TreeStuff

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Thorne Moor Dreaming Part III

The cotton grass catches the glow of the sinking sun as ruddy turtle doves flit across the clearing between islands of scrub and disappear again in thick cover to purr out their distinctive soothing song. That is a real treat already as turtle doves are now so scarce here in the UK(See Operationturtledove). Last time I heard them was many moons ago when I was a teenager volunteering at Minsmere RSPB reserve. Movement catches my eye and looking up I see dozens of black scimitar swifts whirl and criss-cross in the blue and higher still, something that looks like a big swift circles, soars and does a dash-and-grab. Then I see another and there are two hobbies snatching dragonflies out of the sky way above me. A brash rattling breaks the spell and I look across the path to reeds in the narrow ditch and there is a reed warbler, rattling out his brash song in full view. I leave him to it and wander on, the mosquitoes are a little too friendly here! 



Inspired by the place and the space I relax, drink tea and ponder. And then I take out my pencils and the box of watercolour paints that have not been used for years. The world disappeared for an hour as I drew something of the place onto my paper, and into myself. 


It was now nearly 9pm and time to be wandering back to my car, back there in the real world, wherever that was. Each quarter seemed to have it's own cuckoo, each playing call-and-answer with it neighbours, and I was treated to a brief soft burst of the strange night-song of the fern-owl or nightjar; this is the bird for which this place for primarily designated a protected area. And then a staccato baaow!. ..baaow! ..baaow! of roe buck stops me in my tracks. I see him then, a little distance ahead: he is head up, looking at me, calling, then coming closer, then calling, then coming closer..! Here is a wee vid of him alarming. I wasn't sure what he wanted to do so I stayed put until he had trotted past me. 



There was one final treat in store as I watched two cranes, grey-blue in the faded light, coast out onto the moor and out of sight, what a fantastic leaving pressie! I wanted to stay longer, to breathe in the cool air, to keep watching, there was a buzzard on a fence post; there was something to see everywhere however, eventually the over-friendly mosquitoes got the better of me and I headed back to the car and the real world; I will still be Thorne Moor Dreaming for some time yet...


 

Monday, 30 May 2016

Thorne Dreaming: barking deer

The path led back off the centre of the moor and into the final clearing. In the dying light I halted as the echoing bark of an indignant roe buck came again and again. He paused each time, and each time trotting nearer to me. I stood still well, still as I could in the face of an onslaught of large-toothed mosquitoes! The sound, the echos, the light catching the cotton grass; it was a magical experience. I hope this wee vid conveys a tiny bit of that to you.


In the depths of the forest are bison and wolves...

Białowieża Forest is the place to meet the wild! We're talking about Białowieża forest which as I mentioned in previous blogs (here and here) is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain, and the Polish government wants to log vast swathes of it!

I bring you some great images of what lives in the depths of the forest there thanks to WildPoland who have friendly guides to help you see some of that magic. So if you can, go experience the magic for yourself: you can visit the forest as a tourist to go on wild bison and wolf safari.




With kind permission of Lukasz Mazurek / WildPoland.com

A superb article in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology titled Research sheds light on delicate forest biodiversity details how recent research has shown that predator-prey interactions are both seasonal and highly complex. And it is the vastness of this untouched forest that allows for such a dynamic. Local changes do occur, meaning large change can occur on a very small scale however, as a biome, this great forest has an ever subtly-changing biotic distribution. This is how the entire forest can support great biodiversity and this diversity includes the large mammalian predators that come from over the horizon of our imagination: bears, lynx, elk and of course, wolves.


Białowieża Forest
 With kind permission of Dr. Nuria Selva






Saturday, 28 May 2016

Rowan of the gods

Trees never cease to amaze. Some are incredibly beautiful, some like the redwoods grow to enormous heights, and others seem to have remarkable powers of survival. Erupting out of the side of the wall like some withered and mummified arm, the sun-bleached timber on the stem of this lone tree far out numbers the amount of living cambium and yet.....it is still alive; seemingly immortal, this rowan actually made me stop in my tracks; I can only conclude that the gods of small trees are making some magic happen here!


Friday, 27 May 2016

Białowieża Forest as we know it could soon be but a memory!

Białowieża Forest is a place of great wonder, complex biological relationships and marvellous biological richness. This forest is also one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. The Polish government has extensive plans to reap wealth from the forest under the guise of protecting the trees from a beetle infestation. This now darkens the future of the forest meaning that Białowieża Forest as we know it could soon be but a memory! And there is so much more to learn from the forest, as well as the unique, inherent, incalculable value of such a biome.


 With kind permission of Dr. Nuria Selva

A superb article in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology titled Research sheds light on delicate forest biodiversity led me to an amazing graphic in the article of how predator-prey interactions are both seasonal and highly complex. And it is the vastness of this untouched forest that allows for such a dynamic. Local changes do occur, meaning large change can occur on a very small scale however, as a biome, this great forest has an ever subtly-changing biotic distribution. This is how the entire forest can support great biodiversity and this diversity includes the large mammalian predators that come from over the horizon of our imagination: bears, lynx, elk and of course, wolves.

