Saturday, 30 October 2010

Iping/more

videoThis is an update of the Iping fawn cat saga,virtually all the results are in and the fur has been analysed with no change to my conclusions.First up the 4cm wide pawprint which would of made just shy of a 5cm paw,i contacted David Brinicombe of Keokacats in Devon who is a renowned breeder and authority of Maine Coons,a beautiful,long furred breed of cat known for their size,character,friendlyness and ability to fend for themselves if the occasion wants and asked him for help in guaging the size of the cat that made these prints,he kindly helped.I quote from his email "i grabbed my biggest boy,splayed a paw and it was just short of 50mm wide.Fortunately they are also very even tempered cats.Large Maine coons are as big as any domestic cat gets and they are known for big feet. "So this means that the fawn cat in the video is definitely not the owner of the pawprints,it was an innocent bystander ,incredible coincidence.Secondly,Dr Gerald Legg,keeper of Natural Sciences at Booth Museum,Brighton analysed the fur found at the site and i am very grateful to him for spending so much time on(Bigcat research) what is thought of in a lot of Naturalist circles as a bit of a lost cause due to the elusiveness of these beasts."Not cat-like in any way,more like a rodent" and come to think of it that fur was on the sides of the run not the top,so that piece of evidence is out the window, i must admit i really thought it could of been cat fur even if it came from the tame cat ,i suppose it shows how far short i am in some of the skills needed at this game but it,s all a learning curve we are volunteers after all.After all that we are left with,apart from the sighting from the witness,a paw belonging to a cat of at least 30lb in weight,a longlegged cat?Well possibly,but i also refer to a sighting we have had in from Bepton just down the road in mid sept,the description given was an orangy-brown fox sized cat with a long thin tail and solid looking seen in a garden,yes not in the wild woods i know but it does mean we have 2 eye witness accounts of 2 strange looking cats that could have 5cm wide paws.The fawn colour sticks out though and i think there,s less than 1% of sightings are this colour which makes it all the more remarkable when going through my sightings record i come across simply "early august 1995,Stedham Common (just down the road)fawn coloured cat ,smallish ,as in not a leopard".....

Thursday, 28 October 2010

1 roe on the hill/video

video

Roe on the hill

videoI checked the trailcam today on it,s downland location ,not a bad selection of fauna but no foxes,i checked around last week and could find no sign of them and the cam has not picked up any either.I,m not convinced that a cat is active here though as the local roes seem very relaxed day and nightThis a steep slope and the animals are taking it carefully.The idea was that this will slow any animals giving more chance of being picked up on the cam,it did but i realise the video is very poor quality now,the low light of nearly november doesn,t give much chance for the tiny pinhole lens of these cameras to pick up much detail so it will be photos from now on which is what these things do best....

Friday, 22 October 2010

Cat at night

videoBefore i got this trailcam i never knew of the amount of tame/farm/feral cats that roam about night and day.This spot is a long way from the nearest house and about as far away from a village as you could get in Sussex but still a Felix Catus shows up,seemingly on the hunt as well........

Tawny owl on tree stump

videoNot many deer,but a huge variety of wildlife,of which this tawny owl ,made use of this tree stump as a perch......

Fallow buck trailcam/video

video2 weeks on deer counting duty and the trailcam and come up with an alarmingly low number of deer.This buck was 1 of them though.......

