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

Invertebrates in July

Capel Moth trap 1/2 July

1 Dipleurina lacustrata (1338)
1 Amblyptilia acanthadactyla (1497)

1 Common Emerald (1669)
Scalloped Oak (1920)
1 Willow Beauty (1937)
3 Heart and Dart (2089)
1 Dun-bar (2318)

1 Orange Ladybird Halyzia 16-guttata

Capel Road moth trap on 3/4 July included:

1 Batia lunaris  - New Tawny Tubic (640) (pic)
1 Hofmannophila pseudospretella - Brown House Moth (647)
1 Oecogonia sp. (871)

 

A visit to the Leyton Flats area on 4th July produced the following invertebrates:

Silver Y Moth
Black-tailed Skimmer
Broad-bodied Chaser
Banded Demoiselle
various Blue Damselflies
Brown Hawker ?
Southern Hawker or Emperor?
Essex or Small Skippers
Large White and other "white" butterflies
possible Comma butterfly
 
 
Capel moth trap overnight on 4/5th July:
 
1 Cochylis atricapitana (966) (if correct this would be a new species for the area)
2 Pyrausta aurata (1361)
Aphomia sociella Bee Moth (1428)
1 possibly Ephista unicolorella ssp. woodiella (1474) (if correct this would be a new species for the area)
 
1 Least Carpet (1699)
1 Dwarf Cream Wave (1705)
1 Lime-speck Pug (1825)
1 Scalloped Oak (1920)

1 Willow Beauty (1937)
1 Common Footman (2050)
1 Heart and Club (2088)
3 Heart and Dart (2089)
1 Clay (2193)
1 Bird's Wing (2301)
1 Pale Mottled Willow (2389)
1 Snout (2477)
 

Lakehouse catch for 4/5 July: 39 moths of 17 species.

Underlined species names = new for the trap for this year.

5 Hofmannophila pseudospretella - Brown House Moth (647)
1 Endrosis sarcitrella - White-shouldered House Moth (648)
7 Epiphyas postvittana - Light Brown Apple Moth (998)
1 Lozotaeniodes formosana (1001)
1 Chrysoteuchia culmella (1293)
2 Crambus pascuella (1294)
Aphomia sociella - Bee Moth (1428)

1 Dwarf Cream Wave (1705)
2 Garden Carpet (1728)
2 Foxglove Pug (1817)
1 Brimstone Moth (1906)
2 Willow Beauty (1937)
1 Mottled Beauty (1941)
2 Common Footman (2050)
5 Heart and Dart (2089)
1 Dingy Shears (2314)
1 Dark Arches (2321)
2 Pale Mottled Willow (2389)


Lakehouse catch for 8/9 July: 13 moths of 9 species

1 Least Carpet (1699)
1 Small Fan-footed Wave (1702)
2 Garden Carpet (1728)
1 Scalloped Oak (1921)
2 Willow Beauty (1937)
1 Common Footman (2050)
1 Short Cloaked Moth (2077)
2 Heart and Dart (2089)
2 Large Yellow Underwing (2107)

Poor weather deterred from the moth traps being put out at either Lakehouse or Capel Road for many nights. However, out and about, grasshoppers were beginning to really make their presence felt, with seemingly hundreds jumping around in the grass by the edge of the City of London Cemetery fence and wall. As well, there were numbers of Small Heath, Meadow Brown and Skipper butterflies, making at least the 12th July feel summery in a very un-summery seeming summer. Other butterflies seen on that day were a few Red Admirals and some Large Whites. Two moths were encountered: just two caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae)on Ragwort by the City of London Cemetery and a Burnet Companion moth (Euclidia glyphica)in the luxurient meadows of Webster's Land in Little Ilford.

The moth trap was put out at Lakehouse on 15/16th, and the catch was as follows:

1 Hofmannophila pseudospretella - Brown House Moth (647)
1 Epiphyas postvittana - Light Brown Apple Moth (female) (998)
1 Cydia pomonella - Codling Moth (1261)
2 Crambus pascuella (1294)
1 Eudonia  (Dipleurina) lacustrata (1338)
1 Aphomia sociella - Bee Moth (male) (1428)
1 Emmelina monodactyla - Common Plume (1524)

1 Garden Carpet (1728)
1 Foxglove Pug (1817)
1 Scalloped Oak (1921)
1 Common Footman (2050)
1 Large Yellow Underwing (2107)
1 Dark Arches (2321)

On 17th, the first Summer Chafers (Amphimallon solstitialis) (pic) - sometimes known as Solstice Bugs, though they are beetles and this year it is way beyond the Solstice - were seen flying around the Oak tree-tops in Capel Road. This is an annual event in the evenings, when the beetles emerge, fly around the oak-tops looking for a mate and disconcertingly fly at you if you try to walk across the Flats. Thye are quite big and noisy. The EOL Encyclopedia of Life website states that the "Plant / resting place / swarming adult of Amphimallon solstitialis may be found on live canopy of Ulmus" (Elm). It also mentions Poplar and Lime - but here it is Oak.

