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:


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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...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Growing concern for one of Devon’s rare birds

The RSPB has this week expressed concern over the population of rare Dartford warblers on the East Devon heaths.

Dartford warblers are only found on heathlands in the UK, and almost became extinct as a breeding bird here in 1960s. However, efforts over the past two decades to restore heathlands have seen the population recover. But a combination of two harsh winters and recent heathland wildfires has hit the birds hard in East Devon and there are fears for the bird’s future.

Toby Taylor, site manager for the RSPB in East Devon, said: “We’ve now had two very cold winters. Dartford warblers rely entirely on insects and spiders and in cold conditions where there’s little to eat they really struggle. And, on top of this they’ve suffered with wild fires right in the middle of the breeding season. This year on Aylesbeare we’ve only had three singing males when last year we had thirteen, and we’re receiving similar reports from other sites.”

Dartford warblers are very much on the edge of their global range in the West Country and conservationists are worried that should Devon experience another bad winter the birds might be lost as a breeding species in the county.

Toby Taylor: “The best we can do is continue to maintain the heathlands in pristine condition and keep our fingers crossed we don’t have another bad winter.”

The RSPB is also calling on people attending East Devon Heath Week, which starts on Sunday 24 July, to look out for the birds.

The RSPB’s Gemma Dunn, who’s helping organise events for the Heath Week, said: “We always get a great turn out for our heath events, and this year we’re really keen to encourage people to watch out for the birds. While we think we know where the remaining birds are there’s always a chance we’ve missed the odd one.”

East Devon Heath Week is organised by RSPB, Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, Devon Wildlife Trust, East Devon District Council, Devon County Council and the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and runs from 24 July to 29 July at a variety of venues across the district.

Gemma Dunn: “Heath week is a great opportunity for us to engage with the local community and show why Heathlands are such special habitats for Wildlife. This fascinating landscape is great for rare and special birds, such as the Dartford Warbler and elusive Nightjar, and also provides wild and inspiring spaces for us humans too.

“Over the 6-day festival, Heath week aims to provide new and exciting ways to experience the Heath by getting up-close and personal with the resident wildlife. So, whether its pond dipping for mini beasts, rambling for reptiles or mountain biking to find Nightjars, we really do have something for everyone. Come along to our opening event, a family festival day at Woodbury castle on Sunday 24 July between 11am-3.30pm to find out more.”

For more details of heath week events and a downloadable programme of events visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/ourwork/b/southwest/archive/2011/06/13/east-devon-heath-week.aspx


Our conker trees are under attack by 'alien' invaders! Have you noticed whitish patches on the leaves of horse chestnut trees? By the middle of summer, the whitish patches die and turn brown. Sometimes whole trees turn brown, and it looks like autumn has come early. The damage is caused by a tiny 'alien' species of leaf-mining moth, which is invading the UK. For biologists an 'alien' is a species not naturally found in an area or habitat. The moth’s caterpillars eat the leaves from the inside. Infected trees are weakened and produce smaller conkers.

Read on...

LINDSAY SELBY: Nessie and Weather

It is interesting that Nessie has been seen twice this year as we have had a bad winter. I started correlating the weather reports for the region and sightings of the Loch Ness creature some time ago; a yet unfinished project. Weather records going back years can be found quite easily these days with the Internet and Met Office help. I discovered that whenever there had been a bad winter, the creature was seen more often the following spring and summer. Could it be it was looking for food as the bad weather had made food scarce? Or maybe it just wanted the warmth of the sunshine? An interesting question, I think. It may of course be simply that after a bad winter more people are out and about on fine days so see the creature more often. Too many variables, I am afraid, and it would take a lot to put the study together. If I have the time left to me I will get it finished and see what the results look like. Not world-shattering, I know, but interesting all the same.

NAOMI WEST: Puddle Monster IV - The Terror Revealed

Finally! I got a pic! I camped out by the puddle for a long time, camera ready. After several long minutes sweating in the Texas sun, I heard some sort of vocalization. I would have assumed it was a frog, except that I believe the sound came from the puddle monster. Sure enough, seconds later, a small, barely perceptible form emerged from the water, staying just at the surface. I snapped the camera, but when I went to move in closer, the creature submerged itself again. But I DID get the picture. I believe it to be the head of the creature. If you can't see in the first pic, I have circled it for you in the second pic.

HAUNTED SKIES: SOURCE MATERIAL- Hampshire 1995 (Part Three)


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 2009 Harry Patch died. Patch was the last surviving English veteran of World War 1 and at the time of his death was thought to be the third oldest man in the world at 111 years and 38 days old.

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I love songs that tell a story, don't you?