Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Tree Following ~ March to April (plus new tree)



This post marks a complete year of Tree Following for me. My Tree Following posts form part of a wider project run by Lucy Corrander from the Loose and Leafy blog. I am following a Silver Birch, B. pendula, in Suffolk, UK. You will find the other Tree Follower links on the Loose and Leafy blog ... so do take the chance to catch up with happenings in the arboreal world!

Welcome to my new - as yet unidentified - tree! I have had my eye on it through the winter, but was in two minds whether or not to 'follow' it as I felt reluctant to move on from my Silver Birch, especially since I am now in a position, twelve months on, to make some comparisons (or contrasts) with a year ago. However, I have decided for the moment to carry on with the two trees in an organic kind of way. I may drop one or the other, but will keep the Silver Birch as my main focus for the time being. Please leave a comment if you can ID the new tree!

As you can see, the leaves are beginning to grow on my new tree, and I hope that once they have developed a little more, it may be possible to identify the species.

You can see last year's seed heads hang from the end of long stalks. I look forward to discovering more as seasonal changes take place. 

These, of course, are already happening. The daisy above was spotted ten days ago under my 'new tree'. There are other signs of spring, and those of you who watched BBC Springwatch at Easter will know that Chris Packham and the team are asking us to record first sightings of the following species for their Big Spring Watch survey:

Hot-air balloon glimpsed through the branches of the Downy Birch
Some of you will recall that while I have been following a Silver Birch, I have also been keeping the occasional eye on 'another' birch, a Downy Birch seen in the photo above. It lies in close proximity, and while there was barely any green when the photo was taken some ten days ago, the Downy Birch now has definite signs of verdant leaf growth.  

Silver Birch
In contrast, the only green on the Silver Birch (above) is lichen on the trunk. I'm sure the leaves will follow soon.

There have been quite a few Blue tits on the Silver Birch (and as you can see, on the coconut feeders that dangle from its lower branches). The Silver Birch plays host to some 334 species of insect, and some of these small creatures prove choice pickings for the Blue tit, as you can see in the two top photos in the link here. Aphids, Ladybirds and Hoverflies are often drawn to the Silver Birch, and I shall be keeping an eye out for these as the days go by. There is even a Silver Birch Aphid (Euceraphis betulae). Silver Birch leaves attract a variety of moth caterpillars, many with rather lovely names such as the Angle-shades (adult here), the Buff tip (adult here), the Pebble hook-tip and the Kentish Glory. I shall be keeping an eye out for these. 

There have been no new birds on the Silver Birch this month. However, a pair of Mallards flew over one day for the first time, presumably a sign that the mating season has arrived. The Starlings have been regular visitors to the coconuts and, sadly, the Woodpeckers have been noticeable by their absence!

It may have been too cloudy for us to notice anything much during the eclipse, but 24 March brought a huge rainbow (the precursor to April showers, perhaps), followed on 25 March by a very icy morning.

24 March 2015: Rainbow

25 March 2015: Frost patterns on the car