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big cat research in Sussex

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Robertsbridge big cat shows up

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 5:00 PM Comments 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...

Big cat seen in suburban Brighton

Posted on December 29, 2012 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

A big cat has been seen in a garden on the outskirts of east Brighton,East Sussex very near to the racecourse late at night recently.It was standing against a low garden wall which meant a scale measurement of around 50" in body length excluding tail which is at least 3.5 to 4 foot long,truly huge and not to be mistaken for a domestic cat by any stretch of the imagination.Said by the witness to have a more domestic-like head though but with more rounded ears and an extra length tail because it was dark no more features were mentioned by the witness.The street it was seen in is 500 yards or so from open country of the downs at Brighton and the sighting comes as no surprise from this area being a particular hotspot for sightings of big cats especially at this time of year when the weather is poor(areas of country north of the downs are all flooded out) .In addition the witnesses cat bore an inch or so long scar from an encounter it had at the time of the sighting with 2 more cuts being found on it`s neck area and a preliminary examination by myself has ruled out canid (fos or dog)attack.Although extremely rare for confirmed cases of big cat on house cat predation it is not completly unknown and there is a spate of missing cats from the area at this time.Also 11 small goldfish were taken from a shallow pond and tests are being undertaken on the remaining 2 fish to ascertain the predator in question although at this stage of the investigation fox is seeming to be more likely due to the ragged nature of the bite marks.Pictures of the goldfish bite marks have been posted to my Facebook account for perusal....

Petworth sighting may throw new light...

Posted on October 7, 2012 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

A big cat was in the Petworth area yesterday at 12.45pm,the weather was sunny with excellent visibility.It was described by the 2 witnesses as being of the size of a German Shepherd dog as best size approximation,was of a jet black colour and had a very long tail.It ran or loped across the field but did not give the impression of having been flushed or moved on from somewhere.It is unclear at this stage whether it was the Midhurst big cat or the Milland big cat as the area is in "disputed territory" in other words we know there are 2 different cats but don,t know where each of their areas end so to speak however at this stage it would appear to me to be the former.Relevant data has to be fully examined and certain results will of course be published but this sighting could well throw new light on how big cats relate to topographical features in their enviroment as regards to their movements and general behaviour.....

Mid may sighting of Ashdown Forest big cat

Posted on September 5, 2012 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

This sighting has recently come in however it throws more light on the movements of the Ashdown Forest big cat.Once again it was seen going about it,s own business through the bushes at 14.30 hrs without taking much notice of the car bound witnesses who were not too far away,they stated it was around 22" at the shoulder and of a very dark black and very leopard-like in appearance.Sounds very like the Ashdown Forest big cat who,at this time of year ,was not known to of been in the Copthorne area of the Forest....

Mystery wild cat seen at Rottingdean

Posted on September 5, 2012 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

A large dark-mottled grey wild cat crossed in front of a car seen by 2 witnesses on the morning of the 24th august just outside Rottingdean on the East Sussex coast making for the downs.It was much larger and longer than a domestic cat and had sticking up ears and was either without or had a very short tail.After extensive local enquiries it,s been deduced to be not a locally owned very large domestic but to be possibly one of the large wild cats seen very occasionally on the South Downs or even could be a or even the Lynx that was seen recently in the Ditchling area 8 miles to the north-west.The sighting was brief of around 4 seconds but in good daylight,there have been reports of similar looking wild cats over the years in this part of the county but in the last couple or so years the sightings have concentrated more in the north-east parts of Sussex.In the autumn of 2003 I saw an 18 to 19" tall wild cat of a light greyish or dirty cream colour with large pricked ears and medium length tail having a boxy appearance to it,s body near the Steyning Bostal.other accounts around the same time locally and further away suggested the mystery cat(if it was the same one) was moving across a large area.What is more or less certain is that the South Downs offers a transit route for all  of our types of wild cats be they feral domestic,Lynx,large or not quite so large wild cat and even the leopard-like black cats that comprise the bulk of the reports.....

