One summer day years ago when I was living in eastern New York state at a house on the edge of an immense wetland called The Great Swamp. This was a place that I was intimately familiar with, having spent many, many days in all seasons exploring. In my adventures I had seen mink, beaver, muskrat, deer, turkeys, fox, coyote, raccoon, opossum, skunk, more birds than I could count and lots of amphibians, insects and other invertebrates. I had never seen a bobcat, though I had followed bobcat tracks, especially in winter.
I had spent the day watching and photographing a family of woodchucks in the field in front of the house. The mama woodchuck–who could be distinguished from the male by her tail with half of its fur missing so that it resembled a broom, was keeping a close eye on her family of 5, who had one of their den entrances under the front deck.
At some point something made all of the young woodchucks rush to the safely of the den while the mother hurried down the slight dip of the yard to the gravel driveway. When I looked there to discover where she’d gone I was surprised to see what at first looked like an ordinary house cat, sitting on the driveway. But within a second, I recognized the animal as a BOBCAT and my heart began to pound in my chest. I was so excited I could hardly function, but managed to get my camera turned and aimed on the woodchuck and the bobcat, who were now only feet apart and facing each other suspiciously. The woodchuck had puffed herself up to seem bigger and she was hissing at the bobcat, who at this point appeared curious and even baffled by the noisy woodchuck.
They continued the stare-down for several more tense minutes. The bobcat sat down now and then, eyeing the woodchuck with mild interest. I was certain the bobcat would grab the woodchuck and make her lunch, but thankfully, this did not happen. Instead, the two circled each other, the bobcat even going so far as to bat the woodchuck with its front paw. This only made the woodchuck hiss more. Finally, the woodchuck backed away and disappeared into the tall weeds beside the driveway, leaving the bobcat alone.
More pictures for me as I shot the bobcat stretching, sitting down and then ambling across the driveway as if he had no where to be and no idea what to do. Several minutes went by until he too disappeared in the grass and I was left alone, my heartbeat just returning to normal.
What an amazing encounter! I was stunned at my good fortune of being in the right place at the exact right time. It will be remembered as one of the most amazing wildlife moments I have ever witnessed…and how great to get pictures!
Read more about Bobcats on my Weekly Creature Feature.