them to be going by, we get fair numbers in Aug. and September. Birds keep emptying the bird bath. Dang White-winged Dove. At 5 p.m. we had 100F on the cool shady front porch. SAT broke its record high for the date again by 2 dF at 106F. Saw a skipper on the stone wall out front that was probably a Clouded Skipper, which would have been a FOY if was able to confirm. Only 99.99 percent sure is not enough, an ID has to be absolute to be of import. Until certainty is pegged at 100, you still just have a hypothesis.

Aug. 6 ~ Low of 74F, some low stratus from Gulf got here a couple hours after sunup, for an hour and change. Then it got hot. It is mighty quiet out there, for birds and butterflies. One thing still still singing, unfortunately, is Eurasian Collared-Dove. Most common bird in the yard is a bunch of greenie juv. Painted Bunting, which could number 8-10. Still some Lark Sparrow gibberish to be heard. Late afternoon Kathy spotted again a, or the, male Orchard Oriole at the bath. Again I missed a pic by a second. Took a female B-n-w Warbler pic as consolation. Kathy also had a Caracara fly over house about 7 p.m. Not seeing as many of them, and especially vultures this summer. Vulture numbers are wayyyyyy down, I barely see any. Animals are down, traffic is down, roadkill is down.

Here is yesterday's NOAA KSAT/KAUS office (for south-central Texas) Aug. 5 forecast discussion re: climate it said " We are now approaching 2 straight months of above normal temperatures at some sites in the region." I would say near-record temps two months straight, not just above normal, way above normal. NOAA added about the temps: "The 30 year normals peaking this week and declining in the 2nd half of August...". So it is not your imagination, it has been scorching hot. Next week looks like it will be hotter, and hopefully will be peak heat this summer. Still no rain in sight, we are parched.

Aug. 5 ~ Low of 74F, no morning stratus, this sub-tropical high is so strong it kills it. Saw local WU reports of 100F in the late afternoon, saw 97F in shade on front porch. Chalk another burner up. Heard a couple Orchard Oriole over the day. Kathy saw the B-n-w Warbler that looked the same female to her. Cowbirds are gone, Ash-throated Flycatcher too. No adult male Painted Bunting for a few days now. More new begging just-fledged Painted Bunting. Must be 8-10 greenie juveniles here now. I see SAT broke its record for today by 2dF. See what I mean? Near, at, or over, record highs, for two months plus, so far. Kathy heard the Screech-Owls right after dark.

eladacheckerspot

This is an Elada Checkerspot (Texola elada).
What kind of genus is Texola? Sounds like a juke box!


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Aug. 4 ~ Low of 76F is not very. Heard an Orchard Oriole chuck first thing. The birdsong season is all but over. Pretty darn quiet out there early. Town run and park check. Park is dead. One ad. Green Heron which are likely nesting as usual on the island. Heard a Yellow-throated Vireo a few times. That was it. One Blue Dasher dragonfly. Did not hear Martin, Swift, or Barn Swallow in or over town. Did not see Scissor-tailed or Vermilion Flycatcher along the roads either, as has been the case for weeks now. There are no flying bugs and those birds depending on them have bugged out.

Aug. 3 ~ Low of 74F, some low stratus moved in briefly to jack humidity up for when it gets hot shortly. It just won't relent, no change in sight on the ten day forecast. At the risk of being redundant, it was around 2012 or so when we lived on Seco Ridge that Bill Dean told me it was the first summer in his life he recorded 100F for 100 days straight on his porch. It has been fairly close to that the ten summers since. Coupled with the extreme to exceptional drought regimen most of that time, there are a lot of trees out there desertification is taking out of the local ecology equation.

I heard Orchard Oriole early, a fall migrant. Kathy had a female B-n-w Warbler at the bath in morn, and nearing last sun she spotted a male Orchard Oriole in the bath! Of which I just missed getting a pic. A gaggle of juvenile Painted Bunting and Lark Sparrow around yard. Did not see a male Painted Bunting today. We might be down to just greenies left now, already. You may still see the odd ad. male or two, but the territorial birds are not so now. Greenies will be around another month.

Aug. 2 ~ Low of 72F, no low clouds, go straight to sun. Still hearing a male Indigo, but not Painted Bunting. Had a quick town run in morning. No rare herons at the park, just one adult Green Heron. Heard one Yellow-throated Warbler chipping not singing. Heard a few Purple Martin high over pond, might be the last of them for the year. Yard seems full of juvenile Painted Buntings. There are more than a half-dozen. The males have gotten scarce already though, not seeing or hearing any. I suspect some are departing already, most probably heading SW for monsoon season. I am too busy at the desk, and too hot outside.

