News of wildlife and other issues
Wanstead Park : 1st October
An afternoon walk in Wanstead Park on 1st October produced the following sightings :
Two Mute Swans + five cygnets
Various Coots and Mallards
One Black Headed Gull
One Grey Heron
Nine Tufted Ducks
and one rat scuttling in the undergrowth!
Where I saw three Shovelers and Nine Tuftys - I always think it should be an 'even' number, but that's what I saw. Perhaps the 'missing' ones were hiding somewhere else.
I had a nice sighting of two Wrens fairly close together in amongst the foliage.
Various Mallards, Coots, Moorhens, and Tuftys
Two Grey Herons (in different areas) - one of which was being bothered by a Carrion Crow
Three Cormorants up in the dead trees
Two Mute Swans + four cygnets
and four pairs of Gadwalls. They were skulking away at the end of the Ornamental Waters towards the Pump House. As I tried to get nearer to take some pics, they became very nervous, and flew off. After I continued on walking for several minutes, I came across another four pairs of Gadwalls. They weren't found in the direction the others flew off towards, but as it's the same amount, I'm not sure whether it's a coincidence, or the same group.
Various Coots, Mallards, Moorhens, and Black Headed Gulls
Two Little Grebes
and another rat scuttling in the undergrowth - I keep hoping it will turn out to be an interesting mammal!
Shoulder of Mutton Pond
Not as 'busy' as the other ponds, so I was able to count :
Twenty One Black Headed Gulls
Two Mute Swans (no cygnets)
and three Jays in the general area nearby
I noticed that the Drake Mallards now seem to have regained their colour, after the recent 'eclipse' stage.
There was also some tree felling going on. I heard the chainsaw noise at one stage when I was walking around the Ornamental Waters. About half an hour later, I reached where the work had been going on. It was near the bit where you can walk across a small bridge to the Ilford side. They didn't seem to be City of London workers, but said they were taking down trees which were decaying, and were therefore dangerous to the pathway.
Bird Report for Late September
Less birds about at the moment - 2 Stonechats were present on Wanstead Flats on the Broom near Long Wood on Sun 28th and Mon 29th September. Also a Wheatear on 28th at about 09.30. One Buzzard passed low over the City of London Cemetery heading north east on Sunday the 20th September at about 08.30.
Two New Species for the Area
A casual walk in Wanstead Park recently found two species that have not, to my knowledge, been recorded in the study area before.
The first was a ragwort, a few plants of which were spotted on the embankment separating the Heronry Pond from the Perch Pond. This has recently been worked upon, and new soil laid down. It wasn't surprising to find a variety of plants introduced with the soil, or making use of the new conditions.
The plant - obviously a ragwort - looked somewhat different from the usual two around here, which are Common and Oxford Ragworts: it had narrower leaves.
A trawl through the reference books showed it to be Narrow-leaved Ragwort Senecio inaequidens. It comes from southern Africa and is now found across Europe. Stace (1997) stated that it was naturalised on a sandy beach in Kent, and that perhaps it would soon spread. It is now widespread in the London area. The photo taken at the time is available here.
The other new record was of the German Wasp Vespula germanica.Two of these appeared to be coupled on vegetation near Bullet Hill, by Northumberland Avenue. In this case, a photograph was used latterly to identify the species. The photo is available here.
Paul Ferris, 3rd October 2009
Recollections of a 50's childhood in the Wanstead area.
I spent my childhood in the 50's exploring the wildlife in the Wanstead area, and lived just a hundred or so yards away from Wanstead Flats. I now live on a Nature Reserve in Dorset and being remote from your area I find your website a wonderful resource.
I spent most of my spare time on Wanstead Flats, in Wanstead Park, Bush Wood, the Hollow Ponds, Green Man Pond and the Cat and Dog Pond on Wanstead Flats. And there was that wonderful pond by the Quaker Meeting House. These last two ponds were rich in amphibians. I am sure there were Great Crested Newts about then; I only saw two, but of course thousands of common newts.
We saw fallow deer in Wanstead Park, Bush Wood and very rarely on Wanstead Flats. The skylarks were very common then and Kestrels were a rare treat. Some friends boasted they saw Sparrow Hawks.
I remember the yearly barrage balloons used by the TA for practice several times a year. There were hundreds of slit trenches, bomb craters and concrete gun emplacements, later used for organised motorbike scrambling meets.
They were wonderful times, made only bearable in my "exile" in Dorset by the fact that we have two species of deer, badgers, foxes, buzzards, peregrines, hobbies and even one merlin, plus the occasional nightjar, wood duck etc. in our own garden.
In trips to the Serengetti Plain I always commented that it was like Wanstead Flats - but the feeling there is exactly the same.
Jennifer Charter reported that at around 10am on 24th September she saw a Red Kite being chased by a crow. This was above Northumberland Avenue, right next to Wanstead Park. We have had occasional sightings of Kites in the area in more recent years; they seem to be increasing around the north of Epping Forest so it is worth keeping your eyes open for more around here.
Paul Ferris, 28th September 2009