Dillon State Park surrounds a massive reservoir created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I pulled into the beach parking lot, which is up on a high, flat plateau which overlooks down onto a decidedly artificial beach. The reservoir had been drawn down for the winter. I imagine it fills quickly with the spring rains, and the water is released gradually over the summer. A system of similar dams across the Ohio valley ensures year round navigation on the Ohio River. The dams and reservoirs provide habitat that we wouldn't have otherwise in this part of Ohio.
The plateau is high and far from the water, offering a magnificent and sweeping view of the drowned valley. To my right was almost completely dry, to my left, solid ice, and in front, a small patch of open water was frequented by black ducks, hooded mergansers, a single grebe, and plenty of Canada geese.
Looking through my binoculars and panning the frozen lake to the west, I spotted spotted a speck of brown resting on the ice. A log? A rock? I need to get closer.
I walked down the bank several hundred yards closer to the distant speck. I stopped on the grassy hillside, raised my binoculars again, and bam, there it was. Finally, I had seen the elusive Licking River bald eagles that everyone had been asking me about!
This individual was alone. It looked to be cleaning up after a meal, but it was difficult to see. I wish I had a spotting scope on this day. In Ohio, Bald Eagles are now quite common. 649 were spotted during the most recent winter survey. Still, most often my views of them are as they soar above, so it was thrilling watch this individual clean up its meal. Fortunately, I found a willow to crouch behind. You can imagine what the wind was like coming off the ice!