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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Monday, January 23, 2012

JON'S JOURNAL: On golden frogs and matching moles (A visit to Kennerland)

Kennerland is another of those places where I used to go as a boy because the range of natural history was particularly pleasing.

It would probably be called a suburb of Woolsery if it wasn't for the fact that nobody actually lives there. I always used to go there every spring because of the tadpoles.

It is a particularly soggy neighbourhood (if I may steal a phrase from one of my favourite children's authors) and once was all marshes. As you can see, much of it has now been drained to make it more suitable for agricultural purposes, but the rushes remain (and so does quite a lot of the water).

Prudence made a New Year's Resolution to get more excercise, so each afternoon now she takes Corinna and me for a walk. I cannot walk very fast, and even slow ambling is painful, so I take my mind off it all by wielding a camera, and going in search of the natural world.

For some reason Kennerland - or to be more specific, the ditches along the road at Kennerland Cross - has always been a desirable residence for the local frog population. Each spring I used to visit the area and go tadpole spotting.

I was always amazed at the vast divergence of sizes, colours and shapes of the tadpoles there, and when, years later, I started becoming interested in the golden frogs of the West Country I often wondered whether these fantastically multicoloured tadpoles (some were certainly yellow, although I never saw any golden ones) could provide a clue to the aetiology of the fabulous golden ones.

I am still wondering, and it was one of the things not too far from the front of my mind as we drove up to Kennerland on Sunday afternoon.

As you can see, there was no shortage of frog spawn and although the nuclei of each egg seems to be black, it always did, and the tadpoles seemed not to change colour until they got considerably bigger. We are going to monitor these ditches (which have survived the passage of the years far better than those at Huddisford) and see what happens.

Frogs seem to be creatures of habit: they come back here to breed year after year, and I am always reminded of a sad little story my father told me. 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.

We also saw large numbers of molehills, proving (as if any proof were needed) that the local population of Talpa europea is doing fine and dandy....

And why Matching Mole in the title? Cop a load of this (particularly you, Max)....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regrettably, Jon's taste in noisy nonsense, appears to be getting worse as he gets older. Not that it was really much better when he was younger.