News of wildlife and other issues

Microscopic organisms

introductory picThese include a variety of organisms observed under the microscope, and which do not necessarily fit into any of the groups separately dealt with on the website. In many - if not most - instances I do not have the expertise to offer a confident identification. In fact, I may be way off!

I have listed them (below) in scientific order as far as I have been able. Each is referred to by its scientific name - but rarely down to Genus and Species. I have included a common name, either by which it may be more commonly known (e.g. 'a rotifer') if it has one, or at least something to which it may be referred.

The photographs have been labeled with the date photographed, and the location. All of the photographs were taken by myself. Click on the name in the first column (Species or Order) for a photograph, or CLICK HERE for the first in the series of photographs. There may also be pop-up notes available. (click on 'Notes' at the bottom left corner)

I haven't yet included thumbnails for photos, just a sequence of larger-scaled images.


Microscopic Organisms

Species or Order
Common Name Type of Organism (inc. Class)
Location and Date of find
Amoeba sp. Amoeba Amoebozoa Capel Road garden, 10/12/2015
Centropyxis (aculeata) Testate Amoeba Amoebozoa Harpenden Road garden, 01/01/2018
Chaos sp. Amoeba Amoebozoa Capel Road garden, 10/01/2018
Difflugia sp. Testate Amoeba Amoebozoa Capel Road garden, 11/01/2018
Actinophrys sp.
Sun Animicule Heliozoa Harpenden Road Pond, 09/04/2018
Heliozoa (Order) Sun Animicule Heliozoa Capel Road garden, 03/12/2015
Amphileptus sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Ciliophora Capel Road garden, 09/04/2018
Colpoda sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Colpodea Capel Road garden, 19/11/2015
Paramecium sp. Unicellular Ciliate Oligohymenophorea Capel Road garden, 02/12/2015
Colpidium sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Oligohymenophorea Capel Road garden, 02/12/2015
Vorticella sp. Stalked Ciliate Oligohymenophorea Capel Road garden, 27/11/2015
Vorticella sp. Stalked Ciliate Oligohymenophorea Capel Road garden, 12/01/2018
Carchesium sp. Colonial Ciliate Oligohymenophorea Capel Road garden, 15/11/2015
Urocentrum (turbo) Free-swimming Ciliate Oligohymenophorea Perch Pond 27/01/2018
Stentor sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Heterotrichea Capel Road garden, 09/04/2018
Stylonychia sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Hypotrichea Capel Road garden, 17/11/2015
Euplotes sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Spirotrichea Capel Road garden, 10/12/2015
Strombidium sp. Unicellular Ciliate Oligotrichea Capel Road garden, 02/12/2015
Gastrotricha (Phyllum) Hairyback Gastrotricha (Phyllum) Capel Road garden pond, 13/01/2018
Chaetonotus sp. ? Hairyback Gastrotricha (Phyllum) Capel Road garden pond, 18/01/2018
Nematode (Phyllum) Nematode Nematoda (Phyllum) Capel Road garden, 27/11/2015
Rotifer (Brachionus ?) Rotifer Rotifera (Phyllum) Capel Road garden, 28/11/2015
Brachionus sp. Rotifer Rotifera (Phyllum) Capel Road garden, 29/11/2015
Habrotrocha sp. Rotifer Rotifera (Phyllum) Capel Road garden, 08/11/2015
Keratella sp. Rotifer Rotifera (Phyllum) Capel Road garden, 23/03/2018
Ploima (Order) Rotifer Rotifera (Phyllum)
Capel Road garden, 01/12/2015
Macrobiotus sp. Tardigrade (Water Bear) Tardigrada (Phyllum) Capel Road garden, 18/12/2017
For other groups of microscopic organisms, particularly algae, use the listing below or the more extensive one to the left.

Additions to species list (2018)

for 2014 additions, click HERE

for 2015 additions, click HERE

for 2016 additions, click HERE

for 2017 additions, click HERE

This is a list of species newly entered (or shortly to be entered) onto the website. Clicking on the species name should take you to a photograph if one is available.

* 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, or even a simple omission! The original find-date is is indicated within brackets.

All examples found by myself unless otherwise indicated. Please note that these identifications are tentative, and have not been verified.

