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common alder (Alnus glutinosa)
Posted on March 17, 2012 by Ash
This post continues from Part 1.
Razor strop (Piptoporus betulinus) on a dead birch.
Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) on the wing over Strines Reservoir.
Male catkins on a common alder (Alnus glutinosa).
Male catkins with immature female catkins, the purplish ‘match heads’ attached to the twig above the male catkins which will mature into woody cones that remain on the tree the year round.
Common toad (Bufo bufo) doing the breast stroke in a wee streamlet (in Pears House Clough* I think) that flows into Strines Reservoir from the south. [* Apparently Boot’s Folly was built from stone taken from the disused Bents Farm and Pear House Farm when they were demolished.]
Looking north-east from tussocky Broad Carr.
The view across Strines Reservoir to Boot’s Folly (post ice-&-a-slice-enhanced refreshment at the ancient Strines Inn). Sugworth Hall, the home of Charles Boot, is hidden by the eminence on which his folly stands.
A long-dead tree that improbably remains standing, propped up by a birch.
Continued in Part 3.
Posted on February 5, 2012 by Ash
On Friday afternoon I took my father on a little walk to check out some ancient-looking alders I’d spotted last weekend, when I was unable to get close enough for a good look because the Little Don was in the way.
It was so cold that the Little Don had actually started to freeze over! At work in the morning one of the vans had given the outside temperature as -5 °C, but that was in the middle of Sheffield where it was almost certainly warmer. Proper face-numb-er!
I love these two Scots pines. I love this whole area! It’s brill!
These icicles highlighted the bedding planes in one of the little land-slips.
Looking down on one of the old alders (Alnus glutinosa)…
Here’s another. It’s certainly an old one – look at the girth around the bottom of the trunk. Still, I was hoping they would be a bit bigger. If my memory is correct, the one I found in the autumn a short way away up Mickleden Beck is much bigger and more ancient (in appearance at least).
As well as old alders, five or six yews (Taxus baccata) grow on this side of the river. All of them have thriving, healthy crowns, although none have any serious trunk girth. The smallest of the yews (not the one in the photo) is interesting in that almost the entire tree had died off in some catastrophe, but it has regenerated with a vengeance and the crown is so well-formed and hale that from a distance you wouldn’t believe what a disaster befell it. Up close, you can see the old dead stems and branches and see how only a small line of living bark runs up the back of the trunk, although this appears to be doing its best to encircle the rest of trunk. No wonder yews live forever if this is what they can do!
This, the alder seen from above a few photos back, is the biggest of the handful of alders here. They all look to be coppices – but whether they are naturally coppicing themselves as old stems die off and new ones grow, or whether they have been managed in the forgotten past, I couldn’t possibly know.
It’s a lovely old tree.
When I turned around this hawthorn was trying to limbo or something.
This is my absolute favourite kind of light – the late afternoon, pre-sunset light you get on a cloudless day that bathes the landscape in a golden glow. It has the power to make a photograph feel warm even despite it having been taken in Baltic conditions!
Posted on November 13, 2011 by Ash
Four weeks ago I went for a walk to Mickleden Beck to see what kind of trees grew there; I’d heard a rumour of aspen. My route took me past Langsett Reservoir, where some pretty big changes have been taking place over the last year or two. Much of the conifer plantation on the south-west side of the reservoir has been clearfelled and subsequently replanted with native species.
According to an information board erected by the owners, Yorkshire Water, the woods are being restructured as part of the East Midlands Woodland Bird Project:
Planted in 1962, comprising approximately 25 hectares of coniferous woodland, the North America plantation including Delf Edge and Mauk Royd is being managed to help native woodland birds… We’re felling most of the coniferous trees whilst saving and protecting key native trees. The area will be re planted with oak and birch trees to develop new upland oak woodland, with woody shrubs like hazel, blackthorn, alder, willow and rowan.
I wrote a post here about the same time last year, while the conifers were still being felled.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the new woodland develops!
