At Lake San Antonio and Lake Nacimiento in southern Monterey County, now is the time to go watch bald eagles and golden eagles fly and nest.
Earlier this month, the two lakes combined to conduct an annual eagle count. Forty-two eagles, 23 bald and 19 golden, were tallied by a group of lake employees and volunteers, said Lake San Antonio office assistant Kathleen McGadden.
That number is down from a record 61 spotted in 2012. Over the past 13 years, the lowest total sighted was 16 in 2003.
McGadden said the best place to spot eagles is along the shoreline. She recommended using a boat or driving out to the boat launching areas.
"I've seen them down in the Basham Point area and the hard top boat launching areas," McGadden said, referring to Lake San Antonio's port area. "Harris Creek, you can see them. You can drive to the launchpad area there and go looking for birds.
McGadden said the lake's north shore area is also a hot spot.
"There are a few nests on the north shore side and down toward the Hunter Ligget areas of the north shore. Across the north shore and down to the south shore side," she said.
Budget cuts ended the lakes' guided tour program in 2012. McGadden used to book reservations for those tours.
She described the birds as "majestic." Living in close proximity to the lake gives her extra access to the birds.
"I even see eagles at my house. You always just stop and watch them. We have a dirt driveway, and a lot of times we'll stop and just sit there and they'll look down at me," she said.