News of wildlife and other issues

Ringlets in Wanstead Park – and in Aldersbrook Exchange Lands

Last year (2013) the first Ringlet butterfly to be recorded in the area was spotted by Kathy Hartnett and myself just to the east of the Shoulder of Mutton Pond in Wanstead Park. (see article here)

Ringlet wp 140711 JC cThe second recorded Ringlet. This one was in Wanstead Park on 11th July 2014 (photo by Jennifer Charter)This year, on July 9th, Jennifer Charter was walking her dog when she saw what she thought may have been a Ringlet in exactly the same location, on the same patch of Rosebay Willowherb. She told me of this, but said that she couldn't be positive about the identification.

Today, though (11th July), again while walking Grace, a butterfly unexpectedly flew past her in dullish weather, landed on a small oak and waited while she photographed it. It was most certainly a Ringlet, and a little further east than the other sightings, but it seems that they are in that area.

Another local wildlife-enthusiast – Rose Stephens – saw what she thought may have been a Ringlet on Wanstead Flats yesterday (10th). It seems she posted the information on Facebook, but I don't use that, so received the information second-hand. I looked at her photograph, but am not convinced it is other than the much more likely Meadow Brown. It would have been lovely if it were a Ringlet, but the butterfly is not typically found in open areas such as grassland or heathland, preferring damp and sheltered places.

This damp and sheltered habitat is more in line with where it was seen in Wanstead Park last year and this, and on 13th July during a Wren Group walk in the Aldersbrook Exchange Lands (the Old Sewage Works site) Mark Thomas, spotted a Ringlet amongst vegetation near the pylon towards the cemetery end. Then Kathy Hartnett found another on the lower path beside the Roding.

It was great news that we have Ringlets in the Park, and it seems that they are present further afield in our area too. This brings the total number of butterfly species in our area to 28.

Paul Ferris, 11th July 2014

Additions to species list in 2014

for 2015 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. Original date of find in brackets.

