Anatomy of a photo #85: Bobcat tongue

I realized it had been a while since I had posted a photo of animals caught in the act of sticking out their tongues, something which seems to happen in a surprising amount of my photographs. These photographs are not close ups of the animal tongues, as I think that is beyond what I and my lenses can accomplish with wild animals at this point, but rather this mini series is of animals and how they can have a slip of the tongue in their day to day lives.

Bobcat caught mid yawn, with its tongue curling

Bobcat caught mid yawn, with its tongue curling

I came across this particular Bobcat (Lynx rufus) a bit earlier in the day, as it was stalking the shores of Tomales Bay in search of prey, and it had boldly strode past me and my kayak as we were nudged against the shore. It had gone its way, as had I, after we had finished our impromptu photo shoot.

I paddled on, photographing nothing of particular interest for the next 45 minutes, when a little farther down the bay I came across the same Bobcat (or so I presume from the markings). It was just climbing onto a small bluff that was perhaps four to five meters above the water, and there it sat down to survey its territory and relax a little, even though it knew I was there.

I know the cat could see me, but it still seemed relaxed

I know the cat could see me, but it still seemed relaxed

Since he (I had seen the proof earlier) seemed rather unconcerned with me floating there below, I decided to take some portraits. I used a 300mm lens, with a 1.4x converter. The lens had built in image stabilization, which was a very good thing, as the sun had just set, and I could not use a very high shutter speed. I had to bump the ISO up to 1000 in the waning light (I figured with all the spots , the grasses, and the varying depths of field the noise might not be too noticeable, as long as I exposed it properly), and with a wide open aperture of f/5.6, I was able to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/250th. Not too bad for 420mm of lens hand held on a kayak. I took many shots, and some of them were definitely a little too blurred to use (which is part of why I took many photographs, as I knew that under the conditions several would be mushy).

I love this shot (That's a good enough caption, right?)

I love this shot (That’s a good enough caption, right?)

I’ve never seen a Bobcat look so peaceful and contemplative as on this evening, when I was lucky enough to be able to sit and watch it, as it sat and watched the fading light of the day. I felt as though it was giving me a window into its life, and sharing a little peace with me. It yawned twice, as it sat up there, and it was during those big cat yawns that I was able to capture those moments when its tongue curled up from between its teeth, allowing me to increase my series of animal tongues by one more species. Other species that I’ve posted tongue images of include Tule Elk, North American River Otter, Sea Lion, White-tailed Kite, and Song Sparrow. I have many more species to add to this series, whose tongues I have already photographed, and of course, as I photograph more species, I will be sharing those as well.


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 Anatomy of a photo, bobcats, kayak photography, nature photography, Photo Essay, photography, tongues, wildlife photography and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Anatomy of a photo #85: Bobcat tongue

  1. Wow, these are great photos!!! What a neat experience!!

  2. Emily Heath says:

    What a special moment, hanging out with a Bobcat.

  3. lylekrahn says:

    Great photos and I enjoyed the description. And yes the photo caption was good!

  4. Thanks Lyle. High praise coming from you

  5. I love that last shot too. The cat looks so reflective n the passing day. The images are very clear, the eyes in the second shot especially.

  6. trailblazer1 says:

    Almost a kitty to take home – almost. Beautiful capture!

  7. Galen,
    Fantastic opportunity to catch a Bobcat. I spend much of my time in a kayak, too. So I can appreciate your work.

    Keep em coming!


  8. Pingback: The Bobcat…….My White Whale

  9. David Cutts says:

    What a great story and amazing images Galen. To be able to share such a beautiful moment with a usually shy animal is truly special. I’ve been trying to photograph Bobcats and Coyotes for years. No success yet. I hope when I do get the opportunity it’s as special as yours. Keep up the great work Galen.

  10. Linda S Scholpp says:

    Beautiful photos!

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