Saturday, 27 December 2014

On BBC Radio Suffolk talking about the county's Big Cats - New Year's Day

I'm on BBC Radio Suffolk talking about big cat sightings in the county briefly known as the Curious County on New Year's Day, in (pre-recorded) conversation with Jon Wright. We had a chat about big cats in Suffolk a couple of weeks ago as we wandered around Dunwich Heath (scene of several big cat sightings around 2008). It turned out to be a glorious sunny December day with no wind at all, so Jon had to improvise some "wind in the bracken" sound effects himself by rubbing his microphone up against a patch of the stuff.

You can find details of the broadcast here. It'll be linked from this blog once it's online. Basically, melanistic leopards in the East of the county and along the coast, and between Beccles and Bungay in particular, with a wave of sightings there in the 1990s and another peaking around 2008. More recent sightings have tended to be of sandy, "golden" "tawny", tan or grey coloured pumas in the West of the country, around Mildenhall, Barton Woods and Red Lodge in particular. Police FOIA data suggests a lot of reports of either melanistic leopards or pumas in South Suffolk (Babeargh, Clare area) and crossing a bridge in "Mid-Suffolk South".

Then there are the "lynx-like cats" spotted in the last six years, sometimes black, sometimes dark brown, and sometimes with a "short tail" or just "a tail." As lynxes and bobcats don't have tails beyond the tiniest of stubs, and lynxes don't as far as we know have a melanistic version, this could be a melanistic serval or melanistic caracal, both of which have melanistic versions, and both of which are know to breed with other big cat species. You'll have to wait until Mystery Animals of Suffolk is out in Spring 2015 for the full story.

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