Hainault Forest Website

Written and Designed by © Brian Ecott

NATURE DIARY

JANUARY  FEBRUARY  MARCH

MARCH 2018

 

For even more content visit Raymond Small's website at hainaultforest.net

New life

The Farm has acquired seven lambs. Come and see them during the Easter holidays.  Photo © Brian Ecott 15th March 2018

On Hoghill an acorn has split and is sending out a root to become an oak tree for the future. Photo © Brian Ecott 15th March 2018
Early flowers
Red deadnettle Lamium purpureum is found flowering somewhere in the forest all year like its close relative the White deadnettle L. album. The deadnettles are square stemmed and their leaves do not sting although the stinging nettles and deadnettles often occur together. 24th March 2018 Photo © Brian Ecott
Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara pushes its heads up through the hard clay on the edges of the lake. The leaves follow after flowering and are literally shapes like a colt's foot.  23rd March 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott

Above left: Ivy-leaved speedwell Veronica hederifolia lucorum. Path rear of Woolhampton Way. 26th March 2018 Photo © Brian Ecott

Above right: Barren strawberry Potentilla sterilis. Roes Well. 26th March 2018, Photo © Brian Ecott.

Thistle stem gall fly

 I photographed this female thistle gallfly Urophora carduii on the spacebar of my computer on the 9th March 2018. It is a small fly with patterned wings which lays its eggs in stems of thistles to produce the swollen stem which I featured in the July 2017 Diary. How did the fly get there, how did it know that I would feed it on sugar for two days and was an amateur Cecidologist (for word-buffs) and would release it in the forest.

 First butterflies seen for 2018

Brimstone, 14th March Hainault Lodge Nature reserve

Peacock 26th March 2018 Coppice area Comma 26th March 2018 [All library pictures].
Myxomycete (Slime mould) Metatrichia floriformis

On the 12th March 2018 Raymond Small photographed a mass of black "eggs" which looked to me like caviar. On closer examination they appeared to be stalked. I had seen Slime moulds before and thought that this what they were and checked with Bruce Ing's book  Myxomycetes of Britain and Ireland. and identified it as a common species of rotting wood in woodlands. Fearing that it might spore we went back the following day to find that many of the globes had split and produced spore-like masses. Photos © Raymond Small and Brian Ecott. 13th March 2018.

Footprints in the snow

 

 

During the snowy period Raymond Small photographed

animal and bird footprints left in the snow.

 

                                                                                                        Pictured left is a footprint which shows four toes and a back pad.

Could this be a cat, dog or fox?

The print is showing four claws.

Not a cat, but could be a dog or fox,

Drawing a line connecting the back of the outer pads confirms a fox

Dogs have a large back pad which sits partially between the outer pads

Photo © Raymond Small 2nd March 2018

This animal is travelling from right to left. The left forepaw moves to position 1 and the right forepaw moves to position 2 and both hind paws go to position 3. This is a rabbit.  As a rabbit hops the forepaws move together then it hops with the hind feet. In the picture above the forepaws are placed separate which shows that the rabbit was running. Photo © Raymond Small 2nd March 2018
Pollarding

 

Pictured above is an old gnarled Hornbeam pollard that has fallen recently. It is approx 3.5 metres in height (yellow line) and is several centuries old.  It is shallow rooting, and its massive branches above are too heavy  to withstand windy weather. These are the trees  that earlier in the old millennium were pollarded and the timber used to make charcoal before the industrial revolution. Charcoal burners lived in the forest and were known as Colliers - hence Collier Row.

To maintain these old pollards in the forest they need to be repollarded. There have been various suggesting how this can be done as it is a shock to the tree. A large area was last pollarded in 1990 and few survived. A better result was found in Chigwell Row Recreation Ground. Why maintain these old pollards? Being part of an ancient woodland these old pollards support a variety of flora and fauna that would be lost without them. At the present time The Woodland Trust are carrying out repollarding to hornbeam trees on Cabin Hill. See picture left.  Photo © Brian Ecott 13th March 2018

An old pollard on Taylor's Plain 1915. The branches were cut regularly every 25 years at the crown to maintain a health tree and to provide timber.

