More flower-slashing at Perch Pond

Having not been into Wanstead Park for some while - due to other commitments - my pleasure at re-visiting the place was short-lived ( as is so often the case these days) when I saw that yet again the wild flower display at the east end of Perch Pond had been cut.

wp perch pond 120913 40161artRazed to the ground - the ex-wildflowers at Perch Pond!I mentioned back in early June (see here) that the water-side and emergent flowers along the whole length of this bank provides probably one of the best displays of colour in the whole Park, and undoubtedly one of the better sites for insects such as dragonflies and damselflies that breed and live here. Indeed, making use of the few remaining perching places left after the slashing machine had done its job, a single Hawker dragonfly and  - a bit surprising for this time of year - a Banded Demoiselle damselfly were still present.

I was horrified in June to find that the vegetation had been cut then, and mentioned that this usually happens in August. Well, it has happened in August (or possibly early September). Why - just as it was recovering - has it needed to be cut again? I haven't heard a good reason. Is this really necessary? Is this just a case of ignoring the beauty and importance of such a habitat in favour of just keeping it tidy?

The same thing has happened along the southern arm of the Ornamental waters, with emergent vegetation having been slashed as well as bankside ones. There were a few newly emerged dragonflies around there, but if we keep destroying their habitat, maybe there won't be in the future.

Paul Ferris, 13 September 2012

Invertebrates in August

In the garden on 1st August - disturbed while grass-cutting - a Swallow-tailed Moth
 
The Capel Road moth trap on 1st/2nd August produced more than 25 species, and over 50 specimens including three species new to the area:
 
1 Crassa unitella 642
1 Blastobasis adustella 873
1 Pandemis corylana Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix 969
2 Pandemis cerasna Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix 970 (new species for the area) (pic)
1 Cydia splendana 1260 (new species for the area) (pic)
7 Cydia pomonella Codling Moth 1261
2 Chrysoteuchia culmella 1293
2 Eudonia mercurella  1344
2 Eurrhypara hortulata Small Magpie 1376
3 Pleuroptya ruralis  Mother of Pearl 1405
1 Hypsogia costalis Gold Triangle 1413
2 Endotricha flammealis 1424

4 Least Carpet 1699
4 Riband Wave 1713
1 Common Carpet 1738
1 Yellow Shell 1742
1 Early Thorn 1917
1 Buff Ermine 2061(2nd record for the area)
1 Ruby Tiger 2064
1 Heart and Dart 2089
1 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
1 Lesser Yellow Underwing 2109
2 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2111
5 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
3 Dark Arches 2321
1 possible Cloaked Minor 2341
1 Dusky Sallow 2352 (new species for the area) (pic.)
4 Uncertain 2381
1 Rustic 2382
1 Snout 2477

On 2nd August, two Speckled Wood butterflies were observed flying around each other. This species - which I find to be perhaps the most familiar of butterflies in my garden during the summer - has been somewhat missing from sightings for about a month now. Also so far missing has been the Purple Hairstreaks that tend to fly around the tops of the Oak trees by Capel Road, and later feed on the Pear tree in the next-door garden. I have seen one, but that at Childerditch.

Lakehouse trap, 2/3 August:

1 Epiphyas postvittana, Light Brown Apple Moth 998
1 Cydia pomonella, Codling Moth 1261
1 Chrysoteuchia culmella, Garden Grass Veneer 1293
1 Crambus pascuella 1294
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424

1 Single-dotted Wave 1708
2 Riband Wave 1713
1 Common Carpet 1738
2 Common Footman 2050
1 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2111
1 Least Yellow Underwing 2112
1 Dot Moth 2155
1 Bright-line Brown-eye 2160
1 The Clay 2193
1 Common Wainscot 2199
1 Knot Grass 2289
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
1 Marbled Beauty 2293
2 Dark Arches 2321

1 Ear moth sp. (based on distribution, probably Ear Moth Amphipoea oculea 2360)

 

Capel Road moth trap on 3/4 August

1 Cydia pomonella  Codling Moth 1261
1 Chrysoteuchia culmella 1293
1 Agriphila straminella 1304 (new species for the area) (pic)
2 Eudonia mercurella 1344
Phlyctaenia coronata 1378
2 Pleuroptya ruralis  Mother of Pearl 1405
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424

