Bird News Archive XV
January 1 2011 - May 31 so far 2011
Some commonly used abbreviations used are:
"in town" - means in Utopia
LM - Lost Maples SNA; GSP - Garner St. Pk.
SRV - Sabinal River Valley
FOS - "First of Season" (usually used for
1st spring or fall migrant to show up locally)
SR - Seco Ridge a couple miles west of Utopia
in Uvalde County.
Ode - Odonata (dragonfly or damselfly)
Lep - butterfly
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January 1, 2011 - June 30, 2011.
in reverse chronological order, unless you
read from the bottom up.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
June butterflies were the worst yet, I put off counting up
the species diversity it was so woeful. Twenty-four
species (24) only were seen the whole month locally, many
just single individuals. I'm sure if I had visited
Lost Maples I could have added a few, but it is like nothing
I've seen in almost 8 years.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I got an e-mail from a nice guy (to share a local-ish real
good sighting - I'm hesitant to use names without permission)
that was northeast of Barksdale the last weekend in June
and had a GREEN VIOLETEAR coming to flowers for two days!
THANKS for the report Gene, GREAT FIND! Keep your eyes peeled
for a big dark hummer folks, we could get one here.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
June 30 ~ Mr. Lucifer is still here and a male Golden-
cheeked Warbler was out in the yard early while I waited.
It's a dirty thankless job, but someone has to do it.
June 29 ~ Kathy says first thing this a.m., 'hey wouldn't
it be funny if you saw the hummer again first thing and
then not all day again?' Ummmm wellllll.... So
at 8 a.m. I'm on the porch and whom lands on a strand of
barbed-wire around the garden but Mr. Lucifer his fancy self,
forked tail and all.
And again, shortly, he flies down the draw heading off
like yesterday a.m.. Now I have to go tell Kathy
so far her plan is working. I got enough stuff done
that at 10:30 I went out with scope and got in a far corner
of the yard where I could see the 2 front feeders to wait.
It came in and I got three quick poor digiscopes, but
enough to ID it, and move the report from a claimed sighting
to an irrefutable record. Now I can say we have a new
first Uvalde County record. It is probably about the 11th
on the Edwards Plateau, while there is a major invasion in west
Texas this year in their normal haunts, around Big Bend.
Adult male Lucifer Hummingbird at Utopia June 29, 2011
June 28 ~ 7 a.m. I sit on porch with first cup of coffee,
not awake yet, haven't even put the seed feeders out, though
5 hummer feeders are up. A hummer flies up to the
feeder about 4-5' from me, perhaps it sounds off so I lift
my head from the clouds in my coffee and there hovering
facing me is the most insane hummingbird I can imagine.
MALE LUCIFER !! Curved bill, deeply forked tail,
so deep it looks like the center of the tail is missing,
and a magenta gorget splaying off sides of neck, I almost
dropped my cup. It flew off instead of coming in,
and I didn't see it the rest of the day. It is too
hot and sunny in front early unless the low stratus clouds
are out, and I figured my best bet is to stay away so it
comes back and gets hooked, surely it had been there before
earlier in the a.m..
June 27 ~ Monday finally, trying to recover from the weekend,
can't wait for work to start so I can get some rest. :)
June 26 ~ Birded around with one of those crazy New Jersey
guys.... in fact a Cape May dude, sometimes the pinnacle of
bonkers birders, and on top of that, one that was originally
from across the pond, a Brit! We had a great time, mostly
with orioletopia here at our SR feeders. We had a
Golden-cheek chip in the yard here, and then found another
up on the knoll inside the second/back/west loop on SR,
along with Hutton's Vireo. Can't buy a Zone-tail when
someone wants to see one though.....
Of interest was an ad. fem. Black-and-white Warbler feeding
a young in the pecans out the front door of Utopia on the River
(UR). Also there I heard Audubon's Oriole calling, which
is my first for the grounds list. The Robin was still
singing downtown early in the a.m.. The Purple Martins were
not present at the house between Waresville Cemetary and the
cattail pond on the golf course. Gone already?
Some Cave Swallows are in flight feather molt now.
June 25 ~ Uvalde run will fill in notes later, prime time
for nothing to be happening, but lots going on, mostly unseen
as usual. The Kestrel continues at the fish hatchery and
two Pied-billed Grebe chicks are growing well there too (ph.).
The first of fall migrant shorebird was a Black-necked Stilt.
Still a Mute Swan there someone ought to shoot. One Black-
crowned Night-Heron, looks like a Gallinule nest was ransacked,
probably Nutria. The Orchard Oriole continues, while Common
Grackle have young out of the nest.
There is a very interesting situation with the swallows that
are nesting at the entrance foyer at supermegamart in Uvalde.
Three nests, one typical Barn, one a small open cup with Caves,
and a Cave-ish-like nest with Cave and a Cliff feeding young.
Too bad there aren't any good birders in Uvalde that would
notice such things as they walk by them, and recognize the
tremendous opportunity to discover new things at our doorsteps.
Birding is not about how to bring glory upon yourself showing off.
It is about watching, studying, and learning so you can contribute
something, some knowledge, that is worthwhile to others.
Most of the regulars on the road between Utopia and Uvalde,
a couple Harris's Hawk, few fuertes Red-tails, some Caracara,
some weird Bobwhite, but only Curve-billed Thrasher were north
of Sabinal. Where also it looks like the hybrid pair of Tyrannus
have disbanded. The Lesser Nighthawk pair in Uvalde right
off Hwy. 90 was still about and photogenic, and still landing
up on overhead powerlines.
Ft. Inge is temporaily closed due to water conditions (none) the
sign said, so we couldn't get in there. I'll try to find
out whaddup and post....
June 24 ~ Golden-cheeked Warbler, Broad-tailed Hummingbird,
4 ad. male Painted, 5 ad. ma. Indigo Bunting, and the regular
cast of so many orioles I can't figure out their numbers.
Morning turned out to be the last visits from the Broad-tailed
Hummingbird, not detected in afternoon, or ever after.
June 19-24 is the date span.
June 23 ~ I'm out of superlatives, EIGHT adult male Indigo
Bunting out one window at once here at SR! I thought
3 was something on Tuesday, then 5 on Wed., now 8 on Thursday,
what will it be tomorrow? Clearly they've given up on
breeding for the year, unless they're all moving in here.
There are still 4-5 ad. male Painted Bunting, at least 25
greenies (females and immatures), 7-8 Blue Grosbeak, a bunch
of Cardinals, over 2 dozen orioles of 3 species, and at least
a few hundred Black-chinned Hummingbird, that I ought to be
able to claim as dependents. I have little doubt that
many of the young here this year would not have been produced
without the supplemental food and water we provide, besides
the place being a genetic sinkhole for female cowbirds.
The Broad-tailed Hummingbird continues here at SR. I had
to run to town quickly so a stop at the park was in order.
The item of interest was another set of (3) just fledged
Yellow-throated Warbler juveniles. The adults must have
worked their tails off to get them out under these conditions,
which is clear as one of them has no tail.
Bug wise there was Rambur's Forktail, Double-striped Bluet,
and Stream Bluet, all new for the year/season for me here.
A few of the regular Checkered and Swift Setwing, E. Pondhawk.
The rain-cooled atmosphere only made it to low 90's today,
which after the 108's 4-5 days ago feels just fine and bearable.
The rain wasn't enough to do anything about water in the river,
as up-drainage it was just a leaf washing heavy sprinkle.
June 22 ~ OMG, FIVE male Indigo Bunting at once! Gadzooks!
It must be that they are local breeders that have finished,
and are not re-nesting as typical now, and are off breeding
territory. This has not happened in 8 Junes here. They
probably got one or two small broods out, and due to lack
of bugs have given up.
For rarity far more amazing was an alternate (breeding)
plumaged AMERICAN GOLDFINCH! Was on the sunflower tube
but when I got back with camera it flushed so I got a good
view in flight, besides sitting on the feeder next to Lessers.
Well someone over at the TX/LA border just had a Snow Bunting
a week ago, so this isn't that far out, but my first June
Mid-morning a group of FIVE Golden-cheeked Warblers moved
through the yard, all juvenile (HY-hatch-year) birds, working
as a group staying in vocal contact, some interacting as they
fed in the live-oaks and junipers out back. Very neat.
Has to be more than one brood involved, so, flocking up.
Then there was a Red-eyed Vireo quiet-singing in the juniper
out front, just 10' from me, another post-breeding wanderer,
given up, done, now will molt while wandering around for a
couple weeks, and then migrate out of Dodge.
Last evening the Poor-will was right by the way, as just after
midnight it started to rain as a MCS moved over and we got maybe
about 3/4" up on Seco Ridge, but I heard south of town they got
near 2", while up valley maybe a half inch. So it was
a little bit, and kept the high in the 80's for a major
pleasant change, and gave the ground some much needed water.
June 21 ~ Holy cow THREE male Indigo Bunting at once out on
the seed. We've had 3 females and what I thought was
one male, plus fledged young, but never in the last 4 weeks
has there been more than one male Indigo at once, so THREE
at once is amazing. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird is
Must be rain on the way, the Poor-will called, and it hasn't
done that since last time it rained. Chuck-wills-widow
is still going nightly, but much reduced from a month ago,
and the same for Common Nighthawk.
June 20 ~ The male Broad-tailed Hummingbird continues and
the heat broke a little, only a hundred today. Hutton's
Vireo singing down the draw. A Cooper's Hawk stooped
on the stuff on the seed outside, while an Inca Dove shot over
to the garden stuff against the wall, the Coop went after it
in the process knocking a full hummer feeder and hanger down!
Because I ran out to see what the commotion was the dove got
away, lost some sugar water but the feeder didn't break in a
7' fall (onto dirt) luckily.
June 19 ~ Another record hot day like yesterday, low 00's.
An amazing new bird to show up in the yard is an adult male
BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD first discovered by hearing its
distinctive cricket-like wing whistle, which I got some
audio tape of to prove the record, my first in June, and
an odd time to get one. Can't help but wonder if all
the fires in the western mountains (like AZ) have displaced
species like this.
Another adult female Black-and-white Warbler at UP, also
in heavy molt, another finished breeder on its way out.
I didn't see the Robin but was 11 a.m. or so, and getting
warm already. The pair of Blue-winged Teal continue
at UP, and a Pied-billed Grebe is there as well, my first
local June record. Zone-tailed Hawk looked to be
hunting swallows at the bridge.
There were a few odes at the park, the best of which I
didn't get a picture of and can't ID, was something I've
never seen whatever it was. Was Meadowhawk like generally
with a white belt at base of adbomen, and distal 2/3 of which
was red. I spent a half hour looking for it after I
lost it and got camera out, to no avail. Another
rare one was a Great Pondhawk of which I've only seen a
few here in Utopia, but it too left me in the dust before
I could get a picture. There were at least 8 Orange-
striped Threadtail (Protoneura cara) flying which are my
first of the year. A couple Blue-ringed Dancer were
about as well, and numbers of Checkered and Swift Setwing.
A couple Giant Swallowtail and a Question Mark were at UP.
June 18 ~ Wow a record 108 in Uvalde, at least 104 in Hondo,
we must have been ca. 104 dF here in Utopia, smokin' hot.
A Golden-cheeked Warbler was in the yard in the a.m.,
and finally HY (juvenile) Blue Grosbeaks showed up.
Hutton's Vireo was calling in the yard, and the Chipping
Sparrows got another young fledged.
June 17 ~ I saw a NOAA forcast for Uvalde 5 days straight
of 103 dF. Gadzooks this is getting old. Am I
going to have to move to go somewhere that gets rain, and
isn't 100 dF daily? The birds are panting, and so am
I if I do anything out there after 11 a.m.. At least
it's cool enough to do stuff that first 5 hours of light.
Covered in orioles here, and man are they messy. A couple
hundred hummingbirds all day don't make the mess 10 orioles
can in an hour. They're sloppy pigs! The good
news unless you're the one cleaning and changing the feeders,
and buying the sugar, was one of the first-summer (SY) pairs
of Hooded fledged THREE young they brought today!
The Cardinals and Painted Bunting males are already getting
noticeably duller of red. One of the first summer
Painted Bunting males with the salmon underparts has the
salmon on sides of face and even nape too!
There was an adult female Golden-cheeked Warbler about the
yard in the a.m., and Bushtits moved through in the p.m..
June 16 ~ I was on my way to Uvalde, just south of town at
5:15 a.m., when a Badger ran across the road right in front
of me, such a cool beast, a weasel if you didn't know.
Also dillo, skunk, White-tail Deer, Jackrabbits and Cottontails.
The bird song is already slowing down, but there is a good
hour of dawn chorus 6-7 a.m.. Though numbers of Scissor-
tailed Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Painted Bunting, etc., are
a fraction of normal years along the 'Old Sabinal Rd.' route.
Curve-billed Thrasher I didn't so much as hear along 20 miles of
slow window down cruising where there are usually many. No
bugs to eat. Very few Verdin as well, but Olive Sparrow
numerous throughout from Sabinal to Uvalde, and Cassin's Sparrows
are in fair numbers.
At least a dozen or more Lesser Nighthawks along the way early,
and a male Scaled Quail was 5 miles east of Uvalde near
Marlinville and the Dry Frio. Two Harris's Hawks, a dozen
Caracara incl. a pair seeming to go to a nest, and which gave
holy heck to a tresspasser. I found a pair of Lesser
Nighthawks in Uvalde and the female (buffy wing bar) landed
40' up on a big overhead major feeder powerline (ph.).
At Cook's Slough a couple pair of Wood Duck, a couple dozen
each Bank and Cave Swallow besides the Martins, Barn and Rough-
winged Swallow, but just the expected cast. At the fish
hatchery there were a few odds and ends. The ducks all
finally seemed to have left save Whistling-Ducks, the only thing
besides Wood Duck that should be here in summer. At least
a half dozen Common Moorhen (Gallinule) are there, apparently
There were two species there I have never seen in June (summering)
in the prior 7 years: Coot, of which there were 5, and Pied-billed
Grebe of which there were 3, with one pair on a pond with a chick
on the back of one of the adults. This is the first Uvalde
County breeding I have seen. They do not summer at Cook's
Slough, and have not here the last 7 years, so a much better record
than it might appear. I have over a dozen June visits without
seeing a P-b Grebe.
There were 200 Bank Swallows over the ponds at the hatchery,
but I shut them all up for an hour successfully by pointing
a microphone at them to tape record some of their calls.
The Orchard Oriole continues as do some Common Grackle, both
likely nesting. Also great was another first ever in June
for me here, a female American Kestrel, out front of the hatchery.
There is an isolated breeding population (or an extension of a
more southerly population) around Laredo, but they don't summer
or nest here.
June 15 ~ Summer is almost here, and breeding season will
be winding down shortly if we don't get some rain. At
this point it looks like we better start dancing for a hurricane.
The sub-tropical high is locked over us, as most of since
March, and the exceptional drought is just getting worse.
Most of our local nesters breed in spring, typically the
most biologically productive season here, especially
in drought years like this one. During wet years many
will breed again in summer, not likely the case this year.
There are so few insects around, very few Barn Swallows
stayed and nested under the eaves along Main St. this year
compared to normal, Chimney Swift numbers are low, and
so it goes with many species. The normal few pairs of
Western Kingbird that nest around town and along 187 are
absent. Not enough flying insects. I haven't heard
complaints about the lack of chiggers and mosquitoes though.
Here's what I've seen out of the nest so far this spring.
Those with (2) I have seen two sets of fledged young already.
Cooper's Hawk, White-winged Dove (2), Inca Dove (2), Common
Ground-Dove, Barred Owl, have heard begging Screech-Owl young,
Black-chinned Hummingbird (2), Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted
Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Black Phoebe, Eastern Phoebe (2),
Ash-throated Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo,
Hutton's Vireo, Blue Jay (2), Western Scrub-Jay (2), Carolina Chickadee (2),
Black-crested Titmouse (2), Bushtit, Carolina Wren (2), Bewick's
Wren (2), Eastern Bluebird (2), Northern Mockingbird, European
Starling, Yellow-throated Warbler, Golden-cheeked Warbler,
Field Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow (2), Lark Sparrow (2), Northern
Cardinal (2), Indigo and Painted Bunting, Hooded Oriole,
Scott's Oriole, Audubon's Oriole, House Finch (2), and
Lesser Goldfinch (2), House Sparrow. 40 species.
Surely many other species have young out already too,
that I just haven't seen yet.
June 14 ~ Finally a fledgling Field Sparrow out there
begging from an adult. There are two Audubon's
Oriole hanging out quite a lot, but I don't see the
juvenile any more. There are about 10 Scott's
Orioles counting juveniles now, so them with the 10-12
Hooded and at least a couple Audubon's, they are not
helping my sugar budget.
June 13 ~ I heard begging Great-tailed Grackle babies
in a tree in front of the old water co. building,
where it seems they've nested in past years. Usually
I don't see juveniles though. Juvenile Cooper's Hawk was
diving on stuff out back.
June 12 ~ Morris' Robin at the General Store is still
there singing, though I still don't see a mate. The
hundred degree days won't stop, and no end is in sight.
June 11 ~ Two Golden-cheeked Warbler in the yard this a.m..
A real surprise was a pair of Blue-winged Teal at UP,
my first June record locally. The up side of the drought
situation is any place with water increases tremedously in
its bird (or dragonfly) magnet value/factor. The yard
Roadrunner got a 6-line Cnemidophorus (lizard) today, dang him.
And they are fast, I always figured they made it because they
are just too quick to catch. I wouldn't bother trying
without a mono noose on a fishin' pole. They get up on
their hind legs sometimes and they can haul donkey.
An adult male Painted Bunting showed a few of the maroon
feathers they can acquire on the nape between the blue
head and green back, out in the middle of the back.
Most amazing was another white sided Jackrabbit, with
more white than the one I photo'd, nearly like an
Antelope Jack, darn near the whole sides are white. I'd
sure like a good explanation as to what these are. Most
of the Black-tailed Jacks here look normal, but there are these
June 10 ~ A Golden-cheeked Warbler moved through early in
the a.m.. More new juvie Lark Sparrows out of the nest.
Titmouse hiding sunflower seeds, which they don't normally
do at this time of the year with young to feed. Odd.
At least 10 Hooded Oriole came through the yard today.
June 9 ~ The Red-eyed Vireo on the knoll is still singing.
The first juvenile Indigo Bunting has fledged and is at
the seed with the adults now. Most amazing though
was watching the Roadrunner in the live-oak. I couldn't
figure out what it was doing going up each branch and
back down, over to the next branch up and down it like a
cuckoo looking for something, it must have done all the
forks of the tree and when it got to the last one it
made a flying leap and came out of the foilage with my
big male Eastern Fence Lizard in its beak! Had I
figured it out I'd have chased the bird off. It had
treed the lizard and knew it was there, and how to get it.
June 8 ~ A trolling first summer male Orchard Oriole was
singing at the park where there were also a couple Black-
bellied Whistling-Duck hanging out, and a Green Kingfisher.
At SR there were 2 ASY male (full adults) Hooded Oriole, one
singing in flight chasing the other, and at least 3 first
summer males so 5 ASY male Hooded here, likely as many
females, and some juveniles makes 10-12 Hooded Oriole using
June 7 ~ at least one adult female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
continues here at the feeders. A Yellow-throated Vireo
was singing as it moved south over the ridge here, a breeder
done no doubt, up here in the junipers away from the riparian
corridor. Saw the Hutton's Vireo and there are more
new just fledged Titmice with the adults.
June 6 ~ Boy this 100 degree stuff gets old fast, eh?
Remember water is critical for the birds when it is
this hot and dry. It's a parade at the bath here
where we provide some of the only water around on very
dry Seco Ridge. We use a hose splitter with an old
hose going to a low fork in juniper where hose then drips
one drop at a time slowly into a bird bath top, on the
ground. You can see it on some of the bird photo pages.
Early in the a.m. once the big birds get their drinks,
the Black-chinned Hummingbirds come to bathe, as many as
a half dozen will be at the bath at once, some splashing
down into it, some motorboating across floating in the water
while beating wings causing forward motion of about one foot
per second while prone in water, others sitting on edge and
leaning forward in to the water while flapping. It seems a
new concept for most and seeing different birds have different
approaches to it is interesting.
June 5 ~ I got up at early thirty to be down the road
a piece at dawns crack. The neighbors rooster
has pretty well ruined dawn taping here at the house.
Now I have to go somewhere. That low in the
low 60's was worth getting out before light in shorts
and T-shirt for though! I went to check the
hackberry, cactus and mesquite patches about 4 miles south
of town on 187. A drought year was probably not the
best time to try but I've long wondered if there were
Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Black-throated Sparrow,
Verdin, maybe Lesser Nighthawk, and that sort of thing
in the breeding season. Nope. Nada. The problem
I think is that it is sometimes goat-grazed and so lacking
in some understory elements.
