Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

MIKE HALLOWELL: A nocturnal encounter

Sometimes, when mystical moments overwhelm me and I get that Woodstock-like urge to don a bandana, play Simon & Garfunkel records (which I hate) and stick a rose in the end of a policeman’s weapon, I’ll go to the back door instead and take in the night air. Alas, our air is not what it used to be; it is now devoid of the nutritious and health-giving substances which make Geordies big and strong, such as coal dust and the odour of fish. Scientists say it is purer. I say it is poorer.

Anyway, I digress. The other night, sensing the onset of a Simon & Garfunkel attack, I made my way to the back door and, unlike Bill Clinton – or maybe it was John Major - I inhaled. And then I saw it.

Oh, I’ve seen it before. Many times, in fact. A dark, swift-moving shadow which constantly changes shape it wings its way through the ether. The appearance, bizarrely, looks like the silhouette of a carrier bag being carried on the wind. Except there is no rustling noise. And then, within a fleeting moment, it just disappears.

Sometimes I’ve been indoors when I’ve glanced out of the window and just caught it; that dancing, pirouetting, barely-visible tumble of blackness. And then, just like the thylacine, Kleenbrite soap, Black Cat ciggies, Les Dawson and Spangles, it is gone. I have long puzzled over its nature, and, due to its silence and ever-morphing shape, had virtually satisfied myself that “it” – whatever it was – was of paranormal origin.

But then it came again the other evening, and granted me an epiphany. I happened to glance up into the night sky and was astonished to see it was approximately twelve feet from the ground and about ten feet in front of where I was standing. Had I not looked up at that very second I would not have seen it approach as its speed was absolutely stunning. It had fallen, meteorite-like, from the heavens and I’d just had the good fortune to look up when it was only feet away from the ground. Actually, it seemed to be heading right for me.

But then something odd happened. At the last moment the night ghost which had entertained me for so long changed course. It banked off to my right and embarked upon a horizontal trajectory which led it directly over my neighbour’s back garden. I was even more surprised to see a smaller smudge of darkness – or perhaps I should say darkerness – soaring through the night air in a northerly direction. The direction of the larger anomaly took it directly to the smaller one, where a brief scuffle then took place. I heard the flapping of wings, scuffling sounds and a faint, momentary shriek - or that’s what it sounded like – and then “it” soared upwards and was soon as small as one of the surrounding stars.

So that was it, then. Now I knew. My amorphous, shadow-like friend was a bird of prey. I do not know what kind. A sparrowhawk, perhaps? Maybe. I’m not an ornithologist. And its victim that night? There were no feathers lying around the next day, so I wonder if it was a bat. Do sparrowhawks kill bats? Again, I do not know. But it had caught something and hastily made off with it.

In a way, I was disappointed. I’d come to love my shadow-like visitor for what I’d thought it was; an amorphous smudge of blackness which liked flying into or over my garden at night. I wasn’t sorry the bird was real; just sad that my shadow friend wasn’t.


Anonymous said...

Oh Mike, shame be upon you. How can anyone even if they have no hear or soul, hate or even vaguely dislike Simon & Garfunkel records.

Geordie Paranormalizer said...

I'm sorry, Syd, but my tastes are more sophisticated - the Rubettes, Brotherhood of Man...you know,that which is appreciated by mature music fans. Ooh, and the Bay City rollers. They ere fabadabadoozy...

Geordie Paranormalizer said...

Its called taste, Syd; that which gives the sophisticated, mature ear an appreciation for the Bay City Rollers and the Rubettes. Sadly, you seem to be stuck on a cruder cacophony which passes as music. When did this "Simon and Garfunkel" ever write anything as inspiring as the songs of Sweet, Mud, the Brotherhood of Man or Showaddywaddy? No, I thought not.