Hainault Forest Website

Written and Designed by © Brian Ecott

NATURE DIARY

November - December 2012

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One Mallard duck and two drakes walking on thin ice on the lake during a cold spell on 2nd December 2012. On the 5th there was a sprinkling of snow. Photo © Michael Rumble.

Photos © Michael Rumble.

The state of the forest and the way that it has been left is causing concern among users and it will be a very long time before it is fully restored to normal use. Weather conditions had prevented restoration by October 2012 but it is expected to be started in spring 2013. How consultants and surveyors failed to note the water catchment on maps, the prevalence of willows which block the underground drainage and ignore the advice of local people is amazing, but of course the exercise in public consultation is a sham and irrelevant when all was determined and decided beforehand. Even the planning application approved by Redbridge Council had to be rescinded and revised as vehicles became bogged down during construction, and as the completion date loomed nearer. Properly constructed roadways were allowed to be developed using tons of rubble and concrete. After the site was completed the public were asked to approve retrospective planning which is a legal necessity but has left us a legacy of concrete, rubble, heaps of mud strewn over 40 acres of once amenity grassland which will not be available for use for a very long time. All the rubble and concrete must be removed completely, not buried and top soil put back before re-seeding with the appropriate seed mixture. Even in 1906 they got the seed mixture wrong. As a regular visitor I hear the sad comment from several people who don't expect to live to see the forest restored, of others who are occasional visitors and are put off by what they see and others who we don't see anymore. It is over 100 years since the forest was given to the public forever and it's character has developed over those years. Even the two world wars didn't see such devastation here.

After high winds the millennium beacon landmark falls 25 November 2012    Photo © Daniel Britton.

The Meercats are an attraction in the Zoo and farm.

Photographed 29th  November  © Michael Rumble

It is the end of another year and as I look back I am always aware and grateful to people who send me contributions for use on the website. Small or large contributions. Specialist walk leaders, specialist help with identification and photographs all help to maintain a high quality website that has developed over time since the foot and mouth closure for a few months in 2001. Where would I be without the wonderful pictures of Michael Rumble and many others whose photographs are credited in many of the 200 pages found on this site. THANKYOU.

 Black headed gulls in winter plumage over the lake. In winter there is a small black spot behind the eye, but in the summer the whole head turns a dark brown. Pictures © Michael Rumble 9th December 2012.

Heron perched and flying over lake. Photo © Michael Rumble 10th December 2012

Cormorant on the lake, wing drying after fishing underwater. Photo © Michael Rumble 1st December 2012

I am always amazed to find wildlife specimens which are rare in the UK or Essex and also new to Hainault Forest. Despite its small area, the site is a treasure trove of unique species. I have been walking the forest since I could first walk, when a walk around the lake seemed to take ages. My hope would be that through these pages some young persons would use the area as their patch as it so rich in birds, mammals insects, fungi, flowers, trees, mosses, and algae and it might lead to a lifetime interest. Peter Comber has lived at Chigwell Row all his life and began taking an interest in fungi in which he is now an expert. I photographed the Leafy Brain fungus (below) on a fallen birch branch and it was Peter to whom I went for identification.  During a walk in November I came across the swollen flower heads of Charlock (below)  which I was able to get identified by Dr Brian Spooner, Head mycologist at Kew Gardens. I have an interest in plant galls and for 13 years have recorded them. I wrote a paper on the Galls of Hainault Forest 2006 - 2010 which has just been published by The Essex Field Club.  See Paper and  Illustrations in PDF format

Leafy Brain fungus Tremella foliacea Headland Path 28th November 2012

Identified as rare by local mycologist Peter Comber.

Fungal gall on Charlock 17th November 2012 near 2nd car park.

Identified by Dr. Brian Spooner as White blister gall Albugo candida

On the 17th November 2012 Members of the London Natural History Society paid a visit to Hainault Forest to look at Lichens on trees and bushes under the leadership of John Skinner of Southend Museum, Lichen Recorder for The Essex Field Club. Many photographs were taken, and I am indebted to George Hounsome of the LNHS for letting me use a few on this page. See a new lichen photo page.