On the way just past 3 mile bridge there was a Great
Horned Owl along the road. Down in the cactus mesquite
patches while not finding anything I thought might be
there, as usual you find something else, in this case
Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, and a surprising
number of Audubon's Orioles. They were calling
throughout the patches, probably 8-10 between the two
patches, several caught on tape. The most common
species in these brush-country lookin' patches were Bell's
Vireo, Painted Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, Bewick's
Wren, and Brown-crested Flycatcher. Wet years the
character would be different, and I imagine the birds.
In the pastures with tall grass Cassin's Sparrows were
singing, and down 361 a little bit there was a Bobwhite
singing. The swallow colony at 3 mile bridge is
mostly Cliffs as usual, but more Caves than before, like
the 1050 bridge. At UP there was an adult Little
Blue Heron, which is probably my first June record here.
Otherwise it was passage-bird free. A Blue Jay
there without a tail is a funny looking thing.
I was just starting to think I was getting some good
audio tape of birdsong at the park early before everyone
is up at 8 a.m., when one of the flyboys buzzed town
several times, to make sure everyone was up, but not
listening to the birds sing.
There is some irony in that if one said anything about
noise pollution here, it would fall on deaf ears.
The pair of Great-tailed Grackles continue in the trees
at the old water company building in town. I didn't
see Morris' Robin though. A fresh mint Black Swallowtail
was here at the casita.
June 4 ~ Today we had a FOS juvenile Scott's Oriole,
probably a male, as it was a loner with the male,
and that's how they seem to work. Also had the
juvenile Audubon's and juvenile Hooded as well, so
nice to see they all got some young off. Hutton's
and Red-eyed Vireo continue singing and the Indigo
Bunting pair continue too. There are at least
2 ad. male Blue Grosbeaks nesting close, and I think
one of the sub-adult males is mated as well, but a
half-dozen plus daily. Still a boatload of
Painted Bunting, perhaps 5 pairs with full adult males.
I was taking some oriole pictures today, and where I
thought I had one first summer male bibbed Hooded
coming in, there are THREE different ones! The
pair of Summer Tanagers continue as well, hitting the
bird bath every afternoon and evening.
June 3 ~ Today I saw the FOS juvenile Audubon's Oriole
here in the yard, and had 3 calling at once, one sang
and a Scott's sang back. Still a female Ruby-throated
Hummingbird here. A surprise was a female Yellow
Warbler in the live oak right in the back yard this a.m.,
probably a tardy northbound bird, and at the same time
an adult female Black-and-white Warbler in heavy molt which
is a local bird finished nesting and heading out, south.
North and southbound migrant warblers in the same tree
together at the same time. Cosmic. A Western
Checkered-Skipper was about the mud puddle.
June 2 ~ Had to run to town so a quick look at UP to
make sure it was migrant free, and it was. But the
FOS White-eyed Vireo fledglings were out of the nest.
The pair of Yellow-breasted Chats that were there a
couple weeks finally seemed to have moved on, darn it.
Here at the hovel on SR I saw my FOS juvenile Cooper's Hawk.
Red Satyr and Funereal Duskywing were the two leps here
besides Variegated Frit, an occasional flyby Lyside Sulphur,
Sleepy Orange, or Pipevine Swallowtail.
JUNE 1 ~ June!?!?!? OMG! I'm way further
behind than I thought. Well this a.m. I saw the FOS
post-breeding Golden-cheeked Warbler of the year in the
yard, right on time. First two juveniles came through
with each other, and 20 minutes later an adult male in
heavy molt moved through. Golygee I sure love this
in the yard without having to start the car. We'll
see how many we get this year here and have an idea what
kind of breeding season they had.
There was a FOS juvenile Hooded Oriole here today, and
an Olive-Juniper Hairstreak (butterfly) was fresh mint.
Best though was seeing again a Ladder-backed Woodpecker
do a complete 360 degree loop in open airspace for no
apparent reason. Unbelievable. Is it fun?
Birds aren't supposed to do things for fun you know.
The loop was about 15' in diameter, and is done
spectacularly fast, two seconds tops, as it proceeds
downslope over treetop level. Crazy woodpecker.
What must it look like to them!?! If I just had
a Ladder-back cam we could have footage. The bird
has to be pullin' G's. It's flying downslope at
what 30 MPH or more and at full speed does a 360 deg.
loop in a 15' circle!?!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
May butterflies were the worst May yet, with only
36 species seen, the same as April, both months like
the March diversity! I still haven't seen a
Sister (Adelpha) this year! There was no big
spring bloom, and much of the ground still looks
like February, in late May.
Birds seem to be doing OK with lots of young out of
the nest, but I doubt many will renest this year.
Unless we get some rain, they'll finish and go.
NOAA has again moved our drought to exceptional,
beyond extreme, as it was two years ago before the
brief El Nino respite of 9 months or so, which probably
saved countless trees that were on the edge, but it
is quickly getting back to that as they didn't have
time to fully recover and were less than 100% strong.
May 31 ~ The Red-eyed Vireo continues singing on the
knoll across the road, probably an unmated younger male.
May 30 ~ The Indigo Buntings continue in the yard,
which is just amazing after 7 summers without hide
nor hair of them here in the rocky juniper hills. The
Lark Sparrow have new just fledged young out of the
nest. I checked the park real quick since I
was down in town, and found one more female Mourning
Warbler, the only migrant of course. No purple gal,
the fast-dropping water level probably scared it off.
Most amazing is that some of the Cypress trees below the
dam at the park are turning brown and dropping leaves!
During the exceptional drought two years ago this
occurred in July, a few months early, but now it is
happening in May!?!?!
May 29 ~ A Gray Hairstreak (lep) was about the
yard, as was an Olive Juniper Hairstreak.
Zone-tailed Hawk flew over SR late in p.m..
May 28 ~ I did a solo run to Uvalde today, so did
quick checks of Cook's Slough and the fish hatchery.
Most interesting thing was near Sabinal, a mixed pair
with a male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and a female
Western Kingbird. They are close relatives
and are known to hybridize, generally where one or
the other is scarce, at the edges of range, or where
vagrants occur out of normal range, when you take
what you can get for a mate. I have never seen
a mixed pair before so will keep an eye on them,
hopefully they'll be successful and produce some
odd youngin's to get pix of.
I saw two skunks well in the early early a.m.,
always neat. Old Sabinal road has some areas
with lots of Cassin's Sparrows, but the abundant
Dickcissel and Painted Bunting of last year are
not present, and Bullock's Orioles are way down.
Almost everything seemed down, as does the vegetation.
At the slough there was one Wilson's Warbler, the only
migrant warbler I saw, and a tardy male Northern
Shoveler circled a couple times, I presume it was
the same bird I then found over at the fish hatchery,
and a female was there too. Surely my latest
Shoveler date, as undoubtedly was the male Ruddy
Duck at the hatchery, and one female Blue-winged Teal
rounded out the ducks. Water levels were too
high again, no shorebirds save Killdeer.
Common Moorhen were in, perhaps 4, the FOS for me.
Common Grackle are nesting at the hatchery again, and a
pair of Great Kiskadee were there as well. We
had one there a few weeks ago, maybe they'll set
Almost forgot a Least Flycatcher was at the slough.
Just-fledged juvenile Cave, Barn, and Northern Rough-
winged Swallow are all out there too. A rather odd
open nest with a Cave Swallow juvenile at it being fed
by adults was right at the entrance to super megamart.
May 27 ~ Two days was all I could stay away, so I
went to check UP for migrants finding 2 female
Mourning Warbler and that was it. No Purple
Gallinule. The pair of Indigos continues here
at SR, as does the singing Red-eyed Vireo. A big
adult female Cooper's Hawk made a stoop on the stuff
out back and missed, but is nesting nearby, I saw the
male just recently as well.
The highlight of the day was my first Common Wood-Nymph
(butterfly-lep) of the year which fluttered around the
porch and finally went over to the bird bath to imbibe
moisture or minerals at the wet dirt overflow.
May 26 ~ Well it cooled to the mid-60's overnight so
a nice morning. The Hutton's Vireo was singing
out there, but new was a Red-eyed Vireo over in the
Buckley Oaks on the knoll which I can hear singing.
Male and female Indigo Bunting continue, and are surely
nesting in this juniper infested sub-standard habitat
on SR as they have never done in the last 7 years,
likely due soley to the food and water supply we provide,
and the lack thereof in their preferred habitat, along
the rivers in riparian corridors.
May 25 ~ Well the daily hour+- park checks for migrants
have come to an end, I didn't do it today. There's
too much stuff piled up from the hour+ a day I spent
there the last month, time to catch up. These
100+ deg.F days are no inspiration, except to get out
It was truly an amazing event though, this spring migration.
30 species of warblers just in a couple acres at Utopia Park!
My first ever in the state Black-throated Blue, singing!
Tony Gallucci in Hunt said he might have doubled the number
of warbler species he's seen there in spring, in 30 years.
That is how major the westward and inland invasion was.
Today was the first day in 7 weeks or so I didn't see an adult
male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. There were two females on
a feeder at once though, which seem maybe to be feeding young.
There are good numbers of Black-chinned juveniles showing up
at the feeders now, but there seems to have been some level
of adult male departure blowout. They are probably giving
up on it, as there are no flowers or bugs available. Perhaps
they chase spring and go north to catch it again elsewhere.
Somewhere where there has been rain, and has flowers and bugs.
May 24 ~ A whopping one spring migrant, a warbler, at the
park today shows how fast it winds down. A first-spring
male Mourning Warbler was it, perhaps one that has been
here a few days. The ad. fem. Black-and-white continues
but is not a spring migrant, rather a post-breeding wanderer.
The territorial Yellow-breasted Chat, and breeding Yellow-
throated Warbler made for four species of warblers, two
being breeders, one spring migrant, one soon-to-be southbound bird.
Three Yellow-billed Cuckoo were heard, I guess those are
migrants too. The Purple Gallinule was there as was
the Pied-billed Grebe, but the rest was the regular crowd.
A Barred Owl caught a mouse in the yard of the caretaker
residence and flew off with it. Later I ran into a
fledgling with a piece of mouse it was chewing on, and
the two adults.
You want to hear something funny? I heard the Purple
Gallinule call today. I haven't heard one in decades
besides a flight/alarm note the other day, probably since
we lived down on the coast in the late '80's.
Now unless you are me, this is the funny part. In late
April I was recording at the park, don't have the exact date,
and heard a weird noise, almost like a bird call, that I did
not recognize. I thought it might be Axis Deer, or a begging
Barred Owl or Red-shouldered Hawk, I didn't know. So I
let tape roll, getting a decent series of repetition of this
odd howling poorly trumpeted noise, like a clarinetists mistake.
Now, I think that the weird sound I taped in April was indeed
the Purple Gallinule. So it was there a couple weeks
before I found it. That is why it is not so funny to me.
Add not having the exact date I recorded the sound, and boy did
I blow it.
It was a scorching 100 deg.F or so here on SR today, perhaps
a little cooler down by the river, with more of same forecast
for the week. Feels like summer is here, only 4 months
to go. A little less if we get lucky. I saw a
Reakirt's Blue on some Silky Evolvulus here today, and a
Funereal Duskywing. Some False Pennyroyal has a few flowers.
May 23 ~ The park was nearly back to itself when it comes
to migrants today, just a few still. Oh there were a
male and female Common Yellowthroat, and a male and female
Mourning Warbler, and one Yellow Warbler, 5 individual
spring migrant warblers of 3 species. Then there
were the two breeding species, Yellow-throated of which
I saw feeding fledged young today, and a pair of Yellow-
breasted Chat which seem territorial.
The most interesting thing was the 6th warbler species,
Black-and-white Warbler, of which the adult female of
yesterday was still present, and I got good enough
detailed looks at the plumage to say it is in heavy molt.
Which means it is a post-breeding bird, not a spring
migrant which would not be in molt. They wander
around and molt the first couple or few weeks after they
finish nesting so this is really the first FALL migrant!
Yep that's right, as it will be leaving to the south,
not the north. I've seen these female Black-and-
whites in late May a few times before, done and on the
way to bein' gone already. The local breeders
return in early March, have raised a brood or two, or
failed, and their breeding season is over. Remarkable!
Did not see the purple gal, but the Pied-billed Grebe yes.
Hutton's Vireo singing down the draw from the porch here
at SR, was doing so last week as well. One female
Lazuli Bunting continues in the yard, late for that.
Did have a Question Mark (lep) at the park, and a Vesta
Crescent here at SR.
May 22 ~ As someone posted to Texbirds yesterday,
about migration waning, that fat lady might not have
sung yet, but you can hear her warming up. It's
fadin' fast. Clear and calm last night, much
moved out, a few new things moved in. Amazing
was a male Mourning Warbler in the yard here in the
er, morning. To me it might as well be a big
smiling cheshire cat with blue stripes saying follow me,
follow me, it's May 22, let's go birding....
So I did, the Purple Gal was still at UP. There
were a male and two female Mourning Warbler, so one
new fem., plus the one at SR, adds two to the total.
Also new was a SY male (first summer) American Redstart,
and a Black-throated Green that looked first summer male
to me. One male and two female Common Yellowthroat,
a few Yellow Warbler, but the most surprising one, and
hardest to explain was TWO Black-and-white Warbler.
These could be southbound fall migrants if local nesters,
they might be done. Or they could be far north
nesters that are still headed up. One was an adult
female, one was a SY (first spring/summer) male. Then
2 Chat still seeming territorial, and some breeder Yellow-
throated made for 8 sps. of warblers, 6 were migrants.
I heard a thrush sing a few times I'd swear was a
VEERY. I've been hearing Swainson's every day
for weeks, and this went down the scale, not up.
That ethereal waterfall of downslurred whistled notes,
there is nothing like it. But it was out on
the island where you can't see. The Swainson's
that have been there were gone. The Downy Woodpecker
continues at UP, a female, my first spring record locally.
One Catbird was there.
Really neat was watching an adult feed a begging
juvenile just-out-of-the-nest Yellow-throated Vireo.
One Olive-sided Flycatcher was just south of town
on the fenceline, and a Lincoln's Sparrow was at UR.
At UR two male Yellow-throated Warblers flailed to the
ground claw to claw, beak to beak, from 25' up in a
cypress. Those breeder Acadian Flyc. aren't back yet.
May 21 ~ It was clear and calm most the night, clouding
up in the early a.m. hours. Seemed a little bit of
movement, but more departures and mostly yesterday's news.
The Purple Gal continues, day 10, and I saw one Acadian
Flycatcher. Some warblers that seemed holdovers
were the female Redstart and female Magnolia, a couple
Chat that seem territorial, male and female wilson's,
and the breeder Yellow-throated. Perhaps new were
3 Yellow, a Nashville, a dull female Common Yellowthroat,
and the Mourning Warbler count was 3 male and 1 female.
Males were fighting, two with much less black at bib than
earlier migrants as well as black reduced in lores compared
to full (ASY) adult males, so were SY (second year) males
(in their first spring = second year). One new
Swainson's Thrush (both yesterday were Mulberry stained
of throat). Barred Owl too.
Interesting is that without water going under the 1050 bridge
(just west of Hwy. 187 at the south end of town) how many
Cave Swallows are in with the Cliff Swallows there this year.
The prior 7 years I have had only one pair most years. You
can watch their display flight easily when they give a series
of clicks as in the kind one would think are used in caves
for echo-location that are real neat (got some audio tape).
At 5:15 a.m. this morning Cardinal was singing in the dark,
and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo called as well! The dawn
chorus though really gets going about 6:a.m. when Ash-throated
Flycatcher, White-winged Dove, Scott's Oriole, and Summer Tanager
all chime in pretty quickly. Titmouse and Blue Grosbeak are
pretty soon to follow. The Common Nighthawks are still
booming and Chuck-wills-widows haven't even done their closing
serenede before retiring for the day yet, and all this other stuff
is starting already at first crack of light. One rooster.
Painted Buntings are slower risers, I guess when you're so pretty.
The other interesting singer this morning which I heard early
and then Kathy heard mid-morning was Audubon's Oriole. They've
been gone for some time and when they come back in late May like
this it is usually to bring a juvenile by to show them the feeders.
But I wasn't here when it was closeby calling and singing so
don't know if it had a fledge with it.
Some juvenile Inca Dove out of the nest. The Y-b Cuckoo
called again at about 10:15 p.m. from the same spot on knoll.
A Zone-tailed Hawk flew over SR late in the p.m..
May 20 ~ Some low clouds, front stalled north and west,
still supposed to get something, but not looking as good,
hopefully tonight. There were some new migrants
at the park, and some that were gone as usual. The
Purple Gallinule was still there, as was the Pied-billed
Grebe. A Black-crowned Night-Heron might be my first
in the park, though I've had it down at UR in spring.
There were a number of Willow Flycatcher including two
that kept getting in a tussle which incited singing!
"Fitz-bew" both of them sang repeatedly several times.
Now a PAIR of Acadian Flycatcher there, and the pair of
Warbling Vireo continues mostly in the willows, one singing.
Two Swainson's Thrush continue, but no Catbird, no Yellow-
bellied Flycatcher, or fancy rare warbler. Rarest
thing actually was a DOWNY Woodpecker, my first record here
in spring. Barred Owl was out, and a Spotted Sandpiper
was there too.
For warblers there were 3 Mourning, 2 male and a female,
2-3 Wilson's, 2 Black-throated Green, 2-3 Common Yellowthroat,
5 Yellow, 1 Tennessee, and new for sure were a first spring
(SY) female Magnolia Warbler and a female American Redstart,
both of which I only got on my second pass through the park.
The Chat are possibly territorial now, and the breeding Yellow-
throated made for 10 species of warblers.
A couple Lincoln's Sparrow were still there, and a Zone-
tailed Hawk was over 1050 just west of the river.
From the porch in the evening while just barely light still
I had a couple low passes of a LESSER Nighthawk, which I got
in my binocs to confirm. Methinks they are nesting up
here in the hills. The usual gaggle of Common Nighthawk
and Chuck-wills-widow are squawking away nightly. Poor-will
are pretty quiet most nights now.
Juvenile Scrub-Jay out of the nest at SR, and Cardinal out
May 19 ~ Strong southeasterly flow off the gulf so we
have fog-mist-drizzle in the a.m.. Which is often
good for birds. And it was. I sure wouldn't
believe it, if I hadn't have seen it with my own eyes.
I'm afraid to tell anyone about it.
There is such a thing as seeing a bird good enough to
ID it, and know what it is, and not seeing it good enough
to report it officially. Five seconds on a very
rare bird considered hard to identify is not an acceptable
view to claim a record for most people, or bird record
As I walked into the woods at the park a bird flushed up
off the ground to a thick horizontal limb above eye-level, got
it in my binocs: warbler but big bulky bird, dirty yellow below,
olive sides and wings, bold neat perfectly complete white eye-ring
on gray face, throat and breast: a male CONNECTICUT WARBLER!
It bolted from there and in an hour and a half I could not refind
it, and I had to get back to house and salt mine. The clean
neat white circles around the eye are bold and obviously uniform
and complete, and perfectly round, looking like a monocle or goggle.
I've seen a couple dozen of them, there is nothing like them,
the head and body are so oversized compared to congeners it
doesn't even ever strike you as one. From below I could
see the undertail coverts came to within what seems like a quarter
inch of the notch in the tail, so it looks short-tailed, very
thick of body, no-necked and big headed, like a small thrush.
I only saw it for a five seconds before it flew, long
enough to see what it was, good enough to ID the bird,
but not what I consider a reportable observation due to
the rarity of the species and perceived ID problems. So
I'll just post it here, so you, me, the dog and cat know.
There is a saying about Connecticut Warbler in migration:
you never see them twice. When it flushes to a branch
it will give you a decent long look before it goes, but that
is it. They look directly at you with one monocled eye
as if trying to remember your face, then melt into the woods.
You can refind a Mourning or Mac.
The cosmic part is that the one I saw here before was May 19, 2005.
As I wrote in my report then, there is another path some take
into the U.S. (besdies the only known one: FL) that is unknown.
I saw one in San Antonio May 21, 1987, so this makes 3 in south
central Texas for me all within a 3 day window. There is
something going on and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?
(with apologies to Bob Dylan)
Other birds seen while trying to relocate it were a male
Mourning Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, 3 Common Yellowthroat,
breeding Yellow-throated Warbler, 4 Yellow, a Nashville,
a Tennessee, 2 Wilson's (one female), and 1 Black-throated
Green Warbler, for 10 sps. warblers. The two Warbling
Vireo continue, one singing, two Swainson's thrush were there,
one with a big neat cherry red stain on the throat from the
Mulberries, that looked like it was supposed to be there.
The Acadian Flycatcher was still singing there, but new was
a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, my 2nd this spring locally.
One Alder (called) was good, and a couple Eastern Wood-Pewee.
The Purple Gallinule continues, so I missed it yesterday.
Took four tries over two hours to see it today. A couple
Lincoln's Sparrow were still here, heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
One Olive-sided Flycatcher, a few Black-bellied Whistling-Duck.