Larch. Whether European, Japanese or Dunkeld (hybrid), I wouldn’t like to say. I am not confident telling the three apart.
I failed to find any aspen at Mickleden Beck, but I didn’t search for long. What I did find was this incredible veteran alder (Alnus glutinosa) growing beside the stream. It is truly ancient, and is perhaps an old pollard. And keeping it company through the years is an ancient holly (Ilex aquifolium)! Both trees were in shade by the time I got to them, so I didn’t get any great photos – but I’ll be back!
On the return leg, Langsett Reservoir and the surrounding moors were lit by the late afternoon autumn sunlight.
That’s Hartcliff Hill in the distance there.
A peaceful pool on Midhope Moors. I hope those clouds lend some symmetry!
The reservoir was still illuminated as the day slid into twilight.
A lonely, half-dead birch that had once grown amongst the conifers has been left standing after all the felling. It’s in a bad way, but it is possible that next year it will produce seed and its offspring will be a part of the new wood. The three bracket fungi are Piptoporus betulinus – razor strop or birch polypore.
The birch has managed to outlive the conifers that suppressed it all its life, but for how much longer?
Langsett Reservoir at dusk.
Posted on October 26, 2011 by Ash
A couple of weekends ago I was down at Broomhead Reservoir, taking advantage of the low water level (though it isn’t as low as the neighbouring More Hall Reservoir) to see if I could find any remains of Broomhead Mill. I couldn’t.
In the foreground is the old course of the Ewden Beck, the river that flows into the reservoir. Normally this section is submerged beneath the waters of Broomhead, but while the reservoir is low the old channel gets to remember what it was like to once have been a river.
This old stump and dry stone wall are also normally submerged in the reservoir. The wall runs along the edge of a tiny valley where Allas Lane Dike, a small stream, once ran down to join Ewden Beck.
At the reservoir’s high water mark, a bit of erosion has exposed the roots of two trees. On the left, a common alder (Alnus glutinosa); on the right, an oak (either pedunculate or sessile).
Looking across the reservoir to the northern shore. The water surface was very calm, but it wasn’t quite still enough to produce a perfect mirror image of the trees over there.
As I stood gazing admiringly across the water, I heard a splash and automatically went for the camera. A fish had surfaced and triggered a series of ever increasing circles.
In a bit of woodland next to the reservoir I spotted a couple of huge brackets on a dead birch stem just as the light was beginning to fail.
They were: Piptoporus betulinus - razor strop or birch polypore.
Something – a woodpecker, I presume – had drilled a hole in the rotten stem, and wee flakes of dead wood had rained down upon both brackets. Nature’s brilliant, eh?
Posted on September 26, 2011 by Ash
For whatever reason, the level of water in More Hall Reservoir is currently very low indeed. Lower, even, than it was in January.
I walked all the way around the reservoir in January, on land normally submerged beneath the waters, hunting for a mysterious sign labelled “Ogden’s Folly” which had been the subject of a letter to the local newspaper.
I didn’t manage to find it in January, and a few weeks later the reservoir had filled up again. This week a commenter reminded me of the sign and I went down to have another look on Friday afternoon.
This time I found it! Ogden’s Folly. I suppose the story must go that a chap named Ogden was fishing at this spot, which is on the edge of a sudden, steep drop. The level of the water must have been such that the drop-off was obscured, and Ogden mistakenly assumed that the ground continued to slope gently. When he took a step forward he plunged into the reservoir, and some joker subsequently erected this little sign to immortalise the incident. And by coincidence, an hour later I found a nearby bench looking out over the reservoir that is dedicated to the memory of a Harry Ogden, Founder Member of the Morehall Fly Fishing Club. That’s some nice closure to my hunt.
One of many old stumps usually hidden beneath the waters - ghosts of trees that once lived a happy life by a charming brook.
The receded water level has encouraged lots of new plant growth. This little alder (Alnus glutinosa) was in the company of many alder, birch and willow seedlings and saplings. Any idea what these daisy-like flowers are?
