Hainault Forest Website

Written and Designed by © Brian Ecott


December 2014


Above: Holly © Colin Carron

Left: Ellie © Michael Rumble

Christmas and New Year 2015 Greetings to all.

This year has been a great year for the 2014 Diary pages especially the great photographs. Mine have been supplemented by a varied range of subject matter taken by Michael Rumble and Colin Carron which show the varied nature of Hainault Forest which is often overlooked. Grateful thanks to them both and others who have contributed to the site.

Local mycologist Peter Comber and I represented the Forest at the annual social and exhibition of the Essex Field Club early in December. It has a wealth of exhibits from all Essex, both Natural History and Geology and is held at The Green Centre, Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea.

Peter Comber and Brian Ecott representing Hainault Forest at the Exhibition and Social of The Essex Field Club at Wat Tyler Green Centre, 6th December 2014. Forty photographs taken by Colin Carron, Peter Comber, Brian Ecott and Michael Rumble were displayed including the rare fungus Postia ptychogaster in Hainault Forest which was last recorded in Essex in 1952,

Members of a Facebook Group of Border Terrier enthusiasts appeared at the Forest for a walk and seasonal celebration on the 14th December 2014

Stag's horn or Candlesnuff fungus Xylaria hypoxylon growing on rotting stump. Common throughout the year. Photo © Michael Rumble 8th December 2014.  

A female Mallard lands on a thin layer of ice on the lake.

Photo ©  Michael Rumble 9th December 2014.

Series of three pictures of a Heron attempting to land  in a bush.  Photo ©  Michael Rumble  9th December 2014.

A Black-headed gull in winter plumage walking on an ice sheet on the lake. There is a grey patch behind the eye. The bill is orange tipped with black.

Photo  ©  Michael Rumble  14th December 2014

 Black-headed gull in flight over the lake. Black-headed gulls are winter residents here at Hainault. Photo ©  Michael Rumble  18th December 2014.

Cormorants perching on the lake's island.  23rd December 2014.

The speckled breast of this Cormorant show that it is one of this years brood. Photo ©  Michael Rumble  9th December 2014.

The Willows on the island and surrounding the lake support large growths of Ivy. Ivy plays an important role in the woodland. It provides shelter during the winter months for the birdlife, nesting sites for the early nesting birds, and it supplies ripe berries in the spring for Blackcaps and the early migrants. 13th Dec. 2014.

These two grey squirrels in full pursuit were photographed by Colin Carron. 18th December 2014.

On 5th December 2014 Redbridge's Volunteer Conservation team did some ride clearance and dead hedging. As well as doing conservation work throughout Redbridge they do regular work in Hainault Lodge and Hainault Country Park.

See their programme here.  Photo ©  Julia Coulson

Leaf fall is now complete in the forest and there is a thick layer of leaves. Here on Hoghill the leaf litter is caught by the sunlight.  13th December 2014.

Dark clouds and sun's rays make a dramatic picture looking towards the twin towers of Ilford, and on either side the crystal palace transmitters. 20th Dec. 2014.

On the 23rd December 2014 Michael Rumble captured this picture looking west towards the lake. The contrast with the black clouds and the low winter sun highlights the golden willows.
And finally - Never work with dogs or their owners!


November 2014

The Deceiver Laccaria laccata plentiful in grassland and wooded areas.  On Hoghill,  5th November 2014  Identity confirmed by Peter Comber.

The Deceiver Laccaria laccata. Old specimen on Hog Hill 17th November 2014 Photo © Michael Rumble.
Birch milkcap Lactarius tabidus  5th November 2014 Thanks to Peter Comber for the identification.
 Sulphur tuft Hypholoma fasciculare growing on a rotting tree stump. Plentiful this year. 5th November2014.
Left: Beech woodland on Hog hill looking towards the amenity grassland and Cabin Hill. 18th November 2014.

Three Giant puffballs Calvatia gigantea. These were each the size of a match football. It has been said that during WW2 they were thought to be Hitler's secret weapon. Police were notified of their presence in grassland. On Hoghill path alongside the golf course. 12th November 2014. © Peter Comber

Postia ptychogaster was found by Sarah White on a wooden fence buttress presumably pine. It was said by Mary Smith of the Essex Field Club to have been recorded only once in Essex on 02/09/1952, in Birchanger Wood near Bishops Stortford when It was found by E Groves, and identified by J B Evans.    Peter Comber photographed several on the 12th November 2014. 
Clouded funnel or agaric Clitocybe nebularis, common and often in large rings in the wooded areas, 6th November 2014, Butter Waxcap Hygrocybe ceracea   Short grassland on Hoghill. Thanks to local mycologist Peter Comber for the identification.  20th November 2014.
Young Parrot waxcaps Hygrocybe psittacina in short grassland opposite Foxburrows cottages 17th November 2014.  Photo ©  Michael Rumble Parrot waxcaps showing later development and the gradual loss of the green colour to yellowish. Tip of cap pink.  Hoghill grassland 18th November 2014.

Leaf litter found on the path to Cabin Hill from the lake indicating the presence of a Wild Service tree Sorbus torminalis. It is regarded as an indicator of Ancient Woodland. I am only aware of this one in the Country Park. There are four in the Woodland Trust's Lambourne Forest, One in Chigwell Row Recreation Ground Nature Reserve and one in Gravel Lane. Several have been recorded in Epping Forest.  6th November 2014.

Beech and yellowing Field maple leaves form the leaf litter on Hog Hill. Photograph ©  Michael Rumble  17th November 2014

Found on a fallen branch is the fungus Radulomyces molaris  syn. Cerocorticium molare 15th November 2014. Scale x1.5. Identified with thanks to Peter Comber who states that this is an old specimen. Younger specimens are lighter in colour. The specific name molare/molaris  refers to the teeth like shape of the fruiting body. Said to be rare.

Woolly aphid on crab-apple near the lake. Species not identified.  11th November 2014

The Myxomycete (slime mould) Mucilago crustacea resembles cold porridge. Seen here growing on grassland, there were many patches on Hog Hill.           18th November 2014. This tiny stalked Myxomycete (slime mould) growing on rotting wood and scanned with a mm. ruler is called Trichia decipiens. Lambourne Wood.                        12th November 2014

Magpie in flight. The picture clearly shows the ten mainly white primary feathers and the ten blue secondary feathers on the wing tips. For more details of feathers go to the feathers page.   © Colin Carron  25th November 2014.

Green cellar slug (Irish Yellow slug) Limacus maculatus collected by manager Paul Browne in some secondary woodland between the Romford Road and the Lake where the team were clearing ditches. Fully extended it measured 8.5cms. Top right shows the breathing pore on the right side near the back end of the mantle.   Ridges appear like a large ridged whorled fingerprints on the mantle in the picture and the one below. On the right the slug has been turned on its back to show the pale colouration.

The distribution maps show an Irish and Western distribution in "Slugs of Britain and Ireland" Ben Rawson et al. 2014. FSC., although thought by them to be widespread throughout Britain in domestic situations hence under recorded.    With thanks to Simon Taylor, Recorder for Molluscs, Essex Field Club for the identification     

Grey squirrel poses. Photos ©  Colin Carron 25th November 2014.

