Photo 60028871, (c) Kala Murphy King, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND)

Attribution © Kala Murphy King
some rights reserved
Uploaded by kalamurphyking kalamurphyking
Source iNaturalist
Original https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/60028871
Associated observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

Observer

kalamurphyking

Date

December 9, 2019 09:36 AM CST

Description

White Rock lake, field by Reinhart branch
This is a photostory of a wonderful bobcat encounter. The story starts with the 2nd photo, used a shot from the middle for the top photo.
Photo 2:
Bobcat Butt
This is what I saw when I first spotted this young male bobcat standing in an open field. Very handsome with beautiful ears, bold markings and a cute tushie.
Photo 3:
Jelly Bean Toes
Trotting across the field going about his bobcat business. Showing off the cutest little kitty cat jelly bean toes.
Photo 4:
When The Blue Jay Squawked
A raucous squawk by a blue jay sounding an alarm stopped the bobcat in his tracks. The cat looked in the direction where the jay flew from the ground into a nearby tree.

Photo 5:
Something Has His Attention
When the bobcat crouched by a tree trunk, it seemed like it was watching something.

Photo 6:
Prey is Spotted
I didn't know it at the time but this shot captured a blurry squirrel a fair distance from the bobcat. This is what the cat was watching so intently. I was slowly walking in the direction of the bobcat as I was taking shots. The only warning I had that something was about to happen was that little butt wiggle cats do before they give chase. When I saw that, I picked up my pace and started taking shots as rapidly as I could.

Photo 7:
Mad Dash Across the Field
This took place so high speed all my shots came up very blurry. This one at least shows what was going on. The bobcat ran towards the squirrel. The squirrel sat up, looked at the cat, then took off running. The squirrel did an end run on the cat and put a lot of distance between them. I was a long ways from the action and happy to at least get this one shot. I believe the bobcat is young, not a year old yet and not an experienced hunter. Neither the cat nor the squirrel were aware of the presence of people at this time so there was no interference in the hunt.

Photo 8:
The One That Got Away
The cat gave up the chase at this point and stood looking in the direction of the lost meal. It is hard to tell but I think the squirrel is the blur directly forward a fair ways from the cat. I was with a friend and we stared in surprise as the cat suddenly jumped and climbed up the tree to the right in this shot. We picked up our pace to get around a creek and across the field to that tree in hopes of closer photos. Not running which might scare the cat off, but a fast walk. We were in luck, the cat stayed in the tree.
Photo 9:
Bobcat Up A Tree
When we got closer to the tree, it took awhile to spot the cat. This was my first sight of the bobcat in the tree. It was still unaware of us. He looks relaxed and just enjoying the breeze. After this shot we moved closer until we were about 25 feet from the tree.

Photo 10:
Our Eyes Met
I was about 25 feet from the tree when he spotted me. This was the first time our eyes met. Hard to describe what a thrill that is to look into the eyes of a wild carnivore.

Photo 11:
The Flehmen Response
His mouth is not snarling, it is open to enable him to smell all the scents in the air. I looked it up and this is called the Flehmen Response, many animals do this. They open their mouth partly and pull back the upper lip to where the front teeth show. With nostrils closed usually. This draws scents and pheromones into the Jacobson's organ, also called the Vomeronasal organ. It is located above the roof of the mouth and behind the front teeth. Animals do this when they see something interesting and want to investigate thru scent. So, he did not seem alarmed by our presence, just interested.
Photo 12:
Adorable Pink Nose
I could not help but notice what an adorable little pink nose he had.
Photo 13:
When Your Subject Laughs At You
Naw, he is not laughing at the photographers....that is just a sneeze or something. Right? #igetnorespect
Photo 14:
Little Pink Tongue
Apparently coming back down the tree takes lots of concentration. Check out that adorable pink tongue sticking out.
Photo 15:
To Jump Or Not To Jump?
As the bobcat came down the tree, he paused when he reached this fork. It looked as though he was considering if he should jump from there. In the end, he decided to go lower before jumping to the ground.
Photo 16:
The Jump
Got this one shot of the bobcat in mid jump. Not down to the ground but just to a lower limb. Surprised I got anything at all, it happened in the blink of a eye.
Photo 17:
Final Descent
Last shot I have while the bobcat is still in the tree. He leaped from this point down to the ground right in front of me.

Photo 18:
You Are Too Close
When the bobcat hit the ground, it was on the side of the tree right in front of me. It had not been paying much attention to me or my friend until that point. I was about 25 feet from the cat. His body language let me know that was too close. His eyes narrowed a bit, his back arched a little, his ears went back. He backed his butt up against the tree trunk, lifted his tail and started spraying. I took this shot then slowly took a few steps backwards.
Photo 19:
Sending A Message
As I backed away, he seemed to relax a little. His ears came forward and his eyes were less narrowed and his back not as arched. He is still marking his territory while looking me dead in the eyes. A clear message. Right after this shot he seemed to decide I was not a threat. He leisurely strolled away from the tree.
Photo 20:
Relaxed Once Again
This shot shows that the bobcat was relaxed once I had backed up. He turned and left the tree, heading across the field in the direction of the road. Once again he had his mouth open, scenting the air. We walked with him, staying at his comfort distance. We could finally get some shots without branches in the way. He was in no particular hurry.
Photo 21:
Trotting Across The Field
The bobcat trotted across the open field towards the road as my friend & I paralleled his path. He was relaxed & slow enough at first for us to keep pace.
Photo 22:
Bobcat Portrait
I took this while the bobcat was trotting across the open field. Had to keep at least one portrait shot of such a beautiful wildcat.
Photo 23:
Paused To Look At Tracey
He paused for a second to look at Tracey who was behind me and to my left. He does not look alarmed, just curious.
Photo 24:
Now Looking At Me
Next he turned his head to look directly at me. And opened his mouth to take in the scent more deeply. Then he went back to his trot but picked up the pace a little and we began to lose ground.
(this is also the same photo I used for the top shot for this observation)
Photo 25:
Right Before The Mad Dash
Right before reaching the road, the bobcat looked back one more time as though to check on our location before he made a mad dash across the road. We had fallen behind by this point. One last thrill of looking straight into the wildcat's eyes.
Photo 26:
Running For The Road
After one last look at us, the bobcat turned and started running towards the road. With his speed we were a good distance behind. At that point I was not aware of why there was such a rush after him being so leisurely.
Photo 27:
Reaching The Bridge
He put on even more speed as he reached the bridge. I lifted my head long enough to look at the road and suddenly realized why he was going so fast. There were several bikers approaching from both directions. I was not sure if the cat would make it across without a collision.
Photo 28:
Mad Dash Across
The cat never hesitated and made a mad dash across the road with several people on bikes in both directions right outside the frame of this shot.
Photo 29:
Startled Biker
This was my last shot and it shows you how close the nearest biker was. The bobcat ran into the shrubbery you can see in the background. I didn't get a shot of that because at this point, I was concerned for the bikers and a bit worried one of them might wipe out after being startled by the bobcat running out in front of them. The guy you see here did swerve a little bit but kept going and no one stopped. If it had been me, I think I would probably have fallen off my bike. When looking at my camera's timestamps later, this bobcat encounter lasted 10 minutes. One of the most thrilling wildlife experiences I've ever had.

Associated taxa
Sizes