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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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

JON'S JOURNAL: The Fremington Crab Muncher

A couple of weeks ago we had the bi-annual open gardens weekend here at the CFZ. This is part of the National Open Gardens scheme and money is raised for local good causes by swathes of people who pay £3.50 a head to wander around various gardens in the village. Ours, as you might have guessed, is a fairly unconventional garden but something like 80 people admired the caecilians, said hello to our amphiumas and generally looked benevolently upon our grounds. I got talking to several of our visitors, including an elderly man who – like Corinna and I – is an amateur bird watcher. He told us that there was a really good birdwatching spot at a place called Fremington Quay between Bideford and Barnstaple and yesterday we bundled mother-in-law and Prudence in the car and set off in search of it.

It was not easy to find, but we were massively impressed by the different diverse habitats on offer There were reed beds, salt marshes, an estuary, mud banks, a shingle shore, and even a small grassland meadow full of wild flowers. There was only one drawback. We saw very few birds; a couple of small brown jobs that sped away as the car approached, and a small family of swans on the estuary about a quarter of a mile up the aforementioned shingle shore.

We let Prudence off the lead and she toddled along in a very well-behaved manner. However, once we saw the swans we decided that discretion was the better part of valour. I have no idea who would come off worse in an altercation between Prudence and a large cob, but we had no intention to find out, and - especially as it started to drizzle - we turned round and made our way back to the car.

At several spots along the shore we found relatively fresh corpses of crabs which had been neatly eviscerated and – we suppose – the soft parts of the body had been eaten. When I was a boy in Hong Kong many years ago, I was taken on a nature walk in the Mai Po marshes as something to do with my cub scout activities. We found similarly eviscerated crustacea and were told that this might have been the work of an otter.

I have always had a problem reconciling with this because – at the time – otters were practically extinct in the area. However, they are making a remarkable comeback across the UK, and Lutra lutra may well have been responsible for the slightly gruesome deaths of these unfortunate crabs.

Watch this space.

1 comment:

Peter said...

They look like crabs which have moulted. If the lungs remaining in the shell are a honey colour, the previous tenant of the shell won't be far away. It will be hiding under the nearest rock or lump of weed until its new shell hardens.