NATURE NARRATIVES: A bobcat in the backyard (part 1)

By Melissa Walker
       April 22:
       On the afternoon of April 16, the clouds were darkening. Even though it was only four o'clock, it seemed much later. Anticipating rain, I glanced out the window to see if any raindrops were puncturing the smooth surface of our backyard pond. No, not yet.
       Just as I was turning away, a movement caught my eye. Suddenly, a furry leg stretched up out of our pond's filter tank. Then two triangle-shaped ears appeared - ears with pointed tufts. A bobcat was in our backyard!

The backyard bobcat.
Courtesy of Melissa Walker

       My heart began to race. I watched the wildcat stand up and slowly stretch just like a house cat. When it climbed out of the tank I rushed to get my camera. Luckily, the bobcat was still in view, warily weaving a path through the edge of our small aspen grove. Then it disappeared into the thicket.
       I've occasionally heard of bobcats being sighted in the Pikes Peak foothills. Yet, for the many years that I have been hiking, backpacking and watching wildlife in Colorado, this was the first time I'd ever seen a bobcat. I hope it won't be the last.
       May 24:
       It has been one week since our last sighting of "the backyard bobcat." On that day, the bobcat surprised us at 7 p.m. Right after dinner, my son exclaimed, "It's the bobcat!"
       The bobcat was sitting down with its back to us, about 15 feet from the sliding glass door to our backyard. While my husband Les Goss rushed for the camera, my son and I noted how similar the wildcat looked to a really big house cat. We also noticed the prominent black and white markings on the back of its ears. The bobcat's triangle-shaped ears are tipped in black with a white rectangle shape at the base of each ear. The bobcat then began to move, and for several minutes was out of sight on the other side of our deck. Then it leaped up onto our 6-foot fence to look into our neighbor's yard, then jumped back into our yard. It didn't take much foliage for the bobcat to disappear. Its protective coloration definitely works.
       We have seen the bobcat eight times in the last five weeks, in the mornings and afternoons; the earliest sighting was 9 a.m. and the latest 7 p.m. Perhaps the bobcat ranged through our yard on other days but we didn't look out the window at just the right time to see it. And the bobcat's movements at night will remain a mystery to us.

Walker, a long-time area naturalist, posts regular entries in her online blog at naturenarratives.com. She has given her permission to reprint selected pieces in the Westside Pioneer.