Here at the house I heard Catbird and Red-eyed Vireo early
after sunup, both migrants here. One female Lazuli
Bunting continues, a few female and a male Indigo, 6+ adult male
Painted, and over a dozen greenie (females and imm. males) Painted.
The juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbird is about, and maybe six
each male and female Ruby-throated are still present.
May 18 ~ Looks like Mr. Black-throated Blue continued on
his way, as did much else last night. There were new
birds at the park in the way of my first Acadian Flycatcher
there this spring, another Ovenbird, a Catbird, and an
Eastern Wood-Pewee, none of which were detected yesterday.
It shows turnover, birds were moving last night. Only a
few warblers; one Chat, one Common Yellowthroat, 3 Yellow,
the breeder Yellow-throateds, plus heard a Black-throated
Green and a Mourning, so 5 sps. seen, 2 heard, 7 sps. total
at least one of those a breeding species (not migrants).
I did see the Purple Gallinule though, so half the visits
it is not in view, lost in lillies. Day 6 for the record.
A flock of four yellow-bellied Kingbirds flew over the hovel
here on SR going due East, early in the morning. I just
didn't spot them until they were going away, and couldn't
get an ID. A bit odd it seems. In the late p.m.
I saw my first just-fledged (HY- hatch year) Black-chinned Hummingbird.
May 17 ~ The migration mania continues with another mega
rary at the park today, a male BLACK-THROATED BLUE Warbler,
which sang! I didn't get a long leisurely look, though
enough to make the call, and then to hear it sing, oh my!
Otherwise it was a few leftovers: the Northern Waterthrush,
male and female Mourning, the ratty male Wilson's, 2 Chat,
3 Yellow, a Common Yellowthroat, and breeder Yellow-throated,
for 8 sps. of warblers, and not a dozen individuals.
Warbling Vireos (2) and Swainson's Thrush (1) still there,
but I did not see the Purple Gallinule or Pied-billed Grebe.
A Red-eyed Vireo at the park was clearly a migrant.
The winds turned last night with some low-level southerly
Here on SR near the hovel was an Olive-sided Flycatcher,
and outstanding at the east side of the back loop was a
male WESTERN TANAGER in full alternate (breeding) plumage.
Big orange-red head on that yellow body with black wings,
a breeding male is a stunning beauty.
I did not see the pair of Clay-colored Sparrow today, so
it seems they left last night finally. One female Lazuli
was still here, but it's 20 some Painted and the one male
Indigo that keeps singing, for a couple females still here.
The Field Sparrow is singing lots close now.
May 16 ~ On a botanical note the Rain Lily show the last
couple days and today, from the Thursday inch plus of
rain is just astounding. I saw an acre solid, you
couldn't have fit another one there, thousands. Patches
everywhere along the roads, it's just beautiful. The
Angel's Trumpet patch seems finally to be finishing up,
maybe the rain will get some more blooms out of it.
Some Low Wild Pentunia and Englemann's Daisy along the river
at the park.
On a weather note, this was the fourth morning I think
below 60 degrees, in the 50's, and that too has been
spectacular, especially after April was 10-15 deg.F
above normal. This is probably the end of that
Three female Orchard Orioles came to the bath together.
I saw my FOS juvenile (just fledged) Black-chinned Hummingbird
today. There are probably at least a half-dozen or
more ad. male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds still here, and
more females. Must be 500 or more Black-chinned.
Saw at least one of the Lazuli Bunting females this a.m..
The Indigo continues singing, maybe it will keep one of
these 3 females and nest nearby due to food and water
availibility, despite it being less than optimum habitat
Down at UP the Purple Gallinule continues, but it is not
visible most of the time. A five-day record now.
Seven sps. of warblers plus the one that got away.
A male and a female Mourning, a Tennessee, 2-3 Yellow,
but the rest seemed yesterday's: couple Yellow-breasted Chat,
few Common Yellowthroat, heard the Northern Waterthrush,
and the breeder Yellow-throated Warblers was it. There
were also two Warbling Vireo (same?), two Swainson's Thrush,
the Pied-billed Grebe, 6 greenie Painted Bunting, and a
Heard my first begging fledgling Mockingbirds of the year.
May 15 ~ Kathy and I did an hour and change at the park.
I can't imagine being a paying camper, and having to
listen to the loud blaring 'music'. Seems more than
a bit inconsiderate of others. I thought some went
camping to get away from that sort of thing.
We did however relocate the Purple Gallinule for a brief
while in the water-lillies but it can be very hard to see,
or shall I say invisible, for long periods of time.
Anyway, it is on day 4 now, quite a nice record.
See pic below on May 12 notes, and another is up on the
"rarities" page, on the bird photos 'home' page.
There were 12 species of warblers: male and female
Mourning, the SY male Magnolia (day 2), the pair of
Tennessee (day 2), Wilson's, 2 Chat, 4 C. Yellowthroat,
4 Yellow-throated, a Nashville or two, 5 Yellow, and
heard singing Black-throated Green, heard Northern
Waterthrush, and heard presumedly the same Myrtle Warbler.
Definitely new was a late and scruffy Ruby-crowned Kinglet
that looked like he got mugged somewhere along the way.
A pair of Warbling Vireo and a Swainson's Thrush could well
have been holdovers too. For a week now there, a
Great Crested is going great guns. Not seen were:
Sora, Sedge Wren, Blackburnian, Redstart, fem. MacGillivray's
(finally), Cassin's Vireo, Varied Bunting; much had moved
out and on. One Empi was probably a Least.
Three Lincoln's Sparrow at least continue at UP.
Here at the hovel there are now TWO female Lazuli Bunting!
The pair of Clay-colored Sparrow continue as well. A pair
of Orchard Orioles tried one of the feeders, but didn't seem
to get it. Maybe their bills are too short?
The adult female Cooper's Hawk stooped on the doves late
in the day, nesting locally.
May 14 ~ It was great, better than yesterday, but I did
not see the Purple Gallinule, nor Prothonotary or Canada
Warblers and Eastern Kingbird. Those seemed gone,
but much more new stuff was present to replace them, and
some stuff stayed, so a rather unpredictable mixed bag.
At UP a SEDGE Wren was my second this May, and the second
one on May 14 (one 5-14-2008!) which I'd have bet against.
Even better, the bird of the day was a SORA, my first
for the Sabinal Valley, and a good late date. Some
new warblers were a female American Restart, a SY male
Magnolia, a pair of Tennessee that stayed together, a new
white below Northern Waterthrush, a Wilson's, ad. female Myrtle,
and some apparent stayovers were the female Blackburnian,
a male Mourning, the female MacGillivray's, Chat, Common
Yellowthroat, and a female Black-throated Green. There
were at least 5 Yellow (plus a few at UR and 354) and 6
Nashville. A few got away as always....
The other bird of the day was a CASSIN'S VIREO, which I've
never seen in spring here, one fall record is it. After
yesterday's dullest ever Blue-headed Vireo, this stood out
as a Cassin's, all olive above, dirty throat blended to
face, etc., textbook Cassin's. There was also still
a singing Warbling Vireo there at UP, as well as Yellow-
throated and White-eyed, Bell's out on 354 and Red-eyed
at UR, plus Hutton's singing in the SR yard. So I saw
7 species of vireo today, missing yesterday's Blue-headed,
but making me consider running out for a Black-capped.
And geez if I had just gotten a Philadelphia? Which means
one could have nine-ten species of vireos in a day here!!
Great Crested Flycatcher at UP, but better was at UR, a
FOS Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. One Catbird at UP,
where also a singing Swainson's Thrush serenaded all morning.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak at UP, and another highlight of the
day, a singing male VARIED Bunting down below the dam!
Not the first male I've had there, but it's been a while.
I got hot and hungry and had to quit but for about three
hours it was truly fantastic and amazing birding. The
Wilson's Warbler (#15 for the day) and the Sora I did not
get until my return second trip to the park over an hour
after leaving, while I couldn't find most of what I saw earlier.
Green Heron seems to be hanging, maybe it will nest this year,
and I can't believe a SY Pied-billed Grebe is still there.
A Great Horned Owl called after dark, and two Clay-colored
Sparrow continue at the seed, one singing at dusk. Another
highlight was an ASY (after second year) Lazuli Bunting female
in the p.m., a new bird. There were three female and a male
Indigo, 20 some Painted, and so with the Varied at the park,
a bunting slam today! Lots of Big (or Great?) Blue Bunting
(Blue Grosbeak) around everywhere too.
May 13 ~ It was fairly clear and calm overnight, with some
light winds. Some migrants stayed like the PURPLE
GALLINULE, and the (fem.) CANADA Warbler at UP for two-day
records. The female MacGillivray's and the white
Northern Waterthrush both continue too, their 4th days.
But new was a female Tennessee (FOS fem.); a female
BLACKBURNIAN (FOS fem.), and spectacularly a female
PROTHONOTARY Warbler! WEEWOW !! Note how now
it is females passing through. The males always go first,
people quit birding, then females go through.
So I passed 25 species of warblers in the park this spring,
and got to 30 species of warblers locally (!) for spring
migration 2011. My prior best was 22 sps. of warbler
diversity for a spring passage, with 16 sps. as a lowest.
It has been an incredible four weeks, especially the last two.
Never seen anything like it, and other long-fangs around
central Texas say the same. Spectacular!
Other warblers there were 3 Common Yellowthroat, a Wilson's,
a couple Chat, a female Black-throated Green, breeder
Yellow-throated, 2 Nashville, a heard Mourning, 6 Yellow,
and a couple that got away. 14 species of warblers
today! Light northerly flow, clear, I think much
will go tonight. It will only take a day to find out
how wrong I was. You'll read about it right here.
A few other good birds were at UP, first a FOS GRAY-CHEEKED
Thrush, which I don't get every spring, maybe only a few
of 7 prior did I see one, so quite scarce and a good find.
Then there were finally TWO FOS Warbling Vireo, one of
which was singing, and they sure sound different than the
far western birds such as in California. Much less
scratchy and buzzy, instead more musical. Also there
was a Blue-headed Vireo, the dullest one I've ever seen.
At the 354 pecans and UR the flowers are off the pecans
and for the third day nothing but several Yellows at both
sites. Though the Eastern Kingbird continued south
of the 354 turnoff.
Here at SR we got a good bunting count in the p.m.,
7 adult male Painted, 15 greenies (females and immature males).
Then one male and 3 female Indigo Bunting, and a new female
Lazuli has shown up. 27 buntings, and at least 4 Blue
Grosbeak (1 ad.ma), and amazingly 2 Clay-colored Sparrow
continue, one singing most of the day between stuffing
itself on white millet.
The Purple Gallinule was across the river so I went and
bothered Audrey whom let me go down to the lily patch
and get closer better pictures, which still aren't great
but better, thanks Audrey! It is shy and flushed
and mostly hid on my approach, it did call in flight.
What a fancy bird here, the great purple marsh-chicken!
There was a Bullock's Oriole in the mesquite at Audrey's too.
There was a Spotted Sandpiper on the spillway, which no
longer has water running over it, but that was nice for a day.
A couple just-fledged Common Ground-Dove are with the parents
in the yard here at SR.
May 12 ~ We finally hit the jackpot with rain, we got
about 1-1/2"! But it fell way too fast and most ran off.
Though water was flowing over the spillway for the first
time in over a week, maybe 10 days. The outflow
started before dawn as it moved SE over us, and poured.
It poured a PURPLE GALLINULE !! For the thousandth time I
looked at the water lily patch across the river from UP
at Audrey's place and thought "there could be 10
Purple Gallinule in there and I couldn't see them."
I continued past the open areas of grass to the next
property with the little dock and all of sudden as I
panned with my bins, there was a Purple Gallinule in them!
A marsh bird related to Coot and rails, if you don't know them.
After checking to make sure I wasn't in a dream, I went
to car for scope and got some poor but ID'able digiscopes
of the great purple marsh-chicken. It was not visible
most of the time in the emergent aquatic vegetation, but
a few openings allowed some docu shots. It was all
dark and cloudy from the big rain of the morning, but you
can tell what it is. There are prior Uvalde County
records (X in spring and fall) and one Lost Maples record
in May, many years ago I think. Mid-may is when they
move and the time to get one, and like most nocturnal
migrants, nothing like a storm in the night to knock them
down. It was the first one I've seen in Uvalde County.
Here's a poor digiscope of the Purple Gallinule
at Utopia Park May 12, 2011
Then a good number of the very few warblers in the woods
seemed to be continuing individuals, and hardly anything
new, though some departures were apparent too. There
was a male and female Mourning and a female MacGillivray's,
all on their 3rd day here, as a few of the Common Yellowthroat,
especially the two super dull barely yellow below females.
The only white below Northern Waterthrush I've seen this
spring continues for day 3 as well. With the clear
skies and calm at dark last night I thought the stuff would bolt.
6 Yellow, a Nashville, Chat, and the breeder Yellow-throated
were the other warblers there. So 9 sps. of warblers
in an hour there with the following good one.....
The other rarity bird of the day was a female CANADA Warbler.
I saw a male at UP May 15 '04, and none since in spring.
It was warbler sps. #24 at the park, and #29 locally for
me, for spring 2011. So much more beautiful than usual,
despite being a dull SY female. So nice to hear that chip!
Also there were a few Eastern Wood-Pewee, a Yellow-billed
Cuckoo, the AHY Pied-billed Grebe, Green Heron, Great
Crested and Brown-crested Flycatcher, and a couple warblers
that got away. One Least Flycatcher, 10 greenie buntings,
and lots of Summer Tanager.
Only Yellow Warbler at 354 and 2 at Utopia on the River,
and no other warblers at either place. The pecans are
about over after the downpour took out many of the remaining
flowers. On the fenceline just south of 354 there
was an Eastern Kingbird. A few Dickcissel were in
the field north of 354. Cuckoo and Brown-crest at UR.
Couple SY Orchard Oriole in the yard (SR), and the Ground-Dove
have two just fledged young with them now. Lark Sparrow
young are out as well. The one juvenile Chipping Sparrow
went over a begged from one of the Clay-colored Sparrows
and was put off in no uncertain terms. I heard the
Clay mutter something about " do I have a rufous crown?,
do I have a black transocular?, what color is my rump?"
One last good bird was at 1 p.m. while still cloudy and darkish
a LESSER Nighthawk was hawking at the new golf course entrance
just off Hwy. 187. This could indicate local nesting.
I also saw my first fledged Barred Owl of the year, which
looked like he'd just seen his first severe thunderstorm,
and wanted to go back in the nest he'd outgrown.
The rain was so nice Mr. Poorwill called for the first time in
a month or so, gets 'em everytime. With the daily Common
Nighthawk and Chuck-wills-widow, after getting a Lesser Nighthawk
today, it made for a goatsucker slam, four species of nightjars
in a day here. Not the first time here, but hard to do.
Makes me want to run down to the brush country and get Paraque.
How far south would I have to go? 10 miles or 20? 30 tops but
maybe less than 10 too. Sure a lot of Mockingbirds down there
The other beyond exciting thing was at dusk spotting the/my
COUCHS SPADEFOOT TOAD out! Nearly two inches of rain did it!
I went after it - while teaching the cat not to - and just
missed it - touched it - as I wanted some in-hand photos at
least. They are usually super hard to see like Chorus
Frog, but not as bad as Barking Frog.
May 11 ~ Heavy low clouds and overcast, even drizzle,
and in the afternoon a light spitting for a couple
minutes kept it cooler. There were a couple
Yellow Warbler and a couple Orchard Oriole in the
yard (SR), and I heard Yellow-billed Cuckoo early,
all migrants. Between spitting events just
before 2 p.m. a Kingbird flew right up to the wire,
almost landed, then flew across the yard and landed
in the top of a juniper 60' away, my FOS EASTERN
Kingbird! For no color they sure are sharp.
Always a favorite of mine, what a beauty.
I had to run to Feller's for ammo so checked UR to
no avail, one Yellow Warbler. The 354 Pecans
had about the same, but along the fenceline I flushed
a BAIRD'S SPARROW! It flew not to far out into
the field and I got good binoc view of the big ochre
head with matching median crown stripe, big body,
big bill, ear spots, streaks across breast, and when it
landed the white in the outer tail feathers. Nearish
a group just had one on a field trip near Junction
Then at UP finally my FOS Olive-sided Flycatcher.
4 Eastern Wood-Pewee, 5 greenie buntings, 1 Lincoln's
Sparrow, none of the 3 Catbirds of yesterday, but
some of the same warblers: 1 female MacGillivray's,
2 male Mourning, 1 more Oporornis sps., 1 Northern
Waterthrush (first whitish one of spring - grayer
of back as well - but absolutely Northern), 7 Yellow,
1 Tennessee, 2-3 Yellow-breasted Chat, 4 Common
Yellowthroat, 3 Yellow-throated Warbler (breeders),
for 8 species of warblers. Keep your fingers
crossed for this late season frontal passage in a day.
Also at UP one Spotted Sandpiper, a late Pied-billed
Grebe, a couple Whistling-Duck (Black-bellied), and
a Least Flycatcher or two.
At SR the bunting count hitting the white millet is
7 ad.male Painted, 18 (!) greenie Painted (females
or immature males) for a total of 25 Painted. It
seems the males have pie sliced the surrounding area
with singing and some sort of feed and water truce
in the yard. 3 Indigo (1 ad. male, 2 fem.) still,
which won't stay, they're migrants fattening up.
There are a few Blue Grosbeak as well, two late singing
Clay-colored continue, as does a Lincoln's Sparrow,
and the two pairs of Chipping Sparrow left seem to be
breeders, with the new juvenile about. A pair of
Field are sometimes seen sneaking about, the Rufous-
crowned are busy nesting. The Hutton's Vireo was
singing the last couple days. Two new juvenile
White-winged Dove fledged today as well.
There were two Orchard Orioles in the yard, SY male
and female, migrants. For the daily orioles, the
Scott's tribe consists of super male, oldest female, a
black-headed and breasted sub-adult male, and the singing
all green blackless juvenile plumaged male. The
Hooded people are an adult male, adult female, an orange
phase immature male that seems to have a female with it now.
May 10 ~ There have been some showers scattered about
the area, we got spit on a little, but surely enough
to put migrant birds down. Here at SR there was
a singing male SY (first spring) Black-and-white
Warbler, and an Orchard Oriole. In the heat of
the day (so probably much asleep) I did a quick park
There was a male Mourning, a FOS FEMALE MacGillivray's,
a male Tennessee, Nashville, couple Yellow, Chat or two,
a Northern Waterthrush, 3-4 Common Yellowthroat, an
Oporornis that got away, which was probably Mourning,
and a couple chips that were very interesting that
got away as well. 8 sps. of migrant warblers,
plus the Yellow-throated and the B & W at the house
for 10 species of warblers today, in a hour and one
stop. Surely one could scrape a few more up.
At the golf course there was a homogenous flock of
14 Blue Grosbeak on the driving range. There are
a half dozen here at SR, and I'm seeing them everywhere
as I drive the roads. Still migrant Indigo Bunting
passing, two males were at UP, a pair is at the house
on SR where they don't nest. Painted bunting
numbers are still up, we have 7 males and 15 greenies
(females and immature males) daily in the yard now,
they are everywhere I go too.
A small buteo passed over SR northbound about 6:15 p.m.
that was either a Broad-winged or Short-tailed Hawk.
Just too high up to say for sure, though probably a
Broad-winged is my best guess.
May 9 ~ At UP there were two male Mourning Warbler in
the same bush together! Otherwise warblers were
slow: a Black-throated Green, Chat, Yellowthroat, a
Yellow, and the breeder Yellow-throated. Still
three Catbird which were making a racket going back
and forth, even with some singing thrown in. A
Least Flycatcher, a Swainson's Thrush, and a lone
Vesper Sparrow drinking on the spillway rounded out
the migrants weakly. Still about four singing
Clay-colored Sparrow in the yard, seems late for them.
There was some weather to the west, and we're supposed
to get some rain.
A quick fledgling update..... I'm seeing lots of
Carolina Chickadee and Carolina Wren out of the nests
now, tons of juvenile Eastern Bluebirds everywhere,
they had a great first haul, Black-crested Titmice
are just about to pop out, lots of Eastern Phoebe
young, and some Black Phoebe fledglings out at the park.
Haven't been seeing the Green Kingfisher since the young
fledged, Inca Dove young are out, and someone told me of
White-wingeds fledging already, though I haven't had
one here yet. The residents make haste in taking
advantage of the spring growing season to get that
first brood off and out early as they can.
May 8 ~ I did a quick late-a.m. check of the park
and UR, to make sure it was slow and it was. There
were 8 species of warblers, a male Mourning and a
couple Black-throated Green I suppose were best.
8 Yellow, 4 Wilson's, a N. Waterthrush, Chat, one
Swainson's Thrush, 3 Catbird, 2 Lincoln's Sparrow.
A couple good warbler chips got away, one here at the
hovel on SR was thin and sharp, like Prairie or Palm,
but it got away. Down to less than 10 Chipping
Sparrow, and about 4 clay-colored Sparrow, though
another half-dozen Clays were seen in the town stops.
