Wednesday, August 31, 2011
today I would like you to meet, not Top Cat but the Dolt-cat. In fact, you have no choice: you`re going to meet the Dolt-cat right now!
A few days ago I was looking through Moonrakings. A Little Book of Wiltshire Stories by the Wiltshire Federation of Women`s Institutes. I flicked through and under the entry for Wishford in the History section I found the following entry: (Spelling is kept as in the original.)
The Churchwardens` Accounts contain some interesting items. A few are appended:-
1719. for Sparrows Heds 4 dozen……4
For 6 Poulcatts heds……………………2 0
For a Bagger`s hed……………………..1 0
For a Dolt-cat……………………………..4 (1)
This is all that is relevant from our point of view. So I contacted the Natural History Museum in London to ask them what the Dolt-cat might be. I first thought that it might be a badger, as they are dull and slow-witted (well, they are to me) but we have already seen that the 'Bagger' is mentioned. Then I thought about the otter: superficially cat-like, but hardly dull. Here was the reply I received on August 23rd:
(The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology defines dolt thus: doult dull fellow, blockhead, XVI. Prob. earlier in dial. Use, and rel. to dold (XV) numb, and dol (l), var. of DULL) (2)
With regard to your dole-cat (sic) enquiry….I`ve passed this onto several library colleagues in the hope that one of them can find this animal.
One colleague has written this note:
Hmmmm, fascinating, I`ll have a think about this, I wish we had the complete quote. Does he know it was an animal? [I don`t - R] Might it not be some time type of equipment?
Assuming it is an animal, it could be something that was more valuable then than now. I wondered about a ferret but they were very useful then, so not likely to have a price on their head as vermin. A stoat,maybe? They can `dance` in a crazy fashion, leaping around & jumping in the air. Possibly a weasel?
The above gives some dialect meanings-as you see, dolt isn`t used in dialect to mean stupid or slow-witted, they had other names for these. This was my first thought but generally speaking mustelids/cats aren`t particularly stupid. On the other hand it may have nothing to do with cats or mustelids - look what they called moles.
4 shillings was a lot of money, suggesting it was something dangerous, very difficult to catch or rare (or not an animal at all).
I assume the word was transcribed correctly in the first place - what appears to be a `d` in old script can be a `cl` (not that I`ve had any more luck with this), &, as we said, there can be any number of possibilities. (3)
Concerning a Hong Kong hyena, a blog about the slum and squalor town that once was the Hong Kong Walled City that I found, said that before the demolition of it was completed in April 1994, hyenas were supposed to roam the derelict place.
1. E.Olivier and M.K.S. Edwards Moonrakings a Little Book of Wiltshire Stories (n.d) p.32
2. C.T. Onions The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology(1982) p.282
3. E-mail from Lorraine Portch of Natural History Museum to R.Muirhead August 23rd 2011
On this day in 1902 one of the first sci-fi films, A Trip to the Moon (a.k.a. Le Voyage dans la Lune), was first publicly shown. If you've not seen it then you should; it's quite short and very good and is loosely based on H.G. Wells's The First Men in the Moon and Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (proper Sci-fi with brass machines and valves; none of that soap opera set on a space-station guff). Watch it here; no excuses: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JDaOOw0MEE
And now the news:
What is killing killer whales?
How elephants could solve the biofuel problem
Owl Eggs Reveal Complex Pollutant Patterns
Bird flu deaths in Asia prompt call for scrutiny
Chinese in Africa told: ‘Don’t buy ivory’
Fish-catching trick may be spreading among dolphin...
3 more Californian condors released in Arizona in ...
Rare freshwater jellyfish found in China
Shakes all over like a jellyfish:
At Frontiers of Zoology, further clarifications on the ambiguity of Dragon names:
And at Frontiers of Anthropology, more on rock art, evidence of Atlantis and the flood depicted as being caused by a comet; and then going back and adding more evidence for Younger Dryas meteor craters and evidence that the Carilina Bays are of meteoritic origin and date to the Younger Dryas (they overlie a 100000 year old paleobeach which is why there is some problem dating the samples):
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
She is actually doing very well and her leg is healing nicely. She has to have physiotherapy (done by Corinna and Graham) several times each day, but she looks likely to make a full recovery.
