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Published: Tuesday, 4/5/2005

Bald eagles reach reestablishment milestone in Ohio

For the first time since early in the 20th century, a bald eagle nest has been confirmed along the north bank of the Ohio River, figuratively signaling the re-establishment of the great species from north to south in the state.

The nest overlooking the river, along U.S. 52 in Brown County southeast of Cincinnati, is one of 14 new eagle nests confirmed in 2005, bringing the statewide total to a record 122 in 39 counties.

Another southern Ohio nest was confirmed at Rocky Fork Lake in Highland County. "It is exciting to see that bald eagles are nesting along or near the Ohio River," said Steve Gray, chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. "In fact the Brown and Highland county nests are the first in modern times to be located in southwestern Ohio."

Mark Shieldcastle, project leader at the division's Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station in Ottawa County, said that an Ohio-side nest has not been known on the big boundary river for 70 to 80 years. Eagles have nested on an island in the river belonging to West Virginia, he added.

At least 18 pairs of mates have hatched out young so far this spring, and about 60 nests are due to hatch out within a week, Shieldcastle said. At least 108 of the 122 nests are "on eggs," he noted, and five so far have failed.

The major concentrations of eagle nests remain in northwest Ohio in the western Lake Erie marsh zone. Sandusky County, for example, has 18 nests, Ottawa County 16, and Erie County 11.

In other birding news, the 13th annual Lake Eire Wing Watch weekend, a celebration of the region's rich birding heritage, is scheduled for Friday through Sunday, based at Oak Harbor High School.

Educational activities and displays for birders of all levels are on the program, which begins Friday at 6:30 p.m. with a portrayal of John James Audubon by naturalist-storyteller Brian "Fox" Ellis.

Saturday events begin with a breakfast with the birds, a field trip to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, followed by concurrent daylong sessions on beginning birding, bird song, bird identification, and related topics. Sunday programs include bird hikes and eagle watching.

Program details are available from Ottawa County Visitors Bureau at 1-800-441-1271. Or visit the Wing Watch Web site, www.LakeErieWingWatch.com.

Fishing report-Walleye action on the Maumee River continues to be excellent with the annual spawning run appearing to be nearing its peak.

"It was a madhouse over the weekend," said Gary Lowry at Maumee Tackle, noting that anglers turned out despite windy weather. River flow and water clarity still were good yesterday, an indication that heavy rain, sleet, and snow apparently fell east of the Maumee watershed. Buttonwood Public Access, Blue Grass Island and the rapids at Jerome Road in Side Cut Metropark are the most popular fishing sites. Lowry reported fish as large as 12 1/2 pounds.

At the Grand Rapids Dam area, some crappie were being taken at the marina at Mary Jane Thurston State Park, and a few northern pike also were being taken, said Chris Martin at River Lures.

The Sandusky River at downtown Fremont was high, fast, and muddy, but slowly dropping yesterday. The watershed apparently bore a brunt of weekend precipitation. The run in the Sandusky may be peaking despite the high flow, said Bernie Whitt at Anglers Supply in Fremont.

The jig-and-minnow season for walleye also is getting under way in western Lake Erie and Maumee Bay.

Boats yesterday that found pockets of clearer, fishable water in the bay took quick limits, said Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait in Jerusalem Township. Erie anglers are reminded that walleye season in Michigan waters of western Lake Erie is closed until June 1. Walleye season is closed in Ontario waters until May 14.

Correction: A telephone number for Steelhead XStream guide service was given incorrectly in the Follow the Fish feature on Friday. The correct number is 419-476-1510.

DATEBOOK

Tomorrow-Friends of Magee Marsh, 7 p.m., Sportsmen's Migratory Bird Center at Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area, 13229 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor; call Mary Warren at Magee, 419-898-0960, extension 31.

Thursday-Wild turkey-hunting clinic, 5 to 9 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association, 349 Teachout Rd., north of State Rt. 2, Curtice; limited seating, call Gil Kollarik, 419-691-5130.

Thursday and Saturday-Wild turkey-hunting workshops, River Raisin Chapter, National Wild Turkey Federation, at Cabela's, Dundee, Mich., Thursday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; call John Smith, 734-529-4700.

Saturday-Toledo Naturalists' Association, 7:30 p.m., Andersons activity center, 1833 South Holland-Sylvania Rd., program by Eric Durbin on birding in India; also, Sunday, field trip for longspurs, 8 a.m., meet leaders Jeff and Becky Cullen at Bowling Green Wal-Mart, south State Rt. 25.

Saturday-Cowboy action shoot, 9:30 a.m., Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club, State Rt. 600 east of Gibsonburg, new match program, call C.W. Taylor, 734-654-0988 or Ken Vajen, 419-874-6929.

Saturday-Boating-education course, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Defiance Hospital, Defiance, call the Ohio Division of Watercraft, 419-836-6003.

Sunday-Toledo Muzzle Loaders, Wild West shootout, 11 a.m. Clinton Boothby Memorial Range, 875 Schwamberger Rd., call Diane Jendruch, 419-666-9674.

Sunday-Bowshoots: Maybee Sportsmen's Club, register 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 11490 Hoffman Rd., Maybee, Mich., 30 3-D targets, call Jim Lloyd, 734-269-2847; also, Tomahawk Archers, register 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2085 Erie Rd., Temperance, Mich., Pope &Young defense fund shoot, breakfast 8 a.m., call Andrea Kimura, 419-292-1530.



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