Species Common Name Type of Organism Date of find or entry* Found by:
Andricus testaceipes Barnacle Gall a gall 17/12/2014 Paul Ferris/Rose Stephens
Physa sp. a bladder snail Mollusc 15/12/2014 (19/06/2010) Paul Ferris
Ophyiulus pilosus Black Millipede Millipede 15/12/2014 (24/03/2014) Paul Ferris
Glomeris marginata Pill Millipede Millipede 14/12/2014 (24/03/2014) Paul Ferris
Oniscus asellus Common Shiny Woodlouse Crustacean 14/12/2014 (24/03/2014) Paul Ferris
Chrysopa perla? a green lacewing Lacewing 13/12/2014 (14/05/2014) Rose Stephens
unknown species a thrip Thrip 13/12/2014 (23/07/2013) Paul Ferris
unknown species a scale insect Bug 13/12/2014 (05/05/2001) Paul Ferris
unknown species a mealybug Bug 13/12/2014 (04/06/2011) Paul Ferris
unknown species a mayfly Mayfly 13/12/2014 (27/08/2005) Paul Ferris
Blaps mucronata Cellar Beetle Beetle 11/12/2014 (17/08/2014) Rose Stephens
Dusona sp. an ichneumon wasp Wasp 11/12/2014 (13/05/2014) Rose Stephens
Monomorius pharaonis Pharaoh Ant ? Ant 11/12/2014 (29/11/2014) Roger Snook
Labulla thoracica a spider Spider 01/12/2014 Rose Stephens
Trichocera sp.  a winter gnat Fly 01/12/2014 Rose Stephens
Orchesella cincta a springtail Collembola 29/11/2014 Rose Stephens
Pseudeuophrys lanigera a jumping spider Spider 29/11/2014 Rose Stephens
Culiseta annulata a mosquito Fly 29/11/2014 Rose Stephens
Lepthyphantes minutus a sheet-web spider Spider 28/11/2014 Paul Ferris
Corizus hyoscyamiyami a bug Bug 28/11/2014 Rose Stephens
Niptus hololeucus Golden Spider Beetle Beetle 28/11/2014 Rose Stephens
Sitona regensteinensis a weevil Beetle 16/11/2014 Rose Stephens
Udea ferrugalis Rusty-dot Pearl Micro Moth 15/11/2014 Tim Harris
Macrolophus rubi a mirid bug Bug 14/11/2014 Rose Stephens
Haplophilus subterraneus a centipede Centipede 13/11/2014 Rose Stephens
Strophosoma melanogrammum Nut Leaf Weevil Beetle 13/11/2014 Rose Stephens
Kleidocerys resedae Birch Catkin Bug Bug 10/11/2014 Rose Stephens
Mutilla europaea Large Velvet Ant Wasp 30/10/2014 (13/09/2008) Paul Ferris
Anyphaena accentuata Buzzing Spider Spider 30/10/2014 Paul Ferris
Gibbium sp. a spider beetle Beetle 30/10/2014 (05/10/2013) Paul Ferris
Adonia variegata Adonis Ladybird Beetle 28?/10/2014 Rose Stephens
Orchesella villosa a springtail Collembola 25/10/2014 Rose Stephens
Ophion obscura an ichneumon Fly 25/10/2015 Rose Stephens
Griposia aprilina Merveille du Jour Moth 25/10/2014 Tim Harris
Palloptera (Toxoneura) muliebris Womanly Bow-wing Fly 25/10.2014 Rose Stephens
Dicranopalpus ramosus a harvestman Harvestman 24/10/2014 Rose Stephens
Odiellus spinosus a harvestman Harvestman 23/10/2014 Rose Stephens
Dicyrtomina sp. ? a springtail Collembola 20/10/2014 Paul Ferris
Valenzuela flavidus a barklouse Arthropod 14/10/2014 Rose Stephens
Family Psychodidae an owl midge Fly 10/10/2014 Paul Ferris
Paroligolophus agrestis ? a harvestman Harvestman 08/10/2014 Paul Ferris
Oonops pulcher a spider Spider 07/10/2014 Rose Stephens/Paul Ferris
Nephrotoma quadrifaria a crane-fly Fly 07/10/2014 Paul Ferris
Tipula (confusa) a crane-fly Fly 05/10/2014 Paul Ferris
Hesperocorixa sahlbergi a water boatman Bug 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Sigara dorsalis a water boatman Bug 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Sigara falleni a water boatman Bug 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Ilyocoris cimicoides Saucer Bug Bug 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Notonecta glauca Greater Water Boatman Bug 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Plea minutissima a water bug Bug 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Aquarius najas a pond skater Bug 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Hygrobia hermanni Screech Beetle Beetle 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Laccophilus minutus a diving beetle Beetle 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Hyphydrus ovatus a diving beetle Beetle 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Hydroporos planus a diving beetle Beetle 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Acilius sulcatus a diving beetle Beetle 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Anacaena globulus a water beetle Beetle 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Pisidium sp. Pea Shell Cockle Mollusc 05/10/2014 bio-blitz
Eupteryx (melissae) Sage Leafhopper Bug 03/10/2014 Rose Stephens
Alebra albostriella a leafhopper Bug 30/09/2014 Rose Stephens
Aporophyla lutulentata Deep-brown Dart Moth 28/09/2014 Tim Harris
Pterostichus madidus a ground beetle Beetle 23/09/2014 Rose Stephens
Mythimna l-album L-album Wainscot Moth 18/09/2014 Tim Harris
Agrotis trux ssp. trux Crescent Dart Moth 12/09/2014 Tim Harris
Psylliodes sp. a leaf beetle Beetle 11/09/2014 Rose Stephens
Rhyparochromus vulgaris a bug Bug 04/09/2014 (03/04/2008) Rose Stephens/Paul Ferris
Phycita roborella Dotted Oak Knot-horn Micro Moth 22/08/2014 Tim Harris
Apotomis betuletana Birch Marble Micro Moth 13/08/2014 Tim Harris
Ennomos erosaria September Thorn Moth 26/07/2014 Tim Harris
Dichrorampha petiverella Common Drill Micro Moth 23/07/2014 Tim Harris
Grapholita orobama Crescent Piercer Micro Moth 16/07/2014 Tim Harris/Kathy Hartnett
Rhyacionia pinicolana Orange-spotted Shoot Micro Moth 13/07/2014 Tim Harris
Idaea biselata Small Fan-footed Wave Moth 11/07/2014 Tim Harris
Diarsia rubi Small Square-spot Moth 11/06/2014 Tim Harris
Plemyria rubiginata Blue-bordered Carpet Moth 13/06/2014 Tim Harris
Herminia tarsipennalis Fan-foot Moth 31/05/2014 Tim Harris
Synanthedon myopaeformis Red-belted Clearwing Moth 31/05/2014 Rose Stephens
Donacia simplex ? a leaf beetle Beetle 20/05/2014 Paul Ferris
Apamea sordens Rustic Shoulder-knot Moth 19/05/2014 Tim Harris
Charanyca trigrammica Treble Lines Moth 19/05/2014 Tim Harris
Argyresthia trifasciata Triple-barred Argent Micro Moth 19/05/2014 Paul Ferris
Eupithecia absinthiata Wormwood Pug Moth 19/05/2014 Tim Harris
Cionus sp. (poss. scrophulariae) a weevil Beetle 18/05/2014 Paul Ferris
Agnopterix ocellana Red-letter Flat-body Micro Moth 18/05/2014 Tim Harris
Emmetia marginea Bordered Carl Micro Moth 17/05/2014 Paul Ferris
Phyllonorycter harrisella White Oak Midget Micro Moth 17/05/2014 Paul Ferris
Panemeria tenebrata Small Yellow-underwing Moth 12/05/2014 Paul Ferris
Incurvaria masculella Early Purple Micro Moth 25/04/2014 Paul Ferris
Saturnia pavonia Emperor Moth 24/04/2014 Paul Ferris
Polyploca ridens Frosted Green Moth 13/04/2014 Tim Harris
Ecliptopera silaceata Small Phoenix Moth 04/04/2014 Paul Ferris
Limax flavus Yellow Slug Mollusc 20/03/2014 Paul Ferris
Enteridium lycoperdon a slime mould Slime Mould 17/03/2014 Paul Ferris
Conistra ligula Dark Chestnut Moth 15/03/2014 Tim Harris
Deroceras reticulatum Grey Garden Slug Mollusc 14/03/2014 Paul Ferris
Agnopterix heracliana Common Flat-body Micro Moth 12/03/2014 Paul Ferris
Lehmannia valentiana Three-band Garden Slug Mollusc 09/03/2013 Paul Ferris
Metatricha filiformis a slime mould Slime Mould 06/03/2014 Roger Snook/Paul Ferris



