Thursday, 31 March 2011

The spring movements of a Sussex big cat

Here is some data on the spring movements of a particular Sussex big cat from this year.As i,ve said before,big cats in Sussex principally target rabbits at this time year and the evidence to back this up is overwhelming to say the least as well as the effects of the moon have on their behaviour.Take this big cat for example,since the end of january it has been sighted only at dusk and dawn on only moonless nights and when it has been seen on a moonlit period this has only been in the middle of the night (with lamps).It has been seen on 16 verifiable occasions with all bar 2 of these being in rabbit hot spots together with suitable cover enabling the cat to approach it,s prey easily.On the 2 exceptions it was seen at night travelling at speed crossing a road in an area with few rabbits and presumably heading straight to an area where there was better hunting.All sightings were of a very large alsatian sized,black cat usually seen trotting with a very long outstretched tail.It was described as having small ears,well muscled legs and a flat face.The same area has been mapped out by myself over the last 11 years with last year going on mostly on the ground evidence (previously posted on bigcatdetective blog) due to gaining the trust of various farmers etc. i have since uncovered witness sightings to back up this evidence found.

Briefly,it was seen at 1 site then 3 days later 16.5 km away with further sightings and other evidence linking it to the general area for a further 5 days.Then again 10 days later 14.5 km away on 2 days to be seen at night 8.5 km away.It certainly appeared to move quickly through the areas where there are few rabbits to appear for between 2 to 7 days in another area then to move on somewhere else.It has consistantly reappeared at the same cluster of parishes at the same stages of moon for 3 moons so far but i expect this to change by the next moon or at least by the end of april when it,s range should increase to take in account new food sources such as fledgling birds by which time it should still visit it,s previous places but not as predictably .

So far it,s spring range encompasses an area of around 140 but obviously i cannot say it hasn,t gone outside of this range in the time period.The summer range will increase greatly in size to accomodate new food sources coming into being along with the summer cover which will enable it to hunt this seasonal prey,like waterfowl on banksides.The picture shows how birds such as ducks and pheasants are active at the first slivers of light falling prey to crepuscular hunters like big cats and foxes.

Despite it,s huge size,around the 23" at the shoulder mark,it has consistantly ran away from dogs (4 occasions) and either trotted or ran off at speed when realising it had been seen by people...........

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sussex big cats prey on badgers,more evidence...

Ok,so it,s scant evidence at best and only a skull of a youngish badger however it was found at a time earlier this month of intense big cat activity in West Sussex in an area where last year 2 fox carcases were found attributed as being big cat kills .There is ample evidence on and elsewhere on the net that big cats habitually take foxes but none of badgers falling prey to these apex predators,badgers are not preyed on by anything else,they amble along with impunity falling victim only to traffic and yet this skull was found miles away from the nearest road.My trail cameras have been set up on big cat spotting tasks and wildlife survey dutys alike but all in areas where big cats have been known to be active and all have produced remarkably few badger pictures given that this stripy faced mustelid is very widespread and numerous .At this time of year the big cats are targeting almost exclusively rabbits as the deer are very much harder to catch than they were in deep winter but rabbit numbers are not yet thronged by the multitudes of youngsters yet.They will however also take foxes and a young badger shoudn,t be too much of a task for them but i had always thought that badgers were not taken by big cats because of the lack of evidence found.It,s very rare to find any parts of a badger like a skull,they were observed by a 1950,s naturalist(the name escapes me) dragging a old dead boar badger out of a sett and burying the corpse in a nearby rabbit bury.In fact,after a lifetime of being in the country accompanied by my morbid facination of skulls and attached bones,this is probably only the second badger skull i,ve ever found.What is needed next is a badger carcase bearing all the hallmarks of being a big cat kill as this is the conclusive proof as it has been with deer and foxes.(related article dated 13.2.11).........

Friday, 18 March 2011

Falmer paw print

The big cat seen around the Brighton area (20" tall ) may well have left this 6cm wide paw print,it,s certainly very cat-like that is the 2 front toes are asymetrical,not parralel,there are no claw marks even though it,s a very deep print and it was found at the sort of place that a big cat would be expected to pass through.Coupled with this the Brighton sighting that was in the Argus newspaper was only down the road.Although not massive the print does concur with the size of cat that has been seen all winter till now from Offham to Telscombe and Devils Dyke and is far biggar than any domestic breed of cat could reach (the biggest Maine Coon tom from Keoka cats when splayed it,s paw was 5cm)with a print the actual paw is a bit larger to allow for skin etc so the actual paw that would of left this mark in the cow pat would of been closer to 7cm.Being in a cow pat is a first though as most cats don,t like getting their paws dirty,their pads are a connection with the ground and they feel their way away around........

