Posted by: Nick Redfern on May 9th, 2012
Jon Downes (pictured) – of the British-based Center for Fortean Zoology – wrote the following to us this morning:
“Bernard Heuvelmans, writing in an early edition Cryptozoology pointed out that cryptozoology is not the study of monsters, but the study of unexpected animals. We have taken this paradigm and working from it have evolved a portmanteau discipline within which the search for all new species, and indeed the search for all unexpected species, is equally important. Recently we have encountered a problem with which we would like your help.
“The other day, Richard Freeman and our friend Carl Marshall, were out in Huddisford Woods, an area of woodland just outside the village where the CFZ lives. They were scouting places where we could mount trail cameras. The area is owned by the British Forestry Commission who grow plantations of coniferous trees for the timber trade. One of these plantations was harvested a few years ago, and subsequently re-planted. The new trees are two or three feet high already.
“Richard, Carl, and Prudence the dog were exploring this Lilliputian forestry reserve because there had been sightings of a mysterious cat-like creature in the area, and they were determined to catch it on film.
“During their explorations they found what appeared to be an enormous owl pellet, consisting nearly entirely of compacted fur or hair. We believe that the only animal that could have produced a pellet like this would have been an eagle owl. The European eagle owl (Bubo bubo) is a very occasional visitor to Britain, and even more occasionally it breeds. However, its exact status is controversial because it has been quite widely kept as a pet, and like all captive raptors it is quite good at escaping. We believe that whereas there may be the occasional escapee, the existence of these huge Strigiforms in British woodlands is a perfectly natural thing. However, there have been no sightings of eagle owls in our part of North Devon, and as part as we know, our gigantic owl pellet is the only evidence there is.
“Some weeks ago we tried to dissolve the pellet in a strong solution of sodium bicarbonate. We have always succeeded with this before with owl pellets, but this time nothing happened. The same test on subsequent pellets found in the same area proved equally useless, although when we tried it on pellets from a captive barn owl kept by one of my young nephews, they dissolved almost instantaneously.
“Richard and I have got particularly interested in this, and would ask you to help us with our ongoing experiment. We would like Cryptomundo readers to contact us if they can help us on this project. We are becoming very interested in exactly how compact the pellets from different species can be. Thanks in advance for your help.”
And, if you can help, you can reach Jon at this link.