Friday 7 August 2015

Tree Following - July to August 2015

Welcome to my Tree Following post for July and early August.

These tree posts form part of a wider project run by Lucy Corrander from the Loose and Leafy blog. I am based in Suffolk, UK, where I am following an Acer negundo (aka a Box-leaf Maple). I am also continuing to keep an eye on my Silver Birch, B. pendula.

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!

The Acer negundo is growing at a rapid rate. It is largely the foliage, of course, at this time of year; but the tree seems to be spreading out in most directions. I have to confess that I am still trying to find a way to 'connect' with this tree. Perhaps this is the poet in me rather than the citizen-scientist, but it certainly helps when there is more than a clinical interest! I wish I could find more insect or avian life in, on or around this tree. The only thing to mention is that there were (possible) hedgehog droppings underneath it. I would love to have hedgehogs in the garden again: I have not seen a live one for over a year, and that was in the grounds of the Cathedral of the Isles on Great Cumbrae, off the Scottish coast!

Acer negundo, summer 2015

Acer negundo seed keys

I have no idea whether the following observation is of any significance in relation to either the Acer negundo or the Silver Birch, but since Sunday there has been a crescent trail of mushroom-like toadstools, almost linking the two trees. Is this a sign of early autumn (I hope not!). More investigation is required.

A trail of fungi, August 2015

The Silver Birch continues to fascinate and delight me. The sap has continued to rise (and fall, by which I mean drop), but I have not seen any more Cockchafers or Stag Beetles. The other birch, a Downy Birch just a few metres away, has dropped a lot of sticky sap on the cars. This has been a honeypot for wasps to the extent that I began to think that we must have a nest.

Silver Birch, summer 2015

It is not only sap that has been falling. We have watched the Silver Birch 'raining' its showers of seeds (and pollen, I think) in the wind. On one occasion I stood underneath the boughs with a sheet of paper.

These Silver Birch seeds landed on my sheet of paper

The coconut feeders on the Silver Birch have been much appreciated by family groups of Long-tailed tit (my favourites), Blue tit and Great tit. There have been times when all three have come at once.

Apologies for photo taken through glass! 

I was having coffee one day when a streak of silver caught my eye. It was a juvenile Grey Squirrel. It scampered up the bark and leaped on to the coconut. It clung on there, despite swivelling round and round, for about fifteen minutes. Having been disappointed on our recent Scottish holiday that we only saw one Red Squirrel, I am not sure how pleased I should be about the arrival of this Grey one ... but it was a joy to watch.

I didn't have my camera to hand, so a here's a Squirrel pic from earlier in the year!
There have been so many Woodpeckers out and about in Suffolk recently, but, alas, I have not seen (or heard) the ones that frequented our garden earlier this year. The Wood Pigeons are out in force, and the Blackbirds come and go.

We have had some wonderful Marmalade Hoverflies, but their presence may have more to do with the Gazanias. I should like to think my new des res insect hotels have played a part! On the strength of these sightings, I have joined the Hoverfly group on Facebook. We saw one Dragonfly, but it was too quick for us to identify. There have been no Damselfly sightings to report around either tree ... as yet. Large White butterflies are frequent visitors at the moment. 

This is the fifth sunny day in a row, and I, for one, am doing my best to cling on to summer. There are a few brown leaves on the Silver Birch, but you have to search for them. A colony of Winged Ants took centre stage two weeks ago, but their presence was part of a national irruption that happens each summer. There have been several 7-spot Ladybirds around the Silver Birch: I have just voted for this insect in the Royal Society of Biology (UK) insect poll. If you are UK-based, you might care to cast a vote, too. You can read about the selected insects here (and I love their allocated epithets!).

As you may know, I always enjoy keeping an eye out for similar trees on my travels. Last week we were at NT Dunwich Heath, where the Silver Birches were attracting a particular butterfly. I believe it is a Grayling (and a first sighting for me, although there were several about that day). These butterflies frequent coasts and heathland and are often - or usually - seen at ground level on sandy soils. Perhaps these butterlies were taking advantage of the sap. Graylings hide their forewings behind their hindwings when they are stationary. It is often possible to make out the 'eye-spot' wing marking when a butterfly first comes to rest: you can see this spot in my photo below. The species is listed under the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP).

