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, January 31, 2012

Spiderwebs in Pakistani trees after 2010 floods

An unexpected side-effect of the flooding in parts of Pakistan has been that millions of spiders climbed up into the trees to escape the rising flood waters.

WATCHER OF THE SKIES: Red kites, wildlife crime, spring is coming

As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time, Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... about out of place birds, rare vagrants, and basically all things feathery and fortean.

Because we live in strange times, there are more and more bird stories that come her way, so she has now moved onto the main CFZ bloggo with a new column with the same name as her aforementioned ones...

Irish red kite report for 2011
Red kites are once again a familiar sight in the skies along parts of the east coast of Ireland, thanks to the Irish Red Kite Reintroduction Project, which has brought these birds back after an absence of 200 years. Some 120 red kite chicks were collected from nests in Wales to be reared and released in County Wicklow between 2007 and 2011 by the Golden Eagle Trust, National Parks and Wildlife Services, and the Welsh Kite Trust. Damian Clarke, NPWS ranger, recorded the first ‘Irish born’ kites in Wicklow in 2010, since when there were 14 breeding pairs in the county, producing a minimum of 17 young.

In 2011 39 were released and later in the year 8 were dead kites were recovered, of which four contained the second generation rat poison, brodifacoum. Dietary analysis of the kites, both in Wicklow and Dublin, has shown that they are hunting and scavenging rats, which puts them at risk from secondary poisoning from rodenticides. Dr. Ruddock further said, "We recognise the requirement for rodent control in terms of human health and food safety, but urge amateur and professional users alike to ensure that rodent control is carefully planned to reduce the risk to non-target wildlife".

John Lusby, Raptor Conservation Officer with BirdWatch Ireland, noted "the efforts of the Golden Eagle Trust to restore our Red Kite population have been phenomenal. These deaths however highlight an area of serious concern; recent research has also shown that other species such as Barn owls, Kestrels and Long-eared owls are at significant risk".

"The problem occurs when these raptors capture live rodents which have ingested poison. The compounds used in certain Rat poisons nowadays are extremely toxic and accumulate within a bird which has fed on a poisoned rodent. There are some clear steps we can take to try and reduce the threat of secondary poisoning to our raptor populations, such as amending current regulations in Ireland and increasing awareness of best practise rodent control, and we hope to work alongside the Trust and relevant Government bodies in 2012 to attempt to address these issues".

In addition to the problems posed to Red Kites and other wildlife through the legal use of Rat poisons, two other (untagged) Red Kites were confirmed to have been illegally poisoned by Alphachloralose in Wicklow last autumn. Dr. Ruddock continued, "It remains clear there are still serious issues which require further attention and action to protect our Irish raptors".

Unseasonal mild weather lures birdlife away from towns and cities
Bird spotters in the suburbs have been concerned to notice the absence of familiar birds such as blue tits, greenfinches, chaffinches and house sparrows from their town and city gardens. They have inundated the RSPB by letter and email of their concerns.

Nik Shelton, an RSPB official, said: "We have been inundated with letters over the past few weeks from homeowners who have got used to seeing house birds in their gardens over our recent harsh winters but who are perplexed by their absence this year."

He added: "House birds like the blue tit or the chaffinch eat seeds or insects, which are easy to find in the countryside when the weather is mild, as it has been for this winter so far. When the conditions get tough, when the ground becomes hard and frosty, it is difficult to get at insects or pick up seeds. Food becomes scarce, so the birds head into towns and cities in search of sustenance. That is what happened last year and the year before when we had very hard winters. But not this year. Our blue tits and chaffinches are perfectly happy in the countryside at the moment."

Find out more about how the mild weather conditions have confused our native birds: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jan/22/birds-gardens-rspb-winter

Isle of Wight – protected bird shot – man charged
John Winn Roberts (43) of Strabane in Northern Ireland was due to appear in court after allegedly shooting a buzzard in Newport on the Isle of Wight, on 26th November last year. Police arrested him on the same day and are grateful for the support and assistance of the RSPCA's Isle of Wight Inspector Mark Buggie, and the management of aggregates / construction material supply business Bardon Vectis, which runs the quarry where the alleged offence took place.

The buzzard is fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to kill, injure or take a buzzard, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.

