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, September 15, 2010

MIKE HALLOWELL: The Geet Wind Disaster of '16

Birds are renowned for their psychic abilities. Mrs H, for example, always seems to know when I'm pinching things from the fridge or about to purloin a tenner from her purse.

Seriously, though, birds – the feathered variety - do seem to possess a sixth sense and an uncanny ability to predict the future. On September 10, 1816, a remarkable event occurred that supports this notion.

At that time there stood a rather ugly edifice at Byker Hill, Newcastle; a corn mill with huge iron wands that dominated the landscape. The wands were sturdy but not sturdy enough to withstand the attentions of a "tremendous hurricane" wending its way across North Tyneside. The "geet wind" (translation: stiff breeze) blew the wands off and no doubt caused great consternation to anyone who happened to be standing underneath them. Ironically, this was the third time in less than two years when a "geet wind" had dislodged the wands from their housings.

Simultaneously, other buildings throughout Newcastle were also succumbing to the hurricane. Many fell down, some lost their roofs and a few suddenly found themselves without their satellite dish. Or would have done, had satellite TV been invented then. Which it wasn't. Or at least, I don't think so.

Now at the end of Westgate Street, in the westerly corner of the vicarage garden, there stood an ash tree of great antiquity. For decades the tree had played host to rooks, who found the tree to be a particularly attractive nesting spot. However, on the morning of the "geet wind" the rooks all flew their nests and departed. Locals were dumbfounded for these rooks had lived there as far back as anyone can remember.

But then the "geet wind" blew the ash tree down, and the locals knew that the birds must have sensed something. It seems extraordinary that the rooks should have taken flight just before the tree was blown over after spending so many happy years there. Psychic? Or was this merely an incredible coincidence?

Answers on a post-card, please, and address your correspondence to "The Geet Wind Disaster of '16"…which is not to be confused with the "Great Bee Swarm of '33", the "Great Fly Invasion of '33", the "Terrible Cockroach Incursion of '56"…etc. etc., all of which are part of Geordie Cryptozoological history.

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