Saturday, June 13, 2009
We usually get somewhere between 1,300 and 2,400 people a day visiting us and we have vacillated around on the Nature Blog rankings at between 11-18 since February. The sumbers have slowly been rising and we have been very happy with this.
However, as a direct result of us having released the Peruvian "snake" pictures yesterday, viewing figures have gone through the roof. As I type, the figures are well over 8,000 and rising steadily and we are at #2 in the Nature Blog hit parade. Which is all very well but does it mean anything?
I sincerely hope that some of the people who have been drawn in by news reports linking to the blog from Coast to Coast AM, Fortean Times, The Anomalist and others will check out other parts of the bloggo, become regular readers and even more hopefully get involved.
However, pleased though we all are at the figures, we know that this is a blip and we are not gonna get all vainglorious about it and start proclaiming how clever we are. We leave that sort of self-congratulatory nonsense to other people.
On a slightly different tack, I have authorised most posts that people have made commenting about the Peruvian "Snake" and other stories. However, I will not allow abusive nonsense through. So "Hey man, too much ***ing talkin' why not tell us da truth about alienz" and "stop wasting my freaking time with this ****" are denied. The CFZ bloggo and indeed the CFZ as a whole is a forum where anyone with manners and a modicum of intelligence can voice their opinion. And it doesn't have to be an opinion that I share. However, name calling and semi-literate drivel, or paranoid conpiracy theorising has no place here.
“Right,” said Jack. “I’ve managed to get a few people involved. Experts even. My colleague Jeff’s eldest daughter Susannah is a recently qualified vet and she’s agreed to help us out in this. She is fascinated by the latest developments and would really like to help track a big cat down for personal curiosity and so she can add it to her already impressive CV. She spent three years in the Army before doing her vet’s course up in London so she’s gutsy and the right person to help us. Her boyfriend Greg is good with guns and he’s going to bring hit shotgun just in case the worst happens and the creature decides to attack.”
“Oh no,” cried Florence, “you can’t shoot it. Pleeeeaasssse!”
“No Florence,” nobody wants to harm it but as your mummy says we need to take precautions. This is a serious endeavour and we need to careful on every level. History is here being made by us all so we need to do it right and we need to be cautious yet decisive when the time comes. We shall see what occurs....
“And Ellie is putting a spanner in the General’s works,” declared Frieda. “Apparently, he is even worse than we’d expected and totally bought her ridiculous lines about demons in the graveyard and shapeshifting black cats. Apparently, get this, the fool has told Ellie that you can psychically predict someone’s DNA. He also believes that he can tetra heal the Universe and has the power of Greyskull. Idiot! She asked me what he was on about. I told her I haven’t a clue but to stay with it. I doubt he has a clue what he’s talking about either.”
“Well, let us hope the ABC Team is down by the river,” added Robin.
“Up a creek without a paddle,” joked Tom.
“Our problem is that there are too many variables at the moment and we need more hard data. I have had an idea though,” said Jack, thoughtfully. “About filming, or tracking at least. I think it’s maybe time to set the trap. I need to visit a farm supplier I know first though....”
Meanwhile, down by the riverbank Billy Poison and his lady were confusing paw prints in the mud – no doubt made earlier that morning but something like a Golden Retriever on its walk – with those of a big cat and already seeing this as evidence that Ellie was indeed right in her suggestion that this was the place to base their operation. “Can’t you feel it, Billy,” enquired Ellie, thoroughly enjoying her role and taking it ever so seriously now that she saw her village threatened by these outsiders.
And, she considered, how dare the General assume that because she had red streaks in her hair and listened to Grindcore music on her MP3 player that she was some wayward village idiot who hung out in the graveyard or by the cricket pavilion taking drugs and drinking beer! As it happened, she was the youngest of three children, possibly the cleverest but not much given to academic pursuits. She was more an artist and loved making things.
Quite a lot of her time was spent looking after her mother, Anne-Marie, who had Multiple Sclerosis and, despite have a goodly supply of cannabis available (from some outdoor planting in the Minster Woods) to help with her movement, and all the love in the world from her family, she still struggled getting out and about. So Ellie did what she could for her mum, spent quite a lot of time seeing friends at her house and doing creative things in her spare time.
Matters descended once again into the farcical as The General emerged with a retinue including a mobile film unit from Channel X TV led by presenter Yvonne Fawcett. At least she was wearing wellington boots and a sensible outdoor jacket. The General had a pair of cheap trainers on and looked totally ridiculous in a pair of shorts that were far too small for him. He was barking orders to anyone that would listen but most of his followers were more interested in getting photographs of themselves with Yvonne than doing anything for the self-styled Leader and Expert.
“Ok people. We are here today to investigate the mystery cat further,” said he. “We have a number of local leads including information from this young lady here, Ella.”
