Predictably, this month I discovered the disadvantage to following a tree that isn’t immediately accessible. I chose one that I could reach comparatively easily – even though it wasn’t within ten metres of the back door – and I’m still complaining. That’s because of the weather, which has been a little, um, unpredictable. I’m going to have to adapt and take shots whenever I can, because my tree is often above the cloud line.
This, taken a couple of years ago (my hawthorn is the one on the left)
was in good visibility compared to some of the recent days. Moody, but not easy. So I gave it a day or two, and shot up there as soon as weather and work (and this ***** cough) permitted.
There’s no sign of any leaf breaking yet, though there are plenty of signs that the sheep have been using it as shelter:
though they usually disappear at speed when I materialise with my camera, and then watch me carefully from a distance. After I’ve been quiet for a few minutes they edge nearer, and by the time I’m finishing they have decided that I might as well be part of the landscape: I pose no threat and am unlikely to have sheep nuts in my pocket. There are no lambs as yet up here, though judging by the size of some of the ewes, it won’t be long; that will make them more skittish, and defensive. People do sometimes walk their dogs around here; I hope they keep them on close leads. I will certainly get defensive if I see any that are not.
Ahem, the tree.
The absence of leaves means I can see the moss and lichen clearly:
I have been poring over various identification guides, and I’m still hopeless – but I’ve not spotted anything I haven’t seen before. However, I am looking much more closely at the lichens than I have ever done before, and they are beautiful:
Last year, when my garden sprouted all sorts of mushrooms, people were very helpful identifying varieties. Any guesses? I think this one is a Cladonia, but I’m not sure which one; could be C. coccifera. The trouble is that they are all so similar, and identification often seems to depend on the most minute differences.
How about this?
Admittedly, identification is not going to be easy because so many of the lichens have been rather desiccated in the recent winds – not a patch on last year, but bad enough and freezing.
There are signs of life on the ground, though:
There are foxgloves coming up near the tree, in the scatter of stones around the dolmen. Not a lot, but they should be spectacular later on. The stone scatter is quite extensive – the large structure would originally have been covered by a huge stone mound, and these are now spread around the immediate area.
(The infill which is under the capstone is modern, but uses some of the stones.)
The tree itself has quite a few stones which must have come from the mound in amongst its roots – that’s probably how it survived the depredations of livestock when it was tiny. I suspect that many more stones have been incorporated into walls and other structures – not recently, because now people understand that you don’t just rob prehistoric remains, at least not when they’re so obvious – but the whole area has been inhabited for hundreds and hundreds of years. Superstition might stop you from raiding a convenient stone mound, but not for ever.
Let’s close with an aerial view, taken some years ago and courtesy of the RCHMW:
You can actually see my hawthorn on it. Follow the second of the two grey walls at the bottom right, and mentally extend it until it joins the white strip of the first road. There are two dark green splodges just before the road; the top one is my hawthorn, and the dolmen is between them. And you can see a lot of archaeology too. This is the Cors y Gedol field system; there are the remains of Iron Age round houses, and of rectangular Mediaeval farm buildings.
And the gorse is flowering now. Spring?