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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Tuesday, May 29, 2012



With buses they say you wait for ages and then two come along at once. But special places for nature are scarce and becoming rarer.

In an exciting partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, we've secured a special part of Scotland for nature and people.

View over Wards Estate

Why is it so special?

Is it the stunning views with wetlands, woodlands and snow capped mountains (yes, they were still snow capped last week)? Or is it the wintering white-fronted geese that make a 3,000 mile round trip every year from Greenland?

Perhaps it's the 200+ species of flowering plant (an eighth of the species recorded in the whole of Britain)? Or maybe the lamprey, a primitive eel-like fish, which can be traced back to 200 million years before the dinosaurs existed? Possibly it's the vast range of small beasties that exist, often out of view.

Male Greenland white-fronted goose.

Despite having only just got to know the site, I suspect it is all of the above and more. And that is at the centre of our plans.

We want to protect what we know is here, find what hasn't already been discovered and allow existing and new visitors more opportunities to enjoy the stories and experiences the landscape and wildlife has to offer.

Making it happen

Well, the first step has been taken.

Following support form the National Park Authority, SNH, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the generous donations of our supporters through an appeal, we have secured purchase of the land. The next step will be to appoint a site manager (lucky devil!).

We have already started the important process of talking to the local communities, gathering information about the site and monitoring the wildlife. Next will be formulating a plan to improve the site over the coming years.

In the meantime, if you want to visit the reserve there is a path from the Millennium Hall in Gartocharn which will give you a flavour of the site and its potential.


Richard Muirhead just telephoned me with THIS story. It begins:

"Most anglers’ tales revolve around the improbable size of their catch – but this specimen really does look fishy.

Mark Sawyer, 53, hooked the bizarre creature while fishing for carp in a lake.
At first he thought it was a common brown goldfish but on closer inspection he realised it appeared to have the head of a roach, the body and tail of a brown goldfish and the rear fin of a bream."

OK, all three species he mentions are cyprinids, and a three way hybrid is not impossible. My best guess is that it is some weird goldfish, but I have certainly not seen a fish quite like this before. What do YOU think?

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2151091/Fisherman-goes-angling-carp--discovers-fish-body-goldfish-head-roach-fin-bream.html#ixzz1wHBFRLh1

WATCHER OF THE SKIES: white-tailed eagles, great white egrets, ravens, pintail, garganey, tree pipit, tufted ducks, osprey, cream-coloured courser,

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...

White-tailed eagles nesting in Ireland for first time in 100 years
BirdWatch Ireland welcomed the return of nesting white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) earlier in the month on a small island on Lough Derg, near Mountshannon in County Clare, which marks the first documented evidence of breeding since the species became extinct from Ireland over 100 years ago.

Human persecution was the primary reason behind the disappearance of the white-tailed eagle from Ireland during the early 20th Century. However, a reintroduction scheme was initiated by the Golden Eagle Trust in 2007 with the aim of re-establishing these birds in Ireland.  The breeding pair laid eggs and hatching was anticipated for the last week of May. 

The movements and behaviour of these birds were closely monitored with anticipation by Dr. Allan Mee, project manager of the white-tailed eagle reintroduction scheme for the Golden Eagle Trust. He commented: "We had hopes that this pair might try and build a nest but because the birds are relatively young we really didn't expect them to breed", Dr. Mee added. "The odds are stacked against young first-time breeders because they have no experience of nest-building, mating and caring for eggs and young. They have to get everything right to succeed. But so far so good".

Commenting on the positive news, John Lusby, Raptor Conservation Officer with BirdWatch Ireland said, "It was through human influence that these magnificent birds were previously driven to extinction in Ireland, the significant efforts on the part of the Golden Eagle Trust, the NPWS and the other bodies involved in this project have been well rewarded by this news of breeding, which is the first step in rectifying the historical losses. Although there may be tentative moments ahead, we hope that the pair will be successful and that by the end of the summer the first Irish born White-tailed Eagle in over 100 years will be back in our skies".

Unfortunately, just before 6pm of 15th May both birds deserted the nest and spent the next few hours perched together in a nearby tree, returning to the nest for a short period before leaving again. At this point it was clear that something had happened and the breeding attempt had failed. A search of the nest by National Parks & Wildlife Service and Golden Eagle Trust staff on 16th May found the remains of an egg and a chick confirming that the breeding attempt had failed at the point of hatching.

