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.

wf alex filming 180614 generalcWe 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...!!!”

wf alex filming 180614 crewcWith 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’."

wf alex filming 180614 seesawcI 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.

wf alex filming 180614 plinthc 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


 WFlatsFilming 002c

WFlatsFilming 003c

WFlatsFilming 001c

Photos by Paul Ferris and Tony Morrison

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
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 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 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  
Closterium sp. Desmid Alga 01/01/2018  
Cosmarium sp. Desmid Alga 01/01/2018  
Cymatopleura sp. Diatom Alga 01/01/2018  
Cymbella sp. Diatom Alga 01/01/2018  
Desmidium sp. Desmid 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)  
Caenomorpha medusula Free-swimming Ciliate Protozoan 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)  
Ankistrodesmus gracilis (poss.) Colonial alga Alga 24/04/2018 (18/04/2018)  
Corvus frugilegus Rook Bird 14/05/2018  



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