Hainault Forest Website

Written and Designed by Brian Ecott


November - December 2009



Hazel catkins 21st December 2009 in Hainault Lodge

Walk to Remember 8th November 2009

Fairlop Aerodrome Memorial Wall wreath laying by Lee Scott MP and Keith Prince, Redbridge Council Leader.  11th November 2009.

Christmas Wreath Workshop in the Hainault Room. 12th Dec. 2009.

Tricia Moxey at the Essex Field Club Social and Exhibition

Chelmsford, Essex. 5th Dec. 2009

Seasonal and Unseasonal

This, the last entry for 2009  begins with a seasonal photograph sent to me by Councillor Loraine Sladden showing a friendly grey squirrel who the family have named Bobby, here photographed in their garden eating a festive biscuit. The second photograph show a very unseasonal photograph of Hazel catkins shedding pollen on the 21st December in Hainault Lodge Local Nature Reserve. Marked with a blue * in the picture is a female flower showing stigma. This is the earliest that I have seen mature Hazel catkins

I led a Walk to Remember on Sunday 8th December. After the Two Minutes Silence 18 adults and children spent a couple of hours walking through the forest learning something of the forest during the second world war, where fields along the Romford Road grew cereal crops and the golf course and cabin plain were grazed by sheep by order of the War Department. A section of the mile plantation was removed so that planes from local airfields could practice low level flying. Two posts were placed in the Lake and used for target practice. Many spent bullets were found about twenty years ago in the Lake during a very dry spell when some of the silt was removed. Several bombs were dropped on the Common and became temporary ponds. Most have dried up and filled in but we passed one which still holds water in the winter months. The bomb dropped in 1944 on the path from the Common to Cabin Hill and the path now diverts round it. During the walk we saw several large fairy rings of the Clouded agaric Clitocybe nebularis many metres across, and one of the lads found a fine specimen of the Fly agaric Amanita muscaria.

About a hundred members of the public joined our MP Lee Scott together with the Leader of Redbridge Council Keith Prince and many Redbridge Councillors, Ex-service Men, Police and Scouts to honour Servicemen serving at Fairlop Aerodrome (now Fairlop Waters)  during two World Wars. The event was organized by local historian David Martin who formed the Fairlop Heritage Group and is Chairman. The Prayers at the service were offered by Father Andrew and Rabbi Aronovitz.

This was the first time that the sacrifices of The Few at Fairlop has been officially recognised and the Heritage Group are pressing for a permanent memorial to be sited at Fairlop. Featured on the temporary Memorial wall were photos of 2nd Lt. Harry Jassby who died on the 6th November 1918 age 22 and Sgt. Godfrey Alan McKoy who died 26th January 1943 age 23.

For more photos of the event see Fairlop Memorial Service 2009

David Martin has compiled a DVD of the history of Fairlop Aerodrome and this and further information can be obtained from the Fairlop Heritage Group

A Christmas Decorations workshop was held on Saturday 12th December in the Hainault Room at the Country Park. There is always great enthusiasm for this event which takes place yearly and some magnificent wreaths were made under the guidance of Linda Herbert. The one illustrated left is mainly ivy berries and foliage with some added decorations. The workshop was full with twenty ladies attending (men welcome) and the standard achieved was very professional.

On the 5th December I attended the Annual Exhibition and Social of the Essex Field Club a body of Naturalists which has been in existence for 130 years and is the premier organization for Naturalists in the whole of Essex, including the London Boroughs north of the Thames which were formerly  in Essex prior to 1965. Each year I display photographs that I have taken in Hainault Forest in order to put Hainault on the map and in the minds Essex Naturalists. This year I displayed over 100 species of galls which was well received and photographed left is Tricia Moxey looking at the display. Tricia is a local Naturalist, Lecturer and Walk Leader especially in connection with Epping Forest. It was Edward North Buxton, Verderer of Epping Forest and a member of the Essex Field Club who played a major part in purchasing and formally handing over to the public, Hainault Forest in 1906.

