Monday, 9 August 2010

Sounds of the night

The windy weather of the weekend promises no work so it,s off to the west of the county where i haven,t been for a while.While there i had an interesting chat with a farmworker P. from Long Furlong way who mentioned why bigcats are rarely heard calling (at night) for mates and suchlike.I,ve often wondered that too,having heard what i thought was one only once,the evening after a sighting i had back in october 2000.An unearthly,screeching sound,i,d never heard anything quite like it,similar to a tame cats in length but a bit more of a screech than a wail and deeper still.It was definitely no other animal that i,d heard of before in the countryside and at one time used to spend a heck of a lot of nights out and about and so got used to the usual nocturnal sounds of dogfoxes barking,vixens yelling,tawny owls hooting and barn owls screeching,caught rabbits screaming and badgers tearing down maize crops(i heard this last night and with the long drought we,ve been having they must be starving)and with the myriad of other sounds going on the nightime can be a noisy place at times.Strangely enough on those very black,moonless and cloudy nights we have in winter there can be no sounds going on whatsover,it,s as if a veil has draped itself over the whole place muffling and stifling every living thing.The cat i saw gave the appearance of being brash,bold,young and foolish,unused to the world,i,m guessing maybe 6 months old and probably not long left on it,s own to fend for itself .Being late october i don,t think it was calling for a mate but just maybe it was calling for it,s dam like the way i,ve seen cheetahs do on the telly.I believe bigcats in Britain have their cubs mostly in march but it seems from sightings they could have them at least a month either side of this.These days few people are creeping about at night,maybe the odd lamper out with with his dog,the occasional keeper and farmer doing a check on things but they won,t hear much with that landrover or quadbike engine running.Of course there are other people about at night in their gardens and whatnot but there may be another reason that cats are not often heard in that they just don,t generally need to sound off,the breeding males might have well established territorys with their 2 or 3 females,they know where they are if they if they want them and they don,t have to go about calling for mates and the same with females.However there have been reports,not many, of people hearing roaring sounds in the darkness and sometimes when they,ve been unsure of what they,ve heard,have checked it out on the web and came back with the answer of leopard.Proper bigcats like leopards and lions roar whilst,strangely,pumas aren,t by definition described as bigcats because they don,t roar but scream,it,s something to do with the vocal chords.That,s one of the bizarre things about natural science,describing different cats by mass using the difference in sounds they make.I wonder if tame cats actually roared whether they would be described as big cats,the mind boggles.Anyway,the subject of cat noises is a very interesting one and i,m sure as more research comes to light we,ll know more but for now i think the answer to that chaps question is the old naturalist,s answer to anything that couldn,t be explained is that "in nature,if there,s no need there,s no way but if there,s a vacuum there,s a gap to be filled".In other words while your thinking about what the hell was meant,the subject,s already been changed to something else that can be explained more easily.....The picture above is believed to be a bigcat watching from cover, taken by fellow bigcat researcher Bryan Hale while investigating a deer kill and he saw something very large and dark creep into the undergrowth,my personal experience is that cats do this very thing,sometimes,when disturbed....
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