Lynx seen near Ditchling again

Posted on August 15, 2012 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Once again a lynx has been sighted near Ditchling at 1am on the 27.7.12.Classic lynx description of the type of animal that has been seen in the area on a number of occasions and the witnesses also corroberated last decembers Ditchling lynx sighting with a view of a lynx crossing the road nearby a couple of nights later.This time around it was seen in the same parish which has led to speculation that the most recent sightings have been of the same animal which habitually frequents the area on a regular basis.On being seen by the witness the lynx paused to look and then filtered off into the night.Ditchling or rather it,s surrounding countryside is very high in the big cat sightings lists with large black cats figuring most strongly however lynx sightings go back to at least the "90,sNo sheep or other livestock losses have been reported to Bigcatsinsussex despite extensive enquiries however a number of bird kills (mostly pigeon and strangely enough blackbird) were found that were not attributed to the usual fox or sparrowhawk although it was thought that feral or farm cat could not be ruled out.There is a large amount of available prey for a lynx in the surrounding mixed farmland and the South downs half a mile to the south offers extensive cover especially on the north facing sidehill.The delay in releasing this latest sighting has been due to an investigation of the sighting which is now complete.....

Ashdown Forest big cat sighted close by

Posted on July 9, 2012 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The sightings are hotting up again for the Ashdown Forest big cat.Following on from last weeks sighting is another being reported 2.5 miles away and 51 hours 40mins apart,at 00.10 early saturday morning.Similar sort of thing,the big cat was seen crossing the road well in front of the car that the witnesses were driving and carried on it`s way.As always the same description of creature.No reflection from the eyes was reported which could indicate that the cat was not actually looking at the vehicle at the time but was intent on crossing the road.Assuming that we are dealing with the same big cat then this is typical for it to be seen in the same area, over a number of days previous studies on very individual looking big cats have indicated that a cat will spend a certain amount of time in a clump of parishes,anything from 2 days to a week or so before moving on and cropping up somewhere totally different say 10 miles or more away.This would mean that a big cat would seemingly cover it,s ground systematically during the night possibly useing the same or similar cover as a base to lie up in the daytime .At least this is the case in areas that don,t have the cover afforded to it like Ashdown Forest has,here the ground cover is so dense and impenetrable in places that there are all manner of options for it to find a safe from being disturbed place to be in daylight hours.It would appear that a cat would typically hunt not in a straight line as we would see it but would criss cross an area coming back almost on itself in a loop but not always on the same path.We will never know for sure without such scientific devices as radio collars but who needs them when such detailed and clear observations are coming in from witnesses.....

Ashdown Forest big cat seen again

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The Ashdown Forest big (black) cat has been seen again,this time in the northern reaches of the Forest,again at dusk.This was yesterday around 8 30pm which is the usual time for it (if it is the same cat) to be seen.Running at a fair speed before there was any chance it could of seen the witness the cat was obviously intent on getting somewhere quickly.There has been no sign of the possibly , a lttle bigger, brown cat for quite a while now nor have sightings of the Lynx been brought to my intention since it was seen in the Forest a good couple or 3 months back.....

Rain to blame for lack in big cat sightings

Posted on July 3, 2012 at 5:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The record amounts of rain that fell during april,may and june has resulted in a luxuriant growth of cover with fieldside grasses,bracken etc. making it extremely diffficult for the big cats to be seen and hence reported.There is usually a drop in sightings in high summer compared to the usual spring flush however this year has seen (pun intended!) a real crash in reports.This has been repeated up and down the country with all researchers all over noticeing an extreme quiet period regarding the logging of big cat movements,insights into not often seen big cat behaviour and all the other extra info that is produced when the general public report in their sightings.The cats are still there,they are just hidden from view for the most part and it has been noticed that the few sightings that have come in have been in very open areas like woods with thick canopys(barer floors) or road crossings in front of cars.The thick cover is here to stay and although when the first of the crops get cut like the oil seed rape and winter corn big cat sightings should pick up a bit , it,s likely to be a leaner year on the witness report front until the winter die off with the frosts.Hunting should in theory be better for the cats enabling them to get closer to their intended prey without being seen and this factor could also be contributing to the lack of (daylight) sightings......