A willow, one a of a pair that grow in the edge of the reservoir.
This is the other. As you can tell by the tide mark on the trunk, these willows are submerged by two or three feet when the reservoir is at capacity.
Stumps and desolation. It’s hard to imagine that before the reservoir was built this section of the river would have been a rural beauty.
The vibrant autumn colours were striking. I wonder if the angler had any success?
Posted on June 15, 2011 by Ash
A powerful waterfall above Bucktooth’s Meadow in Glen Golly. We were going to camp in the meadow on our third night, but nay sooner than we’d selected a passable pitch a swarm of midges materialised and we legged it sharpish.
Two weeks ago I was on a hike in the extreme North-West of Scotland with two friends from uni. This was Team Seatle’s fourth big walk together, having previously done Lake Windermere and Coniston Water in the Lake District in 2007, Blair Atholl to Aviemore through the Cairngorms in 2008, and the Skye Trail in 2010. This year, because of some spectacularly wet weather, we had to cut short our planned route. Yet despite our perpetually saturated boots (leading to some impressively sore feet on my part), we still managed to enjoy four days of walking and three nights of camping in an incredibly remote and beautiful part of the country.
We passed this rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) on Day One soon after crossing over the Kyle of Durness on the ferry (which was just a really small boat). It was just coming into flower.
The Kyle stretches out behind the rowan. In the distance we saw a group of seals chilling on a sand bank.
On Day Three a landrover track we had been following ended abruptly at a loch. We followed deer tracks around the edge of the loch and had to cross over this boisterous stream which was at the foot of a very impressive waterfall… (The tree in this photo is another rowan. The vast majority of trees we saw were rowans or downy birches (Betula pubescens)).
…this waterfall. Seeing the waterfalls in full flow was definitely a worthy pay-off for suffering with incessantly-soaking boots. We filled our water bottles at this one. The water was good.
This is another ‘tree’ that we saw a lot of. It was common on the boggy moors and grew no taller than the grass and heather. I’m fairly sure that it’s some dwarfish species of alpine willow, but I can’t make a positive ID. Can anybody help me out with this one?
We walked past this broch in the rain on Day Four (the stone structure by the river). We passed it again driving back to Edinburgh so we stopped to take photos in better weather. According to the information board: ”When built about 2000 years ago, Dun Dornaigil (or Dornadilla, as it is also called) would have stood about twice as high. Its drystone walls formed a complete circle, pierced only by a single narrow entrance. The walls were hollow, and within their thickness a stone stair gave access to several narrow galleries, probably used for storage. The inner courtyard would have held a thatched wooden dwelling which housed the small farming community who had built the broch as a shelter against marauding raiders.” The Strath More river is calm in this photo, but when two days earlier it was flowing frighteningly fast.
We stopped for a bit at Glenmore near Aviemore on the way back to Edinburgh. This is the view across Loch Morlich to the Cairngorms; those leaves in the foreground are common alder (Alnus glutinosa). The weather was phenomenally nice, so it was a bit weird to be seeing snow on the tops. After resting by the loch-side for a while, we headed to the café adjoining the visitor centre for cake and a drink… which was exactly what we did as we passed through near the end of our big hike in 2008! I thought that was a nice touch.
Posted on March 26, 2010 by Ash
A twin-stemmed beech (Fagus sylvatica).
A proliferation of small fungal brackets on a dead Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). They look like turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) - or at least something in that genus - but my encyclopaedia of fungi says that T. versicolor is only found on broad-leaved species. Is that right? Can anyone set us straight in the comments?
The first wood on Whitwell Moor, home to the twin-stemmed beech and rotting Scots pine.
A weak sun shines through the peeling, papery bark of a young downy birch (Betula pubescens).
Goat willows (Salix caprea) are currently putting out their furry catkins. They are dioecious trees – individuals are either male or female – and both sexes produce catkins. At this early stage in their development, I’m not sure whether these catkins are ♀ or ♂.