Physcia aipolia 17 Nov 2012   On Crack willow group near 2nd car park.

Photo © George Hounsome LNHS.

Ramalina fastigata 17th November 2012 Scrub near lake.

Pleurosticta acetabulum on Crack willow group near 2nd car park.

Photo © George Hounsome LNHS. 17 Nov 2012

Collema crispum among moss near lake outflow.

 Photo © George Hounsome LNHS  17th November 2012.

The Annual Christmas workshop took place in the Hainault Room on the 8th December 2012 was well attended and many attendees come back year after year and produce very professional wreaths and table decorations under the expert guidance of Linda Herbert. To see this years decorations click here  or earlier workshops in 2011, and 2010.

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September - October 2012

Hoverfly Syritta pipiens on Common fleabane 4th September 2012

Tar spot fungus Rhytisma acerinum on Sycamore. 7th September 2012

Oak marble gall  Andricus kollari  7th September 2012

Gall chimera on oak 17th September 2012

Voracious larvae of Hazel Sawfly Croesus septentrionalis on Hazel leaf.

Snoozebox, G4S and the Military have now left Hainault but the planned return of the fields to normal has not been possible due to the wetness of the ground and the inability of machinery to get the rubble away and restore the topsoil. Work cannot start now before April 2013 weather permitting but it will be several years before the site is fully restored.

The long grassland and wild flowers have been a haven for wildlife especially the hoverflies - see August pictures below. One hoverfly appeared on the 4th September on Common fleabane was Syritta pipiens with it's distinctive markings.

A number of species of gall on oak are beginning to reappear after an absence of several years. Spangle, Smooth and Silk button galls are all present but in small numbers. The Small pea gall Cynips divisa on the underside of oak leaves is still missing. The oak marble gall Andricus kollari is often associated with scrub oak and is quite common this year. While photographing oak galls I came across two different species of gall associated with the same acorn. One was Andricus grossulariae ♀♀ and the other a Knopper gall Andricus quercuscalicis ♀♀. Where eggs of different species of gall wasp have been laid on the same developing acorn it is termed a chimera.

The newly planted hedgerow which runs alongside the golf course path leading to the top of Cabin Hill is developing nicely, and has a variety of species. Hazel is now producing hazel nuts or cobnuts as they are also known and eaten at Christmastide. One particular hazel tree was invaded by a large number of voracious Hazel sawfly larvae Croesus septentrionalis. When disturbed they flip their tails in the air. When they have eaten one leaf they will move as a group to another leaf and continue devouring it.

On the back of one hazel leaf I found the caterpillar of the Common white wave moth Cabera pusaria. It is a small caterpillar about 3cms in length, greenish-grey with a line of red marks along its back. The larva will pupate and overwinter as a pupa and emerge in the spring as a small night-flying white moth.

On the occasional sunny day in October a few butterflies were recorded. One of the last sightings was of a Red admiral on the 16th. nectaring on Common ragwort. Not that long ago Red admirals did not survive over-wintering in the UK but were invaded from the continent in spring each year.

It has been a good year for fungi. I found a Charcoal cup fungus Peziza echinospora outside the toilet block on the 14th September which was identified by local mycologist Peter Comber.

Peter led two forays this October. On the 21st for the Conservation Team at Hainault Lodge Local Nature Reserve. There was a good turn out and 37 species were found including Marasmius wynnei which was a first for Peter and a first for Hainault. Pictured below are two Xylaria species Dead Man's fingers and Dead Moll's fingers

On the 28th October Peter led a walk for The British Naturalists Association and although only 2 people turned up over 53 species were found. Full lists are given here.

Charcoal cup Peziza echinospora near toilet block. 14th September 2012.

Close up of Hazel sawfly larvae above. 13th September 2012.

Common white wave caterpillar Cabera pusaria on Hazel leaf 13th Sept 2012.

