A posting this week on trees, at the start of National Tree Week. During this week there’ll be plenty of events around, many of which will, of course, involve planting trees.
Here at Dove Stone we wanted to do something slightly different; it seemed like a good idea to celebrate National Tree Week and the tradition of Tree Dressing day together. So, this Saturday you’ll find us planting climbers such as Ivy and Honeysuckle around the trees at Ashway Gap. Climbers are an excellent food source throughout the year for birds and insects as well as providing ground cover and ideal nesting habitat. This really is tree dressing in its most natural form.
There’ll also be bird feeders to make on the day and hang ( either at Dove Stone or to take away ) as well as an information stall with lots of info on all things tree related and a few activities for the kids amongst ( both young and old ! ) thrown in. It’s a free event, all day, and all are welcome.
In addition to the continuing restoration work on Dove Stone’s peat bog tree planting has been part of the ongoing work on the moorland edges. The trees that are being planted now in future years will become established areas of woodland populated with native broadleaf trees such as Sessile Oak, Downy Birch, Rowan, Holly, Hawthorn and Alder. As well as providing habitat for insects, food and nesting sites for birds these trees will form natural tree corridors providing safe passage for the movement of both birds and bats around and through Dove Stone.
If you’re thinking of planting trees yourself then it might be worth having a look at sites such as the tree councils which has useful practical tips for tree planting: http://www.treecouncil.org.uk/community-action/national-tree-week/useful-information.
On an international level have a look at this http://gbmna.org/w.php?id=13 . The work of the Green Belt Movement and Wangari Maathai really does show what can be achieved. Amazing. Closer to home here’s a look at what else can be achieved when a group of people with a vision get together http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/index.html .
And there’s Harapan rainforest as well. Harapan is managed by the RSPB, in partnership with Birdlife International and Burung Indonesia. Currently the RSPB are campaigning to plant a million tree that will form a wildlife corridor between areas of existing rainforest.
To find out more about this amazing project check out this link http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/sumatra/milliontrees.aspx
A couple of other sites worth a look www.woodlandtrust.org.uk and also Greater Manchester’s community owned forest www.redroseforest.org.uk.
Apart from it being National Tree Week it seems timely to be writing of trees with news last month of the government’s plans to sell as much as 150,000 hectares of forest and woodland in England. Will selling off Forestry Commission land result in an increase in community involvement in the management of England’s woodlands and forests, a decentralised, more local approach in a move towards the ‘ Big Society ’ ? On principle should publicly owned assets be sold to private ownership? Essentially this government is saying that private ownership is not incompatible with a committment to the best management of England’s woodlands. If, as Caroline Spelman claims, the sale is motivated by the wish to protect the natural environment, increase biodiversity and reverse species loss will the priorities of business really be concordant with this ? Would charities and land trusts be able to compete financially next to private ownership ? Here’s a priceless quote from Ms Spelman: ‘ putting more woodlands into alternative ownership will not lead to a free-for-all of golf courses, holiday parks or housing developments – I imagine local planning departments would have some strong views and use a range of safeguards to prevent this happening. ’ Maybe not, but I think I’d rather have something a bit more tangible then the somewhat unsettling concept of relying on the imagination of Caroline Spelman...
A brief Dove Stone update. Plenty of Goldfinches and Greenfinches to be seen today as well as Coal, Great and Blue Tits - all to be seen at both of Dove Stone's feeding stations in the main car park and at the top car park, Binn Green. Also seen today were a small group of Long Tailed Tits. Recent sightings of groups of Fieldfare that are still around and about too. A good look today too at a Mistle thrush who became very vocal when some Greenfinches landed in the Hawthorn where this bird was perched. The Hawthorns seem to have a good number of berries on. Also seen today were Kestrel, Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Goldcrest.
A special mention goes to the Brambling ( conservation status: Green ). A female was seen today at the feeding station in the main car park and also in some trees that border nearby fields. It might be worth knowing if you're looking out for Bramblings that they particularly like Beech ( for feeding on the Beech mast ). In both of the spots that we've seen them today we've put out apples for the birds. Although primararily a seed feeding bird the Brambling isn't averse to some apple ( they also eat berries and in summer will feed on insects, especially caterpillars and beetles ). Why not try it at home; it's not unknown for Bramblings to visit gardens in winter, plus there'll be plenty of other birds who will feed on apples.
Back to the Brambling. It's a really pretty bird. Similar in both size and shape to a Chaffinch but with noticeably different colouring such as the white belly and orange breast. Look out for the male's black head during Spring. The Brambling is a migratory bird. As well as wintering in Southern Europe these birds winter over in North Africa, amongst other places globally. Uk winters can see large flocks of Brambling, quite often joining flocks of Chaffinch. Is it a coincidence or is there an advantage for the Brambling in being amongst a flock of birds with similarities ? ). Large roosts can also form. The early 80s saw a particularly large roost in Merseyside of around 150,000 birds over a period of 6 weeks. The presence and whereabouts of flocks, of course, are linked to food availability. So that's if for the Brambling for now. Any news of sightings always welcome...
More soon ( hoping to be able to report some sightings of Waxwings...! )
A really fine day at Dove Stone with terrific mid-afternoon light.
At Binn Green we've had recent sightings of plenty of Coal, Great and Blue tits to be seen as well as Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Nuthatch are also still visiting the feeding station at Dove Stone’s main car park, along with Goldfinch and Greenfinch.
Also around and about is Britain’s smallest bird. Yep, it’s the Goldcrest, aka regulus regulus. Look out for the bright patch on its crown – orange on males and more of a yellow on females; no crest and it’s a juvenile – amongst the conifer woodlands ( specifically Scots pine ) around Dove Stone. Being outside of the breeding season now you might see Goldcrest in flocks with other small birds such as tits. There’s a chance that some migrating birds from Scandanavia, Russia and Poland might have reached Britain through October so there’s a possibility that you might see increased groups due to this.
Goldcrests are one of the species whose numbers are thought to have been considerably affected by the hard winter of last year. This year’s Big Garden Birdwatch survey did indicate a big decline in garden Goldcrests. Because Goldcrests are so small – just 9cm (3.5in) long – they run a higher risk of becoming chilled. In addition Goldcrests aren’t able to carry much in the way of food reserves and are vulnerable to starvation.