And finally........... Autumn beyond the lake towards Chigwell Row, All Saints Church,

and sun rays and mist in the woodland.

18th November 2014.
© Colin Carron  25th November 2014
© Colin Carron  25th November 2014


October 2014

A large group of families, their relatives and friends held a Pumpkin Fest and picnic on Sunday 25th October 2014. Many children were in fancy dress.

Parasol mushrooms Macrolepiota procera have been around for the past couple of months on Hoghill. They are very large and I couldn't resist placing my Yorkie in the photograph. They measured 33 cms tall and the caps 22 cms diameter. A loose thick white ring is also seen in the picture. 25th October 2014.


A young parasol Macrolepiota procera shows the cap and ring before they have separated.  20th October 2014.



Two pictures above show a similar species Lepiota rhacodes var bohemica, identified by local mycologist Peter Comber. This species grows in the lower slopes of woodland on Hoghill mainly among bramble. They can often be found tracing out large rings. Cap 10 cms and stem or stipe  9 cms. 

Photos ©  Colin Carron  23rd October 2014.

Another view of Lepiota rhacodes var bohemica showing the large ring and the stipe which is bulbous at the base.  28th October 2014.

The lack of fungi in the forest is shown below when only a few species were were found on the 5th October. Previous foray lists would show 40 - 50 species. After much dry weather the rains sometimes heavy came in the second week of October and gradually the soil became moist enough for fungi to appear and some of these are shown below.


Fungus Foray for Redbridge Conservation Team

on 5th October 2014 in The Lodge Reserve, Hainault  Forest

led by Peter Comber



Beech Tarcrust           Biscogniauxia nummularia   

                                 Black patches on various branches on the ground


Coral Spot                  Nectria cinnabarina

                                  Pink spots on dead branch on ground.


Turkey Tail                  Stereum hirsutum

                                  Small colour banded brackets.


Chicken Run Funnel     Clitocybe phaeophthalmo

                                   Small grey funnel shape; unpleasant smell.


Oak Mazegill               Daedalea quercina

                                  Thick greyish brackets on Oak on ground



______                        Trechispora mollusca  -  (Possibly)

                                   White patch on rotten branch


Milk Cap                       Lactarius decipiens

                                    Red-brown cap exuding a scant white milk


Russet Tough Shank     Collybia dryophila

                                     Delicate looking orange brown cap on the Ground


Beefsteak fungus           Fistulina hepatica

                                     Medium sized red brackets high up on standing Oak.


Artists Fungus              Ganoderma applanatum

                            Large thin bracket, brown with white edge and underneath.


Spring Cavalier              Melanoleuca cognate

                                    Dark brown cap and white stem on bare earth.


     ______                    Tremella encephala

                                    Small whitish soft round balls with a hard centre.

                                    Parasitic on Stereum sanguindentum mycelium on

                                    conifer log.


Young Trooping funnel Clitocybe geotropa found along the old horseride 11th October 2014

Spore discharge. Photo © Peter Comber 2003.

Common puffball  Lycoperdon perlatum 22nd October 2014 is a fleshy fungus when young. It gradually becomes a bag of millions of brown spores which are liberated if a raindrop or object falls on the top of the fungus. This is illustrated by Peter Comber in an old photograph of his.
Razor strop fungus or Birch bracket Piptoporus betulinus is found on Birch all year round. 11th October 2014. Giant puffball Calvatia gigantea. About the size and weight of a cricket ball. Can be very much larger. This one has been eaten into by slugs. 25th October 2014 Photo © Colin Carron.

Hairy curtain crust Stereum hirsutum.  Growing from a fallen beech.

22nd October 2014.

 White saddle  Helvella crispa  Found along the ride edges on Cabin Hill.

22nd October 2014.


Coral spot Nectria cinnabarina. Appears on small cut branches.

Photo © Colin Carron

14th October 2014

Left to right - Buttercap Collybia butyracea Cap has a buttery feel 27th October 2014. Pink bonnet Mycena pura 25th October 2014. Redlead Roundhead Stropharia aurantiaca (Leratiomyces ceres)  25th October 2014 with thanks to Peter Comber for its identification.

Small orange fungus on silt removed during ditch clearance. Oak path.  Orange cup Melastiza cornubiensis. 31st October 2014.

Thanks for the identification to local mycologist Peter Comber.        

Above and right - Two bud galls

 Skittle gall Cynips quercusfolii on English oak. 18th October 2014.  

Bud gall  Andricus curvator ♀♀ on English oak. 10th October 2014. This is a new record for Hainault Forest.

This large slug was one of several found on a grassy path after rain which goes  towards millennium hill (Cabin Hill).

Arion ater agg. Brown form of the Black slug is a common species which feeds on dead leaves. It has an orange fringe to its foot. At its head is the mantle and there is a large respiratory pore on its right side.

10th October 2014.

Common Carder bee Bombus pascuorum on Bristly Ox-tongue Picris echioides 22nd October 2014.

Hoverfly Syrphus sp. on oak leaf in sunlight. 18th October 2014.

Batman Hoverfly Eristalis horticola on Michaelmas daisy  5th October 2014

A report of a Hornet's nest in an old tree was reported last month

Parts of the comb were found beneath the tree on 20th October 2014 possibly removed by a squirrel, woodpecker or other bird.

The individual cells are six-sided, each side 7mm and are constructed of paper manufactured by the Hornet workers by chewing wood and mixing it with saliva and building the cell in layers which can clearly be seen in the enlarged photo. Unlike bees no wax is used in the construction.
Fruits of Guelder rose after a shower, Alice's hedge on Hoghill path alongside the golf course.  14th October 2014. Photo  ©  Colin Carron. Pink Spindle berries with orange seeds. Alice's hedge. 14th October 2014.  Photo  ©  Colin Carron.
Sloe, fruits of Blackthorn  after a shower in Alice's hedge 14th October 2014. Photo  ©  Colin Carron. Looking forward to the New Year. Hazel is already sporting next year's catkins. Alice's hedge 18th October 2014.

New record for Hainault. Casual plant brought in on topsoil used to repair car park. Gallant soldier Galinsoga parviflora  31st October 2014.

Leafless, Water Poplar Populus nigra var. betulifolia silhouetted against a weak sun. Back of lake. 12th October 2014.

Hornbeam pollard in leaf on Taylor's Plain  18th October 2014.


September 2014

There is much Ivy in flower throughout the forest and along the path from the café to the lake. Flowering now,  means that there will be a further supply of pollen and nectar extending into October sustaining bees and other insects, and complementing the Michaelmas daisies which are out this month. The ivy berries will ripen in March and will provide welcome food for early migrant warblers to these shores next spring.  Photo 29th September 2014.

Speckled wood Pararge aegeria sunning on nettle. Photo © Michael Rumble.

21st September 2014.

Red admiral Vanessa atalanta nectaring on Michaelmas daisies.

28th September 2014.

The sunny weather of this month producing little rainfall has meant that butterflies continue to appear and apart from those shown here there are Small heath, Comma, Small white, Peacock and Small tortoiseshell still appearing.

Small copper Lycaena phlaeas seeks out sorrel leaves to lay eggs on.

Photo ©  Michael Rumble 21st September 2014.