Red admiral Vanessa atalanta Photo © Michael Rumble  16th October 2012

Dead man's fingers Xylaria polymorpha   xxxxxxxxxx Dead moll's fingers Xylaria longipes xxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Parrot wax cap Hygrocybe psittacina xx

Photo  © Francis Castro 21st October 2012              Photo  © Francis Castro 21st October 2012                Photo © Ron Andrews 28th October 2012

Hainault Lodge Local Nature Reserve                        Hainault Lodge Local Nature Reserve                         Hainault Forest.

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 August 2012

THIS MONTH IN PICTURES The wet spring and summer this year prevented the grass cutting throughout the London Borough of Redbridge. The effect in Hainault Forest  was that large areas of mature grassland evolved. This did not seem to restrict public enjoyment of the forest.  Ragwort Senecio jacobaea, Common Knapweed Centaurea nigra, and Wild carrot Daucus carota were all flowering. This provided ample food supplies for Bees, Hoverflies, Beetles and Butterflies. Several of these became prey to Spiders. Many new species were discovered. Bees in particular are down 50% countrywide and all that can be done to increase the bee population in the UK is praiseworthy. Bees especially, and other pollinators ensure success in maintaining good quality and quantity of fruit and crops in the UK and less reliance on overseas imports.

ANYONE FOR TENNIS - Common Green grasshoppers Omocestus viridulus on tennis balls. Near Romford gate, Cabin Hill. 2nd August 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SID. Family and Friends celebrate Sid Parker's 85th birthday on the 2nd August 2012 at the Global Café

White death spider Misumena vatia on Yarrow with prey item a Tachinid fly Phasia hemiptera. Hoghill 4th August 2012. Phasia hemiptera was kindly identified by "Torcross" of the NHM website Nature Plus.  A record of the fly location was sent to the Natural History Museum for their recording scheme.

Photograph © Michael Rumble

 

Clustered bonnet Mycena inclinata in hollow oak stump. 21st August 2012.

Photo © Len Ratcliff

Fly Graphomya maculata Female. Hoghill. 6th August 2012. 

Sexually dimorphic species. Male has yellow wings and abdomen.

Hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta Male on Ragwort. Hoghill. 2nd August 2012     Photo © Michael Rumble

Hoverfly Eristalis arbustorum on ragwort, Hoghill.6th August 2012

Hoverfly Helophilus pendulus on Ragwort. Hoghill. 10th August 2012

Shaggy bracket Inonotus hispidus on Ash tree near café  15th August 2012. Identified with thanks by Peter Comber who has not recorded this before in Hainault Forest.

 

Slime mould Enteridium lycoperdon on old stump near 2nd car park 13th Aug.  

Hoverfly Eristalis arbustorum on ragwort, Hoghill.6th August 2012.  Photo © Michael Rumble

Greater knapweed Centaurea scabiosa. Hoghill. 10th August 2012

This is the first record for this species here.

Hoverfly  Chrysotoxum verralli 23 August 2012 Photo © Michael Rumble

 

 

Gall in the bracts of Ragwort. Compare with the normal size flowers surrounding it.  This is caused by a fly larva Sphenella marginata. This is the first record for Hainault Forest.  8th August 2012

Rare breed Mangalitza hairy pig originally bred in Hungary and Austria can be seen on the farm. Also known as Curly haired hog in the Balkans.

11th August 2012

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  June - July 2012

BBC tv London comes to Hainault 1st July 2012 © Michael Rumble.

An official from SnoozeBox hands buggy key to Sidney Parker.

