On 5th March, Jonathan and Corinna Downes, the Director and Administrator of the Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] the world's largest mystery animal research organisation, fly to Texas. Together with their friends and colleagues Richie and Naomi West who very generously financed the expedition, they will spend two weeks continuing the research into the Texas blue dogs, first carried out by Jonathan Downes in November 2004..

Friday, 19 March 2010

CORINNA DOWNES: Something in the air


Friday 19th March

On Tuesday 16th March we had a date with Devin Macanally – a man that Jon had met six years ago and of whom he had often talked about regarding the blue dogs. It was to be my first time meeting him and I was looking forward to doing so. Naomi and Richie have been in contact with him for some time researching the blue dogs.

We were to meet up with Morgan and Jo from Minnow Films, which we did in a slightly clandestine fashion in the rain, on the corner of a road in Elmendorf. Then came the predicament that one person would need to move from our vehicle so that filming could take place of Jon in the front seat. It was me who was sitting in the desired position and although I offered to move over, it was clear that I was required to vacate and finish the journey in their hired car with Jo. I was not amused – I was comfortable and I was surrounded within my cocoon of bags, camera, jumpers, and empty coffee cups.

At the request of Jon, I was to photograph some of the surroundings on the approach to Devin’s home. This was no easy feat as the road soon disappeared and turned into a track. So as we bumped along, rocking from side to side as if on a train traversing a particularly unkempt section of rail track, it became impossible to do anything remotely useful in the photography department other than take pictures of blurred landscapes.

Devin greeted us with a warm smile and as it was still raining we all piled into his home to sit amongst a wonderfully eclectic mix of paintings, ornaments, documents, books and objets d’art . We were introduced to two young men – Jonathon and Chad – who help Devin out and all sat around chatting for a while, catching up and discussing recent findings about the blue dogs. Then the two lads set off with Morgan and Jo into the wilds of Devin’s property to check out the trigger cameras. They had not been gone long when the sound of a single shot punctured the relative quiet outside. Hmmm, had Morgan met his match? Could this signal a different meaning of the term ‘quiet on set, cameraman shooting’?

Oddly enough no-one seemed to take too much notice of the sound – and no-one returned to the house either; it was just another ordinary sound in the daily life of a Texan homestead. It was a weird feeling to carry on sitting on the sofa as one does when the sound of a car horn breaks the silence back home – but upon reflection, at the same time it seemed the natural thing to do. We are a world apart from the quiet village life of Woolsery, North Devon. Out here in the untamed land of Texas there is still a tussle between man and nature. There are wild boar that will rip your body open if given the chance and coyote that, apart from attacking your chickens or calves, could quite easily be carrying mange, or even be rabid.

After what seemed like ages later but was only about half an hour or so, the two lads returned with Morgan and Jo, and Chad told us that they had come across a group of boar not far from the house and had shot one, scattering the remainder in all directions away from the property.

They also came back carrying a bag of some weird deposit found on some vines hanging from a tree some distance away from the house. Jon had a whiff of it – unfortunately a bit too much of an inhalation as it almost made him feel ill. Ancient proverb: ‘Never stick nose into a recently opened bag when you are not sure what is contained within.’ No-one seems to know what this deposit is but it is apparently to be found hanging abundantly under the vines around some of the trees. Most peculiar indeed.

The images captured on the trigger camera were downloaded onto Naomi’s laptop and a couple of results were truly intriguing.

The two young lads are two of the sweetest guys you could possibly meet. The fact that they never go out on the land without a rifle is not really to be unexpected in Texas and although it is difficult for me to comprehend hunting I appreciate that it is a natural thing for those who live and work on the wild land.



The time flew by and our schedule meant we had to get on the road again, so we arranged to meet up with Devin, Jonathon and Chad again the next day. It was lovely to meet them all – and Devin is certainly a lovely and honest man full of interesting tales to tell and an obvious love of the land upon which he lives.

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