Thursday, October 23, 2008
The watershed of Southern California through its rivers, creeks, and washes, feeds wetland areas that support biodiversity within our urban environment. These wetlands help maintain an environmental food chain that runs from the tiniest worm and plant to high end carnivores.
On a walk through one of these wetlands earlier this year, my wife Pam and I encountered one of these high end carnivores on a bridge in the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine.
We were following the sounds of a woodpecker in the trees when, as we started to walk across a bridge, we encountered a bobcat and her two kittens crossing the bridge in the opposite direction. My wife and I being experienced with wild critters, stopped quietly to let the bobcat family decide where they wanted go. The bobcats seemed unconcerned about us other than that we were partially blocking their way across the bridge. To our surprise, the mother cat decided to walk right by us, passing within a few feet of me. In the images to the right you can see just how close the bobcat came to us. Not wanting to appear as a threat or prey, we remained calm where we were as she went past. The kittens, however, were preoccupied with playing with each other and stayed on the other side of the bridge.
Well, since her kittens were dawdling on the other end, mother bobcat had to walk by us again to corral her youngsters. She then took them on a wide berth around us to the edge of the creek that the bridge went over. She amazed us by jumping across the creek effortlessly. Her kitten soon followed her, just as easily leaping the span of the creek. In the still image taken off a video you can see just how wide the creek was.
Later we speculated that the bobcats were on their way to the duck ponds to prey upon waterfowl and were using the bridge as an easy access point.
The whole encounter lasted only a few minutes but it definitely left a lasting impression on me on how valuable these wetlands are in the urban environment of Southern California.
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