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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Saturday, June 06, 2009


...and I know several people who are going to be receiving one of these in their Christmas stocking this year, and thanks to the jolly nice people at sasqwatchwatch some are being given away as raffle prizes for the Weird Weekend...

However Max's sister Hannah has already fallen in love with one and will probably do her best to inviegle one out of us, unless we are very careful. Down girl!!




I was just sent this by a blog reader called Betty:

"On Monday I noticed this tree, covered in 'cobwebs'. Upon closer inspection it was covered in caterpillars - great fist sized lumps of them with many hanging in snake like threads. ALl the leaves have been eaten - it looks like a ghost tree. ANy idea what they are and how often this total obliteration of a tree happens. The caterpillars are still there and look like they are settling in for the next stage of life."

I know what I think it is, but what do YOU think?


It all started with a mealy mouthed story from Fox News, who probably have not forgiven me for my social faux pas in making a Charles Manson joke to one of their reporters whilst on camera and (I think) live TV. In a typically mealy mouthed way they reported that the blog of some dude called Drew Grant's, "which has a not-safe-for-work name we won't repeat", has just solved the mystery of the Montauk Monster.

Being a juvenile cove, I was intrigued. Was the blog called C*****F*****erx or Po****%^&* Merchants, or even N******Scum***H****? Nope it was called "AssMe.org" which was obviously the person in charge comparing himself to the domesticated subspecies of an equid called Equus africanus (or possibly a related species).

I really don't know what the fuss is.

I don't know who Drew Grant is either, but he tells a very convincing story of how the Montauk Monster, with strange bandage like ties around the extremities of its limbs, ended up on Montauk Beach.

It was surfer dudes with a peculiar sense of humour.


Last summer, apparently three unnamed surfers were "goofing off 15 miles west of Montauk, on a beach on shelter island. It was the weekend before July 4th, and the trio were making a raft and putting all sorts of debris on it, just for fun: watermelons, scraps of cloth, plastic swimmie duck, etc. When suddenly one of the guys finds a dead raccoon half-buried in the sand.

Now, my friend isn’t the type to take dead animals and set them on fire and float them off in the sea (he’s vegan), but, in his words, “this creature was honored with a Viking funeral, not merely exploited for crass entertainment.” Basically, though, they were just being dumb. “In the interest of full disclosure,” he admits, “this did happen shortly after a waterboarding endurance competition, and just before a clothespins-on-your-genitals challenge."

If we are to believe this account, which does - admittedly - have a ring of truth about it, then there is also pictorial evidence. Drew published these "photos which clearly show the scraps tied to the dead raccoon’s feet that were seen in the later photographs of the heinous beast", and concludes that "It wasn’t a viral marketing stunt at all, but just some kids setting fire to a dead animal and then pushing it off to sea with a watermelon and some floatie wings."

Seems fair enough to me. It also seems like the sort of dumb thing I would have done at that age, and probably when I was considerably older. I don't think I would ever have done the clothespegs thing tho...


Well, for reasons that will only make sense to me and Max, the young jackdaw is called Gerry. As you can see, the baffled little fellow of this morning has recovered his panache and developed a taste for mince and mealworms, as well as raw egg.

Whether we shall be able to release him into the wild I don't know, but we are doing our best not to spend too much time with him so that he doesn't become imprinted with humankind.

However, he has already been having jolly conversations with Rufus, the Chinese crested mynah who lives in the flight cage opposite him, but I don't think that is too much of a problem. A small corvid who thinks he is human won't last long in the wild, but a small corvid who thinks that he is an oriental starling-like bird may have fewer problems.

Let's hope he doesn't pick up all of Rufus's vices. We leave a radio on in the conservatory all day for him, and we soon realised that he prefers a certain genre of music. You ain't seen nothing yet seems to have been re-released, and is on heavy rotation on one of the local radio stations. Rufus adores it, and sings along with gusto!

However, I hope that Gerry will be released within a few weeks, and I am aware that crows have a propensity for passing on learned behaviour to their peers. And a corvid population in Woolfardisworthy with a taste for Canadian hard rockers with poor dress sense is more than body and soul can stand!


I think my editorial powers deserted me a tad this morning. I should have realised that my headline to Dale's piece was a little misleading. He writes:

OOPS! I did not mean that to sound like this was "The Earliest Lake Champlain Sighting", What I was trying to say was it was the first one I ever saw personally...AND it was an obvious moose sighting. Obviously Samuel de Champlain had the "first sighting" but what he was talking about was a kind of a fish. And there were many other sightings betwen his time and this archive report. Several are possibly swimming moose reports, but this one has not only the horse's head, mane and prominent eyes, it also includes the big droopy ears and moose antlers. Eberhart lists this as a type of cryptid in Eastern Canada called "Horse's Head" and considers that the Water Horse tradition had crossed the Atlantic along with the British colonists.

Reports of "Lake Monsters" with definite moose antlers also come from Flathead Lake and Lake Winnepeg, and one of Mark Hall's "Giant salamanders" from Ohio has them (no less) And that led to the supposition that the "Salamander" might have branching external gills. BUT that leads to another thing, the "External branching gills" theory includes the "Red horn" subsection of Water Horse reports, and the "Red horns" are apparently a reference to the antlers during the period the velvet is coming off (and during which time the antlers are actually temporarily bloody). Such reports are rare and basically still occur in parts of the same general "Monster Latitudes", which correspond to the original range for the moose or elk.


