The Lynx

Aug 6, 2015 | 0 comments

When I first caught a glimpse of it, I thought it was someone’s dog off leash, walking out of the dwarf birch by the bus stop just as the bus pulled out. But the tawny creature that prowled out of the bushes was far too catlike, and it took me only a second to realize that I had finally set eyes on one of the most coveted species I’ve been wanting to find in Alaska: The elusive lynx. 
It was 9:30am and I had just arrived at work when it caught my eye out the window of the Savage River check station. I grabbed my camera and ran outside just as 3 buses rolled up and my coworker went out to greet them. It took me only a matter of seconds to get to the bushes where I had seen the lynx disappear, yet there was no sign of it at all — not a sound or a rustle in the bushes, no visible tracks or trails. 

I came back out to the road, trying to feel grateful that I had at least gotten a glimpse, when I realized everyone in the bus was pointing frantically out the window. “IT’S IN THE TREE!!” my coworker mouthed.

Sure enough, that freaking cat was crouching in plain view in a tree right across from us in the glaring morning sunlight. I could hardly contain my excitement, much less my silence so as not to scare it off.

The lynx was climbing down out of the tree, more of a half controlled fall until it finally slipped silently down to the ground. We lost it for a few seconds and then suddenly it was just below the bridge embankment, only a few yards away, settling down on its haunches nearly out of sight in the bushes.

A ground squirrel was sitting on a big grey rock, squeaking rapidly in a panic. It seemed as if the squirrel couldn’t see the lynx, but it knew something was there. It squeaked and squeaked and squeaked for at least a minute without either creature moving. For a moment, I thought the lynx had left, and apparently the squirrel thought the same thing because eventually it stopped squeaking and decided to hop off the rock.

A fatal error. No sooner had the squirrel jumped, so too did the lynx and with a panicked squealing, the squirrel became breakfast. Incredibly, the lynx came right out in front of us with the twitching squirrel in its mouth and looked right up at the bridge and the 3 buses of simultaneously horrified, amazed, appalled, and ecstatic visitors.

Eventually the lynx decided to take its meal to a more private setting, and so it slunk off into the thicker bushes and unfortunately I had to get back to work and couldn’t keep watching it.

But OH MY GOODNESS what a sighting! Not only my first lynx, but I also can’t believe I got to watch a successful hunt at such close range. Nature is so neat!


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