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Bio-blitz

East Ham mini-Bioblitz


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wrengroup

Posted on:
October 9th, 2018

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BioBlitz 2018


A copy of the BioBlitz Flyer can be found Here.

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wrengroup

Posted on:
June 8th, 2018

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Join the Bioblitz – 23-24 June 2018


MIDSUMMER WILDLIFE WEEKEND

23rd and 24th JUNE

JOIN THE BIOBLITZ ! IN WANSTEAD FLATS & WANSTEAD PARK

The Wren Conservation Group are back for a fourth year of nature activities for all ages in the Park and on the Flats. You don’t need to be an expert to join in the walks and activities on our Wildlife Weekend but we do have some experts to help you! If you are interested in bats, birds, wildflowers and more, there is something here for everyone. All the activities are free and open to all, except Wanstead Nature Club on Sunday which is for young children and there is a small chargefor this.
Please check Wrengroup for details of time and place.

Saturday 23rd June

Meet at Centre Road Car Park, Wanstead Flats, for two walks, led by experts:

  • 11am: Plant Galls: a close look at what’s growing on our trees
  • 2pm: Larks, Butterflies and flowers: all welcome!
  • 9pm: Bat Walk led by Francis Castro. Meet at the Tea Hut in Wanstead Park. A great family walk.

Sunday 24th June

11am-4pm: Events are in Wanstead Park or the Old Sewage Works on Sunday 24th.

  • 5am: Dawn Chorus Walk: a walk for early birds.Start from Leybourne Road entrance to Bush Wood.
  • 11am-4pm: London Wildlife Trust & RSPB :fun activities in the Temple Garden
  • 11am-4pm: Wild Wanstead: green up your garden with Suzy Knox
  • 11.30am-1pm: Identifying Bees and Understanding their lifestyle
  • 11am -1pm:: Pond Dipping in the Perch Pond, Wanstead Park: suit all ages
  • 11am-4pm: Wren Group experts : Bio Blitz finds I.D. Put your finds under the microscope!
  • 11am-3pm: Meet our Duck Champion: crafts, treasure hunt, & quiz in the Temple Garden
  • 1pm-3pm: Spiders in the Old Sewage Work: finding our eight-legged friends
  • 2pm-3.30pm: Wanstead Nature Club: Meet in the Temple Garden for crafts, minibeast hunt etc. Children aged 3-7. Must be accompanied. Donation please.
  • 2pm-4pm: Wildflowers & Butterflies walk .Meet at the Temple for a general look at what’s about in the Park.
  • 2pm-3.30pm: Pond dipping in the Shoulder of Mutton Pond: suit all ages
  • 2.30pm-4pm: Snails in the Old Sewage Works: a minibeast hunt with a difference!

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wrengroup

Posted on:
May 13th, 2018

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BioBlitz Nature Club


During the 2017 BioBlitz there was also a Nature Club for the children.

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wrengroup

Posted on:
June 20th, 2017

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BioBlitz 2017 – Friday 16th – Sunday 18th June 2017


BioBlitz 2017

BioBlitz 2017 – Friday 16th – Sunday 18th June 2017

Become a wildlife explorer for the weekend and discover what’s living right on your doorstep by joining in at your local BioBlitz event.

With interactive activities for youngsters, grown-ups, beginners and experts alike there is something for everyone including Guided Walks, Talks, Children’s Art, Nature Table, Dawn Chorus Walk, Bat Walks, Pond-dipping, Moth-trapping, Grass-Sweeping, Tea Hut and much more – and it’s all free!

Friday 16th June

20:30 – Bat Walk. Meet outside the tea hut, Wanstead Park.
Come and join Conservation Ranger, Frances Castro and search for pipistrelles, Noctules, Daubenton’s and other bats. Bring a torch and suitable clothing for an evening walk. (approx. 90 minutes)

22:00 – Moth-trapping. Meet outside the Temple, Wanstead Park.
Local moth enthusiasts will have their light traps fired up to attract some of the great array of moths to be found in Wanstead Park. Bring a torch and wear appropriate clothing for an evening activity. (approx. 2 hours). Leader Tim Harris

Saturday 17th June

08:00 – Wildlife Refound: from parkland to woodland.
Meet at junction of Bushwood Road and Stanmore Road.
Leader: James Heal

10:30. Flowers of Wanstead Flats
Meet at Centre Rd car park gazebo. Leader: Tricia Moxey

11:00 – Spider Hunt
Meet at Centre Rd gazebo. Leader: David Carr

14:00 – Dogs and Wildlife; a guide to responsible dog-walking
Meet at Centre Rd car park gazebo. Please bring your dog (on a leash)! Leader: Thibaud Madelin

15:00 – 16:00 Children’s Pond Dipping
Meet at Jubilee Pond. Leaders: Sean Dillon and Gill James

Sunday 18th June

05:00 – Dawn Chorus Walk
Leading birder Nick Croft, joined by Tim Harris and Jane Cleall, lead the crack-of-dawn walk around the park to listen to the sounds of the dawn chorus, see a new generation of young birds and maybe encounter a surprise or two. (approx. 2 hours 30 minutes).