The next checkup is in two weeks time.
On this day in 1888 Mary Ann Nichols was murdered. She was the first of the canonical victims of Jack the Ripper.
And now the news:
Rhino horn: Fooling the thieves lured by riches
Who, What, Why: Is it legal to eat wild birds?
Dolly scientist working on cloning Scottish wildca...
Selective Trawl Catches Norway Lobster but Allows ...
A Bloodsucker Goes to Washington: Is this the Chup...
Another Bear attack in Yellowstone
Torn apart by tiger sharks Fantome Is, Queensland
And because Jon missed the opportunity yesterday:
Monday, August 29, 2011
As someone who was previously averse to ebooks I now absolutely love my Kindle but only had it for a few days before the Weird weekend. If you think you may have found it, please let us know!
Searching for the Loch Ness Monster
From CFZ Australia:
Baby quoll no more than a handful
Thylacine prints discovered in WA on display
Matt Salusbury at the Weird Weekend 2011
Possible Biological Control Discovered for Pathogen Devastating Amphibians
Twenty endangered Siamese crocodiles hatch in Laos
Sea Turtle Andre Dead
Zoo vet makes house calls for sick turtles
National Zoo's Reptile Discovery Center adds endangered species
Rare sand lizards released back to the wild on Merseyside
Africa’s forest elephants are running out of space...
Famine threatens Australia's gentle sea cows
Extinct bumblebee to be reintroduced to BritainPoisoned pigeons used to kill wild buzzards
Guy Hawks: Ospreys return to Wales for first time
Chinese doctors to call for ‘cruel’ bear farms to close
Wayward penguin returning to sea
And now THIS happens:
And at the Frontiers of Anthropology a posting that involves writings on stone, Astronomical records of incredible age, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings and the beginnings of Ancient Egypt:
Sunday, August 28, 2011
So, it is the tales that follow a slightly different narrative from the norm that are among the most interesting of the water horse folklore. One such tale comes from near Swansea in Wales. It tells of a hapless and tired traveller who met with a water horse in the Glyn Neath area. The horse, like most water horses, seemed quite normal when the traveller met her at a waterfall that formed a convergence point of three local rivers, and as he was running very late decided he would steal the horse to get him to his destination faster. The traveller looked around and finding no obvious owner in sight, jumped upon the beasts back. Rather than dragging the traveller to a watery grave, as water horses are usually want to do, the horse started to run away from the water. As time went on the horse started to run faster and faster and soon the hapless traveller found himself hugging on to the creature for dear life and burying his head in its mane with his eyes closed. After a while the traveller realised that he could no longer feel the fall of the creature’s hooves on the ground yet it was still moving at great speed. He opened his eyes and was surprised to see that he and the creature were flying through the air. Needless to say the man was terrified and held on even tighter.
After a few hours the horse touched down on a small hill just outside Llandewi Brevi. The traveller ran away from the creature as fast as he could and straight to the nearest inn where he told his story. Judging from many other water horse stories the traveller had a very lucky escape. Usually the horse makes straight for the nearest water and drowns its rider before eating it, save for the occasional bit of offal.
Bryan’s shearwater, new Hawaiian seabird species
Minnesota: Expert discredits Bigfoot footprint find
Rare moth spotted during Lambeth wildlife count
Exmoor ponies – The true descendant of Europe’s wild horses?
More than 1000 ivory tusks seized in Tanzania
Mull of Galloway walk highlights kittiwake decline
Public urged to report alien species
Fox uses conveyor belt as fun slide
The most wonderful lyrics of all time:
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Records, both of employees and the visiting public to Australian zoological gardens displaying
the Thylacine (Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne and Sydney zoos) represent an important and largely untapped data source of additional knowledge upon the behaviour of this species.
