One last "hurrah" of birding today on the last day of spring break. 72 species leaving my driveway and back with 22 being waterfowl "sensu stricto". Jason McCurdy, Dean Hester, and a couple other geoscience grad. students and I went down to Cone Marsh this morning. We soon ran into a Chris Brochu, who was down making a pass around the marsh. I greeted his, "Seeing anything?" salutation with, "Oh, just (insert rare Eurasian duck species names)", to which he replied, "You mean you haven't seen any....(insert additional Eurasian duck species, also including Mandarin Duck)...yet?". Surprisingly, Dean later spotted a Mandarin Duck flying in a small flock of Wood Ducks along the main dike! WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT???
Other highlights from Cone: -also running into and meeting Ron Stakland and two others in his birding party, always great to meet new faces in birding, and passionate birders too -FOY Tree Swallow -Rusty Blackbirds were abundant around the marsh, we ran into them on four separate occasions -lingering Greater White-fronted and Snow Geese, Sandhill Cranes groups very active and flying all over the place -American Woodcocks were still in the same spot along the road going to the boat ramp on the west side (off V Avenue) and I was able to get our group and Ron's on them, providing some awesome looks at them doing their "bobbing walk" -continuing 30+ Wilson's Snipe feeding in a single location along 220th, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers -we didn't see any longspurs, although Ron later contacted me that his group found Laplands along Atwood Ave north of G28
Hawkeye WMA -continuing Tundra Swans at Round Pond, I counted four with a dozen Trumpeters -Northern Shrike on the walk out to see the pipits at Sand Point -continuing American Pipits (FOY) at the base of the "West Cove" at Sand Point -FOY Franklin's Gull at Mid-River Marina, along I-965, Coralville Reservoir
Good spring birding to all, Brandon Caswell Marion