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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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Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'M NOT SURE WHETHER THIS IS A HOAX OR NOT BUT IT IS VERY FUNNY

January 1933: Combination Cat, Fish Globe Affords Unique Spectacle


HOW to exhibit prize winning kittens and butterfly goldfish to the best advantage was the problem of Mrs. J. T. Mopham, a cat and fish fancier of Los Angeles. She left the task up to a large glass company of her town who proceeded to turn out the specially built fish globe with an inside compartment for kittens.


The result, as illustrated in the photo at the left, was really startling. The outside compartment, filled with water, houses the goldfish with the kittens occupying the special bowl inside. Onlookers are bewildered when they apparently see the kittens and goldfish living in peace and harmony in the same bowl of water.


http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2008/08/08/combination-cat-fish-globe-affords-unique-spectacle/

RICHARD FREEMAN: ON THE TRACK OF THE SIBERIAN SNOWMAN

Just last summer the Centre for Fortean Zoology embarked on an expedition to the Caucasus Mountains of Western Russia in search of the Almasty, a relic hominid possibly closely related to Homo erectus. We were amazed at how many sightings of these creatures there were. Some were by well-respected scientists. We may have come within 12 feet of seeing an almasty, and we brought back a number of biological samples including fragments of a skull that is under analysis at Copenhagen University.

Now another expedition is set to begin a relic hominid search on the other side of Russia, deep in the Siberian wastes. A team from the University of Kemerovo will visit the Azzaskoy Caves 60 km from Tashtagol, in an uninhabited area.

The caves have long been thought to be the lair of these creatures whom he local folk refer to as ‘The Black People’. The creatures are said to be up to 2 meters tall, upright walking and covered in black fur. Footprints were found in October last year. They were found and photographed by a hunter, Viktor Kanayev, from the Yamal peninsula, inside the Arctic Circle. He made his discovery just 10-12 kilometers from Salekhard, the capital of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous region. “Those trails do not match any animal inhabiting the tundra of the Yamal peninsula,” he said.

Siberia is one of the most poorly explored regions of the world. In the CFZ 2003 Yearbook I wrote a lengthy article on the cryptozoology of Siberia, that included surviving mammoths, lake monsters, giant snakes, giant bears and relic hominids. If relic hominids can survive anywhere then it’s here. Siberia is twice the size of Australia and has a tiny human population. Relic hominids are widely reported in Siberia. In some parts they are known as ‘Chuchunaa’ that translates ‘outcast’.

Our own researches in Russia built up a picture of a 6-7 foot hominid with primitive ape-like tool use (rocks and clubs used as weapons), and no cloths or fire. It lives alone or in small family groups. It is immensely strong and agile. The body has a covering of short hair that can be black, brown or gray. It has a thick brow ridge, powerful jaws, a flat nose, virtually no chin and a short neck. It is not aggressive unless provoked and will approach human dwellings on occasion.

Richard's Reptile Related Ramblings.....

Don't kill the crocodile who killed our son - Jeremy Doble is missing feared dead after he was taken by a croc in front of his brother, Ryan, 7, whose terrified screams alerted their father who was working nearby.


Read on at http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25030569-5001021,00.html

Wal-mart rattlesnake attack! FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A 42-year-old man bitten by a snake in a Pembroke Pines Wal-Mart garden center is suing the company for negligence.

More at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,493248,00.html

THE BRITISH GUPPY

I would hazard a guess that the fishkeeping careers of a large proportion of the readers of this bloggo started with the humble guppy. A strikingly attractive, and ridiculously hardy little fish, specimens can be purchased for well under a quid in any petshop in the land. It is a native of north-eastern South America north of the Amazon, and some of its offshore islands (the Leeward Islands, Trinidad, and Barbados in the Windward group) from where it has been introduced to many West Indian islands to control mosquitoes. It was introduced into North America for the same purpose in 1908 and to Hong Kong in the years just after WW1. All this is well known, but what is less well known is that there are, or at least were guppies living wild in the UK.

According to Sir Christopher Lever, the world`s expert on the subject of naturalised animals, during the 1970`s there were at least two colonies of these hardy little tropical fish living wild in the United Kingdom. But how is this? you might well ask. The more eco-concerned of you might start to rant about the abominable effects of global warming, but in fact the tale has a far less portentious explanation.