The orange Alaskan mystery substance was spores, not eggs:
Ripley's is putting in a museum in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, and wants to put a Chessie model on the facade:
Dinosaur-Era Mammal Possibly "Mother" of All Humanity
Twenty rare Siamese crocodiles hatch in zoo
Map highlights world’s most threatened coral reefs
Mosquitoes 'disappearing' in some parts of Africa
Amphibian disease research yields weapon
Female seals drawn to deadly ship propellers
Darwin's Butterflies? Spectacular Species Radiation in the Caribbean Studied With 'DNA Barcoding'
At The Frontiers of Anthropology:
At The Frontiers of Zoology:
Sorry to have taken so long to get back to you. Having checked with a zoologist, a big cat tracker and a vet we think it is a large domestic cat, probably a Russian Blue, or a crossbreed with Russian blue ancestry.
The article, when it appeared, made no mention of my email but wrote:
A British wildlife organisation said it had proof the animals were still alive and well in Britain.
And Jonathan Downes, director for the Centre for Fortean Zoology in Devon, said: “We know there were lynx living in Britain 1,500 years ago, but could they still be here?”
I did actually say that a few days earlier, it is true, but it was in answer by a question from a different journalist, from a different paper, and in answer to questions about the lynx that Max discovered in the vaults of Bristol Museum. So whilst technically the newspaper has done nothing wrong at all, it performed a clever piece of journalistic prestidigitation with that quote.
And they didn't even have to hack my telephone to get it.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Attack of the Birds
From Nick Redfern's "There's Something in the Woods...":
The Wild Thing Of Warrington
The Weird Weekend
Posing with the Chupacabra
Ravens on the Rampage
Definitely A Weird Weekend...
From CFZ Australia:
Game camera project snaps amazing wildlife photos
Oll Lewis at the Weird Weekend 2011
Missing lynx revealed at Weird Weekend 2011
Aussie microfossils re-write the history books
Dr Darren Naish at the Weird Weekend 2011
Megalania puts in appearance at Vic exhibition
Jon Downes and Richard Freeman at Weird Weekend 2011
Clever dolphins teach each other to fish with shells
Nick Wadham at the Weird Weekend 2011
From CFZ New Zealand:
Happy Feet heading home at last
So she is being recalitrant and when we do get her outside she does her best to go back inside as quickly as possible, and grumpily refuses to perform her bodily functions.
However, all this changed yesterday when we had a noisy thunderstorm. Prudence is scared of thunder and in a panic she urinated copiously across the kitchen floor!
On this day in 1962 Vic Mignogna was born. Mignogna is probably best known for his role as Edward Elric in Full Metal Alchemist.
And now the news:
The downside of sex with Neanderthals (via Rob Cha...
Whale skull found in Moosehead Lake (Maine) (via C...
Scientists discover new monkey species in Amazon (...
Sea eagle attacks reverend and his flock....of gee...
'Predator' crab caught by startled fisherman
Huge new wasp discovered in Sulawesi
Ariz. Street Sign Prank Warns Of 'Rogue Panda'
Baby pandas drinking milk:
Devil's hair and quake hair, from the Eclectarium of Doctor Shuker:
Lusmore and the Little People, a traditional Irish folktale recalled by Karl Shuker:
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I MEAN, WEIRD WEEKEND 2011 PART ONE.
If you were at a lecture and someone asked the audience, ‘What do you think cryptozoology is?’, and some funny person stood up and said something along the lines of, "I’d say it’s where you conjure up demons and dabble in the occult!" would you laugh or be worried?
Well, we laughed.
Because that was Ronan.
And Ronan has a knack for saying funny things like that.
I’m sorry to say I was only able to go to the Weird Weekend for one day: the Saturday. But I must say: that Saturday was one of the most hilarious Saturdays of my life! Packed full of jokes, Yamaha crimps, and funny, strange, and yet pleasing surprises.
