Wren, the Wanstead Park and Flats Conservation group, have cancelled all public events until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak. Virtual wildlife Meetings and suggestions for activities continue here

Wren Newsletter Spring 2020 out now

Click link below:



Update -James Heal has made a short presentation to delineate our local patch and the grid squares to use for recording purposes. Click on the pdf below:

The Wren Wildlife Recording Area


Bluebell Wood


Two activities which can be done during lock-down. All you need are some dandelions!

1) Adults and over sevens:
Do a ten-minute FIT COUNT! ( FIT= flower-insect timed count)
Choose a warm,sunny, still day.
Find a 50cm by 50cm square patch of land with some dandelions in flower in your garden or park.
Count the number of dandelions in your patch. Count the insects which land on them ( easier with a magnifying glass) during ten minutes.
Take a photograph.
Try to identify your insects. You can do this by looking at the insects illustrated on the website:
UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme https://www.ceh.ac.uk/our-science/projects/pollinator-monitoring
 You can record your findings on  the simple  PoMS form on the iRecord website if you wish.

FACT:  Dandelions aren’t just ‘WEEDS’!  They provide food for an astonishing 112 invertebrates ( micro- moths, bees,flies, beetles, and aphids…)

2) Under sevens:  Make a DANDELION CROWN
Collect lots of dandelions with their stalks on ( you can add leaves and  paper flowers)
Cut a strip of card 5-10cm wide ( corrugated paper works well)
Fit it round your head.  Use some tape  or staples to make  a crown shape.
Fix the dandelions around your crown with cellotape, double-sided tape if you have it, or string.

 Moth of the Day

Muslin Moth Diaphora mendica

A very smart moth, the male is sooty grey, with small black spots, while the female is white, with even smaller black spots. Whereas males are nocturnal and are often attracted to light, females fly, or crawl on low vegetation, during the daytime. The caterpillars aren’t too fussy in their feeding preferences, with Red Dead-nettle, plantains, and docks all featuring. The flight season runs to the end of June and the species overwinters as a pupa in a cocoon hidden in plant debris. This is another moth whose spring flight season has got earlier. In the mid-1970s it peaked in mid-May, whereas now it is a good fortnight earlier. Over this period its distribution and abundance have both increased. Locally, in the last five years its first appearances of spring at the Belgrave Road light-trap have ranged from 7 April to 7 May. This year was very definitely at the early end of that period, with two on 10 April.

During this time of self-distancing, finding moths around your home and garden can be a good activity.


Lichen of the day

Xanthoria parietina

This common lichen is found on twigs, branches and stone. The greenish-grey colour of the thallus turns bright orange in sunlight. The apothecia are orange with a paler margin (lecanorine), two of these can be seen centrally. 

(Bonus: The greyish lichen at the top left is Physcia adscendens with a characteristic hooded shape to the raised thalline margins.)

WREN Conservation Group Virtual Field Meetings

An introduction to the special trees of the Wanstead Area

with local expert Tricia Moxey

Sunday 31st May 2020 starting at 10-30


This will be the sixth WREN virtual Zoom Meeting and will focus on the interesting trees to be found in the Wanstead Area. Tricia Moxey is a well known local naturalist with an extensive knowledge of our areas wildlife. Starting at 11-00 am, this virtual field meeting will be hosted in Zoom and finish at 12-00.

Tickets will be available soon from: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/wren-wildlife-and-conservation-group



An introduction to Damselflies and Dragonflies from Tony Madgwick

Sunday 24th May 2020 at 10-30 

Damselflies and Dragonflies are two insect groups that have inspired artists, writers, poets, naturalists and the casual observer alike. Drifting through spears of emergent vegetation or hawking across open water, these insects remind us of sultry summer days and the excitement of children seeing their bright colours and hearing their clashing wings…
Tony Madgwick will present a guide to the damselflies and dragonflies of the East London Wren Recording Area (including Wanstead Park, Wanstead Flats and Hollow Ponds). He will talk about how to wrangle and identify these insects, and explore some selected life histories too.
This virtual field meeting was hosted in Zoom and finish at 11:30.


Last weeks virtual meeting is on video, see blog

What’s flying around your garden at night? 

An Introduction to Garden Moths




Whats Happening?

Plenty of Chiffchaff and Blackcap singing locally now. Swallows and Martins are dashing through and Northern Wheatear (above) have arrived back on Wanstead Flats. They are often flighty in spring, but their pale colours and black and white tail is distinctive in flight. There was a sweepstake this year (organised before lockdown) to pick the date of first arrival and over £100 has been raised for charity by Wanstead birders.


Music v Wildlife

A large scale Music Festival on Wanstead flats has again been proposed. We are very concerned about the consequences for the local wildlife, see our letter here: Wren press release


Whipps Cross Hospital Development

The Wren group has concerns about the Development Plans for Whipps Cross Hospital with regard to it’s effect on the local environment. Click on Letter below:

Whipps Cross Development