Between July 1966 1966 and February 1968, zoologist B.S.Meadows carried out a study into a naturalised population of guppies that were living in a stretch of the River Lea which runs through Hackney in north-east London, where the temperature of the water had been raised to an ideal height for these tiny South American fishes. Ironically the population only surviveds because that portion of the river was so polluted that the only remaining native fish was the three spined stickleback which did not pose a threat to the burgeoning population of tropical livebearers.

When he wrote his seminal book “The Naturalised Animals of the British Isles” in 1975, Sir Christopher Lever noted sadly, that although the gradual clean-up of the river could only be a good thing environmentally speaking, it would probably mean the end of the River Lea`s population of guppies as larger, predatory species recolonised their old haunts, and munched away at the dwindling population of tropical interlopers.

History doesn`t relate whether Lever`s dismal predictions were right or not, because around about 190 the old coal powered power station was closed down for good, and whether or not there were any siurviving guppies in the river, they would certainly have died out when the water temperature returned to normal.

The other population of British guppies has an even morte interesting – and tragic – history. In 1963, a pet shop in Lancashire went out of business and the proprietor, hearlessly threw all his stock of tropical fish into the St Helen`s Canal, where they would undoubtedly have died very quickly had a 400 yard stretch of the waterway not been heated to an ideal temperature for tropical fish by the discharge from the nearby Pilkington Brothers Glass Factory.

According to Lever, a viable breeding population of guppies and also of Red Bellied Tilapia (Tilapia zillii) was soon established along with non breeding populations of angel fish, mollies and an un-named species of tropical catfish. According to Leslie Bromilow, the secretary of the St Helen`s Angling Association, this stretch of canal became known as “The Hotties” and the tropical intruders survived happily there for many years.

However, this story too has an unhappy ending. Leslie told us wryly: “unfortunately about ten years ago they switched the pumps off and the water cooled down and all the fish dies, but there is still a thriving population of Red Eared Terrapins”.

We spoke to the press office at Pilkington Brothers who confirmed Leslie`s story, and although they bemoaned the fact that they had destroyed the country`s only surviving wild population of tropical fish, they were not at all impressed by our suggestion that the least that they could do was to release thirty quids worth of guppies back into the water and start again.

So there you have it? Is the guppy (and the red bellied tilapia) finally extinct in the UK or are there other serendipitously introduced populations lurking in areas where industrial activity has inadvertantly provided an environment where they can live and thrive?

GUEST BLOGGER OLL LEWIS: Werewolves of Europe (Awooo)

Apart from the fact that his puns are terrible and he has an obsession with the more surreal side of Internet culture, Oll Lewis hasn't put a foot wrong since we started this bloggo-thing. Here is his new bloggo post which, for a change, takes place on dry land....


On first impressions the werewolf is probably one of the most preposterous of all animals to be lumped in with cryptozoology. Putting their near invincibility to one side you’re left with a creature that can completely change its physical appearance, biochemistry, mass and genetic make up for one night each month and be perfectly fit to go on a hunt that very evening. However if one looks at the origins of werewolf mythology in western Europe then it can be argued that werewolves are real, but were not shape-shifters or possessed of supernatural powers as they have been portrayed by most folklore or later in horror stories and films.

Most people will group western European werewolves in with lycanthropes, which are admittedly very similar to werewolves, but have several differences. In the case of lycanthropy the physical change from human to wolf is usually absolute and the wolf has no particularly special abilities such as human intelligence, superhuman/superwolf strength or near invincibility and they were often said to stay in their new wolf form for the rest of their lives or at least for several years. The earliest surviving records of lycanthropy are found in Herodotus’ Histories where he writes of a tribe from Scythia, approximately in the area of the Belarus, called the Neuri that had a story that at least one member of the tribe would transform into a wolf once every nine years. Unsurprisingly Herodotus was quite sceptical of this outlandish claim but wrote it up anyway. Other examples of lycanthropes myths from antiquity include that of a Greek king called Lycaon who became a wolf after eating human flesh and a myth related by Euanthes that if a man hung his clothes on a tree and swam across a certain lake in Arcadia he would be transformed into a wolf and provided he didn’t kill anyone in 9 years he could swim back across the lake to become a human again. Most myths relating directly to lycanthropy date from before the birth of Christ and seem to be entirely folkloric, based on interpretation of religious beliefs held at the time.

Werewolves, as something distinctive from lycantropes, are first mentioned in Western Europe in the 12th century by Gervase of Tilbury in ‘Liber de mirabilibus mundi, Solatia imperatoris, and Descriptio totius orbis’, a collection of strange tales and unsolved mysteries, which can be viewed as an early forerunner to modern day collections of forteana like the works of Charles Fort. Gervase was also the first chronicler to mention a connection with a werewolf’s transformation and a full moon.