DAD AND BUGS AND STUFF LIKE THAT
I attended my dad’s talk, as you do, because if you don’t then you get disowned. I’d seen the movie before but not with the music and I was all, “WOW DAD YOU’RE SO AWESOME.” And everyone in the audience was all, “WOW NICK YOU HAVE CLIPS OF GIANT BUGS THERE.”
And Lily was all, “Well done, dad. You know how to use Movie Maker.”
I laughed! I stared! I facepalmed!
*note* Laughing at the assumptions of movie producers, staring at the creations of movie producers, facepalming at the epic fails of movie producers.
I get that it seemed like a good idea to make a GIANT BUG film at the time, but I’m a woman of science and so I hate it when people do stupid stuff and fail to take into account that it’s not possible.
A woman of far-fetched occurrences that are both theoretically and scientifically possible. hee hee…
Can I tell you one thing that confused some and amused others? That worried many and disappointed a handful?
Yes? Good. When dad said, "It wouldn’t be crypto without a bit of crypto."
My sister and I were both interested to hear that phobias come from the survival instincts of when we were just cavemen and cavewomen. However, when questions time came around, I was really confused upon hearing my mother’s bamboozling comment about Cyril the Hong Kong centipede. Can someone please explain to me what she was on about? Please? No? Ah well.
To summarise, I discovered I have a long-lost brother who looks just like my sister (hair wise). John and Lily both had the same hair style and hair colour, much to the amusement of Jon (not to be confused with my ‘brother’ John), who thought that my sister was sitting where John was and that John was sitting next to me and Mum.
So, I have a new sibling.
Do you know what made me really happy at the end of the talk, though? Mum saying, "Girls, after this we can have a pot noodle each."
Just because I can, I’m going to do these in parts again. So, thank you for wasting your time reading my blog and I hope you’re excited for the next one!
my name is Richard Thorns and I'm glad to make acquaintance with you. You might remember my trip to Kachin State a couple of years ago where we got some anecdotal evidence of a male Pink-headed Duck on a lake in Bhamo region (an area historically known for records of Pink-headed Duck). I went back there with my guide and have some anecdotal evidence of TWO this time, in the cool-season gap between my two trips. You can see the footage on YouTube under: "anecdotal sighting of two Pink-headed Ducks. Myanmar 2009).
If you go to the website http://richardthorns.webs.com/ you can see the whole trip written up, plus the preparations fot two months time. Just go to the sidebar and click.
I hope you find it interesting. I'd be interested to know what you think and feel free to share if you wish.; I am back there in December 2010, I hope the timing will this time be spot-on!
With warm wishes
PS The photo of the mysterious duck on the lake was a Spot-billed duck - the white WAS the tertials rather than sunlight. :-(
Biomass export of salamanders and anurans from ponds is affected differentially by changes in canopy cover
THOMAS M. LUHRING,
BETHANY K. WILLIAMS,
RAYMOND D. SEMLITSCH
Article first published online: 11 AUG 2011
How to Cite
EARL, J. E., LUHRING, T. M., WILLIAMS, B. K. and SEMLITSCH, R. D. (2011), Biomass export of salamanders and anurans from ponds is affected differentially by changes in canopy cover. Freshwater Biology. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2427.2011.02672.x
Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, U.S.A.
*Correspondence: Julia E. Earl, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, 212 Tucker Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, U.S.A. E-mail: email@example.com
Present address: Bethany K. Williams, Columbia Environmental Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, MO 65201, U.S.A.
Article first published online: 11 AUG 2011
(Manuscript accepted 16 July 2011)
1. Previous research shows that canopy-associated shifts from an algal to a detritus-based food web can affect anuran tadpoles negatively. This may not be true of salamander larvae, however, because they are predators.
2. To investigate the influence of canopy cover on the survival and growth of salamanders, and on the subsequent export of biomass from ponds, we conducted a mesocosm experiment examining effects of shading (high or low) and litter (leaves or grass) on Ambystoma maculatum (a forest specialist) and A. texanum (a habitat generalist). Additionally, we reanalysed data from Williams, Rittenhouse & Semlitsch (2008) to examine the effects of shading and litter on biomass export of three anurans: Rana sphenocephala, Pseudacris crucifer and Hyla versicolor.