The first snow of the winter fell a few days before Christmas when temperatures plunged to -6C and it remained very cold and icy for the rest of the year. The Tamworth pigs had been moved to a temporary enclosure on the farm while work is undertaken to rebuild their house and repair and replace fencing around the area. If you are visiting the farm there may be part closure or restrictions for safety, while work is carried out. Anyway the pigs seem content in their current home while it is snowing outside. The Lake was frozen in the last fortnight of the year. Photographed below are some gulls standing on the ice. Black-headed gulls have pink legs and in winter plumage have a black patch behind the eyes, and the Common gull has yellow-green legs and winter plumage includes light brown streaks on the head. The large gull in the picture is an immature herring/lesser black-back gull.

There is much to discover and record in the Forest. By taking an interest in plant galls I have discovered several species that are new to Essex and others that are rare in the UK. There must be many lichens and mosses that are unique to the many habitats at Hainault especially in the Ancient Woodland. It is very important that these and other groups are dealt with before their special requirements are lost through bad management. This is the true meaning of Ecology from 'oikos' a home. The relationship of organisms with each other and to their physical surroundings. I first attended Ecology lectures in 1965 after completing my qualifications in Medical Laboratory Sciences. These were  led by a local Wanstead man and lecturer at the London Natural History Museum, Alfred Leutscher. Ecology was a fairly new concept in Biology and I went on to meet and attend courses under the tutorship of Edward Lousley (Botany), Herbert Edlin (Forestry), Mike Llewellyn (Farming practices) and Pat Morris (Mammalogy), Alan Harrington (Mosses and Liverworts. Having completed Ecology and Conservation at Birkbeck, London I am still in the process of completing Ecology and Evolution at The Open University.

Peter Comber, likewise has kept an interest in Natural History like myself as an amateur naturalist. He has specialized in the fungi and we owe a great debt of gratitude to his meticulous recording of the fungi of Hainault Forest. Below is a fungus found on rotting birch in October that was puzzling Peter. It was later identified by Alex Henrici at Kew as Clitocybe americana - a lignicolous species from North America. It is a red data species, rare in the UK and has been placed in the herbarium at Kew. We badly need children and young people to start an interest in a particular group of plants or animals in the Forest for the future health and species welfare in the Forest.

The Tamworth Pigs snug in their temporary enclosure 21st Dec. 2009.

The first snow of the winter 21st Dec. 2009.

Black-headed and Common gulls on the frozen lake. An immature gull possibly Herring gull stands at the back.  21st December 2009



Illustrated left:

Clitocybe americana a Red Data species.

22nd October 2009

Photos Peter Comber


September - October 2009









Cattle have appeared in the forest at Latchford meadow. Watch your step!

Speckled Wood butterfly. 9th September 09.

Weevil on Connie 9th September 09.

Autumn equinox walk, Sunday 20th September.

Marble galls on English oak. 9th Sept. 09.

Sycamore moth caterpillar. 28th September 09

Cattle have appeared in the forest at Latchford Meadow. This is part of a three year study by the Woodland Trust. On what grounds they have to graze cattle in what was given to the public as an open space, they refuse to comment. Since they don't own the land, and an Act of Parliament (1903) withdrew grazing, the legality of the cattle there is in doubt. The restrictions placed on people, their children and their dogs is not in the Law or spirit of the Act. In ten years since the Woodland Trust took over the management of the the Essex County Council's land there has been much neglect, and people are subjected to many gates and barbed wire fencing. As there is no access to their own land at Havering Park, Stapleford Abbotts they have cut vehicle access through the woodland at Lambourne -  also Common land.

The high temperatures at the beginning of September - it was 27C on the 8th and 9th brought out many butterflies including the Speckled wood, Peacock, Comma and Painted lady which has had a particularly good year.

A Weevil was found on Connie the farm dog while on a walk through the forest. It is thought to be an Acorn or Nut weevil Curculio sp. Weevils are beetles which have a long snout or rostrum, often curved, with teeth at the end and with angular antennae halfway along it, although the picture right shows only one antenna. They are usually vegetarians and the female bores a hole in an acorn where eggs are laid and the grubs feed inside the acorn.  The Boll weevil in The United States is a pest of the cotton crop.

The Autumn equinox walk was well attended on a fine morning of the 20th September. Among many things we looked at galls especially on the oaks and a fine specimen of the thistle stem gall.

There was a mass of haws, the red fruit of the Hawthorn or May and other trees and shrubs produced a good crop of fruits this year including sloes, rosehips, horse chestnuts and hornbeam nuts. The Hazels which were planted in the plantation and also in Hainault Lodge Nature Reserve have done well since they were planted 2003 and have produced their first cobnuts.

