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11/25/11
White-eyed towhee and green-eyed Lynx rufus
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 1:03 pm

A couple of days ago, the dew point was high and the air very still when We walked out on the wetlands adjacent to our south Florida home, hoping to get another glimpse of the Bobcats.

A little before sunrise, our patio view of the sky looked ominous.

Storm clouds before sunrise 20111121

Watery pearls festooned the spider silk.

Dew beads on silk 20110204

Tall blades of grass, weighed down by the dew, drooped over the trail.

Dew on grass 3-20111123

Some of my early morning photos had not been as sharp as I expected, and I had an “Aha!” moment when I noticed the fog covering my camera lens. Of course, the camera had spent the night in air-conditioned comfort, and warm, moist air had kissed the cold glass. My microfiber lens cloth came in handy, and I did much better this time.

The first test of the fog-free lens was this Eastern Towhee, which  exhibited the white eyes of the southern subspecies; those migrating here from the north have red eyes.

 Eastern (white-eyed) Towhee 2-20111123

A Common Ground-Dove looked down from a safe perch.

Common Ground-Dove 20111123

A Prairie Warbler brightened up the morning:

Prairie Warbler 2-20111123

Palm Warblers were everywhere.

Palm Warbler 20111123

By the way, we did not see any Bobcats, but we keep trying…

Okay, now that this is officially a “birding” blog, I’ve got to tell what happened THIS morning. Again, we got out early, about 15 minutes before sunrise. When we stopped to check out the usual spot for Bobcats, we immediately saw three, far ahead to the south on the levee path. It was the same adult female with her two half-grown cubs that we have seen several time during the past month. This first photo is heavily cropped, as they were over 100 yards away, walking towards us. The adult is on the right.

Three Bobcats 20111125

Mary Lou left me to continue her walk, knowing I would remain uncommunicative and glued to my camera as long as Bobcats were in sight. I stalked closer to the cats, keeping to the high grass near the edge of the canal, on the left. To my advantage, there was a slight SE breeze in my face. At first the cubs appeared to be playing, but they eventually moved into the brush on the left side of the path while the adult kept watch over them with her back to me.

Two cubs move left 20111125

Adult watches cubs in brush 20111125

I walked a few steps and then took a shot. Since the power of my 420 mm lens system is equivalent to 8X binoculars, each step brought me (optically) about 16 feet nearer to the cats. I reached a point about 40 yards from the adult, then moved out into the path to get a clear shot. She was intent on watching the cubs, so I moved a bit nearer. Suddenly she turned and saw me, and began watching me intently.

Adult sees me 20111125

Adult watches me intently 20111125

She stood up and then walked diagonally in my direction before rather purposefully disappearing into the brush while continuing towards me. A House Wren began chattering near her position. Then I heard the wren, or another, begin scolding more to my right.

Adult stands up 20111125

Adult moves to right side 20111125

Adult walks towards me 20111125

In the meantime, the larger cub had emerged onto the trail and was sitting on the path just staring in my direction.

Larger cub emerges 20111125

The cub finally began to look alarmed and ran off into the high grasses of the expansive wetlands to the right.  Meanwhile, the chattering of the wren started coming from just alongside me, then moved a bit behind me to my right. I assumed it meant that the parent Bobcat was checking me out, but I could not see or hear any sign of her. If she had been a panther, I would have been very anxious about coming between her and the cubs. Then, the second, smaller of the two cubs startled me by walking out only about 25-30 feet in front of me.

Smaller cub walks towards me 20111125

The smaller cub looked back towards where its larger litter-mate had disappeared into the brush.

Smaller cub looks back toward larger cub's location 20111125

At first it walked slowly towards me. For a while it seemed to be looking past me.

Smaller cub is alarmed 20111125

I couldn’t stand the suspense, so I turned my head to see if the mother had moved on to the path behind me, but I did not see her. My movement scared the cub and it twitched its tail before running off.

