Friday, May 27, 2016

Redbridge Nature News

It is always a pleasure (and boy do I need some after yesterday’s shambolic Redbridge Neigbourhoods Service committee meeting) to report on the activities of the Redbridge Nature Conservation Team. In this edition we have Stag Beetles, work at Fairlop Waters Country Park, Great Crested Newts and news on invasive plant species (not that they will flourish in the proposed new dystopian Redbridge).

Stag beetle sightings!
With summer just around the corner you may be lucky enough spot the rather elusive stag beetle. We recently came across one within our outdoor classroom at Ray Park. With males reaching up to 7cm in length, Britain’s biggest beetle is a very impressive creature to behold. They spend around 6 years as a larvae underground feeding on dead wood. They emerge in summertime as an adult when the males take flight to look for females. They only live for one summer in the adult form. Whilst they may look quite ferocious, they are completely harmless to humans. The males’ antler-like jaws (officially known as mandibles) are used to fight other males.

Unfortunately stag beetles are endangered; this is thought to be due to a lack of dead wood habitat that’s vital for the larva. London has proved a bit of a hot spot for them and the London Wildlife Trust run an annual stag beetle survey site so if you spot any please upload your sightings to:

Super fans can also follow stag beetle Sam at

Fairlop Waters Country Park Project Update
Works are well underway at Fairlop Waters Country Park to transform what’s known locally as ‘the lagoon’ area. Several mature crack willow have been removed from the bank of the lagoon, letting in light and opening up the area for bird watchers. The banks have been regraded and volunteers helped to plant a variety of colourful marginal aquatics. Wildflower seed has also been added. Future additions will include a bird hide, wildlife themed sculpture and audio interpretation. Watch this space!

Great Crested Newts
We’ve just completed our great crested newt surveys for this year over at Hainault Lodge Local Nature Reserve & Redbridge Cycle Centre. Around twice the size of our common or smooth newt, great crested are endangered and afforded protection throughout Europe. A small breeding population resides in Hainault and we were pleased to find males, females and eggs in ponds at both sites.

Be Plant Wise
This time of year many of you will be busy thinking about the types of plants you would like to see in your garden or pond. The Be Plant Wise campaign was launched by DEFRA to encourage gardeners to take care when purchasing aquatic plants, as well as disposing of excess aquatic plants responsibly. Unfortunately there are many aquatic plants originally brought into the UK for ornamental garden ponds that have now become incredibly invasive in the wild. In Redbridge we have recorded issues with Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides), New Zealand Pigmyweed also known as Australian Swamp stonecrop (Crassula helmsii), Water fern (Azolla filiculoides) and Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) in and around our public waterways, causing harm to local wildlife.

To find out more please visit

Published with thanks to the team based at James Leal Centre, Ray Park, Snakes Lane East IG8 7JQ
Tel: 020 8559 2316

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