For the love of trees: Celebrating National Tree Week

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For the love of trees: Celebrating National Tree Week

Postby Robert Fuller » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:04 am

I have an enormous old tree stump that I hoisted many years ago into the branches of a sycamore tree outside my living room window in the hope of attracting owls to nest in it. Over the years it has been home to barn owls, kestrels and tawny owls. And I have painted them again and again perched at its gnarled entrance.

Then this month a surveillance camera I have trained onto the stump captured a total of seven different species visiting over the course of a week. I watched transfixed as my recording played back a tawny owl, a pair of kestrels, a barn owl, a blue tit and a tree creeper, which climbed steadily up, and then down, the stump, combing the rutted surface of the bark for insects. These were just the bird species. The camera also caught a stoat and a squirrel climbing awkwardly, one back leg stiffly following the other, through the hole.
This week is National Tree Week, which marks the start of the winter tree planting season. But I would like to extend this national celebration of trees to encompass dead trees. The symbiotic relationship between the wildlife species sustained by my decaying tree stump is fascinating. The owls living inside it cough up pellets made up of the undigested skeleton and fur of the voles that they eat. Clothes’ moths then lay their eggs inside these pellets, and when the larvae emerge they feed on the fibres of vole fur. The larvae then crawl up the sides of the inside of the tree hollow, pupating in the crevices, where they then become fodder for tree creepers, blue and great tits. As they decay these pellets also attract flies, which in turn attract spiders that also attract small birds.

Click here to read the full story of how I converted this old elm stump into a nest box on my blog and see the video I took here.......
Robert Fuller
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Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:03 pm

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