Something interesting caught on a trail cam in Rendlesham


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.

Yearling muntjac likely predated on by lynx, jungle cat or “wildcat-sized beast”

 Spine and pelvis of  young muntjac showing signs of predation, with an adult men’s boot for scale, found in Ditchingham, Norfolk. © Tommy McCarthy

I received these photos of the partial skeleton of  “yearling muntjac”, a young muntjac about a year old. They were found about a quarter of a mile from a road, on a river walk near a stream which is close to the All Hallows’ Convent, the old nunnery in Ditchingham, which is just over the Norfolk border, a short distance from Bungay. My thanks to Tommy McCarthy.

Dorset big cat expert Jonathan McGowan, who’s been studying British big cats and their kill signs for over 40 years, concluded that it was “likely” the result of a big cat kill by a “lynx, jungle cat or wildcat-sized beast.” (I have been following up on several reports in the Woodbridge area recently of exceptionally large feral cats caught on trail cams, there will be an update on this shortly.)  McGowan said it probably wasn’t a kill by a leopard or puma, as they could swallow or chomp up most of the spine without much difficulty, and wouldn’t bother to strip it down in this way.

McGowan said he couldn’t completely rule out a fox as the predator, because foxes would be able to bite off the ends of the ribs quite easily.

 

 

 

Rewinding – Beavers released in Suffolk

The Beaver Trust announced in its Twitter/X feed on 5 January 2024 that it had the previous week released a family of beavers onto “a site in Suffolk,” reintroducing wild beavers into the county for the first time in 400 years.

It is hoped that beavers would help alleviate flooding and boost biodiversity locally. The location of the beaver family’s site is being kept secret for now.

The Big Cats of Suffolk – Orford Museum talk, Butley Priory, Suffolk, 25 April 2024

I have a talk on The Big Cats of Suffolk for Orford Museum on Wednesday 24 April 2024, it’s at Butley Priory (nearest station Wickham Market), starting at 6.15pm, finishing at 7.15.

Book tickets in advance – £18 for non-members of Orford Museum via the Museum’s online booking system.

Signed copies of Mystery Animals of Suffolk will be on sale at a discount.

More details are here.

There have been reports of big cats seen in the wild in Suffolk since the 1970s. Witnesses describe seeing black leopards, pumas, lynxes and bobcats across the county. There were even a couple of big cat sightings around Orford in the early 2000s!

In this talk, freelance journalist and author Matt Salusbury will present the evidence – over 200 accounts (and counting) of encounters by people in Suffolk with mystery big cats, as well as “kill signs” – evidence that big cats have been feeding on the corpses of livestock and wildlife.

Matt is also an English language teacher and the author of Mystery Animals of Suffolk (Leiston Press 2023). He lived in Dunwich and Chediston throughout the 2010s and is still Chair of the Trustees of Dunwich Museum and well as BBC Radio Suffolk’s big cat expert. He is a regular contributor to Fortean Times, and has written for publications including the Guardian, The Independent and History Today.

 

Butley Priory. Photo: Eebahgum, Creative Commons Licence

 

 

 

Reportages en observations des felins dans la compe de Suffolk, 1974-2022

That’s “Reports and sightings of big cats in the county of Suffolk, 1974-2022” in English.French doesn’t really have a concept of “big cats” as they are understood in English, so it’s just felins (felines).

That’s the title of my talk at the Rencontres Europeennes de Cryptozooligie (European Meeting on Cryptozoology) in Dinant, Belgium on 5 November 2023. I had to send my PowerPoint slides to the organisers way back in September for the translation team to look at, as there will be simultaneous translation into French.

This year the talks are in a combination of French and English, at a previous meeting I went to it was nearly all in French. Back in 2017 I gave a talk at the event in French, on Les elephants nain (pygmy elephants) – I was pleased not to have to do it in French again!

Dinant is best known as the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone (there’s a statue of Sax sitting on a bench near where his house was). It’s also known by Belgians as the scene of a terrible massacre at the start of World War One.

My report on the conference is expected to appear in a future issue of Fortean Times.

Interview on Louise Hulland’s BBC Radio Suffolk/Norfolk/Cambs. show, 19/10/23

I appeared in an interview on Louise Hulland’s BBC Radio Suffolk/BBC Radio Norfolk/BBC Radio Cambridgeshire afternoon show on 19 October 2023. I come in around 18.22 on this audio clip.

You can hear it on BBC iPlayer until 19 November 2023 (UK only). I was speaking about my (then) forthcoming book launch on 22 October in Dunwich.

Louise described me as “a really interesting guy” and ended our conversation by offering to become my assistant on big cat investigations. (That last bit sadly didn’t make the radio edit.)

Dunwich author pens book, Mystery Animals of Suffolk… (Suffolk News 07 10 23)

“Dunwich author pens book, Mystery Animals of Suffolk, which features big cat sightings in Bury St Edmunds and Wortham, near Diss”, article by Tamika Green in Suffolk News 07 October 2023. Linked from the article title above. (Suffolk News is the newswire website of Iliffe Publishing’s Suffolk newspaper titles, which include Bury Free Press.)

It comes with a warning this “this article contains images that some readers may find upsetting”.

The photo of the author from the article is wrongly attributed to Matt Salusbury, it is in fact © Jane Inglesfield, I am on it.