Alder (Alnus glutinosa) catkins. The long ones in the centre of the photo are the males; these will extend and become golden in colour before they shed their pollen, at which point they will resemble male hazel catkins. The ruby-red, rugby ball-shaped immature female catkins (above the males in this photo) will develop into hard, woody, seed-bearing ‘cones’.
Here they are: the mature female catkins. The three in this photograph would have been at the same stage as those in the previous photo at this time last spring. The cones persist on the tree through winter, lending the leafless alder a distinctive silhouette.
A female hazel (Corylus avellana) flower peeking between two pairs of male catkins.
Just look at all those catkins! There’s even another female flower at the top of the photo! Hazels are amazing at this time of year.
How’s this for a spot of genius? An ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) seen above and below ground simultaneously!
Posted on March 23, 2010 by Ash
I went out for a wander on Sunday and was slightly disappointed to see such little springly progress from the buds on the locally-growing deciduous trees.
Hazel (Corylus avellana) buds and catkins. The catkins – some folks know them as lambs’ tails – are made up of male flowers. A female flower is hiding in the upper-centre of this photo.
Birch (probably downy birch, Betula pubescens).
English oak (Quercus robur). I’ve noticed that the terminal buds are often flanked by a pair of smaller buds, although the terminal bud in this photo has lost one of its two buddies. (It’s the Lonely Oak!)
Larch (probably European larch, Larix decidua) pegs and a ‘bud’ of some sort – maybe a flower very early on in development? I was very disappointed to find that there were no larch roses on this tree at all; this time last year they were out in force!
Goat willow (Salix caprea). On some of the trees catkins were already forming! I noticed that the buds on the trees with catkins were a light green while the trees without catkins had reddish buds (as in the above photo). Is this a way to tell the male trees from the female trees?
Common alder (Alnus glutinosa). Distinctively purply-velvety buds.
Hawthorn (probably the common hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna).
Here’s a wee hawthorn story: I was at college today, being taught how to use Tirfor winches in the context of stump removal. It is an agricultural college, and someone in the equestrian section pointlessly wanted a small section of hawthorn hedge, about five metres long, removing from a little patch of grass next to the stables. It was the remnant of a hedgerow that was mostly destroyed when the stables were built – a hedgerow probably laid down hundreds of years ago. Our instructor, an arboricultural legend (who shares my view that it is a great shame to get rid of something planted so long ago), reckoned it probably dated from the mid-eighteenth century, perhaps from medieval times; possibly, if it was Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), it may have dated from as far back as the tenth century! The roots were certainly grand old things.
European beech (Fagus sylvatica). The buds are easily identified with their long and pointy ways. ‘Cigar-shaped’, some say.
Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa). Unassuming, eh?
And of the buds of other locally-growing tree species that I saw up close but are MIA from this post… Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) buds showed no signs of opening yet, sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) buds were green and swelling, and elder (Sambucus nigra) – I saw a couple of elders with closed buds but one growing on a south-facing slope was covered in tiny green leaves, yippee!
Posted on March 14, 2010 by Ash
The imposing Derwent Dam. When the reservoir is full, as it was on Saturday, water pours from between the two towers to cascade foamily down the mighty stone wall.
A spot of super weather was forecast for Saturday so in the morning I headed off to Fairholmes, the visitor hub for the Derwent Valley. The weather didn’t live up to my high expectations, but it wasn’t too bad. At least it’s spring now; winter seems to have been abruptly switched off on the 28th of Feb. From Fairholmes I headed north along the western shores of Derwent and Howden reservoirs, before turning west and climbing up onto the moors to reach the spectacular Alport Castles. Following the high ground south-east, I eventually ended up back at Fairholmes. (Have a go at sussing it out on Google Maps!)
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) buds are amazingly sticky. This one has glued itself to a few stray conifer needles.
This brave young alder (Alnus glutinosa) was growing part-submerged in the reservoir.
