In April 1976, Tony Shiels, known to many as 'Doc' and sometimes as 'The Wizard of the Western World' wrote a letter:
"A very weird thing happened over the Easter weekend. A holiday-maker from Preston, Lancs., told me about something his two young daughters had seen ... a big, feathered bird-man hovering over the church tower at Mawnan (a village near the mouth of the Helford River). The girls (June 12, and Vicky, daughters of Mr Don Melling), were so scared that the family cut their holiday short and went back three days early. This really is a fantastic thing, and I am sure the man wasn't just making it up because he'd been told I was on a monster hunt. I couldn't get the kids to talk about it (in fact, their father wouldn't even let me try), but he gave me a sketch of the thing drawn by June.
"There have been no reports, so far as I know, of anybody else seeing the Bird-Man ... even if it turned out to be just a fancy dress hang-glider, you'd think someone else would have spotted him ... but Mawnan is not a place for hang-gliding! I really don't know what to think ... it's as if a whole load of weirdness has been let loose in the Falmouth area since last autumn!"
Although, if you read any of the books on general mystery animals such as Alien Animals by Janet and Colin Bord, or indeed any of the contemporary copies of Fortean Times the claim that Cornwall had been particularly weird at the time is often made, it is not until you visit the Cornish Studies Library in the back streets of Redruth, sit yourself down at one of their microfiche machines, and physically examine twelve months or more's issues of The Falmouth Packet, The West Briton and The Western Morning News that you can see quite how strange the time actually was.
For a period between the late autumn of 1975 and the early spring of 1977 it seems that Southern Cornwall was seized by a period of collective madness. Much of this is chronicled in some depth in my book The Owlman and Others but even there I think that I failed to give a true picture of quite how strange the area had become.
There were dramatic extremes in the weather - droughts and floods - heatwaves and frozen wastes. The local animal life went (figuratively and literally) crazy; one unfortunate woman was imprisoned in her house by hordes of attacking birds which literally beat themselves to death against the walls of her house, which was dripping red with their blood. Another woman was similarly imprisoned by a mob of feral cats, dog attacks trebled, swimmers were attacked by dolphins (who also saved other swimmers from drowning), and there were reports that cattle belonging to local farmers had developed the power of teleportation. Most interesting to the fortean were the burgeoning numbers of UFO sightings and the reports of three entirely different sets of mystery animal in the region; Morgawr (the Cornish Sea Serpent), the Cornish mystery big cats and the Owlman of Mawnan.