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Archive for the ‘unexplained phenomena’ Category

wingedcryptids

Lon Strickler’s Phantoms and Monsters blog, a daily stack of reports sent to him by eyewitnesses who say they have observed bird-like beings, has become the go-to place to check out unknown sky-cryptids. In his new book, “Winged Cryptids,” Strickler climbs into the cockpit to take on the daunting role of crypto-ornithologist, showing readers that our skies fairly teem with flapping, gliding and diving air-beasts.

Why the interest in big birds? Strickler says part of it is personal, explaining he was hooked by his own sightings of them in 1981 and 1988. The latter event occurred while investigating reports near Baltimore, Maryland, and the experience left him both terrified and fascinated. He wanted to know more about the massive creatures – some with wingspans more than 20 feet wide– and vowed to seek for answers. He has since received myriads of reports of a wide variety of winged cryptids, including the great puzzle of bat-like flying humanoids over Chicago, northern Illinois and other nearby states.

The winged wonders are not just a Midwestern thing. Sightings range from California to Buffalo and beyond. I also love the book’s mysterious cover art with its ancient-looking, feathered wings, but no body. And I’m still shuddering at the gargoyles in southwestern Florida and the flying skeleton-like thing.

Overall, “Winged Cryptids” is a book that I’m glad to have in my library, perhaps because it reminds me of my own signature mantra when encountering strange beings… always look behind you, always look up.  Available Here 

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Want a fast pictorial on how I became a creature investigator and author? Here’s an unsolicited, unexpected, unremunerated short video from art teacher Andy McGraff at Lakewood Elementary in Twin Lakes WI. He created it as part of his exploration of area artists for his students’ “learning at a distance” program. My connection with Andy is that I have a degree in art education and often subbed in the Lakewood art room where Andy now works (when the schools have not been closed due to a monstrous virus invasion.) Andy includes some of the original “Inside Edition” footage from  the early days of the Bray Road saga, and other undescribable things that made me laugh. It’s on Youtube at https://youtu.be/6bnAH8hpVQU

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My continuing mini-experiment with the deck trespasser: (see previous post)

deckdino1

My original placement of my randomly selected item

Something or someone is still visiting my deck. Not to make too much of this but it’s a bit strange even if it’s an unknown human hanging out illegally in my back yard in wee hours of the morning. And so many readers have expressed interest that I thought I should share the most recent development.

Earlier this week, I decided to remove the 5 white landscaping rocks that still formed a perfect pentagram near the edge of my backyard. I threw them in the Green Belt woods and replaced them with two different pebbles; a small granite piece and a larger, flat old river rock. I added a tiny plastic dinosaur, and intentionally laid it on its side, directly on the deck so it wouldn’t get blown away, as it has been quite windy here. Nothing happened for days.

deckdino3

The change made by unknown agent that has remained in place for several days.

Tuesday a.m. on Dec. 3 I looked for it first thing and realized the granite stone which had been stacked squarely on the river rock was now lying next to it but still touching. But the normally tipsy dino had been set up to stand on top of the rock! The formation has survived a windstorm since then, still standing. In the photos you can see how it first looked when I placed placed it on the deck planks. No way the little dino somehow blew upward to stand solidly upright while the small granite stone rolled off the larger rock.

 

Is the culprit a human trespasser? Living in a populated area as I do, it would seem the most likely solution. (We do live on the very edge of town with nature trails surrounding.) But the sudden appearance of the pentagon-shaped rock formation and the re-ordering of the mini-dino were both achieved in darkness, overnight, evading any surveillance moves on my part. Again, why? My husband didn’t even realize I had put the new little display there and hadn’t been near it. I heard the neighbor dog bark one single, loud bark during very early morning hours on that Night of the Plastic Dinosaur but that’s it. The Hubz and I have carefully examined our entire yard and the adjacent woods but no clues or evidence turned up. In the meantime we keep watching, and I’ll keep updating if anything else occurs.

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rockcirclefencenwoods

An overnight gift on my deck? Something unusual turned up this morning on my backyard deck which overlooks part of the Green Belt that connects hiking paths around the city where I live.