August 1 ~ Low of 72F, an hour or so of some thin low stratus from the Gulf. The sub-tropical high heat dome remains parked too near. The slight oscillations east and west have little effect, area WU stations are reaching near or over 100F daily for much of the last two months. One more to go. Not much action in the yard. The Wooly Ironweed is going a bit, recovered enough since the deer ate it in spring to bloom at least. The Frog-fruit is fading so very few butterflies about. Did hear a few bars of Indigo Bunting song, and some Lark Sparrow gobbledy-gook and gibberish. Saw one male Painted Bunting in the morning. Thought I heard the Black-and-white sing a snippet early. Heard a chuck or few from an Orchard Oriole at dawn. Almost forgot, there was a Celia's Roadside-Skipper on the stone outside of house early in morn. As in before it could be flying and it had to have roosted there.

~ ~ ~ July summary ~ ~ ~

In three words: hot and dry. It was just over 1.5" of rain, nearing half of former normal. Temps ran 5-10F over average for lows and highs, all month. Again this summer. Flowers were mostly not in bloom save a very few types in very limited numbers, except where watered or irrigated.

Odes (dragonflies) remain incredibly depressed, bordering on a frightening lack of them. Only one rare type was seen, a COMET Darner at the golf course pond July 30. This is about the 5th year I have recorded the sps. here at Utopia (~n20). Prior they were known furthest west at Travis County! Otherwise it was just a very few of the very expected types. A Widow Skimmer, a Black Setwing, a couple Eastern Amberwing, and so on. Almost no damselflies, and no Rubyspots! Pitiful is how I would describe the ode poplations here now. I count 16 sps. for the month which sadly is a big jump. We used to get that in an hour or two.

Butterflies were down overall, numbers are very low. But some of the summer species start showing up so a few different new though annually expected types arrive. The only rare butterfly was a COYOTE Cloudywing on July 30 at the golf course pond on Bluehearts. Far less than annual here so always a good find. Nice was finally a couple FOY metalmarks, which were Rounded (C. perditalis), on the 30th. The typical usual summer arrivals were N. Mestra, Orange and Southern Skipperling, Ceraunus Blue, and Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak. About 47 sps. were recorded for the month beating the 44 sps. of June by an antennae.

The only rare unusual bird I saw was the Tricolored Heron at Utopia Park July 28. My first in at least 10 years here. I have seen more Tropical Parula (warbler) here. One good early migrant date was a Willow Flycatcher July 30 at the golf course pond. What seemed three Black-and-white Warbler spent most of July near our place, visiting it daily or nearly so, for the bird bath mostly.

It was a reserved subdued nesting season in which food supplies were short due to drought, and many birds were only fledging one or two young per brood. I saw no brood of three anything this year. This is the fourth or fifth year of that. These are not the numbers required for natural mortality replacement or population maintenence. If you wonder why it seems like there is less of everything, it is probably because there is less of everything. About 66 sps. were seen locally for the month, by me anyway, and fairly incidently. Just in the yard, and weekly park checks. All but a couple are locally breeding. Another couple dozen sps. are around breeding, just not down on the flat valley floor where I am.

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~ ~ ~ Update header archive copy ~ ~ ~

July ~ Late the 1st and pre-dawn the 2nd we got just over an inch of rain! The 2nd saw my FOY Texas Wasp Moth, and heard the Giant Cicada again. Birdsong quieting down and birds done nesting are wandering around molting. As indicated by three different Black-and-white Warbler at our place this week. Plus one at the park made four in a week (first week of July). It is hot out there, be careful. water yerself, and your birds. Finally July 14 there were a couple Orange-striped Threadtail damselfly in the swampy area at top of island at the park. A small group of Orchard Oriole went south through the yard July 23, so that has begun. A TRICOLORED HERON July 28 on the spillway at the park is my first in a decade or more here. A Willow Flycatcher on the 30th was a first of fall.

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~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

July 31 ~ Low was 73F. If we make the day we will have knocked off two of the three months of climatalogical summer, June, July, and August. Two down, one to go, and the days are getting shorter. About 28 minutes less than at solstice already. So about 6 weeks to lose a half hour of daylength, we'll lose nearly an hour in the next four weeks. Early I heard a few bars from both Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak, but ad.ma. Painted Bunting were quiet, saw one. About one more week and most male Painted will be gone. Did have one new juvenile Yellow-throated Warbler without yellow in throat yet, as in JUST-fledged. So they must have gotten another nesting off, with maybe just one young raised. I saw a male Black-chinned Hummingbird, the first in two weeks, at least. At last call Kathy spotted three male Indigo Bunting within 10 sq.ft. out back. The territorial testosterone thing is over, fattening for their coming fall flights time, and being together is now acceptable. Nearing dusk I had a begging Common Nighthawk fly over, with an adult calling near it. Then a male boomed on the female. So, three, and I suspect the whole family group this year, e.g., one young fledged. Eastern Screech-Owl going well after dark.

