Monday, November 30, 2009

black bear scolding

I came across this mother with her two cubs while on a back road in Jasper National Park (Alberta, Canada). The bears were eating grasses and wildflowers along the side of the road. Where the bear population is relatively high, you can find bears along the back roads in the spring and early summer because that area gets more sun and thus more edible plants. Deeper in the woods there is less sun and thus less edible plants. I had been with the bears for about ten minutes when one of the cubs ran out onto the road. Almost immediately the mother called out for the cub and scolded him (her) upon the cub's return to the edge. Reminds me of when I was growing up. My mom didn't like me playing in the road either.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yellowstone National Park

Cinnamon Color bears are actually black bears. This one was going from pine tree to pine tree eating the white pine nuts. I had been watching him for an hour or so. It was an early morning in late September at Yellowstone National Park. Instead of continuing to follow along behind him, I decided to move 100 yards ahead in anticipation of him coming towards me -- knowing that he was not the least bit interested in me (or the 25 people watching him), he wanted those nuts. Eventually, he was right in front of me. Although he was only10-12 feet away I felt reasonably safe. There was a guard rail between us and a car was parked close enough that I could get to if necessary. I was more afraid that the Park Ranger would ticket me for being so close.

 I try to be a good example at Yellowstone because there are so many "tourists" that don't understand bears. So, I don't try to get as close to a bear (at Yellowstone) as I would in British Columbia or Alberta when there are no other humans around. In this case, I took a quick photo and moved back slowly but far enough away to get a photo of the bear as he jumped up onto the tree.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

black bear caution

Early on in my "photo" career, I came across a male black bear just before dark. It was late September, the berries were all gone, the vegetation was all stripped, and so he was turning over very large rocks -- very easily -- looking for grubs, insects, anything with some protein.  It was getting closer to winter and he had to build his strength. Nonetheless, I was excited about getting photos. Not knowing what I know now, I got a little too close; about 15 feet to be exact. He didn't like that and charged me. Bears (like skunks) do what is called a "false charge". They take two or three very quick steps directly at you, not because they want to fight but simply to scare you off. It worked. Forget about everything you read: i.e. If a bear comes at you stand perfectly still. Instinct takes over, something you have no control over. I ran like ....
So, what did I learn? Be more cautious in the fall. Pay attention to the signs i.e. he was turning over rocks, grunting, not too happy with what he was (wasn't) finding. It was late in the day so a photo from ASA 100 slide film wasn't going to turn out, anyway. The photo above was a second experience of this nature. I was probably 50 feet from this bear when he turned and took a step toward me -- not a step in search of food, but deliberately to tell me something. I had learned to accept whatever the bear's wishes were. I left with just this photo. Christine once read a book about bears where a Chapter was entitled, "Was it Worth a Photo?" I realized that respecting bears is an important consideration if I want a long career as a wildlife photographer.

Friday, November 27, 2009

From Fishing to Photography

I spent 15 years as an avid flyfisherman. As I would fish the remote backwoods lakes in British Colombia I would see moose, bear, elk, etc. Finally, I got the bright idea to buy a camera. On my first trip with camera in hand, I fished Island Lake. I was in a "float tube" (an upscale inner tube with pockets and a back rest) fishing close to the shoreline, when a black bear came out of the woods and stopped just short of the lake. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. I got out my camera and took not quite three rolls of film, when he stomped his foot at me. I decided to move back a bit. As I moved back he took two steps forward and lay down on a patch of snow. Evidently I was too close to the snow patch for his comfort level. As it turns out, with my telephoto lens on, I was also too close to get a good photo. All of my photos of that bear were out of focus. DISAPPOINTMENT!! (I didn't know that of course until I got home and developed the film). However, after fishing Island Lake I took a dirt road over to Tunkwa Lake. On the way I came across this black bear with her two cubs -- one of which was brown. Although, bears have a great sense of smell, they don't have great eyesight.  The mother had to stand to get a good look at me. I took several photos of mom and the cubs before running out of film. The sound of the camera rewinding was loud enough to scare off the bears so that was the last photo. Fortunately, though, all of these photos turned out.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bye, Bye, Black Bear