More at: http://www.iwradio.co.uk/news/iw-radio-news/man-charged-with-shooting-protected-bird-3362/

Spring is coming – help birds find their ideal home
Small, one bedroomed apartment. Available immediately. Lovely views. In need of some improvements. North/east facing. No immediate neighbours. Quiet area.
To a bird searching out its nesting requirements the above could well be a sought after commodity. It is the time of year that birds are beginning to do some early checking on prospective nesting sites to put their claim on a patch. If they like what they see, they will tap around the holes and inside the nest box as a visual and audible sign to others that the box is taken. They are then most likely to disappear to prepare themselves for the coming breeding season, although their disappearance to us humans may lead some of us to assume it is because the entrance may be too small, or some such thing. The RSPB says many birds will be organising themselves into a spot of spring cleaning by tidying up last year’s boxes and getting rid of debris left from the previous occupation.

It is time for anyone who has a nesting box to put it up while the birds are “still browsing”. “It is important to site them correctly, though; a nest box in the wrong place could mean birds suffer harshly in the heat,” explained Val Osborne, RSPB wildlife adviser.

“Unless there are trees or buildings which shade the box during the day, they need to be facing between north and east to protect them from overheating in strong summer sunshine. It will also shelter them from wetter south westerly winds.”

Find out more by visiting: www.rspb.org.uk/advice

Wildfowlers up in arms about ban on shooting
Bagging a bird for the cooking pot is an old country tradition followed by many a wildfowl shooter in Scotland, but after acquiring land on the Solway Firth coast, the RSPB Scotland has plans to ban such ‘sport’. In 2010 it bought a large area of saltmarsh and floodplain at the Crook of Baldoon on Wigtown Bay and are urging the local council to introduce bylaws to ban shooting along 75% of the coastline.

However, it is claimed by wildfowlers that “because a £200,000 grant from Scottish Natural Heritage went towards the cost of buying and developing the land, the charity is using “public money to take away public rights”.”

Events and training officer for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) Scotland, Donald Muir, said: “We are working with wildfowling clubs around Wigtown Bay to ensure that one of the best wildfowling areas continues to be available to local and visiting shooters.

“When the RSPB bought the land with a £200,000 grant from SNH, they knew that wildfowling took place on the adjacent foreshore, that this was a public right and that it was an important source of income to local hotels and bed and breakfast businesses during the winter months.”
However it would appear that the local council, Dumfries and Galloway, is moving away from regulated wildfowling in favour of the RSPB’s “no shooting” option.

An RSPB spokesperson said the foreshore at Crook of Baldoon is a very small part of Wigtown Bay and there were already “extensive” shooting rights for wildfowlers elsewhere. The charity expected their plan would increase wildfowl numbers in the area.

The spokesperson added: “Whilst it is correct that the development of the nature reserve has been supported in part by SNH funding, we expect the significant financial investment in the proposed nature reserve at Crook of Baldoon to contribute over time to the local Galloway economy, as part of a wider network of wildlife attractions, which are already a major tourism draw to the area. The wildfowlers on Wigtown Bay have also created an area of wildlife habitat for which they received similar SNH grant aid.

“We take no issue with this use of public funding, which we accept as improving habitat conditions for local wildfowl populations, as we are also seeking to do at Crook of Baldoon.”

HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Express 28.4.59.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1865 Abraham Lincoln (the president of the United States of America) signed the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution, which made it illegal to keep slaves across the whole of the country. Slavery had been abolished in the UK in 1833.

And now the news:

Georgia allows hunting of endangered species
Trail bikers find suspected tasmanian tiger skull
Peru's vanishing fish stocks 'devastated' by corru...
World Society for the Protection of Animals team u...
Prince of Wales launches fight to save overexploit...
Bats occupy Israeli army ghost bunkers
Bears ‘commit suicide’ to escape horror of gall bi...

Did you know that as well as freeing the slaves Abraham Lincoln also hunted vampires:


CRYPTOZOOLOGY: On the bonny bonny banks of...

Many thanks to Steve Roskin who sent us the Google Earth co-ordinates from where we pinched this picture.

The co-ordinates are 56.246569,-4.701698 and the image is slap bang in the middle of Loch Lomond, a place that has notched up a few anomalous creature sightings over the years.

We seem to remember that a similar image was found recently at Loch Ness. Was a convincing explanation ever published?

Watch this space.

Monday, January 30, 2012



ANDREW MAY: Words from the Wild Frontier

News and stories from the remoter fringes of the CFZ blogosphere...

