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COUNTY: Seminole County
LOCATION DETAILS: Exact location omitted
NEAREST TOWN: Oviedo
NEAREST ROAD: CR-419
OBSERVED: On Monday, June 30, 2008, between 5:00 a.m. and 5:15 a.m., I had the experience of hearing a chilling and unexplained sound. I was taking numerous boxes and garbage bags from the garage to the end of my driveway at the street for trash pickup. I had made approximately 6 trips back and forth when, after laying a box down at the curb, I heard something that made me stop in my tracks. I experienced what I first thought was the start of a loud siren, a loud and ascending WHOOOOO…, coming from across the street. The sound came from a tree line about 200 feet away at the edge of Horseshoe Lake. There are empty grated lots directly across the street from my house (about 125 feet deep) and then approximately another 25 feet or more of dense palmetto scrub and primarily pines and loblolly bay trees down to the lake shore. The sound continued to ascend in pitch and when the pitch didn’t change like that of a siren and I realized that a siren would not be coming from that direction, but rather from the highway behind our house, I felt somewhat panicked. The sound ended in a booming –OOP. The entire whoop was long in duration and went from a low to high pitch. It seemed to be aimed directly towards me and was extremely far carrying in tone. I immediately felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. When my brain could not place the sound with any animal or bird that I am familiar with, I became very frightened at thinking that a man was watching me and calling out. I started to take some steps backward towards the garage in anticipation that I would see something moving towards me across the empty lot. Within seconds of the WHOOP, an owl called out with a common hooting from the top of a tree in that same area, as if it had been startled. The owl’s voice was very distinct from the other sound in the loudness and the way it carried, as well as the elevation of the source of the sound. I went back into the garage and waited for about 5 minutes there to listen for any other sounds, but only heard the frogs that are common at that time. Although still dark, there were clear skies at the time, and I could see the silhouette of the tree line. My side of the street was dimly lit by the lights in the garage and street lights a short distance away. I go out at this time every morning to haul trash and to take my dog for a quick walk out to the mailbox, and I am used to hearing numerous types of frogs, owls, and whippoorwills. As I stood there, logic told me that even a large man could not have made the resonating sound that I heard from that distance away.
Over the next few days, I told my family members what I had heard and asked if they knew of an animal or bird that made such a sound, but they didn’t. The sound I heard was so unusual, that I couldn’t dismiss it. I felt the need to keep trying to satisfy the mystery of the sound by placing a native bird or animal to it. I read every voice description of Florida bird species entries in my North American bird book, paying closed attention to all owls, loons, cranes, egrets, herons and hawks, that I thought may be large enough to have such a bellowing voice. None of the voices were described as “whoops.” I then went online and searched for “bird sound whoop” and “animal sound whoop.” I spent quite a bit of time on National Geographic’s website listening to voice recordings of numerous birds from this area as well as bobcats, coyotes, foxes, etc. Nothing seemed to match. I then started to notice the many links to the BFRO website as well as a link to a video of our local Channel 13 newscast of an expedition that BFRO had in the Tampa area about a year ago. When I played the news clip, and heard one of the female researchers make a call out like a whoop, I almost felt relieved, like I knew in my heart that I was on the right track. The sound I heard was very similar to the call she made, although the whoop I heard was of a longer duration. After seeing the news clip, I felt more comfortable about researching the information on the BRFO website. I came across the sound recordings, and after listening to several, I became convinced that what I heard matched more closely to some of the Skunk Ape recordings than to any other animal or bird known in this area. I decided to call your organization to discuss what I had experienced.
Below are the most similar recordings I found on the website as compared to the sound that I heard:
1974 Whoops and Knocks from California (although I heard only one “whoop” and it was of longer duration)
The “Florida Howl” and the 1994 Moaning Howl from Columbiana County, Ohio (the howls in this clip start off like the siren-like beginning of the whoop I heard, but these then descend in pitch as opposed to the one I heard which continued to ascend until ending in a –OOP)
ALSO NOTICED: No.
OTHER WITNESSES: None other than myself.
OTHER STORIES: As I was listening to the sound recordings on the BFRO website, I came across one clip that immediately made me flash back to another experience that I had shortly after we moved into this house. Sometime around the month of February 2008, I went out onto our screened in pool/patio area to feed our cats at 5:00 a.m. Because of the lights in the house and a light on the porch, the screen seemed opaque, so I couldn’t see out. I heard a very loud noise coming from the backyard of our next door neighbor’s that startled me. I quickly dismissed it as the sound of a sprinkler hitting our aluminum fence. It was a metallic, chatter sound. It lasted about the duration of what might be the rotation of about 180 degrees of a sprinkler head. But then the sound abruptly stopped, and I could tell that neither our sprinklers nor our neighbors where on at the time. Several seconds later, I heard the same chilling noise but I could tell that the source was now about 200 feet away. I immediately felt frightened and went quickly back inside the house. It really spooked me at the time, but I hadn’t thought about the incident again until I heard a similar recording on your website, specifically the 1973 Whoop-Howl from Puyallop, Washington. The sounds on that recording have that same high-pitched, metallic sound that I still recall from that morning. The sound of the bobcat from the National Geographic sight also sounded somewhat metallic-like, so that may be another possible explanation.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Sometime between 5:00 a.m. and 5:15 a.m.
Dark other than low light street lights a short distance away and light coming from my garage.
Clear skies, warm and humid.
ENVIRONMENT: The sound came from a tree line surrounding the lake. Approximately 25 to 50 feet of shoreline on this side of the lake is labeled “conservation area.” This shore area connects to numerous acres of conservation property throughout the subdivision. The conservation areas are dense forests, made up of palmetto scrub, pines, loblolly bays, Florida maples, and oaks. Many of the areas are low-lying and swamp-like as is obvious by the numerous cattails. There are also numerous retention ponds through the area.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Alan Fisher:
On July 14th the witness and her husband met with me and Florida Investigator Caroline Curtis. She related to us the same story she detailed in her report and showed us the area mentioned. The witness lives in an area where great care has been made to blend the sub-division into the woodland environment. A large lake is located directly across from her home bordered by virtually impenetrable vegetation consisting of pines, palmetto and vines. The witnesses, (husband and wife) are both highly articulate professionals with backgrounds in science, engineering and mathematics.
Behind their home is a medium sized retention area bordered by woodland with a grass buffer. Signs of wildlife particularly whitetail deer are abundant throughout the area. Based upon the witnesses account and other unexplained events behind the house regarding food being taken from a wildlife feeder it was decided to begin audio recording from the rear of the home on a nightly basis and to set a trail camera to capture images of whatever was removing food from the feeder.
The investigation continues to this day and although we have not captured a definitive image something has been able to take apples and bananas from the feeder without getting captured on two different game cameras. I have analyzed hours of audio recordings and although a howl has not been heard again, there have been some sounds that appear to be wood knocks and other unidentified noises recorded during the night hours.
Activity virtually died off after the passage of Tropical Storm Fay which caused large scale flooding through the woodlands of the Little Econ River forest. The deer have slowly begun to return to the area and recording will again begin if the unexplained events of the past resume.
My conclusion is that the animal of our investigations either periodically visits or has migrated through this area and found an easy food source. Items the animal finds very appealing such as apples and bananas. This report is submitted as a Class B with the caveat that the investigation will continue if necessary and the report may be amended or even upgraded in the future.
About BFRO Investigator Alan Fisher:
30 years experience hiking and camping across the United States.
Member 2008 South and North Florida Expeditions.
Certified visual tracker - Level 1
Assisted in organizing 2009 Central Florida Expedition.