PART V: Momentarily full, mom decided it was time to leave the dinner table, the little cubs trotting behind. It was the last photo I took. I resumed my trip back to Jasper with one shot left in my camera. A photographer for National Geographic once told me that the average NGM article had 30 photos. But, that the photographer might take 300 rolls of film to get those 30. I had less than one roll so felt pretty good. The encounter lasted about an hour. The excitement, a little longer. This is the biggest difference in photographing large mammals versus ... birds for example. With birds it is usually a fleeting moment. With large mammals, once in a while you really get to spend some "quality time" and establish a "relationship" with your subject. And so, even though it happened over ten years ago, I remember it as if it were yesterday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black Bear Cubs Kissing

Part IV: One thing I've learned about photographing black bears is to pay attention to the time of year. In the spring bears are just coming out of hibernation, they have lost a lot of body weight, and they don't want to spend a lot of energy chasing food. Especially when the ground is full of fresh young, easily digestible vegetation. This is not true of the fall, when bears are looking for fat and protein. So, I can get a little closer in the Spring then I can in the fall. These two bear cubs were playing "hide-n-seek," chasing each other up and around trees. When it was over they seem to "kiss" as if to say "thank you, that was fun." Mom continued to eat this luscious vegetarian meal that surrounded her.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

black bear cub waiving

PART III: This is my favorite photo from this "encounter" because it appears that the cub is waiving to me. Getting close to black bears -- especially, black bear cubs is a process involving much patience. My experience (after photographing around 350-400 bears) is that 50% of the time you see a bear it runs away; 25% the bear walks away. When this happens I NEVER go after them, track them etc. The bear has told me they would rather not be around me. I "listen" and comply with much respect. What that means is 25% of the time I have an opportunity to get a good photo if I don't screw up. First, I make sure that the bear knows I am there. And, that the bear knows I know that he is there. I stop, look at the bear, and then look away. I continue to do that until the bear starts eating again. Then I take diagonal steps to get closer -- or get the angle I want. If the bear stops eating and looks at me, I stop and look at him, then look away. That continues until the bear starts eating again. If the bear walks away, then that's it. It's over. But, if the bear starts eating again I start walking again. This process continues until I get where I want to be, to get the photo I want to get. At some point I can usually move about freely -- albeit slowly, quietly, and without hand and arm movement -- and without disturbing mom who remains focused on eating as much vegetation as she can. In the case of the cub in this photo, I am standing about 20 feet away. The mom is about 50 feet away to the right. But, it took a good 45 minutes to get close enough for this photo without upsetting either the cubs or mom in the process.

Monday, November 23, 2009

black bear cub

PART II: Continuing on from yesterday's post, here is one of the two little cubs tightrope walking on a down log. Notice the second cub hiding behind the tree on the left. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's kittens or puppies --- or, black bear cubs they just seem to enjoy frolicking around and are curious enough to be totally unaware of  potential danger. These cubs were probably not much more than a few weeks old. So, they probably didn't know better. The temptation of picking them up is almost uncontrollable. Almost. Don't think mom would have liked that much. So, I keep my distance.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Black Bear with Cubs

PART I: I was on my way back to the little town of Jasper, Alberta to get some more film since I was down to my last role. As chance would have it, I look up the mountain and see a black bear. So, I stop  and get out of the car to take a closer look. I soon realize that the bear is coming down the mountain toward me at a very leisurely pace. He was eating along the way. But, also I notice that there were two tiny bear cubs not far behind. Since I was on my last roll of film I had to use it wisely. Patiently waiting 30 minutes to take a photo wasn't easy. All along I was remembering a Native American quote, "   The ox may be slow, but the Earth is patient." Was I going to get a photo at all? Or was the bear going to go back up the mountain. Eventually they worked there way to the bottom. So, the bear did not disappoint me.  It was late May, and all she was interested in was eating the fresh vegetation. And, the cubs were having too much fun a care about me a lick, either.  I'll save that story for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

North to Canada

I thought about heading north to Canada to share some wildlife experiences. One that comes to mind was on a back road in May (1997) with my daughter Erin -- who has spotted more than one bear for me over the years. This young black bear (maybe 250 pounds) was already in the tree eating the buds when we found him. He would pull a branch over to his mouth with his right paw, strip the buds, then release; then use his left paw to pull another branch over. When he couldn't reach any more branches he climbed up the tree a couple more feet. Yes! The tree swayed while climbing. However, once he settled in the swaying subsided. After about an hour -- photographing from all angles (including this one with Mount Robson in the background) a car came by with Japanese tourists. A man and a woman got out of the car, took a couple of pictures and left. He said he had never seen a bear in the wild before. Of course I thought, then why in such a hurry to leave? Maybe he thought bears were everywhere and he would see hundreds of them. I suspect --- based on my own experience -- that he now wishes he had stayed a little longer. After another hour, it started getting dark, so the bear came down the tree, took another look at me from the ground as if to say take a couple of photos of me on the ground, and then just wandered off into the darkness of the woods. In all, about two hours with this bear. Now that's what being in the wild is all about.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Black Crowned Night Heron

