Thursday, 30 September 2010

2 Roe deer at night/trailcam/video

video

Is this a pawprint of a Llc?

This 4cm wide pawprint photo was taken where multiple sightings of Longlegged cats have taken place in the area.The two front toes are staggered,typical of cat prints,and i think this is a print of the smaller back foot as i,ve found them in the past to be around 5cm wide .It may also be a smaller cat than i,ve previously seen evidence of however what is staggering is that last nights heavy rain would of washed all signs of anything away and so this is very fresh,made since midnight,in fact all the signs are that this area sees a lot of cat activity.I know it,s not a big print but we,re not talking leopards here,the size of the cat that made this print is around 2o"tall,weighing about 10 to 14 kilos which makes it only twice the size of a tame cat,typical size descriptions from eye witnesses say about the size of a large fox,but this is still far bigger than any of the domestic breeds from where,i think,they came...
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videoJust shows how curious these stripy animals are,first night up for the trailcam in it,s new spot and 1 is already having a look.....

Scua


Scua


This scua showed up at the boat recently 14 miles south of Shoreham,it was very friendly,unusually for them which makes me think it was a pomerine,and pestered for fish which it got.The white flash on the wings makes it look like a great scua so i,m not sure,a treat to see though and brightens up a dull day at sea.Other birds of note included a shearwater,probably a sooty and the diving gannets which i never tire of seeing......

Friday, 24 September 2010

Lemur on the loose in sussex

A rare, red-bellied lemur from Madagascar (where else!) has escaped from Drusillas zoo in Alfriston,the article in todays paper "the Argus"Brighton,mentioned it had scaled the fence and evaded capture by the zoo keepers,this is the second escape that i know of at the zoo this year,apparently 3 otters did so in spring so i,m told.If you want to read the article find the argus online and search "rare animal on the run from Sussex zoo".I will keep my opinions of this zoo to myself however it seems some of the inmates,sorry animals, don,t want to stay there.....

Friday, 17 September 2010

Typical trail of Llc,s


The picture shows the trail going up the bank,they are typically slightly smaller than badgers(in fact there was a badger run 100 yards further up the road)less damage is done to the surrounding vegetation,with less height to it also.I have found in the past that cats will use their own runs if badgers have soiled theirs although foxes will travel along anywhere they choose.There was no badger fur on the barbs, in fact there was no fox fur either.The dogs also gave their "cat mark" to this trail.In 2001/2 i investigated this whole area for longlegged cats and found pawprints to match their size(similar to the Devils Dyke pawprints blogged in june) and many trails of this type littered the banks and hedgerows.Multiple sightings mentioned these cats to such a degree that i used the country here as a blueprint that satisfied their needs and you,ve guessed it,they crop up at other places similar to here like Maplehurst and Dial post to the east,where i saw my own one......

Long-legged cat rears it,s little head

I took the call on wednesday at 12.10,the lady in question was sincere and before her sighting,a sceptic,accurate with the facts she describes "a cheetah-like cat but smaller,labrodor sized,very slim,longlegged with a question mark tail and it was fawn coloured".After the 10 minute call i was on the phone to Paul at Midhurst and hats off to him for within an hour and a half he was there at the site getting a statement from the witness.Now when i hear"like a cheetah,very slim,longlegged"it doesn,t happen often but when it does it screams out to me my old friend the Longlegged cat and this type of bigcat excites me like no other.All plans are off for the next day and after i set the cam up at Redford we make the 3 mile journey along narrow,sunken,ancient cartway roads to Iping.Finding the spot where the lady pointed she had seen the cat the day before,a clear narrow trail down the bank to the road and up the bank to the other side is seen and poking about looking for pawprints and fur,i noticed,no not pawprints but almost better,some fawn coloured fur wrapped around the blackberry stem barbs.There was quite a lot which would suggest this path was well used,taking samples,there was some both sides of the track,it had a peculiar softness and didn,t have the tri-colour of fox fur,in all my years at this game i have never come across any fur this colour or texture.The sample will be tested and photographed and i hope to blog the pictures for open view.The country here is more open than that at Redford,it,s cultivated heathland but rolling with deep valleys and narrow streams,useless for finding pawprints,but the thick,mixed woodland and grass fields hold ample deer and rabbits and,being Sussex.a pheasant shoot wouldn,t be far away.Sightings in the general area also include larger leopard type cats which supports my theory of these types coexisting or at least their territorys overlapping,but with the Longlegged cat favouring more open ground.....

