Bobcat – December 29, 2009

December 30, 2009

Yesterday, we managed to time our last walk perfectly.  The scattered pile of bicycles in the middle of the path could only mean one thing…  a bobcat out in the open.  The young male was hunting in an open field and was heavily backlit.  We gambled that he might head away from the growing mob of people, so we walked to the other side of the field.  By the time we got there he was already there.  Talk about good luck!  He surveyed the field for a moment and proceeded to stalk, presumably, a gopher.  Unfortunately he didn’t catch it, but it was fun to watch him creep low to the ground and prepare to pounce.

“Enjoying the View”  –  Goleta, CA

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Hidden Bobcat

December 29, 2009

It’s quiz time.  In the following photo there are three bobcats.  Can you find the third one?  You get bonus points if you can tell me what it is about to do.  It will help if you click on the photo to view it larger.

Have fun!

“Hide and Seek”  –  Goleta, CA

Bobcats – December 28, 2009

December 28, 2009

The morning started by spotting the young male walking along the main path.  The California Towhees seemed to be playing ‘Chicken’ by seeing how close they would let the bobcat get before flying away.  He was quite a distance away and walked towards us.  After pausing to look behind, he finally walked off the path and disappeared into the brush.  By the time we caught sight of him again he had already caught breakfast.

After leaving him to eat and wandering around a bit, we walked over an adjacent hillside and I spotted him lying in the grass a few feet away.  Once he realized his cover was blown, he sauntered down the hillside away from us.  Funny thing, the bobcats are quite lazy and prefer to walk on the paths instead of through the grass, especially when it is wet.  He did just that and we ended up walking far behind him for quite awhile before he finally bounded into the brush.

We felt somewhat guilty following him so much so we went on ahead and tried to get a view from the top of the main path looking down the back of the dam.  The silly cat had crossed the field and was sitting in front of a bush a few feet below us!  We watched him stalk an unseen and un-captured animal and then walked away in the hopes he would cross the main path and hunt in a more open field on the other side.  Sure enough, he soon crossed the path and headed into the field.  Once he got there he started softly meowing, obviously calling to his mother.  We quickly left him alone, since she is hesitant to come out when people are around.

We walked back down the main path towards home but then decided we should head back and see if either of the two female bobcats had come out.  We walked all the way back to the main field but didn’t see anything.  On our walk back home we noticed some wet footprints on the path that weren’t there a few minutes ago.  Since no dogs had walked by, they must have been from one of the bobcats.  We looked around the next corner and the young female kitten was sitting in the middle of the trail!  We watched her from a distance until she finally crossed through a small wooded area and leapt down onto the next path.  She slowly walked away from us before spotting something along the edge of the path.  After crouching down low to the ground, she launched herself off the edge and disappeared down a steep slope.  We walked over and briefly stopped to see if she was at the bottom of the hillside.  Instead of being at the bottom,  she was hunting something three feet in front of us with only her head poking up through the grass!  I took a couple close-ups and then we backed away to let her hunt.

In the evening we searched for the bobcats again but the park was very busy and heard that one of the young bobcats was briefly seen but quickly went back into hiding.  After deciding to head home early, we ran into the adult male just before walking out of the park.  He was unusually relaxed and let us spend several minutes photographing and admiring him.  It was a great day!

“Young Male Bobcat Scaring a Towhee”  –  Goleta, CA

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Wet Bobcats

December 13, 2009

I’ve had good success finding the bobcats after rain storms, so I knew the rain would not be an excuse not to search for the bobcat family.  Thursday was a bust but we did see the mother on Friday.  Shortly before we saw her, there were a bunch of teenagers crashing through the brush nearby.  I can only assume that they saw the kittens and were trying to see how close they could get to them.  At least I hope that was the extent of their plans…  The mother kept looking in that direction, so after taking a few pictures we left her to reassemble her family.

We were relieved to find her and both kittens the following morning.  Amazingly, we ran into them just as they briefly emerged from hiding.  We were able to follow them from a distance and watch the young male do a bit of hunting before the mother decided it was time to go.  As usual, the female kitten was the last one to get the message and I got several photos of her bounding after the other two.

“Forlorn Mother”  –  Goleta, CA

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Dry Bobcats

December 13, 2009

I can’t believe it’s been so  long since I’ve posted a bobcat update.  Last week was a time of contrasts.  The week started off with chilly but clear Fall weather and ended with a series of Winter storms that brought a decent amount of rain to the area.

While it was still dry I had two particularly good days photographing the bobcats.  On the first day the bobcats were spotted hunting out in the open while their mother watched from some nearby brush.  The young female is still quite comfortable around us and approached closely several times.  I was able to get some great backlit shots of her while she posed a few feet away.  The second day we found the young bobcats hunting at dusk and I got a nice panning shot of the male bounding away after successfully hiding from a passing dog.  We also saw a rabbit running faster than I’ve ever seen one run before.  I have a feeling the young female bobcat had something to do with that…

“Young Female Bobcat Stalking”  –  Goleta, CA

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Florida – Viera Wetlands

December 13, 2009

The last stop of the trip was to Viera Wetlands, as recommended by another photographer on Flickr.  This location has a series of manmade ponds adjacent to a water treatment center.  The ponds were buzzing with activity and we saw tons of water birds, an Osprey with a good sized fish, many Alligators, and a River Otter even ran across the gravel road in front of us!  The photographic highlight was getting to watch an American Bittern up close.  I can’t believe that I got great looks at two in one day!  It’s too bad that the bird appeared to have an injured foot, otherwise it appeared to be in good health.

“American Bittern”  –  Viera Wetlands, Brevard County, Florida

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Florida – Merritt Island II

December 13, 2009

On our way to Viera Wetlands, we dropped by Merritt Island to look for bobcats again.  We got there early on a weekday and the place was quite empty, with only a few other diehard photographers and birders.  As I previously mentioned we had no luck with the bobcats but we did see a lot of interesting birds.  The best find of the morning was an American Bittern followed by flybys of a Wood Stork and Roseate Spoonbill.  We also found a large group of Black Vultures feeding on a wild boar carcass.  I don’t think I’ll forget the smell any time soon!

“American Bittern”  –  Blackpoint Wildlife Drive, Merritt Island, Florida

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