Anyone else miss a chance to document a truly epic observation?

On the evening of Friday May 1st, I was driving in the Santa Catalina Mountains when a cougar ran into the road in front of my car! At first I assumed it was a deer because it was almost the same size as a Coues Whitetail. Lol, I very quickly realized it was powered by deer and not one of them though. I have never wanted a dash-cam before, but certainly did at that moment. I feel like it was a once in a lifetime sighting, never to be repeated, and I have nothing to upload!

Has anyone else seen a plant or animal that was truly epic and for whatever reason, was not able to properly document it? If so please share your story… it would make me feel much better to commiserate with others on this topic.


Yesterday I was at the Delaware Water Gap climbing around on some boulders near the Blue Mountain Lakes. On this one boulder there was a blue tailed skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) sunning itself. Before I even knew what I was looking at it zipped into a crevice. It was the first lizard I’ve seen in the wild in America. Even if I had my phone out I wouldn’t have got a picture of it


I was driving around with my family in Devil’s River SNA-South Unit, in Del Rio, TX, and we stopped because my mom said she saw something. We then got distracted when we saw a fallow buck frozen on the cliff side but my mom still kept looking for what she saw. My sister wanted to see how close she could get to the buck, so she and my dad went on a hike after it. Me and my mom stayed, and she finally saw what she seen moving. I looked at it through the binoculars and saw a mountain lion staring back at me. Talk about freaking! There was no signal, and no way of telling my sister and dad. I tried to capture a picture only to realize my phone was dead. My sister and dad came back fine, but we had no proof to show them.


Years ago I was walking around the east end of Patagonia Lake in southern AZ and I witnessed an osprey dive and catch a fish from the lake surface. It was like watching a nature documentary. That’s about the best I have off hand.


Oh wow if I saw a mountain lion without getting a photo I’d never forgive myself. I’ve never even seen a bobcat, seeing a mountain lion would make my year.

The one I can think of was a rubber boa I saw a long time ago in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I didn’t carry a camera back then so no photos, but boas are so hard to find here in California.


I have those all the time.
Beginning of this week, on my nightly stroll through the backyard with my dog, I encountered an Andean white-eared opossum which was the first time in 1.5 years living in the Andes ever seeing any mammal other than a Llama or a rat. Would have loved to have a pic of it.
The week before, again on a walk with the dog, I encountered a huge crab with long and slender claws. Does not sound like much, but it was also a first and the only other crab observations I see on iNat in similar habitats is not the species I saw. I actually believe, it might have escaped somewhere rather than really living in my neighbourhood…but now I will probably never know :-/


What is even worse is when I do document a stunning nature find, get home…and find that the picture is underwhelming. A few days ago, I posted a picture from a year ago, from what I remember as a stunning white bird flying directly over me, and when I posted it, it was about 8 pixels in the middle of a sky. Someone commented “No Bird”

I also have, in my archives, what I remember as a mustelid photo. (I do remember taking a mustelid photo in the location the photo is in). But when I zoom in, it might just be a shadow underneath a bush.

I also have a photo of a puma paw print, from nine years ago, that is “Research Grade”, but when I took it, I didn’t put down an object for scale.

So there are a lot of little fails in my documentation, even when I do get a picture.


A bald eagle flew right in front of me and very close by while on a ski lift late last year. Needless to say, not enough time to get my phone out for a picture. What an awe-inspiring raptor!!


When I was working as an ecology tech in GA, I was driving across an old field road with my crew and saw a small pine moving in front of me, but back and forth but perpendicular to the wind (which was odd). As we approached in the truck to about 20 ft, a bobcat busted across the road right in front of us. That was awesome, but even more interesting was that it was followed by a doe which chased the bobcat across the whole field out of sight. We jumped out of the truck to check out the scene, and the ground on the other side of the tree was trampled up and a few branches snapped off the tree. After a little searching in the grass we found the doe’s fawn bedded down. It had two small puncture wounds near the base of its skull but was otherwise fine.
I just remember getting a huge adrenaline rush from having witnessed a showdown between momma deer and a bobcat. Of course, it all happened so fast that no one had any pics of bobcat or the doe, but still one of the coolest nature experiences I’ve had!


Welcome to the forum! Those ospreys are awesome, so cool to watch.

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One time I was driving along and a Long-tailed Weasel cross the road in front of me, no camera.
" " " " " " " " Golden Eagle was circling low over the road, no camera.
But as mnharris said, I have had several where the picture was terrible. My favorite type is you’re just about to take the shot, and auto-focus decides that you obviously wanted to take a picture of the branch in front of the target, of course.


Lol, my phone does the same thing and, in addition to that, won’t even focus anything up close. Almost impossible to get a good pic of insects or anything small like that.


I had two failed chances and both are snakes of the same species.

The first time I was taking pictures of a butterfly when I heard rustling underneath me (I was standing on a line of concrete floor gutters) and there was a chinese cobra right underneath my feet. It simply just slithered away and I couldn’t get my phone down quick enough.

The second time I was walking about a village near the sea when I heard rustling behind me and when I turned around there was a chinese cobra sunning itself on a bare rock. As I tried to get closer to take a picture it simply just slid backwards into the foliage.


I was in Taroko National Park, hiking down to the hot springs. I just barely saw the Formosan macaque before it leapt down the bank and I lost it.


Welcome to the forum!

About 2 years ago, a roseate spoonbill showed up in NC. I got there, but didn’t immediately see it as it was at the other side of the lake, but there were a couple of other birders who had a spotting scope and let me see it. If I knew it was the only time I would have seen the bird, I would have taken the photo through the scope with my phone camera, but shortly after all of us decided to go to the other side of the lake to get a better view. But by the time we got there, it had seemingly vanished and it was getting late, so I left. But the other birders stuck around and saw it again for one last time, as per the eBird checklist they uploaded. So I missed 2 chances to photograph the bird.


I recently went scuba diving off the Galapagos. Because we were going deeper than 15 meters, I couldn’t take my camera with me (as it’s only waterproof up to that depth). About 20 minutes after we went down, a school of hammerhead sharks swam right by us. It was a magical experience that will sadly remain undocumented.


Once I was on an ecological trail in Duitama with some friends, I had always wanted to see a lizard there, since these are very elusive, you can only hear the sound they make when passing through the undergrowth, however when we get to the highest part of the route, I saw one on a log in front of me, I borrowed the cell phone from my friend and I approached very slowly, when I was 20 cm from the lizard about to take the photo something terrible happened, the phone It started to ring suddenly, it was a phone call from my friend’s father, the sound frightened the lizard and since then I have never seen one of these lizards again, the most frustrating thing is that there was supposed to be no telephone reception in that area but I suppose that because we were at the highest point, I managed to get a little signal.


That is so frustrating! That happens to me too often, and not only with the phone. My sisters will come running and shouting my name scaring off a lot of wildlife I get close to, lol.