3 Least Carpet 1699
2 Riband Wave 1713
1 Garden Carpet 1728
1 Common Carpet 1738
1 Lime-speck Pug 1825
1 Brimstone Moth 1906
1 Common Footman 2050
1 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2111
2 Bright-line Brown-eye 2192
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
1 Marbled Beauty 2293
1 Common Rustic 2343
2 possibly Lesser Common Rustic 2343. This slightly uncertain identification is the fourth/fifth records of this species, the previous being on 26/07/2005; 06/08/2005; 17/07/2006.
1 Rustic 2382


Lakehouse trap, 4/5 August:

1 Epiphyas postvittana, Light Brown Apple Moth 998
1 Alucia hexadactyla Twenty-plume Moth  1288
2 Endotricha flammealis 1424

1 Riband Wave 1713
1 Lime-speck Pug 1825
4 Common Footman 2050
2 Buff Ermine 2061
1 Dot Moth 2155
1 Dark Arches 2321

 

Capel Road moth trap 5/6th August:

2 Crassa unitella 642
3 Blastobasis adustella 873
1 Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth 998
1 Cydia pomonella  Codling Moth 1261
1 Chrysoteuchia culmella 1293
1 Crambus perlella 1302
1 Phlyctaenia coronata 1378
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424
1 Aphomia sociella  Bee Moth 1428

1 Dwarf Cream Wave 1705
1 Shuttle-shaped Dart 2092
1 Flame Shoulder 2102
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
1 Lesser Common Rustic 2343a
2 Rustic 2382
 
 
On 8th August a visit to Leyton Flats and into Gilbert's Slade on a very warm day provided an opportunity to see how some invertebrates were faring after such a poor summer, and other than from the moth traps! On the approach to the pond, a large dark green dragonfly perched motionless on a grass stem. From its rather transparent wing-colour it looked to be a young female specimen of an Emperor. The smaller of the two Hollow Ponds was busy with small red dragonflies: approaching the pond, one or two Common Darters were basking in their usual situations on gravelly tracks, while by the pond and over the water were numbers of Ruddy Darters - which are generally less common on Wanstead Flats and in the Park. These were busy patrolling as individuals and in some cases depositing eggs into the water as a flying pair. There were some damselflies about too, of course, including the Blue-tailed Damselfly.
 
In the low vegetation away from the pond large web-sheets were noticeable, and a funnel-weaver  or funnel-web - spider Agelena labyrinthica was seen to emerge at a wondrous speed when an insect touched its web. It retreated just as quickly when it failed to catch it.
 
 
Capel Road moth trap on 8/9th August:
 
1 Hofmannophila pseudospretella Brown House Moth 647
1 Blastobasis adustella 873
2 Cydia splendana 1260
2 Acentria ephemerella Water Veneer 1331
2 Phlyctaenia coronata 1378
2 Pleuroptya ruralis 1405
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424
 
1 Least Carpet 1699
1 Riband Wave 1713
1 Black Arches 2033 (new species for the area) (pic.)
1 Jersey Tiger 2067 (new species for the area) (pic.)
1 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2110
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
1 Straw Underwing 2303
 
 
Lakehouse moth trap on 8/9th August:

Micros: 14 moths of 11 species:

3 Epiphyas postvittana (Light Brown Apple Moth) 998
2 Cydia pomonella (Codling Moth) 1261
1 Crambus pascuella 1294
1 Agriphila tristella 1305
1 Eudonia mercurella 1344
1 Paraponyx stratiotata (Ringed China-mark) 1348 (new species for the area)
1 Evergestis extimalis 1357 (new species for the area)
1 Pleuroptya ruralis (Mother of Pearl) 1405
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424
Plus 1 probable Roeslerstammia erxlebella 447; and 1 as yet unidentified Tortrix sp.

Macros: 23 moths of 14 species

2 Least Carpet 1699
2 Riband Wave 1713
1 Yellow Shell 1742
2 Brimstone Moth 1906
1 Dingy Footman 2044
1 Scarce Footman 2047
4 Common Footman 2050
1 Jersey Tiger 2067
1 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
3 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2111
2 Marbled Beauty 2293
1 Copper Underwing 2297
1 Dark Arches 2321
1 Dusky Sallow 2353

 

Capel Road moth trap 9/10th August produced a number of micros which I am not certain about the species:

1 Epiphyas postvittana Light-brown Apple Moth 998
1 possibly Epinotia subocellana 1132
1 Cydia pomonella Codling Moth 1261
1 possibly Crambus perlella 1302
1 possibly Agriphila straminella 1304
1 possibly Agriphila inquinatella 1306
1 Catoptria falsella 1316

