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, December 07, 2011

ROBERT SCHNECK: Victorian Scylla

Dear Jon,

I came across this remarkable, vaguely Lovecraftean representation of Scylla, as in 'Scylla and Charybdis', by the British illustrator Henry Justice Ford (1860-1941). I've never seen anything quite like it and thought CFZ readers would feel the same way.

BRITISH TRUST FOR ORNITHOLOGY: Deer bad news for birds

Deer may be affecting some bird species on far larger scales than previously appreciated, new research has found. The study, published this week in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology, provides evidence that the populations of several woodland bird species fare worse in areas that have high numbers of deer. The researchers, led by Dr Stuart Newson from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), applied new methods of analysis to large national bird and deer monitoring data. The study focused on eleven woodland bird species in lowland England...

Read on...

CRIPTOZOOLOGIA EN ESPAÑA: Spain's first giant squid

Courtesy of our new friend Walter Cantero, we will now be featuring a digest (in English) of each posting on the prolific and popular Spanish language cryptozoology blog Criptozoologia En España. A big thank you to Walter and to Criptozoologia En España main man Javier Resines....

Right from the Spanish cryptozoology blog, Criptozoologia En España:

A day like today: the first giant squid case in Spain, 1861

"The first documented report of a giant squid in spanish waters. The Alecton report helped the scientists of the time to stop thinking in sea monster legends and gave credibility to the existence of these true giants of the sea, the Architeuthis."

Read on the complete article at: http://criptozoologos.blogspot.com/2011/11/un-dia-como-hoy-primer-caso-de-calamar.html

You will be able to translate the spanish text by using the blog translator!

Criptozoologia en España by Javier Resines

HAUNTED SKIES: Times (The) 25.7.52.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 2010 Space X became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft from orbit.
And now the news:

Study: Crows remember colors a year later
Horses at threat from seasonal illness
Killer whales spotted off Cornish coast
Wales badger cull decision early in 2012
25 permits issued to hunt Houbara bustards in Paki...
Almost three quarters of UK butterfly species have...
New species discovered every two days in the Mekon...

Here’s that launch I mentioned:

RSPB: Greenest government ever?

West Country wildlife charities’ dismay at attack on vital wildlife legislation

Wildlife charities in the south west have today joined forces to condemn Treasury plans to weaken wildlife legislation.

In a strongly worded letter to regional newspapers, the Chief Officers of all the West Country's Wildlife Trusts, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB express their deep dismay at the plans revealed in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

In the statement George Osborne sent a clear signal that the Treasury viewed the environment as a “ridiculous” barrier to economic growth and would be reviewing the UK's implementation of the EU Habitats Directive which he claimed was "gold plated".

The Habitats Directive [Note 1] was established in 1994 under the previous Tory administration. In the West Country it provide safeguards from uncontrolled development to iconic landscapes as diverse as The Lizard in Cornwall, Dartmoor, the Somerset Levels and Moors, the Severn Estuary, Chesil Beach and the Dorset Heathlands. [Note 2]

Tony Richardson, South West Regional Director for the RSPB said; "The Prime Minister has stated clearly that he wants the coalition to be the "greenest government ever". Clearly his next door neighbour is yet to receive the message.

"Feeling is running particularly high here in the West Country. The region is rightly proud of its rich natural environment. We are also keenly aware that more than any other region we trade on the quality of this environment. Far from being a barrier, it is difficult to see how economic recovery can be achieved here without safeguarding the very thing that makes the region attractive to visitors and a good place to do business. "

“And let’s be clear, we are not “anti-development”. But we have to proceed with wisdom. With careful planning, under the requirements of the regulations, development can work for both wildlife and the economy.”

Simon Nash, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive said: “Somerset Wildlife Trust is deeply dismayed at the Government’s intention to weaken wildlife legislation. Somerset still enjoys a good quality environment, not only in areas like the Somerset Levels, the Mendip Hills, the Blackdown Hills and Exmoor, but throughout our countryside which is rich in protected species such as otter, water vole, dormouse and scarce butterflies. However, our wildlife is constantly under threat from development and unsympathetic land management.