July 30 ~ These 71F lows are great, it used to be expected. First thing I had a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Kathy saw a fem. B-n-w Warbler at bath. Seems like more new juv. Painted Bunting. Mid-morn the fading Frog-fruit patch had a couple FOY butterflies. Two Rounded Metalmark and a Southern Skipperling. First of years both. Noon hour I spent over at the golf course pond to check for odes. Kathy had better things to do than be steamed. In birds there were still three Purple Martin left at the delapidated martin house, two were male. A few Red-winged Blackbird in the cattails.

Best was an early FOS Willow Flycatcher, which flushed out of the reeds and perched in open in a short Hackberry at pond-edge when a golf ball slammed a big splash into the pond right near where it was hiding. Twenty feet from me. Landed in the pond on the fly. Giving me great ID looks at a bird that I would have missed! Not worth dying over but nice to see, and a good early fall migrant date for them. It struck me as a duller dingier darker western type of Willow, vs. the usually lighter, greener, eastern ones we more often see here. Not the first time I thought that about the earliest Willow Flycatchers we see in fall. The dudes next shot kabonged off the metal building there! Beware the Utopia Duffer! A suprisingly common species here. In Steve Irwin parlance, "ooone of the most daaaangeroooous animals, in the world". No Vermilion or Scissor-tailed Flycatcher were noted, which I would have considered impossible at the golf course. There are no bugs to eat, the birds left looking for them.

A few dragons, but slow. However it only takes one good one to make your day. Such was a male COMET DARNER! Again! Another one! This time there have been no storm systems going into Louisiana or east Texas providing strong easterlies here. I suspect this one emerged here and is progeny from prior years occurrences. They take two years to emerge going from aquatic nymphs to flying adults. This is the third or fourth year I have seen at least one at this tiny pond site. I did not however see any Thornbush Dasher which have been regular there the last 7 or so years. There were a couple Banded Pennant, a few Red Saddlebags, a Checkered Setwing, an Eastern Pondhawk, and a couple too fast to ID.

The big action was on the blooming Bluehearts. It was humming with bees, and had some butterflies. Besides honey, there was a similar black and white banded bee, and two types of Bumble Bees, one pale dull yellow, smaller than the big beefy bright yellow usual one of which there were a dozen. Best was a COYOTE CLOUDYWING, which is LTA - less than annual - here. A great find. Auto-focus foiled attemps at photos. Also on the Bluehearts were a dozen Queen and a couple Pipevine Swallowtail, both of which seem big for such a tiny flower. Saw a Sachem, Funereal Duskywing, several Comm. Checkered-Skipper, an Olive-Juniper Hairstreak, several Ceraunus and a couple Reakirt's Blue, Buckeye, Gulf Fritillary, Lyside Sulphur, some Vesta Crescent and an Orange Skipperling. Fun, fun, fun.

Checked the other pond at north side of golf course, it is very low of water levels. Saw one nice red male Desert Firetail damselfly. In dragons one Widow Skimmer, several Checkered Setwing, one Black Setwing male, a Black Saddlebags, and a few Red Saddlebags. On the way back checked the 360 x-ing for Rubyspots, still none out so far this year. Did see one Blue-ringed Dancer, but otherwise no odes there. Not even a Dusky Dancer!?! Whether the river crossing, the golf course ponds, or at Utopia Park, I have never seen so few odes here. The drought really beat them back.

Did see some blooming Alamo Vine, a pretty native Morning Glory family vine. Also a few Aster flowers on the type that grows around the golf course pond. Old Man's Beard always looks great on the fence line as it gets going. The Snow-on-the-Mountain is very nearing opening flowers. The Goldenrod in the river is tall and should be a good show soon. The aquatic Fireweed or Cardinal Flower looks like it is coming up ok so far. The Water-willow (Justicia) is mostly shot and gone from the annual attack of the dodder, as usual. Probably my botanical ignorance, which is tremendous, but is it not odd that the dodder here is totally keyed in on one plant, which is an aquatic emergent? Seems an unusual strategy.

July 29 ~ Another 71F low is great. Not much for anything different out there today. I was at the desk much of the day, so not a lot of looking. Getting tired of the excessive heat frankly. Lost track of how many summers we are at 5-10F over former average normal temps, with less than average rainfall. It has been a dry July. Certainly the last three were nearer 10F over norms. There are some leaves falling already. Stuff is giving up.

tricoloredheron

This is a closeup of the Tricolored Heron last week. You can see some downy feathers on the crown, a fresh recently fledged juvenile.


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July 28 ~ Low of 71F again is fantastic. What a difference a few dF makes. Sure quiet for birdsong out there early though. Bell's, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireo were all heard around yard. Town run and park check. Outstanding was the first rare unusual bird I have seen there in seemingly a year, a Tricolored Heron. First one I have seen here in 10-15 years, have to check. Was a juvenile or immature as most here have been. Maybe my fourth or so total in 20 years. Finally a rary! No other birds there, save hearing a Black-and-white Warbler. Saw one male Large Orange Sulphur butterfly, and a couple Eastern Amberwing and a Red Saddlebags for dragonflies. Did not hear any Martins around town. Begging just-fledged Chipping Sparrow on patio (2).