Species richness there extends right down to the micro-scale too, all of which are busy processing the forest as one, large, simultaneous eating and growing machine. Note that in the graphic, predators are at the top with prey species at the base of each web. Species in black and color are permanent and seasonal species. Black and colored lines show interactions among permanent and seasonal species, and what a list of species it is! (see below)




Summer & winter predator-prey foodwebs in Poland's Białowieża Forest.
With kind permission of Serguei Saavedra.

Predators
PERMANENT: wolf, lynx, red fox, raccoon dog, otter, polecat, and northern goshawk.
SUMMER: badger, lesser-spotted eagle.

Prey
PERMANENT: red deer, boar, hare, squirrel, mice, voles, shrews, passerines, fish and amphibians.
SUMMER: small passerines, reptiles, and insect.
WINTER: European bison.
And if you can, go experience the magic for yourself: you can visit the forest as a tourist to go on wild bison and wolf safari: Spend 3 nights in the Primeval Białowieża Forest, find European Bison in the wild and go tracking Wolves.

Here is a map from the UNESCO site showing the extent and completeness of the forest. Note also how it straddles across the political divide which adds even more complexity to preserving this wilderness.

Find the bird!

Another fine May morning has dawned and the birds are busy singing and feeding their young. Up here I spotted something rather delicious. And so we have another Mystery Pic - see how you do this time!

 Have you spotted it yet?...............


Yup, you guessed right, 'tis a bonny Little Owl and it is doing a very good impression of a rock! You'll have to excuse the blurry pic taken on a wee point-and-snap camera in the drizzle. Here it is in the original pic again, see how well it blends in.

And this is what you'd have seen at a glance.

The old walls are such a strong visual part of the countryside in Yorkshire and they are full of great holes, those nooks and crannies, that are top places for both hiding and nesting in. And of course, great vantage points for spotting dinner from!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

May Blossom

At last, the May Blossom is here! Though plenty trees are slow to sprout even leaves, the ash trees will be last this year again. And the slowest ash trees are the ones who's struggle to survive is almost over.




Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Białowieża Forest under major threat!

Białowieża Forest is now under major threat which is all the more shocking as this forest is truly one of the great wonders of the world. Brimming with amazing wildlife, it it the vast size of this forest which is one of the key components of its great importance allowing a complete and complex web of animal interactions that are only found here.

Help save the last European lowland natural forest and UNESCO World Heritage Site by signing the petition here.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/42244964@N03/4664472202

Vassen Białowieża National Park, Poland 
Credit: Frank Vassen


See also the I Love Białowieża website:"The Białowieża Forest extending over 1600 km2 between Poland and Belarus is the last large remaining fragment of the primeval deciduous forest of the northern temperate zone in Europe. Exceptionally biodiverse, the forest is home to more than 5,500 plant species, and 11,564 animal species, including the largest population of free-ranging European Bison. Animals from the large carnivores like Wolves and Lynxes, to the rare nesting songbirds, woodpeckers, and owls all rely on the forest for their habitat of old growth and standing dead trees. Białowieża Forest is a hotspot of unique biodiversity and a fascinating source of scientific knowledge, and stands as a much needed ecological blue-print for the restoration of forests in Europe and the world."  

More magic and marvels about this place here soon!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

I Spy....the reveal!

A few days ago challenged you with this pic to a wee game of I Spy With My Little Eye...something beginning with L L C...


Well, truth be told, this a bit of a trick one as the subject is rather too well hidden so here is where they are...

And this is what they are, and congratulations to the Little LAPWING Chicks for winning this parallel game of hide and seek, and they are so good at hiding for a very good reason - there are an awful lot of creatures out there that would find a very young one very tasty. When they are tiny their instinct is to freeze and do their 'sheep dropping' impression. Indeed, you have to be very careful not to tread on them. The BTO is running a special survey this yearto try and learn much more about them. See here for more info.


When you are as obvious as this it pays to find some cover whenever mum or dad starts to holler..



Running...


 

Phew! Safe out of sight of danger. The wee thing is well hid I think you will agree.




Safe and out of sight. This lapwing was ringed in May last year in southern Scotland and here's hoping, with a bit of luck, this year it returned and has raised it's own little fluffballs!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Big barns and ancient timbers

In the wild hills of the moors and dales of Lancashire and Yorkshire there are some amazing old stone barns. Some of them are high above the valley, falling to pieces and home to only pigeons and the occasional owl. Others are beautifully preserved and the great hand-hewn timbers are really something to behold, many of them fully tree trunks. The first three below are from the great Aisled Barn at Wycoller which is well worth a visit (and if you are a Charlotte Bronte' all the better!). Check out those huge soaring timbers with the growth shapes aka imperfections of each timber clearly visible. And all looking pretty good considering it was built in 1630 or there about, that's over 400 years ago!



 

 

The timbers above have still got cambium layers (aka bark) on, while in the barn below, with the roof long since gone, and unprotected from the harsh weather, the rafters have become sun-bleached and weathered like some ancient bog pine!




Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Going, going, gone!

Like something out of science fiction, trees ever so slowly subsume anything that is fixed to them. If this happens to be a barbed wire strand or even sheep-netting then so be it. Once they've got it properly grown over, it is best to cut close to the tree and not try to dig it out - for sure that'll do more damage than good. Amazing what trees can put up with....!


 





 And this mesh fence: going....


going...


Gone......