The wildlife garden produced a good crop of potatoes, spinach and runner beans, but most other vegetables were attacked by caterpillars and slugs and we need to find out how to manage the problem in a wildlife friendly way. It was while working there that I came across a caterpillar of the Sycamore moth. It is a spectacular caterpillar with white markings edged with black along its side and with short tufts of yellowish-pink hairs on its body with a punk type tuft of pinky-brown hairs on its rear end. The adult is a dull brownish moth.

Peter Comber did three fungus forays in Hainault Forest for various organizations, and one in Claybury Woods for Redbridge's Conservation Rangers. About 45 people turned up for the Country park's walk on the 24th October. There are often up to 70 on Peter's walks which is somewhat difficult to manage, however on the 24th the number was reduced as it was raining a half hour before the start, and this may have put people off. We were fortunate that it didn't rain again until the end of the walk. Peter supplied a full list of species for each of the forays and these can be found on the species list page.

At the back of the Lake is an area of Aspen and amongst the leaf litter was a spectacular "lawn" of Slender Club fungus Macrotyphula juncea. It is described as solitary or gregarious in the leaf litter and there was certainly a mass of it throughout the leaf litter. It was a good year for the Fly agaric Amanita muscaria. It is the classic illustration of children's books - a red capped mushroom with white spots. It is poisonous. It is always associated with Silver birch trees where its microscopic threads or hyphae form an association with the birch roots providing it with mineral and nutrients in return for sugars from the tree.

The are many Mycena fungi to be found in the forest particularly in the grassland areas. They are usually small fungi. One person on the foray found a magnificent cluster of Angel's bonnets Mycena arcangeliana on a piece of rotting wood.

Slender Club fungus in amongst Aspen leaves. 31st Oct 09.

                                                               Fly agaric fungi on Cabin Hill, with associated Silver birch 31.10.09


Angels bonnet on rotting birch, 24th October 2009


August 2009 in pictures

At 8.41pm. on the 1st August the setting sun caught the tops of the trees in the horse field turning them golden.

3 year old Walnut tree grown by Bob Cable and donated to the Country Park. It is planted behind the visitor centre near the paddock. A Walnut could be seen near Sheepwater but is no longer there. First crop of Hazel nuts in the plantation. Hazel is rare in the forest, and whips were planted in 2002.

Some of the 80 children at the Essex Kite Club workshop held in the Country Park on 19th August. The children were getting their kites 60m high. The sky was clear with a slight breeze. Temperatures in the afternoon reach just over 27C. With thanks to the many members of the Essex Kite Club who kindly offered their assistance to the children, making the day very enjoyable and a great success.

Finishing and decorating the kites. Photos Linda Herbert

The Kite is ready to fly

The kite takes off


Essex Kite Club members kites

On 6th August Phil Eckett of Owl Wise gave a demonstration of his owls in The Visitor Centre. He first spoke of his work with Owl Wise, the biology of owls, their silent flight, and specially adapted feathers, feeding and pellet analysis. In the second half of his demonstration Phil brought in examples of his collection, allowed participants to get a close up view and to handle some. Above left Phil is holding a Tawny owl and right is an Eagle owl doing a low fly-past. A great occasion for all.

Barn owl

 Boobook owl

Monday 3rd August was a volunteer day in the Wildlife Garden. This event was jointly organized by the Conservation Team, and the Country Park staff. The Wildlife Garden project has been slow to materialize but received a boost when lots of volunteers turned up and we were able to clear a large area of weeds for next years planting, and create a Wildlife pond. Rapid progress was made and the pond gradually took shape and by the end of the day the liner had been added and water began to flow in. Volunteers were supplied with tea and biscuits, quickly socialized and  after a talk on how to use and store tools carried out tasks within their capabilities. It was a fun day and both tasks were completed. We hope to have further volunteer days here on a regular basis. Contact the Conservation team on Tel: 020 8501 1426.

Workday photographs by courtesy of the Redbridge Conservation Team.


May - July 2009

It was announced in July that Hainault Forest Country Park was awarded the Green Flag Award for 2009-10. The only other site to gain the award in Redbridge was for Elmhurst Gardens. The Country Park Staff under the direction of the manager Mr Paul Browne are to be congratulated on gaining this award for the second time. The Country Park is managed very well for both leisure facilities and wildlife conservation - a difficult strategy to get right. Well done!