July 27 ~ A low of 71F is great. Still upper 90's F or hotter and no rain in sight. Drought stage still D3. It all looked about the same to me out there today. Heard the Bell's Vireo over in corral still. Kathy saw a female B-n-w Warbler again. A less-streaked below female than the other one she is seeing. That birdbath is a great drawing card these hot days. About time to get that first Rufous and Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the fall. The Black-chinned have really thinned out early this year. We should start seeing several migrant species of birds very shortly now, as we near August.

July 26 ~ Low of 74F, go straight to sun and start cooking. Hitting 80F shortly after 9 a.m. gets tiresome quickly. Still begging juveniles of Lark Sparrow, Cardinal, Lesser, Goldfinch, House Finch, and Painted Bunting around yard. Only juvenile and female hummingbirds here now. No adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird are still here, and likely none for nearly two weeks now. They left early this year, due to heat and no bugs, no doubt. The Black Rock Squirrel was right up by back porch where some water stays. Did not see any different butterflies today. It was too much to do at the desk day anyway. Did see a couple Red Wasp (Polistes carolinus).

July 25 ~ Low of 71F was nice. Almost made it to 10 a.m. before it hit 80F. We are now 20 minutes shorter of daylength than at solstice. Less sun is more better.  ;)   Cool enough the Blue Grosbeak sang from a few of its singin' posts a couple minutes. The males leave early, and soon, like Painted Bunting. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher went through yard early, southbound. Darn cowbird flock was about 15, at least they should be gone very soon, but never soon enough. They can suck down more millet than everything else put together in the same time. The butterflies all looked the same, the Frog-fruit seems past peak already. Needs a couple inches of rain and it would go off again. Kathy had a female B-n-w Warbler at the bath again. Nearing dusk, we heard a Common Nighthawk go over. Screech-Owls were going at it again in the Hackberry right outside office window after dark.

July 24 ~ A 67F low was a thrill, coolest temp in way too many weeks. The juv. Red-tailed Hawk is still overhead begging. It better figure out this hunting thing soon. Not much out there to practice on is surely part of the problem. It was so cool out the Indigo Bunting sang a minute or two in the morn. Butterflies looked the same on the Frog-fruit patch at edge of driveway. Sure is hot on the rocks though. The driveway is those small rounded river rocks, and you can feel about a 10dF increase stepping onto it. Then you squat down to see the itty-bitty butterflies on the teeny-weeny ground level Frog-fruit flowers, and add 10dF more at ground level. You really have to want to know what is there. Mostly just roasting here, a hun in the sun, at least.

July 23 ~ Low of 74F, no clouds, gonna be another burner. In a sign of fall migration, a small group of at least three Orchard Oriole moved south through the yard this morning. The first of many to come, they are one of the earliest fall migrants. Bare-eyed saw what appeared a juv. Great Crested Flycatcher. Out on the Frug-fruit butterflies at noon included both Ceraunus and Reakirt's Blue, Common and Desert Checkered-Skipper, Olive Juniper Hairstreak, a few Little Yellow and Vesta Crescent. At about 1:30 a thundercell found us and we got about 10mm of precious holy dust-bustin' precip! So about .4 of an inch. Dropped from 95F to 74F. We totally beat the heat this afternoon, what a break! Slowly inched back up to 82 peak, which was still 20F below what it has been. And did not have to water wilting plants. The Indigo Bunting burst out in song it felt so good. The Black Rock Squirrel came out too. Kathy saw an imm. Vermilion Flycatcher, and had a Common Nighthawk go over at dusk.

July 22 ~ A low of 70F was an outstanding surprise, lower than predicted, and no one complained. About 5 p.m. local WU stations were showing over a hundred. We had 99F on the shady front porch. Too hot. Just after midnight there was a Walnut Sphinxmoth on the front screen door. Some begging baby Painted Bunting must have just fledged. A couple juv. Chats were in the thick stuff at the front porch in the afternoon, which is a cool spot. Hearing the Bronzed Cowbird call still. Might have seen more if I had braved it out there, but found things to do at the desk where a fan blowing. In butterflies, a Queen, and a Funereal Duskywing, were about, besides the usual suspects. Just after midnight on my last listenabout, the pair of mccallii Eastern Screech-Owl were duetting. We are two weeks into Chuck silence now.

