It was the final break on the final day of the conference. I was footloose and fancy free from 3:00 until 4:15. But it was hot, as it had been all week. The daytime temperatures were around 85° and the humidity was high. I was tired. I’d had some sort of allergic reaction in the morning and broke out in hives, and the Benadryl I’d taken for it wiped me out. I was very tempted to head up to my room and take a nap.
All week I’d spent my breaks outside looking for birds, but my breaks on this day were relatively unproductive. I’d achieved my modest goals.
Add Snail Kite and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck to my life list. √
See at least 19 new birds for the year to bring my 2020 up to 100 in January. √ and then some
See at least 26 birds I hadn’t seen in Florida to bring my Florida life list up to 100. √
But then I got to thinking that I may never get to Florida again. I got to thinking that if I took a nap, I might not sleep that night. And I remembered the cute little saying I made up long ago that I often share with others: “If you go outside, you might not see anything. If you don’t go outside, you won’t see anything.”
So I grabbed my binoculars and my camera and headed out. I went first to the pond next to the hotel, but there was nothing happening this afternoon. I stood in the shade and listened, but the world around me was quiet. I scanned the sky to see if any raptors were soaring overhead. And then I scanned the tops of the trees to see if anything was perched there. I didn’t see any birds, but I did notice an unusual shape. It was high in a pine about 300 yards away—on the other side of the pond and a six-lane highway. Here’s a photo from my closest position. If you enlarge it, you can see a circle around the shape.
Out loud I asked, “What is that?” But I was pretty sure it was a Bobcat. It turned its head and I could see the cat profile. I circled the pond, crossed the highway, and got as close as I could, probably 100 yards from the base of the tree.
The Bobcat had its haunches wedged into a fork near the trunk and was bracing itself with its front legs on a thin branch lower down. It didn’t look like a comfortable position, but the cat didn’t seem to mind. It casually looked around, shifting its hindquarters a bit now and again. It definitely knew I was there. In many of my photos, it’s staring right at me. I was no longer tired and I no longer cared about the heat and humidity. This was worth it.
I watched and took photos for about 15 minutes, then crossed back over the highway and wandered about. As I went back inside 40 minutes or so later, I looked for it again. As far as I could tell, it hadn’t moved.