Another inhabitant of Agua Caliente is the Black Crowned Night Heron. I have never seen "flocks" of them as I have Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Cattle Egrets. One of the things that makes the Black Crowned Night Heron is that it changes plumage color as it gets older. You see the juvenile plumage on the left and the adult plumage above. Both of these photos are of the Black Crowned Night Heron. But what is also possible is that there are both of the very same BCNH. Both were taken at Agua Caliente, the juvenile one year and the adult the following year. In both cases he let me get very close, again lying down on my stomach to take photos. It is a rare and exciting treat when this happens; doesn't matter whether it is a bear, a bobcat, or a heron.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Green Heron at Agua Caliente

I had never had much luck getting close to a Green Heron. Solitary and by no means abundant, I had never been closer than 50 yards. They aren't large birds like their cousin the Great Blue, so the photos I had in the past needed a comment to the viewer like, "see that spec in the middle, that's a Green Heron." But, one trip to Agua Caliente a couple of years ago allowed me to get very close -- ten feet. The little guy was "fishing" and content to do so no matter how close I was or how long I stayed there.  Lying on my stomach, using my elbows as tripods, I was able to take a couple of roles of film. I was thrilled with the result. Being so close also allowed me to see just how beautiful this bird is. What gorgeous coloration!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fun at Agua Caliente

Often when our grandchildren come to visit we take them to nearby Agua Caliente. It's a great place to picnic -- even BBQ. This last year with Christine's mom with us we had a four generation Easter Egg hunt at Agua Calaiente. There is plenty of grass -- a rare thing in the desert. And of course, the ponds, with pond sliders and spiny soft shell turtles. The water also attracts many birds. In addition to the typical desert birds, we have seen: belted kingfishers, great egret, great blue heron, black crown night heron, green heron, vermillion and other flycatchers, western and summer tanagers, great horned owl, osprey (rare in the desert), cooper's and harris hawks, mallards, pintails, gadwalls, ring billed duck, ruddy duck, great and lessor scaups, and coots. Here is Noah at age three having fun chasing the ducks. I am sure their is a "plumber" joke here, but ...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Agua Caliente, Great Blue Heron

Agua Caliente, also called Roy Drachman Regional Park, is about 100 acres with three ponds. The first pond, fed by the "warm" spring is the most productive. Great Blue Herons are year round residents. Because the park has picnic tables and is easily accessible it can get quite busy with people. This may be why the Great Blue is sometimes easy to approach -- and photograph. The pond has a nice population of largemouth bass and tilapia. I've seen a Great Blue catch a two or three pound fish, juggling it around in its bill until it can "swallow" the monster. There is a 1 1/4 mile trail around the ponds so it makes for a nice leisurely "hike." There is also a visitor's center with book store run by the Audubon Society.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Agua Caliente

A quick jaunt over to Agua Caliente Park is often rewarding.  The Park was once a stage coach stop back in the mid 1800's because there were two springs; one hot and one warm. At some point palm trees were brought from California to surround the springs. Over the years two things happened. First, someone got the "bright idea" of using dynamite to combine the two springs into one larger spring. The result was one larger "warmish" spring. Oh well. The second, was that those palm trees are now like what the Redwood Forest is to normal pine trees. These palm trees stand 80 to 100 feet high with trunks 15 to 20 feet in circumference. The pond (created by the spring) is full of 3 to 5 pound fish and waterbirds galore. My thought over the next couple of days is to share some of these birds with you; like this Great Egret.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Morning Visitor

Last week I told some arriving guests that we hadn't seen a rattlesnake in quite a while. Then that night there was a baby rattlesnake in our courtyard. Last night I told some arriving guests that we hadn't seen a javelina in weeks. Then this morning a male javelina pranced by my office door. Photo above. You can tell when javelinas are a little nervous. Their hair sticks up and shivers. Makes automatic focusing a little more difficult. Breakfast is over (blue crab and avocado omelets) and now I am sitting at my desk listening to a gila woodpecker, watching quail, doves, cactus wrens, verdins, cardinals, pyrrhuloxia, goldfinches, house finches, sparrows galore, and both anna's and costa's hummers. It's going to be hard to get back to work.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sabino Canyon Collard Lizard