My bedroom window overlooks it directly. I once had a wired-in, infra-red motion detector focused on the yard there but something bit the wire in two! That was a few months ago. But just lately, I’ve been getting wood knocks in groups of 3 from the woods back there. Always a few minutes after I turned my light off.

A couple of nights ago, the knocks occurred immediately after I turned off my light. I told the Hubz but I wasn’t too excited, could have been lots of things. Last night around 8 or 9 pm some of the neighborhood dogs started barking in alarm mode. Again, I’d usually figure a deer or rabbit, coyote or whatever…until whatever was being barked at decided it had enough and made that super deep “hobita-hobita” growel + vowel sound that I and many others have associated with Brother Bigfoot or Sister Squatch. The barking stopped immediately. Again I mentioned it to my resident skeptic and he said, “Hmph.” So this morning I took a look out there and was shocked to see a perfect circle of 5 white landscape rocks laid out on the deck near the back rail. They had to have been carried from some edging close to the house. I know my neighbors…none of them would have sneaked onto my yard to make a little rock feature for me. The deck is surrounded by wilted plant debris so no footprints. Here are a few pix from my photo record. And the quarter and standard card deck are for size comparison, not a test to see if my visitor wants to ante up for a game of poker. BTW the woods were completely silent…no squirrels, birds etc. Eerie!

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This Halloween offering is for those followers of the the Beast of Bray Road legend and encounters, who enjoy puzzling over the decades-old paper trail of ink-blotted arcana fished out of battered files.  I recently found two such items hidden in a drawer in a folder I’d marked, “Old Beast.” They actually fell out of the folder and right in my lap–an old makeshift bookmark and a page torn from the small notebook I used in my early reporting days.

I was about to throw them in the circular file but then I noticed the words, “Bray Road Werewolf” at the top of the bookmark. Beneath it was what I believe were my first written words about witness Lori Endrizzi and her mother, Pat ; “Lady claims daughter saw a werewolf on Bray Road 2 years ago.” I had added “Hospital Road,” because the sighting was near Bray’s intersection with that shortcut to Walworth County’s hospital complex. (Some names are redacted.)

BOBRfilenotes 1991

There were other brief comments from someone inviting me to cover a meeting on alleged mis-used animal traps, along with a mention of the county  animal shelter where I later met with Jon Fredrickson, the county’s then animal control officer. The bigger piece of paper includes more notes on that meeting, and a great Fredrickson quote, “The county’s getting stranger.” And best of all are my notes on his description of a wolf or coyote springing up when startled so that it only seemed to be walking upright. And I can’t leave out the mention of the large, clawed animal trail on Potter’s Road.

BOBRfilenotes1991b

For those who are not fans of very old paper trails, I give you (metaphorically), my growing collection of creature socks, all from friends, that also give me joy. Happy Halloween to ALL my friends, I just thank you all for being here.

SocksWithCreatures1

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Reports picking up in SouthEAST Wisconsin?

Here’s a tail of a black and a tan, one 7 miles from Bray Road a few days ago and one less than two weeks on the southern outskirts of Janesville…

JanesvilleCogar

On Saturday, September 7, 2019, 25-year old Harley Marcum and fellow employee Robert Davis were between shifts outside the back door of a south Janesville company about 6:30pm, when something caught Marcum’s eye; a dark animal moving swiftly from the parking lot toward a nearby marsh, on all fours and low to the ground. “Holy crap! Look!” Marcum yelled at Davis, not believing his own eyes. Robert looked where Marcum was pointing just in time to see a huge black-furred animal skulk off into the grassy, marsh area, its glossy coat reflecting the waning sunlight. There was no doubt in either of their minds, said Marcum:  It was a mountain lion or some other type of big cat.