Smaller cub ready to run 20111125

Smaller cub flees 20111125

17 Responses to “White-eyed towhee and green-eyed Lynx rufus”

  1. Smith Says:
    Super shots and excellent narration where do I sign up to go on a Bobcat tour ?
  2. Shirley Flanagan Says:
    I love this bobcat story, Ken. Perhaps this would be good to use in the Nature Place |Journal for December. What do you think? You have wild adventures. Shirley
  3. Ken Says:
    @ Smith: Well, given our success rate of about once in every 10-15 times we check for the Bobcats, we’ll sign you up for 10 tries and you can get your money back if we don’t see them (;>)) @ Shirley: yes, in the interest of brevity, think we could leave out the birding part and start with the Bobcats.
  4. Hilke Breder Says:
    Fantastic Bob Cat series, Ken! They must have gotten so used to you and your camera that they lost almost all fear. If they had lost ALL fear you might have ended up with some scratches and bites just to see what you were made of. Terrific bird photos!!
  5. Michelle Says:
    oh my..what an experience..it looks like they are eating well and healthy which is great….so many big cats are in trouble……
  6. Stewart M - Australia Says:
    Wow - so they are not birds - but do I care! What a wonderful set of pictures. The one with the cub coming out of the LHS of the picture is superb! Well done. Stewart M - Australia
  7. Eileen Says:
    Wow, I love the Towhee and the prairie warbler. And your bobcat photos are just awesome. What a cool sighting. Great photos.
  8. heyBJK Says:
    Gorgeous photos! The lighting is amazing! The Lynx shots are wonderful! How cool!
  9. Ken Says:
    CORRECTION!

    I just realized that my math is bad. It is true that my 420mm lens has the approximate magnification of 8x binoculars. I believe it is also true that if my strides each equal 2 feet, that when I am 100 feet away from my subject, a single step makes things look as if I moved 8×2 or 16 feet nearer to the subject.

    If the subject were a 12 inch ruler, it would look as if it had grown from appearing to be 8 feet wide to (100/98 x 8=) 8.16 feet.  However, the next step will not advance me 16 (optical) feet. instead the apparent size of image will increase from 8.13 feet to (98/96 x 8.13 =) 8.30 feet.

    After advancing a total of 25 strides (50 feet), I would then be halfway to the 12-inch ruler, and it would look twice as large as when viewed from 100 feet. Therefore, I was wrong to say that each step is like moving 16 feet nearer to a subject. In fact, each step will appear to be incrementally “smaller.” Someone who is better with calculus could write a simple formula to illustrate this.
  10. John Says:
    I know this was a WBW post but I love the feline images! Someday for me. I keep hoping. Thanks for sharing that.
  11. Mick Says:
    The ’sky’ photo to start the post is beautiful but the bobcats steal the show/post! Amazing to be that close and get such perfect photos. Very interesting that the ‘mother’ stalked around behind you and was invisible in the grass. Very interesting calculations about the lens and distances. That explains why sometimes the last few steps don’t seem to make a lot of difference!
  12. Andrew Says:
    You have some wonderful wildlife Ken… It’s great to see your lovely images.
  13. Boom & Gary Says:
    Wonderfulf post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.
  14. Pat Says:
    Fabulous post! From the breathtakingly beautiful morning sky to the bobcat series, you had me enthralled!
  15. springman Says:
    It’s no secret I admire your fine bird photography, the picture of the towhee is further proof of your talent when equiped with a clean lens! But really, I am so caught up in your quest to capture this bobcat family it’s getting hard to follow the birds! These shots are incredible, I would love to see larger versions. The eyes of these cats are about as stirring a sight as I could imagine. More please!!!
  16. Ken Says:
    Thanks, all for your kind and encouraging comments! @ Hilke– They are quite shy. I think my success in getting close to them may have been largely due to having the breeze in my face. Also, i tried to move up only when they we all out of sight in the high grass. @ Springman– I will keep trying for better shots, you can count on that!
  17. Nancy Says:
    Congratulations on this set of Bobcat photos! They are beautiful! I’m also glad mother and babies look so healthy.

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