We were driving the other day in Coto de Caza and had just come through the Antonio gate when my wife shouted “Look at that! What was that!? It was a golden eagle! Maybe a deer!”
She had been telling me the tales of the giant golden eagle she had seen a few years before sitting on a fence rail not far from where we were… Of course, I believed her because I’ve run into all manner of strange creatures on the trail before but I’d never seen a golden eagle in the wild before so couldn’t really empathize with her excitement… “Did you SEE that thing??!! It was HUGE!! I’m telling you – it was just like the bird I saw! The one I told you about!!”
We drove a couple of blocks before we could flip around and come back for a look and sure enough – here was this huge bird of prey munching happily on some critter underfoot… It was big. You guys know this – I take my camera with me everywhere… I don’t even think I have to mention that here… of course, there we were, beautiful strange rare apex avian predator less than 20 yards away and no camera to speak of. (The iPhone camera does not count in my book)… We stood there for about five minutes before the absolute burning need to race home and grab my camera took hold and I took off, photos of what could have been playing through my mind’s eye…
Fast forward. We got home, the garage door shot up, kids jumped out, I grabbed my camera, and right then a call came in for a deal I’ve been working on… “Uh-huh… yeah… send the counter over if that’s what needs to get done…” Deal temporarily satisfied, I drove back to the hill where we saw the eagle and there he was, still happily snacking in the sun…
I did a quick search for the bird and it seems there are hardly any left in our area; the Audubon Society of California cited “the few remaining pairs of Golden Eagles left in Orange County…”
Some sites for more info: http://digital-desert.com/wildlife/golden-eagle.html
Hope to see you around some more, big guy! Stop by the Brossa house sometime – there are plenty of rabbits out back!