For the criteria used to judge a site for the prestigious Green Flag Award  visit the site at:  http://www.greenflagaward.org.uk/award/key-criteria/

The newly refurbished Cafeteria  finally opened on the 17th July 2009.  Seen here it is proudly  flying the Green Flag Award.  It consists of an indoor

Painted Lady butterfly Cynthia cardui 28th May 2009

Old Lady moth Mormo maura  in goat shed, 9th July 2009

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing moth caterpillar Noctua fimbriata, found in the wildlife garden 11th May 2009.

Edible frog at Lambourne End 26th May 2009

seating area and a kiosk with an outside seating area. There is step free access suitable for wheelchair users, and buggies, and there are plans for a dog free area in the future. A whole range of drinks, crisps, filled rolls, ice creams can be purchased, and there is also a menu of burgers, pasties, chips and more. Kites, balls, and other items for park use are also available. The cafeteria is open daily from 9am to 5pm.  A limited service of Drinks, ice creams and crisps etc. will still be available in the Visitor Centre when there is sufficient demand.


The refurbished toilets should be open during August. Watch for the opening date on the home page. But in the meantime toilets are available at The Visitor Centre.


Painted Lady butterflies first appeared in the forest in mid-May. A mass migration from North Africa spread across the country and I was seeing them in large numbers in the Orkney Islands and the Shetlands as far as Unst during June. At the end of July a second brood was emerging in Hainault and the surrounding areas. Butterflies have been good this year with plenty of Gatekeepers, Meadow browns, Peacocks, Commas, Red admiral, Large whites and Speckled woods. 


In one of the goat sheds Claire Oliverio spotted an interesting moth which was later identified as an Old Lady moth Mormo maura. These  are in flight from July to September, but are typically found roosting in sheds and outbuildings during the day. It is a large moth, wingspan 70mm.


While working on the Wildlife garden I found a light brown caterpillar, with  a brown head and black spots on the spiracles on segments 4 - 9. This is the larva of the Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing moth Noctua fimbriata. The caterpillar is about 50mm and the caterpillar appears in September and overwinters in litter on the ground. They continue to feed and are very large in April-May when they pupate and emerge as an adult moth in July.


During April and May residents at Lambourne End were disturbed by very loud croaking in one of the larger ponds in the area. It was not a Common frog but a Green frog which includes several similar species but was possibly an Edible frog. The length of the hind limb and details of the hind foot need to be examined for a positive identification.


The pair of Mute swans brought their three young cygnets on to the lake at the beginning of June, but soon lost one of them. The remaining two are doing well and were pictured on the 6th July which was a particularly warm day.

A Dawn Chorus Walk was held on the 10th May. Francis Castro reports: "On Sunday morning 40 brave souls managed to drag themselves out of bed for a 5am start at a misty and fresh Hainault Forest, to experience the sound of bird song at the seasonal height of activity. Organised by the Nature Conservation Ranger Team and guided by two volunteer bird watching enthusiasts, two groups ventured into the forest and were treated to a sonic display of bird song. Many bird species were heard and our guides helped everyone to identify what was singing. At the end of the walk the group was taken to the Hainault Room, where our guests were treated to a well deserved breakfast buffet and by 8am many bleary eyed walkers made there way back to their cars for the drive home. All agreed it was well worth the effort."

At the end of July Alice Greenacre warden at Hainault Forest was preparing to leave her job here and make final plans for her move to Scotland, where she has obtained a post with The Forestry Commission based in Dalkeith. Alice joined the Country Park Staff on 4th September 2006, and during her 3 years has led interesting public walks for the annual events programme, has updated the Visitor Centre information, has been involved with school party visits, as well as dead hedging, felling and chainsaw work, farm work, and other more mundane but nevertheless important duties such as fence painting, patrolling and litter picking.

3 cygnets (inset) 4th June; remaining two with pen and cob 6th July 2009.

Alice Greenacre - a career move.

Hainault Forest  at 5am. 10th May 2009 for the Dawn Chorus.


