|Posted on October 13, 2017 at 5:45 PM||comments (1)|
2 small clusters of sightings have been developing in the county. In the Storrrington general area a medium sized big cat of around 22" at the shoulder or labrador sized has been reported. All sightings have been of a cat out in the open but near dense cover which it shoots back into when realising it has been seen. The second clump of reports has been coming in from the last month in the Ashdown forest area again, this time it seems to be of a very large black cat that on 1 occasion appeared to be chasing a deer across the road near dusk in front of 2 witnesses. On another occasion a very large alsation sized black cat was reported to of been seen in stalking mode along a grassy track before nipping into the now dying of bracken, this too was near dusk on one of the more remote and high up parts of the forest. The brown, puma type cat seen often in the summer here has not been seen since. Although no reports have come in of a brown cat anywhere in recent years sightings of this type of cat crop up more on the north western fringes of West Sussex and supposedly heads for the Surrey hills and beyond where sightings in winter of a big brown cat crop up in places like Ash and the Hogs back. That makes 3 separate cats whilst I also have 2 reports of a medium sized black cat come in from the Tunbridge wells area and on into Kent when I looked into a big cat sighting near Hop farm at Beltring. Plenty of thick, overgrown and wild scrub here to contain a cat. I have no other reports from elswhere in the county but october is usually a high month for sightings as the cover is dying back but it's still light in early evening.
|Posted on August 9, 2017 at 2:40 PM||comments (1)|
A possible sighting has come in from the Chichester area of a big cat with 2 cubs playing and running about. Described by the 2 witnesses as being light brown with long cat-like tails they defintely were not foxes. Investigations are continuing however this year has been notable by the leap in the number of sightings coming in and also the dominant colour seen has swapped from black to brown. The 2 cubs sighting, if true would be evidence of breeding success and the rapid increase in sightings from a low in 2013/2014 of barely any could indicate a better state of affairs for big cats in the county. The Ashdown forest is continuing to show sporadic activity reported but of only a brown puma like cat now. Arun area has gone quiet but the summer cover is so thick a herd of elephants could easliy hide. Far East Sussex also quiet now, the very large black cat usually seen here especially around the Batlle area maybe in the dense forestry blocks found further north and east after the young fallow and roe born in high summer. These young deer could well be what draws big cats to the ultra high deer population on the Ashdown forest every summer. Although sightings can occur here throughout the year as most parts are well drained heathy places every summer has produced large clusters of sightings sometimes, as in this year, of both brown and black big cats.
|Posted on June 28, 2017 at 4:50 PM||comments (0)|
There has been some intense big cat activity on the Ashdown forest these past 3 months. Sightings of a medium sized black cat have been reported from the Uckfield area, Crowborough, Upper Hartfield and of the brown one over at Nutley, Wych cross and Forest row at the golf course again. The brown big cat has all the appearance of a mountain lion according to witnesses and was seen even with the white bits on it's face. Sleek, shiny fur stocky legs walking exactly how a big cat shoulld do, the latest sighting from Nutley described 2 encounters in daytime. In another encounter on a different part of the forest a witness was sitting quietly for a while watching deer when they heard a cat growll from the bushes by them at 2 metres away. From Forest Row a report of a large black or dark coloured cat was seen at dusk on the golf course bounding across the grass covering a lot of ground with few leaps seemingly effortlessly.
Elsewhere in the county there has not been much reported apart from a possible at Pulborough near the Arun and Lewes again.
|Posted on May 13, 2017 at 9:10 AM||comments (13)|
A spring flush of sightings have come in from most corners of the county. First up and a big cat was seen 11/5/17 in fields at Bevendean made famous 2010/2011 for the "beast of Bevendean" reports in the local press. Seen from the Drove road it was in the same area where most of the reports came from. In rural Heathfield a couple of nights ago and a ginger cat the size of a fox was seen in a garden. This area has seen more than it's fair share of a number of different coloured cats fox or whippet sized around 20" tall and of grey, ginger or brown colour, paw prints of 6 to 7cm in width. The Hampshire/Surrey borders have thrown a handful of reports of a very large black cat but none of the puma type. Nothing recently in from far East Sussex. Most interestingly, a large black cat was seen leaving a dense wood in West Sussex by 2 different witnesses but at the same time of evening. A couple of trail cameras have been put up.
