Posted by: Ross Gardner | December 6, 2011

A tree and its birds

We have a pretty small (but excedingly pleasant) garden, which is dominated somewhat by a very fine cherry tree.  Two stout trunks support the tree on its way to a height of 12 metres or so and probably not much less wide.  It has flourished throught neglect.  That is to say, that having presumably grown from a seed dropped from some bird’s backside, it has grown neither here nor there, betwixt and between.  A quarter in our garden, a quarter in our next door neighbour’s and a half shared by the two gardens at the end of each of ours.  No one has wanted to own up to it and there it has grown in a kind of obvious anonymity.

Blue Tit (Cyanistes (Parus) caeruleus). Ross Gardner

Looking at its naked crown, bare but for the few browned leaves that hang defiantly as vestiges of the summer past, it might seem counter-inuitive to be reminded of its presence for us as very much a feature for all seasons, but today, ironically while raking up leaves,  such a thought did indeed occur to me.  In itself, it is not at its best in the winter months.  Spring naturally prompts a mass of pale pink blossom. A wonderful display of copiousness and of the wanton growth of that season, when the whole tree might buzz with foraging Honey Bee workers, bumblebee queens and early hoverflies.  Next is the greening of summer and the darker tints of purple-black fruits (more fit for Woodpigeons that humans it must be said).  Then the flourish of leaf colour, transforming it into a wonderful dome of autumn oranges and reds, for which the various ‘fiery’ cliches are nigh-on impossible to resist.

But what of the winter, the one season when the tree is bereft of adornments?  Then it is left to the simple pleasures of the birds that stop by among its branches.  It is one of the taller trees in the immediate vicinity and in a prominent position.  I have never climbed to the top of it, but I would imagine the view to be far reaching across the surrounding gardens.  It is a vantage point rarely without a Woodpigeon or Collared Dove.  It is a safe haven for the Greenfinch and Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit, should they be disturbed from the bird feeders down below.  It is a singing post for the Robin that find their voice for their winter courtship.  If we’re lucky it might briefly have the likes of Redwing and Fieldfare pausing among its branches, woodpeckers on its boughs, and a little group of Siskin on their way down to the niger feeders.  Or it may briefly be filled with the twitter and purr of Long-tailed Tits, passing from garden to garden.

If ‘our’ cherry should ever come to grief and need removing, what a hole it would leave in our garden and the passing of the year.  We do have maturing our Silver Birch to provide some insurance.

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