Easter 1976: Two young girls playing in the churchyard of Mawnan Old Church in southern Cornwall were frightened by what they described as a “nasty bird-man” flying over the church tower. A few months later it was seen again, and the witness said: “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 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.”
These were the first of a series of sightings of what has become known as ‘The Owlman of Mawnan’ – a series of sightings that has continued to the present day. These grotesque and frightening episodes have fascinated researchers for three decades now, and one man has spent years collecting all the available evidence into a book.