Thursday, 30 December 2010

Foxes and rabbit marking/trailcam

Everywhere i go i,m smelling fox and not surprising as they,re marking everywhere at the moment,in the 2nd pic i "marked"that tree when i checked the cam last(i know it,s best to keep camspots "clean" but,well i was bursting)in the 3rd pic at another camspot a vixen is marking near where the dog fox marked(blogged last week)Even caught the Master buck rabbit in the act as he was marking around his mound,in the last pic he is sitting preening himself with what i presume to be a doe in attendance,he did have 2 with him up till now so i wonder what has happened to her,there,s recently been fog so thick you can stand a spoon in it especially on the downs and fog is a foxes greatest ally, they can creep up on things quite easily as it seems to dampen their preys senses and they won,t run,on foggy nights i,ve heard rabbits and hares screaming blue murder as something,i presume foxes, has got hold of them and i wouldn,t be surprised if it helps the bigcats as well......

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Master buck rabbit at his spot

This master buck rabbit sticks to his spot throughout the snowstorm according to the trailcam pics.Where he sits he has already marked the place out with pellets and pee,it is a slighly raised piece of ground,distinctly higher than the ground around it,he has a bit of a territory here with 1 or 2 does hanging about.The next Master buck mound that i could find is at the top,middle of the picture and the other side of the bushes.Our rabbit here appears to be quite young as its ears are quite neat and not torn through fighting other bucks and he will spend most of the time that he,s not feeding by just sitting around here.Some years ago when this was found out by Lockley(he spent months observing an enclosed rabbit warren behind the house )it was ridiculed by(some,urban)rabbit warreners of the time,the "60,s i think it was."I,ve been criticised in my generalisation in formally saying all warreners as i,ve been told that Lockley only scientifically proved certain observations what country wisdom knew all along)" who said that in a field with 100,s of rabbits in it,there was no way that a single buck could lay claim to any ground with that much overcrowding,but even in those sort of conditions these buck mounds can still be found.I,ve only just put a cam here but this rabbit is nearly always in the picture,where he sits is also on a crossroads of runs and is as ideal a spot to put a cam as i,ve found till now but never really know how good a spot will be until the first pictures have been looked at and a decent set of animals has been picked up.Here,i,m really hoping for pics of a bigcat as there,s 1 well overdue in passing this way but it could just skip this parish and just be in the neighbouring 1 but there,s no harm in trying.There,s no deer here to attract a bigcat but there is good cover and a hell of a lot of rabbits.Since may now i,ve placed a cam either where a cat has just been or where i think it will show up and still no pictures of 1 and so i,ve come to the conclusion that seeing as a bigcats seem to wander about so ceaselessly,never hanging around somewhere for long and if they do ever return to the general area they may just as well be in the next wood and not this 1 and then move on somewhere else which is why they are so hard to track down.The best option could be to just have cams at the best spots where a cat could just pass by and leave it there as the odds are that at some point maybe not this year and maybe not the next but some day a gloriously black,bigcat will pass by captured,finally on a trailcam with good quality pictures to boot.That would be my plan anyway if i had enough cameras but for now they are nomadic,spending time here there and everywhere.Apparently,1 trailcam dealer told me that his firm alone has already sold over 100,000 cams and reckons with these sort of numbers of them out there now the bigcat mystery will finally be solved within 5 years ,at least with pictures anyway or it really will be a big mystery.They are being bought a lot now for peoples gardens who want to see what sort of wildlife is visiting their garden even when they are asleep like foxes and badgers and thinks the eventual pictures could well come from there .At present,there are no decently framed,in colour,closeup,well exposed pictures of a bigcat taken in Britain yet but that could change with the advent of the high quality trailcams that are coming onto the market.The sought after picture could be taken by 1 of these little gems.........

