For the Birds: Surprise and welcomed bobcat sighting

Photo by Chris Bosak A bobcat rests in a field in New England, March 2021. (Huntington State Park)

The large field is bordered by hedgerows on three sides and woods on the fourth. Additional hedgerows divide the field perpendicularly about every 100 yards with small cutouts where the trails pass through.

I emerged from the woods and spotted something large walking along the east hedgerow about 40 yards away from the trail. It was tan, but then again so was everything else around it: the grass, the weeds, the hedgerow. I stopped in my tracks to watch it.

Before my brain fully comprehended the situation, I thought it was either a deer or a mountain lion. I quickly eliminated deer as it was clearly a large cat based on its smooth, stealthy and powerful stride. Can I finally put the mountain lion (or cougar or catamount) debate to rest with solid photos documenting the sighting?

I entertained that idea for about two seconds before my brain said, “Hold on. That’s a bobcat.”

I dug out my binoculars and confirmed that it was indeed a bobcat. It was my first bobcat sighting in many years and by far the closest and best look I’ve ever had. What a magnificent animal. Now I see why many people mistake them for mountain lions. Bobcats are much more substantially sized than a “large house cat,” as I have heard them described in the past. I have a good-sized house cat at home, and there’s no comparing it to the bobcat. Male bobcats average around 28 pounds and females around 18. The New Hampshire record, however, is 51 pounds.

I fished my camera out of my backpack and took a few photos of the bobcat walking along the hedgerow. I continued along the trail, which soon curved and headed in the direction of the bobcat, which at this point still hadn’t acknowledged that it knew I was there. I made a loud noise to get its attention. With the trail veering closer to the bobcat, I didn’t want to surprise the animal. I figured it would run or trot off when it heard me, but it froze in its tracks and hunkered down to blend in with the surroundings. If I hadn’t been watching it all along, I never would have spotted it among the sea of tan.

I was surprised the bobcat sat still instead of running away. It reminded me of an American bittern trying to elude detection by raising its neck and swaying among the reeds.

I continued along the trail, walking backward to keep an eye on the hunkered cat. When enough distance was between us, I turned and finished my walk. I did look over my shoulder several times to make sure I wasn’t being stalked.

Bobcats are the only wild cat throughout most of New England. Lynx may be found in the northern part of the region, and the mountain lion debate is too hot a topic for me to get into right now. Bobcats may be found in each of the region’s states.

They are shy and avoid people, although many wander into backyards looking for easy meals near bird feeders or chicken coops. Habitat changes and destruction, coupled with unregulated hunting, caused bobcat numbers to drop significantly in New England throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Recent protections have led to a strong rebound for the bobcat. With the population rebounding, I hope it’s not quite as long between bobcat sightings for me.

More bobcat photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A bobcat rests in a field in New England, March 2021. (Huntington State Park)

As promised (and expected, I’m sure), here are a few more photos of the bobcat I saw the other day at Huntington State Park in Redding earlier this week. Here’s the original post with more details.

I first noticed the bobcat walking in a field.

Photo by Chris Bosak A bobcat walks through a field in New England, March 2021. (Huntington State Park)

It sat down when it heard me walking along a trail.

Photo by Chris Bosak A bobcat rests in a field in New England, March 2021. (Huntington State Park)

Then it lay down and blended in with the field. I never would have noticed it if I hadn’t seen it walking.

Photo by Chris Bosak A bobcat rests in a field in New England, March 2021. (Huntington State Park)

I grabbed a few shots and let it go about its day. It continued to walk along the edge of the field and eventually disappeared into the bordering brush.

Photo by Chris Bosak A bobcat rests in a field in New England, March 2021. (Huntington State Park)

Finally a bobcat sighting

Photo by Chris Bosak A bobcat rests in a field in New England, March 2021. (Huntington State Park)

I came out of the woods and started walking through a field at Huntington State Park in Redding, Connecticut, Monday evening. I noticed something walking through the field parallel to my path about 50 yards to the east. As you can see from the photo, it was a bobcat, a photographic target of mine for years. Finally, I had found one. I can understand why some people mistakenly think they see a mountain lion when, in fact, they see a bobcat. It was much larger than I thought it would be. I’ve heard bobcats described as looking like “large house cats.” I don’t believe that does the bobcat justice. I have a fairly large house cat at home and this bobcat was much, much larger. More photos to come … of course.