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Monday, June 20, 2011

Leaping Bobcat

I've been spoiled over the past weeks of endless sunshine and comfortably warm air. I've rolled out on my mountain bike each morning in shorts and a jersey without a worry about the weather turning nasty.

Yesterday, it was obvious that change was on the way starting with the ominous clouds billowing around the lofty peaks behind K in this photo.
Last night, torrential rains started, pounding on our metal roof like a million woodpeckers announcing their territory. The sound continued through the night. When I woke up, it was 36°F and raining - perfect hypothermia weather.

I found many ways to procrastinate about starting my mountain bike ride - switching petals between bikes, installing new cleats on my gore-tex riding shoes - my creativity knew no bounds. It was a very rare occasion when procrastination actually helped. The temperature had broken 40°F and the rain had dwindled to a smattering of drops by the time that K and I rolled out the door. She and I did a short ride together before I headed out on my own.

During my solo ride, I saw sun, clouds, torrential rain, and finally sun again. I had forgotten how difficult it is to slog through gloppy mud. My ride took approximately an hour longer than usual for the route, and I was knackered at the end. However, I have to admit that I had a blast. I love seeing the forests and meadows under all sorts of conditions - including overcast skies with rain. And, the wildflowers.... they're stunning with water droplets hanging from them. I hope to share a few photos soon.

I checked some wildlife cameras while I was on my ride, and I captured heart-melting cute video of the doe and her *two* fawns yesterday. I can't upload it due to my terrible internet connection but I hope to soon!

On the wildlife front, this weekend, we witnessed an amazing feat by a bobcat just outside our windows. Below, you can see a photo of a bird house that the squirrels have commandeered. We've decided to let them have it because none of our efforts to deter them have worked - so it's now a very active squirrel house with the rodents coming and going in a bustle. The squirrel house is about 20' off the ground.
As I was pecking away at my keyboard, I heard the Runner call, "Come quick. There's a bobcat walking down the driveway!". I sprinted, grabbing my camera on the way. By the time I arrived at the window with a view, the bobcat was up in the tree, hanging from the squirrel house. The Runner says that the bobcat leaped vertically about 2/3 of the way up to the squirrel house and then clung to the tree before climbing the last few feet. Sadly, I didn't get a photo of the bobcat in the tree.

Then, the bobcat either accidentally or purposefully, let go of the squirrel house and fell to the ground. Like the cat that he is, he landed on his feet. He stood still for a long moment after landing with his bobbed tail twitching back and forth. Then, the bobcat seemed to zero in on me and Runner standing inside the house watching him. We received a long probing gaze.
With that, the bobcat moved down our driveway and into the cover of forest. He walked briskly and with purpose but never broke out of a walk.
Sometimes I find it amusing that I put wildlife cameras out in the forest to capture interesting behavior by our wild animals yet some of the most fascinating events happen right outside my house. I've never seen a bobcat in a tree before. I'd always wondered how they descend from trees - headfirst or tail-first? I'm still not sure that I know the answer to that last question because the bobcat's sudden descent might have been accidental.

But, one thing that I do know is that cats can jump/fall safely from very high in trees. If I'm ever faced with a mountain lion in a tree again, I'll follow my instincts and hightail it away from the area. Years ago, during a mountain bike ride, K and I were descending from Hug Hill when we came around a curve to find a mountain lion in front of us. Before I could react, K sprinted straight at him, barking ferociously. Because K is still alive, you know that her strategy worked. In fact, the lion went straight up a Lodgepole Pine tree. When I told the story to a mountain lion expert, he said that I would have been safe to peruse the lion after he was treed. After watching the bobcat leap/fall to the ground this weekend, I'm not so sure that it would be safe. I'm glad that K and I fled from the mountain lion in the tree.

That expert also asked if K was available for training as a "lion dog" (K was the perfect age - about 1 year old - for starting training). Apparently, few dogs naturally have the reaction to seeing a lion that K did - and the ones that do turn out to be awesome at treeing mountain lions. Scientists use these dogs so that they can dart a treed lion with a tranquilizer and put a GPS collar on it. I politely told him that K wasn't available for that kind of work. I think that you all know the reasons.

A big reason was that life is already too short - especially a dog's life.


  1. Hi Y'all,

    What an incredible post about the lion and bobcat.

    They say we have coyote and mountain lion in our mountains. I've only seen bobcat and bear. We have wild pigs in the mountains and here in the low country. Everyone tells stories, including my husband who grew up there, of a panther that lurks in the mountains and screams like a terrorized woman. On one of our walks I heard the screams. They were truly bone chilling.

    The final shot of clouds and mountains is stunning.

