Who knew? I thought is was sparrow season. Last weekend was the first weekend in October and that (looking at calendar of events)... yes, that is when you start looking for orange sparrows.
I packed up my camera this last weekend and headed off to Goose Pond. It is the best place I know to look for LeConte's and Nelson's Sparrows that does not involve questions around trespassing. At this time of year, even if you do not find one of the infamous "orange" sparrows, you should find a ton of migratory sparrows. Swamp Sparrows should be around in large numbers. There should also be plenty of White-crowned, Song, and Savannah Sparrows, too. On good days, you can find several Lincoln's mixed in with them. As consolations, you a few Sedge and Marsh Wrens should still be hanging around. I had most of that. I did not have large numbers of any of them. There were good numbers of Swamp, but not the nearly hundred that I have seen in years past.
Like most of Indiana, things at Goose Pond are very dry. The weather has also been pretty warm. The warblers just peaked a weekend or so ago. White-throated Sparrows are just starting to show up in decent numbers. That I did not have large numbers of sparrows at Goose Pond is not that surprising. What was surprising was the number of Palm Warblers. There were one or two about everywhere I looked. Not a bad compensation, really. I did have one Henslow's skulking about. Oddly, I only had one Sedge Wren. The dryness of the area might have a lot to do with that. The birding was not bad. It was good to be out. I plan to go back next weekend, but I do not have high hopes for orange sparrows. There is a lot of fox tail, but it is very, very dry down there.
Sunday, I needed to stay a bit closer to home and opted to hit up Eagle Creek. My plan was to check the "south fields" for sparrows and then hit the marina/Discovery Center to see if there were still any warblers hanging about. I was surprised to find four other cars waiting for me at my first stop. I rarely encounter other birders over here. They were all there with the same thing on their mind - sparrows.
After a quick conversation, I headed up the path to get the sun behind me and then started birding back down. I found a deer path that cut into the field and took it across to the mowed paths. I spent a couple hours here. Mainly, I was waiting for the birds to acclimate to my presence a bit. They were very timid and were not responding to pishing at all. It might have been the hawks patrolling the area. Like Saturday, I was overwhelmed by the number of Palm Warblers in the field. I kept hoping for an Orange-crowned Warbler to pop-up, but I did not see one. A few Swamp and a lot of Song Sparrows were in the field. I could hear a number of Field Sparrows calling, but I only got eyes on a couple, briefly. I also had one Lincoln's and a few White-throated. What I probably had the most of was House Finch. There was a flock of around 30 flying in and out of the field to feed. I eventually left and hit up the marina. Nothing of note in the area. It appears the warblers have mostly moved on.
With warblers over and the newly-crowned Palm Warbler season having (I assume) peaked, next weekend should be good for sparrows. I hope to find out.
Thanks for reading,