1 Oak Hook-tip 1646
1 Maiden's Blush 1680
2 Least Carpet 1699
1 Riband Wave 1713
2 Double-striped Pug 1862
1 Jersey Tiger 2067 (this was probably the same individual as yesterday, and was not in the trap but sitting exposed on a leaf in the garden)
1 Flame Shoulder 2102
1 Least Yellow Underwing 2112 (new species for the area) (pic.)
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
2 Marbled Beauty 2293
1 Ear Moth 2360 (this species is very similar to other species of ear moth, but based on its distribution is almost ceratinly Amphipoea oculea)

Tim Harris reported the first Purple Hairstreaks of the area in the late afternoon of 10th August: about four flying around the tops of an oak tree in Bush Wood. Purple Hairstreaks were also seen in their usual spot flying around the Oak trees opposite my house in Capel Road on 13th August.

 

Lakehouse moth trap, 10/11th August - 32 moths of 20 species:

1 Yponomeuta evonymella  Bird-cherry Ermine 424
2 Crassa unitella 642
1 Endrosis sarcitrella White-shouldered House Moth 648
2 Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth 998
3 Cydia pomonella Codling Moth 1261
1 Alucita hexadactyla Twenty-plume Moth 1288
1 Crambus pascuella 1294
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424

1 Least Carpet 1699
5 Riband Wave 1713
1 Swallow-tailed Moth 1922
1 Scarce Footman 2047
1 Ruby Tiger 2064
1 Jersey Tiger 2067
4 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2111
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
2 Marbled Beauty 2293
1 Copper Underwing 2297
1 Pale Mottled Willow 2389

 

Capel Road moth trap on 12/13th August: 93 specimens of 37 species including two new ones for the area - a European Corn-borer Ostrinia nubilalis and a Tawny Speckled Pug. Also of note were the eighteen specimens of Tree-lichen Beauty, many of which were not inside the trap but part-camouflaged against the garden bench on which the trap was sitting.

2 Lyonetia clerkella Apple Leaf Miner 263
6 Cameraria ohridella Horse-chestnut Leaf Miner 366a
1 Anthophila fabriciana Nettle-tap 385
2 Blastobasis adustella 873
2 Pandemis corylana Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix 969
1 Epiphyas postvittana Light-brown Apple Moth 998
3 Cydia pomonella Codling Moth 1261
1 Agriphila inquinatella 1306
1 Cataclysta lemnata Small China-mark 1354
1 Pyrausta aurata 1361
1 Ostrinia nubilalis European Corn-borer 1375 (a new species for the area) (pic.)
3 Phlyctaenia coronata "Blue-spot Magpie" 1378
4 Pleuroptya ruralis Mother of Pearl 1405
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424

1 Oak Hook-tip Watsonalla binaria 1646
1 Mullein Wave Scopula marginepunctata 1689
1 Single-dotted Wave Idaea dimidiata 1708
10 Riband Wave Idaea aversata 1713
1 Common Carpet Eppirhoe alternata alternata 1738
3 Lime-speck Pug Eupithecia centaureata 1825
1 Tawny Speckled Pug Eupithecia icterata 1838 (a new species for the area) (pic.)
2 Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata 1906
2 Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria 1937
1 Turnip Moth Agrotis segetum 2087
2 Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta puta 2092
1 Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba 2107
5 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua janthe 2111
1 White-point Mythimna albipuncta 2194
1 Grey Dagger Acronicta psi 2284
18 Tree-lichen Beauty Cryphia algae 2292
2 Marbled Beauty Cryphia domestica 2293
1 Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha 2321
1 Cloaked Minor Mesologia furuncula 2341
Common Rustic Mesapamea secalis 2343
1 Ear Moth Amphipoea oculea 2360
3 Pale Mottled Willow Paradrina clavipalpis 2389
1 Nut-tree Tussock Colocasia coryli 2425

 

Lakehouse moth trap on 12/13th August: 39 moths of 17 species. Interesting that Shuttle-shaped Dart are back again ... and Pale Mottled Willow!