Werewolves are noted in folklore for their extreme violent rampages. They are commonly blamed for massacres murders and in some cases torture of humans. The Western European werewolf tales were based, not on the lycanthropes but on Scandinavian Beserkers called Úlfhéðnar who would wear the skins of wolves in battle and believe that they would take on the soul of the wolf, giving them unparalleled killing abilities and making themselves practically invulnerable. The combination between an insatiable apatite to kill and their perceived invulnerability made them among the most feared of warriors a Viking king could possess in his army. As a result of this connection most European werewolf myths cite wearing the skin or at least a belt made of a wolf’s pelt as the cause of people becoming werewolves.

The most well known European werewolf myth is that of the beast of Gévaudan which was blamed for 211 separate attacks, including 113 deaths, between the years 1764 to 1767. A major hunt was launched for the animal responsible for the killings and in 1765 the kings lieutenant of the hunt, François Antoine, killed a large grey wolf 87cm tall and 1.7m long weighing 60kg. This was assumed to have been the main culprit of the attacks but the killings continued until a local farmer and inn keeper, Jean Chastel, shot and killed a second beast in 1767. Later recounters of the tale claim that Chastel used silver bullets to kill the beast and this is likely the origin of the claims that werewolves can only be killed by silver bullets, however this claim first appears in a 1936 retelling of the legend. It has also been claimed that The beast Chastel shot was in fact merely an occupant of a menagerie owned by one of his sons.

It is likely that some people in the area may have used the wolf attacks as a cover to hide murders, but even taking that into account 211 attacks is still a very high number and several theories have been put forward to explain it. One of these theories is that the killings were due to an outbreak of rabies in the local wolf population, at odds with this theory is the fact that nearly of the victims were women and children and it is unlikely that a rabid animal would carefully pick its victims based on who could do the least potential harm to it. Another theory, favoured by the French naturalist Michel Louis, is that the beasts responsible for the killings were cross breads between wolves and domestic dogs and had no fear of men.

If there is any reality to werewolf myths it is because man often forgets just how dangerous wild animals can be and when there are prolific animal attacks in an area he feels the need to ascribe super powers to the animals rather than being forced to accept that this sort of thing can happen at any time, anywhere and that we are not the masters of nature we sometimes believe we are.

RICHARD FREEMAN: Hibagon - ‘and the nature of monkey was irrepressible’

This weird Japanese ‘mini-yeti’ is described as an upright walking ape-like beast. It has been reported from the forests around Mount Hiba in Hiroshima prefecture.

In the Autunm of 1972, Reiko Harada and her son encountered a Hibagon whilst walking home near Hiwa. It stood at the roadside and raised its hands as if signalling her to stop. Both mother and son ran home terrified. A search later revealed crushed shrubs and a stench like a rotting cadava.

Yokio Sazawa was digging wild sweet potatoes in the foothills of Mount Hiba when he encountered the beast.

“All of a sudden, this thing stood before me. It was about five feet tall with a face like an inverted triangle, covered with bristles. Having a snub nose, and large, deep, glaring eyes.”

Mr Sazawa was certain that what he had seen was not a monkey.

Albert Kubo was spreading fertilizer on his rice fields when he saw a figuer standing on a path. It seemed to be holding a paper bag. Not knowing who it was Mr Kubo approached it.

“He seemed to be lost in thought or puzzled…I was just about to say something when I realized it was the Hibagon. I was petrified, but the stench was what really got to me. He must have bathed in a septic tank and dried off with cow dung. I mearly passed out. Luckily enough, though, I managed to turn and run before it realized I was there. I ran five miles straight home without ever looking back over my shoulder.”

A nervous populace began to attribute livestock and even human disappearances on the creature even though it never behaved in an aggressive manner.

Creatures much like Hibagon feature in many Japanese legends. One such is the Hi-Hi, an ape like yokai that was covered in long silver hair that could turn back the blows of a sword. Those who drank its blood were said to be able to see demons usually invisible to the human eye. It may be the same species as Hibagon, but with mystic attributes grafted onto it. Some say the Hi-Hi was a monkey that rolled in turpentine to make its pelt bullet proof. Just how turpentine can turn back musket shots is unclear!

