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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Saturday, April 21, 2012


At the stream at Ashcroft......an otter

WATCHER OF THE SKIES: Purple heron, white-tailed sea eagle, capercaillie, chicken theft, Paxton Pits, Carbofuran

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 bird spotted on River Otter
A rare bird at Budleigh Salterton drew crowds of birdwatchers over the recent Bank Holiday weekend. The purple heron (Ardea purpurea) was thought to have been confused by the recent mild weather during its migration from Africa to southern France and Spain.

Chris, of Wise Birding Holidays, said: “It’s a very rare sighting in Devon. You rarely get any more than one or two recordings in Devon and there some years where you don’t get anything at all.

“It’s been drawing visitors all weekend and up to a dozen people at a time have been waiting patiently for the bird, which are normally quite secretive.

“Last week, blue skies, sunshine and high temperatures were ideal for migration. Almost too ideal – it flew north and overshot.”

He said the bird would stay until it had finished feeding and then move on.

“It is a significant bird and a significant sighting. I was just very lucky. I just wish I was the one who spotted it first!” www.wisebirding.co.uk

New location for Mull sea eagle watch
The Mull Eagle Watch ‘Date with Nature’ is a popular project usually from Loch Frisa, but this year moved to the Forestry Commission Scotland’s Glen Seilisdeir, a move which will allow the public to follow the breeding season of a different couple of white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla). Fingal (male) and Iona (his mate) first paired in 2002, and have fledged seven young successfully since then. 

Dave Sexton, RSPB Mull Officer, said: "Whilst Skye and Frisa, our resident Loch Frisa pair, hopefully get to enjoy some well-earned time off with the family, we thought it would be a great opportunity to find out more about the other white-tailed eagles on Mull.

"Fingal, originally wing tagged ‘Blue 9' was reintroduced to Scotland from Norway in 1997, whilst his mate Iona (wing tagged ‘Green T') is a wild bred bird from the Isle of Skye and so far they've made a good contribution to Scotland's growing white-tailed eagle population. They are currently taking turns to incubate their latest clutch and all being well we'll hopefully welcome their next generation of young next month."

Wildlife cameraman and presenter of this week's BBC One series Land of the Lost Wolves Gordon Buchanan said: "The Mull Eagle Hide has become a must-do visitor attraction on Mull and this year it's going to be more exciting than ever at the all-new location in Glen Seilisdeir. I've actually filmed there for the BBC's ‘Eagle Island' film and it's a fabulous place for seeing golden eagles, red deer, buzzards, hen harriers and of course the awesome white-tailed eagles. You've just got to visit! I wish the Mull Eagle Watch team the best of luck in their new home"

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: "Scotland's varied and exciting range of wildlife is one of this country's key selling points, particularly with next year being the Year of Natural Scotland. The new Mull Eagle Hide gives visitors a unique experience and the new location in Glen Seilisdeir offers intimate views of the nesting white-tailed eagles. This will further secure Mull's reputation as a premier wildlife-watching site and the thousands of visitors to the new Eagle Hide will help support the local economy by £5 million a year."

More details about the Mull Eagle Watch and the Date With Nature project can be found at http://www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature/sites/mull To book a trip to see Fingal and Iona this year please call VisitScotland in Craignure on 01680 812 556.
Picture: Wikipedia

Paxton Pits Nature Reserve - rare birds under threat 
Dogs not kept under control by their owners are threatening the life of rare species of birds in Huntingdonshire. Rangers at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve have said that the habitats of migrant ground-nesting birds - for example skylarks, chiffchaffs and nightingales - are being destroyed when people and dogs do not stick to the paths. 

“Nightingales at Paxton Pits currently account for one per cent of the UK’s population and their territory is being trashed,” Senior Ranger Jim Stevenson told The Hunts Post.

“People don’t realise that when they stray off the paths they are standing on ground where summer migrant birds nest.

“Their habitat is falling apart.”

Mr Stevenson said despite repeated attempts to alert people to the importance of sticking to the paths, there appeared to be a lack of respect for the wildlife.

“Every year at this time we put up notices to ask people to stay on the paths and keep dogs under control but it has never worked,” he said.

“This year we have the drought as well which means ground cover is extremely thin and there will also be a shortage of insects.

“It is vital that we give the birds and mammals a bit of space.”

INFORMATION: For details on Paxton Pits Nature reserve visit www.paxton-pits.org.uk

Farm Manager pleads guilty to charge of possessing illegal pesticide
Farm Manager, Tom McKellar (50) has pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing a banned pesticide – Carbofuran. He pleaded guilty to having the poision whilst working as farm manager at the Auch Estate, near Bridge of Orchy in Argyll during 2009. He also admitted having set out Carbofuran-laced meat as bait for foxes. A group of hillwalkers alerted the police when they found the body of a golden eagle on the slopes of Beinn Udlaidh, near Bridge of Orchy. The body was retrieved for evidence by the RSPB Scotland Investigations staff, and after tests by the Scottish Government, it was revealed that this bird had been poisoned with Carbofuran. 

