Bald Eagle, Gaviota Coast


The swell measured 26.9 feet at 17 seconds on January 5, the largest in the 18 year history of Harvest Buoy. 

“The swell on Jan. 5 and 6, by far, could be considered historic,” Waterfront Director Mike Wiltshire said, as quoted by Noozhawk.

The rain fell continuously for hours, for days, like we hadn’t seen in years, in decades. The creeks turned to torrents of chocolate. 

The Pacific Ocean swallowed it all. It churned and heaved dark and dirty, thick and sloppy with sediment and driftwood.

Visibility out there in the water appeared to be absolutely nonexistent, at best.

And yet, there soaring over the seashore ahead of me was this raptor with a fish in its talons. The fish looked rather large.

A second later I realized the bird had a white tail or did it? I hardly believed my eyes. 

I have a photo from 1985 showing me standing right below where the fish eagle was circling on this afternoon. I’m looking toward to the top of the point, the old long-removed beachside cabin shack visible on the lee of the point.

I ran down the beach, a mad fanatic high-stepping across the tops of cobblestones as the bird flew away from me. I had to confirm what I thought I had just seen.

The bird was all wrapped up in this place and my history there and I had to see if it was a bald eagle, but the chance was slipping away.

The bird tried to alight in a tree growing atop the coastal bluff deep inside the cove, but with the fish in its talons it could not manage it and came soaring back toward me.

I fumbled around in my pocket and had just enough time to snatch a few poor quality snapshots. A fleeting glimpse on the afternoon of January 7, 2023. This is the first bald eagle I have ever seen along Gaviota in all the time I have spent there.

Related Post On This Blog:

Gaviota Coast Galavants: The Wildest Wilderness

This entry was posted in Santa Barbara and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Bald Eagle, Gaviota Coast

  1. goletahistory says:

    Nice. I’m going to assume you know for sure it wasn’t an osprey. I enjoyed your piece on the closure of the Los Padres. I share your sentiments. Unfortunately, these days the bureaucrats take the easy way out and just cancel stuff altogether. Their way of protecting our lowest common denominator from themselves. Given the amount of helicopter rescues on our Montecito trails every year, I guess that might make some sense. Here’s my take on the great winter we are having-

    I enjoy your writing. thanks.


  2. Robert Hazard says:

    My son and I were standing in our driveway that day and he looked up and said, Dad look it’s a White Tail Eagle! We live a 1500 foot above the ocean in Refugio Cyn. The eagle was slowly making it’s way north, toward Cachuma Lake it looked like. Doing some research we confirmed that it was not a White Tailed Eagle but a Bald Eagle. Both have similar white tails and wingspan. My son is a bird nut and this was an incredible sight for him, and for me too. Bob

  3. Louis says:

    I almost always see Osprey, when wandering the Gaviota Coast. Occasionally, I have seen Peregrine Falcons, too.

  4. Nico says:

    Lucky sighting, Jack. I’m by no means an expert on raptors, but I know numerous bald eagles have been released on Santa Cruz Island and have had a number of wild hatched chicks in the years since. I wonder if some are starting to branch out to look for their own turf, returning to and helping to rewild parts of the nearby mainland. Exciting prospects.
    Cheers, Nico

  5. goletahistory says:

    Look at this BS! Canceling reservations then 12-31-2023!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s