WansteadWildlife in 2019

No, it is not Wildlife in Wanstead in 2019, it is WansteadWildlife, i.e. the website.

I find that in 2019, my enthusiasm to "get out there" and discover more wildlife has waned. That seems sad to me, although getting out there and at least enjoying looking at (and trying to remember what the things I am seeing are called) is still present. Why the enthusiasm has waned, I am not sure, but it is probably a mixture of things. Many of the people with whom I enjoyed wandering about looking at things are no longer able to do so, or indeed are simply no longer! There are, however, plenty of people nowadays who have taken an interest in our wildlife, and local wildlife and conservation groups and similar are flourishing. That in itself may have led me to let others do all the walking about, and recording things...

But there are also negative aspects that have impacted on my enjoyment of the local environment. There is a lot of talk about making things better, but I have seen a lot of my favourite habitats damaged. This is perhaps particularly so in Wanstead Park, where - I believe - both lack of appropriate management when it was required, and an increasing turning towards 'amenity' provisions has resulted in the loss and damage I perceive. The first could be instanced by the terrible invasion of Floating Pondweed that was allowed to occur, leading to a vast amount of money spent on clearing it, involving necessary and deliberate water-reduction in the lakes. The result of this was massive loss to pond-life, and change of habitat. Another impact on some prime environments was the use of inappropriate materials on tracks (including that used on permitted cycle tracks). This led to pedestrians using the grassy areas to the sides of these uncomfortable surfaces, and thus damaging the habitat. Permitted cycles, and the lack of supervision over cyclists using other parts of the Park, plus increasing mowing presumably to enhance amenity use of the grasslands are other cases in point.

A similar situation may be seen on Wanstead Flats, here the water-plant invasion was by New-Zealand Pigmyweed. But around the Alexandra Lake where this occured there has been another invasion - by trees. On the north side, opposite the shops in Aldersbrook Road, the growth of willows is so severe that it is scarcely possible to see the lake for the trees (similarly - back to Wanstead Park - on the south side of Shoulder of Mutton.) This began when the lake-side was re-embanked, changing it from the pebble beach that had been there since the lake was dug to a grim vegetation-covered landscape. On the south side of the lake, willows and birches have been allowed to become established, so I predict that at some time the lake will hardly be visible from that side, either. This growth of vegetation is partly due to the lack of water, a problem with most of our ponds now. However, some of the lack of water problem here was created by the accidental damming of road-water input conduits in that re-forming of the lake-side bank! Better road water - which could be filtered by reed beds - than no water!

So, I have had me moan, and rather than make approaches to the Conservators of Epping Forest as I used to do in the past, I shall leave that to others now. These relatively small (but important) "local knowledge" issues should really be taken more seriously by "the authorities". Maybe they are, now?

Hence it seems that the website, by the nature of my backing off from the observing, identifying and recording, will become somewhat stagnant. I shall probably add bits to it now and again, and "tweak" aspects of it from time to time, but I hope that at least it will remain as something of a basis for information about local wildlife and the local environment in which it is to be found. And of course, my enthusiasm may be re-enthused!

Paul Ferris, July 2019