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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

FLYING BEASTS

Mawnan Old Church
ARE THERE UNIDENTIFIED FLYING CRYPTIDS IN THE BRITISH ISLES?

Could there be UFC'S (Unidentified Flying Cryptids) in the British Isles?
There certainly seem to be some reports throughout the country of what in some cases appear to be pterosaur-like creatures, very large predatory birds, giant headless bats and also a bipedal man - like owl.

Surely a country so thoroughly explored and inhabited like Britain could not be hiding a population, however small, of prehistoric pterosaurs, a giant species of raptor or even a giant bipedal man-like owl, could it? Well, the witnesses of these extraordinary creatures would certainly say so. Some of whom have been so affected by their experiences that they can still remember every detail of their sightings many years later.

Are we talking about a resident breeding population of these animals?  I would say no! Overall, it would seem that these sightings are rare and relatively few in number and more would be expected if such outlandish creatures regularly frequented the countryside. The reasons for the sightings can only be speculated upon, but I suspect that like many known avian species in our tiny island, that the occasional sightings we have recorded might possibly be due to Britain being part of a migratory journey these creatures make.  A jumping off point or a rest stop if you will, on a long transatlantic journey or a superhighway to the uttermost parts of the North.

In examining these creatures, it is important to paint an accurate portrait of what the witnesses have seen, remembering that; when unrelated witnesses describe the same experiences and give corroborative statements under traumatic circumstances, that it can be accepted as valid testimony and immovable fact (a fact that is, in the sense of the perceived similarity and continuity of what they believe they saw!)

So, I suppose the question is what are they and where are they? The first two of these mysterious reports come from the very 'cryptozoologically' productive areas of Kent on the south east coast of England and the very mysterious Celtic annex of Cornwall on the far south west coast of the country.   


The Owlman of Mawnan
THE OWLMAN OF MAWNAN: 

Starting with the most well known of these creatures, 'The Owlman of Mawnan' or 'The Death Raptor', what is it we find described by these witnesses? Well, we hear the first witnesses who were in fact children, ages 9  & 12 claim they saw a Birdman hovering above the tower of Mawnan Old Church. The young girls are said to have run away and directly reported the incident to the police. they were taken to separate rooms to give their statements and allegedly sketched exactly the same creature.
The effect of the fear of this sighting upon the girls and the impression it made upon their families seems apparent, in that their holiday was cut short and they immediately left the area. 
Another sighting occurred when several witnesses saw a large Man like Owl sitting on a large branch in a pine tree. The witnesses were initially convinced that someone was playing a prank on them until the creature took off and flew away.  Curiously, they claimed to hear a crackling sound like static  electricity after the creature left.  There have been other sightings over the years around the churchyard of people seeing red lights floating over the Church roof.                          
The Owlman is described as being 5-6ft tall, grey/brown and feathered with a wingspan 10ft across. It is bipedal in appearance, with red glowing eyes and is said to emit a screeching or hissing noise.


THE BAT BEAST OF KENT:
One evening in November 1963, 4 teenage friends were walking home from a party in the county of Kent when they saw a mysterious flickering light descend in to a nearby field in Sandling Park and make its way in to some trees at the edge of the park. The 4 teens noticed a rustling in the brush and were shocked when a figure emerged and waddled towards them. The creature was described by the witnesses as looking like a bipedal, headless bat, it was completely black and around 5-feet tall, with big webbed feet and wings on its back.  One of the witnesses was convinced that it did not have a head!
The Bat Beast of Kent


Another story of  an Unidentified Flying Cryptid in the British isles, comes from Glamorgan, Wales.


THE PENLLYN PARROT:

The woods around Penllyn Castle, Glamorgan, were said to be the home of winged
serpents that terrified the local population as late as the early 1900s. An old man, who had been a  lifelong inhabitant of the area claimed that they still existed when he was a child and said that his father and uncle had killed some of them. The winged serpents were described as being very beautiful with eyes like the feathers in a peacock's tail, head crests sparkling with all the colours of the rainbow and appeared as if they were covered with jewels. They were coiled when resting and would glide swiftly to their hiding places if disturbed or swoop over people's heads if annoyed. The old man attributed the extinction of the winged serpents to their preying on poultry and being terrors in the farmyards.      
This matter of fact rural description of their appearance and explanation for their extinction, delivered in the plain Welsh style, would seem to add a lot of credibility to this story.                                                                          


FIERY DRAGONS OR BIO-LUMINESCENCE:

I am not really in favour of a supernatural explanation for these sightings. 

