According to new research by University of Essex, the Ash disease may spread more quickly and affect more trees than expected. Even worse, it is possible the fungus may evolve to attack other species such as Privet, Lilac and other members of the Oleaceae family.
In the Colden Valley today I walked through the short section that is mainly mature Beech trees. As a contrast to the surrounding mixed woodland it is very attractive. I noticed that a couple of the old trees were suffering badly from bleeding canker, Phytophthora, but not determinable to species without laboratory testing. Many Beech throughout the Calder Valley are dying from the effects of bleeding canker.
Colden Valley Beech trees
Bleeding Canker killing the tree
Another nearby with same disease
And sending out new growth. Supported sapwood is all it needs to keep character in the woodland.
This post, although not about a Calder Valley tree, has relevance to our attitudes to ancient trees.
Whilst travelling on holiday, I prefer to meander down the by-ways and try and see what remains of the countryside. On this occasion there was a rare WOW! moment. At a junction of two quiet lanes there it was, a massive ancient Oak tree that is “well over 400 years old”, according to the linked website here http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4154805
My photos show a recent large stone inscribed ‘Vernons Oak’, which must have cost a fortune to quarry and inscribe with gold lettering. I prefer the Gothic Scripted notice board which you can see on Google Street View here:- https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-1.7732217,3a,90y,310.1h,77.81t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s7SJ3qUyLuudohp-wUG6pqw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1.
It is very rare for any ancient tree to be marked on a map or have any sign on the ground. Most are ‘just there’, unrecognised for what they are. Sometimes better for it as ‘attention’ can often be fatal.
Highways, in their usual casual indifference, have recognised the significance of this rare tree by putting a drunken road sign in front of it.
Someone nearby seems to have a penchant for mowing all the adjacent verge like a lawn. Ancient Trees don’t need mowing. As most tree roots are near the surface a dry hot summer can create desert conditions where there is no long grass to keep the soil cool and moist.
According to the link, it is “One of the Counties most celebrated trees”. Yet, as you can see from my photos, the tree is struggling to survive. It is surely not a co-incidence the decaying rear of the tree is shaded by the overtopping young Beech trees. If nothing is done, Vernons Oak may well be relegated to the archive as “One of the Counties lost celebrated trees”.
We were informed at a meeting today that the swift boxes we were promised to accommodate them in Halifax’s New Central Library have been built into the top roof-edge.
Also bat boxes in the refurbished Piece Hall.
Thanks to CMBC managers Carole Knowles, Andrew Pitts and David Garner for taking up my suggestion for the swifts, an idea that came from Leeds Council via Dave Sutcliffe.
Following the Ash Die-Back disease, there is another that affects Oak trees that is just as worrying. It has nothing to do with ‘Sudden Oak Death’ (Ramorum), which as far as we are concerned should be known as ‘Sudden Beech Death’.
Confusingly, this new disease is called Sudden Oak Decline and is affecting many trees in the South and East of England. The Forestry Commission say this new condition has the ability to affect the landscape in the UK as much as Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970’s.
There is a lot of money and research being put into finding the cause of this Oak decline (affected trees can die within 5 years). This photo of a notice board at Burghley Park explains it well. Also this link has good info and a video http://www.forestry.gov.uk/acuteoakdecline
The board was impossible to read as it was covered in dirt but a wipe with tissues soaked in pop did wonders.
A resident photographed a Hoopoe in her garden and kindly contacted Dave Sutcliffe to let the birders know on the text grapevine. She also posted some pics on the Calderbirds.blogspot site. (Toggle above.)
Strangely enough, a rare Woodchat Shrike also turned up near there last year.
The Annual Report for 2015 from the Halifax Birdwatchers Club, edited by Nick Dawtrey, is available now at Woodlesford Newsagent, Pellon Lane, (high up the lane on the right.) Price £5.00.
Other rarities could have arrived in Calderdale, as we have had a long period of easterlies right at the height of migration.
Meet us at Shaw Park car park, Holywell Green. Go down Station Rd. and turn right into the car park.
Peachysteve is the expert and he will be leading. Meet 10.30 for 10.40 and bring something to eat when we all sit down together for our picnic lunch.
Lots on BBC R4 this morning about the plight of toads inc the concept of toad tunnels under roads and how they DO work. Also the fact that roads can actually become dangerously slippy for traffic when large numbers get squashed.
We should push for amphibian tunnels e.g. under the new road at Copley while the builders are still in.
Ash Die-Back disease seems now to have established over a wide area of Park woodland and other areas in Todmorden.
It is mainly visible on saplings a few years old, where the upper leaves have died and gone black and drooping like an umbrella; the upper stems looking blotchy and either dead or discoloured. On some, just the side branches have died and the fungi then spreads both up and down the stem, creating characteristic diamond shaped lesions on the bark.
The asexual stage attacks the bark and encircles twigs and branches, cutting off sap flow. The sexual stage grows during Summer on the previous years fallen leaves and spreads the spores.
The disease is easy to spot at the moment as it stands out amongst otherwise green and healthy ash saplings. It would be interesting to know if anyone has seen signs of the disease from elsewhere in the valley, although there is little that can be done to prevent the spread.
I have seen mature trees affected the otherside of Whalley so expect more signs next year.
Forestry Commission don’t visit to confirm as the disease is now so widespread.
Diamond shaped stem lesions