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Owlman of Mawnan

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PostPosted: 18-05-2004 15:59    Post subject: Owlman of Mawnan Reply with quote

This was posted in a thread in "It Happened To Me", but i thought it might be better to split it off into Cryptozoology so as not to distract from the original poster's sighting report...

The "Owlman" seems to have some similarities with the Mothman (and also maybe Jersey Devil?), but seems a bit more of a flesh and blood creature, especially in the one sighting that was not linked to the apparently somewhat dodgy character of Doc Shiels (I don't know much info on Doc, but the name rings a bell - wasn't he involved in a sea/lake monster hunting expedition which used some sort of mystical/demonological stuff to try and find the monster? I vaguely remember it being linked to Aleister Crowley...)
Although not widely read outside Cornwall, this booklet was available extensively throughout the county and was read by many people including two young girls of fourteen, Sally Chapman and Barbara Perry, who in early July 1976 were camping in the woods by Mawnan Old Church when they, too, saw the Owlman.

They met Tony on Grebe Beach, below Mawnan Old Church the day after their sighting. Sally, who was from Plymouth, had been staying with her friend Barbara, (who would only admit that she lived 'quite near the river'). Sally approached Tony and said: "Are you Doc Shiels? We've seen the bird monster."

Sally described what they had seen: "It was like a big owl with pointed ears, as big as a man. The eyes were red and glowing. At first, I thought that it was someone dressed up, playing a joke, trying to scare us. I laughed at it, we both did, then it went up in the air and we both screamed. When it went up you could see its feet were like pincers"

Her friend added some details of her own: "It's true. It was horrible, a nasty owl-face with big ears and big red eyes. It was covered in grey feathers. The claws on its feet were black. It just flew up and disappeared in the trees".

Although as Tony admitted at the time, it is possible that the two young ladies were trying to hoax him, he is convinced that they were genuine.

He separated the two girls and had each of them draw a picture of what she had seen. The two pictures are dissimilar enough to rebuff suggestions of collusion but have enough points in common, both with each other, and with the other accounts of the 'creature' to be considered as a significant piece of evidence.

Both girls made brief additional notes underneath their pictures. Sally's read: "I saw this monster bird last night. It stood like a man and then it flew up through the trees. It is as big as a man. Its eyes are red and shine brightly".

And Barbara wrote: "Birdman monster. seen on third of July, quite late at night but not quite dark. Red Eyes. Black Mouth. It was very big with great big wings and black claws. Feathers grey."

The two girls agreed on most points with their pictures although Sally thought Barbara had 'done the wings wrong'.
Does anyone know if the pictures the girls drew are online anywhere? Would be interesting to actually see them...

The 1989 sighting by "Gavin" (notably the only one not linked to Doc Shiels) sounds rather more like a sighting of a real bird/animal, although the description is consistent with the other sightings. Is it possible that an out of place real owl or other large bird of prey could have been responsible (are there any owls big enough? the biggest i have seen is an Eagle Owl which could have been 3ft tall, but certainly not 5), or do people think this was more likely to be a hoax or some sort of paranormal phenomenon?
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PostPosted: 17-04-2005 14:58    Post subject: Re: Owlman of Mawnan Reply with quote

Goldstein wrote:
Is it possible that an out of place real owl or other large bird of prey could have been responsible (are there any owls big enough? the biggest i have seen is an Eagle Owl which could have been 3ft tall, but certainly not 5), or do people think this was more likely to be a hoax or some sort of paranormal phenomenon?

Well, in Jon downe's autobiography "Monster Hunter" (one of the best fortean books ever published ) writer of the Owlman and others, he was contacted via email in 2000 by one of the girls who saw the owlman and later the Doc in july 1976. As Jon point's out in his autobiography; "IF the email it self was not a hoax then it turns a lot that's been writain about the owlman on it's head". For starters he wasn't that owlly and, from the discription in the email I think it would be quite hard to muddle it up with a bird, This I think leaves 3 possible options as to what could have happened or even still be happening as 'his owllyness' dose has a tendency to resurface on occasion:

  • Hoax.
  • Email is a hoax but the origional sightings were real.
  • Or the Owlman is a genuine paranormal entity (be that Zooform phenomina (simmilar to the bolam bigfoot), extra terrestrial, ultra terrestrial, ghost or mutant)

(This has not, to my knolage appeered on the net before so consider yourselves privelidged to be getting an 'exclusive')

MY Experience of 3/7/1976
Sally G
Pembroke, Wales July 2000

To whom it may concern,

Writing this down isn’t going to be the easiest thing that I’ve ever done, so I’ll try to get it over with as quickly as possible. I have reluctantly decided to speak on my experience, for reasons that I won’t go into here. This is the first time that I have thought about any part of what happened during that summer in years- It took me quite a while to really forget about what I saw, and I suppose you could say that it had a definite effect on the way that I lived my life for a number of years following the event. I am a 38-year old career woman who has quite enough going on in her life without dredging up a very upsetting incident that happened 24 years ago. This is certainly the first time that I have written any of this down, and probably the first time that I have willfully remembered it in any detail since I was a teenager. I recently mentioned it in passing to someone whom lam very fond of, and he suggested that I contact you, having found you on the net. I am aware of some of the bits and pieces that have been written about my experience in the intervening years, and by-and-large I have no complaint. I remember Mr Shiels as being quite concerned about my friend Barbara and I at the time. He seemed like a nice man.

