Upon realizing that LeConte's Sparrows had never been reported to eBird for St Charles County the first quarter of April I decided to make that my morning's goal. I have had good luck finding LeConte's this winter down in the bottoms of the Blue Grosbeak Trail, so that was my obvious first choice of locations.
As I peaked the main hilltop I began hearing at least two Henslow's Sparrows in the prairie and realized it was going to be difficult to be sure I had a LeConte's Sparrow now that Henslow's are back. I got down to my usual LeConte's spot and almost immediately flushed a sparrow that looked good for a LeConte's, but I couldn't relocate it to be sure. Walking around a bit longer I kicked up a small straw colored sparrow that was a really good candidate, although I couldn't get purple streaks and the tail wasn't fanned out in flight like I needed to see, so I had to pursue. After playing very quick games of peek-a-boo with me the bird flushed about 50 feet away behind an isolated grass stalk about 6 feet from anything else. I knew I would finally get a chance to see the bird well as long as it didn't flush so I patiently waited. Patiently for me was about the 3 minutes I gave it before deciding to slowly creep towards the grass. I cut the distance down to about 20 feet when I noticed movement at the edge of the clump. I stopped and put my binoculars up just in time to see a little face poke out the side with grey lores and upper cheek surrounded by the glowing straw yellow. I did a little jig and left the bird alone and hurried back home.
I was thrilled to be able to fill in that data gap, and I don't think I have ever had a list with Henslow's and LeConte's on it and wanted to share my experience. LeConte's will probably forever be my favorite sparrow species, and I am saddened that they will be heading north within the next few weeks.