“It’s Ellie,” replied the teenager, clearly miffed at The General making the same mistake as other people. “And what I suggest we do is spread out along the river banks on either side and see what we can see. We’re looking for anything out of the ordinary.” Seemingly in charge, and yet working for the other side, Ellie seemed to somehow galvanise the ABC Team into action and they split off in twos along both sides of the riverbank.
Huffing and puffing and trying to keep up with his team, The General waded into the river and emerged five seconds later covered in mud. “There’s a bridge just up there,” said Ellie, unable to stop laughing. “Ahh, yes, love,” he said. “I thought I saw something metallic in the water. Hum.” Ellie rolled her eyes and put her headphones on. The music of Dead Infection was much more enjoyable than hearing The General’s babbling ninsense, Ellie thought.
Half an hour later, after more interviews with The General, a woman from Scotland who’d “come down specially” and had “psychically predicted the arrival of a dark messenger” in Dorset was surveying the scene. Ellie was there, taking it all in, and there was much excitement as the walkie talkies crackled into action. Billy The Burger Man had found something “out of this world” (well he was into UFOs so what did anyone expect?) and needed “everyone to witness it” further up river. So off they tramped, some in excitement and Ellie in resignation, that he’d probably found an old crisp packet and would declare it as evidence for a retrieved alien spaceship before sending them out to hunt for occupants.
They arrived to find a small crowd standing around what looked like a couple of field mice. More photographs were being taken and someone from the Midlands, one of The Generals’ shock troops, had even produced a pair of surgical gloves. Someone with a brain, Ellie thought, whatever next?
What came next boggled even her young and open mind. “I cannot believe it,” said Burger Man. “Animal mutilation. I never thought I’d see the day!”
“Animal what,” asked Yvonne, cameras rolling in anticipation of something...anything. “Mutilation,” interrupted The General. “Proof that we are not alone.”
“Well, they look very alone now,” said Ellie. “And they’re just field mice, so what gives?”
“They have bore holes in their skulls and I have seen this in publications,” replied Burger Van. “Done by aliens, intent on harvesting animal DNA for their own uses. Nothing else could have done something as precise as this but we have more and more cases in The Literature,” he added.
“Errm, and how did they get here?” asked Ellie, hoping the cameraman was getting all this insanity on film. “Well,” he continued,”My bet is, in an area like this, that they have been dropped from a great height probably by black helicopters operating out of a secret military facility. That’s what They do, you know.”
Field mice dropped from black helicopters piloted by aliens? “Let the heavens open up and swallow these people whole,” Ellie muttered to herself, shaking her head in total disbelief.
The ABC Team had cranked the credulometer up to 11............
It has been a hectic two weeks both at work and at home, so I can only apologise for the missing week from my internship diary.
Last week started with me in Launceston; I had wanted to be allowed to help the curators to see how they work. Tony Eccles, the curator of Ethnography let me help him take down an exhibition about the great plant collectors of the Veitch nurseries. They had by the outbreak of World War one introduced 1281 plants to the west, including over 200 orchids and the Pocket Handkerchief tree we have one of in our garden.
The rest of the week was taken up with more shells including the prettiest ones yet and more herbarium. On the Friday I was again helping Tony, we took some rather ace objects to be photographed. My favourite was a Tongan club.
This week we have been doing a variety of things, yet more shells, even more herbarium action and condition checking the Cuvier's Beaked whale skeleton which is being remounted.
On being told that there was a Moa skeleton in the stores, I found it whilst looking for a whale rib and took a few pictures. On Friday I also saw a specimen of Passenger Pigeon, a bird whose story I'm sure you're all familiar with. It looked ordinary; not being an ornithologist I wouldn't have thought it unusual if it appeared in my garden. But nonetheless seeing it in such close proximity was quite emotional, it was on a table, between a pair of hummingbirds and the shell of a small turtle.
Friday afternoon found Catherine crawling around finding bits of bamboo under a tiger (one of 39 shot in 10 days by George V, the git), and found me checking pest traps as we had found a couple of live booklice, in one of them were two odd looking insects I couldn't identify, on asking some of my superiors they couldn't identify it either although the Assistant Natural History curator thought it was a type of winged Psocid (booklouse) however we were unsure if he was right and may send photographs of it to an expert. It was a rather long legged, bristly winged beastie of about 2 or 3 mm in length. Maybe I shall include a pic of it next week if I can.
So all in all I am still loving my work placement and hope that I can get a job in a museum like the one I'm working at now.
Regular bloggo readers will have heard me talk about Marjorie Braund, grandmother to Dave and Rossi B-P, and mum to Kaye over at the Hilltop Tails blog.
From 1971 to 1980 and intermittently ever since she has been like a second mother to me, and when Corinna and I got married in 2007 it was her, together with Corinna's Mum who acted as witnesses and signed the marriage certificate.
She is very unwell at the moment and was taken into hospital last night.
