Nature Club – June 2016 – Earthworm Watch and Minibeast Hunt

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: June 30th, 2016 | 0 Comments

5099: Looking for earthworms More Citizen Science for our young scientists! We took part in a national survey of earthworms called Earthworm Watch by looking at earthworms on Wanstead Flats and seeing what kind of soil we have. We dug a hole in a recently cleared patch of earth where some tree had been cut down. It was very hard as it had probably never been dug before and had tree roots and lumps of yellow clay. Ruduo was a terrific digger. Then we carefully sifted through the dark brown surface soil we had dug out and found 6 pale coloured surface- feeding worms, one of which had a 'saddle' which told us it was an adult. Then we poured a mustard powder and water mixture in the hole to see if there were any deep-living worms down there at the bottom. Worms don't like this, so they come out. Mustard must be too hot for their taste, but it does not hurt them. We saw two more longer and darker worms appear! We also did a test with a few of drops of vinegar to see if the soil fizzed. It did not so we learnt that it was not a limestone soil. We could squeeze handfuls of soil in to sausage and patty shapes which told us it was not a sandy soil but a clay soil. This is typical of the soil in the Thames Valley area where we live. We also went looking for minibeasts amongst the lovely waving flowering grasses and found some beautiful spiders carrying their young in egg sacs between their spinners. We identified them as a wolf spider and a nursery web spider. 7 children today.

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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):


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.


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.


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 (

Price: Free

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WeBS counts on Wanstead Flats and in Wanstead Park 21 February 2016

Posted by:wrengroup | Posted on: February 21st, 2016 | 0 Comments

Common Teal

Today's WeBS counts on Wanstead Flats and in Wanstead Park produced some interesting finds, including a bumper total of 1200+ Common Gulls on the Flats and 22 Common Teal in the Park (close to a record for the Park). There was also a sharming Water Rail at Shoulder of Mutton but it didn't show itself. Scores on the doors (combined Flats and Park):

  • Mute Swan, 29
  • Canada Goose, 201
  • Greylag Goose, 46
  • Egyptian Goose, 4
  • Mallard, 181
  • Gadwall, 16
  • Shoveler, 49
  • Common Teal, 22
  • Pochard, 15
  • Tufted Duck, 39
  • LIttle Grebe, 3
  • Great Crested Grebe, 3
  • Cormorant, 6
  • Grey Heron, 5
  • Water Rail, 1
  • Coot, 152
  • Moorhen, 56
  • Black-headed Gull, 664+
  • Common Gull, 1214+
  • Herring Gull, 13
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull, 11
  • Great Black=backed Gull, 1

Tim Harris

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