One of the perks of working at UCSC is that I get to do a fair bit of wildlife spotting. The campus is housed on the site of a former ranch and quarry, and even with the expansion I’ve seen during my time here, we still have redwood groves, hiking trails, and open fields. I see deer and squirrels almost every day. Raccoons, skunks, and coyotes appear less frequently, but still come as no surprise. But today’s spotting was exceptionalâ€”a bobcat! I’ve worked here 24 years, and this is only my second bobcat sighting, though they no doubt have seem me a great many more times than I’ve seen them.
This bobcat was crossing the main campus road just as I drove up to work. He trotted across both lanes to a field behind some nearby houses, then headed toward some brush that works its way down to one of the undeveloped areas of campus.
The moment I spotted him, I pulled my car to the side of the road and switched on my hazard lights so I could watch him on his progress. Several other cars, a bicyclist, and two pedestrians all went by without noticing a thing.
He (she?) was there and gone so quicklyâ€”after all, he’d crossed into our territory and wanted to return to his own. I wanted to ask him to stop, so I could watch him longer. A foolish part of me wated to pet him, to rub him under his chin and scratch his back, though I’m sure that impulse would have abandoned me if there’d been any real possibility of contact.
I’m trying to replay this brief event in my mind, to carve it into my memory. Who knows when I’ll see another bobcat? Not soon–if the bobcats have anything to say about it.