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, October 17, 2009


Who is this cute redhead? And why is she snuggled up to the Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, who actually looks completely slaughtered, when in fact he is just tired?

It was the evening of the WW Sunday Dinner 2006, and I (I've had enough of trying to recount this story in the third person) was absolutely cream-crackered after what is always the most exhausting weekend of the year.

The girl is Tania Poole, an Australian pagan and fortean who was kind enough to say extremely nice things about us all after attending the event. Indeed, by the end of the weekend she had joined the ranks of `Uncle Jon's girls` - an unofficial melange of young ladies who seem to take pity on this cynical old hippy, and help his long-suffering wife look after him whenever his manifold physical, psychological, and personality failings let him down.

She went back to Oz a few days later, and although we have heard from her by email, and indeed she has even written for the bloggo, we haven't seen her since.

However, out of the blue a day or two ago came a parcel from her. As you may remember, I attained my half-century a couple of months ago, and am now officially in the old git brigade (although, if I am to be brutally honest, and there is no other kind of honesty, really, I have been an old git for years). However, I digress, but regular readers of the bloggo will be used to that. The last thing that I was expecting as I unwrapped my post that morning was an affectionate letter from Tania, together with two lovely birthday presents (pictured on the left).

The stamps will take pride of place in the crypto album, and the yellow roadsign has already been affixed to the office door together with the `Beware of the Chickens` sign that Oll gave me for the same birthday.

I am feeling extremely touched. Thank you, my dear, for being so kind to an ageing cryptodude. It means a hell of a lot to me, and I really do appreciate it. It is at times like this that I realise that my efforts to make the CFZ a truly global family, are slowly but surely bearing fruit.

Thank you, dear.

Truly there is a corner of a foreign field that is forever Woolsery.


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.

In the early 1990s I came across a reference to the 'pygmy weasel', an allegedly distinct mustelid; that is, distinct from the well known British weasel. This original reference was in The Country Life some time in 1975, which referred to pygmy weasels on Anglesey. My notes were passed to Jon and he incorporated them into his book The Smaller Mystery Carnivores of The West Country (1996), which is a must for any serious student of British cryptozoology. I quote from parts of Appendix Four of this book below.

Please forgive me for the frequent references to myself in this blog.I am not trying to “blow my own trumpet” it is just that am referred to quite a lot in Appendix Four of Jon`s book.

`Richard Muirhead has spent some months investigating reports of dwarf weasels from various parts of the country, including the island of Anglesey and parts of Cumbria. The idea of such an animal is not particularly new. Writing in 1989 Sleeman noted: “ The frequent existence of a second litter, coupled with the difference in size between the sexes are factors that give rise to stories about two types of weasels; ordinary and pygmy weasels existing side by side. In some rural areas such weasels are called `minivers`(1)

Richard has discovered that these creatures are still widely believed to exist and in some areas are known as `Squeazels`. The details of the Anglesey animals are obscure, but it appears that they are lighter in colour than one would expect and have been reported as being white.' (2)

Jon then quotes from a letter I received on July 28th 1995. For the first time I reproduce the letter in its entirety; spelling, punctuation, etc is left as it appeared in the original.

'Dear Sir,

I have been meaning to write to you for several weeks, re your letter in the Holyhead and Anglesey Mail asking for any information on the Pygmy Weasel.

In my younger days I spent some time with an old mole catcher who worked the wooden barrel traps he occasionaly caught one of these Pygmy weasels in his traps. This was in the area of Church Stretton, Craven Arms and Ludlow area (Shropshire). The pygmy weasel is certainly not confined to Anglesy.

There is a retired Game Keeper living near me who knew all about them when I mentioned it to him. They are to be found in Yorkshire Cumberland and Westmorland, he has also caught them in these areas from to time, and were quite a pest in the Pheasant pens (? word unclear) killing the young chicks and dragging them underground into the mole runs (?). The old mole catcher had a name for them ( a Squeezel) due to pushing themselves down the mole holes.

