DEATH BEGETS LIFE
When I take my dog for a walk through the nearby park, I always pass a large, dead tree. I do admit to having a bit of a thing for dead trees (I don’t think there’s a name for it…*) and I did post a picture of it on Instagram a few months ago, but the more I walk past it, and the more I look at it, I realised it was probably worth its own blog post, so here it is!
I know it’s kinda green for a dead tree, but that’s because of the swathes of ivy that have engulfed it, and although it was probably the ivy that had a large hand in the tree dying, it’s now the only thing holding it up. That’s not reason enough for me to be so fond of this tree, of course. What makes it special is the way it has become such a hive of animal, and particularly bird activity.
When a large marine animal dies and eventually sinks down to the ocean floor, a whole ecosystem of sea creatures develops around the carcass, living either on it or within its remains. In the same way, this lifeless tree has become host to numerous species, bristling with excellent perches and providing shelter, food and housing amongst the dense ivy wrapping. How many and how many varieties of insects and spiders must be living in there? During my walks, I’ve seen fourteen different species of birds** on or around the tree, some feeding and foraging, some singing from the higher branches, and some just enjoying the views and basking in the sun when it graces us with its presence. On top of that, there are small mice and water rats to be seen in the vicinity, so surely some of them must have built their nests between the withering roots of the tree, and maybe hedgehogs too.
Sadly, I expect this environmental haven’s days are numbered, either from a combination of strong winds, weak roots and gravity, or due to one of the neighbouring humans identifying it as a health and safety hazard and having it lopped down. Much as I like it, I wouldn’t be best pleased if it decided to topple while I was walking past and killed me. Hopefully it will last out a few years yet before meeting its demise, as there are a heck of a lot of little beasties who will miss it more than me.
So three cheers for the dead tree! Nothing against live, healthy trees, I like those too, but there’s something a bit magical about those that have shed their last leaf, not least the wonderful habitat they provide for such an abundance of wildlife. Support your local dead tree!
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Next up it’s time to vote in the Name My Plant Competition. So far I’ve had two entries, so there’s still time to don your thinking caps and see if you can claim the prestigious reward. If you’ve not seen it already, it was in my last post, so that should be easy enough to find from here without the need for me providing a link (lazy, huh?) After that, a break from the Keeping It Green series, probably…
Back soon … ses x
* Maybe I’m affected by mortisarboriphilia? Or maybe I’m rubbish at Latin…?
** Birds spotted in the dead tree: Jackdaws, wood pigeons, collared doves, thrushes, blackbirds, robins, wrens, sparrows, goldfinches, four varieties of tits (great, blue, coal and long-tailed) and one greater spotted woodpecker.