|and early 2015|
This post is the ninth in my Tree Following series, part of a wider project run by Lucy Corrander from the Loose and Leafy blog. It is the first post of the new year, but is actually largely about December 2014. 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!
|2015! Silver Birch Sunrise|
Welcome or welcome back!
December has, inevitably, been a month of bare branches. Unlike this time last year when the weather was mild and damp, we have had a run of sub-zero temperatures, with wonderful frost-flower patterns on the car roof.
The chill factor has not prevented the Silver Birch from developing: take note of those forked 'twig ends'! Spring may not quite be on the way and last year's seeds are still winging their way on to my windowsill, but this kind of new 2015 growth is good to see. As I write the sky is overcast and the air is saturated with moisture, but it was bitterly cold at dawn.
|New growth at the end of each twig!|
I see the occasional Grey Squirrel in the tall tree that marks the start of the Local Nature Reserve, some 200 metres beyond our garden, but I have not seen a squirrel our side of the fence since December 11th. We have been trying hard to keep our supply of bird food topped up, and the squirrel in question discovered a feast of fat balls inside the feeder that hangs from the Silver Birch.
The creature climbed, dangled, hung upside down and gorged.
There came a point at which s/he could no longer reach the remaining bits of food, so s/he tried biting the wood on the outside of the feeder to enlarge the hole. I hope it didn't cause indigestion!
Then when that ploy no longer seemed the best option, the creature simply flipped off the lid of the feeder and climbed inside the cylinder. One very overstuffed Squirrel, and the only mammal noted in the vicinity during this period.
David, my husband, spotted the Green Woodpecker on the Silver Birch for the first time. I went to grab my camera, and the bird flew off, so alas, no photos.
We have hardly seen the Great Spotted Woodpecker this month. The Starlings have been frequent visitors, and when they are busy squabbling among themselves and slicing of bits of fat, there is usually a wily Robin underneath, waiting for the bits that fall. I have also noticed the Blackbird in the undergrowth and the Magpies up to their usual dive-bombing antics.
The Blue tits and Great tits have been constant visitors to the coconuts. A Thrush has been seen under the drooping birch branches from time to time. I'm guessing it is a Song Thrush. According to this BTO fact sheet, the little heart-shaped markings would suggest as much, since Mistle Thrush markings are more pointed like arrowheads.
The stars of the Christmas show (acrobatic squirrel apart) have been the Long-tailed tits, who have delighted us with their intermittent appearances. They visit the coconuts on the Silver Birch in groups of three and four and are such fascinating birds to watch as they interact with one another.
Moving on to insects and other creatures, I have seen a few moths, but these have been less frequent sightings. It was slightly off-limits in terms of distance from the tree, but we had a sleepy seven-spot Ladybird on our front door over the holiday. This morning there was a spider, but it vanished before I could take a close look.
For a list of species seen in, on or around the Silver Birch to date (nothing new to report for this last month), please follow the link here and scroll down.
Don't forget that the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is just around the corner, taking place on 24-25 January. And if you can't wait until then, you might consider subscribing to the BTO Garden Bird Watch, which I have only just heard about.
What surprises does February have in store?
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Just to show that I am keeping my eyes open, here is a mature Silver Birch I noticed on Dunwich Heath some days ago, making my tree seem barely more than a mere sapling! Look at the rather grotesque fungus ...
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