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, May 08, 2010


Another vegetable Taxonomy Fail from Maxy

LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Morar Monster

Loch Morar is a fresh water loch in Morar, Lochaber, Scottish Highlands. It is of glacial origin and contains five sizeable islands and is said to be eleven miles long and a mile and a half wide and 1000 feet (333 metres) deep at its deepest point. Like Loch Ness, reports of large unidentified creatures in the loch have been made, some said to date back to the 1880s. The monster has been named Morag by locals. Sightings of the creature were thought to be the warning of a death of one of the local clansmen.

Sightings date back to 1887 and include some 34 incidents, as of 1981. Sixteen of these involved multiple witnesses.

I found this transcript that Tim Dinsdale had in his book The Leviathans (1976 ed. Futura pub ltd, London page 239 ) from the tape of an interview with Mr Macllelan and Mr John Mac Varish who had an encounter with the creature of Loch Morar in 1975.
The fear from the men shows it was something they did not recognise; however, that does not mean it was an unknown animal, just unknown to them. Once again the sighting follows the pattern of so many other lake creature sightings throughout the world. The description of whale like, the size and the movement. One day we may find the answers.

More info:


Whilst in Macclesfield Local Studies library today I came across a book by Roger Stephens called The Boom of the Bitterbump - The Folk-history of Cheshire`s Wildlife (now out of print), which is packed full of really interesting information on the folklore and historical records of (mainly) Cheshire`s wildlife from ancient times to almost the present day - the book was published in 2003. I am going to run this blog over at least two parts, such is the quality of the information. There is only one serious problem I have come across - the index is incorrect, the page references are all out of sync. For example, `Wallaby, Red Necked, 11 is incorrect, it should be page 56.

I will start with extracts from Chapter 8 `Frem Folk`, which gives an interesting review of the arrival of some birds and mammals in Cheshire. The headings above each paragraph are mine (Rich)

The arrival of the grey squirrel and little owl.

1876 Before that date, all our squirrels had russet fur and tufted ears…But in 1876, something happened which would change all that. It was at Henbury Hall, near Macclesfield [my home town,-R] that the rot set in for the red squirrel. Here, for their novelty value, Thomas Brocklehurst released two pairs of eastern grey squirrels from America - the first authenticated record in Britain [what about Woburn?-R] …They built dreys in the trees of the estate and began to breed, reproducing more quickly than the reds* …By the end of the decade, another stranger had been seen and heard, this time on the other side of the county; little owls were breeding on the Eaton Estate. This eight-inch owl is found all over Europe and Asia. In ancient Greece it was sacred to the Goddess of wisdom, Pallas Athene, but the wisdom of introducing it to Britain soon came into question. To the farmer, it was useful mercenary in the war against mice and voles, but gamekeepers claimed that it also helped itself to game chicks and wild birds.(1)

“Unofficially, however, a Chester man told me recently, with great conviction, that he saw a red squirrel in his garden in 2002!”*(2)

Mountain hare.

1880s. Around this time, conspicuous white blobs began to pop up on the hillsides above Longendale in the north-east of the county. Some 50 mountain hares had been brought south from Perthshire and released a few miles north of the Cheshire border…In Spring, ramblers were amused to find that, instead of running away at their approach, these hars sat tight amid the green bracken,relying on their winter pelage for..er…camouflage. Were it not for the relentless persecution of buzzards and hill foxes at the time, they would have been picked off the hillsides like snowberries but, with no predators, they soon multiplied and spread southward and eastward. In March 1893, a gamekeeper counted 50 from one spot. (3)

Wallabies, hamsters, dormice.

World War II Another unfamiliar mammal was hopping about in the eastern hills, this time, an Australian visitor. Some red-necked wallabies had escaped from a private collection in the Peak District and had formed Britain`s first breeding colony. They were not expected to survive their first winter. By now, grey squirrels had become a familiar sign in woods where they had not been seen before. One north Cheshire gamekeeper shot one and took it to a museum, as a cross between a squirrel and a rabbit. Laugh if you like, but remember that the giraffe was once called a cameleopard due to the same mistake! The varying amounts of russet in their fur led others to believe that, like the newly-arrived American GIs, they interbred with the native species. Not so, but they were certainly over-active, over-competitive and over here (4)…[we now jump to the 1960s-R] “It was around this time [c.1962-R] that a friend of mine swears he saw a little party of hamsters foraging about in the grass at Aldford. Suprisingly, feral hamsters have been seen, on and off, since about 1960, but usually in more urban areas. In their real home, the steppes of eastern Europe and Asia, they live on tree bark, buds, seeds and green plants, so here`s another potential pest. Make that two, because some chipmunks were liberated in Cheshire in the mid-60s! (5) ...An Eccleston man told me recently [i.e c.2003-R] that, one day, back in the 80s, he found a very odd-looking mammal in his shed. Like the gamekeeper, half a century earlier, he described it as a cross (in this case,half-rat half-squirrel) but, afterwards, he looked it up and found it to be an edible dormouse