A sign of autumn. Teasel, shown in flower in July is now a spent seed head. Sprayed with silver or gold paint the heads make good flower decorations.

29th September 2014.

The Buff-tip Phalera bucephala. Caterpillar feeding on Oak leaves near the lake. Feed from July to September, when they pupate in the soil. 35mm.

10th September 2014.

Slightly damaged Square-spot Rustic moth Xestia xanthographa. Identified by Colin Plant, Lepidopterist, London Natural History Society. 

9th September 2014.

Micro-moth, possibly Straw-coloured grass veneer Agriphilia straminella which is a common grassland species. Photo © Michael Rumble  8th Sept. 2014.

Green lacewing Chrysoperla sp. on oak leaf. 4th September 2014.Lacewings belong to an order of insects Neuroptera which also includes Alderflies

The Common European earwig Forficula auricularia found on a beech tree, Dog Kennel Hill..  It is a vegetarian and often found in trees. The straight shape of its pincers (cerci) indicate that it is a female. Photo ©  Michael Rumble,

18th September 2014.         See the picture right for male.

The Common European earwig Forficula auricularia found under a sycamore leaf.  It is a vegetarian and often found in trees. The rounded shape of its pincers (cerci) indicate that it is a male. 7th October 2010.

First seen by the Global café, this strange creature was seen wormlike pulling itself out of the grassland soil. It is a favourite food for flocks of starlings. It was subsequently identified as the pupa of a Cranefly or Daddy longlegs which are harmless and seen flying in the grassland at this time of year and often coming

Orange ladybird Halyzia 16-guttata pupa on white willow leaf.

4th September 2014.  Hornet

into our homes through open windows. 3mm in length 

Photo © Michael Rumble, 15th September 2014.

Hornets nesting in a dead beech bole on Dog kennel Hill.  Photo ©  Michael Rumble  15th September 2014.

Striped Hoverfly Helophilus pendulus on Michaelmas Daisy 24th Sept. 2014. Red tailed bumble bee nectaring on Michaelmas Daisy  22nd September 2014. Photo ©  Michael Rumble
Artist bracket fungus Ganoderma applanatum on beech bole. Dog kennel Hill. 18th September 2014.

Sulphur tuft Hypholoma fasciculare on rotting stump. Dog kennel Hill.

18th September 2014.

Parasol mushroom Macrolepiota procera.  Abundant this year on Dog kennel Hill and horse field. Large ring on stem, moveable. Photos © Michael Rumble  8th September 2014.

Glistening inkcap Coprinus micaceus on rotten wood. The cap glistens like mica - hence the name. Photo ©  Colin Carron  5th September 2014



Far left: Artichoke gall or Hop gall Andricus foecundatrix ♀♀ on English oak, near Foxburrows Farm cottages. 19th September 2014.

Left: Artichoke gall cut in half showing inner gall which is exuded later in the year. The outer gall remains on the tree for several years.19th Sept. 2014.

 Stinging nettle gall caused by the Midge Dasineura urticae. Galls on leaf veins pale green under leaf and purplish on upper surface showing slit like opening. Very common this year. From a scan 29th September 2014.
Found between two oak marble galls Andricus kollari is a rare gall Andricus malpighii. Found opposite the Farm cottages, it is a new record for Hainault.   4th September 2014. Normally present each year attached to an oak leaf, sometimes several on a leaf, the Cherry gall Cynips quercusfolii has been difficult to find this year. Scan 29th September 2014.

Leaf mines are caused by the larvae of Micro-moths. They may form complex snake-like (serpentine) or blotch mines as above. The larva of the moth Phyllonorycter esperella feeds on all the material between the two surfaces and the mine is silvery or almost transparent. This mine is on Hornbeam, Hoghill. Photo 23rd September 2014.

For more information click here. Tar spot on elm is caused by a fungus Dothidella ulmi. Found on Hoghill on 23rd September 2014. Tar spot on Sycamore is also found in the Forest.
Apple of Peru or Shoo-fly plant Nicandra physalodes has appeared on the imported soil on the extended car park. It is a poisonous plant of the Solanaceae family.  4th September 2014. Many other casuals are in this soil including garden plants such as yellow oxalis a very successful garden weed and difficult to control. Also recently introduced on this imported soil is the Narrow-leaved ragwort Senecio inaequidens see below left. This was recorded in Wanstead Park by Paul Ferris in 2009. "Wanstead Wildlife" is an excellent local website and can be seen at http://www.wansteadwildlife.org.uk/

Above centre is Common reed Phragmites australis by the lake edge. The flowering spike looks attractive at this time of year. Photo ©  Michael Rumble  4th September 2014.

On the heathland the Dwarf gorse Ulex minor has been in flower for a couple of months. Shown here it is growing with Ling or Heather Calluna vulgaris. 4th September 2014.


Above is Gypsywort Lycopus europaeus - a dead- nettle flowering around the lake this month. 

4th September 2014.

Above and centre is the Rose Rosa rugosa agg. The rose is being used for a hedgerow on Cabin Hill. It is very prickly. It's large flowers and hips are very prominent.  Photos ©  Colin Carron  11th September 2014.

And finally why not drop in for a drink, tea or coffee, a sandwich or a selection of cooked meals. Global café has 5 stars ¶¶¶¶¶ which is in itself  a recommendation.

Photo © Michael Rumble


August 2014

AUTUMN FRUITS.  A local family making use of the abundant blackberries on the heathland, Romford Road. 16th August 2014.

Sloes, fruits of Blackthorn, used in making Sloe Gin. Often said better to collected after a frost. Can also be used as ingredient for jellies, jams and chutney. Photo © Colin Carron 15th August 2014.

Small ornamental apple about the size of a cherry. Found in the hedgerow on the heathland, Romford Road. 16th August 2014.

Woody nightshade or Bittersweet Solanum dulcamara  round the lake and in hedgerows. Related to the potato and tomato family. Also related to Deadly nightshade Atropa belladonna which is not found in the forest.

Photo © Colin Carron.

The soft red berries of Woody nightshade are toxic and should not be eaten. Photo © Michael Rumble. Present throughout the summer and autumn months.

Artichoke gall or Hop gall Andricus foecundatrix ♀♀ on English oak, near Foxburrows Farm cottages. 31st August 2014. Hedgehog gall Andricus lucidus ♀♀ on English oak, near Foxburrows Farm Cottages. 31st August 2014.

Plant galls are particularly numerous this year not only on oaks but on many trees, shrubs and plants. For more details and list click here

Common Blue butterfly Polyommatus icarus male. Nectaring on Cat's ear hawkweed and showing both the underwing pattern and the blue of the upper wing. Photo ©  Michael Rumble  12th August 2014.

Slime mould Fuligo septica var. septica  on rotten birch. Slime mould are not fungi but have their own Kingdom in the classification of wildlife.

Photo ©  Michael Rumble. 11th August 2014. 

Robin and Great tit feeding on seed in the grassland. Photo © Michael Rumble 24th August 2014.

Swallows on wire by farm buildings Photo   Michael Rumble

Aerial shots of Swallows  Photos ©  Colin Carron  24th August 2014

Above and below: Photographs of Swallows flying low over the grassland catching insects. Colin Carron has captured the speed and acrobatic agility in flight in these photographs. At this time of year it is important for the birds to build up fat reserves to fly back to their wintering grounds in South Africa in September or October. Some travel over the Saharan Desert where many die of starvation or exhaustion. Photographs ©  Colin Carron, 24th August 2014.


