News of wildlife and other issues

The Birds of Wanstead 2009


The Wren Conservation Group has in the past published an annual bird report, but more recently - partly due to lack of field recorders - the Group had been unable to do so.

During 2009 an increasing number of observers were available in the area, and an increasing number of records were accumulated. These have been compiled by local naturalist Tim Harris into a publication - The Birds of Wanstead, 2009.














to download The Birds of Wanstead, 2009 (as a pdf. file) click here







A bear at Hollow Pond?

The report below is to be found on the "Mysterious Britain" website. I also doubt that we have either bigfoots (bigfeet?) or bears around here, and suspect that it was a muntjac, the small Asian deer that have escaped from captivity and are now quite common in Epping Forest. They have been seen on Leyton Flats, in Wanstead Park and once even inside the grounds of Snaresbrook Crown Court, where it had managed to squeeze through the railings.


In November 2008, Michael Kent reported seeing a strange hairy bear like creature whilst fishing one evening with his brother and father. The following article entitled ‘Is 'Bigfoot' on the loose in woods?’ by Daniel Binns concerning the sighting appeared in the Guardian on 11 November 2008.

PARK officials have denied a bigfoot-like creature is on the loose in Wanstead’s woods after a “strange and hairy” bear-like animal was spotted by a fisherman.

Trainee fitness instructor Michael Kent said he was “stunned” when he saw the “hairy, dark creature” during an evening fishing trip in the Hollow Ponds area of Epping Forest, on the border between Wanstead and Leytonstone.

Mr Kent, 18, said: “I was there with my dad and brother. I was walking over to where my brother was when I heard this rustling sound.

“I looked over and saw this strange, dark figure that resembled a bear. It was hunched over and I could see it had a really hairy back. I think it must have heard me and scampered off into the bushes after a couple of seconds.

“It was getting dark but I still managed to get a good look at it. It was about 4ft tall, so it was too small to be human, but not the right shape to be a deer, it didn’t have long legs or anything like that.

“I’ve been fishing in the area since I was five years old, and I’ve seen deer, dogs and even a cow before but never anything like this.

“It definitely looked like a bear. My dad and brother weren’t so sure they just laughed but I really do believe I saw one.”

He added: “It would be good if there were bears around here because it would mean we’d have some other wildlife round here to enjoy, as long as they didn’t go around attacking people.

“I’m going to keep my eye out for it and perhaps I’ll see it again.”

But not everyone is convinced by the sighting.

Ian Greer, a park keeper in Wanstead’s Tarzy Woods said: “I doubt he saw a bear. The biggest animals we’ve got in the woods are foxes.”

“Sometimes we get deer but there are no bears around here.”'

Invasive Pondweed in Wanstead Park

A patch of Floating Pennywort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides was noticed in the Perch Pond, Wanstead Park last year, and was reported to the Conservators of Epping Forest on 26th September 2008.

This North American pondweed has been introduced into garden ponds where it is soon found to be very invasive. Typically, some is then removed, and it then finds its way into watercourses or lakes, and proves equally prolific.

The fact that litle seems to have been done to remove it from what was then a relatively small area of the Perch Pond is a shame, because I have now seen the plant deep into the islands at the west end of the lake, from where I suspect it will be extremely difficult to remove from amongst the vegetation.

It is possible to deal with it, because the Wren Conservation Group did just that on a practical work task in April 2005, clearing a patch at the west end of Heronry Pond (see here). It has not reappeared. I have again informed the Conservators of Epping Forest of the situation, and it is hoped that they will take hasty steps to try to deal with it!

click here for a photograph taken recently of the problem plant in situ in Perch Pond.

Paul Ferris, 11th December 2009

Weather-proof Robin

November 29th, 2 o'clock in the morning and the rain is pelting down - as it has been for hours.

In Capel Road, from an Oak tree by Wanstead Flats, a Robin is repeating over and over its somewhat subdued winter sounds. Not the full song that we hear in the Spring and Summer, but plenty loud enough and expressive enough to be heard over the rain. The street light is bright, of course, but on such a miserable night what is that Robin doing?!

Paul Ferris, 29th November 2009

Goldeneye revisits Wanstead

So when was the last time? Well the last time I saw a Goldeneye around here was  was in November 1977 when a female turned up on Alexandra Lake on 20th and stayed until 24th December.

There have been a few records since: one on the Perch Pond on 9th January 1982, a duck on the Hollow Pond on 17th November and another duck on Eagle Pond on 9th January, both in 1985, but it was that one in 1977 that prompted me to write a little 'poem' about the occurence which is available here, if you can stand it. You'll see that it is based on a rather better-known one by J. Milton Hayes, and I had to use a bit of poetic license to place it away from Kathmandu and nearer to Manor Park - "to the north of E12", get it?

Anyway, suffice it to say that Goldeneyes are not that frequent in these parts, so when I got a report from Jonathan Lethbridge that Stuart Fisher had spotted one on Heronry Pond after a wild night, even I was tempted to go out on an almost equally wild day. In fact, so wild was it that I waited a few hours for a break in the rain before attempting a 'twitch' - and failed to see it.  That was on 14th November. The following day - which happened to be the 15th - was much nicer, so I went for what turned out to be a lovely stroll, saw Stuart, saw the duck, photographed it, and returned home happy.


And here is the picture...


Paul Ferris, 15th November 2009