Sunday, 26 December 2010

This is interesting,this fox sniffs the top of the stick that has been marked by another fox,a dog fox,then sits down for a bit and watches him ahead(the dog fox is at the far end of the trail)she and i,m assuming by the smaller size that it,s a vixen,then follows on straight afterwards.They are breeding at the moment and this is preceded by much flirting for want of a better word.Foxes do have pretty loose territorys and this is proved by the huge number that can gather around deer kills,last winter in a tiny 1 acre wood there was a fallow carcase that i thought had been pulled down by a bigcat and i put up 6 foxes from there just looking for other evidence,which just goes to show that when a lot of food like that is lying around they will lie up for the day within yards of each other....

Woodcock probing through the snow/trailcam

In the top picture the woodcock is feeding at 10.22am which is unusual as they usually only feed at night.They spend the days motionless on the woodland floor camaflaged perfectly amongst the leaves(when there,s no snow) and flight to the feeding grounds like damp pastures halfway through dusk so their predators like Perigrine falcons will have less chance of catching them.I spose the snow and frozen ground has forced them in daylight as well to feed........

Friday, 17 December 2010

1 then 2 woodcock/trailcam

Ist 1 woodcock then another showed up in front of the trailcam,i knew they fed near to each other occasionally but never this close thinking they were mostly solitary.They do love this sort of habitat though,mixed woods with a decent but openish understory of things like rhodedendrons or holly.........

Mystery cat/trailcam

This mystery cat passed by the stumpcam,it looks a fawn colour,is the size of a large tame cat but has a very thick tail.Apparently there,s a thriving feral cat population locally and i assume this is 1 of them.It,s smaller than a fox (blury pic of fox is top for scale)so can,t be a Rudder cat,still ,an interesting catch for the trailcam......
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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ashdown forest deer kill/pawprint/scat

As can be seen in the picture(to view a video of this investigation click the you tube box at the bottom of the page or go to You Tube and search "bigcatdetective")there are a lot of leaves down on the waters edge whereas elsewhere along the stream there aren,t.This is synonomous with the deer struggling at the stream crossing with the cat in tow and together both of them scraping the leaves off the top of the bank and only goes to show that sometimes the deer do struggle a bit while they are being caught by a cat.Fallow deer,however,are a little tougher than roe,a lot bigger and stronger even the skin on their neck is thicker.The estimated time of death is in a dark period when a bigcat would not be relying on it,s eyes so much as it,s other senses.As for the scat,to be honest,i,m not sure what animal it came from but it did have a lot of rabbit fur in it and was very green which would suggest the animal ate a lot of intestine some 6 hours or more before it came out.I really need to find a scat expert for this sort of thing or somehow hone my skills in it better for myself as it,s a very rare carcase where there isn,t some sort of scat lying very close to it.The pawprint i,m pretty damn sure came from a bigcat,everything about it seems right,i know it,s only a partial 1 but this whole scenario i have posted on this fits the bill.That is bigcat lies in wait for deer,usually in family groups at this time of year in this case older hinds with kids and yearlings to boot, to cross the stream,it would know by sound alone which 1 was the youngest,the cat being downwind launches itself from the cover of the fir tree grabs the deer by the throat and uses gravity as well as strength to subdue it,dragging it into the stream,the cat is unlikely to use its claws on the deer as it would be struggling itself to remain upright.Fallow deer,even young ones, have immense strength,where i come from we nickname them wood cattle.The deer struggles with the cat or is it visa versa causing the leaves to fall by the waters edge with the cat bracing itself against the bank making the very deep(for a cat) pawprint with above it the scrape in the mud as the cats foot slips down the bank and the deer once killed, being very heavy,can only be dragged to a flat bit of bankside for the cat to eat it.If the cap fits,wear it.I,m waiting for other opinions on this as i can only lay on the table for public consumption by my peers the evidence gathered by myself and the other researcher,season it with some pictures, add my own garnish of thoughts, all dished up in a basin of a plausible scenario..........

