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, February 05, 2012



Following our recent posting on the jaguarundi in Florida Terry Colvin wrote:


The jaguarundi is a small cat indeed.

While living in Arizona, 1980-2008, exclusive of three years in Panama, 1981-1984, I was surprised to learn that jaguars were roaming out of Mexico and foraging into southern Arizona as far north as Tucson. This is well documented by trip cameras and visual observations.






I am reminded of the big cat sighting that Bob Mantz and I had in October 2003. No physical evidence was collected and no camera was allowed on this classified radio test. It happened on the East Range at Fort Huachuca, Arizona near the towns of Sierra Vista and Tombstone. Bob and I were convinced this was a black mountain lion. Yes, I know such has never been proven to exist.


It wasn't until I plundered wikipedia for this picture that I discovered that the Arizona jaguar is actually a separate species P. onca. arizonensis..


NIGEL WRIGHT: The haunting of rectory cottage

Our perception of this world in which we live is often shaped by the childhood homes in which we take our first, tentative steps towards adulthood. If, like me, you just happened to move into a very haunted cottage at the age of 10 years then this move would, I suggest, lead one into a life-long obsession with ghosts and all things paranormal! Thus it was with yours truly…

That year - so long ago now - was a an exciting one for me! After a long period of living in small caravans due to my fathers job of being a site warden, my mother landed a job as a housekeeper to the rector of Powderham, on the edge of the Powderham castle estate, in Devon. A three bedroom cottage came with the job, and so it was that I found myself moving into this very old, and as we were to discover, very haunted cottage. Rectory cottage dated from at least the English civil war. It stood in its own two acres of gardens, standing, as it did, beside the main road that led to the small church at Powderham. For me, coming from my old life, it was truly paradise! All that surrounded the cottage was countryside. Next door, to one side, was the pheasant hatchery for the estate; on the other, the rectory itself. Opposite lay open fields; it really was a countryside haven, or so we thought...!

For me, the experiences of paranormal activity in the cottage began one dark winter evening. As I lay in bed I could hear the loud, regular ticking of a grandfather-type clock. The odd thing about this was that we had no such clock in the cottage! For nights I heard this sound. I told my father about it; he was dismissive to begin with. “Childhood imagination” was his verdict on the matter. But as I continued to report the same noise to my parents night after night he began to take the situation seriously. Fearing an infestation of death-watch beetle in the roof beams (ticking being a typical sign of such an infestation), he climbed up into the loft to investigate. They were brand new! The reason for this was that the cottage had suffered a very serious firea few years before, in which the entire top floor had burnt away, along with the roof. In this fire local rumour stated that an old lady had died. My father even placed a reel-to-reel tape recorder in my room one night, and he indeed captured the sound on tape!

So, auditory phenomena was the first sign of a haunting occurring. Then, on a bright, sunny summer morning, quite early my father awoke to find the fully-dressed figure of a civil war cavalier standing at the foot of their bed, smiling at them! After my father had shouted at the figure, enquiring (albeit not so politely) what this man was doing in my parents room, the figure merely faded away! Now we had full-body manifestation as well to contend with!

Things continued apace. My sister, who was five years older than myself, had a fascination for Egyptology: her bedroom had pictures of pyramids, mummies, etc, all over her walls. Her room was furnished with heavy, old oak wardrobes that my parents had bought at auction. Indeed, these wardrobes were so heavy that two men had to lift them into the room. This bedroom was really weird! It had a certain atmosphere. Our dogs - a Labrador called Bruce and a Manchester terrier-cross called Judy - would not enter this bedroom, not even when dragged on a lead towards it! They seemed to have no problem with any other room in the house. Then, one morning my sister called out loudly to my parents. Mum rushed to see what was the matter; she had a job entering the bedroom, because the heavy wardrobes had somehow managed to turn themselves completely around during the night and now semi-blocked the doorway! There was no way my sister could have moved them herself - they were far to heavy for that - and no-one else had been in the room that night. So now we also had poltergeist activity as well!. Full house!!

Now, one would imagine that for whatever was haunting this cottage, such a combination of activity would suffice. No! Yet more was to happen…. In the kitchen, salt and pepper pots floated down onto the table from a high shelf right in front of our eyes! Then, as I took a bath one day, a Victorian-dressed lady proceeded to float out of the wall to my right and go right through me and the wall to my left! All I can remember is the horrible sense of shivering as the apparition went through my body.

After a couple of years at the cottage, my grandparents died and my father inherited their bungalow. And so we moved away. Eventually the cottage was demolished and now there stands a brand new large house where once stood this beautiful yet fearfully haunted cottage. The one remaining question stays in my mind. If it is true that if one disturbs a haunted house the haunting increases, then what, if any, events of a paranormal kind occur in that new house today? It would be very interesting to find out…!



WATCHER OF THE SKIES: Leucistic blackbird, starling flocks, missing raptors

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...

Modern practices push farmland birds to brink of extinction
Farmland birds such as the corncrake, curlew and yellowhammer were once common, but are now dangerously close to extinction in Ireland according to a four-year study on bird populations on the island. The survey is known as the Bird Atlas 2007-2011 and finishes at the end of the month, it being the most comprehensive survey of bird life in more than two decades. It has also revealed an alarming decline in summer migrants such as the cuckoo and a sharp rise in buzzard numbers as well as the re-emergence of woodpeckers are centuries of absence.

