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, August 11, 2009

FLEUR FULCHER: Be more reserved

Over, once again, to the divine Ms F. who is discovering the joys of the English countryside.

There are dozens of nature reserves in my county, Devon, and I'm sure there isn't a county in the country that hasn't got at least a handful. We've taken to going to these reserves, inititally because of a lack of money but now because it is truly our favourite thing to do. Meshaw Moor, a small reserve, was the one we've been to most, in the few times we've been we haven't seen a single other person there but we have seen a huge variety of wildlife; marbled white butterflies, skippers, spiders, a barn owl and baby toads to name but a few.

The plant life is also spectacular, I've started going through the website of the Devon Wildlife Trust and looking for the plants with the best names - corky fruited water dropwort anyone?

The DWT's 'Little Bradley Ponds' have been our latest discovery and again we've not seen anyone else there; this was partly a shame as it is such a marvellous place and partly wonderful as we had the whole place just to the three of us. They have recorded over 20 types of dragon and damsel flies at these ponds as well as the acely named giant water scorpion, which we have yet to catch a glimpse of (pond-dipping nets at the ready).

Yesterday's trip to the ponds was extra spectacular as we saw one of the most elusive (although common) of this country's beasts: nudging over some rotten wood we saw some little dark shapes run off into the plants; a closer looked showed them to be juvenile common lizards. This, combined with several butterflies I've never seen before (brimstone, and a blue butterfly I haven't looked up yet; lazy, I know). These trips have also helped me like spiders a little more, as instead of thinking their only aim in life is to land on my bed with a size-inappropriate THUD in the middle of the night, I now like watching them zoom out of their funnel shaped webs and grab some poor minibeast or other.

So, drag yourself, your partner, your mum, children, friends and possibly the dog along to your nearest reserve and I promise that the next time you go there will be no dragging involved.


Retrieverman said...

You never can go wrong with spending some time in nature, although there are plenty of people who are spoiled and don't like the bright sun and the possibility of getting bugs on them.

I had a wonderful experience this weekend with a flock of wild turkey hens and their chicken-sized poults.

I was out on a walk, when I noticed a black shape in a stand of bracken ferns that grows on steep side of the knob that rises from the middle of the pasture. I couldn't make out what it was, but as I approached, I noticed that this shape had a little blue head. I realized it was a wild turkey, which are quite common in my part of the world. If you know anything about wild turkeys, they are very nervous animals and avoid people at all costs.

I kept walking along the trail, which goes just below the high knob, just downhill from the stand of bracken.

I was surprised at how close I got to the hen.

I found myself standing in the trail just below the bracken. I was no more than 30 feet from the turkey. I soon discovered that this hen wasn't alone.

Suddenly, four hens ran across the trail in front of me. They were about 50 feet away as they crossed the path. They ran downhill into the deep forest that lies beyond the pasture.

The hen in the bracken remained still.

Then she crouched into the bracken a bit.

And then a loud roar erupted from the bracken and tall meadow grass. I estimate that about 40 wild turkey poults rose from the grass and bracken and flew into the trees where the other hens had run.

Two of these poults flew within three feet of my head. They were that close to me.

And yet I had no idea that they were even there!

During the summer months, the hen turkeys form nursery groups, where they raise their young together. The toms (or stags, as they are known in the UK) form all-male groups during the summer.

Maggie Watson said...

Have you tried Halsdon yet? It's a lovely little Devon nature reserve where you can sometimes even see otters playing in the river. It's just a couple of miles from the village of Dolton. I know it reasonably well because it's the closest to our Devon eco lodges at Winkleigh. We also have a SSSI nature reserve of our own on our farm, and although it's private we fairly often show people around - there will probably be a public access day in October if you're around then!