The list of animals we have seen in Sabino Canyon includes: skunk, deer, bobcat, coyote, javelina, desert grey fox, squirrels, rabbits, gila monster, rattlesnake, and probably seven or eight different kinds of lizards. None more beautiful than this Collard Lizard. Christine and I were hiking rattlesnake trail, when near the top of the rocky foothill was this 14 inch liazrd (in the photo). Christine describes him as a "jewel box." I can't think of a better description. He was sunbathing and enjoying it too much to move. He let me take several photographs, after which we both told him how pretty he was and thanked him for allowing us to view. I love seeing and photographing moose -- no doubt about it. But, this was a treat. Collard lizards aren't abundant like many of the smaller varieties. And, when seen they are not usually in their breeding color like this one.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More of Sabino Canyon

This was one of my first wildlife photos in Sabino Canyon. Also one of the most popular greeting cards I have. Notice the cactus thorns on the deer's forehead and chin. Living in the Sonoran Desert is a challenge for birds and animals as it is with people. Many predators and an abundance of prey. Chasing or fleeing and hiding is a typical part of the life of both predator and prey. It is a wonder they can survive. I have photos of a Javelina with a piece of "jumping" cholla cactus on his rump; a gila monster with a piece of cholla on his  back. Wonder how they get the cactus off without tweezers? I know the answer is "very carefully." Desert animals tend to be seen more in late afternoon and early evening which works well for hiking since those are the cooler parts of the day. This photo was taken just before sunset.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sabino Canyon, Arizona

Sabino Canyon is another of our "favorite places." About ten minutes from us, it seldom fails to please. The first time we took our oldest son Matt and his wife Rung (they live in Hawaii) we weren't fifteen minutes into our hike when we came across a western diamondback rattlesnake. As we were finishing our hike the moon decided to land on this saguaro. With Christine's should as a tripod I got this photo. Not bad. We love to walk up to what we call "the frog pond." Everyone can lie down on a large boulder at the pond's edge and look up into the sky. Typically, we listen to the owls hooting away as we watch bats come down to the pond to scoop up insects. Often a male and female cardinal stop to say hello on a nearby branch -- even the same boulder where we lie sometimes. It is so peaceful, the perfect place for resting, relaxing, and meditating.  All thanks to Teddy Roosevelt.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Saguaro National Park

We have some very nice guests from Charleston, South Carolina with us this week who are headed over to Saguaro National Park today. SNP is five minutes from us and has some amazing Saguaros. It is not unusual to see saguaros with 15 to 20 arms. The most in the park is 42 arms. SNP also has an incredible trail system. When we don't have much time Christine and I do a quick 2.2 mile loop. There is a wide variety of desert wildlife. In our many hikes in the park we have seen: nesting harris hawks, coyotes, white tail and mule  deer, black tail jackrabbits, desert cottontails, desert tortoise, desert kingsnakes, rattlesnakes, at least six different varieties of lizards, squirrels, desert wood rats, AND this beautiful gila monster. Gila monsters are quite venomous. However, instead of injecting their venom, like a rattlesnake, they bite and hold their prey in their jaws and secret the venom into their mouth cavity and thus prey. They are very slow moving for a lizard so relatively easy to photograph -- if you find one. We have known people living in Tucson for 30 years who have never seen one. Yet, we have seen them at The Azure Gate,  Sabino Canyon, Muleshoe, as well as SNP.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rattlesnakes! Yikes!