From Nick Redfern's "There's Something in the Woods...":
  • Mothman's 10th — It's ten years since The Mothman Prophecies hit the big screen...
From CFZ Australia:
From CFZ Canada:

DALE DRINNON: Baby bigfoot and mysterious mummies

New at The Frontiers of Zoology:

And at the Frontiers of Anthropology:

Two cases that should have been easily disposed of right from the start, but which keep coming back to haunt us instead.
Best Wishes, Dale D.

HAUNTED SKIES: Times (The) 10.4.58

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Today is National Gorilla Suit Day when the great and good all wear gorilla suits (no, really it is -look it up on Wikipedia).

And now the news:

Seeing green helps spiders perfect jump
Snow Leopard Discovery In Tajikistan Shows Need Fo...
Birds Invade Town: La Grange, Ky. Swarmed By Black...
Lucas and Juno: Special bond of a rescue dog and d...
Man's best friend for 30,000 years: Canine skulls ...
Article: If You Spot Bigfoot, Should You Shoot Him...
Cold-stunned turtles washing ashore (via Herp Dige...
Turtle Rules Limit Harvest (via Herp Digest)
Animal rights activists hopping mad over kits (via...

There’s something in the air tonight:

DALE DRINNON: New blog posting featuring "Patty", the star of the Patterson-Gimlin film

New blog posting featuring "Patty", the star of the Patterson-Gimlin film:

DALE DRINNON: Mayan Monkeys, Mexican Wildmen, and Early Scottish Settlement

New on Frontiers of Anthropology:

New on Frontiers of Zoology:

CFZ CANADA: Mysteries in Museums

Very regularly, interesting artifacts of long gone animals are being rediscovered across the globe-hiding in the fossil collections of ourmuseums. Back in 2009, scientists (specifically paleontologists) documented a “new”animal hiding in storage at the ROM, Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum.

Read on...


I found this link on a blog site of a couple who I think were travelling around S.E Asia, including Hong Kong, last autumn. This link showed a strange, thin, greyish “fish” (?) which looked odd to me. I tried to post a question about it on the blog, but I don`t know if it was received.



Can science turn back the clock on evolution to make a chicken into a dinosaur? Find out in this incredible LiveScience infographic.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cold snap takes ladybirds by surprise

HAUNTED SKIES:Daily Telegraph 30.6.58

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1661 Oliver Cromwell was dug up and “executed” two years after his death.

And now the news:

Why is the land of snakes, so inept at dealing wit...
In Bucks County, volunteers await duty as salamand...
Monitor lizards heading for extinction in Malacca ...
Tiny Crooners: Male House Mice Sing Songs to Impre...
Protesters take on bird charity over plans for vil...
Rattlesnake roundup in Georgia now a humane wildli...
New 40,000 square mile haven for Pacific’s leather...

The Civil War told through the medium of song and dance:

CFZ PEOPLE: Duane Beers 1986-2012

Our heartfelt good wishes, commiserations and love go out to the friends and family of Duane Beers, Richard Freeman's half-brother who died on Friday.

DALE DRINNON: Chupacabras, trepanned skulls and uralics

New from the Frontiers of Zoology, I tracked down a long-overdue original source and including a reference to chupacabras from the mid-1940s:


Plus a couple of new articles on the Frontiers of Anthropology:



Something of interest in there for everybody, I should think!
Best Wishes, Dale D.



The CFZ, or rather CFZ Press, are on the want. We know that there are a whole slew of talented artists out there, and that quite a few of you read the CFZ Bloggo network. But what we don't know is this...

...is there anyone out there who could work on some book covers for us? We want someone to do pastiches of classic boy's adventure book jackets, especially the ones for authors such as Roger Lanclyn Green in the halcyon days pre-1960.

Please email me on jon@cfz.org.uk

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Here is a poem I wrote a while ago called Winged Cat.


Winged cats are not a product of too much LSD,
They really do exist, a rare skin disorder,extending
the fur, fortunately not occuring in humans (I think.)
When was the last time you reported
a woman or man with wide flesh flaps coming
out of his arms walking down your
high street like Bat-Man
(or should that be Cat-Man?)
at midnight?
Or do you fancy a twelve month stint
locked up in an asylum?

HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Telegraph 24.1.58

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1845 the Edgar Alan Poe poem “The Raven” was first published.