BirdWatch Ireland, the British Trust for Ornithology and and the Scottish Ornithologist s Club are jointly co-ordinating the survey, which has highlighted a remarkable decline in some of Ireland’s most emblematic farmland birds, such as the corncrake and the curlew.
The closing date for records to be submitted to the survey’s co-ordinators is January 31st, and BirdWatch Ireland is still asking the 2,500 Irish volunteers who have taken part in the survey and to members of the public to send in their sightings.

Continued: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0120/1224310516074.html

Leucistic blackbird
Rufford Abbey Country Park in Nottinghamshire had an unusual blackbird visiting this month. It is leucistic – a genetic mutation that prevents pigments from being deposited in its fethers and has been residing in the woodland at the park for the last four years. Over the years it has apparently shed its black feathers and replaced them with white.

Continued: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/16646922#story_continues_2
Picture credit: Notts County Council

Missing rare birds from Cairngorms National Park
Two golden eagles, two hen harriers, a peregrine falcon in 2010.
One peregrine falcon, one hen harrier, one hobby in 2011.

These are rare birds that have disappeared from the skies above the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. Staff there have been tagging raptors in an attempt to track their movements and learn about their habitats. They also say that they think it is “highly likely” that birds of prey are being hunted and killed illegally.

Karen Couper, ecology adviser, said: "The survey has so far highlighted the high mortality rate of these birds with two golden eagles, two hen harriers and one peregrine disappearing in 2010, and single peregrine, hen harrier and hobby in 2011.

"This high mortality rate is very worrying. The Cairngorms National Park is a great place for raptors but the populations of these raptors are low.

"The exact cause of the deaths of our tagged birds is not known. Some will be natural causes but it looks very likely that some have been killed illegally both in and outside the national park, which is simply unacceptable."

Read further: http://news.stv.tv/scotland/highlands-islands/295608-rare-birds-disappearing-at-a-very-worrying-rate/

Somerset murmurations
Flocks of starlings forming shapes in the sky are well known and often seen just before sunset. But if you would like to experience such a spectacle at dawn and are in, or near, Meare Manor, Somerset, the RSPB are inviting folks to go along to witness the morning flood of starlings that rise from the reed beds on the Avalon marshes every day. On the 3rd, 11th and 18th February you can attend one of the Starling Dawn Explosions.

"This is a unique chance to take away the unpredictability of the evening roost" explained Somerset's People Engagement Officer Matt Brierley.

"It is always a lottery where the starlings are going to go at dusk; yet the dawn explosion has been described as Britain's best natural phenomenon and we know where they are. Plus there's a brew and breakfast afterwards."

For visitors wanting to see the starlings coming into roost before sunset, the RSPB are offering a free talk on weekdays.

"It's a chance to get answers to all those questions like how far do they travel? How do you count them? And just why do they do it?" explained Matt Brierley.

For more information about the weekday evening talk and parking instructions call the starling hotline on 07866 554142.

Booking is essential. The Starling Dawn Explosion, including a breakfast roll and hot drink afterwards, is bookable through Meare Manor and costs £6 per person. Call 01458 860449 for details. Meet at Ashcott car park on the Meare to Ashcott road.

HAUNTED SKIES: Obituary for Derek Dempster

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


EDITOR'S NOTE: This is actually yesterday's 'Yesterday's News Today' rather than today's 'Yesterday's News Today', but yesterday Oll posted today's 'Yesterday's News Today' the day before today, if you know what I mean...

On this day in 1958 the United States Air Force lost a nuclear bomb off the coast of Georgia, it has never been found despite several attempts to do so. There is no danger of a nuclear explosion, as certain parts of the bomb that could trigger this were not kept with the bomb, but the possibility of the bombs casing corroding and releasing the nuclear material remains.
And now the news:

Cull of 200 Canada geese planned in Lake District
How Neanderthal Are You? Your DNA Has the Answer
'Big cats are out there', say two Gloucestershire ...

“What could Oll have chosen as a vaguely related and always entertaining sign off vid today? He puts a lot of effort into making a list of links something we might want to read each day you know and we really appreciate it. He is also incredibly brave, noble and modest too.” I hear you say, well wonder no more and click the link:

NEIL ARNOLD: Big Cat Evidence

BIG CAT EVIDENCE - Over the last couple of weeks it's been interesting to note how many newspapers across England - some less reliable than others (if there is such a thing in the world of tabloids!) - have published news of an alleged 'big cat' kill in Gloucestershire. It's always positive news when a 'kill' makes the papers in some sense as it makes the public - and certainly sceptics - aware that there is evidence to suggest that large, exotic cats roam the UK.

However, this sort of evidence is hardly headline news; in fact it's extremely common. Every week evidence comes to light regarding 'big cat' activity in the southeast of England such as kills, scat etc. See images:

1) fox killed by black leopard,

2) fox stripped by female black leopard,

3) deer carcass found in a tree,

4) deer killed by black leopard,

5) leopard scat full of deer fur,
6) sheep kill.

Hardly ground-breaking news. If the evidence proves that such prey have been taken by a large cat, I don't really see this making a great impact, sadly, as previously hair samples, some excellent photos, kills and even felid bodies have turned up, but it generally dies down after a while. Here's hoping that the abundant evidence proves without a shadow of a doubt that leopard, puma and lynx are roaming Britain, but sadly there will always be those who do not believe such reports. Even if a 'big cat' body turns up - which I hope it doesn't to some extent - I'm sure the sceptical view will be that it's a hoax or a zoo escapee.