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, March 27, 2010


There seems to be something wrong with the server at our ISP because all the CFZ websites (and various other websites that we administer, such as my sister's holiday farm site) are down. No doubt they will be back up again soon, but in the meantime, I apologise for the disruption to service.


I suppose this should really go up on the Texas blog but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the expedition. As you probably all know, Corinna does the regular o-o-p birds round-up for both A&M and OTT, and she was thrilled to meet some of my favourite species, such as the boat-tailed grackle, in the flesh for the first time. However, in the trees next to the world-famous river walk in San Antonio I met up with an old friend for the first time in years - a night heron.

When I was a boy there was a family of these delightful fellows roosting in the big tree across the road from our flat in Hong Kong. I wonder whether they (or their descendants) are still there. The block of flats (Peak Mansions) is long gone, having been replaced (appropriately enough) by a Ripleys Believe it or Not `Odditorium`...

MIKE HALLOWELL: Going to Cleadon are you? (I thought you might)

As most Geordies (but hardly anyone else) know, South Tyneside is the smallest Metropolitan /borough in the United Kingdom. It never fails to amaze me (but hardly anyone else) that this proverbial spot on the landscape is the repository of literally hundreds of myths, legends and folklore tales regarding ghosts, UFOs, cryptids and other forms of wackiness.

Over the years I've written over one thousand newspaper and magazine articles (1,158 to be exact) and ten books, the majority of which have been devoted to the strange goings-on within this teeny-weeny place. One would imagine that a borough that contains just three small towns and a handful of villages would be relatively short on mystery animals, but the truth is just the opposite. South Tyneside plays host to a sea monster (the Shony), at least one mystery big cat, a giant lobster known as the Terror of Trow Rocks, a terrifying Brag, a weird humanoid called Old Blue Eyes and a big, hairy hominid known as the Beast of Cleadon Hills. You just couldn't make it up.

Cleadon Village, which is the posh end of our borough, is well blessed when it comes to cryptids. Cleadon Hills were formerly only famous for two ghost stories: the Red Woman of Cleadon Mill and the Water Tower Ghost. Now, however, visitors to this idyllic spot may also want to watch out for the Cleadon Big Cat and the afore-mentioned Beast. Cleadon Hills, it seems, has become a one-stop shop for all things Fortean.

My colleague Darren W. Ritson and I have both written up Cleadon-related weirdness, and decided that an expedition was in order to see if we could spot anything for ourselves. The expedition – which admittedly does not quite compare in grandiosity with CFZ trips of a similar nature – is scheduled for Sunday, 28 March.

Firstly, we plan to visit the Water Tower to see if there really is a shrieking, banshee-type spectre in residence there.

Secondly, we'll visit the old WW2 gun emplacements where, some years ago, I took some very strange pictures.

After the gun emplacements we'll move on to the old mill house – allegedly home to the Woman in Red – and then finally have a scout about the hills themselves to see if we can spot the Beast or the Big Cat.

The results of our foray will, of course, be posted here for all to see.

Cleadon Hills are beautiful, but also somewhat eerie. Although they aren't far from civilisation they are wrapped in a mantle of seclusion, which insulates them from the workaday world next door. When ambling across Cleadon Hills it really isn't hard to imagine that there may be a critter or two of uncertain provenance lurking behind the trees.

Watch this space….

RUBY LANG: Movie makers behind fake sightings

An interesting little anecdote has come to light in recent weeks about a filmmaker who created his own Tasmanian tiger in the 1970s.

Phillipe Mora, in recounting the making of his movie Mad Dog Morgan (which, due to a mistake with the date, allowed the movie to slide into the public domain!) with lead Dennis Hopper, wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"Collaterally, a dog I had dyed to look like a Tasmanian tiger escaped my motel and for years afterwards sightings were reported of the extinct animal."

Most of the film was shot around places Mad Dog Morgan frequented in his lifetime across Victoria and NSW.

Read more:

Posted By CFZ Australia to Centre for Fortean Zoology Australia at 3/27/2010 12:18:00 AM

LINDSAY SELBY: Bulgarian Lake Monster

Lindsay kindly sent us the following story about 'the Water Bull of the Rabisha Lake' in Bulgaria:

"The world famous monster Nessie from the Loch Ness in Scotland is about to get a rather tough competitor – the Water Bull from the Rabisha Lake in Northwestern Bulgaria. Even though the Water Bull and Nessie seem to be of very different species, the Water Bull of the Rabisha Lake is set to conquer the world going in the footsteps of the Loch Ness Monster, Emil Tsankov, Mayor of the town of Belogradchik has told Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency).

Belogradchik is a small, though, rather famous and picturesque town in the Bulgarian Northwest. First and foremost, it is known for the Belogradchik Rocks – absolutely miraculous rock formations stretching for some 30 km in the western part of the Balkan Moutain (Stara Planina). "

Read On

Thank you, Lindsay!


Gavin emailed me yesterday to tell us how his laptop is `fried` and his other computer is less than communicative. As a result of that it appears that he may be out of action (partially, at least) for the next few days. Together with Corinna, I shall be wading into the breach, and would just ask for any news stories that you may feel to be of interest to be sent to jon@eclipse.co.uk

That being said, Gavin has posted a couple today already, and so somehow normal service will be maintained....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 2004 Peter Ustinov died. Ustinov is best remembered, by me at least, for his role in the steampunk classic One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing. He also played Hercule Poirot in six films and played pivotal roles in Quo Vadis, Logan’s Run, One of Our Aircraft is Missing, Tokapi and Spartacus, winning Oscars for best supporting actor for the latter two films.
And now, the news:

Open for Monkey Business
Dino Rod
'Miscommunication' led to giraffe remains in trash
Calne teacher tells of battle with crocodile in Malawi
Lucky he made the ‘snap’ judgement to kick the croc.


This week also saw the birthdays of two of my nephews: David (18) and Ross (15). Both are familiar to regular habituees of the Weird Weekends since 2006, and David in particular is familiar as he is the poor sap who is the chosen heir to the Downes empire (such as it is).

Happy birthday, my dears....

P.S. David is on the right wearing the cowboy hat we bought for him in San Antonio