I missed out on a good portion of one of my favorite times of the year, this year. I was on vacation. Luckily, a few of the birds waited around for me.
October means sparrow season, and I was gone a good portion of October. I got back on the 30th of October, and obligations kept me home for portions of the following weekends. I did manage to sneak out on the 12th and 19th of November. Normally, I would not bother to head out to look for sparrows, but we have been very fortunate to host an unheard-of number of LeConte's Sparrows later than usual timeframe. With this in mind, I headed south to Goose Pond the past two Sundays.
I found what I more-or-less expected but not quite what I had hoped for. I hopefully assumed that with the number of LeConte's in the area, that there would still be a large number of other sparrows around. This was not the case. On the 12th, there were a few Swamp around and a good number of White-crowned. The White-crowned do not like to come in to pishing. They post up in distant trees and gawk at you from a distance. Because I am stubborn, I parked at the south end of the road and slowly birded my way toward the end of the road. This is how I always bird this road. It keeps me on the light angle. The issue here is that the LeConte's were being seen on the north end. One birder who drove by even made sure to point that out. So, I got down there eventually and was informed that the birders down there had been seeing the sparrows for a while. Not long after I got down there, the birds moved to the other side of the road and disappeared. The few shots I got were in dense, tall stands of bluestem. Finding a hole to shoot through was tough. Unfortunately, it left me with some suboptimal shots, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.
On the 19th, I thought I was being smarter. I went ahead and parked on the north end of the road. The place was very, very quiet, though. Another birder and I scanned the area for a while, but we were only hearing birds. Among those heard was the high-pitched "tseep" of a couple LeConte's. Pishing eventually pulled a few birds towards us, but they were much more interested in keeping low to the ground and feeding. It was a very cool morning, and at least one bird had a coating of frost on his tail. The morning wore on, and we persisted. We had one bird pop across the road and pose in some backlight for a few seconds. We had another pop up behind us and scold us while we were trying to pish out another that we had heard call. It was backlit, too, but at least it posed for a few shots before running off.
All in all, it is hard to not call the trips successful, but I had hoped to shoot some other species, too. This makes four or five years in a row that I have managed to spot a LeConte's in this area. They are a remarkably beautiful bird, and I am always happy to see one. Seeing multiples is even better.
Up next should be a series of three posts covering my trip to Colombia. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading,