The Tucson Mountain Cat
By Don Carter
We had come to find the elusive bobcat (Lynx Rufus). While several friends had seen the bobcat, I had not had the opportunity to photograph the beautiful animal and I wanted this disappointing streak to end.
After an hour of unsuccessful searching, Walt and I started back for the parking area to meet Carol who had gotten a call from work and had stayed near the lot. As we approached the parking area I spotted the bobcat as it darted from the shelter of some velvet mesquite: the chase was on. When we finally got a clear view of the bobcat’s hindquarters it slid into some more of the mesquite. We waited and waited with our Canon 7d MK IIs and the 100 – 400 lenses ready for the action we knew would follow.
An embarrassed look crossed our faces when we realized what had just happened. A big, brown feral cat had sprinted out of the mesquite not wanting to get close to the bobcat. What’s worse, at that moment we saw the real bobcat walking on the path toward where Carol was standing with her camera up photographing like crazy.
As we approached, all we heard was the sound of laughter. Carol was so excited, she could not even speak, the laughter just continued. She finally looked at us and said, “Did you get images as good as I hope mine are?” Walt and I looked at each other when he finally stated, “we missed the bobcat but we got terrific images of the rare Tucson Mountain Cat.
“Tucson Mountain Cat? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that animal before,” replied Carol. I could tell she didn’t believe our story, so I said, “it’s very rare and unknown to even most biologists.” With that Carol turned and walked away. We then heard her say over her shoulder, “Come on boys lets go get breakfast, I’m buying.”
Sweetwater Wetlands Park is a small 60-acre park on the west side of Tucson; it is known for its multitude of bird species including the Belted Kingfisher, Gila Woodpecker, hawks, falcons and of course Coots galore. On this crystal-clear Wednesday morning, Walt and Carol Anderson (Mr. and Mrs. Better Beamer Flash Extender) and I were in pursuit of the resident bobcat.
It came, fast and furious. In a flash out came the cat, the cameras were up and all I heard was the sound of 9 frames a second. I was ecstatic; I had head-on photos of the cat in beautiful light as it raced toward us. As the animal got too close, the cameras came down and Walt and I looked at each other and stopped the high fives. Walt stated, “That was a cat!”