Monday, February 04, 2008

Dillon Lake State Park, Just Downstream from Blackhand

And you thought my day was long with just the blackhand pictures! This past Saturday, after my gorge visited, I decided to follow the Licking River down further down into Ohio's hill country and visit Dillon State Park. Yes, that is right. In Ohio, our rivers flow from the flat uplands down into the hills. Isn't that strange? You normally think of water flowing from the top of the hills down into the flat areas.

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!
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  1. Wonderful seeing the Bald Eagle! They are doing great in many areas of North America! Great to see for sure! Thanks for sharing this wonderful park!

  2. Wow that's neat! Nice bald eagle picture, I bet you were happy and cold! It was worth it though, I bet.

  3. Thanks everyone. Seeing the eagle was definitely a treat.


  4. Hi Tom - the Canada Geese are dropping down very rapidly with their tails and feet spread wide to slow them down. To help drop fast they roll from side to side. This behavior is termed whiffling, and is really neat to watch. The reason I bring this up is that one of the birds on the far left side of your image is completely upside down - sometimes you get to see the birds taking whiffling to an extreme. Neat photo!


  5. Andy, you get the prize for being most observant.

    I have about ten shots taken in quick succession of this happening. It was crazy. All of the sudden, it was like the geese lost power to there engines!. I've zoomed in and cropped a few shots and will be posting them tomorrow on waterfowl Friday. I had no idea it was called "whiffling" but it was interesting to see these graceful birds just loose it and tumble everywhere!

    Thank you,


  6. I saw a bald eagle in Franklin Co yesterday Feb 28 09. Further investigation shows a nest and a nesting pair situated on the bank between a quarry and the Scioto River.

    This location is just south of the High st overpass of Rt 104/Frank rd and just before the 104/I-71 connect. This is just south of Columbus on I-71 but still in the city limits.

    You can get into the quarry are on a hard rd the services a nearby group of businesses.

    If you goggle this -Haul Rd Columbus Ohio. The quarry in question is on the North side of Haul Rd and the Nest is on the west side of north quarry across the water. Cant miss it if you come before the leaves.

    Tad Nelson Columbus March 1st 2009