On 17/18th at Capel Road:

1 Cydia pomonella - Codling Moth (1261)
1 Chrysoteuchia culmella (1293)
1 Eudonia mercurella (1344) (pic)
1 Eurrhypara hortulata - Small Magpie  (1376)
1 possibly Ephestia  sp. (1473)
1 Amblyptilia acanthadactyla (1497) ?

2 Dwarf Cream Wave (1705)
1 Single-dotted Wave (1708)
2 Willow Beauty (1937)
1 Marbled Beauty (2293)
1 Bird's Wing (2301)
1 Cloaked Minor (2341)
4 Common Rustic (2343)
1 Uncertain (2381)
 
and at Lakehouse:

1 Hofmannophila pseudospretella - Brown House Moth (647)
5 Chrysoteuchia culmella (1293)
6 Eudonia mercurella (1344)
1 Pyrausta aurata (1361)

2 Riband Wave (1713)
1 Common Carpet (1738)
1 Lime-speck Pug  (1825)
1 worn and unidentified pug
1 Scalloped Oak (1921)
1 Common Footman (2050)
3 Heart and Dart (2089)
1 Large Yellow Underwing (2107)
1 Dun-bar (2318)
1 Dark Arches (2321)
1 Common Rustic agg. (2343)
1 Uncertain (2381)
1 Pale Mottled Willow (2389)

 
There was wind and light showers on Wanstead Flats around mid-day on 18th, but still Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Essex and Small Skippers and the first noted  Large Skipper were occasionally flying (pic). On just a few Common Ragwort plants, the black and yellow larvae of Cinnabar Moths (pic) were seen, but I would have expected a lot more to be evident by now.
 
Capel Road moth trap on 19/20th July:
 
1 Eudonia mercurella (1344)
1 Pleuroptya ruralis  Mother of Pearl (1405)

1 Early Thorn (1917)
1 Large Yellow Underwing (2107)
1 Marbled Beauty (2293)
 
 
Capel Road moth trap 21/22 July:
 
1 possibly Chrysoteuchia culmella (1293)
1 Eudonia mercurella (1344)
1 possibly Ephestia parasitella (1474)

1 Least Carpet (1699)
1 Dwarf Cream Wave (1705)
1 Single-dotted Wave (1708)
1 Riband Wave (1713)
1 Yellow Shell (1742)
1 Lime-speck Pug (1825)
1 Common Rustic (2343)
1 Nut-tree Tussock (2425)
 
Lakehouse moth trap 21/22 July:

1 Notocelia uddmanniana  - Bramble-shoot Moth (1174)
2 Cydia pomonella - Codling Moth (1261)
2 Crambus pascuella  (1294)
1 Eudonia mercurella  (1344)

1 Least Carpet
1 Dwarf Cream Wave
1 Common Carpet
1 Scalloped Oak
1 Peppered Moth Biston beltularia (1931)
2 Dingy Footman Eilema griseola (2154)
1 Common Footman
1 Heart and Dart
1 Large Yellow Underwing
3 Dark Arches
1 Pale Mottled Willow

Butterflies listed on 21st and 22nd :

Essex Skipper: seemed to be the more common of the two species that were out in very large numbers (100s) on Spear Thistle, Ragwort, Yarrow etc near Centre Road, east of Alexandra Lake, on the Plain and in the Old Sewage Works.
Small Skipper: plentiful, though not - I think - as plentiful as the above.
Small Heath: a few only on Flats (21/7) and on the Plain (22/7).
Small Copper: 10 counted on eastern Plain on 21/7 and others on western Plain on 22/7.
Meadow Brown: large numbers on all the grassland areas visitited (near Centre Road, near Alexandra Lake, on the Plain and in the Old Sewage Works).
Gatekeeper: aboubt 10 seen on the Plain and in the Old Sewage Works, 22/7; all seemed very fresh.
Specked Wood: just 1 seen on 21/7, near the entrance to the CoL Cemetery fence.
Red Admiral: 2 seen (1 by Jubilee Pond; 1 in OLW), 21/7; about 12 seen on 22/7.
Large White: 1 in City of London Cemetery, 21/7.
small white sp.: several individuals seen on 21/7 and 22/7 but not approachable.

Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies) listed on 21st and 22nd :

Banded Demoiselle: 1 on Shoulder of Mutton; at least 10 by Roding.
Common Blue Damselfly/Azure: many of these species; both present but most not assigned to species.
Blue-tailed Damselfly: a few around east end of Perch, 21/7 and 22/7.
Red-eyed Damsefly: seen on Jubilee (21/7), Perch, Heronry and Ornamentals (22/7).
Black-tailed Skimmer: 2 on Jubilee (21/7), with others around Heronry and Ornamentals (22/7).
Brown Hawker: at least 10 seen on 22/7, with individuals around Shoulder, Heronry, Perch, Ornamentals and over Old Sewage Works.
Southern Hawker: at least 6 seen on 22/7, with individuals around Heronry and Ornamentals.
Common Darter: 1 at south end of Jubilee, 21/7.

 Capel Road moth trap 23/24 July:

2 Hofmannophila pseudospretella - Brown House Moth 647
1 Cydia pomonella - Codling Moth 1261
1 Catoptria falsella 1316
1 Dipleurina  (Eudonia) lacustra 1338
1 Eudonia mercurella 1344
1 Eurrhypara hortulata - Small Magpie 1376
2 Pleuroptyla ruralis - Mother of Pearl 1405
2 Orthopygia glaucinalis  1415
1 Emellina monodactyla 1454

2 Oak Hook-tip 1646
5 Least Carpet 1699
2 Single-dotted Wave 1708
3 Riband Wave 1713
1 Lime-speck Pug 1825
1 Common Footman 2050
1 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
2 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2110
1 Common Rustic agg. (2343)
1 Uncertain 2381

Lakehouse moth trap 23/24 July:

Hofmannophila pseudospretella - Brown House Moth 647
1 Tachystola acroxantha 656 (probable?)
3 Epiphyas postvittana - Light Brown Apple Moth 998
1 Tortrix viridana - Green Oak Tortrix 1033
1 Pammene aurita 1233
Cydia pomonella - Codling Moth 1261
5 Chrysoteuchia culmella 1293
5 Eudonia mercurella 1344
2 Endotricha flammealis 1424
Aphomia sociella  Bee Moth 1428
 
2 Oak Hook-tip 1646
1 Least Carpet 1699
1 Riband Wave 1713
1 Garden Carpet 1728
2 Swallow-tailed Moth 1922
1 Dingy Footman 2044
2 Common Footman 2050
1 Buff Ermine 2061
2 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
1 Dun-bar 2318
1 Dark Arches 2321
2 Uncertain 2381
1 Pale Mottled Willow 2389

 
Flying across the Angle Pond on Wanstead Flats on 25th were a couple of Southern Hawker dragonflies; this species is present by some of the lakes in Wanstead Park at the moment as well. In the grass by the pond was the grass moth Chrysoteuchia culmella.
 

Capel Road moth trap on 25/26 July:

1 Lyonetia clerkella - Apple Leaf Miner  263
1 Crassa unitella 642
3 Hofmannophila pseudospretella - Brown House Moth 647
1 Chrysoclista lathamella 902
1 Epiblema foenella 1183
1 Cydia pomonella - Codling Moth 1261
1 Chrysoteucha culmella 1293
1 Eudonia mercurella 1344
1 Phlyctaenia coronata - "Blue-spot Magpie"  1378
3 Endotricha flammealis 1424

5 Least Carpet 1699
1 Dwarf Cream Wave 1705
2 Riband Wave 1713
1 Common Marbled Carpet 1764
1 Willow Beauty 1937
1 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
1 Marbled Beauty 2293
1 Dun Bar 2318
1 Tawny Marbled Minor 2339
1 Nut-tree Tussock 2425


and a bumper-night at the Lakehouse trap on 25/26 July:

1 Roeslerstammia erxlebella  447
Hofmannophila pseudospretella - Brown House Moth 647
Endrosis sarcitrella - White-shouldered House Moth 648
Epiphyas postvittana - Light Brown Apple Moth 998
1 possible Zeiraphera isertana 1165
Cydia pomonella - Codling Moth 1261
 
3+ Chrysoteuchia culmella - Garden Grass Veneer 1293
1 Crambus pascuella 1294
5 Eudonia mercurella 1344
1 Hypsopygia costalis - Gold Triangle 1413
1 Phycita roborella 1452 (a new species for the area)
1Emmelina monodactyla - Common Plume 1524
 
1 Oak Hook-tip 1646
5 Least Carpet 1699
2 Treble Brown Spot 1711
6 Riband Wave 1713
2 Garden Carpet 1728
2 Lime Speck Pug 1825
2 Common Pug 1834
1 Peppered Moth 1931
1 Willow Beauty 1937
3 Dingy Footman 2044
3 Common Footman 2050
2 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
1 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2110
1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2111
1 Knot Grass 2289
1 Marbled Beauty 2293
2 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
2 Old Lady 2300
1 Dark Arches 2321
1 Light Arches 2322
1 Double-lobed 2336 (a new species for the area)
2 Uncertain 2381

 
Lakehouse trap on 27/28 July. What was most striking was the big reduction in the number of micros cf. the night of 25/26...

