Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Starlings feeding in the snow

A world away from yesterday,this snow falling on frozen ground has made life that much more harder for most animals particularly the ground probers like these starlings.How they find anything to eat in the snow is a mystery to me.....
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pigeons and starlings

There,s some pretty big flocks of birds around at the moment,apparently some of the woodpigeons are migrants here.This was yesterdays scene.....
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Sunday, 28 November 2010

Brown hare/trailcam


At last,a bloggable picture of a good Hare taken with the trailcam albeit at night or rather at first light.....

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Deer fur close up pic




On request,shown here is a close up of the deer fur for research purposes,when i run into the chap who is an expert at this kind of thing he will be able to tell which part of the body it came from.It,s "hairly"likely (sorry!)it came from the neck which would of been in the cats jaws at the time,but i,ll have to wait and see what he says,i think it does because it,s a bit shorter than body fur and there,s some whiter bits which is present on the neck.In the top right hand corner of the picture on the left there is the hole in the grass which is actually a hoof print,amazingly there seems to have been little struggle and i believe what happens is the cat grabs hold of the deer by the throat and throttles it quickly, the deer tenses a bit but the shock causes endorphins that release in the deer anaesitising the pain and so it is effectively "in shock"and doesn,t buck, rear or struggle very much,this is common in prey species who get preyed on a lot.This type of thing can be viewed extensively on You Tube.My point is that one may of expected a huge struggle going on between cat and deer but this doesn,t happen and the ground proves it to a certain extent......

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Roe deer carcase (extra)




It,s been pointed out to me(thanks Steve from Crawley!)as to why i,m pretty sure whether a bigcat has killed a deer(roe deer carcase blog)Unfortunately i couldn,t examine any of the 3 carcases straight after the fact so to speak so can,t be 100% sure,however i,d better explain how i came to my conclusions on at least 1 for now.In the 1st picture of the carcases (yesterdays blog)it has a very neat appearance,there is no surrounding mess ie.fur,blood or entrails etc.The skin has been neatly pulled back,the ribs neatly sheared off and the skeleton whole.All the intestines and offal are gone with no trace.This is highly typical of bigcat kills and i refer as reference material to the link on this blog put there for this purpose"Michigan Cougar.com"where scrolling down the page to "how to collect evidence"can be found an excellent description of how American Cougars deal with their large prey.The similarities are strikingly similar however there are very obvious differences as well so i know it wasn,t a cougar in any of these cases.In contrast is the picture above of a deer carcase that has been got at by scavengers in this case badgers and foxes,they usually leave a right old mess,limbs are seperated,there,s fur everywhere,the appearance is a world away from the way bigcats eat theirs.There other differences but i won,t go into that now.In my experience a bigcat will kill a deer then consume usually only some of it in this neat fashion and when (i assume)they have left it,the local scavengers move in virtually always within 24 hours,if they haven,t then it,s likely they have been targeted at some point as well i kid you not.Bigcats dominate their surroundings,they are apex predators.If i have been lucky enough to get to a kill quickly enough then i could open up the neck area and look for massive haemorrhaging in the front of the throat where a cat has throttled it to death and rarely,there are 2 screwdriver(canine teeth) marks on the back of the neck sometimes accomponied by smaller indents in the flesh(by the other smaller teeth)Not in these cases though so i can,t be 100% sure how the beasts actually died.But the small amount of fur on the grass by the path in the other picture shows where the deer had been got hold of by the neck and faint disturbance in the leaves showed where it had been dragged ,while being throttled,15ft away to where it had been consumed and was photoed.This is highly typical of bigcats.There are no other probable causes of death,the property is fenced in by this i mean it,s doubtful that the deer had been injured by a car and arrived and died there to be scavenged as a;there are no buzy roads and b;it would of had to jump a big fence to get in,besides injured deer usually head for some sort of cover and can head for a stream,go downhill and seek an easy route.I have a certain amount of experience and get called out to with my dogs to track deer injured in car accidents and so am pretty familiar with this sort of thing if you get my drift.Also,it,s typical for a cat to kill by a barrier like a fence this is because it has driven it,s prey there or has used the hedge or fenceline as cover and as there was a light easterly wind,a near full moon and little cloud cover on this occasion i presume the latter in this case(a video has been posted on you tube of the kill site titled "roe deer carcase after badgers have eaten it by bigcatdetective")........