|Posted on December 12, 2016 at 12:50 PM||comments (0)|
A big cat was seen crossing a road in the Battle area East Sussex on the 30th november. Dash cam footage by the witness showed a very large black shape moving fast and although blurred due to the speed it moved it's difficult to account for the animal being anything else. Said to be larger than the labrador sized cat often reported the sighting concurs with the size of animal usually reported from this area. I investigated the area shortly after the sighting however the ground was quite dry and not helpful in finding any paw prints, deer slots were seen but cats leave a much lighter impression and need a much softer mud to give a more visible print. The area is interlaced with deer trails and it was supposed that the cat was using these trails to move about. The witness, who has a lifetime of experience with animals and the area, described seeing a large and very dark cat taking up almost the width of the lane including tail when crossing, that is some size indeed and matches previous reports from other witnesses. The animal had the appearance of a black leopard and ran smoothly quite unlike a dog or deer and was much shorter legged than a deer. Although the sighting was very short the visibility was excellent and close range at 20 metres. Investigations continue.
|Posted on October 1, 2016 at 5:25 AM||comments (0)|
Most of the summer big cat activity has been spread over the middle of Sussex stretching from Lewes and Ashdown forest into the north of Sussex like Balcombe and Horsham. There have been the odd sighting elsewhere but in these places clusters of sightings have shown a high degree of activity which interestingly have no time overlaps. All bar 2 have been of a medium sized black cat( typical size comparisons from witnesses were labrador,large spaniel) although it would be presumptive to think it was one big cat responsible it is very doubtful it could be 3 different animals including the sightings coming in from the Midhurst area earlier in the year. If we take the low incidence of big cat reports coming in over the last 3 years meaning that there is a corresponding drop in the local big cat population then it should be easier to track a single cats movements . If this were true and we only have 2 or 3 cats at best in the county then 1 cat started off the year on the Hampshire borders moving steadily east to spend the spring in Mid Sussex then june, july and august in the Ashdown forest area near where also a seemingly smaller,snipier looking cat was also seen especially around Lewes. If we had 4 seperate cats on the go then they were only being active and being seen in these 4 general areas briefly to then dissapear completely off the radar which must be very doubtful. Of course, however many cats there are, just because sightings are not coming in from certain areas only means people are not seeing/reporting them. Clusters of sightings are of more value because it naturally reduces the chances of human error in witness reports providing local big cat ( beast of somewhere ) hysteria hasn't developed.
|Posted on October 1, 2016 at 5:25 AM||comments (0)|
Most of the summer big cat activity has been spread over the middle of Sussex stretching from Lewes and Ashdown forest, Mid Sussex, Petworth and Petersfield. There have been the odd sighting elsewhere but in these places clusters of sightings have shown a high degree of activity which interestingly have no time overlaps. All bar 4 have been of a medium sized cat( typical size comparisons from witnesses were labrador,large spaniel) although it would be presumptive to think it was one big cat responsible it is very doubtful it could be 4 different animals. If we take the low incidence of big cat reports coming in over the last 3 years meaning that there is a corresponding drop in the local big cat population then it should be easier to track a single cats movements. If this were true and we only have 2 or 3 cats at best in the county then 1 cat started off the year on the Hampshire borders moving steadily east to spend the spring in Mid Sussex then june, july and august in the Ashdown forest area near where also a seemingly smaller,snipier looking cat was also seen especially around Lewes. If we had 4 seperate cats on the go then they were only being active and being seen in these 4 general areas briefly to then dissapear completely off the radar which must be very doubtful. Of course, however many cats there are, just because sightings are not coming in from certain areas only means people are not seeing/reporting them. Clusters of sightings are of more value because it naturally reduces the chances of human error in witness reports providing local big cat ( beast of somewhere ) hysteria hasn't developed.
|Posted on April 24, 2016 at 5:00 PM||comments (2)|
There were not a lot of sightings coming in over the winter months, the few that did were concentrated on the Hampshire and Surrey borders. Mostly of a dark brown big cat that appeared now and then and also of a labrador sized black big cat all sightings of which were well west of Petersfield. The vey wet winter we had contributed to the lack of reports coming in as people would spend less time outside and also the general visibilty was poor. The usual winter evidence searches were carried out with interesting clusters of fallow deer bones were found in the Ashdown forest by a fisherman and also by myself in the Hurst green area and Sedlescombe the last of which held 3 different fallow deer all apparently youngish animals judging by the small leg bone sizes. Intensive secondary scavenging was noted by foxes etc. however the mystery as to how up to 3 deer carcases ended up within 50 feet of each other well away from a main road in some pretty thick cover is a mystery that leads the mind to think of predation by a large carnivore. No big cat paw prints or other possible evidence were found despite some intensive searches carried out although the kills were well over 2 weeks old when found as it can take this long for scavengers to strip the bones away from each other.