1 Crassa unitella (642)
2 Endrosis sarcitrella White-shouldered House Moth (648)
4 Cydia pomonella Codling Moth (1261)
1 Catoptria falsella (1316)
1 Pyrausta aurata (1361)
1 Emmelina monodactyla Common Plume (1524)

10 Riband Wave (1713)
2 Lime-speck Pug (1825)
1 Scarce Footman (2047)
3 Jersey Tiger (2067)
2 Shuttle-shaped Dart (2092)
2 Large Yellow Underwing (2107)
1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (2111)
1 Tree-lichen Beauty (2292)
4 Marbled Beauty (2293)
1 Double-lobed (2336)
2 Pale Mottled Willow (2389)

 

Capel Road moth trap, 14/15th August (using the 6w. actinic trap close to the house):

1 Ypsolopha scabrella  455 (a new species for the area) (pic)
1 Hofmannophila pseudospretella 647
1 Epiphyas postvittana 998
1 Spilonata sp. 1205 (a new species for the area)
1 Cydia splendana 1260
1 Cydia pomonella 1261
1 Acentria ephemerella 1331
1 Anania (Phlyctaenia) coronata 1378
1 Pleuroptya ruralis 1405
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424
1 Amblyptilia acanthadactyla 1497
1 Emmelina monodactyla 1524

1 Single-dotted Wave 1708
2 Riband Wave 1713
1 Scarce Footman 2047
3 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
2 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2112
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
1 Marbled Beauty 2293
1 Copper Underwing 2297
1 Old Lady 2300
1 Ear Moth 2360

 

Lakehouse motrh trap on 14/15 August: 21 species, 32 individuals:

1 Batia unitella 642
1 Endrosis sarcitrella White-shouldered House Moth 648
2 Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth 998
1 Acleris holmiana 1037
2 Cydia pomonella Codling Moth 1261
2 Catoptria falsella 1316
2 Parapoynx stratiotata  Ringed China-mark (females) 1348
3 Anania coronata 1378
2 Pleuroptya ruralis  Mother of Pearl 1408
1 Emmelina monodactyla  Common Plume 1524

2 Riband Wave 1713
1 Dark Spinach (flew before I could photograph) 1749
1 Willow Beauty  1937
1 Ruby Tiger  2064
3 Jersey Tiger  2067
1 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2110
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
1 Setaceous Hebrew Character  2126
1 Square-spot Rustic  2134
2 Dot Moth  2155
1 Copper Underwing 2297

 

Capel Road moth trap on 15/16th August

1 Bucculatrix thoracella 273
2 Cameraria ohridella 366a
1 Agriphila tristella 1305
5 Anania (Phlyctaenia) coronata 1378
1 Emmelina monodactyla 1524

1 Riband Wave 1713
1 Double-striped Pug 1862
1 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
2 Lesser Yellow Underwing 2109
3 Marbled Beauty 2293
1 Straw Underwing 2303
2 Common Rustic 2243
1 Flounced Rustic 2353
1 Ear Moth 2360
1 Uncertain 2381

Capel Road moth trap on 16/17 August - 40w trap - - a busy trap with 121 specimens of 32 species:

1 Acleris forskaleana 272
3 Hofmannophila pseudospretella 647
1 Blastobasis adustella 873
3 Pandemis corylana 969
2 Cydia pomonella 1261
2 Agriphila tristella 1305
1 Catoptria pinella 1313
2 Pyrausta aurata 1361
2 Anania (Phlyctaenia) coronata 1378
8 Pleuroptya ruralis 1405
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424
1 Emmelina monodactyla 1524

1 Common Swift 17
2 Maiden's Blush 1680
1 Single-dotted Wave 1708
24 Riband Wave 1713
2 Common Carpet 1738
3 Lime-speck Pug 1825
1 Willow Beauty 1937
1 Light Emerald 1961
1 Jersey Tiger 2067
2 Flame Shoulder 2102
8 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
12 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2111
1 Setaceous Hebrew Character 2126
1 Knot Grass 2289
21 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
5 Marbled Beauty 2293
3 Copper Underwing 2297
3 Straw Underwing 2303
1 Common Rustic 2343
1 Rustic 2382

 

Lakehouse moth trap 16/17th August - 23 species, 39 individuals:

1 Pandemis cerasana Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix  970
1 Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth 998
1 Cydia pomonella Codling Moth 1261
2 Crambus pascuella  1294
1 Catoptria falsella  1316
2 Pyrausta purpuralis 1362
1 Anania coronata 1378
1 Pleuroptya ruralis Mother of Pearl 1408
2 Endotricha flammealis 1424
2 Aphomia sociella Bee Moth  1428
1 Dioryctria abietella 1454

1 Least Carpet  1699
3 Riband Wave  1713
2 Willow Beauty  1937
1 Ruby Tiger  2064
1 Jersey Tiger  2067
2 Large Yellow Underwing  2107
2 Antler Moth  2176
1 Grey Dagger 2284
5 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
4 Marbled Beauty 2293
1 Knot Grass  2289
1 Pale Mottled Willow 2389

 

A walk organised by the Wren Group took place on Sunday 19th, looking at a variety of wildlife themes including birds, plants and insects.

