Today I visited Shenango Reservoir with my friend, the waterfowl artist Vince Pagliaroli. As we hiked down toward the shoreline, we noticed that the hardwood branches above us were still bare of leaves, but the sky was full of sunshine, and promising patches of pale green shoots intermingled with the matted brown winter grass.
“Look,” said Vince. “Bald eagles.”
I gazed upward and there they were, two majestic raptors with white heads and white tailfeathers soaring gloriously against the bright blue skies.
Later we spotted dozens of migrating ducks on the deep brown waters of the lake: bufflehead drakes in brilliant white plumage along with darker hens, big-headed colorful hooded mergansers, and a scattering of drake and hen mallards. These were mostly diving ducks, and we watched through binoculars as each bird disappeared under the surface seeking gizzard shad and reappeared seconds later.
“From the first of March to mid-April, you can see migrating ducks coming through this area on their way to Canada,” said Vince. “We’re on the very western edge of the Atlantic Flyway. The fall migration is good, but the spring migration is the Super Bowl for conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited. You’ll see goldeneyes, pintails, ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, and more.”
I’m not much of a waterfowler, but Vince has spent a lifetime hunting and studying ducks and geese across North America. He is knowledgeable and interesting, the perfect companion on my pre-spring day of duck-watching.
Good luck out there. And have a great week outdoors.
~ Don Feigert, 3-4-09