Endangered capercaillie killed by dog let off leash
There are believed to be fewer than 2,000 capercaillie (Tetrao urogallusleft in the wild. And now there is at least one less after one of these rare birds was attacked by a dog on the Rochiemurchus Estate near Aviemore on Sunday. Since the attack, which Environment minister Stewart Stevenson said was 'regrettable', dog walkers have been urged to keep their animals under close control. 

Environment minister Stewart Stevenson said: "It is regrettable that we have lost this distinctive and well-known capercaillie, given the fragile status of this species in Scotland.

"The unfortunate death of this particular bird highlights the need for dog owners to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code at all times by keeping their dogs under control especially at this time of year in those areas that may contain breeding and nesting birds, as well as other vulnerable wildlife.

"The access code also states that dog owners should also follow any agreed local information which is aimed at preventing significant disturbance to protected birds."
Picture:  Wikipedia

Family's Good Life turns bad after chicken thefts at small-holding
A small-holding family from Nunney, Frome in Somerset, have had their dreams turn sour following thefts of equipment and livestock from their land. Chicken houses, electric fencing, chicken feeders, horse feed and vegetables were stolen during two raids on a plot of land at Blatchbridge. The houses contained rare breeds of hens including a Vorwerk breed, which are a distinctive brown or white with black heads, necks and tails and another rare breed called Barred Wyandotte.

Photo (right): A Vorwerk hen, photo courtesy of Rupert Stephenson.

Robin and Freda Hannam and their two daughters Vanessa and Samantha began keeping chickens and ponies, and growing vegetables on the small holding last August.

Mrs Hannam said: "The 'Good Life' has gone bad for us. The thieves are having to carry the hen houses over a field gate so there must be more than one person involved."

The thefts have been reported to the police and the family have joined Horse Watch in the hope of protecting their ponies.

Mrs Hannam added: "It is so disheartening to arrive at the small holding and discover that our lovely birds have been stolen and our property, which will cost a lot to replace, has vanished."

Anyone with any information about the thefts should call Frome police on 101.

JON'S JOURNAL: ...And the rains came

It seems that the traditional April showers have come not a moment too soon, at least as far as the tadpoles up at Huddisford are concerned.

Last week the ditch containing the sole remaining brood of tadpoles from all the frog spawn that we monitored earlier in the year was in severe danger of drying out. So severe was the danger that Corinna and I were planning a rescue mission and had the rains not come we would have gone up there in the early part of the week armed with fishing nets and a bucket.
Luckily, this turned out not to be necessary – for the moment at least. The saga of the Huddisford tadpoles continues.

The gorse is in full bloom..
The ditch is flowing at last...
The tadpole class of 2012...

DALE DRINNON: Wildmen and video jukeboxes

New at the Frontiers of Zoology:
A story linking up to a recent posting on CFZ Spain:

And Benny has started a second blog, the current entry speaking of the old Video Juke Boxes:

HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Mail 25.10.67



It is Sunday morning here at the Gonzo blog, and I am busy doing as little as possible:

However, despite that, there are some jolly good things here for you. First up is a link to a spiffing Jon Anderson interview:

We have photos from Silverhead's barnstorming gig in Japan last night:

We also have the tour poster, which I was going to put up the other day and completely forgot:

I review a new biography of 'Arcade Fire' and am less than impressed:

By the way, I should point out here that when I do reviews of non-Gonzo product, the opinions expressed are my own, and have nothing to do with anyone else involved in the company...
And there is a link to a Merrell Fankhauser review from Belgium:

See you tomorrow....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

On this day in 1962 ruminant-obsessed computer programmer Jeff Minter was born.
And now the news:

Ravens Remember Relationships They Had With Others...
DDT Linked to Long-Term Decline of Insect-Eating B...
Dr Who's sonic screwdriver 'invented' at Dundee Un...
Lactating Tsetse Flies Models for Lactating Mammal...
Pass me another mammoth rib: Why eating meat was t...
Sea Lions May Be Removed from Endangered Species L...
Bacon prices could soar by 20% after new EU pig we...
Birds, bees and Claude Monet: How the famed artist...
Record spring respite for rare butterflies
20 – 30 new frogs discovered in Madagascan forest
XNA is synthetic DNA that’s stronger than the real...
Dawn of Polar Bears Far Earlier Than Thought
Chicken without an egg born in Sri Lanka
Minter's classic 'Lamatron' in all it's glory (Oh Yeah!):