And a couple pairs of Field to boot. Numbers of
Cave Swallow are under the 1050 bridge which is usually
all Cliffs with one Cave nest. A Cattle Egret and
a Spotted Sandpiper were on the spillway at the park.
A bright (migrant) Bell's Vireo was at the park too.
May 7 ~ A Uvalde supply run day, so loads of good birds.
Near Sabinal I found some singing HORNED LARK which
were duly audio recorded, the first summering type
record I have in the county of this rare and local
breeder. Also the Shrike down there seem to have
shop set up again this year in the same area.
Old Sabinal Rd. was loaded with birds, especially
Painted Bunting, but also the regulars like Curve-
billed Thrasher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Cardinal,
C. Ground-Dove, Caracara, Bobwhite (hit one), and a
Garter Snake was neat. On the way back SE of
Knippa at one of our Mountain Plover fields we had a
very very late NORTHERN HARRIER.
At Cook's Slough I heard Audubon's Oriole, but the
best bird was an SY male (e.g. first spring) chestnut-
sided Warbler that Kathy found. There were lots of
Yellows, some Wilson's, but besides them warblering was
slow. 5+ Least Flycatcher, but no other Empis.
The Indigo Snake eating a Leopard Frog was nice.
Nice to see the Cassin's Sparrow skylarking on that
high spot of ground and prickly pear patch. Lots
more Painted Bunting. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet is
At Ft. Inge we heard Green Jay, Couch's Kingbird,
more Painted Bunting, Bell's Vireo, Verdin, Olive
Sparrow, but it was slowing down by then. We
checked the hatchery quickly and found a Long-billed
Dowitcher in nearing-alternate (breeding) plumage. I
mis-identified it initially as a Short-billed of the
hendersoni race, but took some high magnification long
distance digiscope photos to blow up and examine later,
which revealed things I couldn't see in the field, and
that it was a Long-billed Dowitcher.
There were a few shorebirds there for a change, a Lesser
Yellowlegs, 1 alternate Semipalmated Sandpiper, two
Spotted Sandpiper, 1 Baird's Sandpiper, 6 Pectoral
Sandpiper, 7 Least Sandpiper, and 5 Wilson's Phalarope.
8 species of migrant shorebirds was a treat. There
were a few tardy ducks present, the remains of winter.
A Ruddy Duck, an Am. Wigeon, 2 Gadwall, 3 Green-winged
Teal are all tardy. Not so unusual to have a few
pairs of Blue-winged Teal around still. At least
6 Coot, 2 Pied-billed Grebe, one White-faced Ibis,
and a pair of Wood Duck. More Painted Bunting.
Common Grackles are nesting at the hatchery again.
Also saw a dark MERLIN, late for them here.
Well over a hundred Painted Bunting seen today,
half as many as last week, but still a good showing.
Before dawn in the black of morning at 6 a.m. I was
outside and what did I heard but Purple Martins again!
In the dark, flying overhead, around the level of
the low stratus clouds it seemed. I'll have
to get up early and try to tape some.
May 6 ~ Low stratus clouds in the a.m., and still some
warblers with 11 species seen locally today. A
Tennessee and a Black-throated Green were in the SR yard.
Other B-t Green were at UP and UR. Two Black-and-white
were at UP, a couple Northern Waterthrush, 1 Myrtle,
5 C. Yellowthroat, 2+Chat, 3 Catbird, 6-8 Whistling-Duck,
and a Vesper Sparrow feeding in the moneywort at
river's edge was odd.
At the 354 pecans there were TWO Philadelphia Vireo,
one body-slamming the other off a branch! Orchard
Oriole might be setting up shop there this year. At
UR there was the FOs FEMALE Mourning Warbler I've seen
this year, a Cuckoo and Nashville Warbler. Here
at SR in the p.m. a late PEREGRINE Falcon flew over
going due N..
There were 15-20 Chipping and 8 Clay-colored Sparrow
here at the seed pile still.
May 5 ~ Well finally its getting back to normal with
just a few migrants about, and a more normal for now
10 species of warblers. The female HOODED stayed
the night and continued at UP, though most was gone
like the Kentucky and Ovenbird for instance. A
male Magnolia was new though. Down at the 354
pecans there was my late FOS Cattle Egret, now that
there are some cows in the pasture - build the habitat
(add cows) and Cattle Egrets will come. Then a
FOS Grasshopper Sparrow there was way overdue too.
But no Eastern Kingbird on the fenceline running
south out of town yet. Any day. Still some
Least Flycatcher (6) and Catbird (4), Swainson's Thrush (2)
Painted Bunting (10 - far fewer migrants), Lincoln's
Sparrow (6), a few Yellow Warbler, 8 Common Yellowthroat,
a few Northern Waterthrush, NO Nashville for the first
day in a month or more. The werid thing was the
biggest flock of Yellow-headed Blackbirds I've seen
here, and my FOS this year here, down in the horse pens
on UVCo 360 right before the crossing, a whopping 35 of 'em.
May 4 ~ What seemed a new wave of birds was about, with
only a few holdovers around. Clearly a big increase
in migrants this morning though compared to yesterday.
UP was hopping again, with about 15 species of warblers,
highlight beings some new warblers: a WORM-EATING Warbler,
a FEMALE HOODED Warbler and a Kentucky Warbler, while an
Ovenbird continues which I got a digibin of. Plus
in pecans in town a SY male Chestnut-sided Warbler, and at
the park, Myrtle, Black-throated Green, and Mourning,
lots of Yellow, Yellowthroat, Chat, Catbirds, Least
Flycatcher, one calling ALDER Flycatcher, a Willow too,
still 6 Lincoln's Sparrow.
New for the Sabinal Valley for me, and amazing was an
ANHINGA that flushed out of the pond (I hadn't seen it)
when a guy put a boat in, which then proceeded to soar
all over town gaining altitude. I watched it soar off
to the north into Bandera County.
Another good bird was a SEDGE Wren in the Justicia
(Water willow). As if all that wasn't enough a
strange variant of Bobwhite was running and flying
about town, which I got a photo of. It had a
rufous body and black head and neck. Anyone know
who lost it? It sorta resembled a Masked Bobwhite,
a rare type not found here, and was surely an escaped
bird. Will post more on it later when I find something out.
Three Pine Siskin were at the sunflower tube, and 20+
Cedar Waxwing at the big Mulberry on Cypress St..
May 3 ~ Went for a quick a.m. check to see if there
was any residue left from yesterday's major fallout.
Very little, as I told my wife at dark last night,
"stars and no wind, they're leaving." And they
did. Based on behavior the Nashville and Yellow
Warblers were mostly new ones, not relaxed rested for a
day birds. All the Dendroica were gone, no Mournings,
only 10-12 Least Flycatcher, and the Willow Flyc. this a.m.
was fairly brownish toned, not the green Traill's yesterday.
There were TWO Ovenbird at the park, and neither looked
like yesterday's bird. There were perhaps 4 Northern
Waterthrush tops between UP and UR, and maybe 7 Nashville,
14 Yellow, 8 Common Yellowthroat, 2 Tennessee, probably
the same singing male Northern Parula at UR, but while
I was there a singing male TROPICAL Parula moved up
river through the tops of the Cypress that looked as pure
and clean as you want them to. It was neat having them
singing simultaneously, in this case the Tropical song was
higher, faster, thinner, so less grindy, slow, deep than
the Northern. They vary much according to what I've heard.
At UR a homogenous flock of 14 Orchard Oriole was neat with
5 ASY (ad.) males. A few Dickcissel around, including one
in the SR yard. A bright classic Eastern type Bell's Vireo
was singing at UP, quite rare to get one there, and new, as was
a second one in the yard at SR in the p.m.! One Swainson's
Thrush, and I did hear the HOODED Warbler tik tik call from the
swampy island at the park. Also new, a Philadelphia Vireo
there was as dull of one as I've ever seen. I tried to
make it into the Warbling missing still on the spring list,
to no avail, darn black lores and brightest yellow on center
of breast. There were at least 6 Catbird at UP, a
couple Baltimore Oriole, 'nother House Wren, which sang.
A few Cedar Waxwings were still around, 3 Pine Siskin
here at SR, an adult White-crowned Sparrow, but the major
flocks of Blue Grosbeak and buntings seems to have been
reduced overnight, as were the Chipping and Clay-colored
Sparrow numbers. At Utopia on the River (UR) there
were at least two dozen Painted Buntings, most greenies
(females or immature males) but a half-dozen adult males too.
So it was good for less than 2 hours of looking, but nothing
like yesterday's spectacle. A male Lazuli Bunting here
at SR was not one of the ones here yesterday.
May 2 ~ The best migratory fallout I've seen here.
The winds turned north late Sunday, then it rained
lightly overnight, mist and drizzle in a.m., on a
late-season frontal passage timed on about the average
peak day of the year in south central Texas at 29 deg. N..
The diversity was far beyond anything I'd seen here prior
this my 8th spring. Must have been the perfect storm.
It might not seem much at the coast, but at nearly 100 W.
this is something for less than 3.5 hours. With a
whole day surely more would have been found, if you could
access more holes. It was not the easiest pecan
tree birding I've done, but much seems to move down
to lower levels in these conditions.
Here is the warbler list:
Tennessee Warbler - 3 at least, UP, UR,
Orange-crowned Warbler - 1 at UP in p.m.
Nashville Warbler - 12+
Northern Parula - singing male UR
Yellow Warbler - 2 dozen
Magnolia Warbler - female at UP in a.m., male in p.m.
Myrtle Warbler - 1 at UP
Black-throated Green Warbler - 4 at UP in p.m., heard only in a.m.
Blackburnian Warbler - male in town on Main St.
Yellow-throated Warbler - 6+ (breeders)
Bay-breasted Warbler - seperate male and female UP in p.m.
Black-and-white Warbler - male and female UP in a.m.- migs
American Redstart - heard one
Ovenbird - 1 UP a.m. and p.m.
Northern Waterthrush - 6+
Louisiana Waterthrush - 1 UP in p.m. well studied
Kentucky Warbler - one UP in p.m.
Mourning Warbler - 3 at UP a.m., and 3 in p.m. prob same.
MacGillivray's Warbler - heard one UP in p.m.
Common Yellowthroat - two dozen at least
Hooded Warbler - one male UP
Wilson's Warbler -5
Yellow-breasted Chat 3-4
21 sps. warblers seen, plus 2 sps. heard only. Many many
warblers got away, including a couple others I heard well,
and weren't things on the list, like a singing Blue-wing.
Other birds in numbers were:
Baltimore Oriole - 6 on my hummer feeders in a.m. were my FOS
Blue Grosbeak - 8 at once out office window in a.m., 20 others
Least Flycatcher - 20+
Traill's Flycatcher - 1 FOS
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 6 migrants including one in the cool
wet a.m. hopping on ground like Cardinal, feeding from ground!
Painted Bunting - 75+, Indigo - 20, Lazuli 4-5
(yard numbers: Ptd - 20 (7 ad.ma.); Ind - 5+; Laz - 3)
Catbird - 5; Dickcissel - 3; heard Rose-bresasted Grosbeak,
and had male and female Black-headed at the feeders at SR.
At UP Snowy Egret 1 and Spotted Sandpiper 2.
Getting tardy were 2 White-crowned Sparrow (UR, SR),
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, House Wren, 5+ Lincoln's Sparrow.
Of course there were some vireos, but who cares? :)
The warblers were very strictly along the river corridor
or adjacent pecan bottoms. There was no indication
of this warbler fallout on SR, only a flock of Blue Grosbeak
and Baltimore Oriole told me there was fallout, go check
the river corridor.
P.S. - "Warbler Woods" in Schertz ca. 80 air-miles EAST of
Utopia had 19 species for the day, Junction reported 12;
a spot on Galveston had 17 sps., so one had to go to famous
High Island to top the Utopia 21 sps. total, where they had
24 sps. after the rain hit. With the heard species there were
at least 24 species around Utopia today. Remarkable.
With all I missed (they were zinging all over as typical
of grounded migrants that can't stop flapping yet), the
short duration of observation, and only two sites of a
few acres being covered, there could well have been nearly
30 species of warblers around here today. Astounding!!!
It is likely one of the furthest west incidences of a
20+ species warbler fallout being recorded in Texas.
Brackenridge Park in San Antonio I think was the furthest
west where that had occurred that I was aware of.
What a day!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
May 1 ~ Did a walk at Lost Maples, and a quick check
of a couple spots here at Utopia. A MAGNOLIA
Warbler at Lost Maples was not on the Roy Heideman
2002 Park Checklist, so a good find there. So was
a singing Northern Parula warbler. Saw a Zone-
tailed Hawk, but no Green Kingfisher or Audubon's
Oriole. One female Lazuli, a dozen each Painted
and Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak are in, but alas no
hoped for Varied Bunting, and the Screech-Owl wasn't out.
I heard a dozen Golden-cheeked Warbler but didn't see
one well, as they are in the heat of nesting, they get shy
until the babies get out of the nest and are squawking.
There was a Black-capped Vireo singing near the pond
above the restroom. Lots of Black-and-white
Warbler song along the trail, several Louisiana Water-
thrush were seen, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet was heard,
a few Nashville and a Yellow Warbler, a couple of
Yellow-throated Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Chat,
a few Acadian Flycatcher and Eastern Wood-Pewee, one
Least Flycatcher heard, lots of Red-eyed, White-eyed,
and Yellow-throated Vireo.
It was mostly too cool for dragonflies and only a few
butterflies were about, but a Tarantula was a good find.
Then down at Utopia Park there were some Northern
Waterthrush, a Myrtle Warbler, and the highlight of
the day was at Utopia on the River about 1 p.m., a
male BAY-BREASTED Warbler!! My first in Uvalde Co.,
though I was sure I heard one sing once a few years
ago. The day totalled 16 species of warblers which
is a local record for me, at Lost Maples, Utopia Park,
and Utopia on the River. Four of the 16 were breeders,
so 12 migratory species, again a record for me here
in a day, from 8 springs of looking.
A record that stood for one whole day.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
April was a weak month for butterfly diversity, surely
reflecting the drought and lack of flowers, many things
just didn't sprout this spring. I think the total
was 36 species, less than March, which is hard to do.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
April 30 ~ Led a small group of nice folks around Uvalde
today, which was a good day for bird migration, so they
got to see a lot. A whole lot of Painted Buntings,
the most common bird of the day, I estimated at least
200 at the most conservative, all non-singing migrants
in flocks of a dozen, two dozen, and even three dozen.
Every step of the way at Cook's Slough and Ft. Inge, and
more at the hatchery. It was truly an amazing spectacle.
Some Indigo Bunting were amongst them but no Lazuli.
At Cook's Slough we saw an Anhinga soaring high, and a
white Little Blue Heron, and I saw a dark adult early
before anyone else arrived. The pair of Audubon's
Orioles were good to see still there. There were some
warblers, a Redstart called, several Northern Waterthrush,
a dozen Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, Wilson's, Nashville,
2 male and a female Audubon's Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
House Wren, White-crowned Sparrow, a tardy SWAMP Sparrow,
the pair of Great Kiskadee nest building, Olive and Cassin's
Sparrow were heard, Bell's Vireo, Verdin, heard Green Jay.
Spotted and Solitary Sandpiper were there too. Had a
brief look at a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Brown-crested
Flycatcher setting up shop as usual there.
Then at Ft. Inge it was lots more Buntings, more of the
same Yellow, Nashville, Yellowthroat, Chat brigade, but
also a Northern Parula, Tennessee, Ovenbird, and Mourning!
Long-billed Thrasher gave great looks and song as usual
there. A couple pairs of Green Jay continue as well,
Couch's Kingbird are back.
A quick look at the Uvalde National Fish Hatchery in the
heat of the day found 5 Wilson's Phalarope, 3 Baird's
Sandpiper, a couple Spotted Sandpiper but the east pond
was flooded too deep for shorebirds. Still more
buntings, Snowy Egret and white Little Blue Heron side by
side was neat. I saw a Neotropic Cormorant fly in while
driving in, and a Double-crested fly out, one Osprey.
There were a couple late ducks, a female Shoveler, a female
Wigeon, and 15 Blue-winged Teal (one drake was a hybrid
with Cinnamon in the crescent), plus some Coot and a Pied-
A tally of everything I saw or heard on the trip, plus a
couple on the way totalled 112 species. Then I got
10 more species in the yard late p.m. here so had 122 species
for the day in Uvalde County. Surely my personal record.
OK, finally, back to before dawn when I was loading the car.
At 6 a.m. in the black before first light I heard Purple Martins
calling overhead. Several of them, moving northward over
Seco Ridge, they seemed to be at about the level of the low
stratus clouds. I heard them for a few mintues total
before they moved off. I'd never heard of Purple Martin
in the dark, besdies at the martin house.
April 29 ~ After yesterday's weak showing there was clearly
movement overnight with some new migrants around, which
was good because a friend from California was visiting
whom had a keen birder from Ireland along. We went
to the park and my highlight was a KENTUCKY Warbler!
There were 5 Northern Waterthrush (!), 3 Common Yellowthroat,
a few Nashville, Yellow, and a FOS Swainson's Thrush. The
highlight for the foreigner was the Barred Owls duetting.
Actually I think his highlight was my hooting to get them
to duet, and you can be assured Utopia will be talked about
at some bird club meetings and in some pubs in Ireland.
Then I went to Utopia on the River and found a SECOND
KENTUCKY Warbler! Unbelievable! TWO in a day
here! Also there was a CHESTNUT-SIDED Warbler, and a
PHILADELPHIA Vireo that sang (!), a FOS Tennessee Warbler,
Catbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Eastern Wood-Pewee,
male Lazuli Bunting, Orchard Oriole, some Nashville Warblers,
a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Between both stops there were at least 20 Painted Bunting
males only, plus 5 in yard!&bnbsp; Yellow, Nashville, and
Chat at 354 pecan patch, and of course the Yellow-throated
Warbler at UP and UR.
Kathy saw FOS Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks at SR at dusk.
April 28 ~ There were TWO White-crowned Sparrow today here
on the seed pile at SR, Yellow Warbler and Red-eyed Vireo
sang, and an imm. male Orchard Oriole was out there too.
At Utopia on the River there was FOS Catbird and my FOS
FEMALE Ingigo Bunting, one Wilson's Warbler, 4 Yellow and
8 Nashville Warbler. At UP there were 4-5 Common
Yellowthroat and my FOS Spotted Sandpiper. A Red
Satyr was flopping around the yard the last few days.
April 27 ~ At UP there was a FOS Yellow-billed Cuckoo,
Yellow-breasted Chat and Common Yellowthroat, an imm. male
Orchard Oriole, 4 Painted Bunting, but no major movement.
At SR there was Lazuli Bunting male #4 for the spring,
and of Painted Bunting there were 3 adult male, 2 imm. male,
and a couple females at least. A male Bullock's Oriole
was my FOS besdies a fly-over in early April, and an adult
White-crowned Sparrow was on the seed, besides Lincoln's,
Rufous-crowned, 20 Chipping, a pair of Field, and a dozen
April 26 ~ A nice cool morning by comparison to lately,
though it scorched to about 98 deg.F in the afternoon.
I snuck to the park since I had errands in town but
don't tell anyone. I saw a FOS Northern Waterthrush,
FOS MacGillivray's Warbler, an Orange-crowned Warbler,
couple Nashville, Great Crested and Brown-crested
Flycatcher, and a FOS Green Heron. At the UvCo 354
pecan patch was a Yellow and a couple Nashville Warbler.
Across the street was a FOS local Bell's Vireo for me,
late, and the Chat continues. Oh yeah, I heard a
Common Yellowthroat at the park. Supposed to have a
wind direction turnaround tonight (to the north) which
should knock down migrants. It's prime-time.
Still have a few Pine Siskin.
April 25 ~ A front sagging over us brought drizzle but I
couldn't get to the park to see if migrants were knocked
down, but I bet there were. There was a FOS immature
male Painted Bunting though, with a salmon breast, but
otherwise lime green above like females. Other imm.
males can be just green and yellow like the females.
April 24 ~ Here in the yard (SR) there was a FOS Dickcissel
in the a.m.. It was way too windy for easy birding,
and there were a few migrants around, with low numbers and
diversity, but a few outstanding birds for locally here.
Just a half mile towards town from the hovel on SR there was
was a male WESTERN Tanager! At the park (UP) there
was the first FEMALE Common Yellowthroat for me this year,
a couple Nashville Warbler, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and
a VEERY of the rufous morph flavor. It is my first seen
locally though I heard a nocturnal migrant in the pre-dawn
black a few springs ago in late April. Saw my first
Carolina Chickadee chicks of the year out of the nest.
Also FOS local Brown-crested Flycatcher was seen/heard.
A Least Flycatcher at the south end of the park was not the
same bird as Friday at the north end.
