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, January 25, 2012

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..

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