“Somerset Wildlife Trust believes that protection of our most important wildlife is essential to any planning framework for Somerset that encourages intelligent, long-sighted decision-making about development. The Government’s lack of environmental leadership is already having an impact in Somerset, where developers and local authorities are showing our environment less respect than it deserves. If the Government follow through on George Osborne’s stated intentions, Somerset’s wildlife and its people will all be poorer as a result.”

Steve Grainger, Chief Executive Officer of Avon Wildlife Trust said, “We have been reviewing the Chancellor’s statement and it seems that he is not content with the massive shake-up of the planning system that is already under way, which could still reduce the protection given to over 800 Local Wildlife Sites in our area. Now sites of European importance in and around Bristol face an uncertain future too.”

“This shake up seems to fly in the face of the coalition government’s rhetoric of being the greenest government ever.

“The Government’s own National Ecosystem Assessment [Note 3] and Natural Environment White Paper [Note 4], both published in June this year, promised us much more than this. They were to herald a step change in nature’s fortunes. Protected areas are a key part of the foundation upon which nature’s recovery will depend. Yet taking our much depleted wildlife into a more positive future is clearly far from the Chancellor’s agenda.”

Dr Gordon McGlone OBE FSB, Chief Executive, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said; "In Gloucestershire we believe that nature is not valued. We are seeing a lack of commitment to one of the county's greatest assets - its natural heritage. The environment is not a barrier, it's the basis on which our prosperity depends."

Simon Cripps, Chief Executive of Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “Dorset has shown how to work together to meet the requirements of EU wildlife legislation for heathlands in a way which is simple and clear for developers and avoids the lengthy delays that the government fears. Downgrading the protection of our most precious habitats would be a short-sighted measure that would end up costing us far more in the end. Many studies have shown that the quality of the environment is vital to economic strength and to quality of life; the value to Dorset’s communities and to tourism and leisure industries is huge.

Dorset has one of the highest concentrations of European protected habitats in the UK, yet even here the area protected amounts to only 6% of the county. Surely this government would not want to be remembered for the destruction of a natural heritage that belongs to all.”

Dr Gary Mantle MBE, the director of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust says: “We are deeply concerned about how the Treasury announcement will impact on the natural environment in Wiltshire.

Wiltshire contains priceless wildlife meadows, sweeping chalk grassland and ancient woodland and we are working hard to sew this patchwork back together on a large scale. Without a robust well protected natural environment unsympathetic development in the name of economic recovery could tear apart these delicate beginnings, imprisoning wildlife once more in scattered pockets of habitats where it faces a slow and inevitable decline.

The natural environment needs to be protected if we are to achieve the sustainable communities that we all know are needed. Studies show that reconnecting people to their natural surroundings improves their wellbeing. Surely this is particularly important during these times of austerity? The natural world should not be seen as a constraint to economic development but an asset to be cherished and nurtured.”

Harry Barton, Chief Executive of Devon Wildlife Trust said: "Devon is blessed with some of finest natural heritage anywhere in Britain, and it brings immense benefits to the communities who live here. If the Chancellor believes the people of Devon will turn a blind eye while he unpicks the vital protection afforded to it, he should think again.

"What we are witnessing is nothing short of an assault by Government on the environment. It shows a total lack of understanding and disregard for the benefits that a healthy environment brings to society".

In response to the Chancellors statement the region’s wildlife charities are urging the public to make their feelings known by contacting their MPs.

Tony Richardson, RSPB, added; “We know that people here in the south west value the natural environment - the strength of feeling showed by people at the threatened sale of forests powerfully demonstrated that. And, combined, the membership of our diverse organisations is more than that of all the political parties. We’re calling on people to again show that they care passionately about our wild places by contacting their MP, to make clear their own concerns for the future of the south west’s precious natural heritage.”