I see one here on the farm from time to time, and recently saw one old one and three youngesters in a stone wall. There are two different types, the same size but one is quite a light colour and a much darker one is to be found. The darker being the rarest of the two.' (3)

On September 18th and 26th 1996 Colin Howes, the Environmental Records Officer of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, provided me with further interesting information, which will be provided in Part Two, which will conclude the blogs on the pygmy weasel; along with information in a letter from Mr Paul Robinson on January 12th 1997.

(1) P.Sleeman Stoats and Weasels,Polecats and Martens(1989) in J.Downes The Smaller Mystery Carnivores of The West Country (1996) p.111-112
(2) J.Downes Ibid.p.112
(3) Letter from P.M.A. Plews to R.Muirhead July 28th 1995.

They call me hell, they call me Richard, that`s not my name, That`s not my name, that`s not my name, that`s not my name, they call me quiet boy, but I`m a riot, etc!! (with apologies to The Ting Tings)


Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Biological Diversity

8.6 Million Acres Protected for Green Sturgeon

One of the largest, rarest, and most ancient fish in existence earned 8.6 million acres of habitat protection in California, Oregon, and Washington last week due to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit. The North American green sturgeon, which has remained unchanged since it first evolved 200 million years ago, declined by 95 percent between 2001 and 2006, largely due to loss of suitable spawning habitat. Only three spawning grounds remain, leaving the species dangerously vulnerable to extinction. The decision to designate key rivers, estuaries, and coastal areas as protected "critical habitat" will help the sturgeon to recover and live for another 200 million years.

Read more in the Appeal-Democrat.

Paper Backs Panther Protection Proposal

Arguing that "the idea of saving the Florida panther really should not seem far-fetched -- just overdue," the Palm Beach Post endorsed the Center for Biological Diversity's scientific petition to establish a 3-million-acre reserve for the endangered species. "The request is staggering," the paper said, but if the Endangered Species Act saved the bald eagle and American alligator, it can save the Florida panther too -- if we use its powerful habitat protection tools.

Down to about 100 animals in a single population and suffering from lack of genetic diversity, the Florida panther needs room to grow to three large populations. The Center's petition filed in September is designed to give it the room to do so.

Read the Palm Beach Post editorial, check out our Florida panther Web page, and download a free Florida panther ringtone.

109,000 Acres Protected for California Toad

Thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity's campaign to reverse Bush's legacy of tainted endangered species decisions harming 62 imperiled species and more than 8 million acres of habitat, last Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect nearly 109,000 acres for the endangered arroyo toad. Once a common Southern California resident, the toad has lost 75 percent of its historic range to sprawl, grazing, dams, mining, and off-road vehicles. But though the Service proposed to protect 478,400 acres of toad habitat in 2000, political interference in endangered species science left the amphibian with a disgraceful 11,695 protected acres in 2005.

The Center's campaign to clean up Bush's toxic legacy has thus far resulted in 52 lawsuits seeking to protect such species as the California red-legged frog, Cape Sable seaside sparrow, Arctic grayling, Gunnison sage grouse, and Mississippi gopher frog. The Obama administration has agreed to throw out the Bush decisions in almost all instances so far.

Read more in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Help on the Way for Endangered Sea Turtles

Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies settled a lawsuit against the federal government compelling it to address three scientific petitions to boost protections for leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles.

Our petitions urge the National Marine Fisheries Service to upgrade the Endangered Species Act status of North Pacific and Western North Atlantic loggerheads, and to increase protections in the loggerheads' key nesting beaches and marine habitats. We're also calling for the protection of key migratory and foraging habitat for endangered leatherbacks off California and Oregon. Both sea turtles are imperiled by commercial fishing, pollution, and global warming -- among other threats. The feds must respond to our petitions this winter.

Get more from the Associated Press.

