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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In between each episode of OTT, we now present OTTXtra. Here are the last three episodes:


Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


Unlike some of our competitors we are not going to try and blackmail you into donating by saying that we won't continue if you don't. That would just be vulgar, but our lives, and those of the animals which we look after, would be a damn sight easier if we receive more donations to our fighting fund. Donate via Paypal today...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

MIKE HALLOWELL: Great Fly Swarms of '33

In my last blog, I discussed the Great Bee Swarm of '33, a legendary incident in the annals of Geordie Forteana, in which Mrs. Gibb from Todstead became covered in bees, and was only rescued from her plight by the heroic actions of a passer-by.

Now I may have given the impression that the Great Bee Swarm was the apex or acme of Northern cryptozoological events in 1833. If I did, then I truly apologise; for, breathtaking though the Great Bee Swarm of '33 was, even it was overshadowed by the Great Fly Swarms of '33.

On August 1, Mr. Charles Trewitt was ambling near the north bank River Tyne at North Shields when he saw a Very Strange Thing: It was a cloud, and it was black. Although he didn't realise it at the time, he was witnessing the first of two invasions that are still talked about in Geordieland today, or will be if enough people read this blog, which they probably won't.

Trewitt watched in amazement as the vast cloud, "proceeded in a westerly direction" from the sea. Unlike the bees of Todstead, they did not alight upon the head of Mrs. Gibb; they simply kept on flying – as flies do – until they disappeared from sight.

Less than a week later, a second invasion took place. Another swarm – or just possibly the same one, who knows – flewed [or possibly fluorated] in from the North Sea and proceeded west. This time, however, Trewitt and his pals were ready for them.

"I've got the measure of them little buggers", said one. And he did, for by means we know not he was able to measure the swarm which, according to contemporary documents, was, "21 feet by 8 or 10 in breadth".

Now I'd be the first to admit that that this doesn't sound like a very big swarm, but by fly standards it isn't bad. Even those that gather around the toilet in the yard of Ye Olde Flick Knife pub in Whitley Bay are less than half that size.

The puzzle was just where the Great Swarms of '33 had come from. Norway was suggested, but why would flies want to emigrate from a balmy climate like Norway simply to come to the frozen wastelands of the Geordie Kingdom? To we northerners, Norway almost counts as a sub-tropical paradise.

"What about France?" said another.

"Don't be bloody stupid", was the retort. "You know what the French are like; if those flies had come from there, they'd have billed us for them or maybe even declared war and invaded".

"But they've tried that dozens of times", said Trewitt, "and every time they've failed. Every year France declares war on us, and every year we beat them. If those flies were French they wouldn't dare come over here because they know we'd shoot the lot of them".

"What about Lithuania, then?"
"Now you're being piggin-well ridiculous. Lithuania hasn't bee invented yet".

And so on, and so forth. It never was determined where the Great Swarms of '33 had came from, or where they eventually went. The Geordie Ambassador to France, however, offered to sell the flies back to the Gauls for £158,000 francs, which they accepted. The French Ambassador to Geordieland duly paid the dosh and took delivery of eighteen sacks of raisins. To this day the French don't realise how we foxed them.

And thus ended the saga of the Great Fly Swarms of '33, never to be repeated. Except in miniature around the outdoor netty at Ye Olde Flick Knife, that is…



Max Blake found that there has been a major die-off of bullheads (Cottus gobio) in a Somerset stream. Bullheads are remarkable fish - I am particularly fond of them, and kept them as a teenager, even managing to breed them once. What could have caused this?



http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2010/07/07/2947073.htmThe debate over whether big cats, such as panthers or pumas, are roaming the Australian bush has gone on for decades but as far as Michael Williams is concerned, there's no room for argument. Michael is convinced Australia is home to big cats and, along with partner Rebecca Lang, has written a book to prove it. The book is called "Australian Big Cats - An Unnatural History of Panthers".

He spoke to Matt Dowling about researching the book and what inspired his fascination for big cats.


Over on his blog, Matt Bille reviews three books by Michael Woodley, Ken Gerhard, and Nick Redfern:


As we published two of them, and I am mercilessly lampooned in the third, we thought that you might be interested..


Most of you will, I am sure, have seen the (very) faked picture of an Iraqui camel spider which did the rounds of what I refuse to call `teh internets` back just after the Iraq war. The interesting thing is how many people believe it. My brother, for example, (an Army Chaplain with the serving rank of Major) gave his son Christopher one that had been set in a block of resin for a Christmas present, and completely believed how big they got.

Now they are making it to the big screen. `Rich` (not Richie West, but a dude from Tulsa) wrote to the bloggo yesterday:

"I'm not sure how to e-mail CFZ's blogging: I wante... I'm not sure how to e-mail CFZ's blogging: I wanted to pass the word about something interesting I found out about."

and he attached this link

My life is complete. A war/horror movie set in Iraq, and featuring huge camel spiders. Like I said in the heading, it doesn't get much better than this...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1911 the author, poet and artist Mervyn Peake was born. Peake is best known as the writer of the fantasy series Gormenghast.
And now, the news:

Grin and bear it
Adventurous cat back home after three months
Seagull thinks he's a cat
New batfish species found under U.S. Gulf oil spill...
Dublin Zoo relieved over return of stolen penguin
Snake charmer from Sussex attempts world record
Oh for goodness ‘snakes’, he must have a death-wish.




Hi! Just to let you all know that I am going to be on BBC1 Spotlight (News Programme) tonight with Millie, my fox! (6.30 -7pm) If you are elsewhere in the country you can watch it on Sky Channel number 987. Hope I don't look a dork!!!! xx