In Minamiaizu District, Fukushima Prefecture, the people were disturbed by a hideous screeching each night. A brave man called Teppōuchi set out to solve the mystery. He saw something white at the top of a tree and tried to shoot it. All the bullets turned back, except the last that struck the beast in the eye. Next morning he found a huge, dead Hi-Hi with white hair. It had plastered itself in pine sap then rolled in the riverbed sand.

Natives in Canada say that the sasquatch will smear pine sap upon its hide and roll in sand to give itself a hard coat against the winter frost. This led to the folk belief that it had a hide of stone. Could the same thing be happening here?

In his 1910 book ‘Tôno Monogatari’ (translated in 1975 as‘The Legends of Tono’) folklorist Kunio Yanagita records a belief in Iwate Prefecture that old monkeys use pine resin and sand to make their fur so hard that even bullets cannot penetrate it!

In Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture a girl was sacrificed once a year to a Hi-Hi. The god of Mitsuke sent a dog called Shippeitaro to kill the beast. After it was dead, the Hi-Hi’s body was enshrined on Kannon Mountain near the village of Kuma.

Dogs and Hi-Hi seem to be enemies. Another story that took place in Tokushima Prefecture involved a Hi-Hi that devoured a hunter. The man’s dog rushed back home to alert the hunter’s brother. He followed the dog back to the Hi-Hi. The dog attacked the beast and the hunter managed to shoot it. But the dog was also killed in the fight. The gravesite of the hunter and his dog remain.

A soldier named Daijirō was fleeing from Sendai capital city of Miyagi Prefecture with his family. His brother and his family were following behind Daijirō when a Hi-Hi killed his brother’s daughter. Daijirō and his brother killed the beast. The monster and the weapons used to kill it were supposedly buried in the grounds of a primary school.

Another Hi-Hi was buried in land were now a modern primary school stands. It was meant to have been killed in Sannai Village, Hiraka District, Akita Prefecture. As far as I am aware, no excavations have been undertaken. Perhaps the remains of some kind of unknown primate lie there to this day.

Another weird monster ape from Japanese legend is the Yama-chichi. This creature is a nocturnal ape that inhales people's breath while they are sleeping and pounds their chest until they are dead. However, if it happens to rouse its victim's companion, then the victim will be blessed with long life. It is said that many of them once dwelt in Michinoku Province.

In 1665, the second year of the Meireki era, Tokuemon,who served under Mihayashi Banyaku of the Kiriguchi house, was on patrol in the mountain forest when he met the Yama-chichi. He slew it with a bayonet.

A hunter named Nagasōmura no Ennemon met a Yama-chichi in the mountains of Kochi Prefecture. It said that it was going to eat him, but the hunter persuaded it to watch him dance first. He did such a silly dance that the monster roared with laughter. The hunter took this opportunity and shot it in its gaping mouth.

What was Hibagon and its kin? The Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), or snow monkey is found throughout the wilder, mountainous areas of Japan. But the macaque is a quadruped and reaches a size less than half that of Hibagon.

Another idea is that Hibagon was an escaped pet chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). Exotic pets are popular in Japan and strange as it may seem a number of these savage and dangerous apes are kept. Chimps can walk on their hind legs for a while but they are knuckle walkers by nature. This clashes with the description of Hibagon as a bipedal creature. It is likely that an escaped chimp would have also attacked humans.

Hibagon is more like other short, upright hominids or pongids reported elsewhere in the world. On mainland Asia there are supposedly three types of yeti. The giant Dzu-Teh, possibly a surviving form of the giant Pleistocene ape (Gigantopithecus blacki) the man sized Mi-Teh, perhaps a mainland species of orang-utan and the smaller Teh-lma. This last kind is four to five feet tall. In Malaya the Batutut is also a small upright walking primate. It is said to be fond of stealing shiny objects from human camps. On the island of Sumatra the orang-pendek or ‘short man’ is well known. It is a five foot tall muscular bipedal ape of great strength. It has black or honey coloured hair and a long mane that hangs down from its head. The author has twice taken expeditions into the deep jungle in search of orang-pendek and even followed its tracks. I have spoken to many witnesses including Debbie Martyr, head of the Indonesian tiger conservation group, who has seen orang-pendek no less than four times. I have no doubt it exists. My colleague Adam Davis brought back hair from Kerinchi National Park in Sumatra that was examined by Professor Hans Brunner, the world’s leading expert on animal hair. He announced that it was from a new species of ape related to the orang-utan

Could Hibagon be related to one of these creatures? Japan is certainly not tropical like Malaya or Sumatra but the Teh-lma inhabits cool mountain climates. There have, as far as I know, been no recent sightings of Hibagon. The animal might have died out or it just might still be awaiting discovery in Japan’s trackless mountain forests.