Yellowstone Wolf Pack Slaughtered: Take Action Today

In bad news for gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park, last week the remaining four members of Idaho and Montana's Sage Creek wolf pack were gunned down from the air by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The pack was first targeted this summer for preying on a sheep on the secretive USDA Sheep Experiment Station west of Yellowstone Park, which grazes thousands of sheep on 100,000-plus acres. Through work in court, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies have already laid bare to outside scrutiny the sheep station's actions, compelling a comprehensive public review for the first time in the station's 94-year existence. But the station must be eliminated to help wolves and other wildlife survive in a crucial habitat corridor between Yellowstone and the wilderness of central Idaho.

Check out our press release, learn more about northern Rockies wolves, and take action for wolves now.

NRA Attacks Center Suit to Stop Wolf Killing

Politics makes strange bedfellows, but I never thought I'd see the day when the Obama administration would join with the National Rifle Association to defend the killing of wolves. That's what happened last Friday when the NRA sought to intervene against the Center for Biological Diversity's lawsuit to put the northern Rockies gray wolf back on the endangered species list and save it from being gunned down in Idaho and Montana.

In a bizarre legal filing, the NRA included testimony from one of its members describing a "most life-threatening encounter with wolves" in which he threw snowballs at 30 wolves and they . . . they . . . ran away. When will the horror end? Wolves in the northern Rockies have much more to worry about than NRA snowballs: More than a hundred have been mowed down by state and private gunmen since the species was removed from the endangered species list. The killing, unfortunately, is backed by the Obama administration.

Read more in the Helena Independent Record.

Group Supports Center Bid to Create Tejon National Park

With developers planning to destroy Tejon Ranch's most biologically important area, an organized movement is now afoot to preserve the ranch forever as a national park. For many years, the Center has called for this amazing swath of biodiversity-rich land to be conserved as a state or national park. Now, the New National Parks Project has declared that it wholeheartedly agrees.

In an LA Times op-ed on the vital importance of new national parks -- and Tejon Ranch -- the national-park advocacy group's Erica Rosenburg laments the day in 2008 when certain environmental groups agreed to sacrifice a key area of the ranch (including protected California condor habitat) to development in order to save most of the ranch. Why, asks Rosenburg, can't we protect all of the ranch, completely and forever? Already a biodiversity gem in the midst of development-riddled Southern California, the ranch should join America's other "crown jewels," from Yellowstone to Yosemite, as a place to be conserved for the benefit of animals, plants, and people alike.

Read Rosenburg's article in the Los Angeles Times.

83,000 Comments Protect Sierra Nevada Bighorn

Thanks for helping the Center for Biological Diversity generate an amazing 83,000 comments asking the U.S. Forest Service to protect the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn. The agency listened, and this summer pulled domestic sheep off three high-elevation grazing allotments that threaten bighorns with disease transmission.

We'll keep working to protect bighorns from disease transmission on these allotments and everywhere else they're at high risk.

Learn more about our campaign to save the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.

350 Reasons to Get to 350 -- And You're One

The Center for Biological Diversity is gearing up for the International Day of Climate Action this October 24. On that day, people all over the world will gather to take a stand for a safe climate future -- and you know what that means: getting atmospheric carbon dioxide levels down to 350 parts per million soon. The Center will soon launch a Web site describing 350 reasons to save the climate: 350 species being driven to extinction by global warming, from the polar bear to the Peck's cave amphipod to . . . well . . . you. Each species will have a profile and a photo.

You can participate by taking a photo of yourself, your friends, or your family with images or toy versions of your favorite species and sending them to us for our collection of pics to post on our site. You'll also be able to take action by contacting the White House to demand the strong climate legislation we need to save all 350 of the profiled species -- including humans -- and so many more.

Take a sneak peek at the project and get involved now. Then check out our page all about 350 ppm, the magic number.