The creatures, although unknown to science, still match the description of animals in both behaviour and appearance. The glowing red eyes of the Owlman could simply be a form of bioluminescence, a trait that was recently ascribed to owls, although still not scientifically accepted.  We also have other flying Cryptids, like the Mothman of Point Pleasant, described as having glowing red eyes, and the Ropen of Papua New Guinea whose abdomen is purported to produce bioluminescence, to support this theory. (Witnesses of the Ropen have often described seeing an orb like light that flickered in a very similar way to the Bat Beast of Kent.)
Tales of Fiery Flying Dragons can be found in many cultures and ancient manuscripts, like 
The Bible, and are still reported in recent times.
I often wonder if what these ancients saw as fiery  dragons, were actually in many cases just their misconception of the animals bio-luminescence as being some type of supernatural fire.

A SHOT IN THE DARK:

There are of course many sightings of large birdlike creatures in the UK that could easily be mistaken (especially in the dark) for some mysterious cryptid. This year alone there have been several very large birds spotted visiting our shores, one of which,  a Giant Romanian Pelican, was photographed in Plymouth. This bird can stand 6 feet high and has a wingspan of 11 feet.  There was also a recorded sighting of the Lammergeier buzzard in Monmouth, as well as an escaped Giant Rhea Bird in Nottinghamshire, an aggressive Ostrich like bird that grows to six feet in height.  One might feel that they had seen something truly strange if they were to encounter one of these birds at night in some lonely place. However, mistaken identity, even with birds as impressive in stature and out of place as these cannot quite explain away sightings like The Owlman or Bat Beast or even The Penllyn Parrots. It would seem certain that Britain is on occasion a host for many rare avian species and very possibly some we have yet to discover!


Other  less detailed sightings of UFC's (Unidentified Flying Cryptids) are listed below: 

(Sourced from the Paranormal Database)


Cumbria Pterosaur: 
Location: Beckermet (Cumbria) - Nursery Woods
Date / Time: January 2006
Further Comments: A witness reported a large pterosaur-like creature flying above Nursery woods.

Eagle/Pterosaur
Location: Bradford (Yorkshire) - Skies above the town
Date / Time: 1982 / 83
Further Comments: A large bird seen in the skies above the town was originally identified as an eagle or an escaped condor by its witnesses; twenty years later a few of them now claim it to have been a pterodactyl.

Large Bird
Location: Chard (Somerset) - High Street
Date / Time: February 1975
Further Comments: A witness watched a huge bird, with a fourteen foot wingspan, pass overhead. Moving with great haste, it quickly disappeared over nearby shops.

Dark Blue Bird
http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/thumbs/na.gif
Location: Chapel le Dale (Yorkshire) - Cave system in the village
Date / Time: Twentieth century
Further Comments: Three people reported seeing a large flying creature, 'much larger than a bat', slowly glide past them as they explored the first cavern of these caves.
 Giant Bat 
http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/thumbs/na.gif
Location: Exeter (Devon) - Magdalen Road
Date / Time: 25 May 2000
Further Comments: A witness walking down the road late at night stated he watched a giant bat, with a wingspan of 1.2 metres, swoop around the churchyard along this road.





Saturday, 10 December 2016

HOAXED BY SEALS

A Genuine Case of Mistaken Identity


It has been a bumper year for Nessie sightings, with 7 genuine recorded sightings, most of which have been photographed or filmed.

After keeping a low profile for a couple of years, it seems that the Loch Ness Monsters are back on form and popping up all over the Loch to the delight of tourists and lake monster enthusiasts alike.

There have not only been a lot of recorded Nessie sightings in 2016, but also a record number of sightings of other 'Nessie like' creatures all around the British Isles!

So, when I read in the metro on my commute to work one morning that an amateur photographer (Ian Bremner) had finally captured indisputable proof of Nessie, I was as you would expect, quite EXCITED!


Photographic proof of Nessie or 3 seals swimming in a line?
Photo by Ian Bremner

However, what I saw in the photograph was 3 seals swimming in formation. 
For a moment my disappointment was palpable, but the more I examined the picture, the less sure of my 'Diagnosis' I became.

I looked and looked, then looked again!
The front of the 'formation'  definitely looked like the torso and head of a seal, but the middle and back 'Humps' seemed so serpentine, causing me to doubt my convictions, like a loud chorus of singing sirenians, somehow posing in mockery of 'Nessie's' purported undulations.

Furthermore, there also appeared to be water displacement at the front of the middle and back 'Hump' as well as partially visible, seal-like flippers on the final 'Hump'. 

 I suddenly heard myself say out loud, "This photo is quite obviously 3 seals swimming in formation!"

I admit to feeling slightly shaken by how long it had taken me to come to this conclusion and freely admit, that were it not for the location of the sighting and the 'Serpentine' pose that these seals were photographed in, I would never have considered the photo to show anything other than what it clearly shows, which is, 3 seals!

