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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Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Hello again folks, Muirhead`s Mysteries is back again in a blaze of glory, or feathers as the case may be:

The Journal of the Cork Historical And Archaeological Society Vol 2A 1893, William Corliss`s Biological Anomalies Birds,(1998) John Michell and Robert Rickard`s Living Wonders (1983) all report on a battle amongst starlings in Cork, Ireland in 1621. This was origanly recounted in a pamphlet held at the British Library (in 1893) that is, not today necessarily titled: `The Wonderful Battell of Starelings Fought at the City of Corke in Ireland,the 12th and 14th of October last past,1621. This was published in 1622.

“About the seventh of October last, Anno 1621,there gathered together by degrees an unusual multitude of birds called stares, in some Countries knowne by the by the name of starelings. These birds are for the quantity of their bodies strong,for their quality bold and ventrous, among themselves very loving, as may appear by their flights keeping together all times of the yeare,excepting breeding time. …The stares,or starlings,they mustered together together at Cork some foure or five daies before they fought their battells,every day more and more increasing their armies with greater supplies…(1) [Corliss, Michell and Rickard take up the story in Living Wonders (2):]

“Prior to the famed battle,two large flocks of starlings had been massing,one to the east of Cork,the other to the west. The birds were kept within the bounds of their apparently well-defined territories until 9:00am on October 12th 1621. Bourne described what happened next.:

“Upon a strange sound and noise made as well on one side as on the other,they forthwith at one instant took wing,and so mounting up into the skies, encountered one another with such a terrible shock,as the sound amazed the whole citie….Upon this sudden and fierce encounter,there fell down into the citie, and into the rivers,multitudes of starelings,some with wings broken,some with legs and necks broken,some with eyes picked out,some their bills thrust into the breasts and sides of their adversaries, in so strange a manner, that it were incredible except it were confirmed by letters of credit and by eyewitnesses, with that assurance which is without all exception.

The conflict dragged on for two more days. On the 13th., the carnage took place at some distance from Cork. The battle on the 14th was again over Corke, and dead birds again rained down on the city.”(3)

Corliss then go on to detail a battle between ravens over Ginnhein, Germany in 1883:

“The Frankfurt (Germany) Journal writes: The gardener, Mr Georgius from Ginnhein, called at our office today with a chest full of dead ravens,victims of a battle which was fought high in the air among a flock of over four hundred of these birds near the above mentioned village. The ravens formed together into three detachments, and as if at a given signal flew at each other, and with savage cries seemed as if they would tear each other`s eyes out of their heads with their beaks.(4)

Corlis has this to say about bird battles:

“Anomaly Evaluation: We can only surmise that two bird armies would clash so viciously only because of a territorial dispute involving,say,choice nesting and feeding sites. The anomalous aspect of such battles is seen in the sharp division of the forces, their organisation,communication,discipline, and perhaps even strategy. Such characteristics are rarely seen in vertrebates,except,of course,among some primates!

Possible Explanations.Territorial disputes.

Similar and Related Phenomena. Some insects,particularly ants,engage in battles, but usually with different species.”(5)

There are probably many other records of bird battles buried in the literature. On page 393 of The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena also by Michell and Rickard 2nd ed. There is an illustration from 16th century India of a battle between owls and crows.

1.J.C. The Wonderful Battell of Starelings Fought at the City of Corke, in Ireland, the 12th and 14th of October last past,1621 Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Vol 2A 1893 p.260-261

2. J.Michell and R.Rickard Living Wonders (1983) p.154 in W, Corliss Biological Anomalies: Birds (1998) p.246

3. W.Corliss Biological Anomalies: Birds (1998) pp246

4. Corliss Ibid. p.246

5. Corliss Ibid p.246

That`s all for today folks.Supposing YOU the reader of this blog suggest something I can blog about and I`ll see if I have the data?

“Come in Boogi Boy,you`re late! Have you got the papers China-man gave you?” “Yes,Boogi,in the past this information has been supressed,but now it can be told,every man,woman and mutant on this planet shall know the truth about De-Evolution.” (Devo-Jocko Homo,video version.Do me a favour,for my birthday on the 5th,watch this video on the Net.)


WEIRD WEEKEND 2009: Andy Roberts


I was going to publish a tribute to Robert Rines this morning, but I was pre-empted by Lindsay, who actually met the man twice....

The sad news that Robert Rines passed away on November 1st, is also a sad day for cryptozoology.
He one was of the leading figures in the hunt for the Loch Ness Monster. The underwater pictures he and his team took and the sonar readings are famous around the world. The sonar picture here may not have been seen by many people as I don't think it was widely published at the time.

I met him twice and found him to be friendly and open, not at all standoffish and always willing to explain what they were doing and show people the equipment.

Read on



1 The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Kent by Neil Arnold (2)
2= Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (8)
2= Big Cats Looise in Britain by Marcus Matthews (-)
2= The Big Cats in Britain Yearbook 2008 by Mark Fraser (-)
2= Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (-)
6 The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes (6)
7 = Man Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot by Nick Redfern (-)
7= The Big Cats in Britain Yearbook 2007 by Mark Fraser (-)
7= The Big Cats in Britain Yearbook 2006 by Mark Fraser (-)
7= Dark Dorset by Mark North and Robert Newland (7)


1 Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (2)
2 Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (3)
3 Dr Shuker's Casebook by Dr Karl Shuker (5)
4 Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (1)
5 In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley (6)
6= The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes (6)
6= The CFZ 2008 Yearbook (-)
8= In the Beginning: Collected editions of Animals & Men Vol One ed. by Jonathan Downes (9)
8= Man Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot by Nick Redfern (9)
8= The Island of Paradise by Jon Downes (6)

Last month's positions in this pinky colour, which I think is called cerise.

I don't know whether it is the recession, or whether it is the effect that we noticed a few years ago whereby sales plummet in the summer, but this last month's sales have been the worst since 2005 when we only had very few titles. Hopefully things will pick up soon.

LIZ CLANCY: Crypto cookery

Planet Cook is a children's TV programme on Channel 4 at some ridiculously early hour of the morning. I happened to find this out because my nephew wakes up ridiculously early and I am now living with him and his mother, my sister Katt.

It's a peculiar programme, it has to be said. It's called Planet Cook but the action takes place on an island - an island in the shape of a yeti's footprint (according to the makers, at least). It's presented by the geordie chef who used to do BBC2's Can't Cook Won't Cook (I forget his name) and children's TV favourite Dave Benson-Philips who portrays the pipe-playing 'yeti', and I only use the word 'yeti' because that is how he is described in the programme despite the fact that he is an unusual shade of peachy orange; has mint-green feet, hands and face; and has odd-looking ears that sort of stick out a bit like antennae.

The episode in question that I saw showed the cook and two young child actors making a 'monster hand' out of cabbage and fish as the 'yeti' looked on....

Oh, and Ruby Wax voiced a cliff called Roxy. The mind boggles!

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


I saw a Tim Vine DVD last night so I have a few more bad puns buzzing round my head than normal. Consider yourselves warned. Anyway… to the news:

Coyote likely involved in N.S. attack not diseased

New clues to the Falklands wolf mystery

Scientists restate Tsavo lions' taste for human flesh

Still, even with the revised figures, humans were still a ‘mane’ food item for the lions.