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 05, 2012

WATCHER OF THE SKIES: cuckoos, red-breasted goose, Atlas pied flycatcher, mindless vandalism

As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... about out-of-place birds, rare vagrants, and basically all things feathery and Fortean.

Because we live in strange times, there are more and more bird stories that come her way, so she has now moved onto the main CFZ bloggo with a new column with the same name as her aforementioned ones...

BTO Cuckoo update
Two of the five cuckoos – Lyster and Chris – have made it back to the UK.  Amazingly, Lyster was seen only 10 miles from where he was tagged after his 10,000 mile trip. Kasper, the third of the cuckoos still alive after the demise of both Martin and Clement, has not been heard of since 30th April.

Phil Atkinson, head of international research at the BTO spotted Lyster in the Norfolk Broads on Tuesday.

"We saw him flying past - you can see the wire antenna poking out [from his tag], so it was definitely him," he told BBC Nature.
"It's just fantastic; we know where he's been, we know the routes he's taken and now he's back in the broads."

The project is being carried to try to discover why fewer and fewer of the birds return here each year – Britain has lost nearly half of its cuckoos in the last twenty years, with the bird’s population still declining.

"They're African birds really," said Phil Atkinson, who has taken a leading role in the cuckoo project.

"They evolved in Africa."

"All the birds got down to Congo and survived, and it's only on spring migration that we started to lose birds," continued Dr Atkinson.

"The cuckoo is an urgent priority for research," he told BBC Nature.

"This fantastic project is boosting the understanding of this bird so that, hopefully, we can give this bird a future."
Read updates on the individual birds’ blogs: http://www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking

Rare Goose spotted in Sutherland
Usually found in Siberia, and a rare sighting for our shores, a red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis) was seen at Crofter’s Park, next to the Clynelish Distillery, Brora, Sutherland last week.  Lonie Mackintosh from Achrimsdale was alerted of its visit by his daughter last Saturday and said: "My daughter noticed it as she was walking out – she spotted its red breast – and after she told me about it, I went out with my camera and binoculars."

"It was just grazing and bathing in hollows in the field," he said. His picture shows the red-breasted goose in front, a pink-footed goose in the middle, but he does not know what the big goose is at the back. 

RSPB’s communication manager Alan Tissiman told the Northern Times: "The Red-Breasted Goose is a bird of real conservation concern and a considerable amount of research is currently being undertaken into its habits in order to try to help the population.

"Typically they spend the winter months in the Danube area of eastern Europe before returning to the high tundra to breed. Very occasionally, they turn up in the British Isles but it is certainly unusual. A very good sighting indeed for Sutherland!"

Possible first for Britain
Flamborough Head in East Yorkshire was paid a visit by an apparent Atlas pied flycatcher (Ficedula speculigeraat the end of April – and if it was indeed one of these birds then it would be the first record of the species in Britain.  Numbers of this bird have been recorded in Europe which seems to mark an unprecedented spring displacement.  It was trapped and ringed at South Landing and a couple of tail feathers that had been dropped during the ringing process have been kept for analysis.  

Another mindless act of vandalism

The mindless actions of vandals destroyed the Wyevale Wood, Herefordshire, bird hide by setting fire to it.  However, the Hereford Nature Trust has confirmed that this mindless act is covered by insurance and will, therefore, be able to shortly replace it.

Wyevale wood is secondary woodland on an ancient woodland site. A flat, pleasant walk leads around the 4 acre wood.  More about Wyevale Wood

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