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Staycation

10/12/2020 - 10/17/2020


This is the first time I have taken a vacation and not gone somewhere. May it be the last.


Thankfully, I had something to occupy my time. It is the start of what I call "sparrow season". As migration winds down for the more colorful passerines, the shy but curious little brown ones start moving through. As I say about many, many birds, I love these guys. The colors and patterns of these birds are spectacular. With October starting, sparrows have started migrating south.


Among these migrants are the ones everyone calls the "orange sparrows". Nelson's and LeConte's Sparrows are not common migrants through Indiana. Both are beautiful sparrows from my favorite sparrow family, Ammodramus. Yes, this is the family that also contains Henslow's Sparrow. Grasshopper Sparrows are also in the family. I have one left to see. I was hoping to work out a trip for one this year. Someday, I will find a Saltmarsh Sparrow somewhere.


All of this is beside the point. With travel restrictions and timing, I really could not work out plans for anywhere to go. My plan was to hit Goose Pond a few times and look for Nelson's Sparrow. It is a bit early for LeConte's. After days of clear weather, my first day of staycation was rained out. I did manage to make it down to Goose Pond on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Saturday, I birded closer to home and did a little sparrowing (I am pretty sure that is a term) at Eagle Creek Park.


My first day at Goose Pond was very foggy. Thick fog kept the sun obscured, but the birding was good. Swamp, Song, and Savannah Sparrow were plentiful. I was not finding anything unusual. Photography was a bit difficult in the fog. The sun finally started breaking free, but the morning was waning and activity was waning as well. As I was considering starting to head home, I suddenly heard a call note that was different. Tracking down the call, I found a Lincoln's Sparrow. That was not the bird that was actually making the call, though. I finally found the bird and spent a few minutes studying it. A very pale, yellowish-orange LeConte's Sparrow. I have had good luck photographing this species in the past. This bird was not having any of it. After noticing that I had spotted it, it bolted. Despite my best efforts, I could not relocate the bird. Other birds of note from that day were Purple Finch, Sora, White-crowned Sparrow, and Palm Warbler. With the luck I had on Tuesday, I went back on Wednesday. Wednesday was a complete 180. Numbers were way down. The day was clear, but I just did not have nearly the same quantity of sparrows that I had the day before. The only real highlight was a flock of Pine Siskin. Friday was a bit better.


Unfortunately, it was not quite as good as I had thought for a minute. My brother had joined me, and we had birded a good portion of farmhouse road. After tuning back, I put my binocs on a bird with an orange spot on its face and pale orange along its flanks. Excitedly, I called out what I was seeing as a LeConte's. The bird disappeared, but we tracked it down quickly. On viewing it again, we both noted that it was quite pale, and something seemed odd. With closer inspection, the bird turned out to be a basic plumage Grasshopper Sparrow. Not a bad bird, but not what we were looking for either. Other highlights of the day were Palm Warbler, another Sora, and a larger flock of Purple Finch.


Saturday, I headed to Eagle Creek Park to look for sparrows. I was happy with the variety I found. Nothing unusual, but it is always nice to see Chipping Sparrows, too. The highlight was a couple White-crowned Sparrows. After some sparrowing, I took a walk around the skating pond and the ever-present seed pile.


Tomorrow, it is back to the grind. Having taken a staycation, I can say I am not a fan of it. There is no sense of having gone somewhere or having really done anything. The birding is all stuff I would have done on the weekends, anyway. The week flew by. And there is now nothing to bring it to a close; just days gone by. I hope to work out someplace to go or do for my next vacation.


Thanks for reading,

Mike



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