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Nature Club – September 2016 – Pond dip and Bird Song

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: September 27th, 2016 | 0 Comments

img_5782 img_5777 A lovely warm day again. We listened to some recorded bird songs we were likely to hear around Jubilee Pond like coot and mallard and were pretty good at guessing which was which. We found guessing the swan's song quite difficult! Then we went pond dipping and found a lovely fat leech, lots of waterboatmen and dozens of pond snails. The pond snails had clear sacks of eggs attached to themselves and to pondweed. We also saw some small red-bodied dragonflies called common darters flying around. We had a great time on the swings too. Then we went to investigate the six large mystery holes which have appeared in the little wood by the changing rooms. We will have to do more detective work to find out who made them.....

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Wanstead’s Botanical Bonanza

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: August 3rd, 2016 | 0 Comments

Plants were always going to play a big part in the Wren Group’s quest to find 1,000 species within the Wanstead area in 2016. They have not disappointed. The year got off to a very good start, with many plants in flower in the churchyard of St Mary’s on Overton Drive and around Jubilee Pond in early January. And a wet spring contributed to fine shows of many flowers in May and June, with micro-sites such as the wayleave behind Belgrave Road coming into their own.

The areas that proved the most productive were Wanstead Flats and Wanstead Flats, of course, but within these were some real gems, notably the SSSI and the bank at the west end of the brickpit. Parts of the wonderfully managed City of London Cemetery were excellent also, but the real stars were the Old Sewage Works and the Green Man roundabout – both of which had displays of Bee Orchids in June. The Old Sewage Works also had a few Pyramidal Orchids in July.

Bee Orchid

Other flowers which seem to have a good spring and early summer include Heath Bedstraw, Grass Vetchling and Meadow Vetchling on Wanstead Flats, and Yellow Rattle flowered for a second year running in the SSSI. After a tip-off from Kathy Hartnett, Paul Ferris identified a specimen of Italian Eryngo by Jubilee Pond at the start of August. Where has this, previously unrecorded, plant come from? A couple of months earlier Sharon Payne had identified Sulphur Cinquefoil on Bush Road. Again, the provenance of this specimen is anyone’s guess.

Meadow Vetchling Grass Vetchling

As of the beginning of August well over 400 plants have been noted, including a number of mosses. Many grasses remain unidentified, and many more mosses won’t be recorded until the damp days of autumn. Why not take a look at the linked list and see whether you can add any species to it? Please let us have a note of the location, date and whether the plant was in flower. Salsify

Tim Harris

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Bio-Blitz 2016

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: June 20th, 2016 | 0 Comments

We are pleased to announce the second midsummer bio-blitz on the weekend of 24-26th June. The programme includes leisurely nature walks, children's activities and more specialist quests for specific creatures in Wanstead Park and on Wanstead Flats. All events are free. The itinerary is as follows (though please note that poor weather may force the cancellation of some activities):

FRIDAY 24th

21:00: Bat walk, led by Francis Castro, assisted by Mirza. Meeting point: tea hut, Wanstead Park. We will use bat-detectors to locate and identify feeding bats.

22:00-midnight: Moth-trapping in the grounds of The Temple, led by Graham Smith, Anthony Harbott and Tim Harris. Meeting point: The Temple, Wanstead Park. Light-traps will be used to attract a variety of these nocturnal insects.

SATURDAY 25th

10:30-12:30: Nature walk on Wanstead Flats, led by Tricia Moxey. Meeting point: gazebo by Centre Rd car park A leisurely walk to look at wildflowers, butterflies and Skylarks.

12:00-16:00: Fly Quest, led by Jeremy Richardson Meeting point: gazebo by Centre Rd car park People can join Jeremy as he searches for some of the unusual hoverflies and flies of Wanstead Flats.

14:00: Nature walk, led by Jackie Morrison and Gill James Meeting point: Jubilee Pond car park A gentle walk looking at grasses, wildflowers and insects.

