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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Sunday, February 01, 2009


The CFZ blogging family would like to introduce you to a new guest blogger: Richard Holland, editor of Paranormal Magazine, and all round good bloke. He intends to be a regular visitor tho these pages, and I am sure that you will all agree with me that this will be jolly good news for all of us..

I have just one mystery beast sighting of my own. But it wasn’t very impressive. It was rather small and cuddly, in fact.

Early spring last year I went to take another look at an important holy well local to me in North-East Wales. Ffynnon Degla (St Tegla’s Well) at Llandegla in Denbighshire had been little more than a damp hole in the ground for more than a century but in its day (up to the early 19th century) had been an important pilgrim site and a bit of a cash cow for the parish church, since it was believed to cure epilepsy (providing you took part in an elaborate ritual involving the transference of the disease to a chicken and, of course, coughed up a coin or two). The well has recently been cleared and restored, so it’s now a basin in the ground rather than a damp patch and since there’s not very much to do up here, this seemed like an exciting enough attraction for me to bother driving the all-of 8 miles to visit the site again.

The experience was not exciting enough to keep my interest for more than about 46 seconds, however, so I then went for a stroll through the fields which skirt the River Alun into which Ffynnon Degla drains. It’s fairly nondescript county just here: open grass fields, some with cows or sheep, a few patches of woodland and scrappy plantations, also a few farms and cottages dotted about in between. Llandegla is on limestone and about 250m above sea level, although higher ground and moorland (standing on gritstone and shale) is to be found east and west a few miles away.

Strolling along in rather muted light, I spotted a critter some way ahead of me on the path. Now unfortunately, I’m useless at judging distances (my old driving instructor was driven mad by this trait, I seem to recall); suffice it to say it was close enough for me to easily spot and follow it but sufficiently far away for me to at first mistake it for a bird before realizing it was actually a mammal. When I first saw it, I thought it was a grouse or maybe some exotic pheasant that had lost its tail. That gives you an idea of the size, and also the shape: dumpy, low to the ground.

But the reason I assumed at first it was a bird was the colour. It was red. I mean: RED. Not chestnut or foxy reddish but Red Panda red, Bandicoot red. It trotted ahead of me on the path, with a kind of lolloping gait. I couldn’t see its legs. And for some reason I can’t for not recall the length or shape of its tail. All I can give is useful negatives: it didn’t have a brush and it didn’t have the white flash of a rabbit’s tail.

I was effectively driving the critter. It was aware I was there and if I stopped it would trot more slowly, but since it still kept moving, I considered it advisable to try and keep up with it just in case it turned its head. And the bastard didn’t, so I never saw it in profile. All I saw was its back and bum.

Well, there you are, a furry red thing with a dumpy shape which trotted and/or lollopped. Ultimately, I lost sight of it, ran on and realised it must have at last found a hole in the fence and had escaped into a scrubby bit of land which provided it with plenty of cover. I stood there for ages hoping I’d get another glimpse but I didn’t. I suppose I could have camped out there with big binocs but Richard Freeman I ain’t: I’m more of a spend-time-in-a-library-with-loads-of-dusty-folklore-books-and-a-cup-of-tea kinda guy.

Finally, in the hope that you haven’t already dozed off or clicked away from my one feeble foray into cryptozoology in the (rather damp) field, I need to ask a question: are there such things as brindle foxes? Twice now I’ve caught a fox in my headlights here in my home village of Gwernaffield in Flintshire and am convinced it’s brindle, or dare I say it, tabby. But much darker than most foxes or indeed tabby cats. So, is it just a trick of my headlights, or have we a rather unusual fox padding about our village?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Foxes come in all colours, from sandy near-yellow to dark near-black, but the one thing they don't do is lollop along slowly.

At a rough guess what you probably saw was either an escaped pet rabbit or a first generation wild/pet hybrid; in the latter case it would have had to be either sick with mixy or very used to seeing people about.

The lack of a white tail is also explainable; rabbits only really flash the white tail when in full run; the white flash is intended as a way of telling a predator that it has been spotted and that the bunny is in full flight, so to lay off the chase. A rabbit that isn't feeling particularly stressed doesn't quite show the white flash as much.