Saturday, January 19, 2008

On Libraries, Hiking & A Bobcat!


Joan & I joined the San Francisco Library down at our Glen Park Branch this past week and were each issued a bar-coded card on the spot that is good to use at any of the 30 locations here in town.
The card, along with a personal PIN CODE also allows use of the Library's computers up to 30 minutes at a time.
Because WIFI is available, we could bring our own laptop and use the Internet connection as long as we want.

The hours of operation each week are as follows:

Sunday - Closed
Monday - Closed
Tuesday - 10 AM to 6 PM
Wednesday - 12 Noon to 8 PM
Thursday - 1 PM to 7 PM
Friday - 1 PM to 6 PM
Saturday - 1 PM to 6 PM

3 or 4 librarians were on duty all three times we visited our local Branch.
Most of the patrons were kids, but a variety of ages were present.

Wednesday, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and visited Mount Tamalpais State Park for a hike in the sunshine.
Mt Tam is practically unparalleled in the variety of hiking experiences it offers.
The drainages to the North are actually part of the Marin Water District, which carefully restricts the uses allowed, so that the system of surface reservoirs below Mt Tam are protected.

The hike offered terrific views of San Francisco and most of the northern Bay, plus Mt Diablo to the East.
Good ocean views, too, over Stinson Beach and Bolinas Lagoon, out to the Farallon Islands and Point Reyes National Seashore Park.
There was a little haze, but sometimes you can actually still see the High Sierra from these heights, over 200 miles away!

I tried unsuccessfully to download a couple of the digital images I took of a bobcat we encountered, followed for a while and eventually passed on our our way out.
This guy was a healthy specimen, one of about 30 or so that are known to inhabit the Marin Headlands and its surrounds.

At first, we thought it might be a coyote, but a look through binoculars confirmed this was a really good-sized cat!

He -or she- was hunting for dinner, and the preferred menu seemed to have been gophers or other small burrowing rodents.
This particular Bobcat wasn't very interested in us, but when it eventually became aware of our presence, it moved off the trail and downslope about 30 yards or so where it sat in the tall, dry grass and watched us pass, then continued it's hunt.

As luck would have it, the very next night we watched a presentation by Tony Rowell, the late Galen's son, in which he showed some shots of a Marin Headlands Bobcat hunting and pouncing on its prey!

Here's some general info on Bobcats from Wikipedia, plus a couple of digital images much better than than the ones I took:

The Bobcat (Lynx rufus), occasionally known as the Bay Lynx, is a North American mammal of the cat family, Felidae. With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States. The Bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas, as well as semi-desert, urban edge, and swampland environments. It persists in much of its original range and populations are healthy.

With a gray to brown coat, whiskered face, and black-tufted ears, the Bobcat resembles the other species of the mid-sized Lynx genus. It is smaller than the Canadian Lynx, with which it shares parts of its range, but is about twice as large as the domestic cat. It has distinctive black bars on its forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail, from which it derives its name.
Though the Bobcat prefers rabbits and hares, it will hunt anything from insects and small rodents to deer and pronghorn antelope. Prey selection depends on location and habitat, season, and abundance. Like most cats, the Bobcat is territorial and largely solitary, although there is some overlap in home ranges. It uses several methods to mark its territorial boundaries, including claw marks and deposits of urine or feces. The Bobcat breeds from winter into spring and has a gestation period of about two months.

Although the Bobcat has been subject to extensive hunting by humans, both for sport and fur, its population has proven resilient. The elusive predator features in Native American mythology and the folklore of European settlers.


We'll try to spot more wildlife tomorrow, this time at Point Reyes.