Monday, 13 December 2010

Ashdown forest deer kill

The picture shows the remains of a young fallow deer carcase found yesterday on private ground deep in Ashdown forest by the landowner.After investigation by myself and another researcher who lives there we concluded that it,s the work of a bigcat.It would appear that the deer was ambushed as it crossed a stream and was throttled in the usual manner,there were 2 possible ambush points but the most likely was on the nearside bank and faint disturbance of the leaf litter underneath the fir tree to the right of the picture indicated that the cat could of lied in wait here for the deer to climb up the bank when it would of been at it,s most vulnerable and was killed/draggged to be eaten on the farside bank.There was no evidence of the deer being caught(ie.neck fur) anywhere else but on the nearside bank and it,s inconceivable that a cat would of caught it further in the wood and dragged it into the stream.A scat sample was taken for analysis and also a partial pawprint on the nearside bank, where we believe the deer was grabbed, was photoed and a cast was taken.The stream lies in a deeply wooded valley amongst an area of thick mixed woods mostly with an understory of copse,rhododenron or holly with free draining soil of sand intersperced with clay deposits with vast numbers of deer of all shapes and sizes,in other words prime cat country.There have been a multitude of kills in previous years,only in winter,have been mostly fallow and also killed by streams,it,s possible that the cat in question specialises in ambush techniques of this nature.To watch a video on this investigation go to You Tube and search "Ashdown forest fallow deer killed by bigcat by bigcatdetective".I shall keep this post short and sweet while i gather the rest of the information......

Saturday, 11 December 2010

All quiet on the western front

It,s all quiet on the western front,the eastern front,the...There have been no reports of bigcat activity coming in at the moment at all.After the frenetic activity of october and last months finds of 3 deer carcases found in 5 days,the Sussex cats have gone off the radar.I can find no trace of the Horsham cat whatsoever and believe i came very close to it at 1 point,while i was visiting 1 farm on an almost daily basis i believe it had made a kill 2 farms on.Now though it could of made its way to 1 of the huge forestry blocks in it,s range like St.Leonards,as for the others like the Bexhill,Offham,Balcombe and Midhurst cats they are pretty quiet too but i would imagine the recent rise in temperature yesterday and the waxing,night-setting moon(it sets at 22.14 tonight)will help them in their quest for food,this coupled with a steady westerlyish wind(warmer,moist not bad scenting conditions)and they should find hunting a little easier than the have of late.It,s well known in rural circles that animals like rabbits,hares and deer range far and wide on a waxing moon even on to the 3rd quarter and this helps their predators to catch them.However from the last quarter to the new moon ie. the darkest nights they are at their stillest and less likely to fall into their hunters grasp.The reasons for this are mostly to do with the light levels but old fashioned country wisdom also explains other reasons that are best explained by "lunacy",in other words the effect of the moon (gravitational pull)on all living creatures,weather patterns,tides,etc. etc.Back to the cats and a mild night,a steady wind and a decent sized moon and they should have full bellys by the morning.I wish them well.(the picture above shows a full moon above the downs with Firle beacon in the distance)........

Light at the end of the road

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Fox in snow at night/stumpcam

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All aboard the Skylark!/stumpcam

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Red fox/stumpcam

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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

3 species in front of the stumpcam

I may be wrong but the 2 moorhens appear 2 be 2 males facing off to each other with the 1 on the right having the upper hand and being on the higher ground.The other 1 consistantly held it,s head lower seemingly in submission.I,ve found these sort of territorial disputes common at this time of year remembering that each season(in this case winter)is a run up to the next(ie.spring)animals seem to act to prepare months in advance of what comes ahead and thinking about it this would be only logical in a survival aspect......


The Bushnell trailcam from Binoculars UK i,m trialling is on wildlife survey duty while i get to grips with it.There are a few niggles with it like blurring and over exposure but when it gets it right the results can be right corkers.There are over 6000 images to go through(haven,t checked it for a month) and because of the long distance involved in getting there,it,s in the far top right hand corner of East Sussex,i probably won,t check it for another month so hopefully i,ve got the settings right this time.Bigcat wise the chances are also quite high as it,s slap bang in the middle of Longlegged cat country and with a sighting in this neck of the woods not far from here of a black 1 of these in the summer,the excitement of the anticipation of going through the pictures is a reward in itself.......