Species Common Name Type of Organism Date of find or entry* Found by:
Centropyxis sp. (possibly C. aculeata) Testate Amoeba Protozoan 01/01/2018  
Closterium sp. Desmid Alga 01/01/2018  
Cosmarium sp. Desmid Alga 01/01/2018  
Desmidium sp. Desmid Alga 01/01/2018  
Cymatopleura sp. Diatom Alga 01/01/2018  
Cymbella sp. Diatom Alga 01/01/2018  
Euglena sp. Euglena Flagellate Alga 01/01/2018  
Navicula sp. Diatom Alga 01/01/2018  
Pediastrum sp. Green Algae Alga 01/01/2018  
Trachelomonas sp. Euglena Flagellate Alga 01/01/2018  
Scenedesmus sp. Green Algae Alga 01/01/2018  
Scenedesmus sp. Green Algae Alga 01/01/2018  
Spirogyra sp. Green Algae Alga 01/01/2018  
Staurastrum (natator) Desmid Alga 01/01/2018  
Staurastrum sp. Desmid Alga 01/01/2018  
Ulothrix sp. Green Algae Alga 01/01/2018  
Ulotrichales (Order) Green Algae Alga 01/01/2018  
Uroglena sp. Colonial Algae Alga 01/01/2018  
Cyclops Water Flea Crustacean 06/01/2018  
Cyclops (Nauplius) Water Flea larva (Nauplius) Crustacean 06/01/2018  
Achnanthes sp. Diatom Alga 08/01/2018  
Achnanthes sp. Diatom Alga 08/01/2018  
Diatom Diatom Alga 08/01/2018  
Diatom Diatom Alga 08/01/2018  
Navicula sp. Diatom Alga 08/01/2018  
Phacus sp. Euglena Flagellate Alga 08/01/2018  
Chaos sp. Amoeba Protozoan 10/01/2018  
Difflugia sp. Testate Amoeba Protozoan 11/01/2018  
Vorticella sp. Ciliate Protozoan 12/01/2018  
Gastrotricha (Phylum) Hairyback Gastrotriche 13/01/2018  
Cladophora sp. Green Algae Alga 22/01/2018 (09/10/2015)  
Volvox sp. Globe Algae Alga 22/01/2018 (17/12/2017)  
Cylindrocapsa sp. Green Algae Alga 22/01/2018 (18/12/2017)  
Gymnodinium sp. ? Flagellate Alga 22/01/2018 (27/12/2017)  
Diatom Diatom Alga 23/01/2018 (01/12/2015)  
Nitzschia sp. Diatom Alga 23/01/2018 (29/11/2015)  
Peridinium sp. Flagellate Alga 23/01/2018 (19/11/2015)  
Cladocera (Order) Water Flea Crustacean 24/01/2018 (12/11/2015)  
Nematode Nematode Roundworm 24/01/2018 (27/11/2015)  
Heliozoa (Order) Sun-Animicule Protozoan 24/01/2018 (03/12/2015)  
Carchesium sp. Colonial Ciliate Protozoan 25/01/2018 (15/11/2015)  
Colpidium sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Protozoan 25/01/2018 (02/12/2015)  
Colpoda sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Protozoan 25/01/2018 (19/11/2015)  
Paramecium sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Protozoan 25/01/2018 (02/12/2015)  
Strombidium sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Protozoan 25/01/2018 (02/12/2015)  
Stylonychia sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Protozoan 25/01/2018 (17/11/2015)  
Vorticella sp. Ciliate Protozoan 26/01/2018 (27/11/2015)  
Ostracod (Class) Seed Shrimp Crustacean 27/01/2018 (08/04/2016)  
Brachionus sp. Rotifer Protozoan 27/01/2018 (08/11/2015)  
Habrotrocha sp. Rotifer Protozoan 27/01/2018 (01/12/2015)  
Ploima (Order) Rotifer Protozoan 27/01/2018 (18/12/2017)  
Artemia salina Brine Shrimp Crustacean 27/01/2018  
Keratella sp. Rotifer Protozoan 18/03/2018  
Euglena sp. Euglena Flagellate Alga 29/03/2018  
Amoeba sp. Amoeba Protozoan 31/03/2018 (10/12/2015)  
Chaetonotus sp. ? Hairyback Gastrotriche 18/01/2018  
Cyprid Crustacean larva Crustacean 09/04/2018  
Coelastrum sp. Colonial alga Alga 09/04/2018  
Stentor (coeruleus) Free-swimming Ciliate Protozoan 09/04/2018  
Actinophrys sp.
Sun-animicule Protozoan 09/04/2018  
Euplotes sp.
Free-swimming Ciliate Protozoan 09/04/2018  
Urocentrum (turbo) Free-swimming Ciliate Protozoan 15/04/2018 (27/01/2018)  
Chydorus sphaericus Crustacean Crustacean 15/04/2018  
Cosmarium sp. Desmid Alga 16/04/2018 (13/01/2018)  
Eudorina sp. Colonial alga Alga 18/04/2018  
Gonium sp. Colonial alga Alga 18/04/2018  
Spirostomum sp. Free-swimming Ciliate Protozoan 20/04/2018 (23/03/2018)  



Stuart Monro

On 7th September, Stuart Monro, filmmaker and founder of the campaign for Wanstead Park, died at his home in Wanstead. His funeral was held at the City of London Crematorium in Manor Park on 22nd September 2017, and was attended by more than 160 people.