Big cat seen up tree after birds

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)

A big cat was seen in forestry near Chichester which could of been hunting birds up trees.Last night,well into dusk and a witness out looking for glow worms heard all manner of birds making an almighty racket just inside a forestry block.Investigating the cause the witness was taken aback by seeing about 50 yards away a big cat around 20" tall half way up a,possibly birch,tree.The local bird population were screaming like mad in warning more so,the witness said ,than if they were warning about a fox.The big cat which was dark,possibly black but not jet,panther black then backed down the tree trunk gingerly and on reaching the ground looked up at the witness and let out a very deep,loud roaring meow more deeper and louder than a domestic cat but not leopard-like,in fact not like any other cat he had heard.It had smallish ears pressed against the head,shortish thick fur and the legs were described as being the same height as the body which was stocky but when seen from behind quite sleek.It then ran off further into the wood when the long tail could be seen flicking about as it run.The witness believes it could of been hunting the roosting birds which,giving the circumstances,is very likely.Early this year, if it is the Midhurst big cat,then it was also observed with a pigeon in it,s mouth and also the year before when i found various pigeon carcases that could not of been attributed to the usual fox predation and could well of been big cat kills.This same year the Midhurst cat was seen up a tree(see the video page) and claw marks in the bark could clearly be seen,it is hoped that this tree this time round can also be investigated for marks.Sightings of big,mostly black cats in this area of remote woodland between Chichester and Midhurst go back to at least Edwardian times i believe if i have quoted the book "The bolter" correctly and forms the central part of the Midhurst big cats range though the greater bulk of sightings quite obviously come from areas closer to habitation where there are more eyes to spot it.My grateful thanks go the the witness for the in depth descripton of events,most valuable......

Maresfield sighting

Posted on June 1, 2012 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The Maresfield sighting is the latest in a long line of witnesses reporting descriptions of a host of different mystery big cats from this area.18th may at dusk and a car driver reports seeing a cat of being the size of between a large fox and a labrador,in other words around 18" tall.It was described as being of a solid brown/greyish colour, had a long tail and long legs running at speed across the road 100yards in front.This area consistantly produces sightings of not only these longlegged cats,but also the stockier ,bit larger than this,more often than not jet black cats as well .The far larger,truly massive big black or brown cats are usually seen further north either in Ashdown forest itself,it,s quieter outskirting thick woodland or the other woodier districts nearby.If a cat is to be described as having long legs and around 18"tall then odds on the sighting will come in from around this area between Fletching and Wadhurst,south of the Forest.The rare sightings from elsewhere in the county tend to be one offs ,even that previous hub,the Midhurst area only produces sightings now of lab sized black cats,very occasionally brown but not of longlegged ones.15 years ago + and these sorts of big cats would of been seen almost anywhere in Sussex.In other words as the sightings in an area of lab sized cats increases so the sightings of longlegged  cats decreases eventually petering out altogether either the former are simply grown up versions of the latter or they are of a different stamp and possibly have kicked out their smaller brethren.....

Mile Oak sighting might be Steyning big cat

Posted on April 13, 2012 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (0)

A sighting in from Carol Cowley on 7th april of a very large black cat could well be our old friend the Steyning big cat,Carol does mention mention it was big and another sighting from the general area at the similar sort of time also mentions a "massive" cat.Carol took a picture last year(several actually) 2 of which she allowed to be published in Rick Minters new book,although not not the portrait pictures everyone is waiting for they clearly show a very big animal.I took measurements from where the pictures were taken and where the cat was,i scaled the creature at being between 23 and 26"tall,truly massive indeed.The other sighting from the area mentions that the witnesses first thought they were seeing a dog until they actually made out the lack of a dogs muzzle and clearly defined cat features,they mentioned the extreme length of tail.When it moved it,s gait was very cat-like and loped effortlessly along.Sightings keep on cropping up at Mile Oak,it,s on the downs bordering the huge urban area that grips the coast with the open downland behind it,a natural thoroughfare though publically walked due to the open access there is plenty of scrub that hides the ample game of rabbits and deer,even a lynx was seen over the hill from here a few years ago .....

Rabbit caught by big cat nr Mayfield

Posted on March 24, 2012 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (0)

A jogger running along a quiet road near Mayfield,East Sussex saw a collie-sized black big cat carrying a rabbit or a hare by the neck,there are the odd hare in the area but these are thin on the ground in fact rare so it,s more likely to of been a rabbit.The rabbits legs were well clear of the ground which gives an idea of the estimation of the cats size.The big cat crossed the field went through the gateway onto the road,noticed the witness and then ran into the nearby wood.The cat was described as stocky with legs the same height as it,s body,neither shorter nor longer,was jet black and had a very long tail.This sighting follows on from a couple of others this year from the general area of a similarly described cat however the descriptions are much different from the big cat that was witnessed 2 years ago which had much longer legs having a more "greyhound "appearance.Carrying a prey item is very interesting especially for such a long way across fields even when seen and some might wonder if the big cat had a cub or 2 to feed given the not often seen nature and time of year of this behaviour.In fact big cats have been witnessed at various times of year with prey in their mouths but i think it is indicative of the correlation of seasons and certain prey being taken i.e rabbits are especially targeted at this time of year as the young ones and milky does are easier to catch....