tricoloredheron

This is a juvenile Tricolored Heron, and my what a beautiful bird they are. This was on spillway at the park July 28, 2023. First I have seen in over a decade here, a pretty rare bird locally.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 21 ~ Low of 76F is not very. Heard a couple bars of Blue Grosbeak song early, and a couple Purple Martin high overhead too. Prior to departing in migration Painted Buntings they stop fighting and meet where good seed sources to fatten up for the flight. This has begun. There were seven at once on the patio and white millet tube. Three were ad. males, which they are not good with all breeding season. Also a couple females, and a couple juveniles. A juv. Chat came into the tub pond. Town run and park check. Water is no longer going over the spillway. Which means locals won't swim in it much longer, if at all. But surely is totally OK for tourists.    ;)   Bummer in the summer. Means water table is severely dropping, is below average normal, and the big sponge up-drainage from us is running dry. Probably sections of river above town are already without above-ground flow. Having a hard time getting used to a near total lack of odes (dragonflies and damselflies). Birds were not much better. The only bird I heard in the woods was Titmouse, one. At noon it sounded like the morgue. Flushed a brown hind-winged underwing moth, probably C. obscurus or something similar. Back here, did see probably the same Orange Skipperling and Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak on the Frog-fruit patch in driveway today. About 5 p.m. I saw 95F on the shady front porch, local WU stations were showing 100F. It is brutal out there folks. Kathy thought she heard a C. Nighthawk before dusk. She did see a female Black-and-white Warbler at the bath this afternoon. I saw a juvenile Summer Tanager at it, and adult Field and Chipping Sparrow.

July 20 ~ About 75F for a low. Stlll singing fairly well are White-eyed Vireo, Painted Bunting, and less so are Black-crested Titmouse and Lark Sparrow. Once or twice a day a snippet or two from the Field and Chipping Sparrows. Ash-throated Flycatcher calling a lot but not singing any more. I heard a juv. Bell's Vireo over in the corral. Like White-eyed juvies, they are learning they can make all these sounds, and don't yet know how it goes. But they are vireos, so they will make noise. Noonish at the Frog-fruit patch I saw my FOY Orange Skipperling. Later afternoon I saw my FOY Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak on it. Two FOY butterflies in a day is good. Two Desert Checkered-Skipper were there too. Only a dozen Vesta Crescent, they are decreasing now. About 4:30 saw 98F in the shade of front porch, so over a hun in the sun. Kathy had a couple juvenile White-eyed Vireo come into the mist she was spraying around with the hose. Later in day we heard what I would swear was a Canyon Towhee. But never saw anything. Our daylength is now a whole 15 minutes less than at solstice June 21, in a month roughly. I see the new U.S. Drought Monitor map has us back in D3, extreme drought. A couple months of just only D2 severe was nice anyway while it lasted.

July 19 ~ Low of 74F is bearable, sorta, if you get used to it. Who put the brakes on the birdsong? It is sure quiet out there early now. You know it is getting mighty quiet when one of the louder voices is Painted Bunting. Few of our songbirds have such an understated song. Kathy saw TWO Carolina Wren togther on back porch today. So the one has attracted another, and we may get a pair here again yet. She also saw a juvenile wren, which was likely a Bewick's on front porch. Did hear a snippet of Field Sparrow song, and Chipping Sparrow is still occasionally singing its perfect trill. Too hot out there and I had too much work to do at the desk. So a win win. Did not hear Purple Martin or Cuckoo today. The stuff is leaving us. Did hear a little Black-and-white Warbler song early first thing, just a few bars a few times, which is a male. Kathy saw a female at the bath. These are post-breeding un-related, seemingly having us on their daily wandering (way different times always) around, whilst molting. Saw a juvenile Painted Bunting.

July 18 ~ Low about 73.5F, no low stratus. Sorry to hear all that silence out there early instead of birdsong. Saw the male Indigo Bunting, but it is no longer providing all-day singing. Painted still going fairly well though. The ad. male Painted only have about three weeks left here. Speaking of which, most of the adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird have departed, and for about a week now their numbers have been way down. Only seeing a couple or few adult males now. It is all females and mostly juveniles. The Carolina Wren is around some of every day still so seems to have us in its territory. Kathy saw a Black Swallowtail on the Lantana, which is getting another bloom cycle starting now. We need it, only the Frog-fruit going otherwise and it is covered with butterflies, but many don't seem to use it. Had a Buckeye on that again today, besides the same batch of butterflies as the last couple days. Today we were a minute shorter of daylength than yesterday.

July 17 ~ Wow a 72F low like the old days! That felt great! Heard the Black-and-white Warbler sing again, so a male still around too. Hear the begging baby Red-tailed Hawk up high somewhere. Painted Bunting still singing. Great was a Great Crested Flycatcher a couple feet out the office window on the fence around the tub pond. Not hearing the Cuckoos. Heard them Friday, but I don't think I heard them since then. Certainly not yesterday and today. Which means they are done, over, and departed. There were two around the yard the last week, I think ad. with juv., and then all of a sudden there are none and cuckoo silence. This is typical of how it goes, they become more obvious for a week or so when teaching the young how to spot green caterpillars and katydids at a hundred feet, and then poof they are done and gone. At the Frog-fruit this afternoon, again two dozen Vesta Crescent, 3 Bordered Patch, single Common and Desert Checkered-Skipper, a Reakirt's Blue, Mestra or two, and one Phaon Crescent was different from the one yesterday.