Heron perching over Sheepwater. Photo ©  Michael Rumble 30th August 2014

A flock of juvenile Starlings take off near the Country Park entrance, They feed for grubs in the grassland by day and roost in woodland at dusk. Photograph shows the Weeping willow in the background at the entrance. Photo © Colin Carron 24th August 2014.

And Finally......The Foxburrows Express

The Foxburrows Express has been popular with young and old alike during the school holidays, giving passengers a trip around the lake and forest.

Freedom passes not accepted!!



July 2014

This month temperatures have been above average with temperatures around 30°C on several days. Warm air moved up from France and the this brought high humidity with accompanying lightning and thunder with often localised showers. Heavy electrical storms on the 20th July brought flooding to parts of Essex including Canvey Island and Southend. Michael Rumble captured this image of forked lightning over Hainault Forest in the early hours of the 19th July.

The long grass and the warm weather brought out record numbers of butterflies especially Meadow brown, Ringlets and Gatekeepers, although others were well represented - Peacocks, Small heath, Small copper, Purple hairstreak, Small tortoiseshell, Comma, Small and large skippers and Holly and Common blues.

Forked lightning over Hainault Forest ©  Michael Rumble 19th July 2014.at 04.21h.





Alan and Janice Parish sent me a copy of their video of WOODHENGE.


Like a bird you can fly over and around it. Get aerial views of the Lake and surrounds.

Music accompanies the trip and it gives the site a new perspective.


Woodhenge was opened by the Mayor and Mayoress of Redbridge Cllr. and Mrs Charles Elliman on the 27th September 2005. Initially four sculptures were in place representing Fire, Wind, Man and Water (vortex left). Later another 8 sculptures were added representing Hainault's past and present. For a detailed description go to the Woodhenge webpage.




Alan has made many other local videos including Lightning over Barkingside and views of Fairlop Waters. To watch the Video and further links to Alan's videos click the Vimeo site below.



Wild Teasel Dipsacus fullonum near the lake. 

Photo © Michael Rumble  19th July 2014.

I found this "slug" eating the upper layer of cells on a pear leaf. On further examination I identified it as a Pear slug-worm, It is the larva of a Cherry sawfly  Caliroa cerasi. It is neither slug nor worm but an insect larva which is covered in a thick black slime. Fruit trees by the farm. 17th July 2014.

This is a Ladybird larva which feeds on eggs, aphids etc. It will round up and become a pupa which in turn develops into the Ladybird. This species is very predatory and has recently spread into Britain. It is the Harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis.   6th July 2014.

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus male  16th July 2014

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus female  © Michael Rumble  19th July 2014

The Gatekeeper male butterfly is smaller than the female. Both have a brown spot on the forewings each with two white spots. The hind wings each have a tiny ringed white spot. The male has a dark band of scent scales centrally in the forewings.

The Small skipper Thymelicus sylvestris is resting on Meadow barley. There is one generation a year, the eggs being laid on soft grasses and the larva overwinters as a small caterpillar. 17th July 2014.  © Michael Rumble.

Peacock butterfly Inachis io nectaring on bramble. It overwinters as a butterfly and after pairing lays eggs on the underside of young nettle leaves,  

17th July 2014  © Michael Rumble.

There are three generations a year of the Small copper butterfly Lycaena phlaeas. Eggs are laid on docks and sorrels. Overwinters as a larva. 6th July 2014  © Michael Rumble.

There are two generations per year for the Holly blue butterfly Celastrina argiolus. The foodplant being Holly in spring, and Ivy in autumn. Overwinters as a pupa. 27th July 2014. © Michael Rumble

Caterpillar of the Cinnabar moth. It is a very avid eater of Ragwort and will eat a plant to the ground before climbing another. 17th July 2014. © Michael Rumble.  

Six-spot burnet moth on Creeping thistle Photograph © Colin Carron  

13th July 2014

Close up of Six-spotted burnet moth. The proboscis can be seen inserted into the thistle head.  16th July 2014. © Michael Rumble

Colin Carron photographed this Black-tailed skimmer male by the lake edge and again in flight. A rewarding shot.  16th July 2014.

Honey bee workers visiting Rose-bay willowherb. Photo © Colin Carron. 23rd July 2014. Pairs of Soldier beetles Rhagonychia fulva on thistle. A metallic female Flower beetle Oedemera nobilis also present.  Photo © Colin Carron. 23rd July 2014.
Green bottle fly Lucilia sp. Photo © Michael Rumble 6th July 2014. The caterpillar of the Bagworm moth has constructed a case of sticks, in which it lives and pupates, on a Dogwood leaf . 21st July 2014..

Pair of Forest Shieldbugs Pentatoma rufipes on ash leaflet. 17th July 2014. Photo © Michael Rumble.

Field grasshopper female Chorthippus brunneus 

28th July 2014 Photo © Michael Rumble

Common Green grasshopper Omocestus viridulus

28th July 2014 Photo © Michael Rumble

One of many very tiny toadlets leaving the lake to face the hazards of life and not returning until ready to breed in four or five years. 19th July 2014.

Photo © Michael Rumble.

"Ugly duckling" Young mute swan cygnet sunning itself by the lake edge.

3rd July 2014. Photo © Michael Rumble

Sneezewort Achillea ptarmica pops up occasionally in the forest area usually as a single plant but this year there are a large number at the top of the Common.

The Fungus on the grass stem is probably Epichloë typhina and it has a symbiotic or beneficial relationship with the grass. Close up (right above).

 © Michael Rumble 23rd July 2014.


The Umbellifer Wild carrot Daucus carota is doing well in the wild flower meadow left of the main gate. It can easily be identified because in the centre of each umbel (umbrella) is a larger pinky-purple flower. as illustrated above right. Photos © Michael Rumble.















Pictured left the seed head of the wild carrot. The huge bracts below this seed head are clearly seen in this magnificent photograph. © Michael Rumble 21st July 2014.

Two yellow flowers above on the wildflower meadow to the left of the main entrance are Agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria and Lady's bedstraw Galium verum. This site is developing into a first class community supporting a host of beneficial insects.

Hainault is a site of Metropolitan Importance, linking sites in other London Boroughs. Wildlife knows no boundaries and corridors are very important.

A Cormorant takes off from the lake on the 27th July 2014. Photo © Michael Rumble.



June 2014

June has been a good month weather-wise with temperatures above average for this time of year. Repairs to some paths have been carried out, and the fields and overflow car parks, closed since the beginning of the Olympics in May 2012,  will hopefully be in use later in the year. As a result of the work being carried out, some plants new to the Country Park have been introduced on soil brought in by the contractors. The swan family are now down to two cygnets at the end of June, Part of a wall fell in Frank's Yard and made a suitable habitat for Ivy-leaved toadflax which appeared there as if by magic this month. A rare gall was found and a colony of Ringlet butterflies found an ideal habitat in which to breed. Hainault Forest is special place for all interests and as for the July page it is a blank sheet at the moment. Perhaps you have a picture taken here to send me. Thanks are due to Michael Rumble and Colin Carron again for their excellent photographs which help to give a high standard to the website.

