Redpolls in Birches

witches' broomredpollsI was looking up at the Witch’s Broom on the branches of a birch when a flock of about 30 redpolls circled above the trees here in Stoneycliffe Wood nature reserve for a minute or so before settling in the top branches of another birch some distance away. On this dull drizzly morning all that I could make out was their grey-brown rounded silhouettes and a slight v-shaped notch at the end of the tail.

redpollMy hearing doesn’t make the grade when it comes to birdwatching but Barbara could hear the chittering of the flock, usually the first sign of redpolls for those who don’t happen to be looking up at Witches’ Broom as they fly by.

birch bracketThe Witches’ Broom that grows on silver birch in the form of a mass of twigs that you might at first take to be a nest or squirrel’s drey is caused by the fungus Taphrina turgida. Another, unrelated, fungus on a birch stump nearby was birch bracket, Piptoporus betulinus.

honey fungusVelvet Shank, Flammulina velutipes (left), growing here on an oak log, is a winter fungus with the ability to survive freezing.

Turkey TailTurkeytail, Trametes versicolor, is another bracket fungus which grows on birch stumps and on other deciduous timber.

male fernThe shuttlecock tufts of male fern, Dryopteris filis-mas, have been flattened by the snow but the fronds are still green. The lower stems of male fern are covered with scales on male fernbrown scales (right).

2 Replies to “Redpolls in Birches”

  1. Hi Richard, It is so nice to hear from you in this New Year, although you posted a lot while Betty was in hospital and I learned a lot from your postings.

    I have been reading a book called Pagan Christmas. While it does include many of the pre-christian rituals and ceremonies that were adopted by the christian church, and also some wonderful illustrations, it is mostly a book about plants. And I had just been reading about *a witch’s broom growth on a weeping birch* and then you posted your own photo.

    Sending best wishes for the new year to you and Barbara (loved your photo) and the mums. I like the new blog format, it loads easily on my computer.

    1. Thank you Rachel, hope you continue to sketchcrawl in the new year. Glad the new format works – it’s going to take me a while to get it looking just as I’d like it but it’s definitely easier to add a post than with my DreamWeaver set up.

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