An animal caught on a trail cam in Rendlesham. See below for the mundane explanation. Still images: copyright © Mark Veitch
A witness contacted me in February 2023 wanting to show me some images from a night vision trail cam they’d deployed in woodland on the edge of Rendlesham Forest, just outside the Forestry Commission estate and nearer the village and industrial estate.
They’d had the camera up for just over two weeks when they saw an interesting animal they thought might be a “large cat.” Many people do everything on their phones now and don’t have laptops, so the witness had only been able to see the video on a tiny screen without being able to zoom in on images. We agreed to meet so I could plug their trail cam’s SD card into an iPad Pro with its bigger screen so we could take a look.
By the time Mike (the witness) met with me, he said he was less certain what he’d seen was a big cat. His trail cam had videoed dozen of deer (mostly muntjacs), a couple of dogs with dog walkers and a fox for comparison.
Within a very short time of being able to plug the SD card into a bigger screen and zoom in on it, we’d both concluded what he’d caught on camera was in fact a fox. It was an odd-looking fox – it had a shorter than usual snout and a threadbare tail, making it look less fox-like and more cat-like. In one still image you can see just the still identifiable thick brush tail of a fox after the rest of the animal has disappeared into the undergrowth.
This shows how easy it is to misidentify animals, particularly with all the on-screen artefacts that low resolution video shot at night generates.
Mark is continuing to operate his trail cam. There have been a lot of big cats (black leopards, lynxes or bobcats, pumas) seen in the immediate vicinity over the years. There also seem to be a lot of deer passing through. Big cats follow the deer.
For more misidentifications that turned out not to be big cats after all, see here.