News of wildlife and other issues
Reptiles in the Exchange Lands
by Tim Harris
During 2015, a group of Wren Group members, with support from the City of London Corporation, set out to find which reptile species were present in the Exchange Lands (Old Sewage Works) between the Empress Avenue allotments and the River Roding. At the beginning of September, some 40 roofing felt refugia were laid in the area by Thibaud Madelin and Alison Tapply. The felts were about 60 x 60 cm in size. Most (30) were placed on open grassland or at the margin of grass and hawthorn or brambles in the western section of the Exchange Lands, with the other 10 in the lower part of the area, closer to the River Roding. Some of the latter were in some very long grass though others were sited on shorter grass close to the cycle way running to the bridge over the river.
The rationale of using dark-coloured felts that absorb the sun’s heat is a tried-and-tested method. Once warmed by sunshine the felts become attractive to reptiles needing to increase their body temperature, since they are ectotherms (cold blooded). However, this method assumes that there is someone on hand to check the felts as they get warm – rarely the case with only a small team of volunteers doing the checking. Occasionally reptiles may be found under a refuge early in the morning, having spent the night there, or at dusk. It is worth noting for the future that the felts in the longer grass rarely became warm because of the shading effect of the grass, and this was reflected in there being no observations in that area.
The felts were checked from 4 September to 30 October. During September they were checked, on average every other day when conditions were mostly dry. There were some wet spells during the month when it wasn’t felt to be productive to check. In October the refugia were checked, on average two or three times per week. If more volunteers had been available, the checking could have been more regular.
Despite anecdotal evidence of Slowworms from people working the adjacent allotments, none were found. Neither were any Common Lizards seen. However, a good number of Grass Snakes, both juveniles and older animals, were noted between 4 September and 15 October. Grass Snakes were seen under six different refugia, with three juveniles under a single felt on 6 September being the most found on any one date. Breaking the observations down week by week, the following pattern emerges:
Sept week 1: 4 juveniles
Sept week 2: 7 juveniles
Sept week 3: 1 young adult
Sept week 4: 1 young adult
Oct week 1: none
Oct week 2: none
Oct week 3: 1 young adult
Oct week 4: none
Grass Snakes are apparently thriving in the Exchange Lands and, since juveniles were found under four felts (in two clusters of two, which were some distance apart), it is safe to assume that they bred in the area. It is hoped to have more refugia set out in the area in spring 2016, with the aim of getting more information on the status of Grass Snakes and – who knows – find a Slowworm or two.
Thanks to all those who helped with the checking, especially Gill James, and also to Barry Chapman, Nick Croft, Kathy Hartnett, James Heal, Thibaud Madelin, Sharon Payne, Rose Stevens, Alison Tapply, and Bob Vaughan.
Tim Harris, November 2015
The Coronation Footbridge over the River Roding
The footbridge over the River Roding from Ilford into Wanstead Park known as the Coronation Bridge was originally built in 1902 in the form of a “rustic” footbridge. It was officially opened on 21st June that year, and an Edwardian postcard appears shows people reading a notice posted on the Ilford side of the bridge. The sides of the bridge can be seen to be composed of diagonally crossed wooden branches. The bridge was rebuilt to some extent in later years – possibly the 1960's as I seem to remember (just) the original form. However, it has been closed since 2012, meaning that an easy access between Ilford and the Park – and indeed the only access – has been denied to pedestrians for too many years.
There is still a way from Wanstead Park Road in Ilford via the recreation grounds and the Park by way of a nearby concrete bridge. Although this is perfectly satisfactory for cyclists - and indeed constitutes part of the London Cycle Network and the proposed Roding Valley Way - it is a poor substitute for pedestrians, who have to make a considerable detour just to get into Wanstead Park, with no indication that this is even possible.
The bridge is owned by the London Borough of Redbridge, and is managed by Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure, which is a Charitable Trust. The bridge was closed by officers from the Borough's Highways & Engineering Service following an inspection. This revealed the bridge to be unsafe. Although the structure is apparently sound, the deck and deck railings are in need of replacement.