A species which first escaped from captivity about a century ago. They are well established in the Chilterns, where they have a reputation for raiding lofts and sheds in search of apples. Are they on the move? (6)

Finally, an early grey squirrel in Wales?

Stephens mentions records of a grey squirrels (“the size of polecats”) in “Montgomeryshire and Denbighshire in the 1830s and “a very fine stuffed specimen of the Welsh grey squirrel in the possession of a gentlemen residing in Chester; it was shot near Llandisilio Hall, Denbighshire, in October 1828.” (7) [Some 48 years BEFORE the grey was supposedly first brought into this country I mean Britain., which to my understanding means England, Scotland and Wales]. The source of Stephens`s record was the Cambrian Quarterly Magazine of 1830. I am attempting to contact Stephens via his publisher.

1 R.Stephens The Boom of the Bitterbump (2003) pp54-55
2 Ibid p.17
3 Ibid p.55
4 Ibid p.56-
5 Ibid p.57
6 Ibid p.58
7 Ibid p.59

U2 A Kind of Homecoming

And you know its time to go
Through the sleet and driving snow
Across the fields of mourning
Lights in the distance
And you hunger for the time
Time to heal,desire time,
And your earth moves beneath
your own dream landscape

On borderland we run….



For those of you who may be interested, I have set up a single, unified blog where people can learn more about my books.

Here's the link:


NEIL ARNOLD: Strange Sussex Monster

Sussex notes and queries; a quarterly journal of the Sussex Archaeological Society, Volume 14, page 43, 1958 records a strange creature recorded from possibly the seventeenth century ‘At Birdham, near Chichester in Sussex, about 23 years ago, there was a monster find upon the Common, having the form and figure of a man in the fore-part…’

Read on



1 A Daintree Diary by Carl Portman (-)
2 In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley (3)
3 Strength through Koi by Jonathan Downes (-)
4 The Island of Paradise by Jonathan Downes (6)
5= The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes (1)
5= Dr Shuker's Casebook by Dr Karl Shuker (-)
7= Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal by Andy Roberts (7)
7= Dragons: More than a Myth? by Richard Freeman (-)
7= The Mystery animals of Britain: Kent by Neil Arnold (2)
7= Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (3)


1= Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal by Andy Roberts (7)
1= A Daintree Diary by Carl Portman (-)
3= Man Monkey by Nick Redfern (-)
3= CFZ Yearbook 2010 (-)
3= Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (2)
3= Dr Shuker's Casebook by Dr Karl Shuker (7)
7= Dragons: More than a Myth? by Richard Freeman (7)
7= Animals & Men Collected Editions Vol 3 (-)
7= Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (1)
7= Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (3)

Last month's positions in this pinky colour, which I think is called cerise.
I am reasonably happy with April's sales, but by anyopne's standards it is a strange chart. Look at the UK #3 for heaven's sake LOL

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1671 Colonel Thomas Blood attempted, unsuccessfully, to steal the crown jewels. Curiously, at the behest of the king, Blood was pardoned and given land in Ireland it is unknown whether this was for fear of a possible uprising, because the king fell for Blood’s fawning or if as some people claim, the whole plot was organised by the king who was very short of money at the time. All three options all sound a little unlikely to me and I wonder if it is more likely that Blood was given his pardon on the condition that he work for the crown in some unknown and secret capacity in the future.

And now, the news:

Monster colossal squid is slow not fearsome predator
Mountain lion photographed in Greene County

It’s true, they’re not ‘lion’; well they are lion, but you know what I mean….
Bringing up the subject of lions, when I was a kid and was on a family holiday to Kenya we saw ‘lion steak’ on the menu of the hotel restaurant one day. This seemed bizarre but believable given that we’d sampled ostrich and impala on previous days so we asked the waiter about it. Turned out that it was a typo and was meant to be ‘loin steak.’