And now the news:

Bournemouth resident mystified by 'blue sphere sho...
Fungi-filled forests are critical for endangered o...
For the Birds: Winged Predators Seek Certain Trees...
Ecologists Capture First Deep-Sea Fish Noises
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds… and...
Expert: kill more seals in Stockholm's waters
British tourist killed in bee attack
Humpback whales off Aberdeen for 2 weeks
New Witness Corroborates 2011 Sighting



On Monday 23rd I was at the British Library's Newspaper Library to try and find more items of Hong Kong's cryptozoology. Unfortunately this was unsuccessful (except for the German article, see below). However, I did find two items of interest on databases I haven`t used before. Firstly, a story of an Irish wild man, on the 17th – 18th Burney Collection Newspapers: The London Journal dated July 16, 1720-July 23rd 1720 -

'We have a very odd Creature here, like a Man in Shape, but covered like a Bear; they tell us he came from Ireland, where he lived till he was Twenty Years old, and run wild in the Woods: All the Parts of his body are overgrown with long black Hair, which they having stiffened and rubed backwards makes him look very deliciously [sic-R] it seems, and the Women go in Shoals to see him. They shew him for Two-pence a Piece and an innumerable many Customers they have had but as they expose him no lower than his Waste, their Trade begins to fail them, and the Females Curiosity to abate.' (1)

Well, apart from the sociological interest of a human/wild man being exhibited, which we all know happened, there is the obvious cryptozoological question and identity with N. American wild men/mystery hominids, as in Bio Fortean Notes 2: as in the case of a `What-is-It` reported in the Galveston, Texas, Daily News of March 25 1888, with long black hair. I`m sure there are many other similar cases.

The Irish wild man is said to have come from Ireland but it is not clear to where; presumably London as that is where the paper was published.

The rhino (or what?) story was from the Johannesburg (?) Star in c. 1920 from the African Newspapers database. This is the story:

THE STRANGE ANIMAL IN THE CONGO - Hunter`s Interesting Statement.

Mr J.R. McClang writes to the “Star” – I was interested to read of the discovery of the strange animal encountered by an engineer while hunting in the Belgian Congo. The animal so described is similar to one I shot in one of the closed districts of Uganda, but smaller.

The following are the circumstances – I was travelling in the direction of the river Nile, in Uganda, in the year 1909, when I suddenly saw what I thought to be a rhino. Upon close examination I found this animal was not of the rhino species, but quite a strange animal I had never seen before. It was longer than the full grown rhino, and about the sameheight, but broader. This animal had two tusks, about 3 feet long, and a long horn between the nose and the top of the head at least 2 feet long and very thick. I was so astonished at seeing such an animal that I stood gazing at same, within 80 yards, for at least two minutes. I then aimed for the brain and shot. He must have got my scent and swerved his head. I lowered my rifle for the heart shot, fired, and got him in the lung. This I could tell by the thick blood he left in his track. His spoor was similar to an elephant`s, but broader. I followed up his track`s and found him behind some bush on the banks of the Nile. I fired my heavy bore 577 – both barrels. Both bullets went through his spine and he rolled into the river. That`s the last I saw of him. My native trackers were old hands at the game, and I questioned them closely, but they were as astonished as myself, saying they never saw such an animal before.

When I was hunting in the Wamba Forest, now in the Belgian Congo, I had 300 pigmy natives with me and they were very keen on taking me deeper into the forest, where they said I could get the very big elephants with three tusks, and in my dealings with the little pigmies I found them very keen and the best of trackers and very truthful, but owing to fever I had to leave that part. I hope to be leaving by the end of next month upon a big game hunting expedition and I am going very deep into the marshy part of the great Congo forest as long as my health is good.

1. The London Journal 16/7/1720-23/7/1720
2. Johannesburg Star c. 1920

I also found this reference in London: Notizen uber die Fauna Hong Kong`s und Schanghai`s by Geory von Frauenfeld – Sitzungsberichte der Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Classe der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften 35 (1859): 240-272 If or when I get a copy of this, is there anyone out there who can translate German into English?


WATCHER OF THE SKIES: Cuckoo special

As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... about out of place birds, rare vagrants, and basically all things feathery and Fortean.

Because we live in strange times there are more and more bird stories that come her way so she has now moved onto the main CFZ bloggo with a new column with the same name as her aforementioned ones...