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Mystery rabbit kills at Mt.Caburn

The sighting at Mt.Caburn last week previously posted as a possible puma sighting is now described as a sandy cat of about 20" tall.After meeting the witness who very kindly met me at the site and had already expertly investigated the area on the downland ridge where he saw the big cat and i an only repeat what was seen and it certainly doesn,t tally with being a puma.This is usual,witnesses very often say they saw a puma and then go on to describe a totally different big cat which is usually a British big cat.There are only 2 witness statements on my Sussex big cat files in 2010 where the description could and i repeat could tally with what would plausibly be called a puma or mountain lion and even then it is not definite and this is in the far east of the county.However the updated cat description does certainly fit in with what is usually seen in Sussex and especially the Lewes area,besides,evidence gathered at the scene,whilst by no means conclusive points to the usal prey being taken by the usual type of big cat,the British big cat.
The witness is a local chap and wildlife savvy,he showed me what he had found which was incredible to say the least for out in the open,about 3 weeks old,all eaten out the same way with the heads missing,the skin inside out literally dozens of rabbit carcases.They were spread out in the open around the ridge encompassing about 50 acres.We counted over 50 carcases and i must say in all my experience have never seen such a thing.My impression on seeing the first one from a distance was maybe a buzzard but they won,t chew on bones ,rasp them clean or skin them neatly inside out though a fox might but it would take the carcases off to some cover and not eat them on the spot in the middle of the field.There was little sign of them being killed either,not much fur lying around plus if a buzzard cathes and eats some of a rabbit the rest is usually taken off by scavengers like foxes or badgershowever sometimes when big cats kill and eat something,very often what is left won,t be touched,at least for a long time for some reason and this has been proved by leaving a trail camera at the scene in any case the rabbits appeared to be all eaten out in one sitting and all in the same fashion.
The dead rabbits were too far gone for a proper analysis but they do fit in with similar carcases found near big cat sightings and all were left in a similar fashion.What is clear is that in an area with such a high population of rabbits such as this,the numbers run into 1000,s,a big cat will stay for a short while say 2 or so weeks and hunt rather than move straight through,also Mt.Caburn especially it,s northern slopes and where the dead rabbits were is famous for big cat sightings over the years being thought of as a run through from the downs west of Lewes connecting that area with the ground all the way to Firle beacon and beyond.
As for the big cat itself,well,brown or sandy cats are very often male,the one seen locally previously has been much,much bigger and more different too look at so it,s not the brown one usually seen around here at this time of year.This is a very speculative theory at the moment but it may be a young male trying to find it,s way in the world and may be tolerated in the home range of its sire seen not more than 6 weeks ago a mile away.It has occurred to me of course that it is this big male but because it was lying down it looked smaller however there are a few defining features mentioned by the witnesses that i ommit from posting in order that witnesses describe fully what they see and not what they think they see which can be worlds apart so i,m pretty sure it,s not him.Further evidence will reveal itself i,m sure or the lack of any will prove otherwise.......

Mystery rabbit kills at Mt.Caburn big cat sighting

Saturday, 5 March 2011

These moonless nights have been buzy again

Well,at least one of our Sussex big cats has been furiously showing itself well these last moonless nights or should i say dawn twilights.3 very respectable sightings in 7 days means somethings going on.It,s in an area reasonably well known for big cat sightings over the years but not as frequently as recently and once again this 23" high big cat was chased by a dog out of some bushes which merely reinforces their unwillingness for conflict with man or one of his(her)beasts.The locations are all within a mile of each other but because of their proximity to a primary school wild horses won,t drag out of me where they are until they say so.A swiftly concocted mini vigil with another researcher on friday at daybreak saw a strong sun and bright light and not the dull mornings the big cat was seen on.Even so it was an interesting outing not least by hearing a magpie making a near perfect mimicry of a buzzard so good we even thought it was one at first.On the way home later in the day a stop off at the side hill east of Ditchling beacon brought a chance encounter with someone who had seen some sort of large cat not 200 yards from him with a load of other witnesses only an hour before.A pint of Harveys later finds a conversation with the barman and staff giving a pretty good description which i posted on, not a classic big cat type but something large definitely and not sounding very domestic.The actual description doesn,t though fit in with the type and colour of the big cat usually seen in the rough area so the jurys out for a bit on this one still,it,s nice to be able to have permission to give a location once in a while and along with a puma sighting on nearby Mt.Caburn earlier in the week there is surely a lot of movement going on with the Sussex big cats............