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Thread: Eagles - Ohio

  1. #1
    Airhead GS convert...
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    Eagles - Ohio

    I took a photo of one of the local bald eagles this past Monday, and it came out great. It's perched at the top of a tall tree overlooking the Portage River, the tallest in a long line of trees. All the leaves are gone, the eagle's back is to the camera, its white head clearly recognizable. The eagle is scanning the farm fields and river below, and there's an orange sunset visible through the lower branches of the trees. The eagle is above
    all that, however...

    Moto content: many, perhaps most, of my eagle sightings have been from various motorcycles, then kayaks, then cars. There's just something about not having a roof that helps... There's also something about being able to look straight up at a bird whose wing span is comparable to the wheelbase of my motorcycle.

    Plus, sometimes I get visitors here, from the various lists. I figure they might like knowing about our eagles...

    We didn't have bald eagles here when I was little. Nor had I ever seen a bald eagle on trips out west, not until I went to Alaska in 1999.

    The first eagle I *think* I saw was here in Ohio, a huge shadow gliding through the dusk, visible through the trees when some friends and I had been kayaking too long after sunset on the Sandusky River. I was skeptical that it could be an eagle, so I figured it was just a heron. We have lots of those...

    My next sighting was from the seat of my Suzuki DR-350 north of Tiffin, I was almost home as the bird came gliding downhill acoss a farm field toward me and the Sandusky River. It flew directly over my wife and me on the bike, perhaps twenty feet up, and then simply looked down at us as it glided overhead. I swear it was looking *right at us*, moving its head to keep us in sight as it went past. I've read that animals don't have emotions, but
    if I had to guess I'd say he was both curious and unafraid. It was
    incredible...

    The third time I saw a bald eagle was out my livingroom window, a couple months later. We lived in a former grist mill, upstairs, and the window faced out over the Sandusky River. One day we came home, looked out the window, and oh my... Across the river maybe 200' away, perched in a dead tree, was a bald eagle. The eagle perched there long enough for me to get the binoculars, and to look up "bald eagle" in a birding guide a friend had given me. Yup, that's what it was. Looked just like the picture... And
    hung out for maybe 20 minutes.

    The above was around 1993.

    After that, the sightings blur. The eagle population in Ohio has continued to improve, and a very large chunk of the population is here in Northwest Ohio, building new nests and raising their young along the same rivers I enjoy, the Portage and Sandusky in particular. In the January 2003 census, Ohio's eagle population was 304, a record. The biggest number, 80, are in Sandusky county, where I work. The next highest concentration was 20, in Ottowa county, which I have to go through to get to work.

    So now I see bald eagles on a pretty regular basis, usually along the rivers but not always. There's a nest near Fremont, one near Gibsonburg / Woodville on US-20, one outside Pemberville near where I live, several around Tiffin, and I've heard rumors from kayakers that they've been seeing eagles on the Maumee River this year upstream of Toledo, so there may be a new nest in that area too.

    I've seen one circling high while I was waiting in line at the bank
    drive-thru in Pemberville, another on the Portage while I pumped my own gasoline in Elmore. I've seen one eating carrion on US-20 during my commute home, another flying along the Sandusky River while I was on my way to work in the morning near Fremont, and a couple times I've seen them just hanging
    out in the winter in a field of corn stubble.

    Jean-Luc's first sighting was from the back of my Concours in fall of 2001, an adult bald eagle in a field of corn stubble maybe a mile outside Pemberville. It didn't phaze him much, and I couldn't understand how he couldn't be amazed at seeing a bird as big as him. He explained to me that he'd seen eagles before, in pictures and on the back of our U.S. quarter-dollar, so it was no big deal... Until he saw the eagle liesurely spread its 6' wings and take off, climbing to 40' with maybe 3 beats of its wings, disappearing into the trees that line the Portage River. That had Jean-Luc babbling...

    His second sighting was a couple months later, when we stopped the car to watch a bald eagle in a field of corn stubble on US-20 east of Woodville. Jean-Luc told me to chase it so it would take off, as he wanted to see it fly. Yeah right, son; as if I'm going to harass an eagle next to a four-lane road and end up in jail over it.

    His third sighting was on the Portage River, downstream of Pemberville, from the front seat of our 2-seater whitewater kayak this past spring. The river flows past the nest, directly under it, and the eagle explained to us that we weren't welcome there by circling 20'-30' above our heads and sqawking loudly, flying so close we could hear the "fwup-fwup-fwup" of its wings as it went over... No, I didn't have a camera handy then. That's the shot that got away.

