Talk about close encounters of the furred kind! A photographer in Alaska had the experience of a lifetime when a mother lynx and her seven cubs wandered onto his deck and turned it into their own personal playground.
Tim Newton lives on the edge of Chugach State Park near Anchorage, Alaska. Early one morning in September, he woke to the sound of paws skittering across his deck.
Living in Alaska, Newton is no stranger to wildlife. "I’ve been woken up by bears on the deck, so I thought I would check," he said. “I pulled open the curtain just a bit to see, because I didn’t want them to run off, and I looked down and saw what struck me as a cat.”
But it wasn't your ordinary tabby from two houses down. “I took a second look and realized it wasn’t a full-grown cat but a baby lynx. They’re about the same size at this age," he said.
Immediately, he "went into photography mode," grabbed his camera and snapped pictures from various windows inside the house.
“They’re running back and forth across the deck, chasing each other, hiding, jumping. They've turned the deck into a romper room, having a heck of a time,” Newton joked.
“I saw through the screen door that the grass was moving. It was like Jurassic Park with the velociraptors," he laughed. "Then I heard the mother calling to the kittens.” Mama lynx was watching her furry charges from the underbrush, her mottled coat providing her the perfect camouflage.
Mother Nature then granted Newton another amazing experience: a photo session with all seven kittens and their mother. Newton stayed behind his screen door before he decided he wanted to see if he could get a bit closer without scaring the wild cubs; still dressed in his bathrobe and covering his face with the camera, Newton suspects the lynxes didn't recognize him as anything predatory or see him as a threat; he was able to snap some amazing shots.
One cub, curious about the camera's strange clicking, wandered close enough for Newton to get this amazing photo.
The whole encounter lasted about 40 minutes before the whole furry family decided playtime was over and melted into the wilderness, but not before Newton captured this adorable family photo.
Lynxes are fairly elusive creatures and are usually photographed out in the wilds. It's an unusual and rare experience to see lynxes at play. Calling himself "old enough to play Santa Claus without a fake beard," Newton said he's had only six sightings of lynx in his lifetime.
"I think I used 40 lifetimes of good luck in those 40 minutes," he said.