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.

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