The UvCo 354 pecans had a couple Nashville Warbler, Red-eyed
and Yellow-throated Vireo, imm. male Orchard Oriole, and I
heard the Chat across the field. A group of just out
of the nest Bluebirds seemed to number 7! Further out
the road after the jog where there are scattered small mesquite
among knee high grass there was skylarking Cassin's Sparrow.
It was way too windy to record, I tried, it sounded like I
was in a tornado in a hurricane.
At the further-off-the-road pond just north of the Waresville
turn there was a single Snowy Egret, my FOS here. The
Common Grackles are in the area again as well. Out at the
golf course was a nice sparrow flock with 22 Lark, 2 Savannah,
18 Chipping and 13 Clay-colored. Down at Utopia on the
River (UR) I saw a couple Nashville Warbler, and spectacularly
a WORM-EATING WARBLER! My first in Uvalde Co. or the
Sabinal Valley, it is quite scarce here, perhaps the 3rd UvCo
report. A second Brown-crested Flycatcher was at UR,
one Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, while Yellow-thaoted Vireo and
Indigo Bunting seem back on territory singing, and more just
out of the nest baby Bluebirds were good to see.
Hermit Thrush here at the SR bath still, as well as Lincoln's
Sparrow. 100 Cedar Waxwings mostly on Mulberry Trees
around town now. One final FOS for the day at dusk
when a Common Nighthawk flew over calling. Welcome back!
A couple years ago in the drought, they hung around a while
but there weren't enough insects and they did not stay to
breed. Dickcissel will probably not nest locally this
year here as well, no fresh weedy growth this spring.
Seven Red-winged Blackbird flew over SR late in the p.m..
A Wandering Glider dragonfly was about the yard in the p.m. too.
The Pecans are starting to bloom so this is where the warbler
action will be the next couple weeks. Red Satyr butterfly
here at SR. Celia's Roadside-Skipper at UP. The
Angel's Trumpet clump on SR has a dozen flowers and looks
great, but largely I am dumbfounded at the lack of greenery
and understory growth in general due to the drought. Many
things simply haven't sprouted, or are severely retarded.
April 23 ~ Lost Maples and Kerr WMA guiding some fine
folks from the windy city. At LM there was a pair
of Audubon's Orioles first between the ponds, then on
the road/trail along the second pond. At the same
time the bird hosts there were leading a walk a half
mile from the site and were hearing them, so there are
at least two pairs there. Last spring was my first
sighting there and I've said here before the depart
my feeders in spring and probably go the high country
to nest. There were my FOS Acadian Flycatcher
and Eastern Wood-Pewee finally back. Four male
Indigo Bunting in a binocular view at once was a lot
of blue. Very few migrants in general though.
A Red-winged Blackbird is singing in the new cattail
patch in the big pond. Cattails got there last year,
Red-wing Blackbird the next. We need a gully
washer to clean the silt (and cattails) out up there.
White-M and Southern (favonius) Hairstreak were neat.
We had great views of Golden-cheeked Warbler at LM, and
I saw at least 6 different Black-capped Vireo at
Kerr in short order, an adult male landed at arms
length on a bare twig while it was chasing an imm.
male out of its territory. We saw Scott's Oriole
singing as well. What great habitat there.
A Green Darner dragonfly cruised over the dry habitat.
I was bummed to see Stonehenge in Hunt was gone.
The property is for sale, and a friend has informed me
it was moved and is now at the Hill Country Arts Foundation
in Ingram, but is not at a big open site like it was.
April 22 ~ FINALLY the male Painted Bunting is
singing, a week since it got back. I did a
half hour check of the park and it was pretty dead
besides the Least Flycatcher that seemed to have
stayed, and new was a rare here OVENBIRD, one of the
neatest warblers. It was tearing up the invert
fauna in the leaf litter. Chipping Sparrows have
really thinned out, but at least 6 Clay-colored Sparrow,
and a pair of Field Sparrow were amongst maybe 20 Chippy
left in the yard. Late in the evening I saw my FOS
FEMALE Painted Bunting, which could explain finally hearing
the male sing for the first time today. It was a
real binocular-full out the window with male and female
Painted Bunting, and male Lazuli Bunting all together
within a couple feet on the ground. I had to rest
the cones (color receptors) in my eyes afterwards.
I was afraid to look at the Scott's and Hooded Orioles
next time they came into the hummer feeders for fear it
might cause damage to them.
April 21 ~ A front stalled out just north of us
overnight so I gave an hour to checking the park
and such around town. A FOS Western Kingbird
was just south of town on the fenceline. At the
UvCo 354 Pecan patch there was FOS Orchard Oriole,
a singing adult male and an immature male at least.
At the park (UP) was a FOS Least Flycatcher and a
FOS Common Yellowthroat, a couple warblers got away.
Here at SR the male Summer Tanager is bathing daily
it seems, the male Painted Bunting is settling in,
and probably another returnee, a male Blue Grosbeak
is on the seed. Amazingly with the conditions
overnight, the 3-day male Lazuli Bunting left.
April 20 ~ The male Lazuli Bunting is on its 3rd day,
and at least 3 Hermit Thrush hit the bath, another Ruby-
crowned Kinglet passed through, 3 Orange-crowned Warbler.
For about the 5th day we have a beautiful alternate
plumaged (breeding) American Goldfinch in full glory.
A Wander glider (Pantala flavescens) dragonfly was the
first of those I've seen this year (here at SR).
An outflow in the late afternoon beat the heat.
April 19 ~ A couple Hermit Thrush were bathing at dawn,
probably migrants, as was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet that
sang and a House Wren that didn't. The male Lazuli
Bunting continues and SANG! Though annual, rare,
and it is the first time I've heard one sing here.
There was also the male Painted bunting, they make quite
a combo of bunting out the window while I work. There
was also a FOS baby bunny in the yard (Eastern Cottontail).
The Black-tailed Jacks (a pair) have been out in the yard
at night, eating my few wildflowers.
I did a quick look at the park and saw a Gadwall which
is rare there, and a ('nother?) pair of Blue-winged Teal.
There was a FOS Black-throated Green Warbler, but very
few migrants despite the low clouds. One Blue Grosbeak,
a few Myrtle, one nice male with an Audubon's wing patch
was the second hybrid in a few days.
Highs in low-mid 90's still, about 15 deg.F over normal.
April 18 ~ A male Painted Bunting bathed this a.m. at the
bath, boy that is great to see again. There are 35-40
Chipping Sparrow and at least 5 Clay-colored that are
singing (grinding) away. A few migrants passed through
the yard like a Gnatcatcher, Nashville and Orange-crowned
Warbler, and another male Lazuli Bunting (#2 this spring).
The Summer Tanager was about, and at dusk a group of 4-5
Common Grackle flew over going west toward Bear Creek Pond.
Three Queen (butterflies) passed through the SR yard today.
High was 94-95 deg.F, a burner for this early in year.
April 17 ~ Nothing like getting to watch male and female
Hooded Oriole splish splash in the bath in the morning.
In the late afternoon a male Summer Tanager did the same.
At UP there were 10 Myrtle Warbler, 1 Audubon's, and one
hybrid "Mrytubon's" Warbler, 6 Orange-crowned
and 8 Nashville Warbler, one Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and a
Yellow-throaited Vireo. A Queen (butterfly) was at
SR in the p.m. as were 6-8 Lark Sparrow. High in 90's.
April 16 ~ Hey did you feel that 40 deg.F low this a.m.?
Lovely! I guided some neighbors from the north today
mostly at Lost Maples, but here in Utopia early there
was a Parula warbler at the park, which by song to me
was Northern, and my brief look saw nothing to think
otherwise, but I didn't get to work it over real well.
The Cave Swallow culvert 5 miles west of town just west
of the pond, just before the 1050 pass grade is occupied
with at least 30 swallows there now/again. This
is a great spot for stellar views and photos, but please
do not go down into the culvert and bother the birds.
Early and late is best, they can be gone all day.
A flock of 40 Vesper Sparrow, some Lark Sparrow, and
1 FOS Grasshopper Sparrow was along 187 in Bandera Co..
At Lost Maples was an amazing report of a photographed
male CALLIOPE Hummingbird at the HQ feeders yesterday
April 15, seen and photo'd by many. A great rare
spring record. There was also a report from the
volunteer bird hosts there of a photographed BROAD-
BILLED Hummingbird in March, a 3 day bird. There
was one there two springs ago in early (10th) April!
We saw a number of Golden-cheeked Warblers, though song
has quieted down substantially now that nesting is
underway. We had four, for me, FOS species locally:
Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Red-eyed Vireo, and
Wilson's Warbler. One Yellow-throated Warbler,
a dozen Nashville and a few Orange-crowned Warbler,
Bushtit, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Common Raven, Black
Phoebe, Canyon Wren, but no Green Kingfisher or Zone-
tailed Hawk. One FOS Tick when I got home.
I think the photogs from Canada got great pictures
of almost everything. I couldn't believe the
Blue Grosbeak sitting next to the male Indigo Bunting.
It was a great walk... oh yeah the mccallii Screech-Owl
was out at the tip of his stump so they got to shoot
him as well. There were still good numbers of
Spicebush Swallowtail, a few Tiger and Two-tailed
Swallowtail, one Little Wood Satyr, not Viola's,
some Sleepy Orange, Dun Skipper, Juniper Hairstreak.
April 15 ~ There was a pre-dawn frontal passage with a
few drops of rain to reveal how dusty everything is.
Here at the SR yard was a FOS Painted Bunting, a male
as all "first returners" are. Also there was
a FOS Yellow Warbler was here, I finally saw a female
Hooded Oriole, though it's been around a few days at
least. The wind blew all day and we were covered
with smoke from fires far the northwest of us, it was
very orange hazy out.
April 14 ~ The regular daily migrants passing through yard:
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Hermit Thrush,
Nashville Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Ruby-crowned
Kinglet. Had to run to town so a quick check of the
park was in order. Found my first ever in Uvalde Co.
HOODED WARBLER, a beautiful male. I had a female
at N.Thunder Creek Rd. in the fall once, in Bandera Co..
Also at the UP was an FOS Great Crested Flycatcher, an
FOS Yellow-breasted Chat, a pair of Blue-winged Teal,
5 Nashville, 2 Myrtle, and 2 Orange-crowned Warbler,
Green Kingfisher, one Pied-billed Grebe, a pair of
Blue Jay with a just fledged young which they took
to "the spot" and all three of them bathed.
My early date for a fledged young Blue Jay.
Spectacular was finding FIVE MOURNING CLOAK butterfly
there, all looking just emereged and freshly painted.
I've never seen more than one in a day in 8 years here,
didn't see any half of those years, and have never
seen 5 in any given year, so a remarkable count.
Engleman's Daisy, Limestone Guara, and Low Wild Petunia
in bloom at park.
April 13 ~ Orange-crowned Warbler and Hermit Thrush at
the bath at dawn were migrants, 'nother Blue-gray Gnatcat,
a Nashville or two, at least 5 Clay-colored Sparrow in
the yard Chippy flock. I thought sure I heard a
Red-eyed Vireo up the hill but couldn't go chase it down.
April 12 ~ After the front a lovely 40 deg.F morning
felt great. A House Wren passed through the yard,
clearly a migrant, couple more Blue-gray Gnatcats,
and finally at 7 p.m. my FOS Swainson's Hawk passed over.
April 11 ~ A pre-dawn frontal passage washed the leaves
with .10" of rain. 'Nother Blue-gray Gnat, 'nother
White-eyed Vireo, about 30 each Chipping Sparrow and
White-winged Dove, a few Clay-colored Sparrow rattling.
April 10 ~ low 90's is 10-20 deg.F above normal for now,
and a bit early for that already. The daily passage
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (2) and White-eyed Vireo (2) moved
through the yard. A male Spotted Towhee was about,
and two Chuck-wills-widow were calling at 8:24 p.m..
April 9 ~ Three Orange-crowned and 2 Nashville Warblers
around the yard (SR) first thing were migrants. More
were at the park (UP). Maybe a hundred Cedar Waxwings
around town, note the timing matching the arrival of the
Mulberry fruit on those trees. Nice to hear Martins
and Chimney Swift, not so for the pair of Great-tailed
Grackle at the north end of town. Only saw one pair
of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at the fields by the park.
There was my first park (UP) Summer Tanager this spring,
and another was out on SR. I've been hearing two
Hooded Orioles together the last couple days at SR, so am
sure the female is back though I haven't seen her yet.
Some Turkey are gobbling within earshot early in the a.m..
The weirdest thing today was a plumage of Ruby-throated
Hummingbird I've never seen. Like Black-chinned,
when the males come back in spring the young of last year
and the adults all look the same in the throat, full adult
type standard gorget with black chin and then colored
feathers below that on throat. This bird had the
ruby red part of the gorget but there was no black chin,
that being replaced by the typical juv./fem. throat feathers
of white with neat rows of little tiny dark dots. The
tail was the standard male big black deeply forked tail.
Something is wrong with that bird. I did some reading
and apparently this is how the first year males look in late
winter (March). First ID'able by gorget AHY (after hatch
year) male I've ever seen. So if you see a partially
Ruby-throated Hummingbird now, you know it is a first year
male with a slightly delayed molt.
At dark (8:24 p.m.) I heard my FOS Chuck-wills-widow.
April 8 ~ Well at least 5 Nashville, 2 White-eyed Vireo,
a couple Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed through the yard
early, and a couple Hermit Thrush hit the bath at dawn.
Hobbling around trying to toss seed without falling over.
Scott's and Hooded Oriole, heard Summer Tanager and Field
Sparrow singing, Mockingbird singing (taped), the regulars.
Haven't seen a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird yet but
there must be a dozen if not two males. Black-chinned
number in the low hundreds. Barn Owl after dark.
April 7 ~ These cloudy mornings are good for knocking
migrants down as it wets them if they try to fly through
to much of it. I've been getting multiple Nashville
Warblers every morning now, 4 this morning, and White-
eyed Vireo are about multiple daily now too. The
Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow continues, but the
real excitement was at dusk when I spotted a goatsucker
(nightjar) over the knoll (back hill on SR). It
was a LESSER NIGHTHAWK! I watched it feed for 10
mintues, a nice male, over the knoll it was often just
above treetop level, but occasionally sorties would take
it off the knoll and it was 50-60' AGL - above ground
level - at times, just a little lower than the regular
cruising altitude of female Common Nighthawk. Early
this a.m. I fell, missing a stepping stone and sprained my
ankle but not to worry, instinctively I sheltered and rolled
as I fell and hit, so my binocs are fine, and I was saved by
the ales, cushioning the impact.
April 6 ~ The Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow is still
about, and my FOS Summer Tanager was singing as well.
At dusk over the park pond there was my FOS Chimney
Swift. Most interesting though was the return
of (FOS) the FEMALE Scott's Oriole, that is an ASY bird,
after second year, with extensive slate charcol hood.
Few Rock Flax flowers starting to open.
What was amazing was that it flew up to the office window
where I always am, and hung on the hard to hold sill for
a minute looking in at me! Yes I'm still here at the
desk, just like when you left six months ago! After
she flew I thought maybe the feeders are empty, but checked
and they were full so it wasn't to inform me as has been
done in the past. It nearly seemed to see if I was
still here. No other window was lit upon. I'd
have thought there was plenty of things to inspect upon
return after 6 months in Mexico, besides hanging on the
sill and looking at me for a minute from two feet away.
Nope, I haven't broke the chains yet. :)
The other thing today was that cowbird (pre-?) roost
gathering on SR, just west of the first loop, at dusk
numbered about 400 Brown-headed Cowbird, a half dozen
Bronzed Cowbird, and a dozen Common Grackle.
April 5 ~ WOW a low in the upper 30's sure felt great
after the highs in the 90's the last few days. A
Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow continues and is singing
little bits of song. At least one peanut-eating
(wintering) Orange-crowned Warbler continues.
April 4 ~ The spotted Towhee I presume is the same
one the last week plus, continues. It was a
three oriole species day here at SR with Audubon's,
Hooded, and Scott's all coming into the hummer feeders.
There were at least 3 male Ruby-throated Hummers, the
Black-chins probably number about 200-250. A
front blew through at dawn and it blew all day.
The real exciting event of the day was seeing a
Roadrunner full display out the office window. You
hear the cooo, cooo, cooo, cooo wimpering dog
sound all the time right? Have you ever seen
what is going on when it is being made? This
is the stuff bird watching is about for me. They
sometimes do the cooing from a tree perch without the
full monty ground display just lowering their heads.
The whole ball of wax goes like this....
First the bird (I presume the male) picks the spot
from which he will cooo and approaches it shaking,
sashaying, wagging its tail back and forth in the
most exaggerated of fashion, as far left and right as
it can throw it, very slowly and controlled it wags
its rear end a half-dozen times each way back and
forth a step or two from THE spot. Its facial
feathers are flattened away from the bare patch of
skin behind the eye to maximize the exposure of that
colored patch which is now incredibly intensely bright
blue and red. Then it raises its crest bushy as
it can, drops wings and steps forward, bowing head
and beak toward ground and the whole body heaves as
it then cooo cooo cooos. It then moves a few feet
and repeats. It is an unbelievable incredible
display. Cuckoo alright. Most birders
probably never see this amazing behavior of a common
bird. Seeing the common thing in the uncommon
way is one of the great thrills of bird watching.
April 3 ~ Recovery day from the run so working at
the hovel, which produced our FOS Bunting today,
a male Lazuli eating seed! What a beauty! Late
in the p.m. an Osprey flew over northbound.
I see a little White Rock Lettuce, a couple Blackfoot Daisy.
April 2 ~ Uvalde supply run. A Say's Phoebe was
near Sabinal, some Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are in, but
mostly (80%) males only, 10 Shrike along the way on
the wires. A group of 4 and a pair of Meadowlark
was it for them. Virtually no flowers along waysides,
opposite last springs incredible "El Nino" show.
At Ft. Inge I heard an Upland Sandpiper call overhead,
which is quite rare in spring this far west. A few
Nashville Warbler were about, some of the Myrtles are
getting alternate (breeding) plumage and looking pretty
fancy. Much of the morning we were talking with
Bill Dillahunty and Dick Whipple from the Historical
Society so didn't get the normal birding in, but of
course learned a lot and had a great time. Green Jays,
Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Kiskadee, Bell's Vireo,
Verdin, Cactus Wren, the regular cast, a Yellow-throated
Vireo was probably a migrant. Water is way low there.
At the Uvalde National Fish Hatchery was FOS Little Blue
Heron and Lesser Yellowlegs, plus an Osprey, a late adult
male Lesser Scaup, and best was the first Great Kiskadee
we've seen there (ph.). There were also 28 Wigeon,
some Shoveler, Gadwall, a few Cinnamon and 12 Blue-winged
Teal, no Green-winged left, a couple Greater Yellowlegs,
one Least Sandpiper, but poor for shorebirds.
A couple Swainson's Hawks were just east of town late
in the day (my FOS).
April 1 ~ APRIL !?!?!? A couple Hermit Thrush,
a White-eyed Vireo, a male Spotted Towhee, a Nashville
Warbler and TWO adult White-crowned Sparrow were in the
yard today. Fascinating was the two White-crowns
being of different subspecies. One a Gambell's
and one a leucophrys, side by side. I found a
whopping two Blue-eyed Grass (the Iris) flowers in the
front yard, last year there were 60+. This is how
it is playing out with everything this spring so far.
We are in dire need of rain. The junipers are
yellowing/browning at the base of the vegatated branch
tips which means its real bad.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
March 31 ~ FOS male Ruby-throated Hummingbird today.
One Zone-tailed Hawk at SR was my first nearer than
Lost Maples this spring. Poor-will calling
right at dark, Screech-Owl a little later and a
couple Barn Owl went over northbound late.
For butterflies there was Goatweed Leafwing and
Northern Cloudywing, and this last day of the
butterfly month brought one new species for March,
Common Buckeye. So we end with a rip-roaring
total of 35 species for March. Not too bad,
but not too good. There are very few nectar
sources available and so far the drought has killed
the spring bloom for the most part.
March 30 ~ At least 3 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher passed
through the yard today.
March 29 ~ A male Common Grackle was here at SR.
March 28 ~ At least one of the wintering (peanut eating)
Orange-crowned Warblers continues here at SR.
March 27 ~ A great day locally as I scrapped up a few
interesting things around town. A male Robin in
the town center square was neat, more amazing was a
singing male Pyrrhuloxia near the storage spaces.
There were two pairs of FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
in town, the first Common Grackle I've seen this spring,
lots of chorusing Red-winged Blackbirds, and nice to
see some Purple Martins around finally. At UP
there was Nashville Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler
(and Y-t Vireo), an Audubon's, an Orange-crowned, and
some Myrtle for Warblers. Some of the aquatic
Myrophyllium is showing nice inflorescence now.
Up at 1050 pass I heard a Golden-cheeked Warbler sing,
plus another Yellow-throated Vireo, Hutton's Vireo,
and some Squre-Bud Primrose (Calylophus Drummondianus)
is blooming up there as is a little Damianita. Three
Cloudless Sulphurs were seen around, as well as a
migrant Monarch. I also saw a River Cruiser or
Stream Cruiser cruise through the yard in the afternoon.