In early 2013 L.B. Redbridge stated that they were looking into having the bridge repaired as soon as possible, but that there was no funding within internal budgets for this. When it was asked whether external funding could be used to help finance the repair of the bridge, it was stated that as the bridge could not be used by cyclists due to the no-cycling regulations within Wanstead Park, no funding could be found. In other words, there was funding available for cyclists but not for pedestrians. This seems to illustrate quite well my concerns that pedestrians are increasingly being disadvantaged in favour of cyclists.
In March 2015 the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian said that following £105,000 of funding from the Mayor of London's Big Green Fund the Coronation Bridge would be reopened as part of the improvements to be made to open spaces along the River Roding. I wonder how long it will be before this happens?
Paul Ferris, 20th May 2015
Lake-side clearance by Ornamental Waters
Apart from reports of some new or interesting wildlife observed in the area, unhappily some of the other articles that I post on Wanstead Wildlife tend often to be of a complaining nature – difficult access, unwelcome clearances, and the like.
I was happy to find when I walked along the bank of the Ornamental Water from the bottom of Florrie's Hill towards the Cedar Tree and the Glade that a stretch opposite Lincoln Island had been carefully cleared of the vegetation that had encroached along the bank so much so that the water was difficult to see.
Last December, together with Tricia Moxey, we had an on-site meeting with Geoff Sinclair, who is Head of Operations for Epping Forest. One of the aspects we discussed with him was the possibility of opening up the view of the lake by selectively clearing vegetation – much of which was willow and alder. See here for that report
This has been done for quite a stretch, and what a difference it makes! Now what I perceived to be a somewhat claustrophobic and dark stretch, with Warren Wood on one side and the vegetation lining the lake on the other, is a walk with the channel of the lake between the bank and Lincoln Island clearly visible. Trees have been left spaced at decent intervals.
However, the clearance only stretches so far. The section that I would have started with is still as-was. This is that stretch right opposite the channel between Lincoln Island and Rook Island, which looks down towards the Fortifications and often has a nice selection of ducks, geese, swans, herons and cormorants to be seen – from the couple of metres gap in the trees!
Beyond that, opposite Rook Island and heading towards the Cedar Tree, I note that some relatively small bits of tree-pruning has been done, but not clearance. I was particularly pleased to find one plant – a rather special one considering its location - has also been spared. This is a London Plane tree that grows on the bank. Why it is unusual – for there are some lovely London Planes in the Park – is that this one almost certainly self-seeded there, and self-seeding is rare with London Planes. The ones we see are usually planted.
Paul Ferris, 30th April 2015
Don't say I didn't warn ya!
There it was – gone. Just like the view from Aldersbrook Road, opposite the shops at the Parade, the view from the south side of the Shoulder of Mutton Pond will – I predict – go the same way.
On a visit on 21st April 2015 to what I think is one of the nicest locations in Wanstead Park – the south side of the Shoulder of Mutton pond looking across towards Wanstead – I realised just how much willow had grown up along the shore-line. Much more – and it won't take long – and in-leaf, the view will soon be all-but gone.
Just a few metres further on – on either side of the fence that separates the Park from the Park-lands – all the insect-favoured bramble scrub has been removed. All of it. Just like most has been removed from the other insect-favoured scrub near the top of the Glade, from just behind the Grotto, from what will be the bicycle/pedestrian Roding Valley Way at Whiskers Island, and of course- not scrub but herbs – annually by the east end of Perch Pond. And why was all the scrub and trees removed by Epping Forest Conservation Volunteers from the crater just south of the keeper's lodges. Surely that was only doing harm by acting as a nesting place for birds and a resting place for insects?
see here) others have been in there and changed things a bit. Desire-line paths have been blocked, particularly that which runs between a sward of Wood Anemones. Though this may have been done with the intention of enhancing those delicate flowers, I fear it will have the opposite effect, as the desire to use the path – and indeed to look at the flowers either side of it – may just encourage people to walk over them. There are signs this is already happening.One more. Chalet Wood is looking good right now with its becoming-famous bluebells. I do think the path-edging that I have been suggesting for years has been successful and most people who I speak top agree. There are aspects of the way it has been done that I am not fully happy with – too much scrub has been cut down on the east edge, for example. And since Gill and Alan James and myself – primarily – laid out its pattern in 2014 (
So – back to the Shoulder of Mutton and its willows. I mention that now like I mentioned the potential problems with Floating Pennywort in Perch Pond and New-Zealand Pygmyweed in Alexandra Lake years ago. Both those issues were ignored, now the problems are extreme. Something could be done about willow encroachment now, perhaps, but if not – well, don't say I didn't warn ya.