Amongst the latter, butterflies were not very plentiful, with perhaps Gatekeeper and Speckled Wood being the most commonly seen. There were also some Meadow Browns, Small Heath, a few Whites, a Small Copper and a Holly Blue. One larval case of a Six-spot Burnet moth was found, plus the larval case of a BagwormPsyche casta. The cases of the latter can often be found attached to vegetation, but also to smooth walls and woodwork. They consist of blades of dry grass which the caterpillar constructs so that it can hide whilst feeding, but is also used to protect the pupa whilst hatching. In addition to these two moth species, hundreds of the tiny Horse-chestnut Leaf Miner moths Cameraria ohridella - which cause the damage to Horse-chestnut trees - were observed on a tree trunk.

The dragonflies and damselflies over and around Heronry Pond elicited a lot of interest, as Emperor dragonflies were patrolling and egg-laying as well as slightly smaller species which may have been either Southern or Migrant Hawkers. More positive, Brown Hawkers were much in evidence, as well as some Common Darters, and there was a Black-tailed Skimmer by the Shoulder of Mutton Pond. One Banded Demoiselle flew past by the Heronry Pond, which seemed a bit late in the season for this species, and other damselfly species included numbers of both Red-eyed and Small Red-eyed damselflies, and Common Blue and Azure.

We also found a couple of species of spider, one of which was Enoplognatha ovata, and observed some hoverflies including the larger species Myathropa florea and Volucella inanis. A nice example of Roesel's Bush-cricket was observed by some of the group.

Following from the Wren Group walk I joined a day-course from the Field Study Centre (FSC). The participants were busy “sweeping” the Plain with nets for invertebrates. Amongst their haul were Speckled and Oak Bush-crickets, Meadow and Field Grasshoppers, a Stripe-winged Grasshopper, a Bishop's Mitre bug and the spider Xysticus cristatus..

 

for invertebrates in June, click here

for invertebrates in July, click here
 

Bigfoot Beech loses its head

Beech Tree, Wanstead ParkThe beech tree: minus its head and its limbs!One of Wanstead Park's most distinctive and fine trees has lost its head to the axe.

The large Beech tree, which lies near the golf course fence on the main trackway between the Shoulder of Mutton and Heronry Ponds, was distinctive for its partly-exposed root system, which gave it the appearance of some creature with multiple feet.

Now, in common with numereous other trees in the Park and on Wanstead Flats, it has had most of its limbs and its top lopped off - presumably in the interests of public safety. fungus Ganoderma adspersum wp 120819 30871artBeech Bracket Fungus on the treeThe cut limbs, lying in a heap to the side of the tree, show some with considerable fungal damage, and from the track-side the main trunk looked quite sound. However on the side nearest the golf course a lot of wood-rot damage could be seen, and some quite spectacular growths of the beech bracket fungus.

Such a shame that such a magnificent tree had to be treated in this way, rather than coming to its own slow end.

Paul Ferris, July 2012

 

Marsh Frog at Hollow Ponds

On July 4th 2012, I visited the Hollow Ponds on Leyton Flats with fellow-naturalist Kathy Hartnett. As we approached the smaller of the two ponds, we heard a load, raspy, croaking sound coming from the pond, which soon stopped.

Our first impression was that it had been a frog, although not the European Common FrogRana temporaria, our common frog. This sounded like a Marsh Frog - one of a number of difficult-to-identify introduced frog species that have become naturalised in Britain. Marsh Frogs were originally introduced near Romney Marsh from Hungary in the 1930s and have become well established in Kent and the south-east of England since then. The nearest that I know of to the Wanstead area are at Rainham Marsh, and I have heard of no reports from this area.

Marsh Frog lf 120704 20551artA Marsh Frog at Hollow Ponds, LeytonstoneKathy was positive that the sound was of a frog - she'd heard them relatively recently elsewhere. I was less than convinced, as I know how easy it is to mis-identify something based on just a brief sighting - or sounding in this instance. We walked around the pond, and heard the sound intermittently but always from the same general area.

Persistence paid off. In scanning the area from which the croaking sound was coming with binoculars, I could see the algae pulsating with the sound. Moments later Kathy homed in on it and could see the light-green frog - almost the same colour as the algae. We could even see its cheeks bulging as it inflated them up ready to emit that loud sound.