GUEST BLOGGER NICK WADHAM: Ants on the table and confused red admirals.

Thirty three years ago a little three year old toddler was instantly captivated by the chaotic myriad scurrying to and fro of countless little black specks in the back garden - black ants. With deft nimble fingers this little boy decided to catch as many of these little creatures as he could, but then the question arose in his mind of what to do with them next.

‘I know’ he thought to himself, ‘I’ll take them inside to show Mummy.’

So he did just that, but Mummy was nowhere to be found. The boy decided to safely store them on the kitchen table and get some more, just to be sure. After easily an hour of catching as many as his soft little hands could hold and running them to their new kitchen pent house, his typically gentle pink appendages, had become the throbbing crimson of the flesh of a blood orange.

As he contemplated his stinging skin, the boy surveyed the teeming tabletop, thousands of tiny ants, trammelling to and fro to get nowhere in particular, thoughtlessly trampling over one another in constant Brownian motion.

‘Yes, Mummy will be pleased!’ He thought to himself with satisfaction.
A bright shrill scream pierced the little boy’s reverie, swift and sudden like the crack of a ringmaster’s whip.

‘Nicholas Wadham!’
Mummy was most definitely “not amused!”
And now?

Just five days to go until the same boy heaves to with his wonderful wife and equally wonderful children to bring you Bugfest SW’s Carnival of Monsters. Recently turned thirty six (27th January), I am writing my first ever blog at the bequest of our friend, Jon Downes.

Sometimes people really beggar belief, just last week I put up lots of roadside promotional material to reinforce our Bugfest presence and to draw the attention of potential new visitors, all the more important as we are giving a lot of money to charity out of the takings, from the rest of which we will at least hopefully cover our costs. The next day however we were told by the local authority that we had to take them down, then, on the next breath we were told okay, keep them up, then, ten minutes later, we were told to take them down again. I have since found that if we have the permission of private land owners that we can display our posters. Confused yet?

We were. So today, I went out and found the landowners and actually got their permission to fix our posters to their boundary fences. Can you believe it? The difference in the original position of some of the posters was no more than two feet to the left, I am beginning to wonder if Orwell was in some way psychic, as opposed to a highly intellectual observer of society and the governing bodies who tell people what to do; there is definitely some form of inner party mentality inherent in South Somerset District Council. Now I am the proud owner of the title of anarchist, just awarded to me today by Jon in recognition of my efforts to topple the pillars of tyranny that seek to make our difficult lives all the more difficult, so that they can justify being paid to do absolutely sod all with their time and the money we pay in council tax for them to do it.

No doubt you have guessed who I am. I’m Nick, the other half of the partnership that drives Bugfest. I am responsible for the design and production of all of the marketing materials and keep an eye out for invertebrates that shouldn’t be on sale at the show such as CITES protected and DWA, not an easy task when you are also in charge of making sure that your five year old son doesn’t get lost or bored. But thanks to the fact that we have traders with solid reputations this has never been an issue.

Bugfest is a dream-come-true! For years I have been taking my daughters to the AES, but Henry is too young to endure the three hour drive to London and the subsequent long day at the races too. Kara recognised this and decided that if Henry couldn’t go to the mountain, then the mountain must come to Henry. We talked about the idea, Kara not having the first microgram of a clue about bugs, then, decided to go for it. I just gave her a few names and email addresses of the people that I knew personally, and from that, as a result of my wife being the wonderful people magnet that she is, and the support of everyone involved from its conception it snowballed into the first event at Holy Trinity Church.

Because she is so good at getting things done, Kara stunned the traders last February by creating a turnout of just under one thousand visitors; everyone thought we’d be lucky to get three hundred, however my inner intuition was quietly confident, I just knew that the day was going to be great, but even my empathic nature was somewhat taken by surprise. The challenge now is to keep things fresh and different. We don’t want to be like the other shows, we want to open our little niche market up to the world, and how better to do that then through aiming at the general public as opposed to just the hardcore enthusiast.

Whilst visiting the Dalek Day at Fleet Air Arm Museum last summer, we hit on the idea, okay, pinched it, to combine bugs with Daleks. Why not?


