Friday, February 5, 2016


Field Observation of a Wild Bobcat

Bobcat with Quail in a Dead Tree

In January, I spent 2 gorgeous days in and around Pinnacles National Park in search of bobcats.  For this exploration, I had signed up with Photographer Brent Paull [], who knows the area very well and has had many great encounters with bobcats and other wildlife that he shares on his website. 

I met up with Brent early in the morning of the first day and not only did we have 8 bobcat encounters on the first day and 3 more on the second, Brent did all the driving in his very comfortable truck.  Thank you, Brent!

Our destination was Pinnacles National Park in San Benito County but we also drove wonderful small country roads in the back country where due to the plentiful rain this winter the hills were lush green with the early mustard just about to bloom.  Besides the wildlife, it is a great area to photograph landscape with old barns and gnarly black oak trees – but that was not the focus of our exploration.

In my story today, I want to describe our first encounter with a bobcat that depicted true wildlife field observation of nature in action.  Due to the distance to the bobcat, this was not the greatest photo opportunity but I loved every minute of observing these shy and elusive cats in their natural habitat, doing what they do every day:  scouting their territory and hunting for their next meal.  As I saw later, the bobcat was successfully hunting for a quail.

I am showing the images as they were taken, with the bobcat in a distance – small even with a long tele lens.  The images were taken with a Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm lens, using the car as a blind and photographing out of the window.
We spotted a bobcat in a distance in a shrubbery horse pasture as it moved along an unpaved country road.

All of a sudden the cat’s interested became focused:

… and in a blink of an eye it traversed the road and pounced on something in the shrubbery.

Next moment it ran towards the riparian area and climbed up a tree – closer to the road from where we were observing.

Moments later, a coyote emerged from the thicket under the tree.  It appeared it was the presence of the coyote that forced the cat up the tree to protect his kill.  Knowing that he couldn’t reach the bobcat with the quail, the coyote trotted away - only dreaming of his easy breakfast [I know, I know, this a bit of anthropomorphing  -:)].

Coyote, looking back to where he lost the bobcat in the Tree

In the meantime up in the tree, the branch with the bobcat began to crackle and it broke while the cat jumped and scrambled further up the branches with its prey securely in his mouth.

With the coyote further away, turning around with all these dry branches was fascinating to observe as the bobcat appeared again facing us on his way down all the while not letting go of his precious prey.

 Bobcat in the Tree holding on to its Prey, a Quail

Jumping down at last and disappearing into the brushes, we lost track of him.  There he finally was able to enjoy his morning meal.

During the day and next, we had numerous other encounters with bobcats but none was as exciting as this one as it gave me a glimpse into the life of the bobcat and its interactions with a coyote, as the 2 wild animal species path crossed. 

During the remainder of the 2 days, we were fortunate to encounter 10 more bobcats, observed a family of coyotes [2 adults, male and female, and a youngster] the next day in the same horse pasture roaming and playing, as well as captured [photographically speaking] numerous raptors, quails, woodpeckers and other birds.

As I reflect on this trip, I am happy to have relatively easy access to the wide-open landscape and nature here in California that allows me to observe and capture beautiful wildlife.
It makes my heart sing.

Til next time,