Monday, 22 November 2010

Black fur found


Some black fur was found not far from a deer kill site,about 1" long and was collected for testing.It can be seen in the picture along with a little badger fur and some fox.....

Roe deer carcases




Roe deer carcase


It looks like the cats have been buzy these last moonlit nights we,ve been having.3 young roe carcases found 2 of which in the Horsham cats area,the roe here have really been taking a beating it seems.The reports i have and my own observations are concluding there are many (teenage)fawnless does about plus a small number of easily identifyable young fallow are missing in action,presumed dead from neighbouring farms.Of course nothing can be proved about those ones but of the 3 carcases found,they can.Pick of the crop of the carcases is the 1 here photoed literally just after the event the blood was still drying and roe flesh quickly blackens which this hasn,t.The feeding site was very clean,meticulous in fact with very little mess or fur lying about,i will try and dig up the other photos which show a different perspective of kills.The skeleton here is intact,the fur "gently"pulled back and the ribs neatly sheared with the innards all gone and no mess anywhere to be seen.To watch a video on this investigation go to You Tube and search "bigcatdetective"...........

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Wolstonbury hill pictures

Top shows Newtimber hill with its skirt of woodland...



then the pawprint plus the hare fleck found and bottom picture shows the north side of the hill with Newtimber at the back....





Wolstonbury hill pawprint mystery


I certainly wasn,t going to post any of this.The evidence is so vague,the pawprint picture so poor,the padding could of been anything and the hare fleck,well,i,ll post this following article very speculatively and follow with my own opinion,you will have to just judge for yourselves...It was a misty,murky day yesterday with the hilltops of the downs shrouded in low cloud.The walk up the path with some dense bushes on the right was steep which meant attention was drawn to the feet,there were no other footprints apart from my own but there were pad marks,no whole pawprints to see however the padding had no claw marks attached to them.Something had been active up and down this slope and in the last 24 hours as the rain before this would of washed anything away.As i got higher the ground opened up to a grass field,plenty of rabbits were about and looking down again to the grass some hare fleck was seen.Actually it was a bit more than just fleck and it was quite obvious that a hare had been killed here overnight plus it was dry but i couldn,t find any blood or carcase,it had been quickly killed and just taken away.Nearby,leading up to a fence,again those clawless pad marks.There was a footpath the other side but the ground was very chewed up by horse traffic to find anything there.Plenty of sheep on the hill,they looked quite happy just chewing grass and noone seemed about.This is open access here,National Trust owned but the damp weather that i quite like must of kept people away.Anyway walking back down another path near to where the hare was killed the side was steep away from the mud churned path and i found this partial pawprint measuring 5 cm across,again no claw marks and although the 2 front toes meet in the middle this would be expected as the rest of the animal would be trying to keep out of the mud and so would be on a slant.The lobe however looks to be big which is consistant with cats.5cm width is the same as the Devils Dyke pawprint which is the next hill along after Newtimber which is where Dr.Gerald Legg found something similar a few years earlier.So,the pawprint is what i would expect to come from a Longlegged cat,also if any cat would be capable of catching a hare it would be 1 of these fleet beasts also the near full moon would increase the cats advantage considerably.Of course the hare could of been killed by a fox but i would of expected much more fleck lying around as it would be a hell of a struggle for a fox to kill something only half its size plus the evidence of this happening would be quite near in the bushes to spot and there was nothing.So,what sightingshave there been in the area to support this theory of Llcs being active here?Well as recently as july this year a black cat very slim was seen crossing Clappers lane 2 miles west(source BCIB forum) and the previous september a reddish brown, shape unknown,larger than a fox cat was seen at Edburton(source SBCW) At Small Dole (where i used to live)in 2003 a grey coloured cheetah-like animal was seen coursing rabbits in a field and later presumably the same 1 was crossing the road to go back to the downs(source Bryan Hale)Way back in 2000 over near Ashurst my own sighting of 1 of these beasts again i saw it coursing rabbits and near Burgess Hill in "04 of another similar cat with very long legs and i quote(Bryan Hales records again) also Ditchling plus in 2000,october at Shoreham which is not too far away from Wolstonbury say 5 miles as the cat walks"black,cheetah-like animal"was the description.Altogether that makes alot of activity from collie sized(20"tall)cheetah-like cats in the local area unmatched except perhaps for the Midhurst area and maybe around Robertsbridge, East Sussex ,need i go on?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Only 2 Fallow counted