Paul Ferris, 22nd April 2015
for 2014 additions, click HERE
for 2016 additions, click HERE
for 2017 additions, click HERE
for 2018 additions, click HERE
* in some cases the entry was made some time after the species was found. This may be due to a new identification or a previous mis-identification.
|Species||Common Name||Type of Organism||Date of find or entry*||Found by:|
|Apion frumentarium||Red Rumex Weevil||a beetle||05/11/2015||Rose Stephens|
|Agrochola macilenta||Yellow-line Quaker||a moth||28/10/2015||Tim Harris|
|Trombidium holosericeum||Velvet Mite||a mite||08/10/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Lestes viridis||Willow Emerald Damselfly||a damselfly||06/09/2015||Gill James/Tim Harris|
|Gymnosporangium sabinae||Pear Rust||a fungus||27/07/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Dysdera crocata||Woodlouse Spider||a spider||23/07/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Caloptilia rufipennella||Small Red Slender||a micro moth||22/07/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Parornix devoniella||Hazel Slender||a micro moth||22/07/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Cryptoblabes bistriga||Double-striped Knot-horn||a micro moth||22/07/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Autographa pulchrina||Beautiful Golden Y||a moth||15/07/2015||Tim Harris|
|Cosmia pyralina||Lunar-spotted Pinion||a moth||15/07/2015||Tim Harris|
|Chryphia muralis||Marbled Green||a moth||11/07/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Cydalima perspectalis||Box Tree Moth||a moth||10/07/2015||Tim Harris|
|Synanthedon vespiformis||Yellow-legged Clearwing||a moth||10/07/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Synanthedon andrenaeformis||Orange-tailed Clearwing||a moth||06/07/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Bembecia ichneumoniformis||Six-belted Clearwing||a moth||04/07/2015||Tim Harris|
|Rhinanthus minor||Yellow Rattle||a flowering plant||21/06/2015||Kathy Hartnett|
|Psychoides filicivora||Fern Smut||a micro moth||19/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Nemophora fasciella||Horehound Longhorn||a micro moth||19/06/2015||Kathy Hartnett|
|Phyllonorycter platani||London Midget||a micro moth||17/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Deraeocoris flavilinea ?||a mirid bug||a bug||17/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Rhynchites aequatus||Apple Fruit Weevil||a weevil||17/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Calocoris (Grypocoris) stysi||a plant bug||a bug||17/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Parhelophilus frutetorum?||a hoverfly||a hoverfly||17/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Apamea remissa||Dusky Brocade||a moth||13/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Ectoedemia decentella||Sycamore-seed Pigmy||a micro moth||13/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Panurgus sp.||(Furry?) Panurgus||a mining bee||13/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Herminiina grisialis||Small Fan-foot||a micro moth||13/06/2015||Tim Harris|
|Abrostola triplasia||Dark Spectacle||a moth||13/06/2015||Tim Harris|
|Tethea ocularis||Figure of Eighty||a moth||11/06/2015||Tim Harris|
|Formica cunicularia ?||an ant||an ant||08/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Xanthorhoe spadicearia||Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet||a moth||05/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Heliothis peltigera||Bordered Straw||a moth||05/06/2015||Tim Harris|
|Argyresthia spinosella||Blackthorn Argent||a micro moth||04/06/2015||Tim Harris|
|Chrysoesthia drurella||Flame Neb||a micro moth||01/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Clogmia albipunctata||an owl midge||a fly||01/06/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Caloptilia alchimiella||Yellow-triangle Slender||a micro moth||29/05/2015||Tim Harris|
|Agonopterix arenella||Brindled Flat-body||a micro moth||27/05/2015||Tim Harris|