Tracking Cuckoos into Africa
The cuckoo is ‘red-listed’ due to it being one of the UK’s fastest declining migrants. It has always been one of those migrants whose travelling we knew least about. In 2011 the BTO attached satellite-tracking devices to five cuckoos in Norfolk so as to study their migratory habits and hopefully learn more about the cause of their decline. The project is funded by a partnership between the BBC Wildlife Fund, BTO members (through the 2010 Christmas raffle) and Essex & Suffolk Water.
Clement, Martin, Lyster, Kasper and Chris were caught during May and June last year and each of them have their own blog in which their progress to Africa has been monitored. If you have not done so already, you can catch up on this worthwhile and fascinating project by visiting, in the first instance, http://www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking From there you will be able to link to various sections, including the individual cuckoo blogs.


Back in the day, my editor the late Simon Wolstencroft and I used to play a game called 'Fantasy Journalism' during which we concocted unlikely headlines. He drank himself to death three years ago, but if we ever needed proof of a life after death, this is probably it. Over on the afterlife he must have had a hand in this preposterous (but true) headline.


DALE DRINNON: Jadesquatch and crystal wildman skull

I held this one back because it kept accumulating unbelievable amounts of garbage html. I had to keep cleaning it out and finally I decided to push it through while I had a decently clean version of the finished text:

DALE DRINNON: Two New Articles Just Posted at the Frontiers of Anthropology

Two New Articles Just Posted at the Frontiers of Anthropology.
The first is the last part on the Uralic peoples and Boreal culture, to which I have added several pertinent additions and to which I intend to add a followup Part 4 next time:

The Second article may, as Wikipedia states, represent either an unknown "Animal" (Apeman) or merely an undiscovered tribe. Ivan Sanderson called the Maricoxi a surviving Neanderthal type and Wikipedia applies the name to a number of similar beings from pygmy to gigantic stature:

Friday, January 27, 2012

ANDREW MAY: Words from the Wild Frontier

News and stories from the remoter fringes of the CFZ blogosphere...

From Nick Redfern's "There's Something in the Woods...":
  • Neil Reviews — Neil Arnold's film review of Boggy Creek...
From CFZ Australia:

HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Telegraph 11.6.58

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1959 director Frank Darabont was born. Darabont is best known for his film adaptations of the works of Stephen King including The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist.

And now the news:

Endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana breed at Durrel...
Nearly 90 different marine mammal species consumed...
99 whales stranded in New Zealand
Worst fish-kill in recent times off Guyana and Sur...
On-the-loose cat in the cockpit delays Air Canada ...
Neglected horse had half-metre-long hooves
VIDEO: Clever crows show remarkable ability to use...
British tourist killed in bee attack
Crayola Katydid & Cowboy Frog Among 46 Newfound Ju...
Oldest dinosaur nursery found in South Africa
Leucistic impala on the Kruger

The trailer for Frank Darabont's “The Green Mile”:

FRONTIERS OF ANTHROPOLOGY: Skull Fancy Magazine? Sounds a good idea to me...

New on Frontiers of Anthropology:


Another couple of special edition articles on Jade and Crystal Skulls on both blogs coming soon (I have often thought I should start a regular magazine called "Skull Fancy" or something like that)

DALE DRINNON: Neanderthal reconstruction

I was having troubles with Blogger (still am as a matter of fact) but I was able to push through the next shorter piece from something Tyler Stone sent to me:

Thursday, January 26, 2012


My father would have been 87 today. Happy Birthday Dad

CFZ PEOPLE: Nick Wadham

Happy Birthday dude

WATCHER OF THE SKIES: Orioles, birdwatching and gamekeeper shame

As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time, Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... about out of place birds, rare vagrants, and basically all things feathery and fortean.

Because we live in strange times, there are more and more bird stories that come her way, so she has now moved onto the main CFZ bloggo with a new column with the same name as her aforementioned ones...

2011 – Farmland bird survey – a record breaking year
The results of the annual survey carried out by the RSPB’s Volunteer and Farmer Alliance has called 2011 another eventful year. One farm in Lincolnshire set a new record with 85 species being spotted in one survey, and in another on the Devon coast one volunteer was lucky enough to spot a golden oriole - one of Britain’s rarest birds.

Richard Winspear, senior RSPB agriculture advisor, said: “It’s been a fantastic year for the Volunteer & Farmer Alliance with more and more farmers learning about the wildlife on their farms thanks to an army of dedicated amateur experts.

