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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Friday, March 23, 2012

BIG CAT NEWS: The Padiham Panther

The hunt for British Big Cats attracts far more newspaper column inches than any other cryptozoological subject.
There are so many of them now that we feel that they should be archived in some way by us, so we should have a go at publishing a regular round-up of the stories as they come in.
It takes a long time to do, and is a fairly tedious task, so I am not promising that they will be done each day, but I will do them as regularly as I can. JD

'Padiham panther' spotted on moors
Burnley Express

THE mystery of the Padiham Panther has been re-ignited this week after a Hapton grandmother captured a black “beast” on film. Amateur photographer Sheila McBeth spotted the shadowy creature stalking across fields near Hapton Moor and captured the ...

This Lancashire story is a bit of a disappointment because although there is a picture of the lady who took the picture peering intently into a pair of binoculars, the picture is nowhere to be seen. Like the Sundabans mystery cat photo also trumpeted over the media this week, one suspects that the copyright holder is holding out for cash rather than releasing the pictures so that pirates like me can pinch it and disseminate it for the public good. Hmmmm.

ROBERT SCHNECK: Yetis and Yeterriers

Hi Jon,

I have no idea what to make of Shipton's famous photograph of a yeti track. It looks like a real, albeit strange, footprint, but with no expertise on the subject I defer to people who know what they're talking about, like Darren Naish. I was reading an entry in his blog "Tetrapod Zoology" in which he discusses the print, and was struck by a particular point.

"As several of you noted previously in the comments, the track is made unrealistic by the strange, irregular depressions that occur at the left and right edges, and particularly at the heel. These cannot be reconciled with real structures that occur on a primate's foot, and they can't be taken as evidence for melting because the very sharp edges of the track must mean that - as Shipton and Ward noted - it was fresh and undistorted by sublimation. " http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2008/06/most_famous_yeti_track.php

What if we assume, for the sake of argument, that it really is a yeti track? Could those irregular depressions be nothing more than the results of snow balling up on the creature's hair? My Cairn terrier, Possum, disliked winter because after a short frolic her fur became caked with snow and the sensation made her uncomfortable. Could yetis have the same problem?

The Shipton photograph.

A Cairn terrier in the snow (from http://www.highlandpix.co.uk/about.htm)

And, for no particular reason, a Japanese macaque.


WATCHER OF THE SKIES: Night Herons,peregrines, and the probable demise of Clement the Cuckoo

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...

Rare birds wing their way to Woolacombe
A pond in the village of Woolacombe, North Devon became a hive of activity when four rare birds made it their temporary home in the middle of March. Four night herons, so named due to them being more active after dark, arrived and caused the influx of birdwatchers from all over the south west to visit the village. The birds’ migratory route would normally see them travelling from Africa to southern Europe.

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Jon Turner from Braunton, conservation officer for the Devon Birdwatching and Preservation Society, said while it was unusual to see them in the UK, it was “unprecedented” to see four at once. (three adults and one juvenile)
“Presumably they have migrated north as a group, got lost in the fog and landed on the first available pond,” said Mr Turner. “I have not seen one in Devon before and have been birdwatching for more than 30 years. The best time to see them is in the morning or evening when they are going to roost or coming out to feed.” A single night heron was also spotted at Halsinger near Braunton.


Peregrines at St. Mary’s
Calne in Wiltshire has a pair of peregrine falcons that are believed to be nesting at the top of St. Mary’s Church. Sam Whit’s picture of one of the falcons on St Mary’s Church Calne is in a flap after a pair of peregrine falcons were spotted at the top of St Mary’s Church – and it seems the feathery companions may not be alone for long.

The Rev Kenway’s wife Sadie said: “We do want to be careful, as not everyone is going to be pleased that a pair of peregrine falcons have taken up residence in Calne. “They do hunt smaller birds, and we are concerned that they might end up becoming targets, which may also result in damaging the church.”

Mr Kenway said: “They are protected – killing of birds of prey was outlawed years ago – and our main concern is that they remain so in the town. “They are very fast and very efficient killers. It is pretty amazing to have these rare birds here, and it’s an exciting addition to the town.”

Perry Chadwyck-Healey, of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, said he hoped that the birds were nesting. “It is quite rare for them to be somewhere like this,” he said.
“However, it is fairly common for them to use big churches, like St Mary’s, as their natural habitat would be more like a cliff-face. “We are now really hoping that they are going to nest. It would be absolutely wonderful. I think that if the female were to lay, it would be either very soon, or it could have already happened.”

Ospreys are returning to Britain after their long migration from West Africa
The first osprey sighting of the year was recorded at the end of February. However, this bird has now been joined by many others as they end their migration from West Africa. Two hace appeared at Rutland EWater and the pair from last year at Glaslyn have returned.

The Lady of the Loch’s arrival is still awaited. At 26-years-old it would not be surprising if she did not return this year – she has raised 48 chicks so far and considering an osprey’s life span is on average just 8 years it is remarkable that she has survived this long.