Lynx hunts deer near Nutley,East Sussex

Posted on March 12, 2012 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

A lynx was seen hunting a (muntjac)deer over the weekend in thick forest near Nutley.Although the witness was not sure that it was indeed a lynx at first after in depth analysis of the big cats description and what it was doing there can be no other animal that fits the bill.All other alternatives have been eliminated and after getting a second opinion from Bryan Hale(who has seen lynx in the wild in places like Spain as well as over here) a lynx it had to of been.The big question that remains now is what species of deer,a muntjac or Chinese water deer?The former is my informed guess.Here is the edited witness statement to judge for yourself "I saw a small deer making off at speed,a short while after-was sure not a dog-it had a fairly long coat,light fawn in colour ,bushy appearance,hind quarters seemed higher than the front,it followed the deers trail and some minutes later returned on exactly the same route-there was nobody else in the area." the jacked-up rear end is a dead giveaway for a lynx,the coat length,colour and general appearance together with the way it hunted the deer definitely excludes it from the boxey looking cats that are also around.Crucially the witness didn,t mention the length of tail and when pressed by me certainly couldn,t recall one.Well if they didn,t see a tail especially if it was actively hunting then in all likelihood it didn,t have one or to be more precise it was very short and "lynx-like".Added to this after looking at a large selection of photos the witness  stated that a picture of a lynx was very like the animal that had been seen.In fact the area has produced many credible lynx sightings over the years roughly every 2 years on average,the landscape is very conducive to these shy big cats comprising of rolling,well drained for the most part country and dense forestry blocks interspersed with small grazing and arable fields that hold the Sussex trinity of deer species i.e.Fallow,Roe and Muntjac and a reasonable rabbit population....

Big black cat seen at Small Dole,nr Steyning..

Posted on March 10, 2012 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

A sighting yesterday at dusk by some workmen near Small Dole just north of Steyning in West Sussex was of a big black cat rapidly heading east towards the downs.It had a typical bounding cat-like gait with an extra long tail that was outstretched as it galloped."Huge and panther-like"they added.This could well be the first appearance of the year of the Steyning big cat in it,s spring range and fit,s in with past appearances in the area,only last year i found an eaten out fox carcase here and the year before,a little later in the season a big cat fitting the same description was seen chasing something at the local tip,presumably rats....

Big black cat seen at Liphook,Hampshire

Posted on March 6, 2012 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

A big black cat was seen by a dog walker at Radford park,Liphook,Hampshire around the 8th feb and it was seen running up the bank into the nearby wood.A few days previously another dog walker reported seeing a similar(the same?) animal near the entrance to Bramshott place.Both witnesses described seeing a labrador sized animal with cat-like features and definitely not a dog.This whole area around here has produced a lot of sightings over the years especially the publically walked woods bordering the army training grounds to the east of Liphook.These big cat sightings follow on from the Petersfield one on 10.1.12 again of an animal of similar description .......

Big brown cat seen at St.Leonards-on-sea

Posted on February 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (2)

A  brown/beige big cat the size of a labrador was seen on friday night on the outskirts of St.Leonards near Hastings in East Sussex.A lady was feeding left over scraps and dog food to the local foxes when she caught sight of the big cat sneaking about on the grass in the distance which was lit up by the street lights.It had a prowling look about it as though it was looking for food and may of actually been after what had been put out for the foxes.Although the nearest fox moved off there was no interaction between fox and big cat which points to a certain tolerance by these 2 species of each other on occasion.This big cat sighting lasted many minutes until it sauntered off out of sight in no hurry even when it was hissed at.This big cat sighting follows on from a sighting of a similar cat seen last month to the north of Hastings nearer Battle and is likely to be the same one though this one had a lighter end to it,s tail whilst the previous sighting was mentioned as not..Big cats are often seen closer to human habitation at this time of year as food is harder to come by than earlier in the winter when a fair few sightings of them over the years have been of them scavenging,for want of a better word,of the food originally left out for foxes and badgers.This is a good way to get close up views of foxes and one hell of a good way to see a big cat going unperturbed about it,s nightly business......

