RFI – Bobcat in Late August early September at Sweetwater Wetlands Tucson

We have had to postpone a trip to Java and Sumatra for the 3rd year, Indonesia at the moment only letting foreign visitors into Bali and at least some of the National Parks e.g. Way Kambas, are still completely closed.

Our “back-up” trip is Arizona, mainly to look for Bobcat at Sweetwater Wetlands.

In Charles Hood’s report dated 5.7.20 he mentioned that:

Bobcats are more weekly than daily, with September supposedly better”

However in a post dated 7.3.21 Charles said:

“My brother lives in Tucson and as of 04 March 2021 is now at exactly 50% success rate for bobcats in 2021. He has seen them 14 times and missed them 14 times.”

This has led us to wonder whether we would be better looking for an alternative option for our late August early September trip and look for Bobcat in Sweetwater in the January to March range.

We intend to devote 6 days looking for Bobcat.

If anyone has any thoughts/views on this, we would be very grateful hear them.



  • Charles Hood

    Sweetwater has two variables: the management of the resource itself and the personalities of the local cats.

    To take that in order, the habitat changes a bit month to month depending how large or small that year’s controlled burn was, since they try to keep cattails from filling in all the open water.

    And for the animals themselves, there are five known individual bobcats that have been seen in the past year. One that was generally aloof / skittish became much more so after he was radio collared. There was some tension I think between the photographers / animal lovers and the researchers? The idea was that radio collars would NOT be used inside the preserve, and then they were? In contrast, one mother and her yearling cub were somewhat tolerant of humans and had centered their hunting right on the wetlands complex itself. For a while this winter, they were being seen daily.

    That right now (April 2022) is no longer true.

    Sooner or later the yearling will need to establish a new territory and the mamma may be protective of a kitten.

    (I am just guessing on this.)

    Point Reyes National Seashore might be a better bet. There is more territory overall, so there’s always something to try for; much larger resident bobcat population; no open / closed hours…. unlike Sweetwater, you do not need the guards to open the gate at x hour.

    With Sweetwater, do note that usually Monday is mosquito treatment day and they are closed in the morning.

    Charles Hood

  • Alan Dahl

    Steve, for what’s it’s worth, I think Charles is right on. We live in the Tucson area and have never seen bobcats at Sweetwater (just bad luck maybe?). Plus, we had them in our yard from time to time so the urge to go to look for them elsewhere naturally dissipated. However, I think we were 4 for 4 at Pt Reyes when we used to live in Nor Cal. Winter time was a great time to see them there but the August timeframe would be much different.

    That doesn’t mean that SW AZ isn’t a great place to visit in August. It will be monsoon time which is especially good for reptiles and migratory birds if that interests you at all. I am not sure which mammals you might want to see other than bobcat but if you decided to come let me know and I can share what I know.


  • Brett Hartl

    Your best chances of seeing bobcat at Sweetwater are when the days are shorter since the area opens at 8 and closes at 6 or so. I have had good luck towards dusk and decent luck at dawn. So September seems better to me than August.
    And for what it’s worth, I’ve seen them there about 75% of the time I’ve been there, but I rarely go in the summer.

  • SteveFirth

    Thank you all for the information that you have provided.

    Thank you Charles for providing an idea of the Bobcat/Sweetwater variables which helps a lot and for the pointer towards Point Reyes National Seashore, where from what I can glean from trip reports, does seem to be a good area for us to look for Bobcat. It also appears that the Nov through to March period would probably provide our best chances in that area.

    Alan, thank you for additional input. We do indeed look for, in Jon’s mind, the Devil’s spawn (birds) and were aware that August – September should be a good time in SW Arizona. Your offer of sharing your knowledge further may well be taken up on.

    Thank you Brett for giving an idea of the probability of seeing Bobcat at Sweetwater, albeit not in the Summer months.

    I note that Venkat has recommended San Benito County, California, as an option instead of, or to complement, Point Reyes National Seashore as an area to look for Bobcat. I’ll add that to my list of things to research.



  • Charles Hood

    Update on 03 May 2022 is that most visits to Sweetwater continue to be yes for cotton rats, no for bobcats, but that in late April the remarkable Jose Gabriel had a bobcat there in the middle of the afternoon. I assume details will be folded into a larger SE’n AZ trip report, since he was guiding a client for a week. Just passing on the gen as I know it as of today. / Charles Hood

  • SteveFirth

    Thank you Charles, all such information is really useful.

    Jose Gabriel does indeed live up to Jon’s billing as “an all round legend”.


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