Saturday, 25 June 2016

Dead Wood

Dead  trees, whether upright, broken down, or rotting on the ground make a significant contribution to both the appearance and the ecology of Milton Country Park.

Two dead tree stumps surrounded by brambles.
By Dickerson's Pit - 13 April 2016

These tall tree stumps, complete with woodpecker holes, are part of a trio of such stumps by the path on the eastern side of Dickerson's pit.  Later in the summer they will be covered in cascades of convolvulus.

Tree stump broken just above ground level with trunk in water
Wetlands - 22 February 2016

More often, the dead stumps do not remain intact and upright, but, like the tree in this image, are broken off by one of the gales which batter the park from time to time.  

Willow tree snapped in two
By Hall's Pond - 13 March 2016

While willow trees like this, snapped in two, are a dramatic testimony to the power of the wind.

Complex of bleached tree roots
Centre of Park - 14 March 2016

At other times, the trees are simply uprooted.  With time, the soil is washed away, leaving a skeleton of roots to bleach in the sun.

Small dead tree on ground bleached white.
Woods at Southern Edge of Park - 3 April 2016

This small tree reminds me very strongly of an animal skeleton.

Moss covered fallen branches
By Todd's Pit - 13 March 2016

Eventually, all the fallen branches will be covered by moss and overgrown by nettles and brambles.  Herb robert is another frequent coloniser of the dead wood in the park.  The logs themselves will provide food and shelter for a host of invertebrates including beetle larvae.

Next: Spring Leaves


Saturday, 11 June 2016

Review 2

This is the second part of my review of a year in Milton Country Park, and looks at autumn and winter.    

Close up of elderberries
Elderberries - 23 August 2015

The Weather


Waterlogged path
Waterlogged Path - 12 January 2016
No review of autumn and winter 2015/2016 would be complete without a mention of the weather.   The whole six months of these two seasons could be characterised as very wet and mild: no snow at all, a few light frosts, and a couple of misty days.  This path of puddles sums it all up.



Apples strewn across path
Windfall - 20 September 2015

Autumn is generally thought of as the time of fruit: apples, pears, plums, and the red hawthorn berries. However, a lot of fruit, such as the elderberries shown at the top of this post, were ripe before the end of August.  Similarly, the apples were already nearly finished by mid September - the heavy windfall shown above was pictured on the 20th September.

Carpet of yellow maple leaves beneath trees
Autumn Leaves - 2 November 2015

By early November, the park had turned yellow, as is well illustrated by the carpet of leaves beneath the woods beside the A14. 

Reed bed with reed flowers turning to seed
Reeds - 2 November 2015

At the same time, the extensive beds of common reed around the pits had finally flowered and were turning to seed.


Path enclosed by bare trees
Bare Trees - 8 January 2016

Winter was continuation of autumn.  As usual, for the season,  the trees were bare. 

Line of snowdrops in litter beneath trees
Snowdrops - 16 February 2016

The snowdrops started flowering in December and continued through to March.

Burst of cherry plum blossom in hedge
Cherry Plum Blossom - 2 February 2016

With the mild weather, some spring flowers were exceptionally early, particularly the hazel and cherry plum.  (If I had defined this blog as documenting the year from cherry plum blossom to cherry plum blossom, it would have been six weeks short of a year.) 

Clumps of daffodils besides path
Daffodils - 24 February 2016
By the end of twelve months of photographing in the park,  the daffodils were flowering. 

Where Now?

I have decided to continue this blog for the next few months at least.  At the beginning of this blog, I had no time to do other than react to the changes in the park with little time to reflect on what was happening. This is something I felt most acutely during spring, when I almost failed to record the elderflower at all.  

Similarly, there are aspects of the park which are not time dependent.  An example are the dead and broken trees.  These, with their moss covered branches on the ground, are an important part of the ecology of the park, but which change little during the year.  My next post will be concerned with this subject.

Next: Dead Wood