Fur found at Seaford big cat encounter

Posted on February 12, 2012 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Word has just come in of fur that was found at the scene inside the house at Seaford where a big cat had entered has been sent for analysis to Warwick like the Woodchester DNA samples from deer kills recently.This has been done before ,in "01 and "03 i had fur looked at from sightings where the big cat seen in the area of Midhurst that looked similar to the Telscombe big cat ,both came back as Felix rather than Panthera in origin in other words domestic cat.Again in "2010 at the site of deer kill i had fur looked at by Dr Gerald Legg (on the evidence page and previously blogged)once again Felix.This backed up my theory that along with the much larger Leopard-in-origin big cats that we have in Sussex (like the one captured on camera by Carol Cowley) there are a type of smaller big cat around 20" tall,loosely called Longlegged cat as explained on the types of big cat page on this website and also on bigcatdetective blog which are descendants of feral cats and so genetically the same.As the Telscombe big cat is, i think,genetically one of the latter,i.e.domestic,i would of thought if this was so then the results from the fur sample will come back as Felix in origin.British big cats have separate home ranges to the Llc,s , look a lot different and the Telscombe big cat is not one of them.In the past couple of years i have grown to realise that Llc,s actually thicken out in the second year making them look less racy and so previously i was confusing the odd one here nad there for a British big cat like i did with the Midhurst big cat.It may be hard for some people to believe this but for the past decade or so this is what the evidence i have gathered has pointed too.It might not be as dramatic as having big cats genetically linked to leopards roaming Sussex, to me given the escapees that have been released in the past this is no news at all but realising back in 2000 that we have a type of large cat the size  of a medium dog that has evolved physically to adapt to the British countryside over a period of many years,increasing it,s size from a domestic cat into something quite bigger and different means  something far more interesting to me anyway which is what the evidence so far has indicated.Of course i believe that the leopard in origin big cats(bbc,s) we have also evolved physically.Hopefully the results from the Seaford sample will be made public so we will all know but i,m willing to bet that if the sample comes back like i think it will as genetically Felix then the sighting will be just put down to someones very scared pet.The "mystery " in the general publics perception will just go on like it has done with increasing non-acceptance of the available data........

UPDATE:fur was sent for microscopic analysis to a musuem and not ,unfortunately,DNA testing.The cat was in the house,as i understand it now for many hours and did not as described by the witnesses have an extra long tail which is the defining feature (apart from size)that separates British big cats from domestic cats....

Big black cat seen north of Lewes today

Posted on January 27, 2012 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

A big cat was seen today at around 2.30pm on farmland not too far to the north of Lewes.Around the size of a labrador,sleek,with a very long tail it was seen calmly walking along a track then stopped stretched then carried on it,s way.The 2 witnesses had watched it for a couple of minutes at a distance of about 300yards one of whom is a professional dog handler so the size estimation is good.There was a sighting nearly to the day last year just down the road of a similar sized and coloured big cat.Very often this is the case where sightings appear at the same time of year of similar type of big cat in roughly the same area,sometimes the same parish or even field.....

UPDATE:This sighting was investigated today by me,couldn,t find any more paw prints or fur but was told by  the farmer about a deer carcase found the week before last,impossible to say whether a big cat had killed it but worth knowing nonetheless.No further sightings in the area as of yet......

Lynx sighting in Sussex

Posted on January 5, 2012 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

A lynx was sighted near Ditchling Beacon on 20.12.11.The witness called the Argus newspaper to report a gun-metal,grey coloured cat a bit smaller than a labrador with pricked ,tufted ears slinking along a hedge,the lady looked up what she saw on the net and came to the conclusion she had seen a lynx.In a further statement to BBC radio Sussex she described the tail as being short and stubby,curving upwards in a crescent shape.Lynx are very rarely sighted in Sussex with hardly more than a handful of sightings reported a year,not like 2003 when they were being seen at least a couple of times a month.Incredibly,there was a sighting of a lynx in a nearby field to this Ditchling one 3 years ago but in the spring and Mid Sussex has thrown more than it,s fare share of lynx sightings.One glitch to the data though on the spread of these medium sized cats is that often people would describe seeing a lynx but then mention seeing a cat with a medium length tail not the stubby affairs that lynx have.In fact these days around a dozen or so reports a year do describe a medium tailed cat with large tufted ears.Not so in this case as the witness clearly describes the lynx-like tail,the grey colour could be explained by seeing it in the shade which would hide the natural lynx mottled coat.....