Annual destruction of wild flowers in Wanstead Park

Once again, the emerging wildfowers by the east end of Perch Pond have been strimmed to ground level. In mid-May, just as some were flowering and some were ready to come into flower. Just as the damselflies that use them as perches were hatching a few feet away. Just as people visiting Wanstead Park because they think it is a nice place could have walked past and thought how pretty it looked.

wp perch pond 140520 70709artNo home for wildlife; no colour for peopleThis is the annual strim – or one of them. It is because of the Reservoirs Act: “No herbal vegetation that would do serious harm to the dam that retains the waters of the Perch Pond may be allowed to come into flower. Any such delicate vegetation must be cut down just as it is flowering or - alternatively or as well – it is seeding”.

Is that what the Act states? Or is that the interpretation of the Conservators of Epping Forest in their wisdom and within their remit to “preserve the natural aspect” of the Forest? Wanstead Park is not – of course – a “natural” part of the Forest. It is a man-made and managed environment and the management of the Park relating to the wildflowers at the east end of the Perch Pond means that each year we loose the full beauty of them, and the wildlife looses an important part of its habitat.

wp pp flowers 080707 60699artVegetation, sanctuary and a bit of colourI have been going on about this for years. Why is it not possible to do this strimming, which I believe is required so that woody shrubs and trees don't grow up so that their roots undermine the embankment, at a different time? For example, what about earlier in the year before the flowering has begun, say early March, and/or later in the year after the flowers and seeds are over, say late September?