There was only 2 Fallow pictured on the cam when i checked it today,this was after 2 weeks set up at a place to see how many are there.There,s something not right here,although there were plenty of rabbits,pheasants,squirrels and crows no roe at all,i know they do tend to stick to the dense woods in the wet and windy weather we,ve been having recently but this place is as sheltered as can be.The object was to give the farmer some pictures of wildlife to look at and hopefully tell him how much protection the trees he,s planning to plant next month would need beyond the usual trunk guards.If the place was heaving with deer the trees might want to be ring fenced as well as the other measures to stop them eating them which can get really expensive but in this case i would imagine he would want to concentrate on stopping the rabbits as there were loads of them.So where have all the deer gone?Is the question i,d like to answer and of course i,m looking at the bigcat possibilty straight away.A fortnight ago there was that fox carcase and the other subjects missing from the cam were the foxes as well plus the 2 dead myxy rabbits i stashed for the foxes and badgers to find were still there where i left them although very rotten and riddled with beetles,this in itself is incredible.If there was a fox within a mile it would of found that sort of thing and so would of a badger.The farm and the surrounding area is fairly quiet at this time of year there and so i,ve been allowed to carry on and try to get to the bottom of this mystery so the trailcam stays put,also next week once the fields dry out a bit after all this rain we,ve had there will be a better chance to have a look round for any more evidence as to what,s going on.....

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Cormorants in Brighton marina

There,s allsorts of birdlife in the marina,these Cormorants abound along with the usual Gulls,sometimes Kingfishers show up especially in winter and a couple of weeks ago a Little Auk that was much smaller than the Guillimots and looked a bit like a Penguin...
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Cormorant leaving it,s post

The cormorants let you get close,but not too close.....
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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Seagulls and the stormy sea


After the brief interlude yesterday the gales have returned bringing on heavy seas off the west arm of Brighton marina.These Herring gulls make the most of the food being churned up like mussels and other shellfish which gather in this corner.....

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Grass snake


This grass snake was out and about,but it,s hibernation for them very soon.....

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Firle beacon/sheep carcase

The morning after the bonfire of the night before finds me the other side of Lewes with the need to walk off the previous nights activitys.1st stop Mt.Caburn where the cats have been spotted on a number of occasions,a search round only revealed that the sheep had left the sidehill so a quick move down the road to Firle beacon gave the chance to look round where a plausible sighting was noted way back in august.I did check it out briefly back then but now is far different what with the summer flowers gone and the skylarks silent.Walking halfway up the sidehill just below a clump of hawthorn,a weather worn sheeps skeleton lay on the turf(pictured)What,s so bigcatish about that i thought?Then noticed that it,s skull was missing.A good look round showed up another in a nearby gulley,again,the rest of the bones were intact minus the skull.This one was hidden away a bit.Well it was hard work to track down the farmer,impossible in fact because i didn,t on this open access land so i have no way yet of knowing the situation surrounding these deaths also the date to see if it coincides with the sighting but the skulls missing is interesting in itself.Bigcats are well known for sometimes removing the skulls of their prey........

Lewes bonfire














































Lewes bonfire(literally bone fire)is held, amongst other things,to remember the 17 Lewesian (of the 200 Sussex)martyrs burnt at the stake in 1557 by bad queen Mary for expressing their protestant beliefs(the 17 burning crosses represent the 17 martyrs)......