After the funeral many of those who had come to pay their repects made their way to Wanstead Park, a place that Stuart loved and where much of his filming of historical, social and ecological issues was done. It struck me, as we stood quietly for a short while and the Sun grew lower in the sky, that the Autumn Equinox was a fitting time for a funeral - and that Stuart may also have appreciated and even been amused by that!

There is a fitting tribute to Stuart on the Friends of Wanstead Parkland's website at

Paul Ferris, 25th September 2017

 Stuart Monro

The Gap in the Hedge

A chance meeting on Wanstead Flats with Wren Conservation Group Newsletter Editor, Tony Morrison gave rise to an interesting question: Why is there a gap in the hedge and line of trees that accompany the length of Capel Road, opposite house numbers in their 120's?.

Much of the stretch of Capel Road which begins at the Golden Fleece pub and runs westwards until a slight bend takes you almost to Ridley Road is lined with English Oak, Quercus robur. There are of course numbers of other species present, including an occasional Ash and increasingly Holm Oak, but the English Oaks are the predominant plant species and were evidently deliberately planted aWanstead Flats Capel gap 170429 1220652s a road-side amenity tree in the early 20th Century - probably in 1907. Beyond the bend in Capel Road nearing Ridley Road, the hedge-line is not so thick, and the planted tree-species is predominantly Horse Chestnut. It is interesting to note that at that bend in the road, is the boundary between the old West Ham and East Ham Boroughs

But in that East Ham stretch, where the hedge-line of oaks and hawthorn make views of Wanstead Flats scarce in the summer, a major gap is evident about half-way along.

Looking more closely, there is no evidence that there were ever trees there. That is to say, there are no stumps or obvious changes in the ground surface to say they'd been removed. However, it occurred to me that there was once an estate of pre-fabs on the Flats where there are now playing field, stretching from the Borough boundary to almost the Golden Fleece. In fact, when I moved to Capel Road in the 1960s there was a chestnut-paling fence around that whole area, protecting freshly-seeded soil where the football pitches were to be. It hadn't been long since the prefabs had been removed, and postmen that I worked with were saying that only recently they'd delivered there - and what a nice place it was to go.

That estate would have required at least one access road. Was that gap possibly where it had been? Looking at a scanned O.S. map of the area I could see that the gap was exactly where it had been.

Now, it is not to say that there never was a continuation of the line of road-side oaks - they probably were there. But in constructing the access road they would have required to have been removed, roots and all, probably. Hence the gap in the hedge - and a bit of reminded history thrown up by a chance meeting.

Wanstead Flats prefabs

Paul Ferris, 29th April 2017


The Wollemi Pine - a very old new tree in the Cemetery

Based on the City of London Cemetery's records, I have counted some 87 species of tree as being present, and this does not include numerous cultivars. Amongst these are some specimens of tree-species that - in evolutionary terms - are of immense age. 

Ginkgo col 071102 0774artMaidenhair TreeMany will have heard of "Ginkgo Biloba", as it is commonly advertised as a medicine, with benefits - it is said - in brain function and energy levels as well as helping to fight inflammation and a variety of other symptoms such as tinnitus and depressed mood. What may not be so commonly realised is that the medicinal Ginkgo Biloba is derived from the tree species Ginkgo biloba, often called the Maidenhair Tree. This is a remarkable tree in many ways. It is the only known surviving member of a division of the plant kingdom called the Ginkgophyta, and has been called a "living fossil", as there are fossils recognisably related to modern ginkgo dating back 270 million years. Without going into the botanical aspects of the species - which I am not qualified to do - quite simply, there is nothing else like it.

Although the Ginkgo has such a remarkable chronology, it has only been known in Western Europe for a relatively short time. A German botanist, Engelbert Kaempfer, first found it in 1690 in a Japanese temple garden. Seeds from China - where the species is native - which he brought back from his expedition were planted in the botanical garden in Utrecht. One of the first of this species to be planted in Britain still exists at Kew Gardens, and dates back to at least 1762, less than 40 years after the first specimens had been introduced into Europe.(1) Interestingly, there is a specimen in West Ham Park which is also reputed to be the oldest specimen in Britain. West Ham Park was aquired in 1762 by the Quaker physician and philanthropist Dr. John Fothergill who commissioned plant hunters to build up a collection from the Americas, the Far East, Africa and Europe, adding many rare plants to existing plantings. The site became a botanical garden that pre-empted Kew. It is possible, therefore, that the specimen at Kew and that at West Ham Park are of contemporary age.

