Friday, June 26, 2009
My dear Mr Downes,
Thank you for posting my correspondence again, on your lovely website. I must confess that the video you put at the bottom of the page was not the one that I saw but I did find it very informative, so thank you for that also. One must assume that, since they are our closest living relatives, ape men, like human beings, can be either good or bad and one must deduce from each individual’s behaviour whether he/ she is to be trusted or not. I dare say to the devout Christians among the cryptozoological community, the gift of discernment of spirits might be useful; presumably it works just as well on cousins of our species but I am not an expert in religious activities, preferring, rather, to believe in the things that I can see.
Incidentally, my dear fellow, I wonder if you might be interested in receiving a plaster cast of an alleged Bigfoot footprint, taken by a friend of mine on an expedition in New Mexico about three years ago. I know as a fact that he still has it. It’s on his mantelpiece but I dare say he could be persuaded to give it up in the name of science.
It was part of a group of specimens given to us as a gift by Lionel Beer, from the collection of his late father, who was born in 1879 and died at the venerable age of 107. He spent time in southern Africa, which supports the identification well.
But I am not going to take the credit. It is all down to Scottie aka Retrieverman who did a pretty neat piece of detective work. Check out the link below....
There is a family connection for me with the Baring-Goulds, albeit a tenuous one. When I was a boy my father had a friend - Crd. Roger Rowe - who was considerably older than him. However, they were beer buddies and until I became old enough to call him by his Christian name he was 'Uncle Roger'. He, apparently, was Baring-Gould's godson, and it was interesting to note the number of people called Rowe who inhabited the churchyard.
However, I digress (like I so often do on Fridays).
Lewtrenchard Manor is heavily haunted by a number of ghosts, and - of course - there are stories of ghostly black dogs in these lanes as well. However, I have not yet been able to uncover any stories about ghosts in the church or churchyard. But after we had paid our respects at Baring-Gould's grave, Corinna (as she so often does) was fossicking around the churchyard when she found something uncanny.
She found a small tomb that had been built on pillars above the ground. This often implies that the person inside had committed suicide, or died in such a manner that he or she could not be buried in consecrated ground. If they had been a person of no importance they would be buried at a crossroads like poor Kitty Jay, but if they were the scion of a noble family they would be interred within the churchyard, but above ground, neatly circumventing Ecclesiastical law and preserving social niceties (the most famous example of this being that of Richard Capell in Buckfastleigh Churchyard).
On top of this stone tomb was the decomposed corpse of a black bird (probably a jackdaw), and a piece of smooth bone several inches long. They looked as if they had been 'arranged' there, rather than dropped by a predator, and the whole tableaux was rather unsettling.
I don't know what this means, or even if it means anything. But it is yet another unsettling tale from the winding Devon lanes, which though picturesque and beautiful, are nowhere near as civilised and sedate as they may at first seem....
The news report, which can be read in its original glory HERE reads:
A couple from Cornwall have photographed a prairie dog while they were on a moor in Cornwall.
Linda and Godfrey Stevens were on the Goss Moor trail when they spotted a small furry creature that they could not recognise.
Godfrey Stevens said: "We didn't expect to see anything like that." Newquay Zoo confirmed the picture was that of a prairie dog. They are mammals from the squirrel family and are from the grasslands of North America. Mr Stevens said: "We expected to see wild flowers. It was a real surprise for us." John Meeks from Newquay Zoo said it was a black-tailed prairie dog "without a doubt".
Well, yes. It is indeed a black tailed prairie dog without a doubt. Unlike previous incumbents, the current management of Newquay Zoo are not inclined to making idiotic quasi-cryptozoological statements in the press. But the important thing is how did it get there? Prairie dogs are North American ground squirrels that live in large social groups on the grasslands of North America. And it is the 'large social groups' that is the important feature here.
