News of wildlife and other issues
Bees and Honey
A couple of days ago, on 13th June 2018, I walked across Wanstead Flats after meeting with Tony Morrison, the Wren Conservation Group’s newsletter editor. We hadn’t been discussing newsletters or editing, nor anything to do with wildlife or conservation, but rather the sad closure of our local bus-stop, courtesy of Newham Council. It is not only wildlife that can suffer cuts.
We wondered what was going on down by Alexandra Lake, and I went to the few people there, who had chucked a bicycle into the lake and were erecting some structures which seemed to relate to an abandoned children's playground. I asked them what they were doing, and “Filming” was their answer, but for what film they wouldn’t say. They assured me that they had a license from the Conservators of Epping Forest, so that must be alright.
Strolling back home on a track across the rough grassland just south of the sand-hills that give the lake its alternative, if local, name – i.e. the Sandhills Pond – I was enraptured (if that isn’t too spiritual a term) by all the forms of grasses, the yellow flowers growing amongst them, the other-coloured ones too, and the sound of a skylark ascending not so high into the heavens (if that isn’t too poetic and spiritual a description) that I could stand and watch as well as listen. It was just one of those nice days and gentle experiences.
The following day the whole area was “swamped” with vehicles and personnel. The rest of the film crew had joined in. Tony said to me that “there were more vehicles in the area than on the M25...!!!”
With disgust and sadness I sent a brief email to Tim Harris, Chairman of the Wren Group. It said little more than “Skylarks yesterday, film crew today.”
Unexpectedly, and shortly after, I received a phone call from Martin Newnham, Head Keeper for Epping Forest, just checking on my observation and confirming that they had been given permission to film there. I explained that that was rather unfortunate, as the skylark I’d seen the day before might not be too happy. I certainly wasn’t too happy, and I’m not even a skylark.
Then followed a rash of emails, primarily sent to Tim, who copied them on to me. More and more people seemed to be getting involved. I responded to one from Geoff Sinclair – Head of Operations – in which he stated that the film crew “are in an area…. well away from the ‘Skylark nesting area’."
I felt I ought to respond to this and explained that although well away from the main nesting area, this relatively small patch has for years provided a nesting area for one pair. Also, that it wasn’t just the skylarks that might be disturbed, but because of the nature of the soils there (sand and gravels) there were other aspects at risk, including plants and mining bees.
Both Tim and I were saddened, disappointed and concerned that after years of providing information about habitats and wildlife to the Conservators of Epping Forest, this seemed to have been disregarded in favour of income. Bees and Honey.
Well, it is easy to turn ones disappointment into a rant. Perhaps that’s why for a good few years now I have (almost) stopped banging my head against a solid Forest wall. That hurts.
The last email I received, also addressed to Tim, was a very understanding one from Geoff Sinclair. I was really pleased to receive that, because in effect it was an admission and apology for getting things wrong in licensing that film shot, and a "thank you" for bringing the matter to his attention. In addition, Geoff suggested that, following this incident, it might be in order to investigate how things might be done better in the future, particularly – perhaps – taking local knowledge into account.
By Friday the massed personnel, vehicles, broken swing, abandoned bike and filming frame were all gone. There were a couple of holes (too big to have been made by mining bees) where a see-saw once stood, some flattened grass and some cigarette butts. Of course, those may have been left by any visitor. But also left behind was a very apt artefact. It was a plinth – looking like stone but actually, I think, wood – which had a plaque on it. This read (word for word, spelling for spelling) This nature preserve was made possible by the generous donation of THE GLENGROVE HOUSE MEMORIAL TRUST. Well, fancy donating a jammy Glengrove House Memorial Trust to the Forest! And it has spread out some grass, too. Hold on: there are the mining-bees, and then there is fly-tipping...
And what of the Skylarks? I didn’t hear them on a visit the day after, but that doesn’t mean that they are not there. However, during 2009 and 2010 Thames Water Authority installed an underground pipe-line intended to carry water from a bore-hole in the Old Sewage Works (Aldersbrook Exchange Lands) to the Redbridge Water Treatment works near Redbridge roundabout. This involved using a large machine named the Longborer to create a horizontal bore to carry the pipe, under the south arm of the Ornamental Water and across the Plain. Now, up until then there had annually been a pair of larks nesting on the Plain. Apart from here there isn’t much else of a suitable habitat in Wanstead Park for Skylarks, so just one pair had enough room for a territory. After the disturbance caused by that boring, the Skylarks have never returned to the Park. It takes only one disturbance to finish things off.
And the title of the film? Tim suggested it might be called “The Lark Descending”?
Paul Ferris MBNA, 15th June 2018
Photos by Paul Ferris and Tony Morrison
These 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.
|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|
||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|
|Caenomorpha medusula||Free-swimming Ciliate||Heterotrichea||Northumberland Ave. garden, 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 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 many of 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|
|Euglena sp.||Euglena Flagellate||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|
|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 (Nauplius)||Water Flea larva (Nauplius)||Crustacean||06/01/2018|
|Phacus sp.||Euglena Flagellate||Alga||08/01/2018|
|Difflugia sp.||Testate Amoeba||Protozoan||11/01/2018|
|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)|
|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)|
|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)|
|Caenomorpha medusula||Free-swimming Ciliate||Protozoan||27/01/2018|
|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|
|Coelastrum sp.||Colonial alga||Alga||09/04/2018|
|Stentor (coeruleus)||Free-swimming Ciliate||Protozoan||09/04/2018|
|Urocentrum (turbo)||Free-swimming Ciliate||Protozoan||15/04/2018 (27/01/2018)|
|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)|
|Ankistrodesmus gracilis (poss.)||Colonial alga||Alga||24/04/2018 (18/04/2018)|
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 http://www.wansteadpark.org.uk/news/large-gathering-in-farewell-to-stuart-monro/
Paul Ferris, 25th September 2017
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 as 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.
Paul Ferris, 29th April 2017
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