Cuckoo appears lost
The BTO have announced that is almost certain that one of their tagged cuckoos is no longer alive. The last two transmissions from Clement showed that his body temperature was dropping and they have not heard from his since. He was last heard from on 25th February. Clement was the most sponsored of the BTO cuckoos: he was tagged around a year ago and had been talked about by television news presenters, the BBC’s Springwatch team and helped advertise the fact that Britain has lost over half of its breeding cuckoos.

The Cuckoo tracking project is being funded by the BBC Wildlife Fund, Essex & Suffolk Water, BTO supporters and individual sponsors.

To find out more about Clement's journey please visit BTO website.


WATCHER OF THE SKIES: Nene, Yellow Browed Warbler, North East Nature Reserve

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...

Rare geese win race to hatch first
Hawaiian geese, or nenes as they are commonly known, happily feed from visitors’ hands and thus are a popular bird at Slimbridge Wetlands Centre in Gloucestershire. They are a rare species of goose (their numbers dropped dangerously close to extinction in the 1950s) and this year have become the first to have hatched their young at the centre. However, with temperatures still chilly at night, the families are moved to the centre’s duckery for a couple of weeks before being released back into the main grounds.

Phoebe Young, Duckery warden, said: "The Nenes hatch their first goslings from as early as February every year in correspondence with their natural southern-hemisphere season.

Despite acclimatising to UK weather, they still prefer to hatch their young in association with their wild counterparts on Hawaii. The families are protected from night time chills within the off-site Duckery area for two to three weeks, but will be back in the grounds in time for the Easter holidays ready to greet our visitors!"

From Saturday 31 March to Monday 15 April visitors will be able to meet the nenes in a specially designated area, follow a trail to learn more about them and make their own goose in our discovery centre.

Phoebe added: "Our regular visitors love the Nenes so we are excited about having lots of activities themed around them. If you have never met the rarest goose in the world, now is your chance!"

To find out more visit our website at www.wwt.org.uk/slimbridge and Phoebe’s blog on the Slimbridge main page.

ELUSIVE yellow-browed warbler
Rare warbler has twitchers flocking together
Although the yellow-browed warbler usually migrates from Siberia at the beginning of winter one was spotted in the yard of a house in Warndon Villages, Worcestershire recently, and it is thought that the tiny rare bird may have wintered in Britain.

For Tony Wilmore, of Hastings Drive, Warndon Villages, it was the twitchers themselves who were well worth watching. He said groups of them had flocked to the old Tolladine Road area for a glimpse of the bird.

“I was walking my dog on Saturday morning and there were all these chaps with big cameras, and pairs of binoculars hanging around their necks,” he said.
“I said to my wife ‘I don’t know about that film Day Of The Triffids, it was more like day of the twitchers in Warndon’.”

A Worcestershire Wildlife Trust spokesman said the bird was “tiny, very pretty and highly elusive” so to have one in the city was a treat. “I think the last time we may have seen one of these in Worcestershire was at Upton Warren, near Droitwich. They’re not very common,” she said.

• Do you have any pictures of the yellow-browed warbler in the county? Email them to news@worcesternews.co.uk

Nature reserve near Souter Lighthouse
A nature reserve for wild birds is nearing completion near Souter Lighthouse in Whitburn. The South Tyneside Coastal Conservation Group (STCCG) project will consist of two wildlife ponds filled with water for the first time in more than ten years, and it is hoped that they will attract rare birds to the area. There will also be a feeding station for birds, complete with viewing hide and information point.

The National Trust run Souter Lighthouse and STCCG have been overseeing the project with their help. Steve Egglestone, one of the group’s volunteers, said: “A lot of work has taken place over the past few weeks and it really is starting to take shape.

The lakes have been lined and we had hoped they would have been filled with water now. There hasn’t been enough rain for that, but we will look at other ways of doing this. We have a beautiful stretch of coastline here and this will be a welcome addition.

Hopefully, it will be a place for birds to thrive and also a relaxing environment for people to come and watch and learn about nature. We want it to attract rare birds to the area, and also help to bring more visitors to South Tyneside.”

Nick Dolan, National Trust property manager, said: “More places of interest on the coast can only be a good thing, giving more reasons for people to enjoy the outdoors and get closer to nature.”


HAUNTED SKIES: Sun (The) 15.10.66.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1603 Queen Elizabeth I of England and Wales died. Her ghost is said to haunt the library of Windsor Castle, but as it takes the form of an Elizabethan lady wearing a black veil it could be anyone’s ghost really.

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If your mansion house needs haunting just call Rentaghost:




A very happy birthday to my darling stepdaughter Shosh, 27 today. She is pictured here at her graduation with some old hippy with boyish good looks, the body of a Greek God (Silenus) and the beard in which whole flocks of small creatures could find a home...

...and mother writes, too

ANDREW MAY: Words from the Wild Frontier

News and stories from the remoter fringes of the CFZ blogosphere...

From CFZ Australia: