The First of the Second

The head of a bobcat is visible as it peers over a large rock formation on the Jane Rau Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsale, Arizona in July 2019

One more bobcat photo, this is the first one I took of my second ever sighting. Though most of the sky was blue, there were low lying clouds in the east that were frequently changing the light. This morning it worked in my favor as clouds partially obscured the sun as I walked back to check out what initially looked like a coyote-shaped cactus. The clouds not only softened the light but made it more diffuse so that the left side of the cat’s face isn’t in such deep shadow. If I could only choose one I’d prefer the shot where it is peering over the rocks but I also like how here the bobcat’s lovely face is fully shown while it verified I wasn’t a threat before settling in for a nap.

Dressed in Blue and Brown

An environmental portrait of a bobcat peering out from the rocks atop the Jane Rau Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2019

If my former home in the the Pacific Northwest was a paradise of blue and green I could describe my current home in the Sonoran Desert as a paradise of blue and brown, but that would not quite be true. There is far more green in this desert than I was expecting, a dusty green to match the dusty landscape and not the lush blinding greens of the Columbia River Gorge, but green just the same. But it is true enough for this scene, the brown cat in the brown hills, the blue sky behind. There were three pictures I wanted to take on that summer morning, a close shot of the bobcat, this more distant environmental portrait, and an even wider shot showing the rocks down to the desert floor. The latter I didn’t take as since I’m only shooting with one camera I didn’t want to risk taking off the telephoto zoom in case the cat walked up onto the top of the rocks. Instead it settled down for a nap on the ledge in the middle of the frame, out of sight of both me and the rising sun.

The Hills Have Ears

The Hills Have Ears

There are moments on the trails you never forget. In the Tetons, when a black bear casually sauntered down the trail towards me. A gorgeous black bear I had to slowly follow up the path at Mount Rainier. A scrum of bighorn sheep rams in Yellowstone. My first Gila monster. My first bobcat, and my second.

I woke up far too early Monday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so I went out for a short hike at a nearby trailhead. I was nearing the end of the Jane Rau Trail, hoping to see a spiny lizard I had spotted on a previous hike. My eye caught a pair of ears high in the rocks, or so it seemed at first glance, a cactus with the face of a coyote. The lizard wasn’t there but thankfully I had time to walk back to get a better look at the cactus as I couldn’t remember seeing it before. Looking through the telephoto lens I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw eyes looking back at me, the ears were indeed ears, pointed towards the heavens. My second ever bobcat. As the rising sun grew stronger the sleepy cat dropped into the shadows and settled down, time for us to part, time to get ready for work.

Even after a couple of decades of photography I can get a little too excited and not set up the camera or the shot properly. I didn’t realize it at the time but all those years she was training me for this moment, my sweet Em, to photograph beauty looking down upon me. Relax, breathe, enjoy the moment. Miss you Em.

Our black cat Emma looks down from the top of the cat tree in May 2012

Not So Close

A male bighorn sheep stands on a boulder and grazes from a bush beside a river in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in July 2004

This is a wider shot of the bighorn sheep I posted a while ago, the telephoto shot made it look like I was rather close but not only was I a ways away beside the road, there was a river between us. He came down the cliff behind him to graze at the river’s edge then went back up the cliff. From my trip to Yellowstone in 2004.

The Forest Was Dead, the Land Was Not

A moose cow walks through a dead forest at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in July 2004

A moose cow walks through a dead forest at Yellowstone National Park. I find that pictures don’t properly convey just how large these creatures are. In this case I was standing at my car beside the road but in the Tetons I sometimes met them on the trails, I never had any close calls but the big bulls during the fall rut certainly demand your attention. I’m thankful for each time we met, it was always a special treat.