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)
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
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.
This 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.
I 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.
Only 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.
This 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!
And 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.
The 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.
On 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.
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.
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