Female and Male Mandarin ducks on the lake 1st July 2012

Mallard duck with six ducklings on lake 2nd June 2012

Mandarin duck with five ducklings on lake 21st July 2012

 Labyrinth spider Agelena labyrinthica in grassland. Hoghill. Photographs © Michael Rumble 21st July 2012

Azure damselfly Coenagrion puella pair in tandem.  Photograph © Michael Rumble 10th July 2012

The preparation of the site of Snoozebox temporary hotel to house G4S security and Military personnel  for the Olympics commenced on 1st June and with such heavy rainfall throughout June and part of July the original plans had to rethought. Mud was everywhere and Foxburrows Road was used by heavy traffic which was not planned or foreseen. Lorries got stuck in the mud and much chaos ensued. A temporary car park was marked out on several occasions but at yet has not been dry enough to use. The locals who know the site very well questioned the suitability of the site known as Lord's Pond fields for any activity let alone such a project. When such ideas are made public it is to late to  alter them and the planning process and consultation are nodded through. Despite the promise to restore the site to its original condition by 1st October 2012 it will take a couple of years before the site will be fully available for public use.

Several daily and weekly newspapers carried reports of the state of Hainault Forest and many local people made their thoughts known. On 1st July BBC tv London news came and Reporter Ayshea Buksh interviewed camp personnel and local park users including yours truly with Roy Meekings and Sid Parker. It was heavily edited and a waste of interviewees time. A link to the BBC news item is on the home page.

One of the first things that the plans included was the closure of the footpath from the Café to the Lake. This is a path regularly used by groups of disabled and incapacitated people from several of the local boroughs. The alternative was a long walk which many could not do, including Sidney Parker, 85, who can barely walk even with the aid of two sticks, and his balance is not good. He has daily fed the swans and ducks on the lake for 25 or more years even in inclement weather and could be regularly seen seated on his friend the late John Dick's memorial seat. John was Captain of West Ham United in the early '60's. Sid made such a fuss that after several promises he was presented with a buggy and driver who would take him to the lake daily. He was handed the buggy on 21st July courtesy of SnoozeBox.

A Mallard duck introduced six ducklings on the 2nd June on the lake and they all were successfully fledged during the period. A pair of Mandarin ducks were seen on the 1st July on the lake and subsequently the female hatched five ducklings on the 21st July. By the end of July they have been very wayward and the female is very agitated by their adventurous nature. One has gone missing. I have not seen them breeding here before.

Because of the wet conditions this year grass cutting has been a problem this year, and many places in the borough have yet to be cut. There is much grassland in Hainault and the long grass has provided a great habitat for the wildlife. A Labyrinth spider builds its web tunnel low in the grass and sit in wait for its prey insects to come by. It is a harmless spider and it kept retreating into its tunnel when Michael Rumble tried to photograph it. Patience was rewarded when it eventually came out of the tunnel.

Michael Rumble photographed a pair of Azure damselflies on the 10th July. The male has grasped the female by the back of the neck and they will fly as a pair in tandem with the female dipping her abdomen into the water to lay her eggs. When looking at Blue damselflies it is important to look at the second abdominal segment mark which is an aid to identification and in the case of the Azure damselfly shows a drinking glass in the male and a wine glass in the female and has been arrowed in the photograph.

Insects lack eyes like the vertebrates. Instead they have compound eyes each of which is made up thousands of individual lenses. They are very good at detecting movement. Michael got this magnificent close-up of the head of an immature Hawker dragonfly which was resting on a Dock plant. It clearly shows the facetted appearance of the eye.

As the weather improved a Brimstone butterfly was seen on 28th June and on the first real sunny day 15th July the Comma, Gatekeeper, Meadow brown, Small heath, Large skipper, Small and Essex skippers were present in good numbers and to date especially amongst the Knapweed and Ragwort grassland. Day flying moths were also abundant, A Mother Shipton moth was photographed on a buttercup, a Bloodline moth on a nettle and a pair of Six spotted Burnet moths were spotted during the period. Burnet moths were present in large numbers  at the end of July having hatched from their cocoons  firmly affixed to grass stems.

A few stripy caterpillars were seen feeding on Ragwort. When they are present in large numbers they will strip a Ragwort plant down to the ground and crawl along the ground to find another to demolish, but not so this year. The bright orange caterpillar has black stripes and hairs and these warning colours and poisonous nature helps keep predators away.. It pupates in the soil in autumn.

Another insect whose larvae strips the leaves off wild roses is the Rose sawfly. These are not true caterpillars as found in Moths and Butterflies but have subtle differences. When disturbed they will wave their rear ends as seen in the photograph. They were seen feeding on a rose bush on Cabin Hill.

Click here to see other sawflies.

 

Hoverflies are abundant this year and Episyrphus balteatus is very common nectaring on the knapweed growing on Hog hill. Although wasp-like in appearance these are harmless flies. Another common but larger hoverfly is Epistrophe eligans which is widespread in the forest grasslands. Click here to see other hoverflies.

 

Dog rose flowers are a good place to observe and photograph flower beetles like the Thick thighed flower beetles Oedemera nobilis whose male has very big "thighs". Photographed here is the pollen beetle Malachius bipustulatus the abdomen of which has two red spots on the end.

 

Some of the plant galls are appearing to recover after an absence of several years. Common spangle and silk button galls being two that are reappearing this year. Sloes are having a bad year having been affected by a fungus Taphrina pruni. Pocket plums are galls on blackthorn fruit and the sloes are distorted and enlarged and lack a stone. A new gall for the Hainault list is the leaf stem or swollen petiole gall Contarinia petioli.

 

Surveys and chance encounters turn up some interesting species in Hainault Forest. In June a female Midas Tree Weaver spider Midia midas was found in a pitfall trap in a Hornbeam pollard during a recent survey of spiders by Michele Russell-Smith. This is the first record in 32 years and only the second record for Hainault. Perhaps it might be possible to obtain a photograph of it.

The Flypast celebrating the Queen's Official Birthday came over Hainault on 21st June and the Red Arrows were part of the line-up. Michael Rumble  captured them as they flew overhead.

 

During half-term children took the opportunity to ride Riffham's donkeys, which proved very popular.

 

The Olympic torch went through Redbridge on 22nd July. Peter Comber got up bright and early to witness the handover of the flame in Forest Road.

 

A large number of people turned up for the Redbridge longer Walk to Health in June and July. Pictured here on 20th June we rested in the Woodland Trust Havering Park Farm field. As it was unusually hot we turned back rather thank doing the complete circle. Unfortunately the walks for August to December have been cancelled due to Olympics and pressure of work.

 

And now for a Fairy Tale:

Auntie’s coming

“Listen children, I’ve just received a letter to say that Auntie is coming on the 28th June, we’ll need to tidy up,” said Father. “We can’t have her here with this place in such a mess, said Mother. “We’ll make her a nice lunch to remember and then we can show her around.” “Will she bring us something nice, or give us some money?” said the kids in unison. “No said Father, but if you are lucky she might give you a flag to wave.”  Dear, benevolent Auntie! The children rush round in frenzied circles achieving nothing but destruction.

It is mid June as I walk through the ancient woodland in Hainault Forest. The woodland rides are having their borders cut! No woodland flowers allowed here, as they are cut every year in June by Woodland Trust contractors. Why June? Someone’s coming to visit. The old oaks lose their branches and are turned into frightening sculptures. Locals call it Disneyland Hainault. Families around the Angel car park feel that the grim reaper upsets their children and grandchildren - it is macabre, A pirate king, yogi bear and fifty other sculptures are fun but have no place here since the aerial tree habitat is being lost. It’s a different and richer world up there as opposed to logs on the ground as John Skinner at the Essex Field Club social last November demonstrated a  lichen which is only found in the dead wood canopy. See also Midas Tree Weaver above. Possible future veteran ancient trees are never left to get old, an opportunity lost.

Over in the Redbridge section the staff are keeping busy as the countdown moves closer to Auntie's visit. Widen the paths along the Helleborine site - at least two foot wider. Trim the overhanging trees and throw the arisings on the Helleborine site. I carefully remove the branches and show the manager where the sensitive areas are. I report that a new orchid has been found - a Common spotted orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii (pictured above). Someone decides that the two metre gravel path needs its edges trimmed - in June! Bye bye orchid!

The Green flag award is a prestige award, for whom? Do the Country Park users care? Do they know or understand what the flag is for? We are appearing to move back to the days when the Country Park was a park that nobody knew how to manage. The Country Park is NOT an urban park. It lacks the formality, the straight lines, the short grassland, the flower beds. Management, users and volunteers can be proud that Goodmayes, Elmhurst Gardens, South Park, Ilford War Memorial Park, and Valentines have gained the award.

Hawker dragonfly compound eye. Lake.  22nd July 2012 © Michael Rumble

Mother Shipton Callistege mi on buttercup. © Michael Rumble 6th June 2012

Blood-vein Timandra comae on nettle by lake. © Michael Rumble.1 July 2012

Six-spot Burnet moth Zygaena filipendulae pair on Knapweed, Hoghill.

30th July 2012

Caterpillar of Cinnabar moth on ragwort 21st July 2012

Larvae of the Rose Sawfly feeding on the leaves. 15th July 2012

Hoverflies Episyrphus balteatus nectaring on knapweed. 30th July 2012

Hoverfly Epistrophe eligans on Cockspur thorn. Plantation. 1st June 2012

As for the wilder open spaces in the Borough the Green Flag has no place.

 

 

Pollen beetle Malachius bipustulatus on Dog rose. 6th June 2012. above.

 

Common spotted orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii  25th June 2012 right.

Pocket plums on blackthorn caused by fungus Taphrina pruni 1st June 2012

Petiole gall Contarinia petioli on Aspen 22nd July 2012

Red arrows pass over Hainault for The Queen's Birthday Celebrations 21st June 2012. © Michael Rumble.

Children enjoying Riffhams Donkey rides during half term. 5th June 2012.

Olympic torch handover, Forest Road 22nd July 2012 © Peter Comber

Redbridge walk to Health 20th June 2012 on Woodland Trust's Havering Park Farm

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April - May 2012

Greylag goose family, 3rd May 2012

Canada geese goslings in crèches with their minders. 18th May 2012

Cucumber spider female amongst newly emerged oak leaves  11th May 2012

White death spider waits on a newly emerged oak leaf  13th May 2012

Cranefly Epiphragma ocellaris © Michael Rumble 22nd May 2012

 

Following the heatwave for the last week in March, the weather deteriorated and for April and May there were few sunny periods but with strong winds, showers with hail, rainy days and overall grey skies. Rainfall exceeded the averages for the months.

The Greylag hybrid geese were the first to raise a family of four goslings which appeared early May and there were no losses. The first Canada geese families emerged on the 13th May and by the 18th there were large crèches of them accompanied by  a few minders.

The oak trees were slow to come into leaf and on examining the leaves female Cucumber spiders Araniella cucurbitina  and White death spiders Misumena vatia were laying in wait to capture prey. I witnessed a White death spider catch a honey bee at Ray Park and the next day catch a Small Heath butterfly.  While drinking numerous cups of tea at the Global cafe I found a male Cucumber spider crawling up the cup and posing for a photograph,

Michael Rumble photographed a Cranefly in the grassland near the golf course. It puzzled me as I had never seen a Cranefly with patterned wings which appeared as a series of squiggles. Del Smith of The Essex Field Club, an expert on Craneflies, identified it as Epiphragma ocellaris  of which there are a few records in west Essex like Epping Forest and a new record for Hainault. It is found in woodland grassland.

On the 31st May I noticed some pimples on oak leaves with a corresponding pit on the underside. Examination under the microscope revealed that all the pits contained larvae of a plant louse (Psyllid). I managed to photograph this tiny larva named as Troiza remota and am pleased with the result. The pimples are just one of many galls that occur on oaks. Click here to see more galls on oaks.

The Seven spot ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata is present on good numbers and I have seen few of the alien Harlequin Harmonia axyridis so far. This pair were mating on a Field maple leaf.

Pheasants are often heard calling in the forest but seldom seen. Michael Rumble photographed a cock pheasant in the grassland area of Cabin Hill, near to the golf course on the 28th May.

