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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Monday, May 21, 2012

CFZ PEOPLE: Matty Osborne

It is so hard to be polite with these two charming images of Matty with his Birthday Cake. The lady who made the cake is one of the sponsorts of this year's Weird Weekend by the way.

Happy Birthday dear boy....


Whilst the focus of the CFZ Mystery Cat study group is predominantly the search for proof of the British big cats, it would be unrealistic to forget that this is only part of a global mystery cat phenomenon.

Here are a selection of mystery cat stories from around the world:

Man sights black leopard in Upper Hunter
ABC Online
Leigh saw the large cat for about 6-7 minutes at 10:30am one Spring morning. It appeared to be stalking two foxes, who got wind of it and hid in a shed that it was unable to enter. He didn't own a camera at this time but "three days later I bought a ...

This large black cat was photographed near Casterton forest several years ago ... Herald Sun
Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said the search for Victoria's mysterious "big black cat" had been shelved. Department of Primary Industries staff assigned to the hunt have been redirected to the more pressing wild dog problem

Mysterious 'massive' black cat spotted again in Pleasanton hills
San Jose Mercury News
By Robert Jordan This time, the mysterious and elusive large black cat that has reportedly stalked East Bay hills was seen in Pleasanton. Jo Gunderson, a recent San Francisco transplant, was with her 1-year-old daughter Thursday at Alviso Adobe ...

'Fang-Toothed Big Cat' Remains Found In Cullen, Scotland (PICTURES)
Huffington Post UK
A shocked dog walker spoke of his horror on Friday after finding the remains of a 'fang-toothed big cat' at a beauty spot. John Robertson, 50, was walking his two dogs along a rural path when he found the remains of the beast - the size of a large dog ...

DNR Confirms Cougar in Western UP
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports Friday that a photo of the big cat was taken May 5 near Skanee, northwest of Marquette. DNR Wildlife Division staff visited the area Tuesday. Wildlife biologist Adam Bump says in a release that the ...

Mountain lion spotted near Warm Springs Mesa
Officials say the big cat was eating on a deer carcass in a neighbor's front yard. Four Boise Police officers and two Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers spent several hours looking for the lion, but only found fresh tracks leaving the area.

Mountain Lion Living in Griffith Park, Wildlife Study Finds
KCET (blog)
In partnership with Friends of Griffith Park, the following is a reprint of an article ("Big Cat Confirmed") that appears in their recent newsletter. It was written by Miguel OrdeƱana, Gerry Hans, and Bernadette Soter. ~ Zach Behrens It happened on ...

Cougar Sited In Upper Peninsula's Baraga County
CBS Local
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports that a photo of the big cat was taken May 5th near Skanee, northwest of Marquette. A wildlife biologist says that the cougar sighting is the 15th verified by the state in the Upper Peninsula since ...

BIG CAT NEWS: Danny Nineham and a dead otter. These two things have nothing to do with each other..

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

The Coming Crisis:
'Fang-Toothed Big Cat' Remains Found In ...

Then a little further on we came across a horrible rotting smell which was this big cat. It looks like it's feasted on the seagulls and maybe it has fallen down the ...

Its an Otter

Is this new evidence of a big cat in Britain? Dog walker finds remains of ...

“Then a little further on we came across a horrible rotting smell which was this big cat. “It looks like it's feasted on the seagulls and maybe it has fallen down the cliff nearby, injured itself and just lay there till it died.


Eleven big cat sightings reported to police in just over three years
This is The West Country
THE sun is shining and you're walking through Sedgemoor's countryside when you cross paths with a large black cat – who you gonna call? Big cat expert Danny Nineham, of course. Danny, who describes himself as a big cat consultant, has been tracking ...

Good old Danny

ANDREW MAY: Words from the Wild Frontier

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

From CFZ Australia:

HAUNTED SKIES: Plagued by the ‘Men in Black’ - Fact or fiction?


It's tuesday, the sun is hot, the birds are singing and Richard is muttering arcane nonsense about the Frozen plateau of Leng. God's in his heaven, Cthullhu's in his drowned corpse city, and all is right with the cosmos.

We have all sorts of jolly stuff for you today.

First of all, there is something that I have to share with you. Last night I opened a bottle of wine, and with the elderly orange cat sitting on my lap, I settled down to listen to 'Curly's Airships' by Judge Smith. Bloody hell its good:

We have a link to some exciting news about Trevor Rabin, guitarist with Yes between 1982-94:

Whilst on the subject of Yes alumni, we have a whole page of news updates from the mighty Jon Anderson (and whilst on this subject, may I recommend his latest offering 'Open', a download only track which is preety damn magnificent:

Regular readers will know about my punky mate Nick Redfern - a well known UFO author. After reading Michael Des Barres' eulogistic comments about Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones on Gonzo Daily a week or two bac, he sent us something highly peculiar:

And now we have a little piece during which I bemoan the fact that Kevin Ayers (who has two CDs out on Gonzo) doesn't release an album of new material once a fortnight:

And finally we take a look at an excellent Grateful Dead dvd from those jolly nice people at Chrome Dreams:

See you tomorrow..

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

A trailer for the 1939 version of ACD’s Hound of the Baskervilles with Basil Rathbone:

PAUL FILBY WRITES: re. The Archers..


Are you aware there is a supposed monster tearing up the countryside in the Archers Radio show at the moment?

I was listening to the news yesterday then the announcement for this show mentioned a monster. So I listened on.