Black tailed prairie dogs are highly inappropriate pets for this reason, but also for a logistical one; they are great burrowers and will dig long tunnels. Therefore, unless one is very careful, the chances of escapes are very high indeed. There is also a third reason why they are not widely kept as pets. Look at this pricelist, pinched today, from the website of a highly regarded specialist animal dealer:
Arabian Spiny Mouse Acomys cahirinus dimidiatus £ 10.00
Egyptian Spiny Mouse Acomys cahirinus cahirinus £ 10.00
Harvest Mouse Micromys minutus £ 25.00
Striped Grass Mouse Lemniscomys barbarus £ 10.00
Multimammate Mouse Mastomys natalensis £ 5.00
African Pygmy Mouse Mus minutoides £ 15.00
African Dwarf Dormouse Graphiurus murinus £ 25.00
Duprasi (fat tailed gerbil) Pachyuromys duprasi £ 15.00
Pallid Gerbil Gerbillus perpallidus £ 10.00
Shaws Jird Meriones shawi £ 15.00
Bushy Tailed Jird Sekeetamys £ 25.00
Acacia Rats Thallomys paedulucus £ 10.00
Nile Rats Arvicanthis niloticus £ 10.00
Hand Reared Gambian Pouched Rats Cricetomys gambianus - Males £ 250.00
Cricetomys gambianus - Females £ 300.00
Richardson Ground Squirrel Spermophilus richardsonii £ 100.00
13 Lined Ground Squirrel Spermophilus tridecemlineatus £ 100.00
Black Tailed Prarie Dog Cynomys ludovicianus £ 100.00
African Pygmy Hedgehogs Atelerix albiventris £ 150.00 from
Long Eared Hedgehogs Hemiechinus auritus auritus £ 150.00 from
Sugar Gliders Petaurus breviceps £ 150.00
Steppe Lemmings Lagurus largurus £ 20.00
Mediterranean Lemmings Microtus guentheri £ 15.00
Lesser Jerboa Jaculus jaculus £ 75.00
Greater Jerboa Jaculus orientalis £ 100.00
All the ground squirrels, including prairie dogs, are expensive at a hundred quid a pop, and the fact we have now received three reports from the same geographical area between Feb 2008 and this morning, would suggest that either there is someone in the area with more money than sense who keeps on buying these charming little rodents only to let them escape, or there is a well-established colony of these rather charming little fellows in captivity somewhere in mid-Cornwall, and that the escape record of this afore-mentioned colony is somewhat akin to Hogan's Heroes.
I think that an intensive search of the area with small mammal traps is probably in order, and that that those in charge of the British list should really come to terms with the fact that we have a new invasive species on our hands.
The Sheerness Times Guardian of Thursday 25th June 2009:
From Our Files
50 years ago...A Sheerness man attacked by a bear as he slept was refusing to talk to reporters. He was humiliated by the deep scratches to his head, hands and face, which were caused by a honey bear, the same size as a child's teddy bear....
Friday can only mean it’s time for Fact Friday. Well, the dictionaries might have other ideas but what do they know? I picked up a dictionary once when I was visiting America and it was full of misspelled words, which is proof you can’t trust dictionaries. Anyway, before the fact there’s the small matter of the answer to yesterday’s trivia question. The answer was Scrooge McDuck, he of Ducktails (woo-woo) fame, along with several other Disney cartoons and comics. If you remember the series ‘Darkwing Duck’ Launchpad McQuack is no longer working for Scrooge and later in the series Gizmoduck turns up too, also sans Scrooge. The reason for this is that Darkwing Duck is set after Scrooge’s death, in 1967. For futher confirmation here’s a picture of Scrooge’s grave: http://duckman.pettho.com/history/hd1991_a.gif
Anyway, you’ll be wanting a fact now:
Contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats do see in colour, not black and white.
And now, after all that, the reason you’re reading this bloglett in the first place, the Cryptozoology news links (and bad pun, but we don’t talk about that):
Crop circles blamed on stoned wallabies
Survey shows boost to newt population
Peregrine Falcon shot in the Forest of Dean
Falcons poisoned in nesting site
Conservationists are 'choughed' as Cornish birds raise eight youngsters
Oystercatchers in Herefordshire
Peregrines at the Tate Modern
Saturn's Moon May Hide Watery Caverns - And Life?
Swifts are missing – Have you got any near you?
That is a worryingly ‘swift’ decline.