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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Sunday, January 22, 2012

JON'S JOURNAL: Exploring Huddisford

When I was a boy all the lanes around Huddisford Woods had ditches at the side, and all of these ditches were tiny ecosystems teeming with life.

For years I would patrol these little ponds looking for water beetles, dragonfly larvae and tadpoles, and it was one of the things that I was looking forward to doing again when I came back to North Devon seven years ago.

But to my disappointment the ditches were all either dried up or hopelessly polluted. I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised really. The water table has dropped, most of the marshes have been drained to create usable farmland and there are many more cars on the roads than there used to be.

When I was a boy I cycled all around the area but it just wouldn't be safe now. There are just too many cars on the roads. I remember back in 1972 a schoolpal of mine deciding to start a new hobby of collecting car license plate numbers. He was overjoyed to have written down 21 different ones passing through Woolsery in a single day! I thought then that this was a singularly pointless excercise, but I certainly wouldn't attempt it now. But if I did, I expect that we would amass well over a thousand in the same length of time.

Now, where there were once dozens of little self-contained ecosystems, there is only one left.

Corinna and I have set ourselves a little task for 2012. We are going to follow the progress of this one remaining mini stream throughout the year, and try and make a record of its inhabitants through the seasons.

Now, at the risk of sounding like Lloyd Grossman (who severely irritates me - but that is another story), what animal would use this obviously well worn trackway up the bank and into the hedge?

Well, I know that we are talking about Huddisford Woods and that since we got DNA from hairs found there, there seems no doubt that at least one big cat inhabits the area, but this trackway was made by something smaller - probably a fox.

Finally, look at this. As we have been noting in recent posts, the world really does seem to have been turned upside down. This red campion is supposed to flower between May and October, but was photographed at Huddisford yesterday afternoon. Is it a late straggler from last October? Or is it a very early flower that thinks it is May? Either way, it should not be flowering in January, and is an early sign that all is far from right!

1 comment:

Dan said...

Having cycled the roads around Woolsery on quite a few occasions, I am sadly going to disagree with you regarding their suitability for cycling on; to me the lack of traffic on them is a paradise. The roads are most emphatically not traffic-clogged, nor even particularly dangerous (though side banks do make getting out of the way a chore).

If you fancy trying cycling these roads, then a nice big rear light is a must, a passable front light is nice, and decent reflective clothing is also useful. The further away a car driver can see you from, the more polite they are.

Of course, one can also try something more extreme. Drink several margaritas and try the dark lanes of Woolsery by night with but a head torch and bike light for company; I am ashamed to report that of all the years I've done this, not a single ABC, nor little green man, nor even a giant bunny has popped out in front of me. I did see a meteor over Clovelly a couple of years ago though, but that's all.