 
Pebbles in Hainault

 

 

Michael Rumble found this large pebble in a copse on the golf course. Broken in half it showed red and white jagged edges.

 

Dr T. at the Natural History Museum wrote:" I suggest it is a flint  pebble that has been subjected to heat - by man or a forest fire? It was either transported by glaciers or rivers draining the Chalk area to the NW.  Flint pebbles are widespread due to extensive river systems south of the southern glaciation limit. Great colour! "

Photo © Brian Ecott  20th March 2016.

 

A lady at the Essex Gem and Mineral Society exhibition in February 2018 suggested that it could have been used in a cooking pot to heat food by colliers or forest dwellers in times past.

 
White Vein quartz pebble approx 9cms across originating from ancient rocks in Wales. Found in the Claygate bed - a sandy deposit revealed by a fallen beech on Dog kennel hill. Dates from 600 million years ago and got deposited here by the ancestral River Thames. I broke part of the surface away to reveal translucent crystals of quartz. Photos © Brian Ecott

aaaacms

Loads of Rounded flint pebbles are found on the surface of Hoghill (Claygate beds), Dog Kennel and Cabin Hill (Bagshot beds). These got worn down by crashing about in ancient seas and rolled around by prehistoric rivers. The Thames and Medway flowed out to sea near Clacton about 1 million years ago. Some pebbles opened to show black flint. Photo © Brian Ecott

Flint "Pot lid" pebbles found under the roots of the fallen hornbeam tree (see above) on Cabin Hill. The soil here is known as Bagshot beds. Water has got into cracks and during periods of intense cold during the last ice age 450,000 years ago the ice expands within the stone and a "lid" breaks off leaving a rounded surface. The ice sheet spread down to South Essex,  and carrying large boulders like the one opposite in Havering Park Farm, and leaving a sandy deposit forming our Heathland and over the road to Chigwell Rec.

Photo ©. Brian Ecott

 

An Erratic boulder or Sarsen stone under an English oak. It measures 1.45m in length can be seen at Havering Park Farm It is composed of silica cemented sandstone and is very hard and possibly the most southerly of erratics transported by the last glaciation.  December 2006  Photo © Brian Ecott

cms

Flint nodule which formed in burrows made by sea creatures between 65 and 100 million years ago. A piece of flint has broken on the lower right of this picture showing a typical conchoidal fracture of flint. Photo © Brian Ecott

Above left: Quartzite Pebble 2cms wide, 3.5 cms tall broken in half to show cemented sandstone, originating from Brittany 450 million years ago.

Above right  Possible fossil sponges in a flint pebble 3.5 cms width. Photos © Brian Ecott

With thanks to the Essex Rock and Mineral Society for their help and explanation of local stones found in the area.

Liverwort Metzgeria furcata
Forked veilwort Metzgeria furcata on old ash. The yellow-green patches contrast with other green colours on trunks. Most common Liverwort this year.    12th.March 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott.
 On and around the Lake
Magnificent pictures of a male (top) and female Shoveler ducks 13th March 2018, Photos © Michael Trump. During the winter months there were a dozen or more pairs. At the moment an occasional pair may be seen.