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Another deer counting request

Halloween marks the end of my agricultural year and apart from a few chores to be done in the winter it,s a break from this lark for me till early spring.The week till bonfire night is a time to have a few drinks with people i,ve worked with and collect any money owed and bonfire night will be celebrated at Lewes,the capital of bonfires.How the jungle drums have been beating for a chat today over a glass of whisky on the kitchen table and the best lamb sandwich i,ve had all year another request to do a deer count with the trailcam has been made.Apparently the usually large numbers of roe have dwindled rapidly with a distinct lack of teenage fawns and some pretty strange goings on at night have been witnessed particularly some chickens have gone missing and this is while they were enclosed by a 7ft fence laced with electric wire,few feathers have been found and no carcases just a brief bit of squawking has been heard and that,s it.The location?Well this has to remain secret but it,s in the Horsham cats home range.I was asked to look round the place to see what i could find and while the Glasgow whisky coursed at top speed through my veins,i certainly didn,t find any chicken carcases but what did catch my rapidly blurring eyes was what appeared to be part of a young fox skeleton maybe lying there for 2 weeks or more along with some large scat with fur in it (pictured)What else did i notice?Well there were a lot of pigeon feathers about and their moult around august time,i think,is well gone,they are on the woodland floor a lot at the moment scoffing acorns,the beech mast is mostly gone,they are being caught by something it looks like to me .I,m not saying a bigcat has and i,m not saying a fox hasn,t but something has and they might not be as easy to catch as in the summer but a pigeon on the ground is worth hundreds in the bushes as any predator will tell you.I did also find some deer slots,not many but a few,both roe and fallow but no young roe slots that i could see.So ,anyway, reason enough to strap the cam to a tree and see what sort of deer numbers are here without me having to hang around on cold mornings like i used to(i love trailcams!)Unfortunately this is primarily a deer counting exercise therefore any other wildlife pictures will be an added bonus although the cam is mounted high up so the view will be downward looking which won,t make for appealing looking pictures.As my friend there has no interest in the bigcat subject"your,e wasting your time"he laughed"they don,t exist,just big ferals and mistaken identitys,show me some photos that you have taken that are clearly bigcats and i,ll believe you".Well i,ve no wish to tell anyone what is or isn,t on their ground without that sort of glorious proof and i,ve no desire to convince any other sceptics for that matter,everone is entitled to their own opinions,all i will say is that i wouldn,t waste 1 second of my time doing this if i hadn,t seen them for myself and know for certain that they do exist and are about,affecting the other wildlife for people like me to discover the effects......

Monday, 1 November 2010

Offham cat update

All the details are in of the sighting at Plumpton recently,the date was further back than i,d thought,the 1st week in september which is nearly 2 months ago now also the colour described by the 2 witnesses who saw it,grey browny black so not the jet black of our lovely Offham cat.Seeing as most cats described are black any different coloured ones are very noticeable in the records and we have the Bevendean sighting recently describing a black cat with brown mottling,is this the same cat?This is anyones guess but there are so many cats beeing seen (on the move)at the moment that any previous theorys on the year round rigidity of bigcat territorys are very much mistaken,a simple flick through the sightings register shows different coloured cats passing through where other ones have been seen,like the above.We also have a more brown one spotted at Telscombe this year very close to the black one, at times together that took up residence for the late winter months into spring and also the Milland sightings of black and brown cats.What is certain is that i do tend to get a rash of sightings every autumn and this begs the question ,are they on the move more at this time of year leading to them lying up in more exposed places and also moving through areas in the daytime which makes them more visible.The recent sighting at Midhurst common was a cat reported to be grooming itself in the sun and most animals at this time of year make the most of the weakening autumn sunshine to bask in leading them open to observation.The cover hasn,t died back fully yet and with far less people tramping about these factors can be discounted.Another factor that can be thrown out of the window with no further waste of thought is lack of food,there is a massive surplus of prey around at this time of year more than at any other.The rabbit numbers have peaked,the shooting woods are stuffed full of pheasants and the roe fawns are still only about 5 1/2 months old making them easy meat for a bigcat these young deer lack the full strength of the adults and they are far less aware,a point about deer numbers is that there is reckoned to be a bulging population of them at the moment,in some areas every copse and bit of wood holds a number of deer in them.A pity about the poor rabbits,we have a myxy epidemic at the moment,the worst seen for some years and with sick and dying rabbits lying about all over the place anything that eats them like the buzzards are having a field day,such easy meat is there for the taking.So we are back to the most likely causes that is that bigcats are moving around at this time of year to get themselves aquanted with their winter ranges along with young cats which would be on their own now for the first time and are needing to settle themselves in somewhere before the winter sets in good and proper.........