Thursday 7 May 2015

Tree Following - April to May

Welcome to my Tree Following post for May. What a lot of transformations have taken place this month.

But before we take a look, I just want to add that these tree 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 and what has up to now remained something of a mystery tree. 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!

[1] My new tree for 2015

Words drafted on 1 May: this tree has changed quite significantly in the last few weeks, but I am still (slightly) unsure of its identification. It was suggested to me that it might be a kind of Prunus, but I was not totally convinced. It seems to have some Maple aspects, but I do not think it is totally maple-like either! Please let me know if you have further ideas.

Update of 5 May: my latest thought ... could it be an Ash-leaf Maple (Acer negundo - also known as Box Elder)? If so, these trees are called Junk Trees in Michigan because of their prevalence. Despite the name, these trees are not Elders: they belong to the Sapindaceae group. They are also known as Sugar Ash, Red River Maple and Black Ash.

The shoots are essentially green, but they have a rose-coloured waxy coating in the spring (see two photos down). The leaves are pinnate (good illustration; though remember, this tree is not an Elder!) in arrangement. 

Close-up of new leaf growth, with leaf nodes opposite one another on the stem

Small tresses of double seed-keys

As above

My 'new' 2015 tree

Part of my initial fascination with the new tree (apart from wanting to identify it) was the fact that, unlike the Silver Birch, it did not seem to attract birds. So far I have only spotted a single feathered creature - a Chaffinch - on its boughs. Perhaps the leaf growth will encourage others. There is an insect on the other side of the Atlantic called the Western Boxelder Bug

[2] Silver Birch

The tree has suddenly become a mass of green leaves, but I sense that spring is later at this stage than a year ago - in my home patch at least. This time last year the tiny Flowering Cherry near the Silver Birch was sporting pale pink flowers and the Ceanothus was distinctly blue. This year they are both still green at this point. However, the Silver Birch is striding towards summer, and I feel its fellow trees and shrubs will follow soon.

Intermittent spells of warm sunshine have brought with them some early insects in the area around the Silver Birch. The photo below shows a Hoverfly (perhaps Syrphus?).

The next photo depicts a Green Shieldbug ...

 ... and I think the next photo may be a Cereal Leaf Beetle.

Perhaps most exciting (to me) was the discovery of the Zebra Spider on the decking posts near the Silver Birch. I was keeping a careful look-out as I have occasionally seen Ruby-tailed wasps (see post for last June - and scroll down a bit) on these posts. I think it is still a bit soon for these 'metallic' insects. However, it was not long before I noticed signs of movement from what appeared at first to be striped ant-like insects. It was only when I blew up the photos that I realised that they were not insects but arachnids on account of their eight legs. You can read about these jumping spiders on the Suffolk Wildlife Trust site here.

Two spiders attacking prey?

Happy tree watching! 

As ever, please feel free to comment or correct. I am very much feeling my way as I go. Meanwhile I will leave you with my latest list ...

Silver Birch Sighting Update

I have marked the 'wild things' seen during this last month in yellow.

Avian sightings (on, in and around the Silver Birch, seen at any time since I began Lucy's Tree Following project over a year ago) are shown in pink.

  • TFb1   Great Spotted Woodpecker 
  • TFb2   Great tit (several, often on feeder) 
  • TFb3   Long-tailed Tit
  • TFb4   Blackbird (I saw four at once, but no sign of the bald one) 
  • TFb5   Song Thrush   
  • TFb6   Blue tit (several frequently on feeder)
  • TFb7   Robin (frequent appearances)
  • TFb8   Magpie (about three frequently around below the feeder)
  • TFb9   Wood Pigeon (up to ten perching around the feeder area)
  • TFb10 Dunnock (two frequently below feeder)  
  • TFb11 Starling (several on feeder, noisy!)
  • TFb12 Carrion Crow (one every so often, once with nesting material in bill)  
  • TFb13 Goldfinch (a small charm on a couple of occasions)
  • TFb14  Jay
  • TFb15  Green Woodpecker
  • TFb16  Wren 
  • TFb17  Bullfinch (a pair)
  • TFb18  Sparrowhawk
  • TFb19  Mallard (two pairs overhead - or was it the same pair twice?)

Mammal sightings include ...

