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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Thursday, January 26, 2012

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':

1 comment:

Nick Redfern said...

"...rare and spectacular birds..."

PHWOAR, missus!