SUNDAY 26th

05:00-07:30: Dawn Chorus walk, led by Nick Croft and James Heal Meeting point: the tea hut in Wanstead Park Join the Wanstead Birders as they search the Old Sewage Works, the banks of the River Roding and Wanstead Park for our breeding birds.

10:30-12:00: Nature walk in Wanstead Park, led by Tricia Moxey Meeting point: gazebo by The Temple A leisurely walk to look at wildflowers, trees and butterflies

11:00-12:30: Pond-dipping in Shoulder of Mutton Pond, led by Derek McEwan Meeting point: gazebo by The Temple The pond holds an astonishing variety of invertebrate life. Nets are provided but please bring wellingtons!

11:00-12:00: Gastropod quest, Old Sewage Works, led by Penny and Nick Evans. Meeting point: gazebo by The Temple A look at the variety and lifestyles of our snails and slugs.

13:00: children's activities in Temple Garden, led by Gill James, Anita McCullough, Jane Cleall. Simple treasure/scavenger hunt, a nature table, mud painting, plus drawing and painting found items with Anita McCullough

14:00-16:00: Nature walk with Ferndale Area Residents Association, led by Tim Harris Meeting point: Ferndale Rd (Wanstead Flats end) We will walk through Bush Wood, cross into Wanstead Park and pass Reservoir Wood and Shoulder of Mutton pond, before finishing at the tea hut, looking at wildflowers, trees, butterflies and birds along the route.

14:00-15:3: Pond-dipping in Shoulder of Mutton Pond, led by Derek McEwan Meeting point: gazebo by The Temple Another chance to look at the aquatic invertebrates of the lake with an expert tutor. Wellington essential!

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London’s third-ever Blyth’s Reed Warbler on Wanstead Flats

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: May 24th, 2016 | 0 Comments

Nick Croft, a WREN member, discovered London's third-ever Blyth's Reed Warbler on Wanstead Flats almost exactly two years ago. The paper he wrote detailing the amazing find is in the London Bird Report. For further details: London Bird Report: Blyths Reed Warbler by Nick-Croft

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Nature Club – May 2016 – Pond Dip and Water Survey

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: May 23rd, 2016 | 0 Comments

Studying pond dip finds Retrieving  ph strip

Images: GJ - Retrieving a ph strip. Studying pond dip finds.

We followed up the Clean Water Survey we did on our two ponds in March when we tested for water pollution. This time we thought about what wildife we might find in Spring in our ponds and we looked at some sedge plants, dried up yukky deadfrogs, some live toadlets, water snails and even a newt borrowed from Gill's pond to remind us what to look for. We did three tests on Jubilee Pond as part of the national OPAL survey. First we tested to see how clear the water was by collecting the pond water in a plastic bottle and working out if we could see the spots on the Opalometer disc in the bottom. The water was nice and clear and slightly green. Then we tested to see if the water was acid or alkali by dipping ph test strips in the pond and seeing what colour they turned. They turned greeny-blue, which told us that the water was not too alkaline which is good for wildlife. Finally we did our pond dip! It was quite cold and we only found small things such as beetles, lots of water boatmen, tiny bugs or fleas, and damselfly larvae and other larvae, which told us that the pond was a good place for wildlife and has a high Pond Health Score. The ducks, swans and geese already knew this as there were lots of them there and they hadn't done any of the tests! We had thirteen children today and several parents too.

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Nature Club – April 2016 – London Pigeons

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: May 23rd, 2016 | 0 Comments

Jubilee Pond pigeons Drawing pigeons

Images: GJ - Jubilee Pond pigeons. Drawing pigeons.

Today we took a closer look at a very familiar bird: the pigeon! We looked a two bird's eggs to compare their sizes and worked out that the larger white one was a pigeon's egg. Then we looked at pictures of different kinds of pigeons, some of which we might see in the garden like the wood pigeon and the collared dove- and we listened to their songs ( 'two teas please Louise....') and Anya told us about when she dissected and ate a ( cooked) wood pigeon! We saw an amazing film of a huge flock of racing pigeons being released on Wanstead Flats. Then we went out and found our own flock of pigeons near Jubilee Pond , chose one pigeon ( they are all different) and carefully drew it. Our pigeons were called Alphie, Mr Hoo, Sharon, Polly, Jimeela, Honko and Percy. Then we went to find where they roost at night- it was easy to find the roost under the railway arches because of the piles of poo underneath! Then, because it is spring, we planted some dwarf bean seeds in pots to take home to grow and, we hope, eat one day.

