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offshorebirder

Another (better) Bobcat encounter

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offshorebirder

Sorry it took a while to post this - I have been in the field a *lot* lately.

 

On December 14, on the McClellanville Christmas Bird Count, I had a long and close encounter with a Bobcat. My friend Tommy Graham and I suspect we were the first humans it had seen.

 

The encounter took place on Murphy Island, a state-owned Wildlife Management Area in mid-coastal South Carolina, USA. It is a vast and wild place, as eastern U.S. sites go. The coordinates of our encounter for those interested in checking it out on Google Earth, etc. are: 33° 6.211'N 79° 19.909'W It was in the middle of the day, an unusual time for a Bobcat encounter this time of year.

 

We had just finished eating lunch, on a dike near a wooded hammock. We were standing there, watching distant flocks of waterfowl in flight, and far off down the dike, we saw a Bobcat approaching. It got closer and stalked down into the reeds beside a marshy former ricefield impoundment.

 

We knew better than to try sneaking up on it in vain, so we kept absolutely still and quiet, with Tommy edging behind me to hide behind my perfect grassland/marshland camouflage clothing. Sure enough, in a few minutes the Bobcat edged out of cover and back up onto the dike, scanning carefully. It then proceeded towards us!

 

It got pretty close until it winded us. Then it finally spotted us. But rather than flee, it paused and crept slightly closer. It seemed to be wondering whether we were prey or a threat. It seemed so unfamiliar with Homo sapiens that we figured it might be a young adult cat and had not seen humans before (except perhaps DNR staff in vehicles or on tractors on a rare occasion).

 

After creeping closer, suddenly the Bobcat decided we were dangerous, and it turned and raced out of sight.

 

Here are some photos and captions (that get better as the Bobcat gets closer). Photos taken with a Canon 7D Mk I + 300mm f/4 IS lens.

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Bobcat - stalking down to the edge of a ricefield impoundment.

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Bobcats blend in!

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Bobcat sniffing around.

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Bobcat feeling sleepy.

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Bobcat walking towards me.

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Bobcat glancing to the side

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Bobcat - just noticed me

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Bobcat - just noticed me

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Bobcat wondering what to do

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Uh oh - I better get out of here.

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Bye bye, Bobcat!

Edited by offshorebirder

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marg

how fortunate you are! We have not had a bobcat sighting in a while. I do not know if the number of coyotes has had an impact. I do hope that we still have a few around here. Binocs and camera are ready.

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Soukous

I've never seen a bobcat before so it is really cool to see your encounter

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offshorebirder

Sorry your sightings have temporarily dried up @@marg - let's hope they resume soon.

 

Thanks @@Soukous - glad to share.

 

It is neat how Bobcats have such subtle spots and stripes. They seem most pronounced on the tail, and the inside of the legs.

 

Their body fur seems kind of rabbit-like - brown above with pale tummies.

 

And I just love their Lynx-like "sideburns".

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PCNW

Thanks OSB, the bobcat looks fairly large to me.

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offshorebirder

@@PCNW - it was indeed a large Bobcat - Tommy and I were starting to get worried after it spotted us and kept approaching.

 

I was just about to say "don't run whatever you do" when it got apprehensive and turned and ran.

 

Now I know what a Deer feels like looking into those eyes.

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Big_Dog

Simply superb!

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marg

@@offshorebirder It's funny in that the first sighting of a bobcat that we had I thought that it was a big house cat. They are not too much larger. Correct, we have not had a sighting in a while but yesterday someone told me that there is a pair of bobcats in the area. The coyotes are plentiful and around...scat every where and we hear them at night. My husband sees them occasionally on his early morning walk. I am always looking and hopeful that I will have a sighting.

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offshorebirder

@@marg - this Bobcat looked like it was 30 pounds or so. These ones that live near freshwater wetlands have an abundant food supply - perhaps they are larger than your desert-dwelling ones?

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fictionauthor

That's a wonderful photo sequence of a healthy-looking bobcat. And I love the story.

 

Here is the opposite - me at home, realizing what I think is a bobcat drinking from my water barrel on my balcony. With shaking hands, I grab the closest thing --my old iPad -- to shoot the one of the cat standing and then my slightly better iPhone 6 to shoot the other - but apologies for the quality.

 

I live in Southern California, three minutes from the city, but in a foothill area, so we've seen coyote and deer. But lately we've not heard or seen coyotes. This was a very hot evening, so we're guessing the cat came down from the mountain in search of water (we're having a severe drought). I shot through the glass doors and he didn't mind. He was giving himself a bath when my husband looked at him through a window that was very close and the cat scurried off.

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Edited by fictionauthor

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Geoff

@@PCNW - it was indeed a large Bobcat - Tommy and I were starting to get worried after it spotted us and kept approaching.

 

I was just about to say "don't run whatever you do" when it got apprehensive and turned and ran.

 

Now I know what a Deer feels like looking into those eyes.

@@offshorebirder That's a great encounter. I know nothing at all about Bobcats. Surely they would not consider humans as prey or attack you unless they felt threatened or were cornered?

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marg

@@fictionauthor...how fortunate you are! We have not seen a bobcat for a couple of years. It is a very special sighting!

 

@@Geoff...no. they are only slightly larger than a big house cat.

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fictionauthor

Marg, do yours look like this? I only once before had a sighting at our home, several years ago. It was running away and dashed into a woody area. I wasn't 100% positive then that it wasn't someone's pet Savannah cat that had gotten out. But now I think that was a bobcat too. It's such a treat to see something like this right outside your window. A free mini safari. :)

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offshorebirder

@@Geoff - you are right, they are too small to consider humans prey and rarely attack them.