This magnificent close up of a Bee orchid Ophrys apifera flower was taken on the 9th June 2014 by © Michael Rumble at the lake edge. It was one of several highlights occurring in the Country Park this month. Seven plants were seen at this site and one plant flowered at another site accidentally destroyed by  cutting last year. It is intended to map the sites of special wildlife interest to safeguard vulnerable species.
















 As a result of introducing soil into the Country Park by contractors trying to repair the damage to the grassland areas following the Olympic Security Site set up in 2012 several plants new to the forest have been found including Weld Reseda luteola on the former Hainault Cottages site (above).

A couple of spikes of Bee orchid taken on the 9th June 2014 above.

A solitary spike of Common spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii ssp fuchsii was found by the lake on the 13th June 2014. It was a tall spike c.37cm (15") and the leaves spotted. This species was first recorded in 2012 on the 25th June along the Oak path verge.  Photo left © Michael Rumble.

Above is Borage Borago officinalis brought in on imported soil. 14th June 2014 near the second car park.


Salsify Tragopogon porrifolius - a root vegetable brought in on imported soil. 5th June 2014.  A new record for the Country Park is Ivy-leaved toadflax Cymbalaria muralis found on a broken brick wall, farm buildings. 27th June 2014.

Dog rose (above left)  after a light shower and Field rose  (above right) are the two most common roses in the forest although most difficult to identify as they readily hybridize with each and every wild rose. 14th June 2014

Yellow pimpernel Lysimachia nemorum found along a woodland ride in Lambourne Woods. 14th June 2014

Heath bedstraw Galium saxatile flowers amongst the grasses especially on the Heathland area. June 14th 2014.

 Pair of mating Azure damselflies Coenagrion puella in wheel position. Photo © Colin Carron  June 2014. The female is light green.

On the 30th June 2014 I found these young nymphs (5th instars) of the Parent bug Elasmucha grisea huddled together on a birch leaf near the farm cottages. During the early stages of development the Parent bug stands over her charges to defend them from leaf predators.

Here's a picture that I took earlier. On the 6th August 2006 at The Wetlands Centre, Hammersmith, London. Showing a Parent bug guarding her young brood on a silver birch leaf.

The Oak Tortrix or Green oak roller moth Tortrix viridana on 9th June 2014. The caterpillars hang from gossamer threads in the spring and pupate by rolling the oak leaves around them. Photo © Michael Rumble.

 I photographed the Burnished brass moth resting on nettle on 17th June 2014.

 I noticed its golden sheen and it was subsequently identified by Colin Plant, Lepidopterist recorder of  the London Natural History Society.  17th June 2014.

Hoverfly Melangyna sp. on hogweed. 2nd June 2014.

Batman hoverfly Myothropa florea attracted to my ham roll at the café.

14th June 2014

This long-legged Spider on a dog rose bush was identified by Peter Harvey, Spider recorder of The Essex Field Club, belonging to the genera Tetragnatha 13th June 2014.  

Grove or Brown-lipped snail Cepaea nemoralis on nettle near the Golf course. Photograph © Colin Carron  June 2014.


Meadow brown butterfly Maniola jurtina nectaring on bramble.

Photograph © Michael Rumble  29th June 2014.

This small Darkling beetle Lagria sp. on nettle  on 27th June 2014 is transporting two orange mites which have attached themselves to cadge a lift. (Phoretic mites).

The Magpie. Perched on a fence post, they appear to be getting outnumbered by Jackdaws which have several nesting sites in the forest.

Photograph © Michael Rumble.  29th June 2014

A Mistle thrush finds a worm on a green on the Golf course.

Photograph © Michael Rumble 13th June 2014.

A Moorhen family swimming through Duckweed on Sheepwater.  Photograph © Michael Rumble 29th June 2014. Moorhens often nest at Sheepwater..

 This tiny ridged gall  emerging from an oak leaf axil measures just 5mm in length.  Subject to confirmation it appears to be a rare gall induced by a gall wasp

Andricus seminationis ♀♀.  The sexual generation is unknown. 7th June 2014

 Popular interest in plant galls and my interest also, took off in the latter half of the 20th century with the publication of Arnold Darlington's Plant Galls in 1968 - a Blandford Guide. Arnold, a teacher, dedicated his book to those boys from Bishop's Stortford and Malvern schools who collected material for the book. The Spiked pea gall (above left) Diplolepis nervosa on dog rose (15th June 2014) was nicknamed the Sputnik gall after the Russian orbiting satellite launched on 4th October 1957 with its four radiating aerials. Above right are two galls induced by two different gall wasps laying an egg in the same bud. This is known as a Gall chimera. First is the Oak Marble gall Andricus kollari ♀♀ and the second is the Ram's Horn gall Andricus aries ♀♀.   Photo 29th June 2014.


A small meadow and picnic area at the top of Dog Kennel Hill has been left uncut and is mainly flowering grasses with White clover and Cat's ear. This has enabled a large colony of Ringlet butterflies Aphantopus hyperantus to thrive and mature. The female Ringlet drops eggs into the grassland and the caterpillars feed at night on the tall grass stems, and they feed and overwinter low down in the grass, pupating the following May and emerging as adults in late June. The grass cutting regime is key to their survival. Uncut rides and small clearings are key to its survival in the Country Park and the management this year has been particularly good for this species

Mature grassland and Ringlet male butterfly 27th June 2014.

Left and below show  a couple of paddocks on the farm that have come alive with a variety of flowering plants superficially resembling the Machair of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Bees especially are doing well here collecting pollen and nectar from the flowers that include Self heal Prunella vulgaris, Bird's foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus,  White clover Trifolium repens, Red clover Trifolium pratense, Cat's ear Hypochaeris radicata and Buttercup.

Whether it is a suitable diet for a Donkey I don't know, but watching them they seem to select grass and Cat's ear rejecting the rest.

Both photographs © Michael Rumble 28th June 2014.



Ox-eye daisies on Hog Hill.   2nd June.2014


May 2014

May's high temperature started at 14°C and by the Bank Holiday on the 5th was 19°C. The weather was mainly sunny with rising temperatures reaching the high of 25°C on the 19th. The high pressure which kept the weather stable was moved on by low pressure giving heavy and persistent showers in London, and a lowering of temperatures below the average for the end of May.

Of several notable events:

● the hatching of six cygnets to the Mute swan pair on Saturday 17th May

● the Swallows return and are nesting in the farm buildings.

● Many insects emerge, some not previously recorded here.

New plant, not previously recorded here.

● Several people have sent in photos (jpg format) for inclusion this month.

● the arrival of the magnificent Alpacas and Goats and kids on the farm.

This magnificent beast (right) is one of three Alpacas who have arrived recently on the farm and zoo. Goats with kids are to be seen, and Quail chicks have hatched and should be on display shortly.

Around the lake was a mass of tadpoles. A two foot wide mass of tadpoles

was noted around the edge of the lake on 2nd May 2014. 

Photo ©  Michael Rumble.               

