The Bobcat

On a visit to Pt. Reyes this week, we came upon this beautiful bobcat. One of my favorite wilderness haunts in northern California, Pt. Reyes did not disappoint.

When we came upon this bobcat, it was in a field where we had seen a bobcat about two years earlier. Since the pandemic curtailed travel two years ago, we have been visiting Pt. Reyes nearly every month and we always drive slowly at this spot, every single visit, searching, scanning, always looking to get lucky with another siting. And this time…bingo.

Lynx rufus is very territorial, so it’s probably the same individual we saw earlier.

This is a female. Her body was about three feet (a meter) long; sleek and muscular.

Unlike all the other times I have observed a wild bobcat, she did not disappear right away.

She continued to prowl in the grassy field. Then she was crouched and clearly stalking something.

Athena quietly jumped out of the car and huddled behind the vehicle, using it for a partial blind as she snapped these photos.

Another minute went by and then the bobcat pounced. She came up with a large pocket gopher firmly clenched in her jaws.

Instead of heading in the opposite direction to indulge in her prize, the bobcat surprisingly walked right past us.

Females solely care for the young who are typically born in April or May, so we determined she caught this pocket gopher for her kittens.

She was on a mission to feed some hungry mouths. Probably three or four waiting for her in their den, where they will depend on her for about a year.

This photo shows her pointy lynx ears.

Here you can see her short, bobbed tail for which the cat is named. And her big feline paws are prominent, as well as her exquisite markings.

We watched in silent reverence for five precious minutes, and then she, and her fresh gopher, descended down the hill and out of sight.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

73 thoughts on “The Bobcat

  1. Wow! This series is amazing, Jet. I am shocked that you were able to see a bobcat at all and even more stunned that Athena was able to capture so many detailed shots. Your explanations really helped me understand what I was seeing in each of the shots. I am personally unfamiliar with bobcats, so it was great that you pointed out the pointy ears, the bobbed tail, and the big paws. I have watched cheetahs a lot at the National Zoo and the sleek muscular body of the bobcat reminds me a bit of them.

    • Thanks so much for your astute comment, Mike. You being a photographer, you can appreciate Athena’s stealth and speed in shooting these photos. And I was happy to hear my narrative familiarized you with this lovely wild cat. My warmest thanks for your visit and comment, Mike, always a pleasure.

    • I smiled at your lovely comment, pc. Wonderful that you recognized Pt. Reyes as one of my happy places…and you can see why with coming across a wild bobcat. My warmest thanks for your visit, and sending wishes your way for some warm weather and sunshine.

  2. What an amazing encounter and opportunity and kudos to Athena for getting it all on camera!! I can imagine the excitement you both felt and the joy of seeing this beauty in action so close.

    • Thank you, Janet. We were both so exhilarated all day from this encounter. It was our 34th anniversary that day, so it was extra special. Always a pleasure when you stop by, Janet.

    • Hi Wayne. I’m so glad you stopped by today and saw the bobcat post, because your adventures with the bears and eagles and your other wild friends are a constant inspiration. Thanks so much.

  3. My heart skipped a beat or two. Gosh, this must have been so exciting. Wonderul captures by Athena. Thank you Jet for bringing excitement into the weekend. 💥🙏🏼💥

  4. Magnificent shots, Athena! Nature in action. What a privilege that she allowed you to witness and wasn’t put off by your presence. I assume she knew full well you were there, but hungry mouths at home dictated carrying on! I hope there isn’t a lot of traffic on that road, or that she knows the danger of speeding vehicles.

    • It’s interesting you note that the bobcat wasn’t put off by our presence, Eliza, because we were having a great day with other wildlife just letting us walk on the trail near them–a quail, a brush rabbit and a great blue heron all sat still while we walked by. Great day and some luck too. Thanks so much, lovely to have you stop by.

  5. What a unique and marvelous experience. Perhaps the bobcat had been observing you for the past two years, and finally concluded that you were no threat to her and her family. Then she calmly walked right in front of you to show off her catch.

    • I’m chuckling, Hien. I like that point of view. It’s possible she’s been watching us slowly cruise by every month and just finally decided to give us a break. My smiling thanks.

  6. Great shots, Athena, and wonderful narrative, Jet. Seeing a bobcat is a gift and getting so many nice looks and shots an additional privilege. I’ve seen a few but no photographs to prove it. One of the most enjoyable experiences I have had involved a running bobcat. As I was driving home one ran across the road in front of me. So fast and I could see so many muscles taut with urgency as it ran across to the meadow on the other side.Thanks for sharing this adventure.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Steve. It truly is a gift, as you say, to see a bobcat…they’re such beautiful animals. I’m happy I could share this beauty with you today.

