Trashing. Not thrashing. My guess is that given it is autumn and that Wanstead is drowning in migrants that some of you may have misread the title, and were perhaps expecting another birdy post? No. Trashing. From the verb to trash - to damage or destroy something, either deliberately or because you did not take good care of it. Migrants are not the only thing we are drowning in. I am talking about litter and people's waste. Wanstead is slowly but surely being ruined by selfless littering and tipping.
I don't litter, my children don't litter. I would never dream of dropping something on the ground, the mere thought of it is completely foreign to me. I view littering as one of the lowest things somebody can do, as it just so avoidable. There are bins everywhere, recycling facilities in London abound. How hard can it be to find a bin or take your rubbish home with you? Not hard at all, so when people just chuck whatever it is - normally food and drink containers - on the ground and saunter off, well it just makes my blood boil. I know I am sounding a bit like 'outraged of Tunbridge Wells' here, but it has got to the point where it is an epidemic.
As well as a few migrants around the patch last week, here is a flavour of what else a visiting birder might have seen.
Nice eh? Almost every corner of the patch that you walk through has something similar. Under bushes and around tree trunks are the most popular spots, although the sides of the lake are also pretty grim. It would be a lot worse were it not for the heroic action of a local volunteer who walks around the patch almost every morning pulling a trolley and picking it all up. He fills several bags a day but cannot keep up with the sheer volume of crap dropped by the selfish and oafish users of the Flats.
Up there with littering is fly-tipping. The Flats sees a lot of this, most often when the fun fair is in town, although there is no direct correlation. Possibly it is because there are more gates open during these periods to allow access, possibly it is because less scrupulous ride operators do a bit of house clearance work on the side. I have nothing but flimsy circumstantial evidence for this of course and I am probably being discriminatory.
All I can say is it becomes a lot easier to become discriminatory and cast aspersions when you step out onto your patch and see this.
Lovely. Who exactly do the dumpers of this stuff think is going to sort it out? The answer is that they don't care one jot. The physical answer is that it is the hard-working keepers of Epping Forest, who rather than manage the habitat have to instead pick up the contents of a lowlife's uninsured white Ford Transit. We regularly have to direct them to piles of rubbish that some callous arse has tipped out of a van, as if they don't have enough to do already. Prosecutions are rare, though they do sometimes manage to prove it and fine the person concerned - my favourite was someone who had fly-tipped a load of stuff in a massive cardboard box that had their name and address on it....
There is only one acceptable form of dropping something on the ground, and that is when the aim is to feed the birds. Yes, despite the rather ambiguous signage of "Don't feed the birds" around the various ponds on the patch, actually it is quite alright and perfectly acceptable to put a little extra out for our feathered friends. So many people have such little regard for wildlife that I have to say my heart gives a little flutter when I see such acts of human kindness. This is one of the truest expressions of a love of nature.
Look! So thoughtful.