Living so close to nature, the photographer was used to waking up to the sounds of wild animals. Not being one to miss out on a photo opportunity, then, he went to see what was causing the ruckus in this instance. And there, on his porch, was a cat – but a cat with something unusual about it…
The aforementioned photographer is Tim Newton, a man who loves nothing more than capturing nature on film. His specialist subject is wild animal and landscape photography – and he lives in a good place for it. That’s because Newton has a home in Anchorage, Alaska.
Not only does the location offer beautiful views of the wild countryside, but Newton also lives especially close to nature. His house is near to a state park, in fact, so he often has wild visitors, and sometimes the creatures even disturb his sleep.
On one such occasion, Newton went to investigate a noise from outside only to then find himself looking straight at a black bear. So when sounds woke him in September 2017, the photographer had no idea what to expect. Whatever it was, though, it was certainly noisy.
“It was right near dawn,” he subsequently told The Dodo. “I heard some noises. It was like something scrambling on the deck. Coming out of my slumber, I thought, ‘What the heck is that?’ So I… slowly eased back the curtain.”
To his surprise, Newton saw the unexpected guest: a cat was using his front porch as a playground. And while at first he nearly dismissed the sight and went back to bed, something about the cat made him look again. Moreover, that was when he noticed that it was no ordinary animal.
“I started to think nothing more of it,” Newton later told KTUU. “But then I noticed it had really big feet and little tiny hairs on its ears.” And there was a particular cat that Newton felt matched such a description.
Yes, it wasn’t a domestic cat that Newton had seen; it was a lynx kitten – and that’s not something you see every day. Indeed, it’s a rare sight even for someone like Newton, who lives so close to nature. For this reason, then, the photographer subsequently reached for his camera and started snapping.
Lynx are a species of wild cat that have exactly the characteristics described above by Newton. They come in four different sub-species: Eurasian, Canada, Iberian and bobcat lynx. But although they live in different parts of the world, they all share similar characteristics.
One of the features of lynx are their ears, which are tipped with long tufts of black hair. These furry tassels are partly responsible for a lynx’s excellent hearing, which is very acute. Lynx in colder climates, meanwhile, share the signature large paws that Newton noticed on the kitten.
Working in a similar way to snowshoes, these paws spread a lynx’s weight so that it can walk over snow easily. And this, combined with excellent eyesight – allowing lynx to spot mice from 250 feet away – helps ensure that these cats are excellent ambush hunters. Indeed, they catch most of their food when night falls.
It’s partly for this reason that the elusive lynx is rarely seen. And Newton explained what a great opportunity it was to witness a lynx in its natural environment. “Normally… you have just enough time to get your camera out, and then they’re gone,” he said.
Furthermore, Newton soon discovered that the lynx kitten wasn’t on its own. “He was sitting there watching [two or three] siblings race by,” the photographer told The Dodo. “They were running back and forth, pouncing on each other. [So] I started snapping away. I thought, ‘Wow! What incredible luck.’”
Newton subsequently took around 20 photos of the playful cats before they disappeared out of sight. At that point, the photographer thought that his luck had run out. But in reality, it was quite the reverse: he was about to win the lynx lottery.
Newton watched in surprise as the mother lynx then appeared on the porch, leading her kittens back to play. Incredibly, there were seven kittens and mommy, and all of them seemed unaware of the photographer’s presence. “I’ve never seen so many lynx,” he told The Dodo.
“To see all these lynx on my deck… I was gob-smacked. They started to play again,” Newton recalled. “For the next 40 minutes, they all played on my deck. They were chasing each other, rolling and wrestling.” Indeed, only one kitten saw Newton when he approached the screen door.
“I don’t know why I did this – maybe to say to him, ‘Oh, what a cute little kitty,’” Newton recalled. “But I pulled the camera away from my face a little, and my eyes showed. The look of terror on that kitten’s face!”
“His eyes were wide open, and he just flew away from me!” Newton added. “But the others didn’t pick up on it.” Naturally, Newton subsequently shared his photographs on the internet, where the rare spectacle was well-received. “This is an AMAZING story,” one commenter wrote. “What a gift to you.”
“That’s amazing,” another added. “Thank you for sharing this and for respecting the beautiful cats by admiring them from afar. Mama must’ve known she had found a safe place for her and her babies to rest and play.” Newton himself had a new-found respect for lynx mommies, too.
“She has her hands full,” he told The Dodo. “I’ve concluded that lynx must spend 1 percent of their waking lives chasing rabbits and 99 percent chasing their kids. What a handful!”. Newton later added in a Facebook post, “We respect the wildlife deeply and are always so honored to have them as our guests.”