It is possibly to do with manpower. The Epping Forest arm of the City of London Corporation, the Conservators of Epping Forest, has much more to manage than just Wanstead Park; and on the whole they do a good job of it. It's just that in this little part that I know and particularly care about, it has not been found possible, even after pointing out the problem to the Ecology People and to discussing on-site the issue with the Head of Operations for Epping Forest earlier this year (see here), provisions can't be made to adjust things slightly.

Show me to the nearest brick wall.

Paul Ferris, 21st May, 2014

Daffodils on Lincoln Island

The daffodils are in flower on Lincoln Island. There are numerous clumps of daffodils scattered around Wanstead Park, but few in any profusion. Many of those that are to be found may have arrived either by deliberate introduction to brighten things up, maybe as an unofficialy introduced commemoration, by throw-outs from nearby gardens or by some other chance.

Wren Group Practical Work 02120  0003artDecember 2001 - Wren Group member Les Rice rows Gill James and Jim Brown to Lincoln IslandOnly on Lincoln Island at the north end of the Ornamental Waters are there any to be seen in number. It was years ago when I first became interested in wildlflowers that I first was aware of them. I used the Wren Group's dingy to go over there to have a closer look, and at the time - and perhaps in my early enthusiasm and lack of experience - reported that amongs the variety of what may be called "garden" types, there were one or two "wild" daffodils Narcissus pseudonarcissus. I think now that may have been a mistake. Even so, I suggested to the group that perhaps we ought to try to preserve whatever was there.

Since then I have been over to the island a number of times, although only a few times when the plants are in flower. Most of the time there has been no sign of them, for it is once a year in the winter that the Wren Group have been making expeditions to the island on one of their Winter practical work sessions. The idea of this has been to keep the site clear of bramble, saplings and fallen tree-litter, so that the daffs have a chance to be seen and possibly even to spread.

Daffodils wp 140324 01804artThe daffodils on 24th March 2014This must have been successful, although I wonder how much they have actually spread. They have certainly multiplied, but I feel that perhaps we ought to do a post-flowering session, dig some of the clumps up, divide them and replant them - thus spreading them as one might in a garden. They are not wild; they have evidently been planted at some time - but who knows when?

I like to think that they may be relics of an old planting when the house was still on the high ground where the golf-course stiil is. They are probably not that old; probably an expert on daffodil varieties might be able to offer some clues based on when the varieties were created or fashionable. Whatever the case, they do make a colourful display and must give pleasure to some as they walk around the Ornamental Waters. I suspect that few would think of the effort spent by a gallant few, rowing and being rowed across there every year, in winter, in a grand variety of weathers!

Paul Ferris, 26th March 2014



Uncovering the Alders Brook

The winter rain in 2014 has beaten all records, so it is not surprising that we have seen the Shoulder of Mutton Pond and Heronry Pond in Wanstead Park as full as we have seen them for many years. The Perch Pond has been overflowing – as it should – through the Dell and into the Ornamental Water. It is only the latter that is still not as high as it should be.

We know all too well that there is a significant problem with the water supplies into and out of our chain of lakes, which start with the Basin on Wanstead Golf Course. Part of the reasons why the Shoulder of Mutton and Heronry Ponds are both so full are that their outflows are blocked – the Shoulder of Mutton should be providing excess water to Heronry Pond and that to the Perch Pond. Simple maintenance!

wf alex 140305 01288artWater from Alexandra Lake flows across the pavement to be lost down a drainAnd on Wanstead Flats, Alexandra Lake has been flowing across the pavement into Aldersbrook Road, and the water gushing down a surface drain to go who knows where. Where it should go, I am sure, is through the lake's outflow, which is a concrete structure at the NE corner of the lake, almost opposite the large house on Aldersbrook Road which is the cemetery Superintendent's house.