Grayling on Silver Birch at NT Dunwich Heath

Next month we will begin to think about the season of mists, but for now I hope the summer suns continue to glow. Oh, and don't forget to see if there are any Perseid meteor showers above your trees in the days to come.

Silver Birch Sighting Update

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.

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

To date, the only birds seen on the Acer negundo are TFb13 Goldfinch and  TFb19  Chaffinch .   

  • TFb1   Great Spotted Woodpecker 
  • TFb2   Great tit (several, often on feeder) 
  • TFb3   Long-tailed Tit (large family, including juveniles)
  • TFb4   Blackbird
  • 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
  • TFb12 Carrion Crow (one every so often)  
  • TFb13 Goldfinch (a small charm)
  • TFb14 Jay
  • TFb15  Green Woodpecker
  • TFb16  Wren 
  • TFb17  Bullfinch (a pair)
  • TFb18  Sparrowhawk
  • TFb19  Mallard
  • TFb20  House Sparrow
  • TFb19  Chaffinch

Mammal sightings include ...

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

TFm5 Stoat !!! (As I looked out through the window yesterday morning, 5 August 2015, towards the Downy Birch at the front, I noticed a creature outside the front door. I waited and to my astonishment it ran back and forth twice more before heading into some undergrowth. At first I thought it might be a rat, but it did not have a rat's tail and was quite a different shape and colour to the rats I have seen in the past. I wondered if its short tail had perhaps been severed partway along, but it is possible that this was just the point at which the normal fur turned into the black tip. Of course, if the juvenile was still very young, its tail may have been very short. It looked incredibly like these kits here in the top photo. We live in a suburban area, but we back on to a nature reserve. I am guessing it was a youngster, who had perhaps taken a wrong turning after a fright. I have seen stoats before, but never SO close to home!)

Insect 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] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • TFi5 Skipper Butterfly [July 2014]
  • TFi6 Meadow Brown Butterfly [July 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • 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] [May/June 2015]
  • TFi14 Blackfly [June 2014
  • TFi15 Marmalade Hoverfly [July 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • 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] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • TFi21 Peacock butterfly [August 2014] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • TFi22 Green bottle flies [August 2014] [May/June 2015]
  • TFi23 Ants [August 2014] [Apr/May 2015]  [May/June 2015] [Jul/Aug 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] [Jul/Aug 2015]
  • TFi29 Cereal Leaf Beetle [Apr/May 2015]
  • TFi30 Hawthorn Shieldbug [May/June 2015] 



Previous post ... my words on the RSPB Minsmere leaflet


eileeninmd said...

What a great post on your tree following. It is a pretty tree and I love the shots of the mushrooms, birds and butterfly. Happy Friday, have a great weekend!

Lea said...

Very interesting! I have struggled to think of new things to say about my tree as there aren't any visible changes, but you - you have done a marvelous job describing the environment your trees enjoy! Wonderful job, well done!

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Great stuff! A grayling would be a new species to me, not sure if there are any in Notts. I think judging by the cream colour, some of your great and blue tits are youngsters! How sweet.

Amanda Peters said...

Wonderful post and nice to see so much going on...
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

A lovely post - great news about the Stoat too :) I haven't seen a Grayling butterfly for years so it was lovely to see your photo :)

Donna said...

I love hearing about both your trees....and the trail of mushrooms is tree is not doing much this year.

Hollis said...

I always enjoy hearing what people elsewhere call species we share. The "boxelder" is common here, and we call the winged seed pairs "whirlybirds"! (or samaras if we're among botanists) I like "seed keys"

Crafty Green Poet said...

Great observations! Hope you find the Hoverflies group as stimulating as i do, I'm totally fascinated by hoverflies now, such variety!