3. In contrast to previous studies, we found that salamanders performed better in mesocosms with the characteristics of closed canopy ponds (high shade and leaf litter), which resulted in a greater export of biomass. Salamanders grew larger under closed canopy conditions, probably because of differences in prey abundance among treatments. Anurans responded differently to canopy cover than caudates. The biomass export of R. sphenocephala and P. crucifer was reduced under closed canopy conditions (although differently affected by litter and shading), while the biomass of H. versicolor was not affected.
This and other studies suggest that changes in canopy cover may induce a shift in the amphibians emerging from ponds, from primarily anurans in open canopy ponds to primarily salamanders in closed canopy ponds. Additional multispecies studies will determine whether these trends hold true for more diverse amphibian assemblages. Further investigation into the effects of canopy cover on salamanders will be important for understanding aquatic-terrestrial linkages.
However, Davey C and family turned up last night, and despite being obviously in pain, Pru had a lovely time being fussed by everyone. This evening Lee Walker and family are scheduled to turn up....
(Note her shaved leg and scar)
On this day in 1946 Mark Snow, the composer of the X Files theme tune, was born.
And now the news:
Fast Asleep to Wide Awake: Hibernating Bears, Pred...
Georgia hunter fined for shooting endangered Flori...
Sweden fears swimming raccoon invasion
Earth is home to 8.7 million species
Stillwater Sasquatch video arouses scepticism
Attack of the killer ravens: Flocks are suddenly s...
Burbank businessman arrested over feeding of birds...
Wildwood joins the fight to save Britain's badgers...
At the cocktail party the other day I was shocked to discover that certain young CFZ members didn't get my reference to mushrooms and snakes when I was handing out badges, so just for them:
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I'm writing to update you on our UK Overseas Territories appeal.
We're delighted to have so far raised £280,000 in donations and had 15,000 pledges from people like you. This means we're getting close to our target of £527,640 to take care of rockhopper penguins and the other species in our UK Overseas Territories for the next few years.
I'm also pleased to tell you that thanks to all this support, we're completing three island restoration projects with our international partners. This is the largest number of islands ever to be cleared of invasive species in one go, and will include a rat eradication programme on the UK's very own Henderson Island.
This is a great step forwards for our work to restore and conserve the precious wildlife living throughout the UK Overseas Territories. You can find out more about this voyage in our update, where you'll also find exclusive images of some of the wildlife of these islands, which you can download for free!
There is still time to donate to this appeal if you can. We realise that this is a difficult time for many people to donate to charity and every donation is greatly appreciated. A donation of £11, or whatever you can afford, will help us continue our fight for these unique and extraordinary islands.
You can also show your support by adding your name to our pledge. We're asking the UK Government to do its bit to protect these beautiful and precious islands.
Thanks to the support of people like you, we're a step closer to protecting these places and saving their unique wildlife.
WEIRD WEEKEND 2011: Jonathan McGowan discusses evidence for Big Cats in the UK (A short film by Gavin Lloyd Wilson)
Jonathan McGowan, naturalist, taxidermist and alien big cat researcher, discusses and shows evidence for big cats in the UK at the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) Weird Weekend 2011, filmed in Woolsery on Saturday 20 August 2011.
Corinna and Graham collected Prudence from the vet late yesterday afternoon.
The operation seems to have gone quite well but the poor little girl is feeling very sorry for herself as you can see from this photograph.
She will be confined to the kitchenand the sitting room (under supervision) for the next month or so and Corinna and I will probably spend much of that time sleeping downstairs to keep her company. She has to be kept as immobile as possible to give the bone time to heal and to make sure she doesn't break her new artificial ligament, because that would be a disaster.
We would like to thank North Devon Animal Ambulance in their kindness in covering the cost of the operation. We made a donation to them out of CFZ funds.
