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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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sad News: Paul Vigay dead

We have just received the following email from Matthew Williams: "It was today whilst away from home I heard about the sad death of Paul Vigay who may it appears to have commited suicide.

I must say I was very saddened and shocked to hear of this loss as Paul seemed to be a very lively and happy person every time I met him. I always remember him giggling or smiling and he was again another very courteus fellow who we could agree on many subject matters of the paranormal.
He was also friendly towards circlemakers and had a sensible approach to the subject.

I remember many a night on Knapp Hill when Paul Vigay would turn up and start swapping info on circle energy detectors with Steve Clementson. We were careful to try and hide our circlemaking activities from Paul and many other but we always suspected that Paul was on to us such was his eye for observation".
I only met the guy once, but he seemed a nice bloke, and from the copious messages of condolence on his website, it seems certain that he will be sorely missed.

Richard and Jon on stage at the Grant Museum of Zoology on Thursday 19th

We are back, and still on the track

We are back, and it is horribly late, but we have had a smashing few days, and there are lots of things for us to tell you....

I am sorry that the blog postings have been a little erratic in the past few days, but as I said right at the beginning of this magnificent bloggo journey the CFZ are a research and animal welfare organisation first, and a media one a long way second.

This week our itinerary was absolutely ridiculous:


Woolsery to Wraysbury 218 miles
Wraysbury to Grant Museum, London 28 miles
Jon + Richard lecture at Grant Museum


London to Wraysbury 28 miles
Wraysbury to Woolsery 218 miles


Woolsery to Yeovil 92 miles
Yeovil to Wraysbury 114.77
Wraysbury to London 28 miles
Dr Strangely Strange


London to Wraysbury 28 miles
Wraysbury to Crews Hill, Enfield 37 miles
Visit the grooviest tropical fish shop in the universe (or at least Middlesex)
Crews Hill to Sedgemoor Drain services 176.28 miles
Sedgemoor Drain services to Woolsery 88.86

A total of 1057 miles plus at least forty miles wandering around London to and from hotels to venues and stations and restaurants. Not bad for an old crock like me, ably supported as ever by his beautiful (and completely un-crocklike) spouse.

I would like to thank Max, Matty and Graham for driving about half of the journey, and Corinna for driving the other 500+ miles. In four days we have seen a thylacine skull, a new species of snakehead, some very rare fish, a mouse-deer skeleton, a woman who was brought up in Tibet where the villagers had all seen yetis, several daleks, Captain Jack Sparrow (or at least a reasonable facsimile of same), and have introduced young Max to the delights of psychedelic folk music. Andy Roberts and I got all emotional at seeing Kip of the Serenes played in its entirety, and in Wraysbury we saw the world's worst shed.

How have YOU spent your last four days?

PS. Normal service will be back by tomorrow evening, although tomorrow lunchtime's posts may be a little late..

The world's worst shed

A quiet Sunday Blog-trawl

First up, in this trawl through the Nature Blog network, I had a look at Darren Naish's blog:

"Welcome to my final set of musing and recollections about our recent Moroccan trip, led by Nizar Ibrahim. Mostly I'll be talking here about the amazing desert birds we got to see, but I also have stuff to say about the mammals, and - of course - about the fossils..."

Holiday snaps with a difference!


I sometimes feel I ought to know more about trees than I currently do. I tend to categorise them as climbable and non-climbable, but that's about it. So I enjoyed looking at Tree Species Blog ("Exploring the world of trees") - not that it applies much to Devon, though. Not many River Red Gums around here!

It's here if you fancy a look.

And Wrenaissance Reflections has a skywatch that's not for UFOs or "Rods" but merely for nice sky pics. The first one is a snowy glacier and makes me feel a bit chilly just looking at it!

I'm off to have a coffee!

Pictures of the CFZ's fishy activities

The CFZ is setting up a fish tank in our local pub, the Farmer's Arms. It's called engaging with the local community and the presence of lager and whisky has nothing to do with it!

The tank's in the restaurant, seen here behind the bucket-carrying Oll Lewis. Oll is the CFZ ecologist and deals with many aquatic matters - including carrying water around!

Over to Oll:

Now that spring has finally arrived in Britain, and the weather has started to warm after a long cold winter now is the time to progress some of the various animal-related projects the CFZ have been working on.

The purpose of the display tank in the Farmers arms is not only to raise the CFZ’s profile in the local community but to educate people about fish and get people more interested in natural colorations of fish, rather than the gaudy flashy and often unhealthy fish that are often bread specifically for aesthetic reasons by the more unscrupulous members of the aquarist community.

That will take a day or two to settle....

Fish are fascinating creatures and look beautiful in their natural colourations and the second CFZ project, the bitterling tank, illustrates this perfectly.

Max checks out the newly-set-up bitterling tank

Bitterling reproduce by laying their eggs in freshwater mussels, the fry get a warm safe place to develop and live off the mucus in the mussel. In a textbook example of symbiosis, when the mussels reproduces they send out parasitic larvae that form small cists in a fish’s gills, when the larvae have developed they fall off the fish.

This can weaken a fish slightly but the fish is not usually in any danger.


