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What's That In the Meadow??

Saturday, December 15, 2018



In my living room are a large plate glass window and a sliding glass door. Both look out onto the best view on the place, which is a diverse and overgrown meadow. It's like a gallery of wildlife. I start every morning peering out, even before it gets fully light, to see who might be out there. 

It's a rare morning that there's not at least a whitetail out there, browsing around.
As I do my morning routine, I trot back to the living room every few minutes to scan the grasses for any anomaly. I know every bush, stick and clump in that meadow. Anything out of the ordinary, I see.

 Anyone watching me on a given morning would think there was something wrong with me, trotting back and forth from studio to living room like a hamster on a wheel. But they don't know how high are the stakes here.
This scanning behavior is often enough richly rewarded that I keep it up.

On this frigid morning, December 10,  hoarfrost covered everything and gave it a ghostly, mystic air. And on one of my scanning trips, there was a brown lump where there had never been one before. I was carrying a big bag of raw suet from the fridge, and when I saw that lump I dropped the bag--plump! right on the living room carpet, where it lay for the rest of the day until I remembered what I'd been doing when the world stopped turning. I dashed for my camera.



But there was no need to hurry. That lump wasn't going anywhere.



It was licking its big soft paws as if it were 65 degrees out, instead of 22. I was shooting through the glass of the living room window. For such a rare opportunity, I longed to shoot through thin air. 
So while it was licking its paws, I crept over and slid the deck door open a few inches.


Close enough to hear, it lifted its head. Did I just hear something? 



 Nah. Must've been my imagination. Back to the paws. Lick, lick, lick sliiiiiiide. Head up. Freeze. Lick, lick, sliiiide


until I got the whole lens and my head and shoulders out and was able to shoot through the deck rails. Much better. Notice how the tongue is still just barely protruding. I've seen housecats in the middle of grooming themselves look around with their tongues out. But 
This. 
Is. A. 
Bobcat.

  


I've had some mighty sweet bobcat encounters. More than I could have ever dreamt.  I thought about James, the 2016 male, and Cindy, the 2017 female, both of whom took up hunting on August 17 in their respective years of visitation, right in my yard, taking out squirrels and rabbits until there weren't enough to bother with. How I was able to photograph them right from my drawing board. How I got to see Cindy kill a squirrel and a chipmunk, and James try multiple times to catch anything at all. Cindy smoked him for hunting prowess. But he must've gotten something, because the rabbits dwindled and the squirrels went from 9 to none, and then he moved on.

Now here sat this beautiful cat, right in the path, just biding its time, as if it were waiting for someone. Of course, my mind was racing, wondering if I had ever seen it before. Could it be James?

Click, click, click. I kept making pictures, crouched down by the open deck door. I was thankful I'd had the sense to put a coat and hat on when I started, because I figured it'd get really cold.


 I kept shooting as long as it was there. What else could I do? You don't walk away from a calm, resting bobcat.

And it raised its head high and slitted its eyes. What could it be looking at? I didn't dare take my lens off it, so I just kept shooting.


And the unbelievable happened. This is uncropped, to show you what a narrow little window I had between the deck rails.  You're going to want to click on this, and all of them. Because how often do we get to luxuriate in the stripes and spots of a wild cat, right in our own backyard?

Or, um...TWO. 


Next: Who's that lady??

16 comments:

The similarity in poses between the bobcat and a house cat are very close.
Can't wait for installment # 2.

GASP! 2! WOW!

You're too lucky (fortunate) how very beautiful they are. And I was feeling happy to hear owls [GHOW]the past 2 weeks pfffft

Oh my stars!!!! I’ve considered my encounters with bobcats among the most magical experiences of my life.

Oh my God. This is amazing.

Beautiful shots!!!!

OK, let me be the first to say this is a PURRRRRfect post!

Whoa!

OHMYGOODNESS - TWO?? Such beautiful animals. Loved the story of the having to sneak the door open and shooting between rails. I've done that, but was too excited to remember a hat & coat! I absolutely have no expertise on bobcats, but the last picture made me laugh-out-loud. The way the one is walking in - that strut / sidling up to the sitting cat, makes me call him *the man*. :-)

*squeal* you have the best animal encounters!!

Fantastic! I'm an indoor cat person so this just makes it all the better. The behavior - I've seen it over and over in my home. Eager to see the next installment. When I lived in the Marietta, OH countryside, there were always wonderful surprises in the woods and in the trees but never a bobcat sighting. (I tust the book is finished and on its way for publication?) Kim in PA

Glorious and fabulous! Encounters with the Others. Gosh dang it!

I dreamed that a Bobcat walked across the road in front of us as we drove around doing a CBC. Now I get to read your post about Bobcats. What a thrill. This is probably as close as I will get to one but I keep on hoping and keep my eyes open

So amazingly cool, Julie. What a great place to live and what great opportunities to see critters! Can't wait for #2.

Don't know how you do it, Julie, but your story and photographs somehow make me feel as though I saw the bobcats too! I was just as excited as you must have been. Thanks for this gift.

I have 20 trail cams out, here in central NY, all with the intention of getting some good bobcat pictures or videos. And there you are in your house getting the pics of a life time! Thanks for sharing!

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