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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, March 19, 2009

USENET CONUNDRUM

The CFZ Bloggo changed from being a forum for the occasional rant by me, into a twice-daily magazine with up to 60 postings a week in the middle of January. It happened, like so much at the CFZ, and indeed so much in my life, totally by chance and has grown organically into what we have now - only two months later.

I have been posting updates, twice a day to a list of on-topic newsgroups on Usenet for two months now, and I am beginning to wonder whether it is a good idea. I get someone like HHW the other day say something nice about us once or twice a week, and have always taken that as an unsolicited random sign that people generally appreciated what we are trying to do.

But recently there have been several posts on Usenet Newsgroups which seem less than appreciative, and describe the postings as `spam` or generally `annoying`. Some of them have been from people who have what Nick Redfrern would no doubt refer to as a `covert agenda`, and who have never made any secret of their opposition to the CFZ in general, and me in particular. But others are from total strangers.

Now, I find `spam` as irritating as the next person. My in-box is always inundated with offers to remortgage my house, improve my sexual stamina, marry a Ukranian model, or purchase prescription-only painkillers, and I find these mildly irritatating. I find it even more irritating when completely off-topic postings are made over and over again to newsgroups. Last week, for example, two ecological newsgroups to which I subscribe were inundated by posts from a "bored housewife looking for a well-hung stud" and an Eastern European woman wishing to "show off massive new implants on webcam". These are obviously spam, and are obviously beyond the pale.

But my twice-daily postings are on-topic. They are telling people about a free sericice that we are providing: the world's only free, twice daily, interactive cryptozoology magazine and news service, and because we get anything up to 3,700 people a day visit us, we must be doing something right. We are not trying to sell anything or recruit people. Yes, there are links on the bloggo for people to buy our books, or join the CFZ, but there is no pressure for them to do so. Indeed, I have always tried to be lighthearted and cheerful (even silly) in the postings.

But what I do not want to do is to be intrusive, or to lay my trip on people who find these postings annoying. At the moment I get little feedback from the Usenet postings (two a day to 14 fortean and cryptozoological newsgroups), but what feedback I do get is more positive than negative. I am only doing these postings to Usenet as part of what I perceive the CFZ service to be. I like the idea that someone who is not into the subject enough to subscribe to the news feed, can look at his or her emails in the morning and think "aaah, that looks interesting" and go and investigate, and I think that if someone is not interested that is what the `delete` button is for. After all I am an enthusiastic member of several fortean-related newsgroups, and I am quite happy to delete the postings about `spontaeneous human combustion`, or `conspiracy theories` because they don't interest me.

However, this is just my perception. If I am indeed being a pain in the arse, then I will gladly stop postings on Usenet, and I would ask any list owners who want me to do so to contact me offlist on jon@eclipse.co.uk

If, however, as I hope, the majority of people appreciate that I am just trying to provide a good natured, free service, and basically to do something nice, publicising the work of people who would otherwise remain unjustifiably obscure, then I shall be happy to continue.

Up to you guys!

GLEN VAUDREY: The hverafuglar Iceland’s hot-spring bird

Until fairly recently I had never even heard of the hverafuglar, Iceland’s very own mystery hot spring-dwelling bird.

Unsurprisingly for an island renowned for its geothermal activity Iceland has a large number of hot water springs and pools, in 1910 they numbered some 700 in total. The water in these pools goes from bath water warm to hot enough to boil you alive, dangerously there is little in the way to forewarn you of the exact temperatures of the steaming pools, so it’s best not to jump in to the first one you see. So it would seem on face value that these thermal pools would not be the first place that you would expect to find a mystery bird, with the possible exception of perhaps a parboiled fowl floating on the surface. But it is these same hostile waters that you have to look for sightings of the hverafuglar over the years

The first written reports of these birds are to be found in Dithmars Blefkan’s Islandia, sive populorum & mirabilium quae in ea Insula repriuntur accuratior descriptio published in Leiden, Holland in 1607. Dithmars tells of the red-coloured ducks that he saw first hand on a visit to Iceland in 1563, he watched these ducks from afar swimming around in the pools of boiling water, if they were approached they would dive below the bubbling water not resurfacing until the coast was clear.

By the 18th century the description of the birds had changed a little they were now described as being similar to small ducks, jet black in colour with white circles around their eyes. While their colour may have changed their habit of swimming around the waters of thermal pools had not and they would still dive below the boiling waters for safety rather than fly away. Their peculiar abilities and behaviour led to the belief in some more rural parts that the birds were in fact the souls of the dammed who had been cast down to swim in those boiling waters by way of punishment.

Dammed souls or not sightings of these remarkable birds would continue well into the 20th century. In 1912 two boys at Hengill in the north east of Iceland spotted some hverafuglar describing the birds as about the size of a small duck, a dark peaty brown in colour, except for their neck and breast which were lighter in shade, the two boys noted that when the birds flew they beat their wings rapidly, lest you think that these birds were not true hverafuglar the boys also watched them swimming in the boiling hot waters of the spring, something that the boys knew better than to try themselves.

