Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fabulous animals

There might not be bears lying in wait in the darkness in this corner of Northumberland, but I do believe there are things here that logically ought not to be. It was about 7 o’clock on an ink black December morning when I saw the creature illuminated in the glare of the full-beamed headlights on the road in front of me. Initially, I thought: “That’s a bloody big fox,” but as the image imprinted itself on my brain, the thought was overridden by: “That’s not a fox.” The not-fox had leapt out of the hedge with feline grace, bounded across the road in the same curvy manner, and over the hedge on the other side. It had a head like a cat and a tail like a cat. It was a “can I stop the memory and rewind it?” moment.

I was put in mind of this sighting when I saw these parakeet pictures sent in to the BBC website by readers from around the UK. Apparently their natural habitat is the Himalayan foothills so Blighty’s no problem. We don’t have them here but last August we had a bright yellow budgie hanging out with the wagtails in the horses' field. He was as stark against the foliage as the speed cameras on the A1. You could get close … but just not close enough to catch him. I worried how he’d survive the winter, but he'd disappeared long before the weather turned.

It was around the same time that I spotted something else that wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Walking along the verge of a field bordered by a fence and few straggly bushes, I saw a rather large stoat dashing along the top of the fence. Then I saw the undulating tail and realised it was a red squirrel - where red squirrels haven’t been before. He sat on the fence post and regarded me for a moment before vanishing among the branches. I’ve looked, but I’ve never seen him again. Like the Loch Ness Monster, he’s gone to ground, but I know what I saw...

28 comments:

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Do you know what? I am sure I saw someone riding their scooter with a fox on their lap today. I'm not kidding, I mused about whether it was a fox-like dog or a fox that the scooter had hit and the scooter-rider was doing a mercy-dash...not sure where you would dash with a fox though. I should get more sleep.

Anonymous said...

My word !! How prescient you are !!

I have been reading 'Crap Towns 2' which I purchased at the knock down price of £4. Winchester Whisperer is probably sulking as we speak since I dared to mention that her home town is in the book at number twenty-one.

Before I start to sound like one of those hideous listings shows which one ends up watching after coming home half-cut from the pub late on a Friday night, I should point out:

Author of said book says following in the jacket - "Dan Kieran, 29, is Deputy Editor of idler.co.uk which he has lovingly nurtured since its launch in 1999. He spends his spare time searching the British countryside for PUMAS. To follow his progress visit www.fangalbion.com

I have not visited this site yet - so we can discover its delights / be disappointed that it has been cybersquatted together...

Dare I suggest that it was a cat you saw - things near the horizon often look bigger [hence why the moon looks bigger there] - or will I be put in the doghouse for daring to suggest such a thing ?

mutterings and meanderings said...

Anon, you would indeed be put in the doghouse because the creature was not on the horizon, it was about three foot in front of my car bumper on the road in front of me.

Anonymous said...

Oh, eminem, I'm sensing the tension in your voice across the airwaves so please accept my apologies - being a man means I'm contractually obliged to be insensitive at times.

If only you had been able to pass on this news to Mr Kieran, he might not have had to sell his site to a 'timeshare' company, thinking that his life's work was in vain.

I am sending further 'eating humble pie' vibes across the ether to you now, especially in view of the fact I live not a million miles away from the 'Beast of Bodmin' who is probably tracking me down as we speak...

Sarnia said...

I feel I'm missing out here in Guernsey. We don't have foxes, bears or squirrels.

Do have sparrows though!

mutterings and meanderings said...

You don't have foxes Sarnia? Or squirrels? That is bizarre!

You must have some exotic wildlife surely - isn't Gurnsey warmer than up north?

Pig, I've heard of people having pet foxes before ...

Gill said...

My friend says she saw a big black cat near Brigham and she meant BIG! Apparently other people have seen it too.

My neighbour saw a red squirrel in our hedge last winter but it hasn't been seen since.

Gill said...

There is a case for beleiving in what we see- A few years ago I was driving along the A66 with my friend and I was sure I saw a big bird of prey sitting on a fence post;a strange one that I had never seen before. I asked her if any exotic eagles had escaped from anywhere as it was so huge and strange. Everyone laughed at me until they saw telly next week and it said a pair of ospreys had made a nest near Bassenthwiate.

Arthur Clewley said...

I've heard about the Langstrothdale panther, gill, and before that the tadcaster tiger. not sure if these rank alongside the newly discovered 'Bownessie', the windemere monster for plausibilty.

not sure what bird you saw by the A66, you never know what you might see though. a pair of eagle owls bred on the MOD ranges behind catterick for several years untill someone shot the female.

seems like you never know what's going to run out in front of you when you're driving around nowadays M&M - shame Mulder and Scully have retired..

Anonymous said...

AC - the 'Tadcaster Tiger' ? Are you sure that didn't have two legs ?!

That wasn't your 'nom de plume' in your younger days was it ?

Brom said...