 Alpaca.   Photo © Michael Rumble

By the 17th May the tadpoles (below) had separated into several trails over the lake. I have never seen the tadpoles in formation like this before. Young Rabbits were venturing out into the open on field edges like this one (below right) on Hoghill.

Someone came to the forest on Mayday Bank Holiday the 5th May and skilfully wove a crown of dandelions and left it on a fence.. There are Dandelion events in the States but what is its significance or folklore here? Perhaps the weaver could tell us. Photo © Claire Oliverio.  Photographed on the 28th May 2014 this is the first time that this plant has been recorded in Hainault. It was spotted by the lake edge and is Hemlock water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata.  

Petty Whin Genista anglica, although very endangered in Essex is just holding on the Woodland Trust's heathland area. 5th May 2014.

Across the Romford Road is a continuation of the small heathland area formed from glacial sands at the southern most limit of the last ice age. Here the area is managed by Epping Forest District Country Care.  Here the Lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica is doing well. It is a plant that is semi-parasitic on grasses and has recently been reclassified into the Family Orobanchaceae (the broomrapes). 5th May 2014.


Woody nightshade or Bittersweet Solanum dulcamara belongs to the Solanaceae family which includes Potatoes, Peppers and Tomatoes. Several parts of these plants are poisonous. Woody nightshade has red berries in the autumn which must not be eaten. Photo © Michael Rumble. Lake. 5th May '14

Russian comfrey Symphytum x uplandicum on Hoghill, is a member of the Borage family. In this family the inflorescence forms a spiral in which the flowers come out in order with tight buds further back in the spiral. 5th May.

 Cow parsley Anthriscus sylvestris 16th May 2014

Blue Tit chicks in willow by lake. 28th May 2014

Tiny Capsid bug Calocorus quadripunctatus 23rd May 2014

Squash bug Coreus marginatus found on nettles and docks.  

Photo © Colin Carron, 13th May 2014.

Alderfly Sialis lutaria by the lake edge. The female lays her eggs on vegetation overhanging the lake. On hatching the larvae fall off and spend their time in the water.  Photos ©  Michael Rumble  21st May 2014.



Snipe fly Rhagio scolopaceus on bramble leaf.


Photo © Michael Rumble  12th May 2014


Pair of small Craneflies Limonia phragmitidis on ash leaflet. 5th May 2014.  A small orange phoretic mite is holding on to the thorax of one of the Craneflies. The word phoretic refers to a species which is cadging a lift from another different species. 


 Sloe or Hairy shieldbug Dolicorus baccarum. This is a small shieldbug about 11mm in length. This is a good find and the first record for Hainault Forest. Photo © Colin Carron  13th May 2014.

Pair of Soldier beetles Cantharis pellucida. Photo © Colin Carron  May 2014.

Dancing fly Empis sp. - a long legged, brown winged fly with a down pointing proboscis. Found on Cow parsley and other umbellifers. 

Photo © Michael Rumble. 21st May 2014

Wasp mimic and Hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum  9th May 2014.

10-spot ladybird Adalia decempunctata. A medium sized ladybird with variable spots and patterns, but typically with a semi circle of 4 black spots on a white background on the thorax. Blackthorn bush. Photo ©  Michael Rumble 

13th May 2014

Harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis pairs. They are large ladybirds and vary in colour and pattern with differing forms. The thorax generally has a W in black. The spotted  ones are Harmonia axyridis f. succinea  and the black one is Harmonia axyridis f. spectabilis. Many pairs on blackthorn bush near lake on 13th May 2014. Photos ©  Michael Rumble.  

CUCUMBER SPIDER Araniella cucurbitina has caught a fly in its web.  Photos ©  Michael Rumble  13th May 2014

Micro-moth.  Nettle tap Anthrophila fabriciana on nettle leaf.

Photo  ©  Michael Rumble 12th May 2014

Small Heath butterfly Coenonympha pamphilus on short grassland 

The butterfly rests with its wings closed and angled to the sun for maximum warmth.  23rd May 2014.

Peacock displaying on the farm.

Photo © Laura Morley, 19th May 2014

Rear view of displaying peacock showing tail feathers raised and brown wings. Photo ©  Michael Rumble, 19th May 2014.

The cob Mute swan aggressively attacking a Greylag goose. These geese have been under attack for many weeks while his mate has been on eggs on the island and the emergence of the cygnets. The swan appears to be more tolerant of the Canadian geese and other Waterbirds. 

Photo © Michael Rumble 19th May 2014

The cygnets hitch a lift from the pen mute swan. Photos ©  Lynda Johnson 18th May 2014.

Pen Mute swan with her six cygnets.    Photo © Michael Rumble  18th May 2014

The cygnets Photo © Michael Rumble  18th May 2014

Sadly at the end of May only three cygnets have survived.



April 2014

With the mild albeit wet winter the spring species are appearing 3-4 weeks earlier than were recorded in Hainault Forest in previous years. On a sunny 1st April Bee flies were in abundance resting on leaf litter, violets were particularly noticeable in the plantation area and in cleared areas by the lake outfall. On the 2nd April health warnings were given as polluted air was concentrated over London. Weather conditions had combined Saharan dust from Africa and Industrial pollution from Europe. The London skyline could not be seen from Hainault. On the afternoon of the 4th April the sky cleared. Plenty of photographs this month as they require little explanation.

Orange tip male butterflies Anthocharis cardamines were first seen on the golf course on 14th April. Females followed later when the larval food plants were flowering. The females lack the orange of the males but the underwings have green mottling in both sexes. In the picture above a male Orange tip rests on a leaf of Burdock and on the left of the picture is some white "fluff" which is currently blowing around the forest being the seeds of Grey poplar.

Photo © Colin Carron 26th April 2014.


Below left is the flower head of Garlic mustard Alliaria petiolata one of the two larval food plants. Attached to a leaf stalk (arrowed) is a tiny orange egg 1.2mm tall. Scanned at a high magnification shows vertical red ridges around the egg which will soon hatch and feed on the leaves and stems. Scan 24th April 2014

The alternative food plant for the Orange tip larva is Lady's Smock aka Cuckoo Flower Cardamine pratensis. Photo © Michael Rumble 21st April 2014. Four days after the egg above was scanned the young caterpillar 5mm. was found in the flower head.  Scan 28th April 2014.

Peacock butterfly Inachis io overwinters as a butterfly 13th April 2014.

Speckled wood butterfly Pararge aegeria basking on nettles 13th April 2014.

This butterfly likes to fly in dappled sunshine especially along paths and rides and often rests on nettles in sunny spots.


The four large eye-spots on the wings of the Peacock butterfly above are thought to have evolved to frighten would be predators, as the sudden flash of "eyes" gives a brief moment to escape. This is an example of adaptive mimicry and chickens who experience these "eyes" are said to give out an alarm call to the rest of the flock. It is also thought that this mimicry will divert a bird's peck towards the "eyes" and away from the body. In the picture the butterfly has lost the lower left eyespot but can still successfully fly.

Hornbeam pollard (a stitched photograph) 14th April 2014.

Above is a Cuckoo bee Nomada sp. possibly sp. flava.

Photo © Michael Rumble 26th April 2014


Left: A magnificent hornbeam pollard.