Monkey Puzzle col 071102 0796artMonkey PuzzleNowadays, Maidenhair Trees are quite common and popular for their attractive shape, interesting leaves and history, and lovely autumn colour. They have been heavily used as street trees in New York, as - perhaps surprisingly - they do very well in the extreme weather and light conditions of the canyons formed by the buildings! They are becoming popular street trees in English cities, too; I have noticed more recent plantings - for example - in the Bloomsbury area of London.

In the City of London Cemetery there is a specimen in the Garden of Rest, just north of Limes Avenue.

Another tree of ancient provenance is the Monkey Puzzle or Chilean Pine Araucaria araucana. This species was first identified by Europeans in Chile about 1780 and introduced to England in 1795 by Archibald Menzies, who was a naval surgeon and plant-explorer on board Captain Cook's ship Discovery.(2) Fossil records show that the tree was alive 200 million years ago, at a time when dinosaurs were a significant life-form! It is said that the name "Monkey Puzzle" derives from a comment made by a visitor to Pencarrow Gardens in Cornwall in about 1850, where an early specimen grew. The comment that "the tree would puzzle a monkey" relates to its stiff, sale-like leaves which may well deter monkeys (if such lived in South America!) from climbing it. More reasonably, of course, they would act as deterrents to grazing animals, too.

The cemetery's specimen is on the lawns to the east of the main gate, and may be seen easily from neighbouring Wanstead Flats.

Which brings us to the very old new tree which has been added to the cemetery's collection. But first a tale of its discovery. In 1994 a park ranger and bushwalker, David Noble, was exploring some very difficult-to-access canyons in the Wollemi National Park, some 20 miles north of Sydney. In one of these canyons he found a group of unusual trees that he did not recognise. At first, experts from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney identified it as being related to the Monkey Puzzle and another tree in the Family Araucariaceae - the Norfolk Island Pine. However, it was later decided that it was so different from all other members of this family that it was pronounced a completely new Genus. It was given the scientific name of Wollemia nobilis, in honour of the Wollemia National Park and David Noble who discovered it.

From the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, plants have been sent all over the world so that the species has a chance of surviving. It has survived as a species for 200 million years or so, and yet there are only 100 or so trees known in the wild! In Britain, Kernock Park Plants in Cornwall has the responsibility to continue this conservation effort.

Wollemi Pine col 170320 135853289artThe Wollemi Pine on 20th March 2017The first Wollemi Pine I saw was in 2013 at Kew Gardens. This was the first specimen planted outdoors outside of Australia, by Sir David Attenborough in May 2005.(3) Since then I have seen them in a few other locations including the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens and in Hyde Park.

Wollemi Pine col 170328 20240artPlanted out, and with male and female cones on 28th March 2017The City of London Cemetery has a nice collection of tree species, and especially as this includes the Gingko and the Monkey Puzzle, I suggested to the Superintendent, Gary Burks, last year that it would be nice if a specimen of Wollemi Pine could join them. On the 15th March this year, I was informed that the specimen had arrived, and asked if I would like to help choose a position for it to be planted! With the assistance of the landscape manager, between us we chose a nice position where it is not too remote to "keep an eye on", will be well cared for and is quite prominent, especially for visitors walking through the cemetery.  Gary showed me the tree in the container in which it had arrived and I was thrilled to be able to see it and photograph it before planting out.

The following day, I was informed, it was planted in its favoured location, and I saw it a week later. By then, three female cones had appeared in addition to the male ones that had been present a week earlier.

The Wollemi Pine has proved to be a very tolerant tree, coping well with heat, cold, full sun and shade, and different soil types, so there is good reason to think that it should survive well in the cemetery as long as it does not suffer from damage. In cultivation they are expected to reach a height of some 20m, so it should - in time - be a striking tree.

Paul Ferris, 5th April 2017






As an addition to the above - though not directly related to the wildlife of Wanstead - I bought a Wollemi Pine for the gardens of Copped Hall, near Epping. It has been growing on in the home of one of Copped Hall's Trustees and volunteers, and today - 12th May 2017 - we planted it out in the grounds. On planting it was approximately 2.5 feet in height. It may be interesting to see the comparison in growth between the City of London Cemetery's Wollemi and that of the one at Copped Hall.

Paul Ferris, 12th May 2017