|Dichrorampha montanana||Spike-marked Drill||a micro moth||25/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Dichrorampha sequana||Square-spot Drill||a micro moth||25/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Onthophagus sp.||a Dor Beetle||a beetle||25/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Glyphipterix simpliciella||Cocksfoot Moth||a micro moth||25/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Tenthredopsis sp. (litterata ?)||a sawfly||a sawfly||25/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Tachypodoiulus niger||White-legged Snake-millipede||a millipede||25/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Taphrina pruni||a fungi gall on blackthorn||a gall||25/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Ancistrocerus trifasciatus||a potter wasp||a wasp||24/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Philodromus (albidus)||a crab spider||a spider||21/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Philodromus dispar||a crab spider||a spider||10/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Pheosia tremula||Swallow Prominent||a moth||07/05/2015||Tim Harris|
|Roeslerstammia erxlebella||Copper Ermel||a micro moth||04/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Hypera postica ?||Clover Leaf Weevil||a weevil||04/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Harpocera thoracica ?||a mirid bug||a bug||02/05/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Andrena (haemorrhoa?)||Early Mining Bee||a bee||23/04/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Drymonia ruficornis||Lunar Marbled Brown||a moth||21/04/2015||Tim Harris|
|Bibio lanigerus||a March fly||a fly||09/04/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Ichneumon stramentarius||an ichneumon wasp||a wasp||08/04/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Orthosia populeti||Lead-coloured Drab||a moth||05/04/2015||Tim Harris|
|Empoasca vitis ?||a leafhopper||a bug||23/03/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Drosophilidae (family)||a fruit fly||a fly||23/03/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Sitticus pubescens||a crab spider||a spider||20/03/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Amaurobius fenestralis||a lace-weaver spider||a spider||18/03/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Deraeocoris lutescens||a mirid bug||a bug||14/03/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Tibellus sp. (obllongus)||a crab spider||a spider||12/03/2015||Rose Stephens|
|Ozyptila sp.||a spider||a spider||12/03/2015||Rose Stephens|
|Euophrys frontalis||a jumping spider||a spider||10/03/2015||Rose Stephens/Paul Ferris|
|Rhyzobius litura||a ladybird||a beetle||10/03/2015||Rose Stephens/Paul Ferris|
|Dromius linearis||a ground beetle||a beetle||10/03/2015||Rose Stephens/Paul Ferris|
|Nabis rugosus||Common Damsel Bug||a bug||10/03/2015||Rose Stephens/Paul Ferris|
|Mocydiopsis attenuata||a hemipteran bug||a bug||10/03/2015||Rose Stephens/Paul Ferris|
|Drymus sylvaticus||a groundhoppe||a bug||10/03/2015||Rose Stephens/Paul Ferris|
|Asiraca clavicornis||a planthopper||a bug||10/03/2015||Rose Stephens/Paul Ferris|
|Acleris ferrugana / notana||a micro moth||a micro moth||05/03/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Asellus aquaticus||Water Slater||a crustacean||27/02/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Tomocerus sp.||a springtail||a springtail||27/02/2015||Rose Stephens|
|Entomobrya sp. (multifasciata?)||a springtail||a springtail||27/02/2015||Rose Stephens|
|Ceratopognidae (family)||a biting midge||a biting midge||24/02/2015||Rose Stephens|
|Tomocerus minor||a springtail||a springtail||17/02/2015||Rose Stephens|
|Blaniulus guttulatus||Spotted Snake-millipede||a millipede||10/02/2015||Rose Stephens|
|Gelis sp.||a parasitic wasp||a parasitic wasp||31/01/2015||Rose Stephens|
|Collembola (family)||a springtail||a springtail||29/01/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Psychodidae (family)||an owl midge||a fly||27/01/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Psychodidae (family)||an owl midge||a fly||27/01/2015||Paul Ferris|
|Swammerdamia pyrella||Little Ermel||a micro moth||06/08/2013*||Paul Ferris|
|Dichrorampha petiverella||Common Drill||a micro moth||19/07/2011*||Paul Ferris|
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