Current Bird (and nature) News
Rufous-capped Warbler

Rufous-capped Warbler - Basileuterus rufifrons jouyi
at Neal's Lodge, Concan TX, March '06

MOST RECENT UPDATE: January 14, 2022
(prior updates: January 7, December 31, 24, 17, 10, 3, November 26, 19, 12, 5)

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FOS - first of season - for the first one back.

First a short version of highlights of the month as we go.

Happy New Year! Well finally on the 7th a bird to report: one Pine Warbler in town. We froze 6 mornings straight from Jan. 2-7. So a chilly bit of a run, kinda like winter. The annual summary for 2021 has been added below the first weeks photo break now. A Harris's Hawk lazily soared low over our place Jan. 13th. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was calling just across and upriver of the park on Jan. 14. The Cedar (Juniper) pollen season is now open.

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

~ ~ ~

splish splash I was takin' a bath!

male Golden-cheeked Warbler

This page has the current bird and nature news from the area around Utopia, the Sabinal River Valley (SRV), and occasionally elsewhere in the area, such as Uvalde, Concan, Lost Maples, etc. Often unusual sightings will be in CAPS. There will also be occasional mention of butterfly (lep) or dragonfly (ode) sightings when they are out and about. Or anything natural history of interest, bats to beetles.

In general for current Lost Maples sightings ebird seems to be the place most folks put them. Go to ebird and search Lost Maples SNA in Bandera Co., Texas. Same for Garner St. Pk. but which is in Uvalde County. Often reports there do not include specifics about where a bird was seen though. There is a Lost Maples reports page here on the site, but which is not often real useful for the latest current news. I post my walk notes there often. But we have not been going there as much the last two years.

Pro Tip: Ignore the ebird Chihuahuan Raven reports at Lost Maples, they are mis-ID'd Common Ravens which are common residents. You would think with so many reports, ONE could be proven. Guess again.

A quick note about Utopia Park. There have been some changes in management and rules. It is now $10 per person per day to enter No charge for Utopia or Vanderpool residents. Been gently suggesting we need a one hour or two hour birder rate. They are receptive to the idea but no action yet on it. They said if you parked outside the gate and walked in only without using tables, swimming, and just birded they would not charge.

You may want to scroll down to the date of the last update you read, and scroll or read UP day-to-day to read in chronological sequence, some references might make more sense that way. For repeat offenders there is a link just below to jump straight to newest update. There is a broken line of tildes (~) to denote prior update breaks, usually with a photo to make it easy to spot. Sometimes the 'quick take' highlights header above is archived within body of news as well since it changes. Seperated by tildes as well, as are monthly summaries.

For visiting cell phone users, often only AT&T works here, or Concan, and many local areas Sabinal to Leakey, etc. Often around Hwys. 10 or 90 (Hondo, Uvalde) you can get other signals. Then wi-fi is available at the Utopia Library, the store in Vanderpool had a sign saying they have it there too. State Park headquarters may have it? Don't tell them I told you.   ;)

Please holler if you see something good locally! THANKS!  :)  (local 830 Utopia landline WON~2349)
E-dress clickably linked at bottom of most pages: mitchATutopianatureDOTcom

Note on navbar at top of this page and the home page, and somewhere around the chat picture below is a link to a new LINKS page that is a quick handy way outta here. Who loves ya baby? It is a collection of some of the links I will publicly admit to using, though a couple with no small amount of trepidation. Space, weather, bugs, birds, blogs, bird cams, and other stuff...   Enjoy!

I have been fairly good for several years now about posting the weekly update Friday evenings. Since night life is so exciting here. Usually this is just minor local (often yard) notes from nearly every day. Some daily notes of what is going on with birds, or butterflies, dragonflies, fish, flowers, reptiles, triops, cerambycids, buprestids, or bombyliads, and so on. Anything might get mentioned. Usually just yard notes. Unless you got to be stationed at the park all day, one site of observation locally is about as good as another. The big picture only becomes amazingly fascinating by filling all the little details in, one tiny bit at a time. I have a strong interest in bird behavior and often will discuss some aspect of that which I observed.

If you're in the area and see something, please don't hesitate to let us know. For instance, we would be happy to post Lost Maples SNA, or any bird news, if it were reported to us. I love hearing from locals when they see something of interest. Perhaps other visitors might better know where to look for something of interest. E-mail link in next (pale yellow) box, and at bottom of most pages. Local (eight-three-zero) landline WON~2349. I can be at the park in 10 minutes, 8 if I was dressed with shoes on, 5 if it is a Sabine's Gull, but I might not be neatly dressed.

Some rudimentary maps of the area are at the bottom of the "site guide" page, if you need help locating any of the places mentioned.

