While en route back to northwest Iowa this afternoon and evening, I made a couple of stops at South Twin Lake in Calhoun Co. and Sunken Grove WMA in Pocahontas Co. Waterfowl has made an impressive push towards northern Iowa in the last couple days. I had 17 species of waterfowl at South Twin Lake and a good mix of icterids, including Rusty and Brewer's Blackbirds.
Sunken Grove was the real highlight and I spent the final hour of daylight here. The best bird was a totally unexpected MARSH WREN chattering in a wet ditch with cattails south of the main bodies of water. A playback yielded a response with visual confirmation. I tallied a whopping 24 species of waterfowl (plus Coot), with massive numbers of geese: 17,000 Greater White-fronted, 43,000+ Snow Geese, 1400+ Ross's Geese. Several thousand ducks were present with Mallards being the most numerous (2700), followed by Gadwall (1400), Northern Pintail (1200) and Ring-necked Duck (1000). Two American Woodcocks were calling in the fields on the road out after dusk and a pair of Barred Owls were dueting back and forth. Easily over 100,000 icterids descended upon the marshes as dusk approached, with a solid 80% or so being Red-winged Blackbirds. Rusty and Brewer's Blackbirds were also present, as were at least 4 Great-tailed Grackles interspersed in the flocks. Several Swamp Sparrows were back and already singing.
Also had my first Turkey Vulture of the year in Ames over the lunch hour.