I went down to the headlands at Dana Point this afternoon, to see the raptor chicks who have fledged and who are flying about, following their parents around, learning to hunt and fly and do all the things avian apex predators are supposed to do in nature. I had the good fortune to notice a wispy plume of rendered white feathers, blowing in the breeze, and upon further observation, saw one of the chicks tearing apart what appeared to be a sea gull, from the webbed pinkish foot that was sticking out, as large as the raptor chick's head as she rendered her lunch with her beak and talons. A moment later, her mother and one of her sisters came flying past, with a chorus of shrieks and cries. It was good to see them flying again, after getting back from South Carolina. I heard another stationary chick's cries, high up on the cliffs, but could not locate her, so I continued all the way to the headlands at high tide.
I looked all around the far end of the headlands, saw no flight or perching activities, and headed back along the rocks at high tide, in a very slow parkour, to keep my binoculars safe in one hand. About 100 feet from the main point or the tide pools, I spotted a chick high up in an old crow's nest on the cliff face, eating something white and feathery. I marveled at her through my Nikons, until she literally saw me watching her from several hundred feet away. She stared at me, and then took her lunch further back in the nest, away from the edge, to dine more privately, out of sight.
That's when I saw the teenagers, with Coors Lite silver bullet cans in their hands, trying to be secretive in the caves at the base of the cliff. They obviously didn't like it that some old guy with binoculars was looking up, but they were busy trying to scurry with their cooler out of site too. They just happened to be directly underneath the first of the chick sister's dining cliff... which really annoyed me, that they were drinking, underage, oblivious the beauty of nature around them. I mean, I did some stupid stuff too when I was in High School, and I would have cut them some slack... but they were littering their empty silver cans all over the most pristine and best preserved tide pools in all of Orange County. Had they just quietly carried out their empties in a discreet trash container, I would not have texted the park ranger and describe the 5 teens to him. He would not have had to hike down to the headlands, and that nice ranger would not have then had to make all 5 of the teenagers collect every single piece of trash along the 1/2 mile rocky coast line from the headlands back to the parking lot.
I reflected back on the dumb things I did in High School as I began to compose this posting. Littering was not one of them. Making a fool of myself in front of adults and law enforcement occasionally did happen, but not all that often. In fact, I was so opposed to littering, that once, while in Munster and waiting at a light on Ridge Road, I saw the car ahead of me open it's driver's door and put an entire brown paper bag of garbage on the street. When the light turned green, I opened my door, picked up the garbage bag, and followed the litterer to the next light at US6 and US41, where I then got out of my car, walked up to their vehicle, and laid the garbage bag on their hood and windshield, telling the surprised driver "Excuse me, you dropped this back there. Don't litter anymore" before getting back into my car, and driving away.
I try to make it a point to not even spit my gum out, and instead throw it in the trash, as it seems that every time I've spit my gum out in the last 40 years, I wind up stepping in someone else's gum a day or two later. When my son and I hiked "off trail" in Arizona, we carried garbage bags with us, and collected discarded trash along the way... both to help the environment and improve the natural beauty, but also to serve as an alibi if a ranger said "hey! why are you off the marked trail?" Invariably, we'd have a large bag of trash in hand by the time we got back to the parking lot.
I do hope my son's leg recovers fully and he is completely ambulatory before he visits us here again in California. There's so much beauty to see and things to do in this amazing state.
1 year ago