I went for a bimble through Highwood (some woods close to me in the town of Liskeard in Cornwall) this afternoon. It was ostensibly a dog walk, but I also had my eye out for a bit of winter tree identification practice.
Unidentified Fungus Object
My tree ID isn’t the best, but it’s gradually getting better. I thought I’d share a couple of resources I’ve been using recently, and a couple of tips I’ve picked up that have helped me with figuring out what’s what in the woods (especially in winter).
First up, the two resources I’ve found useful recently:
- Bark & Buds: How to Easily Identify 12 Common European Deciduous Trees in Winter
- Twigs and Buds
The first link goes to Paul Kirtley’s blog. There’s loads of great bushcraft related material on this site and I’d thoroughly recommend subscribing to it. Paul is Ray Mears’ old head instructor and now runs his own bushcraft course outfit – Frontier Bushcraft.
The second link is to a page on The Woodland Trust’s Nature Detectives site. The downloadable PDFs have really great photos of a range of common British tree branches with their winter buds. These are some of the most distinctive and useful photos I’ve found for identifying bare deciduous trees.
When it comes to identifying trees, I’ve found that the bark, branch structure and buds are actually a much easier way of learning the distinctions between species than making assumptions based on leaves. Leaves can vary wildly from the pictures you see in text books and can be very similar from species to species. However, the colour, shape and size of buds and the way they are arranged on the branch is far more consistent between trees of the same species and hence easier to discern from trees of a different species.
To this end, I’m actually finding it easier to learn to identify trees in the winter than I do in the summer, when the buds are in leaf and obscuring the branches and bark.
Back to the walk, I was surprised to see the first hazel catkins of the year – one of the first signs of spring. I guess they’re out this early because of the mild winter we’ve had – I’ve seen daffodils already this year as well.
I also came across the bracket fungus in the photo at the top of this post. If anyone knows what it is I’d be interested to find out.
I also stumbled across a line of three plastic jerry cans rigged up as what I can only think are either feeders or traps. These were set a distance apart in a marshy stand of alder (which I had just learnt to identify from their lilac coloured, club shaped buds). They were suspended from said alder, with a roughly cut hole in the top and were filled with what looked like bird seed. The spout had a metal mesh tube attached into it hanging about 6 inches off the ground. I’d love to know what these are!
Unidentified Feeding Object
If anyone knows the answers to either of the above questions, please let me know in the comments.