Tomales Bay bobcat

On The Novato To Marshall Road At Sunrise

It was a glorious day on Tomales bay yesterday, very light winds, no clouds, modest tides.

Oyster farmers headed to work.

I put my kayak in the water at Nick’s Cove, it was near low tide, about 8:30, then paddled across to the west side. It was a calm and quiet passage, at least in the intervals between close passes from fishermen racing from crab pot to crab pot. It seems they let the pots soak for about twenty minutes, maximizing the dashing from pot to pot, which must be a big draw for crab fishermen. I suspect that thrill is followed closely by the purchase of gear, the same disease that haunts most of our consumer driven hobbies. At least they come home with dinner. By and large crab fishermen, fishermen and kaykers co-exist without trouble on this bay.

The Not So Deadliest Catch

Looking west, Dillon Beach at right

Over the twenty minute crossing I was serenaded by a a herd of boisterous bovines clamoring for breakfast on the hill behind Nicks. The bay is a bowl, so sound carries well when there is no wind, they were two miles distant, but it felt like they were next door. On the way across I saw a few bell jellies, a four foot leopard shark, and many purple tinted moon jellies.

American Wigeons Take Wing

There were lots of bird flocks on the bay. The bird species differ greatly by season, on this day lots of geese, surf scoters, buffleheads, and other waterfowl. There were clouds of brants, a bird about half way between duck and goose in size, on the water south of Lawson’s Landing.

I paddled into the large bay beyond Nick’s, hoping to find elk on the gently sloping grassy hills of White Gulch, but none were in sight. I then headed back into the main channel and made my way toward the mouth, I was paddling close to the shore when I heard a very strange sound, like a large cat in heat.

Bobcat, with harbor seal carcass at the left.

It was a bobcat, and it was growling at something hidden in the brush above it. I did not see it until I was nearly on shore and it was less than thirty feet from me. It saw me, but did not seem at all concerned or was much more focused on it’s adversary. If you look very carefully at the image you will see a harbor seal (I assume dead) just to the left of the bobcat, it must have been two cats fighting over the carcass. I hovered just offshore waiting for a better picture for a few minutes, but the cat never moved more than a few feet in any direction.

It has very unusual eyes, one seems to be blue, the other brown, or perhaps one of them is damaged. It was very much in shadow, so I did not get great pictures.

Harbor Seals Waiting Out The Tide

I headed out to the mouth, passing a pod of harbor seals slowly getting flooded by the tide on a sandbar off of Lawson’s Landing. After seeing the bobcat on the west side it is clear why the seals like islands. The bobcat was more than big enough to take a pup.

I saw hunters, for the second time in three trips. I was paddling down the east side north of Nick’s when I noticed movement near the shore in an area I did not expect to see people. A closer inspection revealed a boat wrapped in reeds and brush, a couple of people and shotguns.

This was a father and son, I talked to them later at Nick’s as they pulled their boat out. They were decent god fearing people, in complete compliance with our hunting laws. It’s a bit strange; people enjoying nature and observing wild animals go to great lengths not to disturb them, however, in the same place at the same time people wrapped in camo are luring in the same animals and shooting them.

Duck Hunters

Marbled Godwits

I stopped a few minutes later to shoot (photographically speaking that is) these godwits.

Oh well, it is what it is. All in all a good day on the water.

Great Egret

Brants Off Lawson's Landing


About westcoastwilds

This site is meant to share the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and educate people about mankind's stewardship obligations now that we have complete control of the planet. To date we've made a mess of it, but there is still hope.
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