Alan Cornish in his investigation into the reasons why Heronry Pond is so often so lacking in water1 suggests that there is a drain from the Alexandra Lake which should transfer water to the Park's lake system, but if ever this were the case it doesn't make sense to me. If you go into the cemetery through the main gate and turn left, you will in a few yards notice a depression in contours of the landscape, which derives from near the gardens of the Superintendent's house and can be seen to fall away and become more pronounced towards the New Crematorium buildings and the Catacombs beyond. This is a natural valley, the obvious course of drainage from the near part of Wanstead Flats, in the vicinity of Alexandra Lake. Indeed, when what is now the City of London Cemetery was the the grounds of Aldersbrook Manor – once the property of the Lethieulliers – the area in front of the Catacombs, or Columbarium, was once known as Aldersbrook Pond and later the Great Lake2. Man-made lakes are typically formed by means of damming watercourses; the watercourse in this case is the Alders Brook. Beyond the east end of the lake, there is an area of land long used as a tip for waste material from the cemetery. This is known as the Shoot.

Beyond the Shoot is an area of “wild” land, part of which incorporates the cemetery's Nature Reserve, The Birches. It is only within The Birches that the Alders Brook nowadays becomes visible, as a small pond surrounded by trees which itself was artificially created as a wildlife resource. The outflow from the pond can be seen in the form of a culvert which runs under the cemetery's east boundary fence, under the Bridle Path near the Bridle Path Allotments where it can be seen as the Alders Brook proper.

col 140221 01103artA bank of Snowdrops in the wildernessThe inflow to the small pond in the cemetery can also be seen: this is a culvert which tracks back underneath the Shoot area, and thus from the direction of the shallow valley through the cemetery which derives from near Wanstead Flats.


On a visit to the cemetery on 21st February I'd seen that all but one of the Poplar trees that had lined Poplar Road, at the north edge of the Shoot, had been felled. I was told that the intention was to make some use of the Shoot area for burials, as space within the cemetery is now so limited. The felling of trees around the area had provided me with something of an access to what is usually not part of the public part of the grounds, and indeed – to an area which possibly hadn't been accessed for decades! It is incredible that such a wild area can exist in such formal and urban surroundings. I found myself in an area, adjacent to The Birches, which was a hidden world of valleys, undergrowth, fallen trees and a bank of snowdrops. apart from birds, foxes were the only other sign of animal life, loping off as I approached, then standing to look at me over their shoulders before disappearing.

col 140227 01219artTemporarily covered - the exposed culvert containing the Alders BrookOn a return visit on 27th February I ventured into The Shoot area proper, a desolate landscape of tipped vegetation, broken machinery and muddy turned-up ground. It is higher than the general ground level of the cemetery, so the views from the top are different from elsewhere. A large area had been dug out, once a strange mix of smoking, compost-like tippings, complete with the sound of House crickets, beautiful area of Gorse and other wild plants – and a haven, of sorts, for such creatures as Foxes. The crickets have long-gone, and much of the gorse, but on this day there was a temporary fence to stop one falling over a cliff! Below, was the dug-out area that will presumably be part of the new burial grounds. More or less in the centre of this churned up earth was what appeared to be a hole, temporarily covered up. I carefully made my way down to what I suspected to be the exposed top of the culvert that carried water through to the pond in the nature reserve area nearby. Sure enough, I could hear the sound of water below the covering board. Not much, which did not surprise me; as I've already noted, the overflow from Alexandra Lake has been all-but blocked for a long time. I just about remember when the brook ran open from just about here, and even a Kingfisher had been noted at one time. The culvert had been extended at some time to allow more use of the Shoot.

wf alex 140305 01287artThe outflow from Alexandra Lake should be visible in the centre of the picture...I spoke later to the Superintendent of the Cemetery, and he confirmed that the watercourse had been unintentionally exposed. He told me too that the water did indeed derive – in theory anyway – from Alexandra Lake, supplemented by surface water from the cemetery. Chatting to one or two people associated with the Conservators of Epping Forest, I was told that it would probably be the responsibility of the Environment Agency to ensure that the outlet for overflow water from Alexandra Lake be kept clear.



1. CORNISH, A. M.Sc. 2006. Wanstead Park - A Chronicle. Originally published by the Friends of Wanstead Parklands in 1982 and updated and republished by Wanstead Parklands Community Project.

2. DAVID LAMBERT 2006. The Cemetery in a Garden - 150 Years of the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium. City of London Publication.

See also:

Discovering the Alders Brook

The Birches Nature Reserve - The History and Location of the Site