July 16 ~ The 74F low was much better than the last several days. What a difference 4 dF can make. Low stratus did not get here from Gulf until sunup so there was some wee bit of radiational cooling overnight. Any respite is welcome. Heard an Orchard Oriole chucking out in the pecans early. Saw a juvenile Black-crested Titmouse, which are gray crested and have very little to no color on sides. So they look like Oak or Juniper (formerly Plain) Titmouse at first. Heard the Common Ground-Dove out there. At about 3 p.m. the Frog-fruit patch had over two dozen Vesta Crescent, a male Little Yellow, a Bordered Patch, and best was a FOY Ceraunus Blue. A male Cloudless Sulphur was on the Red Turkscap. At the end of the day Kathy had a Common Nighthawk fly over. Chucks are done calling for a week plus now. The window runs the end of first week of April to the end of first week of July. Saw a Gulf Coast Toad under the birdbath on a rinse and refill visit this morning.

July 15 ~ Another 78F low, cloudy and humid the first 2-3 hours early. Then let the broiling begin. The beastie of the day was just after midnight at last look and listen outside. A Neoclytus sps. Cerambycid (Longhorn) beetle was on the screen door. The black, burgundy and cream one we see here. What a beautiful bug. About 4-7 p.m. I aaw 98F in the shade. Had to be 102 in the sun. Kathy keeps seeing female Black-and-white Warbler(s?) hit the bath. I heard a juvenile White-eyed Vireo spewing nonsense. They are just finding out they cam make all these sounds and have no idea what to do with them. Had the first bigger flock of Brown-headed Cowbird in a couple months. They have just been a half-dozen or so for most of the breeding season. So far no juvenal Cowbirds here yet. There were at least 20, mostly males, which is factors more than it has been. They gather into flocks shortly before they depart for the season and it indicates their breeding season is mostly over.

Mid-afternoon the Frog-fruit was in the shade out in the driveway and had lots of butterfly action. The patch is maybe 30 sq. ft. or so, and has about a thousand little flowers now. At least 15 Vesta and one Phaon Crescent, a Bordered Patch, a mint-fresh Variegated Fritillary, and THREE Common (Northern) Mestra. First time for more than one at a time so far this season. They were also fresh and in great condition. Still with light violet sheen of overscaling. The Golden Orb Weaver spider that had been residing outside the kitchen window disappeared some time after noon when Kathy last saw it. I presume a bird got it. Screech-Owl again calling in Hackberry at corner of house right as last light disappeared from sky. Today we hit ten minutes, shorter of daylength, than at the solstice. And now losing near a minute per day (of daylength).

paintedbunting

This is a 'greenie'. A Painted Bunting, that could be adult female, or a juvenile or immature male or female. These three age and sex plumages can be hard to tell apart. Adult males are easy.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 14 ~ Low just under 78F again, low stratus and humid. Remember when it used to get to low 70's for summer lows? Black Rock Squirrel was up on the cottage chimney early. It is stone so looks a good rock promontory. Town run and park check. No birds at the park. Finally did see two FOY Orange-striped Threadtail damselfly at top of the island in the shady swampy stuff. One dragonfly I saw was probably an Eastern Ringtail, but did not get a positive absolute ID on it. It remains generally devoid of odes though. Buttonbush still blooming a bit. Some Old Man's Beard starting to show on fencelines. Snow-on-the-Mountain getting of size and will soon be growing flowers. The juv. Red-tailed Hawk is still begging overhead here, now for ten weeks, a record. I sure don't see much out there for it to eat.

July 13 ~ Low a hair under 78F, but not a full dF. Did hear the Blue Grosbeak sing around the yard a few times early. So still here, but barely singing now. If you are not out there the right minute or two, it does not happen. Did have a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in the corral. Heard some Purple Martin high up, they will be gone soon. So will Brown-headed Cowbirds, most of which leave before July is over. I saw the Mestra around the front porch flowers again. Saw a Gulf Coast Toad over at the birdbath on one of the refreshen trips. It was near record heat for many local areas. Some local WU stations showed a smokin' 102F. There were 103 to 108F temps in nearby south central Texas today. Add 5-10F for the heat index.

