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, May 17, 2012

JON'S JOURNAL: The latest trailcam results

Well the latest attempt to get a trailcamera image of the big black (or the smaller brown) cats which have been reported in and around Huddisford Woods has been a spectacular disappointment.

We placed the trailcam in the bushes alongside a small trackway which has - over the past few months - been used by various animals including at least one medium sized carnivore. Richard has identified some prints we found thgere as probably being from a cat.

So we placed a trailcam at POV fox level, and left it there for three and a bit weeks. We went back for it on wednesday night, and much to our relief, despite having been on public land, it had not been nicked.

Even more excitingly there were nearly 5,000 images on it.

However, all but six images seemed to have been caused by branches moving in the wind. Two just had blurs on them that could have been anything, two showed a small bird of indeterminate species, and two others showed the blurry head and neck of a cock pheasant.

I think that if we are to put a camera in these undtrodden ways we have to leave it for longer. I have a suspicion that just by invading the space to put the camera down, Richard caused enough disruption to the environment to make anything larger and less foolhardy than the pheasant to keep away.

There is a lesson here for us I think.

JON'S JOURNAL: Dandelion king

I really am appalingly behind with my online nature diary. This is not, as one might have supposed, because I have given up on my New Year's resolution to take more excercise, and whilst out and about to make notes on what I see and do and then to write about it. It is not even because I have been too busy to take the excercise. I have still been out and about whenever I can, and whilst it is not every day, it is still several times a week, but I have been too busy to write about it.

I have been continuing my Natural History explorations, and am now (in a convenient break from interviewing Ant-Bee for Gonzo's website, and working on Moke Hallowell's autobiography) going to sit down and try and write a couple of these observations down.

For example here is Graham with a mandrake. No, of course it's not. It is actually a dandelion. But look at the size of it! I promise you that this is not forced perspective or anything. The plant really was this size. And the amazing thing is that it grew this big from seed in less than nine days. I know this because it appeared in a potted plant that we bought and then didn't plant out for just over a week.

I really had no idea that they could grow this fast..

CFZ MYSTERY CAT STUDY GROUP: Matt Salusbury writes

Video of Thomas - my fiancee Gabrielle's cat - going for a walk with his humans in the country.


Black panther misidentification!?

It would be very easy to mistake Thomas and other Bombay cats like him for an Alien Big Cat, black panther, etc, especially if you were unsure about how far away he is.Bombay cats were first bred in the US as a deliberate attempt to produce a "miniature black panther". They're a black shorthair/Burmese cat cross. Bombays are shiny black with long legs, great strength, big characters and random white wirey hairs on their bodies in winter, especially under their chins - all characteristics of the Kellas cat hybrids. The males (like my own Bombay cat, Boris) often have fangs on the top row of teeth that protrude slightly when their mouths are closed.

A kink near the end of their tail or a floppy tail is another frequent Bombay characteristic.Thomas regularly picks fights with dogs many times his size, scaring them off with his jumping, claws out spitting routine.Bombays turn brown in the summer. There will often be one (more often than not male) Bombay kitten in a litter, their sisters often default to a dark smokey tortoishell instead. Something similar seems to be going on with the British mystery big cats too - with reports of a black one along with a brown one. (I've got a Bombay cat too, whose sister is a tortoiseshell. They come when you whistle.

Before he was neutered, my Bombay cat Boris used to go off for three days at a time on a regular basis.)I also met a Bombay-type cat called Chester who was with Framlingham Cat Rescue, Suffolk. He was huge, getting on for almost 2ft long, with the same long legs, and a sad, long face like a leopard. He showed off his sharp teeth by gently nipping me with them.I've seen a lot of rather poor British ABC photos recently of which I have immediately felt, "Bombay cat!" (And seen some better ABC photos too.)

One for the blog?


EMMA OSBORNE: Fundraising

I'm helping the Centre For Fortean Zoology to raise money whenever I shop online - could you do the same?

It's very simple - just visit http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/cfz/ to register and shop with over 2000 well known retailers like Amazon, Argos, M&S, eBay and many more. Whenever I buy something, the retailer makes a donation to Centre For Fortean Zoology. They've helped other causes raise over £2,000,000 so it really does work.

I'd be really grateful if you could use easyfundraising too. It won't cost you a penny extra to shop through easyfundraising and you can even save money with special offers and voucher codes.

Plus, if you register before 1st June you'll automatically receive one entry into a free prize draw to win a Sony Playstation 3 and accessories worth over £400 – all courtesy of Viking!

So please make a difference to Centre For Fortean Zoology and take a look at easyfundraising today - http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/cfz/



CFZ MYSTERY CAT STUDY GROUP: Dan Holdsworth writes..


This was linked to from the Fortean Times Breaking News section.


The reason I'm drawing your attention to it is because the story doesn't seem to add up at all; this does not seem to be big-cat related at all. Firstly, there isn't a trace of this story in the local newspaper of that area, the Cambrian News. Not a great deal happens in that part of mid Wales, and what little that does occur gets reported in greatdetail, yet of this story, not a trace save in a few nationals.