Alan first came to my notice when he turned up at our stall at last November's Unconvention. He was clutching a box that had once held a plastic Christmas Tree. He thrust it at me, and said "Here's your mermaid".

I vaguely remembered Richard F having said that one of his mates had offered to make us a feegee mermaid, but I had forgotten all about it. Sad to say, so many people offer to do stuff for us, and then fail to deliver, that I had got into the habit of treating all such offers cum grano salis, but the advent of Alan shows that I should not be such a cynical old sod. Now he has become a guest blogger..

Now this little tale is certainly off-topic as far as mysterious zoology goes, but then several other blogs have also veered somewhat from the cryptozoological straight-and-narrow, so to speak, and I’m pretty sure that the events that I’m about to relate do have some Fortean interest at least, so pin your ears back and prepare to hear a rather gruesome, not to mention disturbing story….

About six years ago, I went out one evening to meet some friends at one of my local pubs. They knew that I had been working on a horror movie project, and asked me to bring some props along with me, so I found an old plastic bag from Tesco (it draws less attention) and filled it with a severed, decomposing head--always a sure-fire hit at parties--two rotting human arms and a small withered mummified creature. I’m fairly well-known in my neck of the woods (East London) for turning up at local hostelries with assorted monsters and dead bodies which I will usually sit on a bar stool. The best audience for this, not surprisingly, was the late-lamented Goth pub The Intrepid Fox in Wardour St in Soho in London’s West End, and for a couple of years I had three of my zombies sitting behind the bar, leering out from between the beer pumps. The landlord said that they were his best customers, which is perhaps the reason why the pub closed down…

So there I was, with my Tesco bag full of body parts, which seemed to go down well with the local inmates, most of whom were so drunk that they didn’t know what they were looking at anyway, and I have to admit, that what with it being something of a social occasion, I had myself partaken of what might be euphemistically described as “a few sherbets”, so consequently my powers of cognisance and deliberation may have been somewhat alleviated by the time I called it a night, and repaired to my local Chinese takeaway for the obligatory prawn balls, and a sweet and sour--or whatever.

The next morning, I realised that firstly, I was labouring under the weight of a hangover that felt like my head had been stuffed into a tin drum along with a small thermo-nuclear device, and second, that my Tesco bag had inexplicably gone missing. Despite my delicate physical state I managed to recall enough of the previous night through the mists of alcoholic oblivion to remember placing the bag on the floor of the takeaway. In great relief I pulled myself out of my deathbed, and painfully dragged myself down there. To my even greater relief, the chap behind the counter recognised me, and gave me a cheery wave over a large plate of Peking duck.

“Hello!” I said. “I left a bag here last night. Silly me!”

“Yes, yes,” he said, “you leave it on floor.”

Yep, that sounds about right. Can I have it please?”

“Oh no,” he said, “we throw it outside by bus stop.”

“WHAT?” I replied. “Why on earth did you do that?”

“We look inside and find murdered dead people. We scared, we no like.. We get rid of it.”

I was momentarily speechless, although if I had been able to find the words, I am certain that the great majority of them would have begun with “F”. I went out to the bus stop, but the ‘murder victim’ was long gone. Initially, I was understandably angry that these idiots had chucked my work away, but even worse, the fact dawned on me that they had found what were ostensibly human remains--at least as far as they were concerned--and rather than phone the police, had disposed of the evidence. I could hardly sue a provincial Chinese takeaway for loss of earnings, and in all conscience I had to accept partial responsibility for being drunk in charge of decomposing corpses--kind of, so I was forced to chalk it up to experience. I’ve often wondered what happened to those props--whether they turned up on Ebay, or have been kept in a cupboard somewhere by some loon who thinks they’re the real thing…

In the years since, I’ve often visualised this nightmare scenario of lunatic serial killers up and down the country, bumping people off right, left and centre, then dumping the remains in this shop, only to have them conveniently disposed of by the nutcases inside.

So if there are any budding Hannibal Lecters out there, who find themselves in possession of some inconvenient heads, torsos, and assorted human body parts, I suggest that you immediately get yourself down to Dagenham, where I could direct you towards a very accommodating Chinese takeaway……..

More on the Swanpool Beast

Our friend Kithra has given an update to the story of the Swanpool mystery creature on her blog:

She also writes:

I found this longer article about the weird creature spotted in Falmouth, in the local weekly edition of The West Briton, so thought I'd forward it; although it doesn't really say much more than was reported in The Packet newspaper:


Werewolf linkythings....

It was mildly ironic, but on thursday night our friend Jack Ashby at the Grant Museum, announced a forthcoming lecture on the dearth of werewolves in contemporary culture. I say Ironic because in recent days it seems that the folk on the CFZ Bloggo can talk about little else.

It started when Dr Dan commented on Oll's article


And then continued with some lycanthropic comments on Karl Shuker's article on dog deities.



BTW, bringing the subject back to Oliver again; there was a comment on Karl's blog posting about the Welsh legend of `Gelert` - the brave dog who died saving his master's baby. Oll takes a severe look at this legend (amongst other things) in the latest CFZ Yearbook and finds it wanting!