At about noon, on June 19, 2012, in her backyard, a lady in Lakewood, California, saw a featherless winged creature with a tail at least four feet long. Since that day, I have interviewed her and her husband several times, in that same backyard, going over with them what happened. Time and again I have tried to find some sign of either a hoax or a misidentification, but I could not find either one. It appears almost certain that the lady had observed a ropen.
Neither the man nor his wife had any previous interest in cryptozoology, not in the slightest. Nothing in the lady’s discussions gave me any sign of any mental health problem or over-active imagination. She describes herself as an educated skeptic, but she is sure about what she saw. Her original email included this:
My husband and I came across your name and blog while trying to study what I saw in our backyard today. . . . I saw this huge dragon pteradactal looking thing. I scared it because when he saw me he jumped off the telephone wires and when he opened his huge wings they sounded like heavy fabric . . . I watched him fly across to a large tree and go inside. I saw him very closely and know what I saw!!
When I first interviewed the lady, she estimated the wingspan at five and a half feet. Since I have repeatedly stretched out my arms (I am a little less than six feet tall), for her to compare size, she has modified her estimate: It may have had a wingspan more than six feet. She has always been positive about the lack of feathers. The tail length was at least four feet, according to her perception of the movement of the tail during the creature’s flight to a neighbor’s tree. I believe she was concentrating on that tail rather than on its relationship to the wingspan; if I am correct, her estimate of the tail length may be slightly less accurate than her estimate of the wingspan, for she compared the wingspan to the length of a piece of furniture that she showed me in her backyard.
I soon eliminated the possibility of a misidentification of a Frigate Bird, for she saw the creature, as it flew into a neighbor’s tree, extend its neck and reveal a neck that could not have been that of a Frigate Bird. She also was positive about the “triangle” at the end of the tail.
The week following the daylight sighting, I spent a couple of hours watching, at night with two other men, the back area of this backyard, which is bordered by a storm channel. We saw nothing unusual that night.
After studying satellite maps of the storm channels of Lakewood and Long Beach, California, I concluded that the ropen had come from the coast, following the channels into Lakewood. It probably has been eating rats and possums that it finds at night in and near the channel.
. . . the lady at first paid little attention to the barking of her nearby dog. She was focused on her computer until she heard a strange noise. She looked up to see a strange winged creature that immediately flew off, startled by the human who had suddenly come out from under the nearby gazebo.