“These volunteers get up at the crack of dawn to carry out these surveys and do an amazing job. Every farmer gets a map of their farm showing where each species is breeding which they can use to plan conservation measures.

“It’s great to hear all the stories we get back from our volunteers which over the past year have included encounters with some rare and spectacular birds like golden eagle, quail and even a golden oriole.

“But the most heartening thing is to see the enthusiasm farmers show for the wildlife on their land. With vital information from surveys like these and the right advice and support through the agri-environment schemes, they can make a real difference for farmland birds.

“This is a very popular service and we get a lot of requests from farmers, so much so that in some areas we are oversubscribed. Farmers have benefitted from this free service for a number of years however it does require investment and in these austere times we are looking to see how we can continue to support it into the future.”

A more detailed report can be found at: http://www.rspb.org.uk/media/releases/302485-record-breaking-year-for-farmland-bird-survey

And for more information, to sign up for a survey, or to volunteer to carry out surveys, visit the Volunteer & Farmer Alliance webpage at www.rspb.org.uk/vandfa

Picture from Wikipedia

Beginners’ Birdwatching
If you would like to learn some more about birdwatching, the RSPB has organised a special free four day course in February in south Dorset. Each day will be held at different outdoor venues in Poole and Bournemouth.

Organiser of the event, Sarah-Jane Buckle, said: "This is a great opportunity for anyone who's always wanted to learn a bit more about our feathered friends. South Dorset is a brilliant place for birds and birdwatching, and we're really keen to get more people out and about and enjoying what there is to see.

"We've got some excellent venues for the event and I'm really looking forward to it. We'll provide everything to start off with, and you don't even have to have your own binoculars as we'll have some to borrow. And best of all its free - although donations are always welcome!".

For more details please contact Sarah-Jane Buckle on 07703607630 or visit:

Second gamekeeper convicted of poisoning offences in a week in Lanarkshire
A second Lanarkshire gamekeeper has been convicted of possessing Carbofuran, a highly toxic pesticide that was banned in 2001. Cyril McLachlan, 63 years old and with 40 years experience, was find £635 at Lanark Sheriff Court after admitting the offence. He was arrested during an operation by Strathclyde Police, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Scottish Government in January 2011, when a plastic bottle containing the illegal substance was discovered in his vehicle. McLachlan claimed to have got the chemical "off a friend".

Speaking after the sentencing Bob Elliot, Head of Investigations at RSPB Scotland, said: "This is the second court case in the space of a week involving poisoning in South Lanarkshire, which must be very worrying for local residents. Not only do these illegal chemicals kill birds and other wildlife but they have the potential to poison domestic pets and endanger any people that come into contact with them.

"It is depressing that despite this substance being banned for over ten years it turns up with monotonous regularity, used to lace baits indiscriminately which are then laid in the open in our countryside to kill protected wildlife."

On 5th January 2012 at Lanark Sheriff Court, former gamekeeper David Whitefield, of the nearby Culter Allers Estate, Coulter, South Lanarkshire was successfully prosecuted for poisoning offences.


...and for those who don't know why 'The Watcher of the Skies':


RICHARD FREEMAN WRITES: Sadly, this is forced perspective. If you look closely you will see that the people in the background are sitting on a wall with ground between them and the wall the crocodile is lying on. There is little close to the crocodile to indicate its length, but if the wall is the same hight as the one the people are sitting on in the background then it would seem that the croc is not remarkably large 14-15 feet; about average for an adult.

The Nile crocodile is the second larges living crocodile and just how big it gets is a matter of controversy. The largest known mesured between the pegs 21 feet 2 inches, suggesting that very large males could reach 23 feet or more. One such huge individual, named Gustave haunts Lake Tanganyika in Burundi. Wildlife Cameraman Cherry Kearton claimed to have filmed a specimen 27 feet long. Other claims have been made of crocodiles in the 23-26 foot range over the years. Though unproven they are far from impossible.


HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Telegraph 11.4.58.


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1993 the professional wrestler Andre the Giant died. Andre was billed by Vince McMahon Sr. as the 8th Wonder of the World on account of his height, reputed to be around 2.30 M.

And now the news:

Cat Shot With Arrow: 'Cupid' Expected To Make Full...
Bees 'could deter vandals' at Greenfield heritage ...
Pythons and Anacondas banned from US import and tr...
Airport proposals 'catastrophic' for wildlife
Tiny alcohol amounts double worm's life
Russian scientist claims signs of life spotted on ...
85-year-old woman wields shovel to stop moose stom...

