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, February 19, 2011

TAXONOMY FAIL: Another from Senor Blake


The quiet East Yorkshire village of Burton Agnes lies only a few miles to the west of the well-known seaside resort of Bridlington. As the guide tells her visitors 'Burton Agnes Hall is unique among stately homes as it encompasses so many fads, construction designs and beautiful craftsmanship from so many eras of British history.' Although delving into the supernatural holds no interest for Sue and me, the Hall also has the reputation as the 'most haunted residence in Yorkshire.'

The impressive gatehouse and path that leads to the Hall.

When you add together the beauty of the grounds surrounding the hall, its walled gardens, plants sales area, craft shop, outdoor games area, woodland retreat and quality cafeteria (don't request a large salad as this is a 'vegetable garden on a plate') you have the makings of an excellent day out.

Sue in the outdoor games area.

But what is there here of interest to the aquarist? The answer comes in the form of four outdoor ponds.

The first pond.

The first of these is situated to the west of the hall. A small number of Lemon and Wild type goldfish enjoy the luxury of a pond that is teeming with Elodea plants. To add a quaint touch, the brass fountain feeding this pond comes in the form of a smiling fish.

The second pond with a beautiful view of the Hall in the background.

A view of the fountain in the main pond.

The second and largest pond is situated amid a lawn to the east of the main building. This pond was built on three levels. The first level, which is also the deepest, is raised and home to several deeply coloured goldfish. The second and longest level currently houses an Israeli tri-coloured Koi who shares her home with a young Mirror Carp and fully-grown Ghost Koi. The third level is best seen during the month of July as it is has a large planting of water lilies.

Carp in the main pond.

As the filtration system for all three levels is only run on a minimal basis there are times when the water appears a little silted, as you will notice from the photographs, so you do have to command a little patience in order to view all of the various fish species. The heron featured on the photograph of this pond is not the real thing but a plastic deterrent aimed at keeping members of the local heron population away from indulging in a fish breakfast.

Although this is only a presumption none of the levels of this pond would appear to be of a depth to allow for the successful over-wintering of the fish species they hold so I assume that these fish must be removed and placed elsewhere during the colder months of the year.

The walled garden.

The third pond is situated within the beautiful walled garden area and is home to a small number of Wild type goldfish. This is the pond that Sue would like to have at home.

The third pond.

Finally comes a wonderful nature pond complete with wooden structures and platforms ideal for frogs and toads. If I had one complaint it is that the amount of water filtered through the model elephant's trunk is actually running too fast to encourage the presence of amphibians.

The fourth pond.

For visitors wishing to view the interior of the hall an entrance fee is charged. The craftsmanship on display is stunning with an art collection dating from the Middle Ages through to modern times. Entrance into the gardens and other areas mentioned earlier also commands a charge (£4 as of November 2010). To find the hall follow the A614 from Bridlington or the A166 from the York by-pass to join the A614 at Driffield. Sue asks me to note that the entrance lane is situated on a rather blind corner.

Burton Agnes Hall may not immediately spring to mind as a place of aquatic interest but is well worth a visit.

NEIL ARNOLD: Tin Foil Man!

During June 2003, at 10 pm in West Sussex, two friends were travelling by car from a friend's house back home along a dark country road. They’d travelled this route many times but on this occasion got the shock of their life. As they came round a tight bend they both saw a movement in the trees ahead. Travelling at only 20 mph, both occupants could clearly, although for a brief time, see a bizarre humanoid ‘monster.’

A creature, standing over eight-feet in height stood in the woods and the car headlights reflected off what appeared to be a foil-like skin or clothing. The beast stepped upwards through the trees; its features were not discernible in the darkness and it moved away quickly uphill into the undergrowth, consumed by the shadows of night.

The witnesses were stunned by this peculiar entity and so the driver bravely reversed the car back to the spot.

There was no sign of the weird figure and no sound in the night air.

The passenger commented many years later, “I don’t personally believe in extraterrestrials, so for my own part I’ve ruled out anything like that, and being a fairly practically-minded person I’ve come up with various explanations, such as kids mucking about. But the problem of size keeps coming back – I even checked the Internet the following week to see if 8-ft plus people were more common than I’d thought, rationalising that it was some weirdo in a foil suit. It certainly wasn’t any kind of model, because it was definitely animated. I’m still puzzling over it.”

It’s difficult to comprehend some of the bizarre encounters that people report, and some of these perplexing mysteries are experienced by seemingly level-headed people. From zombies to hellhounds, from aliens to hairy humanoids, Sussex folklore is peppered with such accounts, leaving us to wonder just what kind of ‘spirits’ are lurking in the woods and darkest corners of this ancient county.



I am very proud of CFZ Press, but I shall go to my grave disappointed. Because we have been pipped at the post by the RSPB for the award (which I have just made up) of `best title of the year`. How can we beat this? I wish we had published a book with this magnificent title.

Check it out...


Double click on the image to enlarge





"A newly-opened "winter wonderland" Lapland-style theme park has been described as a "joke" and a "scam" by hundreds of angry visitors. Many people have demanded a refund of the £25 they paid to enter the Lapland New Forest, at Matchams Leisure Park on the Hampshire-Dorset border. "

It is pretty much off-topic, but rather amusing...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 2005 Hunter S. Thompson died.
And now the news:

Searching for Bigfoot
Peculiar geese deaths baffle wildlife officials
Rare butterfly 'at risk' from Sutton playground pl...
Weymouth welcomes giant Japanese spider crab

Close enough: