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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Thursday, September 22, 2011


An article and photos on Kermode white black bears: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/08/kermode-bear/barcott-text


Dear Mr. Downes,
I was re-reading "The Singing Mouse of Devonport" in Fortean Studies Vol. 3 last night and was reminded of an article I recently ran across in an online newspaper archive although it seems to be quoting a letter to Nature about a singing mouse in 1870s France. Just in case you haven't already got this in your files, here it is.

Portsmouth Times 12-15-1877 p. 1 Portsmouth, Ohio

Singing Mice.

The subject of singing mice is receiving considerable attention among the subscribers to Nature, and letters describing the musical habits of these little creatures are contributed by various observers. One, writing from Menton, France, says: “Last winter we occupied the rooms we now do at Menton. Early in February we heard, as we thought, the song of a canary, and fancied it was outside our balcony; however, we soon discovered that the singer was in our salon, and that the songster was a mouse. At that time the weather was rather cold, and we had a little fire, and the mouse spent most of the day under the fender, where we kept it supplied with bits of biscuit. In a few days it became quite tame, and would come on the hearth in an evening and sing for several hours. Sometimes it would climb up the chiffonier and ascend a vase of flowers to drink at the water, and then sit and sing on the edge of the table, and allow us to go quite near to it without ceasing its warble. One of its favourite haunts was the wood-basket, and it would often sit and sing on the edge of it. On February 12th, the last night of the carnival, we had a number of friends in our salon, and the little mouse sang most vigorously, much to their delight and astonishment, and was not in the least disturbed by their talking. In the evening the mouse would often run about the room and under the door, and into the corridor and adjoining rooms, and then return to its own hearth. After amusing us for nearly a month, it disappeared, and we suspect that it was caught in a trap set in one of the rooms beyond. The mouse was small and had very large ears, which it moved about much while singing. The song was not unlike that of the canary in many of its trills, and it sang quite as beautifully as any canary; but it had more variety, and some of its notes were much lower, like those of the bullfinch. One great peculiarity was a sort of double song which we had now and then, an air with an accompaniment; the air was loud and full, the notes being low and, the accompaniment quite subdued.”

Chris Woodyard


I have just met John Hanson and Dawn Holloway at our recent conference and this was a great pleasure to meet the team who have been putting in such a huge amount of effort into not just one book, but a series of several extensive volume chronicles of the UFO subject in the British Isles.

We have corresponded frequently with regards to certain cases John had been researching, sometimes for case information or just to check some small details. Before I acquired these first two volumes, I became aware of books in the making when Lionel Beer had mentioned a retired police officer who was looking extensively into UFO files. I then observed our long time BUFORA member, David Sankey, preparing images for this project. Have a look at the standard of the artwork that is has gone into these first two volumes at www.davidsankey.com

In general UFO literature, there are many cases that have their own books on specific events. The last extensive work that covered UFOs in decades of case summaries and a rolling overview of the subject would be by our very own John Spencer.

Here is an author that is prepared to go further back in time than the benchmark Kenneth Arnold sighting in detail and reminds us that the modern UFO story did not start here.

The first two books in the series are already published and they have taken a selection of prominent cases, complete with interviews and press cuttings from pilot and civilian sightings from the Second World War right through to cases that mark a heightening awareness of the public towards UFOs in the later 1960’s.

For a historical and thorough account of the best of the sightings, John Hanson and Dawn Holloway largest task has been in the editing down of so many important cases, still coming in from research and investigations from a multitude of sources, including UFO groups and independent investigators.

The first two volumes have attracted glowing reviews from all sales points and also specialist magazines such as UFO Matrix. This is growing into the definitive summary of UFO cases from all around the U.K. and lead by authors with a keen eye to separate fact from fiction.

You should also seek out John and Dawn at various UFO conferences, as there is such an abundance of material, some of which did not make it into the book (live interviews and additional case photographs) that you’ll get a different set of cases discussed and explored at any appearance.

John and Dawn appeared at the recent BUFORA conference in Newcastle and will be joining us for the 50th anniversary in London on the 22nd September 2012.

In terms of a definitive selection of prominent cases and development of the UFO phenomenon, from witnesses, type of sightings and reports from 1940 to 1965, these first two volumes are the best for the interested newcomer and established reader, researcher and serious investigator in this broad subject.

You can find further material being added constantly at John and Dawns site at:


In addition to personal thoughts and meetings with other UFO investigators and researchers, it’s almost an appendix to many items the first two and forthcoming third volume simply does not have room to include.

This should indicate to you the wealth of material you will be accessing by purchasing all of the progressive volumes in this large project. Volume three is due very soon and the purchasing of the Haunted Skies books will ensure regenerated resources to continue the series, which intends to go the complete timeline right up to more recent UFO incidents.

