Friday, January 15, 2021

Once in a Lifetime Bobcat Experience

I have been holding back on writing this blog in hopes of getting a better view of our latest wildlife excitement, but our temperatures have been mild and having open water instead of solid ice has impacted the experience.  

A few days ago, I was looking out the windows.  I scan the landscape several times a day just in case something interesting comes into sight.  I imagine I miss a lot because it isn't feasible to watch every minute of the day.  For some reason this year we have seen more wildlife than ever before.  It could be that we are home so much more or even the wildlife are confused about the energy of the universe.  We have been seeing owls on a regular basis, we saw our first bear last summer, there are coyotes which we sometimes see in the winter in addition to the usual eagles, hawks, rabbits, squirrels, possum, skunks, raccoons and the random woodchuck who insisted on living under our deck.  However, I had never seen a bobcat up close.

My story started last week.  We live on the edge of a marsh that connects to the Fox River in south central Wisconsin.  Looking out the window, I notice a hole in the ice close to the bank.  We were having a cold spell and our pond was frozen solid, so seeing this hole lead me to believe there were otters in the area.

This isn't the first time this has happened so I knew right away it was an exit or entrance hole for otters.  We see them swimming occasionally in the summer and sometimes we see them sliding and playing on the ice during winter.  I would check several times a day to see if they would appear through this hole.  There was nothing for a few days.  They like to get active later in the day so I would always check around 4:00pm.  One day, low and behold, two of them appeared.  One came completely out of the hole and was nosing around.  I thought it was alone, when another nose poked out.  The second one was a little skittish but eventually came out too.  

They played a bit and then as quickly as they appeared, they were gone.  It was getting dark and I had trouble getting really good photos.  Looking from our window there were several branches and grasses blocking the way. After they disappeared, I proceeded to make supper.  While that was happening I decided to take another peek to see if the otters had returned.  They hadn't, but standing about three feet from the ice hole was a BOBCAT.  I had never seen one so close up.  I grabbed the camera and did the best I could.  It was partially hidden in the brush, and it was almost dark out.  

I believe the otters sensed something was amiss and maybe that is why the one was so nervous and they disappeared so quickly.  I don't know where the bobcat came from (he just appeared) or where he went (pouf he was gone).  Although the next night, I saw bigger cat tracks in the snow next to our house.  I put a ruler next to the prints to see the size.  This was not a normal house cat.

My son in law offered to come and clear the view.  He got rid of the dried grasses and some branches impeding my view.  Of course, since he did that the otters have not returned.  I haven't seen them if they have.  The ice hole looks like there has been a lot of action near it, so something has been in the area.  Whether its otters or the bobcat, I have no way of telling. With all the open water there is no need for the otters to use the hole.  They can get in and out of the water wherever they choose.

I am sure I will never see the bobcat again, but just in case....I'm ready.