Great Crested Grebe 13th March 2018. Photo © Michael Trump

Male Tufted duck - several pairs on the lake this month. 23rd March 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott

Black headed gull on ice 5th March 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott mmmmmmmm Swan and juvenile 6th March 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott

Egyptian geese. The one on the left is a juvenile. 13th March 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott

Ground beetles and others

Violet ground Beetle Carabus nemoralis  Approx 35mm. 8th March 2018 Photo © Brian Ecott

Ground beetle Cychrus sp. under a log and into the palm of my hand.   20mm.  20th March 2018. On Cabin Hill  Photo © Brian Ecott

Another beetle in my hand  This is the larva of a Devil's Coach-horse Ocypus olens. They have 3 pairs of legs like all insects, but not shown in this picture. Under bark. Instar three before pupation. 25mm.  26th March 2018 Photo © Raymond Small.
These four tiny, strange looking, creatures alongside a woodlouse, were found and photographed by Raymond Small under the peeling bark of a Plane tree opposite Foxburrows Cottages. After an intensive search I sent them to the Natural History Museum and quickly came the answer from "Triops" Looks like a Bruchid weevil possibly B. rufimanus, though why with a Plane I have no idea, except that the peeling bark is a good place for hibernation. And, of course, these are not pupae but fully formed beetle adults!The woodlouse is 12mm for comparison. 18th March 2018.

First this year - a Seven spot spot ladybird 22nd March 2018  Photo © Raymond Small

Centipedes and Millipedes

Blunt tailed snake millipede  Cylindroiulus punctatus. Up to 25mm long. 13th March 2018 Photo © Brian Ecott

 

 

 

 

Common Cryptops Cryptops hortensis 20 - 30 mm

Found under rocks, stones and woodpiles.

Common in the forest. 13th March 2018.

Photo © Raymond Small

Slugs and snails

Snail/slug eggs under log, The lowest one appears to be hatching 

18th March 2018  Photo ©. Brian Ecott

Above:

Brown-lipped Banded snail Cepaea nemoralis

10th March 2018

Photo ©Brian Ecott

 

Left:

Slug Limacus maculatus under log

14th March 2018

Photo © Brian Ecott.

Ants and Bees
Ants and masses of eggs within a rotten log on Hog hill. The ants are docile and show no attempt at attack. Peter Harvey, Hymenopterist, Recorder of The Essex Field Club reports "Basically it is quite impossible to reliably identify almost any ant from photographs, and even under a microscope it can be difficult, relying on hair lengths and arrangement, subtle differences in structure of thorax, petiole, post petiole, abdomen etc etc. However, it is probable that your ants are The Brown Ant Lasius brunneus  workers, there is nothing that looks like a queen visible in your photos.  Photo © Brian Ecott 9th March 2018.

 

 

Captain Fearless reports " I picked up this Buff-tailed bumblebee Queen on the 20th March 2018 in the grassland. It was happy to see me and tried to give me a 'High Five'"

It was carrying some mites around its neck which is common in hibernating bees. The may carry a disease fatal to bees but generally the mites like to be transported. Mites will attach themselves to Craneflies for the same purpose.

Photos Raymond Small

Fungi
 

Fungus Marasmius alliaceus 10th March 2018. Found growing under an old rotting log on Hog HillPhoto © Brian Ecott

Tiny fungus Lachnum brevipilosum growing under a rotten log. Found and photographed by © Raymond Small. Identified by Brian Ecott.

Peter Comber writes "I've not seen it before; its new to me.  I Googled it and the photo is spot on".

Jelly-ear fungus Auricularia auricula-judae on old stem of elderberry. Hog Hill. 17th March 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott

Martin captured this picture from the newly coppiced area. It shows an old stump with Turkey tail brackets. I tried to tidy the area but moving the bramble made the picture less interesting. I wanted to see underneath the brackets - see inset. 15th March 2018 Photo © Martin Bell.
And finally - Long lost litter in the forest

 

 

A horrible red syrupy medicine was dispensed in these bottles in the doctors surgery in 1940-1950's when you has a chesty cough.

Photo © Brian Ecott

Half pint milk bottle with wide mouth which I remember during WW2 war years. Foil caps were not available at this time and a cardboard insert was used similar to the one above.

Photo © Raymond Small

 

Far left the thick glass bottle stood at six  inches (15 cms) tall.

