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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Sunday, February 07, 2010

MIKE HALLOWELL: The story of Mr Lumsden and the linnet's nest

Mr Lumsden had a very exciting job. He was a block maker, which, one presumes, involved the taking of things that were not blocks and fashioning them into things that were. How he contained his excitement is beyond me.

Now, Mr Lumsden operated from a yard in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, which, I must state, is not exactly within the province of Geordieland. It's just outside of it, actually, by a distance of three miles or so. (The image on the left shows the present location of what was once Lumsden's yard).

But we will not quibble. The story I am about to relate is of too great importance to be vetoed by such a short distance. They yard used to stand on the site of what is now St. Peter's Basin on the north bank of the River Wear. If only people knew that what now houses a university campus should really be a holy place of pilgrimage for followers of Forteana.

Mr Lumsden went into his yard one morning - Wednesday May 5, 1852, to be precise, which was just two weeks before the Taiping Rebellion in China, although this is completely irrelevant - to make some blocks. He decided to fashion them from wood, possibly because previous attempts to make them from blancmange had been abysmal failures. He settled upon what Fordyce's Historical Register describes as, 'a solid log of English elm', and got to work with his saw.

It was at this juncture that A Very Strange Thing Happened. Lumsden had started sawing under the reasonable presumption that the log comprised of wood on the Top Bit, wood in the Middle Bit and wood on the Bottom Bit. Not so. The Top Bit and the Bottom Bit were perfectly wooden, but the Middle Bit had been entirely supplanted by something not normally found in tree trunks; to wit, 'a green linnet's nest.'

This puzzled old Lumsden somewhat as he was used to seeing nests resting upon trees, not inside them. The nest was, he later told the press, "in a good state of repair, containing moss, grass and other materials."

I can only think of two logical explanations for the presence of a green linnet's nest inside a log of elm. Firstly, it is possible that the linnets that built the nest decided to place it inside the trunk for a laugh. How they may have set about accomplishing this is anybody's business.

Secondly, it is possible that the elm tree had a sudden growth spurt overnight and grew around the nest before dawn. This begs a further question, of course: why weren't Mr Linnet, Mrs Linnet and all the little Linnets also inside the nest when Lumsden discovered it?

Blogophiles are aware that The Geordie Paranormalizer tends to make light of such things, I know; but the story is true. If anyone out there can offer a truly rational explanation for this enigma I'd love to hear it.

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