  7. These felines are not so rare in Georgia. I’ve seen them twice. I learned that they migrate from on site to another following a stream a stream yearly, that’s how they guide themselves. I was told that when I called the Society of Wild Life. The guy on the phone was a wild animal expert for 20 years. He asked me, how many individuals I saw, when I said a group of three. He said that I was a lucky man because, In 20 years he had seen only a pair traveling. He asked me a lot of questions about them, he’s very excited. Actually, my wife saw them first through the kitchen window, she asked me what kind of dog are those, then I saw them, I said, those aren’t dogs, they are bobcats!
    Thank you for the interesting post, my friend. Have a great weekend. 🙂

    • Oh boy it was really fun, HJ, hearing about your bobcat sightings. I enjoyed hearing the information that the Wildlife Society naturalist gave, about bobcats migrating via following a stream, very interesting. Thanks so much for your visit and contribution, much appreciated, my friend.

  8. What a wonderful series of photos, and what a great experience. I’ve seen bobcats at a couple of our refuges, and once in some wasteland near the intracoastal waterway, but never more than enough of a glimpse that allowed identification. I especially enjoy seeing creatures going about their daily business, and when they continue on in full view, as this one did, it’s a special treat. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

    • Thank you, Linda. Yes, it was a special treat to come upon this bobcat in her hunt, watch her, and catch a series of photos. I, like you, am thrilled when I get a chance to witness a wild animal’s activities, especially a wild cat. Fun to share it with you, too. Thanks very much.

    • I was just thinking about grouse this week, Craig, and how fun it would be to visit a lek. I loved that you and your daughter went looking for grouse years back. Thanks for your kind words and visit, always a pleasure.

  9. What a special sighting! You get lucky when you prepare to be – going often to the same place. Really enjoyed the photos. I’ve had a few close encounters with bobcats. I came upon one dozing under a shrub and it surprisingly did not run away. Stretched and sauntered off. I did get some photos. Now, the one that almost ate my cat….

    • I enjoyed your words about the bobcat encounters you’ve had, Eilene. Your ellipsis trailing off about the one that almost ate your cat had me smiling, although I am sure it was not a smiling event at the time. I’m glad you enjoyed the bobcat post, thank you for your visit.

  10. Wowie, Jet! We have bobcats around here, but we usually only see them at fleeting moments. How wonderful to experience that. If there is anything good about the pandemic, it is that we don’t take nature for granted as much as we did before.
    Hope you are well.

    • Oh so nice to “see” you today, Julie, thanks for your visit. I’m glad you have seen bobcats and that you enjoyed this week’s post. It was really fun to share it. I am well, thanks, and I’m headed over to see what you’ve been up to. Thank you.

  11. What an exciting sighting, Jet! And Athena captured some terrific photos- how lucky that this momma was hunting. Bobcats are such beautiful and shy creatures- they lived around us in SC and seeing them was always a thrill. Another magical Pt.Reyes moment. 🙂

    • So wonderful to share the bobcat adventure with you, Jane, thanks very much for your visit and lovely comment. And you’re right, another magical Pt. Reyes moment. You, too, have had many of those. My warmest thanks and smiles….

  12. That is some of the best markings I’ve seen on a bobcat. Ran into a few of these fascinating creatures on my various birding trips. Usually alone in some isolated part of a refuge or park. Most animals I can figure out and they generally have a healthy fear of humans – not sure what is up with these bobcats as every time we meet we end up having a “statue-off” – it staring at me not making a move, me trying not to scare/startle it for what seems like an eternity. Eventually it will mosey on once assessing my risk factor compared to the razors that adorn those big paws. Sounds like this mother was not too concerned with your presence either. Thanks for sharing your encounter.

    • It was great fun reading about your bobcat encounters, Brian, thank you. I liked your term “statue-off” and experiences. Yes, you’re right, this mother was not too concerned with us there, either. She was so confident, beautiful. Thanks so much for your visit and comment, Brian, much appreciated.

  13. This is really brilliant Jet and Athena. I so enjoyed the sequence of photos and the descriptions of the action and information about bobcats. It must be such a rare sighting and then to add to that she caught the gopher and carried it right past you. She certainly is well muscled and those hindlegs look so powerful and the size of the paws is amazing. I love the white stripes on the backs of the ears. What a thrilling experience to have her so confident in your presence!

    • I so enjoyed your visit and words, Carol, thank you. Our African safari experiences trained us for how to spot and photograph wild cats, so even though we don’t have the wild cats that you do on your continent, we have had the joy of it here from time to time. I, too, liked the white stripes on the backs of the ears; and we were also happy to see her so healthy. It was great fun, and a true joy to share with you. Thanks so much for your visit.

    • Yes, we were happy just to see the beautiful bobcat, and you’re right, Jeff, such an elusive one. But then the kill was really over-the-top exciting. Thanks for your comment, Jeff, great to “see” you.

  14. So very, very special to catch this event… not just LUCKY, but alert enough to be there and to notice and to be prepared… There is something so powerful about watching wild beings doing their thing without much regard to the likes of us.

    • Your words were a great joy to me today, Gunta. There is, as you say, something so very “powerful about watching wild beings doing their thing without much regard to…us.” I so agree, and am delighted I could share the bobcat adventure with you. My warmest thanks.

  15. Pingback: The Bobcat — Jet Eliot |

    • Yes, that beautiful bobcat mother was on a mission and she was diligent in her duties, getting the kittens fed. I’m very glad you enjoyed the bobcat post, Sherry. Thanks so much for your visits today.

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