11:00 – Pond Dipping. Meet at Temple enclosure, Wanstead Park.
The park’s lakes hold a surprising amount of aquatic life, from large fish to tiny invertebrates, including dragonfly larvae and even crayfish. Help Derek and Cathy McEwan catch an endless array of life-forms from the Shoulder of Mutton Pond. (approx. 90 minutes).

11:15 – Nature Walk in Wanstead Park
Meet at Temple enclosure, Wanstead Park
Leaders: Mirza Rashid, Jackie Morrison, David Giddings

14:00 – 16:00 – Nature Club. Storytelling, Minibeast Hunt, & Crafts
Meet at The Temple. £3.50 per child (children aged 2-7 years old)
Leaders: Sean Dillon of Wild East Project and Gill James

14:00 – Pond Dipping in Shoulder of Mutton pond (90 minutes)
Leaders: Derek and Cathy McEwan

15:00 – Wanstead Park Trees
Meet at Temple enclosure, Wanstead Park.
Leaders: Tricia Moxey, David Giddings, Jackie Morrison

16:00 – Finish

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Posted on:
June 12th, 2017

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Wanstead’s Botanical Bonanza


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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Posted on:
August 3rd, 2016

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Bio-Blitz 2016


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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Posted on:
June 20th, 2016

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Wanstead 1000: Off and running


Quince

Turkey Tail


Members of the Wren Wildlife Group are hoping to find 1000 different kinds of plants and animals in the Wanstead area during 2016. Chair Tim Harris reports on progress so far.

Before dawn on New Year’s Day, while many were sleeping off the excesses of a few hours earlier, Wanstead’s birdwatchers (well, some of them) were on a quest to see how many species they could find during the day. And what a start to the day they had! Intrepidly working through the mud and puddles of Bush Wood, Bob Vaughan had inadvertently flushed a woodcock and seen a firecrest before it was properly light. Not far away, on Wanstead Flats, Josh Selfe tweeted that he’s seen an owl fly up from a patch of broom. Sure enough, it soon reappeared, being mobbed by several crows: a short-eared owl, a local rarity. With a start like that, it was unlikely that things could get any better, and much of the day was spent finding those birds that are either resident on our manor, or which just drop in for the winter. However, just when the light was beginning to go, and people were thinking of resting aching limbs after a day in the field, Jono Lethbridge and Nick Croft found a lesser spotted woodpecker by the Basin on Overton Drive. This diminutive woodpecker hadn’t been seen in our area at all in 2015! The day’s total of 69 bird species was the best ever achieved on New Year’s Day. Two days later, Nick had a tantalisingly brief view of what is likely to have been a great snipe – an incredibly rare bird in this country – close to Alexandra Lake. Unfortunately, it didn’t give him time to photograph it as it flew off east so we will probably never know for sure.

Three days later it was the turn of the botanical team to see what they could find. The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland runs a survey at the start of each year to see how many plants are in flower. With incredibly mild weather through December continuing into January, this was likely to mean a few flowers, but nothing could have prepared us for what we discovered on the bright and sunny morning of 4th January. Yarrow was flowering in many places, yellow splashes illuminated some of the clumps of gorse and the pale blue flowers of green alkanet were appearing here and there. With some careful searching, scarcer blooms were found, including both Guernsey and Canadian fleabane near Jubilee Pond, where some flowering alexanders were attracting a number of very unseasonal hoverflies. Wood avens was in flower by the garages behind Belgrave Road and two different types of crane’s-bill were seen under the Green Man roundabout, where there was also some flowering musk-mallow. A hornbeam tree in Bush Wood was carrying a fine display of catkins. All eight members of the botany crew were amazed at the variety of flowering plants on show: no less than 37 species in total.

One can expect to find fungi throughout the year, but in early January they are usually pretty thin on the ground. Not this year, though. If plants and birds were leading the way in terms of diversity, the fungi representation was not too shabby, with a nice array of colours, including the spectacular yellow brain fungus.

So, scores on the doors as of 12 Jan: 220, made up of 103 plants, 76 birds, 24 fungi and miscellaneous others. Expect the miscellaneous ‘others’ to start making up ground in the spring.

