Bobcats: An essay in photos

Bobcat stalking towards me along the shores of Tomales Bay. My kayak was beached at the time.

Over the years I have come across many bobcats. The most meanigful encounters I have had were while kayaking. Most of my photographs of bobcats were taken in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Here are some of those images-

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And here is a little information about bobcats-

The bobcat, aka Lynx rufus, is one of the wildcats we have here in California, in fact among the twelve recognized subspecies, there is one native to the California area west of the Sierra Nevada- californicus. It may be the most common wildcat here in the U.S. of A., although it is largely nonexistent in the midwest. It prefers scrub, broken forest, and rocky and/or bushy grasslands, and will hang out a little in farmland type country. Which makes California, and especially the Bay Area, a pretty groovy zone for it.

It likely got its name from its “bobbed” tail, which is black at the tip, and white underneath. A lynx’s tail by comparison is black at the tip, and black underneath. There is often distinct banding or spotting on the upper legs, and a broken pattern of grays, blacks and whites on the face. They are shorter legged and shorter haired than the lynx (Lynx lynx.) The black tufting at the ears is usually less noticeable, all though still present than those found on the lynx.  Males are larger than females. Average sizes are 28-49 inches, and 15-30 pounds.

Largely a solitary animal they mostly come together for the purposes of getting it on. The males can be sexually active year round, but the females generally only go into heat for the months of February or March. The cats mate through a series of fake hunting and chasing games.

Usually two to three (although up to seven,) cubs are born in late April to early May, covered in spotted fur. They are born in a special natal den (bobcats will often have a few different minor dens through out their territory.) They begin to move about and explore when they are about a month old, and are weaned by the time they reach their second month. They learn to hunt quite young, but usually stay with mom for the first year.

What don’t they eat. It seems like if its warm blooded and moving, they’ll eat it, although they will also eat carrion when food is scarce. Smaller animals such as rats, mice, and shrews, it will often sit very still for and pounce on them as they walk by. Larger animals such as rabbits, woodchucks, and squirrels, it will chase more actively. It will also eat opossum, raccoons, birds, cats, foxes, porcupines, and skunks. Rarely it will take down a deer, but it prefers to go after the young, or else adults when they are in snow and can’t move as freely, or else while they are bedded down to sleep. They will also go after livestock, especially poultry.

Most of this information was from the National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals, John O. Whitaker, Jr. It was however put into my own words and has my own spin on things.


About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
This entry was posted in bobcats, documentary, kayak photography, National Park, nature photography, Photo Essay, photography, wildlife photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Bobcats: An essay in photos

  1. MattG says:

    Great shots, Galen!

  2. Nicely done. Great detail in the shots.

  3. Glad you stopped by this evening, giving me a chance to learn about your site and work. Excellent photography, I particularly like the bobcats. I’ll definitely be back.
    Would you consider being the subject of a “recommend” post at my blog once I get more familiar with your work? If you’d like to see examples of pieces I’ve done before, I can send you the links.

    • Thank you Noodleepoodlee. It was equally my pleasure to view your thoughts and images. Feel free to do a recommend piece, and also to send links of others you’ve done, as I would enjoy seeing what else it is that interests you.

  4. Excellent! Will send links later today if life cooperates, otherwise soon. I think you will like the folks I’ve featured before.
    Will spend some time this week here and at your other sites so my post can do you justice. I’m homebound with my ailing mother right now, so your beautiful photographs of nature’s studio and your excellent tutorials/teachings are like water to a parched soul.
    Very happy to meet you. I have a photographer/videographer friend who kayaks that will like your work as well. Will send him your information.

  5. Hi Galen.
    Wanted to make sure you received my email. If not, I will send here (didn’t want to junk up your blog with administrative stuff) or to an email address you provide. My email is if you want to reply there.

  6. abu zar says:

    Beautiful photos… it reminds me of this one time my wife and I were walking back from the BoBCat Trail (Andrew Molera State Park, Big Sur, California ) and we saw a cat crossing the trail, about 50 feet ahead of us . To this day we debate if it was a cougar or a bobcat. I had my camera in hand but guess what happened when i pressed the shutter. CARD FULL !!! :(

    I knew that the tail is a sureshot way to make out the difference. I didnt have enough time and probably didnt look very closely but from what picture i can recreate mentally i dont think it had a small ‘bobbed’ tail. I though the tail was pretty long which made me think it was most likely a cougar. Irrespective that remains one of my most exciting encouter ever

    • I know the devil Card Full well. An insidious imp that one, always popping up when least wanted, stealing some of the best images that we could have captured. He’s bit me in the arse a few times.

      I wish I could help the two of you in your debate, but I don’t know if my life could be risked by stepping between a husband and wife. You should consider yourself extremely lucky to have seen a mountain lion (I myself have yet to see or photograph one) and your wife should consider herself extremely lucky to have seen a bobcat, one of my favorite felines… Now the only question is who was luckier, since you both saw great animals

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