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Lynx and Tawny Owls

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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 13:48   #1
jurek
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Lynx and Tawny Owls

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that if a single man goes to the forest without binoculars, he must see something rare.

After work, I decided to go for a short, easy walk in the suburban forest. I took a wrong turn, and decided to drive instead a short distance further. Walking into the forest, I heard two Roe Deer alarming like crazy. I knew there are lynx in this forest, and Iread that Roe Deer alarms at a lynx differently than at a human, so why not go there? It was as good plan as anything. Not unexpectedly I saw nothing. Then I thought again: suppose there was a lynx, what it might do? Because Roe Deer in the evening commonly go out to feed on meadows, possibly he would go there. So I turned back towards the forest edge.

I heard a Blackbird alarming. I went on the junction of the path, and there was a Lynx standing on the road, just 10 meters or so from me! I kept quiet and immobile and stood behind the bush growing on the roadside, and the lynx glanced several times in my direction but stayed on the road. It started drinking from a pool on the road. I tried watching and filmed with my mobile phone. A sign of times.

Then a cyclist appeared on the road to the side. I just gave him a look and showed an open hand, and he understood and stopped. The lynx in the meantime withdrew into the undergrowth on the roadside. I waved to the cyclist thanks and please go, but he came to me curious what was going on. I showed him the lynx video. He said that he is also a naturalist, or maybe something different altogether. I could not understand his accent. But he stayed there, looking into the bushes. I instead decided to walk forward on the road, looking on my way just in case the Lynx was hiding in the roadside bushes. It was not there. A Raven alarmed short distance away. The lynx probably went there, on the path I walked previously. The cyclist on the path, in the meantime, looked intently into the bushes. I waited some more time, and the cyclist waved me. I went back, and saw that the lynx came back and was resting in the bushes near the road! Incredible. We watched it further.

It was getting dark, and I could not see the lynx anymore. The cyclist waved me goodbye, and ridden away. I decided to stay a little longer, maybe the lynx shows itself again. I backed a short distance to the road junction, and sat under a tree. Just in case the lynx was less alarmed by a sitting man. Most animals are.

Suddenly the lynx appeared, and walked towards me until it was just five meters or so. It stopped and watched me. I took more pictures with my mobile. The flash seemed to make him uneasy, so I made a film. Then the lynx walked a little, and sat on the path ca six meters from me, watching me . It scratched itself and started licking his paws.

The night was falling. A Tawny Owl hooted at distance. Then another Tawny Owl flew over the lynx, perched on the tree I was sitting under, and started hooting. Then it flew back, and sat on a tree 5 meters above the lynx, looking at him. And started hooting again. A second Tawny Owl answered, and they started flying around, hooting like mad.

What the lynx was doing, sitting for many minutes? Was it hiding, waiting for me to pass? It would not do it on the open road. Was it endlessly curious at me? Possibly. Was it simply resting? Most likely so. Was it hoping that it can attack me – this was unlikely, it was not tense and I was much bigger than him. What the Tawny Owls were doing? Were they mobbing the lynx? They would probably use the alarm call, not the territorial hoot. Were they arguing between themselves? Possibly, for both sounded female, like the imperfect, scratching version of the territorial hoot.

Minutes passed, and it got so dark that I could no longer see the lynx. The owls flew away, still calling to each other. I decided to take one last picture of the lynx. I rolled myself on my back, then started walking, crouched, as slowly as possible and not directly towards the lynx. I was less than 10 meters ago when he got up. I knew I came too close, so I backed away and looked. It moved slowly, a dark shape in the darkness. And went away home.

I realized that it is possibly the best nature observation I had ever in my life. How often one can watch a shy wild cat in the open, just few meters away for so long, with the pair of owls interacting? I had no binoculars, but they were not necessary.

Videos;
https://vimeo.com/420457219
https://vimeo.com/420457397
https://vimeo.com/420458030
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Last edited by jurek : Thursday 21st May 2020 at 19:16.
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 13:55   #2
Biancone
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Never mind the binoculars, you didn't really need them. Just be thankful you had the phone! Fantastic encounter (these days everything is "fantastic", but I mean almost unbelievable!! So very envious. Thanks for posting!!
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 13:59   #3
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Thanks a lot! Embedding videos only does not seem to work:

<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/420457219" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 17:17   #4
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Jaw-dropping stuff! What an encounter! And Tawny Owls to boot!
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 17:26   #5
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Really quite wonderful encounter, so lucky! Thank you for sharing the videos.
Was surprised how scrawny and long legged that lynx looks. They sure are not fat.
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 18:15   #6
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The word 'fantastic' is certainly over-used but it's definitely appropriate here!
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 19:16   #7
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Whoops, messed up. The video link is: https://vimeo.com/420457219

@etudiant: Wild carnivores in summer coat usually look very lean. But I also think this lynx could be a last year animal, a teenager. This would explain its lack of fear. I would be happy if some mammal expert could tell its age and sex from these films.