The road running up the side of the reservoir is bordered for a few hundred metres by a hawthorn hedge. It has been recently savaged along most of its length, probably by rabbits. They have stripped the bark from most of the stems an inch or less in diameter; anything larger was left unharmed.
Illuminated fruticose lichens (and unilluminated foliose lichens) growing on sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) bark on the site of Tin Town. (For the fascinating history of Tin Town, or Birchinlee, see here and here.)
A fine beech (Fagus sylvatica) growing on the site of Tin Town – so it can’t be any older than a hundred years.
This is another beech, but instead of having the lovely, smooth, silver bark typical of its species, this tree was all over disfigured by cankers.
This is the tip of the westwards-pointing spur of Howden Reservoir where it is joined by the River Westend – and look! There is still ice on the surface in the middle of March!
Looking back at Howden, having attained the lofty heights of the moors. There were still plenty of snow pockets around up on the tops. It hasn’t snowed for weeks!
Almost back at Fairholmes – this is the view across the northern tip of Ladybower Reservoir.
Next month’s edition of the Festival of the Trees will be hosted by Vanessa of Vannessa’s Trees and Shrubs Blog. Send in your submissions to treesandshrubs [dot] guide [at] about [dot] com. The deadline is the 29th of March. (The optional theme, in honour of April’s Fools Day, is humourous trees.)
Posted on February 18, 2010 by Ash
Male catkins on hazel (Corylus avellana).
Winter’s grip on the countryside is finally loosening! The weather may still be nasty, but the days are getting longer and the local alders and hazels have been blasting out their male catkins. The hazels in particular look rather spiffing, their pale yellow lambs’ tails creating welcome splashes of colour in an otherwise bleak treescape.
More male hazel catkins, or lambs’ tails. These photos were taken beside Broomhead Reservoir on Tuesday.
This year’s developing male catkins (cigar-shaped) and last year’s woody female catkins (egg-shaped) on an overhead alder (Alnus glutinosa) branch.
And now for a brief update on the treeblog trees, neglected on this blog for far too long. Sad face.
The two Scots pines look fine. The four grey alders are covered in buds; the top of grey alder No. 4 is dead, as suspected in September. Most of the cider gums look alright, although a few of them have picked up a bit of a lean. Cider gums Nos. 1 and 15 look like they have suffered some serious frost damage. Will they survive? No. 15 took a lot of frost damage last year and survived… The post-Set A goat willow (the seedling formerly known as PSAUS) has some nice big buds.
Most of the downy birches have just started opening their tiny little buds. A few of them may have died, and some of them look to have had their roots exposed over the winter, so some replanting may be in order this weekend.
Set C’s downy birch No. 2 on Tuesday (16th February – 342 days after planting), standing a fine one-inch tall.
None of the sweet chestnuts or beechnuts, planted in the autumn, have sprouted yet. I’m aiming to plant my rowan seeds, the other component of Set D, in March. They are currently undergoing pretreatment.
P.S. It was treeblog’s third anniversary on Sunday!
Posted on April 7, 2009 by Ash
Friday was another of summer’s outriders – a beautiful blue sky and warm enough for shorts and t-shirts, even in the wind on top of a hill. I fitted in a little trip to those goat willows I have under observation (my third in a fortnight) before heading off for the first barbeque of the year, on a sixth floor balcony no less. I took plenty of photos of larch roses on the way, but there has already been plenty of those on treeblog recently. In comparison, the male flowers have been underrepresented on these pages, so let’s start off with some.
A line of male European larch (Larix decidua) flowers. They look like tiny little birds’ nests or baskets full of tiny little eggs to me.
And on the same tree, brand new needles are emerging from a particularly knobbly bit of branch.
The Lonely Oak. Seen from ‘behind’, it doesn’t appear anywhere near as iconic (or lonely) as it does in the classic view.