Photo © Raymond Small.

 

Centre picture shows part of the feint etching on the bottle. The full inscription is as follows:

Cowslip Farm Dairy

F.F.FORD

Phone,

Grangewood

0872

Shrewsbury Road E7

Photo © Brian Ecott

 

JANUARY  FEBRUARY  MARCH

NATURE DIARY

FEBRUARY 2018

Birdlife
This strange appearance of a Cormorant on the lake island puzzled some of us. It is in fact a male in full courtship and mating condition. Cormorants breed mid-March and now appear to have left the lake to a breeding location. A great photograph. © Michael Trump 15th February 2018
A pair of Green Woodpeckers in the long grassland at the back of the lake. Female on the right. There were several pairs in the area and the pairs appeared to be performing a ritual - possibly courtship. One of several pictures © Raymond Small.  21st February 2018

A pair of Egyptian Green which have been seen regularly around the lake and on the island. Photographed on a frosty morning © Michael Trump

21st February 2018

The Black-headed gulls around the lake are gradually changing to their summer plumage. Photos © Brian Ecott 20th February 2018

Time for a bathe and a wash in the shallows at the end of the lake. Canada geese. Photo © Brian Ecott 4th February 2018

Ring-necked parakeets
I've always wanted to photograph Green Ring-necked parakeets in Hainault. They are spreading in areas of Southern England. I had seen them at Roe's Well, but Raymond Small spotted a large flock along Retreat Path, alongside Woolhampton Way. We watched a female with its head inside a hole in an oak tree looking for a possible nesting site. Photo © Brian Ecott  21st February 2018..
Fungus

Bracket fungus Chondostereum purpureum on sawn willow at end of Foxburrows Road.  Photo © Brian Ecott

Lichens

Chewing gum lichen Lecanora muralis Kerb edge, Foxburrows Road. 

8th February 2018  Photo © Brian Ecott.  Close ups below

 

 

Lichen Cladonia fimbriata growing on a rotting log at Roes Well.

8th February 2018. Edited picture © Raymond Small

 

The golf-tee fruiting bodies are on stalks

  10-15mm.

 

 

Grey green lobes at margins

Fruiting bodies at centre

Ragged mealy lichen Ramalina farinacea in Hawthorn scrub.

7th February 2018  Photo © Brian Ecott7/2

Tufted bush lichen Ramalina fastigiata in Hawthorn scrub

7th February 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott,

Lichen Flavoparmelia caperata on small branch of Hawthorn. The bark and the lichen are dusted with an orange coloured green algae Trentepohlia abietina which is commonly found in the hawthorn scrub. 1st February 2018  Photo © Brian Ecott.
Mosses 

Common feather moss Eurhynchium praelongum on fallen branches and stumps 4th February 2018 Photo © Brian Ecott

Springy turf feather moss Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus,. Large areas on Hog hill slopes. 4th February 2018  Photo © Brian Ecott

Grey cushion moss Grimmia pulvinata on farm wall. 22nd February 2018.  Photo © Brian Ecott

Wall screw moss Tortula muralis on farm wall.  22nd February 2018.  Photo © Brian Ecott

Liverwort

Liverwort Frullania dilatata growing on several trunks of Ash trees growing on the old Reservoir site, Hog Hill. With thanks to Dr. Kenneth Adams,  Recorder of Flowering Plants and Bryophytes, Essex Field Club for his help in  the procedures necessary to determine the identity. 18th February 2018. © Brian Ecott.