There are now 18+ (!) years and growing worth of nature notes here, mostly in the bird news archives (Old Bird News) pages linked at the bottom of this page in 6 month segments. You can fairly easily check 10 fall or spring periods, etc., and get a good idea of what goes on when, where, or how weak migration is here.   :) If you're coming in April, you can check several years out and see when different species arrive.  For instance for Painted Buntings not till later April, earliest numbers about the 18-20th, later is better, some years not till the 21-22 are the first back locally.  Often a few days earlier down in lower altitude brush country (earlier still down on the coast) etc. Adult males mostly depart territories and the area the first week of August.

Be sure to check out the Bird List page, which is updated (2021) with seasonal status and abundance for each species. It lists all 350 plus species (!) known from the upper Sabinal River drainage.

The BIRDING SITES, HUMMINGBIRDS, BIRD LIST, LM REPORTS, SPARROWS, BRUSH COUNTRY, WARBLERS, HAWKS, and the RARITIES pages have all been recently updated! Most have lots of new pics added in the last year or so. The photo pages named by the year are the weekly update photo break photos and text for each year. They may be birds, bugs, flowers or a snake, though mostly birds. Since 2017 the last four years have bigger better improved images, and lots of the unusual or interesting stuff encountered.

With apologies, I am not interested in photos from other areas for identification. Please please please do not send unsolicited out of area photos. Contact your local Audubon Society if you have pictures of a bird that you would like identified, every area has one. From Houston to Travis to Ft. Worth, Big Sky, Llano Estacado, no matter where you are there are other local folks interested in your local birds, and since you are (to have a pic that you want ID'd) you should want to know them.  :)  Thank you in advance.

Back to Top
Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

Here are links to some new pages added in the last couple years:

Here is a master index page of 'Old Bird News' links:
Bird News Archives Index
It has links to all the 'Bird News' pages, in 6 month increments. It is the 18 year plus bird news archive file.
~ ~ ~ ~
***  This is the page for visitors with ideas, links, phones, contacts, etc., about where to stay locally.
Where to Stay
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
***  Here is a page which compiles 18 years of observations at Utopia Park. It is a long discussion about the how and why of birds at Utopia Park, and is the home of the park bird list.
The Birds of Utopia Park
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Here are assorted links of all manner, and a handy way outta here.
Mitch's Links
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Bird Photos
~ ~ ~
Here is a new page of recent ode photos the last few years.
New Ode Photos (2.5mb)

~ ~ ~ finally, current bird news from the greater and lesser Utopia area ~ ~ ~

Notes without location cited are in or from yard which is a couple miles south of town at edge of the river habitat corridor. If it doesn't say where it was, it was in or from the yard. Usually a few daily yard notes is all the drivel you get. But you never know what that can lead to. Ready, steady, go!

Commonly used ABBREVIATIONS are:

To repeat since commonly used:
sps.=species; FOS=First of season (can be any season); FOY=First of Year; FOF=First of fall; LTA=Less than Annual; UP=Utopia Park; SLC=So. Little Creek Rd.; dF=degrees Farenheit; (ph.)=photo obtained; ad.=adult; imm.=immature.; ma.=male; fem.=female; juv.=juvenile; odes=Odonata = dragonflies and damselflies; leps=Lepidoptera (butterflies), town=Utopia; the park= Utopia Park at SW corner of town. WU = Weather Underground (sometimes local station readings referenced) BanCo = Bandera Co.; UvCo = Uvalde Co.

Black-capped Vireo

Black-capped Vireo at Lost Maples

Just to have this handy again for reference, recent prior updates:
January 7, December 31, 24, 17, 10, 3, November 26, 19, 12, 5

Each week's update break is marked with a bad (usually bird) photo.
You may want to scroll down to last prior update and scroll
up to read in chrono order day to day.
~ ~ ~ and now for the news ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is not a current photo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is not a current photo.

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

~ ~ ~ above is 2022 ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ 2021 Summary ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ end 2021 Summary ~ ~ ~

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

~ ~ OMG another summary ~ ~

~ ~ ~ December summary ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ end December summary ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~
This is not a current photo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~
These are not a current photos.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ November summary ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ end November summary ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ back to the daily drivel ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ a couple of my favorite rock in the yard ~ ~ ~


American Redstart (male) at the birdbath May 3. Whaddabird!


Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male) at the birdbath May 6.

~ ~ ~

July through Oct. so far 2021 news now at Archive 36. Bird News Archive XXXVI
July 1 - Dec. 31, 2021
~ ~ ~

Jan. through June 2021 news now at Bird News Archive 35.
Bird News Archive XXXV
Jan. 1 - June 30, 2021
~ ~ ~

The older weekly break bird photos are now at the 2021 photos page.
2021 pix
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To Top of Recent Bird News

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Links to all 18 years of archived bird news pages below. Broken into 6 month increments. One day I'll quarter it out by season as well, so all of each season are together, perhaps making say, searching springs easier.

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

Here is a master index page of them:
Bird News Archives Index
Index page with links to all 'Old Bird News' pages.

All photographs within this site are copyrighted
and may not be used without permission.
All Rights Reserved.
© M. and K. Heindel 2004-2020