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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Wednesday, May 23, 2012


West Country RSPB ‘STUNNED’ BY DEFRA ANNOUNCEMENT TO ‘imprison’ BUZZARDS near shooting estates

The RSPB in the West Country is stunned by Defra’s announcement to allow the destruction of buzzard nests and to permit buzzards to be taken into captivity to remove them from shooting estates. The Society believes this intervention against one of England’s best-loved birds of prey will be no more than a costly and unnecessary exercise.

The move by Defra followed lobbying by the pheasant shooting industry. Buzzards usually scavenge on animals which have already died, but they will sometimes take young pheasants which are released for sports shooting.

The buzzard was eradicated from large swathes of Britain following decades of persecution. However it kept a stronghold in the West that, with Legal protection and a general warming of attitudes towards buzzards and other birds of prey on the part of many lowland land managers, allowed to buzzards recovering across the UK: a fantastic conservation success story.

Martin Harper is the RSPB’s conservation director. Criticising Defra’s proposal, he said: “We are shocked by Defra’s plans to destroy buzzard nests and to take buzzards into captivity to protect a non-native game bird released in its millions. Buzzards play a minor role in pheasant losses, compared with other factors like collisions with vehicles.”

Pheasants are not native to the UK. Around 40 million birds are released every year for shooting, including on many estates in the South West. The impacts of this practice on wildlife have been poorly documented, but serious questions have been raised about the impact such a large injection of non-native birds might have on our countryside.

Buzzards will take young pheasants from rearing pens, given the opportunity, but the RSPB believes the issue can be managed without destroying nests or moving buzzards. Measures include providing more cover for young pheasants in release pens, visual deterrents to discourage birds of prey and providing alternative food sources.

Mr Harper added: “There are options for addressing the relatively small number of pheasant poults lost to buzzards. Destroying nests is completely unjustified and catching and removing buzzards is unlikely to reduce predation levels, as another buzzard will quickly take its place. Both techniques would be illegal under current wildlife laws, and I think most people will agree with us that reaching for primitive measures, such as imprisoning adults or destroying nests, when wildlife and economic interests collide is totally unacceptable.

“At a time when funding for vital conservation work is so tight, and with another bird of prey, the hen harrier, facing extinction as a breeding bird in England, I can think of better ways of spending £400,000 of public funds. This money could work harder for wildlife, and I hope the Minister will therefore put a stop to this project.”

Speaking about the threat to buzzards in the West Country, the RSPB’s Tony Whitehead said; “The sight of buzzards, although now commonplace here in the West, still lifts the heart. They are wonderful birds and we want to keep it that way. We will do our utmost to ensure buzzards are properly protected rather than allow the birds to be threatened in favour pheasants, an extremely numerous non-native species as anyone who drives country lanes down here knows!”

A spokesman for the The Hawk and Owl Trust, said: “We are totally against persecution of any birds of prey, and destroying the nests of buzzards is tantamount to this. We believe that alternatives should always be sought to lethal control where the commercial interests of humans come into conflict with birds of prey.”

RAHEEL MUGHAL: Unknown insect from the UAE

Hi Jon.

How are you? As promised I attach a photograph of the unusual insect seen by my Uncle last July in the UAE. Could you or any of our friends at the CFZ please help to identify it.

Personally, I think it may belong to the Grillidae family of crickets, though I am not sure which species it may belong too. Please help. I look forward to receiving your reply.

Kind regards to all.

Your Buddy,


ALAN FRISWELL: Reviewing Richard

By Richard Freeman

For those of us who grew up in a more imaginative age, a milieu of late-night horror movies, classic Dr Who, M.R. James’s ghost stories at Christmas and pre-digital special effects, the modern landscape of horror/fantasy entertainment seems watery and bland, a seemingly endless canvas of washed-out CGI animation, unimaginative storytelling, and ghastly teenage vampires that ‘sparkle’.
Richard Freeman believes that he might just have the antidote, and he might just be right.

Although new to fiction, Freeman is the author and co-author of five factual works on cryptozoology, or the study of mystery, or ‘hidden’ animals, either thought extinct, or completely new to science.

Freeman is also one of the zoological directors of the CFZ, or the Centre For Cryptozoology, and has travelled the world in search of giant snakes, dragons, monster fish, Nessie herself, and the Orang-Pendek, a jungle-dwelling cousin of Bigfoot.