On the subject of rattlesnakes, it is important to watch where you walk in desert areas. Christine likes to run a 2.2 miles loop in Saguaro National Park (east). Early one morning I was hiking the loop alone and found this western diamondback lying just under a stepping stone directly in the middle of the path. With prickly pear cactus on either side of the path, it meant doing a little bush-wacking. (I would not recommend walking over a rattlesnake -- especially one that is coiled like this one). I thought it was a little dangerous to have him there, but as I have said before, I am not one to move a rattlesnake that doesn't want to be moved. Sometimes if one is stretched across a road I'll try to encourage it to move to the other side so it doesn't get run over. But, I have the utmost respect for rattlesnakes. Even when not fatal, a rattlesnake bite can take up to six months of severe pain before healing.  Costs to treat a rattlesnake bite can be as much as $50,000. In my mind, that deserves respect. Having said that, rattlesnakes are NOT aggressive toward humans. We do not represent food to them. As a general rule, they don't want to inject their poison because it leaves them temporarily unprotected. So, they bite when threatened -- or, when eating. Usually, when you come across one they are on the move and you just let them continue. In our first year here, Christine and I were walking around the property when we both noticed this tiny little birds nest (a verdin). As we got closer  we evidently scared off the verdin. This, however, had distracted us from watching where we were walking. At this point I heard a "rattle", looked down and saw a full size western diamondback rattlesnake coiled about three feet from  Christine. Without thinking I pushed Christine away (as it turns out into a bit of cholla cactus) but, now out of danger. The rattlesnake wandered off about 15-20 feet and draped himself over some prickly pear cactus -- I guess exhausted from the "scare,"  which seemed to be Christine's reaction as well.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Christine's "Little Voice"

We are back to The Azure Gate and some wildlife stories. Night before last Christine had this little voice saying that our master bedroom courtyard did not have enough light and that it wouldn't be a good idea to step on a rattlesnake. I'm thinking, "well, at least for now the rattlesnakes are probably underground and we won't see one until Spring, if then."  We don't really see a lot of rattlesnakes on our property anyway; maybe once or twice a year. But, her premonitions are sometimes scary. Sure enough we look outside in the courtyard and there is a baby western diamondback rattlesnake. So there is discussion, not the least important of which is "what to do with this rattlesnake in our courtyard?" I wasn't eager to pick him up and move him out to the desert. Nor, did I want to call 911. Ultimately, we decided to let him be and that if we saw him again in the courtyard we would call the Tucson Animal Rescue and have them take him away. The photo above is another story from two years ago. Christine opened one of our gates to go out to the mail box to get mail. She stopped dead in her tracks because she saw a couple of quail and a curved bill thrasher nervously standing about right in her way. This is unusual. Typically, quail will run away when they get that close to people. So, Christine is subconsciously thinking something is wrong. Sure enough seconds later the above rattlesnake comes across the path right where Christine would have been walking had she not stopped. Over the years I've learned to pay attention to her "little voice."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Christopher Columbus Lake, Arizona

Christopher Columbus Lake in Tucson has provided many photo ops over the years, like this Great Egret that was willing to pose for me. In addition to the Egret, I have many fine photographs of Great Blue Herons, Black Crowned Night Herons, and Snowy Egrets from CC Lake. I can't remember ever going there and not coming home with a decent photo or two. It also has a year round population of ducks, geese, swans, and hybrids of them.  Even got a nice photo of a regal horned lizard once. Many people come to the lake to fish or to picnic. In fact, they have a fishing tourney there sometimes. I suspect that since it is the only "watering hole" in the area and being along the San Juan River flyway, that these "larger" birds have grown accustomed to the people, which makes photographing them much easier.

Friday, November 6, 2009

We interrupt this blog to bring you a Bobcat

I had it in mind to continue yesterday's blog with a short story of a Green Heron, with fish in mouth,  I photographed at Christopher Columbus Lake in West Tucson. But, as luck would have it, a story fell in my lap instead.  I need to explain that my desk is perpendicular to a set of French double doors that look out on a concrete patio where a bird bath sets. During late afternoon hours a  screen is lowered to keep the sun from cooking me while at my desk. This morning the screen was still down from the day before. I had just copied the Green Heron photo from iPhoto on to the desktop when I look down and peeking in from under the screen I see two big eyes -- yes, the eyes of a bobcat.   I wondered, did that make him a Peeping Tom (cat)? Or, a Peeping Tom Bob Cat? I'm not three feet nose to nose. I grabbed my camera, went out the front office doors and around to the side of the building where I took this photo. It was as if he were waiting for me to "catch up." I thought that our guest from NYC might like to see him. She was sitting in the oasis reading a book. She was probably about six feet away from the bobcat when I took this photo. Of course she couldn't see him as there was a six foot brick wall between her and the bobcat. She was excited about the possibility. And bobbie didn't disappoint. Our guest got several good looks at the bobcat before we decided to let him continue on his way. No matter how many times I've seen a bobcat, a coyote, or a bear, or any other predator in the wild I never get tired of it. It's just plain exciting. No other word for it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bald Eagle with 30 pound King Salmon

