Monday, June 25, 2012

Bobcat walkabout

Last year I posted a video of a bobcat hunting a gopher at Walker Creek Ranch in Marin County, California. It seemed like an amazing stroke of luck to be in the right place at the right time, and to have a digital camera in my pocket besides. I've been visiting Walker Creek Ranch just about annually since 1999: it's where my Tai Chi teacher hosts a workshop each June. In all the years before last I'd never seen a bobcat on the ranch property. Foxes, yes. Wild turkeys by the dozen. Loads of deer, hares, lizards, snakes, racoons, falcons, and more. But last year's bobcat was a first.

I was at Walker Creek Ranch again last week, and the bobcat's still in residence. One of the ranch staff said he'd seen the cat hanging out with one of the local foxes just sittin' and chillin' together in the middle of a field full of yumalicious gopher snacks. I didn't see the fox and bobcat together, but I did see the bobcat hunting gophers again, and catching more than s/he missed. The cat is strangely unafraid of humans; though this is true for most of the wildlife on the ranch, it strikes me as especially strange for a bobcat. Walker Creek Ranch is a school district site, where the staff teach an outdoor education curriculum to Marin County students; the site is safe haven to most any critter that makes its home there. Except for critters that bobcats and foxes like to eat, of course. Gophers, for example.

Here's a video I took when I came upon the bobcat on the way back from my dinner. The cat seems to be looking around for his gopher "friends," in the same area I watched him (her?) hunt last year. You can see toward the end of the clip, around 1'45", that the cat passes about ten feet from where I'm standing.

Not shy at all ...

So the same fellow who said he saw the bobcat hanging out with a fox said he thinks s/he might be a hybrid, spawn of a bobcat that mated with a feral cat.

I'm a bit skeptical: a shallow look around suggests this isn't something that can happen ... Wikipedia claims that There are reports of bobcats breeding with domestic cats, but such matings have never been successful because the two species are not interfertile.

This bobcat looks thinner and has a smaller head than other bobcats I've seen in the wild, including one that crossed a trail only a few yards in front of me, years ago, out at Tomales Point, at the north end of Pt. Reyes National Seashore -- not far from Walker Creek Ranch.

I encourage any bobcat experts who stumble upon this post to weigh in with an opinion!

Walker Creek Ranch is also the site of a pond that inspired the setting for a short story I re-published as a free e-book a couple of weeks ago: "Martin's Pond," available now on Smashwords and soon available at an e-bookstore near you. Check it out, and let me know what you think in a review or as a comment to the blog post I wrote about it a week and a half ago.

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
My short story "Martin's Pond" published as an e-book
Bobcat hunts gopher: a video


  1. Berkeley photographer Jen Joynt has captured lovely close-ups of some local (& Marin) bobcats, among other critters:

  2. Those are beautiful photos, Glenn, thank you for the link.

    My cheesy digital point-and-shoot has nothing on Jen Joynt's equipment, but seeing the cat up close that I photographed the strange thing is that a bobcat's characteristic ruff of fur -- beautifully captured by Jen Joynt -- seems to be missing in this cat, and that is what leads to the sense that this animal's head is small for a bobcat -- and to speculation on the part of some of the long-term human residents of Walker Creek Ranch that this is a hybrid of some sort.

    S/he is an elegant and awe-inducing animal, whatever her lineage...