July 12 ~ Low was 77F, with low stratus deck and very humid. The Indigo Bunting is dialing back on the singing quite a bit, Painted still going good. Saw a Black-tailed Jackrabbit a couple hundred yards north of 1050, on 359, and have not been seeing many since the drought got past severe into extreme a few years ago. Another beastie that has gone from common to much more scarce recently. Also had at least one probably two juvenile Yellow-throated Warbler go through the yard begging and being attended. Nice to see. Kathy saw a Mestra (butterfly) again. It was a hun in the sun this afternoon. Again did not hear a Chuck at last light. If it rains especially we will get a few calls still. They will be around another month, or more, but only if you step on one would you know it. Actually the juvenile begging 'gowlp' grunts might still be heard. If there are any around.

July 11 ~ Low was a frog hair under 78F. Blanket of low stratus kept the heat in. A fair number of birds singing still, but most just briefly, not for long as early in season. By 8-8:30 it can be very quiet. Just the regular gang in the heat. Saw the Black Rock Squirrel on the cottage chimney. The hummingbirds are panting. It was 95F in the shade in the afternoon, so near a hun in the sun. A juvenile Chat was in the flowerbed around the front porch again. A coolish spot to hunt bugs in a tangle. An Eastern Screech-Owl was calling right after dark. No Chuck called though.

July 10 ~ Low about 74F and humid, some low stratus for a few hours. The ten-day has us at a hun every day all the way across with no precip. Ugh. I gave the flowers a good soaking last night, they were a bit beat from the heat. Heard the B & W Warbler sing early. Forgot to mention the last couple days the first Wooly Ironweed flowers opened, must be July. The most purple of purples, it is a real beauty for its small size. It recovered from being eaten by deer when it was first sprouting in April. The Buttonbush never did, it just barely put a couple short leaflets. They have eaten that five years in a row. It is in a planter, less than a foot from the wall. After dark Kathy dispatched a Scorpion, about her sixth so far this year. I moved a Walnut Sphinxmoth from a light in the cottage back outside. Did not hear a will's-widow at Chuck-thirty. Ninety days of gas is all they have.

July 9 ~ About 75F for a low, a couple hours of broken low stratus. Still some birdsong at early-thirty. Kathy saw a fem. B & W Warbler near bath. Was 94F in the shade of the front porch, so hotter in the sun. Not exactly pleasant. We are in a lull for blooming flowers right now. The Tropical Sage finished a round and has not started a new one yet. If there is a seed left on a flower stalk, the Lesser Goldfinches have merely left it to get riper. The Am. Germander is almost all done for the year. The Lantana is between flower cycles as well. Zexmenia is winding down, as is Tube-tongue. Did see two Skeleton-plant blooms along driveway. The Red Turkscap is going fair now, maybe a couple dozen flowers. The deer did not get to it this year since now fenced, and there was enough other plant moisture out there that they did not need what was in our well-irrigated Turkscap leaves this year.

July 8 ~ About 75F for a low, a bit of low stratus the first few hours. Local WU stations showed 92-95F in the afternoon. And humid until later when it finally cooked out. I did not see anything different. Kathy saw a dragonfly with green abdomen go by that looked smaller than a Green Darner. I had biz work at the desk so was not outside much. I see we are now 5 whole minutes shorter of daylength than we were at the solstice. In 18 days, or about two and a half weeks. Saw a Com. Checkered-Skipper, and the usuals like Pipevine Swallowtail, Sleepy Orange, Vesta Crescents, a Gulf Fritillary, a Queen, and such mundane run-of-the-mill fare here.

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Remember to water your warblers!

blackandwhitewarbler

The birds really need water when it is this hot out. Plus you get great looks at them for a reward. Black-and-white Warbler, female.


goldencheekedwarbler

Adult male Golden-cheeked Warbler making waves. By providing water you often get views hard to come by out in the field.


~ ~ ~ last prior update below ~ ~ ~

July 7 ~ The 73F low felt great after the last couple days. Another hundredth of an inch of a showerlet. Hear the Black-and-white Warbler singing. After this bird leaves we likely won't hear that again until next spring. We have had them stick a couple weeks whilst molting in summer. Town run and park check. A Red-eyed Vireo was singing at the 360 x-ing, where one has not been the last month, so likely an unmated troller. At the park one Black-and-white Warbler was in the woods, the fourth one in a week. The Acadian Flycatcher that was there May 15-June 30 was nowhere to be heard. So likely was unmated, gave up, and is gone. It was there almost 7 weeks on territory! A good showerlet about 1 p.m., another around 3 p.m., so it was still below 80F then! Nice cool day is a great break. This last week of not miserably hot and humid has been fantastic. Not sure I heard a Chuck at twilight.

July 6 ~ Low abut 75F and a bit balmy as is the season. There was a showerlet at one point in the afternoon that took 10F off the top, was only 82 at 2:30 p.m. At one point we got a couple hundredths of an inch of precip. Great was hearing that Black-and-white Warbler singing in the Mulberry again. It has to be a first-summer male with that song. But hey, it's a singing B & W! Heard the Hutton's Vireo out back.