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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 20:44   #8
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You lucky, lucky man. I should take the rest of the year off, if I were you: it's not going to get better than that!

Cheers

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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 20:54   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jurek View Post
Whoops, messed up. The video link is: https://vimeo.com/420457219

@etudiant: Wild carnivores in summer coat usually look very lean. But I also think this lynx could be a last year animal, a teenager. This would explain its lack of fear. I would be happy if some mammal expert could tell its age and sex from these films.
I was thinking along the same lines, perhaps the people here might be able to give you more of an idea: https://www.athenas.fr/
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 20:58   #10
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Beautiful animals: The one I saw on the Coto didn't seem at all worried having three small bus-loads of us admiring him (or her).
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 22:36   #11
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What an incredible and truly awesome experience, jurek.
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Old Thursday 21st May 2020, 23:57   #12
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Incredible moment - the stuff of dreams - congratulations Jurek!
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 10:08   #13
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Lucky indeed!
When I saw the thread title, I was expecting a debate on HBW's arrangement of Tawny Owls
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 10:33   #14
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What a fantastic experience! Congratulations and thanks for posting!
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 12:32   #15
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Well, just brilliant. My best wildlife experience ever was a Clouded Leopard that calmly walked past me down to 3m on Sumatra’s Mt Kerinci, and James Eaton had a similar ridiculous experience there with a Golden Cat. We swapped notes and if I remember rightly, James had a view that wild cats will sometimes just decide that you are not a threat. I couldn’t tell if mine even knew I was there because it never looked at me while I had it on view but surely it did...

The experience may have been even better for you jurek, if you’d left your phone at home as well as your bins. Nice for us though that you had it with you.
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 13:27   #16
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Well, just brilliant. My best wildlife experience ever was a Clouded Leopard that calmly walked past me down to 3m on Sumatra’s Mt Kerinci, and James Eaton had a similar ridiculous experience there with a Golden Cat. We swapped notes and if I remember rightly, James had a view that wild cats will sometimes just decide that you are not a threat. I couldn’t tell if mine even knew I was there because it never looked at me while I had it on view but surely it did...

The experience may have been even better for you jurek, if you’d left your phone at home as well as your bins. Nice for us though that you had it with you.
I had that experience with a Sumatran Tiger at Way Kanan.

When I arrived back at camp, breathless and in need of fresh underwear, I reported the event to Phil Benstead who was on site and he calmy replied 'oh, I thought we heard one there this morning'.....thanks for the warning Phil!!!
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 13:56   #17
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I had that experience with a Sumatran Tiger at Way Kanan.

When I arrived back at camp, breathless and in need of fresh underwear, I reported the event to Phil Benstead who was on site and he calmy replied 'oh, I thought we heard one there this morning'.....thanks for the warning Phil!!!
3m, Andy?!?
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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 16:57   #18
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3m, Andy?!?
Could have been less, just the tiger decided Andy was inedible.
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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 17:58   #19
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Could have been less, just the tiger decided Andy was inedible.
Old and stringy, that's the truth and he wouldn't have been able to take the incessant moaning as I went down.

Not 3m Andy but less than 10.

It growled a couple of times, presumably in warning, at this point I didn't know what it was, it then strolled down the track and growled over it's shoulder at me, dismissively. One of the most terrifying incidents of my life, I'd been due to go nightbirding that night with PB and his wife but wimped out, it really shook me.

It was on the 'Loop trail' that runs from the camp and back on to the entrance road, I'd gone looking for a Storm's Stork that was seen earlier. There was a female, American researcher there (White-winged Wood Duck) who'd been there for a couple of years I think. She told us she heard them most days but had never seen one.
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Old Saturday 23rd May 2020, 20:38   #20
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We really ought to be talking about Lynx but that’s amazing Andy. And interesting use of the word ‘dismissively’. A few times now when I’ve been watching big cats from a vehicle or a boat, their complete disinterest in their human admirers has been astonishing. It almost feels insulting in a funny kind of a way.

I found Way Kambas pretty unnerving my first time there. Paul Pearson and I were slowly walking the loop trail one day and realised the afternoon was drawing on. We decided to speed up and soon after, a large animal grunted and burst out of a bush 20m in front of us. My heart flew into my mouth and I remember thinking to myself, ‘well you stupid idiot, you knew this might happen, what are you going to do now?’ - all in a split second. It was a pig.
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