Monday 9 May 2016

Tree Following - April to early May 2016

 Welcome to my Tree Following post for April and early May 2016. 

These tree posts form part of a wider project initiated by Lucy Corrander from the Loose and Leafy blog and continued by Pat at The Squirrelbasket

I am based in Suffolk, UK, where I have been keeping an eye on a Silver birch, B. pendula. I really enjoy following the Silver Birch B. Pendula and have added in a small Cherry sapling,
Prunus avium Sylvia, for my second tree.

You will find the other Tree Follower links by clicking the Mr Linky link here ... so do take the chance to have a look at the new posts!

* * *

What a difference a month makes, though the last four weeks have been a complete mix of snow, sunshine, hail, strong winds, lashing rain, heat and cold. Admittedly we spent a few days in Yorkshire, where we felt the more extreme temperatures in the chilly range.

Both my trees have suddenly come into their own, showing signs of new green growth.

Green growth at last! 5 May 2016

The Silver Birch is bursting with new leaves.

Silver Birch catkins

The catkins are swaying in the breeze and looking long in length and plentiful in number. There are also a good number on the ground.

Beneath the Silver Birch

As I type, there is a swarm of small insects - flies of some sort - hovering around the branches, which suggests to me (as if I needed any more proof) that the sap is well and truly rising. I believe the tree has grown a bit taller, too, shooting new branches skywards.

The tiny Cherry tree has some small leaves. It also has buds ...

Cherry tree, showing signs of blossom (above and below)

... and blossom!

I am reminded of Housman's well-loved poem which we used to recite on May Day in my Junior School in Kent. We also washed our faces in the dew. Once these activities had been completed, we would take our coloured streamers and dance in formation (well, we tried to dance in formation) around the maypole. Happy days in the Garden of England!

Every other month I post a full list of species seen in the immediate vicinity of my trees. On in-between months like this one, I simply record the wildlife seen during the previous four weeks. I had been wondering for ages when I would see my first Orange Tip of the season as the species is an early one, and I have already seen Small Whites (along the Humber estuary), Small Tortoiseshells (at Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire) and a Brimstone (not far from home). Well, today was the day! A male Orange Tip fluttered under the swaying branches of the Silver Birch about an hour ago.

Orange-tip butterfly (one I took last year)

So here is the full list for the last month ...

Avian sightings seen since the last TF post are shown in yellow. There have been no new birds this month.

  • TFb1   Great Spotted Woodpecker (a male and female)
  • TFb2   Great tit (several, often on feeder) 
  • TFb3   Long-tailed Tit (large family, including juveniles)
  • TFb4   Blackbird  
  • TFb6   Blue tit (several frequently on feeder)
  • TFb7   Robin (the feisty Robin has put in frequent appearances)
  • TFb8   Magpie
  • TFb9   Wood Pigeon (up to ten perching around the feeder area)
  • TFb10 Dunnock (two often found feeding below the feeder)  
  • TFb11 Starling(a couple)
  • TFb13 Goldfinch - I had the joy of watching one plucking seeds from a dandelion head.
  • TFb20 House Sparrow - four at once! A record. 

Long-tailed tits

Mammal sightings include ...
  • TFm4 Grey Squirrel (on the Silver Birch) [Jan/Feb 2016] [Feb/Mar] [Mar/Apr][Apr-May]

Insect sightings include ... 
  • TFi4  7-spot Ladybird [April 2014] [October 2014] [Apr/May 2015] [Jul/Aug 2015] [Sept/Oct 2015] [Mar-Apr 2016] [Apr-May]
  • TFi10 Orange tip Butterfly [May 2014], [Apr-May, first of year seen 5 May 2016] 
  • TFi16 Shield bug [July 2014] [Apr/May 2015] [Apr-May - awaiting more specific ID] 
  • TFi29 Rosemary Beetle [[Sept/Oct 2015] [Apr-May - on lavender]
  • TFi34 Woodlouse [Mar-Apr 2016 - very close to my insect hotel]   
  • TFi35 Unidentified flies [Mar-Apr 2016, round Silver Birch leaves]  
  • TFi36 Bee-fly [Mar-Apr 2016, at base of Cherry tree]

7-spot Ladybird, at base of Cherry tree
Bee-fly at base of Cherry tree


  • TFa4  Nursery Web Spider Pisaura mirabilis  (see here) [Mar/Apr 2016]
Pisaura mirabilis

* * * 



Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely photos, Caroline, silver birches and cherry trees are both lovely at this time of year

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

My sycamore just erupted today, overnight it just came into full leaf. Incredible

Hollis said...

My favorites are the fresh birch leaves, nicely backlit, and the beautiful nursery web spider! Happy Spring :-)

Anonymous said...

Everything IS happening at once, isn't it?
I love the gentle green of spring leaves - birch's are so cute.
And the catkins on the ground always remind me of caterpillars.
That spider is magnificent, and I can't decide whether I would cringe or not if I saw it in the flesh - they are big, aren't they?
All the best :)

Anonymous said...

Lovely photos, especially of the critters in your tree--and around it!