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After the sad event of the first day of the year, I took my boat up to Nick’s Cove and went for a paddle.
As I walked around picking up trash on a tiny Tomales Point beach, I turned a corner and found myself 20 feet from a small bobcat with it’s back to me, tearing apart a hawk it had just killed. Another hawk on the ground nearby lifted off, leaving me with the wind and a hungry cat that did not know I was near. I dropped down and began quickly to pull my camera from its’ bag. Not quickly enough. The cat turned and proceeded to stare right through me.
For a moment I thought it was going to come after me. Its’ eyes were fixed on me. Each with a dark black iris, ringed by bright yellow. Two black moons transiting two bright suns. A pair of solar eclipses. Both locked on me as it stood over the kill, feathers pasted to its’ chin and face. It seemed to wonder for a brief moment if I were prey or predator. I wondered, too.
All the while, I kept sliding my camera up and out as I asked in my mind for it to hang around for picture or two.
It was having none of this. Dropping its’ head, it grabbed the bird in sharp teeth, gave me one last icy stare and quickly turned to slide up the steep brush covered hill.
Upon walking a few hundred meters north, plucking plastic off the beach, I found three other large piles of feathers. I now call this beach, Bobcat buffet beach.
Here are some images from a different paddle from Chicken Ranch nearly to Point Reyes itself during a high tide.
Speaking of tennis balls, I picked out the best tennis balls from the pile I have gathered over the past 3 years and brought 500 to the humane society of Novato for their guests. That’s right, 500. I likely have another 300-400 in poor shape. They were very happy to get them and assured me they would not let them get into a creek, nor the ocean. After telling them of the large number of irresponsible, sometimes very hostile dog owners that run their dogs off leash at Point Reyes, especially in endangered Snowy Plover habitat, they also assured me that they teach responsible dog ownership at the humane society.
I am told there are about two thousand snowy plovers left along the Pacific coast, perhaps five thousand world-wide. Five thousand! According to the humane society web site, there are approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the United States. The beaches of Point Reyes are one of the few places where Snowy Plovers attempt to breed and keep their numbers from reaching zero.
Unconditional love. Isn’t that a big reason why humans “own” a pet? Coming home to a face happy to see you no matter what. Who can argue with that? Well, think of all the love and appreciation of those plovers, humans and other species that come after us for keeping one more species from becoming extinct. Ceasing to exist.
I am well aware that not a single dog in the West Marin area chases birds. Their owners have told me so, again and again. But, when people from out of the area bring their pets here and see the locals running their well-behaved dogs off-leash, guess what? That’s right, lots of paws and noses scurrying over the sand. The same sand that is home to precious few endangered plover nests for a few months each year. Nests so tiny and well hidden, neither you nor your dog would know you just stepped on it.
Many, if not all of us out here are here for the beauty of the place. Please try to enjoy that beauty in a non-destructive way that all of us, humans, as well as non-domesticated critters included can live with.
A link to the rules regarding pets at Point Reyes National Seashore can be found here.
I am off to go visit my five pet white sharks now. They prefer to live in the sea, off-leash. We have a long-distance relationship that is working so far. I love them out there, knowing they are being sharks. And they love me here on land, trying to not destroy the place quite so quickly as many humans seem hell-bent on doing.