CROCODILE HUNTING IN THE MIDLANDS – Nigel’s Account of the Expedition

Saturday 16th January 2021

When I was offered the chance to go this trip with the CFZ, I jumped at it. After all, its not every day one gets such an offer. The choice was simple, shopping at my local Tescos, or hunt for a rouge croc at Cannock…no competition!..

With the five of us , plus all the gear needed for our stay loaded into my seven-seater, we set off up the M5. The air of anticipation filled the car. It was a heady mix of excitement, boy-like banter, and, I think, just a little hint of fear, from the ones of us who had only seen such creatures on the TV. Beside me, in the front of the car, sat our valiant commander, Jon. His jaw set in defiant mood. He had the look of a man who was determined to fulfil his mission. With the often -ringing mobile phone, and the barked out orders to the rest of us, his very demeanour was that of a WW2 general, in the mould of Patton or Montgomery. His hair blew in the wind of the open window, and his manner gave the rest of us a feeling of reassurance.

Driving over a long distance gives a driver a good chance to observe his fellow passengers. As I looked at them, I began to imagine what was going on in their minds. First there was Richard, his usual northern humour was a bit quieter than one might have expected. But then, so would mine have been if I was to have been expected to wrestle a five-foot crocodile! All joking aside, as for his professional approach to his work, all I can say, as a layman, is that I can think of not very many others that I would rather have to hand, when faced by such a beast, than him. He gives the air of a real-life Crocodile Dundee . Next there was Graham, our deputy-director – totally laid-back about all things, as per usual. Graham is a quiet sort of chap, but underneath his quiet exterior, one gets the sense of a quick and intelligent mind. He reminds me of the sort of fellow who would have made a very good civil servant, at the time of the empire. The typical “stiff upper-lipped” Englishman.

Now we come to our other John, jovial, polite, and always willing to lend a hand. The first thing I noticed about him was his super-human memory, when it comes to music. He talked to Jon about groups and songs that I had never even heard of – it gave me the feeling of being a fifteen-year old again. Just for that, I shall be forever grateful. He is that kind of bloke, the sort one can always feel at ease with, and enjoy a pleasant conversation.

So, there we were, the fab five, driving northwards to face the ugly beast. At last we reached our first objective, finding our guesthouse. This proved quite easy, for a change!, and after booking in and dumping our bags there, we made our way to the lake.

Our arrival at the lake must have seemed odd to the locals, or so one would have assumed. As it turned out, they were, by now, quite used to hordes of press, tv, etc, turning up outside their front doors, so our arrival and meeting up with the others of the group posed no great problem to them. I spent a great deal of time that first day, performing a “PR” role for the CFZ. I did not mind this at all, as it enabled to others, who all had various roles to play, to get on with the job of researching the lake, and starting the surveying, etc, without having to keep stopping to answer questions from an enquiring public. To be honest, it’s a role I love doing!, I have always dealt with the public all my life, and I really enjoyed meeting the locals, and trying to answer their various questions.

At the end of day one, the group tried to “lamp” the creature using high-powered torches. This was to no avail. However, we did see a rather odd light in the sky at the end of the night. So the day ended on a note of excitement.

Day two dawned, and after an excellent breakfast at our lodgings, we headed back to the lake. The rest of the day was spent as was the first, surveying, watching the banks and water surface for any signs of disturbance, and again, interfacing with the locals. There was a brief period of great excitement, when the head of something was spotted just behind our boat. This caused all the crew to come to “action stations”, it was quite an exciting few minutes, as I stood there on the bank of this large lake, smack bang in the middle of an housing estate, waiting to see Richard emerge from the rushes, triumphant in victory, bearing in his hands a tied-up five-foot long crocodile! Alas, this was not to be. We spent the rest the rest of the day doing much of the same as we had the day before. Still no sign of the beast. And so we had to leave this mystery unsolved, but it was not for the lack of trying.

The start of day three was not a very good one for me. My morning began with a severe stomach upset. I cannot fault Jon and the rest of the crew, for the care they showed me during the next few hours. I have already posted my thanks to them up on the forum, so I need not say any more about it here!. We all headed up to Cannock chase itself. The examination of the area began at the German War cemetery. The whole area has the feeling of weirdness, and we conducted various tests looking for EMF fields of any type. We could not detect anything at all!

No EMF disturbances, no magnetic disturbances, measured using a compass, both conventional and electronic types. The only thing left to test was background radiation. We could not do this because of the lack of a Geiger counter. I think the whole area is very worthy of a further trip up, sometime in future. We finished up with a visit to the Chase visitors centre, an excellent place. During a chat with the wardens, we established that there had indeed been some very strange sightings on the chase, and other very exotic creatures found there. These included koi carp and an American corn snake.

So ended my CFZ adventure. What a three days! Did I enjoy it? You bet! Would I do it again? Certainly! And I would most definitely recommend it to anyone who has an enquiring mind, and a taste for adventure. A big thank you to Jon and everyone at the CFZ for a truly fantastic three days!


Member of the CFZ team since March 2009, Liz Bitakaramire lives oop north and is currently working on The Mystery Animals of Greater Manchester with Richard Muirhead.