Odd here up on Seco Ridge, though Macromia has been here.
The big find of the day was in an area of grasses near
the storage spaces, where there seemed to be a loose
aggregation of sparrows so I got out and worked the field.
There were 16 Savannah and maybe 10 Clay-colored, Vesper,
Lark, Lincoln's, and one BAIRD'S Sparrow. Initially
it was by itself, maybe 25' from the nearest few other
Savannah Sparrows, but when I flushed it, it moved into
the loose group and subsequently I pushed it around an acre
or two for an hour herding the whole group into a nice neat
flock by time I left them. There were rufous and
black "morph" Savannah in the group besides the
more middle-of-the-road common medium brown ones.
March 26 ~ Nashville Warbler in the yard. Sure is
great to get up to dawn chorus again, especially as we
add species as they return, like now Scott's Oriole is
part of it, and soon Summer Tanager will be. A few
of the Chipping Sparrows in the yard are singing now.
About 1:20 p.m. the yard male Hooded Oriole returned (FOS)!
He's really an ingrate, nests in Morris' fan palms, over an
air-mile away, does just about all his singing over there,
and only shows here several times a day for sugar water.
March 25 ~ Heard a Martin here at the house, first one
over the yard this spring. The Black-chinned
Hummingbird numbers are building, we used way over
a pint, nearing a quart of sugar water today which
means there are over a hundred out there. Some
Waxwings, singing Kinglets, Hutton's Vireo, the regulars.
March 24 ~ Turkey was gobbling at sunup, a few Ruby-
crowned Kinglet, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and a Nashville
Warbler passed through the yard. Finally I saw my
first male Purple Martin in town today, a month plus
late. At UP was the FOS Yellow-throated Warbler
singing away, nice to have them back. Also there was
FOS male and female Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly. In
the yard was the first male Brown-headed Cowbird in the
yard - a local breeder - of the season. Time to
make sure I have plenty of shotshell. Remember to
just take out the females - the males will attract them.
At UP there was a Texan and a FOS Phaon Crescent, while
here at the hovel was a Vesta Crescent.
March 23 ~ The White-crowned Sparrow imm. continues for
a 2-day record. At least 6 Hermit Thrush visited
the bath in 15 minutes early after first light seems like
a wave of migrants compared to lately since most of the
winterers left already. A couple Ash-throated Fly-
catcher were out there, they are just arrving in multiple
numbers, tardy this year. A male Spotted Towhee was
new, a migrant passing through, as was a White-eyed Vireo
and a couple Ruby-crowned Kinglet. There was passerine
movement last night.
The highlight newcomer of the day was the returning
adult male Scott's Oriole! I heard it singing on
approach and could tell it just got here at 10:05 a.m.
because it sat on the feeder sucking sugar water for
10 mintues which it never does, ever. It was very
happy to see the feeder up.
After dark a sphinx moth came in the open door to the light
on my office desk where I was working. I think it
Hog Sphinx - a Virginia Creeper feeder (larval food plant).
March 22 ~ An immature Gambell's White-crowned Sparrow
on the heels of one 8 days ago is surprising considering
how few I've seen here, they're less than annual. A
Clay-colored Sparrow was the first in the yard this spring.
A few Ruby-crowned Kinglets moved through, some singing
their excited bubbly song, so happy to be going back north.
A pair of American Goldfinch were on the sunflower tube.
March 21 ~ Flock of 30+ Cedar Waxwing over SR yard.
March 20 ~ Early here at SR there was a Yellow-throated
Vireo singing out back. Then in town I finally saw
my FOS (female) local Purple Martin, a month late. Just
north of town in Bandera Co., there was a Loggerhead Shrike.
Kathy and I took a walk up Can Creek at Lost Maples SNA
this first day of spring. We counted Golden-cheeked Warbler
detections only on the way up, totalling 24 birds, two by
chip only, the rest singing or seen. All seen were males.
Total was from trailhead parking lot to a half mile past
second pond at service road switchback, about a mile and a
half. Roughly one every 300' or so.
Also counted one-way on the walk were 18 Black-and-white
Warbler, one female seen, the rest singing males. There
were seven White-eyed Vireo, five Hutton's Vireo, I heard
one good burst of Scott's Oriole song (FOS), 3 Ash-throated
Flycatcher, 6 Canyon Wren, a couple seperate single Bushtit,
a few Rufous-crowned Sparrow, singles of Zone-tailed Hawk (FOS),
Clay-colored Sparrow (FOS), & mccallii Screech-Owl, 4 Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher, 8 Black-chinned Hummingbird. Non-breeding
warblers were 1 Nashville (FOS), 4 Orange-crowned, 1 Audubon's,
3 Myrtle. Winterers (or spring migrant breathen) were
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1 Spotted Towhee, 3 Lincoln's,
1 Song Sparrow and 60 Chipping Sparrow. A Mockingbird
at the pond is clearly a migrant. Some Common Raven,
Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, two Red-tailed and a Red-
shouldered Hawk, 4 Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 5 Texas Scrub-Jay.
Not seen/heard and believed not yet present were Louisiana
Waterthrush, N. Rough-winged Swallow, Black Phoebe,
Yellow-throated Vireo. We didn't see Green Kingfisher
but staff said one was at 2nd pond last week.
Lots of Spicebush (FOS), couple Two-tailed, several Eastern
Tiger, few Pipevine were a good Swallowtail show. Added a
Giant at home. Twenty plus Horace's Duskywings mostly
on the laurel. I'd guess due to the rainfall defecit,
the Mountain Laurel bloom is nothing like last spring's after
the wet winter, but parts of the trail were pretty darn sweet.
Few nectar sources besides the Mountail Laurel and Redbud.
Agarita is all but done blooming, Maples and Buckley (Spanish)
Oak are blooming and with leaf buds, but otherwise barely a
detectable sign of budding on Chinkipin and Lacey Oaks, and
not a sign of spring yet on the Sycamore, Pecan, Walnut,
and Cherry. Mostly still looks pretty winter, but for
the Buckley Oaks which are really bustin' out in leaf buds,
just right for when the male Golden-cheeks arrive in numbers.
Single Springtime Darner and Pale-faced Clubskimmer were
the only two dragonflies I saw but for a damselfly that
A lizard (ph.) was believed a Rosebelly. Bill (staff)
told me he saw a couple Great-tailed Grackle at HQ in the a.m..
Glad I missed that, so I can say my personal Lost Maples list
still does not have a Great-tailed Grackle on it. :)
March 19 ~ Too windy to bird so worked here, but did get a
FOS Blue-gray Gnatcatcher out front, and saw the first flowers
of Blue Gilia and Texas Vervain have opened, the Prairie Fleabane
is getting going well, as is the Slender-stem Bitterweed, which
has a small bee (cf. Halictid I think) with a banded abdomen
on it. The Texas Persimmon is leafing out well.
Since we've remain extremely dry in rainfall deficit, the
orographic fog/mist/drizzle is critical moisture for the
ecosystem here. But no bluebonnets seem to be popping,
as they as many others need real rain or they don't sprout
that year. Still a few Pine Siskin here.
March 18 ~ In town was my FOS Great-tailed Grackle, eech.
I still didn't see a Purple Martin around town. At UP there
were 3 Pied-billed Grebe, a male Sapsucker snuck away through
the live-oaks that I couldn't get close enough to, but looked
like Red-naped to me, a male Green Kingfisher, and TWO FOS
Yellow-throated Vireo, singing of course. Not a Yellow-
throated Warbler yet. A big worn female (migrant from
Mexico) Monarch was there, as was FOS Phaon and Vesta Crescent.
Back up on SR in the yard in the morning was a pair of
Black-tailed Jackrabbit right out the office window, and in
the late p.m. a FOS male Vermilion Flycatcher. Just before
dark a Great Blue Heron flew north over SR. Poor-will
at dusk, Barn Owls northbound later after dark. Almost
forgot, there was another Blue Dasher at the park.
March 17 ~ Outstanding was a singing Golden-cheeked Warbler
out back, singing the poor quality song of a SY bird. It
proved to me my correct ID of the song I heard two days ago.
One Field Sparrow has been around, some Chipping Sparrow are
departing, a Hermit Thrush was at the bath, but seem to mostly
have departed now. At least 25 if not more male Black-
chinned Hummingbird and a dozen female at least around the yard.
March 16 ~ Three FOS butterflies were about today, a
Giant Swallowtail, a Texas Powdered-Skipper, and the
first migrant (pale worn) Monarch returning north from
wintering in Mexico were all new for the year. There
were 3 different Northern Cloudywing at the blooming
Mountain Laurel. Ten Cedar Waxwing went over.
A fresh male Black Swallowtail hit every laurel flower.
A White-lined Sphinx (moth) was the first of them this year.
Still over a hundred Chipping Sparrow, 30 White-winged Dove,
and no Junco for nearly a week now, they're gone.
March 15 ~ First Parralena flowers open, early Dutchman's Breeches
fading like the Agarita, the porch laurel is putting out so
much scent it is simply heavenly to just stand there and
breathe. Today a Duskywing was on it that looked like
maybe a Wild Indigo Duskywing, but it flew when I grabbed
camera and started acting interested. Sure wasn't like
any Funereal, Horace's, Mournful, Juvenals, I've seen, or
Rocky Mountain per the books, leaving few choices here,
all of them good, but we'll never know for sure.
Really amazing are the native bees using the laurel. The
bigger turquoise green ones number maybe four at once, all day,
so quite a few. Then there was a FOS little metallic
green Halictid. There is a black bee that is twice the
size of a Halictid, another with a black and white abdomen
and dark thorax, and one with black and yellow thorax and
black abdomen. FIVE types of bees on this little
6-year old laurel that Kathy hatched from a seed. This
is only its second year it has bloomed, but a dozen large
racemes of flowers this year are attracting a lot of interest
being an early bloomer while few nectar sources are
available. The non-native European (probably hybridized
cross with killer) bees we have are on the Redbud and Agarita,
but not the laurel. Interesting.
The two seperate individual White-crowned Sparrows that
were here yesterday were not seen today. Bet they
blew out last night. Amazing, one day wonders.
Always neat to be able to detect that with common species.
Lincoln's Sparrow has been out there every day for a
week, but I suspect some turnover there too.
After dark there were three Poor-will duelling vocally,
including what was likely the presumed duet calling.
At least 3 Barn Owls went over northbound as well.
March 14 ~ Hutton's Vireo singing here, and at the park.
The park also had THREE Brown Creeper, a first for me
here, 3 at once. One Golden-crowned and 2 Ruby-
crowned Kinglet, White-eyed Vireo (of which there was
one at SR too), one Belted Kingfisher, blooming Dewberry,
and a Crescent that was either Pearl or Vesta. A
plain regular Northern Cloudywing was on the laurel,
very worn, not yesterday's fancy variety. Real
neat was TWO seperate White-crowned Sparrow in the yard,
obviously new migrants, one was an adult leucophrys as
usual, but the other an imm. Gambell's or gambelli
from westward, and a rare variety to find here.
Still didn't note a martin around town. There was
an Elfin in the yard again, but that Agarita is fading
fast, past peak bloom already here it seems. I heard
a single snippet of 3-4 notes of what had to have been the
song of a SY Golden-cheeked Warbler, but didn't persue it
out back. One Bushtit was pss, pss, pss, pssing around
here too. After dusk Poor-will and Barn Owl called,
later I heard a short burst of Poor-will speed calling.
March 13 ~ Too wiped out from yesterday and the loss
of an hour's sleep to go out and get more tired, luckily
plenty of work to do here. A FOS Eastern Tiger
Swallowtail cruised around the yard a while. Best
was getting photos of what I am sure is an albosuffescens
Northern Cloudywing white white fringe to dorsal hindwing,
white outer 1/4 of underwing. I see one a year
here but have never been able to get definitive pix.
The blooming Mountain Laurel out front kept it coming
back until I got the shots. The Prairie Fleabane
finally popped open a few flowers. A FOS bird
was late in the day a bikking Ash-throated Flycatcher.
It was a horse race there for a while watching the first
spring wildflowers grow.... Out of the chute
it was Dutchman's Breeches that took the early lead,
with Prairie Fleabane and Slender-stem Bitterweed
stalking from behind, it's Prarie Fleabane up by a bud,
Slender-stem Bitterweed shoots a stalk past Prarie
Fleabane, Texas Onion showing so poorly it hurts my
eyes to watch so far, it's Slender-stem Bitterweed,
Prairie Fleabane, now Dutchman's Breeches is falling off
in the rear.....
March 12 ~ A Uvalde supply run day, via Old Sabinal Rd..
UvCo 308 was bird-free, I guess what the county was
looking for spending that money to remove the natural
vegetation. Interesting was not seeing yet a
Scissor-tailed or Vermilion Flycatcher down there in
the flatlands brush-country where they arrive first.
There were a few Purple Martins around. We heard
one Ash-throated Flycatcher down in the mesquite.
There were a few pairs of Eastern Meadowlarks seen
along they way, most Westerns seem to be gone already.
A stop at Ft. Inge was fairly disrupted by a couple
groups of paint-ballers incessantly shooting their
weapons of peace and quiet destruction, not to mention
leaving unexploded ordinance all over the place.
I heard a zeeting warbler that sounded Black-and-White
to me. Fair numbers of Green Jays, but it was
not a real pleasant visit. A couple male Falcate
Orangetips were nice butterflies to see.
Over at the hatchery it was great to see a few migrant
shorebirds, particularly 4 Pectoral Sandpipers which
are on the early side. A single Long-billed
Dowitcher was nice too. An Osprey flew over,
and a non-native introduced unwanted pest, a single
MUTE SWAN was photographed on one of the ponds.
Besides that foul fowl there were 9 Lesser Scaup,
11 Ring-necked Duck, a couple pairs each of Cinnamon
and Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, Shoveller, a couple
dozen Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, and 1 American
Wigeon. Also 3 single Coots, a couple Greater
Yellowlegs, 35 Least Sandpiper and 1 Spotted Sandpiper.
There were about 30 some Sandhill Crane feeding in the
field across the road that leads to the hatchery.
Again a Harris's Hawk was on the same pole about
8 miles north of Sabinal, probably nesting in the area.
Coming up Seco Ridge almost home we saw our FOS local
Brown-headed Cowbirds, yech, over 300 of the vermin, at the
same exact place EVERY MARCH, gathered before roosting
on the wires around the power pole across the road from
the entrance to "Cherry Ridge", where the orange Paintbrush
blooms later in spring.
March 11 ~ Didn't see a Junco. Multiple male
Black-chinned Hummingbirds are back, fighting of course.
Kathy heard cranes northbound mid-day.  Had a FOS
Northern Cloudywing for sure, which I thought I saw
yesterday but was in flight only. It came into
the laurel at the porch that is dripping lavender,
and sweeter than rose and peas put together. Neat
are those turquoise-green native bees that love it.
One Red Admiral was about the yard. The first
Slender-stem Bitterweed flower opened, beating out the
March 10 ~ In the 30's this a.m., but not freezing
so just fine. The big happening today was that
it was the first day of the year that I saw a double
digit figure (10) species of butterflies in a day.
Two were FOS; a Two-tailed Swallowtail in the yard,
and a Texan Crescent at UP. At UP there were the
first Zygops (Zygoptera - Damselflies) I've seen here
this year, a few teneral (just emerged) bluets, and
a few Fragile Forktail. More surprising were
3 Blue Dasher dragonflies, a bit early I think here.
Some 8 Epitheca Baskettails were patrolling. There
was a Green Kingfisher, Black Phoebe, Blue Jay, and
only 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Bob Wightman and someone else told me they had seen
a few Purple Martin around, just for a few days, so
the first few must have just gotten back in the first
week of March, their latest return in 8 springs I've
been watching it. I didn't see one around town.
A few Barn Swallows are about though.
March 9 ~ A dry front blew in overnight made for a
windy day. Hutton's Vireo singing, migrant
White-eyed Vireo number 2 passed though the yard
talking to itself, I did not see a Junco (!), Kathy
saw Caracara, and at dusk the Cardinal flock was at
least 8 males and 7 females. Then the Poorwill
called, and later a northbound Barn Owl, which have
been near-nightly, I forget to mention them.
March 8 ~ The FOS FEMALE Black-chinned Hummingbird
arrived today. I only saw one Junco, so they
are bailing out. There were a couple Audubon's
Oriole, one singing nicely. There were a
whopping 9 species of butterflies in the yard today,
almost hitting that double digit daily figure that
says spring is here. Best was a FOS Reakirt's
Blue, Henry's Elfin, and Goatweed Leafwing.
The real amazing observation of the day was watching
THREE Scrub-Jays gather sticks TOGETHER !!! This
is mind blowing. Pairs have been very territorial
in my years of observing them, and never never would a
third party be allowed to be present during any any
type of breeding behavior whatsoever. The Florida,
and the Island Scrub-Jays both nest communally with
helpers, but I think it is unknown the Western Scrub-Jay.
Is the habitat saturated? It seems so locally
around our place, but not so in more natural situations
nearby lacking artificial food supply, where territories
seem much larger. A couple XL White-footed Mouse
per week is not a natural food supply, since they would
not have acquired it without man's help. Did I
mention how robust our jays are? Now I have to
stalk them and try to get a picture of three at the nest.
Not sure I have time for that, but sure would be cool.
March 7 ~ Another thing I forgot to mention was the
onset of molt in resident Turkey Vultures, presumedly
males, has begun. March 4 I saw one without
a rectrix, the 5th one was missing an inner primary,
and the 7th one missing inner primaries on both sides.
So, the local nesters that are back on territory
have begun molting the feathers they grew after
nesting last year, before migrating south, and now
having returned. I presume the females need all
their resources to make that egg, so it is only the males
that begin to molt immediately upon return to the nesting
grounds. So actually it is possible to determine
sex of some TV's in flight at a quarter mile during this
A flock of 55 Sandhill Cranes passed over northbound
just before noon. One Black-chinned Hummingbird
about it seems. Still 125 Chipping Sparrows.
A Sapsucker, Yellow-bellied until proven otherwise here,
shot by me like a bullet, at treetop level while I
was on the porch, it went under the wires it was so
low, and was a hundred yards downrange in three seconds.
Taking advantage of these stiff southerlies like the
cranes it seemed.
I've switched to a mostly white millet mix with sunflower
seeds I make myself, so with less of the filler red millet
(or milo) that keeps increasing in percentage in the bags
of mixed seed. The milo is fine if you want doves,
but not for songbirds as it is sold. Now far fewer
White-winged Doves here now, which is fine by my budget.
Maybe the floods last year in the midwest caused the
sunflower seed prices to skyrocket now.
You can get just the white millet in 50 lbs. sacks at the
Texas Feed Store (behind B of A) in Uvalde. If you
are trying to attract say Painted Buntings April to August,
this is what they want, as they too can NOT crack
the red millet/milo, and neither can any of the smaller
birds like Chipping or other sparrows, Juncos, etc..
I've watched Blue Grosbeak and Cardinal struggle and
give up trying to crack milo/red millet, and consider
the size of their beaks.
March 6 ~ A couple Barn Swallows around town were my
FOS, and STILL no Martins though I thought I heard
one at SR yesterday the 5th. Mid-day we took a
couple hour break and went to Lost Maples SNA for
lunch and a listen. We did not hear any
Golden-cheeked Warbler, though it was heat of the
day. Staff said someone had reported one, I think
yesterday. Very cool though was a MOURNING CLOAK
butterfly, quite a scarce beast hereabouts. Some
Horace's Duskywings were flying, an Olive Juniper
Hairstreak, only one ode was seen, a Springtime Darner.
Four Rufous-crowned Sparrows were at the feeding station
at the trailhead parking lot. A neat blue-purple
flower blooming all over a seep that I have to figure out.
March 5 ~ A front blew through pre-dawn and we got
maybe .15" of rain, just enough to wet the ground
and wash the leaves, sort of. But the winds
behind it were 15-25 all day, gusts to 35, so no
sense in going birding. Kathy had an Audubon's
Oriole calling out back. Still no Purple Martin
around to my knowledge, when they get back it will be
their latest return in our 8 springs here, by far.
I stopped at a blooming Agarita for a minute and got
some Henry's Elfin photos. Why is a brown butterfly
so cool? Must be the ephemeral nature of it, with
a 60 day window to see flying adults most years.
March 4 ~ A pair of Audubon's Orioles were about the
yard, one sang a little. The Hutton's Vireo was
singing too, as was Common Ground-Dove. The FOS
migrant White-eyed Vireo was chattering about here too.
Lincoln's Sparrow still hanging on the white millet,
day 3, 10 Pine Siskin, and at least 3 Sharp-shinned
Hawks dove through the place today, an adult male
(multiple attempts), an adult female, and an immature
male. Kathy saw two FOS Black-headed June Beetle.
Another bad name, like those Mayflies down at the park
The big thing today was I finally weed-whacked the place.