 

I have read newspaper articles about Deer hunters getting lacerated by Bobcats, but one never knows the circumstances that led to it.

 

This particular cat seemed rational and steady with no foaming at the mouth, but the possibility of rabies is always something to consider when normally skittish + nocturnal mammals keep approaching you in the open during daylight.

 

It was so outside the realm of normal behavior for it to keep approaching us even after spotting us, that it kind of blew our mind...

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marg

@@fictionauthor...yes. I think that the ones that we have seen are slightly more gray in color. Suggestion for you is to keep a bucket of fresh water for it and see if it will return. I know we are to conserve water but I do think that this is a special situation and not wasteful.

 

@@offshorebirder...but we had one go to sleep in our yard and it knew that I was there.

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offshorebirder

@@marg - how lucky you are. Good point - I should have probably drawn a distinction between Bobcats deep in the bush and those which may be habituated to human activity in developed areas...

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fictionauthor

@@Geoff - the possibility of rabies is always something to consider when normally skittish + nocturnal mammals keep approaching you in the open during daylight.

 

It was so outside the realm of normal behavior for it to keep approaching us even after spotting us, that it kind of blew our mind...

Geoff, I get why you cautious in that circumstance - very wise.

Marg, my water barrels are fountains, always going, so that bobcat is welcome back anytime for a drink!

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Tom Kellie

Marg, my water barrels are fountains, always going, so that bobcat is welcome back anytime for a drink!

 

~ @@fictionauthor

 

Very glad to know that!

Throughout my life, I never saw a bobcat.

Glad that you did!

Tom K.

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fictionauthor

@ Tom Kellie, you'll be interested in knowing that the bobcat returned the other night. I didn't have my camera nearby, but he sauntered across the balcony as I was cooking dinner. He seems to favor sunsets.

 

The other day, I was swimming and looked up to see an eagle land at the very top of a tall pine tree. It's the first time I've seen an eagle in my area. He landed and sort of bent down. Then I saw another bird, I don't know the name but it's black and white and a medium size. It flew from the other direction and went in for a landing -- then seemed shocked to find an eagle there. He flew to a lower branch and waited.

 

Finally, he/she flew up and attacked the eagle (which was maybe ten times her size) over and over until the eagle flew away. She stayed on his tail until I couldn't see either of them due to the trees. She came back, after maybe five minutes, flew to the top of the tree but immediately left. I imagine the eagle must have eaten her eggs or chicks, don't you think? I really don't know much about eagle habits.

 

Amazing what you can see in your own backyard.

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Tom Kellie

@ Tom Kellie, you'll be interested in knowing that the bobcat returned the other night. I didn't have my camera nearby, but he sauntered across the balcony as I was cooking dinner. He seems to favor sunsets.

 

The other day, I was swimming and looked up to see an eagle land at the very top of a tall pine tree. It's the first time I've seen an eagle in my area. He landed and sort of bent down. Then I saw another bird, I don't know the name but it's black and white and a medium size. It flew from the other direction and went in for a landing -- then seemed shocked to find an eagle there. He flew to a lower branch and waited.

 

Finally, he/she flew up and attacked the eagle (which was maybe ten times her size) over and over until the eagle flew away. She stayed on his tail until I couldn't see either of them due to the trees. She came back, after maybe five minutes, flew to the top of the tree but immediately left. I imagine the eagle must have eaten her eggs or chicks, don't you think? I really don't know much about eagle habits.

 

Amazing what you can see in your own backyard.

 

~ @@fictionauthor

 

This is terrific to know!

I especially love such detailed wildlife encounter descriptions.

Without meaning to pry, is your home nearer the ocean or more inland?

I used to live on Broad Beach Road in Malibu and before that in Brentwood, so I have some sense of the Southland.

When I lived there, decades ago, I never once saw any wildlife of the caliber you've described.

Ample sparrows and seagulls, though.

Your description does have the sense of a nesting eagle.

Many Thanks!

Tom K.

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fictionauthor

Hi @@Tom Kellie

 

I have friends in Brentwood and Malibu. Broad Beach is a lovely area. You must have seen dolphins and sea lions!

 

I'm more inland, in the foothills, so that's why I'm getting so much wildlife. It's only minutes to the city, but with the drought, more animals are coming down. Last night there were these racoonprints-e1435898724996.jpgfootprints

leading from my pool steps to my water barrels. I'm pretty sure this is a raccoon that comes around sometimes. I don't leave any food, he's just attracted to the water. I can't figure out if he fell in the pool, or he tried to drink from it, using his hands, and then went to the fresh water barrels. I love these mysteries!

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Tom Kellie

Hi @@Tom Kellie

 

I have friends in Brentwood and Malibu. Broad Beach is a lovely area. You must have seen dolphins and sea lions!

 

I'm more inland, in the foothills, so that's why I'm getting so much wildlife. It's only minutes to the city, but with the drought, more animals are coming down. Last night there were these racoonprints-e1435898724996.jpgfootprints

leading from my pool steps to my water barrels. I'm pretty sure this is a raccoon that comes around sometimes. I don't leave any food, he's just attracted to the water. I can't figure out if he fell in the pool, or he tried to drink from it, using his hands, and then went to the fresh water barrels. I love these mysteries!

 

~ @@fictionauthor

 

Thank you! Those years were very pleasant with happy memories to this day.

Your mystery visitor does indeed seem to be a raccoon...a stealthy one, at that!

Very interesting. It must wait until lights are low and stillness prevails. Then step – step – step to your water barrels.

No one's the wiser, except for a skilled YA author who knows clues when she sees them.

Truly delightful!

I haven't been back in North America for a couple of decades, so miss seeing raccoons.

Thank you for the photo, which is more intriguing than a photo of the raccoon itself might be.

I too love such mysteries!

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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