March - April 2009

                                           LOTTIE HARVEY  1915 - 2009

Charlotte (Lottie) Harvey was the youngest of the six children of Esther and Alfred Harvey, and was born in 4 Foxburrows Cottages in 1915. Her father Alfred was Hainault's first Forest Keeper, having been recommended to the London County Council by Edward North Buxton at the Opening of the Forest in 1906. Lottie lived in Manford Way until the age of 92 when she moved to a local care home. Her final weeks were spent in hospital where she died on 29th April aged 94. She lived a full life and was, together with her family, very much involved in the social life of the forest and especially with the Hainault Golf Course fraternity where her brother Bill worked and gained many golfing trophies throughout Essex.

                                       Read more of Lottie's life on her biography page.

Lower Plants walk members investigate a Liverwort. Photo Lee Rose 

8th March 2009

Liverwort Lunularia cruciata showing half moon gemmae cups. 8th March.

Pussy willow in flower in the Country Park 17th March 2009.

Lake edge cleared of emergent vegetation and rare plant.

The Spring Equinox Walk 21st March 2009.

Tufted duck - male

Badger print in sand (left). Same one outlined (right) Probably a right hind foot. 7th April 2009.

Weather-wise the period has been very traditional with Highs and Lows, winds and showers, bright warm days and cool rainy days. Temperatures picked up in the last couple of weeks of April.

Frogs were spawning in masses on the 2nd March in Roe's Well and there was some Frog spawn and Toad spawn in the lake but not as much as in previous years. On the 15th March Frog spawn was seen in the Bomb crater pond. I didn't see any spawn again this year in Sheepwater, but any laid would quickly be devoured by the shoals of goldfish that occur there.

The Lower plants walk was held on Sunday 8th March where we looked at the common Mosses, Liverworts, Ferns and Lichens to be found in the Country Park. Specimens were collected and examined by hand lens. One liverwort, Lunularia cruciata, was found in a ditch and was lobed on which were half moon shaped cups containing  structures known as gemmae. These are the means by which the plant can reproduce vegetatively

The 17th March was bright and sunny. Pussy willow was in flower throughout the Country Park. The blossom attracted large numbers of Bumble bees and many Comma butterflies. Sallow or Goat willow has both male and female trees. It is the male trees that attract so many insects. The female catkins are dull green and at the end of April are shedding airborne seeds which cover the ground in a light covering of "snow". The Woodland Trust don't understand the importance of early nectar in the ecosystem (shown elsewhere)  by cutting down a healthy willow by Sheepwater.

The Spring equinox walk on 21st March was led by Daphne Gilbert and well attended. The route was changed at the last moment as Redbridge Council workmen had cleared the emergent vegetation from the south side of the lake on instructions of the Environmental Agency. A fine stand of Coltsfoot had disappeared and very rare plants of Wild celery, which, although it occasionally occurs inland  is a plant of brackish coastal areas. Emergent vegetation is important for dragonflies and damselflies.

Birdwatcher James Anderson, visited the forest at 6am on Sunday 22nd March to try and see a Lesser spotted woodpecker which he hadn't seen for a couple of years. He managed to get superb views of a male in a small group of trees to the east of the lake from the main car park. At first he heard it drumming and eventually managed to get within six feet of it, watching it drumming for at least twenty minutes.

A list of birds that he saw that day and their numbers are 11 Robins, 7 Green woodpeckers, 12 Mallard, 15 Magpies, 12 Blue tits, 4 Moorhen, 23 Woodpigeons, 8 Great-spotted woodpeckers, 7 Blackbirds, 29 Carrion crows, 19 Great tits, 24 Canada geese, 2 Great crested grebes, 7 Coot, 5 Tufted ducks, 1 Pochard, 1 Kestrel (m) perching on one of the sculptures at Woodhenge, 1 Black-headed gull, 3 Chaffinches, 1 Wren, 3 Starlings, 2 Song thrushes, 5 Long-tailed tits, 1 Pheasant, 1 Tawny owl, 5 Chiffchaff (mainly along the footpath alongside the golf course, 2 Lesser-spotted woodpeckers (east of the lake from main car park, and another heard drumming from within the golf course from the footpath that runs alongside.