I have no pretensions at being a theologian. Indeed, one day, when feeling particularly exasperated I let out a verbal ejaculation which prompted my brother the vicar to remark that there was no evidence - even in the Apocrypha - that bicycles were around in the First Century, and even less evidence that Our Saviour had ever ridden one.

So I cannot comment on these two contradictory images sent in by Fleur's mum Georgina, except to say that as His Holiness is infallible, then the bottom message from Our Lady of Martyrs Catholic Church is obviously the truth.

Not only is the Pope infallible, but I wouldn't want to go to a heavan where my dear departed doggies weren't allowed through some piece of pettifogging theological idiocy.

So there!

Useful, but shocking, resource

Neil Arnold wrote to me a few weeks ago:

Jon, don't know if it's of interest but I stumbled across this webite: http://www.themissinglist.co.uk/ after trying to find info on several local dogs which had been killed, and on the left column under 'livestock' and also 'animal welfare' found many, many cases of slaughtered animals, stolen rare breeds, etc, Cannock Chase deer kills, slaughtered sheep, blah blah.

Some interesting stuff


I blush to admit it, but it was only today that I got around to catching up on my backlog of emails. I woke up early, and decided that I would get to grips with this ever mounting task, and amoingst the emails that were awaiting action was Neil's.

I checked the site out, and indeed it is a remarkable resource, but a horrific one. Like all the readers of the bloggo I was aware that our particularly unlovely species is a nasty and cruel one, but to see lists upon lists of animal killings, torturing and mutilations couched in the matter-of-fact language of a police appeal was, indeed, horrific.

But a useful resource nonetheless. Thanx dude


This is one of a remarkable series of pictures sent to me by Dave McMann last week, and published in the British Daily Mail. They show what happened at a private animal collection in the UK when a small rodent wandered into a leopard cage and tried to take its lunch.

One would have imagined that it would have been curtains for the rodent, but the leopard surprisingly tenderly pushed it away with its muzzle.

All together now:





Matthew Osborne sent this massively entertaining piece of surreal street art to us, and being fans of the surrealchemically absurd, we are posting it with no comment except for "Wayhay!"

DALE DRINNON: Perhaps the earliest Lake Champlain sighting...

It took a little searching through the archives to turn this up. It was incidentally the first report of any type I had heard about as coming from Lake Champlain.

In July 1937 some fishermen including Gene McGabe, Coots Gordon and Pat Harvey, reported a Champ near Whitehall New York. They saw it while fishing from a pier. They reported it as having a noticeable red mane, very large eyes and large drooping ears-and moose antlers. They estimated it as 50 feet long, and undoubtedly that includes at least part of the wake in the estimate.

The source is from a Syracuse NY newspaper dated July 22, 1937: The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library had it as part of a compilation article at second hand, in their clippings file under "Sea serpents" at the Central branch as of the 1970s. That was far back enough that other items in the same file included announcements from the Loch Ness Phenomenon Investigations Bureau. And my reaction upon first seeing it was "You have GOT to be kidding!"


Last night Richard and I wandered up to The Farmers Arms at about nine. At the top of Chapel Street the dude who owns the fiush and chip shop had parked his van, and from underneath the van came a scrabbling noise. It was a semi fledged baby jackdaw which had obviously fallen out of its nest on the roof of the village shop.

Every time we tried to catch the poor little bugger, it scuttled further beneath the van, until eventually we had to borrow a pool cue from the pub in order to persuade it to come out into the open.

We picked it up, and this is where the heartrending bit happened: Its parents, alerted to the plight of their youngster by its squawks, divebombed us and started to mob us. I am getting more and more interested in (and impressed by) the social behaviour of corvids, since the two wild crows started visiting our captive one each morning for what I anthropomorphically surmise is a `chat`, or even a `prison visit`.

We got the jackdaw home, and into a hospital cage where we gave it mealworms, wildbird mix, a pheasant egg and some water, covered up its cage with a towel, and left it for the night. I am waiting for one of the qualified folk (Oll or Richard) to wake up before disturbing it, so at the time of writing it is in a state of indeterminancy something like Schrödinger's eponymous Cat.

If it has survived, then it should be fully fledged reasonably soon (in the cold light of day, I see that I overestimated its age last night - but it was the dimpsey), and we shall release it. If not, at least we saved it from being played with and killed by a cat, or stomped on by a drunken teenage lout (of which there were a disturbing number wandering, shouting, round the village last night).

Watch this space...

UPDATE: The little bugger has survived the night, but is looking a little subdued. This is quite understandable, and we hope that he will perk up when he is moved into a proper aviary later today..


And its not just Senor Friswell who came up with the answer, it turned out that it was the same bloke who faked the dead mermaid. Thanks Alan:

Hi Jon.

Here's the answer to Lizzie Clancy's 'fairy' conundrum of last week. Scroll down to the botton of the page and you can see it. I'll be posting my first hoax pic shortly. My internet connection went down last week, and I've only just sorted it out.
Al :)

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


It’s Saturday so along with the news you get to listen to a song. This week it’s Running Man by Al Stewart, and is loosely based on Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele’s efforts to evade capture:
And now, the news.

Drowning baby stoat resuscitated
'Yeti hairs' belong to a goat
Hawaiian fish coughs up gold watch

I’ll bet the guy who lost the watch in the first place was really ‘tick’ed off.


Following yesterday's special report on the Appledore Book Festival, Chris Clark has unearthed footage of the original panjandrum running amok on Westward Ho! beach. Note the excited dog chasing it. These were the glory days of the British Empire before the Health and Safety Executive came along to spoil it. (I'm still glad we didn't take Biggles)..