This post is the third in my Tree Following series, part of a wider project run by Lucy Corrander from the Loose and Leafy blog. I am following a Silver Birch in Suffolk, UK, which you can see in the first photo below. You will find the other Tree Follower links for May 2014 here.
On my last 'Tree Following' post I added the Starling (red conservation status) to my list of birds who congregate on or around my tree. The bird visited the feeder on 9 March, returning on 14 March with a mate. Since then a small flock of about five Starlings have discovered the fatballs which hang from the Silver Birch. The Great Spotted Woodpecker, seen previously in March, has re-visited the feeder once this month. We think she was heading for an ivy-clad tree some distance away.
More about my other feathered friends in a moment.
|My Silver Birch|
As you can see, spring is burgeoning in the garden, and we are about to move from our rainbow season of sun and April showers into the 'darling buds of May'. Here is a silver birch catkin, dangling down amid the vibrant green of the growing leaves.
I had spotted one Small Tortoiseshell butterfly last month in my Silver Birch patch, and since then there have been one or two more. This one in the photo below alighted on a Dandelion.
A number of Small Whites have flitted through my garden, but they have been too quick for my camera. I was delighted to see my first Orange Tip of the season just over a week ago. Females are white all over, so who knows, some of my 'Whites' may actually have been other 'Orange Tips' in disguise!
|Orange Tip (male), my first one of the year seen 28 April 2014|
It's always interesting to find a mystery insect! The creature below was flitting about in the grass, just below the Silver Birch one sunny morning some days ago. I don't think the long white projections are antennae: I'm guessing they were just part of the undergrowth, but who knows. If you can help with an ID, I would be delighted. The insect was little more than the size of a finger nail. It looks to me a bit like a sailor or soldier beetle, but I'm not convinced that its colouring fits. I also wondered if it could be a micro-moth ...
Moths are becoming active, and this one below was making its way through the mossy undergrowth that the birds had disturbed, presumably as nest linings of choice.
During the course of the month, possibly as a result of the Magpies who have been dive-bombing the feeders, this piece of bark covering fell to the ground. I decided to leave it where it was lying in the hope that it would provide a good home for an insect of one kind or another.
The feisty Robin has not deserted the Silver Birch. Here he is looking particularly shifty ...
... and here is one of the Starlings. You can see from the drooping stems on the lower left of the photo below that April's Daffodils have given way to a carpet of Daisies and Dandelions.
I only learned recently that the Starling's bill turns yellow in the breeding season.
These birds will do all kinds of acrobatics for a sliver of coconut!
The Silver Birch is providing a vibrant green backdrop in my garden, but there are other shades, too, such as the emerging blue of the Ceanothus ...
... and the Easter white of our miniature cherry, which produced blossom for the first time this spring.
The Silver Birch, however, continues to display male and female catkins. The male ones are golden brown: they hang down while the female ones are slender and green. The female ones point skywards, as in the photo below.
There are quite a few male catkins on the grass ...
|Betula utilis var jaquemontii (Himalayan birch)|
I love looking up through this light canopy to the sky ...
... and I also enjoy taking a close look at the papery bark. The layers remind me of the skin of an onion.
The photo above shows a corner of the Abbey, and the one below shows leafy walk along the stream by the mill, with what I take to be the same species as 'my' birch, Betula pendula.
Next month's post will be about the summer, as we move from May in all its verdure into the heat of flaming June. The year is whizzing by!