I have read the essay on your website concerning the incident. There are a couple of in discrepancies that you weren’t to know about that I should probably clear up. My name wasn’t really Chapman at the time- it was W***, although I told Mr. Shiels that it was Chapman. Babs gave her real name. You’ll probably understand why I did this. I was still VERY upset when Babs and I were walking on the beach the next day. Babs was much more grown-up than me at the time (and probably still is). She was calming me down, trying to make me laugh, because I hadn’t slept a wink the night before. She walked up to Tony and told him what had happened. I have no idea how she knew of him, but I gather he was a bit of a local character. I didn’t really know that part of Cornwall at all.

He had some paper and pencils on him, and had us draw it. He helped me so much that day without even realizing it-I remember him making me giggle a bit, and he was so cheery that he really snapped me out of it. I don’t think either drawing was particularly good- I’m not really sure that it was as OWLLY as our pictures suggested. I’ve just realized that I’ve been stalling actually describing what happened when we were in the wood that night. This thing STILL has an effect on me all these years later. It was probably around 9.45pm when we saw it. We had made tea with a little camping stove, and I seem to remember that we were talking about school and boys. There was a boy at home that I was very interested in, and Babs wanted to know all about it. Neither of us had had boyfriends before at that point. It was still light. I seem to remember that it hadn’t rained for ages, and the woods were very dry and crunchy, if that makes sense. The noise was so abrupt in the quiet of the woods that we both jumped up together. It was a kind of hissing. I don’t know, I can’t really remember. It was loud and sudden. We both looked over into the wood, and there it was.

I had been to see a horror film in Plymouth a few months before, a werewolf film with Peter Cushing. This was the first thing I thought when I saw it, I thought it was the werewolf. The face wasn’t really like an owl, thinking back. It was like a frowning, sneering black thing. The eyes were burning, glaring and reddish. I don’t know if it had fur or feathers, but it was gray and grizzled like the werewolf in the film. I remember hearing Barbara start to laugh, but it was a sort of choked, panicked laugh. Tony Shiels did us a great favor by playing down our fear when he talked about what happened to us later on. I think when we saw him that day on the beach that he must have known how upset we really were.

I knew right away it was REAL. It wasn’t like a monster in the films that look rubbery and fake. It just looked like a very weird, frightening animal, as real as any animal in a zoo. It looked flesh and blood to me, but there is simply no way it could have been. It couldn’t have been something that was born and grew. No way. I have no idea what it was. My head hurts even thinking about it.

It was more frightening than I can really describe. I remember blood rushing to my head, making it pound. It just stood there for what might have been a minute. I’m not really sure how long. Barbara was laughing, but it was more like a sort of breathless hysterical sound by now. I wanted to run but couldn’t. It was so EVIL, intensely so. When it moved, that nearly did it, I nearly started running. It’s arms or wings or whatever went out, and it just rose up through the trees. Straight up through the evergreens, it didn’t flap, it didn’t make a sound. Then, weirdly, I thought ‘costume’ for the first time, because the legs looked wrong. They looked like a kind of grey trouser material, certainly unnatural. I can’t be entirely sure now. And then the feet, Black, hooking things. I have no idea how it had managed to stand up on them. They were like an earwig’s tail-piece.

It’s difficult trying to remember exactly what happened next. The wood was quiet, but it felt as if it, the thing, could appear again at any second. I think I had nearly fainted at one point. Babs was the same. We were shaking like leaves. I was thinking that someone was going to come out of the woods laughing at their trick, but really I knew that it couldn’t possibly have been a trick. On one level, my mind simply wasn’t accepting it. It still doesn’t in a way. That’s how I got over it, I think. By pretending that it hadn’t really happened. As I mentioned earlier, in some ways I lost a lot of years to it. Somehow, shaking and crying a bit, we got packed up. That was the worst time, waiting for it to come back. I don’t think that I could have coped seeing it again. My mind was POUNDING ballooning. I don’t know how it could have disappeared like it did. The woods weren’t that thick. Not thick enough to hide what I can only think of as a monster. I know that sounds silly, but it is perhaps the most apt way to describe it. It just seemed to vanish like a ghost.

We were originally going to walk back to Bab’s home near Gweek, but it was pretty much dark by now. Obviously as an adult you question why you stayed out, but that’s what we did. We moved camp to a place where the woods were thinner, as I recall. I didn’t sleep a wink, and nether did Babs I suppose. Yet somehow I knew it was gone for good. The atmosphere was lighter somehow, there were bird noises coming out of trees, calls and the like. The night crawled by, and eventually it started to get light. We made tea about six or so, and went for a walk about nine. We met Tony Shiels, and told him our story.

