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, February 16, 2012

WATCHER OF THE SKIES: Red kites, garden blizzard and squacco heron

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 afore-mentioned ones....

Lamb is not on the menu
The lambing season is upon us and some farmers may be getting jittery about the safety of their lambs from aerial bombardment. The red kite is making itself at home once more in Northern Ireland after a long absence of 200 years and is beginning to spread its wings as it expands its territory. Put the two together, and it makes for instant mistrust from the farmers on the ground, but means nothing much to the latter.

The RSPB have assured farmers that their lambs are safe from aerial attacks from red kites. The species is – at heart – a scavenger that prefers to eat worms, scraps, frogs, carcasses, with the odd mouse or rat thrown in for a change.

According to Adam McClure, RSPB red kite officer, “Appearances may be deceiving, but the red kite is actually a bit of a wimp. These birds may look amazing wheeling high above, but they do not have the size, power or the agility to take prey on the move. Kites can be lazy too, if they can get a meal without killing, so much the better.”

Picture credit: red kite - RSPB

Blizzard of birds hits frozen gardens
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch results have revealed that vast numbers of birds have visited gardens over recent days. Two migrant thrushes to our shores – the fieldfare and the redwing – have led this invasion. The BTO Garden BirdWatch is a year-round survey which has also shown that the song thrush has increased its numbers by 72% and the mistle thrush by 49%. Even the well-known blackbird numbers are up by a third. Even in the south west, where the bad weather did not make its presence too badly known there have been increases in numbers.
Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented: “Many householders will be really disappointed that this huge influx of birds has come a week too late for their RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch count. Thankfully, however, people can make their garden count all year round through BTO Garden BirdWatch.”

According to data collected by BTO, it appears that our resident bird populations are quite sensitive to severe weather in the winter. Last year the numbers of robins and wrens dropped by a third, song thrushes by a quarter and dunnocks by a fifth, compared with the five-year average. However 2011 saw a bumper breeding season which helped offset these bad losses. This, in turn, though means “that this year there are lots of inexperienced birds out there feeling the cold.”

He continued: “The survival of these birds is on a knife-edge but there is much that householders can do to help. Peanuts, finely grated cheese and beef suet can provide a calorific hit; windfall or fresh fruit will help sustain thrushes, and sunflower hearts are a particular favourite with finches.”

He concluded: “The other important way to help is by counting your visitors. You can do this whatever the weather through BTO Garden BirdWatch.”
For a free BTO Garden BirdWatch enquiry pack, email mailto:gbw%40bto.org, tel. 01842 750050, or write to GBW, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.

Update on BTO cuckoos
Two of the tracked cuckoos seem to be heading north , but there is some disagreement at the BTO as to whether this marks the start of migration or not. Lyster and Martin are the two birds in question , but Clement and Chris have not moved much, in fact it would seem that Clement has stayed in the same area as he was when he arrived in the Congo. Unfortunately, the fifth cuckoo, Kasper, had a period of non-transmission - there could have been several reasons for this: tag failure, poor tag charging due to the weather, or because Kasper had been staying under the forest canopy. There was also the very real chance – of course – that he had fallen foul of a predator. He had not been heard from since 6th January, and those back home were understandably getting worried. But on 7th February he suddenly popped up again and proved to the furthest north of all five of our intrepid travellers.
You can read more, see maps and read individual cuckoo blogs at the BTO website: http://www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking

Rare birds spark rise in number of visitors
The Attenborough Nature Centre, in Barton Lane, Attenborough, Nottingham has seen a 10% increase in its number of visitors over the last two months. Staff believe that the increase in the number of rare birds seen has sparked this boost. Erin McDaid, from the centre, said:
"One of the highlights for birdwatchers was the appearance of the squacco (Ardeola ralloides) heron in November, which saw more than 500 people turn up just to see it.

"We also had six pairs of Cetti's warblers (Cettia cetti) breeding in October which was a great success and brought a lot of people to the centre.

"I think people are realising they can see some fantastic wildlife on their doorstep all year round and that's bringing people back to the centre."

The centre also runs bird-watching sessions, tree identification classes and nature walks around the site. It also runs a school programme to raise environmental awareness among youngsters – with this scheme welcoming it's 20,000th child last year.

Picture credit: squacco heron Wikipedia



Can there REALLY be a film called Sweet Prudence and the Erotic Adventures of Bigfoot?

Sadly, apparently there can...

Erika Lust, William Burke, Richard Buonagurio win big at CineKink NYC Film Fest

Examiner.com... won Best Documentary Feature for his film Stage Brother, and the Best Narrative Feature award was a tie between Spanish filmmaker Erika Lust's Cabaret Desire and Canadian filmmaker William Burke's Sweet Prudence & The Erotic Adventures of Bigfoot.

HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Mail 24.7.63

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1965 NASA launched the Ranger 8 probe to photograph the Sea of Tranquillity in preparation for the Lunar landing there.

And now the news:

CAT NEWS (including big cat news) FROM AROUND THE ...
Tiny lizards found in Madagascar
Nessie 'sighting' wins £1000 prize
Animal Mummies Discovered at Ancient Egyptian Site...
Sasquatch investigators keep the faith alive
The Thames whale - helping save the last 130 weste...
Fish of Antarctica Threatened by Climate Change
Thousands of snow geese seen over area
Arizona wolf numbers are up
Badger culling to continue despite low TB rate
Salmon and trout stocks in rivers ‘almost gone’
New hope as Sumatran rhino Ratu falls pregnant aga...
1,500 live turtles found crammed into suitcases
The great South Georgia rat crisis
'Extinct' wallaby goes back on show
CAT NEWS (including big cats) FROM AROUND THE WORL...

Without the Lunar landings we would have not had the one of the funniest episodes of Futurama, so it was well worth the money:

DALE DRINNON: Neanderthal posts

Two new Neanderthal-themed postings fresh this morning at the blogs.

First another account of another American Neanderthal (Teeth found in Virginia)

And then a longer piece on Surviving Neanderethals including a contribution from Boris Porshnev and the curious circumstance of a Neanderthal Warrior buried in chainmail from midieval Poland:


No, Boise. There is no poop fairy.
Boise Weekly
"Like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, the fabled poop fairy has been the stuff of legend. Flying undetected in parks, neighborhoods and schoolyards, she was said to follow close behind dogs and their owners — picking up what the dog left behind, ...

THAT BLOODY MAMMOTH - The Story Continues

The saga of the Siberian "mammoth" video trundles on. Yesterday I wrote that the whole affair was a scam (as was the affair of the Icelandic "river monster") but today the dudes behind the scam have been revealed. However, what has NOT been revealed is HOW they did it. I for one am more interested in finding out whether the original elephantine images were:

1. CGI
2. A bear eating a salmon
3. An elephant doing something elephanty
4. A mammoth

So watch this space...