When we spotted a carcass on the side of the road, we slowed to a crawl and cautiously drove closer. From a distance, the carcass appeared to be nothing more than a brownish hide – on closer inspection, we could see a rib cage attached to a larger piece of raw bone, embroidered with sinuous pink meat. All of a sudden the ‘hide’ transformed into the hunched-over figure of a live animal…
This was no hide of a deceased animal! Looking into a pair of glimmering, amber eyes peering up from a nest of raw bones and disheveled fur triggered an uncontrollable response:
‘Holy F@#$ Jamie it’s a Fff@#$ing bobcat!!!’
I don’t recall Jamie’s (CrzyCnuk Photography) exact response, but I’m pretty sure it was just as blue-streaked as mine.
A frantic call to our friend Jill Cooper (Nature Labs), who had to opt out of our drive that day for work purposes, led to more foul language as she threw aside her papers and drove out to join us. Alerted by text, her husband and our good friend Simon Jackson also uttered a colorful phrase or two, both out of excitement for us and frustration at being in Toronto.
Jill, Jamie and I spent a good chunk of the day keeping an eye on the carcass that drew the cat. When she appeared, we swore excitedly, but managed to remain relatively calm and unobtrusive while photographing, observing and just revealing in her ‘catness.’
It is hard to describe the sheer joy that accompanies finding an animal you have always wanted to see. Out of Canada’s three wild cats (bobcat, lynx, cougar), bobcats are supposedly the ‘easiest’ to find. While still fairly elusive, bobcats are being seen more and more in urban settings, in and around Calgary. I have heard so many stories about ‘a bobcat in my yard’ from neighbourhoods frustratingly close to were I live. But none of us – Jill, Simon, Jamie and me – had ever seen a bobcat before this encounter in January, 2018. Jill does a great job of describing how the actual sighting was a small part of the overall story in her write-up: The Final Cat.
As you may know, I tend to name my most memorable wild animals. I’m not overly creative – it’s usually just a name that start’s with the first letter of the species: Willy the weasel, Marty the marten, Peter the pika – you get the idea. With this bobcat, I was at a complete loss when Jill asked about a name. Bob seemed like the obvious choice, but just didn’t fit, especially considering we thought this bobcat seemed to have a feminine energy (fyi – there is no easy way to tell male vs. female on a cat without a close look at the rear end). Luckily, the universe pointed Jill to the perfect name: Bonnie.
As Jill was heading home, Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 emotionally-charged mega-hit was queued up on her play list: Total Eclipse of the Heart. We had our name. Bonnie Tyler’s voice belts out a series of dramatic lyrics that seem to coincide with our search for the elusive cat. We did get a little bit lonely at the bobcat never coming round; we did get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of our tears, crying ourselves to sleep after all those bobcat-less days. In fact, I like to think Bonnie’s impassioned pleas to ‘turn around’ were not directed to a former lover, but to a beautiful bobcat 😉
I’m being overly dramatic of course, but seeing Bonnie really is one of the most remarkable animal encounters I’ve ever had, made even better by the fact that it was shared with three cat-loving friends. Simon was there in spirit, and I have no doubt he will also have the bobcat encounter of his dreams soon.
See Jamie’s photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/crzycnuk/albums/72157692759939425
And if you didn’t click above, see Jill’s post about Bonnie here: The Final Cat.
Until next time, continuing loving life and everything wild 🙂