Holiday Bobcat

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Snarl. A bobcat makes a half-hearted (and unsuccessful) effort to deter a pesky photographer, Tucson, Arizona.

After 29 years living in Tucson, Arizona—and 20 years in the same house—we moved to Colorado this past January. Now that I am caught up on blogging about my trips to Santorini and Andalucía, I decided to write some posts about our old home and some of its more interesting visitors.

Last year I was talking to my wife in our family room. Her back was to the sliding glass door to the backyard. In the middle of our conversation, a bobcat entered stage left. I leapt up—startling my wife—and ran for my camera. When I returned it was under our grapefruit tree looking up into the branches. As there is often a bird’s nest in the tree, I thought that it would jump up. But it didn’t. I opened the sliding glass door just enough to take some pictures with my 500mm lens. It didn’t present me with too many great angles, but I did get this image, which was the best of the bunch that day:

Glance. A bobcat looks over its shoulder to investigate the sound of a sliding glass door, Tucson, Arizona.

It eventually wandered off to exit stage right. I guessed wrong how to best follow it and did not see it again, unfortunately. That was Memorial Day, May 30th.

On Independence Day, July 4th, my wife ran to get me to tell me that the bobcat was back. Once again, I ran to get my camera. This time I grabbed my 300mm instead of the 500mm—I don’t really remember why but must have been worried about the 500mm being too much lens. This time I guessed better (i.e., the other way) and was able to follow as it left my yard, wandered between two of the neighbors’ houses, and eventually out into the desert at which point I let it go about its business. Since it was definitely snake season, I had to be mindful of my feet as well as the bobcat and eventually I felt like I was pushing my luck. That said, I was able to get 212 images of it over 17 minutes, even though I ran back to trade the 300mm for the longer 500mm part way through while it rested under a tree:

Rest. A bobcat rests under a tree in Tucson, Arizona.

I was able to take some images of it on my fence before switching lenses:

Perch. A bobcat sits on top of a block wall in Tucson, Arizona.
Escape. A bobcat jumps down from atop a block wall in Tucson, Arizona.

I have wondered since last July whether these two bobcats were the same, although I have always suspected they were. It wasn’t until preparing this blog that I did a thorough comparison and concluded that they were, in fact, the same:

Proof. While the facial markings certainly seem the same, it was the matching nicks in the ears that confirmed for me that the May bobcat (left) was the same as the July bobcat (right).

Since this bobcat had appeared on Memorial Day and Independence Day, I hoped it would reappear on Labor Day (September 5th) but sadly it didn’t. However, our neighbors did send us a cell phone photo of a bobcat walking through their yard three months later on December 5th while we were away on the Oregon coast. Also, sometime before May we had seen some impressive paw-prints on our wooden gate. So, I am certain that it is and remains a frequent visitor. Here is one last photo:

Stride. A bobcat walks across a neighbor’s driveway in Tucson, Arizona.

Fortunately, our new neighbors in Colorado have told us that bobcats move through the neighborhood here, too. Since Memorial Day is just three weeks away, I will keep an eye out.

Technical notes. The photographs in this post were taken with a Nikon Z7 with the AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR and the AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR. All were processed from RAW in Adobe Lightroom Classic. The comparison photo was assembled in Affinity Photo.

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One response to “Holiday Bobcat”

  1. […] Bobcats aren’t the only predators that frequented our yard in Tucson. Cooper’s hawks were common in our neighborhood, helping to keep the population of doves and other small birds from getting out of hand. While it is not clear that they were totally successful, we saw them frequently flying at high speed through the yard at about head height. Once I saw a small bird flying across the street as fast as it could into a large bush with a hawk in hot pursuit—the hawk just plunged into the bush after it at full speed without hesitation. I’m not quite sure how the conflict ended, but the hawk had obviously lost the element of surprise and once inside the bush the terrain had to favor the little bird, so this one perhaps got away. Other’s didn’t: […]