A few weeks back dear Jan sent us this:
"These are all pictures of the same bird. It’s a fledgling, as you can see from the beak. It’s kind-of-brown. I know what it is, but do you? "
I was beginning to worry, but because she works in animal rescue, and this is a spectacularly busy time of year I left her to it.
However, yesterday she wrote to me, saying that it was a baby starling, and that she had been ill.
Back in the summer of 1977, the year of the two sevens clash, I was a sophisticated young punk who listened to the artier side of punk rock, a smattering of reggae and Frank Zappa, and was secretly in love with Animals by Pink Floyd. However, some of my other friends were less tasteful, and a chap who I shall not name (bnecause I still see him occasionally) was obsessed with a particularly unlovely album Cat Scratch Fever by the particularly unlovely Ted Nugent.
Now I had just finished typing that paragraph when my lovely wife came in, saw the LP cover and said "Oooh I've got that album!" So its a good job I hadn't typed out that I always thought it was a disingenuous load of sexist tosh (sample lyric:
"Wang Dang Sweet Poontang Wang dang, what a sweet poontanga shakin' my thang as a rang-a-dang-dang in the bell She's so sweet when she yanks on my meat Down on the street you know she can't be beat What the hell Wang Dang Sweet Poontang"
But what is the point of this ramble through (thankfully) largely forgotten guitar noise? Well, basically, until yesterday I never realised that Cat Scratch Fever was a disease, and I only found out about it because Jan told me that she had contracted it.
"Its not just caused by a scratch. You can get it from simply stroking a kitten and rubbing your eyes. Apparently most vets and vet nurses have had it, and they are amazed I haven’t had it before now."
So when Nugent wrote:
"The first time that I got it I was just ten years old I got it from some kitty next foor I went and see the Dr. and He gave me the cure I think I got it some more They give me cat scratch fever Cat scratch fever"
Get better soon honey. I'm going off to listen to something wholesome, probably Throbbing Gristle...
I just thought I should add a few comments to the ongoing giant snake saga. Having looked at the this mornings pictures I couldn’t honestly tell you if I thought it was a giant snake or a sandbank to me both points of view hold water and are of equal merit. Certainly I have great difficulty imagining a snake of such size being in existence and yet undiscovered by science but then who am I to judge on Greg and Mike’s opinion, after all I like to think that Stellar’s sea cow is going to be rediscovered in the next year and it’s only a question of time before the great auk appears in our northern waters.
I can also see that the picture could be nothing more than a simulacrum, just nature playing tricks with sand, water and trees. But without being an expert on the geography of the region I question, I can not discount the possibility of the image indeed being a very large snake.
It all makes a good conundrum just enough information to tease, without the obvious fakery that some other recent mystery animal sighting have been plagued with.
I for one want to thank Greg and Mike for sharing this information with the CFZ family and hope that there pursuit of this giant one day yield the goal that may of us long for the discovery of a new mystery animal.
It goes without saying I wish them the best of luck in their continued searching for evidence.
I lost a router last week, and I was without internet access.
However, if I had internet access, I would have noticed an unusual cat story in my local daily news website. Amazingly, for a small county in very rural West Virginia, we have a daily internet news site.
This cat was captured in a cage trap. And no one knew what it was. It was like a domestic cat with rounder ears and lots of spots.
After perusing the photos on the news story, I instantly thought "Bengal!" Bengals are a hybrid between domestic cats and the Asian leopard cat. They are widely marketed as pets in the US, although they are usually backcrosses with domestic cats. The F1's are often too much for the average person.
It turns out that a local cat breeder had purchased an F1 Bengal for breeding purposes. Somehow, the cat got out.
It was then trapped in the cage trap. The owners of the trap didn't know what it was. So they called the local authorities-- who didn't know what it was either!
And here's the kicker: instead of doing some research on what the animal was or even trying to find its owner, they took the cat to a remote area AND RELEASED IT!
Now, the cat's owner is looking for her. And local authorities look like total fools.
This has now made statewide news. It's not quite to the level of the supposed African lion that was running loose in the southeastern part of the state, but it's pretty bad.
Now, if I had been able to access the internet on Monday, I would have known what it was. I know the owner of the news website, and he would have received a response from me. He then would have passed this along to the authorities, and I'm sure the authorities would have at least performed a google search. And then they probably wouldn't have been as cavalier about turning such an animal loose.
And then a woman might have been reunited with her cat.
And all of this because my last router stopped working.
I've done a full story on it here: http://wildlifemysteries.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/strange-cat-captured-and-then-released/
Along with the cryptozoology news from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog and the bad pun, on Saturdays I post my song of the week. This week it’s American Pie by Don McLean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6uEjifqTaI
And now, the news:
The Snakes Are Winning!
Georgia: Another lion sighting reported
Mass. yellow lobster is a 1 in 30 million rarity
Florida woman rescues good ol' boys from gators
That’s quite ‘whisky’, anyone would think she way ‘rye’ing to get hurt.