Old Tomcat

One of the best things about birding has nothing to do with birds but having unexpected experiences and visiting places that you would have never visiting if you were not trying to add a few birds to your lifelist.

To escape the smoke of the deadly Camp Fire up north I headed south to my cabin retreat in Santa Cruz. The air quality was so bad in the Bay Area that school was cancelled on Friday. To avoid cabin fever, I headed to the UC Santa Cruz campus to bird the arboretum. There were many birds and I tallied 28 species. But what was the most revelatory was an intimate encounter with a furry four legged old cat that catches and devours birds.

As I was heading to the back of the arboretum I paused to watch the Anna’s hummingbirds jostling for territory in the Australian section. To my right, some movement caught my attention. It was a cat drinking at a water feature in the garden. It was a male bobcat and he seemed to not be one bit concerned with how close I was. From about 15 feet away I observed the cat as he took a long drink and then headed down the path to take a cat bath.

The tomcat groomed for ten minutes, allowing me great views in excellent light.

The cat reminded me of when I was an educator at Coyote Point Museum and I worked with their non releasable raptors. If a bird preened itself while it was on the glove then you knew the hawk, falcon, or owl was truly relaxed. Well the great horned owl was never very relaxed.

This male bobcat that gave himself a deep cleaning right in front of me was truly relaxed and acted as if I was a present but benign tree. A perfect disguise for observation.

I was able to photograph the bob and I included a few of the photos.

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