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.