Pollarding is an ancient forest management technique used to provide a continual supply of timber for fences, building work and for making charcoal. Charcoal was a particular industry in Hainault Forest and the men involved in the charcoal industry were known as Colliers - hence Collier Row nearby. The Colliers spent many months in the forest and lived in huts - see Charcoal burners hut.

Trees in an area were cut at head height removing all the branches. The tree soon healed and sent up new branches which were cut by rotation every 20 years. Pollarding hasn't been carried out in Hainault for over a hundred years and the branches become very heavy (as in the picture) and the trunk usually rots in the crown. Pollards are susceptible to high winds and they either fall or lose branches. It is a management nightmare. Lowering the height of the tree was tried, repollarding leaving one branch, and complete pollarding were tried in Epping Forest. Pollarding was carried out at Lambourne Wood in 1990 with little success - most trees died of shock. The Epping Forest District Countrycare volunteers carried out some pollarding in the Chigwell Row Recreation Ground woodland  about 10 years ago and have had a reasonable success at the back of Brocket Way. The Woodland Trust are introducing pollarding of young trees, and this is probably the only way to do it but it will take a generation or two see the results!

Much bird song can be heard throughout the woodland and scrub areas. Migrant warbler species are arriving, including this Warbler species photographed by © Michael Rumble 26th April 2014.

Left: Galls on leaves and catkins of Neuroterus quercusbaccarum ♀.

16th April 2014.

Above and inset: Ridged galls of Andricus quadrilineatus ♀♀ on catkins.

14th April 2014.

Plant galls, like wild flowers are appearing 3-4 weeks earlier this year due to the mild winter, The two featured above are particularly abundant this year. The first is the Currant gall Neuroterus quercusbaccarum on both catkins and below leaves of English Oak Quercus robur. These will give rise to the Common spangle gall generation in the autumn. The second gall featured on English oak catkins is  Andricus quadrilineatus ♀♀ .
Feral Greylag goose family. The adults aggressively defend their four goslings. 28th April 2014. I have been on the lookout for a Saluki for 7 years for the dogs page when this magnificent champion animal appeared by the café on the 8th April 2014.

Hawthorn blossom with enlarged flower inset,

 26th April 2014  © Michael Rumble

Cowslips in the wildflower meadow on the left of the main gate. 14th April 2014.

Red campion Silene dioica, Greater stitchwort Stellaria holostea, and Thyme-leaved speedwell Veronica serpyllifolia were all in flower this month.

Photographs ©  Michael Rumble

Dandelion clock (16th April) and Coltsfoot seed head (4th April). These are examples of seed dispersal by wind.

The English bluebell is under threat from the gardeners Spanish bluebell which it readily hybridizes with. The English bluebell is distinguished from hybrids and Spanish garden escapes by its deeper colour and the heads bending over with the bells to one side. A good year through out the Country Park and the Golf Course. Bluebell walks have had to be brought forward as they started flowering in early April.   Photo © Colin Carron.



March 2014

March started with frosty mornings but bright and sunny. A shower on the 3rd March produced a double rainbow as we sheltered at the Global café. The depressions were pushed further north and our weather was influenced by high pressure areas over the continent. The first sunny record of the year was 20.5°C on the 8th March and this was beaten on the 30th by 20.8°C.  The milder weather has helped to dry out most areas of the forest with only the path from Chigwell Row to Cabin Hill impassable to all but the few stoics. This path is notorious with the thousands of Cross Country Runners (myself in the early 1950's) who cover themselves not with glory, but mud!

Double rainbow over Hainault Forest on 3rd March 2014.

A resident pair of Great Crested grebes performed their ritualistic pre-nuptial displays between the 6th and 9th March. They dived together, swam towards each other, swam parallel, often calling, and there would be head and neck swaying. They generally swap pieces of water weed which they gather underwater but I didn't observe this.                                          Grebe pictures  ©  Michael Rumble 8th and 9th March 2014,
Goat willow aka Pussy willow or Palm Salix caprea was shedding pollen on the 9th March. This is the male tree. Willows and Poplars have separate sex trees. This is a favourite tree for early bees and butterflies including comma, peacock, Male and female brimstones have been seen on the gold course on 29th March 2014 Aptly named Golden willow, whips planted along one edge of the lake provide an area of seclusion for the wildfowl. Pushing a cutting into the mud in the lake will quickly root. Photo © Michael Rumble  9th March 2014

A Mandarin drake was seen on Sheepwater on 15th March  2014 which later flew into a nearby tree and perched there. A further drake was seen at Bomb crater pond a few minutes later sitting on a willow coppice. They have a magnificent plumage. A pair bred on the Lake in 2013 and Dennis Maynard saw and photographed a pair on the lake on the 18th March 2014

Mandarin drake perched in tree, Sheepwater 15th March 2014

Mandarin drake at Bomb crater pond on willow coppice.  15th March 2014

Mandarin pair on lake and a close up of the drake, Photographs © Dennis Maynard 18th March 2014.

Bomb Crater Pond can be found by following the path from Chigwell Row Primary School to the top right of the Common and following the path (muddy) for about 400 yards and the shallow pond with a seat is on your left. Bomb crater pond was created on 12th March 1945 when a German V2 rocket bomb fell in the forest and exploded. It is what is known as a temporary, ephemeral or vernal pond which will dry up in the summer months.  This often stops frog spawn from completing its life cycle and some years frogs are desperate to find breeding places they have laid spawn in water filled hollows caused by horse hooves. Frog spawn is much sought after by many predators that it requires only a few eggs per season to complete their life cycles to froglets and survive the hazards for four years to become adult frogs ready to breed again. Below left is some spawn in Bomb crater pond, and below right in a culvert near the second car park. Spawn was also seen in Roe's well, the Lake and masses in the Wildlife garden pond. Toads should be spawning by the lake edge about the end of the month.

Frog spawn in Bomb crater pond 15th March 2014

Frog spawn in lake inlet culvert which runs from 2nd car park. 31st March '14

Left: Water-starwort Callitriche sp. Scan of the plant in the lake culvert pictured above right. It roots in wet mud and silt in still water. Whorls of leaves at the tips of shoots are arranged like a star.  Hence the name. 31st March 2014.  Early Dog violet Viola reichenbachiana pictured here as a scan. This is the earliest of the violets in the forest. The recent opening up of the scrub by the Oak path to effect drainage has revealed a good patch of Early dog violet.    Below are two Speedwell seen in the forest this month. Below left is the Common Field speedwell with its pale to white lower petal. This is seen in every month of the year. The Ivy-leaved speedwell is a spring plant on woodland edges with tiny white or very pale blue flowers.

Common field speedwell Veronica persica 19th March 2014.

Ivy-leaved speedwell Veronica hederifolia 31st March 2014.

The three species of flowers above flowering in March are all from one family - the Lamiaceae or Deadnettle family. Left is the White deadnettle Lamium album which is common throughout the forest. It is often found amongst Stinging nettles but its showy white whorls of flowers distinguish it. All the Deadnettle family have square stems which should be apparent in the pictures above. Pictured centre is Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon sub species argentatum.  Yellow archangel is found in Claybury Woods, but the ssp argentium found  in Hainault Forest is a garden escape, now naturalised over much of England. It has silver blotches on the leaves and probably arrived from the rear gardens of Woolhampton Way. Pictured right is another of those plants found throughout most of the year. It is Red deadnettle Lamium purpureum.