Both are just as interesting, and great crowd pullers, one looks like it has come from the world of the BBC’s Doctor Who franchise, whilst the other actually has, and to date we have now got at least five Daleks in attendance, a Tom Baker era Cyberman, a Cybershade from the recent Christmas special, a clockwork robot from the Tennant era, a Roboform (psychotic santa robot), a scare crow from the Family of Blood episodes, hopefully a K9, a full size TARDIS, a number of fans dressed up in tribute to their favourite Doctor, and a Captain Jack Sparrow, we wanted Harkness, but a friend of mine of many years does a fantastic impression of the Pirates character, and being a kind charitable chap offered to dress up and get into role for the day to help raise money for the South West Children’s Hospice. So, at the end of the day, Captain Jack is Captain Jack, we are certainly pleased to have him on board. Pun fully intended! If that isn’t enough we have all the usual great traders without whom Bugfest would certainly struggle to exist.
Even now Kara is not altogether keen on bugs, but she knows a heck of a lot more about them. It is most amusing when people say to her how they didn’t know she was into bugs, to which she patiently explains that she isn’t, and that this is all for the benefit of me and the children. So, as you can see, I consider myself one lucky man to have a Kara by my side, but irrespective, Kara’s hard work and commitment has now earned her the cool nickname “Bug Girl”; I can see this one sticking for some time.

Being the organisers of Bugfest, people would assume we have a house full of invertebrates, when actually the reverse is true. We have a Giant African Land Snail, Millipede, two Hissing Cockroaches, seven species of tarantula and six species of stick insect, most of which reside at school during term time where the children in my bug club help to look after them.

Outside of the Bugfest world my time is taken up with being a full time Dad, as Kara is the main bread winner as a secondary school teacher (and a damn good one too), and I am a PGCE student mentor and FE teacher trainer. When I am not busy extolling the virtues of inclusive teaching practice and making learning fun and engaging, I run creative writing classes, and I am currently writing a story about fairies with my eldest daughter, but more on that one later as that is probably worthy of a blog of its own.

For me this Bugfest time of the year is so frantic and full of surprises, but nothing prepared me for the surprise that today held for me. My youngest daughter, Harriet, ran in from the garden in a flurry of excitement, yelling that she had found a frog, not impossible as the day was very warm, but I found it hard to believe the rest of her message as she was maintaining that she had also see three butterflies. Then, on reflection I thought that actually this too wasn’t impossible, as it really was a very warm day, so I dutifully went out to investigate with her, (expecting to see some drowsy small tortoise shells enjoying a quick bask in the sun), only to be stunned to find three red admirals slurping greedily from my early flowering japonica, which is always covered at this time of year in numerous racemes of fragrant sulphur-coloured drooping bells the size of a small finger nail.

As I understand it this is mainly considered a migratory species, but they are also known to sometimes hibernate in the south of England, which these ones seem to have done, so it is clear to see, we were not the only ones confused of late, our red admirals were definitely confused by today’s most clement climate.

Let’s just hope that this serves a strong positive omen of more pleasant surprises for this forthcoming Saturday’s Bugfest, Carnival of Monsters.

Jon Downes has left the building.. (for a couple of days)

OK, Richard, Corinna and I are driving to London in a few minutes. Richard and I are lecturing at the Grant Museum this evening, on the practicalities and ethics of mounting a cryptozoological expedition.

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/zoology/whats-on/index.html


Fresh from searching Southern Russia for the Almasty – a creature believed to be a relict descendent of Homo erectus – scientists from the Centre for Fortean Zoology return for another captivating event at the Grant Museum. The Centre’s Director Jon Downes and Zoological Director Richard Freeman, will describe this recent trip – launched at the Museum last year – and report the evidence they found for the mystery hominid and eye-witness accounts they recorded.Having travelled the world in search of “hidden creatures” including Mexican goat-suckers, the African dragon Ninki-nanka, and more familiar beasts like Nessie, Richard and Jon will give a guide to planning such voyages; how to choose a study species, get funding, what and who to take along, who to talk to when you get there and what to do when you get home.


Following the talk, join us for a free glass of wine in a private view of the Museum.


Corinna and I will be back in Woolsery on Friday Evening. Richard, however is going back to Exeter where he will be lecturing the attendees of Microcon, the Exeter University Science Fiction Society about the Russia expedition, and also - we hope - interviewing Jasper Fforde for CFZtv. For those of you not in the know, Fforde is a science fiction author who regularly uses science fiction themes in his work...


So until tomorrow evening Graham is in charge. God help you and all who sail in you...