Please post any sightings on the Wren Wildlife Group’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/WrenOrg/ or tweet to @wrenwildlife.

Pics: Flowering Quince on Wanstead Flats; Turkey Tail fungus in Bush Wood.

Tim Harris

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Posted on:
January 14th, 2016

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Bioblitz target blown away


The Wren Group’s bio-blitz exceeded all expectations. From Monday 22 June a number of group members – including Kathy Hartnett, Nick Croft, Rose Stephens, Paul Ferris, James Heal and myself – were doing recce work for the weekend ahead, and recording species as we went. James neared the end of his survey of the trees of Bush Wood, finding 26 species, Kathy found and Paul confirmed the presence of Yellow Rattle in the SSSI and Rose found a scarce Black-rimmed Hunchback fly, Ogcodes pallipes. These discoveries set things up nicely for the weekend of concentrated events, starting on the evening of 26th with a bat walk in Wanstead Park, led by Keith French and Andy Froud. Four species were detected, although a Myotis species could not be identified to species level. A good proportion of the 70 people who attended the walk came across to the Temple enclosure, where five moth traps were running. Anthony Harbott, Graham Smith, Martin, Jono Lethbridge, Tom Casey, Nick Croft and myself rushed around like mad things checking each trap in turn for interesting visitors. Ironically, some of the best of the bunch weren’t even in the traps but persisted in flying close to the observers around the Temple steps. Three or four Leopard Moths took star billing, but also of note were four Red-necked Footmen, not previously recorded in our area. Single Poplar and Elephant Hawkmoths also delighted the observers, as did Tom’s Stag Beetle.

The focus of attention shifted to Wanstead Flats the following morning. Thibaud erected the City of London’s gazebo by Centre Road car park and this became our nerve centre. Just as the previous evening, the weather stayed fine, with plenty of sun and no rain. Tricia Moxey and Gill James, ably assisted by Kathy Hartnett and Iris Newbery, led walks in the morning and afternoon respectively, searching for interesting plants and invertebrates. No one was disappointed and as a bonus, our two local ground-nesting birds, Skylark and Meadow Pipit, performed territorial song-flights. Arguably the rarest find of the weekend occurred during the afternoon – a high-flying Black Kite picked up by Nick Croft over the Old Sewage Works. The bird climbed still higher while Nick was watching it, and no one else was able to pick it up. This species is notoriously difficult to get past the rarities committee, but Nick thinks he has enough on it to see it accepted. Meanwhile, back on the Flats, Diptera (fly) expert Jeremy Richardson worked hard to find dozens of these surprisingly beautiful insects, concentrating on the area around Angell Pond and the copses. Fellow entomologists Tristan Bantock, Jim Flanagan and Sarah Barnes concentrated on the Coleoptera (beetles) and Hemiptera (true bugs) and found plenty besides. Between them, the trio amassed a total of 179 species, including Psallus anaemicus, a bug associated with Turkey Oak which has only recently been detected in the UK; Antherophagus silaceus, a beetle; and Mecinus janthinus, a toadflax-feeding weevil. Also noteworthy was the discovery of a Toadflax Brocade moth larva; the adult of this species was first recorded earlier in the summer.

On Sunday it was back to the Park. You might be forgiven for thinking that no one would turn up for a 5am dawn chorus walk – but 20 attendees would prove otherwise. Nick Croft led the early birds from the tea hut around the Old Sewage Works and across to the Shoulder of Mutton pond. Not surprisingly there was no repeat of the previous day’s Black Kite, but a good selection was seen – or heard – nonetheless. One of the Shoulder’s Reed Warblers eventually went into chatter mode. Natalie and Jean opened the tea hut at 7:30 so we could have a welcome cuppa and some breakfast. Nice work, guys!

At a more sensible time, Nicola Cunningham had designed some creative activities for children and, ably assisted by Forest keeper Alison Tapply, Bev Poynter and others, the children made a beautiful floral sculpture. Tricia’s morning walk produced Flowering Rush (in flower) on the muddy margins of the Ornamental Water, and Mark Thomas’s repeat search after lunch discovered Great Yellow-cress in the very same area. David Giddings and Kathy Hartnett offered their knowledge and support on these walks. More watery activities were led by Derek McEwan, donning his wellies to lead bouts of pond-dipping in Shoulder of Mutton and the Ornamental Water. Among the highlights were the larvae of six or seven kinds of damselfly and dragonfly and an impressive Horse Leech. In late morning the weather finally let us down and rain probably dampened down the number of people taking part in the afternoon’s activities – even if it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those taking part. At least 210 people participated over the course of the weekend; without the Sunday lunchtime rain I’m sure that figure would have surpassed 250.