The latest sighting has been last week at Mill hill on the downs as reported to this website and coincidentely there was a report of a big cat at this time last year from near here at Thunder barrow on the downs north of Hangleton.
|Posted on October 11, 2015 at 6:15 PM||comments (0)|
There was sighting of a big cat in the Staplefield area recently. It was said to of been black in colour and the size of a large dog it ran off when seen and fits the profile of the other sighting a few days before from not too far away leading to presumptions of it being the same cat. Other witness reports have come in sporadically from the far east of the county and also the far west but no clusters of sightings.
|Posted on December 6, 2014 at 8:20 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on April 28, 2014 at 5:50 PM||comments (1)|
A big cat with a long slender body and the characteristic long slightly curved tail was seen last week in the Polegate area walking nonchalantly amongst rabbits in a field who ignored the predator in their presence. At this time of year rabbits are feeding increasingly in daylight and becoming braver by the day when many rabbit sentries posted will give advance warning of impending doom (Lockley) I feel sure the big cats are targeting rabbits very much at this time of year but much earlier in the morning than this sighting undoubtedly was...The cat seen was not the Eastbourne puma type brown cat seen very much last year but was of the sleeker,black variety most often seen in this part of East Sussex...
|Posted on March 22, 2014 at 10:10 AM||comments (0)|
A cluster of sightings is starting to develop in West Sussex in a block of country that has historically seen high big cat activity but has been very quiet for the last couple of years.The first one reported on febuary 15th was in the general area of Fittleworth when a witness described seeing a large black cat the size of a Labrador run across a field into some woodland.The area is noted for it`s sandy soil and so adds weight to the theory that in times of wet winters big cats stick mostly to free draining soils and big woodlands. A week and another eye-witness saw a similarly described black big cat crossing a woodland path in the general area of Plaistow again on free draining ground.The morning of the 14th march and a car driver reported seeing a large black animal crossing the road in front of them at speed which they could only think of being a big cat while the following Tuesday in the rough area of Billingshurst/Coolham on the18th saw 2 witnesses at 9am watch a big black cat leap across the track in front of them in one bound, a distance of maybe 12ft.They were sitting in a vehicle at the time and were no more than 20ft away from the animal so there is no doubt on their identification that it was a big black cat around 22" tall.
Clusters of sightings in early spring, possibly from the same animal, mostly at between 8 to 10 am could possibly denote a cat that is heavily engaged in hunting rabbits. This is because so long as they are not disturbed rabbits will continue feeding well into the morning to make the most of the run of fresh spring grass. Foxes have been increasingly observed hunting rabbits at this time of day when light to aid speed rather then nightime stealth will catch more prey. As rabbits are the principal prey of big cats in spring it would be reasonable to suggest the same reasons for the increased observance of them in the morning hours.Sightings data collected over the past few years particularly has affirmed this and just about every spring has clusters of big cat sightings cropping up in one area of the county or another with a similar stamp to them. Last year was noted for it`s late start due to the cold spring but even so a big brown cat was seen a little later in spring on the Eastbourne downs at precisely these times of day in areas of high rabbit numbers. 2012 saw the downs north of Brighton experience a number of similarly described sightings,2011 was the Lancing downs up to Dial Post and Cowfold when a massive 26 sightings of a similarly described big black cat were reported as well the Robertsbridge and Bexhill areas of the county.2010 and Telscombe and Peacehaven residents reported numerous sightings of a large black cat seen often in the mornings in the area in spring and so it goes on back through the years...
|Posted on February 10, 2014 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
It has been very quiet on the sightings front since at least the mid of last December which was when these rains of biblically epic proportions started after a very dry autumn. This is usual for when there is no let up in rainy weather and boggy ground fewer people are around to see these big cats and the cats themselves appear to stick to the better drained and more wooded areas of the county where they are that much harder to be seen. This has been echoed in previous very wet winters most notably in "97-98 when virtually all of the whole winters sightings in West Sussex were along the downland escarpement between Greatham and Cocking most probably of the same big cat. What was different then to now was that clusters of sightings were showing up fairly well spread out across the county throughout the year whereas in the past couple of years the sightings seem to of been concentrated in the warmer months. The past couple of very wet years has coincided with a deep trough in rabbit numbers since the population crash in autumn 2012. Like voles rabbits rise and fall in their fortunes which creates a knock on effect for their predators or at least those who rely heavily on them. Foxes do not, they have a wide selection of food sources unlike stoats who concentrate their efforts on rabbits and face high litter mortality when rabbits are hard to get. Big cats are thought to prey heavily on rabbits and the lack of yearly total sightings is thought by many to reflect their reliance. Cub mortality would appear to of been high judging by the lack of sightings of larger cats accompanied by much smaller ones and whilst most years there is only only the odd report of this type of thing I am the first to admit that the case for wild big cats to be breeding in Sussex is sketchy at best if only the reports of mothers with cubs are to be relied upon....