Secondly, the story references places that span across twenty miles or more of countryside; it looks like someone has pulled out a map and quoted a selection of place-names from all over the place, and some being most unlikely haunts for a big cat. It can't all be one animalover all this spread of land.Thirdly, this doesn't look or sound like a hunting big cat at all;you'd expect a steady stream of sheep vanishing in ones and twos atmost, over a wide geographical area, but instead small flocks seem to have been massacred in discreet areas at once, and if the reports of the smell of dead sheep are accurate then the killers didn't eat much.

Finally, the Aberystwyth area is home to a gun-pack; effectively a group of farmers who use a few slowish foxhounds to flush foxes to beshot. If big cats were in the area, these good ole' boys would be ontoit and trying their hardest to nab the cat, which ought to garner at least some press attention.

No, I reckon this is caused by a few semi-feral farm dogs out huntingsheep for the hell of it, and I reckon the Cambrian News reporters knowthat and don't want to touch the story.

What do you think?-- Dan H.

HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Mirror 26.6.67.

DALE DRINNON: Plesiosaurs and Pterosaurs discussion, Trans Pacific Contacts

New on Frontiers of Zoology, the big Part 2 to the Surviving Plesiosaurs and Pterosaurs presentation:

And new on the Frontiers of Anthropology, more evidence of TransPacific contacts, this time focusing on Bali and the Mayas:

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Today is international museum day and this year’s theme is ‘Museums in a changing world’.

And now the news:

One of the most interesting museums I’ve ever visited, and one that illustrates the theme of this year’s IMD rather well as it happens, is St Fagan’s Welsh Folk Museum near Cardiff. There are hundreds of unique buildings there that have been saved from demolition by being rebuilt and furnished in a style specific to their hayday there that visitors can walk around. There are Victorian buildings like the schoolhouse and the general store, Iron Age Celtic roundhouses, a Methodist chapel, a working men’s club, miners cottages, Tudor farm houses, miners cottages to name but a few of the fabulous buildings. One of the most interesting ones is a fairly recent addition; the 1940s metal prefab:



And so another working week shudders to an end. This wet and drizzly friday lunchtime we have various things of interest for you.

First of all an EXCLUSIVE interview with Ant-Bee; possibly the most peculiar artistes in the Gonzo catalogue. In the first of several parts, today Billy talks about his collaborations with Jan Akkerman of Focus, Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth and various alumni from the Mothers of Invention:

We celebrate Rick Wakeman's birthday. Hopefully we will have cake:

Rob Ayling does a deal for Canadian Distribution:

The Atkins/May Project get reviewed:

My sweet but idiotic 'nephew' sends me something peculiar:

And once again I have an interesting postbag:

See you on the morrow...


Dear folks

According to the web link below, of the UK Butterflies web site, the only occasion the Southern Festoon (Zerynthia polyxena) butterfly has appeared in Britain was in May 1884. Fortunately a few days ago, I found the actual original newspaper report which I reproduce.

This url http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?species=polyxena gives the statement immediately below.

“A single specimen was caught by two boys on 27th May 1884 near Exeter, Devon, and it is believed that is was originally purchased as a pupa from a natural history dealer.”

The newspaper report, from The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette Daily Telegram May 31st 1884.Annotated by myself.


To The Editor of The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette


I had yesterday brought to me a very good specimen of the beautiful Thais polyxena(1), a European butterfly. It was captured in the immediate neighbourhood of the city (2) by two boys.The insect had by all appearance but just emerged from the pupa state , as its hind wings had not quite expanded to their full development. It was scarcely dead when I received it. What I should like to know is this – Has any lady or gentleman brought over from the Continent any larvæ or pupæ of foreign butterflies? This is one that had escaped ,perhaps, in the larvæ state. The insect is so unlike any of our British species that it is sure to attract attention, and it would be interesting to know how it got introduced. (3) (4)

According to Wikipedia the current distribution of the Southern Festoon is south-eastern France,Italy,Slovakia and Greece,covering all of the Balkans and reaching the south Kazakhstan and the Urals.

According to an archive weather chart of May 30th 1884 wind direction was from the east over Devon and not the south-east,which is where it should have been from to blow this butterfly in from France. This link should take you to a page which has a drop down menu on the left hand side (in German). You can put in the dates May 29 1884 and so on. The wind direction on May 29 was about ENE, 30 E

1. The name in 1884 for the Southern Festoon
2. Exeter
3. Indeed!
4. The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 31-5-1884

JON'S JOURNAL: An Egret at Walland Farm

I had a telephone call yesterday evening just as Graham and I returned from collecting Richard from Barnstaple Railway Station. It was my nephew Ross.

There was an egret on the lake at Walland Farm. It had disappeared by the time we got down there, but there are some pictures (reproduced below). The big question is which one is it?

There are Little Egrets breeding on the Torridge Estuary, but this one looks to stocky. My best gues is that it is a Cattle Egret. But what do you think?