Sunday, November 20, 2022

Bobcat, with kittens

BLOG NOTE: About every week of late, someone asks me 1) why I stopped making blog posts, or 2) why the email notifications for new posts went away. The two are related, as #1 is from people who depended on those email blasts to alert them to a new post and didn't otherwise check. For reasons unknown, to me at least, my platform, Blogspot, did away with the email notification system. As it's apparently now completely phased out the email notifications have stopped arriving. I wish they hadn't, as do I'm sure all other bloggers who used that service. I don't as yet know a workaround or other solutions, and don't know when/if I will. If you like seeing the content here, I would recommend that you bookmark the blog, and check in routinely. I normally create one or two posts weekly.

A female Bobcat (Lynx rufus) crosses a forest road with two kittens. This was in Shawnee State Forest in southern Ohio, where there is probably a sizable population. Nonetheless, even though I have spent scores of hours there over the last 25+ years, these are the first cats I've clapped eyes on in Shawnee.

I was out in the woods at dawn yesterday, with two primary missions: 1) shoot imagery of frost flowers, and 2) engage on some bird photography. Success on #1 and I'll post later about these strange ephemeral ice formations.

By 8:30 am or so, I was about a half mile back in the tangled growth of an old reverting clear cut. This is a good spot for several woodpecker species, including Red-headed Woodpecker. Lots of fruiting Staghorn Sumac promised Hermit Thrush, and there were at least two, but they never presented themselves well. After an hour or so the wind started coming up, and as I wasn't getting much action I headed back for the car.

Fortunately, I had pulled the Jeep far enough off the forest road that it wasn't glaringly apparent from down the road. As is my habit, when I arrived at the vehicle, I glanced down the road. Voila! The three cats were in the act of crossing, and I made the image above shortly after spotting them. They didn't make me, either. Using the rear of the vehicle as a blind, I dropped my tripod on the ground and was ready to shoot within seconds. NOTE: I almost never turn off my camera or disassemble the rig until I'm ready to stow it in the vehicle. Never know what might happen and you want to be ready for it when it does. ANOTHER NOTE: While it goes without saying that, when stalking game, one should wear colors that aren't conspicuous, it's also a good practice to try and walk quietly, something that seems to be a dying art. Avoiding even creating the crackle of leaves or the grating of pebbles might offer you an edge over wary targets. Outside heel down first, roll onto the foot, etc. By doing so, one can move along soundlessly. All this might have helped me from unknowingly alerting the cats before I had the chance to see them, although I was distant enough that that worked in my favor too. Fortunately, I had just been after birds, so my big 800mm was on the tripod.

The two kittens watch their mother melt into the brush. They messed about on the road's edge for a minute, one even taking a few air bats at the other, before disappearing as well.

I've seen Bobcat twice before in Ohio and both were good looks, but not in situations where I could photograph them. I'm planning on writing more about these cats in a future newspaper column and will post that here after it appears.



Anonymous said...

This makes exciting reading - thanks for the backstory on how you managed to see these 'cats and get such an evocative photo.


Jack and Brenda said...

That had to be awesome to see in person! I know that the chances of seeing one in our woods in Shelby county are absolutely slim to none, but I always try to walk quietly and keep an eye out for one.

Lynn said...

Fantastic find! Thanks for posting these bobcat photos.

Woody Meristem said...

Congratulations both on seeing them and getting photos. Although I've seen a few bobcats here, photographs have eluded me other than on my camera traps.

Jim McCormac said...

Thanks all for the nice comments! I hope to have the opportunity to work with these cats again 😺

Michael Miller said...

Wow, what a discovery! I went to California to look for bobcats at Point Reyes (and saw two distant cats) but I still haven't photographed any well. What an awesome surprise that must have been.