My name is Paul Ferris and I live in Forest Gate, on the southern edge of Wanstead Flats which is at the southern end of Epping Forest. I have done so since the age of 13 - and that's now a good few years.
Having worked originally in the electronics industry, and subsequently for Royal Mail, I took early retirement some years ago and have since been more fully able to follow my interests in electronics by way of amateur radio (G1XWU, G0LLE and even 2E1FZF), and in the outdoors by way of travelling, walking (which may be considered an ideal way of travelling) and the study of local wildlife.
It is of course to the latter that this website is dedicated, and it is an interest which developed perhaps in the 1970's through a fairly common route of birdwatching (I'd probably be referred to as a 'birder' now, rather than a 'twitcher'), going on to plants when there weren't any birds around. What is the equivalent of a birder or a twitcher in the botanical world? I don't know, but I don't consider myself to be a botanist. Other things such as butterflies and fungi, I noticed, are also out there - apparently waiting to be recognised and classified, so that's what I've been trying to do.
This interest took on a more formal aspect when in 1980 I was encouraged on behalf of the local wildlife conservation group - The Wren Group - to write and have published in The London Naturalist in 1980 'The Flora of Southern Epping Forest Part 1: Wanstead Park'. This was followed in subsequent years by Part 2: 'Wanstead Flats and Bush Wood', Part 3: 'Leyton Flats and Bush Wood North', and Part 4: 'Gilbert's Slade'.
Having completed the surveys for those publication, I realised how much I had missed, so had to continue. In 1997 'The Flora of the old Redbridge Southern Sewage Works' was published - by way of a change - in The Essex Naturalist.
During these years I had amassed a considerable number of records of wildlife apart from and in addition to those mentioned in the publications; I had also gained the ability to create a website which might give others access to them. I say ability, though I didn't actually have that to start with and so had to learn something of simple website design (i.e. at my level). I used Dreamweaver to create 'Wanstead Wildlife', and it grew. But as it grew it began to look dated, and when I discovered Joomla! I transferred everything (apart from the photographs) over to that - which wasn't easy.
The ability to record the local wildlife by way of photographs came with the advent of digital cameras. One of my earliest photographs is of a Common Darter dragonfly - Sympetrum striolatum - taken in Wanstead Park in Autumn 1998. The photograph is available here and is still a favourite, albeit the camera was a 1.5 megapixel Fuji - which because of their scarcity then produced a lot of strange looks when I was using it. I still don't use anything very sophisticated - can't handle the long lenses and weight required to get all the fabulous bird-shots that are now possible, but persevered with an easy-to-carry enough-megapixies and 10x zoom Panasonic Lumix TZ3 and then a Panasonic DMC-FZ38.
The collection of wildlife records from the local area - the southern part of Epping Forest - led to a surprise (actually - a shock) in 2009 when I was asked if I would accept the Richard Fitter Memorial Award at the British Naturalist's Association Annual Conference. I did say yes, and was presented with a quite heavy medal by Professor David Bellamy. (click here for a bit more about that). I was also awarded an MBNA (Member of the British Naturalist's Association) and I am told that I can use those letters after my name. It sounds a bit pretentious, though, and I suspect that's why on letters from friends they are not present.
So that's about all I'm going to say about me - except that I also play the mouth organ, have been known to sing some odd songs, and write some very odd "poetry". (And the odd story or too - but I'm probably better known (though not well known) for telling them).