Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Cat in the Reeds

Back in May of this year while checking out the birdlife along Highway 87 in Sabine Pass, TX, I decided to stop off at The Willow Pond Birding Trail aka "The Willows", a small marshy parcel of willow trees, bamboo reeds, and salt cedars near Sea Rim State Park. This area along with the Texas Ornithological Society (TOS) Sabine Woods about 8 miles up the road are well known migrant traps during the spring and fall. I was trying to get a photograph of a very active American redstart when I began hearing something treading through the thick bamboo near the edge of the 1/4 mile boardwalk that snakes through the area. Not 15 foot from me a bobcat hops up onto the walkway. The fur on its legs was damp from the marsh it had been trudging through and its trademark "bobbed" tail pointed skyward. I immediately froze where I stood fearing it would bolt as soon as it recognized what I was. I slowly began to raise my camera hoping not to miss this photo op. I began to take picture after picture as it remained static maintaining its intense glare in my direction. They are usually very secretive and wary, but this particular one seemed undisturbed by my being there, probably because it was accustomed to the presence of the many birdwatchers that frequent this area. After a few minutes it nonchalantly walked in the opposite direction down the walkway, stopping once to groom itself, then hopping silently back into the thicket of bamboo. I never heard it make another sound after that. I never even heard it touch the ground. I walked to the area where it had jumped and saw nothing. It was gone like an it never had even existed.

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