1. Patch of liverwort approx 5 cm across on Ash tree,  2. Close up of upper part of liverwort. 3. Close up Scan of underside, lateral leaves rounded

First flowering

Snowdrops Galanthus nivalis finally opened on the 18th February 2018 on Hog hill. Photo © Brian Ecott

Trees in Winter

Water poplar by the Lake outflow February 2018 Photo © Brian Ecott

Common oak on grassland, Retreat Path.  21st February 2018.© Brian Ecott
Found under bark
In a space under some rotting oak bark were a flock of Common shiny woodlice sharing their space with a slug Arion sp. 18th February 2018. By comparison in the bottom left-hand corner is a tiny woodlouse featured below. Photo © Brian Ecott

This is the tiny Pygmy woodlouse Trichoniscus pusillus approx 5mm

18th February 2018. Photo © Raymond Small,

 

The Pygmy woodlouse is one of the famous five:

1.Common striped woodlouse Philoscia muscorum

2. Common rough woodlouse Porcellio scaber

3. Common pill woodlouse Armadillidium vulgare

4. Common shiny woodlouse Oniscus asellus

5. Pygmy woodlouse Trichoniscus pusillus

Also under this oak bark was a tiny snail approx 5mm which appeared to have hairs on its shell in the photograph. A look at books and Google came up with a Hairy snail, Trichia sp.. The photo was sent to Simon Taylor Recorder of Molluscs, Essex Field Club,  who replied " certainly one of the Trichia species (the genus is now generally given as Trochulus). The one which normally retains dense hairs is T. plebeia but without a good view of the umbilicus on the underside it is difficult to be definitive. "

Thanks Simon.

18th February 2018. Photo ©  Brian Ecott

Mammals
The hoof print is asymmetrical and the length is 3 cms which confirms that this is a Muntjac deer slot. The back right foot is placed almost on the right fore. This is known as a register. Reservoir site, Hog hill.  18th February 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott.

Hornbeam seed under log opened by a mouse or vole.

21st February 2018  Photo © Brian Ecott

..

Ivy berries ripen overwinter providing food for the early immigrants such as Blackcap and Chiff-chaff. 20th February 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott

Winter moods

Towards Hog hill from the lake.  26th February 2018  Photo © Raymond Small. (I send my apprentice out in inclement weather!)

Black and white view except for the dark green evergreen Holm oak (right)  28th February 2018  Edited picture © Michael Trump

"Please, Sir, I want some more."

BUT NOT BREAD. At £1 per kilo or less, bird food is cheaper than a loaf and has the proper nutrients for us geese and ducks.

Photo © Raymond Small. February 26th 2018

and finally.........where is this?

Glass negative of Lambourne End  1902. Raymond Small produced this positrive image. But where is it? Note the fencing - is it a cattle pond? Note the cottage behind the trees with the odd window.

 

JANUARY   FEBRUARY  MARCH

JANUARY 2018

The Wolf Moon

The Wolf moon was captured by Raymond Small on the 1st January 2018 over Hainault Forest.

Lichens on willow bark

 

Raymond Small sent me a photograph of a mass of lichens on an old willow trunk which stands on the site of Foxburrow Farm pond by the second car park. I have enlarged and named them on the left of the picture.

24th January 2018

 

Lecidella elaeochroma

 Lecanora chlarotera.

Xanthoria parietina

Fungus
Illosporiopsis christiansenii

Xanthoria parietina with fruiting bodies,

Physcia tenella above and on the top of the picture (left)..

 

Tiny lichen on another willow tree in the old farm pond complex. Above and left is Physcia tenella showing a lone fruiting body, not commonly seen on this species.

27th January 2018

Photos © Brian Ecott.

Lichen Lepraria incana on old birch tree. .It is a powdery lichen, the commonest lichen in Eastern England. Photo © Brian Ecott   23rd January 2018

Hazel

Catkins of Hazel in Alice's Hedge. 24th January 2018

Scans © Brian Ecott

The tiny female flowers can be seen as the top of the catkins (above). An enlargement of a female flower (left).

Masses of pollen is produced by the catkins and is carried by the wind to pollinate the female flowers which will develop into Hazelnuts in late summer - a favourite of the grey squirrels

 

.