Michael also photographed a salmon pink slime mould Lycogala epidendrum growing on rotting birch wood. These strange creatures often appear during rain and are unlike any other fauna that they have their own Kingdom. When I was at school in the forties and fifties all life was characterized as being either plant or animal. This left several anomalies which didn't fit into that classification. Now we have several Kingdoms viz. Plants, Animals, Fungi, Protista and Myxomycetes (Slime moulds). The classification changes as more research is carried out. For more on Slime moulds click here.

The Woodland Trust notice boards are a micro-habitat in themselves. I reported the Conifer Mazegill Gloeophyllum sepiarium in my last report but on 30th May I noticed that several boards are host to various snails. Pictured is a Brown lipped snail Cepaea nemoralis. These are collectively known as banded snails. The lip here is brown and there are few bands. This is a very variable widespread species. The smaller Cepaea hortensis is similarly patterned but generally has a white lip.

A former warden Alice Greenacre planted a hedgerow on the path alongside the Golf course about five years ago. This has come on well and some species have flowered for the first time including Dogwood, Hazel and Guelder rose Viburnum opulus. The white showy flowers around the edge of the inflorescence are sterile and are there to attract insects. These surround the smaller flowers in the center of the flower head are the sexual component. Red berries will appear later in the autumn.  

Finally Michael Rumble stitched a series of photographs together to form a panorama of Lord's Pond Field at the entrance to the Country Park a couple of days before the work starts on the temporary Snoozebox hotel.

Top of oak leaf showing "pimples", and underside showing small pits.

Highly magnified view of larva in pit in oak leaf above. Trioza remota.

Pair of Seven spot ladybirds  13th May 2012

Pheasant near golf course. Photo © Michael Rumble 28th May 2012

Pink Slime mould on rotting wood © Michael Rumble.   22nd May 2012

Brown-lipped snail on notice board. 30th May 2012

Guelder rose.  30th May 2012

 Male cucumber spider on polystyrene cup. 31st May 2012

View of Lord's Pond field before the arrival of Snooze box and Army personnel. 28th May 2012. Photo ©  Michael Rumble

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Spring 2012 extra

THEN AND NOW  The lake edge in February 2005 and May 2012

Ragged robin Lychnis flos-cuculi (pink) reappeared after many years.

1st June 2012

SUCCESS  STORY

In February 2005 part of the eastern edge of the lake was muddy, lacked grassland and was soiled and puddled by the large numbers of Canada geese present. Drastic measures were required. The bank was reinforced by willow stakes closing gaps where the geese had broken the banks and the ground levelled. Willow twigs were inserted into the waters edge where they readily rooted. The area was fenced from the public to allow regeneration.

Another consideration was the large amount of water draining from Hoghill and Dog Kennel Hill in the winter causing flooding. The original ditches draining this area had become ineffective over time and a programme of ditch clearance was carried out on the farm, along the lake edge and around the car park extension. This process was a normal winter activity in the countryside where farm workers used hand held ditching tools. Later this old practice was overtaken by the use of heavy digging machinery. When this was carried out over a period of three winters in the Country Park there was much criticism and outrage directed to the park staff  and council officers. Now some six years later park users can see the effects of this conservation work.

Another criticism has been the small areas of scrub clearance throughout the Country Park area. One small clearance near the lake has resulted in the appearance of the biennial plant Garlic mustard Alliaria petiolata. This is an important plant in the life cycle of the Orange tip butterfly which lays its eggs on the flower head. Another plant that is increasing in numbers is Wood spurge Euphorbia amygdaloides which is an ancient woodland relic species growing near Woodhenge west of the lake.

An area of grassland was allowed to go wild on Cabin Hill near the beacon, by leaving it uncut. Ant hills developed, oak saplings and wild roses appeared Fine needle-like grasses Festuca sp. are now growing along with species such as Heath bedstraw Galium saxatile, Lesser stitchwort Stellaria graminea, Mouse ear hawkweed Hieracium pilosella, Tormentil Potentilla erecta and Sheep's sorrel Rumex acetosella. This has become a great area for Green woodpeckers.