Keep her in your prayers and thoughts, and if you feel like lighting a candle to St Francis on her behalf it can do no possible harm. Others of you might feel like having a quick few words with Pan or whichever other goat-legged fellow of the woods seems appropriate.
On this day in 1835 what became known as 'the great moon hoax' was first published by the New York Sun.
And now the news:
Ancient 'Daddy Long Legs' Revealed in 3-D Models
Ancient Wild Horses Help Unlock Past
Iberian lynx 'not doomed' by low genetic diversity...
Wetland birds being frozen out of Britain
Count of rare Australian cockatoo reveals 2,000-st...
Critically Endangered Ploughshare tortoises rescue...
Females Can Place Limits On Evolution of Attractiv...
Lake Erie Watersnake to be removed from endangered...
International Trade Restrictions Sought to End Uns...
International Trade Restrictions Sought to End Uns...
Walruses forsaking sea ice for sand
Jim Carrey attempts to sing 'I am the walrus'... Somebody stop him:
And on Frontiers of Anthropology:
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
On this day in 1957 Stephen Fry was born. He likes Twitter.
And now the news:
Scientists reveal health benefits of breeding with...
Kangaroo goes on lingerie theft rampage in Czech R...
Dolphin With Prosthetic Tail Gets Ready For Waves ...
Clucky find: Man lays claim to world's smallest ch...
Fossil microbes discovered in Australia could be E...
Kent sightings confirm otters recently found every...
Homo erectus was first master chef: study
Homo Erectus travelled the high seas
Travelling the high seas, eh?
Prudence went into the veterinary hospital today for her operation. It should be straightforward, but in the light of what happened to Biggles a year ago, Corinna and I are both very worried.
Remember her in your thoughts, prayers and intercessions to Saint Francis.
Monday, August 22, 2011
On this day in 79 AD the volcanic eruption that would bury Pompeii started.
And now the news:
Decline in bottlenose dolphins is linked to pollut...
Unusual sighting - A pink grasshopper
Swedish House Up For Sale, Complete With Tomb, Ske...
Snakes and toads in London
The trial of Hissing Sid:
The Werewolf Book - Reviewed
The Wild Thing Of Warrington
From CFZ Australia:
New Zealand's big cats on the prowl again...
Cassius the monster croc of them all
Happy Birthday Jonathan Downes!
Hopping news - how the kangaroo got its bounce
Prof Brian Sykes at the Weird Weekend 2011
From CFZ New Zealand:
Is this a UFO? An Unidentified Feline Object?
From CFZ Canada:
Sunday, August 21, 2011
The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ), based at Woolfardisworthy, is staging its annual conference this weekend and organisers kicked off proceedings by unveiling evidence that they claim proves big cats were running wild in Devon over 100 years ago – and that they are still here today.
Today was the last day of the 2011 Weird Weekend and it kicked off with a fantastic talk by Glen Vaudrey on the Water Horse. The Water Horse has fascinated me for some time and it was very interesting to hear about the Scottish folklore surrounding the beast, which I could compare to the Welsh folklore I grew up with. Ronan was, as ever, the last talk before Jon’s address and produced a fantastically entertaining talk as always, this time recreating the Labours of Hercules.
In Jon’s address he announced publicly that the CFZ are putting together a new pier-reviewed journal on cryptozoology. This should, as all the reviewers of papers for the journal are respected academics, answer critics who think cryptozoology is a waste of time.
The evening saw the dinner at the Farmers Arms and after which Richard, Perry, Nadia, Mark, Darren and John Hare discussed such diverse subjects as serial killers and the Japanese Porygon panic. Same time next year I hope. OLL LEWIS
On this day in 565AD St Columba reported seeing a creature in Loch Ness, this is widely regarded as the first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster (although the sighting actually happened on the River Ness and may have been just a local witch).
And now the news:
ñ Scottish SPCA helps 'silly moo' remove head from l...
ñ Loch Ness search for mysterious balloon-like objec...