(Click link for video of Marcum and Davis)

The two men exchanged startled glances, and then decided to run after the animal to see if they could scare it out for another look. A few steps into the field, however, they couldn’t see where it had gone and began to feel uneasy. They retreated to the parking lot, the edge of which was only about 20 feet from the marsh but didn’t catch another glimpse. They did tell a friend of theirs about it, and the friend contacted me. I met up with Marcum and Davis at their usual shift change time on Thursday, Sept. 19, where I looked around for prints and heard more of their story.

harley

Harley Marcum points at marsh the big cat was frequenting

Where did the big cat go? Their employer’s location is in the general area east of Hwy. 51 on Janesville’s south side, but there are many open and wooded wild areas where the big cat could also easily rove. Male cougars need thirty-square-mile territories if they are planning to stay, and can cover many miles in a day if just passing through.

It Was a Beast

Both men described a rather formidable animal.

“It was weird,” said Harley, “like nothing I’ve ever seen. And I clearly seen it; it was bigger than a German shepherd.” In fact it was larger, he said, than what he would expect a mountain lion to be. “I could see the muscles, it was slick black. It was a beast,” he said. “I had a side view of the head, and I saw a long tail that curled upward and then curled down.” That is a standard mountain lion description.

Harley also noted that it had what seemed a big head for the body, which, together with the black fur that zoologists say is never seen on a mountain lion, may indicate some other species of big cat or a hybrid. Harley said they did not report their sighting to the DNR or other officials. They are now alert at every shift change, hoping for the privilege of seeing such an unusual animal again. “I’m extremely grateful,” said Harley of his encounter.

Sighting #2: Tan Cougar seen East of Bray Road

An even more recent report came to me by phone the day after it occurred, September 15, 2019, from a location only about 7 miles from the NE tip of Bray Road. The caller and his wife own a summer home and acreage in eastern Walworth County. They had first contacted me in November, 2018, after they found roundish, “large baseball” sized prints on their land and learned that only a few miles away, a farmer had lost two calves to an unknown predator. He had five trail cameras positioned around his property for the remainder of the winter, but nothing turned up on any of them. He contacted the DNR but was told it must be either a dog or a deer. He knew it was neither of those.

When the property owner called me last week, it was to tell me that the previous day, his wife had seen what she was sure was a tan mountain lion, walking only about 60 feet away from her bedroom window. She also noted its large, looping tail. She had good light and a longer look at it than most people. The couple prefers to remain anonymous.

And just south of the WI-IL Border:

rtwcmartcougjag.jpg

art by Linda Godfrey all rights reserved

Area newspapers ran articles in August, 2019, about an 11 p.m. sighting on August 8 of a dark brown, large animal with bright eyeshine. A couple was driving near the village of Rockton, IL, traveling north on South Bluff Road next to the Rock River when this occurred. They described the typically flat-faced head profile of a big cat and also the tell-tale tail that appeared to be “curling under” as it crossed the road in front of their car. They insisted it was not any well-known or usual animal seen in that area.

Readers of my blog will know that I’m working on a documentary called Return to Wildcat Mountain about the surge of tan AND black big cats in central Wisconsin west of the Baraboo area. You can see the trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTc-t85UeDw and short versions will be shown at Iowa’s Van Meter Visitor Festival just west of Des Moines September 28, and at the Charles Dickens Horror Festival in Colorado on October 19, 2019 for starters. More to come!

Note: For a fuller story of the Rockton IL sighting please see Singular Fortean’s story singularfortean.com/news/2019/8/28

 

 

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img.manbat

witness sketch of the Man-Bat of La Crosse, WI, 2006

My favorite motto is “Always look behind you, always look up.” And there seems to be a lot more reason over the past few years to obey that second half of the saying.

Although they’ve proven quite controversial, many dozens of giant, flying, sometimes bat-like creatures have been spotted above the city of Chicago and its environs in the past few years by a variety of eyewitnesses. This isn’t entirely new. There have been similar reports from around the US for decades, such as those describing Point Pleasant’s Mothman, Tacoma’s famed Batsquatch and others including the creature I called the Man Bat that almost flew right into the windshield of a truck on a country road near La Crosse, WI the night of September 26, 2006. I investigated that one on site quite soon after it was seen, and also heard from other area people who’d encountered it. Overall, these and the other eyewitnesses reporting sightings across the country seem as credible to me as any other group of cryptid spotters, and I do believe this is a phenomenon worthy of investigation.