The eastern Salter Hill, whose summit is home to the ruins of a WWII-era enemy plane spotting post. The branches hanging overhead belong to an ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior). I haven’t seen any ashes showing signs of flushing so far this spring, but they always are one of the later ones to come into leaf.
Three female goat willow (Salix caprea) catkins…
…and a pair of male goat willow catkins in different stages of flowering. At the moment, the male goat willows closer to Sheffield appear pale yellow from a distance because they are already covered with catkins at the same stage as the one on the left above. However, the males in this particular group, halfway up the Ewden valley, still have most of their catkins at the same stage as the one on the right above: this isn’t the right word, but they aren’t quite ripe yet. There are exceptions though, as evidenced by the above photograph. How far those stamens extend!
By the way, I tried the experiment I proposed in the previous post (If the bark is stripped from a two-year [grey willow] shoot, it reveals fine ridges absent in S. caprea). The result: no fine ridges. The conclusion: these really are goat willows and not grey willows.
Female common alder (Alnus glutinosa) flowers (and to the right, some of the male flowers). These will ripen into the little woody cones that are one of the alder’s distinguishing features: they are retained throughout the winter, and the old cones are very prominent on leafless alders.
A big ash. Backed up by old maps, I believe that a century or so ago this area would have been fields, probably rough grassland type. In time they were left to go wild, as you can see, with birch and goat willow and alder and bracken (among others) successionally muscling in. The 1894 map has tree symbols along the field boundaries. Are these supposed to symbolise hedgerows or individual large trees? This ash is one of the largest trees here today, but is it old enough to have been one of those large individuals a century ago? I digress. There is an old hawthorn standing right next to the ash (obscured in the above photo) that is split open and all charred inside. I reckon it must have been struck by a bolt of lightning that also damaged the ash, which has had much of the bark at its base removed. Both trees are still alive and new growth is starting to close over the wounds.
Posted on March 25, 2009 by Ash
Male catkins swinging from a common alder (Alnus glutinosa) at Owler Carrs.
Yes, Friday and Saturday were real stunners. It seemed as though summer was already upon us, even though the trees were still bare. Signs of spring were all about. Catkins still dangled from alders in droves, although most hazel catkins are now past their best; and immature catkins – probably male - were protruding stiffly from the ends of birch twigs. Sycamores (Acer pseudoplatanus) are on the verge of flushing, and I saw evidence that rowans and birches are to soon follow suit. A single larch was already sprouting bright green needles; other larches, while not yet flushing, bristled with small but beautiful flowers.
Two pines at the bottom of a hill. I’ve seen old maps from 1893, 1903, and 1905 that show this patch was then within the bounds of a coniferous wood. A map from 1855 shows the wood not yet in existence, and a “revision of 1929 with additions in 1938 & 1948” map shows the wood to have been much reduced in size. The wood survives today in a further reduced state, mainly to the left of this shot…
...here: a very open wood consisting primarily of stunted pines and larches. I wonder if the wood was planted as a means of sheltering Whitwell Moor, lying to the north, which in those days was grouse shooting territory.
A cluster of willowy trees growing around a spring. Are they willows? Dunno. I currently have little confidence identifying willows, but I want to change that. For the present… are these developing goat willow (a.k.a. pussy willow a.k.a. sallow - Salix caprea) catkins? Any help in the comments would be greatly appreciated!
More male common alder catkins. On the twigs just above where the male catkins are attached, immature, dark purpley-brown female ‘cones’ (technically catkins) are developing. My apologies for their being out of focus in this photo.
An unfurling rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) leaf. It’ll be up and photosynthesising in no time at all, sir.
Here are a couple of past-their-best, dead-looking male hazel (Corylus avellana) catkins. It feels as if treeblog has gone a bit crazy on the alder and hazel catkins lately. That’s a good thing.
So, you’ve seen the male parts of a hazel. In the interests of balance, how about a peek at the female parts? I’ve noticed that there are barely any of these female flowers on each plant, and I’ve read that hazel’s fertility in many parts of Britain is already compromised by grey squirrels eating the hazelnuts that these flowers develop into. It’s a wonder there are any new hazels growing at all.
