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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

By the Way: CFZ News

Mark and I will be starting a revamp to the website when I return next week, but in the meantime there are a few changes to the Permanent Directorate.

1. Oll Lewis is confirmed as Ecological Director, and has taken over Elliot Saunders's old jonb as EIM

2. Suzi Marsh has taken over Elliot Saunders's other old job as Corporate Fund Raiser. (Elly by the way, as some of you know, retired due to ill health some months ago and we wish him well).

3. David Phillips is now part of the Permanent Directorate, although his title will not be confirmed for a few weeks

4. Helen Bond, who is totally invaluable as CFZ housekeeper, has been unanimously voted onto the Permanant Directorate - we just haven't told her yet

ALSO

The following speakers have now been added to the bill for the Weird Weekend:

PAUL CROWTHER
PAUL CROPPER
RICHARD INGRAM

We are planning a number of new attractions, including films, exhibitions, a demonstration of crop circle construction, and a Mad Hatter's Tea Party for the kids. More details when we get them. Although we can confirm that we shall be revisiting an old feature of the WW that we haven't done since 2002 - Devon cream teas in the afternoon! That should make Judith J happy...........

On the Road

As any regular readers will know, I am planning to marry my girlfriend Corinna at some point next year. However, at the moment she lives in Lincolnshire, so - as I am relatively footloose and fancy free at the moment, since Dad's death - I spend a reasonable amount of my time up here with her, rather than living in Bachelordom back at the CFZ with Graham, Mark and Olly (and Richard and John intermittently). It is weird living like this, because I have wanted to come back to Woolsery to live ever since I left in 1981, and now I have inherited the house, I spend large amounts of my time in suburbia at the other end of the country. This, however, is the way that it has to be for the moment, so rather than be apart from the woman I adore for weeks on end, I find myself once more living out of a holdall.

However, ironically I get more work done here than I do when I am back in Woolsery (I don't get distracted by going and talking to the animals all day), and at weekends (and sometimes in the evenings) we do go places and do things. Last weekend I prevailed upon my beloved to take me to one of the more obscure parts of the West Midlands to the British Tarantula Society show. There, I was overjoyed to meet up with an old mate - Graham Smith - who, together with his lovely partner, runs Metamorphosis , a company selling exotic insects.

But Graham is so much more than just a purveyor of creepies and crawlies. He is one of those rare things in today's society: An old fashioned Field Naturalist. Graham and I (as we always do) spent hours talking about things we had done, and places we had been. I told him about my two recent trips to Puerto Rico and about the pair of caecilians that we managed to buy for the CFZ a couple of weeks ago, and he told me how he had narrowly missed buying a pair of Hellbenders , but most of the time we spoke about the smaller inhabitanmts of the universe that continue to surprise and delight us all.

Graham told me about some of the research he has done recently on grass snakes and stag beetles. I am not going to steal his thunder. Although he is a most modest man who hates to see his name in print, I hope that I shall be able to persuade him to do a book with us sometime soon. But the whole episode served to reminded me (as if any reminding was necessary, which it probably wasn't), that the portmanteau discipline of Fortean Zoology (which I basically invented anyhow), is just as concerned with stag beetles as it is with yetis, and that it is the job of the CFZ to remind everyone that discoveries of new and peculiar animal behaviour, morphology, and even new species, can take place in your back garden, as well as they can in the foothills of the Himmalayas.

So I wrote this, and this weekend I shall be pond dipping, not watching reality TV...