Below is Blackthorn or Sloe Prunus spinosa. The blackish/purple bushes or hedgerows mid-March have suddenly burst into life with a mass of white flowers. The green foliage comes after flowering and we have to wait until autumn for the Sloe fruits.


Lichen Ramalina fastigata a rare lichen found near Woodhenge. Found in 2011 it is developing more fruiting bodies. 31st March 2014. The two colours on this oak bark are provided by an alga and a lichen. On the left of this photo is a green alga with orange pigment known as Trentepohlia sp. The blue-grey powdery lichen on the right is a common lichen of eastern England Lepraria incana. This was once one of few lichens to survive the pre-Clean Air Acts of the sixties. 31st March 2014

AND FINALLY...............




Colin Carron was in the Woodland Trust's managed Lambourne Forest on the 31st March 2014.

He spotted a small herd of Fallow deer which immediately took off into the holly scrub. He took some, what he described as, dodgy photos but what I call action shots. This is usually how you see Fallow deer in woodland.

In this part of Essex and towards Epping the deer are a darker form often almost black. Deer seen in Richmond Park and elsewhere are lighter and often white spotted.

Footprints or slots are often seen in the area and small herds on the Trust's Havering Park Farm which was acquired in 2006 as buffer land.

I have arrowed some of the animals and the palmate tine of an antler of a Fallow buck is clearly seen in the picture left



Photographs © Colin Carron 31st March 2014


January - February 2014

Nobody was surprised by the Meteorological Office's announcement that for the winter period 1st December - 28th February the South-East had the wettest winter since records began in 1766. Some 435mm (17 inches) of rain fell during this period. My geography teacher some sixty years ago told me that the annual rainfall was 25" in England but over the years the rainfall became much less and reservoirs and aquifers dried up and hosepipe bans were in force most years. There were no cold spells, or frosts and temperature were well above average for the period. This winter was the fifth warmest winter since records were kept in 1910 and the mean average winter temperature is was given as 5.2°C for this winter.
We were daily reminded of the floods and suffering of people on the Somerset levels, High tides and flooding along the Rivers Severn and Thames. High winds and high tides were responsible for much coastal damage in parts of Wales and the West Country.

Redbridge residents coped reasonably well during the winter months. Less road salt was needed, but the cold spell could still come in March or April. A number of trees were felled by the high winds and several came down in The Country park and Golf Course and had to be made safe..

The Country Park (Foxburrows) sits in a water catchment area with water from Hoghill and Cabin Hill heading towards the lake. Being on London Clay has made the woodland paths very muddy and sometimes washed away.   Much remedial work has been necessary by the Country Park staff to clear ditches and culverts to allow the run off to be channelled into the lake and into Seven Kings Water on Fairlop Plain. Redbridge Conservation Team Volunteers have played an important role in helping in the Country Park during this time. Path restoration and scrub clearance will take time to effect but I feel that given some reasonable weather the forest will recover soon but it needs patience and understanding.

Apart from the photographs of remedial work being carried out visitors will have seen new notice boards in several locations, and new signposts.

Clearing culvert 6th February 2014 ©  Michael Rumble

New signage. 28th February 2014

Halo around the sun above Hoghill. A sundog is arrowed.  20th January 2014 at 1pm

A halo around the sun occurs when the sun is low in the sky and when ice crystals are present in the high cirrus clouds. Each crystal acts as a prism and bends the light. The crystals are random in orientation but when they line up vertically a parhelion is formed on each side of the sun. These are also known as Sun dogs or Phantom suns and are bright patches of coloured light with red nearest the sun.

Pictured right is a halo and sundog which I photographed in February 2008.  The halo is 22° distant from the sun and the sun dog is the bright patch on it.

In the photograph above the Sun dog (red towards the sun) arrowed is further away from the halo which suggests it is on a second indistinct rarer halo at 46°

Several sun dogs were seen over Fairlop Water on consecutive days in January at 1pm observed when going down Forest Road on the way home.


Left - Halo and sundog above Hoghill on 2nd February 2008.



Sunday the 16th February was a cloudless, sunny day with little wind and the first butterfly to be seen this year was a female Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni pictured above. This identification was confirmed by Robert Smith recorder of the Essex Field Club and Butterfly Conservation. It is unusual for a female to be seen before the male. The photograph was taken by © Michael Rumble.


Monday 24th February was a similar sunny day and a male Brimstone was seen flying and is very noticeable with its sulphur yellow colouring. Also seen were several Commas Polygonia c-album (left)  and Peacocks Inachis io.

Also on the 24th February I met Kieron Dielhenn who told me he had recently hooked this 10lb pike in the lake. Hopefully I will get more information on the species to be found in the lake. A pair of feral Muscovy ducks have been on the lake for part of January and the whole of February and about eight male Pochard ducks. The pair of Swans have not shown any signs of nest building yet. Signs of spring were seen on the golf course when two cock pheasants were embattled in establishing territories on the 26th February. Heads down they face each other, then the attacker rushes forward with tail erect, then a fight ensues.  Pheasants can do damage with their sharp spurs,

Muddy paths have their positive side. Apart from dogs of all sizes they are used by deer, badgers, foxes, squirrels, rats, mice, voles and birds and each will leave their footprints behind. Pictured far left are the tiny tracks of Muntjac deer. For most of the year they are solitary animals and are seldom seen, and being very small they are often mistaken for brown dogs dashing through the undergrowth. At present most major and minor paths throughout the Country Park and Forest show signs of Muntjac slots (footprints).

On Cabin Plain near the Golf Course I found slots of Fallow deer probably belonging to three or four individuals. It is interesting to be able to track these and other animals. Click here to learn more.

Below left is a Silver birch tree which has a cluster of twigs high in the branches. It isn't a nest or a squirrels drey but a Witches Broom. This is an abnormal growth of the branch. In summer it will have normal birch leaves growing on it but in the winter it is more noticeable. This abnormal growth is a gall and is induced by specialised bacteria and transmitted by a sap sucking insect.

Below are the catkins of Grey poplar and they will be shedding enormous quantities of pollen to be carried by the wind. Poplars and Willows are either male or female trees. So the pollen is carried in the wind to a couple of female trees on the grassland of Cabin Hill about a  kilometre away. When the female catkins are mature they shed masses of white down which can be seen under the trees as a snow-like covering and floating in a light breeze.


Muntjac slots, Plantation. 22-2-14.       Fallow deer slots, Cabin Plain 26-2-14
Witches broom 24th February 2014                                                                 Grey poplar male catkins, Hoghill. 27th February 2014

Cherry plum Prunus cerasifera on Hoghill 24th February 2014.


Cherry plum blossom (above) is about three weeks early and is often confused with the Blackthorn  which flowers afterwards. Also flowering early  is the Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara around the lake edge (right) and the Lesser Celandine Ranunculus ficaria (far right) in the wet woodland. Both photographed on the 24th February they would not by expected to flower until about mid March.

The ubiquitous Common daisy, Common field speedwell, Dandelion and White deadnettle have been seen in flower every month throughout the winter.


AND FINALLY  Deep in the forest something stirred..........Photo © Michael Rumble