We get "Big Cat" sightings down South as well. No one has managed to capture one on camera though? You'd think with the proliferation of camera-phones these days someone would have. Makes you think.

Sarnia said...

We have cows; lots of them. That's as exotic as it gets.

I suppose there was no way for squirrels and foxes to get here although there are hedgehogs so how did they get here I wonder?

Hmm - got me thinking now.

Arthur Clewley said...

anonymous, I didn't make that up, honestly. There is a link to the story somewhere in the dusty bottom of the messy draw that I call a blog. If I had ever been called a tiger in the past, I'm sure it wouldn't have been in writing.

sarnia, we have some lovely jersey cows down the road at Jervleaux which produce the best ice cream ever. You can go and buy the ice cream then visit the cows in their shed opposite the shop.

hedgehogs can swim you know, by the way

Sarnia said...

There is great rivalry in all things between Jersey and Guernsey, Arthur.

Their (spit) cows are dark brown and Guernsey cows are brown and white.

Milk from both breeds though is superb.

Blimey! Hedgehogs can swim can they?

They must be French hedgehogs orignally as I doubt they could have swum the distance over from England.

Karen said...

There is a book called Black Cat by Martyn Bedford all about a guy who is looking for these 'mythical' beasts. I read it some time ago but I do remember thinking that it was OK but not brilliant. It is still in print I believe.

I saw a programme where a guy reckoned he had footage of a cat - this was pale not black. The footage was pretty convincing. I think he was a farmer and the cat was eating his animals. Can't remember where he lived though.

Arthur Clewley said...

forgive me sarnia for I have sinned - I checked and brymoor ice cream has Guernseys. They are beautiful animals and make the BEST ice cream - scuse shameless promotion of local produce M&M

http://www.brymordairy.co.uk/

not sure if your hedgehogs are english or french sarnia, on which side of the road are they usually run over?

Arthur Clewley said...

PS M&M, award for incongruous tag of the week goes to 'fabulous animals' tagged 'budgies'

mutterings and meanderings said...

Arthur - if you see a bright yellow budgie in a Northumbrian tree in August, it does look rather fabby, honest!

Sarnia, you need to smiggle some foxes and squirrels over. You must have rabbits though? (for the foxes to eat)

Boulmer Birder said...

Wow the cat has drawn some interest. You have seen how much time I spend in persuit of our wildlife, both near and far, and would give my right one to bump into one of these things. To be honest I am the most cynical person in the world and believe that if large cats were on the loose on our crowded little island, someone would have taken a photo by now.
I mean every creature no matter how rare has been filmed or photographed in accessible remote places like the amazon or the himalayas so why not the UK?
I once had a sighting shortly after dawn one spring morning when a large black beast sloped over the road near Rayburn Lake, Longframlington. I raced up for a close look and found a black labrador in the ditch having a good rummage!
Guess I'll keep looking...

Sarnia said...

I have to ask for forgiveness also for having sinned.

I was told tonight that there ARE squirrels in Guernsey (not that I've ever seen any).

We have rabbits, M&M - but I don't think there are any sheep.

I'll check the link out, Arthur.

The dairy here makes icecream with milk from the local herds. It's apparently wonderful (I'm not a big icecream fan so wouldn't know).

Boulmer Birder said...

Oh yes a conundrum. You know these large black cats. Why do they get called pumas when 99% of all pumas are tan coloured? The only black big cats are panthers ( melanistic leopards) and they are rarer than rocking horse sh** even where they are found naturally!

Boulmer Birder said...

My best 'escape' has to be the American Black Vulture I had soaring over Stobswood Opencast one day. It was tremendous and set my heart going I'll tell you.

mutterings and meanderings said...

BB, it was dark, it was caught in the headlights and it looked like a puma to me .. . I've no idea what colour it was, it was the shape and the movement, and the head and the tail that made me think it was a cat. And it was big.

Anonymous said...

Great Foxy Feature in today's Guardian..

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/conservation/story/0,,2045301,00.html

I love the 'catch line' in the paper which says..

"My friend came back from holiday to find a broken window pane and a fox curled up in his favourite chair.."

It isn't clear if it was the friend's favourite chair, or the fox's...

Anonymous said...

A funny Scotsman being cheeky about David Attenborough...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVxQtWuo6Jk

No idea who the Olsen twins are..

mutterings and meanderings said...

Anon, the Olsen twins are very very rich and very very thin American girls.

Anonymous said...

seeing a good quote on a book today about cats being there so that we could experience what it was like to stroke a tiger, I thought I would look it up on wikiquote..

and there are some really fab feline quotes to go with the above...

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Cats

Anonymous said...

I know i am a little late on the uptake being that you all last posted in 2007. Here i go, A couple of friends of ours cam over from newcastle to stay the week ( we are in Preston) when they were travelling home they saw a big black feline on the side of the A66 dead, they couldn't get the sigh out of there head so they asked me to google it and aha i found this page and told them all about the other sightings. there you go, a more reasent sighting but sadley it is dead!!!