I think the inherent danger of blind belief and acceptance of what we desire to be true is extant in this case. However, it also proves something very encouraging about cryptozoology and that is that the majority of its adherents are more than willing to critique and discard desirable, yet flawed theories and evidence to pursue the search for real truth and hopefully one day, a final scientific acceptance of the mysterious animals they so earnestly believe to exist.



Saturday, 3 December 2016

THE JELLY SQUID OF LONDON BRIDGE

A Mysterious Medusa or Ancient Cephalopod?

As recently as April 2014, 2 brothers witnessed a strange creature in the River Thames whilst walking across London bridge. 
The brothers described the creature as having a greyish featureless and slightly elongated square head, with what looked like lots of green tentacles or tassels at the bottom, around 5ft long and as thick as a man's body. The creature was sighted to the left of the bridge on the surface of the water and swimming against the current. After about 1 minute of submerging and surfacing, they finally lost sight of it.
1 of the brothers said the creature had a metallic/mechanical feel to it, but that it was also definitely a biological creature. 


Witness sketch of 
the Jellysquid by Loz Price
The brothers tried to take photographs of the creature with their camera phones, but the quality and distance proved too poor. Both maintain that quite a few persons were present at the time and that they called their attention to the object and that some discussion took place amongst the crowd as to what it might be. 
Loz maintains that it was neither a squid nor a jellyfish, although his sighting seems to have some features of both.


The story continued a year later when 1 of the brothers took his son out mudlarking underneath London bridge when the river was at low tide.  His son, ordinarily a very calm and confident boy, suddenly became hysterical and demanded to leave the area, claiming that he could feel something in the water watching them. Significantly, his son was not aware of the sighting his father and uncle had experienced at that very spot 1 year before. 


This sighting is very unusual and somewhat unique, something like a creature resembling both a squid and a jellyfish. It certainly does not match any currently known Medusozoan or Cephalopod species known to science. 


After some research, I found out that in May of 2014 a giant Bell Jellyfish, 4ft across was photographed in a Cornish river and that many of these types of jellyfish, although not typically sighted in rivers, are frequently sighted along the coasts of Britain.  But the Bell Jellyfish is an orange-pink hue and does not match the description of the London Bridge creature at all. 
Giant Bell Jellyfish in The Helford River Estuary,
May 2014.


Perhaps a large squid could be responsible for the sighting, after all in 1925, a giant squid washed up on the banks of the Humber in Withernsea Beach. But, again I could find no species of squid either small or large that matched the description of the London Bridge creature. 


I did find one intriguing story however of a squid-like creature in Bristol Harbour. The film footage of this creature shows it exhibiting a type of bioluminescence (a very squid-like trait). The creature can be seen flashing several times and the outline of a large cephalopod is clearly perceptible. Although these sightings do not exactly match the London Bridge sighting, it would have seemed to be proof at least that similar ocean-going creatures do occasionally frequent our rivers and inshore waters, but in this instance, this story was revealed to be a clever fake.

So what was this extraordinary and unnervingly unique creature?  An Unknown Squid, a rare species of Giant Jellyfish? The Watcher in the Water? We may never know. To date, I know of only this one sighting and could not find a single corroborative report anywhere online. That, of course, does not have any bearing on the validity of this sighting or affect the possibility of its being a living animal. A one-off sighting viewed by multiple witnesses still carries a lot of weight and credibility.

So in future, whether you are crossing London bridge on your way to work or searching for Saxon treasures in the mud (mudlarking!) keep your eyes on the water, for something weird and wonderful just might be waiting there, for you!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

TAMSIN, THE RIVER THAMES MONSTER

 Tamsin, the River Thames Monster
Photo still from Youtube clip taken by Penn Plate 2016
1st Sighting

An Urban Plesiosaur in Old London Town

In the spring of 2016, London was abuzz with news that an eyewitness had filmed a monster in the River Thames. The witness, YouTube user 'Penn Plate' who was travelling on the Emirates cable car heading in the direction of the 02 centre filmed the creature briefly on the surface of the water, as it was submerging in the centre of the river. The clip he posted to YouTube, left Londoners and the rest of the world wondering what he had accidentally captured on film that day.

The clip itself is very brief and shows what appears to be 3 humps moving in the water with a dark mass beneath. The humps which vary in size from large (end) medium (middle) and small (front) are seen moving forwards then quickly submerging, after which, the water is clearly disturbed and a dark shape can be seen moving beneath the waves.

What this object of clearly very large dimensions could have been, was hotly debated, but realistically in the short time it was in view and the distance at which the footage was filmed, what the 'Creature' was, is anybody's guess.  Hardline Lake Monster enthusiasts like myself, found the footage with its 3 humps all too familiar, but as would be expected, scientifically speaking, familiarity is not proof and a closer examination of the 'Creature' or at least a closer sighting was needed.