Aaaah, larch flowers (probably European larch, Larix decidua). The above photo shows a bird’s nest-like male flower (left) and a beautiful, rose-like female flower (right). On the subject of L. decidua flowers, Forestry Commission Booklet No. 15, Know Your Conifers, by Herbert L. Edlin (published by HMSO in 1970) has this to say:
The male flowers, borne in spring just as the delicate needles open, are clusters of golden anthers. The female flowers, often called “larch roses”, are pretty flower-like clusters of scales, and may be green, white, or deep pink in colour. They ripen within one year to rather cylindrical cones. These cones only slowly expand their scales, and when the forester wishes to extract larch seed he has to break them apart.
And back to where it all began. The two pines from this post’s second photo join the background of this late afternoon sun-bathed pine scene.
This post lives on in March 31st's Goat willow and larch roses: a reprise.
Set C update – Day 14 (today): No sign of germination yet.
Posted on March 17, 2009 by Ash
Common alder (Alnus glutinosa) male catkins, perhaps slightly past their best which may be why they are more red than yellow.
Yesterday was a lovely warm day, perhaps even lovelier and warmer than the day before yesterday which, certain newspapers yesterday reported, was the warmest day of the year so far. To make the most of it, I went on an adventure down Ewden. As luck would have it, I was successful in my ongoing quest for photos of alder catkins. Hooray!
A closer look at a pair of alder catkins. Now hold that image, because I want you to compare them with the hazel catkins below…
Hazel (Corylus avellana) male catkins. Much prettier than the alder catkins, if you don’t mind my saying so.
More hazel catkins, but these ones aren’t fully ripe. The bottoms of the catkins haven’t opened up yet.
These unfurling hazel leaves were down in the valley bottom next to Broomhead Reservoir. It must be milder down there than higher up the hillside, where hazel leaf-unfurlage hasn’t yet begun.
Two kinds of alder, going head-to-head in a bud-off. On the left… the top of treeblog’s very own grey alder No. 4 from Set A; on the right… the end of a common alder (A. glutinosa) twig of Ewden provenance. Common alder, with its glamorous purple buds, is a British native. The grey alder (Alnus incana) is not.
Oh-ho! While the buds at the top of grey alder No. 4 aren’t showing any signs of bursting just yet, buds lower down are opening to reveal their infant leaves! (The twig below the bud may look sticky in this photo but it’s only water – I’d just given the trees a soaking with the watering can.)
And this is the post-Set A unknown seedling. It too is getting in on the spring action. See how it mobilizes that upper bud!
Other signs of spring sighted include hawthorns flushing, lambs, frogs, and bulbs sprouting up from the woodland floor.
Posted on March 7, 2009 by Ash
Male hazel catkins.
Travelling through Sheffield and Hillsborough on the bus this afternoon, I noticed that
Wintery common alder male catkins.
But then – aha! Right by the beck, a young alder with a fair smattering of the yellow spring-form catkins. Not as tree-coveringly many as I saw in Hillsborough and Sheffield, but still plenty. Camera out, close-up shots ahoy. In the bag.
Fast-forward several hours, and here I am uploading the day’s photos onto the computer. Before writing a post around the catkins, I thought it would be good form to see if I could find out what those red spikes were all about. A flower? A gall? A few googles couldn’t shed any light on the matter, but then I had an brainflash. What if that weird bud wasn’t on an alder, but was on a hazel. They both have long yellow catkins in spring…
A cluster of male hazel catkins.
A closer look at the top of the catkins, revealing the golden, pollen-carrying anthers.
What a waffly post! The quick version: man sees catkin-laden (Italian) alders in town; goes on walk to get photos of (common) alders; thinks yellow-catkined trees are young alders; transpires they were actually hazels. Thank the Man-Jesus for those little red spikes. New tree knowledge: what alder and hazel buds look like, and what female hazel flowers look like. Other signs of spring seen: elders (Sambucus nigra) have begun flushing.
