Hainault Forest Website

Written, Designed and with Photographs by Brian Ecott

The Forest Ponds

 Sheepwater

Sheepwater is reached by going down the path opposite the Chigwell Row Primary school in the village of Chigwell Row. Just as you enter the woodland Sheepwater is just to the left. It is an attractive  pond and there is a seat which overlooks it.
The four pictures below show Sheepwater in the nineties. Neglected, overgrown, fed by a spring but little water. A female mallard with nowhere to go. Reed mace and grasses cover the area in the summer months.

 One of the first tasks of The Woodland Trust when they took over management of the Essex part of Hainault Forest was to clear Sheepwater. This included felling trees, scrub and digging out the silt. It looked bare for a couple of years but by the early years of the new millennium the pond took on a new life.

Sheepwater 9th February 2000

Lessons were learnt when clearing Sheepwater as logs and branches were left to rot down, but were soon lobbed into the water, locals emptied their goldfish and alien aquatic plants, and one resident fed the "water voles" which were in fact rats! Birds such as Heron fed on the goldfish and one winter I saw a Kingfisher feeding there.

This was the scene in 2012 which shows the area enhanced and rich for wildlife. The oak tree in the background is known as Dido's oak. Old Dido or William Bell lived in the forest for many years, eventually being evicted by the London County Council in 1904. Read his story here.   Photo Peter Comber.

A Heron keeps a lookout for a meal.  Photo Michael Rumble   September 2014.

A Moorhen raises a family here.  Photo Michael Rumble   June 2014.

Mandarin drake on Sheepwater and below left up in an old oak tree   15th March 2014 

 

Frogbit Hydrocharis morsus-ranae in flower. This is a floating plant with small round leaves,  flowering June - July.  Photo: July 2005.