And because of today’s anniversary and the last news story:
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Stories told of a cave in the mountains known as the Wonder Hole or Bottomless Pit and filled with diamonds. A monster known as the grootslang supposedly guarded it. The grootslang was said to be a huge snake 40-50 feet long, and was said to have eyes like gems.
Some explorers claim to have seen the grootslang. One man told a South African newspaper that he seen such a creature, describing it as a monstrous snake more than 50 feet long. Another said that he saw two such creatures, but that he killed one with his high-powered rifle.
Other witnesses confirm the beast's length as 40 to 50 feet long and tell of 3-foot-wide tracks along the Orange River. Prospectors once followed the track for miles before it disappeared into the river.
Only one man (a prospector called Travis) has supposedly visited the Wonder Hole and lived to tell the tale. According to one account, he dropped his torch into the pit while descending and had to crawl his way back out through pitch darkness. One version tells that he was attacked by the grootslang, but survived by playing dead.
Grayson had consulted old maps and accounts from prospectors before his expedition left. On their first night in the bush, the party was attacked by a lion that killed one man and badly mauled another. A few days later, a third man was bitten by a snake and died. Yet another became seriously ill and begged to be taken back to civilization.
Two of the others took the sick man to the nearest village for medical attention. Grayson pushed on alone and a week later a rescue party found his empty camp. Peter Grayson was never seen again, and local stories had it that the grootslang had eaten him.
The big mistake all of these men made was going it alone. One man against the wilderness might look good on TV survival shows, but in reality it is very poor odds. On any expedition, you should have knowledgeable local guides and travel in a group. A man I know once tried to search for the orang-pendek in the jungles of western Sumatra. I’ve been there three times and can vouch for their deepness and tracklessness. His team consisted of him, his girlfriend and one guide. The guide was not an official park guide and knew very little about the area. The three of them became lost in the jungle for weeks. The man fell down a crevasse and broke several ribs. The ‘guide’ became so scared that he began to cry with fear, sobbing that he would never see his wife and children again. It was only by pure, blind luck that they stumbled into a logging camp and were taken back to civilization.
Remember if you try to do this sort of thing alone, the wilderness is waiting, and it is hungry.
Saturday is always a hard slog if you’re working behind the scenes at the Weird Weekend and this year was no exception. Today there were 10 different speakers (not counting the other members of the forthcoming Sumatra expedition who joined Richard on stage after his talk to tell us briefly about their plans, and the CFZ Awards honourees and quiz teams) with talks lasting from midday until 11pm, although we do often over-run a tad. As far as I’m aware NO OTHER cryptozoological conference offers their ticket-holders such good value for money.
As ever I was responsible for filming every talk, which although might sound like easy work, is most certainly not as I have to be on the ball hunched over a camera sitting in an uncomfortable chair following the speakers round the stage, anticipating good moments for close-ups and slide changes, which is easier said than done especially if you get tired or leg cramps. Thankfully I had my secret weapons of cheap knock-off Red Bull and cramp-zapping tonic water to fall back on so things turned out ok. The advantage of being the camera man, though, is that I get to watch all the talks and every single one of them today was a corker. Although every one of the talks were brilliant my favourite tonight was Lee ‘Dead of Night’ Walker’s two stories.
Oh and for those wondering who the special guest I mentioned yesterday was, it was P.T. Barnum himself. I suggested to Jon that we summon the great showman in the CFZ time machine (which bears an uncanny resemblance to Silas Hawkins’s car) about 6 months ago and my talk this year was on Barnum and his friend Grizzly Adams, but this year he has by pure chance been mentioned in a few of the other lectures too, notably Peter Christies’s talk about Fortean North Devon where it was mentioned that Barnum’s friend and employee, the famed dwarf Tom Thumb’s ornate tiny carriage is actually on display in a local National Trust property. I shall have to see if I can convince Mrs Downes, who is an N.T. member, that a trip there would make a good CFZ outing… OLL LEWIS