Still on the subject of dining on fish: Bald Eagles are rare in many parts of the US. When we first moved to Tucson, I went to Christopher Columbus Lake early one morning to see what I might photograph. I met a grizzled but gentle older man fishing from a chair at the lake's edge. Seems this had been his spot every morning for several years. But, this particular morning he was excited as he told me the story of the rare and seldom seen bald eagle that had flown by earlier that morning. In all his years he had not seen a bald eagle. I didn't have the heart to tell him I moved here from the Northwest where you can find bald eagles every day -- and, in December, January, and February as many as 300, line the Skagit River picking off King Salmon (or Chinook as they are called in the NW).  Each year the little town of Concrete, Washington sponsors the Skagit River Bald Eagle Festival. I have seen and photographed as many as 30 bald eagles in the same tree along the Skagit. Pretty amazing sight. On one of my trips I photographed this bald eagle sitting on what looks like a 25-30 pound Chinook.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Osprey with 22 inch Rainbow Trout

While on the subject of raptors with their catches, I am reminded of a flyfishing trip I took to Lake Chopaka in north central Washington State, just along the Canadian border. Chopaka is a wonderful flyfishing only lake far off the beaten path. I had been fishing for several hours, not having much luck when I noticed an Osprey circling the lake with a good sized rainbow trout clutched in his talons. What a showoff. But, as if to "rub it in", he then lands on a rock not 30 feet from me. I suppose he thought that would discourage me. But no. I got several good photos and eventually a few fish.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dining at the Azure Gate - not just for humans

So I was sitting at my desk doing emails to guests when a sharp shinned hawk swooped down and grabbed a gambel's quail. He sat on the ground right outside my office plucking feathers. I took a couple of photos through the window. Then I crawled along the floor (so as not to disturb) went out the front door, peeked around the corner and got the first photo.
Went back inside, sat down and continued to work, every once in a while looking up to see how he was doing.  30 minutes went by. Now eating. Five minutes later a gila woodpecker started squawking away. I'm thinking, how brave? Of course, the hawk is sitting down at the table eating, why would he want to get up and go out and try to catch more food? So, maybe the woodpecker wasn't all that brave. Eventually, the sharp shinned hawk was annoyed and took what was left of the carcass into the big mesquite tree by the office where the woodpecker had been sitting. I thought, maybe another photo. Well, this one was well worth not scaring off the hawk. Notice the remains of the quail carcass:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sweetwater Pond Bobcat

The first bobcat I saw (in the wild) that I was able to photograph was this one in 2002. Daughter Ashley and I were taking a little hike through Sweetwater Ponds in Tucson just after dawn. I am a couple of steps ahead of her when I hear her say, "Dad!" I turn around, her mouth is open and she is pointing toward a bush along the path. I had totally missed it. A good size male bobcat lying down behind a bush. I took a couple of photos, but really didn't like the angle. So, I sat down in front of the bobcat, but that didn't work either. Then I tried laying on my stomach with elbows as tripods. This was the perfect angle. Unfortunately, I was much too close for the lens I had. So, I rolled over on my back, changed lenses, rolled back on my stomach -- I am about five feet nose to nose with the bobcat -- and take what was left of that roll of film. The bobcat, still unphased by my presence remained still. So, I rolled back over, put in a second roll of film, back on my stomach again, and 36 more photos. But, wait, there's more -- in fact, another roll of film before the bobcat stands up, looks at me square in the eyes, and I'd swear said, "don't you have enough photos yet?" and walked off. What a wonderful first experience -- that I would have missed had it not been for Ashley.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Another Bobcat Story

Our daughter Ashley, who started flyfishing with me in Canada at age 14 (she really became quite good at it), was visiting us at the B&B with her beau Jayson a couple of months ago. We were sitting in the office, just before sunset, when she announces that she just saw a bobcat. Now, we have to take a side trip for a moment back to 1984, when we lived in Washington State. One day our oldest son, Matt, announced that he just saw a deer go hopping through the backyard. Our youngest son, Josh, retorted, "are you sure it wasn't a rabbit?" But, if Ashley who has spent countless days with me in the wilderness says she just saw a bobcat, you can bet that is just what she saw. We all got up and quietly walked around the office to find the bobcat staring down a desert cottontail. Probably 15 - 20 seconds passed when the light turned green and the chase was on. Unfortunately, (for the bobcat) he wasn't successful this time. I suspected I might see him again if I went around the other side of the house and waited. Sure enough, I found him. He was kind enough to let me take several photos, such as the one above.