  • TFm1 (?Wood) Mouse
  • TFm2 Bat ... STOP PRESS first 2015 garden sighting 7 May 2015 [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFm3 Shrew
  • TFm4 Grey Squirrel

On the insect front, sightings include ...

  • TFi1 Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly [March 2014]
  • TFi2 Buff-tailed Bumblebee [March 2014] 
  • TFi3 Brimstone Butterfly [April 2014]
  • TFi4 7-spot Ladybird [April 2014] [October 2014] [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFi5 Skipper Butterfly [July 2014]
  • TFi6 Meadow Brown Butterfly [July 2014]
  • TFi7 Large White Butterfly [July 2014]
  • TFi8 14-spot Yellow Ladybirds [July 2014]
  • TFi9 Small White Butterfly [May 2014] [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFi10 Orange tip Butterfly [May 2014]
  • TFi11 Harlequin ladybird [May 2014]
  • TFi12 Garden Chafer (Phyllopertha horticola) [June 2014] 
  • TFi13 Ruby-tail Wasp [June 2014 
  • TFi14 Blackfly [June 2014
  • TFi15 Marmalade Hoverfly [July 2014]
  • TFi16 Shield bug [July 2014] [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFi17 Migrant Hawker dragonflies [July 2014]
  • TFi18 Unidentified Damselfly [August 2014]
  • TFi19 Comma butterfly [August 2014]
  • TFi20 Red Admiral butterfly [August 2014] [October 2014]
  • TFi21 Peacock butterfly [August 2014]
  • TFi22 Green bottle flies [August 2014]
  • TFi23 Ants [August 2014] [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFi24 Squashbug aka Dock Bug, Coreus marginatus [August 2014]
  • TFi25 Birch Shieldbug (late instar?) [September 2014]
  • TFi26 Lacewing [October 2014] (about fifteen) 
  • TFi27 Harlequin Ladybird [October 2014] 
  • TFi28 Moths (though not so many in December) [Nov/Dec 2014] [Feb/Mar 2015]
  • TFi29 Cereal Leaf Beetle [Apr/May 2015]




Lea said...

Lovely photos!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Always, always full of interest.

I've chosen a tree for its location this year rather than for its beauty or nature. I don't yet know what kind it is but am working on an acer hypothesis. Like you, I'm thinking spring is late where I live. By next month leaves will (hopefully!) be fully open and we will more easily be able to compare trees.

Fantastic that you are continuing with your Silver Birch - it's truly interesting to know what grows under, near and on a tree. I'm not a bird person (embarrassed down-casting of eyes!) but am fascinated by the insects you come across.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

It's a fabulous idea! I'd never know what tree to follow. I got my first look at horse chestnut flowers yesterday, they are huge, put them on my blog.

Alison Levey said...

The list of wildlife is impressive, love how trees can host so much life.

Anonymous said...

Your photos are exquisite! I like that you have such a complete list of wildlife sightings for your tree; that's a great idea.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Lovely photos, definitely an Acer but further than that I wouldn't like to say

Amanda Peters said...

Still not quite sure what your tree is but I do like the shape of the seed pod hanging down, have you thought of putting it on iSpot, I use them quite a lot. It's nice to see it all bright and green.
Amanda xx

Donna said...

Caroline I do so enjoy your Tree Following...the silver birch is coming along and your mystery tree does look like an acer of some sort especially the seed pods....fascinating all the insects you see on the trees.

Ragged Robin said...

Impressive lists of wildlife and lovely photos :) I love the double seed keys on the first tree. Would agree with Amanda i-spot is very helpful. Our silver birches are in full leaf - amazing how the garden has greened up since Easter!

chloris said...

A great post. I love the way you carefully note and list the wildlife down to the tiniest bug. . Your new tree is intriguing. It must be a sort of Acer. said...

The photos of the double seed keys are quite beautiful. It is amazing how much life there is to see on a tree if we have the patience to observe. That can be hard to do -- but so worth it. said...

The photos of the double seed keys are quite beautiful. It is amazing how much life there is to see on a tree if we have the patience to observe. That can be hard to do -- but so worth it. said...

The photos of the double seed keys are quite beautiful. It is amazing how much life there is to see on a tree if we have the patience to observe. That can be hard to do -- but so worth it.