Pasture new for the trailcam


I,m afraid i won,t be posting anymore trailcam pics from the secret East Sussex downland location where it,s been for nigh on 3 months because it,s strapped to a another hawthorn tree in a prime West Sussex location 50 miles away.It,s produced some interesting shots but i,ve found no recent bigcat activity there and what with no sightings there for two months, it,s time to move.Big thanks to John for the permission in using his bit of scrub.So,with a kind offer from Midhurst member Paul to place it a friend of his place who has a secluded north facing wood(sheltered from the prevailing souwesterly winds)the oppurtunity was too good to turn down.Taking the bull by the horns i travelled west through the bigcat areas of Lavington and Tillington to meet him at Redford tea shop and believe you me this is bigcat country too.Rolling hills,well drained soil,plenty of mixed woods,more game than you can shake a stick at,what with multiple sightings of multiple types of cat going back decades the place is a near dream place to stick up a trailcam and it,s a priviledge to have the chance.Going along the ancient drove way to the wood and then checking the now dry,winterbourne stream for pawprints,i found roe,badger,rabbit,muntjac also,so i,m told,boar turn up now and then so the shots should be interesting to say the least.I was going to go there in a couple of weeks but a redhot sighting on wednesday nearby at Iping,very well investigated by Paul,meant i could set the cam up and have a look at the Iping cat sighting 3 miles down the road as well,killing 2 birds with 1 stone so to speak.To be fair to the cam this is huge country to snap a bigcat and it could be anywhere here plus with no funneling ground to draw an animal to it i don,t hold much hope,but if you don,t try,you don,t get......

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Missing cats of Saltdean

I thought i,d blog about one of the less glamourous but no less important or interesting cases that we get involved in.We really like to get our teeth into finding about bigcats and knowing what not they are doing also goes to adding to the big picture of bigcat behaviour.It,s also part and parcel of this facinating hobby of ours to suss out varying situations.A case in point is the missing cats saga at Saltdean recently(the place gets it,s name from a salt making brinery that was here centuries ago,plus it,s in a dean which is a name for a gap in the downs)We received an email from a lady who was extremely concerned about her beloved pet cat that had gone missing from her home and had not returned,also another had and possibly others ,many cats wander at this time of year like the ones showing up on the trailcam.Notices had gone up and they had searched the area looking in sheds,the usual.Having learned from our website that a bigcat had been sighted at Telscombe a mile along the coast earlier in the year on a number of occasions,worries were that their pets had become food for it.I went to the clifftop suburb as soon as i could in the morning and saw that the houses backed onto the downland behind and huge blocks of maize were now 6ft tall and stretched over the horizon,an important winter fodder crop for cattle and valued by wildlife,they could hide an army let alone anything else.My experience in the past is that,where planted next to houses,pets from there like cats and dogs especially terriers can easily become lost on entering and become disorientated,ending up where they don,t know where and then wandering for miles sometimes never to be seen again.We,d had no bigcat sightings from Saltdean in spite of leaflets posted and asking around although that,s not to say a bigcat has never been there,there is a little scrub for it to hide in and the maize itself would be perfect when not wet but there,s little game to speak of and even at Telscombe at the height of the bigcat activity in late winter and early spring no large scale pet missing or killings had been reported and in my experience bigcats taking dogs or even tame cats is an exteremely rare occurence.So obviously a bigcat NOT being the prime suspect in the missing cat saga seems to have been confirmed when one of the tame cats arrived back home,very thin and wretched looking but none the less alive.It,s safe return and hopefully the others will follow rules out any bigcat involvement but certainly points to the maize blocks and late summer wanderlust helping in their disappearance...

Friday, 10 September 2010

Apair of partridges/video

videoThe picture,s a bit smudged from our friend the badger and so a friend thought they looked more like New Zealand Kiwis.Kiwis they are not or else i,d have every birder in Britain trying to find out where the trailcam is and therefore the most tickable bird ever(probably).....

Badger tastes the trailcam

videoI had a bit of a shock when i checked the trailcam yesterday.I check it every week,the batterys and memory can last at least a month but i look forward to viewing what pictures it,s captured,i find it very exciting and captivating, plus if anything has gone wrong ,like then ,i can sort it.The camo net was torn and the lens was smudged although the angle was still roughly right it certainly wasn,t how i left it.The culprit as i played back the 30 second films was plain to see,it was this badger who shows up from time to time.Still, no harm done as it seems this cam is bulletproof and hopefully it will leave it alone now it,s had a taste.I,ve set it for the prime purpose of capturing a cat so even the up close shots should fit the whole body in so the videos now will be a bit overexposed as it points more up to the sky......

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Update on unknown creature/video

This video has been sent to Shaun Stevens of Argyllbigcats(member of BigcatsinBritain of which we are also)and he has done a very good job of cleaning up the video using some amazing software.His opinion is that the animal is most likely a badger as a black and white face could just be made out and the way the head moved.There is a solitary badger that shows up now and then and i,m inclined to agree, many thanks to him for solving that mystery......

