Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Friday 2 October 2015


Sycamore leaves and branches in evening light.
I'll begin by zapping you with colour.

This is 'my' sycamore - the one I'm following; taken in the evening.

I was going to say "It's not really that colour" when I realised I don't really know what colour it is. If I were nocturnal, daytime colours would be an aberration. And in the rain it's something else.

Sycamore tree in morning beside sea with ship in background.

Here it is on the morning of the same day.

Yet this isn't exactly right - for the sun was ahead on the right and not only was it lighting the tree in a morning-way, my camera and I were seeing it differently from each other..

Approached from another side, it was gently green and yellow and brown. From another a silhouette. From another it was almost wiped away in the white glare.

Sycamore trunk and brambles.

I can't get right close to its trunk because it's surrounded by brambles. Of the ones nearby (and there are many) these blackberries are the last to ripen. The sycamore's shade and a curve in the path combine to keep the sun away. They are sweet though.

(I know this because in a spirit of scientific enquiry I ate all the ripe ones I could reach.)

Fallen sycamore leaf and twigs.

Quite a few leaves are falling onto the path before they are brown - maybe because the tree is exposed to strong, easterly winds which drive straight at it from the length of the English Channel.

Fallen sycamore seeds on path.

Its seeds are blowing aside too. This one was a few feet beyond the over-hanging branches. One of the helicopter-blades has broken in the fall.

Close up of sycamore seeds on path showing seedlings and new growth of other plants.
Peering closer one can see that while autumn hits the tree, little plants are growing through the dry and un-nutritious soil. They will be trodden down before they get very tall but for such plants the year is a perpetual spring, regardless of the official season.

Single sycamore seed still on tree with its broken twin.
We can see that one of 'our' pair of seeds on 'our' tree is broken too. I have photo after blurred photo of this same seed because the tree wouldn't stop waggling around in the wind. But I've followed the progress of this particular seed over the last couple of months so I kept going back. (One day, I'll go and they'll be gone.) 

Sycamore keys.
I can't say this tree is lovely at present. As the leaves change colour (and some fall)  tightly packed clusters of seeds are revealed either against the sky or against the new yellows and paler greens. Individually they are fine - it's almost impossible to walk by without picking them up from the path and throwing them in the air to watch them spin round as they fall. But bunched up they can be ugly and unpleasant. These clusters here are looser and smaller than most - prettier.

(The reason I am able to identify one particular seed again and again is that the seeds on one low-hanging branch have developed farther apart from each other than those on the main part of the tree and one hangs at an odd angle.)

White skeletons of umbeliferous plants with seeds.

Slightly beyond the tree's shadow other plants are turning into skeletons. These dried stems will stand like this all winter.

But chicory is still flowering and hoverflies are fighting over individual flowers; dive bombing each other even if there are vacant ones on the same plant.

Hoverfly on chicory.

Why? Perhaps some flowers are already drunk-empty of  nectar and pollen? Or maybe hoverflies are jealous of each other and can't stand to see somone else on something good. Or maybe they don't like hoverflies who look different from themselves? (See below.) Anyone know?

Are you
Following a Tree?


Wonderful, easy to grasp first time and brilliantly short explanation from Peter Gibbs of the BBC.


Royal Entomological Society
"Over 250 species have been recorded in the UK, and more than 85 species have been found in a single garden."

British Hoverflies - Useful for ID because there are masses of pictures!

Nature Guide UK - I've only just found this site and have added it to the Loose and Leafy list of helpful and interesting ID sites. Even bigger pictures! It has other insects too. Well worth a browse.

also on Nature Spot

Some Loose and Leafy blog posts where hoverflies make guest appearances.

The Next Box for Tree Following Links
will open at 7am (UK time) on 7th October 2015
and close at 7pm on the 14th.


Anonymous said...

A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures, especially of the chicory flowers.
Thanks for the informative and interesting links. Flighty xx

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hi Flighty. Glad you enjoyed the post. I took these photos yesterday (Oct. 1st). It's even sunnier today (Oct. 2nd). Hope life is well (and sunny!) with you.

Rowan said...

I confess I'm not overfond of sycamores:) I have one at the bottom of my garden and this year especially there were hundreds of seedlings in the grass and all the flower beds and I still have a small forest of them to clear in the woodland area.

greg becker said...

I really like your idea of following the progress of one particular tree and especially the way you talk about keeping track of one particular seed. Sycamore seeds are wonderful things and although the trees they grow into are not always appreciated they are great survivors (a neighbour of mine has been trying to kill
one in his garden for the last ten years without success).

Brian Skeys said...

That is my kind of scientific research Lucy, eating blackberries!

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

I love that you follow the same seeds as well as the tree itself, even if it is a sycamore. I loved the seeds as a kid, but now that they self seed all over my garden I rather loathe them, they are so very efficient, germinating just about anywhere... I notice that Greg remarked on how difficult sycamores are to kill off. There is a tree stump on the way to "my" tree, and this time round I noticed it was sprouting. And yes, its a sycamore!