European Wildcat (Felis silvestris)

I can't tell you how long I have waited for this encounter! We were on our morning walk with Zorro between a field and an irrigation ditch, not far from the forest. Laura saw a cat in the distance stalking in lucerne which was nothing unusual in itself as we see domestic cats in the fields regularly. However, there was something about this individuals behaviour that attracted my attention. Many domestic cats will freeze on approach but most often I can still see them. This cat went out of it's way to completely conceal itself, so much so that when I arrived on scene there was no trace of it. I shuffled around a little but saw nothing, so decided to return to Laura. But as I turned I suddenly noticed two eyes peering at me through the lucerne.

When I saw the markings on the cat's head I was pretty convinced it was a wildcat, but wanted to see it's tail to be certain. We both froze and stared at each other for a few seconds before I raised my camera and took the image above. I then backed off and crouched at a comfortable distance between the lucerne and ditch. After a few short minutes the cat popped it's head up to see where I was. I took these photos with a zoom lens and then cropped in, so I was not as close as this looks.

The wildcat eventually decided to move over to the irrigation ditch where I managed to take more photos of it's whole body including the very distinctive wildcat tail, before disappearing into long grass. 

So this was my first in person 'eyes on' encounter with a European wildcat although I have picked them up twice in the past on camera trap.