We only heard and saw one. It would be interesting to know how it got there, if there are others, or if others will join it. If they do, the area will soon be resounding to evening sounds from a more-southern Europe!

Paul Ferris, 5th July 2012

Council tidy-up destroys local wild-flowers

Following my visits to the Green Man roundabout flower-show (see here), I'd walked along Whipps Cross Road towards the Hollow Ponds, and enjoyed a similar experience just by walking along the new shared-use track which lies parallel to the road. Cyclists passed and a few walkers - noticing my interest and camera - even stopped and said how wonderful and colourful it looked.

Whipps Cross Road 120704 20459artColour by Whipps Cross RoadThe new track is separated from Whipps Cross Road (extremely busy Whipps Cross Road, with buses, lorries,cars and ambulances in abundance) by a metre-wide strip of soil - just as colourful in flower as the strip and embankment the other side of the track which separates it from Leyton Flats. Along both sides were the yellow of crucifers, whites of daisies, purple of vetch, red of poppies... With all that - and growing up to about a metre high - the roadside verge served as a nice barrier between the wheels and fumes of vehicles and the pleasures of pedestrians and cyclists.

gmr 120704 20427artLocal naturalist Kathy Hartnett showing a family from Rhode Island some of the wildflowersThen, a couple of days after my visit, the following message was circulated to members of the Epping Forest Outdoor Group:

"With the insertion of a cycle path alongside the road between Green Man and Whipps Cross Lea Bridge roundabouts a narrow strip of rough soil was exposed and brilliant colourful wild flowers flourished. It was a real delight.

But… while still in bright flower the whole lot is being tidied, mown, municipalised, controlled and made dull. There was no threat from predatory people being able to hide in bushes... the flowers were not tall or thick enough for anyone to lurk without being seen by passing traffic.

Do the people that sanctioned this have souls? Now the council will have a mowing cost - these same council who claim to be short of money. Only a few poppies and daisies remain around trees now, and they will be soon strimmed away. Then tidy bored children can sit and look at the tidy boring grass and plan their next riot... as life is deadly dull and colourless.

Whipps Cross Road 120704 20467artJust before the final road-side verge was cut...Somebody will have targeted the contract, but these things can be re-negotiated and bad practices can change; the flowers could have been cut at appropriate times in a planned way for nature conservation management.

Why not go in the reverse direction and mow less grass at Lea Bridge Road central reservation and roundabout? Let's see a delight of managed wild flowers."

When I read that I was horrified - the pleasure that I'd had in the flowers, those that I'd told about it and taken to see - all gone!

Whipps Cross Road 120704 20479artAbove the mower the banners read: "your borough...we want your views"I went to Whipps Cross Road on 4th July. Underneath banners suggesting that it was "your borough" and that "we want your views" the mowers were out completing the job of destroying that lovely verge on behalf of Waltham Forest Council. I spoke to one of the contractors, and got a feeling even from him that what was happening was wrong: "It's for the Olympics, though". Of course it is - everything must look tidy for the thousands of visitors we're going to have to entertain. They won't want to see colour and beauty - at least not by roadsides. They'll want it tidy. Won't they? At a Cabinet Meeting of the L.B.W.F. on 20th July 2010 one provision was "Increased visitor economy by the provision of an attractive walking and cycling route to the Olympic Park."

An alternative view of why the council decided to mow the verges was put forward by another person, though. Apparently some cyclists have been complaining about the vegetation encroaching onto their track. It was: I walked along the very edge before it was mowed down - but it wasn't leg-hindering thick-stuff, brambles or the like - it was just soft vegetation. Perhaps it gets tangled in the bicycle wheels? If that's the case - of course it has to go. Don't go cycling in the country.

Waltham Forest's Biodiversity Action Plan states: "Our vision for Waltham Forest is of a diverse natural landscape with the countryside and open spaces integrated into the urban environment... It is a place where the richness of the biodiversity in the Borough is protected, conserved and enhanced..."

In fact, the damage wasn't quite as bad as I'd feared. It was only the metre-or-so verge either side of the shared-use path that had gone - the embankment remains, so there is still colour and a place where butterflies and bees can feed. But with the wheels of the vehicles that much more obvious, the place didn't feel the same as it had a few days earlier. It certainly didn't look the same.

You might like to comment on the "improvements " along Whipps Cross Road; this may be an approprate email address:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Paul Ferris, 5th July 2012