BUFORA highly recommends the Haunted Skies volumes and if you want an extensive and thorough window on the fascinating cases that have occurred in the U.K. in the last fifty years, the first two books will leave you wanting more, with volume three (at the time of writing) due for release very soon, with later publications in the series already collating material and already underway.

Purchase sources can be Amazon or your local bookseller will be able to supply this or directly from the Haunted Skies website.

NEIL ARNOLD: The Warrington Man-Beast

The town of Warrington, which sits on the banks of the River Mersey, is also a borough and unitary authority area of Cheshire. According to an obscure story from the 18th century, later repeated in Wally Barnes’s 1990 book Ghosts, Mysteries & Legends of Old Warrington, a terrifying man-beast once stalked a farm in Warrington. One such farm, once known as Peggy Gronachs Chicken Farm, harboured a bizarre story, which Wally Barnes was told of in the 1940s. According to Barnes, Peggy Gronach was ‘…the most evil, ugly and haggard old wretch ever seen in the vicinity.’

According to legend, Peggy Gronach was a witch who escaped the original 17th century witch hunts that took place in Norwich. When Peggy moved to Warrington, she was the dread of the local community, her rundown shack would spook many a passer by and no-one was ever brave enough to venture through the undergrowth. However, one day a group of young children were playing near the old farm and decided that, for a dare, they would approach the cottage. When they were within a few metres a terrifying roar emanated from the building and staring through the grime-laced window pane was a hideous face. Then, Peggy emerged from the farmhouse and began screaming at the children who, of course, fled the area.

When the terrified children returned home to their parents, they spoke of the great roar, to which their parents responded that the crone must have owned a ferocious dog. However, the children were adamant that what they saw peering from the house was a hair covered man with burning eyes, pointed ears and horns on his head.

However bizarre the report may have seemed, the following month, according to Barnes, ‘…a farmhand was driving a horse and trap about a mile from the cottage when without warning the horse reared up. The farmhand then saw a hideous ghoul-like creature under a tree ready to pounce.’

Local villagers began to spread rumour that Peggy Gronach had supernatural powers and that to explain the man-beast, they believed she could transform herself into the terrifying man-beast which had been reported around the area. Shortly after the farmhand’s encounter, a local farmer reported that one of his cows had been attacked. He found it dead and its head was hanging on my thread – only a very powerful creature could have committed such a crime. So, the local vicar, accompanied by ‘a gang of religious zealots’ visited Peggy’s remote cottage in the hope of driving her away from the village. However, upon arrival they found no trace of the old hag nor the hairy monster, the only sign that some ‘thing’ had been around was the carcass of a half-eaten goat.

There were no further sightings of the terrible monster, or Peggy Gronach, and the building was knocked down. Barnes however, ends the tale with a chilling climax, stating that, ‘Many years later workmen dug up the remains of a giant bullock – or was it a bullock ? Bullocks do not have human skulls. Think about it.’

This intriguing tale may sound far-fetched, but maybe, just maybe, out there in the sticks of old Warrington, there still lurks a frightful, hairy monster, a creature which, during the day either retires deep into the woods, or transforms itself into the shrivelled form of Peggy Gronach.

DALE DRINNON: Rhinos in Sumatra

The British members of the team return to the UK on sunday, and we are agog to find out more about what they have done. In the meantime Dale Drinnon presents evidence that what most of us believed about rhinos in Sumatra is simply wrong...



OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1909 'The Phantom of the Opera' was first published.
And now the news:

Salmon and Other Fish Predators Rely On 'No Guts, ...
Warning against freeing pet fish
Whales take Northwest Passage as Arctic sea-ice me...
Deadly bird disease trichomonosis 'spreads to Euro...
Eel swims up man's penis
The world's smallest aquarium
Tracking equipment could be harming wild birds, ex...
Baby red squirrels saved from Hurricane Katia

And there goes any streetcred I might have had:

NEWSFLASH: Sumatra Expedition cast handprint

We have just heard from Richard Freeman:

Hi Jon,

Great news, we have a cast of the very first orang-pendek hand print ever recorded. Found by John Didmus, casted by Andy Sanderson. We all are getting copies. We also have hair found close by.

NEWSFLASH - First news from Sumatra

There is a little tantalising news on the expedition through the magic of Facebook. The Extreme Expeditions facebook page announces that 'Team all safe and sound, exciting news to be posted soon...' and Rebecca's FB announces that she 'asked for a mission, and for her sins they gave her one...the horror, the horror...' and does a little good-natured whingeing about noodles.

Adam writes: 'I am alive and well ish...and just out of the jungle. More updates on a great expedition. soon....'

So I would not be surprised if there was some news later today. In the meantime, however, you guys know as much as we do.


This coming weekend (Saturday-Monday) is likely to see some disruption to the blog. Corinna is away on family business (golly, that makes me sound like Charles Manson) and will be returning on Monday along with Richard who should be returning from Sumatra and coming up to the CFZ sometime Monday afternoon.

So it is only me and Oll. We will do our best to keep things together....