Ok, I know I’m late (something of an explanation can be found on my woolly blog). I did manage to get the photographs taken in time, but have been busy dealing with some online difficulties and became distracted from the way of righteousness and tree following. Still, I think the problems may be resolving themselves and anyway ‘phfeh’ – life goes on. My downy birch certainly does.
In my mind I thought there would be more change between August and September, other than the cutting of the meadow – only partly done so far, but we’re doing the rest on Monday. Though the surroundings may be looking more autumnal,
the tree, surprisingly, is not. Yes, it’s a wee bit more tired in appearance and some of the leaves are tattier than they were, but there really isn’t that much marked a change.
When you look at the leaves against the light you can see that the cells are more clearly defined than I think they were –
that would probably make sense – but again, I can’t swear to it. And the browning was already happening in August.
One change that has happened is in the flowers. Earlier in the year, intrigued by their appearance, I sliced one open. I needed a knife to do it, and there was quite a lot of resistance. Now the flowers are showing signs of age,
(spot the shield bug? I didn’t), and though they haven’t actually started to shed their seeds themselves, they are much more easy to break apart – in fact, they just crumble in your fingers.
Very few of these will ever form a downy birch, but if the tree manages to germinate just one during its lifetime it will have done its job, of course. I’m going to have a go at trying it in a pot, though I’ll give them a little longer to ripen – let’s see what happens.
On the wildlife front, the tree is humming. Not literally – that’s the lavender – but it is teeming with life. There are a heck of a lot of shield bugs,
and not just the birch shield bugs I spotted earlier; there are many others. When I was taking some shots I watched a group of five or six quite clearly assessing each other from their different leaves. They seem to congregate on the more exposed side of the tree, which surprised me. If I look at the seawards side it doesn’t take long to spot them once I’ve got my eye in; on the landward side it takes longer and there are markedly fewer. And the wind has been from the prevailing direction, coming at us from the sea and the south-west. But it’s not been wild, and it has been sunny. Any explanation? General randomness? Luck? Do they move round during the day to sit in the sun?
There are other things, too:
like this iridescent fly I saw after a rain shower, which gives a good size comparison for those tiny next year’s catkins. This fly – and many others – have been spotted on the landward side; maybe there are just too many occupied leaves on the other. And too many shield bug arguments.
So, not much change with my birch. It’s a beautiful September so far, and the forecast is for that to continue. I wonder if there’ll be spectacular colour in my next post? One of the other birches is changing already, but so far the my downy babe has restricted itself to this sort of thing:
It’s enjoying the weather as much as I am.
Happy tree following, and thanks to Lucy of Loose and Leafy for this meme. I’ll be on time next month – promise!