1 Yponomeuta evonymella Bird-cherry Ermine 424
2 Epiphyas postvittana - Light Brown Apple Moth 0998
3 Cydia pomonella - Codling Moth 1261
1 Endotricha flammealis  1424

1 Oak Hook-tip 1646
5 Least Carpet 1696
2 Single-dotted Wave 1708
4 Riband Wave 1713
4 Garden Carpet 1728
1 pug sp.
1 Peppered Moth 1931
2 Common Footman 2050
2 Large Yellow Underwing 2107
1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2111
1 Cabbage Moth 2154
1 Clay 2193
1 Knot Grass 2289
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
1 Marbled Beauty 2293
1 Dun-bar 2318
1 Dark Arches 2321
1 LIght Arches 2322
1 Double-lobed 2336
1 Uncertain 2381
1 Nut-tree Tussock 2425
 
 
Capel Road trap on 28/29 July; this was a slightly cooler night than of late, and the moon was bright - perhaps reasons for a less productive catch than of late.
 
1 Tinea trinotella 247
Hofmannophila pseudospretella  Brown House Moth 647
1 Crambus perlella 1302 (a new species for the area) (pic)
1 Pleuroptyla ruralis  Mother of Pearl 1405
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424
 
2 Dwarf Cream Wave 1705
3 Riband Wave 1713
1 Common Footman 2050
1 Marbled Beauty 2293
1 Mottled Rustic 2387
1 Silver Y 2441

 
The Capel Road trap on 29/31 July didn't produce many specimens, but there were two new species records for the area amongst them:
 
Coleophora  sp. 568 (a new species for the area)
1 Cydia pomonella - Codling Moth 1261
1 Lyonetia clerkella 1263
1 Crambus perlella 1302 (a new species for the area)
1 Endotricha flammealis 1424
 
2 Riband Wave 1713
2 Common Carpet 1738
1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2111
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
 
 
The catch at Lakehouse on 31st July/1st August:
The combination of it being a cool night and the full moon possibly meant that the catch last night was relatively small (26 moths of 14 species), as follows:
 
3 Endrosis sarcitrella - White-shouldered House Moth 648
2 Epiphyas postvittana - Light Brown Apple Moth 998
1 Cydia pomonella - Codling Moth 1261
1 Eudonia mercurella 1344
3 Endotricha flammealis 1424
1 Aphomia sociella  Bee Moth 1428
 
1 Least Carpet 1699
5 Riband Wave 1713
1 Common Carpet 1738
3 Common Footman 2050
1 Buff Ermine 2061 (new species for the area)
1 Ruby Tiger 2064
2 Dot Moth 2155
1 Tree-lichen Beauty 2292
 
For June click here
For August click here
 

Where has all the wildlife gone? - or why might it be going?

I gave up a couple of years ago writing letters and speaking to people in the Conservators' department of the City of London. I got a headache. I've never been much of an activist, just quietly suggesting that things might be done differently, better - or shouldn't have been done at all. You get a headache if you shout; you get a headache if you whisper. It's all to do with banging your head against a brick wall, I suppose.

Luckily, along came websites, and the ability to publish thoughts that one or two people might pick up on (at least in the case of Wanstead Wildlife - which doesn't try to sell things, just acts as a record-base and a facility for people to see what's living and happening around them). From the the website I was able to occasionally mention a few things that disturbed me (that's me, not necessarily others, who - it seems - tend to see things differently, or not at all).

