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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Monday, October 03, 2016

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: The Nottinghamshire Puffin

Here is a partial transcript of a blog by R B Parish on the Our Nottinghamshire Forum  on November 13th 2013 about a puffin found at Wollaton in that county.

“In 1953 a curious ornithological find was made on the Oxton to Southwell in road by a Donald Brister of West Bridgford – a puffin a bird more familiar of the cliffs and rocks around our coast, not this rural scene. Mr. Brister named it Tussy and it became a local celebrity:

“ TUSSY THE PUFFIN GOES VISITING. Tussy the puffin went visiting yesterday. Five hundred children at the Musters-road infant school West Bridgford, queued up after afternoon classes to stroke Tussy and watch him splash about in an improvised tank. Tussy was found last weekend, limping along the South-Oxton road, by Mr. Donald Brister, of 18 Leahurst-gardens, West Bridgford. Mr Brister took him home and has looked after him ever since. Mr Brister’s six-and-a-half-year-old son, Roderick, is a pupil at the school, where the children take a keen interest in Nature studies; so Tussy was taken along to let the children have a look at him. Tussy lives in a box at Mr. Brister’s home, but so far has refused any food. The only thing which took his fancy was a tropical fish in Mr. Brister’s aquarium. But the plate glass kept him out.”They often go with food for a month” Mr. Brister said “They have to lose weight so that they can fly.” Mr Brister intends to look after the Puffin until he can return to his natural surroundings...”

His body presented it to the National History Museum at Wollaton. He was stuffed by their taxidermist, Leonard Wilde and it had remained in the collection ever since”

Later more information was provided about this anomalous puffin:."  Newspaper cuttings record that Tussy lived in a box at Mr Brister`s home in Leahurst Gardens, West Bridgford but that the puffin apparently could not be induced to eat....

Mr Brister succeded in keeping Tussy alive for two weeks before he finally succumbed.
He was then passed to Mr L. Wilde, taxidermist at Nottingham's Natural History museum at Wollaton Hall, who may be seen in the lower picture preparing him for display in the museum.

Some More Nottinghamshire Puffins

Sightings of puffins (Fratercula artica) in the county of Nottinghamshire are - not surprisingly - few and far between.  They are normally birds of the open sea, except when breeding on cliffs or islands.  Those which are encountered inland are almost certainly 'storm-blown' birds which have been driven off course.
In the book 'Birds of Nottinghamshire' (David & Charles 1975, edited by Austen Dobbs, p.156) four sightings are recorded - in 1884, 1917, 1914 and 1953.
The last of these refers, of course, to Tussy, whilst the circumstances of the first sighting (1884) are recounted by J. Whittaker in his 'Notes on the Birds of Nottinghamshire' published in 1907.  On page 289 of this work, Whittaker writes:-
"Miss Webb, the daughter of the Vicar of Mansfield Woodhouse, picked up one of these birds alive on the road near the Vicarage in November 1884.  This is the only county specimen I have ever heard of: and thanks to her kindness it is in my collection."
Another puffin encounter - and one which would appear not to be recorded in Dobbs' book - is recorded in a letter to Tussy's founder by J. Staton, the then Secretary of the Trent Valley Bird Watchers.  Writing in October 1953, Mr Staton refers to a live puffin he obtained "a few years back" which was "in such good condition that I was able to send it by passenger train to my friend R.M. Lockley (the author of many books on seabird life) on the coast of Pembrokeshire, and after.... cramming it with fish, successful release was reported by him".

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