I really don’t know why I decided to write this down, after so many years. As I have said someone close to me thought that I should come clean. Actually, doing so has affected me less than I thought it was going to. Reading over it, I feel a little embarrassed. It doesn’t seem possible now. I have no idea why or how it happened. I never expect to.

I moved with my family from West Hoe in Plymouth in 1980 to Surry, and then on to Pembroke to work in a creative role in 1989. I believe that what happened in July ’76 shaped my life for years afterwards.

My good friend Barbara emigrated with her husband to Australia in 1987. I haven’t spoken to her in many years, but I think that I would hear if anything happened.

That’s about it, really. For what it’s worth, I haven’t been to Cornwall since I was a teenager. Whatever happened that July is firmly in the past and I intend to leave it there.

(Monster Hunter, Jonathan Downes, page 184-186 © 2005)
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PostPosted: 17-04-2005 15:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bords covered the story (including the children's drawings) in their book Alien Animals, which was one of the books that switched me on to Forteana in my earnest early teens. Smile

Can anyone provide a link to Jon Downes' site - I'd like to read his take on the story.
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PostPosted: 17-04-2005 16:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

My friend Jon is the director of the Centre For Fortean Zoology (the worlds largest cryptozoological organisaion, Publishers of the Animals and Men magazine and cryptozoological books) so Jon's take on it is liked to in the first post of this thread.

Jon Has wrote a whole book on the owl man (availble from the shop at the CFZ website or from the CFZ on ebay uk most of the time where they sell books under the identity of 'Strange_Daze' ) which again is worth reading if you are interested in the owl man as it is the most in depth objective report on the owlman availible.

Jon's veiws and theories about the owl man have changed and evolved over the years and now he feels he has studied the insident all he wishes to. I will ask him him for his current take on it, watch this space.

EDIT: There's a new signed copy of Owlman and others on ebay now for only £5 at present ( ) that's 2/3 off the usual price so worth a go if you ask me.
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PostPosted: 17-04-2005 17:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

<HA wraps wings tightly around herself and covers them with a cloak>

Does this sound like Mothman to you?

or a great horned owl?
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PostPosted: 19-07-2009 15:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm probably putting two and two together and getting five, but this news item caught my attention. Probably the only thing that links the Owlman sighting with the buzzard attacks is the fact that they all occurred in July near the Helford River...

Second jogger attacked by buzzard

A buzzard has attacked another holidaymaker in Cornwall - the second such incident in a matter of days.

Eleanor Dennis, 19, was jogging near the Helford River on Saturday evening when the bird of prey attacked.

The teenager from Hertfordshire, who is on holiday with her family, was not hurt, but was badly frightened.

Last week Stuart Urquhart from Bristol needed hospital treatment after a buzzard slashed his head while he was out jogging near the Helford River.

Mr Urquhart suffered three 6cm (2in) long gashes on his scalp from the bird's talons.

The attack on Miss Dennis happened at about 1830 BST near Constantine.

"I was jogging along by the river when I suddenly heard this 'swishing' noise behind me," she told BBC News.

"When I looked round the bird was swooping down above my head, but it missed me by about 1m.

"I clapped my hands to scare it off, but it screeched at me and just kept following me for about 50m."

Ciaran Nelson from the RSPB said it is likely the attacks were carried out by the same bird, whose behaviour indicates it is trying to protect its young.

"At this time of year if the buzzard has young preparing to fledge, it will see almost anything as a potential threat to its family and environment," he said.

"Put simply it is doing what comes naturally."

Mr Nelson said buzzards were normally extremely wary of humans after being persecuted and hunted almost to extinction, so the only other explanation could be the bird may have once been in captivity.

"It's just possible it's escaped and may be swooping down because its been trained to the lure for food," he said.

In previous years there have been a number of buzzard attacks reported on cyclists near Holsworthy, north Devon.

If a buzzard is defending its young, Mr Nelson said its aggressive behaviour should only last until the chicks have fledged.

"It's hard to say, without knowing what stage they're at, but it shouldn't be much more than a matter of days or a week until this one moves on," he added.

Buzzards, which can weigh up to 1kg and have a 1m (39in) wingspan, are a protected species.

The Stuart Urquart story is here:
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PostPosted: 07-01-2014 13:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Owlman of Mawnan Smith brought to life in video game
Tuesday, January 07, 2014

ONE of Cornwall’s mythical creatures has been bought to life in a computer game which is being sold all over the world.

The Owlman Of Mawnan Smith, an adventure game released last month by local game designer Steve Parkes, features other characters from Cornish folklore, including piskies and mine knockers, as well as the Owlman itself.
All the artwork in the game is based on pictures taken from Mawnan, Falmouth and Kynance Beach, on The Lizard.

The adventure game is for sale around the world on iTunes, Amazon app store and Android.
It is in the top 100 games on Amazon in the UK, and has been in the top 50 as far away as New Zealand.

The legend of the Owlman is based on reported sightings of a huge flying creature near Mawnan Church in the seventies, eighties and nineties.

The subject of the sightings are believed to have been either a hoax or an escaped eagle owl, a species which can grow more than two feet long and have a wingspan of nearly six feet.
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