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Offham cat resurfaces


A mass of seasonal farmwork over the last fortnight has meant little time for cat stuff however a brief respite today gave the chance of an afternoon foray in search of the Offham cat.Sightings in this block of country have occured on a regular basis over the last 5 years(and way beyond)like Plumpton 3.3.07,Streat 30.9.09,Ditchling december 09,Offham 5.2.10,Plumpton Green 15.2.10,Offham tree scratches,missing foal mystery,foxes killed and eaten late april 10.All this activity has happened here in a month with a r in it,in other words the colder months.Does this piece of ground,mixed farmed intersperced with small decidious woodland blocks connected by thick hedges in the shadow of the Downs,offer a bigcat a winter holding ground?It can be muddy in places but the varying soil drains well mostly,is stocked with plenty of game and the main Lewes to Seaford railway line runs through it offering quick connections to other parts of the county.Having heard of no cat activity here since last spring and feeling intrigued i was off to find out.The usual leafleting carried out and a quick check on a couple of copses revealed little in the way of evidence unless a distinct lack of foxes is.I was last there in august and it was heaving with them,the woodland floor littered with their activitys,nothing now.I moved on a bit west and chewing the fat with a local cattle farmer,together bemoaning the high price and lack of winter fodder,he mentioned a bigcat sighting a fortnight ago by a local landowner.Chunky,black,labrador sized,seen slinking along a hedge line.Bingo!A recce to another place nearby again revealed no foxes whatsover and although there were some signs of deer they were keeping their heads down even in this warm autumn sun,usually i would expect to see them basking a bit especially as it goes down.Admittedly i could find no bigcat evidence as such but a couple of leads like this is all i need,hopefully more information from outside sources will come in,luckyly next week i,m due to drop by a farm in the area giving a good chance to look round so who knows what might turn up?By all accounts so far it looks like the Offham cat is back it being the colde-r months now,being occasionally visible and giving the local fox population a run for its money..

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Iping fawn cat mystery solved

videoI really don,t think we could of been much more thorough in this investigation following up the sighting of a fawn coloured cat or maybe we should of,i will explain.We found the witness to be perfectly genuine,fur was found wrapped round blackberry stem barbs,quite alot in fact,which would suggest high activity of this trail,it was soft,unlike any animal fur i,ve previously found.Also a lot of padding but no clear prints,then came the rain and a hastened visit revealed the 4cm wide one,not quite big enough to be a Llc but definetly big and cat shaped,a wider recce of the area turned up no other on the ground evidence.It was time to call in the artillery,the trailcam,positioned and baited with(don,t laugh)some cat biscuits.The results speak for themselves,left for 4 days pointed at a 17" high barbed wire fence fence clearly shows a 12" odd high massive male tame cat.Looking at the pictures back at the catmobile(my van) this fawn cat could possibly be the fawn cat in the Iping sighting and so a case of mistaken identity ought to be recorded,of course there may be 2 fawn cats 1 of which is far bigger but the chances of that are?Anyhow,time for the bigcat investigation circus to move on,this has been a simply gorgeous place to visit,peaceful countryside unblighted by the massive urban developments further to the east of the county spreading like a rash and so hats off to the 22000 acre Cowdray estate in whose hands some of it has been managed,how they look after it well,so do the other owners like Chithurst monestry.For the cam it,s a new spot,we,ve just had a fresh sighting just in at Steyning and i had promised to count the deer with it on a farm where i sometimes work,which is just up the road.So mystery solved,goodbye to Iping and with a bag full of some of the biggest chesnuts i,ve ever seen,some are the size of conkers,it,s east we go but,hold on a minute there tiger,i,ve overlooked some crucial evidence in my haste to come up with believable answers and that is not the end of the saga by any stretch so that is the subject of the next article......

Iping sighting/My conclusion

videoFor a start, a 4cm wide pawprint would make a cats paw to be about 5cm wide including the skin, etc. and that,s far too big for our cat in the video,big though it is.In fact there was a smaller print on the run as well,found on another visit that certainly seems to fit the bill so far as this cat is concerned.So what animal belongs to our 4cm wide print?That is the mystery that after all this work still hasn,t been solved.Secondly,the witness described a far bigger cat with a question mark tail,not the flat tail of our star in the video,she also described a very slim body shape "like a cheetah"again not the well fed tubby cat,"it had long legs"well,i would describe the cat in the video as having short and stubby legs,cute though it may be."The size of a labrador ",it was noon when the witness saw it,not the tricky,half light of dusk and no matter what the shadows a domestic cat can never be described as a labrador by any stretch of the imagination not forgetting that the witness was no more than 50yards away from the animal and had a very good look at it and saw it move which is very good for size comparison(this is why i like video more)To be honest,i like a nicely tied up investigation concluded to some degree of certainty whether the evidence and/or sighting shows the possibility or not of a bigcat being there but this whole saga really does leave a lot of questions unanswered.My verdict?The video of the tame cat doesn,t prove that the sighting was a case of mistaken identity merely,it displays the fact that,like the badger videoed there,several different types and species of animals will use a trail,including the local domestic cats.It may of been fawn too however there are a lot of big,black cats seen but i,m willing to bet that black domestic cats are one of the most popular to own,i know,i used to have one and he could never have been described as the size of a labrador.The trailcam has already filmed 1 or 2 tame black cats in the vicinity of multiple sightings of a leopard style cat and they could never of been confused so it seems cameras still don,t lie,they just distort the facts.....