An interview showing just how tall Andre was:

DALE DRINNON: New on Frontiers of Zoology/Anthropology

New on the Frontiers of Zoology, a brief piece of information on the Demon Ducks of Doom:

Plus two rather longer articles on Frontiers of Anthropology, which I am afraid are going to lead to some more longer articles following. Not to worry, I shall probably intersperse them with smaller articles yet to come on the blog also:



SHUKERNATURE: Karl Shuker vs the purple cow...

One of the shortest but most famous of all nonsense poems is 'The Purple Cow', penned by American author Gelett Burgess (1866-1951). It originally appeared in the first issue of The Lark, a magazine published in 1895 that was co-edited and (at least initially) largely written by Burgess.

Read on...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


There have been a lot of suggestions about the identity of the Afghan mystery cat which we posted about the other day (see comments section of original post). So far it has been suggested that it is a snow leopard, a jungle cat and a sand cat.

Raheel Mughal writes:

Hi Jon,

How are you? Just to let you know, I was surfing the CFZ website today when I came across a blogpost concerning an Afghan Mystery Cat. I did some research on cats belonging to the (Felidae) family and I believe (taking into account - region, size and physical descriptions), that the cat portrayed in the picture is none other than a Jungle Cat (Felis chaus), also known as the Reed or Swamp Cat.

The Jungle Cat hunts around marshes and riverbanks - often near human habitations. It has an unpatterned coat varying from yellow to a tawny colour, and its tail has black rings and a black tip. its common in Africa and Asia and is approximately 50 - 94 cm (20-37 inches) in length and it weighs approximately 4-16 kg or (8.75 - 35 lb). This cat also nests in abandoned borrows and is active both by day and night.

I hope that you will mention my research above on the CFZ website. Thank you.
Best wishes to you and the CFZ family. Speak to you soon. Take care of yourself and the family.

Your Friend,


JON'S JOURNAL: Murder most foul (or should that be murder most frog?)

Yesterday afternoon, Prudence took Richard, Corinna and me out to Huddisford for another walk, and we walked along one of the areas next to the little stream we explored the other day.

We were running a bit late in the day, and therefore the light was not all that it could have been by the time that we arrived, and Richard managed to get Prudence out of the car (not an easy task at the best of times).

We walked through an area which - back when I first came back to Woolsery in 2005 - had been a thickly planted conifer plantation. It had been cut, and subsequently replanted about three years ago, and as you can see the young pine trees are making fairly good progress; there isn't any effective scale of reference in the photograph, but I am 6 foot 7, and they reached about a third of the way up me, or double the height of Prudence.

We walked a fair way and as Prudence bumbled her way through the undergrowth she put up several birds including something which I think was a skylark.

A couple of days back I told the sad story:

"We used to have a pond at the bottom of the garden and every spring the garden frogs spawned there.

When my brother and his wife had children my parents had the pond filled in lest the little ones would fall in and do themself a mischief. But the frogs didn't seem to realise and every spring for the next few years they would lay their eggs on the lawn where the pond used to be, even though there was no water.

My mother used to collect the spawn in a bucket and take it up to a friend's pond to release it, so all ended well. That was in 1997/8 and that particular generation of frogs must have lived out their alloted span (or learned their lesson) because by the time we came here in 2005 it didn't happen anymore."

Just by one of the two ditches that feed the aforementioned stream we found some frogspawn on the ground and I thought that we had another case of a similar scenario ...except that here there had NEVER been a pond on the path where the spawn lay.

Then on the way back to the car Richard noticed the froggy entrails lying on the ground amidst the spawn. This was obviourly a tale of batrachian trajedy, when a gravid female was on her way to spawn when a bird of prey, or perhaps a small carnivore had waylaid her.

One good side effect of the mild winter (at least as far as I am concerned) is that it is giving a chance for my Carpobrotus edulis or succulent mesembryanthemum to grow larger. I planted it back in 2006, and it started flowering last year, but the heavy winters have done quite a lot of damage to it, and I think that this mild one will finally give it a chance to get established.

It is originally a South African species, but has become naturalised at several locations in the westcountry (most notably at Baggy Point, which is where I first saw it in 1971, and I assume it is still there).

I am very fond of succulents and am slowly building up a collection..