Whilst on the subject of birds Country Park warden Mick Fergusson spotted several Swallows and House martins swooping over the lake on 28th March. These may have been passing through en route further north. I had an e-mail from Claire Hodge who spotted a pair of Mandarin ducks on the lake on Sunday 12th April. There was a female mallard with three ducklings on 26th April on Sheepwater. Mallards are having a hard time especially on the lake where for the past four or five years Carrion crows have learnt to fly over and pluck them out of the water. Has anyone heard the Cuckoo in Hainault Forest?

Insects noted during the period were a Red-tailed bumble bee queen on the 2nd March, Comma butterflies on the 15th March, Brimstone male butterfly on the 2nd April, Small tortoiseshell, Speckled woods, Peacocks, Holly blues, Orange tip males, and Holly blue butterflies in the last fortnight of April. St. Marks flies have appeared in large numbers recently on warm still days especially around oak trees and woodland edges. Caterpillars of the Oak Tortrix moth dangle in large numbers from gossamer threads from oak trees to the annoyance of some walkers.

In the Country Park the toilets by the 1st car park are nearing completion and should be open shortly. The Kiosk is being rebuilt as a cafeteria will also be opening in time for summer. Meanwhile toilets and refreshments are currently available at the visitors centre, near the 2nd car park.

Two Friesian x calves arrived at the farm on 18th March. They were fed milk for a couple of weeks and are now fully weaned and can be seen in their field. On 25th April twin Charolais x 2 day old calves arrived. They were orphaned and are gaining strength on their milk diet. They are proving very popular with the crowds of visitors on the farm.

The forest has dried out during the past couple of weeks. It is in the mud that the tracks of Muntjac and Fallow deer, Fox and Badger can be found. I found the hind foot print of a Badger in some sand. Badgers are different from dogs and foxes in that they have five toes on each foot. The photograph shows a badger print in fine sand and is probably a right hind foot. For clarity a second photograph has been outlined to show the five toes and the very large oval pad.

 The Great Plant Hunt has been launched by Kew Gardens, primarily for schoolchildren with the support of the Wellcome Trust and Darwin 200. Many plant species are disappearing fast and schools and children can help by getting involved. Information packs will be sent to all primary schools and further details can be found in their web pages at www.greatplanthunt.org . I have just led four walks in the Ancient woodland at Claybury's Repton Park and it is certainly the Jewel in Redbridge's Crown - masses of Bluebells, Wild garlic, Anemones, Cow parsley,  Yellow archangel, Pink and white campions, Greater stitchwort, Spring vetch, Cuckoo flower, Ground ivy, along the path edges. This is how a woodland should look, and schools would do well to visit there. Waymarked walks and leaflets from the Conservation Rangers at 020 8501 1426.

40+ people turned up for the Bluebell and blossom walk on the 26th April on a beautiful sunny morning. The bluebells and wood sorrel were out but the rest of the woodland walk was lined with nettles and brambles. Little blossom to note, but it was pleasing to see some Lady's smock returning to the Common. More frequent cutting especially early spring and before the thistles seed, together with the removal of the arisings should see an improvement here.

Slime moulds are  strange organisms and several have appeared recently in the wet weather, mainly on the barks of trees and cut stumps. When I was at school there were two Kingdoms - Plants and Animals, now there are several Kingdoms and Slime moulds have their own.  Photographed on this page is a slime mould Enteridium lycoperdon in the final stages of dispersal. The outer skin is breaking and the mass of black spores is about to be released. The Slime mould page gives more details of this fascinating group.

James Anderson made another visit to the Forest on 26th April and his list of bird species is as follows:

Common buzzard soaring overhead, 1 Lapwing, 6 Linnets, 2 Willow warblers, 4 Common whitethroats, 10+ Blackcaps, 10+ Chiffchaffs, Wren, Blackbird, Song thrush, Magpie, Jay, Mallard, Mute swan, Coot,  Moorhen, Canada geese, Greylag goose, Tufted duck, Chaffinch, Robin, House sparrow, Starling, Collard dove, Wood pigeon, 7 Greater spotted woodpeckers, 6 Green woodpeckers, Carrion crow, Jackdaw, Great tit, Blue tit, Long-tailed tit, Pheasant.

Finally, the fungus King Alfred's cakes, or Cramp balls Daldinia concentrica is a hard crusty black fungus found especially on Ash trees. Cut one in half and you will see concentric rings of black and grey hence the specific name 'concentrica'.

Slime mould Enteridium lycoperdon final stage, on an oak tree.