Dr. Allan Mee, project manager of the White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction Programme, said ‘Although it's disappointing the birds have failed to rear chicks it was fantastic they bred so young and got as far as the hatching stage. The pair incubated their egg/s for almost 7 weeks and showed themselves to be great parents, building a nest, bringing food to the nest and sharing the duties at the nest for the whole incubation period. This experience will stand to them on their next breeding attempt in 2013.'

Courtesy of Birdwatch Ireland 

Natural England's Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve in Somerset welcome nesting great white egrets
Staff and volunteers have been protecting the rare visitors with 24-hour surveillance of their nest.

It could mean that the UK's first great white egret (Ardea alba) colony is established.

"To have an amazing bird like a great white egret, which is the size of a grey heron [and] bright white, nesting here is just phenomenal," said Simon Clarke, reserve manager for Shapwick Heath.

Although found across the world with an estimated population of two million birds, there are no records of great white egrets having bred in the UK.

"We needed to get a 24-hour warden service up to protect the nest from the risk of 'eggers' [egg collectors]," he told BBC Nature.

Local volunteers from Natural England, the RSPB and the Somerset Ornithological Society were quick to help out.

"Between the three organisations and staff as well, we've been able to offer 24-hour protection through what we saw as the dangerous period for the eggs."

Egrets were persecuted for their long breeding plumage feathers to the extent that an estimated 200,000 birds were killed in a single year at the turn of last century.
The single nest could be the start of a future UK breeding colony of great white egrets and signs are looking positive for success.

The adult birds are making regular flights into the nest, indicating that they are feeding young, although Natural England is waiting until chicks have been positively identified before it can announce the UK's newest species of breeding bird.

"We're keeping everything crossed basically and we're just watching and hoping we get some good news in the next few weeks," said Mr Clarke.

Ravens raise three young at RSPB The Lodge

Ravens (Corvus corax) have successfully fledged three young at the RSPB The Lodge Nature Reserve in Sandy, Bedfordshire. Ravens became extinct in the country during the 19th Century and until recently there had been only one record of a bird in 1978 seen at Everton – this being the only one during the whole century. From the beginning of the 21st Century more sightings were recorded and in recent years birds have bred around Whipsnade. They appear to be spreading westwards, as did the common buzzard.

Picture: Wikipedia

The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. Nature is amazing - help us keep it that way. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no 207076, Scotland no SC037654.

RSPB The Lodge, Sandy is open daily. There is a car park charge for non-members of £4 per vehicle.

For a full list of RSPB events at the Lodge see www.rspb.org.uk/events

For more information or raven images please contact Mark Brandon on 01767 693253

Rare ducks spotted on River Hull near Driffield

For the first time in decades rare ducks and avocets have been breeding at Tophill Low Nature Reserve, on the River Hull, near Driffield in East Yorkshire.

The reserve's warden said pintail (Anas acuta) and garganey (Anas querquedula) ducks were breeding on the site for the first time in 20 years.

male (l) and female (r) pintails - photo: Wikipedia

Richard Hampshire the warden at the nature reserve, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, said: "We have already seen a marked improvement in species using the reserve."
The work had also helped the first breeding attempt by avocets on the reserve.

 male garganey - picture: Wikipedia 

He hoped birds like the bittern, marsh harrier, sedge and reed warbler, many insects and numbers of coarse fish will benefit from the work.

A new habitat is also being created for otters on the river.

Nick Appleyard, of the Environment Agency, said the river washing around the trees had been causing erosion to the bank and clearing fallen tree trunks from the water had increased the river's capacity.

Work to repair damaged sections of the riverbank using material dug out of the river will be finished within a week.

The resulting shallows provide new habitat for young and spawning fish and shallow water for wading birds.

The work is a partnership between Yorkshire Water's and the Environment Agency.

Rare bird appearance causes stir

60 years to the day of its last sighting, a rare tree pipit (Anthus trivialis) was seen at the RSPB Lochwinnoch reserve. 

 Picture: Wikipedia

Its unusually accurate timing thrilled RSPB Scotland site manager, Zul Bhatia.

He told the Paisley Daily Express: “It’s a pretty unusual record for the reserve anyway, but for it to land on exactly the same date as the last time it was reported is amazing.

“We checked our records and the last sighting of the pipit at Lochwinnoch was in 1952 – exactly 60 years to the day before this latest visit.

“It’s incredible and has definitely caused quite a stir at the reserve.”

