I spent about 8 hours of Leap Day driving, and I never left the state. As usual, I spent a while on Friday night debating where to bird. A Eurasian Wigeon had been found in the southern part of the state, but I was a little apprehensive about making the drive. The area where the duck was spotted is notorious for swallowing up rarities.
So, Saturday morning found me driving north. Winter is quickly being ushered out the door; not that it every properly showed up this year. I like to make it north to Salamonie Reservoir to visit the spillway. There, Bald Eagles congregate in the winter to snatch fish from the flowing waters. When all else is frozen, the waters here still flow. I arrived much later than I meant. Seems I've lost track of what time the sun rises. Luckily, I wasn't too late for some shots.
As I was leaving Salamonie, I got word that the wigeon had been re-found. With nothing else planned for the day, I decided to make it a day. After a long drive through the middle part of the day, I found myself in Wheeling Bottoms. Honestly, I assume that is where I was, because there was a Eurasian Wigeon there. There are no signs or anything else to mark this as Wheeling Bottoms, or anything else for that matter. It's just a pin on the map, and there are a lot of ducks there. They also had sparrows, which I could not resist attempting some shots of.
The wigeon, itself, was quite distant. The distance and the heat over the water did not make for great photography (or even photography of the middling sort).
With the day growing short, I started my trip home. You cannot call it a day if there are still daylight hours left, though. With that in mind, I headed north and west a bit towards Goose Pond. I was really heading to Bear Run, where the Ferruginous Hawk is still being seen, but I wanted to meander through GP on the way. It was a lucky call. While I could have asked for much better lighting, it is hard to complain about the most cooperative Merlin you've ever seen.
From there, Bear Run is a hop-and-a-skip away. I was hoping to catch some late afternoon raptors soaking up the last of the day's sunshine before heading to roost. What I found were some early evening raptors up early from their daytime roost. I was happy to see some Short-eared Owls flying about and resting on the ground. The day that started with raptors, finished with raptors.
Thanks for reading,