The footage made it into some of the national newspapers and also had some TV coverage, with the usual 'Nessie on holiday' or 'Nessie got lost'  headlines, but, they were short-lived as a week (or so) later, the 'Creature' was filmed again near (Docklands) by youtube user 'Lea K' whilst on a boat trip with her friends. 


Tamsin', the River Thames Monster
Photo still from Youtube clip taken by Lea K 2016
2nd Sighting
This time the footage of the 'Creature' is much closer to water level. In this clip it appears that the witness seems to have noticed something unusual in the water and started filming, meanwhile, her friends are blissfully unaware of what she has captured and can be heard throughout the clip (quite sweetly) talking about a rainbow somewhere off camera. This clip to me has a lot of credibility. The background conversation is very natural and shows no signs of being staged, but more importantly, the film footage clearly shows something animate and I would imagine very difficult to fake.  The footage in 'Lea K's' clip shows something that looks black and very serpentine, it seems to curve into an S shape and turn to the right of the camera almost curling back on itself at one point;  a large rounded bump can also be seen at the front of the 'Creature'.  Whatever this creature is, its similarity in appearance to the 1st sighting and the proximity of the area it was spotted in lend a lot of support to it being the same 'Creature' as that filmed from the cable car 1 week earlier. This might be considered a coincidence, just 2 mistaken identity cases of animate looking flotsam perhaps, if not for the fact that there was a 3rd independent sighting only a few days later.

The 'Creature' was filmed again by a tourist whilst on a speedboat tour of London. This time the animal can be seen breaking the surface of the water to the left of the boat, it's black hump is briefly seen as it rises and falls beneath the waves as if swimming in an undulating motion.  Unsurprisingly, in a television interview, the speedboat tour guide confessed to feeling shocked and a little anxious that a creature of this size could be frequenting the Thames and who could blame him for being afraid of meeting this giant animal whilst in a tiny speedboat. I'm sure that the wake this beast would make, would certainly cause a small vessel to run into trouble. 3rd Sighting

So, what is it that these witnesses are seeing and in some cases capturing on camera. Is it some errant whale or porpoise? Not likely, the creature was not witnessed blowing at any time, a classic feature of cetaceans and one that is likely to have been witnessed many more times over the 2 week period in which the 'Creature' was sighted if a cetacean had been the culprit.  Also, cetaceans do not fit the descriptions of the pointed humps, or serpentine movements shown in the various film footage and no other known sea creature attains to the size or proportions that this creature seems to have.


As a London resident I personally went out on the water between the first and second sighting and travelled between Embankment and Greenwich in the hopeful expectation of encountering the creature myself, but perhaps, not so unexpectedly, I found nothing. I spent no little time trawling the Internet for information on migratory fish patterns, to try to justify this strange animal visit to an otherwise small and judging by the creature's proportions, tight space, in what is otherwise a very busy waterway. What I found out is that Sea Trout and more rarely Salmon migrate up the River Thames, but more significantly, Eels are known to migrate up the river between April and October, They are usually found close to the Thames Estuary, travelling as far as Greenwich. (There have been a few historical witness reports of Nessie and Morgawr  preying on eels, and with this, in mind, the sightings seem to suddenly have a biological reason...the search for food!)


It is quite unknown to most Londoners that their sleepy river actually has a history of serpentine creature reports. Earlier in 1999  London police allegedly received 36 reports from witnesses who saw a long serpentine creature travelling through the Thames, the animal was purported to be 200ft long and 5ft wide. The earliest established sighting of this creature was in 1923 by the famous captain Haselfoot and crew whilst aboard HMS Kellet, in a part of the Thames Estuary called Black Deep. The creature they saw was said to have a long neck.


Sighting of  Tamsin in The Solent between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth
A photo by Jo Wilde 2016
4th Sighting
Shortly after the sightings stopped, a ferry passenger crossing from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight photographed a picture of a 3 humped creature in the Solent (the stretch of water between Portsmouth and the Isle Of Wight) perhaps this was the same creature that had visited us only weeks earlier, making its way back out to open water or another creature of the same type? Who knows? One thing is for certain, 2016 has been a busy year for British Water Beasties, with photographic and film evidence recording mysterious animals in Plymouth (The Plymouth Crocodile), Aber Afon (Barmouth Estuary Monster) the River Thames ('Tamsin') The Solent ('Tamsin?') and of course Loch Ness (Nessie). 

With the immediate availability of recording devices like mobile phones and the public availability of drones (aerial and submersible) coupled with the introduction of readily available advanced camera surveillance technology, we are likely to regularly film and photograph these elusive creatures more than ever before.  

Its only a matter of time until we capture one again! 



Written by Andrew McGrath




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