|Posted on September 5, 2013 at 10:20 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on August 27, 2013 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on August 5, 2013 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on July 8, 2013 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on June 26, 2013 at 5:05 AM||comments (0)|
A sighting from the South downs in the Eastbourne area has just come in of a very large animal that was at first partially hidden from view in the long grass.Described by the witnesses as being of an almost gingery colour(often brown cats are said it give off a gingery hue when the sun catches their sleek coats in summer) it then got up and loped off unlike any dog and more cat-like.It had a smooth coat and the nearby sheep with lambs in tow paid no notice to it.Although not 100% sure that what was seen was a big cat it is difficult to think what else it could of been. On open downland, today at 8:45 in bright light often these cats with brown coats appear to have a colour not what we would expect a wild animal to have but roe deer in july have a very rich reddy/orange brown colour. The field in question has had a sighting reported from it before. As always in these cases enquiries will be made in order to eliminate other possible candidates for the sighting but at this time it sounds very likely to of been a big cat...
|Posted on June 18, 2013 at 7:35 PM||comments (0)|
A sighting of a big cat has come in from the Lewes area on the 7th June. Seen at 1:45pm near Kingston,East Sussex which nestles in the South Downs, it moved slowly along a hedge then into bushes.Described by the 2 witnesses as being 65cm tall,of a sandy(puma) colour having long legs and a very slim body. Could this be a long legged cat?Or is it just a very young and athletic looking British big cat but just of the not often seen brown colour instead of black.Sightings of large wild cats that have very long legs do crop up from time to time and my own observations of a black one of these do point to a distinctly different type of cat not in colour but by form of body.
One of the witnesses did wonder if it may of been one of these Savannah cat hybrids that are becoming quite popular as pets.Local enquiries are continuing as to whether the cat seen was one of these but at time of this post none barely resembling the above description could remotely of been responsible for this sighting.In any case these new hybrids are fairly expensive to buy and I would of thought most owners would keep closer tabs on their charges and not let them wander around too much.Strangely happy on leads they would be very visible in a locality but with a human on tow.
What is frustrating is that sightings of large cats with very long legs usually occur only during the summer months and are so infrequent that little knowledge can be sieved from such thin material like if they are a different sub-species and what are they up to ?
|Posted on June 14, 2013 at 7:45 PM||comments (0)|
Clearly only an estimate but the numbers of big cats in Sussex does seem to of fallen drastically in the last year or so or rather more accurately the areas where they are being seen has fallen.In 2010/2011 I surveyed Sussex by sightings and other evidence gathering to come up with a figure of around a dozen big cats that were being seen or leaving evidence behind in the form of kills and/or paw prints and could possibly group that data to specific areas where I believed certain cats were.Of course some of it was guesswork and would have had to of been confirmed by other data but although most are of a uniform black they exhibit visual differences like size, body conformation etc. and also exhibit different behaviour when being seen like running straight away,creeping,looking etc.At the time I admitted that one or two cats might of been the same but didn`t realise how this could be interpreted in the results.3 years down the line and some areas are not producing any evidence of big cat activity at all.This can be due to change of land use like encroachment of development on hunting and laying up areas or reductions in prey numbers especially rabbits however where none of the above are accountable then it must be reasonable to assume that previously the cat that was responsible for the sightings or whatever has either moved on or died.
What is clear from the last year of data collection that fewer areas are producing signs of cat activity but this is accounted for by the widely reported crash in rabbit numbers in the past year countywide probably accelerated by the remarkably wet weather bring on more fatal diseases but rabbits were heading for a crash anyway.Just about all herbivorous small mammal populations show a helter skelter trough, peak, trough in numbers roughly every 7 years like voles ,mice, lemmings famously and rabbits are no exception with their numbers climbing up to critical mass over a number of years for them to plummet , the last time was in the mid `90.s if I remember .Seeing as rabbits make up for a large proportion of a big cats diet then this failure of a food source could point to a drop in overall cat numbers or at least a lower cub birth or survival rate.
Another interesting point uncovered is that some big cats are moving from one area to another on a much wider scale than previously thought, the same cat might not be seen in an area for quite some time where it had previously been seen regularly only for it to reappear back on the radar back in it`s old haunts and so nowadays the previous estimate of numbers of big cats in Sussex should be reduced a little..