Archive for October 22nd, 2009

Wild Side of Life

Bobcat photo hi litedI wrote about seeing a bobcat or lynx a few weeks ago near my studio.  I was pretty excited because it was so much larger than I had expected, not the slightly oversized housecat that I had been led to believe it appear to be.  As the weeks passed I began to have doubts creep into my own memories of the event.  Maybe it wasn’t that big.  Maybe I was just overstating for effect.  I’ve done it before.

Maybe I was one of those people, key witnesses to a crime, who swear they’ve seen a large, dark assailant only to find out later that the person wasn’t so large or so dark.

I was afraid of a failure of observation.  Seeing more than was there.

So, I decided to set up a scout camera, used by naturalists and hunters to covertly photograph natural settings.  These cameras have motion sensors and film both single images and video.  They also have infrared flashes for night settings that flash without alarming the subject.

I set mine up in a patch of woods near my studio, a  relatively young thicket where I last saw the cat pass through and decided I would leave it there for a few days without checking it.  I really didn’t expect much.  Maybe a few of the family of deer that reside on my property.  Maybe a coyote or a raccoon.  Who knows?

So I picked up the camera on Saturday morning about 10:30 and went to check it out at the studio.  At first I thought there was nothing, just wildly swinging pictures of me trying to attach the camera to the tree as the motion sensor went  off.  Then I noticed a night photo that I first thought was empty.  Probably a breeze blew a leaf across the sensor.  Then in the corner I noticed a head.

Bobcat Night hi liteA cat’s head.

There was my bobcat.  There were the tufted ears.  But I couldn’t get a sense of scale or size.

But he was there.  I checked the time and it was two days previous, just past midnight.  I thought that was about all I would probably get but it was enough for me.  I had an image of him, at least.BobCat small walk

But then in the next photo, a daytime photo, there he was again, going under a hanging branch.  I could immediately see the scale and size of him.  He was as big as I had thought.  He was a substantial cat, much larger than I had anticipated a bobcat being.  This shot was of him walking away and the next he was turning slightly to go around the bend in the path so I could see him even clearer, could see that he was as thick and heavily muscled as I had first thought when I saw him in my driveway.  That’s the photo at the top of the post.

The time said 9:26 of that very morning, only an hour before I retrieved the camera.  I went back out and was able to measure him in relation to the hanging  branch and the several branches on the ground.  I figure he’s between 20- 24 ” tall at his shoulder (just above my knee) and between 40-44″ long.  Pretty good size.  He was quite a bit bigger than my beloved Maggie, a shepherd-husky that we had many, many years ago.

Now I know this is no big deal.  There are plenty of big cats out there.  Probably those of you who have mountain lions in your area are not impressed.  I understand that.  I’m just thrilled that I was able to observe this creature and do so with some accuracy.

Hopefully, I’ll see him again…

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