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Nature Club – March 2016 – Clean Water for Wildlife!

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: May 23rd, 2016 | 0 Comments

Holding up nitrate test tube

Image: GJ - Holding up nitrate test tube.

We did a scientific test on the water quality of the two ponds we know well, Jubilee Pond and Cat and Dog Pond. We used clean water kits to test how polluted the water was with two nutrients, nitrate and phosphate, which can be bad for freshwater plants and animals. We found that the Cat and Dog Pond,which is a natural reedy pond with lots of frogspawn in it, had almost no nitrates and phosphates. This kind of water pollution is more common in farming areas. Jubilee Pond, which is much busier with people and bird life like ducks and geese, had slightly more nitrates and phosphates so is not so rich in wildlife. Afterwards Gill submitted our results to the Clean Water for Wildlife survey. We did a nice collage of the two ponds showing what plants and animals rely on them.

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Redbridge Group of the London Wildlife Trust Survey

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: April 6th, 2016 | 0 Comments

Please take part in the survey described below - it will only take a few minutes and is vital if we are to maintain and improve our open spaces in the Borough for nature. Please get as many people as possible to participate and press all the nature buttons including greenlinks that they can it is a very simple survey and will only take 10 minutes at most. The link will take you to the Redbridge Local plan 2015-2030 page,(which may be of interest) the open space consultation survey link is about buried halfway down the page which links to SurveyMonkey. Many Thanks Chris Gannaway for the Redbridge Group of the London Wildlife Trust The London Wildlife Trust is company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales 1600379 and registered charity number 283895. Registered Office: Dean Bradley House, 52 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 2AF

Open Space Assessment Online Consultation Survey Questionnaire

Redbridge Council is updating its information on how open spaces are used in the borough. This information will supplement existing evidence including the Open Space Study and Playing Pitches Strategy. The update involves the completion of a short online consultation survey questionnaire, which will provide the Council with a better understanding of how the borough’s open spaces are used, which parks are used most frequently, users’ satisfaction with current provision, the modes of travel used and distances travelled to open spaces. To participate in the survey, please go to: Open Space Assessment Online Consultation Survey Questionnaire

The online questionnaire can be accessed between 4th April and 1st May 2016. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact the Planning Policy Team on 020 8708 2748.

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Wanstead Park Water Levels

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: March 14th, 2016 | 0 Comments

John Robinson has been charting changes in water levels in Wanstead Park since 2012. Here's his graphic representation of what's been happening. Wanstead Park Pond Levels
  • Click on the Chsrt to examine it in more detail.
  • The bottom (x) axis is the number of days since recording began
  • The level in Perch varies seasonally as one would expect and it is currently at a normal level for the time of year.
  • The level in Heronry is very variable, presumably as a result of periods of pumping and periods without. The recent fall in water level is clearly linked to an absence of pumping over a long period as the City of London tried to get the level down to do the work on the dam. Pumping has now restarted. There appears to be no record of when pumping has taken place and by how much.
  • The level in the Ornamental Water has fallen over the last couple of years because there has been no input from the southern end and because water is continuing to seep away through its unlined bottom. A licence has been applied for to pump from the River Roding but we have no news as yet.

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Amphibian and Reptile surveying training course

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: February 26th, 2016 | 0 Comments

This course will teach you how to identify frogs, toads, newts, lizards and snakes and show you techniques you can use to survey these animals. The course is free and suitable for people of all ages and levels of experience. So why not come along and see how you can help protect London's dragons!

Where: Basement room of the Temple, Wanstead Park, London, E11 2LT.

When: Saturday 9th April 2016 between 10:00 and 13:00.

How to book: email Tim Harris (tharris@windmillbooks.co.uk)

Price: Free

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