|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..
|Posted on June 4, 2013 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
A very big leopard-like big cat paw print was found recently in East Sussex that looks just the job,I have only seen a photo of a plaster cast to date but it is hoped to be able to see it first hand when time permits and visit the area found.Last year in march and also in the autumn there were unconfirmed(3rd hand i.e.someone knows someone who saw one) reports of a very large big cat beeing in the very vicinity as well as confirmed reports coming in from nearby.Big cat sightings of a leopard size are seen in Hastings and Bexhill (in the country north of these towns)regularly.First examination of the paw print bears a resemblance in size to the Robertsbridge big cat (just over 11cm)but as I don,t have a complete paw print to compare I have to go on size alone which is 12.2cm or 5" wide(if running or exerting pressure a big cats paw print will increase slightly in size)truly massive seeing as the Ashdown forest big cat weighs in at 10cm wide (see evidence page)and the Offham big cat(Lewes) a tiny 8cm,The old Horsham big cat which dipped into Surrey a lot was also huge but still shy of 11cm but as the Steyning big cat showed paw size is not strictly relative to body mass though all reports of the Robertsbridge big cat do tell of a really huge cat standing at least 25" at the shoulder.I have been sure that the Robertsbridge big cat ventured in the Hastings area but just how east it goes is unsure.This was found north of Hastings by a chap who also came across others in the clay patch and prints were found up a bank also.The photo of the plaster cast of the print has been Tweeted and will appear on this website as soon as I am able...
In other news an unconfirmed(not able to contact the witness) report last month came in from the Ditchling area of a large black leopard sized cat being seen and another witness contacted to report an alsation sized black cat crossing the road in the East Grinstead area,could this be the Ashdown forest big cat in the northern most reaches of it,s territory?
The only news coming in this year from West Sussex is from the Horsham big cat with a sighting on the 30th april at St.Leonards forest.No news of either the Midhurst big cat or the Milland big cat but then this doesn,t mean they aren`t around it just means the reports aren`t coming in whether they are just not being seen by witnesses or people are not doing the reporting!Time will tell...
|Posted on April 19, 2013 at 12:35 PM||comments (0)|
A very large brown big cat,the size of a big dog,was seen recently (30.3.2013) in St.Leonards Forest near Horsham,West Sussex.A local man was walking his Jack Russell which was running about in and out of view as they do when he caught sight of a clump of deer staring ahead of them through the trees.Looking ahead of them the witness caught sight of a very large sandy brown cat that dissapeared over the brow of the low hill there.The little dog came back to him earlier than usual looking quite shaken.Although fairly quiet on the sightings front in the past 12 months the vast public forest of St.Leonards saw many sightings previous to this of both black and brown big cats and on more than one occasion fairly near to each other in the space of a few days....
|Posted on March 5, 2013 at 6:40 PM||comments (0)|
The Ashdown Forest big cat was seen recently in the Chelwood Gate area by 2 witnesses driving home early in the evening.They were doing sub 40mph,necessary to safely avoid a collision with one of the large number of fallow deer that cross the roads and saw a very large black animal that "had all the appearances of being feline" lope across the road in front of them.Once on the grassy verge it paused for a second before being lost to sight in the gathering darkness.Although not having seen a big cat in the area before despite being local the witnesses thought the animal was a big cat as described by other people they knew who had seen it elsewhere on the Forest.This is the first sighting from this area of Sussex this year that has been reported to this website,last year there was barely a month when there wasn`t a report in and all statements described a similar sized big cat of around 22" tall not much bigger than a labrador but far longer and sleeker with a tail often stretched outwards when in motion.Paw prints found a couple of years ago or so and published on the evidence page of this website were thought to of come from this big cat and it is hoped that fresh prints will turn up that could be compared as there are no 2 prints the same.A freshly dead fox was also found elsewhere on the Forest this month which bore some of the signs of being predated on whether by a dog or big cat....
|Posted on February 25, 2013 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
A fresh sighting of the Robertsbridge big cat has cropped up this time by 2 witnesses who had a very close encounter.They were walking the dog at 9:30 pm last thursday 21st feb.and the dog ran into a thickly wooded gulley whereupon they heard a deep,intense growling noise,definitely not a dog-like growl,then their dog re-emerged from the wood cowering and shining their light to the left of it saw a very large black cat no more than 15 yards away staring at their dog without any side ways glances at them,which was a shame because no colour of the eyeshine was visible which is always useful data to know.The was for perhaps 15 seconds whereupon the cat sloped off back into the wood not to be seen again that night.Height was estimated at being around 26"tall,far bigger than the 20"tall dog and had a long tail that was pointed groundwards most of the time,the body was sleek,deep chested with a head out of proportion to the body and pointed forwards,domestic cat-like ears.A large paw print was found the next morning by the witness and on inspection looks very interesting and so a copy has been requested.Moonlit nights such as this one usually find sightings appear at night whether by car drivers seeing a cat cross the road in front of them or in similar cases as this,on the dark nights sightings are often twilight ones or even in the middle of the day and it is thought that harder hunting for the cats without the help of the moon results in them concentrating their efforts at(usually)dusk with them re-doubling their hunting efforts on into the morning.This country here is comprised of mostly grazing fields intersperced with an, in places, equal amount of deciduous woodland often having an understory of chesnut and hazel coppice or even rhodadendron-ideal big cat habitat and prey numbers are high comprising of reasonable numbers of rabbits,pheasants and other birds with deer of all shapes and sizes such as fallow,sika,roe and a few muntjac.People traffic is also low and so the threat of daytime disturbance for a big cat is minimal,another reason for daytime sightings.The area that the Robertsbridge big cat takes in as it`s territory is difficult to fathom due to the smaller numbers of sightings because of the lower human density(less eyes to see it) however it`s larger size than the Ashdown forest big cat,the neighbour to the west means that the Heathfield and Mayfield areas belong to it`s neighbour.It could well be the same big cat seen occasionally around Battle but whether it`s the same one as seen around the Tunbridge Wells area is anyones guess as size estimates from eye witness reports here have been hard to determine...