I could not help wondering, though, why some–again, FAR from all–of the Chicago flyers were appearing over popular tourist areas such as Lincoln Square, the Gold Coast and the Art Institute of Chicago. Most cryptid sightings occur in rural or at least liminal places; the outskirts of a city rather than the downtown, for instance.

The Art Institute sighting reminded me of something I’d written in a 2009 book titled “Mythical Creatures” for the Chelsea House series, Mysteries, Legends and Unexplained Phenomena, edited by my late, great and dear friend Rosemary Guiley. (The book includes the story of the La Crosse Man Bat on pages 33-34.) Also, my youngest son has an art degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and had some first-hand knowledge of various projects people were working on.

Before I go any farther, I want to be clear; I’m offering this idea only for what it’s worth—and only as it may provide insight to some encounters with the sky critter phenomenon. There are other ideas and theories out there. I’m not offering a solution or even a suggestion that any particular individual has been involved with the origin of these unknown flyers in any known way. But let’s look at one chapter, “Mixed Up Monsters,” of the book mentioned above.

My research on  that chapter back in 2009 had led me to the various, publicly exhibited works of an art professor at SAIC named Eduardo Kac (pronounced Katz) who’d become famous for his claim that he had produced a rabbit/jellyfish chimera named Alba that glowed green under black lights. The exhibition intended to display Alba to the world never happened, however. And more importantly to our discussion here were another facet of Kac’s work involving remote-controlled, bat-like robotic figures complete with sonar. Many researchers have studied and written about these bat-bots.

One such writer, a Stanford student named Thomas Loverro, offered a paper in the Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal on Kac’s work, divided into sections titled telepresence, biotelematics, robotics and transgenic art. https://web.stanford.edu/class/sts129/essays/Loverro2.htm

These artworks were created not with brushes or chisels, but with the latest scientific equipment. Or as a Dec. 12, 2018 Chicago Reader article put it, “…SAIC’s Bio Art Lab, where art is life—literally.” This futuristic genre had garnered its own space at SAIC, a lab in the basement of the MacLean Center at 112 S. Michigan.

Loverro also wrote “… [Kac’s] 1999 Darker Than Night interactive exhibit, which is a culmination of the works examined thus far. It brings computers, robots, animals, and humans together and asks them all to communicate with each other. Kac placed a robotic bat (“bat-bot”) in a cave with over three hundred Egyptian Fruit Bats in a zoo. The robotic bat was equipped with the ability to convert real bats’ high-frequency calls to within the audible range of humans and also rotate its head, where the sonar microphone was located. Human listeners could then remotely, via a virtual reality headset, turn their head to control the bat-bot’s microphone and immerse themselves in the world of the bat.”

http://www.web.stanford.edu/group/journal/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Loverro_Hum_2002.pdf

Kac’s “bat-bot,” then, literally hung out with living bats.

http://www.web.stanford.edu/group/journal/cgi-bin/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Loverro_Hum_2002.pdf

SO…it could be mere coincidence. But since Kac is a Professor Emeritus at SAIC, and is undoubtedly well known to a generation of art students and other artists, could it also be that some follower or admirer of his work may have seen some of the early Chicago Flyer reports, remembered the bat-bots and designed one with drone technology for some short flights above downtown Chicago? Over the Art Institute? Where there is an art-bio-lab? I emailed Kac at his SAIC address to see if he had any idea whether such experiments were being undertaken in the school or elsewhere, but did not receive an answer. It’s possible he never received my inquiry. And also very possible he has never heard of Chicago’s flying things.

Again, this is all mere speculation and not a suggestion that any particular person, known or unknown, is involved. It doesn’t explain sightings in any other places, either, especially those in other states. But I do think it’s a good example of how in this day and age, investigators need to look outside the cave to explore all possibilities. At least knowing that bat-bots and other bio-mechanical-genetic “things” are being invented may help keep us looking up.

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