7th July 2017

Gone but not forgotten

A few Harebells Campanula rotundifolia grew on Cabin Hill in the early nineteen-sixties. Armed with my Pentax S1a loaded with Kodak Kodachrome film and I took a picture. It's August 1971 and Decimal Year. Photo © Brian Ecot
It was a dark and stormy night....   Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Poet (1803-1873)

High winds  brought down this magnificent Beech, possible the largest on Hog Hill. Raymond Small measured it to be 22m tall and it had  a girth of 2.86m  

Photo © Brian Ecott  3rd January 2018

The shallow rooting which measured 3.5m high showed a sandy base. The whole of the grassland and playing areas in the Country Park is London Clay which was laid down under deep seas which covered the area. As the seas became shallow a final deposit of clay was deposited which was sandier and referred to as the Claygate Member or Claygate Bed. It consisted of a fine sandy soil which capped areas such as Hog Hill and Dog Kennel Hill. Where this Beech has fallen it has exposed this layer.  See Forest Topography page

Under bark spider
This female spider  Nuctenea umbratica - body length 14mm lives under bark or in crevices. It has a flat abdomen and it tucks its legs under the body which is how I found it.   Pushing it at the back encouraged it to attempt to walk as in this picture. 29th January 2018. Photo © Brian Ecott
Collective nouns

A flock, a shop or a gathering of Rough Woodlice under bark 20th January 2018 Photo © Brian Ecott

A small Raft of Shoveller ducks male and female watched by two Black-headed gulls are feeding on the lake. 29th December 2017 Photo © Michael Rumble Usually at Hainault the Shovellers feed in pairs shovelling up planrt debris and invertebrates - back-swimmers and snails. They are a winter visitor here.
The Ugly Duckling  Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875).

here once was an ugly duckling with feathers all stubby and brown, and the other birds said in so many words," Get out of town."

Get out, get out, get out of town. And he went with a quack and a waddle and a quack in a flurry of eiderdown.

That poor little ugly duckling went wandering far and near but at every place they said to his face "Now get out, get out, get out of here."

And he went with a quack and a waddle and a quack and a very unhappy tear.

Mute swan. January 2018 Photo © Brian Ecott

Robin 17th January 2018  Photo © Michael Rumble

Magpie  2nd January 2018, Photo © Brian Ecott.  Ted's Field.

Moonlight picture of a cormorant and two greylags on lake. January 31st 2018 2330h. Photo © Michael Trump

European gorse

The European gorse Ulex europaeus  looks at its best in January at the back of the Horse Field.  Photo © Brian Ecott  29th January 2018

This honey bee thought so too, filling its pollen sacs. It was a sunny day and Raymond Small grabbed this great photo.

Winter fungi

Witches butter Exidia glandulosa on Beech  23rd January 2018  Photo © Brian Ecott

Velvet shank Flammulina velutipes on dead willow on the site of  Foxburrows Farm pond.  27th January 2018  Photo © Brian Ecott

Willow bracket Phelllinus igniarius on base of old willow  on site of the former Foxburrows Farm pond  28th January 2018 Photo © Brian Ecott 

Jelly ear fungus Auricularia auricula-judae on dead elderberry stem. 28th January 2018  Hog Hill. Photo © Brian Ecott

Polypody fern

 The lone Western Polypody Polypodium interjectum continues to grow well, although no sign of other plants in the area.

25th January 2018.  Photo © Brian Ecott

Once in a Blue moon

Mick Trump captured this image of the Super moon or Blue moon. 31st January 2018 2330h.

and finally.......  Colds and Flu in the 1940's
My childhood memories of colds and flu in the forties and fifties was horrible red medicines for colds and chest problems and the smell of eucalyptus oil or Vick on my pillow or vest. The first chemist in New North Road Hainault was Wathens (8 Station Parade) followed by Mr Hooker (208 New North Road) same place but renumbered. Dr Gilchrist was the doctor at 2 Fencepiece Road while Dr A. Findlay was away on War Service.