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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, January 14, 2012

ROBERT SCHNECK: Old Hitler

Florida fishermen tell of a legendary giant hammerhead shark called Old Hitler.

"He's bigger and badder than Jaws. Got a head as wide as a pickup truck," says Larry Mastry, 53. "I've heard he's anywhere between 20 and 25 feet," says Capt. George Roux.

"He's a big boy," says Wayne Lord, 55. "That's all I know."

For decades local anglers have called him Old Hitler, the great hammerhead shark who allegedly lurks in the summertime waters around the Sunshine Skyway bridge. As the weather heats up, so do the tales about the legendary fish with an evil name who can snap a large tarpon in two with one chomp."Read more about the legend of Old Hitler at: http://www.sptimes.com/


JON'S JOURNAL: Be careful of the flowers

Friday night saw what was almost certainly the first frost of the winter.

The mild weather has been good news for our fuel bills (or at least I bloody well hope so), and with rising power prices (and rising everything else prices) we certainly need some good news, but the environmental knock-on effects have been less positive.

Although the mild weather means that there were flowers on one of my rose bushes on Christmas Day and the annual Butterfly Conservation survey of first sightings recorded a Red Admiral on New Year's Day (Richard F. also saw one in his grandperents' garden early in January) it does mean that the passage of the seasons is all to cock.

Usually by now (mid-January) the snowdrops are out in force, and whilst there are snowdrops
(and I sent Graham out armed with camera yesterday lunchtime to prove it) from memory, there are nothing like as many as usual.

But this is where this Nature Diary thingy is going to come in useful. I have been happily watching the progression of the seasons over the last few years but not writing any of it down, so I cannot actually tell you for sure whether these impressions are true.

However, there is a bank at Cranford where there are usually dozens of snowdrops. But this year nada. I said this to Max last week and he suggested that the mild winter might actually be the reason for this. Could the snowdrops need a hard ground frost to trigger their growth?

It's a compelling idea.

But on the other hand, the daffodils, which are usually not up until March/April, were flowering over Christmas and the crocuses (which are not usually up until the end of February) are out already.



And all winter birds have been singing even in the middle of the night. Strange, huh?

With the headline, you expected me to do a link to the god-like John Otway, with or without Wild Willie Barrett singing, 'Be careful of the flowers, cos you know they're gonna get you, yeah', but I did that last year, so I am posting this song - the title at least seems chillingly appropriate (and it has a tune, so Syd will approve).



In 1649
To St. George's Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people's will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Mow everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor folk starve

We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords
Still we are free
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers' claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The orders came to cut them down

WATCHER OF THE SKIES: Ageing swans and Irish blackcaps

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 afore-mentioned ones....

The Winterling is the name given to a Berwick swan that has migrated to Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire to spend the winter there each year. She would have turned 29 last year and if she returns to the reserve she will be the oldest recorded wild swan.

According to Dave Paynter, who is reserve manager at Slimbridge, geese, ducks and swan numbers have been down so far this winter due to the mild weather, although there have been higher numbers of waders such as lapwing, dunlin and golden plover. However, some birds further north have delayed their migration and it is hoped that the expected arrival of a spell of cold, dryer weather, together with easterly winds, will encourage a late migration and that reserves like Slimbridge will see an influx of wintering birds.
You can read more about this at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5gCoDl6WXIMNbbdUIzkzGnr34wc8g?docId=N0951951326386982687A


Once a scarce visitor from Africa during our summer months, the blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) is now a fairly common winter caller at garden bird tables in Waterford, Ireland.


The blackcap is a member of the Sylviidae family, and the RSPB bird guide describes it as "a distinctive greyish warbler, the male has a black cap, and the female a chestnut one. Its delightful fluting song has earned it the name 'northern nightingale'.”

Waterford Today looks into why the species chooses to ignore its usual wintering areas in southern Europe and North Africa.


http://www.waterford-today.ie/waterford-today-news/15213-waterford-wildlife-15213.html

Don’t forget that the RSPB is holding its Big Garden Birdwatch on Saturday January 28 and Sunday January 29. Log on to http://www.rspb.org.uk/ for more information.

TRADE IN NON-NATIVE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES IN TEXAS (Via Herp Digest)

TRADE IN NON-NATIVE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES IN TEXAS: LESSONS FOR BETTER MONITORING AND IMPLICATIONS FOR SPECIES INTRODUCTION
HEATHER L. PRESTRIDGE, LEE A. FITZGERALD, AND TOBY J. HIBBITTS

Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collection, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, 210 Nagle Hall, College Station, Texas 77843, USA, e-mail: hlprestridge@tamu.edu

Paper posted at

http://herpconbio.org/Volume_6/Issue_3/Prestridge_etal_2011.pdf

Herpetological Conservation and Biology 6(3):324-339.

Abstract.-In the United States, trade is monitored at different levels of government and state level insight requires combining federal, state, and local sources of information. Trade in wildlife and their products has implications on wild populations of species involved and introduction of non-native vertebrates, especially amphibians and reptiles, is linked to the commercial trade in these animals. We used:













(1) federal databases;






(2) surveys of pet owners at live animal expositions;






(3) observations of sales at live animals expositions; and






(4) data collected from dealers on the Internet













...to quantify imports, exports, and use of exotic herptiles traded in Texas.













We recorded 1,192 unique taxonomic entities of amphibians and reptiles in commercial trade in Texas. A total of 949,901 live specimens were imported to Texas from 2002 to 2008. The top 16 imported taxa made up 73.36% of the trade. Internet and exposition-based trade was dominated by few species of common pets, with others represented in small numbers. Much trade persists in known invasive species and others that must have the potential to become invasive. We documented trade in 36 known invasive species, three of which are invasive in Texas. Our approach could serve as a template for assessing trade in non-native species at regional scales. Modifications to national databases would allow exports to be distinguished from re-exports, and adoption of standardized taxonomy would improve understanding of impacts of trade on species. State level management changes should be consistent across all 50 states to add continuity to laws governing non-native amphibians and reptiles kept as pets.

HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Telegraph 1.2.57.


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/
On this day in 1759 the British Museum opened its doors for the first time. Charles Fort himself used the reading room of the British museum during his research.
And now the news:

Two kittens have '18 extra toes' between them
Mouse taped to firework during New Year to be exhi...
Blame Hitchcock's Crazed Birds on Toxic Algae
Hundreds of seabirds caught in Cornish fishing net...
Jellied Century-Old Brains Reveal Secrets of Menta...
Loggers 'burned Amazon tribe girl alive'
Greens whale patrol bill ready

Here are just some of the treasures of the British Museum:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QI3cOqyQE0

NEXT WEEK

Corinna and I are going to be away for five or six days from tomorrow. We will still have access to a computer so as far as I know the blog will continue as normal. However, Graham is running the CFZ in my absence and will take over bloggystuff if necessary.

FRONTIERS OF ANTHROPOLOGY: Peopling of the Americas

Some working with maps, charts, and statistics from Wikipedia as regards the peopling of the Americas:
http://frontiers-of-anthropology.blogspot.com/2012/01/some-largescale-migrations-into-new.html