Bigcat growls again


4 or so miles to the west of Lavington heath,still with sand at the feet,lies West Lavington a charming,peaceful hamlet with a lovely pub on the outskirts of Midhurst but separate in it,s own right.Sporadic sightings here in recent times include ones in the village gardens themselves like the growling cat sighting i blogged last month.An earlier sighting of a bigcat that occurred 4 months earlier,again in a cottage garden,a mile down the road where the people were woken at 3 am by the security lights in the garden coming on and their dog acting strangely,whimpering but not barking like it would normally do.They looked out of their bedroom window to see a large,labrodor sized black cat standing by the garden gate,it then looked up at them and growled which is what was described by the other chap last month when he was shutting up his chickens.This was a cat that,when seeing that it has been noticed,growls as a warning perhaps to the person/s.Once is unusual but twice in the same parish a few months apart strongly suggests that it was the same animal that has formed the habit of doing this when confronted so to speak.The descriptions match and further sightings in the area including 2 at Pendean and also the nearby sand quarry now disused and resembling a prehistoric lost world mention a similar cat .Whether the Heyshott cat sighted last winter is the same one is anyones guess but i,m really starting to think it,s a different one from that seen in the Milland area north of Midhurst a lot recently.For a start 2 have been seen there 1 black and 1 sandy but both larger than the West Lavington one, more alsation size,also the country there at Milland is geagraphically different and the timings coincide.The country surrounding West Lavington is thick like Heyshott, very jungle-like and seems to go on forever,again forestry blocks but of different ages and more mixed of different ages and more broadleaf trees intersperced with small fields.It has the old disused Midhurst railway line running through it which is our bigcats old favourite thoroughfare.The place is teeming with prey of all shapes and sizes but i noticed the many deer there were nervous,bordering on the extremely jumpy,while i was there a roe deer actually detached itself from it,s family herd and barked at my presence,maybe there,s something in the springlike water here!I can think of no other place with more to offer a bigcat all year round......

Monday, 6 September 2010

Unknown creature/video

videoThere is some kind of animal hiding behind the bush with it,s eyes reflecting,if anyone has any ideas on what it could be please comment.The rabbits are not wary of the red glow of the infra red anymore but this creature seems to be as are most animals when they first see it.....

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Purple heather


The purple heather of Lavington heath surrounded by larch trees with the downs in the distance....

Lavington Heath and Heyshott


This was part of a 3 area investigation over 3 days last week spending 2 nights at a secluded campsite which had itself produced a cluster of sightings a few winters ago.I must say that living on the open downs and coming here the countryside looks simply gorgeous with the post-war planted coniferous forests slowly giving way to patches of original heathland with it,s purple heather,nightjars and hobbys that we don,t get back home.There is sand to walk on here not soil and with the remaining woods underplanted with rhodedendrons it offers near perfect cat habitat.I say near perfect because it seems there are no active cats here at present but there is 4 miles across the forest at West Lavington where the country is more mixed.I have leafleted on signposts,asked around,put the word out,nothing,but Heyshott was the scene of multiple sightings of a labrodor sized cat only last december.I have thought that these dense woods offer warm winter cover away from harsh winter winds but it does seem that bigcats shun these places in the warmer months favouring instead the ancient broadleaved wooded farmland further inland like that are around Midhurst.This mixed habitat offers offers far more of a variety of prey not available in the evergreen woods or heathland which although pretty hold little game.Of course not all bigcats are the same but i,ve found the rule of thumb with bigcat needs are prey and dense lying up cover but and this is a big but,the dense undergrowth in oak and similar woods dies off in winter and so can,t supply the shelter needed.There is little to hide the cats from the animals they hunt and the wind whistles through so the coniferous woods would be a more enticing option in winter.To prove my point the sightings in the area last winter include Heyshott,Tillington and Goodwood with Iping a bit further west these are all areas of dense coniferous forest (Goodwood has the massive Charlton and East Dean forests) and all these areas have produced sightings only rarely in summer.Even Jevington and Friston forest in the east of the county 50 miles away,again warm coniferous woods,historically turn up their sightings in the colder months even when fewer people are about to see them.A pattern here?There certainly is,year on year it,s the same with evidence gathering and sightings from witnesses producing cats in a lot more possible areas in summer and then with the onset of the colder months the old winter holding areas crop up time and time again.What is certain is that there are more options for prey in the wildlife rich broadleaved mixed farmland areas during summer and so bigcats are far more likely to position themselves closer to these food sources which would account for the evidence of them being there.As i say,it,s all change in winter and the cats with warm dense,coniferous forest in their territorys will move into them.Not this simple?Well the herds of fallow and family groups of roe deer do themselves favour these woods far more in winter and evidence of deer carcases found here then also points to bigcats moving in and preying on them.Some of the other bigcats in other parts of the county do not have coniferous woods in their territorys i know,but where they do,they use them,in winter.....

Black feral cat/video

videoOnce again the heart skips a beat when i saw it but once again it,s a black feral cat and it looks either the same or similar but darker to the one i blogged in july.There hasn,t been any foxes show up on the cam since the end of july but i doubt whether this sort of cat would put them off.Perseverance,hopefully,will pay dividends.Talking of pay,i,m trying to raise funds for an even better trail cam with quicker trigger time and better quality and so am thinking of having advertising on this blog.I may trial it for a while with either Amazon or Google but if anyone has any objections to being targeted in this way please let me know via email or comments and i,ll have it removed pronto.....

Rabbits to judge for scale/video

videoI,ve included this rabbit to judge for scale...

Rabbit eating hawthorn leaves

videoSeen here this rabbit is eating hawthorn leaves that have dropped in the wind.There is no grass just bare earth and i checked with interest to see what it may of been eating.We can also eat them but in spring when they are more tender and they are called bread and cheese in rural districts where they make a tasty addition to salads...