    The eagle then shadowed us for the next 2-3 miles downriver, landing in trees ahead of us near the water, letting us drift on the slow current to within about 20' of him / her, so close we could hear branches and feathers rustle as he got into position for takeoff, then taking off in a huff with a "FWUP-FWUP-FWUP-FWUp-FWup-Fwup-Fwup-fwup..." as the eagle disappeared
    downstream around the next bend, waiting for us... This eagle seemed irritated, neither curious nor afraid, and I had the feeling he just wanted to be sure we got the Hell out of *his* yard.

    Even though I see them regularly, it's still a big deal every time. And this time, I have a photo.

    Smiling... I can't help but think how cool it is to have them as neighbors, even if they are a little standoff-ish.

    Best,

    Doug Grosjean
    douggrosjean@wcnet.org
    Luckey, Ohio
    N 41.45060
    W 83.48456

    And yes, I am writing a book...

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    Best,
    Doug Grosjean
    Pemberville, Ohio
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  2. #2
    El Dookey loves to ride. 99007's Avatar
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    Eagles are a gas

    Thanks for the good words. Our business is in a small town where two rivers meet (the Grand and the Flat). There have been many eagle sightings in the last few years.
    I saw my first one on a week long canoe trip in Canada.
    About 8-9 years ago I saw two alongside the highway in the middle part of Michigan (Roscommon). I could not believe my eyes, to see eagles right next to the road - they were incredible. When I stopped for gas a few miles down the road the locals confirmed what I saw.
    Having eagles around is one small sign that we are not killing off the environment as badly as we once did IMHO.
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  3. #3
    Julie
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    I road to Tolmie State Park last Sat. and walked down to a ridge overlooking south Puget sound. A huge bald eagle landed a tree not 20 ft away! Because I was on a ridge he was almost horizontal from me. He looked at me, screeched a hideous song and then we just hung out together for several minutes. He then lifted off and coasted over the bay. It was the closest I've ever been to an eagle. Very moving.

  4. #4
    Julie
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    Re: Eagles are a gas

    Originally posted by Cliffy777
    I could not believe my eyes, to see eagles right next to the road - they were incredible.
    I hope you slowed as quickly as possible when you spotted those giant birds on the side of the road! I was almost killed by a huge buzzard on the side of the road. When I startled him he flew straight at me. I was in the Flint Hills of Kansas and going about 85mph. Silly of me to think he saw me just cause he looked right at me. He only missed my head because I had the presence of mind DUCK. It was so close I heard his wing(or body?) 'woosh' by my ear. I Brake hard for ALL wildlife, you never know what they're going to do.

  5. #5
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    We have lots of vultures here. When they take off from some dead deer or something at the side of the road, it's like watching a pterodactyl take off or something.

    6 ft, wingspan, ugly head.....

    Yeee.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

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  6. #6
    Ambassador at Large Jim Shaw's Avatar
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    Big birds

    Since my primary home is in Hinckley, OH, I get used to seing big birds, but only one eagle, ever (except in Ak, when I saw hundeds in Haines in 1996). Here, we have buzzards (turkey vultures) by the hundreds. Hinckley is legendary for them. They return here from migration every Ides of March - pretty much on schedule. While ugly up close, they are beautiful to watch flying.

    One used to keep a hungry eye on my (late) old dog, Odin.

    Jim Shaw
    Hinckley, OH and Ann Arbor, MI USA

  7. #7
    On the Road MAGOO's Avatar
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    Eagles- Ohio

    I just stumbled across your post. Another enjoyable piece. It is extremely wonderful to be able to see these once scarce creatures return. I also liked that I that I am familiar with the areas you were writing about.

    Last year a friend and I were heading to the vintage BMW rally in Fremont, instead of taking OH53 we took the road that follows the Sandusky river, as we left Tiffin his speed dropped considerably and he started pointing to the sky. I glanced up to see 2 very large birds flying together, my first thought was that they were buzzards but soon realized they were a pair of eagles. We rode with them flying 30'-40' above the river from the Pioneer mill to Fort Seneca. It was definatly the highlight of the ride.

    I have also seen eagles here in Wyandot County, both N and S of Upper Sandusky.


    Doug Mc Gee

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  8. #8
    Registered User beemerron's Avatar
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    Doug, you're probably old enough to remember when Lake Erie was nearly dead, when there were virtually no eagles left in the lower 48 states. The gang currently in charge of this Country is undoing many of the laws and regulations that allowed Lake Erie and the eagles to return. Remeber, this is the same bunch that scoff at global warming every time the thermometer drops below 20 degrees.
    Remember this when you go to the polls.
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  9. #9
    Airhead GS convert...
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    Re: Eagles- Ohio

    Originally posted by magoo
    I just stumbled across your post. Another enjoyable piece.
    Thanks!