The most recent recorded sightings that I have been able to find have come from the hot springs at Reykir, Ölfus when a hverafuglar was witnessed as recently as 1940.

If anyone else has heard of recent reports of these wondrous birds I would be delighted to know the details.

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: A giant whale and an entombed toad

Richard Muirhead is an old friend of the CFZ. I have been friends with him for 40 years now, since we were kids together in Hong Kong. He is undoubtedly one of the two best researchers I have ever met; he and Nigel Wright both have what Charlie Fort would have no doubt called a wild talent; a talent for going into a library, unearthing a stack of old newspapers, and coming back with some hitherto overlooked gem of arcane knowledge. Twice a week he wanders into the Macclesfield Public Library and comes out with enough material for a blog post..

Hello again, I`m back with my part of the blog,with another marine story (they seem to be cropping up alot lately) and an old familiar one, the entombed toad.

"On Wednesday, a whale supposed to measure above 80ft was seen of (sic) Rye (1) Bay,going up Channel. About one o` clock in the afternoon of the same day, two whales of the above description were discovered by the Dover fishermen, in Dover roads,which so alarmed them,that they all made for the shore,the fishermen say,that a large sloop was alongside of the fish going up Channel,when one of them spouted up such a large quantity of water as to preclude them from any the least sight of the vessel." Macclesfield Courier December 5th 1812 p.3

"A few days ago,some workmen,employed in a quarry in Byker-hill (2) on splitting a block of freestone, about 3 tons weight, found a live toad in the centre of it." Macclesfield Courier December 12th 1812.p.3

(1) There is a Rye in E.Sussex
(2)There is a Byker today near Newcastle-upon-Tyne

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

In the words of Jeff Lynne ‘Here is the news’. He didn’t add ‘from the CFZ daily news blog and started to harp on about cures being found for ‘good old rocket lag’ and possible future meteor showers despite the current weather being fine, but had he been interested in cryptozoology the following stories might have made it into an ELO song:

Did Bat Hitch a Ride to Space?
Escaped lion shot dead at zoo
Woman to sue over donkey attack
And
Golfing parrot takes YouTube by storm

I heard that parrot usually gets a ‘birdie’ when he plays.

MYSTERY ANIMALS OF KENT

After months of work, this remarkable book is finally available. It is the bulkiest book we have ever done, and with over 270,000 words the longest apart from Monster Hunter and Dragons: More than a Myth?

Neil is to be congratulated for such an extraordinary piece of writing. A large proportion of the book concerns big cats, but as Neil - despite his detractors - is one of the leading mystery cat researchers in the country, this is hardly surprising.l However, what makes it so much better than yer run of the mill big cat books which seem to be largely rehashed press cuttings, and in which the sentance "err it was black, it had a long tail and looked like my Labrador" seem to be repeated over and over again ad nauseam, this is the first-hand story of years of dedication and hands-on research.
The non-cat chapters are equally as interesting, covering a whole gamut of subjects from out-of-place animals to what Neil calls the "nameless anomalies" which would not be out of place in an episode of the X-Files from about ten years ago.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's only £14.99 which is hardly extortionate in this day and age, and in the unlikely instance that you don't like it, it is so substantial that you can use it as a door stop, throw it at your dog, or wrap it in a pillow-case to make a handy cosh, and tootle on down top your nearest sub-post office.
Well done mate.

Paperback: 420 pages
Publisher: Cfz (Mar 2009)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1905723369
ISBN-13: 978-1905723362
Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 2.2 cm

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mystery-Animals-British-Isles-Kent/dp/1905723369/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237461233&sr=8-1

RICHARD AND JON ON NEW ZEALAND TELEVISION

WAYHAY!

http://www.3news.co.nz/Video/CampbellLive/tabid/367/articleID/96019/cat/73/Default.aspx#video

The Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and Mongolian Death Worms may just be flights of fancy for some, but for others they require serious scientific investigation.

Cryptozoology is the search for hidden animals. At one end of the spectrum it might mean hunting for a new species of bat, and at the other it might mean globetrotting to find Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

Richard Freeman and Jonathan Downes are two men who have dedicated their lives to finding them.

Their latest trip had Mr Freeman searching for Russia's equivalent of Big Foot.
And while there is no solid evidence of its existence, the team has managed to collect eyewitness testimony.

"One farmer who said one of these large creatures had killed his dog with a club," Mr Freeman said. "It just walked non-chalantly into his house and picked up a large Bulgarian cheese. What it wanted with the cheese we don't know. It looks and tastes like rubber."
The passion for cryptozoology caught both men at an early age. For Mrr Downes it was when he was just seven-years-old.

"It blew me away," he says. "I already liked animals and to think there were monsters in Loch Ness, it was one of the big three epiphanies of my life. The other was when I learnt boys were different to girls, and the other when I heard the Sex Pistols."

Some of Earth's contemporary creatures such as Big Foot or the Almasty are too big for many to swallow - there is simply not enough evidence.

But for Mr Freeman, Mr Downes and many others, they live for this stuff.
In Mr Freeman's case, he reckons that he almost had an encounter with an Almasty at 2:30am in a small, secluded Russian cabin.