For more information:

Somerset Wildlife Trust: Beth Jerret, 01823 652413, beth.jerrett@somersetwildlife.org
Dorset Wildlife Trust: Nicky Hoar, 01305 264620, nhoar@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Devon Wildlife Trust: David Ireland, 01392 260864, direland@devonwildlifetrust.org
Avon Wildlife Trust: Pat Ellingham, 0117 9177278, patellingham@avonwildlifetrust.org.uk
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust: Emma Bradshaw 01452 383333
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust: Sue Litherland, 01380 725670
Friends of the Earth: Henry Rummins henry.rummins@foe.co.uk
RSPB: Tony Whitehead tony.whitehead@rspb.org.uk 01392 453754, 07872 414365

The main aim of the Habitats Directive is to promote the maintenance of biodiversity by requiring Member States to take measures to maintain or restore natural habitats and wild species listed on the Annexes to the Directive at a favourable conservation status, introducing robust protection for those habitats and species of European importance. http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-1374

Under the directive member states are required to designate:

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). SACs are areas which have been given special protection under the European Union’s Habitats Directive. They provide increased protection to a variety of wild animals, plants and habitats and are a vital part of global efforts to conserve the world’s biodiversity. Find out more about them on http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/designatedareas/sac/default.aspx

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) SPAs are areas which have been identified as being of international importance for the breeding, feeding, wintering or the migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds found within European Union countries. They are European designated sites, classified under the ‘Birds Directive 1979’ which provides enhanced protection given by the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status all SPAs also hold. Find out more about them on http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/designatedareas/spa/default.aspx

The UK National Ecosystem Assessment states: “The natural world, its biodiversity and its constituent ecosystems are critically important to our well-being and economic prosperity, but are consistently undervalued in conventional economic analyses and decision-making.” http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org/

The Natural Environment White Paper (chapter three paragraph 3.6) states “The Government is committed to putting the value of natural capital at the heart of our economic thinking.” http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/natural/whitepaper/

The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) wildlifetrusts.org. There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.


Today sees the publication of Butterfly Conservation's The State of the UK's Butterflies 2011 (which can be downloaded from this link). The report shows that almost three quarters of UK butterfly species have decreased in population during the last decade. More specifically, the findings by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) show that 72% of species declined in abundance over ten years and distributions of 54% of butterflies fell, many sharply. The report comes from data gathered by two long-running citizen science projects - the Butterflies for the New Millennium (BNM) recording scheme and the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Click here to see the full list of winners and losers.


RSPB: Wild winter walks on the Taw Estuary

This winter during December the RSPB is inviting people to enjoy the peace and quiet of a Devon beauty spot in the company of birds and wildlife.

Working together, the RSPB and The Fremington Quay cafe will show people the fantastic wildlife that can be found along the tranquil banks of the river Taw.

Fremington Quay, a site of historical importance lies on the river Taw between Barnstaple and Bideford. Working with the RSPB, the cafe's owners are hoping to bring people closer to wildlife by running an RSPB guided walk each Monday morning, during the first three weeks of December.

Paul Duffy, the owner of The Fremington Café said, "We're pleased to be able to offer people a way of exploring this beautiful part of Devon. We often hear tales from walkers who are astounded by the variety of wildlife they see every day, and we hope these walks will give people new ways to discover the wildlife on their doorstep.

John Wrigglesworth from the RSPB said; "The Taw estuary is one of my favourite places to watch birds, and other wildlife during the winter months. These walks are designed to introduce new people to the pleasures of bird watching. Everyone will be made very welcome. "

The walks are on Monday the 12th and 19th December. We plan to meet inside The Fremington Cafe from 10.30 am. There will be a fee of £5 per person, but that includes a nice warming tea, or coffee, before we set off. The circular walks begin at 11 a.m. and lasts approximately one and a half hours, covering a distance of no more than two miles, over relatively flat ground. Please wear sensible footwear, and have wet weather gear. A decision will be made the day before should the weather looks particularly bad. If in any doubt, please phone The Fremington Café on 01271 268720 for confirmation that the walk will take place as planned. Sorry no dogs. Don't forget your binoculars, if you have them!