The reserve team had a double reason to celebrate, as the tree pipit has been added to their 2012 bird list, which is now up to 105 species thanks to the find by bird enthusiast, Angus Murray.

Tree pipits are widespread summer visitors to the UK, and occur in particularly high densities in western uplands.

Their population has undergone decline over the past 25 years, especially in central and southern England.

To find out more about the RSPB Lochwinnoch’s events, projects and wildlife, call 01505 842 663, email lochwinnoch@rspb.org.uk, or follow RSPB Lochwinnoch on Twitter and Facebook.

Rare Portuguese tufted ducks return to east London after winter on the Med

A pair of rare Portuguese tufted ducks (Aythya fuligula) returned to London.  They arrived with markings on the beaks that were linked a nature reserve in Portugal.

Tufted duck similar to the pair seen, with beak markings 

 “The ducks were definitely ‘an item’,” observed a biodiversity officer. “They travelled separately when they flew south last season and the same coming back, several days apart, but definitely seem to be together once they settled here.”

The ducks had been marked by scientists at Portugal’s Soa Jacinto Dunes nature reserve.
The nature reserve officials at Blackwall also reported a Red Kite making a rare appearance in east London flying up-river along the Thames.

The bird of prey with its distinctive dark red plumage and long fork tail was spotted by the biodiversity team, before being seen above Canary Wharf, then over the Tower of London. The nearest breeding and hunting ground is the Chiltern Hills 30 miles west.

Red kites became extinct in most of Britain in the last century after hundreds of years of being hunted as unwanted scavengers.

But they’re making a big comeback after a successful programme to reintroduce them in 1989, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds which says the colonies in the Chilterns are now the most densely populated in Europe.

Lady of the loch - osprey success
Extraordinarily, 'Lady' has hatched her first chick of 2012, and 2 more eggs are still incubating.

Lady, as she has become known, is a remarkable 26-year-old bird (Ospreys live on average just 8 years), that has raised 48 chicks so far, at Scottish Wildlife Trust's Loch of the Lowes wildlife reserve. This is her story.     More details 

Loch of the Lowes
Read how to see the ospreys at the Loch of the Lowes wildlife reserve

Watch the birdie: Thousands of twitchers flock to golf course to see rare bird
Nearly 2,000 people turned up at England’s highest course to watch a cream-coloured courser (Cursorius cursor) which landed on the eighth fairway of Kington Golf Club in Herefordshire. The bird lives in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East and one was last seen on the mainland in 1984.

Club professional Dan Jarman, 28, said yesterday: “It was carnage up here - I’ve never seen so many cameras.

"The twitchers were like ants over the golf course, it was crazy.

"One guy came all the way from the Isle of Skye and others turned up from London, Newcastle and Manchester.

“One twitcher told me this was rarer than finding s*** from a rocking horse.

The courser finally flew off from the course, which at its highest point is 1,284-feet, and headed south west across the Welsh border on Wednesday afternoon.
BirdGuides expert Josh Jones drove through the night to be among the first people to see the courser.

John, 22, from London, said: “I was at Victoria tube station when I heard about it at 10.45pm on Sunday. I went home and jumped in the car and arrived on the course at 4am.

A second Osprey chick has hatched at Rutland Water.
High definition cameras placed near the nest caught the moment both chicks came into the world.

This is one of a few places in England that these rare birds make their home.

Until they started breeding here 18 years ago, ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) hadn’t been seen in Britain for 150 years.

But thanks to the dedication of the osprey team and volunteers from the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, these magnificent birds are returning to Rutland regularly.

The Osprey's nest in Rutland Water Credit: ITV Central

The chicks will stay in the nest for around two months, getting regular helpings of fish from mum and dad, before migrating to West Africa.

Amazingly, they make the three thousand mile journey alone, using their own internal sat nav!

They won’t return until they are at least 2 years old, and even then, not always to the same place.

You can see live images of the chicks in their Manton Bay nest by logging

Sea eagles poisoned in Ireland

Irish Minister, Jimmy  Deenihan has condemned the apparent poisoning of White- tailed Eagles  (Haliaeetus albicilla) in Mayo and Donegal 

The young Mayo eagle, which had been released in Killarney National Park in 2010, was carrying a satellite tag to track its movements, and when the tag showed the bird was not moving about, a search was carried out by National Parks and Wildlife Service staff and the Golden Eagle Trust. The dead bird was found on the shores of Lough Beltra in County Mayo.  Post mortem results showed that not only had the eagle got high concentrations of poison in its body, but it had also been shot at some time in the past, and had shotgun pellets in its body. It is not clear whether the shooting and poisoning were related incidents.