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Yet another badger

videoIt,s been an interesting couple of days,first this badger video,then all will be revealed as soon as i get a chance.....

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Redford recce


It was with dismay that i checked the cam yesterday,the heavy rain of the last few days meant that the local wildlife had kept their heads down resulting in few pictures but it wasn,t this that was disapointing.The videos were misty,lacking detail and i put it down to the almost permanent fog that been around here due to the weather.Anyway,onwards and upwards it was time to move it,the lure of the wild boar and muntjac here was eclipsed by the chance of something even more exotic and after thanking the kind people of Alexandra,s Kitchen,Midhurst,the woods owners and also member Paul for the permission it was off down the road,cam in bag to another spot where i had a brief view of "something that wasn,t a fox".Setting up the cam was more difficult here and the target zone wasn,t the luxurious 50ft plus of the last place but more like 5ft and yet still the pictures were misty.Not happy at all with the setup i checked the lens glass(the trailcam unit itself is contained in a weatherproof unit) and horrified to find condensation,that ghoul of all cameras.The only remedy was to strip the thing down,take the guts out and clean the inside of the lens cover.Problem solved.Hopefully,my laughable attempts at electronic first aid haven,t damaged the precious cam and it still does it,s job but if there was ever a place to put a cam then this is it.The hours of the day were slippping by so it was off to meet Derek,SBCW founder,to have a look at yet another prime cat-holding ground in this area,game is abundant,it,s quiet,plenty of cover,the small fields are surrounded by woods and once again that bigcat country signifying plant bracken grows well,but that,s another story for i wasn,t going to mention the next few sentences but now will.So often we talk to people who have had spurious sightings of something that could well have been a bigcat "it wasn,t a fox or a dog or anything like that but it crossed the track in front of me so quick i couldn,t make out exactly what it was"is broadly typical of what we hear.Without a concrete identification holding fast under scrutiny and occasionally backed up by on the ground evidence such as pawprints,fur,kills etc or even preferably a double sighting and even better multiple ones,they won,t ,at the least ,get recorded and at the most a mental note of "may of been",all are forgotten.How foolish i,ve been.Thinking back some of these "could well of beens"have been in bigcat country and who knows?So back to last week and dusk finds me walking through one of these mixed woods coming out onto a grazing field with rabbits scattering everywhere.The last bit of seeable dusk,a fair while after the last of the plinking blackbirds,in fact when the pipistrelle bats are feeding hard,something ran across the 100 yard stretch of paddock 30 yards in front of me going righthanded.It was light,all one shade of colour(it was too dark to tell colours)moved unlike and had a much thinner tail than the animal it would usually of been,a fox.The dogs were now noses down,tails flagging,stretching on their long tracking leads very buzy and interested in this scent,me?Well,not wishing to sound too Ray Mears,there was an electric feel in the air,the complete opposite of say, watching a relaxed herd of deer lying down in the shade in long grass on a summers day .As i said,i don,t know what it was but it "could well of been...."

Friday, 1 October 2010

Roe,1 running video/trailcam

video

Squirrel burying stuff

videoThis squirrel was very busy in front of the cam,they do spend a lot of their time on the ground at this time of year ,i presume it was burying beechmast of which there was a lot of....