As for the species totals, we’d set a target of 400 and that was blown out of the water. As I write there are still some scores to come in, but as things stand, these are the totals, arranged by the main groups:

Plants and mosses: 182 (and set to rise higher)

Invertebrates: 354/355
Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies): 107
Hemiptera (true bugs): 82
Coleoptera (beetles): 65
Diptera (flies): 43
Hymenoptera (bees and wasps): 13
Odonata (damselflies and dragonflies): 9/10 (one larva is still under consideration)
Other invertebrates: 35

Vertebrates: 89
Fish: 6
Amphibians: 3
Reptile: 1
Birds: 70
Mammals: 9

TOTAL: 625/626 species and still rising

Tim Harris, 7 July 2015

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Posted on:
July 8th, 2015

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Bio-Blitz Itinerary


Friday 26 June

21:00. Bat Walk. Meet outside the tea hut, Wanstead Park.

Keith French and Andy Froud, authors of “Social Calls of the Bats of Britain and Ireland”, will lead a walk in Wanstead Park in search of pipistrelles, Noctules, Daubenton’s and other bats. Bring a torch and suitable clothing for an evening walk. Duration: approx. 90 minutes

22:00. Moth-trapping. Meet outside the Temple, Wanstead Park.

Several local moth enthusiasts will have their light traps fired up to attract some of the great array of moths to be found in Wanstead Park, hopefully including a hawkmoth or two. Bring a torch and wear appropriate clothing for an evening activity. Duration: approx. 3 hours, so you can do the bat walk and then look at the moths!

Saturday 27 June

10:30. Wanstead Flats Wildflowers and Bugs. Meet at the Centre Road car park, Wanstead Flats.

Local botanist Tricia Moxey will lead a walk through the site of special scientific interest to the west of Centre Road in search of the area’s special wildflowers, insects and other invertebrates. Hopefully a grasses expert will also be on hand to point out the amazing variety of grasses in the area. Duration: approx. 90 minutes.

11:00 to 15:00. Wanstead Flats Grass-sweeping. Near Centre Road car park, Wanstead Flats.

Join Dr Tristan Bantock and his team of insect specialists as they scour the grasslands for day flying moths, beetles, flies, weevils and other invertebrates. Expect some unusual finds. Duration: several hours.

14:00. Wanstead Flats Larks and Butterflies. Meet at Centre Road car park, Wanstead Flats.

Local naturalist Gill James will lead a walk through the unmown section of Wanstead Flats in search of singing Skylarks, grassland butterflies and wildflowers. Hopefully a grasses expert will also be on hand to point out the amazing variety of grasses in the area. Duration: approx. 90 minutes.

Sunday 28 June

05:00. Dawn Chorus Bird Walk. Meet outside the tea hut in Wanstead Park.

Leading birder Nick Croft leads the crack-of-dawn walk around the park to listen to the sounds of the dawn chorus, see a new generation of young birds and maybe encounter a surprise or two. Duration: approx. 2 hours 30 minutes. The tea hut will open specially for refreshments at 07:30.

11:00 to 15:00. Children’s Art Installation, Nature Table and Quiz Trail. Outside the Temple in Wanstead Park.

Fun, and some challenges for younger nature enthusiasts. There will also be an opportunity for children and adults to enter their nature photographs for a photo gallery. Young children should be accompanied by a parent or carer.

11:30. Wildflowers and Trees of Wanstead Park. Meet outside the Temple, Wanstead Park.

Tricia Moxey will lead a walk around the park to learn about some of its special trees and wildflowers. Duration: about 90 minutes.

11:30. Pond-dipping in Shoulder of Mutton Pond. Meet outside the Temple, Wanstead Park.

The park’s lakes hold a surprising amount of aquatic life, from large fish to tiny invertebrates, including dragonfly larvae. Watch Derek McEwan as he catches an endless array of life-forms from the Shoulder of Mutton lake. Duration: about 90 minutes.

14:00. Pond-dipping in Alexandra Lake. Meet outside the Temple, Wanstead Park.

Derek shifts his pond-dipping activities from the park to Wanstead Flats. Duration: about 90 minutes.

14:00. Wanstead Park Butterfly and Wildflower Walk. Meet outside the Temple, Wanstead Park.

Mark Thomas, ably assisted by Kathy Hartnett, wander around the park in search of butterflies, flowers, dragonflies and more. Duration: about 90 minutes.

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Posted on:
May 25th, 2015

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