What am I waffling on about? Sometimes I wonder, but this time I shall cover a number of aspects, all of which are having their impact right now on our wildlife and the ecology of the area.

wf tree lopping 120316 0447artThe trees where the owls were...(and the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers)Where has all the dead wood gone? The City of London Corporation, in its wisdom and fear of litigation, has embarked on a policy of lopping off the branches and or tops of any trees on Wanstead Flats, the Park and hereabouts which it perceives might fall on somebody's head. Now anybody who watches television programmes, reads wildlife magazines or perhaps has been to school knows that dead wood - standing as well as laying about looking messy - is an extremely important habitat for a host of wildlife, from the fungi that may have caused the death in the first place to the insects that live in and on it, to the birds that feed on the insects and nest in the holes and the people that may just like to know that there are such things about to share our world.  A couple of years ago on Wanstead Flats, dog-walkers were the most likely people to be able to tell enthusiastic visiting birders where the Little Owls families were. The birders probably noticed the breeding Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, and the bat enthusiasts were probably wondering which of the trees may have held the bats roosts that the make Wanstead Flats such a great bat-watching experience. Much the same goes for Wanstead Park: I haven't seen the Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers that so many casual strollers became aware of, and indeed once was pointed out to me by the courting couple at the base of the tree from which it was calling. If only that couple had known that the tree could have fallen on them at any time! They'd have done better to have used the long grass - but then there is less of that than there used to be; it's now more convenient to cut it for the events and picnic-ers.

At least when dead wood or cut branches lies about in Chalet Wood, it can be put to use; By mid-June - as the bluebell stems were finally dying back - there were SIX wigwam structures in the wood (plus a few others in rather more obscure or overgrown areas of the Park). What fun! Let's drag logs across the bluebells, trample a bare patch for yards round the trees, and then go away having done something worthwhile!

Down by the east end of the Perch Pond, the slashing machines had already been out cutting down the wildlflowers that probably provide the most colourful and varied floral display in the whole of the Park. This is usually done at the end of August - whilst it is still glorious - and I've moaned about that. It'll probably grow up again by then, so will need to be done again, but in the meantime all the dragonflies damselflies, moths, beetles, spiders, bugs and bees will have to find somewhere else to hang out. Of course, this is all necessary. It comes under the Reservoir Act - so we are told - so cutting flowers down in June and August is an absolute priority. Where have all the insects gone?

sw gravel  120601 10373artand the corner where the Cranesbill was...Where have all the flowers gone? Leaving the missing Perch Pond ones behind, I went to take a picture of the Shining Cranesbill in the Exchange Lands (yes - that's Aldersbrook Exchange Lands, which used to be a sewage works.) I don't go over there so much now, because there are now two Cycleways through there. That's Cycleways in the same sense as Motorways, by the way. The second of these - the North-South Roding Valley Way link has just been created and surfaced. I haven't yet met anyone who have said how great it is - but a few have mentioned their surprise at how wide it is. Well, can't say I didn't warn you. Anyway, it's done; cyclists, horse-riders, pram pushers and walkers (even on crutches) can all use it in perfect harmony. The disturbed edges will all grow up again, and it will merge in to the surroundings eventually. It might never resemble a green-ride in the countryside again, but - ho-hum. The Shining Cranesbill was gone. It wasn't anything to do with the new Cycleway; it had been carefully un-disturbed when the East-West one was laid, but the same top-layer material that had been used on the new surface had been also used to lay a surface on tracks in a totally different part of the Exchange Lands, nearer to the Riding-School. Was this part of the plan? I don't know, but I suspect there was some material left over and it was put to good use. Luckily, there is still some Shining Cranesbill elsewhere, the remains of the Biting Stonecrop that hadn't been covered over was wonderfully yellow-ly in flower and I suspect that it too will just merge into the landscape and anything that used to live there before will be forgotten.

giant hogweed wp 120606 10490artGiant Hogweed plants near the Dell BridgeWalking back into the Park after not seeing the Cranesbill, I did see two potentially magnificent plants of Giant Hogweed, quite near the Dell Bridge. Now this has been increasing nearer to the Roding in the Exchange Lands, and steps have been taken to deal with it. It is a monster. Finding it in the Park is disturbing. I have reported it to the local head-keeper; I hope that these will be dealt with effectively, and soon. We have a few other invasive plants around that require action, including Floating Pennywort in some of the ponds. Around Alexandra Lake in particular is New-Zealand Pigmy-weed. How we will get rid of this I don't know, but perhaps more importantly by this lake is the amount of vegetation - including trees - that is increasingly obscuring views of the lake.

I'm actually getting fed-up writing this; there doesn't seem much point and trying to think more positively, there must be a lot of more positive things going on. Definitely there are now a lot more people out there interested in our wildlife. There are birders keeping records and also moaning about the tree-lopping, and a new nature-club for children (see here). The Conservators are organising loads of walks, exhibitions and events in and around the Park. The fact that they are getting a lot better at advertising and if anything even worse at listening and communicating is probably representative of life.

Just going to bang my head again...

Paul Ferris, 7th June 2012