Maybe a third acre of ground, all covered in 2-3' high
last years tall brown grass, since I left it standing
for the winter. I could see all the green stuff
coming up, so it had to get down NOW to be able to walk
around the 20-30 species of wildflowers without getting
covered in chiggers from all the tall grass. That's
the other thing, go cut BEFORE the chiggers come back
out. Took three hours to do it all, I can't even
lift binocs with my right arm now, only beer.
March 3 ~ No Hummingbirds all morning, into the late
afternoon when one showed up. Since it was over
24 hours since the "early bird" left, I am reasonably
certain this is bird #2, the second one to show up
this year. Get those feeders cleaned and up!
The Lincoln's Sparrow continues, and there were four
American Goldfinch, still Pine Siskin and Hermit Thrush
about the yard, though it seems the thrushes are moving
out. A FOS butterfly was a Goatweed Leafwing,
and a Duskywing that didn't look Funereal was around.
Slowed to 40 on the way to town on a corner with an
Agarita and an Elfin flushed.
March 2 ~ The Black-chinned Hummingbird male that arrived
record early on Feb. 21 and has been here every day since,
was present in the a.m. and departed early. It was
not present from long before noon and all afternoon, and
the next morning there were no hummers so it surely did
depart, on the 9th day, probably all re-fattened up.
Another migrant of interest was a Lincoln's Sparrow
about the yard. There hasn't been one around so
I know it is a passage bird up here in the junipers
on the dry rocky ridge. A Poorwill called at dusk,
and a Barn Owl at 9 p.m., but the real excitement was
from 8:40 to 8:55 when each 5 minutes I heard a nearby
series of calls of a LONG-EARED OWL! I heard one
over at Thunder Creek in Bandera Co. about 7 years ago,
but this is an accidental bird here. Surely some
winter along the river corridors and water courses at
times, but without access we'll never know. I do
not think there is a Uvalde Co. record, and I didn't
go chasing after it as it would have just flushed away
and the woodlands are too dense for me to have seen it,
so why bother. Instead I got to hear three series
There were two Olive Juniper Hairstreaks in the yard.
A Sharp-shinned Hawk dove through the main open feeding
area, missed, circled back through the trees and stooped
through again, missing again, and then 30 frozen Chipping
Sparrows it flew right over flushed after it was gone.
That streaky brown pattern sure works good.
March 1 ~ WOW March!?!?!? I heard another flock
of Cranes northbound before noon. A Great Horned Owl
was calling at dusk. Olive Juniper Hairstreak in the
yard was overdue, but a surprise was a out of season early
FOS Large Orange Sulphur in such mint condition that I have
to wonder if it was a local emergence.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Feb. 28 ~ A FOS Funereal Duskywing was butterfly species
number 14 for the month of February. Later I saw
another duskywing quickly that looked like Horace's or
Juvenal's, with a gray fringe, but it got away. We'll
just leave the total at 14 for the month. Heard a
Barn Owl after dark, and some Coyote yippin' it up.
A Snout flew through the front yard.
Feb. 27 ~ The Redbud is the first tree to bloom, although
the Cypress gives it a run for the money and may really
be further along on average, but most people don't notice.
The Agarita (Texas Holly) is the first shrub, and again
this year the Dutchman's Breeches were the first wildflower,
of which there are quite a few blooming now in our front yard.
I see the Texas Onion coming up, and the Slender-stem
Bitterweed has flower buds growing fast on it now too.
When spring hits, it hits fast.
We poked around a little bit, and at the 1050 bridge
just south of the park we saw our first local swallow
of the year, a lone CAVE Swallow. No Martins.
At the Bear Creek Pond 4 mi. W. of town there were
11 Gadwall. On the 1050 pass there was singing
Hutton's Vireo and a FOS Olive Juniper Hairstreak (lep).
At Cypress Hollow there was a FOS Dot-winged Baskettail
dragonfly, and at County line crossing bridge there was
a darner that looked like a Springtime (Basiaeschna).
But no damselflies flying yet, somewhat surprisingly.
Very few Eastern Phoebe and Ruby-crowned Kinglet still
since the big freeze. Maybe 50 Waxwings about.
Feb. 26 ~ Down around town we still could not dig up
a Purple Martin. The wintering Black-and-white
Warbler and a Green Kingfisher were at UP. No
Odes flying. A FOS reptile was a couple Anole!
One ran and grabbed my FOS Southern Emerald Moth.
A pretty little green thing (Synchlora frondaria)
that didn't last long. When there is little
out yet, it's risky business being the early emerger.
There were a couple Redbud in bloom in town, and on
the way a number of Texas Holly (Agarita) are starting
to flower. I flushed a couple of Henry's Elfin
off a couple blooms I slowed to inspect, though found
none on the Redbud. Bees were on both. Back
at SR I saw my FOs Asilid (Robber Fly).
The Fox Sparrow is still here, as are at least 6 Junco.
A couple Sharp-shinned Hawks are relentlessly diving
on the Chipping Sparrow flock at the seed we scatter,
which numbers about 125 birds, peaking much lower this
year, which didn't bother me a bit from a seed usage
Barn and Cave Swallows sh/could be back any day, as
the tardy Martins will be, and the first week of March
usually sees the first returning Vermilion Flycatcher.
We should see numbers of adult male Black-chinned
Hummingbirds shortly too, so get the feeders cleaned.
Feb. 25 ~ A dry front passed overnight dropping lows
down into the upper 30's, highs in the 80's, made
for an amazing 50 deg.F diurnal temperature range! WOW!
About 11:30 a.m. a flock of 75 Sandhill Cranes passed
over SR going due North. Kathy heard Turkey
gobbling this morning. It wasn't me. :)
Feb. 24 ~ Black-chin Hummer still here. Sandhill
Crane (20) passed over SR heading NE about noonish.
An Elfin was about, a very cool brown butterfly.
6 Turkey Vulture at once was a veritible flock.
I saw no Martins in town yet, still despite the
3rd day of 80 dF high temps. Lots of green
sprouts down there low in the brown weeds.
Some of the live-oaks are turning yellow and starting
their annual leaf drop and regrowth. This oak wilt
fungus seems to have denuded some locally already, and
it does not bode well for that ecosystem in my opinion.
At Clayton Grade you can see in a year what havoc can be
wreaked by this disease. If your live-oak is
already leafless, unless you've watched the leaves
turn yellow and fall recently, it probably has the
dreaded oak-wilt. My understanding is to burn
remains ASAP to reduce spread of the fungus.
What if it hits Utopia Park's oaks? That drought
didn't help, by weakening the trees for 2 years.
Feb. 23 ~ The Black-chinned Hummingbird continues,
neat to hear the humming, been since August for adult
males. At twilight dusk I got a neat FOS bird,
a POORWILL! They have re-awakened! I believe
they don't leave, and have probably been torpid since
November, great to hear them again! WOW, it's
like spring is coming!
Feb. 22 ~ The adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird
continues, as if he was going to go somewhere and leave
the feeders. Another FOS today was a Shining
Flea Beetle, and quite early I might say. I thought
sure I heard a Purple Martin but couldn't spot it.
They should be back any day, and Cave Swallow soon after.
There was a Pine Warbler about today, probably a spring
migrant heading back east.
Feb. 21 ~ Like clockwork a week after the first
bill-clacking the Roadrunner is cackling and cooing.
The cackling ka-ka-ka-ka-ka sounds kind of like a
Cooper's Hawk, the cooing song sounds like a whimpering
dog, revealing its cuckoo family affinities.
A record early FOS adult male Black-chinned Hummingbird
showed up today! The earliest the last 7 prior
springs was Feb. 22, next earliest Feb. 28, rest of
FOS each year were in March. I can't believe I'm
going to have to go on hummer feeder detail again already.
The Merlin flew by near sundown this evening, same as
yesterday's. A DAMSELFLY flew over in the p.m.,
the first Zygop of the year looked like an Argia.
Must have made it through the freeze in the pond.
A dozen plus Common Ravens were overhead at once.
The FOS Cucumber Beetle flew by me on the porch,
and a FOS for me locally male Black Swallowtail was
about much of the day. Again a Lycaenid got by
me like yesterday, I think it was a Gray Hairstreak.
A half dozen Dogface were about, some Pipevine
Swallowtail and Sleepy Orange.
Feb. 20 ~ A quick look at the park turned up the
ad. fem. Black-and-white Warbler, three Golden-
crowned Kinglet (spring migrants probably), and the
FOS ode, a dragonfly, which I didn't ID, but it looked
like a Springtime Darner. There were no damsels
flying yet, but the mayflies were going strong.
Brown Creeper continues at the park too. Best
was a FOS Henry's Elfin butterfly, a real sign of
spring. I ran into a local that said yesterday
they saw a Zone-tailed Hawk over by Little Creek.
Probably an early returnee, they don't winter here.
An American Lady (lep) was here at the house, and
scattered about there were 5 Dogface flying today,
a few Pipevine Swallowtail, Sleepy Orange, one Variegated
Fritillary, and a quick look at what was likely a
Question Mark. Empi MIA. At SR just before
sundown a Merlin sat in a snag a hundred yards away for
scope viewing of the head-bobber from the porch.
It really looks like peak of winter out there, a
hundred shades of brown, most of the trees finally bare.
Still lots of the Buckley (Spanish) Oak have brown
leaves they haven't lost (20-25%), despite a few 50+ MPH
wind events. But other than that, its all sticks
except the junipers. This is as brown as it gets.
I see lots of green starting to poke through the ground.
And the forecast is for the last week of Feb. to continue
with the warm spring conditions. The last freeze on
average is between March 10-31 so we'll get some more cold,
hopefully nothing long term.
Feb. 19 ~ Uvalde trip for supplies so we went to
Ft. Inge and ended up distracted and not going any-
where else. This was due to the discovery of a
RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN. I think there are 20 or
less state records (11 accepted as of 2004), and it
is surely a new county record. We got stellar
views on bare branches for a few minutes before it
disappeared upon arrival of a Sharp-shinned Hawk to
where it was.
Here's the sketch of the Rufous-backed Robin that I
submitted with my description to the Texas Bird
We also had 16-18 Green Jay there, most seemingly paired
up already. In a minute with hardly a step we saw
Ringed, Belted, and Green Kingfisher, at the dam, and the
regulars like Great Kiskadee, Long-billed Thrasher
and Olive Sparrow were about, the latter two singing.
One FOS Rough-winged Swallow flew over calling, and
the other good bird there was a White-throated Sparrow.
A striking difference on the drive down and back from
three weeks ago was in the numbers of Shrike (saw 3,
down from 30), and Red-tailed Hawk (less than 10, down
from 30), probably indicating mass northbound departure
has taken place already.
Also interesting was a flock of Turkey Vulture (>6) at
Ft. Inge, and on the way back up the hill a couple were
just off the escarpment, but we hadn't had one yet this
year up in the hills where they don't winter at Utopia,
until we turned onto the Co. road for home, and there it
was, our FOS local Turkey Vulture pointing the way.
It was too cool still most of the time we were at Ft. Inge
but we did see a fresh female Black Swallowtail (FOS) and
later in a parking lot in Uvalde a male landed on the
blue handicapped logo painted on the asphalt pavement.
We also saw a Reakirt's Blue (FOS) at Ft. Inge.
In the morning on the way out of Utopia we saw the biggest
flock of Cedar Waxwings we've seen all winter, 200+ birds.
FOS Barn Owl called about 10 p.m., probably a migrant.
Feb. 18 ~ Audubon's Oriole was around in the drizzle
fogmist, as were 13 Cedar Waxwing, the Fox Sparrow,
and new was the first Golden-crowned Kinglet in the
yard since before the major freeze Feb 1-5, and I'd
guess a spring migrant as they head north early.
Two FOS flies were out back too, but I couldn't get
a good enough look for ID.
What I did see again was the purple iridescence on the
wing coverts of a male Common Ground-Dove. These
usually appear as black dots. Maybe the feathers are
fresh, so less worn, so it shows better or more easily
in spring, breeding season when being impressive to
potential mates counts.
Feb. 17 ~ The FOX Sparrow is still sneaking around
the brush piles trying not to be seen. Most
amazing was seeing TWO FOS just emerged Pipevine
Swallowtail today, one drying wings just off the
back porch. Took 5 consecutive days in the
70's to get them to pop.
Feb. 16 ~ 4th day in the 70's for high's seems like
spring, but don't be fooled, I'd be astounded if we
don't get some more bone-chilling cold. The
Hutton's Vireo was singing. A half-dozen
Slate-colored Junco continue, 3 nice adult males,
and one Oregon Junco continues as well.
Feb. 15 ~ Finally the 10th species of butterfly for
the year, a Checkered-Skipper (Common/White) was
fresh and crisp.
Feb. 14 ~ Roadrunner bill-clacking is a sure sign of
spring if I ever heard one. There will be their
whimpering dog cooing song in a week or so.
Feb. 13 ~ Low in the 20's felt warm, as did the high,
as it shot up to the 70's! I heard northbound
Sandhill Cranes, spring migrants leaving the winter
grounds to the south already. A Cooper's Hawk
was calling on the knoll, hope it doesn't nest that
There was a FOS Leaf-footed Bug, (cf. Leptoglossus or
something similar) on a juniper today, and a fresh male
Dogface butterfly was nice to see. A Variegated
Fritillary and a couple Sleepy Orange continue as well.
Feb. 12 ~ Upper teens here again this a.m., fourth
low in the teens a row. I checked the park for a
bit and was happy to see the Black-and-white Warbler
made it through the two weeks of ice box. It was
uncharacteristically flycatching like a gnatcatcher or
kinglet, incessantly. It was 3-6' above the ground
in the mayfly clouds, the only food around. The
60 degree heat was enough for what was probably a
life-saving emergence for many birds along the river,
with even Cardinal, Song Sparrow, and nearly hilariously
Carolina Wren, flycatching.
The overly rotund wren must maintain forward progress
to stay airborne, eliminating slow speed maneuvers as
an option. So repeated straight line bomber runs
back and forth through the clouds seemed to work despite
the energy expenditure. The mayflies are out over
the water, and its 10' to the other side and bushes to
land in, turn around and repeat approach.
At one point the Black-and-white Warbler worked closer and
closer to me, motionless in my medium tawny pants and green
shirt, when after it caught it a mayfly and turned back to
land, it flew right at me. As it spread its wings and
tail to land on me, perhaps 18" from my waist, it looked up
and saw the big 'ol ugly head on this tree, and did a 180,
landing in a nearby bush, it looked back in disbelief at what
it almost did, as I looked at it in disbelief for what it
There were 3 Ruby- and 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet, down
10 less Kinglets than pre- major freeze event. The
other bird that seems to be way down around town since the
freeze is Eastern Phoebe. I lost the one around our
place on SR, and there are a lot fewer around town. It
is the insect eaters that take it hardest when we have a
3 day freeze event, and two of them in consecutive weeks
was likely just too much for some.
I did see two Pied-billed Grebes there, so one is MIA.
There were three Yellow-shafted Flickers in one tree,
which came down to the big Cypress roots that go into
the river and used them to get to the water for a drink.
They all looked pretty good and genetically clean to me
(hence my usage of -shafted, not -winged).
Feb. 11 ~ Same as yesterday, but no winds finally.
Low was 18 on SR, 13 in JCT, 16 in KVL, and I heard
someone say they got a 12 dF just outside Utopia.
Enough with the Arctic fronts, two weeks in a row,
7 mornings in the teens out of the last 10!
The amazing sighting of the day was spring migrants.
Yup, northbound spring migrants. Dead on due N.,
noonish, 30 Sandhill Crane were thermalling and a
couple called so I'd notice. January 16 I had
a flock of 48 going south right after a strong arctic
blast/front. So 26 days ago some were still going
south, and today, they are moving north. WOW!
Just a note before it happens, within the next 7 days
we will almost surely see the first of a couple types
of butterflies that typically emerge in the first half
of February and haven't popped yet, Henry's Elfin
(should be Henric's) and Olive Juniper Hairstreak
both of which can occur the first week of February.
Falcate Orange-tip will be soon to follow. The Elfin
and Orange-tip are spring only fliers, so you get about
60-90 days to see them, if you are lucky, each year.
We're forecast for a spring-like third week of February,
but know there will be more fronts with freezes in March.
Feb. 10 ~ The winds slowed down finally about midnight,
but still blowing well, and our morning low was about
18dF up on SR, surely colder down in town a few degrees.
It was 13dF in Junction (JCT), and 16dF in Kerrville (KVL).
Feb. 9 ~ Pre-dawn we were hit by another Arctic cold
front, by sunup it was below freezing with chill factors
in the single digits in 30-40 MPH winds, some gusts were
50 mph plus. Warmed to a toasty 34 or so. There
were 10 Cedar Waxwings eating Juniper berries outside,
and all 3 Orange-crowned Warblers were fighting over the
peanut butter in the icy cold.
The weird thing today was a sparrow that looked like
a Field mostly but with a nice black trans-ocular line
just like a Chipping Sparrow. The typical white
eye-ring of Field was present, tail was long like Field,
as was most of the overall appearance. The bill
was small and dark dorsally, colored and shaped like a
Chippy, not Field. I suspect the bird is a hybrid
Field x Chipping Sparrow. I hadn't seen it before
and was 6-7 feet from it for over a minute while it came
into a water feature to drink.
Feb. 8 ~ Just at sunup there was a northbound Red-
winged Flicker that could be a spring migrant.
There are so many hybrids here that in flight you
just can't declare it "shafted" as if it has been
checked for purity unless you see nape crescent, whisker,
crown and face color. There were 5 Common Raven
together in flight just after sunup, leaving a roost
somewhere nearby. There were 4 Robin in town,
and the high was in the 60's.
Feb. 7 ~ Wow TWO Robin here at SR! A real invasion,
they've doubled in number. 3 Audubon's Oriole at
once, a Flicker, and a dozen plus Hermit Thrush in yard.
High was only about 50, a dry cool front passed overnight.
Feb. 6 ~ Froze again but in the 20's so not as bad as the
last few days and it got up to the low 70's in the afternoon.
Roughly a 50 degree temperature difference! A
whopping one each Robin and Waxwing flew over SR early in
the a.m.. The single Lark Sparrow was still here.
Down at UP I continue to not see Pied-billed Grebes, and
more amazing is the lack of Kinglets. We saw 2 Ruby-
crowned. Before the week of the ice box last week,
I had over a dozen in short order.
Feb. 5 ~ K'vl was 16 and Uvalde 19 so we were probably at
that 17 degree mark for a low for the FOURTH consecutive
day! The only time I was this cold the first week of
February, we were living in Massachusetts!
Feb. 4 ~ Another 17 deg.F morning, #3 in a row! We've
been 72 hours without seeing the high side of freezing!
There was a little powdery snow still in a few places this
a.m.. Audubon's Oriole is singing like its nice out, as
is Cardinal. We broke freezing for the first time in
72 hours (3 days) around noon. I talked with Morris
in town and he said he's heard reports of low temps
during this event at 14-18 deg.F, and that it was the
longest duration sub-freezing event in a couple decades.
At UP I saw the White-eyed Vireo, a Green Kingfisher, Brown
Creeper, Song Sparrow, an AHY male Myrtle starting pre-
alternate molt, but no mayflies were out, probably for
the fourth day. It is key passerine sustenence here
in the cold, and these long-duration sub-freezing events
preclude them coming out. I heard one Ruby-crowned
Kinglet. Pre-freeze there were a bunch.
One Robin up here on SR.
One more night in the teens ahead for this brutal polar
cold event. We got a good 6 hours above freezing, so
by time we break it tomorrow that will be it out of 96 hours!
A four day freeze, darn near. I did see the thermometer
nearly touch 40 degrees for an hour today.
Feb. 3 ~ Probably another 17 or 18 deg.F morning here
on SR, was 16 in K'vl and JCT, 22 in HDO. As of
this a.m. we're at 48 hours without being above freezing.
The darn wind hasn't stopped, though it has slowed, and
the chill factors are running single digits for two days!
The Red Fox Sparrow was sneaking around out there again.
Surprising was hearing the first of year full long song
of Audubon's Oriole while below 20 dF, and hearing
another counter-singing response, while a silent sub-adult
was in sight, so at least 3 are about, probably 4 as
the counter-singer is surely with another bird too.
A Spotted Towhee was the first I've seen in over a month
The best thing was being able to see with binocs through
the window, the purple on the coverts of a male Common
Ground-Dove. The dots usually look black, but if you get
them at the right light and angle, they can iridesce ultra-
violet electric purple haze, and it is awesome, man.
I guarantee it would be worth it no matter how long it took,
for you to follow them around until you see it. Besides
what you might learn on the journey. :) I guess
I should warn you, I looked at them for years without knowing
about or seeing it. I wonder, can they see it all the time?
We keep pouring water on the bird baths, swapping the
hummer (oriole) feeder with warm unfrozen ones, Kathy
made some bird bread, and I'll throw out pounds of mixed
and sunflower seed. Now if we can just keep the two
There were some snow flurries, dusty powder, not flakes,
much of the evening and over night but no accumulation.