The other day Graham photographed this bullfinch in the CFZ garden. It is the first one we have had for some years and we are very pleased to welcome it into the CFZ grounds.

Graham, however, being Graham, had a completely different take on the subject, and furthermore one which we feel should be shared with you all out in bloggoland:

MATT AND EMMA: Fundraising Toolbar Update

Dear Jon

(Can you please update the blog using the couple of lines below as people are signing up but not installing the toolbars which means we do not get their money, if anyone in the house hasn’t installed the toolbar can you make sure that they do so everytime they do it raises 50p plus then the searches they make)

Once signed up please go to raise more then select find and remind this will allow you to download the toolbar enabling your searches to raise us more money.....a big thank you to the 11 members we already have who at present have raised £3.50, for those who haven't installed the toolbar do so today and we will get the much needed 50p

Many thanks for your support



Recently I was approached by a company called Vice to make a film. No, not that sort of film. The company makes advertising films and uses the leftover cash to finance their own on-line documentaries. They wanted to make a film about a strange creature lurking in the River Lea. The river runs through parts of north London and runs close to the sight of the 2012 Olympic stadium.

There have been stories of some kind of large creature lurking in the river for years. Back in August 2005 boat trippers, including Mike Gallant of the River Lea Trust, saw a full-grown Canada goose, a bird which can weigh 16lbs, pulled violently and swiftly underwater by an unseen assailant. Soon after, a number of cygnets suffered the same fate. Rumours circulated of an escaped crocodile, a snapping turtle or a giant pike. Eventually the events were forgotten by most people.

Then, in December 2011, Mike Wells - who lives on a riverboat on the Lea - saw a similar attack. Mr Wells was having a coffee on the houseboat of a friend, close to the Olympic basketball training stadium that was being built at the time. He and his friend saw a full-grown Canada goose yanked vertically down in the water by some powerful predator. The bird did not re-surface.

Once again the old stories of escaped exotics did the circuit. My friends Shaun and Karen Histed-Todd, who lived in the area years ago, recall a snapping turtle being released from a butterfly farm into the River Lea. Apparently it dug holes in the riverbank.

I interviewed Mike Wells, who is a passionate naturalist. His houseboat is situated just beside the lovely Walthamstow Marsh nature reserve. Mike said that the goose was about 100 feet away when whatever attacked it pulled the bird under in the space of half a second. He went on to say that other people had seen attacks on birds, especially around Springfield Marina, in years past but he had never seen anything like this himself.

The story brought back memories of the ‘Monster of Martin Mere’, a case the CFZ investigated back in 2002. We were called in after a creature ‘the size of a car’ had been attacking overwintering swans and geese on a wildfowl reserve. We spoke to the head warden, Pat Wisniewski, who confirmed that he had seen a huge creature swimming in the lake, and pointed to his sofa as an indicator of the size of the thing he had seen. He also confirmed the attacks on swans, geese, moorhens and other water birds.

I was initially sceptical about the existence of a big predator in Martin Mere. Despite once having been one of the largest lakes in England, it had been extensively drained in the Middle Ages for farmland. Now the lake is no more than two acres, and about five feet deep.

I was mulling this over as I walked by the edge of the Mere. Then the ‘monster’ put in an appearance. It was a huge wels catfish, an oily green in colour with a texture like wet PVC, and the thrashing beast was some eight feet long. The creature resembled nothing so much as a huge draught excluder. It had surfaced only six feet away from me. It dived, surfaced again and then vanished. I was amazed that a creature of that size was living in the Mere. We later interviewed witnesses and tracked the monster from a dingy using a fish finder. The case generated more interest than any of our overseas expeditions. Jon and I conducted something like 300 interviews in the space of one week.

The wels catfish (Silurus glanis) can reach lengths of 16 feet. They are found in eastern Europe, southern Europe and Russia. They feed on a wide variety of prey including small mammals and waterbirds. There are records of large ones devouring dogs as big as Alsatians, and there have even been human remains found in the stomach of at least once specimen. It is thought that the Acclimatisation Society first introduced them into the UK in Victorian times. These were a group of people, including Frank Buckland, Queen Victoria’s Head of Fisheries, who sought to introduce foreign animals to the UK for sporting and estetic reasons. The wels catfish was amongst these.

The modus-operandi of both the Monster of Martin Mere and the Lea River Monster are the same; dragging the victim straight down in the twinkling of an eye. The wide mouth of a monster wels catfish could suck in even a full grown goose. Conversely a huge pike would bite at the legs and underside of the bird causing more of a commotion. A common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentine) could cope with the British climate and a big one could conceivably take a goose, but not with the speed the birds on the Lea were taken. Crocodiles can take prey as formidable as tigers and sharks so a goose would be no more than a mouthful. Yet it hardly needs to be stated that, being tropical and sub-tropical, they would swiftly perish in a UK winter.

It seems the monster of the River Lea is indeed a huge wels catfish. The creatures have been in the UK since the 1850s and are now widely spread. To take a full-grown goose it would need to be a big fish in the region of seven or eight feet long. Indeed there may be several such creatures in the river.

My fellow investigator Neil Arnold says he has heard of a wels being released in the area and even has a picture of the beast. The story gets more interesting as it unfolds and seems far from having run its course yet.

It is traditional to give water monsters names such as Nessie, Champ, Morag, Ogopogo and Issie. Whilst filming in London I took the opportunity to officially name the Olympic Monster ‘Old Greg’. Long may he haunt the River Lea.