Posted on May 19, 2008 by Ash
In the last post I showed you the money tree at Aira Force in the Lake District. Well, the fun didn't stop there! Besides Aira Force itself, there were further items of interest to be seen further up the trail.
View over Ullswater from the footpath leading to Aira Force.
Typical view of the oak woodland around Aira Force.
Aira Beck upstream of Aira Force. The river looked to be a little low in its flow. Old alders were plentiful - a sort of naturally copiced alder is in the middle of the river in this photograph.
This large bracket fungus was growing on a poorly-looking alder growing above Aira Beck.
Check out this behemoth of a birch! It was so big it was barely recognisable! There were a few similar birches reaching the kind of size most birches never even come close to.
And if the giant birches weren't enough, there was this gigantic Sitka spruce, the like of which I ain't ever seen before! This photo does not do it justice, because in the flesh this tree is a jaw-dropping spectacle. That massive branch alone is as big as your standard ready-for-harvesting forestry Sitka!
This is the view from just outside our chalet back at Center Parcs, 69 Seven Pines: some lovely pine. Not bad, eh?
And finally, this slice of weirdness was just around the corner from our chalet. The Sitka spruce once growing on the right had grown roots over the left Sitka, and the two trees' roots had merged together a bit. Freakish.
Posted on February 18, 2008 by Ash
Back on the 14th of December I had a wee wander in Holyrood Park and bumped into a couple of young oaks. One was standing naked, but the other was covered in marcescent leaves. I wrote in this post "These dead leaves will probably spend the whole winter attached to the tree. I'll see if I can remember to go back and check in a month or two." Well, I did remember. And the leaves are still there.
The marcescent oak as it stood on the 14th of December 2007.
The same oak today, the 18th of February 2008. Most of its leaves still remain.
Its buddy is still starkers, obviously. The orangey blur in the centre of the photo is the marcescent oak in the background.
Detail of one of the marcescent leaves.
A bit of gorse. Gorse can flower at any time of the year!
There is a little bit of a pine wood growing right in the middle of Holyrood Park. I'm guessing it's all Scots pine.
There were a few juvenile alder trees knocking about near the pines. At least one was old enough to reproduce - notice the seed cones and pollen catkins dangling from this branch silhouetted above Arthur's Seat.
Posted on June 16, 2007 by Ash
Alders (Alnus glutinosa) in front of Derwent Dam.
Derwent Reservoir, in the center of the Peak District, has quite an unusual style of dam wall. Instead of the grassy embankments used to dam most reservoirs in the vicinity of the Peak District, the dam wall at Derwent (and neighbouring Howden Reservoir) is much steeper and faced with huge stone blocks. Large gothic towers loom at either end of the dam wall, and in wet weather, water overflows between the towers and cascades down the great stone wall in a magnificant spectacle.
Elder (Sambucus nigra) inflorescence in front of Derwent Dam.
During World War II, Derwent Reservoir was used for bombing practice by the RAFs 'Dambusters' (617 Squadron). The dam at Derwent was used as it was of a similar design to those in Germany's Ruhr Valley, which were to be the target of RAF bombing raids; with the dams destroyed and the reservoirs empty, it was hoped that German industry would be seriously impeded and thus their war effort hampered.
Rowan a.k.a. mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia) in front of Derwent Dam.
The barrel-shaped 'bouncing bombs' used by the Dambusters were designed by Barnes Wallis. The bombs were dropped spinning rapidly backwards at a low altitude in order for them to bounce over the reservoir surface to reach the dam wall. They would then spin downwards to the base of the wall before detonating.
Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in front of Derwent Dam.
I visited Derwent Dam this afternoon and took these photographs. Thanks to the recent very wet weather, the water rushing down the dam wall made for a very impressive sight.
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) above Derwent Dam.
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