Bee orchids Ophrys apifera appeared after clearing an area around the lake and reappeared again in 2011 and one Broad-leaved helleborine Epipactis helleborine spike occurred near the lake in 2010 after an absence of ten years and 9 spikes appeared in 2011.

Conservation and biodiversity do work but not overnight. Biodiversity means more indigenous plant species, more insect life and birds, mammals etc. Good management. Congratulations to the Redbridge Country Park Staff.

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge in a clearance. 11th May 2012

Wood spurge showing a large increase in numbers following clearance of a small area near the lake. 13 May 2012

Acid grassland habitat developed on part of the grassland. Below, a Green woodpecker feeds among the anthills developing on this site. 2nd June 2012

Broad-leaved helleborine June 2010

Bee orchid June 2010

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January - March 2012

Kites flown by members of the Essex Kite Group on 21st February 2012 included a frog over the lake.

Scores on the doors at Global Café in Hainault Forest Country Park.

Members of the Essex Kite Group are regular visitors to Hainault Forest not only at weekends but often on weekdays. On the 21st February saw the inaugural flight of the giant frog which was made by a club member. Kites are becoming more unique and colourful and it is a pleasure to see them in the sky.  Children will be able to design and make their own kite, learn flying techniques with tuition and guidance provided by members of the Essex Kite Group. There will be three workshops at Eastertide on the 4th April for 5-11 year olds. Full details see 2012 programme.

Visitors to the Country Park will be pleased to know that the Global café was awarded a five star rating for food hygiene late last year. You can't get better than that. The café offers a wide range of freshly cooked meals, hot and cold drinks, filled rolls, ice creams, biscuits. Cigarettes and alcoholic drinks are also available. For children there are also a small range of tennis balls, footballs, cricket sets and kites for purchase.

Towards the close of 2011, Michael Rumble discovered a fungus growing on a Woodland Trust notice board near the Camelot pub at Lambourne End. This was later identified as the Conifer Mazegill Gloeophyllum sepiarium (a first for Hainault Forest) by local mycologist Peter Comber who writes "I can only assume that the notice boards are made from deal or similar as it prefers conifers.  The notice board at the top end of the heathland is also infected but at an earlier stage."

The winter months are a good time to look for mosses and lichens as there is no leaf cover. On several young smooth barked Ash trees a crustose lichen was noticed. It was later named as a common species Lecidella elaeochroma.

I have been photographing dog breeds that come to Hainault Forest since 2007 and I thank all dog owners for their help and cooperation during this time The one hundredth breed was an American Bulldog closely followed by 101 a Northern Inuit and 102 a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. These and all the other breeds can be seen on the Dogs at Hainault page.

On Sunday the 5th February snow came to the forest and soon hundreds of families appeared and soon began building snowmen and tobogganing down Hog hill. About 7cms of snow fell and a cold spell followed. In the last week of March the sun appeared and we were treated to unusually high temperatures, especially in Scotland where I happened to be (Pitlochry).  Coltsfoot by the lake and Cherry plum were in flower on 10th March.

Toby Bancroft, Regional manager - SE England of The Woodland Trust in 2007 gave the assurance that it was merely a cosmetic exercise to make the long distance path usable across Latchford Meadow.

Conifer Mazegill Gloeophyllum sepiarium on a Woodland Trust notice board near The Camelot.

A crustose lichen Lecidella elaeochroma on a young ash tree 11th March '12

Now five years later and photographed 1st January 2012  still nothing has been done. It shows you cannot TRUST the Trust to do anything useful. An accident waiting to happen. Where's the Health and Safety Brigade?

An American bulldog became the 100th dog breed that I photographed.

An accident waiting to happen!

On the 5th February 2012 snow came to the forest. A cold spell followed.

Family enjoying the snow. 5th February 2012.

Black-headed gulls in winter plumage line the posts of the overflow car park. 26th Jan 2012.

10th March 2012 saw Coltsfoot by the lake (top) and Cherry plum on Hog Hill.