The baby Red-tailed Hawk is still begging from above. Two months I think is the longest I have ever heard this go on. Seems odd the parents seemingly do not actively teach it how to hunt. Maybe the first week or two out of the nest? That must be it, I never see any such behavior. I presume they do make a kill or two in front of them that first week. After that they only return with food. Until they don't. It seems as if learning to hunt is almost totally left to itself to figure it out on its own. Sound familiar? Insert joke of choice about your childhood here. Thursday the new U.S. Drought Monitor map is issued, we are still in D2, severe level.

July 5 ~ Low of 76F with some clouds to stave sun off a few hours. At least we had a few-day break with the rain and following few dF cooldown albeit briefly. Swamped at the biz desks so not much looking arund. Got up to about 88 in shade on front porch, so low 90's F in the sun. A fem. B & W Warbler still visiting. Lots of begging baby Cardinal, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, and Lark Sparrow. Fair numbers of juv. Black-chinned Hummingbird too. Best thing was an almost FOY Common Mestra! Must be summer! Some years we get a late one in Dec. or even Jan., if it was a decent showing the fall prior. This year I did see one in Jan. so this is not a first of year, but a FOS, first of season, and first since the last one of last fall's incursion. They do not breed here and are strictly an irruptive species, some years numerous, other years absent or nearly so. They usually show up in summer or fall, and last past the first freezes no problem. Which seems odd being the delicate fragile appearing beastie that it is.

July 4 ~ Happy Fourth! Low about 75F under a blanket of clouds. Lots more juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbird around the last couple days. Kathy had a Hutton's Vireo in the yard about 9 a.m. Chat was going at 6 a.m. if you wondered. Kathy saw a fem. B & W Warbler closely right out kitchen window. I saw 88F on shady front porch, so probably 92F in the sun, and humid. The Indian Mallow is blooming well, but never see anything on it. Maybe moths at night? Heard a branch fall from the big dying Hackberry. Watching it and the monster Pecan decay is heartbreaking, not to mention the loss of over a quarter acre of shade, and tons of fruit and nuts. There was no firework show tonight at dark in town, so it must have been cancelled. I forgot to ask when I was in town Friday, and since it had rained figured it would be a go. Guess again. Nice and quiet instead is fine. I heard cars driving up 187 from the south, though not the usual L.A. freeway roar. They were disappointed I am sure.

July 3 ~ The low of 72F was nice, still humid from the rain. Cardinal and Chat were singing at 6:15 a.m., Painted Bunting soon followed by 6:25 or earlier. I can't believe how ginchy that male Indigo is. It will not sit on the millet tube if I am in the chair on the side porch facing patio. Surely 30' away. Painted have no qualms about me in chair against house. We are down two full minutes from the solstice now, with a 14 hour daylength, and losing near a half-minute daily already. I am rooting for shortening the day length. Several black-beaked juvenile Cardinal around. Some begging Lark Sparrow as well. A little bit of Chuck-will's-widow calling at last crack of light.

July 2 ~ A little rain showed up late yesterday evening cooled it into the 70's F by 10 p.m., some showers here between then and 1 a.m. or so. Then between 4-5 a.m. we got a good downpour. Looks about 28-29mm, or one and an eighth inches (1.125), of the precious holy wet stuff. An inch of it in the pre-dawn hour of rain. Great way to start the month after a dry June. The low was 70F! Despite forecast for 90F today, I only saw 82F on the front porch. What a treat and break for a day. Any break is great at this point. Before noon there was a FOY Texas Wasp Moth out front. Kathy saw a female B & W Warbler at the bath. I heard a Blue Grosbeak calling, but no song. Heard the Giant Cicada again just before dusk.

July 1 ~ Low about 76F under a low stratus layer. Cloudy much of day, probaby got to about 96F. Relief arrived about 8 p.m. with an outflow boundry that took 10F off the top. I was stuck with biz work at desk. Singing outside still today I heard Indigo and Painted Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Chat, Cardinal, Ash-throated Flycatcher, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warber, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Lesser Goldfinch, Lark, Field, and Chipping Sparrow, Bronzed and Brown-headed Cowbird, House Finch, the usual doves and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Seemingly a fair bit of stuff still going at it, ergo, nesting.

Kathy spotted another female Black-and-white Warbler at the birdbath of which I got a series of pics of. It is not the female that has been around. Obvious by stage of molt. Great to be able to know, with photos. So, two different female B & W here. Then in the morn I heard one singing! So there is a male here too! There are three around! Whaddabird. Nearing last sun I saw a Painted Bunting sing in flight. Which I never do. Indigo all the time, Painted never. Always something new to see. Later in evening some wee bits of rain showers nearby eventually found us.

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Bird News Archive XXXVIII
July 1, 2022 - December 31, 2022

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

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