Feb. 2 ~ Geez the teens are a bit on the chilly side?
Two bird baths and a pond were frozen over, the hose
with the drip frozen solid. I think we were about
17 up here on Seco Ridge, I presume circa 15 in town?
It was 14 in Jct. and 16 in K'vl. Lovely to wake
up to rolling blackouts because there isn't enough
electricity in Texas for us already, just like water.
While I try not to be political here whatsoever, the
San Antonio plan to tap into the Uvalde Water Pool
is a BAD BAD BAD one for future Uvalde County water
needs. Today there is not enough electricity,
tomorrow it will be water. Don't let them touch
it. You can tell when a plan is likely to be
an environmental nightmare by when the first thing
the profiteers/developers say is "there will be no
adverse environmental effects", like these sharks do on
the homepage for the proponents of this land/water grab.
Taken right out of the BP playbook "we forsee no negative
environmental effects." In their crystal ball they can
tell us climatologically what will happen with rainfall here the
next decade or three? I have determined with years
of research that when people talk down to you like you
are an idiot, they are idiots. I hope Uvalde doesn't
buy into their hogwash prarie pastry buffalo biscuits.
Off my soapbox for a paragraph at least, I promise.
I had to keep switching hummingbird feeders out as they
froze up, replacing it, bringing it in to warm and
switch every couple hours so the Audubon's Orioles
and Orange-crowned Warblers could drink. Doubled
rations today as it never did get above freezing.
Had to keep pouring water on the baths so they could
drink, in an hour it would be frozen up again. And
tonight is the cold night!?!
I saw the Oregon Junco again amongst a half-dozen
Slate-coloreds, of which I like the jet black males
better than the medium paler gray ones. Best was
a RED FOX SPARROW, probably a western (darker gray base
color) type, as in zaboria. I might say it was a
western eastern Fox Sparrow but that would be confusing.
The condensation on the inside of the outer windows is ice.
February 1 ~ WOW February already!?! Well it came in
like a lion at about 2 a.m. with 55 MPH winds on the
leading edge of the frontal boundry and a third of
an inch of rain. The high temp was just after
midnight, and it dropped all day, not to mention the
20-30+ MPH winds that didn't slow down all day.
Freezing chill factors all day, and it was in the
20's with single digit chills just after dark.
Sometimes the windows defogged enough to see out.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
January totalled 9 species of butterflies, perhaps
14 or 15 individuals. Remarkable though when
considering how cold it has been, with more than a
dozen mornings in the low or mid 20's. While down
in the nearly freeze-free lower Rio Grande Valley
a couple hundred miles south and mostly 1000'+ lower in
elevation, I saw they were at something like 65 or 75
species for January!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
January 31 ~ The warm before the storm, it got to
80 deg.F today! The Lark Sparrow was still around,
and mccallii Screech-Owl was calling after dark, but
the most amazing thing was at 10 p.m. hearing a
LONG-BILLED CURLEW fly over! Incredible.
Must have been on the recently plowed fields in the
valley. 3 Lesser Goldfinch were on the sunflower
tube, ASY and AHY males (definitive adult and a first
year) and a female.
Jan. 30 ~ Got 80 dF today, southerly flow ahead of
an approaching low, you know the drill. There
were 75 White-winged Dove in the flock, as they were
flushed by a Cooper's Hawk and I got a good count
in the air. Eight Inca and a couple Common
Ground-Dove were calling. Others were the
Hutton's Vireo, Audubon's Oriole, the ad. male
Lesser Goldfinch was singing a little, a few American
Goldfinch, 10 Pine Siskin.
For butterflies there was the worn Sleepy Orange,
the Snout I saw Friday two days ago, and a new female
Dogface I hadn't see around yet came into watered
caliche to imbibe. I'd seen a male Dogface
early in the month. There was a Syrphid -
those yellow and black nectar loving flies, and
a couple small spiders.
I got ID'able pictures from Morris Killough he took
of a FERRUGINOUS HAWK on the ground, near the ball
diamond (in Bandera Co.) today.   He watched it fly
south into Uvalde Co. and over SR. Thanks Morris
and congrats on a great find here! I've seen a couple
migrants pass over at 1000' altitude in over 7 years of
looking now, and have yet to see one on the ground here.
It is the biggest North American Hawk (much larger than a
Red-tailed) with feathered legs like eagles, and if I may
say a regal beauty (Buteo regalis) it is, mostly snow white
below with lots of rusty (rufous), or, ferruginous, above.
Jan. 29 ~ Uvalde run and mostly the expected cast
on the way and back. At least 30 Red-tailed
Hawk, 30 Loggerhead Shrike, 40 Kestrel, were good
numbers. Amongst the Red-tails was the rufous
(western) morph north of Sabinal, and also again
the whitish Krider's looking type SE of Knippa.
A couple Harris's Hawks were along the way as well.
Unfortunately Uvalde County can't spend all its money
and butchered the tremendous habitat that formerly
lined UvCo 308 that connects Hwy. 90 and Old Sabinal Rd..
This mile dirt road with about a 10 car/day traffic count
was lined with 50 year-old plus trees, now stumps.
It was loaded with wildlife and for years Kathy and I
enjoyed birding along this slice of south Texas
brush country. Now it looks like a moonscape.
A waste of taxpayer money for no good reason. The
wildlife value of hedgerows as windbreaks and habitat
providers cannot be over-estimated and is clearly not
understood here. There was a bewildered looking
Green Jay and Olive Sparrow looking through the ruins
of their former habitat.
We saw 3 Merlins for the day, a black one at the fish
hatchery could have been a Pacific NW suckleyi type.
Near Knippa was a beautiful light bluegray and red male
Prairie (Richardson's) type. Since the cannons
at the hatchery were not firing there were more ducks,
like 28 Pintail which was nice, 5 Lesser Scaup, 14 Ring-
necked Duck, a few Gadwall, Shoveler, and Wigeon. Then
1 Neotropic Cormorant, Black Phoebe, 5 Least Sandpiper,
2 Greater Yellowlegs, a couple Wilson's Snipe, some
Myrtle and Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat,
Vesper and Savannah Sparrow, a Turkey Vulture. Some
Sandhill Cranes were going down in the field across the
road to the south.
At Cook's Slough another Turkey Vulture, 20 Double-
crested Cormorant, a couple each Great Blue Heron and
Great Egret, 25 or so each of Lesser Scaup and Ring-
necked Duck, some Shoveler, Pintail, Gadwall and Wigeon.
The regular wintering passerine flock with White-eyed Vireo,
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Pine Warbler, Myrtle and Orange-
crowned Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ruby-crnd Kinglet.
Finally got some decent audio tape of Green Jays of
which we saw about 6 at least, had Great Kiskadee too.
Driskill Feedlot NW of Sabinal had 350-400 Black-bellied
Whistling Ducks. And I thought having 75 White-winged
Dove and 125 Chipping Sparrows was a lot to feed!
Jan. 28 ~ Just after sunup two raptors flew off the knoll
and started to have a bug scuffle so I grabbed my binocs
as one looked like a Cooper's Hawk and the other I wasn't
sure of. PEREGRINE FALCON !! It showed the
Coop who could really fly, made a disparaging remark about
rounded wingtips, and headed north up the valley while the
Coop headed west.
The other excitement was a SAGE Thrasher out back just 40'
up the hill scratching away in the litter! It's the
first one I've seen around the area this winter. The
Golden-fronted Woodpecker was still around today.
Jan. 27 ~ Yesterday's Lark Sparrow and Yellow-shafted
Flicker were both still about. Fortunately I had to
run to town, so got a quick lookabout. At UP there
was a male Green Kingfisher, Barred Owl, Black Phoebe,
Blue Jay, Black & White Warbler, Pine Warbler, an adult
White-eyed Vireo (first in a month plus), a dozen Ruby-
crowned and 3 Golden-crowned Kinglets, a few Myrtle Warbler,
singing Eastern Bluebirds (what a great sound that is)
and a Mayfly (what a bad name!) feast they were all enjoying.
Jan. 26 ~ A group of 6+ Amercian Goldfinch joined the
couple Lesser Goldfinch, 8 Pine Siskin, and 2 dozen House
Finch for sunflowers today. Interesting was the first
Lark Sparrow I've seen in over a month - since before the
bird count about mid-December. Also a Yellow-shafted
Flicker was in a snag out front, and the same Buckeye
butterfly seen Jan. 2 & 17 was still flying around.
Sure is nice to hear some bird song every day now, with
Carolina and Bewick's Wren, Cardinal, Black-crested Titmouse,
Carolina Chickadee and Rufous-crowned Sparrow all going.
Helps on these mornings with lows in the 20's like today.
Jan. 25 ~ Over 20 House Finch, couple Audubon's Oriole,
Hutton's Vireo, Cooper's Hawk, for birds in the yard,
and for butterflies one each continuing Red Admiral and
Variegated Fritillary. I thought sure I heard a
single Chorus Frog (how can one be a chorus frog?),
which should be 'waking back up' any time now.
Jan. 24 ~ Butterfly species #8 for the month, a small
fresh Gulf Fritillary was out front. Titmouse is
singing a fair bit now.
Jan. 23 ~ working the winter away at the computer,
so not getting out and about a whole lot. It
could be I am getting sissified in my old age and
going out in the cold is less and less appealing.
When we lived in say Jersey or Massachusetts and it
was freezing, you could go out and see Snow Buntings,
Snowy Owls, a whole great set of birds came with the
cold. But here, we just get the cold. :)
Jan. 22 ~ For something completely different, I went
out UvCo 354 all the way to Medina County where the
Seco Creek Crossings are to the north. There
was a Great Blue Heron out there at the first one.
Some great looking Ode habitat I'll have to check
in season. On the way out on 354 there was
a flock of Pyrrhuloxia, they really are all over
the valley this winter. Also the compulsory
flocks of Chipping and Field Sparrows, some Fuertes'
Red-tailed Hawks (4), a Roadrunner, and at the tank
about 4.5 miles east of 187 a few ducks were nice:
a female Shoveler, 2 male Gadwall, and 3 male American
Wigeon were good for up here in the hills.
Jan. 21 ~ Well when the wind stops you know what
happens next, it gets cold. The lows this a.m.
were 17 in JCT, 21 in KVL, and 24 in HDO. It
was probably about 22 or 23 down in town, and about 25
up here on SR. Brrrrr. Butterfly species
number 7 for January appeared, a Variegated Fritillary.
It was small and fresh appearing to be a new emergence.
Jan. 20 ~ Another cold front hitting in the a.m. with
strong winds and the high temp of the day at 8 a.m..
I hate when that happens. A couple each of
Audubon's Oriole and Lesser Goldfinch were around.
A couple pairs of Black Vulture were in pair-bond
(love) flight, seemingly quite enjoying the 25 MPH winds.
Jan. 19 ~ Looks like the hill is on fire, but it is
yellow "cedar"pollen (juniper), thick as smoke
with each stiff gust of wind. The fire department
will be getting those annual calls soon, and be chasing
pollen. A high flying and flapping even with a
stiff south tailwind Northern Harrier passed over due
northbound today that looked very like a migrant based
Jan. 18 ~ At 70 dF just after noon a fresh Little Yellow
butterfly (species #6 for the month) was about, as was an
old worn Sleepy Orange. A local (low) female Northern
Harrier passed over SR. There are now clouds of
cedar pollen when the wind blows, the junipers are entering
full bore production period.
Jan. 17 ~ fog/drizzle/mist in a.m. and at least two dozen
House Finches at the sunflower tubes. Two Audubon's
Orioles. Two of the 100 plus Chipping Sparrows have
full alternate plumaged crowns of bright rufous. It
got nearly 65 deg. F in the 3 p.m. heat of the day and the
Buckeye (butterfly) came out to sun and puddle again.
Jan 16 ~ more drizzle, high in 50's, finally a little
warmer. The only thing different and very interesting
at that was a southbound flock of 48 Sandhill Crane at 5:40
p.m. just aheard of sundown. Apparently that last
arctic front convinced another group they should get further
south still. It is the latest in the season I have
seen a southbound flock, which makes me wonder if were not
in for a bunch more real serious cold.
Jan. 15 ~ more drizzle and light showers all day, so
more work at the computer. Warmed to 50 dF finally.
Jan. 14 ~ drizzle and arctic cold still, supposed to
rain this weekend. Some green leaves are starting
to break through the hundred shades of brown that
constitutes the earthscape outside now. If you
look between all the fallen over tall grass, there are
some new leaves and growth present on some plants.
Jan. 13 ~ Temp range from low 30's to 40, and very damp.
Jan. 12 ~ An arctic air mass has settled in with lows
in the 20's, and highs in the 30's! BRRRRRR!
Watching the peanut feeder and the peanut butter we
put out when its icy like this, I found out there
are THREE Orange-crowned Warbler here! Considering
there is only one in the park and a couple in town, which
is WAYYYYY WAYYY better habitat than this rocky juniper
covered ridge I find it astounding there are 3 here.
There was also a good clean Oregon Junco, and a couple
Sharp-shinned Hawks diving on everything all day.
Jan. 11 ~ Or 1-11-11, don't get many of those in a
lifetime. The single Robin was still about, two
Audubon's Oriole, and the Cardinal flock is at least
14, 7 are males. The Chipping Sparrow flock is
now a hundred birds.
Jan. 10 ~ Saw probably the same 30 Waxwings from town
yesterday, here at SR today. Golden-crowned Kinglet
and Hutton's Vireo were about the yard too.
Jan. 9 ~ Rain and thunder overnight (pre-dawn) totalling
about 3/4" of badly needed precip. Titmouse, Cardinal,
Chickadee and Bewick's Wren all sang today. Twenty
days since the solstice and the beginning of the increase
in photoperiod and bam! testosterone and birdsong!
Ya gotta love that! There were a couple Sharp-shinned
Hawks patrolling town so no land birds were apparent, save
a bolting flock of 30 Cedar Waxwing. The major invasion
of one Robin continues here at SR.
Three male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies were around, one
at UP and two at the golf course pond.
Jan. 8 ~ We did a Uvalde run for supplies and the best
bird was right here as we were leaving, at the Waresville
turn, at the edge of the little pond there, a beautiful
male Mallard. Haven't seen one in the area in a
couple years, a great bird locally. Nothing new or
different down Uvalde way as the wind picked up just
as we got there making it tough going. We had very
close looks at the yellow central crown feathers on a
couple Great Kiskadee at Ft. Inge, and saw a Neotropic
Cormorant at Cook's Slough. Kathy saw a damselfly
at the fish hatchery, and just south of 7 mile bridge here
near town, there was a roadkill Javelina. Just
north of Sabinal a bit was a rufous (western) morph
Red-tailed Hawk. Lots of Caracara along the way.
CEDAR POLLEN is falling, I saw my first cloud of the year.
Seems early doesn't it?
Jan 7 ~ Today I saw two more species I missed count
week: Northern Harrier, and Sharp-shinned Hawk, both
from the porch mid-day. 16 Cedar Waxwings flew
over, the Hutton's Vireo was about, 2 Red-shouldered
Hawks were calling (probably display flight), and I
saw the Buckeye (butterfly) again today.
Jan. 6 ~ The Bewick's Wren sang twice today, first time
in months, a mere two weeks after the days started to
get longer. A White-winged Dove a full song today,
but only a half-hearted effort, not the real booming you
get later in spring.
It is always interesting after count week to see which
species you see first that you missed during the count
period. Today I noted TWO species I missed last week,
first 3 Common Ground-Dove were at the bath and even
calling, begging the question, why couldn't they do that
last week? The other species I missed last week was
a mccallii Screech-Owl calling in the yard just after dark.
Jan. 5 ~ The Variegated Meadowhawk (dragonfly) that has
been hanging around the yard was about today, darn things
must be full of anitfreeze. The Roadrunner was
hunting Chipping Sparrows again, and the Audubon's Oriole
bathed. After dark the pair of Great Horned Owls were
duetting. A White-winged Dove gave a burst of three
half-hearted "for you, for you, for you" calls,
the last half of the song.
Jan. 4 ~ Last day of count week and twice I heard all
the birds in the yard flush and give "accipiter" alarm
notes but I never saw anything, but either the Sharpy or
Cooper's Hawk was here, and I missed it. So we
totalled 70 species on count day and 5 more count week,
for a 75 count week total, not bad for hereabouts.
There were some Black Vulture in mating display or pair
bond flight.... ahhhh spring is in the air, it just seems
Jan. 3 ~ I stopped at Judy Schaeffer's again while in
town today to tell them about the Audubon's Oriole I
saw a block from their place on Saturday. Though
I missed Judy, I got to talk with Mr. Schaffer.
I heard a Selasphorus Hummingbird they have there,
probably a Rufous, and a Pine Warbler was in the yard.
Both are good "count week" birds.
January 2 ~ Mostly a recovery day after yesterday's
marathon, but I did run out for a quick look for a
bird I missed yesterday that I wanted to see for
"count week" and found it easily, unlike yesterday.
Many things like Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawk that
seem to dive on the birds every day here at the house,
always disappear during "count week" too.
The most interesting thing was two fresh mint so probably
just emerged butterflies: an American Lady, and a Buckeye!
Has to be my first January Buckeye record here. These
are false emergences due to some semi-warm days, that won't
likely find food or mate before they expire so genetic
dead ends, and I saw the Sleepy Orange Kathy saw yesterday.
January 1 ~ Well here we go again! Another year
started with birding, and another bird count here in
the Utopia area. The EIGHTH year of a local census
the first week of January (!), and of course a study like
this only gets more interesting of data with each year.
Kathy had too much work to do, as I, however my birding
skills kicked in, and I was able to ignore my chores and
get the survey done, though alone. Yes, 'twas a
dirty thankless job, but someone had to do it. :)
You can't tell what weather is going to be in a week,
so if it is half decent, do it, and try to do it as
close to the same day, at least in the same week, each
year to make data more comparable. It was about
35 deg.F in town in the a.m., and warmed to low 60's
in p.m., but was often 10-15 mph so a bit too breezy
for the best birding at times.
I blew off the Lost Maples part again for the second
year and just did all the local county roads I could,
besides around town, the park, the river crossings,
and our feeding station here on Seco Ridge. I saw
70 species locally today, which is pretty fair I think.
I could see 80 as possible if you got lucky with everything.
Best birds were a Bandera County Olive Sparrow near
Cypress Hollow, a Long-billed Thrasher near there as
well, the Black-and-white Warbler for its 3rd year at
Utopia Park, finally a Barred Owl on the count, and a
Blue-headed Vireo was new too, as was a Winter Wren.
Downy Woodpecker was only the second time on the count,
Brown Creeper was good, a couple Canyon Towhee were out
Thunder Creek way, and a sub-adult Audubon's Oriole was
eating hackberries in town.
The last bird I added for the day, after dark at 7:15 p.m.,
#70, was a calling flock of Sandhill Crane heading south!
What number do I put down, as I couldn't see them? I
heard several, but every flock is 10-20 if not 30-40 birds.
Several things were way down, like ONE Robin was all
I saw, and ONE Savannah Sparrow (avg. 27 or so), NO Lark
Sparrow, and the misses or low numbers are as interesting
as high numbers, invasions, or rarity finds. I
tallied over 1200 birds total for the day! See the
Winter Bird Count page for full results.
I saw one Red Admiral and one Dogface at the park, and
Kathy saw the Sleepy Orange at the hovel on SR, so a
blazing 3 species of butterflies on day one of the new year.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2010 note ~ I counted up my Uvalde County year list for
the fun of it. Unlike many, I do not chase after a
known birds (stakeouts) for my list. I only see
what I find myself while bumbling about trying to avoid
trees, cactus and chiggers. I did good on the trees
and cactus but found way too many chiggers on the way to
seeing 259 species of birds in Uvalde County in 2010.
Probably a county year list record, but no effort to
that end was made, just an incidental bycatch total
of what was recorded. Butterflies and Dragonflies
in the Utopia area remain weak beyond imagination since
the exceptional 07-09 drought. We need rain badly
still. My Uvalde County bird list (7 years plus)
is now about 333 species.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bird News Archive XV|
January 1 2011 - June 30, 2011
Bird News Archive XIV|
July 1 - December 31, 2010
Bird News Archive XIII|
January 1 - June 30, 2010
Bird News Archive XII|
June 1 - Dec. 31, 2009
Bird News Archive XI|
January 1 - May 31, 2009
Bird News Archive X|
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2008
Bird News Archive IX|
Jan. 1- June 30, '08
Bird News Archive VIII|
July - Dec. 31, '07
Bird News Archive VII|
Jan. 1 - June 30, '07
Bird News Archive VI|
July - Dec. 31, '06
Bird News Archive V|
Jan. - June 30, '06
Bird News Archive IV|
July - Dec. 31, '05
Bird News Archive III|
Jan. - June 30, '05
Bird News Archive II|
June - Dec. 31, '04
Bird News Archive I|
and Mar. 31-May 30,'04
Current Bird News
Reports from Lost Maples
Winter Bird Count
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