    [QUOTE]Originally posted by magoo
    It is extremely wonderful to be able to see these once scarce creatures return.

    Agreed 100%.

    Originally posted by magoo
    I also liked that I that I am familiar with the areas you were writing about. Last year a friend and I were heading to the vintage BMW rally in Fremont, instead of taking OH53 we took the road that follows the Sandusky river....
    I used to live on that road! Just north of Tiffin, just past the Putt-Putt golf place about 1/2 mile. Still love kayaking at the broken-out milldam at Huss St. in Tiffin, there's a great surf wave there at flood....


    Originally posted by magoo
    ....as we left Tiffin his speed dropped considerably and he started pointing to the sky. I glanced up to see 2 very large birds flying together, my first thought was that they were buzzards but soon realized they were a pair of eagles. We rode with them flying 30'-40' above the river from the Pioneer mill to Fort Seneca. It was definatly the highlight of the ride.
    I know that stretch very, very well. The first eagle nest I saw is in that stretch. This time of year, with the leaves gone from the trees, you can see it from about 1/2 mile away. About the size of my car, in the tallest tree along the river. You'll know you're in the right area when you see the "Endangered Species Nesting Area" signs.

    Originally posted by magoo
    I have also seen eagles here in Wyandot County, both N and S of Upper Sandusky.
    I think Wyandot is another sizable pocket of the birds, too.

    Where are you, roughly? Just kinda curious.... that part of NW Ohio is pretty nice, not so flat, lots of shallow wrinkles in the land that aren't considered normal for NW Ohio.

    And if you're into vintage BMW, do you know R. Sheckler? He's local, and into the vintage BMW scene.

    Best,
    Doug Grosjean
    Luckey, Ohio
    douggrosjean@wcnet.org
    Best,
    Doug Grosjean
    Pemberville, Ohio
    douggrosjean@gmail.com

    Author of "Wheels"
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  10. #10
    On the Road MAGOO's Avatar
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    Eagles- Ohio

    "Doug, you're probably old enough to remember when Lake Erie was nearly dead"

    Sorry beemerron that was a bit before my time unless you were talking to Doug G ;-)

    I actually live in Upper Sandusky, but I work in Toledo (on the new bridge www.lookuptoledo.org )

    R. Sheckler ? is he the guy who puts on the Fremont gig? If it is he took me for a spin on his '39 R33(?) the year before last, at the rally. It was waaaaay cool. But I don't really know him.

    Doug Mc Gee

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  11. #11
    leave my monkey alone LORAZEPAM's Avatar
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    There are a lot more eagles up north, but when the Ohio river floods, the eagles near Portsmouth come down and get the fish stranded after the river receeds. It is really cool to watch them. You have to be patient though, not many around.
    Gale Smith
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  12. #12
    Airhead GS convert...
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    Doug McGee,

    <<<< I actually live in Upper Sandusky, but I work in Toledo (on the new bridge www.lookuptoledo.org ) >>>

    That bridge ROCKS!!!! Man, what I'd give to see some of it up close sometime, before they seal it all up and put it to work. I've been watching it grow.....

    For those not aware, it's a single-pier suspension bridge, tall enough to let Great Lakes freighters pass beneath. Very, very cool.

    I grew up within walking distance of that new bridge, have kayaked under the scaffolding that's about 4' above the water (on the temp piers at water level) and around the coffer dam (shhh.... not sure that was legal either...), and enjoy seeing it each weekend when I head north to my SO's house in Dearborn, MI. Used to walk out on the I-280 birdge to watch them dig the footer in the coffer dam.

    <<<< R. Sheckler ? is he the guy who puts on the Fremont gig? >>>

    I think so. Used to do the same gig out at Grand Rapids, OH.

    <<<<< If it is he took me for a spin on his '39 R33(?) the year before last, at the rally. It was waaaaay cool. But I don't really know him. >>>

    Probably. Thin, bearded, lanky.

    I rode that '39 Twin also, maybe 5-6 years ago. Wow.... amazing how much it feels like every other flat-twin I've ever ridden.
    Best,
    Doug Grosjean
    Pemberville, Ohio
    douggrosjean@gmail.com

    Author of "Wheels"
    http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore...kid~32002.aspx

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