Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Autumn gold at the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple

The Ginkgo biloba is an all round brilliant tree and when I say brilliant, I mean brilliant! See this fantastic Colossal posting of an ancient towering ginkgo tree located within the walls of the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple in China's Zhongnan Mountains. The leaves of this 1,400 year old tree lie like piles of shining gold leaf. My attempts of a fine wee Ginkgo at Glasgow Botanic Gardens this autumn now seem so sun-bleached and dull in comparison (ahem, it'll be all that Scottish sun-bleaching...). WIKI points out the Ginkgo is also the official tree of the Japanese capital of Tokyo.

Summer adventures: the oak

There is always magic to be found, right on your doorstep. Today was a day for such an adventure, something my pal Ashley calls micro adventures. Hiking in to the local woods with rucksacks of rope, Carla and I soon set our sights set on a very fine lanky oak. This tree runs at a slight angle with  branches for quite some way making getting a line in some fun. And throwing is way harder than it looks (ask my friend Geoff!). It's that winning combo between explosive thrust and trajectory; concentrate too much on the first and the latter goes out of the window, or more accurately, behind you! A few throws soon got us to a neat fork at about 20m. Some climbing later, Carla and I hung out in the undercanopy, which for this Tim is the best thing in the world!


Monday, 28 November 2016

Summer adventures: the beech

Early one August morning before breakfast while it was still cool, we nipped up this gorgeous beech. The smooth, spreading limbs were deliciously cool to the touch. We were soon lost in the canopy and only rumbling tums persuaded us to return to earth. On the way back down we found a cracker of a branch for branch walking!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Fall spectacular!!

Here is a wee taster of the spectacular that is Fall in Ontario. With lots of people are out and about looking at the crazy colours, there's even big road signs warning drivers to go slow as people go a bit daft with Fall fever and are apt to park anywhere and leap out to see the best trees! See here for where to go for the best colours. Full of great birds and hot weather, my adventure to the Bruce Peninsula and southern Ontario has been so much better than I'd ever dreamed it would be. There's been little time to blog so lots more will follow one day soon! In the meantime, there's some camping to be done, Algonquin Park here we come...hoping there are still a few fiery sugar maples to be seen although it looks like they are past peak. There is still bears and wolves and moose though, that is something to think about from inside a tent...!


Friday, 9 September 2016


Every morning and every evening a great streaming rabble of corvids makes it way out of and back into the heart of the city of Timisoara. Leaving in great waves, they first circle up out of the park and then head on to breakfast. I estimated that at peak flow was about 100 birds per minute and it lasted for well over 50 minutes with maybe 90% were jackdaws with rooks making up the remainder. Where do they feed, how far do they travel, and why do they make this daily journey? And does each wave travel to a different sector? On the way to the arboretum we passed a hay field full of foraging corvids, maybe 10km from the roost site.

Sibu has also has a huge gathering of crows (see here). And this happens all over the world, like in Davis, California with their massive roost of American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). In fact, corvid roosts are an ancient phenomenon. Why they do it is not known but there are some plausible explanations.

 Corvids flying in to roost in Timisoara

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Redwood adventures

I'm standing at the foot of my garden. Over there across the valley two Sequoias quietly tower over the woodland. Those gentle giants have always been on my horizon, watching in their way, as I have watched the sun rise behind, and set on, them for nearly four decades. I return to the house to pack because today is a special day - today I get to share the magic of tree climbing with an amazing lady! We will climb one of these gentle giants, S2.

Climbing trees and just being in trees is very special. Earlier in the year I spent a day up there, reading and I also measured this fine Sequoiadendron giganteum at just over 34m. This time the rigging took a little longer than I'd intended as the first throwline snapped just as the ropes reached the top! This meant I had to start all over again and re-climb to rig the SRT lines (100m SS climbing line, 60m SS safety line). Anyhow, we climbed to 30m in the gorgeous evening sunlight and watched the last of the sun before it began to sink below the hills to the north. 



A very happy and triumphant Carla at 30m - top work!!


Descending in the sunset glow within the network of branches was pure red-gold, to be treasured for ever. As we'd left the torches on the ground we had to head all the way down and as we hauled the ropes out and packed up, the first bats had already re-claimed the space for their own.

Descending the tree on a Petzl ID

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Sleeping out is the way to go!

Sleeping out in the summer or autumn is the way to go and for me, sleeping out in a DD hammock is the bees knees. To set up that hammock of course you need something to suspend it from, and nothing is finer than a tree rooted in the very earth below your feet. The chosen tree doesn't have to be vast like a Yellow Meranti (Shorea faguetiana) or even a Champion Tree, and a few feet above the ground is height enough to feel a bit of that that magic: being in a tree instantly surrounds me in a deeper sense of contentment and harmony. Relative to us the great trees grow slowly and steadily; maybe it is this lack of feverish haste that offers a chance to again taste the essence of slow time.