While up here in the Great White North (relative to Santa Barbara, anyway) I couldn’t resist the opportunity to photograph some Lynx in the snow at the Minnesota Zoo. On exhibit were a mother and her two female kittens. They were all very playful and a ton of fun to watch.
Canadian Lynx – Minnesota Zoo
Last Saturday, we headed North and hit some hotspots along the coast. I believe this was the first time that I’ve ever seen sun at Oso Flaco. It was still early for the wintering ducks, but there was a small group of Cinnamon Teal and several Eared Grebes at the lake. We even managed to find one American White Pelican and a lone Osprey at the far side of the lake. However, the highlight was the nearly tame Raccoons we ran into. I know that they mean trouble for the nesting Least Terns, but they are so darn cute! After Oso Flaco, we headed up to Morro Bay to look for the Sea Otters. Initially, it appeared that they weren’t around, but eventually they swam over to check us out.
Wow, I can’t believe we are already well into June. May was filled with travel and I apologize for not updating the blog in so long. I don’t think I’ve ever traveled to such a variety of places in such a short period of time. The month started with a weekend trip up to Big Sur in which the highlights were seeing at least five California Condors, numerous Elephant Seals, Sea Otters, and a trio of Black-tailed Deer. We even found some fresh Bobcat tracks and scat, but didn’t see any cats… maybe next time.
A couple weeks later we headed further north and ended up in Yellowstone National Park. If you are a fan of large wildlife, mid-May is the time to be there. In addition to thousands of Bison with calves and plenty of Elk; we saw Grizzlies with cubs, many Black Bears, Coyotes, Bighorn Sheep, Pronghorn, and my first Wolves. What an amazing trip!
To cap off the month, I braved the Memorial Day weekend crowds and headed up to Sequoia National Park in the hopes of seeing some Bears. The trip was spectacularly successful, and I saw eight bears in about 2 hours on Sunday evening. If you are in California, I highly recommend getting up there soon while the bears are easy to find at the grassy meadows. They won’t be this concentrated for very long.
Here are a few photo highlights from the month.
“Elephant Seals” – San Simeon, California
Two of the local bobcats were kind enough to make a rare appearance on my birthday last week. We were thrilled to find the young female and upon review of my images, it was clear that she was spending most of her time marking her territory. I’m wondering how her mother feels about her daughter laying claim to the same area. Based on published research, this is very early for a female to be marking like this. I think this young one has grand aspirations.
Later, we saw both young bobcats together. The young female disappeared but her brother calmly laid beneath some brush before coming out to watch us. Once he got bored with that, he spent some time grooming, gave himself a good scratch and walked away. All in all, it was a great day!
“Young Female Bobcat”
Looks like the Vancouver Olympics camera crews are having some bobcat sightings too. (It’s definitely not a Lynx, as was initially reported.) I can’t let them have all the fun, so here are some images from our Wednesday evening encounter. Most of the bobcats have been very difficult to find lately, so it was very rewarding to find and watch him for an extended period of time. He was actively hunting when we first saw him and he quickly caught a large rat, which he proceeded to kill and then play with for many minutes. He seemed to really be enjoying himself and would bat the carcass high into the air and go chasing after it. Unfortunately he was hiding behind a line of brush so we would only occasionally see the rat go flying through the air, followed shortly thereafter by an airborne bobcat.
There were quite a few people walking up and down the path adjacent to his hunting field and we were surprised that he repeatedly crossed this path right in front of some dog-walkers and us. He would run by so quickly that most of the people didn’t even know he had crossed. I was happy to see some Flickr friends at the park just as we found the bobcat again. He spent quite a bit of time hunting a field right in front of us and caught at least one more rat. This was a wonderful change from the very short sightings we have been having recently.
“Friendly Feline” – Goleta, CA
As promised, here are some photos of the bobcats taken over the past week or so. We saw the female kitten early in the week and then saw the adult male later in the week. I also had a very rare daytime sighting of the mother on Saturday. All in all, a pretty good week considering the weather. Based on my prior experience, once the breeding season ends the sightings will become much less frequent. Luckily it is looking like we should have a spectacular wildflower year and I hope to be on the road as much as possible this Spring.
“Shy Today” – Young Female Bobcat, Goleta, CA