Casanova Bird Saves Own Species With Studliness

If you were an endangered songbird, what would you do to bring your kind back from the brink of extinction? Trampas, a male loggerhead shrike, knows a pretty good way: Mate, mate, mate -- and mate some more. Since Trampas was hatched in captivity in 2001, he's definitely done his part for the loggerhead shrikes on California's San Clemente Island, siring 62 chicks. From those chicks have come 93 grandchicks, 61 great-grandchicks, and 25 great-great-grandchicks . . . and there are more on the way. Not long ago, loggerhead shrikes in the San Clemente Island subspecies were at barely a dozen, and now more than 80 breeding pairs fly free in the wild, with more than 60 birds in captivity -- largely thanks to Trampas. And don't worry, ladies, Trampas is (mostly) a one-bird guy: His favorite mate, Mrs. Trampas, deserves credit, too.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

KierĂ¡n Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Florida panther courtesy USFWS; green sturgeon (c) Dan W. Gotshall; Florida panther by Larry Richardson, USFWS; arroyo toad courtesy USGS; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy NPS; gray wolf courtesy NPS; gray wolf courtesy NPS; Tejon Ranch (c) Andrew Harvey/visualjourneys.net; Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep courtesy California Department of Fish and Game; polar bear (c) Larry Master/masterimages.org; loggerhead shrike courtesy USFW

The Center for Biological Diversity sends newsletters and action alerts through DemocracyinAction.org. Let us know if you'd like to change your email list preferences or stop receiving action alerts and newsletters from us. Change your address or review your profile here.


I have been wallowing around in the world of independent publishing for a long time. I started my first magazine aged 10, and did various others over the years, but have been doing it non-stop now ever since 1987.

But I have been in love with music since 1970 when at the age of eleven I found that the thundering riff on a Deep Purple record took me places that I had never been before, and realised that my parents' dismissal of them all as "long-haired twits" probably wasn't either kind or true.

Ever since 1987 I have ended each year with my top ten favourite albums of the year, and I have to admit that this year I have been beginning to worry, because there have been very few records with which I have engaged, and none that have actually enthused me to the extent of being able to say that this is a GREAT or even a CLASSIC record. I was beginning to worry that I was just too old, that at the age of fifty I had left contemporary music behind, and was doomed to become one of those old gits who hang out on Friends Reunited moaning that modern music hasn't got any tunes.

That is, until now. The Flaming Lips (yes Lizzy, it is a peculiar name for a band) have just released a gloriously sprawling double album called Embryonic. I have always liked the band for their skewed take on pop/rock but now they have produced something completely different from their usual ouvre. And bloody hell, it's good.

It sounds like the John Lennon of Walls and Bridges playing with Kid A era Radiohead, with echoes of Rick Wright and even Miles Davis chucked in for good measure. But yes, there are still tunes. For some reason it reminds me stylistically of Julian Cope's equally sprawling Peggy Suicide but for the life of me I cannot explain why, except that they are both double albums and both surprisingly experimental considering what came immediately before.

The best thing I have heard for ages. Honest!

CFZ AUSTRALIA: There's yowies in them thar hills!

A 1978 yowie encounter in the Northern Territory has inspired a play that is now touring the country.

"NT News stories about yowie sightings in Acacia Hills were in fact a key point of inspiration for the piece," she told the Northern Territory News.

The play is the brainchild of Ella Watson-Russell, and centres around the kidnap of a man by two "hairy sisters". Intriguing!

Writing the play has apparently turned Watson-Russell from a sceptic to a believer.

There have been numerous reports of yowies in the Acacia Hills area, most recently in the 1990s.

Posted By CFZ Australia to Centre for Fortean Zoology Australia at 10/16/2009 03:02:00 AM

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Saturday’s here so here’s a song: Mr Lear by Al Stewart:


And now, the news:

Neglected pooch gets nine-pound haircut

'They were huge..it looked like a pterodactyl': Riddle of bones found in British Legion basement

Search may be last for Maryland fish not seen in 2 decades

They might launch another search in a few years, though, just for the ‘halibut’.