Photo: 29th March 2009

Two Friesian x calves at about two months. Photo: 18th March 2009 (above) and two two-day old Charolais x calves (below).

Photo: 25th April 2009 on the farm.


King Alfred's cake halved to show concentric rings.

Photo: 30th March 2009.

Bluebell Walk 26th April 2009

Lady's smock, Cuckoo flower or Milkmaids as it is known in Lambourne End and Chigwell Row on 26th April 2009. The Common.


January - February 2009

London skyline from the Country Park 7th February 2009. Can you see The Gherkin, the Eye, St Paul's, Post Office Tower?

The Mayor with John Bramston Primary schoolchildren 9th February 2009

Frozen lake 8th January 2009

Three girls on sledge 3rd February 2009

A Lithobiid Centipede - the head is on the right.

Oyster mushroom

 Much work is being carried out in the Country Park. During January saw the construction of three adventure play areas for various age groups of children. A play area for very young children, and another for 8+ years old have been constructed in the Farm/Zoo area. Within the woodland, behind the Lake is an area for teenagers. The Play areas were officially opened by The Worshipful The Mayor of Redbridge, Councillor Loraine Sladden on a very wet Monday 9th February. For more details and pictures click here.

Work is also being carried out on refurbishing the toilets and rebuilding the kiosk, which will form a cafeteria with inside and outside seating. These will greatly improve the facilities in the Country Park and it is hoped will will be open around Eastertide. As soon as completion dates are known details will appear on the home page. Meanwhile there are toilets open at the visitor centre where you can also get a cuppa, cakes, rolls, crisps, sweets and ice cream every day.

The whole of the period was very cold with spells of extreme cold with day and night temperatures below 0C. Snow fell on Sunday and Monday 1-2 February. In Hainault Forest the depth of about 10-12 cms (4 inches). Local schools closed and buses were suspended for 24 hours. Hoards of parents and children flocked to the slopes at Hog Hill, and Cabin Hill armed with sledges, doors, bakers trays and house sale notice boards to glide down the inclines. For more pictures of the snow click here. A light covering of snow occurred of the night of 12/13th February. The Lake froze over on several occasions, but there was enough open water left to save the water birds from predation by foxes. The whole of the forest was very wet with some path surfaces being washed away. The Country Park staff spent much time unblocking ditches to try and drain the area and keeping the drainage working.

On the 20th February several large trees, oak and ash were cut down in the Sheepwater area by the Woodland Trust. In June 2008 the Government appointed "Natural England" reported a decline in birds in Hainault Forest. Whatever the cause, removing old valuable trees which support vast arrays of insects, caterpillars, spiders and grubs would seem to aggravate the situation and cannot be beneficial. Click here for further details. As it says in a Woodland Trust leaflet requesting donations and referring to Ancient woodland - it takes 400 years to grow and 25 minutes to destroy!!

Much of the wildlife during the winter months is hibernating, sheltering or generally inactive. The Common gorse flowers throughout the winter months with Hazel and Alder catkins appearing in late January. With the increasing light towards the end of February frogs appeared in Roe's Well but had not yet spawned. Lurking under bricks in the Wildlife garden Woodlice and Centipedes were scurrying about. Centipedes have one pair of legs per segment, and the adult has 15 pairs. The specimen photographed as approx 25mm in length. A large pair of antennae on the head is on the head and alongside the head is a pair of fangs with which the Centipede grasps and poisons its invertebrate prey. Like the woodlice, centipedes don't have a waterproof cuticle or skin so they are confined to damp places under rocks and stones. The one pictured here is a Lithobiid centipede - probably Lithobius forficatus a common species under stones in gardens.

Strong winds in recent weeks have brought down small branches from oaks. Witches butter Exidia glandulosa is a commonly found jelly fungus on these branches. Other fallen branches may contain the mycelia or threads of the Green elf cap Chlorociboria aeruginascens. The tiny fruiting bodies are seldom seen, but the mycelia stair the wood blue-green which give it the name Green oak, which was used as a veneer in antiques known as Tunbridge ware. Some Oyster mushrooms Pleurotus ostreatus were found on a fallen beech. Hairy curtain crust Stereum hirsutum was often found on tree stumps and logs.

Witches Butter

Green oak




Hairy Curtain crust