    Y'all come by now,
    BrownDog's Human

  2. What a day!! Beautiful pictures....the bobcat looks like he is really staring at you and means business!! I can only imagine what it looked like when he jumped into that tree! Exciting from the window for sure. If I was outside and ran into one or a lion or bear, I'd be history because I'd scream and be gone! It's amazing that it gets that cold there and it's so hot all of the time here. Humid and hot. Heavy rain last night but it just made it more humid. The only wildlife I've seen lately is a groundhog!! Love your pictures!!! Lots of love, Debbie & Holly

  3. we never knew that jumped around like that, guess you just don't think about it
    Benny & Lily

  4. What a beautiful capture of the bobcat, he was staring right at you! It gave me the shivers!

    Thanks for filling me in on your cameras. I always wondered how you could carry a big camera with you when biking! Now I know you don't!

  5. All good stories and pics! I am glad K and you rejected lion training for the girl. Just let the dog be a dog! Those collar attachers could find another job too, if it were up to me.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  6. What a cool experience seeing the bob cat jumping up the tree!
    Sometime I think about all the activity at night,, right here in my forest, as I sleep.
    We saw a bob cat walking down the road a few days ago,,,he looked just like yours.
    Mother Nature is still stiring the season,, spring does not want to let go,,, and I think she showed you....

  7. Oh my goodness! What a sight to have witnessed! I'm impressed that no matter the urgency, bobcats seem to saunter their way out of everything!

    I'm glad K had that reaction, and also glad that it's never been tested again - either by chance or training.

  8. The sunset photo,,, oh I feel it...
    thank you!

  9. What fantastic photos at the beginning and end of the post! I'm betting that bobcat is the family comedian! What a funny little guy. The lion story is pretty impressive. I guess K has a lot more talents than I ever realized!

    You were the only person to notice the missing teacup today! I actually was taking pictures of the stuffed Greyhounds and decided to add Bunny in on a lark. When my hubby brought her out, he grabbed a coffee mug instead of a teacup, so I left it out. And yes, they were real cookies. She ate one after the pictures were finished!

  10. You are right, Life is too short! Better to enjoy the incredible niche you and your family have carved out living in respectful harmony. the rewards are tremendous.

  11. Leaping bobcats , gloopy mud and lion dogs. You've served up a great way to start a Tuesday !

  12. What an amazing adventure you have every where you go and look. I know I have thanked you before but I'm going to say it again. Thank you for sharing your stories and the wonderful life you live.

    I think K already has her job in life, protecting you. :)

  13. Everyday is an adventure!
    K a lion dog? Only your lion dog....what a brave girl!
    The cat is so beautiful....

  14. What a neat bobcat sighting! As athletic as they are, I'm afraid canines are one-upped by felines in the physical feats department.

    Life flies for all of us. I love how you live that with every opportunity to carpe diem. Rain and all!

  15. What an amazing thing to see, a bobcat up a tree~ A memory to last the rest of your lifetime. The mountain lion that you ran into, eh, a memory for sure, and now that you're safe, maybe that little chill that runs up your spine when you think about it has been reduced to a pleasantly frightening thing.

    But, what I want to know is, how the heck did you get that squirrel house 20 feet up on the trunk of that tree?

  16. So hoping or roof gets done before that rain heads our way:)

    We are very glad you denied K that unique opportunity - much better for her to share her life with you and have so much fun.

    That bobcat story was so exciting to read, but I am glad it happened at your place and not mine.

  17. Gosh, the idea of using K to tree mountain lions.. never! That'd be almost blasphemous for you. So stressful on both the dog and lion - wish they wouldn't do stuff like that...

  18. I love that last photo. You are a determined soul to get out on your bike on a cool, wet morning.

  19. K's life is much more valuable than a GPS collar for the opening and closing pics. Looking forward to the flowers pics with droplets...oh to have a macro lens...some day.

  20. Whoa! My heart was pounding reading about K running right at that mountain lion. Love the pictures of the bobcat!

    Your pal, Pip

  21. Two years ago my husband called me in a similar manner. Very early in the morning and a bobcat was walking across our driveway into the forest. What a sight!

    I also love it when the weather changes during the day. Of course I'm not interested in 36 and rain, thank you very much.

  22. Wow, what an amazing story and photograph. As I have told you before, my one chance of catching a good look at a bobcat in front of me, even that time was too short to grab the camera and make the shot it was so unexpected.

    And, yes, I understand. While I totally respect the necessary research on our wildlife friends, I love seeing some of our more wild game without those collars on them.

  23. What an incredible thing to watch from your own home! Better than ANYTHING on TV!!!

    Glad K has such good cat instincts. The only bobcat I've ever seen was in a tree, and not coming down as long as I was aiming a big black camera at him/her.

  24. Your world never ceases to amaze me! I'm thinking the bobcat must have fallen accidentally. That's quite a drop. I saw a story once that said cat actually fall better from high distances than lower ones because they have time to put their bodies in the proper position for "free falling." At any rate, they have better falling skills than humans.

    The mountain lion story gave me chills. K is a very brave girl. I would have required therapy for a while if I encountered any kind of lion in the wild.


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