Freeman’s influences are nothing if not eclectic, ranging from Jon Pertwees’ Dr Who, Japanese monster movies, the tales of M.R. James, Hammer Horror and the stop-motion marvels of Ray Harryhausen. Added to this, is his life-long fascination with the mysteries of natural history, inspired by childhood visits to museums filled with mummified spiders, taxidermied snakes, and the bones of animals 100 million years dead.

Freeman has channelled his influences into his new work; his first fictional outing, GREEN UNPLEASANT LAND, a collection of eighteen horror stories in a selection of styles, ranging from the almost poetic, to horrifically violent.

In this, a whole catalogue of monsters, spirits, hypnotic serpents, bloodsuckers, man-eating plants and Freeman’s favourite creatures, dragons, are presented in a fairly unrestrained attack on what Freeman sees as the boring, homogenized environment of horror/media ‘entertainment’, that has seen Harryhausen’s monsters replaced by computerised cartoons, and Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing turn into Buffy.
As you read through the varied tales, it becomes evident that Freeman is a very clever writer indeed; seemingly able to switch styles, so that when appropriate, his prose is subtle and mannered, rather like that of M.R. James, but when delicacy will not do the job, Freeman will suddenly launch into the reader with the same violence as typified the more sensationalistic writers of the 70’s, such as James Herbert and Guy N. Smith.

Freeman emerges from this as a true original, a writer who captures the style of many—James, Machen and Blackwood particularly spring to mind—while imitating none of them, creating his own unique vision and perspective. Perhaps like Algernon Blackwood, Freeman often invokes an atmosphere of the ‘sentient’ land, a truly wild wood, upon which we encroach at our peril. Hopefully, there will be more tales from Freeman, who with this first book has already become one of Britain’s great new horror writers.

Here then, is a book of mythological wonders, cryptozoological terrors, and the real fear of what might be lurking just behind the next tree.

Brilliantly illustrated by Shaun Histed-Todd, GREEN UNPLEASANT LAND is a wonderful reminder of horror’s ‘golden age’ for those of us who were there the first time, and for younger readers, a terrifying education in what real horror and fantasy were all about.

HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Mirror 27.7.67.


It is Thursday, and as I explain in the opening post today, I am not very well at the moment:http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/05/jon-isnt-well-he-stayed-back-at-hotel.html

I would, however, like to say a very big and public 'Thank You' to Michael Des Barres and Peter McAdam for their messages of love and support. My dear friends, thank you.

But enough of my bellyaching.

We have some great stuff for you today, starting off with some exclusive pictures of Auburn with the community choir that Liz Lenten runs. The choir sang on stage with the band during the Lincolnshire gigs of their recent tour, and I - for one - cannot wait to see the film:

We also have some smashing footage of the Michael Des Barres Band in rehearsal:

We have a link to a smashing review of Galahad:

And another to an equally smashing review of Wally:

That's it for today, but as they used to say on the BBC every time a meteorite had smashed into Broadcasting House: NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

DALE DRINNON: Northern lake monsters/Yeti

This is one of the older posts that I had put together but it went wrong and would not publish correctly: I added two new sections on the end and it seems to work much better now.

Plus the text on the newly-announced Yeti and Bigfoot DNA study from Jeff Meldrum:

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

On this day in 1956 the first Eurovision Song Contest was held.
And now the news:

Gorilla patriarch of Columbus Zoo surrogacy progra...
Unmanned Aircraft Could Help Solve Sea Lion Declin...
'Grandpa' fights for Bulgarian zoo's survival
Emu leaves local bar a rather large surprise
Today's Environment Influences Behavior Generation...
Why Dogs' Origins Are Still Mysterious
More Parasites Mean Healthier Frogs
Utah wants to kill coyotes – Usual rubbish logic a...
130,000 wild animals seized in China raids
Acrobatic Primates Edge Closer to Extinction
Oldest Fossilized Ink Found in Ancient Squid Cousi...
For Bats: What Sounds Good Doesn't Always Taste Go...

Britain might, if voting for your neighbours doesn’t go quite as crazy as usual, have a fair chance of winning Eurovision this year as our entry this year, sang by Englebert Humperdink is actually good (shock!) :