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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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

RICHARD MUIRHEAD: Reasons to be cheerful

Richard Muirhead is an old friend of the CFZ. I have been friends with him for 40 years now, since we were kids together in Hong Kong. He is undoubtedly one of the two best researchers I have ever met; he and Nigel Wright both have what Charlie Fort would have no doubt called a wild talent; a talent for going into a library, unearthing a stack of old newspapers, and coming back with some hitherto overlooked gem of arcane knowledge. Twice a week he wanders into the Macclesfield Public Library and comes out with enough material for a blog post..

Dear folks

I have been speaking this evening, Tuesday October 13th, to Julie Horner, editor of Butterfly Conservation`s Cheshire and Peak District Branch News and also Alan Blears, author of an article on page 8 of the September 2009 Newsletter titled, `Reasons to be Cheerful.` They have given me permission to reproduce it here: (it has particular relevance to the north-west of England.)

Global warming,deforestation,collapsing fish stocks,seabirds in trouble. Doom and gloom. It is oh so easy to be depressed and pessimistic. But wait! It is not all doom and gloom. Stop and think how it used to be back in the `good old days`.

In the 1950`s Manchester, where I used to live was a smoke blackened dirty place bordered to the North and East by equally black towns on the banks of stinking open-sewer rivers, pouring more pollution into the atmosphere from hundreds of smoking factory chimneys.

Today Manchester is a clean,vibrant modern city where Peregrine Falcons nest and the surrounding towns are smart,attractive places set in beautiful countryside. The chimneys are long gone and the rivers are now clear and stocked with fish.

Here in Stockport the variety of butterflies seems to have bucked the national trend. Thirty years ago the Comma,Holly Blue,Small Skipper and Speckled Wood were rarely if ever seen. Now they are common and have been joined recently by the Gatekeeper. The Wall Brown and Small Tortoiseshell may have declined,but those other living jewels Red Admiral, Peacock and Painted Lady are much more common.

In my garden I have numerous songbirds including Goldfinches and occasionally I see a Buzzard circling overhead,an unlikely sighting even ten years ago. If sometimes a ring of feathers on the lawn bears witness to some unfortunate victim of a Sparrowhawk then this is also good news. The raptors` presence today reflects not only on their recovery from near extinction in Britain but also thriving wild bird population,without which they could not survive.

In autumn 2007,just ten minutes walk from home, I was able to watch Brown Trout, Sea Trout and Salmon.Yes Salmon!- jumping a small weir on the sparkling River Goyt. These fish had swum up the Mersey, once one of the most polluted waterways in Europe and virtually dead, and then into the Goyt.

Above the surface these once foul waters are now home to Dippers,Grey Wagtails,Kingfishers,Herons,Goosanders and Cormorants, a situation inconceivable just thirty years ago.

So, it really isn`t all doom and gloom and although so much more needs to be done to protect our precious planet,let`s just for once allow ourselves to be cheerful and optimistic instead of depressed and pessimistic. The work of organisations such as Butterfly Conservation and the R.S.P.B. is definitely not in vain.

Richard Muirhead

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