Post mortem results from another eagle, found dead recently in the Blue Stack mountains in Donegal, also had been poisoned.

The Minister said "The satellite tracking shows that these birds had been wandering over hundreds of coastal, hill and lowland farms in recent months unmolested and without concern. I understand that landowners in Mayo were actively sending in regular sightings to the project manager/team. I am, therefore, very disappointed that some unknown individuals would wantonly try to kill these magnificent birds".

"Finding the White-tailed Eagle dead in such a beautiful part of Mayo was saddening", said Dr. Allan Mee of the Golden Eagle Trust, and project manager of the White-tailed Eagle project. "After releasing this male eagle in Killarney National Park in 2010 we have been following its movement with great interest. Last year it spent over 5 months in north Mayo where it had been undoubtedly fishing on some of the rivers and lakes there before returning to Kerry for the winter".

Dr Mee continued "It returned to the same areas in Mayo in late March and would probably have spent the summer there again. It's tragic to think someone for some unknown reason would kill it. We would like to acknowledge the cooperation and goodwill shown to the reintroduction project by local communities throughout Ireland especially farming and fishing communities. It is ironic to think that at the same time as the reintroduction project is now bearing the fruit of this cooperation with birds nesting and generating huge interest in Co. Clare, one of our birds has been needlessly attacked."

The National Parks and Wildlife Service are investigating the killings. Minister Deenihan urged that anyone with information about the matter should contact the local Garda Siochána or the National Parks and Wildlife Service on 095-41054.

Two golden eagles, that nested in Co Donegal from 2005 – 2011 have not been seen since.  The birds would usually return to the same area and the likelihood that both have died of natural causes is very small, leading to the suspicion that they have been killed, most likely by poison.

DALE DRINNON: Texas bigfoot, Meldrum's late-surviving Neanderthal-types

New at the Frontiers of Zoology, an article that has been a while coming:

and a couple of late-surviving Neanderthal types as recently cited by Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum:


HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Mirror 31.10.67.



And once again I find myself presenting a whole slew of Bloggostuff to the world at large.

We kick off with some more exclusive pictures from the first night of the current Hawkwind UK Tour. I still live in hope that we will eventually have a review, but despite living in one of the rooms of my house, Graham (our resident Hawkwind nut) is not the easiest person to pin down:http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/05/exclusive-pictures-from-first-night-of.html

We have a link to a great review of the new Chris Thompson CF/DVD package. For those of you not awake yet this morning, Chris was the singer with Manfred Mann's Earth Band, amongst others. But I was not aware how many "others" there were. Look at this:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Thompson_(English_musician)#DiscographyAnyway, I digress. You can read the review here:http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/05/link-chris-thompson-review.html

We have great news for Rick Wakeman fans near Darlington:http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/05/rick-wakeman-in-darlington.html

We have an exclusive still from Mimi Page's new live video with Bassnectar:http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/05/exclusive-stills-from-new-mimi-page.html

There is a link to an insightful review of Martin Stephenson's new record with The Daintees:http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/05/link-martin-stephenson-and-daintees.html

And finally, another installment in Auburn's inexorable rise to world domination:http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/05/link-insightful-auburn-review.html

See you tomorrow boys and girls...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1908 Mel Blanc was born. Blanc was one of America's most prolific voice actors having provided distinctive voices for Bugs Bunny, Silvester, Pepe le pew, Barney Rubble, Tweety Pie and many other cartoon characters.

And now the news:

Hey, kids! Do you like the Flintstones? Why not smoke fags like Fred and Barney! (yes, this is a genuine advert from America):


LINK: Danny Bonaduce To Hunt BigFoot


Asylum who are known for their B-movie magic are teaming up an odd mix of rock n roll superheroes and a former child star to bring us another made for TV magical moment.

Asylum is working on another big foot movie and this one will feature some odd stars including a child star turned reality star and a few rock and roll heroes.

1970′s pop culture icons Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams face off in the hunt for the legendary mountain creature Bigfoot in Asylums aptly named BigFoot.

Billy Idol and Alice Cooper will also star making me wonder just what this movie is all about.

DALE DRINNON: Ancestors of Atlanteans

New on the Frontiers of Anthropology: